Thursday, November 27, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

We've already been to the grocery store twice today and we're not even making the turkey. Our feast will be enjoyed with our "new" neighbors. And I have to admit that I've been snacking in anticipation of stuffing/dressing. Oh, I can't wait! I hope you enjoy your favorite dish and have a great holiday!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

turkeys; lots of turkeys

Today we enjoyed our premier grade-school Thanksgiving show. Four classes of first-graders sang and performed and recited their way through a robust T-day dinner. This part was fun. The best song was certainly "Burt the Turkey."
(Now that I've updated the picture, I should add that those are Turkey hats worn backwards. You can image what they're meant to resemble.)

Unfortunately, the performance did not end with visions of dinner. We had Pilgrims and (you knew it was coming) "Indians." These were the stereotypical variety. The cringe-factor escalated from the song "If I were an Indian boy" to a performance of the "evening song" (which you can replicate by singing a monotone and flapping your hand over your mouth). As if this wasn't bad enough, our creative teachers made up the material. And in this room of 130 adults, only R seemed similarly shocked and nauseated. Racial essentialism is alive and kicking in Orange County.* Be sure to duck.

So, my question is how do we get an antiquated Thanksgiving to fade into the past the way that Columbus Day did? My idea is to push for the use of "Wampanoags" over "Indian." After all, first-graders are aware enough to know that "Pilgrims" were a group of people who lived in the "past." The same could work for the Natives of the first Thanksgiving, right? The problem with this plan is that it leaves Wampanoags in the same ambiguously "historical" place from which "Indians" have long been trying to escape.

*along with enforcement of dominant gender roles. The permission slip which allowed students to participate in the school's Halloween "parade of costumes" included the rule: costumes "may not cross gender roles (i.e. boys wearing dresses, etc.)." But you know this rule didn't apply to girls costumed as cowboys or Jedi.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

all clear

We're still coping with smoke and ash, but the fire danger has passed. It came pretty close though - to the end of the block. Saturday afternoon, the winds whipped the fire around us and we spent the afternoon listening to LA County Fire helicopters. They zoomed just overhead every five minutes as they struggled (successfully) to save the high school. We watched most of our neighbors voluntarily evacuate, but we packed our bags and stayed here waiting for the knock on the door. (I preferred this, since it provided the most up-to-date information on how close the fire was.)

Here are my before and after pictures (about four hours apart):

By the time I took the latter photo, though, the most dangerous moment had passed. About 29,000 acres burned, including almost 200 residences; over 3700 people were involved in putting it out - along with 555 trucks and dozens of aircraft. Wow. I really wish the local - libertarian - newspaper would run stories about fire fighting heroics under the headline "YOUR TAX DOLLARS DO GOOD WORK!" The memory of this disaster will too quickly wear off among most of my not-my-tax-responsibility neighbors. Sigh.

Ash fallout on my plants:
Red sun in the afternoon:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

where there's smoke...

From our street.

Apparently what you do, when waiting to see if you'll be evacuated, is update your blog.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Are you as ebullient today as we are? So many things make the election outcome great news - including the fact that there was not, apparently, wide-spread efforts to prevent voting. We even got to hear the victory speech on election day, early enough, in fact, that young S got to hear it before going to bed!

Today I've been listening to lots of "unprecedented" and "historic moment" stories - most accented with "I never thought this would happen in my lifetime." I have to admit I'm really enjoying the shared national (and international) enthusiasm (my favorite so far is news of the spontaneous celebration in front of the White House last night.)

In their enthusiasm, I think these stories have missed another significant first. So far as I can tell (and I'm still on this case), Obama is also the first, first-generation American to be elected president. Given that we tend to favor wealthy dynasties in high office, it's probably not surprising that no previous president (so far as I have found) has been the child of an immigrant. So, one of the collateral benefits of our action yesterday is we get a boost in national standing among Kenyans - not to mention among residents of much of the rest of the world. (And here, I can't help but think of the newly added closing scenes in the re-released version of Return of the Jedi.)

Yeah for us!

Monday, November 3, 2008

gentle reminder

We're all very excited about tomorrow. Here's a cross-post from the S blog:

A much younger Young S hopes you'll keep her in mind when you vote tomorrow (on the 4th)!