Thursday, April 16, 2009


Macie was a West Highland White Terrier. She was the most beautiful, photogenic, charismatic dog I've ever seen.

Macie was three and half years old when we first met her in August 1995. We had baby Trinket for a few months and wanted to find him a companion so he's not so lonely during the day. Macie was surrendered to the same rescue group that Trinket came from by her elderly owners because they couldn't care for her. She was over weight, had an injured back leg, had serious skin allergies, wasn't house-trained, nor leash-trained. But she was mild tempered, and beautiful. Bill always wanted a Scottish dog, a Westie in particular. We fell in love with her at first sight, and brought her home.

For the next three years I played doggie nurse, vet tech and a caring mother for a rescue dog. We battled her skin allergies with everything we could find. We tried every imaginable powder, cream, shot, dip, lotion, shampoo, collar, pill, that prevent or treat flea bites. We could have killed hundreds of generations of fleas in our neighborhood. She ate potato and venison based kibbles and treats. Once a month I took her to the grooming shop so she had the proper Westie look with a nice little skirt around her short little legs. The rest of time I bathed her once a week to sooth her inflamed skin, cleaned her ears daily to keep ear infections at bay, treated many rashes occurred when she had a flare up.

Macie wore an E collar most of the time to keep her from biting the hot spots. But that wasn't enough to stop this feisty girl. Bucky arrived a few months after we got Macie. At first Macie thought he was the rat that Westies were bred to capture on fishing ships. As Bucky blossomed into a fine young gent, the two became playmates. Macie was just serious enough to be ready to wrestle or chase the pug down any time, but not too serious to get into a fight. She helped burn a lot of that endless energy from the ever growing young pug.

Before long Henry came. When Henry was six months old I was home alone all day dealing with a colicky allergic teething baby, two rambunctious young dogs always fighting for my attention, and the regular care of Macie. Something had to go.

We adopted Macie out, with our local Westie rescue's help, to a woman pastor in Santa Rosa. In the occasional correspondence, the lady painted Macie's life in the old age: Macie went to play tennis with the lady in the morning; Macie was the mascot at the lady's church; Macie was happy and playful; on summer nights Macie would sit on the deck, pondering the mystique in the starry sky, just like she did when she was with us.

Macie died on in February 2005, just shy of thirteen years old.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Big Basin Hike

Last weekend we went on a nice hike in the Big Basin Redwoods State Park, in the Santa Cruz mountains, about 45 minutes from where we live. It rained on and off last week, so the mountain air was cold and damp, but fresh and crisp too. We hadn't been to Big Basin for a long time, in fact, we hadn't gone on a family hike for a long time. This was a nice change of pace. There were a lot of redwood trees, very big ones too. Can you count how old this one was? The downed trees were cut into smaller pieces and left in the canyon for the next generation. We found this one as our perfect lunch spot. Monkey number three was running around with a camera. My guys clearing the trail for me. Henry at ten years old has officially out-hiked his mom. I was so slow that The Man towed me all the way back. After a quick stop in downtown Santa Cruz, we had a nice dinner at Ristorante Avanti to round up the day. Life is good.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Three Things

Tagged on Facebook and would like to share these tid bits with my blog friends. I've done similar tags a few times so I'll try to provide a different set of answers here.

1. Vivian
2. the pug's mom
3. Henry's mom

1. volunteer dog washer at Humane Society, until I brought home a pug mix
2. part time dog washer at a pet grooming shop, until they offered me a full time job to manage the shop, at 80% salary of my regular day job, and without benefits
3. I knitted sweaters for a designer who sold them at boutique shops and fashion shows

1. Duplex in Santa Clara, CA
2. College dorm room with 8 girls to a room, and a bathroom with three stalls and three showers shared by 40 girls
3. Fancy hotel in Beijing where they locked up translators for The Selected Works from Chairman Mao, Volume Five. My mom was one of the main translators (from Chinese to Russian) and I was a tag-along.

