Friday, February 24, 2006


today is a breezy bright blue sky day in central virginia. the birds are singing and the crocus flowers are blooming. it's the kind of day that makes one want to jump in the car and road-trip off to tennessee or north carolina. but i suppose one shouldn't do that when one has to report to work by 4:30 in the afternoon.

so instead tashi and i are going to have a downtown mall kind of day. sometimes i hate calling it the downtown mall because images of a parking lot surrounding a large blocky building with sears on one end and jcpenney on the other might come to mind.

charlottesville's downtown mall is a charming pedestrian mall that, when in full swing, is lively with buskers, outdoor eateries, tibetan vendors, artisans and browsers.

so today we're going to head downtown and start our day off with the public library, and then have a little lunch, and then maybe check out a gallery or two.

a perfect date for a mother and daughter.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

feeling like a moron

my friend karen told me the other day that blogger is owned by google. and then i saw it today, right there at the bottom of the blogger dashboard page, "copyright 1999-2006 google". and here i was telling everyone via my blog to boycott google and my blog is owned by google. damn.

now what to do. . .

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

city of brick

today as a celebration of tashi's midwinter break we took her to amazement square, a children's museum in lynchburg. housed in an old brick warehouse built prior to the civil war, the museum has stairs that light up when you step on them and a core of tunnels, nets, slides and ladders that span its four floors. there were exhibits on electricity, gravity, architecture, wild birds, the human body, the monacan indians and the james river. 'twas fun.

lynchburg (pop. 66,000) has a large historic district built on hill that rises from the james river. it was a big tobacco town in its day. dozens of warehouses lined the river and small boats called bateaux, manned by strong slaves, waited on the water to transport containers of the smokable leaf to richmond. it was a wildly prosperous town back in the day, and now it lives off of its history.

lynchburg is sometimes called the "city of churches" with over 130 houses of the lord as well as jerry falwell's "liberty university." yike.

thomas jefferson's retreat, poplar forest, is located in lynchburg, and nearby, the appomattox courthouse, where general lee surrendered to general grant, thus ending the bloody civil war. lynchburg is also home to the randolph-macon women's college whose most famous alumnus is pearl s. buck.

i was impressed with the decrepit old brick warehouses, the well preserved victorian row houses, and the ostentatious antebellum mansions. definitely and eyeful of old funk.

Monday, February 20, 2006

it's official

in july, cyprus.

the vale is quiet

not a lot has been happening in the vale, thus the silence.

this week is tashi's midwinter break but unfortunately she is starting it out with a fever.

dan's brother andy visited over the weekend, after a job interview in DC. we ate a lot, drank wine and watched the olympics. on saturday while i was at work dan, tashi and andy checked out downtown charlottesville and then drove up to the blue ridge. midday they met me for lunch at five guys, a greasy burger place where people eat peanuts and throw the shells on the floor.

andy (a doctor) told me that my knee condition is not ligament related and is called patello femoral pain syndrome. it is inflammation under the knee caps and should disappear someday.


hopefully tashi will be well soon so that we can run around and have a fun week. until then i'll probably be reading a lot to her and hopefully to myself!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

i didn't steal these pictures!

so tonight i experimented with dan's logitech webcam, meant for web video chats, not really for still photos. but hey, you do what you can with what you have. lighting and a steady hand were the biggest issues. but here are some happy valentine's day photos. sorry about the poor quality.

meet the original iris with the red hair. i made her for tashi a year ago. tashi is clutching her tightly in her sleep at this very moment.

this is the valentine's dress i made for iris. stylish, eh?

this is one of nine! cards tashi made for dan and i.

this is the valentine i made for dan. it says, "you make my heart blossom." aaaaaw.

and for the fun of it, here is the tsatske shelf i picked up at the salvation army. actually it's twice this size but i could only fit so much of it in the camera frame.

happy boycott google day

a whole day without googling could be hard. but supporting human rights injustices is even harder! i received the following email recently:

Pledge Now: Boycott Google on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14th.

