Thursday, June 30, 2011

A New Logo

Erin and Jill Lynch of shop designed a new logo for my squared up site on Etsy. I just love it. But then I had to change the colors of the blog to go with the new look. Then change them again. And again. Sort of like getting a new outfit that is just adorable, but suddenly it makes all your shoes look dorky.

The choices of fonts, colors, and sizes are endless. This is not going to take up one more minute of my life. Until the next tweaks, here is the new look for all squared up. I still have to update my look on Etsy, make some quilt cards, and of course, most important, get some more quilts on the site. What good is an adorable new logo if I don't have any quilts to sell?

my new Etsy logo

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Junuary? Global Weirding?

It rained today again, sort of a lot at our house. It thundered so loud I thought it was a gun shot. It is chilly, split pea soup making, put on socks and jeans, switch the sprinklers to rain delay, put off washing the car, apologize again to the tomato plants, stay home and clean the house... OK let's not get too crazy.

But soon we'll be back to reality. It's supposed to be triple digits by Sunday. Then it will be time to make a salad, put on shorts and sandals, get the sprinklers back on schedule, wash the car, tell the tomatoes this is the real summer, stay home and clean the house...OK let's not get too crazy.

Summer will return soon to its regularly scheduled programming. Do not adjust your lives too dramatically.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lousy at Latin Language Learning

After being on vacation for almost a week, I dropped back into my Romanian life at a picnic. No, there was no magic vacation miracle, I still am really bad at speaking and understanding this new language. While there are no excuses, here are my reasons:

I don't put enough time into it. This is all on me, there is no one else to blame. The experts say a little every day, but I tend to do it all wrong and put in giant chunks of time, which leaves me frustrated and brain dead. This is not the way to learn, it is the way to fry my brain.

I don't put enough energy into it. I know how I have to learn. I am visual, I do great with flashcards and rote memorization. I know this is a stupid and boring way to learn, but it works for me. But it means making Post-its to tack on my steering wheel, making refrigerator lists, making flash cards, playing the computer games and putting some effort in. The words I need to learn are not going to come from sleeping on a Romanian Pillow Dictionary.

My hearing is shot. While the really crummy vertigo part of my Meniere's Disease is over, I am left with significant hearing loss in my left ear. I can hear vowel sounds, but the nerve died and my brain can't process the constanants. Moldovans are loud at parties, but extremely quiet in normal life. They have the whisper gene.

I don't have the language gene. Or the singing, drawing or skinny thighs gene.

Romanian is very musical. One word blends into the next, and I find it very hard to know if it is a string of their very long list of two letter words, or one big honking word. If only people came with closed captioning.

Romanian has difficult grammar. It is easy to read, it is phonetic, but by George there are 35 different ways to say This, That, These and Those. The verbs are off the charts crazy. And adding Of, A and The at the ends of the words? Whoever made up that rule needs to be force fed Scrabble tiles.

The kids speak Romanglish. This morning was a great example. I had four teenage girls with me. Here was the conversation. Romanian...Russian...Yeah, like so cool...Romanian...Fa...Russian...That is so ghetto...Romanian...My Mom said to...Fa...Russian...Romanian...pimples....Russian...Cheetos..KFC...Fa...About the only thing my mixed up brain and lack of hearing gets is Fa, which is like saying Girl! They call each other that, but they say it is only to be used by the youth. Great, my new word is useless!

Teodora, Nina, Laura and Daniella

 The morning ended with driving them back to their apartments. They were singing songs in Romanian, so pretty, so sweet, such beautiful wonderful girls who actually choose to spend their time with me. Fa, I love Romanian!

How to Be a More Successful Language Learner (Teaching Methods)

Friday, June 24, 2011

How to Nail a Job Interview

10 Things to Do Right on a Job Interview

1. Appear calm and organized. That means have everything from your car to your shoes looking spiffy, polished and clean. A clean purse/bag is the sign of an organized person.

