Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday Portrait

Talking Textiles

Ya know, doing business is India can often be pretty frustrating and also very humorous. Sometimes my textile people talk me into buying weird fabrics, or otherwise sneak strange or fugly stuff into my stash. But of course they also charge me for them. So this time, when I got back to my hotel and was organizing my shipping, I again ran into a few bolts of odd stuff that I did not choose and paid for!
One would think that after 6 years of wheeling and dealing with the same people, they wouldn't try that stuff with me, but they do.
So this time, I just gathered up all that odd stuff and brought it right back to them, and traded it for some more Indian block prints of which I cannot get enough of. I even talked my way into the warehouse out back so that I could grab up some cool stuff before the locals got a chance at it. The look on the big bosses face was priceless, knowing that I could not be completely messed with. (Do I have to get out one of Mir's Kashmiri knives next time and wield it around to get proper treatment?)
All the weird stuff was now returned, except this striped stuff that intrigued me, and turned out to be quite a treasure. It's silk and cotton woven together. The fabric was finished with this weird shiny stiffening stuff, and looked pretty unwearable, but I crossed my fingers and tossed it into the washer and dryer, gasp! I'll admit I was pretty worried because this piece was the most expensive thing I bought this year. Lo and behold, out came this fabulously slinky, soft and wonderful stuff.
So there I am modeling my newest creation. Sometimes you can make a silk purse...erm, pants out of a sows ear!
In other news, I am anxiously awaiting the decision of my pal, Keri, as to whether she will be coming to India with me this December. I know! I know! I can't help it. I want my ticket NOW!
The pressure is a bit much for her, but we have to act soon. I have discovered that by simply leaving the day after Christmas instead of the week before, that the prices drop about 45%. So it looks like I will be going to India on December 26th this year, with or without Keri. I would rather she came with me, but you guys know me, I am going to India come hell or high water, even if I have to go alone.
Perhaps this is the year I will finally meet Mona? I wouldn't mind revisiting the Taj Mahal again, taking a dip in the swimming pool and lounging in one of the rooms. (Slumdog Millionaire again, I just cant help it!)

Have a lovely day!

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Trio of Subcontinental Book Reviews

It's been awhile since I've had a pile of books to read, but I have three that I want to tell you about. The first book is a short story by Rohinton Mistry. Some of you might have read A Fine Balance, Such A Long Journey, Family Matters, or Tales From Firozsha Baag. All are set in Mumbai, the boyhood home of Mistry who now lives and teaches in Canada, and fabulous books, IMHO. If you are not familiar with the most awesome writings of Rohinton Mistry, The Scream is a great place to start. First of all, it is a short story of just 35 pages, including the cool mixed media illustrations by Tony Urquhart. Now, the only frustrating thing about this little book, is that I waited too long for a new release from Mistry and it's so short, but brilliant!
The Scream is a result of a joint project put together by World Literacy Of Canada, and all proceeds donated by the authors will go to help the organization continue its literacy work with women and children in India. That is reason enough alone to have spent 25 bucks on a 35 page book. I will just tell you that the story is told by an aging man in Mumbai, and his outlook on the world around him. It's very visual and in fact, to be honest, I could've done without the illusrations in lieu of more words. Check it out!I have also just gotten in the mail today, a copy of Six Suspects, the second novel by Vikas Swarup, the author of Q & A, aka Slumdog Millionaire. I have not begun to read it, but I will tell you, it is a big fat 470 pages of Swarup style writing, and I cannot wait to get to it. Here is how it starts:
"Not all deaths are equal. There's a caste system even in murder. The stabbing of an impoverished rickshaw-puller is nothing more than a statistic, buried in the inside pages of the newspaper. But the murder of a celebrity instantly becomes headline news. Because the rich and famous rarely get murdered."
If it is anywhere near as good as Q & A, I am sure to stay up late devouring it for sure. It is a murder mystery, as you maybe can tell from the title, set in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. I cannot wait to start this one, but first I have to finish the next book I will tell you about.

