Featured Post

Baltimore by the Sea

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Adopt a Cliche Day


It's POURING rain. Made the mistake of opening the livingroom blinds and having a peek. All the flowerbeds are sans flowers and look like small lagoons. The rain gutters are overflowing - and worse, the hole in the fencing was NOT visited overnight by the fence-fairies with I stubbornly insist DO exist and are NOT figments of my imagination.

What to do... what to do...

Aha! I know. Ignore it until next weekend, because it IS raining Great Danes and Norwegian Forest Cats out there.

Side note, I noticed there are like five berries on the Hawthorn tree. That means the Cedar Waxwings have been here, filling their wee guts with the berries, as they are supposed to. Good little birdies. I wish I could pat them on their crested little heads. The more berries they eat, the fewer volunteer Hawthorns to vex me come springtime.
Tasks of the day: Box. Mail. Clear crap. Make phone calls.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Heh... am really in a rotten mood tonight. I just got round to opening this year's Christmas cards. Could have done it sooner but thought I'd wait until after christmas so the guilt load from reading about those who love me, whom I have not written/called/visited won't be as detrimental to the holidays.

Guilt, guilt, guilt.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

HUZZAH! Lovely friends are not having as formal a gig as usual this year. I may attend in dressy casual, which in my book means a clean t-shirt without those funny drippy stains on the front and I can wear birkenstocks!

Love the lovely friends, Love the Holiday, Love happy endings!

Friday, December 23, 2005

HOLY CRAP! It's a quarter to 8, I have to be in Napa at Barb & Phil's parents tomorrow morning around 11 o'clock and I have NOTHING to wear! I bought a nice dress in Kona but it would be a little more suitable if it were made of Yeti undercoat instead of lightweight cotton. WHAT was I thinking???

I don't even have shoes that match anything. I'm going to have that HOMELESS look, I just know it. Rats, rats, rats.

And I haven't wrapped presents OR decided who is getting what yet. Why do I DO these things to myself? I swear, for a great holiday, Christmas sure can be a kick in the arse for the planning-challenged.

Come on Claire, you're so freakn' clever, pull a dress and matching shoes out of your arse forgawdsake.

Mele Kalikimaka!

I just got back from vacation earlier this week. My first trip to Hawaii. Friends, Jeannie & Ron
were staying in Kona time share and had a second bedroom. They asked if I might want to join them there.

'Um... let me think that over.... HELL YES!'

It was a big decision on my part because although the company was pleasant and the room was free, the flight wasn't and I hadn't planned on going anywhere. And too,the trip was only 8 days, 2 of which were largely spent flying or sitting in airports, but what the hell. When opportunity knocks, yatta, yatta, yatta.

Yes, this is paradise!
We had a good time. Hawaii met with most of my expectation - it was hot, humid some of the time, but cool and breezy most of the time. My favourite even was a morning spent snorkling and exploring coastal sea caves, blow holes and other Hawaiian lava island specialities. The reefs and fish were totally the stuff of dreams - Moorish Idols, Parrot fish, Tangs, Angel fish and others. I once got to snorkle in the Dry Tortugas but the reef there was neither as large or populated by so many varied species of fishies.

Each day we took our coffee on the patio then ventured out. We toured the weekly flea market in Kona and in Hilo and visited the Place of Refuge which friends of mine recommended. Pu'what's it was hot and humid the morning we were there so our visit was brief but fun. There as a big-arse Hawaiian turtle lounging on the beach and a flock of Yellow-billed Cardinals bouncing around the little waterways between the lava-stone walls.

We enjoyed - more or less - a death march to Green Sand Beach. Ok, it wasn't exactly a death march, but the Hawai'i tour book described the hike as flat and grassy, but the reality was undulating and rocky-as-hell. Jeannie and I didn't get all the way to the beach, but Ron did and I have the pictures to prove it!

