Sunday, 29 August 2010

it is the answer

before the show, i got this photo txt message:


a little background:
since last fall i've been thinking about getting kitties. i got really serious about thinking about it when i was in california at the beginning of july and met ali's cat sammy.

sammy is an awesome cat. she is pretty, cuddly, soft, and relaxed.

turned out her mom was having another litter. in fact, when i was in cali in july, i met the litter . . . the mom is crazy & hid her kittens. ali and i spent a good hour trying to find them. but they were super cute and had the genetic potential to be like sammy.

at some point while i was in colombia, i just knew it was the time to get kitties. the truth is, i didn't really think it all the way through. but it just felt like the right thing to do.

so ali told her niece to pick out the two most cuddly kitties . . . sabrina did and her mom, kahna sent me the photo above. it sealed the deal!



this is jojo on the way to get the kitties
he looks the way i felt


for some reason tho, when i got to kahna's i felt like i had to remake the decision about which kitties to get and how many. it felt like i was making sophie's choice. how in the heck are you supposed to make the decision. at one point i thought about taking 4 kittens home. then i kept swapping the kittens out for a different choice.





i was really stressing out, and then ali said . . . looks like sabrina's choices have chosen you.




those little rascals stayed on my shoulders the whole time i was there.
the silvery one on my right (lola) licked my face for about 10 minutes

what is really funny about this, is that coco
the one on my left
is not really the cuddliest kitty
i think she was just jonesing to get to the District

this is sammy meeting coco and lola

jojo, lola (full name: julie lopez), and coco (full name: coco chanel)

jojo, si, and the kitties


this is just before we rented the movie "diary of a whimpy kid"
for the boys to watch while ali and i ran hills
at a moment of euphoria sawyer said:
"kitties and 'diary of a whimpy kid': it doesn't get any better than this!!!!!"

all was well and we were leaving to go to the airport, when i sat my computer bag down
and something went off in my back
it felt like i'd been shocked
the whole left side of my body contracted
and i feel on the floor.
i couldn't move for awhile (no idea how long)
sawyer was super helpful in trying to find solutions to my problem
i was super concerned with missing more work
so i eventually made myself stand up,
only to faint a couple of minutes later . . .
but i am stubborn sometimes
so i ended up still going to the airport.

i couldn't walk so i called delta and they met me at the car


it hurt like CRAZY
as evidenced by the grimice on my face here
turns out i had herniated my L4-L5 disc

it was interesting being in a wheelchair for a day of travel
i have to say, it is a really good thing we have ADA,
but even ADA doesn't make everything ok
getting to the bathroom was tough because the door only swings one way
and there were thresholds into each bathroom

also, if you are in ATL and need wheelchair assistance,
they only have chairs that someone has to push for you
which actually made it completely impossible for me to go to the bathroom or get any food
super weird!

tho the woman that helped me in sacramento and the guy who helped me in dc
were so nice and awesome


coco after we got home



coco hiding in the pie safe . . . sleeping on table cloths

coco and lola sleeping on my bed

the kitties with SOME of the peaches from my tree :)



on the prowl!!
watch out!!!!


Saturday, 28 August 2010

rupa and the april fishes


a couple of weeks ago i made a spur of the moment out to see ali. while i was there, we saw rupa and the april fishes. turns out that rupa and dagen were in kindergarten together. in fact, on the first day of school, dagen was really sad his mother had left him. he was apparently inconsolable, until a tall indian girl named rupa took him by the hand and introduced him to the school.

dagen and rupa had reconnected via facebook. rupa was playing in san fran and it seemed that these two creative genius' should get together. rupa invited dagen to come see her show. describing the show as:
FABULOUS tribal fusion show ... with these amazing goddesses of female erotica. it's kind of sick how sweet this show is going to be. these folks have been doing this fusion of bellydance/burlesque/clowning--i don't know how to describe it. but it feels like the dance version of an aspect of what we do musically.
we were in!

