Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Sports Book

I once recommended an out-of-print book (The Disenchanted, by Budd Shulberg) during a job interview. The interviewer was like the human equivalent of a tennis ball machine set to the fastest setting, and he kept firing weird questions: What's your favorite restaurant? What is the best MP3 you've ever illegally downloaded? Where would you like to travel next?  When he asked What's the best book you've recently read, I swung my racket as quickly as possibly and said, The Disenchanted, except wait, it's out of print, so you'll have to find a copy on eBay.   

The Tennis Ball Machine Interviewer laughed so hard, I thought I was going to have to summon the paramedics. Then he called me "pretentious." Every since then, I've been careful to only recommend books that are easily available at any bookstore.

Today however, I must break that rule, because I must recommend The Sports Book from DK Publishing. The book describes the rules and tactics for more than 200 sports. It's been invaluable in the Cranky Pumpkin household during the Olympics. I know the rules for sports like basketball and baseball, but water polo just looked like mayhem in a pool. Now I know the rules and can better appreciate the sport. Did you know that only the goalie can touch the bottom of the pool? And the players can only hold the ball with one hand? What a sport! I'd drown within the first minute.

The Sports Book is out of print, and that's a shame, but it seems to be priced reasonably enough on Amazon. The book is covered with astro turf, making it a great gift for the sports lover in your life. Besides, who doesn't need to know the rules for Shinty, a field hockey/lacrosse style game that originated in the Highlands of Scotland? And don't get me started on Sepak Takraw, which is also known as "kick volleyball" or Parkour, which looks like an urban obstacle course for acrobats.  (I'm not inventing any of these sports. If you don't believe me, just buy The Sports Book already).

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Bookworm's Prayer

Dear Lord,

Please grant me the strength to resist Fifty Shades of Grey. I know I will hate myself if I read that crap, but the bookstores are pushing it like it's some sort of crack-unicorn dust-elixir. Please keep my eyes away from those debauched pages.

Thank you for all the wonderful books I have recently read, especially The Flight of Gemma Hardy, Ready Player One, and The Age of Miracles. Those books were soooo gooood.  Please bless their authors with riches and another dozen good books.

Please forgive me for my literary sins, especially Twilight.

Please lead me to a series that is as good as Harry Potter. 

Please give me the courage and patience to someday read Ulysses. And if it totally sucks, please turn my copy to ash and sneak a good mystery on to my night stand.


Friday, July 27, 2012


I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before, but I really like bubbles. While I was walking through Central Park with my sister last week, we saw a man making enormous bubbles. Of course we had to watch and admire the Bubble Man. As we left, we gave him a few dollars ... and then he said we could make some bubbles! Katherine immediately got in on the action while I manned the camera.

Obviously I have a new dream: to be the Bubble Lady. Excuse me, I have to go build myself an enormous bubble wand now.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

One Day In The City

At the end of my July New York trip, I spent one day in the City with my sister. While she was at her French class, I read by the window in her apartment and admired the view:
An hour before she got back, I ventured outside for a walk and walked with my head tilted back so I could admire the buildings. I might as well have been wearing a t-shirt that said Please Mug Me, I'm An Idiot Tourist.

I only had five minutes to pop inside Grand Central Station, but really, that's all the time you need.

After lunch in Chelsea, my sister and I walked along the High Line, a public park built on an old elevated rail track. Artwork is scattered along the route, and the foliage in July was lush and beautiful. It's a great perspective of the City: you get to look down on traffic and see the City stretching before you.

I could have spent all day on the High Line, except it was about 90 degrees outside, humid and SUNNY. I could theoretically handle the heat and humidity, but I am a vampire that turns to ash in the sun. But at least we walked far enough to see the Empire State Building.

