Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Journey to the city in the desert...

The day after Christmas we packed our bags and headed off over boulder encrusted mountains into the desert. Our journey to Phoenix was only about 5 and a half hours. Here in cowboy country shooting through the desert at 80 miles an hour is only slightly above the speed limit (it's 75 mph). Every 40 minutes or so Naomi would chime "Are we in Mexico yet?", and we would all explain "We're not going to Mexico".... for the fifteenth time. I could understand her confusion though, we drove along the border most of the way and had to go through 2 or 3 checkpoints with the border patrol.
We visited with family who showed us around the city. Mike's Aunt Jill and Uncle Ray brought us out to the Phoenix zoo.
This is a pond right outside the entrance.





We were a bit under dressed for the weather. Which was chilly and windy and overcast. The last time I came to Phoenix it was during May, and every time I stepped outside the car I thought I was going to catch on fire, it was so hot, so this kind of weather was quite a shock.
Inside the zoo we saw wallabies...



Prairie dogs...







Otters from Africa...



flamingos...





The animals were surprisingly cooperative. They would come over and hold a pose long enough for me to take a picture. It was a little weird. Here's a giraffe coming over to the people viewing....




Then posing and eating....







This is gibbons on an island surrounded by shallow water. I've seen this at other zoos. The monkeys don't know they can swim (or in this case wade) so they stay there.





It was a great zoo for kids with playgrounds in every corner.














My father also took us out. He bought us all tickets to see the Luminaries at the Desert Botanical Gardens.



This was an incredibly beautiful event. The gardens had sculptures and lights-here's Phoebe at the entrance...




Us posing by a giant Indian Head.



A luminous "tree"



Around many corners were various musicians, and bands, and the kids loved climbing into the Indian wigwams and huts set up near the paths.



Phoenix is definitely a nice place to visit this time of year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve at the Casino

Okay, so we didn't go to the Casino for Christmas eve, we went to the Veijas Outlet center next to Viejas Casino, but I just couldn't resist that title! We watched "The Legend of The Ice Princess".





It was quite an event with pyrotechnics, laser lights and an interactive fountain.




At the end they showered us all with "snow". This is Phoebe dancing in it.




The girls were riveted to their seats and even got to meet the princess after the show!




It was a nice way to spend Christmas Eve after running around shopping, cleaning and baking cookies for Santa. Later on my friend, Nicole sent me her family's recipe for friutcake from the old country. Needless to say it was a blinding success, so here it is....



FRUITCAKE RECIPE
1 cup water
1 cup each of white sugar and brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups dried fruit
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Lemon juice
Nuts
1 gallon whiskey

Sample the whiskey to check for quality.
Take a large bowl.
Check the whiskey again to be sure it is of the highest quality.
Pour one level cup and drink.
Repeat.
Turn on the electric mixer; beat 1 cup butter in large, fluffy bowl.
Add 1 teaspoon sugar and beat again.

Make sure the whiskey is still OK. Cry another tup.
Turn off mixer.

Break 2 legs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.

Mix on the turner.
If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers, pry it loose with a drewscriver.

Sample the whiskey to check for tonsisisticity.

Next, sift 2 cups of salt. Or something. Who cares?

Check the whiskey.
Now sift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.
Add one table. Spoon. Of sugar or something.
Whatever you can find.

Grease the oven.

Turn the cake tin to 350º.
Don’t forget to beat off the turner.
Throw the bowl out of the window.
Check the whiskey again.

Go to bed.

Who the hell likes fruitcake anyway?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Princess Leah and a Christmas concert


It's been a busy week of holiday activities and school ending. Phoebe's been buzzing around the house for weeks practicing her Holiday songs, and finally last Friday was the big concert. She was a great little singer!


With relatives in from out of town we actually managed some babysitting and got out to do an "adult activity". We went down to "The Ruby Room" for the Dr. Sketchy Meet-up group. They were doing "Princess Leah" night, which means some models come in dressed as Leah and pose for three hours. So we sat with some old friends, drew Leah and had some drinks.

This is Mikes drawing of the first Leah model.




Here's my picture of Leah with Han Solo (who also showed up). It was great they played "Christmas Star Wars" songs all night. It was so funny, I had no idea there were any, let alone three hours worth! Mike's favorite was "Walkers in a Winter Wonderland"


This is my drawing of her 20 minute pose.

