I don't really know what I am musing on these days. It's more like an irregular stream of consciousness thing...it seems to be working.


November 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008

-- HOME --

-- RSS 1.0 --


Soskins Media
C.C. Books

Powered by Movable Type
« December 2007 | Main | February 2008 »

w January 22, 2008

Today's Life Lesson

Trying to change the grotesque diaper of an active toddler is like wrestling with the combined forces of Vishnu and the whole of Cirque du Soleil's contortionists. In a septic tank.

by Heather Hoffman at 4:46 PM


Appealing To My Guilt Levels

So one of the things that dawned on me after I was accepted into my grad program and allowed myself to daydream about a time when I would be around sentient adults most of the day was that, like probably all professional disciplines, conferences and seminars are part and parcel of the job. This excited me in a sad way, because as much as I hate to fly and travel, the thought of being in a hotel room for a night or two by MYSELF where someone ELSE would make me food and then cause it to be taken away and cleaned up out of my sight and then someone ELSE would make my bed...well, this was very thrilling.

I read this article this morning and realized, you know, I recognize the importance of here and there meeting with people face to face, but much like the author, those of us who are/will be in library and INFORMATION SCIENCE are probably spending a hell of a lot of time doing things virtually. There is even a Second Life campus, for lack of a better word, attached to the MLIS program. Second Life, for chrissakes. Julie thinks I should be a giant walking Reuben with eyes or something. I tend to agree. Perhaps if I limit myself to one 'away trip' per year or two, my inner worrywart will be assuaged. All joking aside, though, I thought it was a particularly thought-provoking article.

by Heather Hoffman at 8:26 AM

w January 21, 2008

For All Who Doubt Me

When I tell them that there is, and has historically been, a solid Jewish community in the South:


We had four friends over for dinner tonight vising from Charlotte, and they are living proof of the above. The website is fascinating, and while I know that there are probably more longstanding communities in the older regions of the South, I remember my mother telling me that even in podunk coastal Texas in the 1950s, she got to visit a sukkah built by a retail colleague of her father's. Just an interesting study in how diversity really does equal American, no matter how cynical people get.

by Heather Hoffman at 10:55 PM

w January 19, 2008

How I Know I'm Getting Old

Or at least, my knees. Yesterday afternoon Peebs and I walked down to Stulsaft Park, only about 1.4 miles away, to kill some time; if you've ever been to our house, you know that no matter which way you cut it, you're dealing with hills. Granted, the hills aren't awful, but they are consistent, particularly with a stroller, so I was just dreading the climb back up.

Funnily enough, it was the downhill trek that had my knees screaming and demanding a revolution. Going back up was, dare I say, easy? I don't know that I'd go so far as to say 'pleasant', but it wasn't nearly the death march I was expecting. It was, however, a tiny reminder of 'hello Heather, welcome to the slow downhill slide into middle age'. Quite literally, in fact.

PS: In case anyone is wondering, no, we didn't encounter a mountain lion.

by Heather Hoffman at 12:18 PM

w January 17, 2008


It might be the end of a long day, coupled with rereading one of my very favorite books, but I found myself idly poking through Wikipedia with Robertson Davies as the locus. For some reason not entirely understood, I had the hugest wave of homesickness when I read about Toronto (because of course, the city features prominently in many of Davies' books). Well, I shouldn't say entirely not understood, Davies taught at Trinity, which is my alma mater, and attended The Church of St Mary Magdalene, in whose Gallery Choir I sang throughout my three years at aforementioned college; I suppose in some ways I look to these books as a thin but tensile link to my former life, reminding me of the positive bits and sanding down the negative ones.

It was just unexpected, and completely visceral. It probably didn't help that I made pierogi for dinner (from scratch - booya!), one of those ethnic foods I will always associate with my early years in Toronto growing up in a heavily Polish and Ukrainian neighborhood. Gah, will Proust please get out of my damn life?

by Heather Hoffman at 8:39 PM

w January 15, 2008


Today's lucky group number:

If your group number is 3000, 3001, 3004 or 3005, your appearance is not required. Please note that you are now excused and will be eligible to serve again in 12 months.

Didn't even have to call in, thank baby Jesus for the internets.

by Heather Hoffman at 11:10 AM

w January 14, 2008

Tick Tock Tick Tock

So I can't decide if this is a good thing, a bad thing, or a neutral thing, but when I checked my jury duty status tonight it would appear that my group is on 'call in status'. Whatever the eff that means. Well, okay, it means I have to call in tomorrow between 11:15 and 11:45 AM to receive 'further instructions'. Which actually sounds kind of amusingly like I'm calling a mob boss or something. Look, whatever it takes for a laugh, people.

