Tuesday, December 27, 2005


We pulled Iris out of school for a month and took her to Europe with us. (I had a business meeting the first two weeks and then we toured for another two weeks.)

We stayed at agriturismos, small farms that also take in tourists, in Volterra (Tuscany) and Assisi (Umbria). They might also be called B&Bs that operate small-scale farms. The olives were ready to be harvested in Tuscany. The hostess also served dinners upon request and cooked with olive oil made from their homegrown olives.

Here are photos of the Tuscan farmhouse and the view from the terrace outside our room.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Santa Chronicles

One of Iris' playmates heard from her older sister that Santa Claus is not real. Of course, this new knowledge was shared with the younger's playmates. Iris asked me if this news is true. I turned it around and asked her what she thought. She replied, "I think I want to believe in Santa Claus for one more year."

A couple of days later, she came and told me that Santa Claus must be real. I asked her how she knew that. She said that Santa brought her what she wanted most in the whole world, Barbie stuff. Her mommy would never buy her Barbie.

Yesterday, while trying to get her to clean up the living room before bedtime, I asked her if she was being good or bad. Without missing a beat, she quipped, "Santa came, so I must have been good."

keywords: modern motherhood

Friday, December 16, 2005

Mommy don't go

The morning after her birthday party, we drove to the airport. She knows the drill by now. We pull up in the minivan at the departure deck, the remaining parent goes to the back to get the luggage. The departing parent gives her a hug and a kiss in the middle row where she is buckled into her seat. Then the remaining parent takes her out to a movie or disneyland to distract from the sorrow. She is as much a pro at this as her parents.

This time, she put her arms around my neck and clung to me. She whispered in my ear, "Mommy don't go. Stay here with me."

And then I kissed and left her.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Google Saves the Day

Iris' birthday party came and went with only minor dramas. We ordered trays of food from The Loft in Torrance. Somehow, the dressing for the ramen noodle salad went AWOL. I googled ramen salad dressing and came up with several recipes. After reading three, I picked one, but used slightly less sugar. It took only a few minutes to find the recipe and make the dressing. When the AWOL dressing resurfaced, we decided that we liked the homemade better.

The Hawaiian fried chicken at The Loft is the best.

We painted t-shirts instead. One kid asked where their goodie bag was. The mom quickly hushed the child up and answered, "Your shirt was your goodie." I am so glad that someone else understood.

keywords: modern motherhood, goodie bags

Friday, December 02, 2005

Universal Sorrow

My husband and I stayed at the Crystal City Douubletree hotel one night this week. (We both left Iris across the continent to brief different agencies on the same day.) On our way out to dinner, I noticed a group of people sitting quietly in a circle of chairs in the lobby; most wore dark suits. I could not tear my eyes away from a woman slightly older than myself with very red puffy eyes. There was something about her face that is seared in my memory. Only when I passed her did I see the neat triangular bundle of an American flag lying on the table next to her chair. Crystal City is right next to Arlington cemetery.

In my impatient youth, I used to snicker whenever someone spoke as if motherhood gave them special insight. But, in my gut (and the flash of realization felt like a kick in the gut), I knew she was a mother that had just buried her child.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Baby it's windy outside

Ok, that isn't really the way the song goes. But, if it is windy outside, the jet stream probably dipped south over LA.

I don't get string theory

I always harbored a secret shame. I am too shallow to understand why I should care about string theory. Now you, too, can read why string theory is also irrelevant to your life. Quantum mechanics, in contrast, gets a great plug in this article. You can test it again and again and it just works.

Twins separated at birth

Does Iris have a twin that I don't know about? But then, it would have been very inattentive of me not to notice giving birth to twins. As this blog title says, I am a bad mom... (Her yoga teacher pointed out this cover to me. Another teacher at her school assumed that Iris was the cover child.)

