Archive for April, 2007

sitcom parents

Last night, Jeremy, taking Claire off for a timeout, quotes Futurama: Let’s have a long boring talk about our relationship.

This morning I drive with Claire grumpy in the backseat, think back to last night when The Office’s Jim lured a grumpy Andy into a rendition of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” and sing: What’s going to work?

Claire (softly): …team work…

Together: Wonder Pets, Wonder Pets, we’re on our way! To help the baby animals and save the day…

owl and owie

Worst run ever this morning. I decided to try and beat my usual time, so I cranked up Jonathan Coulton’s “Code Monkey” instead of my more usual warmup, “Sunny Afternoon” by the Kinks. I was winded half a block up Eugenia, and groaning by the time I reached the owl. Then my earphone connector came loose and as I was trying to reconnect it I skidded, lost my balance and came a cropper on Bernal Heights Boulevard.

Worried onlookers flocked to me. I waved them off, saying:

“No, it’s fine, I’m just an idiot.”

I finished the rest of the run without mishap and came in at exactly the usual pace.

I’ve been reading The Tummy Trilogy, which makes it impossible to stick to any sort of diet that isn’t, you know, delicious. I don’t think I qualify as a serious eater in Trillin’s sense of that term – my tastes run too haute – but I definitely have a level of engagement with food. Luckily and in spite of this morning’s pratfall, the running seems to be sticking. I don’t do it for any particular reason any more. I just run. That should offset at least a little of the half-and-half in my morning coffee.

Every woman has to ask of her partner “Will he love me as much as Calvin loves Alice?” Jessa Crispin, another crush of mine, notes that we all have to admit the negative, because we are less worthy than Alice of love. This thought made me gloomy for a short while, until I came to a pleasing realization: Calvin loves Alice almost as much as I love Jeremy.

blogs i should totally start

“Perception and Realty”

“Homeschooled by Wolves”

a decision; our neighbourhood

Not that we’re going to get a dog, but if we ever do, we thought of the perfect name: Kitty.

Another busy and complicated weekend. Up at horrendous o’clock on Saturday, chivvying poor Jamey, Rowan, Gilbert and Claire to Moscone Elementary for a Parents for Public School Meeting. The first item of business: to create a collage showing our vision for our childrens’ school. We looked at each other in consternation, and walked out. I’m not sure what the exercise was supposed to achieve, and I’m sorely disappointed, because the last PPS meeting I went to was truly excellent.

Claire and I ran errands instead. Took a bunch of old clothes to Buffalo Exchange, which bought exactly one pair of jeans for a store credit of $6.75.

“We can only sell things that are trendy,” explained the worker kindly.

Saturday night Jeremy, because he is of all men the most excellent, made a lasagne with some lamb mince we had in the freezer. He used Julia Child’s bechemal recipe, then layered the noodles and bechemal with a lamb mince, onion, tomato paste, garlic and herb sauce. It was ridiculously good; so was the spinach and pine nut salad he made to go with it.

Sunday I ran and saw the owl, brilliantly camouflaged in the pines. Artolog mentions that the dead owl was a male, so presumably the survivor is a female? Will she stay, find another mate, nest? I can’t believe the California poppies are already done; all the other wildflowers are out now, but it’s those splashes of emergency orange that really spell spring for me.

This reminds me that I was chatting to Dad on Saturday night and he asked about Bernal Heights. It’s the great green barrow tomb that marks the southern boundary of the Mission District, an outcropping of red chert bedrock and thus one of the safest places in the city in case of earthquake. The lower slopes of the hill were settled for this reason after the quake and fire of 1906 (my so-called Victorian dates to 1907), but the grassland on top remained goat paddocks well into living memory and only became a park in the 1970s. It’s maybe the best example of unspoiled native San Francisco habitat within city limits.

I used to look wistfully at the hill from our flat in Alabama Street; then we moved to its lower slopes; now I run around it three times a week and consider it my own personal fiefdom, as do all my neighbours. Red tracks in the chert wind up through the flower-sown grass. As I run I can survey a pretty large swathe of the San Francisco Bay Area, from the San Bruno hills in the south to Twin Peaks in the west to Mount Tamalpais in the north to Mount Diablo in the east. What it is, is heaven.

After my run we all walked to Salome’s house for breakfast, then I dragged Salome over the hill to Glen Park for pastries from Destination, and we shopped ferociously at a garage sale given by a woman of superb taste on the way. Then Salome and I fought the crowds at Ikea. She solved a pressing clothing-storage emergency and I bought Claire a small high-efficiency reading lamp. She’s been reading under the bedcovers at night with a torch, just as I used to do albeit when I was twice her age. Dinner was an outrageously good frittata at the Ramsay-Gormans, with Medjool dates and Rainbow’s cave-aged Swiss gruyere for dessert.

And so to bed.

the internet brings us together

The girls are blessedly asleep. Jeremy and I are sitting side by side on the sofa with our laptops. He’s answering email, I’m reading blogs. He IMs me something that makes me laugh out loud. I reply:


owl, r.i.p.

We lost one of our owls. Poor Artolog found the body. This being San Francisco, there’s going to be a post-mortem. It was probably rat poison; that’s the usual suspect. People are leaving flowers.

I’ve seen the surviving owl a couple of times. I hope he stays. I hope he lives.

overall ambivalence

Jeremy’s coming home: hurray! But he’s planning more trips this summer and fall: boo.

