December 2003

Dec 31 — Happy new Year’s Eve, people. We had a good day — slept late (but not late enough due to noisy hotel neighbors) then drove out to get Martinelli’s, videos, and food. Then settled back in the hotel for the rest of the day, very relaxing and pleasant. We watched “Bend It Like Beckham” which was a wonderful movie, and then X-Men 2, which we’d seen before, in the theater, and liked so we knew it would be fun to see it again and it was. And we drank our sparkling juice, and ate — I bought some very good sourdough bread, “European Style” butter, and tomatoes, yummy yum yum! Paused the movie for a while around midnight to watch the Ball drop in Times Square.

Dec 30 — We’ve had a great day today! Slept late, then went to the charming little Monterey Chocolate Factory. A dear sweet woman gave us a little behind-the-scenes tour and we saw some machines mixing chocolate and some machines for squirting goo onto piles of nuts, and some racks of unfinished candies. And then we filled a box of assorted goodies from the piles of candy, mmm. Then we drove back toward downtown Monterey, ended up on Lighthouse St. and parked there to walk around a bit. Went into two used bookstores, one tiny and one larger, and browsed for ages. Bought just one Bill Bryson paperback, about travelling in Iowa I think. I’ll lend it to Mom when I’m done. Looks like a good book and the first paragraph had me laughing in the store. Also went into two junk/antiques stores and drooled over a very old phone… Dan says he could fix it to work in a modern jack so maybe we’ll go back tomorrow, after I’ve had time to think about whether I really NEED an antique phone. And we looked in the windows of some other places, and picked up some take-out menus. There’s a noodle place that looks really tasty. After we’d walked around for a couple of hours we came back to the hotel and placed another www.doorbelldining.com order, this time for Greek food. It’ll be here in about an hour, mmmmmm. Dolmades and tatziki!

Later… oh boy that was a good dinner. My dolmades came with three sort of side-dish things — a rice, cinnamon, and raisins dish, something made of green beans and tomato, and something lemony with white beans. Also came with a tasty fresh little salad and such good tangy tatziki. Mmmmmmmmm. Ate about half and saved the rest for later (I’m sure to be hungry again before bed) and finished off with a rich melty coffee truffle.

Dec 29 — I wanted Mexican food for dinner, but we didn’t want to go out in the pouring rain and deal with a restaurant. So Dan, my wonderful Dan, called the front desk to see if they knew anyone who delivered. Well they gave us a couple of numbers, but none of those restaurants actually delivered — however, in the course of investigations, one of them gave Dan the number for a multi-restaurant delivery service. He called them and asked if they had a website with menus — “Certainly sir, www.doorbelldining.com.” So we went there and, lo and behold, El Indio! So we browsed the menus for a while, and then noticed that the deadline for ordering for dinner tonight had passed. I was ready to give up, grr, but Dan called and checked with the guy, and the guy let him order! So now we’re waiting for hot nice non-fast food to show up at our door :)

Today it rained and stormed, very nice. We went to the Monterey Aquarium which was amazing! There were a billion people, man oh man. The place is huge — I had no idea. My favorite part was the darkened upstairs hallway with several tanks of beautiful jellyfish, glowing in the darkness. There was also a huge kelp forest tank that was fascinating, and a giant octopus, and a tank of large things such as tuna, a ray, and an enormous sea turtle. Fish are kind of creepy, but much of the non-fish sea life is eerily beautiful — jellies, crabs, coral, anemones, etc. We had a great time! Then we walked around in the rain for a while, and then came back to the hotel and hung around reading and so forth.

Dec 28 — Brr it got cold in here last night. Today we went to Long’s for hotel-snacks and atenolol, then drove down to the coast and parked by a lake, walked around and decided not to rent a paddle-boat, kept walking and looked at the boats parked in the marina. Very peaceful and pleasant. Kept going, got to one of the Fisherman’s Wharfs, watched the organ grinder’s monkey and went in the little Customs House museum — lots of neat old stuff and a pile of cowhides that smelled like my parents’ 1970s leather shop. Walked out on the Wharf, looked in windows, had a sample of chowder but wasn’t hungry enough for a whole bowl, darn it. Maybe another day. I do love a good clam chowder. Bought a couple of postcards, some blue cotton candy for Dan (gross) and a delicious thick espresso milkshake for me at a hole-in-the-wall ice cream place, mmmmmmm. There’s always room for ice cream! We could hear the sea lions barking and could see them out on the rocks when we got to the end of the wharf. Now we’re back in the hotel, lounging around :) We’ll spend the rest of the day snacking, reading, computing, and probbaly surfing the bad tv. Oh, Malcolm and Arrested Development shoudl be on tonight so that’ll be fun. Maybe we’ll go in the hot tub again later too. We can’t say “hot tub” with doing the Will Farrell/Rachel Dratch thing. :) Later… hey here’s a fun link! virtual paper snowlfake. Fun :)

