Monthly Archives: March 2010

Death Valley: the back end of nowhere



I spent the month of February gallivanting around Vietnam having a grand time while Jack stayed at home and worked to bring home the bacon.

When I finally got home I thought it only fair that he get some playtime, too.

So we took off for Vegas. Upon arriving in sin city we drove right by all the glittering lights and the magnetic pull of luxury casinos, room service and stone massages and proceeded three hours northwest to Death Valley—the back end of nowhere. We laughed in the face of modern amenities and instead headed straight for desolation and rust bucket ghost towns a billion miles from civilization (and sometimes the nearest gas station).

Why? We’re odd.

There’s just no easy way to say that, but it’s true. We’re odd.

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This kid



During my stay in Saigon this kid was a fairly constant presence in our house. We called her “Be” (pronounced Be-ah), which means “baby” in Vietnamese. It’s often an endearment for the youngest in the family.

This kid has tiny piece of my heart.

She’s the kind of little girl that chatted at you all the time whether you spoke the language or not. Often her tone was serious and intent, interrupted periodically by giggles. She could have entire one-sided conversations with you for eons. She had confidence. And she had things to say.

Every day when I got home I would go to my bedroom, sit on the bed, lean back against the headboard and open my laptop to start downloading and sorting through photos in order to prep my camera for the next day. This is a process that could take a little time. Within minutes she would make her way into the room, sit next to me on the bed (usually smack dab in the middle regardless of the pile of decorative pillows—she just shoved them aside) and start channel surfing the TV looking for cartoons or Chinese soap operas. Sometimes she talked to me, sometimes we just shared space and did our own thing.

Sometimes she was a six year old kid, but most of the time she was a forty year old woman trapped in a little girl’s body.

And she absolutely cracked me up.



This view … the one of her running towards me with that big grin … was the one I saw the most and it never failed to make me smile.


And physically brace myself for the dramatic hug that I was about to receive.

How far have we come in 1000 years?



The expression of this wooden sculpture is an iconic image that I saw quite a lot of during my travels in Vietnam. I’d come to think of him as the “Home Alone Kid”. You know the famous scene in the movie Home Alone, right? McCaulay Culkin slaps his cheeks in the universal expression of “Oh, my!” and pretty much everyone relates. Yeah, this kid sure got around; his image was everywhere.

While staying in Ha Noi I was insistent about visiting some of the cultural museums in town. Ha Noi is the cultural capitol of Vietnam and has more than a dozen museums and cultural centers throughout the city, so if you’re visiting the country make sure that you see at least one museum while in Ha Noi. They’re world-class, inexpensive and wonderful snapshots (as are all museums) of the culture.

In particular I really wanted to see the Museum of Ethnology, which has not only a terrific indoor exhibition space but also a very interesting outdoor village showing architecture and archeological demonstrations. It costs only $1.25 to enter—really, you can’t beat that—and they’ve got a cute little museum store with very reasonably priced goodies. I picked up some terrific buffalo horn spoons there for about $0.50 each.

Anyhow … let me give you a quick glimpse of my fave points of interest.

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I heart my Kindle


(photo: Amazon)

I’m back from Vietnam and settling back into life. While I was gone my darling husband moved our entire household to our new house. He unpacked. He built furniture. He organized. He was all kinds of saintly.

Well, I did send him little diagrams of where I wanted the furniture in each room so I think that helped. I came home to a house that was 80% put together. It was such a nice feeling. As I walked around our clean new abode I thought to myself, “Wow, I really needed to go on vacation more often. Maybe I can get out of housework altogether.”

And then he led me into a room that had a small mountain of boxes stacked up in the corner. “Look sweetheart, I left these here for you to unpack. I knew you’d want to handle this personally.”

Yeah. Uh huh.

He left the final 20% (the decorating crap) for me to do. And I was happy as a clam to do so.

For the past week I have been painting cabinets, sanding drawers, hanging pictures and buying, in hubby’s words, more decorating crap. Does the bathroom really NEED that white porcelain Chinese dog and those red lacquer vases? Why, yes. Yes, I think it does. It makes my peeing experience so much more pleasant. A happy pee makes a happy girl. TMI? Okay, moving on.

While the home design stuff has been fun, I’m kinda sick of it.

I’m over it.

I’m done with with decorating and design. At least until Spring when I’m sure I’ll change things around just ’cause it’s sunny outside.

BUT. What I really want to talk about today is my Kindle!

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