Friday, August 31, 2007

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

Graffiti Owl

I think Portland needs to get over the iPod. It's just a lazy man's way of listening to music.

Cyder Verling
Quoted in Kvetchfest

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Nice is as nice blogs?

I grew up in big cities, among the rush of crowds. I'm used to a little push and shove in public places. The way Chicagoans take a motorist's lit turn signal not as a warning of impending lane change, but as a sign of weakness and reason to speed up to cut off the foolish driver. LA is not known for its warmth between strangers. Amd New York? Well, New York's reputation is staked on rudeness. (Whether this latter one is really true is debatable, but for the sake of flow let's just press on, shall we?)

Despite the places I have lived, I am a firm believe in making an effort, of being polite and even friendly to strangers, of nice. Things move a lot smoother when a little nice is applied. Moving back to Portland has both strengthened and challenged this feeling. I love living in such a community-centered place, where people leave clothes, vegetable starts, and books on the curb, offering them to strangers with a little "free" sign.

I saw this sign today, on top of a CD player and stereo receiver someone had put on the corner. Free audio components are good, but leaving such a detailed note, now that's nice.

I love how friendly Portland is - that the people at the grocery store smile and chat, that the gas station attendant jokes with me, that my neighbor watches out for me. Ok, I mostly love it. Once in a while I just want to buy my food and go home, and sometimes drivers around here are too polite for their own good. But in general, I enjoy living in a place that values "nice".

I have been thinking about this because Something Baby Blue gave me a Nice award. (Hey, nice award! Thanks, I just got it!)

To pat myself on the back, I'm going with this button, since I agree with SBB that nice is sexy. Or at least, more interesting than pink ribbons and lace would suggest.

To paraphrase what I read over at SBB's place: the award recognizes bloggers who make you feel good, inspire you, and who are a positive influence on our blogging world. Getting named acts as an encouragement to pass on the love. (I'd say requires you to pass it on, but these are nice people, we don't need to force them, do we?) So without further ado, some of the blog-folks I think people should know are nice:

Stephanie, who is so nice that she can barely say no to everyone's ridiculous requests.

Mo-Wo and P-Man, who stop by and say nice things to me, even when the blog is a traffic-free dustbowl. I think they must have consciously agreed that I'd be their charity case for the year. (Not that I'm complaining, I love charity.)

Then there's Aarin, who didn't complain when it took me FOREVER to give her back the toys and baby things she'd loaned me.

Even though she won't admit to being nice, my pal the stute fish is nice. Plus, not only does her blog have the word nice in it, she manages to speak about what is hard for her in a considered and lovely way that constantly has me sending her little "me too" notes.

Unrelaxed Dad, who consistently posts interesting and insightful things, and who made me a more committed reader of his blog by posting a photo of his shrine (I really do plan on posting a photo of mine soon, I mean it!).

Yeah, and LA Daddy, because how else could a Midwestern-born guy with 4 working taste buds survive in LA if he wasn't nice? (notice I didn't say "make it in LA" because I don't think that takes nice, so much as well, I can't write about it in a post about nice.) Plus, bonus nice, he didn't block my email when, after I'd read his blog for a week, I decided it was a good idea to email him asking for a recommendation for new year's baby-sitting in LA.

I think lots of people are nice. I definitely think you are nice. I didn't go on listing people because it is my bedtime, and I've got to get up early tomorrow. Won't some nice person turn out the light for me?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Open Letter to the Bridge Pedal People

(I meant to post this weeks ago, but better late than never, right?)

Hi - I wanted to offer some feedback on this year's ride.

I enjoyed the ride (this was my 5th) but was disappointed that the hour long delay just prior to the Ross Island Bridge meant that I did not get to go over the St John's bridge. I imagine that the popularity of the ride has increased a lot over the past years (it certainly felt more crowded this year) and I noticed a lot more kids (both on their own bikes and in trailers), which slows things down a bit. All of this (more riders, more kids) is great, but I wonder whether you are planning to make some route or other changes that will allow a better traffic flow (and avoid hundreds and hundreds of riders from having to walk their bikes for an hour or more).

Everyone around me during the walking was very pleasant and in good spirits, but no one was thrilled to spend part of their "ride" walking. This was especially true when we learned that we'd missed the deadline for getting up to the St. John's. I strongly encourage you to figure out how to avoid this kind of bottleneck in the future. For my part, I will likely be choosing an earlier start time next year!

nonlinear girl

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Crochet tiger, hidden search terms

I was at the beach all this past week, but while I shake the sand out of my pants and sort through the laundry and Ada's piles of broken shells, I thought I'd share my google embarrassment. I'm never too busy to share my embarrassment.

