Friday, August 29, 2014

Haiku Friday

my sister sent this
earlier this week, monday.
the first day of school.

every day since then
i have found myself looking
at this for some time.

my niece and nephew
are so beautiful and so 
totally grown up. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014


It's been a year since we moved into our house! August 26th was the official one year mark. I can't believe what a year it has been, either. I think last fall may have been the hardest time I've ever had? Anyways, here's hoping this fall will be better?

In any case, I dreamt about my Grama last night. It was so nice to see her. I was sort of taking care of her, like I would Buddy, but she was my Grama and it was nice to hear her voice again. It will be a year in about two weeks since she passed away.

Here's a little #tbt for you:

My uncles and my grama, May 1962

Monday, August 25, 2014

wknd pics

joseph posted this on my facebook; i share with you. little besties. 

Queso's beeday present. This bag - it's not quite big enough. 

happy birthday queso. 

BFF's wall. 

scary jumper with children who look like they are trapped in between spider man's legs. 

We took a little plane ride up to San Jose for Babe's company picnic, which was a minor league game. My buddy loves to travel! 

Buddy on the giant slide. 

Running the bases! 

Mama and Buddy. 

Reading the map. 


Train tracks always remind me of Stand By Me. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Haiku Friday

Can it really be?
My last retreat this summer?
I dont believe it.

Locked in a ballroom
In lovely terranea.
No view from in here.

Its still real early.
I feel sort of lectured at.
But not singled out.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

throw back thursday!

My sibling put this on the facebook last week, but I love it so many I want to share it with you here. That's me and her in 1980 in my folks' Rambler. I was younger than buddy in this pic. Same hair, though.

Buddy around the same age, with the same hair. (And lipsticks.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

as told to bestie over IM

 me: oh i forgot to tell you
this morning
when me and buddy were walking to school - 
well she always shoots out the door and runs down to the sidewalk
and this morning
she ran through a *&%!&$ gigantic spider web
and started hollering so i run over to see this big *&%^&$! running down her back
 bestie:  ACK!!!!!!!!!!!!
 me:  so i go over to her to get him off and he runs down onto the ground
and my heart is *&%^&$! pounding
and i go wow buddy! he's gone baby you are so brave
 bestie:  and you *&%^&$! murdered him!>>>>>>>>>
 me:  and she goes its not gone!!
and i realize she is like the hobbit all wrapped up in web
 bestie:  ohgodno
 me:  so i brush it off her furiously and
then its done
and she started skipping her way to school
 me:  its body was easily the size of a whopper
or a gobstopper
big and fat and round
 bestie:  stop.
 me:  it ran for its *&%^&$!  life or else i would have killed the &*%! out of it
 bestie:  got it

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Some inspirational quotes for you.

So, listen. I just went through this entire slideshow of "99 Interesting Quotes that will change how you see the world" so you don't have to. There were a lot of good ones - I think I saved about 15 or so. I've narrowed it down to five here. Enjoy!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Anniversary Weekend Photo

Happy 11th wedding anniversary to me and Babe!

We went to the desert for our anniversary and gambled the night away at a casino called Morongo. We also shopped at outlet stores and ate a lot of food. 

Before leaving, though, we went to see the dinosaurs. I have literally wanted to see these things my entire life. Wish? Fulfilled! 

More about the dinosaurs later this week. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Haiku Friday

I made it through guys!
This week was crazy busy.
Three days of travel.

Also, I spent time
On a duffy boat. (Thats a thing.)
It was a good week.

Just kinda busy.
Now I am home with my fam.
And Auntie's here, too!

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Thanks to my pal Simon for posting this on the Facebooks. I remember I was sitting in the City Hall Park waiting for a meeting.

My upstairs neighbor, Ilona Smithkin, called me on our house phone and said she saw me in the paper and was so proud of me. Haha. (click that Ilona link, you will not be sorry.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Happy Birthday, Ben!!!

It was yesterday!

Ben is seriously one of the nicest people I have ever met in my life. He is one of the few children that I know that always walks up to both me and Babe and gives us a hug immediately upon seeing us. Both of us. I just love him to pieces. 

Here he was on his first birthday, eating a peach:

Monday, August 11, 2014

and this.

face melting cuteness alert

we took a trip to the santa monica pier with the children on friday. man it was fun. check out this old school arcade game. 

these two. man, they love to dance together. 

the sash literally cannot get enough of her older cousins. here they are on the scrambler. 

found a couple of selfies on my phone when i got it back. 

two crazy children on a ride! 




driving a bumper car



here's the next generation, at the going away party for the LBC crew! 

