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Monday, July 28, 2014

I'm So Egg-Cited!

Saturday, July 26, 2014 - A serious egg-craving comes out of nowhere!

So there I am on Saturday night sitting at home with my husband, when all of a sudden we both start craving eggs. We had finished off our cage-free eggs from Costco earlier in the week and Trader Joe's across the street was already closed for the night. So naturally, instead of finding something else for our late-night snack, Casey got in his car and drove a few miles to Safeway. He came home with a loaf of bread and 18 fresh, cage-free eggs.

(Any kind-hearted person should spend the
extra $1-2 & buy cage-free;
or better yet, purchase eggs from your
local farmer's market.)
Our amazing ceramic cookware
My grandmother used to cook me eggs a lot when I was little.  Actually, ever time I go visit my grandparents to this day, she cooks me eggs. One of my favorite ways for her to make my egg breakfast was her "snake eyes". I now get to enjoy cooking eggs for my husband this way - it adds a little fun to your plate. Start by heating butter to coat the bottom of your cooking pan.  Choose a pan big enough for two pieces of bread.  Cut an "X" into each piece of bread.

Place your bread into the pan and carefully break an egg into the middle of each slice of bread.  Cook to your liking and then flip the bread.  Casey likes his eggs over easy so they only cook on each side a minute or so.  I cook mine longer.

After both sides of the toast and eggs have cooked, remove from the pan and serve by themselves or with jelly.

It takes a little imagination now, but as a child, it was easy to see the "snake eyes" on my plate - and it is still a delicious and fun way to cook and serve eggs!

After cooking Casey's eggs I added more butter to the pan and placed two thick onion ring slices on the heated pan.  I used the middle of the onion in order to get the biggest rings.

Two large onion rings for the eggs,
smaller onion rings for snacking

Next, I cracked an egg inside the onion ring. When I went to crack my second egg, I placed one hand accidentally on the hot stove and burned it, causing me to drop the egg on the floor.  I scooped part of it up, but didn't put it inside the second onion circle because of my hurry to toss it into the pan and get some flour for my burn.
(Hint: putting flour on a burn takes the pain away!)
Just as I had done with the bread, I flipped my egg/onion over after a couple of minutes.  This is a great way to cook an egg perfectly sized for a sandwich, but it's also just a tasty, fun way to serve eggs. Especially if you like grilled onion! (I threw in a couple extra pieces of onion for eating because I love it hot and grilled.)  So next time you're cooking eggs, there are a couple of ways to make it more egg-citing!
And if youre NOT an egg-eater (for all my vegan friends),
below is a link to the latest egg-replacement news from a local (San Fran) company
using plants to replace chicken eggs. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

In Music News....What Does The Fox Say?

May 28, 2014
We spent last weekend in Bend, Oregon with our friends Cameron and Ruston. We drove up on Thursday (5/22) and took our time during the drive in order to stop often and explore.  We arrived late that night after 12 hours on the road, but slept great (in Ruston's bed; with Ruston's doggie!) and woke up refreshed and ready for adventure on Friday. There is a lot of beer in Bend, OR.  Needless to say, we consumed a lot of it! We hopped around and stopped at lots of microbreweries, then picked up some beers for the house.  Late into the evening on Friday night, we had music playing on the TV as we all talked and laughed. 
Have you seen the "People Are Awesome" videos? You should.  Because: People. Are. Awesome. We mostly had those playing in the background. Until a couple song requests came up....
Cameron played a song titled "The Big Bad Wolf" by Duck Sauce. I'm going to attach a link to a video but I'd like to first say that this is one of the weirdest things you (and 8 million others) will ever view. Nightmares.
Ruston is known by me for his great music choices.  He provides the soundtrack for all the fun weekends we've spent together: at our home in Concord, the cabin in Lake Tahoe, and now in Oregon!  This weekend he played a song titled "What Does the Fox Say" by Ylvis.  I had actually recently just watched a comic (non-music) video by the same duo about an "Intelevator". It was really funny, so I'm not surprised that their music video is also every bit as funny and entertaining.  What did surprise me, is that with more than 414 million views, it's only #27 on a list of Youtube's most viewed videos.
Note: "Gangnam Style" by Psy is #1 on that list, with almost 2 BILLION views. 
I attempted to attach the music video for "What Does the Fox Say?" below - if that doesn't work, definitely check it out on youtube.  (I'd like to see it move up from position #27!! ) It's a really high-quality video, and I think it's a pretty awesome song! Perhaps you'll agree. Or perhaps you're opinion of my music recommendations will take a big dive.  (Though I'm pretty sure that already happened if you braved "The Big Bad Wolf".)
Since I'm in a generous mood, I'll share one more video. One final video we watched that I came home wanting to hear more of was Lindsey Sterling's "Shadows". It's beautiful violin with a pretty face and energetic dance feet. Amazing!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bullying and Trolling: Not Cool

