Browsing Archives for August 2008

Day Two San Francisco dawned bright, warm and sunny.  We had spent our first day walking from one end of the city to the other and then we hit the beach where were greeted by an aggressively friendly nudist.  
How could San Francisco possibly get better than that?  
So we opted to head to Berkeley on our second day.  After strolling around the beautiful campus for a while we moved on to Oakland for a friendly ball game between the Oakland Athletics and our own Kansas City Royals.

Oh Oakland…
Oh dear Oakland…
Oh my Oakland!!!

For in Oakland, my children were to receive an education in the art of cursing out a ball player unlike anything they had ever heard before.  Which is not to say that my children have never heard cursing before because well yeah – okay  - um maybe from a few movies and uh also maybe uh… maybe just a little… from their mom.  But only tiny little bits and only when it was completly necessary – like when a snake crawled out of the brick pile or when I have to deal with traffic or maybe… um maybe…  just when I am kind of TIRED AND SICK AND ACHY AND SHAKY AND AT MY WITS END AND SO DONE WITH EVERYTHING THAT I CAN ONLY COPE BY SAYING REALLY ROTTEN WORDS but that doesn’t happen very often.  

Well – it doesn’t happen every day…
Most of the time it doesn’t…
And when I do curse it is usually under my breath…
Most of the time…
So Oakland was kind of a new experience for our whole family. 

The young men sitting behind us were our professors.  
Trust me, they were not even trying to curse under their breaths.
And strangely – the more they drank, the more they cursed.
Eventually, they got so riled up, that security knocked them out of the park.
But our family had found a different place to sit by then and guess what?  We managed to sit down right in front of a new group of young male professors who continued with our colorful language lessons.  
I was so glad we didn’t fall behind
I have never been so glad to see the Kansas City Royals win a baseball game in my life.
You go Royals!
Woo Hoo!
Love Them Royals!
We drove back to San Fran….cisco – and in the last few hours of daylight, we explored Golden Gate Park.

Which would become my favorite part of the city.

I guess maybe it reminded me a little of home.  But with better pastry…

I especially loved the Japanese Tea Garden where I received this fortune.

And immediately started making big plans…




I don’t have a business!

But if I did, you better believe I would be expanding it.

One by one, my family disappeared into the small Japanese garden and I was left alone with my tea and a pigeon and this moment here… 

This little tiny respite… 
This little vacation inside a vacation…  
This was my favorite place in San Francisco.

Oh! – And the Japanese Garden itself is a masterpiece.

They have amazingly therapeutic tea there!
 It somehow gives you new strength.  
It is almost like magic tea.  
For after I drank it, I was able to smile at my kids again.  
I need to get me some more of that tea.

On our last full day in San Fran….cisco… we drove out to Marin County.  Or primary destination was Muir Woods to see a forest of coastal redwoods and we were not disappointed.  Even though I now realize that the colossal redwood trees in Muir Woods are only tiny wobbly suckling infants compared to the trees in Humboldt Park and in a few other areas along the California coast, we were mightily impressed with the grandeur of these baby giants.   

Our boys were restless on the comfortable wide gravel path that the park is slowly changing to a wooden board walk to keep the visitors from constantly trampling the shallow roots of these ancient wonders.  As we discovered earlier on this vacation, our sons seem to settle down when they are pushing their bodies hard.  They love to run and to jump and to throttle each other mercilessly and this is much easier to do away from the throngs of people on the main path.  So we took our family off road and they all dug into the calf crushing climb to the top of the park as they got down to the serious business of bloody boyhood.

And yes, even though they are much calmer when they are in full exertion, I still had a hard time suppressing thoughts of just wandering back to the car and leaving them all there… in the backwoods… of California.  But I controlled that impulse.. barely… even though ultimately I think it might have been the best decision I could have ever made for everyone in my family.  Seriously! I am not even kidding. 

