Sunday, January 31, 2010

The kid and the hulk

The kid hates going to bed. Seriously hates going to bed. She's a lot like me in that she has a hard time going to sleep. She's created this nightly routine, which is rather sweet for a sixteen year old - part of it involves me tucking her in. The tucking in usually involves a bit of silly banter and she tries to knock me over or something with a hug... and then she'll talk for a bit too.

Tonight I was tucking her in when she noticed, through the gap in the bottom of the shade and the window ledge, that the constructions workers working on a full floor in the building across the street had left the lights on. She was griping about is as the light both shines in her bedroom window, right in to her eyes, and is quite wasteful. She was really irritated. So irritated that, as she put it, it makes her "Hulk on the inside."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

a very brief sunny moment

It's pretty darn cold here. The news this morning was talking about the extreme cold spell, and mentioned that temperatures have been down to -30C. Well below freezing. Trust.

Yesterday and today, both, for very brief moements the sun came out. I didn't quite know what to do with myself as it was bright and shiny (reflecting off the snow it was blindingly bright) and not warm. I have to wait for my tram so I stood in the sun and imagined I felt a difference between my front side and my back.

Today I was walking across Namesti Miru on the way to the tram. The big square has little footpaths shoveled in to the snow. None of them lead to the park benches. Despite that, there was an elderly couple who had gone off-track. They sat in the square, on the park bench, in the sun, chatting. Snow was up to their ankles while they talked, and it was -4, but they sitting in the oh so glorious sun.

It was so cold last night I couldn't sleep. I had on flannel jammy pants, a thermal shirt, knee high socks (thanks Aunt Margie), a down comforter and a down sleeping bag on top. My fingers, my neck, my face felt like they were in a permanent state of de-frost - no so cold you can't feel it, just cold enough for it to hurt. The heat was on full blast.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

winter banquet

This Saturday is the kid's school's winter banquet. I know it's in a hotel somewhere and quite formal, but that's about all I know. It's supposed to be very cold still, -13C, nevertheless we will be in skirts and dresses. We'll take pictures and I'll post them once I can find the cord for my camera - missing since the move I believe... that's why there aren't any recent photos. :)

Oh, yes, we. What's that, am I chaperoning? No, this is a formal dinner (dance?) for the high school students and their parents. SWEET! I don't know how many other parents will be there, but I promised her (threatened, she might say) I'd make it... and we've got our tickets, so I'd say it's a date. Now she just better behave for the next few days or I will quite willingly humiliate her on the dance floor. Sometimes, she'll say, I don't quite behave like a "normal mom".

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Due to another cold spell on the way...

Ok, ok, ok - I am totally consumed with the weather right now. Leave me alone and quit reading if you don't like it. HOWEVER - the last line in this article is one my favorite snippets from recent news...
Due to another cold spell on the way there is at least no imminent danger of floods.
No imminent threat... that's almost funny right now.

The forecast for tonight is -18. Even with the floods you're having back in California right now... and the loss of electricity and phone lines (How do you people keep updating your FB? with your cell phones??? Is it only the land-lines that are out? I know some of you are charging your cells in the car when the power is out in the house... ah, modern technology :)) and even with that, I think I'd rather be back in my Mom and Dad's house on a little hill, warm and safe and dry and ice-free in front of a fire and not scared to step out my front door - just unwilling to drive out of the neighborhood.

On a serious note - Mother Nature seems to be having a bit of a fit on a few different continents. I hope you're all safe.

don't diminish the reality by calling it an aftershock

I don't know how many of you have lived in earthquake country. I grew up on the San Andreas Faultline. You may have heard of the 1906 Earthquake in San Francisco - that was on the San Andreas fault. Certain earthquakes stick in my mind...

Loma Prieta when I was in a home built on solid rock (which isn't supposed to move in an earthquake) and over 130 miles away. The force was strong enough to pitch me across the sink where I was washing my hands, and slam my head in to the wall, and then pitch me backwards again... it lasted long enough for this to happen and then for me to regain my footing, make my way to the doorjam and have my Mom start yelling at me - we had a whole conversation. It was altogether terrifying. My brother and my Dad were in San Francisco where it was much worse. That one registered 6.9 on the Richter. It was 11 miles deep. It cost 4.4 billion to rebuild a region that was prepared to handle a large earthquake.

Every other memorable earthquake was much smaller but we were much closer to the center. They were in the 3-5 range (minor to light)... beds sliding across the floors and bouncing off walls; books flying off the shelves and across rooms; feeling like a semi slammed in to the house - and getting up to check what the hell happened when the floor started rippling like water; the horrifying noise; Coral trying to hid under the blankets as a little kid, not knowing what in the world was going on, me trying to calmly coax her out and rush her under the table/under the doorway. These were truly minor earthquakes, but for some the effects were a bit greater as we were on the 3rd, 4th, or 7th floor and the buildings swayed which amplified the motion... others it was ground level and equally scary.

My point is this - they were minor experiences, no deaths, minor property damage... and yet we rank them all as earthquakes. The aftershocks experienced there were immediate and truly minor - most not even registering high enough to be recorded. Haiti is so different.

