I don't know what to tell you first.
My house was broken into 10 hours before we got on the plane. The thieves stole my computers. All of them. Wrecked my room. Stole my housemate's machines, too. Kicked in our front door, broke the lock. It took me the whole 10 hours of flying to come down from wanting to kill someone with my bare hands.
On Wednesday, I went for a routine blood draw and fainted. Fainted real bad. Took me a LONG time to recover. My naturopath told me that, in Chinese medicine, when someone is prone to fainting, it means they are putting out more energy than they are taking in. I told her I would keep an eye on that.
Hours before the break-in, our wild pet rabbit was killed. He lived on our property and occasionally munched our dandelions and hung out near my car. He was my little spot of sunshine. I had to bury him in the rain and in the dark as I was waiting for the cops to come.
I am hotter than hell and loving it. I just finished a breakfast of fresh fruit, fruit juice, and yogurt. I am happy to be wearing minimal clothing. A little gecko scurried across our doorjamb as we entered the room of our B n B night *the amersand's gone missing on this keyboard* and I took it as a good omen. Things are looking up.
I will be on my way to the beach here in just a short time here. I've brought 5 books and a brand new journal with me. I've brought 2 bathing suits and FAR too much clothing. There will be no Internet where I am going.
We are flying to the east coast in 9 days to visit our families. After the break-in, all I wanted was to be there. With familiarity. With routine. With comfort and the smells of turkey roasting and fresh cookies and the dry cold smell of snow. I cannot wait to see my siblings.

I am now officially ready to exhale and let vacation consume me.

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Why I’ll Wake Up with a Van Halen Song In My Head Every Morning From Now Until Mid-December

It's that time of year again. The time of year when I don't take my coat off when I come from work (I wear it until bedtime) because I just can't seem to warm up. I wear legwarmers around the house (and sometimes to bed). I run out of bed in the morning and head right for the heat ducts in the floor and stand next to them, hunched over like a guilty raccoon. Today the sky had a quality to it that made me think of my East Coast childhood days. The clouds were high and the rain freezing. I had a thought at about 2 pm or so while I was sitting at a stoplight: somewhere, just beyond those clouds up there, there is a big, burning ball of gas, so hot it will burn my skin. And very, very soon, I will be closer to it than I've ever been in my life. Thank Jeebus.

In a mere 18 days, I am going to Panama. The great comedy of this whole cold-as-hell tragedy is that I can't say the word Panama. I just can't. I have to sing it. As in "Pa-nuh-muh! Pa-nuh-MUH-uh-UNH-uhn-uh-uh!" As in, Eddie Van Halen's scratchy screechy PA-NU-MUH delivered from the depths of his be-mulletted soul. I giggle inside every time everyone asks me where I'm going for two weeks. "Panama", I say. "PA-NU-MUH!" is what it sounds like in my head. I do a little kick-split when I'm saying this.

Panama it is. Beach and mountains. Equatorial, baby. That means HOT. Like minimal clothing hot. Like tropical fruit for breakfast, lunch and dinner hot. Like 90 degrees and 80 percent humidity hot. Aaaaaaah.... I can feel it now. Okay, maybe it's the wool socks and sweater and scarf and hot tea I'm feeling. Still... 90 degrees. Hell yes. I'm gonna get what I've always wanted as an adult for Christmas: a tan.

CLH and I have been loosely planning this for some time now. You know how when the Universe tells you something once, it's interesting, and twice, it's a coincidence, and three times, you pack your bags and don't look back? I'm a big believer in reading the writing on the wall (especially if the writing comes in the form of many, many random people who've never met before all telling you the same thing about a country you've never given two thoughts about before in your life). Well, I had a one-two-three run-in with the Universe dropping hints last year sometime and I came home one day and said, "We need to go to Panama." And here we are, months later, with an itinerary and everything. It's a pretty loose itinerary. It looks like this: Panama City, the canal, beach for five days, mountains for four, and then it's Christmas time with the fam on the East Coast. Then it's back on a plane and we're back home in the cold and the gloom. Sigh. Focus on the beach part. Focus.

I have mixed feelings about it, naturally. On the one hand, I'm all WHOO HOO! HOT SUN AND SAND AND PEACE AND QUIET! And on the other hand, I'm, "Um.... yeah... Panama. About that whole colonization of your country by my peeps... REALLY sorry about that, dude. We really botched that one. Apparently, we haven't really honed our We're-building-infrastructure-in-other-countries-without-killing-a-good-portion-of-the-native-population skills. We're working on that in Iraq right now..." Added to the pile of guilt over my being white and having enough disposable income to go lay on a beach somewhere tropical is my guilt over the carbon footprint (Yeti sized) we're leaving by taking a three legged plane journey. Having a conscience is an exhausting thing.

