I Love Manzanita Trees

Filed under: Personal — joy at 7:02 am on Monday, July 27, 2015

Marcia and I went on a hike and I remembered how much I love manzanita trees.

From far away, manzanitas are all scraggly and ancient and gnarled looking.


They look like they belong in a Van Gogh painting.


Up close, the bark is this weird thin tissue paper that’s red and orange and yellow.


It comes away in flakes. …

green wood2

And underneath, the wood is green!

green wood1

Hello and Some Facts

Filed under: Personal — joy at 7:10 am on Monday, July 20, 2015


I’ve decided to make updating this blog more of a priority, for now at least. Old-fashioned-bullet-update-go!

* We took a four-day, much-needed vacation in a cabin on the coast. Pictures soon.

* Kyle is writing a book. I am writing a book. I’m surprised Gideon isn’t writing a book.

* I have tons of zucchini coming in from the garden. I froze 14 bags already. I don’t even know what to do. I guess make zucchini relish?

* Next week, I’m buying tickets to go to Amsterdam and Belgium. It will be my first overseas vacation since having a baby.

* I’m almost scared to post links to all the articles I’ve written in the last few months. Stay tuned for a round-up post.

* Did you know that the dresses the women wear in Gustav Klimt paintings really existed? They were designed by a woman called Emilie Flöge.


2014, The Year I Read Long Books

Filed under: Personal — joy at 8:22 am on Tuesday, December 30, 2014

This year, for some reason, I took to reading long novels. Among the big books I read were Infinite Jestwhich I wrote about on here beforeIQ84 by Haruki Murakami (900+ pages), Red Moon by Benjamin Percy (530 pages), The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (770 pages), and Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1,000 pages).

Of these, I liked IQ84 the best. I liked Gone With The Wind the least.

It’s difficult to sustain a sprawling story. In every book, there were storylines or sections or characters that I felt could be cut or pared down. It made me wonder if a book ever needs to be that long. In the end, I admire a satisfying, slim poem of a book more than a sprawling saga. Elegance and simplicity in both language and story are so hard to pull off.

Note for next year: vary the length of the books you read.

Gone With The Wind surprised me by how racist it was. I first read the book when I was 11 years old, and at the time, I loved it. In fact, I still acutely remember the pleasure I got from reading the book at that age, so it feels strange to turn against it so thoroughly. But even if you give allowances for time and changing attitudes, the description of black people, and the politics it promotes (apologies for the KKK, for example; the assertion that the rape of black women was done by Union soldiers after the war and not by slaveowners) were pretty disgusting. Because of this, I’d say it was the worst book I read this year.

Books I liked included Home by Marilynne Robinson, which I keep thinking about; Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner; and the aforementioned IQ84.

I also enjoyed The Goldfinch. I like this trend where writers are looking to Charles Dickens for inspiration–although it may lead to more unnecessarily long tomes in the future.

Also, I’m almost done with Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood, but I don’t think I’ll finish it by the new year. Still, I’d like to add it to the list of favorites. I just love her.


Filed under: Personal — joy at 10:52 am on Monday, December 1, 2014

What a relief it is to see rain again after this weird year of drought in California. This leaf was sitting in my garden and it was as pretty to me as if it were covered in diamonds.

The 1970s Wallpaper Is Gone!

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 6:52 am on Wednesday, August 6, 2014

If you’ve been to my house, you know how much I hate the 1970s wallpaper on the dining room wall. Well, now it’s gone. We have painted over it.

Free at last, free at last.

8 Things That Happened In July

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 7:40 am on Monday, August 4, 2014

July was jammed packed. It was the kind of month where at the end of the day you’ll remember something that happened and think, wait, that was this morning? because it feels like it was two days ago.

Here are 8 things that happened in July, according to my Twitter feed:

1. We found out that the NSA has flagged us for extra surveillance.

The month began with the upsetting news that the NSA has labeled people who read Linux Journal as extremists and has flagged them for extra surveillance. They’re doing this because of two anonymizing technologies called Tor and Tails, which the NSA apparently feels are “advocated in extremist forums.” Kyle has written about Tor and Tails in the past, so there’s a good chance we’re among the people being surveilled. That means the NSA is capturing our data and holding it indefinitely. Beyond that, who knows.

We found out about this right before the 4th of July, which put a damper on the holiday.

2. We rode bikes.

In June, Kyle gave me a tricycle. Then we got Kyle a bike and a trailer for Gideon to ride around in, and have been going on rides. I love bikes now.

3. We saw The Punch Brothers.

These musicians are masters at their craft. If you have a chance, you should check out this band.

