Sunday, May 25, 2008

St. Paul Highlights

The highlight and reason for our weekend in St. Paul was Magnus' and Anita's wedding. What a beautiful, happy couple. We hadn't seen Magnus in over 4 years and it was great to be reunited with him and with Dominik and Frauke. The ceremony was held at a Unitarian church and it was simple and meaningful in both English and Swedish. The reception was held at the Science Museum where there was great food, good music and dancing (the groom can dance!) and many great speeches.

I was quite excited about visiting St. Paul since I am a fan of A Prairie Home Companion. I was surprised by how pretty and diverse the city is. And it was also very clean. However, at the same time, it seemed quite dead and I'm wondering if most people headed out of town for the long weekend. Either that or St. Paul is the first city I see staying ahead of the population growth curve (there's no traffic, everything is clean). And as far as the diversity, I expected to see a lot of Norwegians, but instead I've seen a lot of people from different cultures and a lot of Irish pubs.

We took the red-eye out here and spent most of Friday relaxing and walking around a bit. On Saturday we checked out the Science musuem and attended the wedding. Sunday we spent most of the day vegging in front of the tv, with a little walking around (ate at Mickey's famous diner and checked out the Fitzgerald theater) and monitoring of the weather. Every channel on TV had weather updates and tornado watches. As we sat looking out the window in our hotel room, we had a scary storm pass by with big, dark clouds, a little rain, and lots of wind, including small funnel clouds. But it only lasted about 15 minutes.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Looking Ahead to the Weekend

Over the weekend I had the wonderful pleasure of watching both my mom and brother graduate from California State University at Fullerton. My mom earned her BS in Child and Adolescent Studies, cum laude. It took her quite a few years to get to where she is now and I am so very proud of her. She started taking classes to earn her GED when I was in high school and she’s basically taken at least one, sometimes 3 or 4, college courses since then, in addition to working part time, volunteering a lot of her time, and being a mom and wife which included cooking dinner, cleaning, and driving us to too many soccer practices, games, and tournaments to count. She’s talked about pursuing a Master’s degree but at the same time I think she’s hoping to get a job as a Community Liaison (I think) at the school district where she works. As a community Liaison she would help parents take a proactive role in their children’s’ education. I think after 15 years working as a Teacher’s Aide she’s realized that a child’s educational success starts with the parents and home life.

My brother earned his BA in Liberal Studies with a Sociology minor. He’s ideal job would be a social worker at the county. I am very excited for him to become a social worker. He enjoys working with children and has in the past done an awesome job as a recreational coordinator for the city. I think being a social worker is a very emotionally demanding job, but I can’t think of anyone better than my brother to fill that job. He is a very compassionate person but he also has the ability to emotionally separate himself from the situation which would be very useful in social work. He is also considering going for a Master’s degree or joining the Peace Corp. If it were up to me, I’d probably ship my brother off to Latin America or Africa with the Peace Corp. I think everyone should have some sort of “study abroad” experience early in their lives.

I think witnessing my brother’s and mom’s graduation was a very moving experience for my dad. I can only imagine what it feels like to have your kids be done with school and then to add in your wife?? On our way to graduation (at 7:30 am at the start of our 5 hour roast in close to 100 degree F weather), my father expressed his satisfaction at having both his children and wife be college graduates. Again, congrats to my mom and my brother and thanks to my dad. My dad has always worked long, hard hours, and despite this, his put aside tiredness to be our number one fan.

In other graduation news, congrats to Sumana (or should I say Sumanabams) for earning her Masters in Technology Management while working full time. Whoo, Sumana!!!

In more ordinary news, my indoor game on Monday night went pretty well. We won 9-0. I unfortunately didn’t score but had lots of great shots (stopped by great goalie saves) and assists. As a team we played really well, moving the ball around a lot with lots of great communication. Personally, I had trouble going one-on-one. Whenever we play weak teams, I have a hard time being too aggressive and tend to play down and almost give up the ball. I think I feel sorry for the other team and I don’t want to show off or make them feel worse. However, at the same time I was trying pretty hard to score.

