Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dueling 442

Ooh, I almost forgot the best multimedia proof of my trip.

Catch dizzying glimpses of me struggling to maintain my fake treble identity at lightning Amherst pace.


I sent the link to Inder to show her what she was missing out east. She fired back with this. Touche. See her lead at the All California Convention back in January! That's... a lot of roof.

I can play too...

Seems like everyone else is at the coolest conventions this weekend. I'm... not. But I seem to recall that my reporting on the PVAD never made it past "singing good." Let's try that again, with a few more parts of speech. I flew in just as the fireworks were going up on the 4th of July. Just cruising north on 91 again made me way too happy. It rained for most of the week, which was a nice change of pace. I didn't get QUITE as excited about the puddles as TG, but a good old fashioned thunderstorm was a welcome change. The summer forecast here varies from "dry and sunny" to "dry with the haze of forest fires".

Singingwise I really got to stretch myself. I do not exaggerate when I say there was not a single seat in the alto section the whole weekend. Fortunately it turns out my voice can actually produce treble for three days straight when it doesn't have to yell at kids and gets to sleep for 13 hours in the Mahoney's brand new guest bed! And we broke in the newly arrived HOA hymnals at the multibook singing in Amherst and the Harp of Ages singing in Leyden. Super fun.

I have no actual pictures, but there are some lovely ones over here. Most of which consist of the social, which... I slept through. (See above.)

After I got all that pesky singing out of the way, I got to finally visit the National Yiddish Book Center! Grandpa Labon, he of the last post, got me a membership there years ago. Jenna was awesome enough to let me drag her to a screening of The Goldbergs, and I bought an apron. Then I spent a whole day in Brattleboro swinging and washing a porcupine with R and TG! And finally I rounded off the week in Boston with some family quality time and catching up with Andrea and Briana! (AKA my two favorite friends who gave a fish a funeral without me.) This mostly involved a lot of good food and ice cream and late nights getting the latest Mtown / camp fasola gossip. And driving. And getting lost. And turning around. Note to self: You are not allowed back in Boston until you buy a GPS. I mean it! Life is so much better when the nice British lady tells you what to do.

Oooh, I do have a few measly pictures!

Dinner with A and J. Fonduuuuue!



Foster is a fatty fat cat now! Bless his heart.


Bella strikes a pose worthy of Watson.

Friday, August 29, 2008

O dear me / what do my eyes see...

Things I have done today not for the first time in my life:

1) Ate most of a can of frozen orange juice concentrate with a spoon.

2) Heard yet another radio story about our local Sacred Harp group in which what we do every week is described using such words as "primitive" and "peculiar."

3) Stayed up until stupid late cooking the night before a convention.

4) Listened to Kate Rusby songs on repeat to make myself feel better about the fact that I'm only going to get five hours of sleep.

5) Got asked how wedding planning was coming along and was forced to reply that nothing had changed since the last time that person asked me how wedding planning was coming along.

6) Paused to worry about whether or not I'm taking wedding planning too casually, but was too lazy to actually pursue this line of thought.

7) Had two or more meals in which the entree consisted of excessive amounts of plain tortilla chips.

8) Got on the computer instead of going to bed.

G'night!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy 99th!

Today is none other than the 99th birthday of my grandfather, Labon Backer. I visited him extremely briefly in March and then 3 days straight in July. We had a good time catching up on my life and family history. We had a long discussion about Yiddish and the evolution of some family names. Turns out he was born "Label" and was turned into Laban at school registration by someone who more familiar with their Bible than Yiddish. And subsequently Labon by someone with a typewriter but, err, less familiarity with their Bible. He asked me to bring him a hamburger every day for lunch. He's a big fan of the Red Sox and the Jewish people.

March 2008








These pictures were kept with this letter he wrote to his sister Jean in the spring of 1945. You can zoom in to read it. My favorite part:
This past weekend we spent at an Australian native camp about 70 miles inland. Four of us drove up in a command car and it took four wheel drive to get us thru some of the creeks we forded. Had great fun, seeing a spot where the Japs were encamped for a while. Found a dump of Jap horseshoes - they weren't very lucky for the Japs. The natives went out with dynamite and got a "mess" of fish. They fish that way here - not very sporting, but really gets the fish.




ETA: I've put up these photos and a few more over at Fotki. It's been long enough since I updated there...

El mejor ecuatoriano en Beijing


Jefferson Perez won Ecuador's second Olympic medal! He also won their first in Atlanta. He's now retiring from international competition at the age of 34.
Exhausted, almost numb, Jefferson Perez brought an end on Saturday to a career whose spirit went beyond the borders of his native Ecuador to turn him into a Latin American hero.

When I had just started living there, I remember Ecuavisa held a month long competition to decide the Greatest Ecuadorian Ever or something. They showed biographical features every night and then people called in to vote. There were military heroes and founding fathers. I think the only one I managed to watch was Jefferson Perez... and he won! Ecuadorians love them some "Jeff". There's a Trole stop named after him and everything. Mostly I remember all these intense statistics about how he's literally a better human being than the rest of us... he has 40% more lung capacity than the normal athlete and eats enough for a family of four, etc.

