pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out: October 2013

31 October 2013

Perfect autumn afternoon

Santa Ana, California
31 October 2013
What I loved most were the long shadows of the trees.
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.  

24 October 2013

Lunch at Farragut Square

Farragut Square
Washington, D.C.
18 October 2013

I'd spent the previous day on airplanes and I was going to be spending the afternoon and subsequent day in meetings and presentations.

"I want to be outside," I told the son.

So we went out, no real destination in mind, and ended up here, food truck heaven, and the son had second lunch.

(I ate some of his kimchi, but wasn't really hungry, so I watched people and enumerated the types and styles of food trucks available.)

Every time I return, the tug becomes more insistent. I've found myself looking at real estate ads. Walking up O Street last Saturday, I felt peace.

Yes, I love my new bathroom (photos soon, promise). But I'm so ready to leave the battleground that is Southern California. I've been ready to leave for decades.

Now I have a kid on the East Coast. And I have a kid who is feeling the sense of possibility. 

"University College, London," she chirps. "University of Toronto. University of Tokyo..."

The sense of possibility.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.

23 October 2013

The day that you know is coming

Mile Square Regional Park
Fountain Valley, California
6 April 2013

Last night, I received an email. The news was unwelcome in more ways than one (and true to the spirit of the sender, wildly incomplete). But it was, in the main, unsurprising, because I knew that one way or another, we'd eventually arrive at this day.

The spouse walked in to find me sitting at my desk with my head in my hands, and he asked, "What?" I pointed at my monitor, and silently he read. Then he sighed.

Because we don't know the details, or what exactly the news entails, we've said nothing to our children yet. I've warned them both in the past that this day was coming. There are only so many ways one can say it without being totally morbid, but I've warned them. They are young; they've never had to deal with something like this. And when I tell them, it will change their lives forever. There is no way that can be avoided. 

We never know what form the future will take. We just know that it is coming.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.

20 October 2013

Back at the airport again

Washington National Airport (with bonus river view)
20 October 2013

19 October 2013


Washington Monument, fully clothed
Washington, DC
 18 October 2013

The monument still rises above all, now just clad like some Christo installation.

 I dragged the son around for a bit yesterday before the meetings began and he ate everything that wasn't tied down.

(No, seriously. Bulgogi from a food truck. Half a wedge of cheese with crackers, and then a package of prosciutto. Sandwiches at the school reception and entire plates of crab fried rice, spring rolls and sate when I took him and his roommate to dinner. Then he mused, "I wonder if I'm not eating enough...")

Notably, as we wandered from a meeting to a reception, an attractive young woman hailed the son and came over to introduce herself to me. When she departed, he looked at me, wide-eyed.

"I didn't even know she knew I existed," he murmured.

"She's adorable and she just played the mom card," I told him. "She's a candidate for coffee."

 (Subtext: do not be unconfident and oblivious as your mother has always been. Also, I told him that coffee is the best opening gambit to get to know someone. It's innocuous and if it isn't working, you can run fast. If it is working, it can become dinner.)

Meanwhile, the Palomar has provided plenty of coffee (and barking dogs), so it's time to get back out there.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.

17 October 2013

16 October 2013

Just another day

Washington, D.C.
12 April 2009

"Congress approved the proposal," I told the spouse.

"They heard you were coming to give them what-for," he responded drily.

I actually haven't been near anything that would be affected by the shutdown in about 5 years. I've got some free time this weekend, but also meetings. And I promised the son I'd take him and his roommates out to dinner.

All this means I should actually be packing.

It's been a crazy week in a lifetime of crazy weeks. The spouse suddenly started sporting a swollen jaw Monday morning after a crown was put on one of his teeth Saturday, so that's consumed an incredible amount of energy, especially as he was supposed to give a talk out of town this week. So much for that idea. So he and the daughter and the cat will be holding down the fort and then Monday I will revisit that shot-out-of-a-cannon feeling.

The bathroom is done. A needed change completed.

More is yet to come.

All things being equal (they never are), I'm ready to start.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

15 October 2013

Pardon me, sir

Milton and the interloper
31 October 2008

"Skeptical" is how the daughter termed him.

And at the moment, I too am skeptical for reasons that have nothing to do with marble-eyed cat cutouts.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

10 October 2013

My life on a movie set

Orange County, California
1 April 2013

This is not an infrequent scene at my house. I joked with the daughter that I'm running out of rooms for her to film in and that I'll have to remodel the rest of the place so that she'll have new sets.