Picture this:

Identify the bully
A group of children play together on a schoolyard at recess.  One child, the "bully" teases another little boy because the child is much smaller than him.  The little boy stutters so he tries to not speak much so that he won't be teased.  The other kids laugh, which reinforces the bully's behavior, and he goes on to tease the child daily to the amusement of others.  The little boy begins to cry and the bully yells "Wh-wh-what's wrong buh-buh-buh-baby?!" The other kids laugh harder and the boy cries more.  It's hard to picture this, but this happens every day.  Children are teased because they are too tall, too skinny, too fat, too poor, too different.

Now, picture this instead:

Cat bullying dog
The same group of children play together at recess.  The bully approaches the small child and begins to taunt him for his speech impediment.  A little girl comes over and puts her arm around the small boy's shoulder and says, "it's okay how you talk.  Let's go play over here."  They walk away and play with the other children.  The bully is left all alone.  The next day the bully approaches the small boy again. "Duh-duh-duh-don't you lu-lu-look stupid today?" Another boy walks over and asks the little boy if he wants to go play on the swings.  The bully is left all alone again.

That's a much happier image, right?!

Which behavior encourages the bully to keep bullying, and what makes him stop?  If the other children ignore the bully, or stand up for the children being bullied, I believe that the bully may begin to stop being mean so that he can play with the other children.  Obviously, sometimes there's more to it than that.  Perhaps verbal abuse at home teaching the child that bullying is okay? Or there's a deeper psychological issue? But sometimes it's just a cry for attention - and they want attention so badly they'll be mean to others to get it. Which is why it's important for parents to teach their children to be proactive.  Encouraging a bully isn't as bad as being a bully, but you can help put a stop to bullying by standing up for others.

Trolling on the Internet

I think a lot of children don't "grow out of" this behavior.  I'd like to believe a person potentially

Kittens bullying dog
could, but then I open up ANY article (on any subject) on the Internet, and likely find someone posting mean comments at the bottom.  Followed by a dozen replies.  Finally the comments turn into this hateful, racist, back and forth slew of replies. The subject of the article is no longer even the topic of comments.  Often they go to attacks on religious or political beliefs.
There are just too many of these Internet bullies "trolling" the Internet to believe that ignoring them will make it stop.  It will never stop, there will always be someone looking to start a fight for no reason. But responding is what they want and every person has control over their response (or lack of response).  They want to get your attention.  Your reply is like the laughter of the other children, egging on the bully, except that s/he is laughing at you.  If you ignore these comments, you'll likely forget about them all together, and go about enjoying your day. Find someone you agree with instead, and compliment them for sharing their thoughts.  Reward the kind-hearted people, not the evil ones. I promise it'll make you feel better inside than fighting with someone else.