I may have mentioned before that I tend stay away from chain restaurants. One of the few exceptions is Chipotle, the gourmet burrito place. I love their vegetarian burritos and all their meats are humanely raised. I tend to eat there about once every 2 months. I had Chipotle for lunch today. At our Chipotle they have a “drop your business card and win 10 free burritos” contest every week. I’ve dropped about 4 cards into the bowl over the last 1.5 years, and I’ve won three times. It makes my coworkers very happy.

We are going to St. Paul, MN, this weekend for a friend’s wedding. After this, we don’t have any major travel plans for a while.

Check out Susan McCarthy’s, The Nature of the Beast. It’s a weblog of “short remarks about creatures, wildlife, and the environment.” McCarthy cowrote When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals and she wrote Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild. I met McCarthy’s husband at a party once, a few days after I had gone to the used bookstore, searching for When Elephants Weep, which I was unable to find it but that was probably due to poor memory – I knew the book title had “elephants” and “crying” in it. When McCarthy’s husband told me his wife was a writer, I asked if she had written any books I might know (I’m not good at remembering names) and even before he started answering my question, I knew he was going to say When Elephants Weep. I'm either psychic or was thinking too much of the book. I didn’t have much of a conversation with McCarthy herself – the party and house were large and I didn’t want to “stalk” her. I look forward to reading her weblog. Thanks for the find, Sumana and Leonard.

Pinkness Update: The vet was very happy with Sluggo’s pinkness level. He had more blood drawn and we’ll have a better idea of what’s going on and what his future holds after we get the results tomorrow. Sluggo and I have been playing a lot of fetch lately, mostly around 2 am. I don’t mind at all. Monkey on the other hand, is driving us crazy. She is incessant with her whining to get out of the house. We spoke to the vet about this and she suggested that we try to keep Monkey in for her safety and that of Sluggo’s (we don’t want her bringing in any disease). However, at the same time we need to consider her quality of life (and ours).

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Little Sluggo

Sluggo has Leukemia. He received a blood transfusion over the weekend and so he is currently doing much better. The vet expected the transfusion would last between one and three months. We have a vet appointment later this week to find out how his body accepted the transfusion. We’ve discussed options with the vet, but they really don’t recommend trying to do monthly transfusions to try to keep Sluggo comfortable and healthy. At least when it’s time he won’t feel pain, he’ll just be very tired.

Sluggo is 21 months old. When he was a kitten his test for Leukemia came back negative, but the vets think his disease started in his bone marrow so a blood test wouldn’t indicate any illness. I am very sad. I don’t want to loose our kitten. And I don’t want Noodles to loose his brother, his BFF. This afternoon we’re taking Monkey, Major, and Noodles to the vet to get tested. Leukemia is contagious between cats. There is a vaccination against Leukemia, but it is only recommended for indoor/outdoor cats. Monkey and Major have been vaccinated, Noodles and Sluggo were not.

For the time being, Sluggo is mostly back to his normal, spunky self. He loves to run around and play fetch. His favorite toys are one of my hair rubber bands, his catnip-stuffed carrot, and a rainbow colored mouse that makes noise when you shake it. He loves bananas and will gnaw on anything he can find. When I wake up on my own in the morning, I usually find him wedged between my legs. Otherwise, he’ll start kneading on me and he’ll wake me up with his razor-sharp claws. Sluggo loves to get petted and as a thank you he’ll give you lots of love bites (soft little nibbles on your hand). He’s a big love munchkin. I’ll probably be posting lots of pictures of him in the next few months.

Sluggo and his BFF Noodles. This was taken at my parents' house when they were taking care of them during their ringworm phase (hence the brown spots). The kittens got into the fireplace and were covered in soot. So my mom gave them a bath (she only got one little scratch in return) and they sat in the cupboards, recovering.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Furry Thoughts

Our white fur ball is very sick. Sluggo has really bad anemia and it doesn't look like it's the good or easy to care for kind. He's going to a specialist later today and they will redo some blood analysis. The blood analysis last night yielded results that were very grim (the lowest counts the vet had ever seen). It's probably premature to worry since they don't have a definite diagnosis yet but when the vet mentions bone marrow transfusions, it really makes me worry. Please keep him in your thoughts.

He's lost the pink in his nose.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cool Wheels!

