"I have need of the sky. I have business with the grasses. I will up and away at the break of day to where the hawk is wheeling lone and high and where the clouds drift by."   - Richard Hovey, 1894-1961

Sunday, January 17, 2010

When I Grow Up - Part II

Written by Michelle Shocked

When I grow up I want to be an old woman
When I grow up I want to be an old woman
Oh, an o-o-o-o-old, an old, old woman

Then I think I'm gonna find myself an old man
Then I think I'm gonna marry myself that old man
An old, an old, an old, an old, a really old man

We're gonna have a hundred and twenty babies
A hundred and five, ten, fifteen, twenty babies
Uh huh, that's what I said a hundred and twenty babies

We'll raise 'em on tiger's milk and green bananas
Mangoes and coconuts and watermelon
We're gonna give 'em that watermelon when they starts yellin'

Here's what they'll yell...

In the summer we'll sit in a field and watch the sun melt
In the winter we'll sit by a fire and watch the moon freeze
Me my old man and a hundred and twenty babies
Me my old man and a hundred and twenty babies
I said, me my old man and a hundred and twenty babies
Oh, when I grow up I want to be an old woman
When I grow up I want to be an oooooold...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The No-Sugar Sugar Cookie Bake Off

Last Saturday, several of my good friends came over and we tried out some cookie recipes that we could all eat - which means that they had no gluten, mostly no sugar, no eggs, no dairy and no soy. What's left? A lot of creativity.

Here are the recipes we tried and how they worked:
Rapadura is dried sugarcane juice, ie sugar - I tried a batch of these without spices, and with honey instead of molasses. LK tried a batch with the spices. The batch with the spices was better, good actually. The batch with out tasted grainy.

LW tried this one, and substituted coconut oil for butter. These were ok.

The winner is:
I also made these, with egg substitute, palm oil instead of butter, and gluten free flour mix instead of millet flour. I reduced the sugar by 1/4 c. These were GOOOOODD! Couldn't tell they weren't normal cookies.

LW brought store bought vegan sugar icing. So, each cookie had a bit of that on it. I made coconut icing, which was good, but wasn't set up until after all the cookies were baked, decorated, and half eaten! I look forward to trying it on some more cookies soon. Here's that recipe -

So, while they weren't all completely normal, they were all definitely edible because just two days later, there were none left thanks to Mark, who is a traditional cookie expert.

Next up, whole wheat, vegan, sugar-less sugar cookies!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

No One Makes It To Burning Man Festival

See for your self in The Onion.

If no one else is going to be there, maybe we won't go either...


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Welcome to the World of Woman

I'm on a journey. A journey towards Womanhood. Yes, I know, I'm already 31. In some ways, I'm very much a woman. In other ways, I'm still only 13.

In March of 2008, I went off of the birth control pill. I thought, "Hey, I'm ready to be a mama. I'll get pregnant the first month I'm off the pill, because that's the most fertile, right? And next year, I'll have a baby!"

That's not how things went. As you're probably guessing.

So, I had three periods, that kept getting longer and longer apart, until after the third one, they stopped. That was June 2008. By September 2008, I was a bit upset. I went to see my doctor (Thanks, N) and discovered that I had Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which is where there are lots of little cysts on the ovaries from half-ripe eggs. The most Western medicine could do was to describe the condition, and tell you what is correlated with it, not why it happens.

I did a lot of research about it. I kept hoping to find a magic bullet that would tell me why my body was doing this, so that I could take a pill or something and have it be all better, so that I could absolutely avoid looking at my own habits for things that might need to change.

I saw a nutritionist (awesome woman who looks at the whole woman, including emotional and spiritual in addition to physical - Thank you, S). She had me get some blood work, which confirmed that I'm hypoglycemic, which is one of the things associated with PCOS.

Meanwhile, in my head, I knew that I wanted to become a mother. I also knew that I wanted to do it in as natural a way as possible, with as few as possible chemical interventions. Going a more natural way, was incompatible with my general impatience, and the idea that I started the year with - i.e. that I should be pregnant by now.

I had a lot of grieving to do. I had to let go of my preconceived notions about how this would all go. I had to let go of My Timetable - i.e. my perception of my family's timetable or What's Always Been Done aka having babies in your mid-twenties. I had to let go of my impatience.

Because the two ideas - getting pregnant now and being naturally supportive of my body - seemed to be incompatible, I had to pick which one was better for me. I picked letting my body figure out what it was about in its own time, since I have time.

So, having shifted the focus, at least in verbage, I started seeing an acupuncturist, because I like their holistic, integrated approach, even if I can't fully explain it. It felt right. I picked a wonderful acupuncturist (Thank you, D) in my neighborhood, who I've been seeing since January. She's very empathetic, and gentle. I loved the needles and herbs right away. I also like the nutrition and lifestyle suggestions she made - except for one.

