Category Archives: family


We had our wedding cake yesterday. 5 weeks late, and yet, perfect.


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Gala in Oregon no more

Or Gala in Oregon, the cranky edition:

Sorry dear readers dad*, this moving back to California business really threw a wrench in my blog plans. It has thrwon a wrench in EVERYTHING.  California is HOT – and I don’t mean in a Daniel Craig way. It’s the middle of October, almost Halloween for eff’s sake, and yesterday at noon it 97 bloody degrees outside.  HRH has not stopped panting in 3 weeks, I am convinced I have taken her back to California to die, to die a slow, heat-induced death.  To top it off, the street I am on has daily, DAILY, trash removal service, apparently one for each house on the street, and the trucks make the panes on my lovely but quite inefficient french-doors-to-a-rickety-balcony shake. And they wake the almost dead Highness up from her geriatric slumber.

Mmmh, let’s see, what else irks me here? The noise, the wastefulness, the lack of a single small deli-type store that I can do my shopping, my forced reliance of Trader Joe’s or Wholefoods, that icky flavor of tap water, the dry, brown, drabness of the views. Million dollar homes in the Hollywood hills are nice, but they hold no candle to this

That’s my gorgeous mom looking at a beautiful tree behind our house, and that’s my hand shielding my eyes, looking at the wonderful PB who was taking the picture this summer.

It doesn’t help that since this Gala is no longer in Oregon, we have had too much bad news – it would sour even the biggest optimist in Optimistville. Friends are ill, friends have died, friends are going through traumas the likes of which I cannot imagine going through without a generous helping of Scotch, valium, or both.

So is it such a wonder that I can’t find much pleasure in my academic life again, that what little satisfaction I get from it is completely drowned out by this avalanche of ick?

But November 4th is aorund the corner, and next week a w-e in Oregon, and this w-e a visit from my peeps from Oregon, and soon Thankgiving and Xmas, and more Oregon, and more peeps and more PB.  I keep my eye on the good stuff, trust me, but sometimes, when it’s a million degrees above what is seasonal and humanly allowable, and when your old dog can’t stop panting at you, a transplanted Gala gets cranky.

* my dad commented on my Nike sneakers – the ones I posted about last month, the ones he could not possibly know about unless he read the blog!

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my mom and the boys

i just spent 4 days in CA rearranging furniture between two homes 70 miles apart.  the transfer involved a monstrous SUV in which we fit a surprising amount of stuff, one very controlled trip to ikea, two house cleaning bills (bc two homes) and one mother, sent from exotic places south to help me.

i need my mom for many things, but never more than when i am moving.  faced with two large bookcases and 10 empty boxes, i will tend to sit down and start thumbing through the books.  the process will take days.  with taskmaster mom at my side, it is done in less than an hour. ditto the large monstrous desk (inherited from my great grandfather) – which was used as a mailing station and liquor cabinet. without my mom i’d probably still be sitting at that desk now, wondering what to do with that box of paper clips, that almost empty bottle of knob creek.

we shlepped SO much stuff along the california freeways and still we managed to do some serious damage at the mall, have the best sushi i’ve had in a long time, and eat some pretty fabulous breakfasts at my neighborhood hang outs.

top experience definitely goes to my nearest starbucks – did you know strabucks no serves breakfast? and not a bad one? i know i know – i’ve been in small town oregon for too long… my mother ate her oatmeal with her eyes moving in all directions, trying to take in each scene as it developped.  the tatooed guy, the two skinny guys, the big buff bald guy, the guy with the teeny dog, the one with the huge dog. it’s not hat she’s not used to the diversity, but at 8am in the morning, even i have to admit that there was an lot going on.

and there she sat,  all of  102 pounds, in her jeans skirt and hip white converse sneakers,  eating her oatmeal with a plastic spoon, taking it all in.

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Happy birthday Papa

40 years ago you turned 23. And three days later you became my father.

At your age I was debating whether to become a journalist, a banker or go to the 10 pm show of some god-awful movie playing at the Notting Hill cinema. While you were responsible and worked all day at 23, I studied, but mainly had fun at 23.  You fed me when you were 23, while I fretted over how to lose three kilos before I turned 23. You were a man at 23, and at 46 you trusted that your silly 23 year-old daughter would one day grow up too.