I am currently reading The City of Djinns by William Dalrymple, the author of The White Mughals. This is the story of the life of a man and his wife, and the year they lived in Delhi. I knew I would love this humourous richly detailed book when I read the prologue. This is the line that really got me:

"Moreover the city- so I soon discovered- possessed a bottomless seam of stories: tales receding far beyond history, deep into the cavernous chambers of myth and legend. Friends would moan about the touts on Janpath and head off to the beaches in Goa, but for me Delhi always exerted a stronger spell. I lingered on..."
And that is exactly how I feel about cities in India, especially Bangalore. I am slowly warming up to Delhi as well. I love wandering around the streets and alleys of major cities in India. There you will find people and treasures, and foods, and handcrafts that all demand exploring.
So I am only on page 24 of The City of Djinns, and I am already in love with this book and the wit of William Dalrymple.
I hope you will check out these books. I promise a review of Six Suspects once I have finished it.
Have a lovely day!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Miracles Can Happen.....

As some of you might have heard, I have finally, at 48 years old, gotten my very own washer and dryer! Now, as you can see, it's nothing fancy, just a couple of plain white simple functioning appliances that we found at an auction. We figured, since they have to live outside, why spend $2,000 on a fire engine red, front loading double fill gadget when we found both of these for $150!
In case you're wondering how this all came about, since I have been having so much neck pain, and carrying heavy baskets of laundry were just killing me, I told Ratburn that he was from that point on accompanying me to the laundromat. That happened exactly 3 times before Mr R decided it was time for our own washer and dryer. Now, why I did not think of this 17 years earlier, when we first moved here, I do not know...oh wait, the neck thing.
I was a little unsure how to operate these things since there are no quarter slots, but after a little coaching from the neighbors, I think I have it down now. Being used to enormous laundromat washers, I put way too much soap in the very first load, and bubbles were everywhere! No problem, I just ran it again with just water! How fun is that? Even Little Rita is into it, maybe a little too much, as she wants to wash her clothes every day right after she wears them!

Of course we had to scratch our names into the cement slab that we poured for it! The round thing is a 2 rupee coin that we pressed into the wet cement.

And here is Little Rita and me lounging atop our mini outdoor laundromat! Now I have a few more things on the honeydo list before it's totally finished such as cleaning up all the flotsam around the yard that has accumulated during this project, and adding some sides to the "shed."
I know it ain't nothing fancy but it sure beats hanging out at the laundromat.
I will leave you with a list of unpleasant things I have had to deal with in my life of laundromats:
1. Once a man came over to the corner where we were folding to fetch his stuff from the dryer, and left an extremely foul fart smell behind just for us. What a fricking pig, I just wanted to smack him.
2. Recently, an analy retentive man asked me if I would take my stuff out of dryer number 5 because he wanted to keep all his clothes in order. He had dryers 3, 4 and 6. Clearly he could not deal with me having #5.
Wanna know what I did?
I walked over and added more quarters to #5 and left my stuff in there. I then counted out loud so that he could hear there were 12, count em, 12 empty dryers available. He was losing it over this! Stick that broom handle up a little further, sir.
3. Upon removing our towels from the washer, found that the spin cycle had not happened. Do you know how much one dripping wet towel weighs, let alone 15, and how long one has to wait to run the load over again without soap?
4. This happens all the time. You get your hangers, baskets, purse, quarters all arranged and ready at a folding table that you have cleaned the lint and whatnot off, then some moron comes in and dumps their dirty laundry right on top of your stuff.
5. To your horror, watch someone come into the laundromat with stinky hairy dog or horse blankets, knowing that you have to share those washers with them.
6. The money changer eats your twenty dollar bill and the attendant doesn't believe you, so you have to wait a week for the owner to come along and count quarters and find your crumpled up twenty right where it got eaten.
7. You reach into the dryer to take out your clothes and get a burn on your arm with little circle shapes from the sides of the drum.
8. You drop your panties on the filthy laundromat floor.
9. You gather up your baskets of dirty laundry, bring to the laundromat, drag it inside, only to find that all the washers are being used.
10. You have to deal with competitive snarky laundro bitches that want to take cuts when you have to wait for dryers.