She, along with my nutritionist (from an ayervedic perspective) and all the western suggestions for treating PCOS, strongly suggested cutting out sugar. HUGE RESISTANCE! How could I ever do that? Well, I eventually did. I began slowly, by increasing the amount of proteins I was eating to give myself more steady energy. That helped some. But I wasn't fully there. Mostly, I didn't want to accept that this was something that would actually be good for me to do. I didn't want to change. I thought it would be too hard. I liked desserts too much. A million other excuses.

In March 2009, I had plateaued. My acupuncturist finally said, "Velma, you're really hard to help."

That sunk in. Here I was, paying people to help me do something I wanted to do, and I was resisting the very things they suggested that would help me get to where I wanted to be. It was also around this time that I had several helpful conversations with friends. One shared that while she can't physically have kids, she absolutely know that her children are out there and she'll find them at the right time. (Thanks, P.) Another shared that if my desire was to have a baby, then there were western drugs I could take that could help me do that (Thank you, S). Both of these ideas helped take the pressure off, and helped me reach that zen spot about the whole baby thing. I finally accepted that yes, I do want to support my body naturally to figure out what it's about, and yes, I can reach a point where I can try western drugs to help, and yes, we can adopt too.

And, I finally accepted that not eating sugar was something that I wanted to do. Then, really, I just kind of stopped eating it. All of the prep work, and diet changes previous helped, but it was the removal of the mental block that allowed me to do it. So, I stopped eating sugar. I accepted that to be how I wanted to be (fertile) involved change.

A few weeks later, I had my first period in nine months. It was hard. It arrived at 4am, with a massive, doubling over, cry out in pain cramp. It was really hard to be grateful. It also came with grand emotionality. I was Kali with a vengence. I was so crabby. I was weepy. I picked fights. I yelled. I felt like a self I'd not ever really been. I felt like myself without filters. Without the ability or desire to keep any peace, serenity or calm. All of the things that usually bothered me that I could let go, I couldn't let go. They just bothered me and I said so. To Mark. Forcefully. Not eloquently. Not in a way that could be heard. It was traumatic. I got triggered. I triggered him. It was not pretty. It lasted a weekend, and was gone.

A month later, I had a more moderate level PMS for a week. Still the filters were off, but I had moments of clarity. I was a little better about giving myself space. It was still traumatic.

This is where I feel like I'm 13.

So, I'm 31 and I'm having PMS for the first time in my life. I'm being Welcomed to the World of Woman.

I'm extremely grateful that my body is making progress towards being more hormonally balanced. I didn't expect the journey to be so rocky or dangerous.

I don't really know how to handle it. I'm just beginning to understand the signals. I'm just beginning to get some ideas about how I might better take care of myself during those times, so that I inflict less pain on myself and others. I also want to learn how to honor and communicate the conflicts that arise during those times. I probably am too easy going the rest of the time. Maybe I can learn how to voice what's bothering me more of the time so that it doesn't have to explode to be heard - by me or others. (Thanks, D)

Any experience, strength or hope you have would be appreciated.


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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Optimist's Daughter

by Eudora Welty

"The first time Laurel could remember arriving in West Virginia instead of just finding herself there, her mother and she had got down from the train in early morning and stood, after it had gone, by themselves on a steep rock, all of the world that they could see in the mist being their rock and its own iron bell on a post with a rope hanging down. Her mother gave the rope a pull and at its sound, almost at the same moment of it, large and close to them appeared a gray boat with two of the boys at the oars. At their very feet had been the river. The boat came breasting out of the mist, and in they stepped. All new things in life were meant to come like that."

page 139

excerpted from March's book club book, chosen by April.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


Hello, my name is Velma and I like reading romance novels.

In my post "25 things from facebook", I mentioned that I like reading romance novels and felt guilty about it. I felt guilty because of the cultural perception of that genre as fluff with weak characters who are subjected to gratuitous happy endings. I felt guilty because I "should" be doing something better with my brain and my time. I felt guilty because as a women with a quality relationship, a successful job, a "higher" education, many interests and talents, and a life that is full and happy. I "shouldn't" get enjoyment from reading romance novels. I should get enjoyment from listening to more public radio, reading serious fiction, watching documentaries, and generally expanding my knowledge. These are socially accepted past times for a liberal, liberated, educated, successful woman.

If I'm so liberated and smart, why do I let the larger culture induce feelings of guilt for doing something I enjoy? And why do I enjoy romance novels in the first place?

I enjoy romance novels because I like romance. I like stories about relationships, love, growing as a person, and overcoming obstacles. I like happy endings. Romance novels reaffirm for me that generally everything works out OK in the end, which is one of my core beliefs that I need to be reminded of every now and then. I like to laugh and smile. Romance novels do this for me. Yes, it's true that not all romance novels are created equal, and that some are really bad ones that fulfill all of the stereotypes. More often than not, though, the stories are about strong, witty, successful, intelligent women who find love. Now, what's wrong with that? Nothing.

