Saturday, July 29, 2006


a) Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
b) Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
c) Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism.
d) Liberal Of, designating, or characteristic of a political party founded on or associated with principles of social and political liberalism, especially in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States.

a) One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.
b) One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.

I moved from Canada to the USA in my early 20’s, before I really thought much about politics or what to call myself. In Canada there are multiple political parties and provincial politics, in particular, was always a quagmire that I never ventured far into. Since I’ve lived in the Bay Area for almost 20 years I have a skewed vantage point of life in general and politics in particular. I know that the rest of the country is not like we are around these parts. I don’t like labels but I can safely say that I am both a liberal and an agnostic. Both of these things put me into a distinct minority in this country, but because of my location and my ability to keep my mouth shut whenever religion or politics comes up, I manage to avoid the wrath of others for the most part.

I’ve been thinking a lot about labels lately. It doesn’t make sense to me that in this country you are supposed to choose between Democrat and Republican (if you want to make a difference, otherwise you are relegated to the Green Party and others on the fringe). I don’t agree with things on both sides, so I guess it’s a good thing I can’t vote. If you want to regale me for living in a country I refuse to become a citizen of, go right ahead. I pay my taxes just like the next person, but I steadfastly refuse to renounce allegiance to my birth country. The USA is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t allow for dual citizenship outside of birth rights. The government allows it with a wink and a nod, but doesn’t recommend it, partly because it could cause a problem if your two countries ended up at war with each other -- you could be drafted into military service of both. I suspect this situation wasn’t contemplated between the USA and Canada but there aren’t separate rules for countries the USA is friendly with.

We’re DINKS. I’m too old to be a YUPPIE but I used to be one. I’m on the cusp of Baby Boomer and Generation X. I’m married and divorced; a daughter, sister, niece, aunt, granddaughter, stepmom and stepgrandmother. I’m a consultant, a dog owner, a budding equestrienne and both a Francophile and an Anglophile. I’m a dichotomy. Like most people, one label just isn’t going to cut it. I try to remember that when I encounter someone who seems to be from a different planet.

I’m also a blogger, small b, small time. Because I’m not one of the Really Cool Kids, I had no idea that this year’s BlogHer conference is this weekend, right in my own backyard. Yes, I know there are plenty of non-gender-defined Blogger conferences, and don’t throw things at me, but I have to say it irks me a little that women bloggers feel they need to exclude men in order to have a meaningful discussion about their craft. Having said that, I know I need to branch out and include more male bloggers in my blogroll. I started with a hard core base of infertility bloggers, and we all know that we find other blogs through the blogs we regularly read, so it makes sense that I would end up with mostly estrogen on my Bloglines. I am starting to find I’m missing the male perspective on life in my reading. If anyone has any good links for me I’d love to get them.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

It's Like A Whole Other Country

Actually, San Antonio and Austin were both a lot less cowboy/redneck and less Spanish/Mexican than I expected. What we did expect was heat and humidity and we got both. Fortunately it rained Sunday afternoon so that took the edge off of the evening and the next day.

We ate at several very good restaurants, including the Zuni Grill, Acenar and Landry’s, all right on the Riverwalk and within easy walking distance from our hotel. Acenar ("to dine") was gorgeous, all hot pink and orange, ultra-modern and retro at the same time. I had the entomatadas (chicken and sweet potato filled flute-like tacos topped with roasted tomato sauce and queso fresco) and D had crepas de pato (corn serrano crepes filled with duck covered in tamarindo cherry grilled onion sauce). Yummy!

We could see the Alamo from the front steps of the hotel so we strolled over at about 11:30 pm to take a few pictures of it all lit up and looking all pretty. We didn’t have time to come back to do the tour, which would have been interesting, I’m sure.

