Wednesday, March 29, 2006

March 29 - Knitting a hat

Every wednesday for the past couple months I've gone to knitting night with Emily. Tonight I hope she will show me how to reduce stiches on the hat that I'm making for Marco. We'll go over to the house of Mike and Lauren (girl Lauren, not guy Lauren), where we will turn on the tv and make fun of the girls on "America's Top Model". Damn, they're getting me into this show! What a devious vice!

March 29 - Wawan and the Talking Grease Ball Man

I heard from a little bird that Wawan (and perhaps others) are reading this blog from across the Atlantic. Hi you sneaky boy.

If I had my way, I would post one great picture of you here on the internet for all the world to see. But I don't have the photo. So I'll just have to describe the moment:

It's summer 2003 and all of Marco's friends from engineering school are together in Lebanon for a friend's wedding. The groom organizes a guided hiking tour for us in the lovely mountains of inner Lebanon, which finishes at a rustic country restaurant.

We (about 25 people) all sit down at a huge dining table. Servers load the table from edge to edge with plates of hummus, tabouli, pickles, eggplant, cheeses, pita bread, raw spiced meat, lamb kebabs, tomatoes, olives.......the list of food goes on and on. We eat voraciously until one funny dish comes out. It's a big, baseball-sized ball of falafel. Some people take a bite and discover it is hollow inside except for a well of liquid grease. Kinda disgusting. It's like drinking a deep fry pan.

Most people just put down this grease ball and move on to other foods. But Wawan (and this is why we all love Wawan) picks up the ball and cracks it open. The crack looks like a big smile, so he dabs on two dots of hummus for eyes. Then he begins a puppet show with the grease ball man. He talks and waves the grease ball man around at everyone until we're all laughing and getting quite ridiculous. Then he squeezes it and it looks like grease ball man vomits up all his oily guts. We all roll over laughing like kids, pausing only for a second to wonder if we look completely disrespectful, then just continuing to laugh anyway. Even the old one-armed man that was our hiking guide was laughing so hard he had tears in his eyes.

I hope someone out there still has this photo of Wawan and the grease ball man. Send it to me if you do.

(PS....j'aurais pu ecrire tous ca en francais, mais je veut vous donner un peu de repetition en anglais! Salut Wawan, Raphael et tous les autres a Paris. Vous me manque!)

April 6, 2006 -- I got the Picture!!

Here's something excellent......I opened my emails this morning and found pictures. Ask a wish and it shall be granted. Here is THE photo I was looking for, direct from Edouard and Celine in Paris (Vous etes trop fort!!) .

Here he is ............ Wawan and the Talking Grease Ball Man:

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

March 28 - Snow Geese

This blog is becoming a birdwatchers journal!

I walked to Afton this evening. The weather is absolutely lovely out - soft air, fragrant scents, golden sunset.

I was down by the river. Further downstream there was a huge flock of white geese. They were pure white, something I don't remeber having seen before. I thought they might be seagulls or swans, but they were definitely geese. The made a loud sort of rolled cooing noise and it was charming. They were quite pretty.

I told mom about it and she said they are probably snow geese. She said they migrate all the way up to the arctic. Since our river is big and runs north-south all the way down to Louisiana (after meeting the Mississippi 30 miles south of here), it is a popular migration path for all sorts of birds.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

March 25 - Time to Move On...

I'm still in Minnesota, but I'm getting a little antsy for the next step in the process of Marco and I moving. We still can't quite say what the next step is, but the planning is in the works. News will come soon. Mom got back from Florida on wednesday, and it is nice to see her, but now I must relinquish the house to her again and I feel like I'm ready for my own space.

All that said, it's been a good few months however. Very good. Much needed.

Emily taught me how to knit with circular needles, so now I'm knitting Marco a hat. I did that this morning while watching woodworking shows on PBS! I love woodworking shows. Someday I will get tools and work some wood.

I was just reading the title of this post, and a memory crossed my mind. It's about a song.... "It's Time to Get Going" by Tom Petty....

When I was in high school I had a wild, WILD urge to go to Australia. That was all I wanted. I had been there once at age 16 and had fallen deeply and madly in love with the country. I saved up my money for about two years and left for Australia at age 18, just me, big dreams and a backpack.

I remember the day I arrived. There was the airplane, then finding the youth hostel, busses, checking in, finding my bed, putting on sheets. Lots of action and also jetlag. Not a lot of time to reflect. I just fell asleep. I awoke later in the summer evening sun.

