Regular, non-BlogHer posting to resume…soon. I promise.

I know you’re wildly anticipating the video of my BlogHer Community Keynote reading, but I would first like to torture you with a few more pictures of my trip to San Francisco. (yawn).

I friend I’ve known forever and ever drove up from San Jose to spend the day with me on Sunday, and we walked ALL OVER THE UNIVERSE. We both kept commenting on how this will satisfy our need to exercise for many cheeseburgers to come.

We walked to Chinatown from the Ferry Building, and shopped, and ate Dim Sum. I had to be rolled down hill after eating a giant Hum Bao. The middle picture is me in front of the gate to Chinatown, and the one on the right is a church steeple with a plaque that says, “Son, observe the time and fly from evil.”

ChinatownGate into Chinatownwise words

From Chinatown we walked up to North Beach, the Italian neighborhood. I loved this area. There was a cafe for every taste – white linens and china, or cafe tables and mugs – and most had outdoor seating along the sidewalk. We picked a casual one and sat, cups of coffee in hand, talking and people watching. The perfect pit stop to rest our feet.

Italian Coffee

From North Beach we walked up hill toward Coit Tower to get a panoramic view of the city. That little tuft of trees to the left is Washington Square in the North Beach neighborhood, and it’s at the bottom of this very very steep hill. We didn’t even walk the rest of the way up to the Coit Tower, because I was all, I THINK I’M OKAY WITH THE VIEW FROM HERE, to which my friend was quite relieved.


I was geeking out a little over the interesting architecture and the collision of lines and shapes in the financial district.

pyramid towerarchiteturecircles, lines, triangles

On Monday I ventured out solo, and took the bus to the Haight-Ashbury district. Maybe I was tired of window shopping and ready to go home, but my impressions of the neighborhood did not match my anticipation of it. It didn’t feel any different than walking The Ave in Seattle’s U-District – lots of hemp, lots of white boys with dreads, lots of 20-somethings who need to get a job. But I did stop in to one cafe for lunch that had this really cool bathroom. It was my favorite thing of the day.

bathroom1 - haight-ashburybathroom2 - haight-ashburybathroom3 - haight-ashbury

BlogHer was held at the Westin St. Francis near Union Square – that large, rather ominous building that looks like something straight out of Gotham City. I’m sure someone has something to complain about regarding the hotel, but frankly any room with blackout curtains, a bed that soft, and the absence of children waking me in the night is a winner in my book. Oh, and I mustn’t forget to mention the double shower heads. Rocks In My Dryer took some lovely pictures inside the hotel.

The Westin St. Francis @ Union Square

Big shout out to Jen/Jenna/Jennifer of The Word Cellar, my BlogHer room mate for the weekend. We were set up on a blind date through Twitter, and it couldn’t have been a more perfect match! I hope to be sleeping with you again. Uh, wait…

Jenna and Jen

Amber Flower

Tell me, just tell me HOW I could have resisted buying this beautiful amber ring in San Francisco’s Chinatown, especially – ESPECIALLY – when my very savvy shopper friend says to the woman, "would you take FIFTEEN for this?" NEVER underestimate the power of a good bartering friend.

Amber Flower

coming to you from a very big pond…

Just in case you missed it, I am here:


Blogging will be… well, WHO KNOWS what could happen. But you will likely get more of the scoop if you follow my twitters.

I would love to give a big shout out to the guy in seat 24D on my flight from Seattle – he loaned me his awesome head lamp when he heard my overhead reading light was burned out. The world need more people like you in it, my friend.

head lamp

In other BlogHer news of interest, Kristin’s mood rings can’t decide how she feels about being here:

what mood is she REALLY in?

Vacation in Satan’s Cesspool.

It is June 5th, and I’m wearing jeans, socks, a sweater, and I turned my heat on for a couple hours today just to take the edge off. Yesterday the kids asked for hot chocolate, my seeds are not sprouting in the garden, and I’m sick of being cold.

So you know what? I’m giving Seattle the finger. Buh-bye.

mariah wilderness expeditions.jpg

Bryan and I are headed down to somewhere outside of Sacramento for a family reunion done Zug style, which is to say I’ll be hurling my body down a treacherous, rock infested river through rapids they lovingly call Satan’s Cesspool, with only a blow-up raft between myself and certain death. I’m not sure what frightens me more – the potential for hitting my head on a rock, or the fact I won’t be taking my laptop.

I wasn’t originally planning to raft. I was going to sit quietly next to the river with my book and my sunscreen, waiting to collect on the life insurance. But after several people convinced me I might actually have fun and not die, and when I remembered the whole point of going was to spend time with Bryan’s family, I thought I would suck it up and get on board.

Besides, how can I fear certain death if this is what my last day will look like?

California Weekend Forecast

That, my friends, is a far cry from what Seattle will look like this weekend. So have yourself a merry little weekend wherever you are. A special edition of Sex and the City Link Love will post in the morning, because I know how much you’ll miss me when I’m gone.