I was laughing that someone found me by googling "free chroched baby blankets" (and trying to imagine a crotch in the blanket, for easy swaddling!). Then I followed the link and noticed that earlier this year I did type "croched". Even better, it was in reference to an actual, um, knit novelty item that makes croched more appropriate than crochet.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

There is, I found, something soul satisfying about attending a panel titled "Gumby!"

Manohla Dargis
We're All Geeks Here

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A kind of house

My parents decided they wanted to give Ada a playhouse for her birthday. My big fear was a plastic house, so I quickly did some research on wooden house kits. Chris said he'd be interested in building the house (which is good, have you seen how expensive a pre-built wooden house is? Not that we wouldn't love to spend several thousand dollars on a PLAYhouse, but it wasn't in the cards.)

So build it we did. Er, the family did, since I pretty much had nothing to do with this bit of backyard construction. Chris got the plans and wood. He found some great used cedar siding at the ReBuilding Center here in town (for an extravagant 13 cents/yard). Chris's brother and father helped build the house, and we'll be painting it barn red (made from reclaimed paint, 'cause what kind of Portlanders would we be if we didn't get the greenest red?).

Over a couple of weekend days last month the house came together. Ada even helped, hauling out her tools to make some adjustments here and there.

Ada says, "It's a kind of house. It's Ada's house."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The other things on my mind

Lately I have been fairly stressed out (work mostly, plus a few other things thrown in). I have started several posts about my blue mood, but I'm hampered by the fact that (a) posts about how low I am feeling are not very interesting; and (b) it is hard to explain to others what is bothering me when I am not entirely sure myself what is at the root of my recent funk. Ironically, once I figure that out I know I'll feel better, but that's something for another day.

In the mean time, here are some of the other things floating around the margins of the blog, each one not quite enough for a post, but still hoping to see the light of blog:

You Ate What?

You know how little kids can be very sensitive about food - its texture, physical heat, spiciness? Well, Ada can be pretty picky, and often refuses to eat things on sight. When I can get her to agree to one little bite, she often notices that she actually does like the food in question. (Take Wednesday night's arroz con pollo, for example.) Despite reading and rereading Green Eggs and Ham to Ada (and making repeated comments to her like, "wow, he thought he wouldn't like that, but then when he took a bite he LOVED it!") Ada still resists.

Despite Ada's opposition to certain foods, she tends to be pretty open to trying new things (as long as they don't fall into a forbidden texture or look category). Now that she's tall enough to reach up to the kitchen counters and grab things off, she'll help herself to snacks when I am not quick enough on the draw. She'll nibble on whatever she finds, whether or not it is a known item. Today I noticed her holding something green, and when I asked her what she was eating she held out a small green vegetable:

I took it from her, worried that she'd start screaming when the heat hit her. But apparently this is a mellow jalapeno and she munched happily on the bit that she'd already gotten in her mouth. Next time she complains that some food is too 'picy, I know what to give her instead.

Evil, But With A Sense Of Humor

I have been working more, which is part of what has me stressed out. I moved up to 60% time at work, but the past two weeks I have had meetings scheduled on my off day. An 11-1 meeting (that doesn't actually end until 2) eats up the whole day and leaves me feeling like I have lost time with Ada and yet didn't have time to be productive at work. Once in a while the meetings do offer some side benefit. One meeting this week included a delicious lunch, and walking out of a downtown building afterwards, I saw this on a Honda Odyssey:

Now I know what bumper sticker to buy if I ever have to buy a minivan.

There are a bunch of other things floating around in my head, including:

  • considering IVF again
  • wanting to write a post for all the people who find me by googling about crying
  • wondering why I feel so overwhelmed by what seems like a pretty normal and easy life, and
  • wanting to share pictures of some of the shirts I have made recently.
(Speaking of which, if you are a small/medium and think you might like a shirt, I have one that is just never going to fit me no matter what. Let me know.) Those posts and others may or may not get done any time soon, but that's the way of the blog, right?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Where'd Ben Go?

Just the question made me want to cry.

"Where'd Ben go?"

It is a question she asks all the time. Daily, and more. Ada's interest in our 7 year old neighbor started when he and his mother moved in up the street, and has not waned, even as Ben has turned from a ceaselessly chatty preschooler into a serious and not always toddler-approving boy. Clad in clip-on tie and knee-high boots, Ben is a dreamer, a planner, a gardener and construction foreman to a crew only he sees. Ben was the one who suggested ways to catch my tulip thief. He told me why and how to enroll Ada in the public library's summer reading program. He has waxed eloquent about topics that I thought beyond a first grader's grasp, and showed me the Chinese characters he had been learning in school.