Love one another
Cat bullying hamster
Animals bullying people

Sunday, May 11, 2014

My Dream (last night: 3/10/14)

I dream almost every night. I think most people do, but I actually remember my dreams.  They are usually very long and very, very real. I can remember having a recurring dream about a dinosaur when I was younger. It was terrifying. It was a giant Pomeranian dinosaur (don't laugh) and I would be walking through my grandparent's home where I grew up, and I'd come to the guest bedroom upstairs and find my mom bloody and not moving, then open the linen closet behind the next door, and see nothing, and then open my grandfather's office door, and there the giant (Pomeranian) dinosaur would be, eating my grandfather.  Then it would chase me and I'd run so fast out of their house, through the cul-de-sac and down the street, that my feet would stop touching the ground, and I'd realize that I couldn't push off anymore, but I was flying instead; and then I'd wake up.  I had this dream enough times that I can remember one night telling myself it was a dream (from inside my dream) and not running and not being afraid, and it stopped coming back.

Since then, my dreams are usually just a scene from the day before, but maybe played out a little differently. I swear I get to live each day twice.  And it's amazing how much I smell and sense and feel when I'm sleeping.  Sometimes I can definitely tell that what I was doing before bed influenced my dream, because it'll appear in my dream.  Last night we watched Dateline detectives not solve the mystery of a serial killer murdering prostitutes in Albuquerque, and I ate some coconut chips and stretched my body before crawling into bed, when the show ended. Perhaps the show upset me a little.  I cried for the man who had videotaped his little girl growing up, and had videos of all her birthdays and being a little girl with her two sisters, and videos of her at 13, when she became pregnant, and then the last videos of her as a drug addict. She was murdered while on the streets and he was so heart broken because he'd tried hardest to raise his girls, and you could see the life draining from the young mother in his videos.  So I cried for him just before bed.

I never write down my dreams but I've thought about it before.  This morning I decided to write, just so that I'd stop tossing and turning next to Casey, since I'm having trouble falling back asleep.  It's 6 a.m., and this is what I dreamed about last night:

I walked into the camp.  That's how it felt, not like a camp with tents and a fire pit and coolers of food and beer, but more like a burning man camp. It seemed like it was a small village with one-room homes and other structures built in a dusty, desert-like setting.  I was on vacation and had arrived at my destination, and even though I didn't know where it was, I was very happy with what was in front of me.  I checked in with a man who gave me a key to my room.  He also gave me a key to a bathroom, and one to the room where the kitchen was.  I walked to my room and opened the door. As I stepped in to darkness I heard the wild cry a moment too late of "don't let the door close!!" A dim light turned on and without having to say anything, the look of the girl told me I was trapped.  This wasn't a vacation, I was a prisoner.

(The girl was actually my friend Diedra, though I only recognized her after I woke up.  In the dream we didn't know each other.  She had a male roommate in the dream, who was just 'there'; I never dream-interacted with him, so he's not mentioned in my dream-story.)

I wasn't afraid of the situation and opened my bags. What I saw next was the only thing that scared me: I'd packed both of my cats, Autumn and Phyllis.  How would they eat and drink? Where was a litter box? What if they escaped? For the next few hours of the night I was just in the room with the cats and the girl. We talked, but I don't remember what we talked about.

Then I tried the room key again - I held Autumn against me and set out for a litter box.  The key worked and I made my way to the bathroom.  A couple with a small child walked up behind me and asked if their child could please come with me to the bathroom since I had a key, (this is going to sound heartless), but I pushed them away because I didn't know what I'd find and I didn't anything to distract me with the cat in my arms.  I entered a small, dusty and dark room with the turn of my key, and there was a litter box with a couple pieces of litter at the bottom, and streams of water spraying into it.  The cat used it and I tried to keep her from getting too wet, but she was soaked as I carried her back to our room.  (Autumn was always such a good cat - when she was little, she'd use a litter box in the backseat of my loud Mustang, with a window slightly down bringing in gusts of wind because the car was so hot. But she'd use it anyhow.)