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Throw Back Thursday

To last night when the LBC crew came over. One week until they leave us for the land of craft beer, locavores and, well, hippes.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

West Coast vs. East Coast: Fashion Edition

Yah. Pretty much.


Overheard at the pool yesterday (dead of summer): "Austin, put your uggs on and let's go!"

Lest you think I am only talking about other people, I'd like to remind you that I now own at least 10 different sweatshirts from local breweries and wear them pretty much all the time. Except at work, where I still wear all black. 

Let's not forget this little beauty I took on campus the other day:

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

25 books to read before you die

Cindilisima sent me this list, 25 Books to Read Before you Die and I thought we could look at it together! I will include my comments in RED.


by Roberto Bolaño
Completed in 2003 shortly before his death, 2666 is not only Roberto Bolaño's masterpiece but also one of the finest and most important novels of the 21st century. It's an entire world unto itself, one — not unlike our own — filled with horror, neglect, depravity, brilliance, and beauty. Epic in scope and epitomizing the "total novel," 2666 fuses many different genres and styles to create a singular and unforgettable work of contemporary fiction. While Bolaño's swan song marked the pinnacle of a sadly truncated literary career, his immense talent, creativity, and vision endure. – Jeremy
I have not read this. 

All about Love

by bell hooks
We're taught to think of love as something that happens to us. It's a magical but altogether passive experience. In her deeply personal and emphatic All about Love, renowned social activist and feminist bell hooks asserts that, in fact, love is a choice we must all make and it's not nearly as abstract or elusive as many of us have come to believe. The book not only explores the role of love in our lives and the ways our culture has distorted its meaning, but guides us — with clear definitions and examples — toward a better understanding of how to cultivate it. If you've ever wondered why some relationships stand the test of time while others crumble, you should read this book.
– Renee P.
I own this, but I haven't read it all the way through. In fact, I think Cin gave it to me. I think I'll count it as a yes though. 

Desert Solitaire

by Edward Abbey
No author encapsulated and celebrated the American Southwest more engagingly than iconoclast and raconteur Edward Abbey. Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness — now nearly a half-century old — is a classic of environmental writing. In this autobiographical work, Abbey chronicles his time as a park ranger and reflects on landscape, culture, politics, tourism, environmental disregard, and degradation — doing so with a unique blend of ornery charm and breathtaking description. Though set in his beloved Southwest, Desert Solitaire beautifully and brashly captures the essence of the American outdoors, replete with disdain for those who'd seek to spoil its natural wonder. – Jeremy
Never heard of it. 


by J. M. Coetzee
One afternoon while talking with a friend about books, I wondered how to best describe my experience of reading Disgrace, and this is what I came up with: it's like a finely crafted, very sharp knife resting gently against your skin. The uneasiness and suspense are there from the beginning, made all the more powerful by Coetzee's control and use of spare language, and you never really take a deep breath until it's all over. Set in modern South Africa, the book explores what it's like to personally confront deep prejudices. Prejudices of gender, sexuality, class, and race. Far from being a politically correct diatribe, this novel is about how we cope, how we survive as humans, and it forces the reader to reflect upon what seems at first a very twisted reality. For each of the characters in this astonishing novel, redemption is attained through what becomes the very reshaping of their souls. – Rebecca
I have read other books by him, but not this one. I would definitely read it. 

Geek Love

by Katherine Dunn
This is the book I recommend more than any other — I can barely hold onto a copy of it because I am always giving it away to anyone who I think needs something that will blow the top of their skull off. On one level, it is the engaging, creepy, and extraordinary story of a family of purposely designed circus freaks, as told by the hunchback albino dwarf sister. On another level, it is a story about identity and belonging: How do you define yourself in terms of your family? Your culture? Your body? Your religion? How do you know what or who you really are? – Lizzy
Hm. Haven't read it, but I have read other stuff by her. I might give it a go. 


by Marilynne Robinson
Set in 1956, Marilynne Robinson's Gilead is a letter from the elderly Reverend John Ames to his very young son. Ames has lived all of his life in Gilead, Iowa, and the novel delves into the history of the area through the characters of Ames's father and grandfather — also ministers, but deeply divided on ideas such as pacifism, duty, and the abolitionist movement. And eventually, when John Ames Boughton, Ames's namesake and godson, returns to Gilead, he brings up old tensions and sets events in motion that disturb Ames's formerly peaceful last days. Gilead is one of the most beautifully written books of the new century thus far, and Robinson's incredibly insightful grappling with faith, mortality, and what constitutes a meaningful life will resonate with readers across every spectrum. – Jill
Nope. Haven't read it. 