during my layover in atl i got a text message from dagen:
"this is going to be epic"


they were right!
as we drove into the center of the castro we all got a bit nervous. when she said erotica, did she really mean it?? we made a pact that if anyone got uncomfortable, we all left.

we grab dinner and rushed to the show . . .

the first part was belly dancing






then rupa started to play and we all had to dance . . . even if you were on stilts with a feather mohawk. ali and i danced like no one was watching, even tho at one point both of us were in the center of a circle . . .




after the show we hung out backstage with rupa (who is no longer tall)
i kinda tripped out because the whole night was super surreal
bellydancing with horns; guy on stilts with a feather mohawk . . .
the whole suddenly i'm in san francisco
it just kinda felt like a dream . . .
a really cool funky dream


rupa is a fascinating person
she is a practicing physician at UCSF
and OBVIOUSLY an INCREDIBLY talented musician.
and she is surrounded by an amazing group of people
it was so much fun!

thanks rupa, april fishes, dagen and ali!!!


from her NPR interview:

When she isn't on stage, Rupa Marya is a doctor of internal medicine on faculty at UCSF, and often draws ideas for songs from her patients' stories. She was able to take advantage of a flexible residency track designed for female doctors who may be expecting children, which allows her to spend six months working and the other half of the year touring.

"And so after my first year of internship, I went into my program director and said, 'Listen, I'll be a terrible doctor if I'm not an artist, and I'll be a terrible artist if I'm not a doctor," Marya says. "'And I need to find a way to do these things.'"

Sunday, 22 August 2010

my grandma's mayonnaise (adapted for a blendtec)

i confess, i like mayonnaise. i like it on sandwiches, in tuna, in certain salads (think macaroni or potato), deviled eggs etc. sometimes it even makes cakes better. there are a bunch of uses for mayo.

i'm pretty sure i acquired my taste for mayo at my grandma's house. i would spend much of my summers with her and she taught me to garden, make bread, make mayo, potato sausage, wine, you name it. my grandma really could make anything. we also sat around a played cards and drank coffee together. it was great fun.

i thought everyone made their own mayo for awhile, but then realized we bought ours. it was a totally different condiment. it didn't have much flavor. a few years ago i asked my grandma for her recipe and started making my own.

truth is, most the time i buy mayo, but when i run out and am in a crunch, or i just want it to be extra awesome, i make my own.

i made my own recently and thought i would share both the recipe and a short testimonial of how easy it is to make, and much cheaper . . . plus you never have that yucky feeling of wanting a sandwich but being out of mayo.

her recipe is a bit more complicated than what i'm posting. i don't know that it would work in my super intense blendtec home . . . so, if you have a vitamix or blendtec, don't fear . . . i've made the adjustments.

the recipe is basically:
1 raw egg (at room temp)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup oil (any type...corn, vegetable, canola)
helping of "salad herbs"
dash cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar (I like it with vinegar better)

Directions:
Place egg, mustard, salt, cayenne pepper and 1/4 c. oil in blender and blend on low.

While the machine is blending, SLOWLY pour in another 1/2 c. oil. This is KEY because if you just dump it in, it just turns into liquid.

You may have to stop and scrape down the mayo. Add the lemon juice/vinegar and the remaining 1/2 c. oil. Blend until well combined.

Store in refrigerator, tightly covered.
let me know if you do it and it works for you. i'd like to know if people like this better than regular store bought.

Monday, 16 August 2010

don't let the bed bugs bite

my parents used to say that to me when i was going to sleep. just like "sleep tight" (which is a reference to how people used to sleep on hay that they would bind and recently tightened beds were more comfy) i just thought it was something people said. it wasn't until i was in college that i realized that bed bugs were bugs that bit you when you were in bed.

i had never seen them nor heard of anyone having them until the night before i left for colombia. that's when i discovered that i had bed bugs and had been letting them bite me for awhile. this made for a few nights without sleep . . . i was just SO creeped out!

had i not journeyed into hardcore denialville, i would have known 3 weeks earlier when i first noticed little pin-head sized blood spots on my sheets and the odd, itchy string of bites on my arms.