Another day we explored Volcano National Park which was reminisant of Yellowstone, having steam rising out of the ground which is more unnerving than you would imagine. Jeannie and I refused to hike over the 100 degree lava to view the stuff pouring into the ocean, opting for a helicopter trip out of Hilo airport instead. Wise choice! we took a helecopter ride over a live volcano, waterfalls and the place where the lava meets the sea. The lava heats the ocean water to 140 degrees which brought to mind the lines from Alice in Wonderland's The Walrus and the Carpenter. '... and why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings'. Now I know the answers - the sea is boiling hot because of the lava and the pigs are there because of the freakin' introduction of exotics to the islands, that's why! It sure is nice being smart enough to know everything.

Our View from the Helicopter into the gapping maw of the volcano

Most days Jeannie, Ron and I traveled together, but on the last two days I got a rental car so I could go off birding, an activity they just don't get (and who does?). I drove back to Volcano National Park where I tried my hand at photographing Apapane with humble results. I couldn't quite piece together which rain forest birds were connected to which song in the cacophany of chirping, but I did quickly figure out that the Apapane's have a loud flap, reminisant of budgies, so I could pick them out pretty quickly from the din of song. I wish I had planned the trip better so I could have met up with a Hawaiian birder who could led me to more native birds. Oh well! At least I saw a few.

Also on my own I visited the remaining 2 Federal Parks, neither of which have names I am capable of remembering. Both parks are historic sites with ruins of monuments built by Hawaiian kings - cool!

This vacation was not one of my 'All Birds, All the Time' trips. Normally I travel within the continental U.S. of A. with birding as the main goal. But what the heck, happily there were loads of birds for me to stare at on the 'Big Island'. I'm listing the birds here because the only thing more fun than seeing birds is ticking them off, doesn't mean pissing them off, but in Brit-speak means checking them off a list.

The Endemics and Migrant occuring birdies:

  1. Hawaiian Hawk
  2. Apapane
  3. Pacific Golden Plover
  4. Wandering Tattler
  5. Spotted Sandpiper
  6. Black-crowned Night Heron
  7. White-tailed Tropic Bird
  8. Ruddy Turnstone
Hurrah! A native bird, the Apapane
The naughty imported exotic birdies:
  1. Common Mynah
  2. Zebra Dove
  3. Spotted Dove
  4. Japanese White-eye
  5. Yellow-billed Cardinal
  6. Java Rice Finch
  7. Saffron Finch
  8. Yellow-fronted Canary
  9. Wild Turkey
  10. Northern Cardinal
  11. Rock Pigeon

How shocking it was to visit an ocean with NO gulls. The introduced mongooses eat up the bird eggs so native birds are harder to find than they ought to be.

Mammals, Reptiles, and the rest of the lot.
  1. Hawaiian Hoary Bats
  2. Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles
  3. Gold Dust Gecko (non-native)
  4. Mourning Gecko
  5. Anole (non-native)

Claire's Opening Volley

'Old, Alone and Done for' is my blog title; it is not original. I nicked OADF from the recent Peter Pan flick. The Neverland kids taunted Captain Hook, telling him he was 'old, alone, and done for'. I sat smiling in the movie theater when it occured to me, 'Hang on... I'm old, alone and done for!' It made me laugh and appealed to my semi-sick sense of humour. So 'Old, Alone and Done For' I am. I LOVE pelagic jaunts and that Hook had it goin' on and in a pinch the old salt can do for a role model. I mean, the old rascal was the middle of nowhere on a ship with loads of randy sea faring pirates. I could do worse.

I have several other blogs in which like some kind of decrepit super hero I hide my true identity. Anyway, I won't hide behind this blog. Here I won't pretend that I'm 'Sarah, proud and tall', but will go ahead and be 'Claire annoyed and short' and will admit my life is a freakn' sit com, I'm fat, single and when I drink whole milk, I fart . Yep, no hiding here. Now excuse me while I scarper off and rip up some more photos of myself.

Captain Hook - also Old, Alone and Done For