Join the one-day boycott and "break up" with Google on Valentine's Day, click

Every pledge makes a difference and adds to the impact of this
campaign. By pledging online now you will help us show Google
that you value freedom and human rights and oppose their
collaboration with Beijing's system of information control and

Help us drive up the pledge tracker!
Pledge now and spread the word! was featured in yesterday's New York Times,
Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle and on American Public Radio's
Future Tense - syndicated worldwide on BBC and CBC. Click here
to read news coverage. And thanks to you, Google Executives have received
over 40,000 protest emails and Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Cisco have received
nearly 4,000.

Monday, February 13, 2006

idle chatter

today in charlottesville it is melty and sunny.

this weekend it was snowy and cozy.

tashi and i started off saturday with a snowball fight and then went inside for the rest of the weekend. well, actually, i did leave the house once more to go to the salvation army. there i scored one of those wooden frames comprised of many little compartments of various sizes in which you place knick knacks, stones, shells and the like. i've always wanted one of these things so i was stoked. i don't know what they are called. not really a shadow box but. . . ?

for the remainder of the weekend i cleaned the house, cooked, played and watched olympics, olympics and more olympics. i haven't yet had my knitting lesson, but on sunday we sat in front of the tube making collages and watching snowboarders. my collage has a long way to go, but it was good not to be completely idle in front of the box.

i was touched when tashi and dan both agreed that making collages was their favorite part of the weekend.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


it's snowing in charlottesville, a big deal always. four to eight inches is expected, which around here is enough to be considered a major winter storm. if it were a school day it would surely be cancelled. but lucky for us it is a saturday which means tashi can flop around outside for hours while we finally ignite a blaze in the fireplace.

i had thought it would be a good morning for visiting the salvation army. but i bet it doesn't open due to the "storm".

oh and the olympics. the last time the winter olympics came around i watched more hours of tv than i had cumulatively since i was a teenager. usually our tv is tucked into my study in front of the futon where, on saturday nights, dan and i sometimes watch a dvd we've rented. that's about the extent of it (well,ok, i'll admit, i often watch david letterman for some comic relief at the end of the day). but now the olympics have begun which might mean the tv will get rolled into the living room. part of me really wants to get the tv out of my room anyway. but i've been pretty resistant to having the evil eye in our central living space. tashi has had a mostly tv-free life and we all feel pretty good about that. but alas, it's the olympics, and i've a feeling the box will be lit up for a good part of the next two weeks.

maybe it's time for me take up knitting so that i can do something with my hands while i'm watching people fall on their ass. i grew up with a mother who was constantly knitting and constantly telling me to shush up because she was counting stitches. i've gotten some great sweaters, hats and scarves out of the deal over the years, and so has tashi. but i also developed an aversion to the craft. perhaps now is the time to put that hurt inner child to sleep and get on with it. pick up some needles and yarn and make a scarf. tashi can teach me. she learned how to knit at school. it was a really difficult day when at age five she said, "mommy, can you help me cast on," and i had no idea how to.

speaking of my sweet little tashi, she just said to me, after thoughtfully gazing out the window for a long while, "it looks like pretty feathery snow out there today." followed by a little curious voice that asked, "olympics on?"

Thursday, February 09, 2006

through with thursday

i did actually do something, though not what i had expected. after my post yesterday, i sat here for a while wondering what i should make tashi for valentines day. i settled on the idea of a dress for iris, the cloth weir doll i made for her last year. i've never followed a pattern in my life (except for the weir doll), and in fact, don't really know how to sew very well at all. but i figured i had nothing to lose but a little bit of fabric. so i whipped out a dress for her doll. i wish i could show you, but woe is me, i have no digital camera. it is a two layer cotton dress, pink underneath with a cream colored eyelet fabric on top. it is pretty shapeless and, not having a clue about buttons and snaps, one has to work pretty hard to wriggle it onto the doll. but once one has mooshed the doll into the dress, it looks pretty sweet. some day i'll show you. i think i might add some sort of decorative piece to it, a heart perhaps, because afterall, it's a valentines gift.

today at work i scored some really nice pieces of cardboard, on which i can collage. i'm looking forward to doing some collaging soon.

this evening i went to the cinema again! tonight was the final night for north country at the jefferson theater, charlottesville's second run house. it was totally worth $3. i don't think it will continue to live in my mind the way brokeback mountain has, but an important film with some great acting. read about participant productions, a conscientious production company, here and here.

