Sunday, November 30, 2008

and if I go blonde I will be in the annie lennox/david bowie territory

My hair? Slowly moving on from Anderson Cooper, to Anderson, Laurie.


Lentil soup cooked with bacon, and served with balsamic vinegar on top.


Well, how about that.

Read about "a move that sounded so preposterous it became a Stephen Colbert skit".

bye bye lavender

Yesterday, in preparation for today, the first Sunday of Advent, I put new candles in the advent candle holder.

And then I went outside to see what kinds of evergreens I could use to make it pretty.

There was none. But there was lavender, so I used that and the cedar roses I had picked earlier. It was pretty.

Fifteen minutes later Dan declared he was allergic to cheese, because he had eaten a piece of cheese and now his nose was stuffy.

My eyes were itchy.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

you won't put it down, that's how good it is

Many years ago an older woman I knew thought I was reading far too many books written by men, and that I was accepting what they said far too easily.

She told me I ought to read some female authors once in a while.

So I did, and since then I have almost exclusively read fiction written by women.

Then what happened, just recently, is that my friend Babs, and a bunch of her friends, were all talking about the same guy writer. They wouldn't stop.

So I got a collection of short stories: The Palace Thief, by Ethan Canin. A really good book, by what seems to be a really good guy.

today's mailing news

I wrote a check for Children's Cancer Research Fund (donate online here), and I leafed through a catalog known to Dan as Dorks-R-Us.

I ordered a couple of things.

Have these ones already.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

it took me 13 years, 4 months, and 2 weeks

Finally I have a favorite superhero: Elastigirl. And it's only partly because she has the voice of Holly Hunter.

happy thanksgiving

Today I learned from Dan's aunts how to make Te de Canela, Mexican cinnamon tea. It is super easy, and oh so good.

Also, a mixture of cinnamon and honey is said to cure many things.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

more from alisa

This link. A story to inspire, and warm your heart.

(Gotta love NPR. Bookmark this! Next time someone asks for 'positive news' in that sarcastic tone of voice you'll know just what to give them.)

from the former student's travel blog

On being in South East Asia for this year's US presidential election:
We really do feel like we can be less ashamed of being Americans. In nearly 10 months of travel we have not met a single person, be it Thai villager, Indian rickshaw driver, or fellow traveler who was not rooting for Obama.
By Alisa.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

biggest american family holiday of the year, minus two days. or: why I didn't buy any tea.

The aisles at my local Safeway were super busy today, and also blocked by women on cell phones. At one point I was locked in by two animated discussions. As I picked up my water, the phrases and key words I caught were "... and for you to INVITE HER...!!", and "... his basketball practice...!!", respectively.

I turned the corner, but gave up on getting all the way down to the juices and teas.

Back to the water aisle. "...MANIPULATIVE!!" the conversation there continued.

I left.

meals with love

This year it's going to be hard not to give to organizations that work with, and for, people in need. I just gave to these people, Project Open Hand.

Friday, November 21, 2008

town is 87% white, 0.8% black, and the home of netflix and steve wozniak

There was this one woman I used to run into when I had chemo, and later when we both had radiation at the same time every day. We'd chat.

She got her hair back a little before I did, and when she saw my hair had started to grow she told me to get a product she had been using to stimulate hair growth. It was called Super Grow, and she had gotten it in the African American isle at the drug store.

So, today I looked for it at my local Rite-Aid.

No, didn't think so, no African American isle in a Los Gatos store. To really drive home the point, the home relaxers were at a 75% discount.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

you'd be lucky having such problems

One of my students told me today that he had been yelled at by another professor for not living up to his potential.

Downside of having potential: Being expected to live up to it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


This quote sat at the bottom of an email I received from a student today, the way many people have quotes that get glued onto the bottom of every email they send. I have one too. My favorite Malcolm X quote even appears at the bottom of this blog page.

Anyway. I actually read the quote, even though I've read it before many times in other places. It struck me as true, today, for some reason:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
- Marianne Williamson

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

david bowie, -72: not jaded

So in a successful attempt to further feed the European nostalgia that I have been suffering from I got the David Bowie Live Santa Monica -72 CD.

At the end of Andy Warhol (the song), our favorite David talks about having eaten a piece of palm tree along with his rock star's lobster tail earlier the same day (Oct. 20, 1972, for those of you who are interested).

You can hear the English boy's awe in his voice.

And it's not about the lobster.

That's how I feel too, every day, everywhere I turn. Palm trees, more palm trees, and the shadows of palm trees.