There is also the information I picked up from reading "Maiden Voyage" not too long ago. I don't remember the author spending as much time describing the land-features of a place as much as she did Panama (it's a book about sailing, for goodness' sake, so for her to talk so much about land... it had a big impact on her). Panama City is not unlike any city where Captain WhiteMan has pushed the indigenous folks off their land and then plundered it for resources or opportunity or both. The disparity between the rich and poor is drastic and obvious. What I remember from the book is this: the zone along the Canal is populated by the descendants of the folks who were in charge of building the canal (read: old money) and the area just outside the zone is populated by the workers who helped built it (read: no money). Having read a few books now about sailing around the world, and specifically around islands whose populations have seen The Conqueror come and go, I am uber-sensitive to the impact my presence has on the local economies of such places.

I will keep all this in the front of my mind as I hand over my credit card. I will be grateful to the people of Panama for letting me lie on their beaches and sleep nestled inside their eco-lodges on their coffee plantations. And I will do air kicks and brush my air-mullet bangs out of my eyes every time I say the name of their gloriously rockin' country.

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Yes, We DID!

From an actual email I sent my younger siblings a few days before the election:

"Here's the thing, my dear sibs: this is destined to be an HISTORIC event, this election. Seriously. November 4 feels like Christmas Eve to me. I cannot WAIT to wake up on November 5th and have this eight year nightmare come to an end. As a working class stiff who has to cut a $2000 check to Uncle Sam every four months for my estimated income tax payment, I deeply, deeply resent the fact that my hard earned money is going to pay for Iraq's infrastructure while our bridges literally fall to pieces during rush hour. I deeply resent that a majority of my tax money pays for bombs and guns, and only a tiny fraction is funneled into our education system. It breaks my heart, honestly. I could go on, but I think you get the point. I have watched for almost two years the Republicans waging a campaign of fear mongering and unmitigated hatred towards anyone who dares disagree with them. Sarah Palin has called parts of the country "un-American". McCain has said that the state of women's health is an "extreme" stance the left uses to defend their position on access to safe, legal abortion. His own constituency is so uninformed and so beleaguered by xenophobia that McCain has actually had to deflect their inane questions on national TV by grabbing the mic back from them and changing the subject. There are too many examples to list here of how they have tried to appeal to our most base sense of fear of other, and fear of change, to get themselves elected. That, coupled with the fact that i DIRECTLY, through my tax dollars, am forced to fund their agenda of vengeance and exclusion, has turned me into something I never thought I would be: a voter.

I am STRONGLY encouraging you, even if you don't care one bit about politics, to look around on November 4th. Something incredibly important is about to happen. If you are registered to vote, i URGE you, with every bone in my being, to vote for Barack Obama. You know that something historic is afoot when people in BERLIN, in BRAZIL, in LONDON are rallying on Obama's behalf. The whole WORLD is perched on the edge of their seats waiting for adolescent America to pull the handle for Obama. We have behaved for eight years like hypocrites, like bullies, like ideologues- NOT unlike the very people we are trying to rid the world of to make it "safe for democracy". That Bush can't see the irony is maddening, but also motivating. That's why I am voting. That is why friends have volunteered at phone banks and to drive people around on election day to the polls. It is why I attended our district caucus, along with THOUSANDS of other Washintonians (in some areas a 900 percent increase in turnout rate. NINE HUNDRED). It is why our friends attended a 12,000 member audience to see Joe Biden speak. It is why people have soaped the front windows of their houses in blue in my home town with the words OBAMA 08. It is why my former boss, a staunch Republican, proudly displays his Obama sticker on his car bumper. It is why, on November 5th, the WORLD, the WHOLE world, full of people who have never ONCE cared for politics, is going to break out in song in the streets.

You have a chance to be part of that energy. You have a chance to partake in the making of history. You will be able to say to your kids that you remember utilizing your vote to change the course of history. As a woman, especially, I am mindful of the women who came before me, some of whom literally gave their lives, so that i could, in 2008, vote. Women are not guaranteed that right in many places in the world, so i take my privilege seriously.

