Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Santa, Busted! and other Henry-ism

The other day Henry and his Dad were passing through the mall while out wondering doing guy stuff. Can you believe how early they got Santa out this year? Henry never believed in Santa, since his Mom doesn't know where to begin to tell a lie. Bill's family is big on Christmas gifts, so we carry on the tradition and help the economy for the last two month of the year. Henry always shops with us, separately, picking out clothes for Mom when he's out with Dad, or go through gadgets with Mom to see what we'll let Dad destroy in the next year. He helps us wrap and label gifts for grand parents, and write tags that read "From Santa, To Trinket" while commenting on whether Trinket is a bad little dog. Santa is no mystery for Henry. We are all Santas for each other and we love it that way.

So on this day in the mall, Henry passionately reiterated to Dad his thoughts about Santa. He mentioned that his classmates, especially the males, were tired of their parents' Santa games. They knew how their adults orchestrated the celebration, toys, milk, cookies, pictures, etc. and they just wanted to get to the bottom of it all (aka, give me the wii and forget about that fat man in a red suit). Dad teased Henry he had to take a picture with Santa, and asked him, "What are you going to ask Santa to get you?" Henry said, "I'll tell him, Get Lost!"


 A few Henry-First's that Mom is cautiously celebrating:

1. Henry stayed home by himself couple of weeks ago when Mom went to the store. It was only 30 minutes, but Mom held the cell phone in her palm the whole time. Think back to our days we had to visit a pediatric psychiatrist for separation anxiety, we've come a long way.

2. Henry learned to make mac & cheese and grilled cheese sandwich on the gas stove top. I learned to cook about the same age.

3. Henry is knitting and weaving, one row at a time. We both have two weeks off next month and we plan to work on the loom together.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Flower Drum Song

Couple of weeks ago Bill and I went to see the updated musical Flower Drum Song. The original was produced in the late 50s, by the infamous music team Rogers and Hammerstein. The story in the musical and the following movie was so racially offensive that it was buried for 40 years, until in 2002 David Henry Hwang rewrote the script and put it back on stage.

Usually I stay away from this let-me-tell-you-what-Chinese-is-about type of propaganda, because they are usually told from one person's perspective but the audience is made to believe they are the representation of every Chinese in America. It's hard to explain even to the ones closest to me, that I'm not one of the 80% Chinese population from the rural villages, that I don't know much about Chinese opera other than it's loud and boring, that my parents, my grand parents, none of my aunts and uncles had arranged marriage, that although my family went through some very tough days, I hardly consider us victims.

To think every Chinese fits in the stereotypical Chinese mold, is to believe that every American lives on McDonald's, at least 30% over weight, watch TV five hours a day and listen to rap music.

But this is a Rogers and Hammerstein musical after all, or mostly so. I went, I wept for the characters, and I still don't like the story. Rather than making you listen to me whine about others' wrong doings, I'll tell you what my kind of Chinese is really about.

There are many of us in this country, mainly the generation came to study and work in science and technology fields, starting in the late 80s. This is the class of elite and privileges. We are from good families in major cities, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Xi'an, Si Chuan province etc, which are far more westernized than the vast rural areas. Our parents or grand parents held positions as party officials, local government officials, university professors, scientists, physicians and surgeons. We received the best education available in a country only 3% of the population goes to college. We are here because our families believed there was a better future outside of China, and because we could socially and financially afford the risk. Many of the families took advantage of the system (bribery was the most basic), so we could be here to enjoy the American dream and not have to worry about being sent to the country for hard labor in the next cultural revolution.

So next time when you bump into a Chinese engineer, keep in mind that he might be more interested in Bach than Chinese opera.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Book Tag from Mindy

Mindy from Dogs on Thursday tagged me to reveal what's on page 56 of a book I'm reading. Haven't been reading much lately other than listening to my audio books in the car, I'm a bit guilty upon receiving this tag. I wanted to cheat and put in page 56 of The Distant Land of our Father by Bo Caldwell, our bookclub selection for this month; considering I stopped at page 85, it wouldn't be too much of a cheat.

Make a long story short, I hereby present you my fiber friends, a clip from the latest issue of Wild Fiber magazine:

"Despite the people's diet that doesn't include anything remotely green for most of the year, and a high consumption of meat and potatoes, obesity is virtually nonexistent and people tend to enjoy exceptionally good health, remaining physically vigorous well into their older years."

The subject is a Himalayan region that produces some of the highest quality cashmere in the world. It's the feature article in this issue. Wild Fiber magazine is published by Linda Cortright, who travels the world in pursue of information on, what else, wild fibers. I met her at Stitches this year and fell in love with the magazine. See my Stitches report here.

