Monthly Archives: June 2008

What is white on the outside and red, white, black and brown on the inside?

That, my dears, would be me.

It is based on a Native American comment to other Native Americans who “try” to be white… they are called apples because they are red on the outside but white on the inside.

But the point of this post is not to give a mediocre dialog on my ethnicity… as in I tell you why I hate those questions on things like surveys and forms… I do, I hesitate each and every single time I am asked “What is your Racial/Ethnic background?”

Honestly, I do not know how to answer this. But we can save that for another time… except that I will be addressing the red in me today.

It is a family tale on both my maternal and paternal side that we have Native American blood, not tribally recognized, but acknowledged by ourselves… and honored and respected. We have tried to see about being added to the roles, but that brings in those sad tales of ancestors being ashamed of their ties and not enrolling… little knowing that in doing so their descendants would be sad by that… (more proof in argument for my mother‘s rule of ten thousand years) because their desire to recognize that part of their heritage is left in a deadlock, in which we are only able to say My great grandmother was Native and we cannot say “I am part Native American” because our government and the tribal government says we aren’t.

I am sure it must be that I am an anthropologist that causes this desire to be able to recognize ALL my ancestors… I do, and largely based on my mothers rule of ten thousand years (Mom, write a post on this please) which in part says that our very being here on earth is the direct result on all our Ancestors having babies and making sure they grew up and were able to raise babies that grew up and had more babies… and on… and on. Not all that profound, perhaps a simple tale of sex through the ages… but think about this… they brought those babies up through wars, through famine, drought, pain, misery… life is just not all that easy and all of our ancestors had to survive this… all of them, or we would not be here. I have to honor that.

But, I digress.

Yesterday, a Choctaw friend of mine did a blessing on a building I am affiliated with. I was allowed to participate and actually help. It was a pleasant experience, profound too… when we went outside we were able to see a bright red sun (we have some wild fires in the area), which gives that extra special touch to the whole thing…we all had an emotional moment. I wish I felt like I could write more about the “ceremonial”, but I just don’t have it in me to do it justice… other than to say it was nice, and I felt a tie to my Native American ancestors. I mentioned this as a part of my prayer, something along the lines of “Thank you for allowing Bear (my friend) to see that in me which so many others had denied me the ability to acknowledge” and Bear started crying. That simple gesture, meant so much to me… and in turn I hope to my Cherokee and Delaware ancestors as well.

My thoughts can’t be summed up in 140 characters

I got this thing below in an email from my mother.

Squink has hit the freaking ugly three’s (terrible is not sufficient, horrible is not sufficient; when he gets is a “mood” he practically becomes something so awful that I have termed it Squink who should not be named, (awful; plain and sadly not so simple).

I would do his first year in a hearbeat, he was so easy going, he was happy, he just loved being, and his being was always happy. I don’t remember him being seriously colicky or sick… sure, he had a few times where he was not all that pleasant, but NOTHING like his moods now.

So, I suppose I can take solace that as a predictor his behavior in year 0-1 he is destined to become a great kid… my only worry now is my role… I am not so confident that he was “intellectually stimulated” enough. He was not fond of being read to, but was quite happy being quiet while I read myself (I had read somewhere that kids reading was not as good a predictor for reading skills as was the presence of adult readers in the household… which I interpreted as modeling behavior if you read, the kids would know it was a good thing to do)… does that all make sense?

Anyway, my plan was not to freak out about this news piece… but was mainly to complain that this kind of information only serves to make mothers question themselves, which is frankly counterproductive in the whole scheme of child rearing… I am far better off spending my time with the Squink than I am dwelling on this.

Mothers’ influence is decisive in tots’ first year
Study says parenting style and baby’s temperament predict challenging
behavior in later childhood The way mothers interact with their babies in the first year of life is strongly related to how children behave later on. Both a mother’s
parenting style and an infant’s temperament reliably predict challenging behavior in later childhood, according to Benjamin Lahey and his team from the University of Chicago in the US. Their findings (1) have just been published online in Springer’s Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.