I am trying to look at this as a positive though -- better to be able to have a relatively normal morning, and get on the phone to see what is up and I really sincerely hope this doesn't mean they can tell me at 11:45 "be here at 12:30". Because not so much fun. Still and all, Gene said he could be home by noon if need be, and I have made sure both he and my neighbor are on the bus pick up list for Bean, and worst case -- I'm home by 5 or 5:30.

In my defense, I realized that I don't mind having to actually BE a juror, I believe in all the civic duty crap blah blah blah -- it's just the sitting around and having to scramble for kid care that is a hair puller. If both kids were actually in school, I would be so much more philosophical about it all. Ah well. As I'm sure you are all waiting with bated breath alongside me, I'll update this tomorrow after receiving my ... 'further instructions" (cue The Godfather music)

by Heather Hoffman at 7:59 PM

w January 13, 2008

N'Awlins, No Hurricanes

I want a shout out for pure-d slackitude, because it tastes really effing good.

I had bought some of this coffee the other day on a whim, and because our local market is good like that. Generally speaking, we're snobs about ground coffee vs beans, but seriously, what are you going to do? Thanks to Julie, I found beignet mix at CostPlus World Market (my other happy place) and dudes, these are some tasty little fils de garces.

Peabo had clonked her forehead on the kitchen floor right before these were done, and we were then witness to the incredible healing power of fried dough with icing sugar. It's a medical miracle!

by Heather Hoffman at 10:18 AM

w January 11, 2008

Reasons Why It's Probably Good I'm Planning On Library Science

Because y'all, I'm a researching fool.

No, seriously. I started reading this great blog and realized that the writer alluded to the spot of Great Cattle Ranching Country wherein she and her family lived, but never quiiiiiite told us, you know, the damn state. This bothered me. A lot. I found myself scrutinizing the photos she had posted, trying to glean some evidence. I saw on her auxiliary cooking blog that she used "Shawnee Best" cornmeal, which made me think, aha! Oklahoma, or perhaps Kansas? I finally got confirmation when she discussed taking her kids on a day trip to the museum she had loved as a girl. An earlier post had pointed out that she grew up in Oklahoma. Ok. Mystery solved.

I cannot for the life of me tell you why I HAD to know this fact. I can tell you that I was inordinately pleased with my powers of recall and analysis upon seeing her chosen brand of cornmeal. I hope someone, some day, will pay me for this type of OCD.

by Heather Hoffman at 8:30 PM


Great Babysitter, And Mostly Free

Will work for treats.


(My parents' insanely patient Golden Retriever, who also slept through Peabo literally crawling over him)

by Heather Hoffman at 8:28 AM

w January 07, 2008

World's Biggest Suck

Bean took the bus to school for the first time this morning. I had to choke back tears.

by Heather Hoffman at 8:06 AM

w January 05, 2008

Austin City Limits

If you watch PBS, you might understand that admittedly lame title for this post, but it was the best I could do mid-coffee on a Saturday morning.

At any rate, here is the long-awaited recap of our TEXASTRAVAGANZA '07. I know y'all are just dying to hear it.

Flight from San Jose was quite easy, thankfully, though we discovered that traveling with a busy toddler who isn't entirely mobile yet is somewhat...exhausting. Peabo was very well behaved, but it took a lot of dog-and-pony act from Mom and occasionally Dad to keep her that way. Still and all, that's the job. Our world traveler of a five year old just chilled out with the iPod and her dolls, although kind of lost it as we were landing. Hard to figure out where that came from, but let's just obliquely say she was kind of needing to, um, clear herself out and that didn't really happen until Monday morning. After which time she was a much more cheerful child. The rental car area at the Austin airport is conveniently right across from the departures level, so at least there was no schlepping of bags and children and carseats particularly far. We located what we thought was our car on the Avis board, get locked and loaded and head out. Except. The car code doesn't match the paperwork they handed us. Hm. Do we have the wrong car? That's what they are telling us. We were pretty sure we could read our name on the board though and count to 09. After some admirably cranky yelling by the older woman at the gate to the tweenagers running the show inside the booth, we discovered that we had the right car---they had the wrong name. I didn't get a good look at the card but I think it said something like "Reichman". All I could think was "Hoffman, Reichman, all those Jewish last names must look the same in Texas". Unfair? Probably, but it made me laugh. We get out of there, find the highway that will take us an hour and fifteen south to the middle of kind of nowhere wherein my parents and their huge dogs are waiting. Yeah, see, we weren't in *Austin*. No. We weren't even in New Braunfels or Seguin or San Marcos. We were in Canyon Lake, sort of. I think in the summer it is probably a lot more hopping, what with the boating and the tubing on the Guadalupe River and the horse riding and all that. In the winter, well...anyway.

