Sadly, the holiday season is winding down. I decided to start to put away my holiday decorations. Actually, my 'holiday decorations' only consist of Xmas Stockings with the pets' names on them (and mine, from childhood). Actually, most years I don't even bother hanging those up. Actually, this year was one of those years. I'm not really into holiday decor. Still, I had removed them from their top secret under bed hiding place, so it was time to put them back there. They were conveniently located in the middle of my living room floor where Fondue left them after she attacked them. Trespassers! Interlopers! You will be punished! So, I lift them up and notice that Fondue has destroyed the leading 'L' off of Olita's stocking. Poor Olita, that dog has had it out for him from day one. I'm not surprised that Fondue focused her rage and fury at Olita's stocking instead of the other three. I am a bit surprised that she can read.


B and E

There are things that I do, that are not common, but do not seem out of place. I mean, they aren't things I do all the time, but also aren't things that seem incongruous to my personality. What I am trying to say is, last week, in the harsh 60 degree California winter I locked myself out of my own house while wearing nothing more than a robe and socks. People have keys to my house. I have always handed out spare keys like candy in case I ever lost my keys or locked myself out; I just never thought I would actually do it. It's like how I have enough AD&D insurance in my name to pay off my brother's considerable medical school loans, but don't plan on actually dying or dismembering. (Note to Michael: killing your sister to pay off your medical school loans is not only wrong, but will also mean you will be forced to care for three badly behaved pets.)

Let's go back to the beginning. It is Sunday. It is late to still be in a robe, but I have just gotten up and frankly won't be dressed any time soon. I let the chihuahua out to do her outdoor chihuahua things. Sniffing, Bathrooming, Running in Circles, Barking. The barking is getting out of hand, she is targeting the kindly retiree across the street. He is walking over to say hi to her, I think about going outside to intervene, the barking escalates, I notice my Sunday NY times is missing AGAIN. I am out of my mind with anger and confusion. I go outside and shut the door behind me, checking to make sure it is unlocked, but perhaps not paying too much attention to the results of that check. Neighbors get talked to, chihuahuas get calmed down, papers are still missing. I start to head back inside, turn the doorknob and hear the little click it makes when it does not open for you.

I'm a resourceful woman. I pick up my chihuahua and start ringing the doorbell of my spare key wielding neighbors/aunts. No answer. Now, I'm a little freaked out. I go to my messy backyard to figure out how to break in to my house. Unfortunately, I usually think about my house security needs in terms of how to keep people from getting in. There is no faux rock hide-a-key or unlocked back door. The only window that happens to be cracked is the bathroom window. It also happens to be a very high, very narrow window. Still, I grab a chair, pop out the screen and start considering how I will get through it. The one problem is I won't fit through it. The other problem is I would need to exit the window head first onto my porcelain bathtub. So, I'm stuck. Luckily only figuratively.

My next decision is that my neighbors'/aunts' yard is much nicer to stay in than mine. If their gate is unlocked, I can hang out in their jacuzzi until they come home. After all, I'm dressed for it. Fondue and I head back over and break into their yard. We are sitting on the porch, waiting for my heart rate to go down, when my aunt opens her back door. Apparently, she was in the shower during my doorbell ringing frenzy, but now she is clean, dry and ready to let me in my house.

Also, my New Year's Resolution is to start wearing PJs to bed. Not sexy, but apparently, necessary. Very, very necessary.


Keepin' Curfew

I think we are all making time this busy holiday season to start knitting baby blankets for the young Ms. Jamie-Lynn Spears. I am not here to start in on accidental pregnancies or young parents, after all both of those were critical factors in my own conception and birth. I just want to talk more trash about the Spears family.

So, first the parents name her after themselves, Jamie and Lynne. I don't know, I would go the George Foreman route myself. Rachel-Dog, Rachel-Cat, and Rachel-Other-Cat.

Then, she's 16 and pregnant.

Okay. And then we are surprised because she "never missed curfew"? Really? Because you can't pregnant before midnight? Because you don't have to talk to your children about sex and birth control until they get sent to juvie hall? So now, this poor girl, is now about to become some sort of symbol for all that is wrong with today's youth. And she's just a young girl, that became accidentally pregnant in the midst of much family chaos.

Any decent stage mother would've shipped the girl off to Europe for nine months and then pretended the baby was Britney's. Britney is too messed up to keep count at this point, so who loses? But, Mama Lynne in her infinite wisdom, allowed another of her kids to be thrown to the wolves. Brilliant, she should write a book. Oh wait.


Ten More Shopping Days Until My Birthday

A $3.00 egg McMuffin for $50.00? Sign me up!



Newsless Sunday

I am trying to have a good Sunday. I am watching Weeds Season Two on dvd and wrapping Festivus presents for you, gentle readers. That should bring me great joy. But, there is a dark cloud hanging over my day.