Morning sun, evening rain.

We spent our last day in sunny California riding Grandpa’s tractor, eating oranges off his tree, and visiting a petting zoo. It was seventy-five degrees.

eating oranges from the tree

We arrived at SeaTac airport after midnight, had to wait while the luggage carousel was fixed, and finally made it home just before 2am. As expected, it is raining in Seattle.

returning to seattle

I’ve spent the day unpacking, buying food, washing clothes, sorting two weeks of mail, and shoveling a path through my living room. But I’ve also been mulling over the new year and its inevitable draw to set goals. I’ve been mulling over New Year posts by internet friends and putting some ideas in my pocket for later. I’ve been mulling over the last two years and where I am now compared to the disaster that has been my life.

When things settle down I will share. Because, you know, I’m sure you’re hanging on every word.

The “Ultimate” marriage

Brad and MichelleWe spent New Year’s Eve at my BIL’s house, and my SIL mentioned something about watching cage fighting over the weekend while we were gone. I’ve known my BIL has been into cage fighting for years, so this prompted me to ask the question of whether she was into it because HE was into it, or if she liked it all on her own.

She responded quickly and confidently: Oh, I’ve been watching cage fighting since I was in High School.

She went on to tell me that for their first date my BIL took her to a cage fight, and during their courtship they made several trips to Vegas to watch Ultimate Fighting tournaments. This explains so much to me about their wedding on a “bridge” over a “river” in the famous Venetian casino hotel. It was perfect for them!

Memory Lane

A few days ago we drove the kids through the neighborhood Bryan grew up in. I’ve seen it all before, but it was fun to take the kids – especially Ruthie, who seems to have understood these were places Daddy was when he was little like her.

This is Bryan’s Grandma’s house, now owned and rented out by his Aunt. Bryan pointed out the side fence (not pictured) he helped his Grandpa build:

Grandma's house

The house on Norwood, where Bryan grew up until he went off to college. He shot a rocket through the living room ceiling of this house, and there used to be a tree house in the yard. His Uncle Chris built the fence on the side yard so they could have a dog:

the house on Norwood

It’s on a huge lot that I can’t believe is still there, considering that across the street there is a new housing development that’s been built since we were last here. It’s so dreamy to look at this house on this huge lot, hearing in my head all the stories I’ve been told of two boys playing in the yard and all the trouble they (well, his brother, usually) got into.

The house Bryan grew up in

Just since we’ve been down here I heard a new story about a fight Bryan got into down the street, and Brad, who is three years younger, came marching to his defense with a pitchfork towering practically a body length over his head. The stories I hear are mostly about adventure, and honor, and defending the family name, and sticking up for the little guy. Who knows how much of it has been glorified over the years, but as someone who always wished she had a sibling close in age, I love to live vicariously through those stories and imagine my own children getting into adventurous mischief or fights that defend one another.

the house on Norwood Street

Making the rounds

guitar heroWe are spending the weekend with my brother, his wife, and my seven year old nephew – about two hours away from Bryan’s family. We started off the weekend by playing Guitar Hero for about two hours, which, I have to say, is the only video game I have been able to beat my husband at. Ever. What can I say? I gots me some rhythm.

And also? It warms my heart to hear my nephew singing “hit me with your best shot” as he rocks the guitar with Pat Benetar.

computer budsMy nephew bonded with Bryan as he worked, playing his Game Boy along side his chair. He’s a pretty smart kid, trying to figure his uncle out. He already knew Bryan liked Guitar Hero, so he asked him to play a football game with him on the Playstation and Bryan was like, No dude, I don’t do sports games. So then he asked if he’d play Lego Star Wars, and Bryan was all over that.

Later when Scout was wandering aimlessly, Bryan told her to go lay on her bed, and she did. My nephew’s eyes bugged out and he said, “You mean, she does what you tell her to??” Bryan thought that was pretty funny.

Around seven the first night my nephew, who is an only child, asked me when “the little kids” were going to bed (Ruthie had been singing at top volume and Thomas was running around growling at everyone – all while Guitar Hero was blaring on the tv). “They irritating you already?” I asked, laughing. He smiled. “Me too,” I said. “But it’s going to be a couple hours.”

hot tubbingWe wrapped up this evening by lounging in the hot tub, and Ruthie got to practice her newly learned breath-holding skills from her summer swim lessons. She’s more daring in the water, now, and was willing to do some running jumps into the pool after she saw her cousin doing it.

As a side note, we went to Disneyland on Wednesday with Bryan’s brother and his family and had a total blast. I can hardly believe it, but my kids lasted for TWELVE HOURS at the park – from 8am to 8pm. Thomas slept in the stroller for about an hour, but still…TWELVE HOURS. Ruthie was asleep before we left the parking garage.

More on that later – I’m actually working on a video.

Open mouth, insert foot.