My commute to work this morning was 45 minutes. Typical California commute, you say? Time-wise, yes. Path-wise, no. I rode my bike along the Steven’s Creek Trail. I had about 3/4 of a mile on residential streets and then the rest of the time was along the hike/bike path that had bridges, streams, and lots of other cyclists and pedestrians. I think I can take at least 10 minutes off my commute since I went slow (I got passed by a little girl on her tricycle going to school), was unsure on a couple of the turns, and there were quite a few bugs. I hit a couple of gnat clouds, but the worse was actually the ones that were just pounding me like little pellets. Thank goodness for sunglasses. Maybe I’ll wear a welder mask took keep the bugs out of nose and mouth. But at least I got some protein.

Here are some pictures (click on the picture for nicer, larger views):

The first part of the trail has a great tree canopy and is really cool. There are lots of turnoffs in this area that lead to residential areas, schools, or parks.

I ride over two bridges, one along the streets where I catch the trail and this one which is a bike/pedestrian bridge. I hit the bridge about 10 minutes into my commute to work and can go over it no problem; but on the way home I'm usually quite tired and struggle a bit.

I ride alongside the freeway for about 50 feet. It's very noisy in this area and the sound of the cars wash out my iPod.

At one point in time the trail crosses a major street.

The second third of my ride is along this stream. There are barely any trees in this area and a lot of bugs. But I also get to see ducks and some cool landmarks.

The large oval shaped building (from the top) with the black top used to be a blimp hangar for either NASA Ames or Moffet Field (Naval air base). Old people tell us that the city used to lose power whenever they would open or close the doors of the hangar. The buildings at the far left of the picture is the husband's work (Lockheed).

Nice view.

Cool truck (eye-candy for the husband).

The last third of my commute is partially along a golf course. On the right is the clubhouse for the course.

Google is to the left and another high-tech company is to the right.

This is where I get off the trail, right next to Intuit (TurboTax and Quicken).

I am proud of my commute to work. So far I've only ridden once a week due to soccer and other stuff I've had to do. I am surprised it takes me so long, but I tend to go slow, especially downhill. I am afraid of going to fast and falling off my bike. As I ride more, I'll probably get my commute time down. When I first started running on the treadmill, I had to hold on to the bar to keep from falling off. Now I can watch tv while I run on the treadmill.

In other news, I found Monkey all the way down and across the street as I was coming home from dinner. She was probably about 8 houses down. She was thinking about crossing the street as I drove by but pulled back as she saw/heard my car. I drove home, parked my car, and walked back to get her. She seemed a little confused and hesitant to let me pick her up. I am not happy that she went so far and across the street but maybe this was a one-time thing (since she seemed confused and disoriented). Whenever we try to keep her in for more than a few days, she tends to make some clear statements (icky statements) and she drives us crazy with her constant howling at the door. We've been through this debate before in trying to figure out if we should let Monkey out or not. We've escaped the dog that terrorized our old neighborhood but now we have the fear of cars. But at least Monkey is pretty street savvy and she still freaks out when she hears a car drive by. Being a mommy is hard.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Weekend Highlights

We had a pretty busy weekend. On Friday night I made enchiladas to celebrate Cinco de Mayo (a few days late). They were yummy.

Saturday I coached my girls. That was our last weekend practice. We have two tournaments the next two weekends, but I will miss them both because I have other, personal commitments. I am glad the season is almost over because I’ll get my weekends back, but I’m already starting to miss the girls. In the afternoon we ran lots of errands and got new glasses (glasses for the husband and sunglasses for me). We also stopped by Bed, Bath, and Beyond/Best Buy. I shopped for house stuff and the husband shopped for Grand Theft Auto IV (he may have had to grab the last copy from the hands of a 7 year old, but as long as the hubby is happy and will shop at BB&B with me, that’s all that matters).

On Sunday I went to the local laundromat and washed clothes. I still haven’t picked out a washer/dryer set and I am putting that off because all the options are overwhelming. It’s a big investment and I want to do as much research before we buy anything. In the afternoon, we checked out our local park and played a few rounds of tennis. We did a pretty good job despite not having played for a while. We finished off Mother’s Day with sushi. The kittens didn’t get me anything, but I did notice that there was less growling and hissing in general. What more could I ask for?