After a visit to the Guggenheim, my sister and I bought macarons at Laduree and then gorged ourselves while sitting on a bench in Central Park. The boats are operated by remote controls that you can rent, and we considered renting two controls... but the boats drift along slowly, like boat turtles. No fun. I want the boats to speed around the lake at 50 mph and then self-destruct in an enormous fire ball. But, I suppose the slow mellow boats are more photogenic.
Thank you, Katherine, for a wonderful sister day in the City! I give you permission to continue living in Manhattan, because the Big Apple is so much fun to visit. (But you do need to come home for Labor Day, Columbus Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and Arbor Day.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Hamptons

While I was in the Hamptons earlier this month, I enjoyed a lovely day with my Grandma Shirley at Cooper's Beach. It's a beautiful beach with clean sand, relatively clean bathrooms, and a friendly beach chair/umbrella rental service.

It's the Hamptons, so they try to keep the beach exclusive with expensive parking. By "expensive parking," I mean "forty bucks" a.k.a. "the price of a nice dinner for two." My inner Scrooge would have thrown a shit fit at the thought of paying $40 for the honor of parking my car, but fortunately, we had a free parking pass for residents (BOO YAH).

You might think that an expensive beach at the Hamptons has an exclusive, classy crowd, but you would be wrong. While I was sitting with my grandma, I heard a gentleman shout, "Come here and play frisbee, you lazy punt!" (Note: he did not say punt. He shouted, for all to hear, including children, a certain word that rhymes with "punt.") Also, while sitting with my grandma, a woman walked by in a thong bikini. By "thong bikini," I mean "we saw her entire ass." It was a well-toned ass, but I did not need to see any woman's bare naked butt during my beach day, especially while sitting with my grandmother. If I wanted to see lots of naked tushees, I'd go to Brazil or a nude beach.

I also went on a road trip to Greenport with my mom, sister and grandma that involved two ferry crossings. We do not have a lot of ferries in Southern California. Who first came up with the idea of loading a bunch of cars on to a boat and then going out into open water? It just doesn't seem safe.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Little Man

I went to New York earlier this month and although I have lots of photos to share from the Hamptons and Manhattan, I wanted to start with something cuter:

Isn't he gorgeous?! This is Rowan, my sister's miniature dachshund. We spent a lot of time cuddling while I was in the Hamptons. In the above photo, Rowan is lying on top of my legs at night while I watched t.v. He thought he was going to spend the night there, but I'm not that stupid. In the past, when I let Rowan spend the night in my bed, he migrated in his sleep and ended up sprawled across my neck. I didn't need to be suffocated by some dachshund loving while I was on vacation, thank you very much.

Just the thought of reading exhausts Rowan:

If you look closely, you can see Rowan's blue ball in the background of the photo below. Shortly after I took this photo, he deliberately rolled the ball into the pool (the little bastard), in apparent retribution for the fact that I did not want to play catch anymore in the heat/humidity.

And here's Rowan snuggling in my "lap." He's too freakishly long to fit into my lap, so he just scoots his butt into the lap zone and then wedges himself in between my thighs. He always positions his butt close to my face (the better to torture me with his rancid farts).

Moments not captured on film:

- Rowan pathetically crawling on his belly in front of the fridge in an attempt to trick me into feeding him dinner early. (The theatrics almost worked, but I had the smarts to call my sister first).
- Rowan eating too much grass.
- Rowan puking after eating too much grass.

Monday, July 23, 2012

One Year!

A year ago today, I married the love of my life. I might bitch and moan here sometimes (or always, depending on your perspective) but I could not be happier. I am the luckiest woman I know. 

Happy Anniversary, Nathan!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Good To Know

Did you know that, in a pinch, you can use Cherry Dr. Pepper to dye your Easter eggs red?

I don't want to talk about the situation that led to that discovery, but let's just say we have two new House Rules:

1) Do not leave an unattended bottle of soda on the counter that looks closed but is, in fact, only semi-closed.

2) If you are putting a bottle of soda in the fridge in the horizontal position, be 110% certain that the bottle is closed as tightly as possible.

On the bright side, at least I know a new way to decorate my Easter eggs...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

And We've Reached A New Low

Yesterday afternoon, I got home from a five day trip to New York. I had a lovely visit. First, I stayed in the Hamptons and visited with my mom, grandma, baby sister, aunt and two cousins. Then I stayed in my sister's apartment and we had a jam packed day exploring the City. Last night, I went to bed feeling relaxed, refreshed and recharged by my New York adventures.