I'll tag my bookclub members: Sarah, Lesley, Zelda.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Puppy on Thursday

No, no new puppy in this house, but saw this on one of the dog lists and it reminds me the long lost puppy days.
How to Make a Puppy Pie
Take one puppy
Roll and play until lightly pampered
Add the following ingredients
- 1 cup patience
- 1 cup understanding
- 1 pinch correction
- 1 cup hard work
- 2 cups praise
- 1 1/2 cups fun
Blend well
Heat with warmth of your heart until raised or until puppy has doubled in size
Mix with owner until consistency is such that owner and puppy are one
Trinket and Bucky were both very bad puppies. Trinket had accidents, or just casually "went" on the carpet for months. I was able to convince myself that he just didn't have the bladder control, but somehow he always lost control right on the edge of the newspaper. If we charted the locations of his accidents, it would be something like this:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Q&A

Lynn posted these on her blog Never A Dull Moment. I'm in a rather dull moment right now, actually very tiresome, after being sick most of the week. This is an easy diversion: 1. What is your occupation right now? Finance professional at a tech company. 2. What color are your socks right now? Black 3. What are you listening to right now? Office chatters, too much of it if you ask me. 4. What was the last thing that you ate? Only green tea so far today, cause I made some poor food choices yesterday and got really sick. My poor husband had to pick me up off the floor. 5. Can you drive a stick shift? I did many years ago, not sure if I can still do it. 6. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Listened to a voicemail from the benefits people when I came in this morning. 7. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Yes, she's a great knitter and parent 8. How old are you today? Older than when I got married, but younger than some of my readers. 9. What is your favorite sport to watch on TV? Figure skating 10. What is your favorite drink? Mud slide, but I really shouldn't have any alcohol or dairy 11. Have you ever dyed your hair? Yes, and it was chronicled on this blog: before and after 12. Favorite food? chocolate (there is that dairy again) 13. What is the last movie you watched? We watched ER last night. It's their last season and they brought back Mark Greene, Peter Benton, Weaver, Romano, Jerry, very touching moments. 14. Favorite day of the year? My birthday 15. How do you vent anger? Yell at my husband 16. What was your favorite toy as a child? A tiny five-inch rubber boy doll. I called him Short Fat Guy 矮胖丁. We lost the original during the many moves in my childhood, but found a replacement when I was a teen. I left it at home when I moved out, but my brother brought it to the US when he left China. I have it standing on my bookcase in the bedroom. 17. What is your favorite season? Spring, when flowers are blooming and everything comes to life. 18. Cherries or Blueberries? Cherries, fresh ones. 19. Do you want your friends to e-mail you back? Why not? I love getting email from my friends. 20. Who is the most likely to respond? Really not sure. But please do just to say hi. 21. Who is least likely to respond? Surfer from other country looking for knitting pattern 22. Living arrangements? Yarn, books, fresh fruits on the counter and in the fridge, roses in the garden, a crab in his tank, couple of little black dogs laying about the house, a child throws balls around to make me nervous, a husband in charge of them all. 23. When was the last time you cried? Last night. 24. What is on the floor of your closet? What floor? The space is covered with shoe racks and bins of yarn. Bucky gets stuck in the door if he tries to get in. 28. Plain, cheese, or spicy hamburgers? Cheese. We owe Henry a trip to Main Street Burgers in downtown Los Gatos on Sunday. Most likely Henry and I will share an order of sliders (mini burgers). There is that dairy again. 29. Favorite dog breed? Do I need to mention the P- word? Actually I like most pug mixes and other flat faced dogs too. 30. Favorite day of the week? Thursday, cause I get to work from home. I work for Thursday all week. 31. How many states have you lived in? 1 in US. 32. Diamonds or pearls? Pearls, and jade. 33. What is your favorite flower? Roses, any color, but mostly different shades of red.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How Bucky Enjoyed His Birthday

A short video captures Bucky's 13th birthday celebration from last week. Feels like it's been a very long time, so much has happened in the past nine days. Changes are good, yet the process is so very hard. I wish you the best, my friends, as always. Now if you are capable of enjoying three minutes of pug slob, watch this!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Quidditch Sweater Finale

Pattern: Quidditch Sweater from Charmed Knits, by Anne Bergeron
Yarn: Encore worsted 4 skein in Cranberry and 1 skein in Butternut
Needle: size 7
Size: XS (chest size 30 inches)
Cost: About $30
Cast on: September 18, 2008
Cast off: October 29, 2008
Previous post: here

Note: See the broom behind Henry? That's a hand crafted Nimbus 2000, hanging on the wall with clear fishing line, so it looks like it's flying in the air. One year Henry saw this broom at Kings Mountain Art Faire, an annual fundraising event held in the mountains above Woodside, and begged me to fork over the $40. He just started reading Potter then, so I wasn't sure if this was going to be a good investment for my kitchen floor. The kid saved money for the next year, so when we went back to the faire the following year, he headed straight to the booth, and handed the man two twenties. He proceeded to carry the broom the rest of the time, even when we hiked back to the car.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Happy Birthday Bucky!