After crawling out of bed at an unreasonable hour, I went outside to get the paper. Just to discover that my Sunday New York Times was missing. Oh no, the neighborhood car radio theft is one thing, but fucking with a girl's erudite crossword is another thing altogether. I know, I can't finish it, but I still like to fill it up with random words and keep it on my desk at work. Makes the bitches think you are all kinds of smart.

I better not be missing out on important world geo-political news because I am without my Style section. I better not.


Sleeping Like a Rock (of Love)

When I finally tear myself away from the t.v. at night and crawl into bed, Galileo is always there to greet me. She does happen to be a big fan of the bed, and unless she is sitting next to me on the couch, or meowing for fresh water, she is on the bed. So, we always have two seconds alone before the other animals catch on that it's bed time.

I've been trying to dream more, or remember my dreams more, or something. I try to say (out loud) what I want to dream of at night before I fall asleep. I've decided that saying this out loud to Galileo is slightly less crazy than saying it to the pillow. So, Galileo and I sit in bed and, uh, talk about what we want to dream of. Last night we decided we would dream of fish, mittens, and hot cocoa (she normally picks fish, fresh water, or human slaves to constantly pet her). Our dreams did not come true. Or mine didn't. Galileo looked pretty happy this morning, so she probably had the fish/mitten/hot cocoa dream that I was gunning for. So, what did I dream about? Rock of Love: Season 2: Return of the Cheap Strippers. Now, it's not on the air yet, so we will all have to wait for the real deal. In the meantime, let's review what the sandman delivered to me last night.

So, in this dream, I am on Rock of Love: Season Two. Except, I'm me, not a cheap stripper. More like a would-be-expensive stripper, or a HR professional with low morals. And I am just making out with Bret the whole time. What a dream! If Bret and I were together my life would be full of touring with a crappy band, spending my free time in strip clubs, and dating a man that wears more makeup than me. And, then, the downside, listening to his crappy band all the time, never having a dollar for a diet coke, because I spent all my $1's at the strip club, and getting pink eye because my whore of a boyfriend used my eyeliner again. I guess, that makes it more of a nightmare.

Tomorrow, I plan to ask to dream about bad 80's bands, balding rock stars, and stripper poles. Hopefully doing that will guarantee me that nocturnal cup of cocoa.

Galileo says: if you put down the camera, you could pet me with that hand...


Soup Season

The good thing about the unbearable harshness of the California winter (rain, more rain, and sometimes wind!) is that it is the perfect weather for eating soup. I've been on a soup frenzy. Minestrone, Pureed Roasted Vegetable, White Bean and Sage, Won Ton and Hot and Sour. Most of them I've been making myself, but occasionally I outsource the job to a local Chinese restaurant.

The White Bean and Sage soup is fantastic, super simple and hands down my favorite soup to make. It goes like this:

2 Cups Diced Onions
1 Cup Diced Carrots
4 Garlic Cloves, Pressed
1 Tbs Olive Oil
15 Large Fresh Sage Leaves
6 Cups Cooked White Beans (if using cans--about 3 cans, reserve liquid from canned beans)
3 to 4 Cups Veggie Stock
Salt and Pepper to taste

1) In soup pot, saute the onions, carrots, and garlic in olive oil on med-low until onions are translucent. Stack the sage leaves and cut into thin strips. Add sage to vegetables. Add cooked beans and 3 cups of vegetable stock, bean-cooking liquid, or water. Continue to cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the soup is hot and simmering.

2) Ladle 2/3 of the soup in blender in batches. Puree until smooth and add back to pot. Thin soup with remaining veggie stock if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I also add fresh rosemary with the sage a lot. And I have adapted it into a better blended, less liquid state to make white bean puree, which is fantastic on toasted bread.

The Pureed Vegetable Soup may be even easier. I like to roast vegetables in the winter months. Lots of them. I cut up as many root vegetables as I can find, toss them in olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and Herbs de Provence. Roast in oven at 350 ish for 30 minutes ish, stir on occasion.

The vegetables are great just like that, but you can make a double batch and puree half of the roasted veggies in the blender with some veggie stock and you have instant soup. Almost as fast as ordering from the Chinese place. But, alas, no fortune cookies.


Où Est Mon Chien?

Fondue says: if I don't sleep under blankets all day, I won't have the energy to bite your toes all night

I think you are aware that the weather is getting colder. I will spare you my diatribe on the agony I feel when the temperature dips below 70. I will focus instead on how the rest of my household suffers. The cats do okay, they are well-insulated with their soft fur, and they sleep on the bed in a kitten pile. That leaves the chihuahua. Her fur seems to be mainly decorative, not very functional. And judging by how my black coat looks; her fur sheds if you merely look at it. She is a tiny dog; and she is cold.

She has clothes. First I bought her some clothes from Target. After all, that is where I get most of my clothes. She didn't seem to like wearing them. Since we all know tiny dogs love to be dressed, I figured her objections were based in social consciousness. So, I went to American Apparel and got her some sweatshop free t-shirts. Alas, she still seems unhappy. So, while we still wear clothes out and about; we run around naked in the house. Even in the bitter, bitter cold of the California winter.