Giovanni's Room

by James Baldwin
It would be difficult to talk about James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room and not touch on the simple fact that this slim novel, published in 1956, is mainly a love story between two men. It seems impossible to think such a thing could be published pre-Stonewall, but such is the genius of Baldwin and the way he captures the complexities of desire, love, and the tragic cost that comes from not following your heart. "Somebody…should have told us that not many people have ever died of love. But multitudes have perished…for the lack of it." This emotional wonder of a book comes down to two things: love and death. And really, what else is there in life? – Kate
I've read all of the books by James Baldwin. This one is as good as any other. 

A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories

by Flannery O'Connor
Flannery O'Connor's first short story collection, written in 1955, will knock you off your feet. Ruthless, penetrating, and loaded with subtext, A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories was brave for its time and feels just as consequential today. Writing in the Southern Gothic tradition in a style wholly her own, O'Connor creates characters that are misguided, stunted curiosities, but she manages to capture what's human in even the most despicable of people — which makes their doomed trajectories feel all the more tragic. And despite the disturbing events that unfold, the stories are a pleasure to read — they're infused with suspense, dark humor, and some of the most evocative imagery you'll encounter in literature. All this makes for a collection that never ceases to amaze — and begs to be reread.– Renee P.
I have read all of Flannery O'Connor's stories. They make me think of Tootsie. If you haven't read them, you should. They are brilliant. 

The Handmaid's Tale

by Margaret Atwood
Atwood's classic dystopian novel of a terrifying (and terrifyingly plausible) future America has rewarded rereading like no other book; I've probably read it 30 times by now. The world of the narrator, Offred (from "Of Fred" — women no longer have their own names), is chilling, but she is a magnificent survivor and chronicler, and the details of everything from mundane daily life to ritualized sex and violence to her reminiscences of the time before (our contemporary reality, as seen in the '80s) are absolutely realistic. The novel is as relevant today as ever; feminist backlashes continue to wax and wane, but women's rights remain in the spotlight. And despite its scenarios of great despair, The Handmaid's Tale is ultimately a hopeful book — Offred, and others, simply cannot be human without the possibility of hope, and therein lies the strength of the resistance. All of Atwood is worth reading, but this book best exemplifies the cultural and psychological impact that a work of fiction can create. – Jill
Hasn't everyone read this book? It's good. It's dystopian before dystopian was hip. 

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

by Douglas Adams
Parodying practically every well-worn sci-fi plot device in existence, Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has become a classic in its own right. A hapless hero with astonishing luck? Ill-tempered aliens hell-bent on destroying Earth? Pithy advice (e.g., "DON'T PANIC")? Check, check, and check — and so much more. Even non–sci-fi geeks will be charmed by this hilarious and endlessly entertaining read, with (of course) sequels following. – Jen C.

I've never read this! I should. 

If on a Winter's Night a Traveler

by Italo Calvino
For those with an amorous affair with books, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler may well be the ultimate love letter to the reader. Calvino's novel is a masterfully created, startlingly unique work of fiction. Told alternately in second- and third-person narratives, the book is a fascinating exploration of the relationship between the author and the reader – weaving together seemingly unrelated tales, all of which relate directly to you, the reader. At its core is an ingenious concept the likes of which could have only come from the unparalleled imagination of Calvino. By the time you reach its dazzling conclusion, you'll be wishing you could somehow read it again for the very first time.
– Jeremy
Never heard of it. Hm. Maybe I will. 

Infinite Jest

by David Foster Wallace
Infinite Jest is unique; it was bred in the optimism and new frontiersmanship of the dot-com 1990s but was simultaneously an early omen of where we are today. It looks into our present beyond what were only horizons when it was written: the tensions of a global economy, the opiate of on-demand entertainment, the near-impossible pursuit of greatness in a winner-take-all society. Tennis phenoms struggle in an absurdly demanding academy and recovering addicts search for something strong enough to help them through, all while a cadre of legless Quebecois assassins search for a movie so entertaining that they plan to use it as a weapon. At turns madcap and heart-wrenching, this is the tour-de-force novel of the forces that have shaped our new millennium and will likely continue shaping it for decades to come. – Tye

This guy is prolific! I've never read anything by him and I don't think I will. I can't even get through this blurb. Of course, that could be "Tye's" fault, but whatever. 