Ada always wants to see Ben, follow Ben, climb up to Ben's porch to find out what he is doing. Sometimes Ben was happy to oblige, talking to and directing her and generally giving her the attention she craved from him. Sometimes Ben did not want to play. To Ada, this was a blow, but she was almost as happy being around his stuff as she was being around him. His porch, filled with flat rocks, baskets of shells, bubble bottles and child-sized furniture, was a holy site; Ada's pilgrimages made as frequently as we let her.

After Ada made a particularly disruptive visit to his porch, Ben politely requested that she not visit when he was not there to supervise. Chris and I agreed, trying to limit Ada's visits so as to not further test the patience of this sweet boy.

So although Ada's question was not unusual, the answer was different today.

"Ben's at his new house. He moved to a new house, Ada."

I hoped that having just seen some close friends move from their "old" house to a new one, Ada might understand the move a bit, even if she didn't like the answer.

"Where'd Ben go?"

"He went to his new house. He and his mom moved into their new house. Do you want to look in the window?"

Hand in hand we climbed the porch steps. She looked hopeful that I'd made a joke, that she'd look inside and see Ben sprawled on the couch. We looked into the window at the empty living and dining rooms, and talked some more about Ben's move.

"Where is the couch?"

"Ben and his mom moved it. They moved it to their new house, with the table. Ben's bed is at the new house. His tent is at the new house."

"I want to see upstairs."

But we couldn't go upstairs, and Ada seemed to understand that there was nothing to see there anyway. We walked back down the steps, and moved down the block. Watching her move slowly down the sidewalk, I wiped away tears. But then she was looking back at me, calling "chase me!"

I always forget how strong she is. I imagine that every change or slight will wound her. I should know, after watching her respond to a scratch or skinned knee, that she is both resilient and brave. She took this in stride too. She will miss Ben for a while, but when she asks for him we can go into the backyard and play in the sandbox he gave her. And go up on his old porch to visit whoever moves in next.

Don't worry mama, I still have this guy to chase around

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

I wonder where all the porn stars go
'Cause when you need one, they are never around

Volvo Driving Soccer Mom

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Toast!

To kind and generous Sarah, who sent me this:

(The opener, not the beer. She's generous, not crazy.)

She had them made for Blogher, but since I didn't go (and told her that I like to think of her when I open a beer) she sent one to me.

You wouldn't know it from how sketchy this photo turned out, but Chris took a bunch of pictures. I finally agreed to just use one of the pictures he'd taken when he refused to go on, noting that I was drinking all his beer.

Thanks Sarah! I feel both thrilled and refreshed. (Hopefully you can get that from the picture above.) And if you have been hiding under a rock and don't know Sarah's blog, let me just say that it is the best glimpse into the mind of a football-obsessed, cheesy metal-loving, drivers license losing mother of twins I have not actually met but enjoy knowing nonetheless.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

Pin your ear to the wisdom post
Pin your eye to the line
Never let the weeds get higher
Than the garden

Tom Waits
Get Behind The Mule

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Don't Shoot

When the number of visitors to my nonlinear home started to drop this summer, I was not concerned. I remember this from last year. People are busy in the summer, and it seems right that they would not be spending their time here when they could be out with friends and family, enjoying back yards, porches and sunny parks.

But a few weeks ago my visitor count spiked. I was suddenly getting a third to half again as many visitors as I normally do. At first I was really confused - why were people googling a particular phrase and ending up here? (I'd tell you the phrase, but that will just encourage google to keep me high on the first page of this particular query. The phrase in question happens to be the title of a recent post.) Little did I know that my title hit a hot google search phrase. And by "hot," I mean pictures of women in states of undress, sexily hamming for the camera.

So yeah, for the past few weeks hundreds of men around the world (ah, the global p-rn viewership) are popping by my site, only to find a complete lack of nakedness, and quickly clicking away. And although I am happy for people to stop by, I am pretty committed to NOT taking my shirt off on the blog.

So, to all the wayward googlers: Go Away. What you want is the FIRST site on the page of links. Not me. Nothing to see here.

I'm sure that in another few weeks my post will be old enough that I will slide down the rankings enough to be moved off the first page. For now, I can live with the higher than normal number of visitors recorded by sitemeter as staying for 0:00.

What She's Learned

What Ada has learned:

when one parent tells you "no,"
it is worth asking the other one.

What Ada has not yet learned:

it is best not to ask the second parent
when the first is sitting next to her.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Eight Isn't Enough

Eight years ago Chris and I stood before our friends and family, smiling and holding hands. We didn't make vows, but told one another about why we were there and how much love we felt. I still feel it, and from how he talks to me, looks at me, and touches me, I know Chris still feels it too.

I love you so much, Chris. I am so glad we are doing this together.