Monday, June 23, 2008

Star of the day

They've started a new thing at the Peanut's pre-school: each day one of the kids takes a turn being "Star of the Day." This means they get to bring in a special show-and-tell item and they get to be "line leader" when they line up to go outside. Today the Peanut is Star of the Day and she is very excited about it. Especially the "line leader" part for some reason.

She seems to like to be in charge. We keep on saying she obviously has a future in project management. Either that or dictatorship.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

And now for something less depressing

Been meaning to post these for a while -- pictures from our Father's Day brunch! Since I don't often cook, this was something of an occasion. The apple and cheddar fritatta recipe is here, and the ruby fruit salad recipe is here. I love Everyday Food!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Life and death

On Thursdays I work at home. I usually try to get online early in the morning, as soon as Mr. Fraulein leaves the house to take the Peanut to day care, so I can wrap up early enough to take a walk in the afternoon when the weather is nice, like it was today.

So as I usually do on sunny Thursday late-afternoons, I headed out for a walk through my lovely neighborhood. Rush hour was just starting, and as always, tons of people were milling around my town's little commercial district. I ducked into the Gap store that I drive past on every other day of the week when I'm commuting home from my office, usually with the Peanut in the car. I went to check out the sale items in the back of the store. I was deep into bargain hunting when I heard the crash. I turned around, looked out the front windows of the store, and saw flames shooting 15 feet into the air. A car parked in front of the store, not 30 feet from where I stood, was engulfed in flames. I froze, unable to comprehend what I was seeing. All around me, shoppers and store employees started screaming.

Oh my God, call 911!

Does anyone have a fire extinguisher? Get a fire extinguisher out here NOW!

There's a woman in that car!

I can see her! I can see her face!

A tall man barrelled past, carrying a fire extinguisher he had gotten from the Gap employees. He and another man who had come running into the street from a nearby restaurant, and who also had a fire extinguisher, attempted to put out the fire in the car--risking serious injury to do so. It went out briefly, but then re-ignited.

GET AWAY FROM THE WINDOWS! The fire department says everyone should move back in case another car catches fire!

The people inside the store moved back a few feet. A woman ran past, shouting something about her children, who were apparently inside another parked car that had been involved in the accident. A few minutes later I saw the kids, who looked to be around 8 or 10 years old, taken away on stretchers, but they looked OK. (I later heard on the TV news that the children were not badly hurt.)

Slowly people made their way outside the store, but continued to linger in the street to watch the increasing chaos of ambulances, "jaws of life" equipment and fire trucks. Everyone had been moved back far enough that it wasn't clear what happened to the woman in the car, the one I heard people in the Gap store saying they saw clearly as the flames rose higher and higher. When I heard people exclaiming about this, I deliberately turned away, desperately wanting NOT to see a fellow human being burning to death. (If the story I've linked to here is correct, somehow they managed to get her out of the car, alive.)

Now it is very late and I should go to bed, but I can't get the image of this burning car out of my mind. What kind of shape is this woman in now? And why did the elderly man who died, the driver of the original car, end up speeding so unbelievably fast down a quiet suburban street? Presumably he had a heart attack or something at the wheel, but I wonder if it will ever be known for sure?

And what if I, or someone I love, had been crossing the street at that moment?

When I came back home, I took a quick survey of my condo complex neighbors, many of whom have young children and most of whom walk through this very commercial area all the time. I knew my husband and the Peanut, on the other side of town, coming back from her day care, were safe, but I wondered about those I know to commute through this area. Luckily everyone was accounted for. Later in the evening, over dinner at one such neighbor's house, watching the Peanut giggling with their two daughters, I thanked God that none of us had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But I couldn't help remembering that the families of those killed and injured in this horrible accident can't take comfort in that thought tonight.

UPDATE: More on the accident here.

UPDATE II: The woman in the car has been upgraded to "serious" condition, according to today's news (Saturday). It's clear that the heroic actions of the people I saw with the fire extinguishers probably saved this woman's life.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Drink coffee; live forever

Well, not quite. But still, this is good news for me:

In fact, coffee might even help the heart, especially for women, the researchers found.

"Our results suggest that long-term, regular coffee consumption does not increase the risk of death and probably has several beneficial effects on health," said lead researcher Dr. Esther Lopez-Garcia, assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Autonoma University in Madrid, Spain...

The researchers found that women who drank two or three cups of caffeinated coffee daily had a 25 percent lower risk of death from heart disease during the follow-up (from 1980 to 2004) than non-drinkers. Women also had an 18 percent lower death risk from a cause other than cancer or heart disease compared with non-coffee drinkers.

Friday, June 13, 2008

This child brought to you by an interracial marriage

The Peanut (seen here at age 1) wishes you a happy Loving Day!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Very busy at the moment

With travel, work, etc., so not much time to blog. However, I am enjoying how aggressively Obama is taking the fight to McCain, and hoping that before too long we'll get to take our country back. Here is just one example of how the Republicans are still screwing us after all these years (if you drive and are sick of $4/gallon gas, this should resonate):

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans blocked a proposal Tuesday to tax the windfall profits of the largest oil companies, despite pleas by Democratic leaders to use the measure to address America's anger over $4 a gallon gasoline.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

"Submediocre Rich Boy 2.0"

If the Republicans don't steal the election again (a big if) their sterling choice of a presidential candidate is going to lose BIG TIME. We're talking Mondale all over again. Could this guy win even one state in an honest election? With gas creeping up towards $5 a gallon? I seriously doubt it.

