Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sugar Skulls

Today we drove out to Del Mar to decorate some sugar skulls for "El Dia De Los Meurtos" ( or "Day of the Dead"). We had hoped to make down to Mexico for the November 1st festival but it looks like Halloween has us running in circles as it is.
This is an undecorated skull. It's a solid piece of sugar and pretty heavy!



Here's Naomi adding frosting.



Phoebe carefully adding sparkles.



Chloe with her finished skull.



All three finished skulls. Apparently they eat them in Mexico (makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it!). Ours are "just decorations". As you can see we have more visiting toys. The one on the left is a yak from Canada.



After the workshop we took a walk to the oceanside park. The kids instantly ran to the trees!









Then blew off some excess energy by rolling around!





It's a beautiful park... We'll be back again soon!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Lessons

Today I learned two things. I learned that if I'm checking out at CVS drugstore and they don't give me the 25% off all Halloween items that they've advertised all over the store, I can happily point it out to the less than thrilled cashier. He can then point out the meger amount that was taken off... Fortunately I'm doing middle school math these days, and realized this was way off (much to the chagrin of the line of customers waiting behind me). Eleven minutes later we got our discount and an extra five bucks off for being annoying.
Today, I also learned what pinking shears are. They're not what I thought, but now that I know it all makes sense. All in all an enlightening day. This little quote seems to apply...

"What a wonderful day we've had. I have learned something and you have learned something. Too bad we didn't learn it sooner. We could have gone to the movies instead"- Balki Bartokomouse, Perfect Strangers

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Photographing Toys

As you can see we've been having a lot of fun bringing Marshall, the toy voyager around the city. Here he is in front of the botanical building...



In the sculpture garden, in front of the Globe Theater...



And appreciating art at the museum...



It's surprisingly entertaining the photograph him in public while strangers stare curiously and then do their best not to make eye contact with the crazy lady. We just got news from his "mentor" in Prague that in ten days he'll be heading off to Germany. The kids are sad to see him go, but what's astonishing is that Mike and I are too! Two more voyagers are on there way here though... So we get to keep acting like kooks. :)

Last night I was awoken by helicopters again. A neighbor told me they are equipped with a spotlight and a bullhorn to "catch" criminals in the act. Like in those action movies. Unfortunately instead of feeling exciting it feels pretty oppressive. I guess it's just something we need to get used to though.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Middle School Blues

They changed the name from Junior High (from when I was a kid) to Middle School. Unfortunately that's all that's changed. It still sucks. The teachers expect the worst so they're super strict and the kids, well, they all have "issues" as my daughter says.
Yesterday she came home from school and asked me if she's ugly. Apparently the boys have been calling her that "behind her back" and all of her "friends" thought she should know. The rest of them call her carrot. She's taken to asking me if we could move to Ireland or Scotland, where there are other redheads.... Oh well.
At least she's in Tae Kwon Do three days a week and has a constructive way to release her aggression. She has been winning all her sparring matches!



Today we got in some time at the Art Museum and I managed a sketch or two. These things are called "Female Hook Figures" and are from Papua New Guinea.
Definitely not fertility totems though... I couldn't even tell they were female till I read the description.:)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Earthquake Readiness

Today my kids had an "Earthquake Drill" at school. I guess they have to do this in a shaky place like California. We picked them up and both Mike and I say at the same time;
"Oh, so what'd you do, practice running around screaming?"
*That brought on a fit of the giggles! *
Apparently they did something perfectly logical like hide under their desks. I don't get it.... What are these desks made of that they can protect from earthquakes and nuclear bombs? Why does everyone have at least two TVs, countless cellphones, but no one has a "magic desk" in their home? Well I'll have to add it to my Christmas list...





Here's some pictures of Naomi with her new gap tooth smile!
She lost her front tooth while eating a peanut butter sandwich, yesterday. Then she carefully placed it on a napkin, which got tossed out along with the mess left by lunch. So, like last time, I found myself writing a note of explanation to the imaginary tooth collector. In this case "The Tooth Fairy" (last time "Raton de Peidras" or "The Tooth Mouse" of Argentina).
Later that evening she got in a tussle with Phoebe and tried to bite her foot... Now her other front tooth is "hanging on by a thread"...