Next, I went back for Phyllis.  I intended for her to use the litter box, but when she wouldn't we went to the kitchen and found a platter of cheese.  It was labeled "Press Democrat" (which I think is an online news site, but in the dream it was a delicious cheese brand). 

It seemed like a day later I was being released. My body was wrenched with the fear my cats could still escape. I tucked Phyllis away in my bag, and then held Autumn, her body stretched across mine, like a child.  I rubbed her soft face with my face. Her nose pressed into my eyes with her sign of affection; she loved being held this way. We said goodbye to our captor and I gave him the delicious, half-eaten cheese that I had left.  I told Autumn I would take her anywhere she wanted to go, if she could find a way to tell me where.

And then I woke up.

For the first couple of minutes being awake I didn't remember my dream at all. I got up, drank a glass of water, and then the tears started coming.  I remembered how alive Autumn was in my dream, and the way she looked at me, and nuzzled my face.  I crawled back into bed, Phyllis sleeping at Casey's feet, and Casey held me while the tears wet my pillow.  His snoring resumed as my crying subsided.  Our little cat Regan jumped up beside me and I let her little "mews" sing to my heart for a minute. She laid down beside me in what I thought was an effort to comfort me, until I realized it was just better stalking position of Phyllis.  She pounced!!! ...and both cats took off running, their claws breaking skin on Casey's hand.  Since he was half-awake after that, and I'm totally awake, here I am.

It's been a while since I've dreamt of Autumn, and less than a year since we put her down, but I miss her so much when she comes to me in my dreams.  Which is okay.  I know it will never not hurt to think of her, but I think of her with love, and I really did love waking up thinking about her, even if it made me cry a little (lot).  :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Something To Be Thankful For

"Be joyful always,

pray without ceasing,

& in everything give thanks"

I think that it is important to live each day with a thankful heart.  Life is so precious, and I feel thankful for every moment I have.  I am thankful for my loving husband, my caring family, my thoughtful friends, and for all the people who aren't yet in my life. 
I am thankful for the good days and the bad ones. 
Some days it's hard to find reasons to be thankful. If this happens to be one of those days for you, let me make it a little easier:
Please view the proud MOMMY SPIDER covered in babies 
that our friend Jesse Sharp found in his home today.
Windsor, California
Be thankful you don't have her and all her babies as your housemate!!! Unless, of course, you live somewhere that you might see something like this indoors.
That would be absolutely  terrifying.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sometimes You Just Know (How I Met My Husband)

At the beginning of 2010 I found myself single and ready to meet new friends and have some fun.  I developed a great friendship with a friend from school.  Emily and I knew from the first day of paralegal school we were going to be friends.  We just knew!  We planned every class together and tied for top of each class with our straight A grades.  A teacher once pulled us aside and told us we belonged in law school, that we would be bored as paralegals.  It wasn't just her intelligence that drew me to her.  She was fun!  Emily and I referred to ourselves as "double trouble".  We found ourselves going out late, grabbing drinks after class, and having bonfires in my parent's backyard.  But perhaps there is such a thing as "too much fun." I began to realize we were sitting right on top that fence.