We find the condo, unload while stepping over dogs et al, try to figure out bedroom configurations for six people and two rooms. It was maybe a little cramped but we finally sorted out the best arrangement and people mostly slept all right, though I'd have to say that resort needs to upgrade its pillow choices. Lumpy McRockersons. Trying to keep the kids on California time meant we didn't have to figure out dinner until about 7 pm, at which point we cruise into happening downtown Sattler to a Chinese restaurant recommended by one of the teenage staff at the resort. At first glance, it was a bit 'let's gird our loins for gummy and cloying sweet and sour pork products' -- essentially a log cabin with the most egregiously un-PC illustrations on its signs. We walk in to a silent and nearly empty restaurant with the barest of furnishings -- but actual Chinese people staffing the kitchen and front. Heartening. Well, as it turned out, that was some of the tastiest inexpensive Chinese food I have ever had. Gene and I agreed that we would happily eat there if it were plop in the middle of the Bay Area amid all the other myriad Asian offerings. The waitress was a doll and it seemed like Dad was in the kitchen turning out some excellent crispy tofu with vegetables; whatever the situation, it was a good start to the trip.

Brief stop at the surprisingly well stocked grocery store, at which I chuckled to see the standard sign in Texas: "The unlicensed possession of firearms on this property is a felony". Actually the restaurant had that sign too -- EVERY place in Texas has that sign. I realize a lot of people would find that horrifying at best, but you have to understand, this is Texas, and trust me, no one whips out their licensed firearm and starts shooting up the joint. It's just part of the culture, and please for God's sake no one go off on me about how this culture pupped George W. and thus is the problem with the country today blah blah blah. Texas came into the Union as an independent republic and there is still an underlying sense that if need be, they could go back to being that, so you might as well be ready to take care of business if it arises. They will tip their hat to you beforehand, though.

Okay, tangent, sorry. Gene and I went up to Austin Sunday night to have a much anticipated overnight away from our darling but constant daughters; had a good dinner at a place called Louie's 106 where all their wines were half off. No, I'm serious, ALL of them. We took advantage of this by ordering a '94 Far Niente Cabernet and I had the world's strongest Negroni prior to dinner. While this was greatly enjoyed, it did obviate the possibility of stopping next door at the famed Driskell Hotel bar to have a nightcap. I ordered leaded coffee just to be able to walk back to our hotel, and that is sort of embarrassing, people. Clearly, everything really is bigger and better in Texas. As much as I tried to sleep in the next morning, apparently my body doesn't like staying that way past 7 am (9 am Texas time), so I read some of Conrad Hilton's autobiography found in the nightstand drawer. Can I just say, he would be appalled at his descendants, and I think his mother is probably still spinning in her grave like a lathe.
Went to brunch with a friend from California and her husband; they had moved to Austin four years ago and are happy as clams, particularly since Austin has poached Santa Cruz' slogan: Keep Austin weird. Let me assure you, Austin is pretty weird, though at the same time, it's still a south-central Texas country town. It's actually an incredibly appealing mix, and I could easily live there. Being able to wear my cowboy boots and jeans with a nose ring and tattoos and having no one bat an eye, well. Appealing. Anyplace that expects good manners and thank you notes but still supports a thriving alternative community? Rock ON. Drive back to the teeming metropolis of Canyon Lake, kill the afternoon, try to figure out what to do for New Year's Even dinner when you've got two small ones in tow. We were going to try this place in Gruene called The Gristmill; Gene called and was informed "no reservations taken but between 6 and 7 pm? NO PROBLEM". He grills them a bit further, and they stick to their guns. We get down there and what do you know. Forty five minutes to an hour. There is no way in hell I'm making my kids stand outside in 35 degree weather for an hour waiting to eat. So this starts our odyssey to find food -- any food. I won't go into the gory details, but suffice it to say -- not easy. We finally end up back at the condo an hour and a half later ordering pizza. Hindsight being 20/20, yeah, we should have just done this to begin with or I should have cooked. Anyway, get the kids into bed, watch Elizabeth I that my parents brought (quite good, that) and remember to drink champers at about 12:20. The most exciting NYE in history? No, but pretty much what we could all handle. Spent New Year's Day in San Antonio with my cousin Josh and his wife and daughter (about 2 months younger than Peabo) eating fajitas and watching football. As his awesome wife said "this is New Year's Day, Texas style". Indeed. The next day my godmother stopped in on her way from south Texas to a town south of Austin, after which time she was driving the 500+ miles back to Alpine. Yeah, see, this is also part of Texas culture. It's so damn big, but people think nothing of driving miles upon miles upon miles. Of course they fly too, but the whole road trip thing is just what it is. Hard to explain, but I don't get the same sense in California. I suppose having a lot of flat land helps. Whatever, it was really fun to see Ellen and have her meet my girls, and hear updates on people I vaguely remember from my small days in Alpine. It was also discussed how my parents apparently did not realize quite where Alpine was when my dad applied for the job at the university there; Dad had supposedly said to Mom "okay, you're from Texas, where the hell is this place?" Mom thinks and says "Alpine. Hills. Oh, East Texas". Yeah. Not so much. It's not that my mom is vague about geography in general, it just points out how freaking HUGE Texas is. We asked Dad when they figured out where Alpine was, exactly, and he said "you know, pretty much when we got off the plane". I can only imagine the paradigm shift.