OOOOH... I was trying to fact check my vague memory of this and immediately found the video on youtube! Sweeeeet. The competition was for "Mejor Ecuatoriano de Todos los Tiempos" and Jeff came in second (after Eloy Alfaro.) He was first in "Mejor Ecuatoriano Vivo." The best part starts around 7:00... those great statistics, Jeff singing the national anthem all by his lonesome in Atlanta, and little Ecuadorian kids enthusiastically racewalking. Yes, Ecuador's most famous athlete is a racewalker.

And now, in non-Olympic news, here are a couple of stories about my genetic make-up.

All Blue Eyed People Related to Brad Pitt
According to a new paper by a Danish researcher, blue eyes come as the result of a single mutation that occurred 10,000 years ago. Which means that all people with blue peepers have a common ancestor.

Skin test shows if you're late or early riser
Today, a study confirms the emerging view that almost every cell in the body also contains a clock and, in particular, shows that skin cells can be tested to reveal if a person has a genetic propensity to like lie-ins, burn the midnight oil or get up at the crack of dawn... Skin cells are much easier clocks to study than the one in the brain and the team obtained the cells from 28 volunteers and inserted a gene that glowed into them creating biological clocks that waxed or waned in brightness over 24 hours.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bad, bad KUT

So I was driving around in the middle of the day today, which never happens, and I'm listening to KUT, which I only ever listen to in the car, and all of a sudden the dj says he's giving away a pair of tickets to the Patty Griffin show at the Austin City Limits studio this Friday to the seventh caller IF they can tell him what state Patty is from. Okay, so a) I like Patty, b) I'm free Friday night, and c) I KNOW THIS ONE! Maine, Mr. KUT dj sir, it's MAINE!!!!! My fingers are poised over my phone, ready to punch in the number as soon as he says it. He reminds us that he'll be giving the tickets to the seventh caller. He repeats the question we have to answer in order to win them. Then he CUES UP THE MUSIC. Yes, that's right, he DOESN'T TELL US WHAT NUMBER TO CALL. Am I competing against dozens of people who already have the KUT studio line programmed into their phones????? Seriously, WHERE DID YOU GO TO DJ SCHOOL??????

Oh KUT, you are so on my enemies list. It may not be a list as long or illustrious as Dan's, but I think he'd still approve.

EDITED TO ADD: Speaking of enemies lists, Jenna, this one's for you.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Negative space

Sadly my life of late is best defined by what I have not been, am not, and will not be doing.

- The big one is that I WILL NOT BE starting a new full time job next week. I was actually offered a great position at an elementary school, supporting the English language learning program. Finally, back to a steady job in a supportive school and the perfect stepping stone to committing to a real ESL teaching cert. Then, bam...the lovely Oakland Unified bureaucracy and the general state of the economy joined forces to completely screw me over. I'm not particularly bitter, because I would expect nothing less from that coalition of evil, but I'm pretty exasperated at the last minute notice after interviewing over a month ago and accepting the job over a week ago. I'm doing pretty well at not having a WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE MY 26TH BIRTHDAY IS COMING UP AND EVERYONE ELSE IS GETTING MARRIED AND HAVING BABIES AND ON THEIR WAY TO HIGH POWERED WORLD-CHANGING JOBS NOT THAT I AM IN A HURRY TO DO ALL OF THOSE THINGS BUT NOT WORKING RETAIL WOULD BE A NICE STEP life crisis type meltdown. In getting back on the horse news, I just submitted applications for a similar position at two other schools. There's another promising application on the docket for tomorrow, but it's different and requires a whole new resume / cover letter. Sigh.

- I WILL NOT BE celebrating Gabe's 6th birthday at the roller rink in Santa Cruz tomorrow. Instead I will be... you guessed it... busy with BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS. In silver lining news, I'm happy to, you know, HAVE a job. Especially one that I don't hate. The boss at the middle school after school program that shall not be named wants me back, and I tried to talk myself into the high pay and more hours she promised, but I quickly recovered my sanity and ran screaming deleted her messages. Also, lifting lots of boxes of books make Rebecca smash strong.

- I NEVER hang out with any of Katie's friends or relations when they're in town. Shane the Beloved Intern and I never connected, I STILL HAVEN'T gotten together with Dan thanks to his aversion to Jewish holidays and my general distraction, and I WILL NOT BE singing with Carly! She's leaving town just before our weekly singing and the above mentioned silver lining is keeping me busy until then. Plus she's pretty overstimulated by her amazing actual reason for being in town! In confusingly enjoyable news, I did spend Wednesday evening sight reading much of the Norumbega Harmony. The Spanish food and cute bilingual children as warm-up wasn't bad either.

- I HAVEN'T watched, um, ANY of the Olympics. In "I may have slightly exaggerated" news, I picked fruit at Sue's last night and ended up joining her and family for pizza and half an hour of uneventful beach volleyball, "inspirational moments", and McDonald's commercials. But conveniently they fit some swimming in there, so that my sliver of Olympic viewing culminated in Michael Phelps' photo finish 7th gold medal! (What ever did they do before automatic sensors and instant replay anyway????)