The rest of our free time was either spent vegging in front of the TV or unpacking boxes. We are almost done but we have a lot more books than bookshelves (how did that happen?). We watched the end of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. It’s always great to watch families who have been through a lot walk into their new home for the first time. Shows like this make me feel good about humans. Another good but sad show we watched was Heart of Lioness, an Animal Planet show in which a lioness adopts a baby oryx (would be her food in normal circumstances). The story is quite touching although hard to watch at times. I was quite impressed with the narrators objectivity and her ability to stay out of the way even when things looked grim for the pair. I definitely recommend the show. I am misty eyed just thinking about the story.

Indoor last night was good. We came from behind to tie and then win the game in the last couple of minutes. I played like crap. I just kept making the wrong decision (pass instead of shoot). I had an early practice with the little girls, and we just kept going over the 1 touch shot once they are in the penalty box. For the little girls it’s easier and more comfortable to pass than to be aggressive and take a shot. I got a beautiful pass right in the penalty box and no one was on me and instead of shooting, I thought “my teammate will get a better shot,” and I passed it back to my teammate who had 2 people marking him.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hooray for Thursday!

We’ve had a busy week. On Monday night, I had an indoor game and the husband came along to play too. He did pretty good for not being a soccer player. He had a few good passes and he almost had an assist but I missed the goal. The game was very intense and we came from behind to tie 3-3. Nine guys showed up to play and only 3 get to play on the field at once. So there was some tension during the game, but most people quickly got over that and we all went for some pizza and beer to celebrate our game and Cinco de Mayo.

On Tuesday night I had an outdoor coed game and I really wasn’t in the mood to play. I ended up playing only about 30 minutes of the game, which was fine. I wish I could be more like a guy in the sense that I would always play hard even if I wasn’t up for it. Sorry to generalize, but it’s true. The guys on my team always “fight” to get playing time whereas the girls “fight” to stay on the bench. It’s probably because females are more social and don’t want to take anyone else’s spot on the field. Again, sorry for generalizing, but I think it’s true.

On Wednesday, both the husband and I had our yearly eye exams. I love going to the eye doctor because the doctor is really cool. He’s well traveled, very talkative, and does a lot of humanitarian work. He always has great stories to tell. We had our pupils dilated and the doctor needed to use 3 times the normal amount of drops to get my eyes to dilate. It had something to do with my dark colored irises requiring more drops (they are thicker than lighter colored irises, or something like that). So for about 4 hours afterwards, I had to wear my sunglasses (even at the grocery store).

I really like all our doctors and I would love to spend time with them outside their practice. The husband describes them as total nerds and really into their profession. The only thing wrong with that is that a typical appointment will take a really long time. Our dentist averages close to 2 hours for a cleaning. They have all sorts of gadgets and like to explain things. The only doctor that doesn’t give us that much time is the primary care doctor but that’s usually because it’s not really needed (I tend to know what’s wrong with me before I go in so I usually only need meds). She has a small practice and we can usually get an appointment the day we call. We also really love our vet, but she’s leaving so we’ll have to find a new one. I have always appreciated the care the vet takes with our cats and how she coos over them. We actually saw another vet in the same practice (because of a scheduling error) and we liked her too. But we found out later that she’s a little crazy (there’s lots of evidence). So now that we’ve moved we’ll try to find a place that’s closer to home.

Our closest supermarket is Lucky and I went there yesterday. I prefer Safeway or Albertson's. I'm not sure which is cheaper, but at least at Safeway I get United miles when I shop. Over the weekend I had Pho for the first time. It was very, very good. It's the only soup I've seen my husband enjoy. I am glad it's Thursday!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Moving is a Royal Pain in the ...

But we survived. The move itself wasn’t so bad. We had pro movers who worked fast, were very strong, and really cute. They were nice enough to fix the broken wheel on our gigantic tv which makes repositioning it so much easier. When they were done with the move, they met all the kitties and cooed at them (which is every mom’s dream). The hardest part about moving was having the 40+ hour job and a small car. We made nightly trips to the place with as much stuff as we could fit in our Corolla. We were lucky to have about 1 week overlap so we were able to get a lot of stuff setup, like the kitchen. And having a garage made it easy to just dump a bunch of boxes in the garage and keep the house clear for the movers.

