15 February 2009

Valumtime's Weekend!

Kids are so cute. I find myself smiling whilst going through my daily doings, thinking about the funny things the kids in my life say. I can't get my third graders to pronounce Valentine's correctly. But I guess I don't really try too hard because I love the way they say it. It sounds so innocent. I love their excitement about this holiday too. It's so achingly sweet. Heartache, heartbreak, rejection, unrequited love - it's all there waiting for them in the not too distant future. Inevitably a part of life's journey - and the lessons, though hard and cruel - will strengthen them, make them wiser, worldly, and better at equipped for life. But for now, what a treat it is for me to experience vicariously the pure innocence of childhood. So wrapped up was I in the kids and their excitement that when a colleague asked about my Valentine's Day plans I realized I hadn't even given it a thought. Aren't we a bit past that? She then proceeded to tell me about the gift she got her husband and I have to admit, it sounded such a juvenile thing to me - for people past middle age (she's past 60) to be exchanging Valentine's Day gifts. Daryl and I acknowledged the day by having a somewhat better than usual meal at home - roasted butternut squash and portobello mushroom risotto. For dessert I made a chocolate souffle served witha raspberry and Grand Marnier sauce. It was as delicious as it sounds, in case you're wondering!

At the moment I'm sitting by the fire o=in our living room. A storm is brewing. It's windy, grey and cold outside. We've had a pretty wet February so far and this storm is supposed to bring quite a downpour. After a dry and very mild January we are relieved that this isn't going to be another drought year. Two days ago we got a dusting of snow on the mountains near us. So it's been cold.

It's President's Day weekend. We get a 4 day weekend. Didn't go anywhere. Tried to do gardening chores - planted more fruit trees (Daryl's on a role!). And I really should be working on my manuscript.

08 February 2009

Birthday celebrations and things

On Friday evening we had our annual joint celebration of Daryl's and Adrienne's birthdays. And boy, did we celebrate! Bisi opened up his 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon from Buttonwood Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley. But there was a lighter wine with starters and then French champagne afterwards. I know this sounds quite crass in the current economic climate. But, believe me, the economy and the stimulus package was all we talked about. Leftist liberals that we are, we lamented the diluted Keynesian proposal the Obama folks have come up with. More spending, much more spending, like Paul Krugman says, we muttered, shaking our socialist heads. Bisi kept filling our glasses with the excellent wine and the conversation got increasingly animated.
The next morning - Saturday - I awoke with a vicious headache. I felt awful the entire day.

It was film festival week in Santa Barbara with hundreds of excellent movies in town. I don't go to them because of the crowds and endless lines and lousy seats you end up getting. But we miraculously got seats for a free showing of YES SIR, MADAM, a documentary about Kiran Bedi an Indian Police Commissioner. It was a terrific movie and got my mind off my hang-over.

We've had a wet, wet week. Yippee!!

01 February 2009

Post Inauguration

In the past I never had the least bit interest in the inauguration of a new president. But this year, like many millions around the world, I watched the entire ceremony. I watched it in my classroom with my third graders. It was all very touching. Every few minutes I'd tell my students, "You are watching history in the making, guys." They were completely captivated. They even patiently listened to Obama's speech which they thought was great but couldn't tell me what it was about. The rest of that school day my students practised pronouncing the word "inauguration".

In these early weeks I flinch each time there's a criticism of Obama. Timothy Geithner not paying taxes raised a few sharp words. Nobody wanted any of Obama's appointments to have bumps, but alas, it isn't to be so. Geithner is the best there is, folks are saying, and so his appointment as Treasury Secretary gets approved. Now Tom Daschle is found not to be squeaky clean either. Jeez!

The NYT had an article with some details about the stimulus package Obama is trying to get passed. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that a lot of the money will be used to help schools, universities, and other social programs. The NYT had a lot of enthusiasm for it, but was critical of the fact that there isn't any mention of money for high speed rail and other mass transportation programs. Well, it's already a hard sell to the Republicans.

Even though politics seems to dominate our conversations these days, we are definitely balancing our lives with other stuff too. Last weekend Daryl and I went to see Mozart's "The Magic Flute" performed by the LA Opera at the Dorothy Chandler Concert Hall. It was a terrific production. We spent the night in LA at a hotel - Mikayo - in Japantown. the hotel was reasonably nice, about a mile from Chandler - and the area filled with Japanese stores and restaurants quite interesting.

Later in the week I had some author friends of mine - Caroline Hatton, Alexis O'Neil, and Kate Hovey - over for dinner. They are all from the LA area and were the authors for an event called "Author-Go-Round" organized by Santa Barbara County schools. It was great to get my mind off teaching and to talk about writing. Caroline had told me about a YAbook called MANY STONES which is mostly set in South Africa. So we discussed the book a bit. She had a lot more enthusiasm for the book than I did. But, given that my current work in progress has some elements in common with MANY STONES I'm really glad to have read it.

We are spending the weekend arguing about fruit trees. Daryl went out and bought four fruit trees, and then decided to plant them in places that I, let's just say, found "unsuitable". So I huffed out of the garden and decided to update my blog!!