Thursday, October 31, 2013


Belle spotted a cat while trick or treating, wandered into the owners' house and wouldn't leave.  Then she walked into another house and started watching television.  That sums up Halloween.

Monday, October 28, 2013


I dressed Belle as a ladybug and took her to a picnic in the park last Sunday.  Unfortunately, the weather had grown cold and gray, a sharp contrast to the near stifling warmth the previous day.  I had to layer a turtleneck and leggings under Belle's spaghetti strap "ladybug inspired" dress and zip her into a hoodie.  I didn't bother attaching the wings.

We met another toddler dressed as a ladybug at the same event.  Her costume looked more authentic, with antennae.  She was a true ladybug, not a glam look like Belle.  She was also covered from head to toe and warm.  I am not changing Belle's costume since it's already purchased and worn.  I am a little miffed at the blatant and skimpy girly attempt at recreating nature.  Ladybugs don't wear tulle.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Belle and I attended a playground construction in Richmond today.  Volunteers worked tirelessly to erect a sandbox, slides, swings and everything else found in a playground.  Belle and I dressed for both Autumn weather (a sweater and jeans for me and a dress with leggings for Belle) and safety in a construction zone (socks and Converse for me and Mary Janes for Belle).  We didn't count on the weather warming up considerably, especially not once we got lost. We certainly didn't count on getting lost either.

The building site would have been a very simple fifteen minute walk from Richmond BART had we been given the correct address.  First Google Maps prompted us to take a bus which led us to a similar address south of what we expected.  That took thirty minutes on foot (and another quick bus ride) with a squirming toddler to resolve.  We were soon very lost again, yet hovering in the general area, of where we were meant to be after we took another bus.  It took another hour to straighten it all out.  The actual site turned out to be two miles away from the address listed in the official emails for the event.

We were led down a road marked "No Foot Traffic" by a skinny prostitute, and into a series of scary and sketchy neighborhoods reminiscent of South Los Angeles, while on the hunt for the address.  No one had any knowledge of this construction zone or this prospective park.  I had to navigate myself and Belle to a foreign address using the limited information given.  We eventually found our way, but the catered lunch was gone by that point.  Belle played in the sandbox while I chatted up an old friend who'd flown up from L.A. to help build the playground.  Community service and old friends aside, I'd never been more happy to come home.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Belle has short hair.  Without pierced ears, some people assume Belle is a boy.  I started to capitalize on this by dressing her as a drag king for Halloween.  All this was dependent on what we could redeem with store credit at a local baby boutique.  Of course the boutique didn't have a toddler tuxedo for sale.  They did have a ladybug costume for sale in Belle's size.  Everyone else will be wearing a prefab winged costume too, I bet.  Whatever!  Belle has a costume.

Relax! It's just [free] food.

An old woman at the food bank threatened to beat me up after I dared move ahead of her in line.  Belle and I had been handed number ninety-five after arriving late.  A friend, a recent divorcee who has raised six children, gave us her number twenty-five.  She had a more pressing engagement and couldn't wait (Everyone seemed to be running late!) any longer.  Our friend also doesn't benefit much from this food bank's offerings anyway, skipping over breads and desserts, etc.  I thanked her kindly for her gift of a lower number and wished her well on her upcoming job interview.  I then walked Belle over to a pair of casual acquaintances, including an eccentric old woman.  When I mentioned going from ninety-five to twenty-five, the old woman threatened to beat me up in public as I held a nursing child.  What the fuck?

What foods nearly cost me my hide:  6 bananas, including 3 ripe, 1 apple, 1 organic lemon, 5 pears, 12 new potatoes (creamer's?), 3 red onions, 1 bunch parsley, 1 carton of lite eggnog, 1 yogurt, 6 brown eggs, 1 chickpea salad, 3 donuts, 9 red velvet muffins and assorted breads.  Threaten to beat my ass over steak and lobster, not chickpeas, okay?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Never underestimate a "mom and pop" business.  I spotted a package of [brand name] diapers, rejected the higher price for such a limited quantity and got the diapers for free.  This wouldn't have happened at a large corporate store.  Merry Christmas from my grocer, indeed!