during my denial phase, Aly (who is a fellow that worked with me for the last 6 months AND who study with a bed bug specialist at Harvard) said, "i wonder if you have bed bugs" after i showed her the strange set of bites on my arm. i just laughed. i thought, how could i have bed bugs, i'm clean . . . plus i didn't think that they existed anymore. i had seen a red bug the size of a pin head on my bed, but just figured it was some weird dc thing.

without denial, i would have look at photos of bed bugs and tried to figure out if i had them. instead i avoid the topic of bed bugs like the plague. i often do that. sometimes, when a task is daunting or it is new territory i can procrastinate or deny reality with the best of them. this is a testimony to me of the power of denial. it was so obvious that i had bed bugs, but i did not want to believe it, so i kept my head in the sand for a LONG time. once i actually saw the bugs crawling on my bed that night, the denial cracked open, and i realized i had them for a LONG time.

denial is powerful!

i figure i should share my bed bug epiphany with all of my readers (all 10 of you). . . there is a bed bug infestation taking place in the US. some are calling it an epidemic, but that word is for illnesses, bugs infest! NYC is super infested and it is moving throughout the eastern seaboard. all 50 states and the territories have reported bed bugs. calls to exterminators for bed bugs have increased about 70% across the US.

we are a people on the move, and we are taking our bed bugs with us. they travel in our clothes and suitcases and can hibernate for a really long time.

it is important to check any hotel bed you are going to sleep in for bed bugs before you lay down. i will explain how:

signs of bed bugs:
  • pin head sized brown or red spots on your sheets. (they bite you at night and then they poop the rest of the day.
  • brown spots or casings of bed bugs in the folds of your mattress, box springs or along the wooden walls near your bed.
  • bites on uncovered parts of your body. the bites are usually in a string or circle of bites
bed bugs do bite but only at night, when you are asleep. they inject anesthetics and anticoagulants via their saliva under your skin that creates a numbness, many people can't feel when they are being bit. i never did. during one 10-minute feeding they will suck down 2-3 times their body weight in your blood.

some people won't react for 14 days or more. so check your sheets, that will be the best way to know if you have them.

during the day bed bugs hide themselves in the folds of your mattress. they need to feel hidden. they often will all glob together to hide (they aren't the smartest bugs). just so long as 2/3 of their body is covered they think they are hidden. they will usually be near where their food sleeps (you are their food), so look under your sheets, bed skirt, mattress, and box springs near the side of the bed you sleep on.

gary the exterminator took this photo
this is post-extermination
this is the underside of my box spring

each female bed bug will lay 6 eggs a day. this is not a typo. from an op-ed in the NYT last week:
Because the female bedbug has no genital opening, the male inseminates her by using his hardened, sharpened genitalia to punch a hole through her abdomen. With no elaborate courtship ritual, males in a frenzied pursuit of sexual congress often blunder into and puncture the bodies of other males, occasionally inflicting fatal wounds.
this rate of reproduction is staggering when you consider just how long it could take to be completely infested. when they are young they are so small they just look like little red dots moving. below is the life cycle of a bed bug:


the adults are about the size of a lady bug, but flat and not cute at all!

this is just a photo from the internet, but should help you get a feel for their size
if you want more info on this, check out this bed bug site
i can't look at it for long without getting the creeps and feeling itchy all over.

you can also tell that you have bed bugs by the "sweet musky" smell of their oderants -- which is how they communicate. if you are smelling this sweet musky smell, you probably have a bunch of bed bugs.

bed bugs mutate incredibly fast, which makes complete eradication tricky. NYC has been battling bed bugs for over 5 years. the city, they believe, is infested. fancy hotels and shops along park avenue have been shut down because of bed bugs. some believe that NYC's environmental policies are making it impossible to kill the bed bugs off. because they mutate so quickly, it is important that if you use pesticide, you do at least two treatments and change the mixture of insecticide so that they don't become immune.