After the movers left and we let the kitties out of the laundry room, we went out for lunch. When we came back, Monkey was sprawled on the couch and she looked quite pleased to see us. She started meowing and rolling on the ground and playing with her tail. We were happy but surprised with the new Monkey. A few minutes later we noticed that none of the other kitties, the boys, had come to greet us. So we started calling out to them. Nothing. We opened a little can of food. Nothing. We spent about 10 minutes looking and finally found Major under one of the beds. But Sluggo and Noodles were still missing. Meanwhile, Monkey is following us around, being very talkative and loving. I’m starting to get worried, thinking that maybe the movers came back to steal the kittens. I know it’s stupid, but there aren’t a lot of places to hide. The kittens ended up being in the box springs of the guest bed. We finally found them when we shined a flashlight under the bed and saw a couple of lumps hanging under the box frame. When the boys started coming out a few hours later, Monkey returned to her bitchy self and started growling and hissing at everyone and everything.

The days after the move have been hectic and will continue to be so we’ll have a lot of boxes around for a while. Hopefully we’ll get them cleared by the time my brother-in-law comes to visit later this month. We probably should have spent the weekend unpacking as much as possible but instead I coached soccer, had to work, we set up the husband's new home gym (it’s pretty sweet), enjoyed our HBO on demand (we started John Adams and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) and we went to a soccer BBQ.

For lunch on Sunday we went to an Indian restaurant/cafeteria that I had been to when I first moved to Mountain View and was staying at a hotel in the neighborhood. I remembered it being very good and full of Indian people (always a good sign at an Indian restaurant). The restaurant was the kind of place where you walk up to the counter, order and pay, take your seat, and then your food is delivered. The menu was a text list of a lot of words I had not seen before so I just went for the Sunday special (vegetable Biryani) and the husband ordered something that sounded familiar. When our food arrived, my dish turned out to be a vegetable and rice mixture with a yogurt and onion sauce. It was very good. The husband's dish was a couple of round dumplings (maybe corn) with 4 sauces for dipping. A few minutes later:

Waiter: Mango lassi.
Me: We didn’t order a lassi.
Waiter: Yes you did.
Me: No we diddn’t.
Waiter: Yes you did.

The waiter then put the lassi on our table and walked away. It was a good lassi. A few minutes later, another waiter arrived with a huge crispy crepe that was almost 2 feet long. I said "great!" and took the plate from him. I wasn't going to argue this time. The crepe was good but very spicy. Everything was very good so we would definitely go back. I wonder if we could duplicate the experience by ordering the same stuff.

We’ve only been at our new place a couple of days and here’s what I think so far:

It’s a house! It is a duplex but it’s a house nonetheless.
It’s a real neighborhood – people are always walking, jogging, pushing strollers.
We have a garage to put all our crap in. And any other crap we might buy.
The kitchen. It’s bigger than our old kitchen.
It’s all on 1 floor. I enjoyed having stairs, but it will be easier to clean without the stairs. Plus, in a place where real estate is premium, it’s nice to not have any lost space around the stairs.
The laundry room/kittenarium. It’s nice to have a separate room, far away, where we can put the litter box.
My bike ride to work will now be on a hike/bike trail.

Cars. There are very few cars on our street, but the ones that drive by we can hear. Both the kitties and I stopped what we were doing the first time we realized a car was driving by (we all ran under the bed). At our old place we were on a really busy avenue, but we were at the very back so we never heard anything (except the constant ambulances at the retirement community next door) and we had an empty lot behind us.
Our neighbors are really close to us. All our windows seem to face their windows so we can easily look into each other’s houses, especially at night. And there’s a huge window at torso level in the shower (the glass is frosted but it’s hard to vent the bathroom when you are showering).
We are further away from my work and just a little bit closer to the husband’s work. Not everything is still in a 1.5 mile radius from where we used to live – Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, my work, the gym, Costco.

Pictures will be coming as soon as we get our computer set up, which unfortunately is pretty far down the list.