I went into the living room of the hostel and put on my headphones. I had a discman and a Tom Petty cd. In a totally unplanned fashion, the words of the first song went like this:

It's time to move on.
It's time to get going.
What lies ahead I have no way of knowing.....
but under my feet, baby,
grass is growing.
It's time to move on. It's time to get going.....

It may have been a melancholic song for Tom Petty, but at that moment it shimmered with optimism for me. I looked around, and had the realization WAS in Australia. I WAS moving on. I had no idea what the future would bring, and that was pure, exhilarating bliss.

There was a soft warm summer breeze in November, the murmer of lilting accented voices in the hallways, tanned people who looked like surfers, exotic cockatoos making loud caws outside the window. It was a rare, perfect moment.

Friday, March 24, 2006

March 24 - Zurich roadtrip

Marco is off on a road trip. He's driving from Paris to Zurich, Switzerland with our friend (and former Singapore roommate) Eric. They decided to go visit Maria, our favorite fiery Bulgarian and her boyfriend Urbain. They're not there yet, though, because they stopped in the Alps for a ski.

Yesterday I went for a walk and had another encounter with wildlife. This time I was just passing the stream on the way to Afton and a large hawk flew up off the forest floor with a bat in it's claws. It was right next to me. I think it was a Red-Tailed Hawk -- it was tan with lots of mottled black spots. It had that same intense gaze in it's eyes that hawks and eagles have. And it looked satisfied with the feel of a big piece of fresh meat in it's claws.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

March 21 - Spring comes and nature blooms

The sunny, wet, sloppy days of spring are near. The air is starting to smell fantastic in a sweet and earthy way. Of all the things I am happy to be home for, few can compare to the sweet exhilaration of spring in the North.

Animals are out in abundance too. I was driving to St. Paul this evening to have dinner with my cousin Barb and her husband Pete. As I drove straight west into the golden sunset, I realized there were at least 7 or 8 flocks of geese up in the sky, and all were flying due north. North! When they arrive, so does the warm air and sunshine.

And at lunch I drove over to Hudson and the bald eagles were sitting on the ice on the river again, near the open water. Last week Dad said that is a typical way that eagles look for fish. They're so big. They intrigue me. I should go to the shore and watch them hunt for fish one of these days.

Finally, yesterday when I came downstairs in the morning and opened the window, I saw several odd brown lumps out among the trees. After a moment of pause, I realized that they were a whole troupe of deer resting in the sun on the forest floor. They looked content and relaxed, napping and staring around. I realized we usually see deer when they are alert or running away. This was very peaceful, and it felt like a secret view into the hidden life of the forest.

Friday, March 17, 2006

March 17 - Snow, neighbors, Hawaii

I already posted today, but I was thinking about this morning:

I was leaving to return books to the library, driving down our little road through a channel cut between piles of snow. Suddenly my neighbor Bob ran out and flagged me down. His car was dead and it needed a jump, so I pulled my car over and helped him out. He and his wife just returned to Minnesota two days ago after living in Hawaii for two years. They actually WANTED to come back to Minnesota, which, note to all of you who are far away, is currently piled with tons of snow. I joked that he must be in shock, because they arrived from the tropics right into our biggest snowstorm of the year. And his car was dead from, of course, the cold. Not a Hawaii-type problem.

But he said he was happy to be back, and that landing in the middle of a snowstorm was just what they had hoped for.

The funny story behind all this is that his wife, Bev, is actually my Mom's best friend from high school. She was visiting one day when Bob came over to borrow something. Romance bloomed and Bev and Bob got married. Thus my mom's best childhood friend became my mom's next-door neighbor, 50-odd years after their schooldays in Minneapolis. When Bob and Bev left for Hawaii my mom was sad. Needless to say, Mom will be thrilled that they have moved back.

March 17 - (like cabbage & corned beef?)

Top o' the day all my wee lads and lasses. Happy St. Patty's to all! Raise a green pint to the best of your kin and say this Irish toast:

May you get all your wishes but one,
so that you will always have something to strive for...