Perhaps that is why that after having a drink with a friend I'd known from grade school on March 5, 2010, I pursued a relationship with him.  Jesse was pretty much the opposite of me.  He loved being at home and worked very early in the morning so never went out late. This was a good thing! I enjoyed sitting at home and watching TV.  Most of the time.  From time to time I'd get calls from friends asking if we wanted to join them for pool or dinner.  But that wasn't really our style. I missed my friends.  We didn't even go out for dinner much; I just cooked at his house.  I loved that he had a good job and owned his home so I didn't complain that we spent all our time there and never went out for fun. It was what I thought I needed to settle down. Perhaps it was...
Jesse's friends came over pretty often. And then we'd all sit and watch TV together. So it wasn't a surprise when he told me on April 8, 2010 that his friend Casey was coming over for dinner and to spend the night before a day in SF with his family for the Giant's home opening game of the 2010 season.  Casey was planning to move to Florida and had a TV he was selling to Jesse.  I cooked dinner and then after some time spent in front of the TV, asked if the boys wanted to go play pool.  Jesse made a joke about me "always bugging him to go out" but told Casey he was free to go hang out with me.  Casey happened to love pool, so we drove to Cue N Brew in Martinez.  We paid for games by the hour and ordered drink after drink after drink.  Hours went by. I didn't win a single game. Then Casey started beating me with one hand, and taking shots on the 8 ball while looking at me.  Who was this show off?!  We really talked about everything, and he told me that if he were ever to marry again, it'd be to someone like me.  I told him to knock it off, since he was Jesse's friend.  As he used the restroom before the end of the night, I snuck my credit card to the waitress. I didn't want it to feel like a real date (even though it already did), so I decided he couldn't pay for any of my drinks.  Had I known the size of our tab I probably would have insisted he pay!

The next day I called my Mom and talked to her about how I felt about Casey. He was moving to Florida and I was dating his friend. It was absurd to even consider something more, but I couldn't let it go.  The night before we had talked about going to a Warriors game. We'd both said we wanted to get to one soon, and only a couple of days went by before Jesse asked me if I wanted to go to a game with Casey; he was going to be back in town.  I said yes! Jesse drove us to BART and dropped us off.  When we arrived at the game a huge rainbow was over the walkway from BART to the stadium. It was beautiful. Had it even been raining? We then realized we had both been under the impression the other one had tickets.  We lucked out and found tickets only a few rows off the court, from a man who had two extra and was happy to sell them for really cheap. It felt like lightening inside of my body when our knees bumped into one another throughout the game.  Was I leaning toward him in hopes my shoulder would brush his? Yes, I was.  As we rode BART home, the train was packed and we were pressed close to one another (and a ton of other hot, sweaty people).  But for me, it was only Casey and me on the train. And I tried to ignore how I felt but just couldn't imagine going home yet.  I didn't want the night to end, so we called my friend Sara and she picked us up and we all went to CJ's Saloon. It's a total dive bar but the owner is great and we always have fun.

April 16th is when Casey and I officially started dating.  It sounds crazy but he told me he loved me that night as we fell asleep. (I told him he sounded crazy!) I had broken up with Jesse after not even knowing Casey a week, but I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. My friends said they couldn't believe I'd met someone who was exactly like me. They all saw it right away also. We weren't the only ones falling in love. Within a short time after we began dating we had been to the Warriors game, an A's game, a Giant's game, and out with friends so many times.  I was singing karaoke with my friends and I met his friends as we played pool at their local bars and went to festivals like Petaluma's Butter and Eggs Day.  I met his family and loved them. My friends and family loved Casey, and they loved the person I was as I spent more time with him.  I loved that person too. 

I met my best friend on April 8, 2010, and we BOTH JUST KNEW.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Raccoons of the Contra Costa Canal


As with any subject in life, some people feel very differently than others about the presence of raccoons near their homes and yards.  Emotions surrounding one's view of raccoons likely depends on the kind of experiences they've had with them.  I've met a lot of people that feel very negatively about the furry bandits.  Perhaps gangs of them would sneak through their garbage at night, and leave them with the job of throwing everything away (for the second time) the next morning?  I could see that leaving a negative impression.  A small number of people keep North American raccoons as a pet.  I would more likely fall in that group, since they kind of remind me of a large cat.