The Left Hand of Darkness

by Ursula K. Le Guin
Not only is The Left Hand of Darkness a masterpiece of ideas, invention, and language, but it takes conventional assumptions about gender and grinds them into a fine, powdery dust. Published in 1969, the book won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards and went on to become one of the keystones of science fiction. It tells the story of an ethnologist sent to another planet, but it is Le Guin's powers of imagination that turn The Left Hand of Darkness into something truly transcendent. – Mary Jo
Never heard of it. 


by Vladimir Nabokov
Why should everyone read a book about a pedophile's obsessive and frankly gross relationship with a little girl? Because if you are a reader — a lover of words, puns, witticisms, metaphors, and allusions — Lolita is a literary masterpiece that can't be passed over in a fit of queasy morality. Humbert Humbert, the novel's unreliable narrator, knows that he's a despicable pervert and yet the reader can't help enjoying him as he surveys post-war America and little Lolita with the droll, cynical eye of a European expat adrift in a tawdry nation, and stuck irrevocably — and irredeemably — in the memory of an adolescent love affair. Please, ignore the critics: Lolitaisn't a morality tale and it isn't a love story. It's an unabashed look at a deviant mind written in some of the most deft and beautiful English ever published. – Rhianna

Yucky. Never read it. 

Man's Search for Meaning

by Viktor E. Frankl
Man's Search for Meaning is like nothing you've ever read before. The first half of the book depicts Dr. Frankl's four years losing everything in concentration camps — a description so hellish, it leaves you desolate. Shattered by his Holocaust experiences, Frankl struggles to survive after he is freed. In the second half of the book, Frankl shows how that period of his life informs and develops his theory of "logotherapy" — he asserts that life is about finding meaning, what is meaningful to each individual. As excruciating as his experiences are, Frankl's theory is full of love; he is able to find redemption for himself and others. This book is beautifully life-changing. – Dianah

Man's Search for Meaning is like nothing I've read before, and nothing I will ever read. 


by Art Spiegelman
The twofold brilliance of Art Spiegelman's groundbreaking, autobiographical Maus is the graphic novel's lack of sentimentality and Spiegelman's self-portrait as a secondhand Holocaust survivor. The Holocaust is a widely used trope in Jewish American writing and although Spiegelman treats the subject with the compassion and historical sensitivity it merits, Maus avoids the themes of victimization and historical exceptionalism that render much Holocaust literature precious and insulated from the present. Instead, Spiegelman gives his characters the dignity of fully fleshed, complicated personalities and shows — in sometimes painful and unappealing ways — how his parents' Holocaust seeped into his childhood and haunts his being. – Rhianna

High school, right? Maybe I read Babe's copy Freshman year? 

Never Let Me Go

by Kazuo Ishiguro
This is the kind of book that captures you so completely you find yourself reading it at work with the book covering your keyboard, hoping no one notices but also not really caring if you get fired. It's a subtle sci-fi story about youth, freedom, and a lot of other good stuff — too much more about the plot might take something away from the magical, transformative experience of reading it. Instead, I will say that the honest way Never Let Me Go deals with love and disappointment makes it a book that anyone who ever plans to love another person should probably read immediately.
– Lizzy

Interesting. Maybe. 

A People's History of the United States

by Howard Zinn
While some of the revelations contained within this classic by Howard Zinn have become familiar since the nearly 35 years after it was published (thanks in part to this book), it is to this day an astonishing and eye-opening read. Several revisions later, it remains a seminal work, in stark contrast to the whitewashed (pun intended) American history most of us learned by rote in school. It's regretful with Zinn's passing in 2010 that new revisions have ceased for future generations to discover.
– Jen C.

Probably some of it over the years. 

