Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I am still here...

I have been busy painting. We are almost done. This means we'll be putting the house up for sale soon-- which is exciting, terrifying and nerve-wracking.

I already have things in boxes that will be shipped to Chile.

Isn't that crazy?

It's crazy!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Oh cupcake, my cupcake

Everyone loves a cupcake.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Forgive me for being skeptical

I spent most of the day yesterday, thinking of frivolous things and posting photos of Alpine skiers, avoiding the sinking sensation in my gut and avoiding media.

Avoiding thinking about the health care bill that apparently won by a narrow margin.

On one hand, I am ecstatic: elated that it passed at all, that the Republicans were defeated despite all their negative hype and fear-mongering.

I am trying to be optimistic that this is just one step...

But, mostly I am disappointed: saddened and dumbstruck that so many Americans are against health care, irked that not even one cowardly Republican voted for the bill, and dismayed that President Obama and the House Democrat leaders had to beg and pander and finagle enough votes even among Democrats.

Watching the local evening news last night, I saw a clip on what the health care bill might mean for me: more difficulty getting in to see the doctor; "a tsunami of new patients" rushing to get treatment; shorter visits with the doctor.

Is that what they call unbiased reporting?

What will the health care bill mean for someone who has never had health insurance? What will it mean for someone who hasn't been able to afford a doctor visit for years? What will it mean for me, with a pre-existing condition that would render me uninsurable if I were ever to fall, even briefly, among the uninsured?

My deepest disappointment, however, lies in the bill itself. I won't lie and say that I have read the details or the fine print. I have a vague understanding of the main ideas. I threw in the towel months ago with the first round of health care debates where I wrote this. I also wrote to my House Representative. I also wrote to President Obama. So, don't get me wrong, I take this issue seriously, personally.

Call me what you will, commie, socialist, it doesn't matter. I firmly believe that nothing short of a single-payer health care system will make any difference and anything short of a single-payer system is a slap in the face. The public option, long-ago taken off the table, would have been at least a miserable compromise, but we don't even have that, as I understand it.

If the bill truly reigns in health insurance companies and reforms the way they do business; if they truly lower costs, if they really do away with pre-existing conditions clauses, a tiny bit of justice will be served.

But please forgive me for being skeptical...

What most outrages me is that the bill requires uninsured citizens to buy health insurance... from health insurance companies. Do you know who is uninsured? These are the people who most likely earn low wages, whose employers do not offer health benefits, people who cannot afford health insurance or, in many cases, even a trip to the doctor's office. If these people do not buy health insurance they will be fined.

How is this a fair bill? They say they will make these policies affordable. Really? Just how affordable is affordable when you make $7.50 an hour? $9.50 an hour? $12.00 an hour? What will these policies look like? How much coverage will they really offer?

Forgive me for being skeptical...

Can you guess who is going to make a killing? The insurance companies. Any plan that keeps them in the game means the American people lose. Mark my words the insurance industry will find a way to rake in billions with all of their new customers. They will find a way of carrying on with business as usual, or even taking it up a notch. They don't spend billions in Washington for nothing.

I understand the political necessity of taking a first step. I understand there was no other way to get a bill passed and that hell or high water a bill had to be passed. But, honestly, I don't know if I can call this a victory.

My prediction: in less than 10 years' time, we will be discussing health care reform again. When that time comes, I hope our country has the guts or the balls or the common human decency, finally, to really make a meaningful difference.

But forgive me for being skeptical...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Confession # 7--Top Secret

(Warning: this post is shallow and gratuitous. Don't think less of me and don't say I didn't warn you.)

I spent a lot of time a few weeks back, watching the Winter Olympics. That isn't shameful in and of itself, but I found myself crushing on a certain Norwegian Alpine skier.

Aksel Lund Svindal

Even his name is sexy.

Aksel. I like it!

I think part of it was that the media covered his story: after having a horrible skiing accident a little over a year ago he recovered making an incredible comeback and winning several medals.

There is something so sexy about overcoming adversity, is there not?

Well, that and then there is this:

Of course, then they said he was 27... KERPLOP!!!

Since when did 27 sound so young?

I remembered how long ago 27 was. Then I was depressed.

This next picture only partially brought me out of my age-induced depression.

Still sleeping...

Look who didn't need a nap...

Ok, I'll stop. I mean, how many sleeping-child photos can you take? I hardly ever take pics of them sleeping, but this one in the car, I couldn't resist. This one she might hate me for... Oh well, what else are mothers for?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sleeping Beauty

Why is it that she so irresistibly sweet, so still, so docile, so easily swayed to behave, so good-natured, so obedient... when she is sleeping?

I love her spice and energy when she is awake, but I love how sweet and peaceful she looks sleeping.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Opposites: part one

A while back, I posted about how my husband and I met and how I was drawn to his tranquility. I also hinted, that as frenetic as I am, his tranquility is simultaneously relaxing and irritating.

One of my few loyal readers made a comment about the cliche-ness of the whole opposites attract theory and then conceded that sometimes it is that complementary nature of two beings that makes it work... at least on some days.

I thought I would shine a light on some the silly ways that hubs and I are opposites.

I am a mover: I mean an incessant mover. I am a multi-tasker. I have a hard time sitting down, taking breaks, and just relaxing and doing nothing. I am also a "gitter-done" sort of gal. If I think of something that needs to be done, I never wait until a commercial break or until I feel like it...for the most part, I get up and do it. I rarely lounge; even while watching TV, I sit perched, ready to jump up and grab laundry, get the kids' teeth brushed, pijamas on, pick up toys, put away leftovers, dishes etc. I can never relax if the hubs is working on something, there is too much guilt.