I hope you will too. But, even if you don't, even if you can't, just be mindful. I'm obviously very involved in this election cycle, and I think my political leanings are pretty obvious. This election is motivating people at an UNPRECEDENTED level. Literally. Our country is 200 years old and we have never had this many people involved in an election, most of them rallying behind Obama. Even if you don't agree with my politics, take a look around and see how the rest of your country, indeed the rest of the world, is reacting. This is big. "

How do I put it all into a neat little blog posting? I can't. I can just tell you that I must have high-fived two dozen strangers in the street last night. I was part of at least three impromptu parades, one of which was on an escalator coming down from the fourth floor of the hotel in which the governor had just given her acceptance speech. I screamed with joy until I was hoarse. I hugged my friends over and over again. I watched a 6'4" man break down in tears of joy and relief when the race was called. I stood in the same room as my mayor and many of my city's council members last night. I toasted our victory with free beer provided by local, ecstatic bar owners. I had to scream over the car horns in the street, the cheers and the applause to be heard by my friends. In another part of town, fireworks were going off. Other friends were banging pots and pans in the streets with their neighbors. I was told by a bouncer at one bar that he had to throw some punks out of his bar for their appalling remarks towards Obama earlier in the night. "You picked the wrong bar in the wrong city in the wrong state", he told them. I texted friends on the East Coast at midnight. I ran like a wildwoman through the streets, laughing and screaming, tearing through them like a thousand demons had been released from my soul. Indeed, they have been. Ding dong, the witch is dead!

Let the new era begin.

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Look What Four Whole Days of Sunshine This Year Got Me!

So, Summer is officially done here. It's rain and cold and wind from here until May of 2009. That's good news for those of us with boats that need to be pushed by that wind. It's bad news for those us who would prefer to wear a sarong all year round.

This is the time of year when I break out the knitting needles, the sewing machine, the Kitchen Aid... anything to keep my hands busy so I don't go mad with the lack of sunshine. This season's project? Making dresses for next summer out of last summer's t-shirts. More on that soon.

In the meantime:

Holy Nightshade Family, Batman. I mean, Jesus. There's only so much green salsa a girl can eat. Not to fear. NPR is a goldmine of information for the Northwest tomato farmer (read: overly optimistic fool). Just this last Sunday, my buddy Lynn Rosetto Kasper came to the rescue when she answered a call-in from a fellow Northwesterner who'd apparently gotten as crazy with the Cheez Wiz as I had last spring. These bad boys, all SEVENTY POUNDS OF THEM, were sleeping under a blanket of newspaper to trap their ripening off-gasses by the end of the day.

I used the bicycle basket the previous owner left us to cart the suckers all the way through the yard and up the stairs and into the kitchen where I weighed them. I actually had to use my bathroom scale to weigh them. The basket held about 20 pounds when full. I filled it up three and a half times. I lined quite a few up on the windowsill in the living room. Here's the way the rotation works: I leave them on the deck in their newspaper beds to riped to stage orange. Then I move them to the library, the room in the house that gets the most sun. They usually turn red in a day or two.

Day one was hot tomato soup and grilled cheese for dinner. Day two: leftovers. Day three: gazpacho, accented with zucchini and cukes also from the garden. Delicious. Now I just have to come up with recipes for the other 60 or so pounds still out on the vines.

These pictures, by the way, come to you courtesy of my new phone: The Insight, Sprint's answer to the iPhone. I can not can not can not believe I had been so far behind the technological curve. I was literally talking on a brick with an antenna on it before I got this phone. I mean, storks literally flew out of the top of it to deliver my text messages. The paint was chipped off and half the buttons didn't light up anymore (that storm in New Orleans did her in. That's the last time I take a phone and a journal to an outdoor concert) This was how I was told, several months ago, by a gracious and sensitive friend, that I HAD to get a new phone:

(On a flight that has just touched down, from a few rows behind me)
Tara: DUDE! Did you just pull the ANTENNA out of your PHONE??? (hysterical laughter)
Me: Um... well... it helps with the reception. No, really it does!
Tara: (bent over laughing) YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!! (sputtering, wiping tears from eyes) AN ANTENNA????
(Strangers crane their necks to get a better look. Scene closes as I slink down into my seat, slip my phone into a barf bag, and make a mental note to throw phone onto nearest barge headed for Siberia).

So, now do I not only NOT have to raise the antenna like the beacon of Luddite dorkiness it was, but I can take pictures, check my work email, type lightning fast texts, get directions, search on the Internets, find a coffee shop (pet store, shoe store, SCUBA gear store, chicken lo mein, whatever) within 10 miles, and take video. Take THAT, old phone! And all for the price Sprint was ALREADY charging me to carry around my cancer box with the antenna that did NOTHING. Way to go, Sprint, you scheming thieves!

So, beware, Internets. I may just stick several thousand more pictures up here real soon...