ETA: two hours until he’s here.


“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That’s why we eat it twice.”

“The Commonwealth: it’s the zombie British Empire.”

“The first rule of Bicker Club is I cannot believe I am having to tell you the rules of Bicker Club, AGAIN.”

blog post gumbo

None of the following has yielded a post of its own, so it’s my hope that everything thrown together will thicken into a nourishing soup.

I’ve hit a plateau with the running. I’ve been up on the hill in all weathers, but the easy dramatic performance improvements of the first six weeks have ended, and now it seems about equally hard every day. I still like it, though. And I kicked ass in yoga this morning, able to hold quite challenging poses for longer than ever before. Maybe I should do more yoga on my non-running days. In my copious free time.

Having a crush on your yoga instructor: it’s the new having a crush on your midwife.

Decent run of films lately. The Lives of Others is spectacularly good; go see. The Namesake has a fairly clunky script, but is redeemed by astounding performances and cinematography of great beauty. When The Levees Broke and Jesus Camp will break your heart and stiffen your resolve to fight for truth and justice.

Yesterday I lay on my back in Golden Gate Park with Julia spread-eagled asleep on my chest, and I watched the trees move against the blue sky, and I felt very happy.

Oh! And when we were driving to dim sum last week, Jeremy said:

“Bags of soup! They’re like delicious pustules.”

I said very seriously: “I am so glad that I married you.”


Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.

julia: a status report

I forgot to put on my glasses when I went to see the girls yesterday morning. Julia looked at me and went blicketing out, then came back a minute later to give me my glasses and phone.

She’s uncannily competent. She howls if you clip her into her high chair, because she wants to do it herself. When she’s especially pleased she exclaims “EEEE!” in a way that leaves no doubt that she is a young chimpanzee.

The rest of the time she’s just hugely pleased.

Tonight she said “BYE MI-YO” and my heart turned over.

Her hair smells like sunshine and apples. Her hug makes life worth living. She is an intergalactic gamma ray burst of love.

easter feasts

My new favourite yum cha place is unstoppable! We were eleven people – eight adults, three children. We had all the dim sum we could eat. Not kidding. Alien chrysalises, shrimp dumplings, barbequed fork buns (Claire likes the fork buns.) We ate ourselves stupid.

“There is food coming out of my ears,” I said.

“Show me,” said Claire, deadpan.

The check came to $77. How we laughed!

We’re doing a Sunday dinner exchange with the Ramsey Gormans, and this week we were their guests. I must say it’s pleasant to be able to walk to a dinner party without crossing a single street. Kathy used a Jamie Oliver recipe to make us pork chops with potatoes, parsnips and pears. My contribution was a bottle of sticky wine and a sweet potato pie from Mission Pie. Everything was fantastic.

I ran very slowly this morning.

toddler golf!

Today Milo turned two. Claire was thrilled. She ran through our house yelling “I love my brother!”

I found a completely awesome gift for Milo; cuddly golf clubs and golf balls, all carried in a golf bag with big soft wheels.

easily amazed

A couple of weeks ago we went to Cole Hardware and I bought some pots and potting mix and packets of cherry tomato and chive seeds. Jeremy and Claire planted them and sat them under the kitchen window, and we waited, and waited, and waited. The packet said to wait six days, but by day eight, nothing.

And then! On day nine, shoots! Now every day, slender reeds of chive, translucent leaves of tomatoes! The whole idea was to teach Claire how to nurture plants and that food comes out of the earth, but I’m the one who is amazed. Green life where there was none. Another miracle. Grace.

snotty jackhammers and difficult habits to acquire

Starting to feel slightly better after a hellish yesterday in which my sinuses tormented me with snotty jackhammers every time a child jumped on me or a MUNI alarm went off in my ear. I was so discombobulated that on my way home I accidently caught the K-Ingleside instead of the J-Church, and didn’t realize my mistake until Forest Hill. Jeremy put the kids to bed so I had about twelve hours sleep and feel slightly more human today.

I’m faintly pleased that the only thing I did manage to do yesterday was run, albeit in an even more zombified state than usual. Jamey and I are planning to run the Easter Roller Coaster on Sunday, so I’m fairly determined to do three 4k runs this week. One down, two to go.

Seth and I had one of our semi-regular lunch dates at Samovar delicious Samovar, because he is off to South America to visit Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, the lucky, lucky man.

As usual, Seth and I talked about what Tony Kushner would call the longstanding problems of virtue and happiness. I mentioned how much I admire the Jewish custom of sitting shiva, or simply being present for another’s grief; Seth told me about ben Azzai, who said that the reward for a mitzva (or good deed) is the opportunity to do another mitzva. Compassion, we decided, is like running or riding a bike; it needs to be practised and become a habit.

There is so much work to be done.

so very tired but happy

Raising children is a strange and ironic pastime. When Andrew and Kathy left, Claire and I were sitting in darkness in Claire’s room, having a serious conversation about speaking respectfully to your elders, being kind to babies and not eating too much sugar.

Five minutes later she got over being denied a cookie when I offered her… a chopped up carrot. She returned a fiercely disputed scarf and now we’re on the sofa, crunching carrots. As I blog she is working on her maths book.

The other day we passed St Luke’s. Claire said: “That’s the hospital where Julia was born!”

“Yes,” I said. “That was one of the happiest days of my life.”

“That was one of the happiest days of MY life,” said Claire.