My husband is inertia-challenged, at least at home. At work he runs around all day. But at home, once he is in a horizontal position, you will be hard-pressed to get him vertical again. When he puts G to bed, he takes a 2-hour nap, while I toil around the house. His lack of inertia (and lack of hearing) is exacerbated by screens--especially the TV. He can easily relax, guilt-free, watching the TV while I, for example, paint the baseboards (ahem, tonight). While my natural state at home is manic frenzy, his is vegetative. It is not that he is lazy, exactly, he gets things done during moments of inspiration or bursts of energy. But once he sits down to take a break, it is pretty much over.

I think more than yin and yang, really, this is a classic case of Newton knows best: an object in motion tends to stay in motion; an object at rest tends to stay at rest.

Stay tuned for opposites attract/repel part two, coming soon...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Park Day

Spring has sprung, so we spend a lot of time here...

Also consuming our time these days: painting the house. We painted all weekend and still have paint in our hair. It looks so clean and fresh; it is sad we won't get to enjoy it long. We still have the trim to finish though... tedious.

Also time-consuming and tedious has been the search for schools in Chile for G, who will start kinder next March (the beginning of the school year there.) You have to apply almost like for college and wait and see if your kid gets in. There isn't much we can do from here actually. Maybe it will be a bit of a relief that way, just enrolling her wherever there is an open spot... if anyone'll take her, that is!

I may be starting some translating and editing for academic journals soon, which is kind of exciting, in a nerdy sort of way.

That's all here...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In the gutter

Do you ever think about flowers?

I mean, really think about them... the fact that they are the reproductive organs of a plant. I remember studying flower anatomy in biology, hearing words like fertilization, stamen, ovary, pistil...

photo from Enchantedlearning

Georgia O'Keefe painted flowers in a sort of botano-erotic fashion. I love her paintings. They make me blush.

photos courtesy of the world wide web.

Flowers are generally associated with female reproductive organs, but they can actually be either male or female or both.

I think about this every once in a while, especially when my Christmas Cactus blooms. The entire plant dresses itself in outrageous, enormous three-tiered flowers. They are so showy, so vivid. This is a plant that knows how to flaunt its sexuality. It seems borderline indecent.

Is it weird that I think about that? I am a freak, right?

Next time your honey gives you flowers or you give flowers to someone sweet, I think you should remember what they are; it makes it so much more suggestive, don't you think?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bits and pieces

There are a bunch of funny little episodes I have thought about sharing... and I even started writing about them. I was going to end the post with the following, but after writing it, I removed the funny little episodes. I'll post those later.

(photo from The Boston Globe)

For days, my heart has been in shreds in the pit of my stomach seeing the devastation in the south of Chile. This is my husband's country; this is where my kids' grandpa and aunts and uncles and cousins live; this is a country where I lived for years and will live again in a few months, a country I have traveled in extensively; it is a country that I love with heart and soul.

I cannot imagine the magnitude of this quake: the plates along a fault that collide, one going under the other at a rate of 3 inches per year, moved 3 feet in one night; most earthquakes last a matter of seconds and cause damage and destruction, this one lasted an eternal 3 minutes; it shook the earth so hard that NASA scientists believe it has shifted the Earth's axis and changed its rotation.

I cannot imagine what it was like in the coastal towns of the south, near the epicenter. After one of the worst quakes in a century, those who survived stumbled out of their homes. The electricity was gone, it was 3:34 in the morning when it struck. To live through that and know that it wasn't over yet. To leave everything you have except (hopefully) the people you love and start running for the hills, in the black of night as the tsunami waves start pounding your town.

The authorities made a colossal error thinking that there was no danger of a tsunami. Those who wisely didn't listen, made it to safety. Most of those who stayed were swept away. Some of the stories are haunting: the mother in her home, in pitch dark, with the cold pacific up to her neck, holding her daughter over her head telling her to be brave and they would survive; the bus of elderly retirees that were trying to escape, overtaken by the waves; the family, most of whom were miraculously not swept to sea because they were able to grab on to a shipping container that had been flung to shore on a wave; the mother who had to identify her son's body at a make-shift morgue. I am brought to tears daily.

The looting and chaos in the most affected areas is hard to see as well. It is easier to understand taking food, but ransacking homes and businesses seems needless. Many Chileans seem to be embarrassed that this is the behavior being portrayed by the media, but we have to recognize that there is a part of human nature, that when placed in catastrophic circumstances, leads to decisions like this (think of the riots during the Rodney King trials). I have also heard how people are rallying, coming together to put together truck-loads of goods which will be personally delivered, braving hours on broken highways and detours around fallen bridges.

It is hard to have such a tragedy hit so soon after the Haiti devastation, where the loss of life was just unimaginable and the piles of rubble so surreal. I think we are all on disaster overload, which makes it hard to want to make that emotional humanitarian connection.

While Chile fares better than Haiti in many respects for a variety of reasons, there is still tremendous damage. Nearly a thousand dead. An estimated 1.5 million left homeless. Chile has had a relatively strong economy for the past few decades and has made many advances in its infrastructure. But it is also a country with marked inequality and an enormous distance between rich and poor. The poorest have been the hardest hit, as in many natural disasters. Buildings will be repaired, roads will be rebuilt, bridges will once again reach across rivers, but there are people, who have lost everything. There is a great humanitarian need.

Please help in whatever ways you can. Here is a link of how you can help. If many people give even $10, a lot of money can be raised.

***For a donation-alternative, Kyle, a gringa-photographer married to a Chilean, living in Santiago, is donating 100% of profits from prints purchased from her Etsy site she created just for this purpose. You donate money and you get a great print.

(post-note: please cross your fingers that all the seismic activity does not activate any of the volcanoes in that region, there was one sputtering a few weeks ago... can you imagine????)