This morning, I woke up feeling crazed and stressed. What the eff happened to my To Do List? I swear, a monster snuck into the house while I was out of town and added like fifty b.s. things to my list of things that need to be done NOW. My sweet sister wants me to upload my vacation photos to Facebook, but so help me, if I have to even think about plugging my camera to my laptop, I will have a nervous breakdown and do something disturbing, like kill all the neighborhood cats.

I really needed to buy some groceries this morning, but I had to do some boring lawyer crap first. When lunch time rolled around, I was still in my pajamas, doing boring lawyer stuff, and there was no food for my lunch. So I did what any self-respecting telecommuter would do: I put some peanut butter in a bowl, sprinkled it with peanut butter baking chips, and called it lunch.

Shameful. So shameful. And I'm probably going to have the same b.s. lunch again tomorrow.

The day after vacation should be one of the most relaxing days of the year. However, in my experience, anything more than a 3 day weekend always creates a 48-72 hour shit storm of dirty laundry, spoiled food, and general domestic chaos.

Please excuse me. I have to go unpack my suitcase before I just throw my dirty laundry in the recycling bin and set it all on fire. (The clothing bonfire will feel good at first - until I realize I have nothing to wear tomorrow).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Funny Books By Female Writers

My mom recently introduced me to Fran Lebowitz, and I have been slowly working my way through The Fran Lebowitz Reader, a collection of hilarious essays. How have I lived 33 years without knowing about Fran Lebowitz? Every page makes me either (a) laugh out loud, (b) shake my head in awe/admiration, or (c) seethe with jealousy because Ms. Lebowitz is so effing smart, funny and original.

I've added The Fran Lebowitz Reader to my growing list of "books by female authors who make me laugh out loud." Here are some other books I highly recommend if you are a woman in need of some laughter (or if you are man who appreciates misadventures that involve cheating husbands, Prada purses and UTIs):

- Crazy Aunt Purl's Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair: The True-Life Misadventures of a 30-Something Who Learned To Knit After He Split, by Laurie Perry. With a title like that, I have nothing to add, except to say I loved this book.

- Any of the memoirs written by Jen Lancaster, especially Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office and Such A Pretty Fat: One Narcissist's Quest to Discover If Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, or Why Pie Is Not The Answer. Apparently I have a weakness for memoirs with long titles. Jen Lancaster has also written some novels, but I have not read them yet. 

- The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club: True Tales from a Magnificent and Clumsy Life, by Laurie Notaro. Holy crap, do I read any books with short titles that do not involve colons?? Laurie Notaro has written a lot of other books which are on my "to read" list.

- Bossypants, by Tina Fey. A short title! Rejoice!

- Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling. I went to college with Mindy. We lived in the same dorm freshman year and took several classes together, including Creative Writing. I think she's brilliant and deserves all the success she's had on the The Office and her other projects. So of course I had to read this book, and it was hilarious. (Also, I'm not just shamelessly promoting a friend. I haven't been in touch with Mindy in over ten years. Although I did email her once after seeing her play, Matt & Ben, to tell her how awesome it was, and she never wrote back. Bitch. But still, her book is funny as hell. Read it.)

- Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, by Rhoda Janzen. This book is half funny, half moving. I just remember loving it. I have drastically reduced my collection of paperback books, because if I kept all my books, we would have no where to live. But I bought this book in an airport and it has survived all my paperback purges because I intend to reread it someday soon. (Books that did not survive my paperback purges: Gravity's Rainbow, Ulysses, and Wuthering Heights).

Can you recommend any other books that I should add to my list of funny books by female writers? If so, please leave a note below in the comments - thanks!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Our Lemon Tree

We have a lemon tree in our backyard that produces lemons with the most perfect lemon-y smell that's perfect for cooking and baking. But the tree can be a little unpredictable, so I sometimes purchase a back-up lemon at the grocery store.