Saturday, November 19, 2005


I told some other scientists that my kid takes Yoga. They told me it is so LA. But you have to admit, it is so adorable.

keywords: Iris, LA, yoga, modern motherhood


At the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica, they launch the weather balloons with Hydrogen. They don't use Helium because they can't afford it. I am not ready to share the road in California with hydrogen-fueled cars.

Earlier, I forgot to show the balloon ascending into the stratosphere. Special thanks to Radiosondista Victor Hernandez for planning ahead. He suggested that a globo negra would photograph better than a white one against an overcast sky.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Laundry: the count

I came home after 7 days and nights away. I did 6 loads of laundry the evening of my return and the morning after. Half of that was just our normal scheduled linen change.

keywords: modern motherhood

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The second best thing to be in Costa Rica

I just returned from a week in San Jose, Costa Rica for work. I discovered that saying you are with the NASA group is the second best thing in their value system. (#1 would be a soccer star.) It is reminiscent of the way the Japanese treated us when Sapporo hosted IUGG (Internation Union of Geodesy and Geophysics). The Emperor and Empress flew to Sapporo to welcome us. I don't recall any president or even a governor taping a hello for us at the AGU (American Geophysical Union) annual fall meeting in San Francisco.

Ending a top 10 list at 8

One of my journalist friends (OK, my only journalist friend) said that her least favorite part of her job is writing the list article. That's when the editor assigns a stuckee to write an article with top 10 this, top 15 that! Suppose there really aren't top 10 whatevers to write about? How do you keep your professional pride and yet submit a long enough list to keep your job?

That's why I love the www.crazyauntpurl.com blog. She ended her list at 8 because she had run out of good ideas! What a concept. And don't miss this classic list of 8. I took her advice and printed off a pile of "Please steal this car" flyers that we keep by the front door. So far so good.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Out to lunch, and dinner and breakfast...

Sometimes I discover that someone I have never met and I belong to the same tribe. Shortly after the Columbia disaster I read a newspaper story that quoted one of Laurel Clark's neighbors. The neighbor ran into Clark at an all night supermarket. She asked why one would be grocery shopping only hours before being due at the launch complex. Clark replied, she needed to make sure her family had food to eat while she was gone.

I am thinking about this as I prepare to leave my family once again for work related travel. I am going nuts thinking about how much I need to do before leaving. Will everyone, at home and abroad, stay healthy and safe? What will the house look like when I get back? (This is not an idle worry as one of my former coworkers returned from a month in Antarctica to discover that her husband left the laundry for her. Yes, a month's worth of laundry.)

And how will I plan her birthday party from a far away country where I am not sure I will have broadband internet access?

Friday, September 30, 2005

Wildfire Weather

Years ago, I worked on a NASA RESAC project to study wildfire at the urban/wildland interface. I can instinctively feel wildfire weather coming on. See what I mean?

I write about wildfires often. Click on the Wildfire tag below to see all the posts.

the toughest period of your life?

Professors used to say that grad school should be the most intense and toughest experience in our lives. Umm, were any of them juggling kids, career and with a field scientist for a spouse? I don't think so. (A field scientist is someone who is out in the field and thus, not at home.)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Sudoku ate our household

We were blissfully ignorant about Sudoku until Sandra Tsing Loh's NPR piece about it. Why, oh why, didn't we turn off the radio? DH searched through the recycling bin for a puzzle and became hooked immediately; he has an obsessive personality. I looked over his shoulder and helped him fill out a few squares. Fast forward and our marriage suffers as he beats me to the LAT puzzle morning after morning.

For our anniversary, I bought him Will Shortz's Sudoko 2 and asked him not to write the solutions in the book. He saved the marriage by creating a printable blank Sudoko template.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Testing Blogger Photo

Just wanted to see if blogger automatically sizes the thumbnails for me. This is my daughter walking through a patch of desert gold in Death Valley NP last March. My husband outdid himself when composing this picture.

Here is the same daughter walking on the shores of the ancient dry lake Manly. It sure wasn't dry this March (2005). Yes, that is a kayaker, and there were 30 more out there that day along with a windsurfer and several canoers.


