Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Happy PaNaMa!

Mother's Day marked the beginning of the month-long festival known as "PaNaMa," which means absolutely nothing outside of our little triad. It's a time in which the three of us: Pa, Na and Ma celebrate Mother's Day, Father's Day and all three of our birthdays. I feel sorry for the next little addition to our family...or maybe he/she will feel lucky not having to share our birthday.

This year is quite important since Pa and I both turn (holy crap!) 40. I still find that so hard to believe. I don't feel 40--er, whatever 40 is supposed to feel like. I don't look 40 either. Really. Shut up!

Actually, I have a funny to share...on my birthday, Pa took me to dinner downtown. We pulled up in front of the restaurant to have the valet park the car. After a long, enjoyable dinner, Pa went to the valet stand to have the car brought around, but it was after hours and the car was already out front. Pa grabbed the keys from the maitre d' and they were still attached to the valet card. On the back of the car, the valet had written: Tall Man/Woman. Woman in stunning dress. Pa said, "See? That should make you feel good!" to which I replied, "What? So he thought the dress was stunning..." Pa just rolled his eyes. I'm not good with compliments, but I'll take it...and hope that people still find my dresses stunning when I am in my 50s!

Both Mother's Day and my birthday were low-key, which turned out to be pretty nice. I mean, initially, I was hoping for a big hoopla--you know, maybe going to Budapest or Bora Bora or something...but knowing that we're about to spend 40 luxurious days in Ukraine this summer is plenty enough for me. Yeeeeahhh, I'll trade the white sandy beaches of Bora Bora for hot and sticky Ukraine any day.

Kidding aside, this weekend, we're flying down to San Diego to celebrate PaNaMa in style. One day is a spa day for moi; one day is a golf day for Pa; and one day will be spent at Legoland for Na (actually, ok it's for all of us...what's not to love about Legoland?) It'll be nice to get away to warm(er) weather and actual sunshine, but I've gotta say, it's weird knowing that this may well be our last vacation together as a family of three! I'm excited and kinda nervous about that...and I think Pa and Na feel the same way.

So now that I've officially said good bye to my 30s, I have a full decade ahead of me to accomplish three things: raise another beautiful, sweet child; sell my book; and qualify for the Boston Marathon--not necessarily in that order, though I've got my fingers crossed that our trip to Ukraine will be a triumph and we'll have our beautiful, sweet child first.

All three things have this in common: they are each labor intensive, but worth every minute. My only wish is that for the next ten years (and beyond) I remain as happy and healthy as I am today.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Over the Moon for Molly

For years, I've had this secret desire to open up a dessert place in my neighborhood. I've got the theme picked out, the business plan written up, and some location ideas. But opening a shop would prohibit me from writing, running and raising our while I continue to kick the idea around in my head, it'll be years before it comes to fruition. I'll get to it once I send the kids off to college, go on the book tour for the first novel, and qualify for the Boston Marathon.

We live in a great little walking neighborhood and I've seen places come and go, but nothing truly dessert-oriented. We had, at one point, an ice cream store called "Wally's Scoop", but it catered to kids, mostly and was seriously lacking in atmosphere. The Crayola color-scheme just wasn't doin' it for me.

Last year, Trophy Cupcakes moved in, and while I enjoy their treats, they close by 8 p.m, so they don't cater to the late night crowd like, say, The Dilettante on Broadway or B&O Espresso.

We also have the Chocolati Cafe, and that's nice...if you just want chocolate.

So, what's a carbo-loading, sugar-craving, dessert addict to do on a Saturday night, after a movie? Well, I think someone may finally have a solution to my dilemma. Last Sunday, Molly Moon's Ice Cream Boutique opened on 45th , and not only are they open until eleven p.m., they've also got some pretty tasty ice cream.

I was never really a huge "gourmet" ice cream flavor gal. I like my Rocky Road, thank you very much; but when I took Mr. Na to Molly Moon's on Wednesday, I tried the salted caramel and the Vivace Coffee and whoa, were they ever yummy. Mr. Na had the "Scout" mint, and while it took him a minute or two to get past the fact that it wasn't artificially colored in green, he loved it. I also sampled the Cardamom, which I thought was nice, and I plan to come back for a full scoop in the near future.

It's nice to finally have a dessert place in the neighborhood that stays open long after the kiddies have gone to bed. It's even nicer that it's just ice cream, and not the treats I'm hoping to peddle one of these days!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

It's... a... difficult responsibility...

A friend of mine, who hinted at wanting this for her birthday, turned me on to Curiobot, and now it's one of my new faves. In fact, I've subscribed to a daily feed so I can see new, off-the-wall, totally bizarre offerings. The site reminds me of the King Novelty catalogs of yore, where one could purchase X-Ray vision glasses, Sea Monkeys and rubber chickens. But Curiobot pulls from all over the Internets, so the offerings are vast. Is Fido in need of a set of pooch slippers? Does your little one have hopes of being a TSA employee one day? Here's the perfect gift for practicing. How about a Shockalot Vault for keeping your highly coveted cookies safe? There's no end to the wackiness.

It's fun to peruse online, but when I'm in need of replacing my Toast Wallet, I shop at the local Archie McPhee in Ballard. And when I want a heaping helping of curio, with a side of Bush bashing, I head to the Not a Number gift store. Not only do I enjoy playing with every single toy in these shops, I also prefer to support my local retailer whenever I can.