2. No distractions. Turn your cell phone to meeting mode, or better yet, leave it in the car. Nothing says "You are not important" like an interrupted conversation.

3. Be honest. If you lie, exaggerate or embellish, it will come out later.

4. Dress well. Choose an outfit a little nicer than you think the position requires for everyday, but don't look like you just went out and bought it for the occasion. Dress for the job you want.

5. Smile. Check that smile right before the interview. And use some mouthwash for confidence.

6. Be on time. A little early is even better. There are no excuses on this one, except 2 blown tires. But really, how often does that happen?

7. Eye contact. Look them in the eye, don't fidget and sit straight and still. Use confident but not arrogant body language.

8. Be positive. Don't complain about past jobs. Don't complain about the weather, the traffic, the job market or about job hunting. After all, this is the last interview, be positive!

9. Speak well. No swearing, no mumbling, no euphemisms, keep your talking to a minimum and let the other person speak.

10. Stay clean. If you meet for an interview with a prospective employer at a public place, for instance Peet's Coffee and Tea, order the tea. The weakest tea they serve. Do not order the half-caf soy latte. Do not, and I repeat, do not squeeze the cup so hard that the lid comes loose and you spill soy latte down your front, on your skirt and down your legs.

Nine out of ten isn't so bad, don't you think?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Escape to the Coast

Heatwaves cannot be planned, but we sure timed this one well. That is, the being-out-of-town-while-it-hits kind of timing. This was the first biggie heat for the Sacramento Valley this summer, amazingly enough. Missing it completely? Priceless!

It was Martin and Anna's Twenty-fifth Anniversary. Ernst was full of great recipe ideas after his 10 days at the health clinic. I packed some pretty things to decorate the table, and we made them a feast fit for...kings who don't eat meat...or oil...or dairy, or the normal things we associate with kings and feasts. They lived.

The Menu

corn chowder
multi-grain bread
red bell peppers and squash from our garden
roasted red potatoes
marinara sauce, store bought and kicked up a notch by Jessica
no cheese parmesan
chocolate pudding with blackberry sauce

they golfed, Ernst got an eagle!

What Would Snoopy Do?

Snoopy always knows what to do.

Before we left Santa Rosa and headed for the coast, we took a trip to the Snoopy Museum, more accurately known as the Charles M. Schulz Museum. While it is small and may not warrant a trip just to see it alone, it was a fun few hours.

Written after the Peanuts studio fire 

Did you know that Snoopy once had a Van Gogh and a pool table in his dog house? They burned in a fire, but the Van Gogh was replaced by a Wyeth! Proof again that Snoopy is one cool Joe.

Mona Lucy

me too

happy campers

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ten Days at McD's

That is McDougall's not McDonald's.

Ernst just finished 10 days in Santa Rosa at the McDougall Program. He loved it, got off a dangerous BP medicine, cut 30 points off his cholesterol and dropped an pound. (The food was really yummy.)

It is based in an old hotel near the wine country. There is this hilarious revolving flamingo out front, and the first impression is, hmmm, this is interesting. But the kitsch ends there and it is a normal hotel once you get past the neon pink bird. It has a killer pool. I came here on Friday with some Moldovan girls and we swam and hung out at the pool. It was a nice change of pace after a crazy busy week.
It twirls!

Then, I joined him here at the hotel for the last night. Now that we don't go to SF for our conventions, we never stay in hotels anymore. (The one in China with frozen pipes and no working toilet doesn't count.) It was work to get out of town, especially since I was holding down the fort plus all the Ernst tasks. But we are here, there is a huge pool, I am throwing my towels on the floor and sleeping in. Hotels were invented for tired women.
Moldovan Girls Gone Mild

The Flamingo is everywhere

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Aren't You Afraid You're Not Getting Enough Protein?

 "Are you getting enough PROTEIN??"
That is the typical response when people learn we are vegans. 

