Archive for the ‘Family’ Category


October 5, 2011

Rachael made an aside about her mounds of animals, and it reminded me of a moment at her last party. She’d locked all the animals in the bedroom, except for Adah (who had been hiding). When found, I offered to help Rach put the last cat away. I opened the door, knowing FULL WELL that beyond that barrier was a mass of animals. I still jumped back and screeched a bit. It’s not that any of them are scary or anything; they’re just so overwhelming, and really know how to fill a small space.

I must admit, I’m happy with the one. She keeps me busy, and she really adores being the queen of her domain.

Sadly, she’s only ever been queen for about a month or two. First, she had bratty little brother Brody up in her space for 3 whole years. How she ever put up with him, I’ll never know. Then he moved out, and she sorta breathed a sigh of relief and spread out a little. Then there was a short, bad episode with a small dog, moving immediately into a 2-cat situation. She is most decidedly not the queen of anything now; those cats knock her around like a fluffy big-eared volleyball.

And she copes. She even cuddles with the kitties once in a while. But while she is never as happy as when she’s chasing an oblivious ball-focused cattle dog in a park, having other animals at home never seems to add anything to her life. She loves not having to share the sunspots – or share anything, actually. She’s much less stressed about bones and toys when there’s not someone else trying to steal them.

Kinda like me. I enjoy writing dates, and my writer’s groups, and the fantabulous Night of Writing Dangerously, but those are my trips to the dog park. Those are the moments outside the norm. True, they make me gleeful. But for day-to-day routines, I prefer the moments alone at my desk when I wrestle something into submission-quality and do a private little happy dance. I like not sharing those moments. I like to jealously guard my plot revelations sometimes.

As if I didn’t anthropomorphize my dog enough already. Next thing you know, I’ll be dressing her in a beret and fashioning a typewriter that she can paw at.

How to Knit a Heart Back Home

March 1, 2011

Woot! Sighting of @RachaelHerron’s new book!, originally uploaded by jujuwiz.

Yay! The wonderful Rachael Herron (who just happens to share a last name with me, didja know?) has a new book out as of today! That’s it, front and center, with a big red yarny heart popping out of a white cover. Dang if I don’t love the cover change now. First cover was GORGEOUS, with R’s sweaters in a staged photo, cute and playful, and of-a-kind with her first book.

But it didn’t pop. That sucker pops. Yay, yay, yay!

Turning my friends into ghosts

February 19, 2011

Birthdays don’t do much for me. It seems a bit silly to celebrate something I didn’t really have much of a hand in, except for showing up. More than that, I hate the pressure to have a good time. People seem truly disappointed if I don’t jump up and down with joy when they wish me a Happy one. I’ll have a happy day if I FEEL like it, thankyouverymuch. If, however, a biblical flood turns my commute into 3 hours of backed-up sewers, I’ll thank you to leave me to my misery.

Unless, of course, you happen to be a sister bearing vodka and episodes of Supernatural. Then you’re off the hook.

Today was not my birthday, and I had a very Happy day. As a kind of in-lieu-of celebration that turned into a real celebration, I invited a few folks over to my new place in San Francisco. This place:

old, crumbling columbarium niche

This one's not actually mine. I just liked the little hole in it. Ominous.

I am the proud new owner of a 2 foot square piece of prime real estate. And for some absurd reason, I decided that my birthday was the perfect time to acquaint my friends and family with this unique, lovely spot.

reflection of rachael in the glass over an urn

A reflection of Rachael and a stained glass window

I’ve already gone on and on about the Columbarium in SF, so I won’t say much here. I’ll just say how wonderful it was to share it with friends, most of whom thought I was certifiably crazy for wanting to spend my birthday in a House of the Dead. Then they walked in, and they got it. There were gasps. And giggles. And cupcakes, dim sum, and champagne.

mia on the second floor of the SF columbarium

Mia perusing the history of the place.

For a House of the Dead, this spot is ridiculously full of life. We were the only ones there for a good portion of our visit, but even when we ran into other visitors, they didn’t mind our laughter. This is a place full of memories, good and bad.

blurry girl in front of niches

Okay, and maybe a few ghosts.

Right now, my niche is an empty little thing with a reserved sign on it. The ostensible reason for the visit was to put a little something in there; no one leaves their apartment empty for long. I’d been having trouble coming up with the right mix of loved items and metaphors, so I’m a little relieved that I couldn’t get in without an appointment. I’ll have to go back again, darn it.

In the meantime, I left a toothbrush propped in the flower holder outside. Laying claim, before I’m really ready to move in.

rachel in the doorway

Emmett the caretaker says his apartment's right by the exit, so he can take off anytime.