The Country Doctor is very fond of relating the time honored tale of eleven year old William Clark ( of Lewis and Clark) hiking to his grandmother’s every summer ALONE across 300 miles of the Appalachian Mountains. Imagine the educational opportunities that would abound for our kids if we did abandon them in the wilderness!   They would learn to survive…  and to make things… and to forage… and to subsist… and maybe even to work together!   In the end, don’t you think it is possible we would be doing them a huge favor?
Yes – the blog.  Okay back from my private little fantasy of wood worn children that do not suffer the taint of modern American boyhood.
Muir woods is awesome and also where I bought the book that is in the giveaway that is going on one post down.  
Right before we set off on our hike, we listened to a lecture in the park given by a passionate gentlemen who talked about the forest as if it were a sentient being and spoke of the connectedness of all things natural and how we are rapidly destroying the balance.  He was a very good speaker and he got choked up a few times as he spoke about his love of the woods and how they are going to disappear if things don’t change.  At the end of his talk he said there was a way to stop it.  A way to stop the destruction of the natural beauty of this planet.  He said that we could stop it.  Then he asked if there was anyone in the small group of listeners who would be willing to consume ten percent less than they are presently consuming.  Just ten percent.  Who would be willing?
I kept my hand firmly to my side.
He asked again – who would be willing to just buy ten percent less.  If we all bought just a little less, the companies would eventually make less stuff and fewer resources would get used up and less pollution would occur and the entire planet would rejoice.

I looked up at the huge old trees.  I looked at my young sons.  I thought about this old world and all it has seen and all it has weathered.  I wondered how much more it could take.  I wondered how much impact man really has.  I mean man wasn’t around to cause the first ice age or the um… other um… natural catastrophic things that have taken place on this planet thousands of years ago.   Honestly in the scope of all time and space is the work of man really so impressive to actually destroy an entire planet?  

But then I thought about how much we have destroyed already just in the past hundred years. How we managed to destroy almost all the coastal redwoods in the entire world except for a few that were just too dang hard to get to.  But guess what?  They aren’t that hard to get to anymore.  We have machines that can bust through anything.  Technology has made it possible to get to parts of nature that were previously safely out of reach.
I breathed in the spicy scent of the bay laurel and the fragrant humidity of the coastal redwoods that used to cover the entire world and now are only a tiny rag tag army of mighty towers pointing to heaven and creating an entire world in their upper branches that is only beginning to be understood.  
And I raised my hand.
I r

aised my hand.

I said I would consume ten percent less.
And I am going to try and keep my word.
It is a small thing for such an ancient glory. 
For something that has survived for 2000 years and maybe as long as 4000 years.  I can do with a little less.  
For the sake of this old world… I can.
I think I can…

We arrived home very late last night to a sparkling clean house.

I don’t think my house has ever been this clean.



My mom owns a small business and she temporarily set up shop in my study and also cared for our cats and our plants and made a few side trips to visit April’s Pig Farm, all while trying to get her new catalog put together. Strangely enough, on her infrequent breaks she felt compelled to mop my floors, organize my closets, and fold my laundry.

There is nothing better than a good mom.




Clearly our cats love my mom too, as they were lolling all over the furniture when we arrived home and when I shooed them off, they all sadly limped over to my mom and cried softly and seemed like they were about to tip over from fatigue and exhaustion from crossing the living room under their own power and she scooped them up and stroked their backs while softly singing them back to sleep.

Yeah – sorry cats, tomorrow it is back outside for you.

This morning when I stumbled down to the kitchen, there were sweet rolls and coffee and a kitchen that was gleaming. I was almost blinded when I walked into it.




I have a few more posts left to do on San Francisco. (I am so tempted to say San Fran, but I am using every fiber in my being to stop myself.) but I am out of photo storage and waiting for the upgrade to kick in, so until then I am going to do a quick book giveaway…

But first a quick word from our sponsor…

Which is just me by the way…

Lately there has been a sort of strange and exotic influx of new readers to this blog. A massive migration from Pie Near Woman to this humble grammatically challenged site, has been studied and observed by the geek in the observation tower and though the geek has enjoyed it immensely, it has also completely freaked me ( I mean her… I mean me) out. A few weeks ago when I gave away the wonderful book Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons, something strange happened to me.
Typically I give away used books. I buy them from Alibris which is a fabulous online book store that serves as a store front for thousands of small book shops all over the world to post their inventory and sell their wares to people like me who are always seeking out books from their sordid past. I much prefer to occasionally buy books instead of checking them out because it prolongs the dreaded trip to the local library where I am forced to face my appalling mountain of overdue fines.

