Thursday, May 31, 2007

Wednesday Night Fever

Last night was the second time in two weeks I've gone out dancing. Tres extravagant. But if I go too long without salsa I feel . . .couped up? Like my inner rumba needs to leak out. Last night, I went local to a place I haven't been to before but is only 2 miles from my house. I took my Most Rad Neighbor Molly who is a veggie/healthy chef by profession. She had never danced salsa before, but she enthusiastically agreed to take the lesson given at the club before it popped off. I sat in the wings and watched her do awesomely as I drank a giant coconut mojito served to me in a silo. I had to hold it with two hands. It was delicious.

A short woman in a corset top sat next to me as I watched Molly, and then god reached down and flipped the On switch to the woman's mouth. She crammed so much information into the remaining 20 minutes of the lesson that my head is still spinning with her words, and accent. She was visiting from Australia. She had an aboriginal tint to her, a mix maybe, but that's about the only thing she didn't talk about. She was in town for the LA Salsa Conference. She's a teacher of the salsa back home and yammer-yammer-yammer about life as a dancer and the philosophies of scoping out the good dancers in the club, pre-dancing. My personal philosophy is that the older dancers are usually pretty good. And if you come in to a club wearing a hat, specifically a fedora, you better know how to dance. And if you're wearing white shoes or old-timey white and black or white and brown oxfords, you better know how to dance. I was unconvinced about the Aussie Dancer's skills, but she was very likable. Oh, and we have this line of cosmetics here in the states called MAC -- "yes, I've heard of it" -- and it's about 50% less here and she's maxed out her credit card because of that -- oh, and because we have the best salsa dresses here too. I thought, we do? Where? She wasn't wearing one of them, but her corset top was cute.

The lesson ended and I was thrilled about Molly's potential as a dancer and salsa buddy. She breathlessly came off the dance floor with wide eyes and said, "I want to take as many lessons as it takes to become really good." I nodded, "Ah, the bug has bitten you quickly, Grasshopper." Throughout the course of the night I would tell her who to ask to dance because you don't get better unless you just get out there and dance. The older, seasoned gentlemen are the best teachers and they enjoy putting in a little pro bono work on the dance floor.

The club was small and sweaty. It filled up fast, packed to the edges. The band blared a great horn section and cracked a nice timbal, and they shared the dance floor too since there was no stage. The dancers were ok. Some were good, but most were ok. The Aussie Dancer was ok; not bad, but not as great as all the talk would lead you to believe.

My favorite partner of the night was a Cuban cat who was in his early 30's. Tall, white-skinned, dark goatee, handsome with a clouded right eye. I didn't notice this until mid dance -- that the eye didn't work -- because his flamboyant style distracted me. I must say I love a skilled, theatrical dancer. He was over the top and seemed from a different era. He tapped on-lookers with the back of his hand while laughing and dancing. He'd freeze and pose, keeping time with his knee; showing off relentlessly and working moves that showed me off too. We danced next to the band and they nodded our way and he would laugh and point to them like he knew them, but now I doubt he really did. If Ok Dancers would move into our space, inevitably because of the crammed dance floor, he'd push them back with a wide sweep of his hand and yell, not angrily, but still theatrically in Spanish, "Watch out, man. Watch it." I loved this especially because Ok Dancers will pile drive you into a pole because of their cluelessness. But a real dancer is always aware of space and they glide their partners into openings, no matter how small, and they don't let her get hit or stepped on.

Molly and I left before midnight, drenched and laughing. We spilled out onto the 3rd Street Promenade still talking in club voices so that they echoed off the cobbled walkway. She was dizzy because she danced with an Ok Dancer that knew decent turns, but poor Molly doesn't know how to turn well yet. I gave her pointers in the street next to the promenade trees that are lit with tiny periwinkle lights that have been strung since Christmas. Near the parking lot, I reenacted my first time dancing Lambada about 20 years ago or whenever the Forbidden Dance first came out, and our laughs ran down the alley and out onto Wilshire Boulevard.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Happy Birthday, Maya

Today my Maya is twelve. Twelve. When the babies are little, you keep them safe, you love them up, you feed them, teach and guide - if you find these things easy, then it's easy. But now I'm heading into obscure tween territory where as a parent you do the same things when they were little -- save, love, feed, teach guide -- while they buck for some independence and test their own decisions, good and bad.