(On this particular day of shooting, I had to notify the neighborhood that there would be screaming emanating from my house, that a bandaged up young man would be repeatedly banging on my front door, and that it was all with my knowledge and consent, so there was no need to call the sheriff. What we do for our kids who are shooting zombie flicks.)

I know my fellow conservatory parents are in the same boat:

I haven't yet had to take any doors off the hinges, I admit.

And now, I have to go back to figuring out the best way to build a mock-up of  a ventilation shaft. Those big boxes from our bathroom fixtures are coming in handy.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPad. We as conservatory parents are the bank, the caterer, and transportation, and frequently are actors, set decorators, DPs and sound engineers. Can't tell you how many times I've had to hold that boom mike.

09 October 2013

First storm of the season

Santa Ana, California
9 October 2013

And EVERYBODY had their crazy showing.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone 4.

07 October 2013

Tough times demand tough talk (and free produce)

Washington Monument
Washington, D.C.
12 April 2009

I wanted to write a funny post about how I will be arriving at National on October 17 (which I am, in fact. Parents' Weekend. It's been planned for awhile) prepared to give our nation's putative leaders the talking to that their imbecilic behaviour demands before sending them to bed without supper. Because if you act like spoiled children, I'm certainly going to treat you thusly.

(For the record, my children got frequent lectures but were never sent anywhere without proper nourishment. I never tied food to punishment or reward. For Capitol Hill, however, I'll make an exception.)

In any event, I really don't have the heart for it. There just isn't any humor in the situation.

In other news, my neighbor R. has been dumping enormous piles of produce on my front step. We had one of our wretched windstorms this weekend and she didn't want cherry tomatoes blowing all over her yard, so I was the recipient of a couple of pounds. I got cooking and made the perfect dinner for Meatless Monday:

Cherry Tomatoes and Capers over Whole Wheat Fusilli:

1 pound whole wheat fusilli or other short pasta
3 Tbl olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 tsp dried oregano
1/16 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
3 Tbl capers, drained
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, and cook, stirring, until just golden, about 1 minute. Add cherry tomatoes, wine, capers, oregano, crushed red pepper. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring, until tomato juices run, about 5 minutes. If the sauce becomes too dry, add another splash of wine or water. Add pasta and 1/4 cup Parmesan to the skillet and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with more cheese if desired.

I adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart's Tomato and Olive Penne. I love kalamata olives, but my family doesn't, so I used capers and wine together to help cut the sweetness of the tomatoes. It was very good!

Of course, it didn't hurt that the tomatoes were free. I'll pay her back with homemade banana muffins.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40. For those of you who live in the U.S., consider donating to a local food bank if you're able. Many people are losing services thanks to the shutdown, and whatever your politics, there's really no need to let others go hungry. Well, unless you're Reid or Boehner.

06 October 2013

Scene from daily life

Metrolink train
Orange County, California
6 October 2013

I spend a great deal of time at this railroad crossing.

Even on the weekend.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.

05 October 2013

Interesting place of the day

Discovery Well Park
Signal Hill, California
5 October 2013

Back in the 1920s, the Alamitos #1 well struck oil on Signal Hill, leading to the discovery of the Long Beach oilfield. There is still an active operation on the hill.

We discovered the park quite by accident because the daughter was filming in Signal Hill today. The spouse knew of the geological significance of the area, but I happened to see the park on the map while we were trying to get the daughter where she needed to be. We didn't have time to hike around the area, but what we saw was plenty interesting.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.

04 October 2013

Another song

Off Cape Farewell, Greenland
31 July 2008

I was flipping through photos and there you were.

The look on your face made me catch my breath. I always saw the smile. I never saw the light.

You come to me in dreams. Our conversations are so real--especially the ones when you are angry with me--that I wake confused, absolutely certain that I'd just been speaking with you. I feel your presence, as if you'd just left the room. If I could reach out...

Another year. You again. And again. I laugh quietly remembering this moment and that moment. If I had only...

What? The gulf was too wide. I didn't know how to bridge the gap. Oh there are ways, but those ways are not my ways. Like an iceberg, there is more to me than meets the eye. And I am a private person, not prone to revealing myself in public.

You look so damn happy. This breaks my heart but also makes it skip a beat. There is time yet, a tiny voice whispers.

Somewhere a clock is ticking. But at least it's still ticking.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.