When I started this blog, I had intended to keep my fiber arts stuff on my sister's blog, Fiber Musings. But an unexpected event has caused my sister to take a hiatus from blogging. So my future fiber arts stuff will be shown right here. This is the kind of stuff you will see in the Fiber Musings archives.

Recurring Themes

I notice recurring themes in my reading material. Two years ago, I got into a globalization reading jag. I read the Lexus and the Olive Tree, Globalization and its Discontents and the Corrections. Last year, I read several one word titled books including Middlesex, Salt and Cod.

[My all-time favorite one word title book remains, Home; a short history of an idea. Witold Rybczynski remarked on page 160 that, when men wrote about home design, they were more concerned with comfort--the passive enjoyment of a home. When women wrote about home design, they were more concerned with workplace ergonomics!]

Lately, I have read two books told from the point of view of a woman contemplating divorce, How to be Good and The Wife. Then I started reading books about the Indian diaspora, Interpreter of Maladies and The Arranged Marriage. Do I see recurring themes because my english teachers trained me to look for them? Or am I unconsciously crafting syllabi when I choose my reading?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Insomnia Reading

Insomnia has its upside. I finished Jhumpa Lahiri's collection of short stories, the interpreter of maladies. I thought the title story was weaker than some of the others. When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine really, really wowed me. It revealed an universal immigrant experience. Or maybe an experience peculiar to immigrants to the US of a certain age. (Lahiri and I are born a year apart and both immigrated to the US as young children.)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Rocket Science

Iris made and launched this today at the FOGE.org LA kickoff event. Each kid decorated and named their own rocket. The guy reading the launch manifest couldn't believe that someone would name a rocket 'Rosy Hearts' and read 'Rosy Heat' instead. Iris was not as upset about that as the fact that the rocket went suborbital.

She said that it was a fake rocket because it didn't go into outer space. And the rocket was so small, it could only lift an ant. She thought she was going to make and launch a real rocket. A witness said her rocket attained an altitude of ~100 ft at the apex of the trajectory.

I guess I could show her movie clips of rocket launches that went awry so she can see what a tough business getting into orbit really is. (This 4 year old thinks she can just draw a picture of a dress, pick out some fabric, and wake up to find a new dress in her room.) She has also never seen a rocket blow up or a space shuttle fall apart. But, I don't really want to puncture her bubble of innocence.

Maybe she will forgive me for all the time I am spending away from her and at work this summer. If all goes well, I can take her up to see not one, but two, satellite launches this winter for satellites I am involved with. My husband says that, with our luck, the launch times will be just as cloudy as the fourth of july fireworks at the beach this year. The launches are always videotaped from a jet flying above the cloud deck. Can he say that about the fireworks?

keywords: Iris, modern motherhood

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Golden Vortex

We made a trip out to Silverlake to see the golden vortex. I ducked my head inside and what should I see, but a sign in the sky.


I got kicked off my sister's fiber arts blog. Or rather, she said that I needed to find some other home for my non-fiber arts musings. She suggested blogger as a good home for my digressions.

I picked 'Bad Mom, Good Mom' because, while straightening out my daughter's room, I found a drawing of the two of us inside a heart and the words, 'Bad Mom', written across the top. I guess I have been putting in too much time at work. I also came across the book, 'Good Cat, Bad Cat', in her room. In the book, the cat was chastised for behaving disruptively. Then a mouse appeared and the cat chased it. Suddenly, the cat was praised as a good cat even though it was behaving the same way as before.

It is comforting, that behaviors that garner censure in one context can also be desirable in others.

What I meant to say is that, when I am a bad mom, I am a good employee ("ideal worker") and vice versa. I just can't make everybody happy at the same time--work, family, self. I do the best that I can.

There is a bit more about me at Tagged, You're It!
Proof that I am a very bad mom in Mommy don't go.