Below is a comparison of the grocery store lemon (on the left) and a lemon from our tree (on the right). Our lemon was twice the size of the grocery store lemon! It's also less yellow, but its peel gave off the most intense lemon smell.  The grocery store lemon smelled like plastic.

I was using the monster lemon for a baking project and needed a little more zest for my batter. When I went back to our tree for another lemon, I discovered the World's Tiniest Lemon:

How the hell did one tree produce both of these lemons?!?!

After this post goes live, scientists are going to converge on my backyard and run a battery of tests on my mutant lemon tree. That's okay. It's not like my lemons were going to win the 2012 Citrus Pageant. (I wrote that last sentence in jest, but come to think of it, this is Southern California. There probably is a Citrus Pageant circuit, where farmers force their lemons, limes and oranges to strut around in swimsuits).

Friday, July 13, 2012

Is It So Hard To Start A Concert On Time?!

Last Saturday, I went to see The Dan Band with Nathan and my dad. The Dan Band has appeared in movies like Old School and The Hangover. The lead singer Dan dresses like a mechanic and sings girl songs by artists like Beyonce and Alanis Morissette, peppering the lyrics with lots of salty language. He has two back-up singers, who look like English professors in their blazers and glasses. I've seen their concert live three times now, and it is hilarious.

But would it kill them to start the show on time? The concert time on the tickets was 8 p.m., but the show did not actually start until 9:40 p.m. Seriously? I know I'm old, boring and lame, but if they weren't going to start the show until 9:40, couldn't they just effing say that on the tickets?

I've been to many concerts, and I realize from experience that only the philharmonic starts on time. Everyone else apparently has a blank check to start the show whenever the bleep they want to, because a musician's time is more valuable than a non-musician. As a non-musician, I should feel honored and privileged to have extra time to soak up the atmosphere and pay $12 for some crappy domestic beer.

The people of the world, should make a pact to START THE FREAKING CONCERT ON TIME. Why are we rewarding the tardy potheads who are getting stoned in the parking lot?

Realizing that concerts never start on time, I try to arrive late.  Really, I do. But I'm never late enough, because I don't want to miss the show that I've paid good money to see. Then, by the time the show actually starts, I'm feeling bitter and hostile, and it takes an amazing effing show to get me out of my funk.

Fortunately for The Dan Band, they put on an amazing show, so I forgive them their tardiness, and I will keep going to their performances. But to all the other singers and bands that have callously wasted my time while they flirted with groupies and worked on the New York Times crossword puzzle - I curse thee! May you spend your eternity in a DMV/doctor's office purgatory, waiting for a concert that is never going to begin.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Courtney's Law

Courtney's Law, Part One: No matter when I leave my hotel room, and no matter what time I get back to the hotel room, the maid will always be cleaning my room when I get back to the room.

Courtney's Law, Part Two: And no matter how good a mood I'm in, I will always have a meltdown when I see the maid's cart parked outside my hotel room.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bandelier National Monument

On our last full day in New Mexico, we visited Bandelier National Monument. This is a must-visit monument for your inner-Indiana Jones. We started our visit with a walk along the Main Loop Trail, a 1.2 mile loop that starts from the main visitor's center. From the Main Loop Trail, you get to see cliff dwellings, petroglyphs and the remains of a village. 

The Main Loop Trail is a relatively easy hike, but it does involve a lot of stairs along narrow paths. This is not a place to take your infant or toddler! Also, the park rangers told us the trail was mostly shaded. That was a lie. We were usually walking in the full sun, and it was about 90 degrees when we were there. We drank two large water bottles while walking around the park.

Below you can see the remains of an abandoned village. The rooms were tiny, e.g. smaller than a celebrity's walk-in closet. I love being a Tourist Archaeologist and admiring the hard work of Real Archaelogists who have devoted years to digging in gruel heat. I myself have zero interest in hunting for pottery shards and trying to extrapolate an entire civilization's history from some petrified corn and a few broken bones. However, kudos to the archaelogists of the world - I admire your patience and diligence.