Ok....once you've done that, get back on your computer. I've found a fairly useful tool for anyone who searches for information on the internet a lot. It's called and it's hyped as the "wave of the future". (?? I guess time will tell.) Anyway, it's a bookmarking system that lets you save and search useful sites, and it's interactive with other users in the world, taking it up a notch from your old "favorites" list in Explorer. You can look at the links that other people are using at and sort of "ride the wave" of the effort that they have put into searching. Also, you can pass useful links to other people. I haven't tried this particular function yet, but it looks promising for anyone who shares common interests with other people, or likes to network. For example, if miss Emily Allen were using it, I could pass on a bunch of craft and jewelery sites that she might like.....

Ten minutes later:

Found one more good Irish toast! ;-)

Here's to Eve
the mother of us all!
And here's to Adam
the Johnny on the spot when the leaf began to fall.

Monday, March 13, 2006

March 13 - Yes! Big Snow!!

We finally got our biggest snowfall of the year. It's a typical March snow - wet, sloppy and heavy. This snow is so wet and heavy, in fact, that it is hanging on tree branches and pulling the trees towards the ground. I awoke this morning to see one tree curved into an arc, with it's tip touching the earth. When I went out to shake off the snow, I realized that the whole forest was leaning and curving towards the ground. In radiant bright white. Very surreal looking. Only the biggest trees remain straight.

I hope the trees will be able to stand up again after the snow melts. When I was a kid there were trees deeper in the forest by my treehouse that were curved to the ground and for some mysterious reason continued to grow that way, even in the summer. I never understood why. Now I am guessing that a heavy snowfall like this caused them to bend and they never straightened back up.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

March 12 - Selamat Siang!

Just a quick post for the morning. Yesterday I was at Urban Outfitters, looking at shoes, and I ran into a group of Indonesian girls and got to speak Indonesian with them!! I didn't realize it was Indonesian at first that they were speaking, but then I heard "sepatu" (shoes) and "biru" (blue) in the middle of a lot of words I didn't catch, so I had to jump up and ask them where they were from. Yes indeed.....Indonesia!

I was quite rusty because it's been five years since I lived in Indonesia, but it was so fun! I was still able to put together full sentences. Indonesians have to be at the top of the world's nicest people too! It turns out these girls were students at the University of Iowa. Good luck to you if you happen to come look on this blog. Sampai nanti!

By the way yesterday was an action packed day! More about that later.....

Friday, March 10, 2006

March 10 - Give the gift of Pee & Poo

I was browsing the web (for useful stuff actually) but learned that this is apparently this is THE next trendy set of dolls (I'm not joking) ......

I can just imagine the public commentary:

"Ashley found Pee and Poo in her Christmas stocking."
"Pee and Poo are flying off the shelves at Walmart!"
"Kyle went to sleep with Poo tucked under his arm."

March 10 - Why Do I Remember March 10th?

Hmmmmm, curious. I got on the computer this morning and saw today's date, March 10th. For some reason I feel like I remember this date as special.........but I can't remember why.

Is it someone's birthday? Did something memorable happen to me on this day? I can't place it in my mind. It's definitely something.

I thought it might be the Ides of March, the infamous day that Julius Caesar was assassinated in Shakespear's play (we meticulously studied this in Ms. Aubineau's class in high school, hence marking my memory forever), but that's actually on the 15th. I looked on the internet, and all I found was that today was the date of the Louisiana Purchase. I doubt THAT is what I have on my mind.

Hmmmm, if anyone knows why I remember March 10th, let me know...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

March 9 - Goodbye Mirbel

I woke up today and saw a big bird circling high up in the sky. I think it's one of the bald eagles again.

Today Marco moved out of our apartment in Paris (many thanks to you Marco, and to Pyves and Guillaume who helped out!). Goodbye to our little number 5, on rue were a good place.

It's one of many good places we've been lucky to live in. It joins the ranks of our little blue surf shack in San Diego (of which I have no pictures) and our five-roommate den of parties and Chinese hijinks in Singapore (shown below, as I'm on my way to dj the Summer Ball).

Man, these places had some great stories....

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Sign of the Day


Sunday, March 05, 2006

March 5 - Life at 15

Last night I went over to Emily and Lauren's house. Just one of those nice quiet evenings hanging out. Emily looked up art classes in Italy while Lauren cooked a delicious pasta (clams I believe), with a raspberry bread from the bakery as a dessert. Before going there I grabbed two old video tapes from home. They were videos I made one day in 10th grade, when Lauren, Emily and I were all around 15 years old.

The videos could be summed up as "24 hours in the life of Sabrina" including an earnestly detailed look at my home, my school, my classes and all the people I used to know. The reason I had made the videos was that I was about to be leaving for a summer exchange to Australia with 6 other kids from my school, and this was to be sent in advance to my host family to introduce myself and let them know a little about my life.