We drove out to Austin one day to visit a girlfriend that moved from the Bay Area several years ago and to meet her 4 month-old baby girl. She was precious, with a tiny brown curl on the top of her head and two teeth already! My girlfriend went from being an extremely put together, multi-tasking professional to your typical frazzled first-time Mom with a breast-feeding infant, someone who doesn’t have time to put on make-up any more and is willing to pay as much as it takes for whatever gadget/toy/convenience that will get her 10 minutes of time to make dinner or take a shower. Oh…that sounded like a slight, it wasn’t meant to be, I’m sure I would be at least as frazzled and makeup-free! She’s a very good baby, never cried the entire time we were there, just got a bit fussy at times. D and I traded holding her while dinner was prepared and she happily squirmed and cooed (and spit up) on anyone who was willing to take a turn. Of course, telling my friend that her child was a very good baby wasn’t going to help her any, so I didn’t say that. I really try not to dole out assvice; and even if I had personal experience, every baby is different.

I’ve been doing so much better around and about babies and children in general lately, I don’t feel sad or angry or even smug in my childlessness (as in, gee, look at all the stuff I get to do because I don’t have kids). My life is what my life is and that’s pretty damn good. Spending five days 24/7 with D was also a huge emotional boost for me, he just makes me happy – I feel safe, loved and beautiful in his presence, who wouldn’t want that?

We also hooked up with some other friends and toured Natural Bridge Caverns. It was about 10 degrees cooler down in the caves, but at 100% humidity, we were drenched by the time we got out of there. Well worth the half hour drive from San Antonio if you're in the area.

We also saw the new Superman movie. The movie wasn’t that good, Kate Bosworth was way too young and soft to be Lois Lane, although she does take a licking and keeps on ticking. It was a good movie to see on vacation, a nice (if longish) break in a cool dark place, a good looking hero and some nifty special effects. In the end, any movie in which a single kiss on the cheek from a small boy is more healing than all the modern medicine in the world gets an extra star in my book. Brandon Routh is hot, even if it was a tad disconcerting how much he looked like Christopher Reeve, he was almost channeling him when he was in the blue tights.

By the time we got home we were having serious dog withdrawal, and from our welcome it seems they both missed us too. Our regular dog-sitter was too ill to take care of them so we hired a professional pet sitter for the first time. On the report card she wrote, “Bailey and Tucker are the best trained and behaved dogs I’ve taken care of in a long time.” Awww – Mama’s so proud of her boys.

I also missed a riding lesson while we were gone but maybe that was a blessing in disguise. It’s been so hot this past few days I doubt it would have been very productive. Honestly it was cooler in Texas! Although we have slightly less humidity, it doesn’t make much of a difference when you’re without A/C all day.

If you're still reading, I appreciate it, cuz holy crap this is getting to be quite the boring post!

Right before we left I finished reading Isabel Allende’s Zorro. Hmmm, it seems I am in need of a hero lately! It was translated from the original Spanish and the language wasn’t as lush as I would have liked, but still a good read.

I bought Umberto Eco’s The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana in the airport in Dallas on our layover. The title grabbed my attention immediately, as did the cover art. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never heard of Mr. Eco, even though he has a long and illustrious literary career. The story also appealed to me – a middle-aged Italian man has a stroke and awakes from a coma without any memory of his life, but he remembers every word he’s ever read; every poem, every newspaper, comic book or menu. Since he’s an antique book dealer, there is a wealth of information to pull from and there are many wonderful quotes and color pictures in the novel, markers along the path of remembering the rest of his life. It’s translated from the original Italian but so far that fact has not diminished the exquisite language. I’ll do a more full review once I finish the book. Has anyone read any of his books?

Finally, my twin Elizabeth Hurley has landed a new gig as spokesmodel for Jordache jeans. Not only is she hot, she’s standing with a horse. See, I told you: twins!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Reflections In a Bathroom Mirror

Part of the deal of being a consultant is having to go to different client offices on a regular basis. The first thing I do when I arrive at an office is visit the ladies’ room. Partly because I’ve drank 16 to 20 ounces of coffee between home and my destination, and partly to assess the corporate culture.

