Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Ernie and Jessie Dolls

Imagine this. You receive a box in the mail from a friend. It is a big box, but amazingly light for the size. You open it and take out...Yourself! And then you reach in and take out...Your Husband!

We got "Dollppelgangered" by Dolls for Friends. Our friends Erin and Jill Lynch, the creative team behind Dolls for Friends and Shop made these for our 20th Anniversary.

They are replicas of us at our big bash back on 10-10-10, me in a Romanian outfit and Ernst in his Lederhosen. They even have the Tyrolean hat on Ernst and the details on my Romanian blouse.

We have known Erin and Jill for almost our whole marriage now, we were neighbors for a wonderful few years in Davis, CA. Jill was my walking partner, although she is an athlete and I got the better part of that bargain. We would start our long walks with the weight of the world on our shoulders, and an hour later we would have helped each other get through another day. Thanks you guys, we love you and will cherish our Ernie and Jessie Dolls. Molly has looked at them, sniffed them and walked away with respect in her eyes. That is an accomplishment!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Spoofed, Spammed or Plagued, it's all bad

Spoofed - An email sent out from somewhere, with the email header and reply pointed to your email address.

Spammed - An email send out from your account, usually hacked by obtaining your password.
Plagued - You signed up for something and in the fine print, they obtained a copy of your email address from your account, per your entering in your info.
I'm not quite sure which category it fell into, but something weird happened to my email on Friday. My Aol account sent out an email looking to be from me, something about a You Tube video from me, and then asked people to pay to watch it. How very embarrassing! 

This has happened to several people I know, who then send out a mass email saying "If you get an email from me..." I always thought, well what are they doing that is causing this to happen? NOTHING. It just happens, but it still made me feel like a dork. What was very weird is that some people in my contacts got it, others didn't. So far, the people that got it are those that I don't email on a regular basis. Is that part of the evil plot or just a coinkidink? 
Lessons learned this week;
Change your email password often.
If you get a funky email from a friend, give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it isn't from them. At least mine didn't involve Viagra!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

So two old friends go into this bar...

...exam, the California state bar exam, to be exact. My friend Candace and I have been proctoring at the convention center all week, having the most interesting time. While I can't give any specifics, here are a few vague highlights.

I just loved my applicants. I had 27 each day. They were wonderful, drama-free and very easy going. Some of my past applicants came up to say hello, they were back to try again. I like to see them, but hate to see them since it means they didn't pass last time. There was one gentleman that took it 12 years straight (24 times) and finally passed last summer. Amazing tenacity.

The convention center scheduled a Christian youth concert (blast music unto others?) in the next hall, so last night all our tables and vast amount of secure testing materials had to be moved to get away from the noise. We had to stay late and then come in at 6 this morning. The room was set up about the same way, just in a totally different hall. The applicants came in so confused looking, one girl asked why we moved the bathrooms. By the third day they are so tired, they thought their brains were playing tricks on them. We got free pizza at lunch for our cooperation.

Candace and I were in neighboring sections. There were times that I just couldn't even look at her for about 10 minutes straight in order to suppress the giggles. One of the other proctors took one look at the two of us and said, "You two are old friends, aren't you?" Yep, we are. At one point she was trying to draw a picture of Croatia to show me where she wants to travel, but I thought she was drawing a cow udder, (too much State Fair on my mind?). That one about did me in.

So another bar exam, another time to be really impressed with the energy that is produced by 1000 really smart people thinking their brains out for 3 straight days. The cheer that goes up at the end is amazing. The applicants are thrilled they survived. The proctors are ready to walk into a bar, a real bar.

Some famous bar exam failures

Jerry Brown: Failed the California bar once before passing.
Hillary Clinton: Failed the D.C. bar exam, but passed the Arkansas bar exam.
John F. Kennedy, Jr. Failed the New York bar twice, before passing on the third try.

Monday, July 25, 2011

How Does My Garden Grow?

Just kidding, these are photos of the gardens at the California State Fair. They have a really impressive display of edible gardening mixed in with flowers.

The If Only Garden.

If only I had the time.
If only I had the space.
If only I had the energy.
If only I had the talent.

It was funny to see they had no red tomatoes. But they also had no weeds or things growing in weird places.