You can climb up ladders into the cliff dwellings. The residents built their structures in front of caves and used the caves as rooms. In one room, we could stand up and walk around. In another room, we could barely crouch. The caves do not have plumbing, electricity or cable.

Nathan snapped this photo as I was leaving the cave. About 20 seconds later, while stepping off the ladder, I tripped and scraped the sh** out of my right calf. It's amazing that I managed to get away with just a bad scrape. Given my clumsiness, I should have fallen off the ladder, broken my leg, and required an air lift out of the park.

As you can see from the remains below, the residents built their homes in front of the caves. Archaeologists believe the structures were accessed from the roof via ladders. In case of an attack, the women and children could hide inside and pull the ladders in after them. I'm really glad I live in a house with a front door. Can you imagine carrying your groceries up a ladder? (Although I suppose you would have very shapely calves).

Can you spot the petroglyph in the picture below? (Hint: it's a little man/alien in the dead center).

After visiting the main attractions, we continued on to the Alcove House. We hiked through the woods and discovered some of the alleged shade (it was still 90 degrees, shade or no shade).

To access the Alcove House, we had to climb 140 feet of ladders. No problem. (In case you missed it, I was being sarcastic. As we hiked to the ladders, I kept telling Nathan that I reserved the right to be a chicken and stay on the ground).

We had to climb four separate ladders. The rungs on the ladders were SO EFFING HOT. This is not something I could have done alone. I only managed the climb because Nathan was giving me encouraging pep talks throughout the ascent/descent.

Here is the Alcove House, as seen from below. When we reached it, my arms were shaking uncontrollably. Screw the stairmaster. You know what my gym needs? The LadderMaster.

I thought I was going to throw-up (from a combination of fear and exhauation), but the views were well worth the effort. (Please note: if I had slipped and fallen off the ladders, the views would not have been worth the effort). If you ever find yourself in the Santa Fe area, I highly recommend a visit to Bandelier National Monument. However, if you have even the slightest fear of heights, you should probably skip the Alcove House!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New Mexico!

Last month, Nathan and I visited New Mexico. We flew into Albuquerque  on a Friday and rode the Sandia Peak Tramway to the top of the mountain. The tram travels 2.7 miles to the top of a mountain, and the views are spectacular. At the highest point, we were about 7,000 feet above the ground (or, as the guide said, "about seven seconds on a bad day"). Riding the Tramway is probably the most adventurous thing I will ever do in my life, and that's okay (Swimming with sharks? Climbing a glacier? Skydiving? No thanks, no thanks, no thanks).

Then we drove about an hour to Santa Fe. The drive between Albuquerque and Santa Fe is about 5% pretty and 95% desolate wasteland. I was expecting lots of red glowing rocks and interesting geological formations. Instead, it was just a lot of flat land with scrubby plants - kind of like California's desert, but even more depressing.

But Santa Fe itself was wonderful. It's a foodie town and every meal we ate was delicious - especially our dinners at Il Piatto and Compound, and the outstanding pizza at Upper Crust. I thought Santa Fe was going to be all about Southwestern cuisine; and yes, there are plenty of chilis; but you can dine on many different types of cuisine as well (e.g. pizza). 

We stayed at a hotel within walking distance of the Plaza. If you go to Santa Fe, this is the thing to do. However, I can't recommend our hotel, because the mattress was utter crap.

On Saturday, we went to the Taos Pueblo, an interesting but depressing historical site. About 135 people still live in the Taos Pueblo - without plumbing, electricity or any modern comforts. According to our tour guide, the tribe has a patriarchal government. Translation: women are not allowed to hold political office. The poverty and patriarchal government depressed the hell out of me. 

Then, since we were in the area, we visited the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. I was actually more spooked by our walk across the bridge than our ride on the aerial tram. I know, my fears make no sense. 

