Friday, July 21, 2006

Today's my last day in Ohio

I'm flying back home to Los Angeles tonight. I miss my family and I'm ready to go home. One week was a long time to be separated.

A nice hotel suite, dinners and gifts are no substitute for the hugs from my husband, and being able to talk at night about what's going on in our crazy world. I also miss my daughter's smile and laughter and chubby cheeks that I love to kiss.

I've learned a lot from the conference I attended, and I even got used to the 3 hour time difference (EST vs. PST). But every night I've been here, I've fallen asleep to CNN's news coverage of the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon. It's alarming and I'm surprised I didn't have nightmares. Instead I've been dreaming about my daughter, as she's always on my mind.

I wonder what the little one's reaction will be when I walk into her bedroom Saturday morning and say, "Good morning Astrid." Like I said, one week is too long to be away from home and my family.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Al Gore Movie - An Inconvenient Truth

This evening we had an optional outing to the Easton Mall in Ohio. I'm not a mall person but I jumped at the chance to go so I could see a movie. Since Astrid's birth, I don't get to go to the movies that often.

I finally saw Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth about global warming. With the heat wave we've been having across the United States, the hurricanes, tsunamis, and glaciers melting, there's no doubt any longer that global warming exists and is a real threat.

Al Gore came out in front of an audience (in the documentary) and said, "I used to be known as the next President of the United States." He has such a great sense of humor and it's a shame that he didn't really show that side of his personality during the Presidential election.

The photo of Al Gore on the cover of Wired magazine (posted here) is obviously retouched, but still a powerful photo. Uwe has a subscription and once I saw this issue the photo was burned into my memory.

I enjoyed the documentary. Al Gore took a subject that can be difficult and dry to explain, and made it understandable and entertaining. I was happy to see it in the movie theatre to support it. And thrilled that it was playing in Ohio!

Unfortunately I missed the last 10 minutes as the shuttle was scheduled to pick us up at 9 PM, and due to the trailers in the beginning, the movie ran long, and I didn't want my group to have to wait for me. So I left early to make the shuttle on time. That's okay, because I still want to rent the documentary to watch it again with Uwe.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Saint Bonino

From an interview with Roberto Rossellini where he tells the story of Saint Bonino, the inspiration for his movie, The Miracle.

"A peasant goes into the fields with his two-year old son and a dog. He leaves the child and the dog in the shade of an oak and goes to work. When he gets back he finds the child's throat torn open, with traces of teeth on his neck: in his anguish the father slaughters the dog, and only at that moment does he notice a large snake and realizes his mistake. Conscious of the injustice he has committed, he buries the dog beneath some nearby rocks and carves an inscription on its grave: 'Here lies Bonino (the name of the dog) slain by the ferocity of men.' Several centuries elapse, there's a road past the grave, wayfarers stop in the shade of the oak and read the epitaph. Little by little they start praying, asking the intercession of the unfortunate victim buried there: the miracles resulting are so numerous that the local people build a beautiful church and a tomb in which to transfer the body of Bonino. And then they realize that the body is that of a dog."

Isabella Rossellini (Remembering Roberto Rossellini)

Isabella Rossellini wrote a book "In the Name of the Father: the Daughter and the Holy Spirits; Remembering Roberto Rossellini" and made a short film, "My Dad is 100 Years Old" an homage to her father, Roberto Rossellini, the famous Italian director (born 5/8/1906; died 6/3/1977) to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth.

I've always loved Isabella Rossellini and thought she was beautiful (she still is at age 54), well spoken (she speaks Italian, French, and English fluently), funny, and fascinating (with her famous parents and upbringing).

I saw her appearance on "Charlie Rose" and when I heard her talking about her book and short film (the DVD is included with the book), I had to purchase the book from It's a very sweet, and touching tribute to her father who she loved deeply. It's an easy read and I finished the book while in the airport waiting for my flight.

Isabella writes: "My father was a Jewish Mother. But let me add something about him that I can say only now that he's dead. He was fat. In my family, this fact was always diplomatically diminished with, "He's not fat, he's robust." When we were children (there were seven of us), one of our favorite games was throwing ourselves onto Daddy's body. Lying on his side, he pretended to be the sow and we were the piglets. My dad always regretted not being able to nurse us in real life, though for a long time I believed he was pregnant."

The short film (17 minutes long) was written by Isabella Rossellini and she also stars in the film and assumes the roles of her mother (Ingrid Bergman), Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, Federico Fellini, and David Selznick. Her father is represented by a big belly - "the big belly he envied pregnant women, the big belly I've embraced so many times and where I took my best naps cuddling against it as a cushion." It's surprisingly well done.

