Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dog Germs

I thought the dogs only ate off our plates!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Library Hop with Henry

When Bill was in Big Sur for the music festival, Henry and I planned for a full day of library hop to keep us occupied. We used to visit the local libraries a lot when I stayed home with him, and we still do once a week, albeit most are very short visits now, to pick up and drop off material. Many of the local branches had gone through extensive renovation and re-building in the last few years, thanks to library taxes in City of San Jose and County of Santa Clara. We haven't had much chance to enjoy these new branches.

The library hop idea came from my yarn shop hop last month when I visited 19 stores from peninsula to Carmel in three days, took pictures and wrote reviews about them. We went through a few options -- trains (he's mostly out grown), Legos (too few stops), book stores (whose money?), and decided library would be the safest bet. We can check out something from every stop and most likely it won't cost us a penny.

First stop, our regular hang out, San Jose Public Libraries West Valley branch. During the renovations the libraries put some interesting public arts in each branch. This one scored an artichoke sculpture. It's placed right under the rain gutter from the roof, so on a rainy day the water pours right into the middle of the artichoke, an interesting sight.

Henry is holding a big stack of audio books I reserved. Look forward to my latest reading list in a month or two.

Next stop was Saratoga library, in the Santa Clara County library system. Henry's teacher has recommended this branch and Henry has been looking forward to the visit for awhile. It's a very large structure, very diversified collection and visitors.

Next on the map was Cupertino library, also in the Santa Clara County system. The Chinese collection here is the biggest in the area, occupying nearly a quarter of the second floor, at least five long rows of shelves. I used to work down the street and walked here at my lunch hour.

Our last stop was Santa Clara city library, not part of any system and I had to apply for a new card since I couldn't find the old one. The library was rebuilt a few years ago, expanded to be at least three times of the original. Henry was there with his grandparents for the opening ceremony. But I haven't been the to new building, only seen it from the outside when we drove by. My bookclub friend Sarah raves about this place.
And it turned out to be everything I've heard and then some. The knitting book selection is huge for a library -- no comparison to any of the South Bay Knitters' personal collection, but still, I found books I haven't seen before.

There are lots of chairs around, and reading nooks scattered all over the place. This is a view from the upstairs patio, looking out to Santa Clara Central Park. I could hardly tear Henry away from this place. We are certainly going back!

I had on the agenda to show Henry the Dr. King library in downtown San Jose, the main library in the city system. It's the biggest in the area, combining a collection from San Jose State University. One of these days we will have to do another library hop to cover more grounds.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Life, Random Acts of Violence

A few months ago one of the parents at my son's school died accidentally while cleaning his gun. Weeks later another parent was robbed and murdered during a business trip in Detroit. A six year old girl's hand was brutally amputated by a jump rope while riding in a car, on the street in front of my son's school. Pippin Seales died on a crowded Santa Cruz beach, buried in a sand dune. This blog gets hits every week for Google searches on Nina Wesson, a young mother died suddenly more than two years ago, leaving three young children behind. She's missed. A dear friend of mine lost her husband of many years. Another friend's husband was diagnosed with cancer. Stock market losing 40% of its value, so does the IRAs and 401(k)'s. My company's stock tumbled an additional 25% in the past week, after a poor quarterly result. I worked late nights to contribute to the press release. My years of savings frozen in money market, thanks to some fool invested it with Lehman Brothers. The war, the election, the economy, tearing so many people apart. When does violence stop being random, and start becoming a trend? Can we stop the trend? Be well, my friends, know your safety and happiness matters to the world. We are here to stay, to live, to be with each other. Be kind to ourselves, to our friends and family, to the earth.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Once Upon A Time There Was A Zoo

When the dogs were young they used to bark their little heads off when we got home. We fondly referred to our house as "the zoo", like, instead of "I'm going home", we'd say "Heading back to the zoo". Now, at 12 and 13, soon to be 13 and 14, they pups seem to sleep a lot more, and the ears don't work as well. This is what I saw the other day when I came home:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

(Almost) Seven Musical Facts

Monica, who blogs at Dumplings, Three, tagged me to write 7 random or weired facts about me. Monica is married to a bluegrass musician (see her extensive comment in my previous entry) and they adopted three beautiful Chinese children. Since this tag is stemmed from our association with music, I will try to gather a few music related facts:

1. When Bill plays music at night I have to either eat or write. I can't read or knit. I'll blame it on him if I have to buy bigger pants.
2. My dad is also an amateur musician. He played liuqin (Chinese string instrument similar to mandolin), violin and piano.
3. My dad tried to teach me liuqin when I was about six years old. We failed miserably and both swore never try again. We both kept our promises.
4. I meditate to Hayley Westenra, Andrea Bocelli or Dean Martin's singing.
5. I'm almost always moving my fingers in some manner -- typing, clicking the mouse, knitting, cooking, driving, writing notes, or stuffing my face.
6. I play Chinese songs on Youtube when I cook dinner.
7. I was told that learning music would help with math, so my math was equally bad. In high school I scored 29 out of 100 in a mid term test.