California HomeMy FIL lives up in the hills, and the back of his property borders a wild area. Occasionally at night you can hear coyotes just across his fence and the dogs go crazy. The other night when Bryan and I and the kids were alone in the house, all three dogs went nuts barking at the back door. Ruthie ran to let them out and I stopped her, mentioning that there might be coyotes out there.

Obviously, I was not thinking clearly when I said this to an almost five year old city girl.

Later when it was time for bed, I told Ruthie to go out to the camper and get into her jammies. She had done this countless times, this running back and forth between house and camper. But shortly after she opened the sliding glass doors leading out to the back patio, she came running back down the hall, crying hysterically that there were “Hawaii’s out there!” (I love the mis-spoken words of preschoolers)

Let’s just say getting the kids to go to sleep that night was…challenging, and I basically had to stay in the camper with them until they were both asleep.

Don’t hate me because it’s sunny here.

Somehow I’ve managed to maintain my current weight this week even though every flat surface in this house is covered with something sugared or baked. I mean, for cryin’ out loud! I nibble a little here, and I nibble a little there, but for the most part I have avoided a full throttle gorge.

Christmas EveToday, Christmas Eve, it is delightful outside. It is the sort of day that requires one to use the word “delightful.” I’m wearing my summer capri pants with sandals (no socks, of course), and the kids are barefoot out in the yard. I told my mom this – my mom who lives in Minnesota – and I was ordered to “hush up.”

It’s true that a change of circumstances has lifted my Christmas spirit. While I would like to say I learned to find joy in the midst of my circumstances, what really happened is that I found sun and warmth in the midst of the Seattle rainy season.

Not very spiritual, but extremely practical.

It also helps that there is Christmas cheer everywhere in the Zug Clan. In fact, the evening we pulled up to my brother-in-law Brad’s house for dinner and saw his house wrapped in lights with lighted Santas in the yard, Thomas said, “Wow, daddy, that’s a lot of Christmas!” Bryan’s dad’s house is decorated, too, and even our camper has lights on it with a candy cane lined walk leading up to it.

A smattering of 2nd cousinsYesterday we spent the evening with all of Bryan’s cousins on his mom’s side. We last saw everyone two years ago, so it was fun to ooo and aahhh at how big everyone’s children were. There are six cousins in all, plus spouses, plus a million kids between everyone so it was a packed house, but so much fun.

I’m looking forward to some post-Christmas fun activities, including, but not limited to, a trip to Disneyland and an excursion to the Joshua Tree National Park.

If you are bored, or missing me, or both, follow my witty Twitters, which come more frequently than my blog posts.

California Culture Shock

It takes me fifteen minutes just to get to the interstate from where we are staying, on a hill high enough that my ears pop every time we go into town. On the interstate it takes another 10-15 minutes to get to Costco, or Target, or wherever I’m headed (because, you know, I saved all my Christmas shopping for when I was ON VACATION). For a girl who lives in a walkable community, a couple miles from everything else she needs, having time for only one errand a day was not on the agenda.

Californians are not hospitable drivers. They don’t like to speed up or slow down to allow for your merging needs. They would much rather you slam on your breaks at the end of the on ramp to avoid running into the guard rail.

Also? For some reason, as I drive around Southern California in our rented Chevy Trail Blazer with tinted windows (it was cheaper than the minivan – I promise), I feel the need to listen to the pop and hip hop stations. What’s up with that? Is it a California thing? An SUV thing? Is it a tinted window thing? I don’t know, but I think Bryan will dig his ears out with a spoon if he has to hear Justin Timberlake in the car one. more. time.

Reason #482 to stay with the grandparents:

Despite the fact that we didn’t go to bed last night until after eleven, Ruthie was still standing at the end of our bed at 6:45 this morning, demanding that we be awake now.

“I’m sure grandpa’s awake,” said Bryan into his pillow.

So I jumped up, threw some clothes and a box of cereal at her, and held the door open while she stepped out of the camper…then jumped back into bed.

Four people, one dog, seven checked bags, six carry-ons, and a partridge in a pear tree: Merry Christmas, California!

This morning it occurred to me, as I observed my daughter at the airport security check point, that this is the third time this year we have traveled by airplane with the kids. I was thinking of this because Ruthie walked right up to the x-ray machine, took her shoes off, and put them in a bucket to be sent through – no direction needed.

Not every kid knows what to do when at an airport security check point, but apparently mine do. I guess it’s the natural consequence of living far away from grandparents.

I think Bryan’s dad has in mind that we should stay here forever, which is exactly what Thomas and Ruthie keep asking. He and his wife, Marilyn, set up their pull-behind camper next to the house, fully hooked it up, and stocked it with wine, beer, and a bunch of other stuff I didn’t notice after I saw the wine. It’s even decorated for Christmas with lights on the outside, a tiny Christmas tree, and stockings with our names on them.

And to boot, there is a brand new swing set in the yard and, like, an acre of land to be explored.

Ruthie keeps asking, “Is this our new house?” and “Can we stay here forever?”

To which I say, “As long as the wifi reaches out to the camper and the wine continues to flow, I just might consider it.”