a film critic i'm not. but there was something so mesmerizing about brokeback mountain. ennis and jack were so real, that i feel like if i wrote a letter to ennis and sent it general delivery, he might actually receive it.

and that's it. i'm through with thursday. goodnight!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

to do or not to do

welcome to today.

i haven't much to write about today, but after looking at all these crafty blogs i'm determined to do something. shall i make a collage? shall i attempt to make something on the sewing machine with the basketful of fabric? shall i try to write something that is not blog related? shall i learn about felting? or shall i take a really long walk and think more about what i should be doing? no, i don't think so, it's 24 degrees outside.

the car that broke down the other day sits in the shop in need of work that will cost about $2K. shall i dismantle it and make a beautiful sculpture?

the exciting news is that my mother, tashi and i might be going to cyprus. my mother is making it possible, as she wants our company. we may not go until the summer which is a good thing because in the summer you can hang out on the fabulous beaches day in and day out.

shall i teach myself greek (it is a language i once spoke until moving to america at age 4)? shall i read the iliad? i've read the odyssey a couple of times but can't seem to get through the iliad. all those battles. perhaps i should try again, after i finish reading bitter lemons, a memoir by lawrence durrell about living in cyprus. this book, a favorite of my mother's, has sat on the bookshelf since i was a wee child. here is a nice descriptive bit by durrell, about bellapais, a mountainside village that is near kyrenia, a harbor town i once lived in. both of these places are in north cyprus, a region occupied by turkish troops. this passage was written in better days, when the greek cypriots and turkish cypriots co-existed peacefully.

"The atmosphere of the village was quite enthralling; its architecture was in the purest peasant tradition -- domed Turkish privies in courtyards fanning out from great arched doors with peasant mouldings still bearing the faint traces of a Venetian influence; old Turkish screen-windows for ventilation. It had the purity and authenticity of a Cretan hamlet. And everywhere grew roses, and the pale clouds of almond and peach blossom; on the balconies grew herbs in window-boxes made from old petrol tins; and crowning every courtyard like a messenger from my Indian childhood spread the luxuriant green fan of banana-leaves, rattling like parchment in the wind. From behind the closed door of the tavern came the mournful whining of a mandolin."

Monday, February 06, 2006

crafty mommies

please check out the new links in my mommeanderings section. i stole some of these links from suzanne's blog, but it's all about sharing isn't it? these moms are so incredibly crafty and productive. i don't know how they do it: multiple kids, homeschooling, blogging, thrifting and cutting and pasting and knitting and sewing up a storm. hopefully some of their inspiration and energy will rub off on me. and on you too.

car trouble

today i was on the highway, on my way to pick up tashi from school, when suddenly our subaru loyale started to slow itself down. i knew that soon it was going to stop altogether. a little luck was on my side. a rest stop appeared before my very eyes. the car quit just as i pulled into a parking space. smoke started to billow from under the hood. i jumped out and headed for the payphones.

yes, it's true, i have no cell phone. but i did have $1.50 in coins. just enough to try and call dan (with no luck), to call information to find the phone number of tashi's school, and to call tashi's school.

lesson no. 1
memorize the phone number of your child's school. or carry the damn number with you at all times.

i tried to start the car, but it would not start.

our auto insurance has an 800 number, so i didn't need any coins to call that. the tow truck arrived about an hour later. i'm glad that the tow truck driver made me feel safe, because i generally don't like getting into vehicles with strangers. he was a nice guy. "i aint never been to michigan," he said, commenting on our license plate.

he drove me and my dead car to an auto shop near our home. i speed walked to my house and took our other beat up old vehicle up to crozet to pick up tashi. it was 5:00 by the time i got there. it's a good thing her school has after care.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


today was a rainy, awful day, the kind of day that you just want to spend sitting in a cafe reading a book and getting caffeinated. well sometimes that is not so easy to pull off when you have a child, unless you promise the child that while hanging out in the cafe you'll play cards with her and draw silly pictures and read books to her. why it is more appealing to do it in a cafe than at home, i'm not sure, but it was a cafe sort of day.