4. We went to Petaluma Rivertown Revival.

This is an event to raise funds for the Petaluma river. There are lots of bands and food and everyone dresses up in steampunk for some reason. Corsets and mustaches abound. I petted a small alligator.

5. We went to a meadery.

We visited a meadery in Point Reyes. Here is a picture of the bees.

6. I visited the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa.

I learned a lot about Peanuts and Charles Schulz and have a new appreciation for the comic and the man who drew it.

7. I drank from this contraption.

This is a Kwak Belgian beer, and it was good. But also, I want this … glass? Mug? Science experiment? We’ll call it a glass.

8. We picked blackberries.

Such a plethora of riches at the side of the road right now. I already made jam. I might go again before the season is over and freeze some so we can have blackberry pie this winter.

In fact, I WILL do that.

How’s your summer going?

7 Things That Happened In June

Filed under: Personal — joy at 7:40 am on Sunday, June 29, 2014

Here are 7 things we did in June, according to pictures I put on Twitter.

1. For Marcia’s birthday, we went to Hog Island Oyster Company in Tomales. They raise the oysters right there, so they don’t get much fresher. You can eat them in the picnic area right by the bay. (Tip to save copious amounts of money: bring in your own food/drink for your picnic.)

2. Marcia also had a birthday picnic/party at Gustafson Winery.

3. Kyle and I went to the Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic, which served to foster my growing obsession fascination with hot air balloons. Here I am with Gideon.

4. For our 12th anniversary, Kyle surprised me with a tricycle. (I don’t know how to ride a regular bike.) So far I have ridden to a friend’s house and to the grocery store. It feels so much like riding a regular bike, I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not going to tip over. I like going down hills.

4b. Yesterday, Kyle bought a bicycle from a nice man in Glen Ellen. We’re going to get a bike trailer for Gideon and go on eccentric-looking family bike rides.

5. Last week, we took a road trip to San Diego. On the way there, we spent the night at San Luis Obispo. Here’s the view from the downtown mission at sunset.

6. We went to the San Diego Zoo. I do not like this zoo! First of all, it cost $90 to get in. Secondly, it feels like a theme park. Double-decker buses roar by you and zoo workers pester you about souvenir photographs. Except for the pandas, there aren’t any animals there you haven’t seen at any other zoo. If you want to see pandas, go to the National Zoo in Washington DC, where admission is free.

7. We also took Gideon to the beach. It wasn’t his first time at the beach, but it was the first time making sand castles and standing waist deep in the water. I discovered that the beach is approximately 500 times more fun if you go with a child.

There were other things too: father’s day grilling, gardening, writing, reading, a brewing party, hikes, raises, bill paying, art museums, a sudden obsession fascination with Stephen Sondheim and playwriting in general, an unfortunate case of food poisoning, the first mulberry off my mulberry tree, and so on.

It’s amazing how much can fit into one month. `

Do You See Both The Faces?

Filed under: Personal — joy at 8:18 am on Monday, May 12, 2014

On Mother’s Day we went to the beach and had a picnic. I tried to draw this amazing rock several times, but then gave up an took a picture with my cell phone.

Do you see both the faces?

Being A Woman Is Hard Vol 1

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 5:04 pm on Monday, April 14, 2014

One time I was like, Amanda Seyfried and I both have thick blonde hair. Therefore, I should do what she does to her hair and perhaps I will look prettier.

So I looked researched it, applying all my journalism skills to the problem. In an article, Amanda Seyfried mentioned using a particular product on her hair. I thought, I should use that product as well, as we have similar hair.

Thus I researched the hair product.

It cost $1,000 an ounce.

So I did not buy the hair product.

My 2013 Garden

Filed under: Personal — joy at 8:56 am on Monday, January 20, 2014

joy garden

It’s unsettling that California has decided to skip winter. The governor declared a major drought emergency. Accuweather says no rain until February 23. (And apparently there will be “abundant sunshine” on February 14th.)

It’s scary, but the sunshine is also making me want to garden. I will not garden, however! It’s still January.

Gardening is a huge hobby of mine. Last year I grew $1,300 worth of vegetables and fruit in my garden, including 759 lemon cucumbers, 750 tomatoes, 1,226 green beans, 774 blueberries, and 128 zucchini. Here are some pictures of the garden, just because.

joy garden
Two Zucchini Plants


Loaded Hop Vine


Crazy Cucumber Plant


Leeks, Beans, Carrots, and Beets


What does no rain in winter mean for the garden this year? I don’t know.

Anyway, maybe we’ll still get rain. Maybe it’ll pour all spring. I hope so.

Otherwise, at the very least, I’m looking at a very high water bill this year.

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