You are also the man who took me out to a nice lunch after I crashed my new mini, who took us to see the giant heads on Easter Island and penguins in Antarctica, who bought frites and beignets and ride tickets with abandon when we went to fairs, and the man who spent hours in the many pools we’ve been in, getting us to dive deeper and faster the find the shiny coin. You are the man who devised games to teach us the world’s currencies. You let me cry on your shoulder after King Kong died, and wore the tear stained suede jacket for years. You took us with you all over the world, and with mom you made us feel at home, wherever we were.

I inherited from you the ability to read maps, a preference for dark chocolate, a love of big strong hugs, the appreciation for Italian opera, and a certain nerdy need for contingency planning in all things (plan Bs are very important). I did not inherit your ability to wake up at 6am for a game of tennis.

Today you turn 63, and right now you are on a flight from the Caribbean where you’ve been scuba-diving, to my northwestern airport. You are a 63 year-old scuba-diving history buff who is hurrying back to work on Monday because he’s still at the top of his professional game.

You are a rock star Papa. There are not enough sharks in the water, cigars in Cuba or chocolates in the world to reward you for all you have done, and even if there were, I am quite sure you wouldn’t care as much about that as you would about us.

merci pour tout papa, et bon anniversaire.

de ta fille qui t’aime,


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40th birthday countdown

cases of wine purchased: 6

cases of champagne on order: 3

magnums of champagne on order: 2

bottles of belgian beer: 90

metres of string-lights: at least 100

number of calls to caterer in last week: 8

number of people coming to party: 65

stress headaches: 1 (so far)

thank you speech to parents and friends that does not sound like a treacle-ey pathetic sopfest : 0

knowing that no matter what i end up saying in the speech, there’ll be enough champagne to make me forget it : priceless

ps: what would eddie izzard say at HIS 40th birthday???

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writer’s block not

not so much that, but it’s summer in oregon, which means visitors. PB’s cousin was visiting and i spent quite some time taking her to town for brunch, for coffee, for shopping, for a pedicure. unlike yours truly, she has a 12-hour a day job, with a team of underlings and a salary that is 4 times mine. i took it as a personal obligation to make sure that her short week of vacation should be as relaxing as possible – i think we succeeded. she had tons of great food, loads of wine, plenty of sleep. so did we – except for the bit about sleep. she left on saturday evening, and we spent all day yesterday lounging about, went to the movies in the middle of the day (“wanted” – fun, but no more), ate nothing but fruit and veggies, in a vain attempt to purge all that food and wine we had with the cousin.

all this to say that i haven’t written bc i haven’t had time, and what time i had was devoted to editing the manuscript that is no longer haunting my dreams.

to those of you writing a book, all i can say is : it gets better. once the book is written , once your soul is on paper and all you have left is the empty shell of your brain, you’ll actually enjoy it. it’s the sweet bliss of the lobotomized, but i’ll take it for now.

and now, for something completely different, some of my favorite children’s books:

  1. cronin & bliss: diary of a spider – (and i hate spiders, so this is meaningful)
  2. rosenthal & corace: little hoot. a-do-ra-ble.
  3. patrick mcdonell : the gift of nothing. stunningly sweet and moving.
  4. mo willems: the pigeon series – yeah, thems pigeons rock
  5. albert sixtus “Die Häschenschule” – germany’s answer to beatrix potter, except – and i know i am risking my hide here- i think it is better. it has less of an obvious nursery look to it, and it is teutonic and old-school. so retro. i love it.
  6. and of course the entire collection of tintin – belgium’s greatest contribution to rainy summer afternoon activities

that is all – have a good day.

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cast of characters

i thought maybe it was time to introduce you to the people who appear, directly or indirectly, in my posts. this is not an exhaustive introduction, just a summary to light the way:

  • the lovely PB: human, male, partner, friend, adviser, very hot.
  • her highness: canine, female, partner in my life for the last 11 years, increasingly old but spry, but very smelly.
  • the mother: self-explanatory, lives in tropical country.
  • the father: same as above, married to the mother
  • the sister: younger than i by 3 years and 2 months, lives on other side of ocean, too far from me.
  • planet, also referred to as C, or CF, or CvH: best friend since 1984. died of breast cancer on feb 10, 2007. i turn 40 in 2 months, but feb 10, 2007 was the actual first day of the rest of my life.
  • the book: inanimate, gender neutral, excessively time-consuming, occasionally really interesting, mostly overdue and almost finished
  • recipes (see new page above): my alter ego wants to be a chef

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