1. ER (done)
2. Boston Legal (done)
3. Desperate Housewives (wish it's done)

1. Anderson, South Carolina, where I first discovered Georgian style mansions
2. Taos, New Mexico
3. The Great Wall, after I moved out of Beijing

1. Europe
2. South America
3. Australia/New Zealand

1. Avocado and turkey salad at Buttery, Santa Cruz, served on a half avocado
2. Spam, delicacy when I was growing up
3. Truffles from Wine Country Chocolate in Marin County

1. Silicon Valley Life to take off
2. Sunset on the Summit
3. Mother's Day

1. Trinket (terrier mix)
2. Bucky (black pug)
3. Macie (Westie)

1. dunno

1. Heat (Henry's team in Spring league)

1. Fresh soy milk
2. Root beer at BJ's in Cupertino, made onsite
3. Bubble tea

1. Andrea Bocelli, my anniversary gift in 2007
2. A concert Bill and I went to on our second date at the Paul Mason Mountain Winery in the Saratoga hills. It was a string quartet, but I have no idea what was played that night.

1. bugs, any shape and size and state of being (alive or dead)
2. getting up early
3. visiting extended family

1. Being alone with the spouse
2. A quiet space, preferably enclosed
3. Walking down West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz and hear the ocean at my side

1. Car accident two months after we got married. We were illegally parked on the side of a country road, a guy in a pick up truck slammed into us and took out a quarter of the car. Miraculously no one got hurt and my car was repaired in a month.
 2. Car accident in Monterey, July 4th weekend 2004. Our Volvo station wagon was hit from behind and the force pushed us forward and hit the car before us. The Volvo was almost totaled, but the Scottish steel frame saved us from serious injuries.
 3. 18 car pile up on southbound Highway 17 around Glenwood Drive, on my way to work on December 18, 2007. I came around a blind curve and had to break very fast and managed to stop the car in time not to hit the cars already stopped. Then I avoided getting hit from coming traffic by pulling my car half way up the hill. An 18-wheeler stopped within three feet from my back bumper and the container swung sideways, hitting the concrete medium and stopped traffic. I got to work on time, and no one would believe I was in an accident until they read it in the news later in the day.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Summer Pondering in the Spring

Given the size of our small family, two adults and one ever growing child, we always try to make our decisions in a balanced manner. If two people agree on something, the third person should follow. Sometimes we have two adults against a child, sometimes two guys against a girl. The odd number person needs to present his or her side of the argument if he or she should feel strongly about the issue.
The latest such poll in our family is the decision about where we will vacation this summer. Henry gets ten weeks off every year, and I usually plan for nine weeks of camps, leaving us the final week to have some fun before tossing him back to school to face a new teacher and homework. Lovely thought. This year we plan to go away for three nights, within five hours of driving distance. Bill's ear tube malfunction prevents him from flying. My elderly inlaws could handle house-sitting the elderly pups for maximum three nights. For three nights I'm reluctant to spend more than a day on the road. It comes down to Tahoe or Cambria (central coast).
The guys want to go to Tahoe. It's a short drive (says The Man, who drives). The boy claims there are familiar things to do, like basketball (I don't know about that), and golf (his new love). Mom, who will be paying for the hotel, says it's too familiar and the north shore which is where I'd want to stay would be more expensive.
I have the only vote for central coast. We've never been to the area before and I've heard a lot of good things about it, like my knitting friend Fae's account of Cambria Paradise. We could stay in San Luis Obispo, and go up and down the coast to visit Cambria, Morro Bay, Santa Maria and even Santa Barbara. There will be plenty of time on the beach, and with two universities around we might even find some sports activities. We can drive down highway 1 through Big Sur, which is The Man's first love.
Now if only I can convince one of them.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Books and Movies