Even in tweendome Maya is nothing but fantastic. She's just a great person. She's earnest and gives all she has. She is kind and responsible and thoughtful. She is a gush of love and life when she enters a room. And look at those eyebrows. Everyday she looks taller; lean and strong, an athlete's build. She is budding and changing, but she stays kid-like in many ways, a teen in others. I love her so much.

I've told her birth story before, but I don't tire of it so I'll tell it again.

She was born at a naval hospital on a Thursday evening, my favorite day. I was born on a Thursday too. My water broke early in the morning, as I was getting up for work. I've described often the coming and going of the ocean's tide that I imagined with my labor contractions. When a contraction came, I envisioned the the tide coming in also; the contraction faded and the tide shrank back to the sea. Imagining the tide shielded me from almost everything else. In the labor room it seemed as if everyone was in a panic; everything was a fast-paced dust-up outside of my calm encapsulation. I felt still within a swirl of frantic motion. My labor was not without its issues. I threw up in pans and shit the bed and ripped off my agitating hospital gown to labor naked. At one point, Maya's in-womb heart rate dropped enough to cause nurses to panic, and they ran around more and injected my thigh with something. They stuck something up me to "wake the baby up" -- I think they were making shit up on the spot -- but still I felt so calm even when they seemed to purposefully try to worry me. Maya and I were untouchable. Didn't they know?

Maya's dad, BD, was in the room as was his wonderful mother, Grandma Carmen, but I barely remember their presence. I remember Grandma Carmen rubbing my lower back with a tennis ball because a nerve felt crushed by all the goings on. The nerve thing was suffocating, but the tennis ball helped. She would whisper weepily to me, "Mi'ja, I've given birth five times, but I've never seen one. Thank you for letting me be here." This swelled my heart, but I still felt encapsulated from her; more like, I'm so happy Maya and I can bring you this experience, but it didn't connect me mother-to-mother to Grandma Carmen in that moment. Other things have, but not that.

I could feel a bond with Maya on the rise as she was about to enter the world. When she was in the womb, I felt more like a Grand Nurturer, a budding Goddess, but I did not feel a complete connection with her. In the delivery room though I could feel a force of her pending presence, and I looked around like I knew a secret. I felt completely empowered, centered and illuminated as chaos waged on around me. This empowerment seemed so personal that it caused some disconnect from BD too. I wasn't allowing him in my vacuum either. After five hours of labor with little dilation thanks to whatever they injected into my thigh, I called for an epidural. I sat on the edge of the bed and followed instructions to stay very still. I hung my head to concentrate and looked down through my rigid arms at the legs of a scrub-clad anesthesiologist and of the legs of BD who was standing behind him. As the doctor inserted the needle into my back, I saw BD's legs buckle and a nurse yelled at him, "Sit down!" I kind of laughed to myself and realized that whatever he was experiencing or whatever he was feeling in the delivery room were completely outside of my own thoughts and feelings.

The pushing gave me issue. I started to feel anxious. It had been fourteen hours, including over an hour of pushing, and I wanted to see Maya so badly by then. As I tried pushing again and as the nurses counted to ten -- chanting demandingly at me -- I heard yelling in the next delivery room. They were shouting, "Apgar 2! Apgar 2!" which is an evaluation score of a newborn's condition; 10 is the best. Healthy babies usually score between 8 and10. I watched two nurses rush by my door bundling the Apgar Two baby. I bore down then and pushed Maya out. BD put his head down sweetly on a table and cried and Grandma Carmen wept in her own corner, and I all but grabbed Maya out of the hands of the doctor. She was swaddled in a white navy-issue blanket bordered with a pink stripe and a light blue stripe. Her face was swollen and red, her eyes especially from too much time in the birth canal, and her black hair was thick and matted. I wished the room away. I put my face so close to hers and we locked looks; I gulped them in. I could feel her tiny puffs of breath against my lips. And I was astounded. As I stared -- my own breath held -- everything else in the room did quickly fall away and out of focus.

I saw nothing but Maya for years after that moment.