So, that's almost 7 facts about me and music. I won't tag the regulars, pick it up if you like!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Notes of Music

Bill is off at Big Sur for a bluegrass music festival this weekend. He hasn't done the festival thing for many years. The festival thing usually includes spending a whole weekend (at least one night), camp out, attend multiple performances day and night, jam with various groups at all hours, eat junk food, crash whenever. I'm not particularly interested in his kind of music, even less of a camper, so I tend to avoid the subject of music festivals. Bill was very involved in the local music scenes before we met. On the night of our first date he played at Paul's Saloon in San Francisco, and that was his last time to play on stage. Since then he's been a "man of responsibilities". Lately he's been taking mandolin lessons, practice every night, and now, a real festival. Life is back on track. It's hard for a tone deaf to live with a musician, but here is a clip from Youtube that we both enjoyed lately, combining knitting and traditional country music.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chinese Money

When I was new in this country I received many welcome and unwelcome advise for new immigrant, most of them came from the Chinese friends around us, most of them about money. Over the years I've accumulated a few more.

Some interesting ones:
- Get a stable job that generates steady income (doctors and lawyers, remember?)
- There is no free lunch. If someone buys you a lunch, he either benefits from you (the car salesman that got $500 commission from the sale) or wants something from you (the hiring manager desperate to fill the open req for a job requires working 80 hours a week for the first six months).
- Get a credit card six months after getting the steady job. Before that you may risk being declined and have a bad mark on the credit history.
- Make sure the credit card does not charge a monthly fee, even better, get one that pays reward points. No matter how good the name, if they charge you, dump it. Always shop around.
- Keep the credit account active to create credit history, but pay off the balance every month. Don't let the banks make money on you with those interests and fees.
- The only debt you should carry is your mortgage. Save money and buy everything else with cash, including cars.
- Buy, don't rent. Mortgage is money you pay to yourself. Rent goes to other people and you'll never see it again.
- Never live beyond your means. Always have your bookkeeping in your mind -- have a good idea of your monthly income and expenses, know how much each item costs. Save for the rainy days.
- Think before each purchase. Do I really need it? 9 out of 10 times you don't. Build a relationship with your money and make parting ceremonial.
- Take a little risk once in awhile and get it out of your system. Go to Tahoe or Vegas, buy some stocks, buy lottery, invest in a start up. Be prepared you'll never see the money again.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Heard around the House

Henry was getting ready for a shower, Mom was in the bedroom fooling around with her yarn, Dad was downstairs washing dishes, Dogs were in the kitchen keeping Dad company. Henry: "Mom, there is a spider in the bath tub!!" Mom: "Henry's Dad, there is a spider in the bath tub!!" Dad: "Dogs, come on! There is a spider in the bath tub!!"

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Man of Love

This blog gets a few hits a day from Google searches for the Good Husband's Guide. Strangers (and friends) probably all think that I was capable of writing such a thing because I know just exactly how to sculpt a man into a good husband. The fact of the matter is, I do.

In our house I'm the one to make rules and tell the boys what to do. I tell them when they are wrong, and what's good for them. I cook the food they eat, and they are not to complain. When the dogs misbehave, I make the human boys quiet the animal noise. When the human child needs help with his homework, I tell the Man it's his turn to exercise parental rights.

The fact of the matter is, I can get away with all this. Because the Man has a big heart.

This very tall man tends the smallest creatures, little dogs, and hermit crabs.

The same man that plays basketball and writes poetry.

The mountain biker that enjoys Mama Mia and Sound of Music.

The man that can't figure out how shorten the straps of his backpack, but knows his knits and purls.

The man that lives in jeans and T shirts, who bought better clothes for me than I ever did myself.

The man that watched a young woman stumble her way in a new country, lending his hands at every turn.

He is Libra and I am Gemini. His balances hold my angel and devil in place. His patience tames my tantrum. His logic diverts my impulse. He is the safety net for a wondering butterfly, the Stonehenge that keeps a hot air balloon solidly aground.

Today is the Man's birthday. I am the luckiest woman in the world.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Six Quirky Boring, Unspectacular Facts about Me

Karin at Knitting & tagged me for the six things in the title. I got more than this list of quirky things, but they might be too spectacular for this forum:

1. I charge whatever I can on credit cards to earn points and rebates.
2. I have pen, paper and calculator in every room of the house.
3. My day job is working with numbers but I consider myself mainly a "word" person.
4. I'm madly in love with bunnies. One of the ladies at work brings her bunnies to the office on Fridays and lets me cuddle them. I'm working on getting my own fiber bunny.
5. I have a hard time talking to Chinese people in English.
6. I can write with both hands and my left-hand-writing looks like a different person.

I'll make the tagging easier -- leave me a comment and let me know if any of these fits what you think as "quirky"; then write six facts about yourself (on your own blog of course), without all the conditions.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Bucky on Thursday

Yeah, a little lower, to the back. There, that feels soooo goooood. Woof!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

My (Less) Toothy Child

Henry lost four teeth in about six weeks, three of them on the same side, as you can see in the picture. He's a little windy for a bit. He graciously let me take this picture. The bottom two are coming in slowly already, slower than watching the grass grow.