The researchers looked at whether an infant’s temperament and his mother’s parenting skills during the first year of life might predict behavioral problems, in just over 1,800 children aged 4-13 years. Measures of infant temperament included activity levels, how fearful, predictable and fussy the babies were, as well as whether they had a generally happy disposition. The researchers looked at how much mothers
stimulated their baby intellectually, how responsive they were to the child’s demands, and the use of spanking or physical restraint. Child conduct problems in later childhood included cheating, telling lies, trouble getting on with teachers, being disobedient at home and/or at school, bullying and showing no remorse after misbehaving.

The results indicate that both maternal ratings of their infants’ temperament and parenting styles during the first year are surprisingly good predictors of maternal ratings of child conduct problems through age 13 years. Less fussy, more predictable infants, as well as those who were more intellectually stimulated by their mothers in their first year of life, were at low risk of later childhood conduct problems. Another
observation the researchers made was that early spanking predicted challenging behavior in Non-Hispanic European American families, but not in Hispanic families.

According to the authors, these findings support the hypothesis that “interventions focusing on parenting during the first year of life would be beneficial in preventing future child conduct problems=85Greater emphasis should be placed on increasing maternal cognitive stimulation of infants in such early intervention programs, taking child temperament into consideration.”

Source: Springer

Day 5 – the day trip to Schlaining

We did not get to bed at a decent hour since we returned to the village after the festivities and then managed to sleep late enough that we missed saying our good-byes to Schatz’s brother, fiance and nephew. Perhaps, this was the closest I came to getting a good nights sleep.

Oma and Opa suggested, in the late morning once we were up, that we go on a day-trip to the nearby Schlaining castle… hungry for some “sight seeing” we readily agreed, packed up the Rover and headed off. Of course, nothing we had looked at indicated that the castle would be closed… which it was. Thankfully, castles are often equally as interesting on their outsides. Though there is a peace museum inside, so maybe a visit there next trip is called for.

I have to say that where I live is based on the Roman street system, that is, we are on a grid, and you can usually get some idea about where you are going, or coming from. Not the case where we were, though we managed to only get a little turned around.

Anyway, the three of us headed out and managed to actually find the castle without a problem: we parked and looked down into the moat (with a sad lack of dandelions).

castle moat

Here is the bridge over the moat into the castle.


One thing I noticed is that the castle had two “guardians”, much like the church where Squink was baptized.

100_1539 100_1540.

By this time Schatz was taking pictures of the castle and I was looking for a way to explore with the Squink. Squink and I found a trail and I was on the hunt to find a picture that resembled the pictures of me as a little girl in the castles in Spain. The trail was a fairly easy switchback down into the moat. The whole thing looked like it had some purpose, though I have no idea what that may have been.

Here are Squink and I on the trail…


Here is Squink showing his tendency towards adventure, those steps were lousy… they scared me (as those things would scare a mom).


At the bottom were these series of “bridges” that Squink insisted on crossing, repeatedly.


Here I am explaining pond life to Squink.


Here is a shot of the castle that Schatz took, I like it because it has an odd perspective and looks like it could be a mini castle growiing among some weeds.


Here is a picture like the ones I have of me when I was younger, framed by a doorway or window… sadly I could not get him to look at me for anything.. but I like the picture anyway.


On our way home we stopped at a McDonald because Squink had seen the playground and kept asking to go to see it. Inside we found that Austrians are so serious about their coffee that they have a McCafe inside. It offers up a nice selection of pastries and freshly made coffee (as in to order)… and which are served on real plates, with real flatware… while the McDonalds does it the usual way. I should add that I had the royal (which was a choice I sadly made which was influenced by Pulp Fiction and Schatz had a shrimp burger (which a nephew later told us was heavily laced with antibiotics).


another book review

A Voice for the Dead: A Forensic Investigator's Pursuit of the Truth in the Grave A Voice for the Dead: A Forensic Investigator’s Pursuit of the Truth in the Grave by James Starrs

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I am quite sure that should I ever have the chance to hear the author speak that one of the following would occur;

1) He would be as long winded as his writing style, or

2) He might prove to be more interesting that he comes across in his writings.

The stories were fascinating, but a bit long winded in parts… often clothed in what I perceived to be some sort of self aggrandizement. I kept being reminded of the Hemingway followers who go to the running of the bulls, grow a beard and end up trying to look like Ol’ Papa H himself.

I think the best thing I can say is that I did not hate the book… for a topic I find fascinating… I only liked it enough.

View all my reviews.