On Sunday, we spent the day wandering around Santa Fe. Locals sell turquoise trinkets and jewelry in front of the Palace of the Governors (pictured directly below). At 9:50 a.m. on Sunday, I decided to buy a necklace from an old lady. It cost $35. I gave her two twenties, but she did not have change. As a matter of principle, I refused to pay $40 for a $35 necklace. I took the money back and we walked away. Nathan later bought me a much more beautiful turquoise necklace from a proper shop (which I now wear nearly everyday). We still talk about the old lady. I was ready to pay $35 for the necklace! She had my money in her hand! She just let us walk away!  Holy crap, lady, it's 2012. If you don't take credit cards, you need to at least be prepared to make change for a twenty at 9:50 a.m.

Strands and wreaths of chili were for sale everywhere, but I did not see a single tourist walking around with the chilis. They were, however, lovely to admire.

There must be at least a hundred art galleries in Santa Fe, and every other store is selling turquoise or cowboy boots. The town was founded in the early 1600s, and you can just feel the history oozing from the buildings.  

We visited both the New Mexico History Museum and the New Mexico Museum of Art. I highly recommend both.

Tomorrow I'll be sharing photos from our day trip to Bandelier National Monument, by far the best part of our New Mexico trip.

Until then: stay safe! where your sunblock! and make sure the batteries in your smoke detector are still working!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hatfields & McCoys, And Other Shows

We've been watching a lot of good television lately in the Cranky Pumpkin household. Some favorites:

Hatfields & McCoys, a six hour miniseries created by The What's My Old Stuff Worth Channel The History Channel. What a great series! I did not know much about the Hatfield/McCoy feud, and the show was just fascinating. They did a really good job capturing what life would have been like in the frontier parts of Kentucky/West Virginia during the wake of the Civil War. Kevin Costner plays Anse Devil Hatfield, and Bill Paxton is Randall McCoy. The casting was excellent, the sets and costumes were excellent, the story was excellent - I don't have a single comlaint about the show. The series is available on dvd at the end of the month.

Game of Thrones. I'm sure you've heard of the show. It's the reason we finally signed up for HBO.

Girls. Since we signed up for HBO, I figured I might as well check out Girls. That show is so raunchy. I can't even give an example of how raunchy it is, for fear I will offend my more fragile readers. But it's also hilarious, intelligent, warm and super addictive. I have two episodes left of Season One. I'm not entirely certain what I will do with myself when I finish the season. (I'll probably watch the entire season again in August).

Downton Abbey. I am all caught up to date! Love, love, love, love, love, love, love this show. I will have to own it eventually, so I can watch it whenever I'm cranky.

Final Offer. This is a new show on Discovery Channel. Four antiques dealers are bidding on rare items. It's like a classier Pawn Stars with a game show format. Recently, there was an episode that involved some Star Wars item AND OUR STUPID BITCH DVR SCREWED UP AND JUST RECORDED BLACKNESS. I almost hyperventilated when I realized what had happened.

Weeds. We've been watching Season Seven on DVD, and after we finished the first disc, we immediately sent it back to Netflix for disc two. And then I signed us up for Showtime so we can watch Season Eight as it airs. (Which means we'll probably be addicted to three or four more Showtime shows by the end of the year). 

Boss. We watched this ages ago, when Season One first aired, but I wanted to mention it now since Season Two starts next month. Kelsey Grammer stars as the corrupt mayor of Chicago. The show is gritty and reminds me of Damages, another excellent show (which we'll be watching soon, since Season Four is finally coming out on dvd).

Mad Men. And of course, we watched Mad Men. I still feel a little lost on Sunday evenings, now that the latest season is done. We're probably going to rewatch the entire series sometime soon.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

An Open Letter To Myself

Dear Courtney,

Hi. It's me, Courtney. I'm writing this blog post while sitting against a heating pad, because your stupid back hurts again. As you might recall, a few weeks ago, you fell on your ass while testing beach chairs at the drugstore, and your back has not been the same since. 

Yes, the back has rallied and felt okay for several days in a row. But once again, it hurts. You know why? Because you are getting old and you're out-of-shape. You no longer have the back of a spry 16 year old. You have the back of a 33 year old woman who thinks taking a stroll around the neighborhood counts as "exercise." Oh, you sweet naive idiot.