More tangents, sorry. Heather drinks coffee. So the next day is our departure, and we also have to find a place to ship a box home. Yes, as per grandparents everywhere, my parents had brought a lot of admittedly great stuff for the kids and us to some degree, so the pack 'n' ship hunt is on. Apparently, no one in Austin ships stuff. Anywhere. I will spare you the details, but we finally find a little independent place completely accidentally, and they even give us the box, which was just very nice, and very Texas. Have an early dinner with my parents near the capital building, after which time they are going to drive back to McKinney, and we mosey back to the airport. Our flight was surprisingly on time, helping soothe my fears of monster delays due to the storms that were supposedly hovering over home; for two and a half hours of the flight, I managed to keep Peabo entertained, particularly since she had taken a shine to the people sitting behind us and kept wanting to stand on my lap or her car seat and shout "Hi! Hi!" at them. Fortunately they were lovely and thought it utterly charming. But oh, the last hour. It was already past bedtime California time, and waaaaay past on Texas time. We had 'that' kid for about 10 minutes before she collapsed into slumber in her car seat. No one seemed to mind too much except for this snotty little 13 year old in front of us who was practicing her stink-eye. I can only hope this was good birth control. If I can help but one person...needless to say, Bean curled up on her carryon bag and fell asleep. Thank god for mellow five year olds.

We got home about 9:30 and can I just say, so happy to be home. So, so happy. Our dogs were so small! So well behaved! There was so little...stuff! around. I do love my parents dearly, but they have this unbelievable ability to travel with what seems like everything they own, rather like the turtle. Two enormous and unruly dogs only add to the festivity, as you can imagine. I will say this, though -- unless I absolutely have to, there will be no air travel with the Peabo until she is way closer to two. I know two year olds are your basic asshole, but at least then she will be under her own steam and if we have to walk to the bathroom forty times, so be it. My hope is also by that point movies on Dad's laptop and stickers and coloring books will help kill some time. Still and all, we survived, and even got an overnight that was much needed. Having brunch with my friend was wonderful, and I loved seeing my cousin again. And for what it's worth, I love Texas. It's wacky, yeah. It's not for everyone, yeah. It's damn hot in the summer, yeah. But as far as I have a continuous sense of 'home' in the States, that's it. We moved around a lot when I was a kid, but Texas was and is always where we seem to have family in nearly every corner of the state, and I know I sound like a broken record, but I love any place where I can wear jeans and boots and yet being polite and respectful and well mannered isn't an option, it's the ONLY option. It's sort of Southern, mostly Western, but entirely Texan. In a perfect world, I'd live in Austin, but for now, at least I know the rental car place isn't a hell of a trek.

by Heather Hoffman at 9:53 AM

w January 03, 2008

How Glad Am I To Be Home?

So glad it's probably illegal. Too tired right now to do more than say 'we be BACK' but not to fret: recaps will be forthcoming. As a teaser, let me recommend not traveling with a headstrong 13 month old, especially at the kinda-sorta-maybe-past bedtime hour. But we survived, if barely. And OMFG one's own home and detritus are sweet.

by Heather Hoffman at 10:34 PM