Park adventures

At the park watching two older girls be mean to my girl. Their parents (newly met today) are bonding over their rejection of alcohol and ignoring their girls. Skinny redhead mom is regaling hipster hat dad with barfly stories.

It will be good for Veronica to learn to deal with mean girls.

It would be bad for me to grab the mean girls by their hair.

Hipster dad is doing push-ups while skinny barfly mom keeps talking “–I really have to learn to manage my anger.”

Daley routine

Two hour fifteen minutes to drive. big bottle of water and a box of orange tic tacs. 45 minutes in I am reaching for more tacs, have consumed all the water. Hour and a half in I have sprained my bladder, named my hunger headache Helga, and have taken my shoes off. Helga is my only company for the next hour.

Now? Munchkin practice. I did consume a nutrition shake and visit the bathroom before collecting the munchkin.

Helga was gracious and departed. Happy Friday!

Mother daughter bath time

Veronica said “why don’t you comb your hair every day ?”

“My hair is tangly”

“my hair is straight. My friend London’s hair is straight. You should have straight hair mommy.”

“I will think about that. Brush your teeth.”


well. Maybe

and maybe not.

But I’m writing.

I found this quote yesterday:

Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential — as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.

You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.

To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.



THat’s from the author of Calvin and Hobbes. I am feeling prickly because i have a buncha things I feel that I *should* be doing and i am not doing it. STUFF keeps coming up. Except I maybe could find the time if it were reallly important. Instead I want to be crabby about everything.

Maybe a cup of coffee would help.


not always

yes, i went straight back to everything upon returning from Yosemite.

Of course I did.

What I didn’t do was get a good night’s sleep.

So, the fog of tired drug me down. I was trying for the excitement, and instead I got the draggy-paws. Even the super sensitivity.

I come home from work (WoRK!) and Chris tells me:

“Just because it’s raining today doesn’t mean it will rain tomorrow.”

true. Just let the morning come

It’s coming anyway

Orwell, Dickens and Downton Abbey

Dickens, Orwell and Downton Abbey


On my Kindle, George Orwell’s essays have been waiting for me since Christmas. My husband takes the holiday very seriously and demands a list of presents I would enjoy. That’s a lot of pressure, and I am sometimes forced into hurried requests. I had a thought that I’d like to see how he stood up in changing times.


Animal Farm and 1984 are spectacular, but it wasn’t until I read Homage to Catalonia and Down and Out in London and Paris that I really got to know this man.  He was a real person with his own adventures not merely a crafter of stories from the sidelines.


I figured his essays would bring me more of that guy.


These particular essays included one he titles: “Charles Dickens.”




An author talking about another author? Yes, I want to read that one. Yes.


He begins his essay to address that other people have called Dickens Marxist. Orwell loves talking Dickens and political ideology, and delightfully examines Dickens’ characters for embryonic political leanings. He talks about the servants and how Dickens treats them:


“It was an age of enormous families, pretentious meals and inconvenient houses, when the slavey drudging fourteen hours a day in the basement kitchen was something too normal to be noticed.”


I cannot help but think of Downton Abbey. Isn’t the relationship between the servants and The Family at Downton such a perfect example of this? An army of servants is required to give the titled family the glorious lifestyle we admire and cannot stop watching.


Downton Abbey is a TV show. And it makes us think think think about what it was like at that time. The cook and her several helpers do slave away all day.


Orwell goes on to say:

“Without a high level of mechanical development, human equality is not practically possible.”


For Dickens, it was inevitable that there were cooks and footmen and butlers. In Downton Abbey, that life is coming into question 50 years later. The family clutches its pearls about the changes.


The servants are the ones who encounter the mechanical development.  The ladies’ maids get a sewing machine to help with the mending, and the cook is comically afraid of the electric toaster.


Think about this for a minute. The system of dependency that Dickens, and later Downton Abbey rely on means that toast means something else entirely than what we understand it.


If the food preparers were at the bottom of the basement, would a Dickens’ character even get a piece of hot toast? Probably never in his life!


I can have a piece of delicious hot toast anytime I want, and enjoy the lovely smell. That never happened in a world of separated servants. Some things must be done by oneself to really work.


So I think, what if the Family at Downton had the toaster up in their dining room? Maybe it would pop up right there, and they could enjoy it.


Different world. Here’s the problem with that:

How did they run electricity into the house at all? For a family estate, from god-knows-how-long-ago, I am pretty sure the walls are not the regularly placed two-by-four frames on a raised foundation.


I had to re-do the electricity on my 1950s house. It was incredibly easy, and now I can run the microwave and the air conditioner at the same time. Neither of those inventions was in houses when my house was built. But the ticky-tacky houses in my neighborhood allowed for the integration of things they couldn’t imagine. You know what else? I live in an area of greater human equality.