Buttered ramen

Buttered ramen noodles are quite the impatient toddler happy meal.  I prepare Top Ramen according to package directions, shovel the noodles out of the beef broth and toss them with butter (or delicious, nutrient rich Melt Organic Buttery Spread).  Belle and I enjoyed a bowl yesterday as the chicken cooked.  I was in the process of baking breaded chicken drumsticks, which I wanted to serve with rice, tortillas and a vegetable, when Belle's hunger struck.  Buttered ramen noodles were perfect.  Unfortunately, this meant I couldn't have rice with my chicken dinner.  We ended up sharing a couple of drumsticks later, with peanut butter cups for dessert.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I feel at home and at peace in the worn red leather armchair under the window where the bar used to be.  I released stuck energies yesterday when the antiques dealer and his assistant carried the bar away.  This room finally makes sense.

Monday, October 21, 2013


I got two dozen eggs for free today.  I redeemed a Target coupon for the first dozen.  I bought two cans of Spam at Lucky's for the second dozen.  Now we have six dozen plus four eggs on hand.  Belle doesn't even eat eggs.  I must be creative.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I felt inspired to listen to Maxwell's Embrya on vinyl last night.  I had to check for scratches and lint because it sounded funny.  Belle broke the needle off the record player this morning.  I couldn't look at her for several minutes.  I didn't even make eye contact while changing her diaper or dressing her.  In fact, I brushed Belle's hair and teeth to punish her for breaking the needle.  Then I checked the manual.  According to the manual, the stylus is long overdue for replacement.  An old stylus may impact sound quality.  Belle did me a favor by breaking the needle.  I just wish I didn't need to replace it now.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Belle stories

Belle ate onions last night.  I made a "one dish" meal from ground sirloin, carrots, onions and ramen, and Belle ate only the onion.  She usually hands onions to me.  I wonder what changed.

Belle says "here" whenever she hands me something.  She also consistently says "ball" whenever we play ball.  Belle also likes to repeat "baby" and "me."

Friday, October 18, 2013


Today is my paternal grandmother Lillian's birthday.  Today is also an Hunter's Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse in my fourth house of home and family.  I have cried intermittently since Thursday.  Belle slapped me repeatedly for crying, and tried very hard not to cry too.  She kept me draped in hugs and kisses when she wasn't slapping and biting me.  It's been an emotional week.

I sold the antique radio that once belonged to my grandmother and her husband.  While it once stood so stately in the Longwood kitchen, it's been hidden in this garage since I moved here.  The man who bought the radio is coming back for the bar.  My tenant from the Longwood apartment sold me a gorgeous wooden bar that no longer fits my space or my life.  I will surely create a breathable living space once that dead weight is removed and I move other furniture around.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Belle and I held a last minute tarot reading at home last night.  We drank tea and ate cake.  I learned this particular deck may not want to be shuffled by anyone but me.

Monday, October 14, 2013

You teach people how to treat you

Last Saturday I met a woman over fifty who was dressed like a man half her age.  She wore an oversize tee shirt, baggy knee length shorts belted low enough to display her boxers (which she graciously covered with the tee shirt), sandals with socks and an obnoxious wool cap.  I watched her butt heads with someone in authority and leave in a huff.  Since Alameda is a very small island, I saw the woman driving later the same day.  She pulled over to complain to me about an injustice at the market where I'd seen her.  I could have said, "You have a dead body drawn on your tee shirt.  Look how you look."  Instead I said, "Call in and complain."  It took all of me not to say it.

The writing life

I am now a contributing author at a tarot blog.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


I met a thirtysomething couple and their nineteen month old son as Belle and I set out for our walk.  They were looking at the house next door where the creep lives.  I noted the husband wore the boy in a carrier, tummy to tummy.  They are just my type, at least superficially.  I wish for them or someone better to be our neighbors.  I can't live next door to anyone who needs to show me his penis.