So I am a frequent shopper at Alibris, and when I realized that I could offer used books as giveaways and that my readers were actually interested in these used books, and that they didn’t seem to mind at all, I just kept right on purchasing used books for the giveaways.


When it came time to send out the latest book to the latest winner I looked over the yellowing dog-eared copy of the used version of Cold Comfort Farm and I suddenly felt panicky and and nervous and sort of shaky and weak and sort of limp and exhausted and kind of scared and lonely and kind of like a gigantic weirdo (which in not necessarily unusual, but still…) and so I rushed out and bought a brand new copy of Cold Comfort Farm and hastily stuck that in the mailing package instead and I am sorry to say that I was so trembly and panicked about the whole fiasco that I did not even rip off the price tag… and I remembered as I was driving off, and it was too late!

Also to everyone who has ever won a giveaway on this blog you probably realize that my packaging skills are HORRIBLE that I can barely write and that I am in desperate need of someone to come up with some cute clever packaging in which to send stuff out, but instead it comes in a generic mailer and I can’t even bother to send a card with it. Sorry. I am so so so sorry!

I am so so so so so so SORRY!need my mom to come and live with me everyday for the rest of my life. Because she would insist on cute clever packaging and she would make me do it… and then when I was too pathetic to do it, she would do it for me. Which is why I love my mom so much. In the meantime… until my mom moves in with me and takes over my entire life… I am sorry to say that the giveaways on this blog will continue to be poorly packaged and primarily contain crumbling used books.

I just wanted you to know.

This time I am giving away my own copy. It has only been used once… but still used… and unless some miracle occurs between now and whenever I get around to sending it out, it will arrive in a plain mailer probably with some coffee stains on it, without a card, addressed in horribly smudged handwriting and you will probably wonder if it is from the uni-bomber, but then you will remember you recently won something and then you will realize that it is just from the crazy lady with the used book giveaways.

I happen to love books so much I don’t even care if they are used. In fact I love used books more, because sometimes they have an old inscription or a pressed flower or fervent yellow highlights and notes in the margins, but other people might not agree, so I wanted to tell you.

Now onto the giveaway.

Which is…

The Wild Trees
By Richard Preston

This highly engrossing true story of the absolutely insane people who climb the majestic, coastal redwood forests and do research on the tippy top of the canopy was so intense and well written that I hardly looked up from it at all during the long flight home . The trees they climb are usually around 370 feet tall which is kind of like climbing a thirty story building, except there are no elevators and no plumbing and no fire escapes and no electricity and you have to wear a harness and a helmet and one slight miscalculation means a 370 foot fall to a “dirt nap” from which you will never awake. This is a book about climbing trees and the history of trees and the survival of trees and mostly about the marvellous characters who passionately pursue these trees in an attempt to discover just how these ancient coastal giants have managed to keep right on growing through more than 2000 years of drought, flood, famine, and every possible attempt by humans to destroy them once and for all. It is a story about a deep love of nature and how it can drive you to discovery, to design and occasionally to delirium.

I was completely unable to put the book down, pausing only to order a full can of tomato juice on the flight and to make sure the stewardess understood that I wanted the whole can – yes please the WHOLE CAN and not just a miserly half can in a cup full of ice.

To win this ever so slightly used version of The Wild Trees by Richard Preston tell me your favorite tree in the comments. OR IF YOU ARE APRIL YOU CAN TELL MY YOUR FAVORITE PIG PART!!! Or if the favorite tree thing is really bothering you… like it seems to be bothering my sister the PIG FARMER… you can just say whatever. You can also say that I am prettier than my sister… and nicer… and that my kids are better behaved! Whatever you like.

This book giveaway is taking a dirt nap.