This is what you're going to do: you are going to rest your back until it is 125% better. Don't be an idiot and play frisbee when your back is only 85% better. Don't be an asshat and carry around heavy boxes when you are just 90% healed. And don't, for the love of god, don't be a nimrod and get a massage when your back is just 98% better. (And I don't even want to talk about gardening. If I catch you bending over to pick one weed this week, there is going to be hell to pay).

Be a good girl. Sit with your heating pad and take it easy. You can float around in the pool BUT IF YOU EVEN CONSIDER DOING A CANNON BALL, I WILL DISOWN YOU. You can take some slow walks around the block, but let's amble. There's no need to swing your arms about wildly and break a sweat. Let's just keep the old back limber.

When you are 125% better, we're doing pilates again.  Remember pilates? It's that fantastic exercise regime we used to do that builds your core strength and keeps your back feeling fantastic. You are not a young chicken anymore. You need to take care of your body, so that you can enjoy several more decades of gardening, cooking, and chasing after frisbees. That means pilates.


p.s. I'm watching you.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Midwest vs. SoCal

I grew up in Los Angeles while my husband Nathan was born and raised in Nebraska. We recently talked about the differences between Midwest and Southern California mindsets. Here are a few highlights from our conversation:

Lightning That Is Miles Away:
- Southern California: What is this sorcery?! We must find shelter!
- Midwest: Yawn.

- Southern California: Look! Cows! Moo! Moo cows! Can we milk them? That one is Petunia, that's Daisy, that's Juliet [etc.]
- Midwest: Mmm, lunch.

The Ocean:
- Southern California: Damn tourists, clogging up my freeways so they can put their toes in the ocean.

Cruise Control:
- Southern California: How does this work? How do I shut it off? Oh my god, I've lost control of my car! We're all going to die!!!
- Midwest: I almost never put my foot on the accelerator because I'm addicted to cruise control.

- Southern California: Oh please, if it's less than 6.0 magnitude, I don't want to hear about it.
- Midwest: What is this sorcery?! We must find shelter!

- Southern California: What is this sorcery?! We must find shelter! Auntie Em!
- Midwest: Yawn.

- Southern California: What are these "basements" of which you speak?
- Midwest: Wait, the house doesn't have a basement? You mean every room in the house has windows? Where do you put the Man Cave??

30 Degrees Farhenheit:
- Southern California: It is sooooo bleeeeping cooooold. Why do we have to go outside? My snot just froze. I want to die.
- Midwest: If it gets much warmer, we'll be playing frisbee at the park.

- Southern California: I went to high school with the Kardashians, played soccer with Kate Hudson, and lived near Denise Richards. Oh yeah, I also lived near a Baldwin and once said hello to Julia Louis-Dreyfuss while she was jogging. No big deal.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

My First Baby Blanket

I have wanted to knit a baby blanket since my Grandma Shirley first taught me how to knit, way back when I was in law school. In the intervening years, many babies I know have been conceived and born; but I never finished a baby blanket.

I tried! Seriously, I tried to knit blankets for a half dozen babies, but I always got disgusted with the yarn. The yarn for Baby Natalie's blanket was too itchy. The yellow yarn for Baby Annie's blanket was too cheap and started to fall apart. And so on. I accepted that I would never cross this item off my knitting bucket list.

Then I discovered Abuelita's, my favorite yarn store, which is a slice of yarn heaven in South Pasadena; and while browsing their yarn selection, I fell in love with Berroco Weekend.  Berroco Weekend is 75% acrylic, 25% Cotton, and 100% gorgeous. I could not resist buying a rainbow of colors (literally):

I followed the Purl Bee's Super Easy Baby Blanket pattern, and two months later, I finished my first baby blanket:

The blanket has been sent to its new owner, a newborn in Boston. I hope the blanket survives its cross-country journey! If it gets lost and ends up in a crack house or den of inequity, I will weep. Maybe I should only knit for Southern California babies?

I've already bought more yarn for my next striped baby blanket. The last blanket took over two months to knit, but with the Olympics coming (yippee!), I foresee many hours knitting in front of the television. (Is that ironic or just pathetic?).