On a lonely back road

November 14, 2010

Oh, dear. Composing a blog post on a lonely Sunday night, 2 martinis closer to the work week, is never a good idea. And yet, here I go.

My twitter profile popped up earlier. “I like curvy roads.” It’s true, yet a little too simple for me at the moment. I ended up switching it to… something I don’t remember right now (2 martinis in, remember? They were big martinis), but I do recall a strong desire to better express my love of back roads.

I’m not talking blue highways here. Least Heat-Moon had the right idea, I’ll happily admit that. He just didn’t go far enough. Blue Highways, if I remember his book right, are the designated Scenic Detours. I am, completely, a fan of Scenic Detours.

However. The best Scenic Detour is one that has not yet been labeled such. It’s the back road that actually runs through the back of beyond, off the map. Too small to even be a blue highway, it is instead the squiggly unnamed line.

A moment from my cross-country roadtrip: My sister C and I were traversing the southern states. We had flown into Atlanta, and were on our way south (okay, time is a little muddled in my head right now, I’ll just say this happened at some point during our road trip). We were SO excited about “Southern Food.” We visited Mary Mac’s in Atlanta, near our hostel, and it was pretty good. Touristy, clearly capital-S Southern, but pretty good.

But then. Then we got lost on a back road. We found ourselves in a tiny town in Georgia, on a Sunday afternoon. The banners for “Boar Days!” were still hanging over Main Street, although the days advertised were one week prior to our own arrival.

A restaurant appeared, just as our lunch pangs were starting. We debated. Small town… Kinda sketchy… Totally worth it, we finally decided.

And god, were we right. The interior was decorated to look like an outdoor picnic, with wood tables, red check tablecloths, and faux aluminum siding overhangs. It was adorable.

The food was spectacular. Thanks to the recent Boar Days, they still had barbecued Wild Pig on the menu. We marked our selections on the paper with the stub of the pencil they handed us (collard greens, sweet potatoes, and banana pudding), and within moments they had delivered the first jam jar of our Sweet Tea.

That meal will go down in my own personal history. Not only because of the food. Just after we placed our order, the town’s church let out, and the main room flooded with families in their Sunday best. C and I eavesdropped voraciously. I don’t remember what was said, but I remember a warm, blissful, Southern capital-S feeling.

Then there was the food. I’m not even going to go into it. Except to say that it was multitudinous and splendid. The pudding afterwords especially stands out in my mind. It was simple box pudding, except that they had added real banana slices and ‘nilla wafers. So simple. So perfect.

Ooo! That’s what I changed it too. “I’m always falling off the map.” That was one of the days I fell off the map, with my sister this time. And it was lovely. A moment of location-specific bliss. That is, quite possibly, one of my favorite things in the universe.

Getting close now…

October 30, 2010

Were you aware I had such adorable friends?

K. & R. as Johnny and Baby doing the Dirty Dance. Oh my gosh, they were adorable.

Happy at home

October 18, 2010

Nate Concentrating, originally uploaded by jujuwiz.

There is absolutely nothing like flannel pj’s, coffee, and a warm dog.

That’s how I feel this morning, anyway. Last night the pj’s were the only thing keeping me warm, since the stupid dog peed on my comforter, and there wasn’t enough coffee in the world to keep my eyes pried open past 8:30.

But that’s in the past. Now my home is nice and toasty and welcoming.

Speaking of toasty… I don’t even remember taking this series of photos at my last game night. Apparently after “Ticket to Ride,” Nate decided to erect a beer bottle tower. He was quite good. Even incorporated the hourglass timer.

In a familiar, grumpy place

June 18, 2010

What is it about home that makes you want to morph into an axe murderer?

On a side note, we had a wonderful Father’s Day dinner at an excellent Italian restaurant in SLO, where Christy and I both independently decided that the waiter was a psycho killer. She wondered if he was a murderer or an actor; I thought he was not a competent enough waiter to be an actor. And I had already wondered if he was stalking someone in the restaurant, so…

I am so. Cranky. And if you know me, you know that I rarely get cranky. Well, baby, I’m there. It’s just something about this house. Maybe they put something in the water here that raises your blood pressure twenty points.


Dang. I started this post a half hour ago, before I fed myself chocolate peanut butter ice cream and a vodka tonic. I’m much more chipper now. So g’night, y’all! Have a good one! I’ll try to remember to finish my ranty blog posts next time before self-medicating.

In my family’s entrepreneurial past

June 4, 2010

Actually, before I start this post, I have to admit that I’m rather proud I spelled entrepreneurial correctly on the first try. Take that, spell-checker generation!