Happy Birthday, my big girl baby. I love you so much. You are amazing and a world-changer already.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

self portrait challenge - love in a back alley

I think I've posted this before. One of my favorite photos of us, ever. I love that Tara absolutely captured how we feel. I see that photo and I say, That's it. That's it.

(Click on the photo to get all up in our moment. Uh, that's it, ain't it?)

More street photography aqui.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hemp & All that Jazz

I've been diggin' the rising hemp craze. Got me some hemp milk made by Living Harvest. Also picked up some of their protein powder to add to shakes and such. The protein & amino acid count is high in hemp and it has the perfect ratio of Omega 3's to 6, hard to find in foods, even in fish. But better yet, it tastes good. I think. The girls are fine with it for cereal, but they weren't digging me pimping it as a straight-up drink. I heated it and added a little agave and nutmeg, like a chai deal, to which they nodded and said, "Ok, we'll work with this." Better yet, I adapted a pancake recipe from Student's Go Vegan Cookbook and made Mami's Hemp Banana Pancakes. By the by, this book is simple, easy, sweet, filled with recipes on the cheap and highly recommended.

Mami's Hemp Banana Pancakes
1c. unbleached all-purp flour
2TBSP of hemp protein powder (this is expensive and I added for more protein, but you can sub flour)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp of sea salt
1/4 tsp of cinnamon
1 1/3 c. hemp milk
1 TBSP canola oil (organic pref.)
1 TBSP pure maple syrup
1 banana, sliced
1/4 c. chopped nuts (optional)

In large bowl, combine dry ingredients. In sep bowl, mix hemp milk, oil, syrup then pour this into flour mixture. Mix then fold in banana slices and nuts if you want. Add more hemp milk or flour depending if you like your batter thick or thin. In a lightly oiled skillet (I use Earth Balance instead), pour in batter (I use a 1/4c. measuring cup) on med-med/hi heat. Flip when batter bubbles. Cook until golden and delicious smelling. The girls ate 'em up!

I baked vegan chocolate chip cookies last night too. I'm on a cooking tear as of late mainly sparked by Maya's whispered wish of lightly transitioning to veganism. She told me that on the drive back from our trip and I flushed with pride. She is nervous though. She doesn't want flack from her BD, which she will get, nor from her Taekwondo coach, which she will get, and I understand that. I told her a transition is perfectly ok. Around Mami 100% is ok, around others do the best you can, I told her. She's sparked by the idea. The trip did more to her than I had thought. Yesterday was Future Career Day and she dressed as an animal rights activist. BIG LOVE in my heart. So, I've been motivated more than before to be a good cook. I only cook veggie for them anyway -- though sometimes cheese stuff for them because I was being lazy -- but now, I don't know, I feel like I need to shine in this moment. I want her diet balanced, the food delicious; with these two things she's armed for any anti-vegan argument.

So, the cookies - not exactly hi-nutrition items and they weren't necessarily creative, just a basic chocolate chip cookie adapted from a basic non-vegan recipe, but HOLY SHIT THEY WERE UNBELIEVABLE. If any of you ask me about my Raw Pilgrimage or my vow to lay off vegan sweets right now, I'll clobber you. Sigh. It's a day by day challenge. Fruits and veggies are still a big part of my regime, I'm just really enjoying cooking lately. And I'm polishing my skillz for Maya and the family, and her friends, and my friends and anyone else who wants to eat my food.

Basic Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies That Make You Say HOLY SHIT

2 1/4 c. unbleached all-purp flour (organic is always better - oh P.S., this is probably a tiny bit more flour than is needed. I splashed in soy milk later to wet things up a bit)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 c. (2 sticks) Earth Balance
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla
Egg Replacer, enough for 2 eggs
1 c. vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips (the original recipe called for twice this, but I'm not a fan of over-chipped cookies so mess with this how you like)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda, salt in a small bowl. Beat Earth Balance, granulated & brown sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Add egg replacer mixture (mix together before this step) gradually and mix until well combined. Beat in flour mixture. Stir in chips. Spoon drop on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 9-12 minutes until golden brown on edges. Let cool 2 minutes on sheet then place cookies on a wire rack (if you have) to cool the rest of the time. Try not to shove 4 or 5 immediately in your mouth -- OR, just go for it. This recipe makes about 2 dozen exactly especially if everyone dips into the cookie dough first like we do.