Back in the 1300s or whenever Downton Abbey was fictionally created, they didn’t look that far ahead. Their land and titles were part of the feudal system, which had supported them for a very long time.


In Dickens’ stories, like so many Victorian stories, social mobility is at the center. People are trying to better themselves. Money and virtue is key.


The Granthams were already at the top, and they found themselves on a melting iceberg. Other Victorian novels show up how the titled nobility have to marry moneyed nouveau riche to get the resources to keep their burdensome estates going.


The Granthams are all about that. “What are we to do?” The symbols of their status are the albatross around their necks. The transition is not easy.


Earlier in the essay Orwell says: “Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow, and invariably disappointing.”


Have you noticed something? I see it. We are in the middle of a slow and disappointing progression right now. Call it the information age. Call it the fall of the commercial exploitation empire. Call it Catch 22.


Preservation is not what it used to be. Which institution needs to be abandoned for which idea to be preserved?


I am not certain that the idea has been born yet. Or, which idea of the many downy chicklings will grow into the one that takes flight with our collective hopes.  Orwell thought a lot about political ideas. They are seductive to be sure. I think a lot about electricity, roads and data flows. I had better feed all the chicks though.






Green world

They are sleeping. I am the morning person in the family

We haven’t been to a national park in 5 years. More than five years.

Going to get pizza at camp curry for dinner last night, I felt part of tradition. My mother and father came here as young people. Yosemite was recognized as a special park by Lincoln

This is a place of MY people. Campfires and hikes and admiring the beauty is what my people have done here.

Veronica said she wanted to see more waterfalls and big rocks when she woke up.

I think today I will override daddy’s rules and allow more off the path adventuring

very long road trip

two days. We are awake in our hotel stop on the way to yosemite.

She was super drowsy at first. THEN she wanted to have all our attention. She admired the orchards and teh horses and cows.

“I love farms!”

and she wished we were at Yosemite.

“Look at the train Veronica!’

Big train, carrying probably what the farms produced or needed.

“Maybe a train could take us to Yosemite…” she said slowly.

Good thinking.

No, we are not there yet.

Survival of the fittest

It was an omnipresent part of Silicon Valley in the last half of the nineties: the logo shirt for a company that didn’t exist anymore. Techs could point to their drawers for a history of their employment and trade show attendance.

My last job of that heyday was for a hard-drive company: Quantum. I went to consult for them as they merged and spun off and otherwise writhed in agony with another hard drive company Maxtor.

When I told my nerd friends I was helping Quantum get bought they all said “What? Quantum is getting bought by Maxtor? Maxtor’s hard drives suck!” They were very disappointed that the good hardware company was losing to the bad one. The good die young. Quantum hard drives are gone.

Then 5 years later Maxtor got swallowed up into their bigger competitor Seagate. Another logo shirt of the no-more.

Except–Quantum isn’t gone. They did the hard thing at the right time, selling off what wouldn’t take them into the future and focusing on what would.

How did Quantum know? They dismantled muscle and bone of the company they’d built. I walked through soul viscera of the employees that year to do my job.  They’d had built it too, not just the executive suite. They wanted to keep on doing what they had done so well and were proud of.

Quantum stuck to their plan. They made it through. They still exist, producing different things.

I like to think that the integrity that led them build quality hard drives led them to make the tough decision to stop making them when the time was right. They had a firm grasp of the available choices and made them while they still had them.

Big picture. Look over the horizon and pack light.

It is easy to give in to curmudgeonitis: “Back in the day…” That glorious day! And if the best is yet to come we have to go build it. What got us here is yesterday’s weather.  Every day is a new day.

I don’t work for Quantum anymore. They got rid of me like they did most everybody. Maxtor wanted me to stay and be part of their thing.  Kind of begged me, really.

I walked. I got them through their merger and left. I wanted my time more than the job. I went to finish college. Me and Quantum made our choices.

Only years later did I see Quantum’s choice to shrink as visionary. They stuck to their convictions. That makes me think of these lines from Yeats:

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

are full of passionate intensity.

His post-modern cynicism passed judgment on passion.  One must consider all sides. ‘But what about…? and have you considered..?’

I wasn’t born yesterday. I am born today and every day. It’s not that my experience is worthless, it’s that I have to hold it looser. The order might need to be rearranged.

The more some things change the more they stay the same. My best convictions are the ones that fill me with passionate intensity.

Feelings at five

She threw sand at someone at school today. She’d been spoken to, and had all day to process it

During bedtime, she said many things. “Mommy, sometimes when I’m upset, I’m not a kid anymore. I turn into a feeling mask. Then after a while, when I’m not upset I turn back into me.”

No kidding. “I feel that way sometimes too.”