Here are the other responses:

1. I could never be a vegan.
2. I could easily be a vegan.
3. Not even milk?
4. But you do eat eggs, right?
5. Are you getting enough calcium?

My response is usually some mumbled comeback that implies this really is only a diet for people who have had serious health problems, that yes it is really hard, that no I am not concerned that they are eating a hunk of steak.

It's not that a list of snarky comebacks would make me feel better. But there really has to be a nice middle ground here, so I think I will try the following for the questions above.

1. You're probably right.
2. You're probably right.
3. I am actually weaned now.
4. They are not all they're cracked up to be.
5. Have you ever seen an elephant with bone density problems?

And for the most popular, Aren't you afraid you're not getting enough protein? I think the simple answer is, Aren't you afraid you're getting too much? OK, way too snarky. How about Protein Shmotein, let's talk fiber!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Where in the World is Moldova?

That's what I thought when I first heard someone say they were from Moldova. It was 1993, we were in Kiev, Ukraine at an International Congress, and there were 65,000 people there from all over the world. I was walking back to my seat and I saw a little group using sign language. I had dabbled a bit in sign, so I stopped to watch. Two were from Moldova (Huh?) and the hearing one was from England. They couldn't communicate because the Moldovans had learned American Sign Language, (in addition to Moldovan SL) and British SL is different.

So there was little ol' me, who could only remember one sign (turtle, a lot of good that does a person) interpreting finger spelling from the Moldovans to the Brit. It was the most magical moment from the most incredible event of my life. The Moldovans were explaining what they went through to get there, their long, hot train trip, but how it was worth the effort. They made signs that conveyed their joy to be there and the unity they were experiencing.  I will never forget their sweetness and dignity and positive attitude.

Fast forward ten years, we were in Hungary for another convention. It was blazing hot, we were in the Italian section for some reason (Candace) and they made an announcement asking the English speakers to move to where the Romanians were, to an inside air conditioned hall. We walked in and it was heaven. It was so refreshing and cool, people were dressed in these amazing clothes, they were welcoming and wonderful, and I remember thinking, I don't understand a bit of this language, but it sure is pretty. So Romanians also made a memorable first impression on me.

Again, fast forward some more years, and here we are in a Romanian speaking congregation with mostly Moldovans. So what is the difference between Moldovans and Romanians? And where in the world is Moldova? It is that little land locked country between Romania and Ukraine, not to be confused with Moldavia, an area of Romania. I am still learning, but here are the facts as I understand them.

During the Cold War, both countries were under communist rule, but Romania was not part of the USSR. At that time Romania was the poorer of the two, but that has flipped. Now Moldova is Europe's poorest country. Life is rough there, I have intrepid friends who have traveled many places, and they say conditions are pretty bad there still.

Because Moldovans had to learn Russian in school and their language was switched to the Cyrillic alphabet, they really got the shaft in the language department. Half the women I know my age and older still write Romanian, one of the Romance Languages, in Russian script. They also use lots of Russian nouns, and their accent it not the purest. They tell us to not sound like them, to speak "clean Romanian", not their "dirty Romanian".

They are amongst the most amazing people I have ever met. They come from a country of poverty and sadness, and yet no one knows how to party like they do. After the convention last weekend, they had a huge party. Two days later, another one for some that were leaving combined with an anniversary party. This was a Tuesday night, more great homemade food, more dancing, the bride changed into her wedding dress and was dancing in a living room. I am continually amazed at their stamina. Is it the potatoes? The mămăligă? I have so many stories to tell, more to come...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pepe le Pew vs. Molly

And the winner is? Pepe, by more than one nose.
And the losers? That would be us, and our house and yard and neighbors.

Last September, in Molly's very first week with us, she got into it with a skunk in our yard. We had to buy the skunk enzyme spray and take her to Launder Dog for the do-it-yourself bath. Over the winter the Skunk War calmed down, but it is back in full force.