You can tell a lot about a place by the bathroom. If it looks like this, people probably like working there, take pride in their work and workplace and I’d bet there’s at least one woman on the executive team.

On the other hand, if it looks like this – well, best to work from home as much as possible.

One client’s office had a shelf installed next to the sink that was full of half-used cosmetics and communal hairbrushes. Ewww! I’ll bring my own lipstick, thanks just the same. Another not only had a lifetime’s supply of tampons and pads under the sinks, but in every stall there was a tampon, a panty liner and a maxi pad sitting on top of the toilet paper dispenser. Maybe people were too embarrassed to reach for the goods in the Costco packs?

Then there’s toilet paper. Note to corporate America: spend the extra 5 cents per roll and buy the stuff that doesn’t feel like dried leaves. Or just put a big bucket of leaves in there, it would probably be more aesthetically pleasing.

The other day I arrive at my second client of the day at 1:00 (like I told them I would), and the VP of Finance tells me he is leaving at 3:00 so I can use his computer then. And of course he has the only computer with the software I need. So I sat in a chair in his office checking my email and surfing the web for 2 hours before I could get started working.

When I finally get his computer, it keeps crashing because the dumb- ass has everything on his C drive and its near capacity. He had iTunes on it (which probably was the problem), but all it kept playing was Rod Stewart. He had over 6,000 songs in the library but it didn’t matter how I tried to change the settings, every other song it came back to Rod. Finally I just turned it off. I was there until 8:30; I should have been out of there by 6:00 if it wasn't for his stupid computer. Then it took me two full hours to get home because of a huge accident on the only freeway I could take to get home. This is why we get the big bucks.

One more the past couple of months I've been to six different offices, dealing with some combination of VP of Finance, Controller, CFO -- accounting people. THEY ARE ALL THE SAME GUY. Seriously. All of them are white, average build, balding and between 40 and 50. It’s starting to creep me out. And I am having a hard time keeping them straight in my head.

As if it wasn’t hot enough here in the Bay Area, D and I are leaving on Thursday for a long weekend in Texas (San Antonio and Austin). I know, we are certifiable. We will be spending the majority of our time indoors freezing our asses off in the 60 degree air-conditioning. Good times.

The Beat -- Mirror in the Bathroom mp3

Monday, July 10, 2006

This is the New Stuff

Ever since we got off the Baby Train I've been trying to find new friends (online and IRL) with other interests. What? you say, there are topics people blog about other than infertility?? Yes, its true! Here are some of my new favorites (to go along with many old favorites, which I just can't quit) in alphabetical order:

A Woman of Many Parts-- British cancer survivor, teacher, and so much more.
Ask the Pope-- who knew he was so funny?
Captain Picard's Journal-- the sexy bald Starship captain has his own blog too.
Everyday Stranger-- American expat in the UK, a briliant writer and a tortured soul (and a friend of Statia's).
Farmgirl Fare-- a touch of country living without leaving home, from a remote Missouri farm.
French Word-a-Day-- fairly self-explanatory, from a real-life author of a French travel book.
I Gallop On-- the aforementioned woman + horse blog.
Julius' Travels in the South-- a scientist stationed in Antarctica posts photos and tidbits about his life.
Nature Trail-- Canadian garden & photography blog.
Paris Breakfasts-- NY food and wine artist writes on her favorite topic.
Paris Parfait-- an American in Paris muses about a "parfait sundae" of art, antiques, culture, poetry and politics, with amazing photographs.
TV Squad-- for hard-core TV addicts like me.

and finally...

What Would Jesus Blog? -- again, who knew he was so funny and such a music lover? He's on a 40-day sabbatical right now though.

I'd love to hear about any new favorites of yours!

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Horse Sense

One of my new favorite blogs is I Gallop On, for obvious reasons. I love the way she writes, including pictures and videos of her horse adventures. Her philosophy is “horse + woman = energy”, which really speaks to me. I’m finding there is indeed something magical that happens when you put people and horses together, or at least it’s true for me. There are so many components to riding and being around the horses, so much to learn! The learning process in itself is exhilarating, all those connections being made, the “a-ha” moments when my leg is in just the right position at trot and I feel the difference, when I go through the process correctly of putting away the bridle, getting the buckles and straps in the right positions.

One of her recent posts talks about the “generally unspoken conspiracy of horsewomen”, the easy connection between riding and sex. I have to say after my first couple of lessons I felt like I had been rode hard and put away wet. I don’t know about you, but the only other thing I straddle is my husband. I kept thinking -- how do men ride horses? Ahem…anyway --

In 5 lessons I’ve ridden 4 different horses. Generally they try to be more consistent with beginners but circumstances have made that impossible. Willow says she feels confident enough in my abilities to put me on almost any horse, which is a huge confidence booster. Keep in mind that all of their horses are voice-command trained and extremely gentle, but still, I’ve only been doing this for about a month.

It was quite hot during my last lesson and my horse kept wanting to slow down in the shady part of the ring (which seemed reasonable!). Willow told me I needed to anticipate this and ask him to speed up before he slowed down too much. When he wasn’t responding to my still-weak “clucks” she told me to kick him. I couldn’t do it. She kept saying, “No, you need to kick him!” and when I finally did, of course, he responded, but I felt terrible. When I told D the story he said, “Well, there’s some personal growth right there.” My fear of confrontation and empathy for the horse was preventing me from doing something that was completely appropriate.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

More Pictures

Since I'm at a loss as to what to write about (again), here's some more pictures from our weekend.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Back to Reality

A couple of days in a hotel room with two big dogs has its challenges, but overall we had a good time. The restaurants in this area are outstanding and we chose one of the best for our anniversary dinner, the Pacific's Edge at the Highlands Inn/Park Hyatt in Carmel. This is a view of the back of the restaurant as you drive in. The gardens are stunning this time of year!

Then we waited for our table in the Fireside Lounge.

This is the view from the restaurant, the entire front wall is floor to ceiling windows. We watched the sun sink into a fog bank and settled in for a 3-hour dining experience. We chose the chef's menu, which included 7 courses (tiny portions, of course) including bay scallops in peach soup, vanilla-infused quail and coffee-encrusted tenderloin. I only had a few nit-picky issues: 1) the bread wasn't warm, although delicious; 2) the delightful bing cherry tart also wasn't warm (as advertised), but did come with caramom ice cream; and 3) the coffee they served at the end of the meal, although very good, was definitely NOT decaf. *sigh* I was up.all.night.

The following morning was a bit chilly on the coast so we headed inland a few miles and stopped at several wineries and tasting rooms. The 4th was gloriously sunny and warm and we joined the throngs along Ocean Avenue, shopping, people watching and playing at the beach. Doesn't this little statue look exactly like the Dancing Baby? The dogs, as always, got plenty of attention and we met many new friends along the way.

Thankfully I didn't have to go into a client's site today, I slept in and got some work done from home. I had to cancel my riding lesson on Monday but will make it up on Friday, I miss my horses! Speaking of horses, we stopped at the farm on our way home so I could introduce D to all my new pony friends and we found out the gorgeous big black horses I met last week aren't Percherons (like I thought), they are Friesians. Apparently they are always black and you never cut their mane or tail, which explains why this stallion looks like this. At some point I would love to be able to ride this stunning creature, I am in awe just watching him prance around in his stall.

Sunday, July 2, 2006


Today is our 6th wedding anniversary, and to celebrate we're off to spend a couple of days in one of our favorite places on earth, Carmel-by-the-Sea. Here's a link to a blog I found with some fabulous pictures, I'll post my own when we get back. It's not only charming and beautiful, but its one of the most dog-friendly places in California, maybe the entire country. This makes it possible for us to enjoy our weekend and not have to leave our best friends behind. So we're all packing up a weekend bag and heading south.

Here's a few pictures to tide you over in the meantime, a wedding picture for posterity and a few pics from the happiest place on earth, the dog park.