Uncle Eddies - what? What? If any of y'all want to send me a tin, I'll bake some for you too. Extreme vegan activism through mind-blowing baking. It's my new motto and I'm getting an apron printed.

And lastly, go check out Betsy's Travel Site. She and her rad husband Jim keep the photos of their adventures here. It's inspiring. Makes you want to live your life however you've ever dreamed of living it, no matter what that means.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Settle In, Folks. Let me tell you about a Weekend Road Trip

Sometimes an experience feels like no big deal going into it. It's fun and breezy; we're just who we are in different surroundings, out to have a good time. And then the significance gains momentum on its own. It swells into Important. And Meaningful. The strings that bind the girls and me were cinched even tighter this weekend. I am a great event planner, but I couldn't have planned the emotion that is still tautly inflated in my chest. I suck in my breath remembering this experience.

I realized that all the traveling I've done with the girls in the last two years has been only for Taekwondo. The lightness of our trip to Northern California and to the Farm Sanctuary this weekend was a relief. The idea of a quick, fun vacation together charged me throughout the entire trip. It charges me still. We left just after five in the morning on Friday. The girls slept the first three hours of the drive as I had hoped because I enjoy the meditation of early-morning driving. The girls missed the sunrise, but I waved it in, quiet in solitude and thankful for the exact day, my exact life. I feel that gush always, often, in the presence of beauty more powerful than what I can mindfully conjure. The girls awoke well into the second half of the drive while we were on the famed highway five. I had already zipped up and over the Grapevine, me and the truckers, and I zoomed along the two lane highway that is laid down in the middle of California grape crops, mandarin groves and cattle ranches. It's a flat, serious highway; slower drivers best move to the right with the semi's because those that are Northern Cali bound are not fucking around. Along the highway are also miles-long patches of dry, golden fields and untiled dirt pierced with signs that say, "Available for sale or lease." Parts of California look too thirsty. There were acres and acres of perfectly aligned trees with floppy branches and we stole a nano-long look down clear, narrow aisles between them that stretched for miles. I did not know what these trees were -- I wish there were signs for the ignorant -- but I speculated all trip, there and back. Almond. Olive? More oranges maybe.

As the girls shook off sleep and came alive and enthralled with the drive too, we blasted hip-pop CD's and sang and seat danced. Mina is now old enough to belt out lyrics to songs and that my friends is a big fat heart tingler. "Sing it, Mina!" I yelled out, flushed with love. They gasped when the windmills of highway 580 rose up along soft, high-rolling hills. Maya had studied wind power not long ago and she gave us facts. Some of the mills had newly painted blades, black and white striped, and before I could say it, Maya said that this was probably to deter birds better. Many birds are casualties to windmills. The drive is a coast from the windmills into Oakland, then across the bay. I love riding the Bay Bridge into the city. From the middle it feels like I am descending into San Francisco. The tremendous and cluttered city line -- rounded and jammed up against the water -- approaches and by the end of the bridge, I am absorbed into the streets, sucked up fast, part of the bustle of the cityscape now and observed by those still on the bridge.

My first stop is always the Rainbow Coop on Folsom and 13th. It is a Costco of healthy living and the girls were just as enthusiastic about wandering the aisles for an hour as I. The bay area heath enthusiasts seem much more righteously serious. It was the first time I noticed the lack of children in the huge store and, as usual, the three of us tornado'ed through the place laughing and goofing, drawing the tightest of smiles from fellow shoppers. In the Rainbow's extensive and fantastic vegan bakery section, Maya loudly says things like, "These cupcakes look terrible next to yours!" And I go, "Sshh," and we laugh. And Mina says loudly, "Any bacon in any of these pies?" And I say, "Sshhh" and we laugh harder. I feel we're an avalanche of joy through the somber business of conscientious living, but maybe those that feel the need to act more dedicated feel differently. Ah fuck it -- "Girls, jump on the cart and let's try not to break the organic wine bottles!" I gave them both $20 to spend in the place any way they liked. Maya bought me these flowers for Mother's Day and some great woven earrings for herself. Mina got me a nine dollar silver rose ring and herself a fairy paper doll book. And I bought a funnel and a glass half-gallon jug for almond milk and a ton of vegan baked goods -- the pies are the best! -- and I said, "Hey, should we get any healthy food?" To which we yelled out a collective, "NAW!"