Compare Obama's and McCain's speeches yesterday. As through the rest of the campaign, there was a striking contrast between McCain's faltering delivery and muddled messaging and Obama's self-assured manner and strong proposals for change. Which is clearly what people want. I think it's telling that even in the comments posted on YouTube, for example, where it should be evenly mixed between supporters of both candidates, the vast majority are skewering McCain, who of course still looks like he's 108 years old. People are describing him as "doddering" and his speaking ability (or lack thereof) as "bordering on the grotesque." I've been trying to keep track of new nicknames for him that people have coined in comments around the blogosphere. So far I've seen:












Uncle Creepy

...and, my current favorite: "Submediocre-Rich-Boy 2.0."

Meanwhile Bob Cesca, with this description of McCain's off-kilter delivery, once again proves why he is "goddamn awesome" indeed: "Seriously -- he sounds creepy and sinister. Like a second-rate surrogate delivering an introductory speech for a candidate running for sheriff in Toothlessburg."

I cannot wait for the first Obama/McCain debate. How embarrassing is that going to be? Pass the popcorn...

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I'm back

So we are officially back from the first of our Fraulein family 2008 summer outings. Our journey to the Los Angeles area to visit Mr. Fraulein's family went really well. We were a bit nervous about how the Peanut would do on the plane, but fortunately for all concerned she handled it like a champ. The fact that she seems to have really gotten the hang of using the potty now was a huge help. In fact she handled the flight better than we did.

You've gotta love how the airline industry has reinvented itself of late. Seems like every time you fly, in coach at least, you somehow have less room. (I'm trying not to consider the possibility that I'm just getting fatter.) One thing I know for sure is at the ripe age of 39 I am not getting taller, and yet somehow my knees seem to get closer to the seat in front of me with each airplane trip. To say I'm not a tall person is an understatement. I'm 5'3. If you are much above 5'9 or so, and, God forbid, weigh more than about 150 pounds, you are in for a world of hurt on a coach flight these days. I think the people who run the airlines have a running competition to see just how little space they can cram the coach passengers in to. "I know--let's make it so you have to be only 5 feet tall and weigh less than 95 pounds to fit in our seats! Let's see how the passengers like THAT! Hahahahaha!!"

Also, the fact that you are traveling from one coast to the other does not entitle you to more than two servings of drinks. Or even to the opportunity to purchase an overpriced, stale sandwich at any point during the flight. Two tiny cups of water and no lunch or snack service, even if you are willing to pay for it. That was it. Good times. If you want to eat on the plane these days, you have to buy something ahead and take it with you, which always makes me feel vaguely like an immigrant clutching a sack of potatoes, heading for Ellis Island. And they wonder why nobody wants to fly anymore...

But aside from all that it was lovely to be in southern California and to enjoy the mystifyingly good weather. Normally at this time of year it starts to get broiling hot, but we arrived in Burbank to partly cloudy skies and 65 degree temperatures. Felt just like home. After a couple of days the sun came out but it never got much above 80, so we were able to get outside a lot with the Peanut, who thoroughly enjoyed the local playgrounds and the L.A. Zoo, where we got close-up views of koala bears and giraffes. We watched, fascinated, as a large male giraffe extended his huge neck high into the trees and curled his long black tongue around the leaves, pulling them into his mouth.

And the Peanut got to spend a lot of quality time with the Chinese side of the family, getting to know her only cousins. When she was born it made a matched set of three granddaughters and three grandsons for Mr. Fraulein's parents, but the age spread is considerable: the next youngest cousin is 11. We had a couple of big, raucous family get-togethers where she got to play hide and seek and red light, green light with the cousins, even the biggest ones, who are in college, so that was great fun for her. And of course California Nana and Pop-Pop, as they are known, were thrilled to have another "baby" to fuss over after all these years.

But by far the best part was getting to spend long, lazy days together, all three of us, with no agenda aside from soaking up every moment of the Peanut's three-and-a-half-ness. She's getting over the whiny stage she entered when she turned 3 and becoming more independent. She makes little jokes. She has strong opinions about her outfits and hairstyles. ("No, today I want LOW ponytails, Mommy!") She's largely outgrown her stroller but on long walks she travels by Daddy. (Time for a piggy-back ride!)

One night when we put her to sleep on her grandparents' guest room day-bed, after going through our usual routine of stories and songs, she sat up and looked at me. "I have a question," she said. It was a question she'd asked before.

"Why do you have to go to work?" she said.

It's always like dying a little death, hearing that question, because of course if we were independently wealthy and could devote every day to trips to the playground with her, we'd do it. But obviously there are bills to pay. So I gave her my standard answer, about how mommy and daddy love her more than anything in the world, but we have to go to work to earn money to pay for our house and our food and our clothes and our toys. And anyway, this way she gets to go to school and learn her letters and numbers and hang out with her cute little friends. She nods solemnly, considering this.

And as I look at her in the waning sunlight filtering through the blinds, I realize that I would give almost anything to capture this moment in amber, to keep her this tiny for as long as I possibly could.

I know her growing up will be amazing. It certainly has been so far. But how lovely, how like a shimmering, dazzling work of art, lit from within, she is at this moment.