My parent's home in Walnut Creek was the last house on their street, with a trail and a creek on the other side of their fence.  The trail was dirt when we moved in and my little sister and I would ride our dirt bikes on it, until it was paved in the early 1990's and motorized vehicles were no longer allowed.  The creek was a great place to play! A rope swing was the meeting place for neighborhood children for many summers. I also spent countless afternoons with my father crawdad fishing there.  We tied bacon to the end of our lines and pulled up the hungry little guys when we saw them grab on. We would sometimes eat our catch (though now I would not recommend eating anything out of the creek).  We also ended up with an aquarium of crawdads, and I learned a lot about them and watched them breed and sometimes cannibalize their young! I like to think that the creek crawdads thrived because the local raccoons were being fed elsewhere. 

Raccoons tend to live near water.  The meaning of their name comes from a combination of words that represent how they use and clean their hands.  My parent's have a "pet door" on both doors leading to our backyard for their small dogs. This also allowed our cats to come and go, though they really preferred to be indoors. However, we always kept a dish of dry food and fresh water out on the front deck for them. Often, I found other neighborhood cats coming by for food throughout the day, and I gave them names and made friends. A big orange cat was my favorite! "Peaches" would come inside sometimes but usually wanted out right away. I wondered if my cats made friends with other people, and hoped that they did not. What if they found someone they liked living with more than me?  :)  Foolish me: Impossible!

After the sun went down, another type of animal came for food and water.  The RACCOONS! With easy access under the front deck, they found shelter as well.  A family of raccoons made a nightly visit to our home. They cleaned their hands and then set to work eating the bowl of cat food. If the food was empty, they'd rap on the window and pop their heads up to ask for a refill. Year after year baby raccoons would join the family - there were even a few albinos in the group.  They used the pet door a couple of times and knew exactly were the inside food dish was.  Mom definitely did not approve of this. I also just about had a heart attack once when I walked inside our home and was greeted with a growl.  It wasn't a mean growl - the poor little guy was as scared as I was.

None of them were very aggressive.  A few would take food from your open palm if you held it out.  My dad was bit once, but I always escaped with only the soft, gentle movement of their claws attached to their very tactile hands.  I talked to them a lot at night.  They all had their own personalities. Some were slightly aggressive and fought the others for the first bites of food.  One of them lived with what I'm pretty sure was the equivalent of a developmental disability.  This sweet little guy would lay on the front deck, sometimes during the day. I found him napping on the front stairs leading to the door from time to time. His tongue was always hanging out and he walked a little funny. Not with a limp like he'd been hit by a car, more like he just leaned awkwardly.  I loved them all.

I'll never forget one night when I heard a scream. A horrendously unnatural, hair-raising scream of pain and fear.  I don't think I even realized at the time what I was hearing. A big raccoon was attacking one of the little ones. As the little one ran, the big one would chase and knock him down. It was horrible. I ran outside screaming at them to stop but the little one tried to climb away instead.  The big one began his climb also. They are actually very fast! I ran inside to get a pot to bang on but as I came back out they were both running off.  I hoped the little one hadn't fallen, and that he made it safely away. 

Some time later the neighbor across the street began trapping the family. Animal control in Contra Costa County receives the most calls for raccoon removal.  Where are they supposed to go? My mom told me our neighbor used live traps to relocate them, but these are animals who tend to live close to water sources; like a creek. They like to clean their hands and food. Plus, running water means drinking water.  I don't know where raccoons are moved to, but when you're moving one at a time, it would be impossible for families to stay together. Our pack was a family and I imagine without the protection of one another, a bigger raccoon would have no reason to not attack a small one in a wild, open space.  I think about my little friend with his tongue hanging out. He probably only survived as long as he did because our creek was safe and there was a lot of shelter and few nearby predators. 

I do understand that you are not to feed wild animals.  With the current drought in California, I often see reminders not to provide water for them either, because it is encouraging larger animals to come down from the hills into yards, in search of water.  It is safer for pets, communities, and drivers if they are not in our streets and near our homes.  But I do feel sad for my raccoons.  It was a long time ago now, but my mom still leaves water and food out for her cat, Chloe.  And every time I see the dishes I think of the little furry bandits I used to talk to.