Pinch me, somebody.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


New favorite chocolate bar, sold by girl who said she liked my hair.

stay happy

First song you hear in Happy-Go-Lucky, from one of my all time favorite albums:

Happy-Go-Lucky, my new favorite movie, is both charming and refreshing, if you can imagine that. If not, watch the trailer here.
And it's not just because of my constant low grade European nostalgia that I am saying that. (But yeah, right now I am prepared to like anyone with a European accent, and the tiniest twinkle in their eye.)

This movie is lovely. There is something irresistible about people in non perfect outfits enjoying themselves, each other, and their lives. And Camden Lock.

British bonus from my youtube trip:

those emancipated europeans

"You can do it!"
Husband to wife, who was pushing a stroller with a 10 month old in it steeply uphill at Rancho San Antonio on Saturday. In a German accent.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I am expecting something from you, now, mr obama

Today I had to fill a couple of prescriptions in downtown Los Gatos, the well to do small town where I live. As I sat there waiting lots of other people picked up their pills too.

I couldn't help noticing that quite a few people lacked health insurance, paying $200-300 for what they needed. One man didn't have the $150 that his medicine cost. He was nicely dressed and had a small boy with him. He made an offer to pay $50, but of course that wasn't accepted. He left without his medication.

Me? I paid $20. Insurance picked up the rest.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

who do you think you are?

This American Life did it again:
This week we bring you stories of privilege and the lengths some will go to to maintain it. In one story, a woman fights—on tape!—with her city's parking enforcer about playing favorites. And in honor of the late Studs Terkel, we bring you a special collection of stories from his Hard Times radio series; the haves and the have-nots talk about life during The Great Depression.

Monday, November 10, 2008

yeah, the swedes talk about the devil a lot

The devil makes work for idle hands, someone told me today, as I was correcting an exam while waiting for the doctor. I hadn't heard that saying before, but it sounded reassuringly Protestant. Just like home.

surgery, chemo, radiation: today I had my last treatment

Stops on my end-of-treatment extravaganza tour: one, and two, by way of this store.

It's very weird to be done.

and he's got a sense of humor too

Barack Obama’s election is a milestone in more than his pigmentation. The second most remarkable thing about his election is that American voters have just picked a president who is an open, out-of-the-closet, practicing intellectual.
Read more.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


I made a salad today with roasted butternut squash, baby spinach, and feta cheese. A while ago I read about something similar, but I couldn't find it. So I improvised.

The squash I roasted pretty much like in this recipe, but I quadrupled the amount of spices. I used cumin, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and black pepper. And a mortal and pestle to grind it all.

When the squash was done I mixed it with the spinach, so the leaves wilted a bit, and added feta cheese. No dressing, just a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. And more salt. Yum.

Next time I think I will add some nuts or seeds of some sort.


First time on the mountain trail since April.

Friday, November 07, 2008

it's judi dench and I

Chemo update: My hair grew back solidly salt and pepper. I've got almost an inch now so I've shredded the head wrap.

And given how much time and money I've spent the past 15 or so years to cover the gray in my hair, all I can say is that that was a big fat waste of time. Rarely have I had so many compliments. It could be that people are just glad to see that I have any hair at all, but I don't think that's all of it. I actually like the gray myself.

I'm just saying. Clairol and the others have us captive. Reclaim the gray.

don't ask random strangers to speak for their race

Dan works with a couple of African-Americans, and they told him that the day after Obama won the election, complete strangers would come up to them to congratulate them, high-five them, or ask them what it felt like to have the first Black president be elected.

Dan suggested they'd look the next stranger in the eye and tell them, "It's pay-back time."

I thought that was funny.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

"I expect a lot from you"

I have borrowed this from Babs and her friend Mark. It's a commencement address given by Barack Obama at Northwestern in 2006. McCain had been the speaker the year before. Watch it.

this is me

Thanks to Babs and Alice.

another thing you can do

Petition to re-open Proposition 8 for California: Click to sign.

four years, two days

Aug. 4, 1961: Barack Obama was born.
Aug. 6, 1965: President Johnson signed The Voting Rights Act.

one thing you can do

"By signing this petition, I affirm and agree that banning gay marriage is unconstitutional, and that a better method of saving the family and protecting the institution of marriage is to constitutionally ban divorce."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

and the cool thing is that both of those things are true at once

So, compared to every other day in the history of this nation, today is a real good day to be Black in the United States.

And, it's also a good day to be in the United States.

today's the day

And it's the first time since I started teaching in the US in 1999 that the students are engaged in the election.