Friday, March 30, 2007


Sarah made this spoon for my birthday when I turned 30. She was learning to make violins at the time and carved it out of the wood they use to make violins. Pretty amazing, no? It looks even prettier in person, the wood is beautiful and I love the shape of the spoon.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Will the grownups please stand up?

Luke has fun in the bath.

Mommy and Auntie Jess have fun with Luke's bath toys

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Other Jessica

So I at least partly owe my current state of blog-obsession to this woman:

Shortly after I acquired my beloved macbook, and before I knew much about this whole "blog" thing, I was visiting M & S (and, um, their wireless network) and googled something (I don't remember what, but I'm sure it was completely unrelated) and one of the results must have intrigued me because I followed it to the House of Joy. I'm pretty sure that was the last time Sarah saw me for several hours. I think I read the entire archives without pausing to eat or sleep, carrying my laptop around the house when hunger forced me to migrate to the kitchen. It was probably annoying the way I kept laughing hysterically out loud, I'm sorry, Sarah, I couldn't help it.

In addition to being a very good writer (and this is not praise I bestow lightly) she's stinkin' hilarious. The only time she's not funny is when she's making you cry with a serious post. How a person manages to be this wittily coherent on a daily basis while dealing with two young toddlers -horizontal parenting notwithstanding- I do not understand, but I'm glad she does. I remember a time when I was caring for an infant and a three-year-old. My brain shut down completely, and I got to go home and sleep at night! And did I mention that the only reason I'm able to find time to write this blog at all is that I'm [blissfully] unemployed right now? And that single, childless and unemployed, my house is still usually messy?

In addition to hours of Joy (butt-biting Roosters! Gilligan and The Skipper!) I also found links to countless other wonderfully written blogs and found out that there's a whole world of moms who blog (many of them very eloquently) out there. I've also been getting into the craft & design blogs but I have to admit, I'm way more excited when I see a new post (I heart Google Reader a lot) by one of my favorite parenting blogs. Am I weird? I mean, yes, obviously, of course, the answer to that is undoubtedly yes. It's not normal to put a lampshade on your suitcase and post a picture of it on the internet. But am I weirder than I thought? As far as I can tell the entire mommy blog readership demographic is made up of a) people who have children, b) people who are trying desperately to have children, or c) their close friends and relatives. I do not fit into any of these categories.

I started my first nanny job at 21. I've always had this bizarre in-between existence between my single friends and the ones who were married and having children because I was single and carefree like the former, but I spent my days as mired in poo and barf and temper tantrums as the latter group. I warmed bottles and wiped noses and rocked babies and chauffeured teenagers, yet (most of the time, at least) I went home at night to blissful solitude and got undisturbed sleep and weekends off.

I have never worked in an office. I have never worn a suit or dressed up for work. The last time I had a job that involved colleagues was more than ten years ago. I have changed more diapers than probably most parents will. I have rushed a frightened 3-year old with a bead stuck up her nose to the pediatrician's office (did you know they have an actual nose scooping tool for this?) and kept a straight face when she handed me the aforementioned bead for safekeeping. I have sat in a chair for hours by the bed of a child who is afraid to be alone while falling asleep. I have made green-food-colored Mickey-mouse-shaped waffles in an attempt to get a child to eat something other than macaroni and cheese. I am an expert at arranging food into such fascinating shapes that even the pickiest child may be tempted to forget that he doesn't actually like food and eat it. I have made frantic searches for Vitally Important Stuffed Animals at bedtime. I have changed, bathed, comforted, and changed bedding for one vomiting child in the middle of the night, only to have another one start puking as soon as I got the first one back to bed. I have discovered that even being woken up to clean up vomit is not the worst thing in the world, the worst thing is seeing the tiny people you love more than anything in pain and not being able to do anything except change their sheets.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I am the oldest of 7 kids who were spaced roughly 3 years apart, so that there was always someone under the age of three in the house from the time I was three myself, until I left for college; but being around kids just seems like a natural state of being for me. Maybe now that I'm trying to leave the world of childcare and do something different I feel the need to be connected, somehow, to that world. I don't know. I do feel, however, like I have been let into the lives of some women I hope I can measure up to if I ever have children of my own. So thanks, Lady Joy and all you other moms who blog. Someday I hope I can be as cool as you. :)

How to Survive a Robot Uprising

So I was poking around in my favorite local used bookstore and I came across this book. The author, one Daniel H. Wilson, is apparently a Ph.D. candidate at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute. One has to wonder if this was his thesis.

I bought the book partly because it's so cool looking- I'm a sucker for shiny metallic red-edged pages- and partly because I was intrigued by the way the author can't quite seem to decide if he's writing a wildly humorous or deadly serious book. His attitude seems to be something like: "It's silly to be afraid robots will take over the earth, of COURSE it's silly, ha ha ha. That sort of thing only happens in The Matrix or Battlestar Galactica. But.. on the other hand, I've seen what these crazy scientists are doing with robots these days. Hey wait, I AM one of those crazy scientists. Run! Run for your life, the robots are comiinngg!!!"