Sunday ice cream

Today I loaded Belle into the push chair and took us on a long walk.  We walked past the new Target and on to Dollar City (Or is it Dollar Store?) and Lucky Supermarket.  I bought a ramen noodle family pack at Lucky, made especially to accommodate leftover meat and vegetables (I added last night's ham, kale and onions to this morning's beef flavored ramen, plus a hard boiled egg!  Mmm.).  I felt urged to leave a quarter at the remains of a railroad I found along the way in exchange for a pebble and dirt, and another quarter for a much larger pebble from the new and bustling Alameda Landing as we walked.  I wanted these pebbles for a little sympathetic magic.

A friend we visited on our way home clued me in on free fries being given at Burger King.  Burger King isn't really my spot, but I felt like a snack.  I ordered my free fries and noticed I could also get Belle a free ice cream cone if I answered a short online survey.  Belle loved every bite of her ice cream.  I loved being able to honor Sunday as ice cream day, per Belle's favorite song, "Today is Monday."  I attribute these unexpected freebies to the offerings I left today.  We put a little in and got a little back.  I also found ten cents.


Top Ramen made an excellent lunch for an impatient Belle yesterday.  I drained the water and tossed the cooked noodles with butter and the seasoning packet.  We sat on the floor and ate delicious noodles.  Now I want more.  I want to be creative and add an egg or something.

I had my eye on whole wheat pasta earlier, and chose something else instead.  Imagine my delight when someone just handed me two pounds of the same whole wheat pasta as Belle and I walked home.  I look forward to trying them.

I am learning how to make smaller portions of food.  We get bored with our leftovers.  I am also enamored with a particular brand of canned chili with beans.  I must eat a can of chili over rice a week.  Belle has learned how to hunt for beans in my bowl of chili with beans and rice.  

NIP experience

Today I educated another mom on breastfeeding.  I'd secured Belle into a side hip carry in the ring sling for an early morning food run.  Belle wanted to nurse while checking out the crowd.  Assuming I was being used as a pacifier, our friend confronted Belle in the sing song voice people typically adopt when addressing small children, "You'll have to give that up."  I kept calm and explained we were actually nursing.  She seemed stunned.  "You still have milk?" she asked.  This wasn't the first time I'd been asked this question.  I explained the supply and demand of breastfeeding.  The woman admitted she'd initiated breastfeeding with each of her now young adult children, but had great difficulty because they were all born prematurely.  Breastfeeding just wasn't possible for her.  Her children are all grown, healthy and active now.  I got it.  She got it.  We had a truly positive conversation.  Then another woman caught Belle hiding in the sling and asked, "What's that in her mouth?"  I let that woman's husband calmly explain it to her.  Bless her heart.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Last week I let my guard down and allowed my next door neighbor back into my life.  We hadn't spoken in months, after it became apparent we weren't equally yolked.  Several months of silence didn't stop my neighbor from surprising me last Monday with several take out meals and news the family is finally selling the house.  I kindly thanked him and wished him well.  That night he came by with wine, which made a pleasant platonic evening.  He brought tequila a couple nights later and completely unraveled.

I'd eaten a big dinner and put Belle to bed before the neighbor's visit.  We had another pleasant platonic conversation.  When I voiced my sudden craving for a snack, the neighbor walked the short distance to his kitchen and brought back leftovers.  He also brought over a bottle of wine that he quickly drained.  The neighbor couldn't handle his liquor, unfortunately, and attempted a sexual advance.  I rejected him and showed him the door.  

The neighbor returned wearing a condom and no pants.  I sent him drunk, half naked and unsatisfied back home.  I am lucky he left without incident.  Belle and I both could have been attacked.  My neighbor sent a series of text messages in the morning.  He expected me to be a pushover and keep him in my life.  I won't do that.  Quick thinking led to me snapping pictures of him in a bad state and texting him those pictures in the morning.  He will leave us alone and turn all his energy on leaving town if he is smart.  