Our whirlwind tour continued when we met Betsy for dinner at Herbivore. Betsy has no children, nor desire for any of her own and does not visit with them on a regular basis. For as gregarious and fun-loving as Betsy is, I think she was taken aback by the force that is Maya and Mina. They want to be the life of the table, of the room. They wanted Betsy to hear every story and see every antic. I almost felt badly for Betsy and she looked over a me a couple times as if to say, Is this how it always is, which it is of course. After dinner, we went to the de Young to power through that. When you round the trees of Golden Gate Park to catch the first glimpse of the museum, it is flooring. The hole-punched copper is stunning. You raise your eyes from ground to sky to see this:
This picture is missing the red, almost purple, patches of metal sheen, and this post cannot contain what I felt for the museum. I'll write later in more detail. The museum deserves that. And besides, the Farm Sancutary is crying for attention.

The anticipation of arriving at the FS was prolonged by the stretches of family-style farm land. We were on a country road, Route 200, and it stretched and lasted until the girls hollered and clapped when we finally saw the sign.

The tour of the farm was just starting as we arrived and in the mild mid-day sun, we explored all barns, all corrals. We wanted to immediately go to the pigs, but we started with the turkeys because they were making such a racket. These two were squaring off, each on the other side of a fence, shuffling feathers and wahalodeling loudly at each other.

We arrived at the pig barn to hear that Ramona was living in another stall, a special-needs stall and one not open to the public generally. It seems that Ramona is smaller than the gargantuan pigs in the regular barn and she was getting picked on. She was placed with two other small pigs and an epileptic sow named Mildred. Ramona helps keep Mildred active, and in turn Mildred doesn't pick on Ramona. We gave these regular-pen pigs love anyway:

It turned out that Mina had no reservations whatsoever and approached the animals naturally and comfortably. She would just lie on a pig or a cow like it was nothing, while Maya was more skittish and nervous. I will admit that being a city girl, I had my reservations too, but I trusted that a 600lb pig wouldn't trample me and I felt that the cows were probably ok too. I told Maya that animals usually sense nervousness and we should try to play it cool. But when we checked out the goats, every single one of them, one by one, galloped away from Maya as soon as she held up the camera or her hand for them to smell. It was so sadly funny, Maya just standing there with her hand out as all goats jetted from her. We of course had to make voices for the goats, "I'm outta here." "This girl's making me nervous, man. Later." Maya was like, "What? Do I smell funny?" This goat stopped to pose with us right before it made a wide arc around Maya and jogged down the hill.
One humongous black and white cow, who was sitting basking in the hot dirt, scampered quickly to its feet when feeling Maya's presence and walked away, kind of startling us too. Maya said, "That's great." We got some good pictures with them anyway.

Couple of facts: Pigs are rough to the touch, and hard, but cows are soft especially around the neck. Cow's tongues feel like a cat's. Another fact: I didn't feel super sentimental around most of the farm animals. They are beautiful and rather majestic, and I don't eat them or cause them harm because denouncing cruelty of any kind is the right thing to do. The animals made me laugh and were a joy to see, but they didn't all particularly yank on my heart strings. But I will say that I was melted by three specific animals at the Farm Sanctuary. One was Billy, a four month old calf that was as soft as down. Billy had been rescued from a veal truck which he was on because he was sickly; his legs didn't work so well. Billy is now healthy and walking fine and it does make one wonder why a living creature can be discarded like trash so quickly. Billy is a licker. He just wanted to lick your hand or arm and if you left it there long enough, he was a sucker. Like a baby, he just wanted to suckle on whatever he could. He was so precious that I measured him up to see if he'd fit in my purse. Mina was especially game to have her hand sucked out of sight.

The second animal I fell in love with was Fergus. He is a pot belly pig that someone found wandering in a residential neighborhood. He went unclaimed. This guy was just bigger than the pugs and he was the sweetest little thing ever. He'd bury his snout in the hay and come up like someone said his name, hay all over his face. I nearly had the girls distract the FS volunteer so I could tuck Fergus under my arm and make a break for it. He wagged his tail, people! The pigs had the most personality. They were smart and playful and funny. Which brings me to my favorite animal of the FS, Ramona. I'm not just saying that! She was special.