My pug baby, my alter ego, our forever child, Bucky, turned thirteen the day after election. We usually call our children by their given nicknames, different from time to time, so lately the pug has been addressed as Bucky Obama or Brrrarck O'Bucky.
Every night when we sit down to watch TV, he comes and whines until one of us reach down to give him a nice back scratch. When he decides he’s done, he just turns and leaves, not even a thank you over the shoulder.
Since he had some disc problem in his neck couple of years ago his motions haven’t been the same, so we carry him up and down the stairs. But if you tell him you need to carry him, he turns and runs with all his might. Chase me chase me! He turns amazingly quick considering the old bones and fat belly. The chase is extra nice late at night when the hoomans are tired, or if Dad has his hands full and running late for work. Bucky woofs and gives him a lecture.
To celebrate adding another teenager in the house, I got a little cheesecake to share for the two dogs and three humans. (The cheesecake came from Buttery in Santa Cruz, for you locals.)
The humans got chocolate ice cream in honor of the president-elect.
It's been a long and difficult road, you might call it a Rocky Road, but we call it Barocky Road.
I also had plan to order dinner from a restaurant operated by a gay couple in the event of California Prop 8 being defeated, unfortunately we’ll have to hold that off for now.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day Rambling

Today I voted the second time in my not very short life. I never voted in China -- there were elections, even in my days, but if one would like to get under big brother's foot, go right ahead. I swore in as an US citizen on the day Henry turned six weeks old (passed my oral test eleven days before delivery). I voted a year later, and look at where we ended up in the last eight years. Pretty discouraging for a new citizen. Given my family background, I vowed to myself many years ago to be apolitical. I never get involved in political discussion, and have no party affiliation, even in China, where The Party decided for everyone where you are allowed to eat and sleep. I got a hard head, thick skin, and a very straight spine. There has been so much going on with this election. Sometimes I just want to take a pill, go to sleep for days and weeks, wake up on November 5th, to welcome the new president, celebrate equality, and throw a big party for Bucky's 13th birthday. I want to wake up to a peaceful world, a better place to live. But I also know that without the painful labor, we would not have the fruit to enjoy in the years coming. And I cannot ignore this:
California Proposition 8: Ban on Gay Marriage This measure would amend the state constitution to specify that only marriages between one man and one woman would be recognized as valid in the state. If passed, the measure would trump a May 2008 ruling by the California Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage.
As a Chinese woman, living in America, married to a White man, with a multiracial child, I'm a bit sensitive to discrimination. Should I be living in the wrong place in this country in the wrong time, my marriage would not be legal, and I would not be allowed to own property, among other things. Today I still face racial and gender bias every day so I understand how hard others have to defend themselves for being who they are. There are simple things we can do to make other fellow humans happy, acknowledging their sheer existence is one of them. It saddens me to see many Chinese faces in the "Yes on 8" parade. We are here, living on other people's land, because we enjoy the freedom that we can't find at home. Why deny the same freedom from others? Now about that child of mine, who has been questioning his parents on a regular basis about our views on various measures and candidates, because one of his classmates talks about what he hears at home. I wish the school would take a more active role in teaching kids the current affairs. Funny they know more about George Washington than George Bush, know how Lincoln died but not where Obama came from. They gossip about "Mr. Martin is gay", and no one cares to teach them that homosexual men and women are also human. Leave it to me, Henry gets to hear all my unbiased opinion.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Brain Storming with Henry

The other day Henry and I had some extra time after lunch, so we played a round of brain storm. I used to do this all the time when I was in school, mostly when I was bored with whatever subject the class was about and had to pretend busy taking notes. The rule is very simple, start with a random subject, write a phrase or sentence about it, follow with a phrase or sentence that relates to a subject in the previous line. There are no right or wrong answers, and can go on infinitely. Henry picked the subject of painters, as in artists that paint pictures, not someone paints a house. These are mostly Henry's inputs, I only wrote them down on napkins and corrected grammar occasionally. - Painters always have brushes and sometimes an art studio - An art studio should be big, covered and full of light - Sun light is the best light source - An art studio should have lots of big windows - Windows have frames - Window frames can be wood, plastic and metal - Metal makes the most sturdy window frames - Sturdy window frames don't break in an earthquake - One of the worst earthquakes was in San Francisco in 1906 - Lots of buildings were destroyed in 1906 earthquake - Buildings today are constructed to be earthquake proof - Earthquake insurance is very expensive - Nintendo DS is also very expensive - Nintendo DS is a handheld game station that you play video games on - Video games are fun but if you play too much your eyes will wear out - Staring at the sun may damage your eyes - The sun is hot - Henry's tamale (that he had for lunch) was really hot and spicy - Peppers are spicy - Pepper is a type of food - Food gives you energy - You need energy to run - Usain Bolt runs really fast - Usain Bolt made new world records in the 2008 Olympics By now we were at the bottom of the second napkin, so we decided to loop the finishing line back to the beginning. - In the Olympics opening ceremony dancers painted a huge Chinese painting