So. What was I saying?

I was feeling a fondness for the many businesses my father started throughout my childhood.

1. Dad was super-stoked he jumped on this domain name before anyone else. Mostly I remember answering phone calls from people hoping they could find a grant for their small-business loan, but it was the business that set me on my way as a non-profit professional.

2. Talking balloons: These were awesome. I’m not sure why they didn’t catch on at the flea market, though I do think we sold all of the product we originally bought. Big, fat, happy mylar baloons with a plastic strip dangling from them. If you ran a fingernail down that strip at precisely the right speed, it sang “Happy Birthday” to you. Or a couple different songs, though that’s the only one I remember.

3. Rototiller Dude: Actually, I think this was just an excuse he gave to my mom to justify his purchase of a rototiller for our 1/2 acre of land.

4. Damn it, I’ve had too many cocktails. I don’t remember the other ones. There were definitely more. One of the most prevalent memories from my childhood is of him saying, “this is how I’ll make my first million.”

5. Silkscreened T-shirts: Was this a “make-a-million” idea, or just a DIY crafts idea? Like the fruit dehydrator? I’m not sure. But my t-shirt design for 4th grade summer camp totally won first place. And I loved going to school with brown paper lunchbags silkscreened with “Herron’s Mortuary and Meatball Palace.”

6. Okay, mandolas. Though I think this was post “first million” dream, and more an “ensuring the Herron name endures, at least in the folk-music world” dream. He currently sells beautifully hand-made mandolas from Vietnam, with a mother-of-pearl inlaid Heron on the neck. His partner sent Mom and he a set of matching golden silk robes for Christmas.

7. Dad, you out there? What else did you think of before anyone else patented it? I’m sure there were more, I just can’t remember them.

Here it is

June 2, 2010

Found it!

Mom poking out of the top of white VW bug.

In a rainy french town…

May 31, 2010

I’m not a big opera fan. I keep thinking something will click, so I keep trying, but try as I might, I can never get past the silliness of singing every single little line of dialogue. “How are you today, fa la la la la?” “Fine sir, and you, la la la la la?” And no, I don’t have that problem with musicals in general. Perhaps because I think people should burst into infrequent bouts of song, throughout the day. What? I do it.

There are a few exceptions. La Boheme works for me. Les Miserables totally works. Pieces with a massive, massive amount of pathos and plot-driven poetry make sense. But I need to be carried away, from the very beginning. Even better than Puccini and Val Jean, for me, at least, there are the Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

In the late 90s some time, the wife of the filmmaker finished a massive project to restore the original color to Umbrellas. There was a limited re-release, and my mom and I went to see it at the Palm. I was entranced. I went around humming that song for months. I even bought the sheet music, and I think I may have used it as a performance piece for some random audition or talent show.

I think that part of the reason I fell in love was that it connected two worlds for me. I had the world of the Palm Theater, not-so-better known as the Rainbow Theater, for us old-school kids. The best, and most frequent, connections with my mom were when we were sitting in a dark little room, sobbing to old German films or guffawing to new low-budget indie movies. The first sex scene I ever saw was in “Les liaisons dangereuses.” I wasn’t allowed to watch “Police Academy,” but I could watch that.

Then I had the world of the stage, and the many ridiculous theater productions I appeared in throughout junior high and high school, some of them musical in nature. Even though those worlds should overlap, being of a like performance based nature, they just didn’t. Musical theater was never an art-house kinda thing. You don’t see a filmed version of “Wicked” knocking Sundance off their feet.

Then Umbrellas came back, and my mom took me to see it, telling me about when she had first experienced it, brand new in the theaters. Looking at old photographs, especially the one of her on Fiji, with hair in an updo, huge eyelashes, resting her arms and head on roof of a white VW bug, poking out of the sun roof, gazing coquettishly at the camera, there’s definitely a little something Catherine Deneuve-esque in her style. She adored french film and fashion back then.

(And dang, I can’t find that photo. It keeps coming up in my screensaver, but because iPhoto is blasted and won’t open, I can’t seem to find the library of iPhoto pics I have. Anyone know a workaround for that? Or maybe… Yep, genius appointment made, let’s let the Mac boys fix it.)

So maybe it’s less the merging of those two worlds that attracts me, and more the mama connection. This is kinda a rough, bittersweet time of year, with Mother’s Day, my mom’s birthday, and the day she died all falling in the same two-month window. It feels nice to be able to enjoy Umbrellas of Cherbourg again. And y’all should go see it, too; it’s streaming on Netflix for one more day.

Oh, and an English, Connie Francis, version of that song: