mamculuna: (Default)
( May. 11th, 2008 10:04 pm)
When I was five, my mother made for me the most gorgeous, wonderful wardrobe for a doll that any doll has ever had. Barbie, eat your heart out. This doll, Caroline, was about two feet high, and my mother bought a trunk for her clothes, the kind of trunk people must have taken on steamers and trains, that opened up to have a rod to hang clothes from and drawers. My doll had a suit trimmed in fur and an evening dress with a green velvet bodice and a spangled skirt. No one ever had such a doll. I still love to think of her skillful fingers, late at night, sewing the clothes out of scraps (we were perennially poor, and in that time, in 1947, poorer than usual, living in a crummy apartment in a new, bleak town, where we were all lonely for the home we'd left behind).

Amazingly, the message was not that women should be dolls, or that clothes were all and everything--what I learned from that doll was that miracles of beauty and imagination can happen. I learned that craft and dreams can create a wonder that money can't buy. And of course, that my mother loved me that much.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 8th, 2005 01:44 pm)
Still living and eating well in California--Thursday night at Gombei in Menlo Park with [ profile] oyceter and [ profile] masqthephlsphr and [ profile] fannishly. It's a very good Japanese restaurant (intended to save some of the excellent unagi to bring home to D (my son's partner and my host here), but sigh, no will power when it come to good food). Many thanks to Masq for excellent driving under trying circumstances, and to all three for a pleasant evening.

Friday, went with D's stepmother to work on restoring the gardens at Alcatraz. She works with historical gardening, so it's a real delight to spend time with her and to learn about the plants and the history of the place. You can see some tiny picture and read just a bit at:

From some angles, Alcatraz looks like a Greek Island, with old white ruins, high cliffs, and the sea straight down. It had no soil originally, and space had to be blasted and soil hauled in by the soldiers who were quartered there (originally to defend against Confederate invaders!) Then inmates later on worked with guards, but also had their own gardens.

Then my younger son and I went to the new Museum of Asian Art in SF. It's such a well-done museum, with such rich detail, that I can never see more than one section at a time--this time it was China, esp. the very old, pre-Buddhist section, and the wonderful jade. But the Chinese Buddhist section is fascinating, too. I'd already done the South Asian part--am saving the Himalayas for a later time, as well as Korea and Japan.

We ate lunch at a wonderful Vietnamese place called Tu Lan on 7th street (I think)--great spicy beef soop and spring rolls, yummy.

Trying to complete the baby sweater and hat by tonight to give to the mom to be before I leave (she's my friend's daughter, the one who got married in Italy last year). Baby may get here first!

T and D's new cats (or kittens, I think) have names: Ronin and Bandito. I will try posting a picture in a bit, if my camera works for once. The plan is to let them explore the whole house this weekend, after a week in the bedroom. The room's so much bigger than the cage they were in at the Humane Society that they seem quite happy, but interested in seeing even more.

I'm loving it here so much, the lovely bright sun (although foggy on Alcatraz!), the good walking and strenuous climb back home, getting my leg muscles back in shape, the fun stores, restaurants, street fairs, and new kittens--and the quiet good times with D while his partner T (my son) is working in LA. PRaise to D! This has been the equivalent of having his mother-in-law visit for two weeks, but he's been the soul of graciousness and good humor, happily including me in things, never showing that he felt cramped by my presence. I was never that great with my mother-in-law, though I loved her dearly. I spent weeks in her house, but always chafed at the differences. Maybe there's less conflict with different genders, or maybe D is just nicer than me! Not hard.

But will be glad to get back to fall in the South too--still not too late for one last swim if the weather's good; the leaves will be changing, and I miss my friends, my own yoga teacher, my Buddhist group, my house, my car, my part-time cat.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Jul. 11th, 2005 11:44 am)
So glad everyone in London is safe, and also glad that all who went to NY are back home safely and obviously enjoyed their time. Thanks for the wonderful posts and pictures.

This may be my post of the month, as I head up to Chicago (through the first of doubtless many hurricanes that will harass me this year)--although the new computer up there is faster, Bill still gets antsy when the phone lines are tied up for too long, and for me to even glance at my flist takes too long for him!

Summer seems to be here in full force. For most of last week, the ocean was a lovely jade green, clear enough in the shallow water to see your feet even when the waves were breaking at shoulder level. Waves muddied it by Saturday, but the days before were heavenly.

Played many many games last week, too, including bocce ball on a very uneven course (we consider our game to be Ultimate Bocce) and dominoes (I'd never played before, but my nephew's girlfriend brought a pretty white set with bright colored dots and taught us Mexican Train). Also a great little electronic Catchword, and something very similar to Cranium, the name of which I can't remember. With all that around, we never did the traditional midnight Scrabble with me falling asleep in mid-word.

And yesterday, to make the trash life complete, watched the entire first season of The 4400. Seemed a lot better than this season, but maybe that's because I watched it all at once and therefore actually had a clue. Before that, I'd spent most of this season saying "Is that guy a 4400 or not?" "Is Jordan a good guy or a bad guy?" and so on.

Also, last week, I discovered that using the power stroke in kayaking built up the right muscles (pecs and triceps) for yoga push-ups (Chaturanga Dandasana)--before, I'd been mostly pulling in order to work on back muscles, but using a push stroke instead finally got me to the point of being able to to the push-ups. Very exciting--I'd once before gotten to this point but lost it when I cut my toe a couple of years ago. But my ego is controlled by the fact that a backbend (Urdhva Dhanurasana) is still out of reach, and I haven't tried a headstand or armstand in a while. But also found oddly that a one-legged version of side plank (Vasisthasana) with the other leg bent as in Tree Pose is easier for me than the usual form, with one leg on top of the other.

Reading these days: mostly mysteries (Deborah Crombie, Michele Spring, Laura Joh Rowland--but waiting to get my hands on the new Laurie King) but also Umberto Eco (The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana) which so far is wonderful. I still like novels with weird illustrations, and these are wonderful--old comics, matchbooks, etc.

Finally, a very easy salsa made with fresh peaches (will cross-post to [ profile] atpo_cooks):

Peel and chop 2-3 fresh, ripe peaches
Add 1 T (or less, depending on peaches)red wine vinegar and/or lime juice, to taste
Some may want sugar--if peaches are nice and ripe, you won't need it
1/4 tsp ground coriander (also to taste--might want to start with just a pinch)

Serve with grilled pork or salmon

Even if I'm not posting or commenting much--though who knows?--I'll be lurking around and sending good thoughts if nothing else. More sometime!
mamculuna: (Default)
( Jun. 30th, 2005 10:10 am)
Looking wistfully at all the good-byes from the happy gang headed to NYC for the 4th, nevertheless I'm looking forward to my own.

The 4th of July has always been our family's biggest get-together, maybe even more than Christmas. My father was born on the 4th, and would have been 100 last year, if he'd made it. Still, the gathering is always in honor of his spirit, and it's entirely appropriate, because he was always at his best and happiest in a big party of family and friends.clicky here for longer tales )
mamculuna: (Default)
( Mar. 11th, 2005 10:36 pm)
A very nice week at the beach, in most ways. The weather was sunny, crystal clear some days, and the water was green, transparent, like a picture of an ocean. I saw eagles swooping low over the water.

But not the best. My sister can suddenly morph into my mother when it comes to keeping up appearances and is hell bent on remodeling I could live without, but I really want to keep things harmonious and find myself doing things for her that I don't really want to do--but cutting back four huge pampas grasses was not one of them, so I paid the guy who does our lawn to do them. If you've ever done that little chore, you'll know that you wind up looking like you've been in a saber duel, with long slashes of grass cuts that turn red and ugly, burning and itching. I spend my bad time dealing with contractors and estimators, and that was itchy enough for one week.

My friend who came down to visit is getting through colon cancer chemo and surgery, and possible spread to her liver, and onset of chemo induced diabetes (and retirement and divorce, and a cat that died last month, and an only daughter who's moving across country). Amazingly, she's still gorgeous and funny and great company. I felt that I should somehow do more for her, and at the same time should let her be as strong as she can be. The only sad moment was when she talked about getting a little dog, but worried that she'd die and leave it alone. I told her that a dog from a shelter would still have a longer and better life with her than if she left it there, but it hurt to hear her say that.