I could go on...after 30 years of laundromats, I could write a book.
Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday Portrait


Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Solidarnosc!

Go, Everton!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Two Peas In A Pod

My two lovely nieces, Adeleigh and Amber, hanging out today at a kid play park in So Cal. Aren't they just as cute as buttons? Amber was born when I was just 20 years old and I remember well the first time my sister asked me to babysit one year old Amber while she went to a doctor appointment. I was scared to death that I wouldn't do a good job being the auntie caretaker, but luckily for me, Amber slept for most of the time and fullfilling my auntie duties was a piece of cake!

Now Adeleigh was born when I was 27. Mr Ratburn and I were invited to the birth, even, but my sister was ready to deliver immediately upon arriving to the hospital and the nurses told us there just wasn't enough time to suit up in scrubs and various sterile items. I will never forget Jeanne screaming orders at Ratburn to "get the wheelchair! get the wheelchair!" as she is in labor, about to burst, and poor Ratburn just standing there in utter shock at this sight of a laboring maniacal woman!
So instead of being there for the birth of Adeleigh, Ratburn and I sat in the waiting room and watched an old Jack Nicholson movie, and before you know it, (like, 20 minutes!) the nurse came out and told us, "Its a girl!" It was little Adeleigh, or should I say big Adeleigh who rushed in to the world weighing somewhere around 10 pounds!
Seriously I am so proud of both of them, who they have become, Amber has a sweet little son and is married to her childhood sweetheart, and Adeleigh is unique, creative, quirky and cool! How hard they work, how sweet they are, how unique and special! I love you girls!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday Portrait


I never wear hats. They smush "the hair." My hair was named "the hair" by the boyfriend I had previous to Mr Ratburn. That was 25 years ago and we still call it "the hair". Not because it's especially a lot of hair, or super awesome hair, but because that bf used to do stuff like reach out to caress my hair while simultaneously eating something greasy like thai food or french fries, which would result in me grabbing his hand and pulling it furiously off "the hair". Afterall who wants oil or grease in their hair when they are trying to look semi-glamourous? Or he would reach out to caress the hair while he was doing the dishes, or while rolling a doobie which resulted in skunky smelling resiny hair. So "the hair" became off limits to hands and hats.
So while at Pier 39 last weekend, LR was having trouble keeping her hat from blowing off so she put it on my head. You can see it's pretty windy and my shirt and scarf and all are blowing madly, and I am holding onto the hat to keep it from flying away. That's when Mr Ratburn took this rare shot of me with a hat covering, erm, smushing, "the hair!"
You can see the ferrys behind me, which is a totally a fun thing to do, but now cost 15 bucks a piece for a round trip journey, sheesh! What sort of incentive is that to keep you from bringing your car into the city?

Have a lovely day!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair


This weekend my sister, Jeanne, and her daughter visited us. It was Adeleighs first time up here, and only the 3rd visit for my sister. Before they got here they also visited Santa Barbara, and Monterey.
The weekend started out with LR dying 18 eggs. Even though she knows the Easter Bunny is just a guy in a fuzzy costume with a zipper up his back, she loves the eggs and chocolate. Egg salad, anyone?
Jeanne and Adeleigh really wanted to go to Haight Ashbury to check out the laid back scene, so here we have Adeleigh and LR hanging out on Haight and Cole.
Adeleigh checks out the cool rock/performance/freak posters on the Haight.

There is some most excellent eye rolling pizza available on the Haight!