I have to admit, though, that I'm faced with a quandary: if this bill passes, these local stores will have problems staying afloat. I'm totally in favor of making kids' toys safe, but I'd really hate to see them go under because they couldn't pay the exorbitant toy testing fees over which toy giants Mattel and Hasbro are up in arms, while other, mid-sized toy manufacturers are threatening to stop shipments of toys in Washington State altogether.

I'm not sure what the solution should be, but I am in favor of having the government step-in to create a federal regulation. Once the little toy retailers go under from this bill, and the mid-sized toy makers stop sending toys to our state, we would have make our purchases in other states where the regulations aren't as stiff. And aside from that being a ridiculous notion, it would make us a pretty boring place to be!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

I (Heart) Duran Duran

So, rather than bore you with all the details of last Wednesday's show at the WaMu Theater, I'll tell you a little story about about the first time I ever saw Duran Duran in concert. Stick with me, it's a good one!

It was 1984, I was 15, it was in Los Angeles, and my mother dropped my cousin Guen and I off, telling us to be at that EXACT SAME SPOT right after the show. I think I was wearing a white jumpsuit with teal and black triangles across the front, but I know I was wearing my black suede boots because they looked EXACTLY like the ones worn by the band.

The concert, itself, was pretty uneventful. In fact, I couldn't even tell you who opened for them, though I will say that the "Seven and the Ragged Tiger" tour was legendary. Duran Duran were one of the first bands to use giant video screens so that the audience could see those yummy wild boys up close and personal--even if you were way up in the nosebleeds.

What was more interesting, however, was what happened afterward, as Guen and I walked back toward the "mom spot" in the parking lot: a gaggle of girls swarmed around this very ordinary-looking green Delta 88. I looked at Guen who shrugged her shoulders, and said, "Beats me, let's go look." I love that about Guen. We share the same sense of adventure.

We miraculously made our way through the crowd of girls, and when we poked our heads in the passenger side window, it took seconds to register that C. Thomas Howell was driving the car and Ricky Schroeder was in the passenger seat, just inches away from my nose. I said "hey", they said "hey" and then one of them told us to get in the back. So we did.

We couldn't have been in the backseat for more than five minutes, but it's one of those moments where you can slow it down in your head to savor every detail. Not that I am particularly fond of C. Thomas Howell or Ricky Schroeder, but it gets a little exciting when a random celebrity (or two) says "hi" and then tells you to get in the car. Given that this was 1984, C. Thomas was (sadly) at the height of his career, having just starred in The Outsiders. And Ricky? Well, if I remember correctly, Silver Spoons was a popular sitcom at the time, so it's not like they were unknown.

The boys turned around to face us, Ricky was wearing a red leather jacket - a la Thriller. They asked us our names, we asked them if they liked the show, they asked us where we lived, and then the invited us to a party.

"We can't," I said.
"Why not?" Ricky asked.
"Because my mom's on her way to pick us up."
"Can you call her?" he asked. (Remember, this was still the era of the payphone!)
"No, because she's probably already here," I said.

Talk about a missed opportunity! And who knows who else would have been at that party. Would we have met Johnny or Soda Pop? (Looking back now, I would have KILLED to meet Matt Dillon...) But, you know, my mom would have freaked, and I just wasn't willing to take that risk. I did have a little sense back then. Not much, maybe, but adventurous spirit was willing to go only so far.

Oddly enough, I had the opportunity to see Duran Duran in concert again, just a few weeks later, at Madison Square Garden in New York. We had floor seats, about halfway back, and there were temporary metal barricades between us and those who were closer to the front. Before the show started and they dimmed the houselights, I caught the red leather jacket out of the corner of my eye and shouted, "Ricky! Hey, Ricky!" He turned and looked at me, smiled and said "hey" and I figured, either he says "hey" to everyone or he recognized me. I guess I'll never know.


What really amazes me is that all of the above happened 24 years ago and that Duran Duran have been around for the last 30 years. And I have to give them credit, you know, because they have managed to evolve over time, to appeal to a broader audience. Their latest album, Red Carpet Massacre, was co-produced and co-written by Timbaland, Danja, and Justin Timberlake--three artists that most people in their forties (except for, maybe, Madonna) don't know.

Overall, Duran Duran put on a good show last week, mixing their old stuff with the new. The only thing that was a bit odd was when they stood in a straight line, with microphones, keyboards, computer monitors, and electric drums. The formation looked more like something out of the Blue Man Group than anything, and they played a few songs off of Big Thing. And then the weirdest frickin' thing happened: While they played "All She Wants Is" Simon started singing, "See the breaking glass, in the underpass. Hear the crushing steel, feel the steering wheel. A tear of petrol is in your eye. The handbreak penetrates your thigh. Quick--let's make love, before you die." It took me a split second to realize he was singing The Normal's "Warm Leatherette"-- a very bizarre song I never would have expected them to cover and that very few people at the concert, I'd be willing to bet, knew. Grace Jones covering the Normal, yes; Simon Le Bon, no. It was...I dunno...kinda contrived.

I still love 'em, though. How could I not? I spent my entire teenage years infatuated with them. And if it weren't for them, I never would have met Ricky Schroeder or C. Thomas Howell. Now, at least, my life is complete!