Therefore interspersed with serious factual information about robots and how to disguise yourself from infrared sensors, one gets helpful advice like this in the How to Spot a Robot Mimicking a Human chapter:

Test Those Social Skills: Humans unconsciously acquire a vast amount of social knowledge, such as how to stand in line, the concept of personal space, and why we should all wear pants to work. if the guy standing on your porch doesn't follow these rules, don't let him inside- whether he is a robot or not.


Follow your nose: Does your new friend smell like a brand new soccer ball?

Thursday, March 22, 2007


You Are 45% Left Brained, 55% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

Hmm, I don't know about this. I guess I would think of myself as more right brained but this test says only slightly. Math is definitely not my strength! I would not have thought reading would be a left-brained thing. I guess for me a love of reading has always stemmed from my creative, intuitive side, so I think of it that context. And dogs?? If you're right brained do you like cats more? I'm definitely a cat rather than dog person but I kind of suspect that someone made that up. After all, it seems to me that generally people who like sports are also dog-lovers, people who like reading and quiet are more likely to have cats. Maybe I'm generalizing too much. What do you think?

Thank you, Mr. cable guy

I have internet access in my actual house!!!! You can't imagine how exciting this is for me. It's been so frustrating to have to consign things-that-need-to-be-done-online to the few hours a week I could snatch at one of the local hot spots. Oh the freedom of being able to go to the bathroom without shutting my computer down and taking it with me because I'm afraid if I leave it alone it won't be there when I get back. Now I can waste countless hours from the comfort of my own home..

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Oh, my aching.. everything

Yesterday I accidentally went for a ten-mile hike. Friend, I do not go for ten-mile hikes. I occasionally go for gentle walks when I'm not sitting around reading books and eating cookies. Occasionally maybe a three or four mile hike but even that seems a little long, and um, what did you say? It's uphill? Hmm, yeah, maybe I'll just turn around now. Half a mile is pretty good exercise, right?

The fact that I walked all that way up a fairly steep trail (1800+ ft elevation, not that I was counting) and ran down half of it frightened me, to be perfectly honest. It was like an alien had taken over my body. No, I didn't run on purpose!! You know I don't run. If I was being chased by an axe-wielding maniac, I would probably run, but just for kicks? Not so much. It was because I lost track of time and started back way too late, I had to book it to make it back to the car by the time the preserve closed at dark.

What could be wrong with me? Is this a sign of advancing age? Isn't that supposed to work the other way around? Have I been spending so much time around athletic Californians that I've "caught" their athleticism somehow? Horrors! I did find an old bottle of vitamins in the cupboard the other day and took one just for fun. Maybe that had something to do with it? I'd better throw them away just in case. I find they interfere with my absorption of chocolate and snack foods- two of the main staples of my diet- anyway. Today I stayed in bed until 10:30 and then got up only to eat breakfast before getting back in bed with a box of girl scout cookies and a bag of Pirate's Booty to watch a movie. I felt much more like myself after that.

I did make a new discovery through this traumatic experience, and this is it: Hiking in a skirt is really comfortable. When I decided to take a small detour and visit my new favorite hiking spot I was on my way home from meeting a friend. I was wearing a skirt but I'd packed a pair of shorts and my sneakers so that I could change if I needed to. When I got to the preserve and went to change, however, it turned out I'd packed the sneakers and left the shorts behind. So I figured I could hike as well in a skirt (it was a longish, loose skirt made out of light cotton, I wouldn't recommend hiking in a tight denim skirt or a leather mini but I haven't checked this out and I have no future plans to, so I can't say scientifically that they wouldn't work as well, if anyone wants to put this hypothesis to the test and send me results, be my guest) and changed my shoes and set off It turns out that when, y'know, nature calls and there's nowhere to answer it but the bushes by the side of the trail, and you're a girl, it's way easier to accomplish this -at least easier to retain any semblance of modesty- if you're wearing a long loose skirt than if you're wearing shorts or pants. Also, the skirt was much cooler than pants would have been but protected my legs from the sun better than shorts would have. There is the fact that I looked like a dork (especially when running like a maniac trying hold on to my backpack but not lose my footing and slide down the trail) but that's why I like this preserve, apart from the occasional biker, I never see anyone, besides, dorkiness is a fairly natural state of being for me (see Temeraire post on my other blog).

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day

A shamrock picture in honor of my Irish heritage, consisting mostly of freckles and poor cooking skills. I do like potatoes. :) This picture was taken earlier this week, at Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve when I went hiking in the 85 DEGREE WEATHER. It's March!!!!! I love California. :)

I've been a slacker about posting lately but (hopefully) soon I will have an actual modem in my house!!! And will no longer have to go to great lengths to post here.