- I HAVEN'T BEEN blogging nearly enough. My apologies, friends and stalkers!! In rather obvious news, I'm here with you now. Ooh, I also updated some recipes - vegan treats fit for Natalia's birthday.

- I AM NOWHERE NEAR on my way to finishing my outstanding chef homework in time for the year anniversary of my "graduation." Yikes! In non-motivating excuse news, the fact that I've had two professional cooking jobs since then proves the point that no one actually cares if you graduate from culinary school, they just care if you can cook.

- Despite the best of plans, I AM INCAPABLE OF making peach jam. I keep buying discounted bruised fruit and invariably it rots while I get distracted by free treefuls of plums, apples, and pears. In "when life hands you plums, apples, and pears" news, I have made gallons of applesauce, pearsauce, apple butter, and apple-plum butter.

- I HAVEN'T SEEN Katie or Richard in an unhealthy amount of time! But, in perhaps the most news-worthy news, I AM the proud owner of two tickets to see them! A whole week in Austin for the Wedding and Election Extravaganza PLUS a very special Girls' Getaway™! KT and I will be attending the Rocky Mountain convention... you remember, the one in the balloon museum. Without Richard's bass (But who will sing the "fa sol?" Who????) we will paint Albuquerque red.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Late Summer in (Mostly) Snapshots

I had to say goodbye to our belovedest little intern Shane, who'd been working with us for a year, so he could move to New York City and show them all just what Abilene boys with snakeskin wallets are made of.
BONUS: You may recognize that banner behind us from such episodes of the Daily Show as that one in 2004 that featured our former Executive Director. (Here it is in case you're interested... I've seen it at least six times and it still cracks me up.)


Then we went down to San Antonio for its newly resurrected Sacred Harp convention. Here are Alexa and Richard in our hotel room. Disturbingly, they're NOT posing just for the camera.


My lunch, captured for posterity the Sunday of the San Antonio convention. Yes, my friends, barbecued chicken and Sun Chips. If they wanted to serve PLANTS at their potluck lunch, by god, they would've invited a bunch of horses to come sing with them. Actually it was a surprisingly satisfying monochromatic meal. I'm not including the copious amounts of oatmeal-raisin cookies I finished it up with, but you get the idea.

It's been a singing-full month... I don't have any shots of the East Texas convention, which was last weekend, but Alexa got her photo in the front-page (of Section C) coverage in the Tyler newspaper. That convention gets a big article every year because, well, it's East Texas and what else are they going to cover? (No offense, East Texas. In your defense, your news is at least as bad as what gets covered in WMass.)

Our local convention is coming up the last weekend in August... sadly, Rebecca won't be gracing us with her presence this year so we can get pictures taken of us in our pretty Sunday dresses. But we'll try to have an okay singing without her.

In conclusion, do you wish this was the man who was going to be presiding over YOUR wedding?

Friday, August 08, 2008

In the bright season of my youth

So I spent the entire afternoon making gallons of applesauce while watching popular streaming video. Retrochic AND cutting edge internet media? Now if only I could get better gas mileage by knitting a facebook account for Barack Obama, I might be able to totally corner the zeitgeist.



Meanwhile, the dogs do what they do best.



And a final note... I've found 3 white hairs just this week. Clearly I'm meant to beat both my parents to the dignified gray look.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Another one from the file

The book is pretty rare, and really, have you ever seen a more delightful inscription???



Sunday, August 03, 2008

Rebecca's natural habitat

Sorry to be such a stranger! July just disappeared between my visit east and my dad's visit west. When I haven't been vacationing, I've been working for a livin. Not that I'm really complaining about spending all my time playing records and shelving pretty books. Well, I do complain about the heavy lifting. Heavy lifting, not my friend. And the public. You know how the public can be. Where was I? Oh yes, I thought this would be a good time to put up a file photo from the store.


Remember when I finally realized my fondest childhood dream? Well, before I could even plot to get my new store to introduce staff picks, they up and gave Rebecca's Picks a whole week in the sun! The biggest problem was finding things that hadn't already come home with me.


Here you can see the store better (note movie projected on back wall.) This is an old incarnation, we've crowded in all kind of new things since, most notably a phonebooth-turned-dressing-room.

Behind the scenes commentary... I was pretty obsessed with that Bonnie Raitt album, and I asked around looking to borrow the CD. My mom promptly proved herself an expert level white person by burning me a copy from vinyl. Now I can relive my staff rec glory days at my leisure.

Friday, August 01, 2008

510, represent


Don't get too excited, this is just a PSA. My old phone is dead, so I have a new phone and a new number. The new phone is probably getting sent back before the 30 days are up - it's just too big for my silly small fingers (what's the opposite of a dialing wand?) and most importantly the alarm HAS NO SNOOZE. I cannot function without snooze. On the plus side I've been using my computer to wake up to my favorite christian rock song, the one that makes me laugh no matter how cranky I am. This is almost as good as Katie blasting said song to wake me up as in days of yore, but not quite.

More to the point, I have a new local number! Ditch the 312 number and check your email for an update.