having bed bugs doesn't mean anything about the cleanliness of your house or office. though bed bugs do like to hide in clutter and prefer paper and other wood products to any other substance. so i had a bunch of books next to my bed and some bookbinding papers under my bed. they were living in them. in a raging fit of lazy i had also shoved my winter down comforter under my bed -- i didn't want to have to find a bag to put it in before storing it in the attic -- they were in it too.

bed bugs can't survive extreme temperatures. the best way to kill them is to expose them to really cold or hot. i ended up washing just about every piece of cloth i owned in a extra hot cycle in my washing machine.

you can also freeze them to death, which might be a cool way of killing them in the winter.

i put all my books in a garbage bag and sprayed insecticide on the books and in the bag and sealed it. gary, my exterminator, said that would for sure kill all of them.

you can also suffocate/starve them. this is time consuming. a bed bug can live for up to a year without food. so, the stuff that wasn't super important is in the attic waiting for a year to come back down. i may end up just throwing it away, because if i don't need it for a full year, i probably don't need it.

michigan has provide its citizens with this super helpful guide: don't let the bed bugs bite if you are looking for more information.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

mud baths!!!!!!

we had heard that it is a must to visit the mud baths of cartageña . . .
and i like to do what i'm told
so we went

it was weird.
about 50 people ended up piling on a bus
it felt a bit gilligan's island for a bit

we arrived at this

which obviously looks like a giant ant hill at first
and also man made
i felt like i had walked into colombia's #1 tourist traps


this is what is at the top of the stairs

you get in and these colombian men tell you to lay back
and then they push your body through the mud
like you are part of an assembly line


they smear mud all over you
and give you a bit of a massage

the mud is so über buoyant it was fun to see how deep you could push someone into it
betsy asked me to push her in, just after this photo was taken
i had no problems completely dunking her
thankfully, she never could push down further than my neck
apparently i am dense :)

getting out of the mud, my bottoms fell down
i'm not sure anyone knew, because it probably
didn't look much different than with the bottoms on
but a few people got mooned . . .

then as everyone was leaving, i decided i needed to dive in
please see video below

video

we ate here afterwards. . .
my grandma is donna,
and i thought she would love it that i was here . . .

big hugs grandma!!!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

barlovento and parque tayrona

after a couple days in cartageña we went to parque tayrona and stayed at la hacienda barlovento. it was dreamy. i was lazy. it was PERFECT!



we stayed at the hacienda barlovento
which was both an architectural feat and super awesome



it sits on the rocky cliffs from where a river (i can't remember the name)
meets the sea

view from barlovento to the river and sierra nevada mountains

i ate every meal at this table while i was there
so ridiculously relaxing



at about 4 each day, surfers would show up

the river

this is an amazing piece of furniture
at first i thought it was just a random tree with glass studded gourds,
but then i realized you could turn it on
the glass lit up and made for a really nice reading lamp at night

the path down to the sea

sunset at barlovento

this is denise and sophia
they made us all of our meals
(tho mary whose second half of her name i can't remember)
we had a halted conversation about the gift of tongues
my spanish was vastly improved by speaking only spanish,
but i found it really difficult to explain that i believed
that the most important thing one can do
is to love your neighbor as yourself
that is some serious reflexive verbiage.

trying to get photos taken . . .
this captures one of those everyday experiences you have on vacation
trying to help someone know how to use your camera


i spent an entire day in this hammock

it stormed every night
they were amazing storms
i wondered if they were the edge of a hurricane there was so much thunder and lightening

night view
this didn't really work as planned
but there was a huge full moon


one day we hiked through a portion of parque tayrona
i was struck that USAID is funding a portion of this park
does anyone know why?

inside the park they rent "ecohabs" for $300/night . . . seems like they should be able to manage the park with out US aid?







these ants were everywhere
i was impressed by their work ethic!

this is the sloughed exoskeleton of a grasshopper

this is our guide Manfry with bets . . .



this is the cafe we ate lunch in


we swam here

even tho there were big wares