Don't diminish or reduce the horrifying reality the Haitians are experiencing by referring to this new extremely intense earthquake as an aftershock. The epicenter was 32 miles away from Port-au-Prince and only 6 miles deep. It registered 6.1 - which is considered strong and can cause destruction for about 100 miles. The structures that were standing were already weakened by the earthquake last week... and now more are falling. The people have had a week to recover and try to gain a sense of their surrounds and grasp their losses, when suddenly it happens all over again. They have had a second earthquake... not some minor shifting. It may not be a game changer - it's definitely not an improvement and I'm hard pressed to think - big picture - of how things could get much worse - but for the individuals on the ground, those still searching for their loved ones, living in fear of looters, without food, water, shelter, or necessary medicine - this earthquake is a tremendous blow. There is no guarantee of safety or that things will get better any time soon. More buildings collapsed, more destruction, more injuries, more delays, more deaths.

Please - donate. Whichever organization you want to turn to - please do it now.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

this summer - food

Please, this summer, when we come home, can we please plan on eating at Sonoma Taco Shop, Pamposh, Ting Hau, Kirin, Mary's, Borolo's, the Goat, RRBC, the sushi place on 4th, Emily's and/or Danielle's house, Outback, my Aunt Margie's, my Dad's hamburgers, my Mom's morrocan lamb stuff, Becky's cooking, at the Wednesday Night Market, fresh crab, Sunday sandwiches at Oliver's, Art Ibeleto's Pasta at the Fair, at the races, in Bodega, in Calistoga after birthday massages, lots of fresh fruit - strawberries, watermelon, cherries, raspberries, pears, blackberries, lots of fresh picked tomatoes, and some Honey Nut Cheerios?

I think we're gonna have to combine days on this - if I did one a day it'd take me nearly a month and I don't think I'll even be around a full month. OH! And a fruit basket cake for our birthdays :) (that's our favorite!)

Monday, January 18, 2010

it snowed. again. i'm scared for my head.

Seriously, life right now isn't that exciting - that doesn't mean it's bad, it's not a thrill a minute, which is sometimes quite nice, actually.

The biggest recent events have to deal with the abundance of snow. We had a lot, and then it started snowing again. Apparently it's warmed up a bit as we were expecting sleet today instead of more snow. We haven't gotten either, but something far more... dangerous? deadly? The both fit so take your pick.

The snow has frozen on the roofs and has been creating this huge lips that are hanging over the building. I noticed a few days ago when sections of the sidewalk were blocked off due to the danger of falling snow (no joke, that stuff is heavy!) Today I was in my flat (3 floor European style, 4th floor American - 12+ foot ceilings and not the top floor so the top floor is pretty darn high up there) when suddenly the building shook and there was a loud crash. For a moment I thought we'd had an earthquake (forgot they don't have those here) as I knew that a semi (lorry) didn't just run in to the building... we live on a very quiet semi-free street. I jumped up and looked out the window and saw... nothing out of the ordinary. Just lots and lots of snow. And people staring back up at the building. It took a bit but then I realized there was an isolated abundance of snow relative to the rest of the street - and the cars were covered far more than they had been... the snow had fallen off the building.

So, when I walked to work today I was a little jittery - lots of areas had the sidewalks blocked due to falling snow (kinda reminds me of the FALLING ROCK signs you'll see in California, but I'm actually more likely to encounter the snow) and I kept jumping whenever water dripped on my nose, in my eye, down my neck... When I finally got to school, that's when I realized how treacherous it really is - the snow had weighed down the roof tiles and the courtyard was full of fallen snow, chunks of ice and broken tiles.

The workmen came back today and took the big, long piece of wood they used last week to knock the icicles down and tried to knock the abundance of remaining snow off the roof. They got a lot, but there's still some left... it just has to slide closer to the edge I guess. Falling snow is one thing... frozen snow is quite another... but frozen snow and huge roof tiles is obviously to be avoided all together. I wish Coral could get a snow/roof-tile-day off from school... it's nerve wracking having her outdoors walking around with her head not so great... She has a field trip this evening... one of Smetana's operas. It's been pretty cool lately - when I've come home the past few days she's been playing classical music while studying - she's acknowledged it helps her brain get in the right mood for some work.

SIDENOTE - please, please, please friends and family and those of you who might like to be one or other - I've lost all my snail mail addresses and most of my email addresses. I owe numerous letters - I've not forgotten about you - I just need your contact information! If you've not gotten a card or email from me in the past 2 months there's a reason!!! PLEASE leave me a comment with your contact information. I will not publish your comment so it will remain private and with me, alone. If you have my email then please just send it there - it'll be a lot easier.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It snowed

Last week, just after my parents left (it was wonderful having them here and I'm not thrilled it'll be as long as it will be before I see them again) it started snowing.

That was last week. Supposedly it has finally stopped. Right now, at 10:30 a.m., it's -9C. It's pretty darn cold. And the streets and sidewalks are covered in snow. Throughout the weekend, in the evening, I've been walking in ankle-deep snow. My shoes have been so wet, it's cold and disgusting. A 17 minute tram ride to work took me almost an hour yesterday.

Here you go... SNOW SNOW SNOW story.