This is the same pose by Mike. They offered a prize for the best one with "Jabba Santa", so, of course Mike won! He received a CD and a Princess Leah Christmas ornament.



After an evening of Wookies groaning Christmas carols, I was surprised to find myself in the holiday spirit!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

KHAUSAK , Music of the Andes

We revisited South America today. A band from Ecuador performed locally their traditional music of the Andes. They used guitars and violins and pan flutes, but all their instruments had special names, which were from their native language (the language of the Incas).
The music was just what we expected having heard many bands like them perform often in the square in Bariloche. What I didn't expect was that I'd be fighting back the tears as I watched them perform. It brought me right back to the life we left in Argentina...

This is Phoebe watching them set-up




Here they are playing...








...and Naomi and I after the concert.
Yesterday Chloe took her first test in Tae Kwon Do. She was trying for a yellow belt. Here she is holding up the board she broke. I'm sure it just a matter of time before she's up to "Vampire Slayer".



Tonight is the second night of Hannukah. Happy Hannukah and Shalom.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sailing through the Clouds

Once I saw a blimp crash. Mike and I were walking near the Hudson River on the west side in midtown. It was a beautiful day, but hot and sticky, like most summers in Manhattan, and we eyed the "Big Foot Pizza" airship as it drifted over the Hudson and in towards the city. The ship was so quiet and slow from a distance, that as it descended out of the sky into the buildings the crash was incredibly gradual. It wasn't until it dropped out of sight that we even realized what we'd just witnessed... An airship crashing in New York City!



Airship or dirigible sounds very cool, blimp sounds like something you probably shouldn't have eaten. They really appeal to me though. Quietly coasting through the sky as if from a scene in a movie or an amazing moment in a tale of adventure. Some of these ship designs are incredible too, and it turns out they don't HAVE to be plastered with advertisements.






So today when I watched an airship floating over the sparkling city as I pushed my way through rush hour traffic to my daughter's middle school, it was as if I was lifted up from the moment and quietly drifting along with them.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Too many words to remember...

"In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language" -Mark Twain


I´ve studied four foreign languages and the only one that wasn't a "Romance Language" was ASL or American Sign Language. It's also the only one I don't mix in with the other three.

I studied French in school for years, then I studied Portuguese for six months as we anticipated our big move to Brazil, which turned into Argentina and my ongoing study of Spanish. Each time I began a new language it was as if the other was flushed out of my mind. Sometimes though, I would slip in French or Portuguese into my communication efforts as I struggled to live in Spanish.... It was less helpful than you'd think.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Driving in the Golden State

Yesterday as we made one of many daily drives to school to ferry the kids about, I saw a large truck puttering along. The truck's opening in the back was "taped off " with scraps of cardboard and pieces of trash, holding in what seemed to be an abundance of trash inside it. Anywhere else the driver behind this vehicle would keep their distance as a windshield full of garbage seemed imminent, but of course, this truck had an SUV one foot from his bumper just like every other car on the road. In San Diego, everyone practices a "California rolling stop" at stop signs and the four way stop we encounter twice a day en route to the kids' school seems like a death trap. Today we're heading to Balboa Park's annual Christmas event to see a friend's daughter perform. This event will attract 300,000 visitors to the park (there are many things going on, not just four year old tap dancers). Anyway, I'll be looking at the bus schedules.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas lists and Christmas trees

Today I wrote some Christmas lists. When I was about 8 yrs old that meant I wrote a list of things I want for Christmas, mostly a run down of various toys and games advertised on TV... At age 38 that means I write a list of people I need to buy gifts for, a list of people I need to send holiday greetings to, a list of things to buy... like, I don't know, a Christmas tree.





Buying another tree is a dilemma. For years we had a fake one in New York. It was nice to know it was there, stowed away in a box for each Christmas. Then when we moved I left it in the basement and told our renters they could use it, but I doubt they have. They brought so many things when they moved in, I'm sure there was a Christmas tree of their own in there somewhere. Then we bought a small table top tree in Argentina when we arrived. We were in our small temporary apartment and a little fake tree was the best we could do. After that we bought another large one last year since we had a sizable living room in our condo, (real trees weren't an option in Bariloche, they only sold plastic ones). I truly believed we'd use it for years, but I wasn't going to drag a Christmas tree across the world to San Diego. So here we are without a tree... again.
"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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