Dec 27 — Woke up at 8:30 feeling nicely rested! Got showered and packed, then went down to the Buttonwillow Denny’s for breakfast — incredibly busy and we had to wait a long time but the food was tasty. Then we gassed up the Acura and headed for Monterey! Took the 46 across to the 101, really beautiful drive and I took lots of pictures, and then the 101 up to Monterey. Dan hates it when people say “the” 101 or “the” 5. Sorry Dan :) Our Yahoo directions were funky and we had to depart from them, but we found Monterey and our hotel with no problem, thanks to the GPS receiver. Very nice hotel :) We got unpacked and rested for a bit, and then ran through the corridors and explored. There are several drink machines but only one snack machine. Also there’s a jacuzzi! We went down and sat in it after dinner and it was soooo relaxing. My eyes are burning a little from the chlorine so I won’t stay in so long next time. We got totally pruney :) Now we’re lying around watching the funniest show on VH1 — something like “Outrageous Moments from Game Shows”. I’m laughing very very much. It’s a little embarrassing, though, because I am so familiar with the 70s shows.

Dec 26 — Hey if you emailed me and it bounced, please try again — everything’s fixed :)

Left for vacation today, around 11:30. Traffic through the entire Orange County/ Los Angeles area was just hellish. It’s the most stressful place to drive. Narrow lanes, people merging on from all directions, insane divers weaving all over the road. Traffic is very bad in SD but at least the freeways are wider and things make a little more sense. We hate it that we have to drive through LA in order to get anywhere. Anyway, once we got north of LA things cleared up a bit. That pass over the mountains is really beautiful, and the tops of the mountains were dusted with snow like powdered sugar, very pretty. When you get to Gorman, you know you’re almost to the top. Then down in valley the freeway is flat and straight and you can make good time and admire the cows and oil derricks. By the time we got to Buttonwillow we were glad to stop driving. We’re at the Motel 6 here for the night, and then finishing the drive to Monterey tomorrow. We have, in the past, driven from SD to Berkeley and even Santa Rosa all in one day… but it’s exhausting and stressful, and we figuured it’d be a whole lot more relaxing to do the drive in two hops. We had dinner at the Buttonwillow Denny’s, very tasty, and now we’re lounging around watching bad tv (no TiVo, aieeeee!) and IRCing. Dan dialed up off his phone and made us a little, slow, wireless network :)

Dec 25 –Merry Christmas everyone :) I lazed around all day, cut up one of Dan’s old shirts and made two pairs of underwear, made him a nice breakfast when he got up. We packed and did laundry and got ready for our vacation to Monterey. In the evening we cuddled on the couch and watched South Park.

Dec 24 — Today was our Christmas! Henry and I woke up at about 7:30 and entertained ourselves with cartoons and Zelda. Dan got up and 10, and then we opened our presents! Henry likes his Bionicles, his CDs, and his keyboard. Dan likes his new slippers, says they’re the best ones he ever had, and his tool set and the set of various resistors that Henry gave him. I like my books — Henry gave me “Then There Were Five” and Dan gave me “Spiderweb For Two” so now I own all the Melendy Family books by Elizabeth Enright! And I like my “Gigantic” DVD (documentary about They Might Be Giants, one of my favorite bands), and I like the pretty glass salt-and-pepper shakers that Henry gave me, and the new scanner that Dan gave me — he set it up for me already and I scanned a couple of photos! I’m sooooo glad to have it; it’ll really come in handy. We set up Henry’s nice keyboard (a gift from the wonderful Kenyon family) and he put on his new Rush mix CD (specially made for him by Dan) and was figuring out how to play along on his keyboard :) Sal came to pick him up for more play and bike-riding in the afternoon, and Kirsten and Marcos came over to watch Gigantic with us. Matthew picked Henry up from Sal’s house, he was late due to car trouble but did eventually get there, so Henry’s off with him for the next week or so. We watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off tonight — fun movie. Merry Christmas everyone!