My nerd crushes

The slackmistress has started a meme of sorts… on the very topic of nerd crushes!

I went through the list of “characters” I have had crushes on in my life… most, I think, are pretty par for the course. For example; Julia’s list is a lot like mine though I would have to add Boba Fett and Indiana Jones to the mix.

And, for the record, I don’t think Frank was the less liked Hardy Boy… he just appealed to the more intellectual young woman.

As I thought about this I realized there were a couple of girl crushes I had who deserved mentions:

My first crush was on Maya from Space:1999. I still want to be her, I think I first saw a dubbed into Spanish show when I was about 6 or so… maybe only a few other episodes.. but she has haunted me. I even have an address for Catherine Schell, though I have been too intimidated to actually ever write her and tell her how that character she played influenced my life.
As far as girl crushes go I would have to add Modesty Blaise to the bunch. My dream is to have a Modesty Blaise doll.

So, here are the boy crushes that are in addition to the ones mentioned or alluded to above:

I found Quico very beguiling, not sure why though. Here is another link to the show. And here is an article in English about the show.

I love Bowser from Sha-na-na, even went to see them live, when I was in High School!

Oh, and Peter Lorre (because I am a Hungarianophile and love the name László) is pretty up there on my list too!

Well, I think I may have bored you all with my nerd crushes. Who are yours?

FFOF #34

1. What is one food that is grown, produced or made near where you live.

Tomatoes – from my garden
Otherwise, we have a heck of a lot of cattle in this state; it being the west and all… so that means dairy and meat!

2. What is one food from another location that you haven’t had anything like anywhere else.

These dumplings my father in law made. They are filled with a plum paste and have poppy seeds sprinkled on them, they are a sweet dougn and (obviously) boiled. Apparently the dish was often made during the war when there was not a lot of foods available. It is not a dessert, it is a main dish. I have never had anything like it, ever.

3. What is your favorite food from somewhere else?

I miss so many foods from other places I have lived. Here are the ones that come to mind right now;
Gazpacho made with bread and not chuncky
Tortilla de patata
queso criollo with aji and chochos
manichos (a chocolate bar, no longer being made under that name)
croissants (European ones)
OK, this is making me hungry… and worst of all for foods that are not all that easy to get here!

4. Share a family, ethnic or international recipe.

Beef coe-ganof – my grandmother Zun’s recipe.

This is how she told me how she made it, almost verbatim.
Put a bunch or noodles or rice to cookin’ while you get the coe-ganoff ready.
Brown a package of ground beef. Drain and set aside, but save the grease. Use some of that grease to saute some mushrooms. When they are the texture you like, add the beef to the mushrooms. Saute together, add cream, milk or half and half to taste.
serve over rice or you can even add the noodles right into the pan and saute all that together. This is the only recipe I did not get her to write down, but I remember when she told me like it was yesterday.
She also spoke her ketchup taco recipe, but I will spare you all that one (even though they are awesome!)!

Reading around the world – Brazil

A Death in Brazil: A Book of Omissions (John MacRae Books) A Death in Brazil: A Book of Omissions by Peter Robb

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I went into this book thinking it was a just a novel (maybe I should read the jackets more often). The good thing was that it read like a novel at first… which I think speaks well for a travelogue of any kind.

Reading this as a piece of non-fiction turned my fragile little world upside down though.

Let me backtrack to say that once when I was having a conversation with a Brazilian friend of mine I let a bias come out of my mouth that I was not sure why it even existed or even where it came from. This has crossed my mind a few times over the years. This book explained it in a way. As someone who grew up in Latin America I was often exposed to Brazilians… and it seemed like most were in exile of sorts… since I was so young I never understood that it was most likely that they were escaping a political government/regime. I suppose my attitude never grew out of that 10 year old girls assumptions and I carried Brazil around in the “do not ever visit” list in my head. I learned a lot from this book… chiefly that the Brazilian government I somewhat disdained with a young expat mind was in truth not all that different from the ones I had lived in to that point in my life.

The book is written fairly well, I did skim some parts as there was a tendency to go on and on in parts, but those were few and far between. I enjoyed it and re-learned a lot about Brazil and its history.

View all my reviews.