Some good news too. Issue #2 of "The People That Melt in The Rain" is now available as an e-book from Abigail Books at

Issue 2 of "The People That Melt in The Rain

Hasta luego from under my desk!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cat on a Cactus





Here she is, Izzy, my cat doing anything for attention now that we pen her in all day. We only let her out at night, because if she's seen in the common area here in the housing complex they will fine us $50.00. (The place is crawling with possoms, which look WAY too much like rats, but apparently no one wants to see an offensive cat walking around.)

Today is Columbus Day and my kids have school. It's a holiday in New York and Argentina, but here in California, only the post office cares. I was really hoping for an extra day to sleep in, but I guess they have a point, Columbus never made it to North America (or South America), I believe he found Central America later in life, but mostly he gets credit for Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Of course for some reason he thought he was in India.... hmmmm. Still I like three day weekends.

Some good news... The realist image of dolphins was approved for the mural,so maybe we'll be starting that sometime soon!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Love Letter to the Library

It's funny the things you learn by having kids. I learned that the public library is the greatest place in the world. It started with story time programs for my baby, then it was family movie nights (where free refreshments were served and movies we'd missed in the theater were played on a big screen), then we'd grow tired of the ninety or so children's books we had around the house and the library saved us again!

It was there across the street in Bariloche with a massive English book section to help Mike through the chickenpox and me through my hospital stay and now that we're back in the states we wander the city and venture into all the libraries we can find. It helped us last summer again with their abundance of children's activities and the kids won tickets to the Padres games through the summer reading program. So, of course, yesterday we headed down to the Mission Valley Branch to see their latest offerings, the Japanese drummers in the children's courtyard...

Here's Naomi before the concert with Marshall (our toy voyager from Prague)...



Here is the group playing, they're called "Naruwan Taiko" and they were really awesome...





After the show Phoebe went onstage and got a lesson from a band member...





Here's Naomi with Marshall by one of the drums.



Definitely a great way to spend a beautiful Saturday!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Back to the drawing board....

Well, our mural design was shot down, after it was presented to the staff at the school. They said it was too "primary", never mind that it's a primary school, but what do I know. They want something more realistic (which will take twice as long to paint on a huge wall). I wish we could up the price, but this is a public school in California, so I guess we should just be glad we're being paid and that it will cover the cost of paint...



Here it is our 2nd try. A "realistic" image after painter Royce McClure...
Wish us luck!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"WE HAVE YOU COMPLETELY SURROUNDED!!"

Mike and I went walking on the path behind the condo where we live yesterday evening. It was nice to walk by the river, passing joggers and dogs with their owners. Happily ignoring the helicopters swooping overhead, until we hear from their bullhorn "WE HAVE YOU COMPLETELY SURROUNDED!". That stopped us in our tracks. Needless to say they weren't talking to us. Apparently the police were scaling the fences into a neighboring housing complex. Now I shudder when I hear the helicopters... Which is almost all the time here.



The public path is really quite nice though, and the kids enjoyed decorating it last week with their sidewalk chalk.



There are always good and bad things where ever you live. Chloe has a school requirement to volunteer in the community and because we live in the city there are some great opportunities right nearby. The maritime museum is looking for volunteer hobbyists to build models, and the California Ballet Company needs people to help with their costume inventory. Sounds like it could be fun.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Daily Struggle

My hands are clenched tight and my brow is furrowed.
I push, push, push, and b-r-e-a-t-h-e
I focus, my teeth clenched and swear profusely.
I push, push, push and b-r-e-a-t-h-e
The latin pop song is distant and tinny.
I push, push, push and b-r-e-a-t-h-e
Almost there, almost there... I see it!
I push, push, push the gas pedal
and I'm at the exit for my daughter's middle school...



We've finished our color sketch for the mural at the school. I'll submit it for approval tomorrow. We'll also submit to the TB test, criminal background check, and turn in various other forms all so we can hang around school grounds and paint the wall...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Lurking around Long Beach...