so around lunch time the three of us bundled off to the twisted branch tea house, one of the groovier places in charlottesville, full of nooks and crannies and mirrors and pillows and hookahs and tapestries and art and a big sculpted tree inlaid with oddities. yes, i have written about the twisted branch before. on one side of the cafe is a riser with several cushions and low wooden tables, so you can take off your shoes and sit japanese style while gazing out of the big windows at the downtown pedestrian mall. dan, tashi and i chose this spot to hunker down.

first we ate lunch: a huge beautiful salad of mixed greens, raisins, walnuts, pears and ginger-miso dressing; a bowl of hummus with tasty vegetables and flat bread; a dish of flavorful dal with rice, raita and chutney. each of these dishes was $5, which is a very good deal if you ask me.

after enjoying our lunches, we drank two delicious pots of chai and tashi had ice cream. we played a very long game of three-way war (tashi won), took turns drawing pictures of each other, and dan and i managed to read a few sentences of our own books. around 3:3:00pm i decided i was going to run off to the cinema, something i don't often get to do. i thought i should see at least one of the oscar contenders and chose brokeback mountain.

it was a decadent day, but i secretly decided i would do it in celebration of the rejection letter i received from a literary magazine. handwritten on the form-letter was a note from the editor saying my poems made it to the final round.

here is a poem i read today, by greek poet, Cavafy (trans. Rae Dalven):

The First Step

The young poet Eumenes
complained one day to Theocritus:
"I have been writing for two years now
and I have done only one idyll.
It is my only finished work.
Alas, it is steep, I see it,
the stairway of Poetry is so steep;
and from the first step where now I stand,
poor me, I shall never ascend."
"These words," Theocritus said,
"are unbecoming and blasphemous.
And if you are on the first step,
you ought to be proud and pleased.
Coming as far as this is not little;
what you have achieved is great glory.
For even this first step
is far distant from the common herd.
To set your foot on this step
you must rightfully be a citizen
of the city of ideas.
And in that city it is hard
and rare to be naturalized.
In her marketplace you find Lawmakers
whom no adventure can dupe.
Coming as far as this is not little;
what you have achieved is great glory."

Friday, February 03, 2006

4X4, a blog game

I've been "tagged" by blogger britt bravo which means i have to answer these "4X4" questions and then tag four more bloggers. i don't know if that many people even read my blog. this feels a little like those "send it to six people or you'll die a terrible death" emails, but anyway, here goes. britt changed the questions but i'm changing them back because i just don't have four answers to some of her questions!

4 jobs I had:

cashier manager at people's food coop
tarot reader
warehouse manager at small press distribution
peon at burger king (it was my first high school job. oh the shame.)

4 places I lived (really, only 4?):

nicosia, cyprus
bradford, pa
dharamsala, india
haight street

4 places i liked:

yelapa, mexico
hampstead, england

4 Web sites I visit regularly (or in my case, once in a while):

bbc news
the wise woman forum

4 people i tag

fire escape gardener

oh and if you like, here are 4 alternate questions (created by britt). or mix and match!

4 movies i watch over and over
4 tv shows i love
4 songs i listen to over and over
4 guilty pleasures blogs i read

Thursday, February 02, 2006

a public service announcement

death is good.

the music of it, the dancing, the questioning souls and answering angels, the cussing, the blood, the verdant ann arbor scenery, the porn, the dogs, the special effects, the actors, the extras, the bonus features. it's all good.

make sure to embrace death when it comes to your town.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

deletion, death

this morning i sat here for three hours filling out an electronic job application. three hours. the thing kept disappearing entries before my very eyes, or i would enter a job in the "previous employment" section and it would appear in the wrong place. you know, the job you had in 1995 doesn't belong between the jobs you had in 2002 and 2005! i started the thing over a half dozen times. then, when it was very nearly perfect and i was about to send it, i accidentally deleted it.

so after several moments of doom and destruction, i stepped outside to check the mailbox. in the mailbox was "death", a film by my former co-worker, justin brewer, sometimes known as chuck trasch. somewhere in this film is me, slapping a disoriented guy lunging toward my stroller. tashi is in it too, but apparently the film isn't really appropriate for kids her age. so tonight, i will watch it, in secret, and feel like a raunchy movie star mom.

well really, just an extra.