In my opinion, the fair just keeps getting better and better. There is so much free stuff for kids to do there, just head in the main gate, blindfold the kids until you get to the southern/eastern most section, take off the blindfolds and you have a free place for them to have fun. Animals, giant sturgeon to pet, plants to identify, baby pigs to pet, giant Clydesdale's, cowboy clothes to try on, the list goes on and on. As long as they don't see the $8 funnel cakes you are good.

camera shy

green tomatoes galore

actually the size of bowling balls

one can always dream

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Yippee! I Sold the Anna Quilt!

Wow, that was a long dry spell on Etsy. While I have sold some quilts privately, it had been some time since I got that wonderful message on my Gmail account, Etsy Order Confirmation. I still let out a happy yelp. Such a great thing for this un(der)employed person to see!

Just today I spent a few minutes tweaking my Etsy shop, fiddling around with wording and shuffling some of the photos around. It paid off, the Anna Quilt popped into someone's shopping cart. I really need to do that more often to keep things moving along.

Anna, the Beachy Cottage Chic Quilt
I spent an evening last week out on the back porch, organizing my fabric. I got it all sorted into color piles, if not quilt piles. Now I need some time to fall from heaven, which is not going to happen this next week. I'll be proctoring the Bar exam, which leaves me practically limping by Friday, begging to be taken out to dinner. That should just about blow my quilt earnings.

A Bit Chunky and Tired, but Very Much Alive

Jill of Little Veggie Foo Foo had a link to this website on her blog, very interesting stuff.

Fat Sick and Nearly Dead is about a guy who traveled around the US promoting juicing. There are some amazing testimonials on the website.

I don't need to lose 50 pounds in 30 days like one of the participants (not this week anyway), but I was amazed how one man had some of his hearing improve. I felt the same thing happen when I was doing a raw food diet last summer, but I thought it might all be in my head. So maybe it was in my ear after all. The power of fruits and vegetables, simply amazing!

While I still think the fiber and unknown goodies that get tossed away from juicing just have to be a better package deal, the results for these people were really incredible.

Maybe it's time to haul out my old Champion juicer from the garage again. The one that looks like it could stop a train, kill a burglar and anchor a large yacht, all before breakfast!

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead the book
Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead the instant video
Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead the dvd

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Past Twenty Years

Twenty Things I Have Learned Since July 20, 1991

1.  Don't get mononucleosis on your honeymoon.
2.  Choose plain white dishes. You may have them a while.
3.  Back away from the cheesecake. And the cake. And the cheese.
4.  Kaiser emergency rooms have valet parking.
5.  The first 50% of what you pack for moving is really all you need or want.
6.  Dog people have more fun.
7.  Travel is a great way to blow all your money. Really, the best.
8.  If you think you want a canoe, buy two kayaks instead.
9.  Living without TV is really living.
10. Macintosh computers last a really long time.
11. If you need major house repairs, have a heart attack. Your friends will do all the work.
12. If you have an ovary removed, you may wonder if they took the one with the good kids.
13. Walk more, dust less.
14. You probably can have too many books.
15. Having an interesting last name is really cool.
16. Get that weird mole checked out.
17. From a gated enclave to an old apartment, once you hang up pictures, it's home.
18. A gated enclave is a really wonderful place to live.
19. Old apartments can make your furniture look newer.
20. A simple gold band can be a girl's best friend.

The Past Twenty Years in Pictures

We've tried to lead a simple life.

There were some decisions we wish we could do over.
We didn't always know which way to go...

...but our life is good!

 We have great friends, really the best.

 We just love to go camping!

We have had so many joyful experiences.

Perhaps at times we were overconfident.
We're so sorry if we hurt anyone, ever.

  Some years are just a blur.

We have always tried to keep our eyes on the prize.

We have moved around quite a bit.

For a time we packed on too many extra pounds.

We have had our share of health problems.

 Yet we have always tried to stay positive.

Everything seems to have come out fine in the wash.

We could stand to get rid of some stuff.

Sadly, there have been goals that we never quite reached.

But we look forward to our future with confidence and hope.

All in all, we have had a ball! Thanks for all the memories. We love you.
Ernst and Jessica

We are so looking forward to our 26th!

Thanks Jody for the cute new pics of Molly.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pretending to be Daniella's Mother

Here are some of the diverse things I have done since being in the Romanian group.

Made hotel reservations for people, pretending to be them to keep things simple.
Diagnosed rashes and other minor health issues, in the library of the hall, and recommended treatment.
Helped to read and explain complicated immigration documents.
Did lots of tutoring for the kids in school.
With trips to family planning clinics, the "couple's aisle" of Rite Aid, emails to my doctor about the effectiveness of Moldovan birth control pills, and very detailed explanations (Yikes!) I have helped two couples to remain surprise free in the early stage of marriage.
Attempted many explanations of the cleaning products we use at the hall. I know how to read "Dirty Rags" in 3 languages.
Dispelled many myths they hear from the Russian community. No, "they" are not going to implant you with a computer chip in your wrist. And no, Obama is not a Muslim.
Had lots of conversations about American food products and how to cook with them.
Answered unending questions about living in the United States, realizing they would do the same for me if I were navigating life in Eastern Europe.

But until today, I have not had to pretend to be anyone's mother. I would be proud to be the mother of these kids, but the facts are the facts. This afternoon, while Daniella is in pioneer school, I had to return a book to her school so she could receive her grades. She had a bunch more questions she wanted me to ask, and she said that if they ASSUMED I was the mom, it would be so much easier.

So I dressed in the best Mom Clothes I could think of, nice jeans, Sketchers, a cute and flattering top, plus just a touch of lipstick. Hey, if I'm going to be the mom of a teenage girl, I don't want to embarrass her. I went to the office and turned in the book, and bam I had them, they thought I was the mom. Now I wasn't trying to deceive, but the real mom is learning English, is busy with school, work and another child. So I kept asking the questions Daniella wanted to know about: ROP, work experience, how many hours she can work during the school year, etc.

The question came up, has she enrolled for the new school year? What a loser mom, I didn't know. Fortunately from being married to a teacher I knew what the Tdap shot was, and got the information for getting my darling daughter immunized. Then I made the appointment to re-enroll and they asked for the phone number. Holy Toledo, I should have memorized their home phone. I just gave mine. Then I panicked, what if they ask to spell the last name, I know these people well, but they have a last name I always need to spell twice and recheck. Whew, they didn't ask.

Mission accomplished, my dear little girl is set to start her Junior year. My how time flies. It seems like only yesterday I didn't even have children.

Friday, July 15, 2011

By George it's a Ripe Tomato!

July 15, 2011
Sacramento Valley
The Summer of Weird Weather

This year the elements were against me. Rain, hail, cold weather, we have had it all. But I have triumphed. I found a red tomato. At least it looked red in the garden, it actually is still a bit orange.

And yes, it is a mere cherry tomato. But it is round, it is red enough, it contains lycopene, I am officially declaring that tomato season has arrived.

Last night we walked down to see the fireworks from opening night of the State Fair. I wore a t-shirt, jeans and flip flops. Usually the jeans are banished for the summer by now, but last night I was freezing. The delta breeze was cold and strong. I was driving around yesterday, windows up, AC not on. If this is the new norm, I am loving it.

I am waiting for some quilt material to arrive for a custom little baby blanket, but in the meantime I am itching to start this one. I found all this designer sample fabric at the little thrift store up the street. I don't think I can bring myself to cut up that big gorgeous piece, so maybe a tied quilt would be best, with the leaf fabric on the back. After sewing rag quilts, it stretches my brain to sew a quilt the traditional way. But I hear brain stretching and lycopene are a good combo.
waiting to become the Rafaela Quilt

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Visit to Lake Tahoe, Emphasis on Aaahhh

Nine years ago we lived in Tahoe Paradise. That was the name of our neighborhood in South Lake Tahoe. Visiting is nostalgic, we usually drive past our old house, slow down and sigh. Wow, we lived there. We got visitors. We lived where people wanted to vacation. We could hike and X-country ski from our house.

We went up there yesterday to do a little sound work on the hall. It was a gorgeous day all around, even here. Very cool, the weird summer continues.  We were supposed to be done around 4, or so Ernst said.  The plan was to finish there, bum around a bit, drive by the old place and sigh, leave in the daylight and check out the campgrounds at Sly Park on the way home.

As usual, I yacked for about two hours with everyone I saw, so much for me being a trusty assistant. By not chatting so much, that would have got us finished at six o'clock. As it was, we didn't leave until 10. Our old friends in Tahoe were troopers, and stayed helping us, talking and goofing around until the bitter end. So even though we didn't hike, boat, or swim and we spent the whole day inside a building that was being remodeled, we had a great time.

We walked out of the hall into that great smell that is Tahoe. It is the smell of clean air and pine trees, specifically Jeffrey Pines. They smell like vanilla. With that lovely smell, and some hugs from old friends to see us off, we headed back home to a place we dearly love, but where few people want to visit.

Highway 50 was closed, totally shut down.  There had been a terrible accident involving a big rig. We had to take the detour home, through Christmas Valley, then Hope Valley and then the Mormon Emigrant Trail back to Placerville. The moon was almost full, making the snow on the mountains light up. There was still snow banking up to and on the road in places. We had the heat and the seat warmers on. Then the interesting part came. Rock slides, very recent. left rocks and boulders on each side of the road, at times quite a lot even in the middle. We couldn't drive too fast, but I wanted to get through there as quickly as possible. When we saw the lights of the Sacramento Valley, it was a relief. Aaahhh, civilization!

Fatigue Induced Goofiness

Ashley, still cracking me up

where is his assistant?

working hard? not so much

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Limitations of Google Translate

My friend Myra encouraged me to use Google Translate to help me with my Romanian answers and talks. It has been wonderful, it has helped me so much to say what I want, if not say what I mean.

Today as I studied for the meeting, I was trying to translate the songs, making little notations in my songbook so I am not just singing sounds.

Here we go.

Și vrem, prin noi, tu să fii înălțat!
We want you to be lifted up in November! (just in November, not all year?)

Hmm, lost in translation?

Actually, it fixed itself after a bit, and got it right. I love Google Translate for every month of the year.

Why don't I just look at the English songbook? Way too different. We once did a FWE by studying the songs for the next meeting, it was a disaster. Google Translate is so superior to Ernst and Jessica Translate.

Romanian has some funky letters that are hard for squinting eyes to see. We have our own silly names for them.

ț    the t with the tail
ș    the s with the tail
ă    happy faced a
â    sad a, or carrot top a
î     sad i, or carrot top i

So spelling things in our house can be interesting.
Sad i-n-v-happy a-t with the tail-happy a-t-u-r-i-l-e
I just ordered some new glasses, so my sad and happy As will keep separate. This is a phonetic language, so this is not necessary in the least, we should just be able to spell it from how it sounds. The trouble is, in our house it sounds like two Americans trying to learn a new lâââââââânguââââââge!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Eating With Our Eyes Closed

"I had nothing to do with it!"

An infamous line from the Bush administration was Donald Rumsfeld's statement about the Iraq War, "You go to war with the army you have." This is the saying in our house about food, "You make dinner with the food you have". That means no special trips to the store to get that thing that would make dinner just fabulous, or even an item that is completely necessary to create the dish. It makes for some interesting discoveries.

The squash garden

squash growing in the compost pile

I have no idea what this is
 With our garden spewing out squash right and left, I am trying to fit it in Sara P. style to many of our dishes. But I think the poor things would rather die at the Pitts home than be subjected to the humility they experience here. Last night I made two dishes, Zucchini Tortilla Bake and Zucchini Bread Pudding.

I didn't have any enchilada sauce to make a zucchini/tortilla layered Mexican style casserolish thing, which is what I had in mind. So I took tortillas, pasta sauce, fresh basil, lots of zucchini strips and vegan Parmesan and made Zucchini Tortilla Bake. I figured the tortillas didn't know they weren't pasta and the marinara sauce didn't know it wasn't enchilada sauce, so what could it hurt? It was really good. Really easy, really good and I used up two huge over-sized zucchini. A win win.

On to dessert. Ernst loves when I make him vegan bread pudding, I decided to jazz it up a bit. To the chopped walnut bread from Trader Joe's, I added blobs of a cooked sweet potato and shredded zucchini. Over this I poured Rice Dream mixed with vanilla, maple syrup and cinnamon. This is what it looked like before I baked it.

Before baking, the purple color is the walnut bread

After I baked it, well, as Ernst put it so nicely, it looked like dog poop. Yet, it tasted really good. I shouldn't have wheat but I had a "plop" or two and it was quite yummy, if you could get past the looks. After refrigeration, things just got worse. Now it looks like dog vomit, after the dog got into the veggie garden. But we eat what we have around here, so bread pudding it is.

I picked 3 more zucchini from the garden today. I think I heard them planning a Pitts Trip. (Not the Pitts Trips, but a Pitts Trip. There is a huge difference.)

still green tomatoes, are they afraid to ripen, is that it?