Yesterday we headed upstate a bit to the Long Beach Comic Book Convention. For this con we decided to bring everyone ( including my brother-in-law, Rob) so we piled six of us into a sedan and away we went for a two hour drive towards LA. The children were almost shockingly well behaved for such a long journey in crowded conditions (they must be coming down with something).



Anyway we went in to register and immediately ran into Seth Green (famous movie star, cool!) and he was awesome enough to pose for a photo for me (I'm behind the camera). Here's Mike, Seth and Phoebe (and of course, Marshall, our Czech friend).



This convention was really nice and low key and we got lots of pictures of the kids posing with various colorful characters.



"Take a picture we will!"



Here's Mike goofing around with "The Predator". Mike once, drew some covers for a comic with this guy in them for Dark Horse (Publishing company).



We ran into many friends there. This is one of them, cartoonist Ben Glendenning, he agreed to draw a picture of Marshall for the girls.



It came out great!



We also saw an old friend of ours from school, Brett Lewis who I hadn't seen in 16 years. He writes for all the big companies now, and except for the hat, looked exactly the same!

All in all a pretty good con, though I'm not sure how much actual business we took care of. :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

A visitor from Prague

Today we received a special guest into our home... Marshall the toy voyager! He came from Prague and we're hosting him for a month or so...


We signed up to host a toy from abroad on toyvoyagers.com . Every week we show him around the city, state, country -where ever we go-and then update his blog at

Marshall's blog
Needless to say the kids are thrilled. Especially since he came with a nice bar of Czech chocolate!


I signed up to help the kids get an understanding of the wider world.
Anyway it's likely he'll be in lots of my photos so that would be why! :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Facelift

Hello again! If you've ever read my blog before I'm sure you've noticed my new snazy design. I just thought I could do with some redecorating around here. I think it looks a little more "California".

We were guests on The Red River Writers Talk Radio show today. Of course 24 hours beforehand Mike gets sicker than I've seen him in a long time, and even seemed to lose his voice last night. Fortunately he sounded pretty good at 10:20 this morning when we called in. He's so-o much better at on the spot interviews than I am. I have a tendency to "clam up" which isn't very good radio. All in all it went well though we both said our thing and I thought April Robins, the host, was really friendly and nice, she even invited us to submit to her magazine.:)

Anyway, now my throat's on fire and I'm not so full of witty commentary so here's a little story by Chloe that is really great in my totally biased opinion...

No Time
I didn't wanna move. But we had to for my daddy´s job. I slouch down in my seat and sulk.

"Hey you, get outta my seat."

I sit up straight and turn to face the speaker, I expect some loud mouth teenager, instead, I find a girl about my age with perfectly primped blonde hair. I say nothing and don´t move. Blondie taps her fingers impatiently.

"Well?" she says at last.

"I ain´t movin´." I say. Obviously, I´ve said the wrong thing, 'cause this princess won´t take no for an answer. With a new found strength she grabs me by the shoulders and pulls me into the aisle. She smirks and sits down. I get up and dust myself off. When the bus stops in front of the school I hurry to leave.

"Hey, you." someone says. I turn around and discover a tall girl with brown pigtails standing behind me.

"Wadda you want?" I ask, in such a bad mood I´ll be rude to anyone. But this girl doesn´t seem to mind.

"My name is Kayla, and in this school you gotta hurry. You can´t stop, you gotta keep moving, there´s no time." she says.

"Shut up! I don´t gotta do anything!" I say, wondering what she´s talking about. Suddenly the girl is gone, but hey, so´s everything else. I realize I´ve stopped moving. Everything is empty. I try to scream but can´t, because the "school" I was in is just an impression of long ago, as am I.

All is empty in this ghost town as I sigh and hurry back to the stop where the bus will pick me up again, so that I can continue to relive my first and last day at Morrington junior high.
"People are willing to take these extraordinary chances to become writers, musicians, or painters, and because of them, we have a culture. If this ever stops, our culture will die, because most of our culture, in fact, has been created by people that got paid nothing for it--people like Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Van Gogh or Mozart."-Kurt Vonnegut

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