It's been a long and frustrating few weeks involving printer difficulties of ridicuous proportions. I am actually on my third printer in one week. I had a nightmare last night that my printer turned into a car and then took over and careened down a busy street with me inside before overturning and bursting into flames. Luckily my brother Zach appeared and used his army guy skills to heroically pull me out of the car and shield me from the ensuing explosion, since I couldn't move. Unfortunately after the danger had passed Zach sat on me -yes, SAT ON, like he'd forgotten I was his sister and thought I was just convenient sidewalk padding- while calling for help. I was still incapable of speaking or moving so I couldn't ask him politely to move his heiney and had to suffer being sat on, as well as almost killed by my stupid printer. He did save my life though, (brother, not printer) so I wasn't too upset.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Be forewarned

The Smell of Catsup (Ketchup?) turns me into a ravening saber-toothed French fry vampire.

Oh, the Ironing!

I have a confession... I hate the word blog.

Blogging, blogista, blogger; blog, blah, blech. I use these terms because they're the accepted lingo but I can't stand the way the words look and sound and I wince slightly, inwardly, every time I hear myself say them. I suppose I could tell people that I'm keeping an online journal or some such thing, but that just seems lame.

Some words I do like:

Etiology -- - the cause, set of causes, or manner of causation of a disease or condition- I know, I know. I'm not sure why, I just like it. I am fascinated by medical terms. I love case reading case histories and medical narrative. I read practically everything in my old library's medical section. Neurologist Oliver Sacks is one of my favorite writers. However I have a deep and long-standing horror of all things medical when they apply to me personally.For about 10 years when I didn't even go for physicals because I hated having anything to do with doctors so much. I used to practically hyperventilate when I had to get blood taken (blood itself doesn't bother me, I've worked with kids for too long to get worked up about various icky bodily fluids, it's the needles I have issues with) or enter a hospital to visit someone. I've gotten a lot better but I still don't like going to the doctor.

Moss -- -a small flowerless green plant that lacks true roots, growing in low carpets or rounded cushions in damp habitats- I love moss. I like the way the word looks and sounds. I even love its definition. I want to live in the woods with low carpets of moss and rounded mossy cushions. I would drink dew from buttercups and eat acorn stew. Though, come to think of it, I tasted an acorn once, when I was a kid and it tasted really bad. Maybe I'll stick to indoor living and just make forays to the woods to visit the moss.

Conifer -- -Plants bearing their seeds in cones or modified cone-like structures.- These plants are often called evergreens, although this is not always the case. See moss

Pediatric -- I like saying Pediatric, it's just fun to say. I don't care so much about the way it looks, but I like the way it sounds.

Twilight, glint, glimmering, lambent -- I love light. I love how the light changes throughout the day. I love early morning light the best, though I confess I don't see it very often.Sometimes when the sun is at a particular angle when setting, everything is backlit against the darkening sky. Even if the scenery is just the ordinary trees and buildings I see every day on my drive home everything looks hauntingly beautiful, like the whole world has been washed in gold. I love that.

I dreamed about light years ago. In the dream, I knew I was in heaven, I also knew I was dreaming. It wasn't some airy-fairy place with angels floating around with harps. The dream took place in the neighborhood I was living in and the one I grew up in, all familiar places, but they were different. It was as if my previous experience of these places had actually been stage sets- imperfect copies of the real thing- and in the dream I experienced the originals and they were flawless.

The light in the dream changed several times with the setting, from warm indoor light to glimmers of fire in the darkness, to morning light and then full day. What bound them together was that each time the light was perfect. I can't put it into words any more clearly because there are no words to describe a level above what we are limited to experiencing as perfection. It was like nothing I've ever seen while awake. A scientist would say that the dream was a combination of the sunrise shining through my east facing window while I slept and random synapses firing in my brain. I wouldn't argue that this is technically true, but I think it's only one aspect of the truth. Someday I'm going to see that light again, and that time I won't have to wake up.

Texture -- -From the Latin, Textura- Sounds like it feels and looks. makes me think of textured cloth or paper.

Variant -- Just a good word

All right, I've put it off long enough, I've got to go research printers before they kick me out of the coffee shop for spending $2.50 on an eclair and then spending three hours taking up a chair and using the free wifi. One of my new favorite words: modem. -Something that allows Jess to access the internet from the comfort of her own home if she can ever get through to the &%#@! cable company whose workers (I'm pretty sure anyway) have bets going on how long suckers who call looking for modems will stay on hold before giving up.-

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Strange foreign customs

So apparently in Southern California a popular thing to do if you own a car dealership is dressing up female mannequins in chic clothes and posing them around the lot as if they are a) checking out the cars for sale, or b) hailing a cab? Or at least I'm assuming that's what the blonde woman is doing. Maybe she's waving to the passing motorists? Or calling for help? ("Please, take me away from this creepy place, those people standing around in the parking lot are NOT REAL!!")

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Wall of gum

Wall of bubblegum in San Luis Obispo, gross yet interesting.

No, I did not add to it.

Davenport Street

Near Alicia's house in Camarillo

Thursday, March 1, 2007


My little dinosaur friend Gourdon went to the big fall table display in the sky last week. He was a faithful watchgourd, keeping the top of the microwave safe for democracy for at least five months, but it was time; he was starting to turn alarming colors. Farewell Gourdy.