Molly has been having battles with the smelly critter (or maybe litter of critters?) on an average of 3 times a week lately, but last night was a doozy. I had just done another treatment on her, shampooed her, and she was beginning to smell human again, or at least like a dog you can be around. But last night, they were at it again, and this time it smells like she gave Pepe a key to the back door.

So why don't we let her sleep inside? That is usually the plan, but when she smells this bad, she can't come in. When she sleeps outside, she gets sprayed, and can't come in and has to sleep outside. Can you see the sad little pattern here? Or should I say the smelly pattern?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Buddy Quilt

 The Buddy quilt is finally finished, I decided to wait until my new machine arrived to finish it, more on that in another post, but I'll just say I'm in sewing machine bliss. This quilt will be donated to a raffle for the Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue Reunion Picnic. We can't attend (Molly is too ill mannered to go anyway), but we wanted to do something to support it.

The black and white fabric from Carmen is a nod to all the skunks that Molly gets sprayed with. The ducks are for the poor things Kodie used to chase in the ponds where we once lived. The doggie and country store fabric was given to me by Kathy. The red that just pops so nicely was also from Carmen. Thanks for the donated fabric you two, it all went together nicely.

The Buddy Quilt  is named after Kodie the Wonder Dog, The Boy, The Kodie Meister, Bunny Boy, Bunser Boy, Ko Shmo, Shmokie Ko, Kokie Schmokie, or as Ernst simply called him, Buddy. It's no wonder dogs never come when we call them, they don't know their own name.

Bunny Boy

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Rootin' Tootin' Janome HD1000

Imagine the scene. A wife comes up from behind when her husband is on the Internet. He quickly tries to hide the screen, but it is too late. She saw. She saw that her husband was trying to surprise her with a new sewing machine!!!!!

We got a ton of Amazon points from our China plane tickets. Ernst wanted very much to get himself a PS3, but instead he decided to get me a new sewing machine. I think this is mostly for his own sanity, he must be tired of me complaining and fussing as I tear out seams.

What was so cool about ruining the surprise was that I got to pick out my own machine. The mid-priced one I wanted was not offered on Amazon, and rather than go cheap, we kicked it up a notch. I am now the proud owner of a Janome HD1000, the HD standing for heavy duty.

When I say Janome HD1000, I like to use a strong southern drawl, and of course the emphasis goes on the 1000. Like a farmer bragging about a new tractor, I just love saying it. Let's hope it sews as well as it rolls off my tongue.
Squares cut out for a memory quilt

The down side? There will be nothing to blame my mistakes on now. It is all on me, this is no excuses sewing. The pressure, the stress, the high expectations. And to think, I once started making quilts to relax!

I am currently sewing up the Buddy Quilt for Homeward Bound, and then comes this memory quilt. It is shaping up to be a really pretty shabby chic look with lots of pretty blues and pinks. Not to mention lots of denim for the Janome HD1000, yes sirree Bob.

Janome HD1000 Heavy-Duty Sewing Machine with 14 Built-In Stitches

Sunday, June 5, 2011

FM 104.7 Radio Romanian

We just had our District Convention this weekend. Ernst and the Romanians are still at it, partying and dancing, but I am beat and got in my PJs as soon as I got home. The extrovert in me is just dying to be missing the party. We have friends from Portland, Seattle, Anaheim and Arizona, they are doing gypsy Romani dancing and I am missing out on Moldovan food. Molly got attacked by a skunk again and our house stinks, so it is a double bummer to be at home missing the fun.

Many of us wore Romanian, Moldovan or Romani costumes today. It is a hoot for me to finally have a "culture" even if it is adopted. People would come up to introduce themselves today, and I would say, "Sorry, I'm American, but I can introduce you to some Romanians!"
Here are some photos of the weekend.


It was so very exciting for us, we got all the new releases in Romanian too! What an unexpected treat.  Now, if you don't want to see one of the new releases, just stop reading right here. If you want a peek, scroll down.

OK, so you really want to see? Last warning.

The New YPA Book!

This is our son, the one who grew in my heart!