The Phantom Tollbooth

by Norton Juster
The Phantom Tollbooth is the story of Milo, a very bored boy who comes home one day to find a magical tollbooth in his room. When Milo drives his car through the tollbooth gate, he finds himself in the Lands Beyond, a country inhabited by living language in the forms of animals, magicians, royalty, mountains, seas, and cities. From Tock the Watchdog to the listless region of The Doldrums, Milo shakes off boredom as he pursues the kidnapped Princesses Rhyme and Reason and restores peace to the Lands (currently in the clutches of the warring princes, Azaz of Dictionopolis and the Mathemagician of Digitopolis, along with a pack of demons). What setsThe Phantom Tollbooth apart from other wonderful swashbuckling middle-readers is that it's also about the transformative power of language: open a book (or drive through a "tollbooth") and even the dreariest day dissolves into the din and glory of adventure. – Rhianna

Ugh I love this book. 


by Elizabeth Bishop
Elizabeth Bishop's poetry is dearly loved amongst her fans but perhaps not as well-known as it should be; for one of America's towering talents of the 20th century, she is not read nearly as much as Eliot or Whitman, or even cummings. That may be in part because of her relatively slim output — this volume of all her poetic works clocks in at only 368 pages. But the care she took with her poetry is evident; every word is perfectly chosen, none wasted or missing. Her work is fiercely intelligent, poignant, surprising, plainspoken, and wrought from imagery both familiar and extraordinary. A must-read for anyone who is interested in poetry, language, or indeed literature at all, Bishop's Poemsspeaks deeply to what makes us human. – Jill

I hate poems. Hahaha. 


by Kurt Vonnegut
What Kurt Vonnegut set out to do was write a book about war, and in particular the firebombing of Dresden in World War II. What he ended up doing was writing clean around it — traveling in and out of time warps, bouncing on and off the earth, sometimes setting down on the planet Tralfamadore, millions of miles away from Dresden and millions of miles away from war. What he created was a masterpiece of satire in which every crazy, clever moment, every whimsical line, no matter how deceptively light, is imbued with the sorrow and the starkness of the atrocity Vonnegut himself witnessed in that very real war. – Gigi

Yeah I read this. He's hard for me to read. 

Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe
Before Things Fall Apart was published in 1958, few novels existed in English that depicted African life from the African perspective. And while the book has paved the way for countless authors since, Chinua Achebe's illuminating work remains a classic of modern African literature. Drawing on the history and customs passed down to him, Achebe tells the tale Okonkwo, a strong-willed member of a late-19th-century Nigerian village. As we follow Okonkwo's story, we get a glimpse of the intricacies of village life and the complex social structures that come into play. We then see the devastating effects of European colonization on the region and on Okonkwo himself, whose rise and fall become intertwined with the changing power dynamics. Things Fall Apart is essential reading for anyone who wants a more nuanced understanding of other ways of life, of culture clashes, of what being civilized really entails. – Renee

Um. No I haven't but I will. 

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee
While To Kill a Mockingbird is a favorite book of pretty much everyone who has read it, it's important to remember that it continues to be subversive and challenging to the status quo. The protagonist is a young girl named Scout and except for her father, all the main characters in the book are marginalized by the power structure of their town — a structure that still exists nearly everywhere — where wealthy white men control the lives of everyone else, and even the members of that group who want to use their status for something honorable, like Scout's father Atticus, cannot win against the flattening wave of that power. Until something about that structure really changes, this book will remain required reading for every person in America. – Lizzy

Of course. Definitely one of the best books. 

Where the Wild Things Are

by Maurice Sendak
We all hold our favorite childhood books dear, but there's a reasonWhere the Wild Things Are is one of the most beloved picture books of all time. Of course it's about Maurice Sendak's whimsy, his spare poetry, his imagination. Of course it's about his impeccably detailed illustrations, depicting the beauty of a night of wild rumpus and the elegant fiendishness of wild things who gnash their terrible teeth and roll their terrible eyes. But mostly I think it's because underneath the boundless (yet beautifully bounded) inventiveness of Sendak's world, we see — and remember — exactly what it is to be a child. – Gigi

Sure. I don't think it rates as have to read before you die. 

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

by Haruki Murakami
Known for his beautiful, haunting, lyrical, and — at times — funny surrealistic stylings, Haruki Murakami is one of the most beloved Japanese authors in the Western world. Although infused with the pop culture of the West, his writing remains at its core firmly rooted in Japan. And as modern as his style is, his work draws upon the country's past while delving deep into the Japanese psyche. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is pure Murakami — a vast, enchanting mystery filled with dreamlike surrealism. Considered by many to be his best work, the novel tackles themes as varied as the nature of consciousness, romantic disappointment, and the lingering wounds of World War II. Readers will eagerly want to unravel this intricate, multi-layered tale. – Jen C.

Brilliance. I love all his books.

Where's East of Eden?? Where's Anna Karenina? Whatever Powell's.