Since Ramona was kept in a separate barn, the girls and I got a private tour because of the sponsorship. It was just us, the head of FS education, Ramona, Fergus and Kiwi, a smaller version of Ramona. Mildred was lying down somewhere too. Mina asked a ton of great questions: Why was Ramona the color she was and why was her hair so long and why was she smaller, and we learned that that the calico color is more the color of a wild pig -- Ramona is part wild -- and the pink color and smoothness was bred into pigs for domestication. Ramona was playful and followed us around. I tried to take more pictures but she would come in too close, sniffing my knees, camera, my hands. At one point, while we were talking to Fergus over the gate, Ramona put her snout up Mina's behind causing her to laugh out. That sent a startled Ramona trotting across her yard. She didn't easily come back. We had to go then and as we left Ramona came trotting back to see us off, peering and sniffing through the gate. Uh, we loved her so.

Later that evening, we attending the FS dinner & dance in the wall-less "People Barn". We were served "wheat meat", baked beans, salad and sweet potato bread. Maya leaned in and whispered, "Terrible." Mina hardly ate a thing and said, "Mami, I like your food better." It occurred to me, more strongly then than ever, that cooking great vegan food is a powerful form of advocacy and I was becoming a good advocate. Gene Baur, the co-founder of FS, gave a talk. It was stuff that many of us there already understood and like-mindedly we all nodded at his points. He spoke of individual activism and I felt I am an activist through and through, a gentle one. I know that being kind and becoming a good cook are the strongest weapons I have personally. After the talk, tables were cleared and an Irish folk band set up and began to play. The strung lights lit lacing the barn and dusk fell as the longing whine of an Irish fiddle sounded. Mina asked me to dance for a slower song and I did not hesitate. She wrapped her legs around my waist and we danced cheek to cheek, in strong embrace. I looked to the hills beyond the barn that were turning dark rose. This moment, this life conjured gratefulness again. When the song ended, Maya came and hugged us both. The fiddle player leaned into her bent microphone and said, "Lovely dancing." The music turned lively then and the three of us jumped around and dosi-do'ed. I eventually sat and they went strong, skipping the entire perimeter of the dance floor, inspiring the staff to join them. Large, clasp-handed circles were made and dancers whooped out laughs. I watched the silhouettes of my girls against the royal blue evening sky as they danced open-armed and so free. I gushed that I was able to give them an experience of a life outside of their own. They got to see more of an interesting world and meet people that make a difference. They, from that, reinforced their own sense of compassion all on their own. The black of night fell fast and the stars emerged shining. I turned from the dance floor and could only watch the stars then, the whole splattering of them because this I don't see often. I would imagine that most feel the universe is endless when witnessing a sky full of stars, but I feel it's enclosing; they are mine only, a dome cap on my exact existence, which right then, only hours from Mother's Day, happened to be in the middle of a kind farm where brilliant and free girls danced behind me.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Road Trip Prep and I Miss a Meme

Tomorrow the girls and I leave at the crack's crack o' dawn for a road trip. It's a Mother's Day Weekend Road Trip and part of Maya's birthday present, which is in a couple weeks. We're heading way north to San Francisco for a day & night to visit some vegan spots and hang out with Betsy. Friday night, we're going to Herbivore and then we're trekking over to the newly revamped, and reportedly fabulous, de Young museum to check out the Vivienne Westwood exhibit. Besty forwarded me some photos of VW's fantastic creations when she checked it out a couple weeks ago, and Mina asked me very detailed questions like, "Is that collar made with buttons or shells?" to which I had no clue. "Uh, I don't know, mami," I said, "You're just gonna have to tell me when you see it in person." The thought of seeing the dresses in person made her squeal in a way that only she and the pugs could comprehend. Saturday morning, we are then heading more northeast through the beautiful farm lands of California to visit the good ol' Farm Sanctuary. We're gonna check up on the glorious Ramona ourselves. This weekend the FS is holding some sort of Hoe Down with hay rides and a barn dance and everything. We felt we had to check it out. I am kicking myself for not owning vegan cowboy boots for the exact event.