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What We Talk About When We Talk About Money and Rubber Gloves

Nothing like a good screaming match about the economy at the dinner table to make your food go down. Last night we had company, and, like all good liberals, we ranted about the economy and the bail-out plan over our organic greens. This, of course, after CLH and I had a competition to see who could best imitate the sound of an iPhone being docked (I won, hands down.) Being white and nerdy never felt so... well, white and nerdy.

Afterwards, it was off to the Internet (for more white and nerdy entertainment) where we huddled up around my laptop and watched the following:
Suzanne Somers, then and now pictures
Oprah, then and now pictures
Sally Struthers (just to verify it WAS really her, and NOT Suzanne Somers, asking us to Save the Children)
Olan Mills pictures (yikes, yikes, and double yikes)

And then, somehow, I stumbled back onto a good friend's blog. Man, she's good. I think I was digging around in my email looking for other ridiculous links to be taken to as a way to show the guests a good time, and I remembered that I hadn't checked her blog in a while. And even stranger still, I don't know how I landed on this particular passage, but I did. Here it is:

"i have dreams of being mugged and raped. rape is not a new dream. i remember having dreams of being assaulted since middle school. to my knowledge, i have never been molested, but i almost feel that i have a kinesthetic memory--do all women have this? why, when my great-grandmother first told me about when she was raped at the age of 13 (something she never told anyone until her late 60's), did i feel it? are women so smothered by the ubiquitous threat of sexual violence that we have developed extreme empathy to the point where we literally feel the violation of others or the threat of violation, independent of whether we actually lived a sexual assault? "</p>

This is put so eloquently, so damn well, that I just had to reproduce it here. It captures something that, yes, I think ALL women identify with. No, I've never actually physically been assaulted, but, yes, my body retains some sort of cellular memory of the violence all around me. When I see it on the big screen and in real life, my body first seizes in fear, and then I am filled with adrenaline. I AM that woman, and I am ready to fight. I am unsure of why I carry this memory; why not any other types? Maybe because this kind of violence, the violence that then becomes intertwined with an intimate act that bonds us bodily with a loved one, corrupts something fundamental about us. It takes away one of the last things about us that we can control as women. I've never heard anyone express it as beautifully as Lacy has above, so I just had to share. It's a heavy topic, but, strangely, reading it last night didn't actually make me feel heavy. It made me feel like I wasn't the only crazy one for feeling this deep, deep, bond with my fellow females. It made me understand that if I can absorb this from my atmosphere, then the membrane works both ways. If I can take in, I can put out. And I can monitor what I put out there. I can put out energy that is affirming and gentle and non-violent to my fellow women.

My eyes can hardly stand to look at this computer screen. My brain is sloshing back and forth very slowly in its cerebral fluid, still imitating the motion of being on the boat this afternoon. CLH and I both skipped work a little early to hang out on the new boat. I have surprised myself thus far with my ability to not lose my lunch while onboard. Of course, the marina has zero wave action, so I shouldn't pat myself on the back too hard. It's when I get back to land that the wooziness starts. I was warned about this by fellow sailors. The way they told me about it, though, was in this cute, anecdotal sort of way. Sort of like the way one might tell you how "funny" it was to get caught in a rainstorm and have to walk home soaking wet. Except when they got home, they took off their wet clothes, took a hot shower, and the ordeal was over with. This ordeal goes on for hours. Sitting still is torture. Brushing your teeth while looking into a mirror is torture. I can feel the whole damn house swaying to......... and fro............. and to............ and fro. And it's making me want to hurl. On the lighter side of things, CLH and I hoisted the sails by ourselves this afternoon while moored. Just a test run. And we did it! I have made a list of things I will have to get used to:

-my lack of upper body strength

I didn't understand just how out of shape I was until I nearly threw my shoulder out trying to start the engine (that will be a posting for another day). I also didn't ever think I could even look at seawater without wearing gloves. I'm not exactly a germiphobe, but I do get the heebee jeebies touching anything dirty, slimy, dusty, rusty, gritty or greasy. In short, I like things neat and orderly and I DO NOT like getting my hands wet when cleaning stuff. I can feel all that changing. Whereas once I would have had to burn my jeans after sitting on a moist surface, I now find myself able to sit on a deck that I've just knocked a full beer onto. Whereas I once would have physically recoiled at all things floaty, furry, and slimy underwater, I now find myself peering for long spells of time at the stuff growing on the undersides of the dock. Just last week, I couldn't have even fathomed the contents of seagull poop, let alone touch it, and this weekend, I was kneeling down in it, scrubbing a 10 foot deck on my hands and knees, and loving it. My, how I have grown.


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