We built a nice fire and watched movies: Vanity Fair and I Heart Huckabees. Reese was an okay Becky Sharpe, but I really loved the commentary on Huckabees.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 17th, 2004 11:47 am)
I couldn't remember Li-Young Lee's name,
but finally found him in [ profile] gleefulfreak 's interest meme. So here he is (and also at

The Gift

Li-Young Lee

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he'd removed
the iron sliver I thought I'd die from.

I can't remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.

Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy's palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife's right hand.

Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
Metal that will bury me,
christen it Little Assassin,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart.
And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
Death visited here!
I did what a child does
when he's given something to keep.
I kissed my father.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Aug. 30th, 2004 10:41 am)
Gaston dumped on us yesterday and now Frances is taking aim. I haven't been to the beach since the 4th of July--tenants told us the house was OK except for some minor screen damage, but we are hopeful that we'll get a new roof--the old one's been there since Hugo. Family )

I watched Hidalgo last night--for Viggo and for the horses. Both beautiful, but more than a bit of cultural stereotyping in spite of Omar Sharif. I liked him a lot better in Monsieur Ibrahim, a truly charming but sad movie, with wonderful characters and great photography of Turkey or some look-alike.

I'm trying to decide whether to go to Hero now or wait for my husband to come back down here. I could do both! I think I'll see what happens about the beach--I'll wait unless I'm stuck here, in which case I'll go. But I'd better tell him so he doesn't go up there. He's also not big on fantasy so I didn't go to the most recent Harry Potter yet either--which has really taken restraint. So I can have a great escape this weekend if I don't get to the beach.

Modesty )
mamculuna: (Default)
( Jan. 18th, 2004 09:33 am)
Should not have read one of the Sandman books before going to bed last night, especially not down here, at the beach with just me and my sister and a howling wind. Not that it was a terrible dream, just an incredibly vivid one )

and then the wind in the trees woke me to a dark rainy morning.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Dec. 26th, 2003 08:44 am)
Had a wonderful Christmas with my two sons here, plus boyfriend (not mine!), nephews, niece-in-law, stepdaughter coming nearby, first-cousin-once removed, and assorted other relatives and old friends--and of course my wonderful husband, sister, and brother-in-law who are fortunately almost always nearby. Ate too much, drank too much, drove too much, stayed up too late and got up too early. Gave and got too many presents. But it was all just right!

Nominations for best food:

Brown's low country barbecue (vinegar and hot pepper only, makes mustard and ketchup, etc., seem like babyfood)
Lisa Marie's Linzer cheese cake (hazelnut crust! raspberries!)
Grilled turkey
and always dependable garlic mashed potatoes
and oh, yeah, Mongolian Pork Chop

Nominations for best movie experience:

LOTR marathon on DVD--took projector to the beach so we could see it in appropriate size, then went to RTOK as finale!

Nominations for best gift:

Total tie:

Vintage rock poster for Big Brother and Holding Company (Janis Joplin's band, for those too young to remember)
Uru, the new game in the Myst series
Buffy S5
BIG bottle of Glenfiddich (have to keep that in a hard to reach place or it'll be gone by 2004)
Leopard skin ear-bags
new frame for my wonderful, unframed print

Nominations for happiest moment(s):

seeing each of my sons get off the plane

No post-holiday let-down--just basking in the great memories, while waiting for the plumber (don't ask...)
mamculuna: (Default)
( Dec. 14th, 2003 09:10 pm)
Now this was the high-gear house-cleaning day. I never clean except under dire threat and deadline of imminent visitors. Tuesday and Wednesday we have some of my husband's former students from China staying over and one of his friends for dinner, with unknown girlfriend, and he wants me to cook duck. Duck! I ask you. I cooked it last about 5 years ago, and distinctly remember first undercooking and getting my whole family drunk while it poked along, and then drying it out. This can only be disaster. But here they are, thawing away, inevitable...

But then my sons come on the weekend and we go to the beach, and that will be peace and fun. Contemplating getting a pinata--last year we had Christmas in Oaxaca, and the family at the posada where we stayed did pinatas. It really was fun--stumbling around blindfolded, everybody yelling. Only we don't have any kids to get excited and rush for the candy when it breaks. Well, the journey is the destination, in our case. Also solstice fireworks are another plan.


mamculuna: (Default)


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