What a surprise it was to see it all -- me, Lauren, Emily our friends and our world at that age. We were young, naive, silly, real. It seemed to bring something to a poignant full circle. I've been travelling and wandering for nearly ten years, since the end of high school basically. And these past three months at home have been a homecoming after living my life in so many other places and experiencing so many new things. And then this video brought a little slice of our old life out in sound and color. It felt like a window back into another time, mystifying and fascinating in a bittersweet and endearing way. I was lucky, as always, to watch it with Lauren and Emily, as they were as much a part of it all as I was. It's one thing to watch something like that alone, another thing to have other people who understand what it was all about.

PS - another thing this morning....I woke up and to my surprise it was snowing. The snowfall got heavier and heavier with big wet flakes and now at noon the world outside my house is pure white. All white. White on white. All the trees, the ground, the pond, the porch and the sky are all white... matte white under a heavy cloudy sky. Since it's march it won't last long.

Friday, March 03, 2006

March 3 - And now for the mundane details

Enough about the exciting and interesting points of my life. Today I am going to write about the mundane....

A lot of time in the past two months has been spent preparing for my glassworking studio. While in concept that is exciting, the preparation has been quite ordinary. It takes an astounding amount of time to accomplish. So here I paint you a picture of the typical day:

I sit here at my computer, or at the library (Woodbury library, ughh), day in and day out. To give an example, two days ago I started an itemized list of every piece of equipment I would need for a studio. Then I tried to give an estimated price for each of these items. I thought it would take perhaps an afternoon to accomplish, but no.....I've been going at it for TWO DAYS! I have to look up the prices of about 200 items on the internet. Just this simple task takes way more time than I ever would have expected. The goal is simply to figure out how much capital I would need to start a fully-operational glass studio.

Knowing how much money I need, I then need to figure out how much money I can get. I've been spending a lot of time on this too. I've been passing days looking for grants in books at the library and on the internet, sorting through to find which ones fit my case, only to realise that there aren't many grants. Then looking into loans -- how they work, what you need to have to get one, who gives them out. And that in itself takes days. Then I learn that for a loan I need a convincing business plan. So I make one. I learn what a business plan is first, what it requires. Then I fill it in. I define my products, estimate how much they cost. I find demographic information on who would buy stained glass windows, where they live, where they shop, how they spend. This alone has taken me a month, sorting through masses of information on the internet and at the library. I look for comparable studios, analyse their structures, estimate their financial success, analyse their marketing strategies. I analyse glass suppliers, prices, wholesalers. I make marketing materials, business cards, stationary, a website............................Whew!

I enjoy this stuff actually. I just never realized how much time all this preparation would take. Pretty impressive. And while I'm working on this I tend to neglect laundry, dishes, walking to Afton for some exercise and such. For someone with a lot of time on my hands, I'm surprised to find there's not enough hours in the day to get it all done! But as I said, it's work I like and I'm happy. I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

March 2 - Oh! Eagles!

I'm at my computer right now, in the living room overlooking the forest and pond. Just a minute ago I saw a gigantic dark swoosh come through the bare winter trees. You know what it is?....... A bald eagle! It is sitting on a tree right out my window right now. (I feel like I'm typing this in a whisper.)

Its partner is flying in circles overhead. Oh, this eagle is so beautiful. They truly have a bold gaze and alert eyes....all the dignity that their reputation says that have, and even more. Seeing this eagle so close is more impressive than I ever would have imagined.

I have seen these eagles before, but never this close. About three weeks ago I was driving over the river to Hudson. Far down below there was some open water that had just iced over during a cold snap. There were two large dark figures sitting on this smooth clear ice -- and they were two bald eagles! Probably the same pair. I was impressed even from that distance.

Then a couple days ago I was out for a walk. Three blocks from my house I again saw a huge dark shape out of the corner of my eye, and again, a bald eagle (probably this same one) flew right over my head.

So it seems a pair of bald eagles has come to live in our neighborhood. How amazing! I never knew how truly beautiful these birds are.

For any non-Americans reading, what makes this even more wonderful is that the bald eagle was nearly extinct about twenty years ago due to a pesticide called DDT that destroyed their eggs. Now they have made a significant comeback and are even re-populating rivers such as my own beloved St. Croix. How fortunate we are!