After a long laid back stroll on the Haight we headed over to Pier 39 and Fishermans Wharf which was incredibly packed with tourists and lazy sea lions.
The Rock.
Adeleigh Wilkins, you're looking swell!

A rare picture of the sisters and their daughters!

Well, what do you know, there are three lefties in our family and we are all here together at the leftorium! That is Adeleighs left hand over there on the right.

Here we are heading home over the Golden Gate.

Now, if you've never been on the Golden Gate Bridge, now is your chance! But I will warn you, turn down your speakers because this videos sound is nothing but LOUD wind!
video
Now here we have a video that Mr Ratburn shot sideways because he forgets that this camera cannot turn the video once it's made sideways, so turn your head a bit and get ready for The Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence as they celebrate 30 years of, well, indulgence!

video
Ok. So then today LR and I took Mr Ratburn to the airport because he headed to LA for a couple days to hang out with his buddy, play music, do the man vs. food thing, and drink lots of beer. LR and I then went over the Bay Bridge to Emeryville and to IKEA. You know I love IKEA. We had a really fun time shopping, and bought a cool red chair that barely fit into our car! There we were struggling to stuff the box into the car, when a lady came over and said to us, "you know, I just bought that chair myself and the only way you are going to get it into your car is to take it out of the box!" Well, she was right! After we took the chair out of the box, it fit right in the back seat.

So anther cool thing is that I drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, and the Richmond Bridge all in one day! I have never done that before and it was totally cool! The sun was shining, the wind was blowing and it was a lovely day for cruising around the bridges.

And here is LR relaxing in our new chair!
Have a lovely day!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Just When You Think You've Seen It All....

So, I was cleaning out my emails this morning and found a couple of pictures from my India trip in '06-'07 that I hadn't collected from Karen. This was taken in SFO when our families picked us up after a month of traveling together. Amazing we are not bashing each other over the heads with tiffin boxes instead of hugging, eh, Karenji?
This is Hampi and to the left our favorite luxury place to stay, Hotel Vikky.
And then us at the Taj Mahal "Hotel" where the "pool" is filled and ready to use.
(Slumdog Millionaire reference again, cannot resist!)
My sister and niece will be here later today, woo hoo!
Have a Lovely Weekend!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

What A Wonderful World

This is just so sweet, I wanted to share it with you.

All is well on the left coast. We have a few days of rain which we really need badly. At least it's not snowing. Spring break starts this Friday at 3:15 pm, and my sister is heading North to visit me with her daughter, the lovely Adeleigh. Jeanne has only been up here maybe twice in 17 years because it's not easy to find the time to get away when you are a single mom of 6 kids. Her youngest turns 18 this week so it's high time she got up here. We will do San Francisco up right, do some shopping, drinking and take out some trash! (wink, wink, Gman)

Gary and I are celebrating 21 years o' wedded bliss this Thursday. Being my sister will be around, we will postpone the private festivities til the following weekend. This weekend is all about partying. So, I'd best get some work done before that all starts.

PS Tony, I ran that conficker fixer thing you sent me and I passed, hurray! I sent it on to Bryan who thinks he might have the confounded confucker as well. Let's all hope he doesn't or that it's fixable.

If any of you use Paypal, be warned there is a huge scam going through emails from a fraudulent operation saying something like "there is a problem with your account, please send your password, etc etc"...NOOOOO I do not think so! Paypal will never ask you for your password, so just don't.

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

5 Second Movie Review

I do have water on the brain. A lot.
A documentary about the worlds diminishing water supply,
this is an important film, available on Netflix. See it, please.
Then if you feel moved to do so, sign the petition.

Article 31:Everyone has the right to clean and accessible water, adequate for the health and well-being of the individual and family, and no one shall be deprived of such access or quality of water due to individual economic circumstance.
Thank you

Friday, April 03, 2009

How Bad Is the Economy?

It must be getting really bad....

Woe is meeeeowwww!

My sister sent me this....cats are so dramatic!