I told Husband a few weeks ago that I, all of the sudden, felt this trip was important; to have the girls bear witness to happy animals (bigger than a bread box) and tangible compassion towards them. I planned quickly and without a second thought. It has been a source of electric excitement since. Husband said, "Are you sure you want to drive all that way?" "Yes, baby," I said. "Ok, and we're going to that farm?" I realized he didn't understand that he was not invited. I said, "Papi, you're not coming. This for the girls and me." And we both blew out a collective sigh of relief. This is a key component to our well-greased and happy union: We're not trying to drag the other into things that won't be 150% appreciated. I ain't trying to hear no humming and hawing when we're on a farm and he ain't trying to keep me from going. It's a perfect and loving understanding.

I can't wait to report back about the trip and post a billion photos.

In the meantime, does anyone else miss a meme? I mean, I know we roll our eyes and look down on them, but can't we have a little dose of mindless fellow-blogger facts now and again? I stole this from my new friend Rachel. You highlight the things you've experienced -- if you decide to steal this meme too. Of course, I edited and added some things.

1. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
2. Swam with dolphins
3. Split your pants in public
4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
5. Been inside the Great Pyramid
6. Held a tarantula
7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
8. Said “I love you” and meant it
9. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19.Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Left a successful career to pursue your dream
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Trained for a sporting event
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Went on a vacation by yourself
42. Had an amazing friend
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero

58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Posed nude in front of strangers
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Swam in an ocean
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Had your drivers license suspended
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Got married
73. Been in a rain forest
74. Crashed a party
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Got a tattoo
81. Been in the front row at a concert
82. Been on television news programs as an expert
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Sang at a wedding
89. Had a one-night stand
90. Gone to Thailand
91. Bought a house
92. Been in a combat zone
93. Buried one/both of your parents
94. Been on a cruise ship
95. Spoken more than one language fluently
96. Performed in Rocky Horror Picture Show
97. Raised children
98. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Talked at length with a celebrity
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Cried while listening to music
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Petted a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Ridden a bike
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Married your high school sweetheart
119. Was in the Peace Corps
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Lived on an island
132. Petted a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad and The Odyssey
135. Selected one important author who you missed in school, and read

136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140.Had a premonition
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Had your photo taken in a photobooth
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life
151. Gone on a long road trip with your young daughters just to visit a pig. WOOTWOOT.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone.

Monday, May 07, 2007

self portrait challenge - street scene

Great new theme this month over at self portrait challenge . SP's on the street, man.

La familia and I went to the swap meet in East LA on Saturday; Los Amigos! Mall on Jefferson, which looks, from the outside, like a lavender prison compound topped with silver spiral barb wire. Here we get 75 packs of kids underwear for $1. Socks too. Can't beat that especially when the girls report to have not one pair of underwear or matching socks every other weekend. We also bought 48 pairs of cheap earrings for about $2, twelve of which have already turned black or green. We don't care! And the kids and Husband can't wait to lunch on 10 churros for .50 when we go to Los Amigos. We buy them directly from the strainer where they sit above a cauldron of melted grease. You can't beat those, man, you just can't. I kicked myself for not bringing the camera to capture some of the swap meet for the SPC: The fruit cart filled with cayenne-sprinkled papaya or mango on a stick (this is a non-westside LA icon), the beauty shops set up in portable parlors, the fiber optic Virgin Marys . . . I asked Husband for one for my birthday. In that same booth of state-of-the-art religious relics, Mina stated that Jesus had a 6-pack (from hanging on the cross there), just like her. How can I shellac her quotes and hang them in my living room? And mostly I wanted to photograph the make-shift photo lab where print out posters were made of the quinceaƱera , la boda by the water, the boy's first suit, an RIP memorial photo placed carefully on a large, white aisle.

Next time, I'll tote the camera though the vendors will probably stare me down suspiciously. Next time, when we're out of chones and socks again, in about a month.

Maya took this photo against a building near our house. We were on our way back from dance class. Maya has graduated into the adult hip hop class and we shake it like a mother-daughter salt shaker set side by side now, which is a lot of fun. We passed Broadway, saw the gorgeous building and I happened to have the camera. More of the photo shoot in my flickr.