Dec 23 — Yesterday Mom and Dad gave Henry his Christmas present — a lovely new bike! It’s a 6-speed green KHS “Raptor” mountain bike and he adores it. He said goodnight to it before he went to bed :) This morning Sal came over to take him riding — they didn’t have much time yesterday — so they’re out now having fun. What a lovely present! Here’s a fun game! weihnachtsmann! Click the mouse once to start the elves running, click again and hold to pull back the catapult, release to let Santa flyyyyyyyyyy. My top score is 337.2 :) Oh, turok just gave me an url to the strangest flash animation thing I’ve ever seen… Here you go: presidents.swf. Boy. I don’t even know what to say about that one except some people have a big imagination :) “Dwight Eisenhower invented ska.”

After Sal and Henry rode bikes for a while, they went shopping with Kirsten and Marcos. Dan and I went over to the house in the afternoon, and hung around. That was fun. We had dinner, and then opened presents — Dan and I got the wool socks we love, he got jeans, I got 8 more of the wonderful Costco cotton-spandex camisoles that I love. I live in those things, so comfy. Kirsten gave me a pincushion that’s just like the one Sal used when we were little — made of silk, dome-shaped, with a ring of little soft-sculpture silk Chinamen around it. I love it and I already filled it with my pins and threw away my hateful worn-out old pincushion. Everyone liked the handmade ornaments and cookies and framed Henry-photos that we gave them :) We sang carols for a while before we came home and that was so much fun. Mom can play SATB stuff, wish I could. Maybe I’ll practice.

Dec 22 — Baked two batches of cookies to give to people, wrapped things etc. Played a ton of Picturelogic — it sure looks good in high-res. Nice quiet day.

Dec 21 — Lazy day, not sure if I did anything at all… Oh yeah finished recording “A Bear Called Paddington” onto CD for Henry’s present, installed the latest version of picturelogic on my palm. Good game, been playing for years. Watched “Malcolm in the Middle”, re-run from around Valentine’s day, and it was an extra-good one. Very funny and entertaining. Also watched “Arrested Development” which is a new and good show, whoa I can’t believe I said those words. Everyone should read Lileks’s daily bleat every day.

Dec 20 — One of the previews before RotK was interesting. It was more like a commercial than a preview, and it was for the “NS-5”, some sort of “fully-automated domestic assistant”… I was a bit mystefied, but at the end the text came up: “3 Laws Safe” and I knew it had to be a movie based on something of Asimov’s! Did some searching online with friends and Rob came up with this page: www.irobotnow.com. Woooooo!

Dec 19 — My cold has progressed to the coughing stage. Feeling crummy. But Henry and I made a gingerbread house from a kit this morning — that was fun! In the afternoon we three went to see Return of the King! The theater was almost empty so that was nice, although an enormous tall man sat down right in front of Henry so we swapped places, and the woman behind me never stopped talking through the entire movie. I really don’t understand people… About the movie, I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I’ll just say that if you ignore the wierd changes it’s an excellent movie and a fine ending to the trilogy. Thank you Peter Jackson and everyone! And especially Andy Serkis — you get to see him, the actor himself, in the movie for a short time so maybe they can finally give him an Oscar. He deserves one.

Dec 18 — Feeling better, just a slight cough now. I walked up two flights of stairs tonight and didn’t feel winded! Dan drove us to Henry’s gymnastics class, then over to the theater to buy tickets for RotK tomorrow afternoon, then over to Sal’s so I could teach. Oh yeah, last night Dan gave Henry his present early! It’s a great little digicam, not too expensive but still good enough to work well and give satisfying results. Henry was thrilled out of his mind when he saw what it was :) Dan gave it to him early so he’d have plenty of time to have fun with it before he leaves with Matthew for Christmas. It’s a Kodak EasyShare CX6200, and it’s a great little camera! The software it came with is easy enough for Henry to use on his own, so he can take photos to his heart’s delight and then look at them on his computer. He has been enjoying taking photos of his bionicles expecially much :) He sleeps with his camera on his bed, in its nice little case that Dan picked out. He loves it so! Oh and Dan gave me an early present too, a new 256MB sd card for my Zire71, which I loaded up with mp3s and I still have 71 megs free!, yay! And I gave my old 64MB card to Henry for his camera, so he’s got room for 100 photos on there now :)

Dec 16 — Whoever called us this morning while it was still DARK out (probably 4 or 5am) — and I know it wasn’t a server emergency, that I can forgive — I’d just like you to know I never got back to sleep and I feel extraordinarily wretched. DON’T CALL BEFORE DAWN for god’s sake. Oh yeah the doctor’s office called and I don’t have agranulocytosis, yay! Cancelled students and lay around all day feeling crappy. Talked to Chloe on AIM and that was fun. Henry helped me cut up veggies for soup and now he’s outside playing with one of the nice neighbor kids.