Friday, October 11, 2013


This morning I found a very drunk man standing on my front door step.  The drunk was clad only in a long sleeve shirt, a gold chain and a condom.  Belle was sound asleep upstairs.  I snapped a couple photographs as evidence.  I warned the drunk, who should probably be arrested for public drunkenness and indecent exposure, that I will take these photographs to the police if he dares attempt further contact.  What a creep!

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Belle and I brought beans and rice to a "global foods" theme potluck at our church.  I put considerable effort into this dish, only to serve it to diners who had never even heard of or seen beans and rice simmered together.  Very few actually tried my beans and rice.  To make matters worse, our pastor had advised gatherers against piling their plates and returning for seconds until everyone had been served.  This was surely based on past potluck dinners, when free food became a "free for all."  New rules may have put people off of truly enjoying our buffet style dinner.

I fed Belle breakfast, lunch and snacks prior to our church dinner.  Being well-fed didn't curb Belle's enthusiasm at the buffet.  I had a very difficult time keeping Belle away from the coffee maker and the food before and during dinner.  When we finally got our turn at the buffet table, I filled two plates and a bowl full of food for us to share.  Belle had to sit in my lap because she wouldn't sit in her push chair and the church does not provide high chairs.  I had a very hard time balancing a curious toddler and our food.  Someone finally asked if we were getting enough food to eat at home.  They interpreted Belle's magnetic pull toward the buffet, and me filling a plate of food for both of us, as signs of a hunger problem.  I lost my appetite pretty soon afterward.

I do not feel at home inside our church.  I like our pastor.  I like a few of the families we have befriended.  I appreciate being able to walk to church.  I feel I often rub some people the wrong way, like I am a woman with a child, just showing up and hanging out to get a free lunch.  A few folks don't even think I am a baptized Catholic (Ha!  I am a confirmed Catholic with twelve years of Catholic school under my belt.).  I don't appreciate being misunderstood.  The grandmothers who made the financial sacrifices to keep me in Catholic school all those years wouldn't appreciate it either.  This isn't the first time a comment has been made about our food consumption at a potluck.  I get the feeling I am meant to contribute to the meal without appearing to take pleasure in actually eating the meal.  I was sensually savoring a barbecued rib when asked if food was an issue at home.  I feel food is an issue at this church.  This isn't the right church for us.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Belle and I walk three miles round trip most Thursdays.  I usually wear Belle in a sling with minimal discomfort during our journey.  I secured Belle atop my hip in the ring sling this morning, only to feel her wiggle free as soon as we rounded the corner.  She really wanted to walk this morning.  We fell twenty minutes behind schedule with Belle toddling along but we still made it.  When an acquaintance noticed me holding Belle once we arrived, she asked, "Why don't you let her walk?"

Belle wiggled free from the sling again when she noticed a play structure on our way home.  I recognized the child of a friend playing at this park, along with his nanny.  The nanny and I secured the children into belted swings and enjoyed a lovely conversation while we pushed.  Belle babbled enthusiastically something that sounded similar to "ball."  I think the other child called me "mama."  The children eventually made their way back down to the wood chips, where they made a big mess.  Belle was so dirty and tired afterwards that she dozed off in the sling on the walk home.

Nonviolent parenting

I am especially pulled to create and maintain a harmonious household for Belle.  I found a restraining order my mother filed against my father in 1979 when I was three years old.  My mother noted my father's erratic behavior after surviving a head on collision in 1977.  My mother and I had both become victims of physical and verbal abuse in the years following my father's accident.  While I don't consciously remember this abuse, I know it left an imprint.  I won't scream at Belle or spank her the way my mother observed my father doing with me.  I will give Belle the peace I lacked.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Belle and I wake up reading and go to sleep reading.  I moved all the baby and toddler books within Belle's reach, including the obnoxious ones.  Belle is now imitating animal sounds and singing along with nursery rhymes.  I don't feel urged to consult anyone about her speech because she is speaking.