Austria – Day 4 The Feast

So, we head out of the church… this picture here is of the entrance on the “other side of the moat”. There is a statue of someone full of arrows… when Squink saw it he said “Look mommy, a bird”. I was like what? Until I looked and realized that it did indeed look like feathers.BA043

Here is the moat, the one where we blew every single dandelion that was there… I am guessing it was way over fifty… Now, if you see that pointy building in the center; that is where the party was at.


Starting here I put the captions under the photos.

Miska (that is what Squink calls her) and the best roast beast ever.

The woman on the left is Schatz’s sister and the mother of the Godfather’s. Her home is located across the street from the church and she has a lovely Heuriger there (luckily it was the season for it to be open). The gentleman on the right is a butcher. He looks mighty proud of his creation. That is a roast beast, a pig to be exact. It was fabulous and I was ever so profoundly grateful that it was there. It tasted much like the roast pig in Ecuador… and it was a nice reminder of that time of my life.

took two to move

It was so heavy that it took two men to move it! That is Schatz’s brother on the left.


I was lucky enough to get to sit next to Lovely Lisa… what a charming woman. I don’t think I can talk about just how nice she is, and she is so lovely with “The Older Godfather”. A cute couple, but not the kind that make me gag.


This is my niece. I only post this because apparently this is a rarity, she does not allow pictures to be taken… she is a lovely girl so I haven’t a clue as to why she would be so shy.


That gentleman on the right is Christoph’s older brother, he is a doctor, an ENT to be exact. The woman to his left is an aunt (Opa’s sister)… I call her tante La Mer… but that is another story. The pretty woman that is almost out of the picture is Tante La Mer’s daughter… she works for the government in what I am told is a pretty important job.


Schatz’s brother again, with his wife. She spoke not a stitch of English but she has a ready smile and exudes some charm that crosses cultures. A lovely couple. They are the parents of the “shy” niece.


Schatz and his siblets in their sisters courtyard. Don’t they look Austrian?


I just can’t get over how cute they are.


Nor can I get over how cute he is… and the best part was that Squink and the Godfathers all wore pinstriped suits.


This is a better picture of the other Godfather. He was actually the first one on Schatz’s side of the family to see Squink. He is quite debonair, has impeccable taste… he even wore an ascot on one of the days I saw him. I love the Godfathers, they are just too cool.


Here is a better face front picture of The Other Godfather. Oh dear… how am I going to name them so one can tell whom I am referring to? How about “The Godfather; the Older” and “The Godfather; The Younger”? That reminds me of a Black Adder episode.


Squink went off by himself and started to draw, and when I looked I noticed these incredible streams of light falling on him. This is one of the pictures I managed to capture. I may take crappy pictures when there is “regular” light… but when I see incredible light, I usually manage one or two.

(now I switch to top captions again)
It was a long day, and Squink starts taking pictures; there are a few more if you click through to flickr, but this is the best one.


A picture of the married into the family relatives… well, Agnes (next to moi) will be joining the family in that way fairly soon… she is such an awesome woman and will be a married soon enough and I can’t wait to be able to spend more time with her. The handsome gentleman is the winegrower husband to Schatz’s sister, his family has done so for quite some time, he is very nice and I got to meet his mother who was equally lovely.


I have to get these women in somewhere. The woman on the far left got to see Squink when he was a baby as she and her husband came over for a visit with Schatz parents. She and her husband (whom I can’t find a picture of at this point) are a lovely couple! The other two women run the neighborhood bakery, they are a mother and daughter. The daughter used to work for Schatz family when their heurigen was open… she thought so highly of Schatz as a little boy that she named her own son after him. I got to visit their bakery later, it was fabulous!


What can I add here other than I gave all the women in Schatz family a “cowboy” themed bracelet at this party. I am sure this won’t come up again, but every single time I saw them – from Lovely Lisa to Charming Sister in Law- they wore it. I am sure it was not to their taste, they are all so much more sophisticated than that, but what a kind and gracious gesture. I was, and remain, very touched by that… even if they cursed my choice of gift when not in my presence, which I am sure they did not do, but still… I feel awkward for having given it to them, but I wanted to give them something that represented where we live, my heritage, that sorta thing. Heck, the poor men all got bolo ties… which I thought were awesome and are apparently like a tie that is worn in the area… but I did not see any of them don those at any point! I told them they all had an important part of a Halloween costume, they did not laugh… see awkward.