Dec 15 — The cable (both internet and tv) was out from morning until the guy came at 2pm! Someone had vandalized the apartment cable box, ugh. I had to go in to get my blood tested to see if I have agranulocytosis, a nasty possible side-effect of the methimazole. But it didn’t take long. I guess we’ll call a bit later and see if they got the results. My little illness is a mere sniffle now. I’m calling all my piano students and asking them to please stay home if they’re even a little bit sick. Trying not to catch anything ELSE.

Dec 14 — The other side of my throat was sore in the night, but not badly, and again I feel better in the daytime. Henry felt a little bit poorly this afternoon so he consented to watch “It Happened One Night” with me. (1934, Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert) Wonderful movie and thanks to BobC for pointing out that it was on!

Dec 13 — Sore throat all night, but my morning it was a bit better. Now at noon it’s just tender-feeling, so I’m not going to the ER, just keeping an eye on myself.

Dec 12 — I felt really good most of the day — tried out “Intimate Settlers” (a two-player variation of the wonderful three-player game, “Settlers of Catan”) with Henry and had tremendous fun. Cooked a nice salad-and-steak lunch for Dan and he was very happy :) And then in the evening I realized that my throat felt funny… guess I picked up Mom’s recent sore throat. I’ve been dreading the prospect of catching a cold or virus, because my anti-thyroid medication has the rare but possible side effect of seriously messing up my immune system, so they told me to stop taking it and get my blood tested if I get sick. So I’m fairly depressed right now, because tomorrow is Saturday and I suppose the only place I can get my blood tested will be the ER, for which my insurance pays only a tiny fraction.

Dec 11 — Washed and dried all the sheets and pillowcases, with Henry’s help, and then Dan helped me fluff up the featherbed and make the bed all nice. So when we go to bed tonight it will be so luxuriously soft and clean and nice! I love our bed. It’s the size of a small European country, and we have a lovely puffy featherbed, then a flannel sheet, then me, then my lovely fluffy, flannel-covered feather comforter on top, and I have a down pillow with a real silk pillowcase that I made. It’s quite the lap of luxury.

Dec 10 — Finished “Dreams of Rescue” — it was good so I’m saving her other novel for our vacation. Also started “Brilliant” and it’s good so far so I’ll save it, too. Now I’m starting a book that doesn’t look so good, so that I can thin out my library pile, heheh.

Dec 09 — Henry and I worked on this nice craft project, making something I can’t talk about here because I don’t want to spoil anyone’s Christmas surprise :) But without going into details, our project turned out great! I’m still feeling considerably better. They took my blooooooood at the doctor’s yesterday, and will phone me with results eventually. The methimazole is helping my thyroid condition, without a doubt. Also I don’t have to even think about the pulmonary hypertension until January, probably, since they can’t even diagnose it properly until the Graves Disease get better. I even drove a little bit yesterday, out to teach and then get our Christmas Tree. I probably shouldn’t have, as I felt very very tired at night, but still it was nice to know I can. We got a darling little Noble Fir and set it up on the gray project table. It looks just lovely. I finished “The Here and Now” by Gregg Easterbrook which was a super-good book, and have started “Dreams of Rescue” which is promising! Oh the luxury of a stack of new library books is hard to beat.

Dec 07 — Here’s what I like: a big bowl of brown & wild rice, mixed with some black beans, chopped tomatoes, a big glob of sour cream, and a dash of soy sauce. It’s known as “glop” and I eat it for lunch and dinner, lately. Yum, so good.