I've never seen a Roberto Rossellini film, but after reading this book, and watching the film, it makes me want to run out and rent his films. According to Uwe (and many critics) his films are very slow and drawn out (and always shot in black and white), but there are a few classics I'd like to see like "Open City", "Paisan", and "Stromboli".

Ingrid Bergman quote: "I think that deep down I was in love with Roberto from the moment I saw Open City, for I could never get over the fact that he was always there in my thoughts."

Ingrid Bergman writes in her autobiography (a chapter included in this book) about Roberto Rossellini and their 7 year marriage (which included 3 children):

"I tried many ways to live with him. I remember saying to him during the difficulties we had with money, 'Look, let us go bankrupt. People go bankrupt, don't they? What can happen? We don't go to jail, do we? Let us just live on whatever we have. Let them take the house away. Give it all away, everything, everything. And we start from nothing. We take a small apartment. I shall do the cleaning, the scrubbing, cook the food. We won't have any servants or anything. '"

"And Roberto looked at me as if I were mad. 'That life isn't worth living.' he said. That was such a slap in my face because I thought I offered him everything and he wouldn't even think of it. 'That life is not worth living!' Life had to be in the grand style."

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Habitat for Humanity

On Thursday, July 13, 2006, my entire department volunteered 8 hours of our time, muscle and sweat to help build a house for Habitat for Humanity, a charity organization that provides home ownership to needy families.

The 3 lot property we worked on (1 house, and 2 duplexes with a shared wall) is located on the corner of Cottage Grove and Palmer in Glendale, CA.

"To qualify, each family's income had to be less than 80% of the county median income; there had to be verified need for a Habitat home; each family had to demonstrate adequate income to meet estimated monthly housing payments and expenses; and each family had to make a commitment to partner with Habitat for Humanity by completing at least 500 hours of Sweat Equity." Here I am surveying the construction site. I'm the 2nd person to the right in the photo, wearing my cream colored NPR hat.

The 4th person in the photo, the tall blond gentleman, is my department President, Bill. He has an impressive and diverse background: an Ivy League graduate (Stanford University), a Masters degree from USC, and a former US Marine. Having also lived in Hawaii (a very close knit community), Bill understands how important it is for companies/people to get involved in their local charity organizations and to give something back to their communities.
Here I am hauling rebar.

Thankfully they provided gloves (or else my hands would have been ripped to shreds).What seemed like a relatively easy task, to move a pile of rebar over to the other end of the construction site, was much more difficult than it looked. First off because it is a construction site. You can't just walk from point A to point B because of the trenches, stakes, areas that are impassable. The rebar was also quite heavy and long (approx 12 feet), so it required teams of 2 people working together.

I'm the 2nd one to the right in the photo above, working together with my coworker Roxana. We made a great rebar hauling team. =)I'm in the background walking with the chain gang, going back to haul more rebar.

These photos were taken by an intern, and she didn't get a photo of me shoveling, but I did this too. I spent hours shoveling and using a pick axe, to dig trenches for the plumbing pipes and sewage pipes.

There was a running joke that this activity made us appreciate our office jobs, and if we ever got out of line, all anyone had to say was "Do you wanna go back to the site?" Doing back breaking manual labor in the hot sun was not something us white collar workers were accustomed to. A few hours of laboring like that in 90 degree heat felt like 8 hours in an air conditioned office.

Uwe and some of my coworkers were concerned that I was working when I was sick, but it was important for me to participant and my strong work ethic made it impossible for me to bow out or to sit in the shade while there was work to do. A couple times I felt faint when I was shoveling, so I would step back, get out of the sun, get a drink of water, and bring water to my coworkers, and then get back to shoveling. The next day I was sore, but I was still glad I did it.

It was quite a team building experience. I worked along side my dept. President and Regional head in the trenches literally.

It was such a unique experience to work in such a different environment with my coworkers at all different levels. I know who I work best with, who I'd want on my team, and also who I'd vote off the island.

Welcome to my new blog

The name "A Blog Away From Home" is apropos, as I am currently 2,283 miles away from home, attending a week long conference in Ohio.

Question: Why another blog?

Answer: I created a new blog because I needed a vehicle to express myself in areas of my life outside of motherhood.

My blog We Love Astrid is about Astrid, documenting her life, and my new life as a parent (which I will continue to update). But I also have other interests, thoughts, ideas, and experiences that I'd like to share, and document. By posting these types of things here, on my new blog, I think it will be a better fit. This blog is a place for my thoughts and all things that matter to me.