So, why are romance novels so dismissed in our culture and made to be something to feel guilty about for enjoying? Only romance novels have the universal "guilty pleasure" stigma attached to them. To get help answering this question, I turned to the all-knowing internet. I googled "benefits of romance novels" and "defense of the romance novel" and came across some good answers to my questions.

The best answer was written by Jennifer Crusie, romance author of books with great characters, plots and adventures. She wrote an essay titled "Defeating the Critics: What We Can Do About the Anti-Romance Bias". I highly recommend reading the piece in its entirety. Here is the basic gist of the essay:

"When I looked closer at romance fiction, I saw that it contested the beliefs of a lot of powerful groups. In fact, romance fiction has something in it to irritate anyone with rigid ideas of how life and literature should work and--most important--how women should act. It was then I realized why I loved romance fiction: it was not only entertaining and empowering, it seriously annoyed a lot of stuffed shirts.

"For example, romance fiction challenges the traditional patriarchal beliefs by saying that women are equal to men and that they should be as sexually knowledgeable as men, and then compounds that sin by showing that love is a powerful force that should be taken seriously.

"First, romance fiction says that women are primary not supporting characters, equal to men in power, intelligence, and ability....The result: romance fiction is called 'unrealistic.' Second, romance fiction often says that sex is vitally important to women....The result: romance fiction is called 'soft porn.' Third, romance fiction says that love is powerful and important....Result: romance fiction is called 'silly fluff.'

"But if romance challenges patriarchy, why is it so reviled by radical feminists? Because it challenges deeply held beliefs there, too. Good old romance: it's an equal opportunity debunker...."

To finish the essay, click here.

Other sites that talk about the romance novel:
College Candy - In Defense of Romance Novels - Part One
College Candy - Romance Novels Part Two: Are They Anti-Feminist? columnist David Pollard - The Romance Novel: Literature of Liberation
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books - On Happy Endings

After this research, I feel relieved from the guilt that had been bothering me. Yes, I do get the irony that I needed to hear about other people's experiences on the subject in order to feel better about my own experience. But, at least I had the gumption to seek it out.

And, maybe this post will help a few other lovers of romance come out of the closet too.

Hello, my name is Velma and I like reading romance novels.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

25 things from facebook

1. I just read 25 things about 7 other people and found them interesting, so I'm writing some about me.

2. I think too much about what I want to say.

3. I have a blog that I've neglected for several months now. Maybe I'll copy Andi and post this there. It's if you haven't ever seen it.

4. I have three other domains. That's what happens when you move to Silicon Valley and date techies. The other domains are:,, and

5. I quilt. I love working with fabric.

6. I garden. I don't think I'll ever be able to live in a place without dirt again.

7. I enjoy reading romance novels. I feel really guilty about this. Shouldn't I be doing something more productive with my time and brain cells?

8. I also enjoy chick flicks. I suppose even I need to give my brain a break every now and then.

9. I'm a burner. I'm going this year. I'm very excited.

10. I have four tattoos. One of them is my wedding ring.

11. I love where I work and what I do.

12. I have a big, white cat named Orson. He's an indoor/outdoor cat and is responsible for us knowing our neighbors. There are at least three other houses that he naps in on a regular basis.

13. We visited a farm last weekend. While someday I would love to live on a farm, I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't feel the need to move to one RIGHT NOW. Maybe it helped that they sent us home with a dozen fresh eggs.

14. I'm naturally an impatient, perfectionistic person. This doesn't serve me well, so I cultivate patience and gratitude. Sometimes I forget.

15. I'm also a recovering control freak.

16. My favorite place to hang out is my home.

17. We have four bookcases that are five feet wide by ten feet high. They're full.

18. I've successfully started two sourdough starters. I let them both die, though, because I don't really like bread.

19. I ate some salt-n-pepper ice cream today. It was good.

20. I miss seasons, especially fall.

21. I also miss swing dancing, but it starts past my bedtime.

22. Coming up with 25 things is a lot harder than I it would be.

23. After many years of practice, I've learned to appreciate the fine art of sleeping in and cat napping.

24. I'm not supposed to eat sugar, but I had a fancy candied orange donut today anyway. The same donut shop make maple bacon donuts. They're yummy, too.

25. It's time to make dinner now.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy Holidays!

A 2008 holiday gift for our friends and family

Mark and I decided to do something a little different this year.
Happy holidays to you and yours.

Monday, December 22, 2008


We just saw the movie MILK tonight in the Castro. If you haven't seen it yet, and have the chance to, go. It's a phenomenal movie.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I Believe