So, how does a tiny dog stay warm, in an unheated house, without clothes? Apparently, by burrowing under blankets. The problem is when you are tiny, and sleeping under a lumpy blanket on the couch, you are effectively invisible. So, Lolita steps on her a lot and that leads to barking and meowing and general discord. The other thing that happens is I tend to 'lose' her a lot. It's happened a couple of times. I tear myself away from the t.v. and try to get some chores done. A couple hours later, I realize I have no idea where the dog is. I look for her, room by room and can't find her. I try to remember if I have let her outside and just forgotten about her (I get it, I'm not going to be mother of the year). Then when I head to the computer to start working on the 'missing dog' posters, I notice the blanket on the couch is moving.

Then she pokes her tiny head out, looks at me with her chocolate-colored eyes, and burrows back under.


Delay in Enlightenment

What am I doing right now? Typing to you. What am I supposed to be doing? Going to Buddha school and reaching enlightenment. But, I can't. I need to get some more work done for my customer. Sure, I'm mad. I should be getting my mother-fucking meditation on right now, not avoiding work by writing in my blog. I'm not surprised though, I am used to everything conspiring against me on buddha school night.

Once there was some bay bridge accident and the other cars made it so I had to drive s-l-o-w-l-y and then everyone in the inner Richmond district got home ten minutes before I got to the neighborhood and took up all the parking spots.

Then there was the time that the critical mass people got to the intersection two minutes before me. So, I had to turn off my car and read my book instead of driving to buddha school. Then the one guy stopped his bike to chat me up while I was parked there. Actually, that part wasn't so bad.

Then tonight, I get back from lunch and find out a customer is announcing a merger and I need to drive to Pleasanton to be there for the announcement. And work on materials for them to distribute tomorrow.

It is important to know that I will not be defeated. To all you haters, trying to keep a player from their beginner's mind, you will not win. You can block the bridge, steal the parking spots, scream at me about my oil consumption, make me do the job I'm paid for, but you will not win. I'm still going to get my mother-fucking zen on. Namaste.


Out and About

Friday night Sara and I went to see my hippie boyfriend, Sam Beam, of the Iron & the Wine play. The sound was off for the opening act, we ended up sitting in the lounge area, reading The Economist and drinking wine. My boyfriend sounded good. But, I guess I prefer the spared down Iron & Wine, just Sam and maybe his sister, some guitars and the angst. The band was too much. Or maybe not enough. Needed more to get things really going energy wise, and was too much to keep things quiet, moody, and spare. The emo blade cuts both ways.

It should be noted that Sara and I are on a kick to expose ourselves to nighttime culture as much as possible. Sara, to celebrate a much deserved break from grad school studying. Me, to reluctantly force myself out of the house and away from my television. Thanksgiving week, we went to the Berkeley Rep to see "After the Quake" a play based on short stories by Haruki Murakami. As much as I hate missing Ghost Whisperer, I agreed to go because Murakami is one of my favorite writers. Even though that one part of "Kafka on the Shore" (if you read it, you know) still freaks me out to this day. Luckily, our love is strong enough to overcome and luckily, he didn't repeat any shit like that in "After Dark". So the play was great, though I thought the female lead was horrible. Next up we are going back to the rep to see "Argonautika". We like our shit to be mythical. That's how we roll. The fact that I am giving up a precious Wednesday night (America's Next Top Model, Gossip Girl, AND Project Runway) speaks to my commitment to local theatre, friendship with Sara, and Jason & the Argonauts. Except, you know, the whole Medea thing could've been handled better.


Music Review

"Ya boy is off the wall. I'm Michael Jackson, these other niggas is Tito" Jay-Z 'Party Life

The good things you have heard about the new Jay-Z cd, American Gangster, are all true. It's many kinds of retro fun, references from the orginal gangsters of the 20's, 30's, 40's, heroin superstars of the 60's and 70's, and the Sugar Hill Gang 80's. A lot of the lyrics feel heavy, feel dark. New York film noir of music. And then the retro riffs threaded through, lightening everything up. And a soupcon of misogyny. It is important to not forget the bitches.

The story behind the album, is that Jay-Z saw an early screening of American Gangster and was struck, not just with the tale of Frank Lucas, but the parallels to his own past, and his love of rapping about drugs in general. I guess that shit impresses Beyonce, so keep on keeping on

Most importantly, it has a good beat and you can dance to it.


My friend, Karen, one of my fabulous Maui co-vacationers, shared with me what the kids are asking for this holiday season. Apparently, while waiting in line with her son to visit Santa, she overheard the young boy in front of them ask for, "a wheel barrow full of cake". Indeed. Please consider my holiday list edited to include a wheel barrow full of cake. It would be great if the cake was a white cake with either mocha or lemon frosting. It is critical that the wheel barrow be red. Much depends on that.