Reading list starting December 2008:
1. Moll Flaunders, (audiobook) by Daniel Defoe. Book club read for December. I don't remember discussing this book, but it's interesting from the parts I finished on the audiobook. Definitely something I want to come back to.
2. The Longest Trip Home, (audiobook) by John Grogan. Written by the author of Marley and Me, about his personal experience of growing up Catholic in Midwest. It's very personal, very. I can't imagine his wife pleased to share his sex history with millions of readers.
3. The Other Boleyn Girl, (audiobook) by Philippa Gregory. Nice and juicy. Had to return to the library cause someone else was waiting for it. Will have to come back later.
4. A Good Dog, (audiobook) by Jon Katz. About a bad dog, Border Collie Orson, just like Marley. Marley was put under when he was old and sick; Orson was put under when he drew blood from another human.
5. Dog Days: Dispatches from Bedlam Farm, (audiobook) by Jon Katz. Much lighter and entertaining story about the author's life on the farm with his animals.
6. The Sun Also Rises, (audiobook) by Ernest Hemingway. Classic I can always count on.
7. The Last Juror, (audiobook) by John Grisham. Young editor of a small town paper sold it for a million, lesson learned.
8. Howards End, by EM Forster. Delicious language. The kind of book that need to be slowly chewed word by word, over and over again.
9. On Writing, (audiobook) by Steven King. Listened to this a long time ago, still great second time around. The master talks, in his own voice, about his life story, the accident that almost killed him in 1999, and the art of writing. Commanding yet unintimidating, friendly and frank, painful yet humorous. A master indeed.
10. S is for Silence, (audiobook) by Sue Grafton. Brain candy, baby, cause I'm busy and stressed again.
11. T is for Trespassing, (audiobook) by Sue Grafton. Pump up the sugar, baby, I need to keep going.

1. White Countess, a Merchant-Ivory production with Natasha Richardson and Ralph Fiennes. Saw this before Richardson's accident. A great loss.
2. A Room with a View, another Merchant-Ivory production, from EM Forster novel.
3. Howard's End, our last Merchant-Ivory kick, also from EM Forster novel. This is a very pleasant series of movies, wish there are more of them.
4. Beethoven Lives Upstairs, the great composer seen from a child's perspective.
5. Atonement, very well made, spooky and confusing.
6. An Affair to Remember, the great Cary Grant, eye candy. Very weak story, but who cares.
7. Annie Hall, my first Woody Allen movie, and wonder aloud why the husband never showed me one, and he claims that he used to go see all of them when they first came out.
8. Manhattan, Woody Allen again. Over flowing intelligence and humor, lovely.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Is This A Rip Off Or What?

Henry's school usually do the annual pictures in the fall when school first starts (guess that's when the teacher still likes the kids and vice-versa). A few weeks ago Henry's teacher sent us an email announcing a Spring Portrait session. Well ok, they are going to do it, we like it or not. We would have the option not to order anything. One day couple of weeks ago, they took some time during regular school hours and had the kids pose for the portraits. Henry commented some of the poses were a bit silly. Then Henry came home with the order package. The pictures are cute, especially the one of the far right. Then again, my kid is cute, all kids are cute, it's hard not to find a cute picture if you take a lot of them, like they did during the portrait session. 

And then I looked at the price:

Package C: $35, CD with image file
Package D: $25, 2 5x7

Each picture must be ordered in its own package, so for $35 you get ONE CD with ONE picture on it. New business idea: bribe all school district superintendents and school principals and offer them deals on monthly school portraits.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Charity Knitting

A new batch of baby vests my mom knitted for CIC and our local charities. This one has lady bug and fruit buttons.

This slip stitch pattern was used a lot on sweaters my mom knitted for me. I remember a blue and white one that I used to call Starry Sky.

A little cabled number, got smashed a little during the blocking process. Still very cute.

About two dozens of baby hats and bonnets.  

A bunch of baby blankets. These are going to our local women's shelter.