Dec 06 — We slept nice and late and then Dan took me out to do errands. First we went to the library where I suffered severe book-greed and got almost more than we could carry, including a few that I’m going to read into my laptop to make audiobooks for Henry for Christmas. Then we went to OPT for B&W film, then to Stater Brothers for a few groceries, where we bumped into Sal and gave her a ride home. Traffic was hellish of course. Then we went to Barnes & Noble, and I browsed around and finally chose a lovely illustrated hardback “Child’s Garden of Verses” for Henrybot. I think he’ll like it, and I’ll enjoy reading the lovely poems to him. From there we walked over to Michael’s where I got some craft supplies to make presents with, also a kit for a Gingerbread House. From there we went to Target where I bought some Bionicles and a new cd case (to put Henry’s audiobooks in) and wrapping paper. Whew! And then we were all worn out. It took hours. So now we’re home, full of dinner, being entertained by the Glowing Box. I will list all the books I got for myself — I chose them on the merits of title/cover/blurb/quick-sample-at-random, so I’m sure a fair portion will be unreadable.
The Book of Spies: an anthology of literary espionage
Best Friends (Thomas Berger)
A Shortcut in Time (Charles Dickenson)
Shroud (John Banville)
Beautiful Bodies (Laura Shaine Cunningham)
Dreams of Rescue (Laura Shaine Cunningham)
A Newberry Christmas (collection of stories)
The Here and Now (Gregg Easterbrook)
Lucy (Ellen Feldman)
The Hotel Riviera (Elizabeth Adler)
Making Things Better (Anita Brookner)
Caramelo (Sandra Cisneros)
Getting it Right (William F. Buckley jr.)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (J.K. Rowling, yeah I’m the only person on earth who hasn’t read it yet)
The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque (Jeffrey Ford)
The Sinister Pig (Tony Hillerman)
Brilliant (Marne Davis Kellogg)
Antiques Roadshow Collectables (Carol Prisant)
The Greatest Minds and Ideas of all time (Will Durant)
Well! Now I have something to read. My only problem is: which books do I read now, and which do I save for our vacation to Monterey after Christmas? I need to make sure I have a big pile of good ones then, so maybe I’ll start a few and save some that seem particularly good.

Dec 05 — Went to pulmonary specialist at UCSD medical center… nice, intelligent man, really great office and nice people there. Don’t really want to talk about it though. Ugh. Very depressing. Here is an excellent _Not Suitable For Children_ flash animation on kernel_panic’s site: endofworld.swf. Yeah it take a long time to load but it’s worth it, heh. Oh, hey, John updated his blog (finally). “Parking for the Complete Idiot”.

Dec 04 — Helf (a.k.a ressedue) and I were talking about the wierd things a thyroid does when it gets out-of-whack, and he said:

ressedue (8:56:46 PM): yep
ressedue (8:57:11 PM): its like aligning the crystals in a lightsaber. if just a tad off in wrong degree it’ll blow up when you turn it on!

Ahhhhh the geekiness :) Doesn’t it warm your heart?

Dec 03 — Here’s what a VQ Scan is like: You breathe a radioactive gas for a few minutes, and then you lie in a huge camera-machine and it takes several pictures of your lungs. This takes 20 minutes or so. Then they inject you with some more radioactive goop and you get the pictures taken all over again. All the radioactive stuff has a half-life of about 6 hours, so my “healthy glow” faded pretty quickly ;-) They were testing for the risk of blood clots in my lungs, which can be a cause of Pulmonary Hypertension, but the test showed my risk is low. So that’s good, very good. Also I had another chest X-Ray. The whole thing took 2.5 hours — but almost an hour of that time was spent waiting, and waiting, and waiting, for a chance to initial a form. Henry and Dan went with me of course, and both of them stayed with me as much as possible. Today I felt well enough to clean one of the bathrooms. Oh, and we finished “The Four-Story Mistake” and started “The Phoenix and the Carpet” which is just wonderful!

Dec 02 — Ugh I’m sleepy. I just didn’t feel sleepy last night (although I felt bad all day from waking up at 5) so I read for too long and now I’m sorry. Sally took Henry out to play so at least he’s having some fun today. I have to go in for a VQ scan later and I’m dreading it.

Dec 01 — Henry told me today that he was concerned that maybe he was watching too much TV, and said that it is very hard for him to stop once he gets started. When he was very small I gave him three little cardboard “Tv Circles” which he could trade for some TV time. When the circles were gone, that was enough TV for the week. I stopped doing that when he got older, but he asked if we could do that again, as he thought it would help him keep his TV-watching under control. So last night after he went to bed he created 5 new TV Circles — we agreed that 5 would be a good number. He’s very pleased and proud. In other news, I’m still feeling sightly better. The depression comes and goes. It was a beautiful sunny clear winter day, so I even took Henry outside! Dan carried my nice chair out for me, and I sat and read while Henry bounced his ball and played in the sand. It was very good to get some fresh air and I didn’t even get horribly out-of-breath on the way back up the stairs.

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