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Lockrum Isle and Old Dubrovnik

The Croatian Flag flying on the battlements The mini-adventure on the Montenegro ferry was fun, so the following day we took another fer...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Challenged

Dang it. Once again, I bought Christmas cards, but didn't mail out any of them. I am genuinely communication challenged. Sad really.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

If You Are Not a Potter Fan, Then Kindly Skip This Entry

The name of the 7th and final Harry Potter book was released today.

Am so depressed. The series can't end. Feels like that last bit of a roller coaster ride, when the cars level out and slowly approach the station. Nothing left to do but cease the happy screaming, climb out and face the boring side of gravity.

Geez. And what if Rowling kills off Harry? Worse yet, what if she kills off Draco?

And where the EF are the damned Horcruxes?

Yes. Maybe I'm being childish. Bite me.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Windshield Demon

My car is possessed - possessed I tell you!

A few weeks ago, on a dark winter’s morn, I drove to work on Highway 50, behind a humongous truck. Shortly before I exited the freeway I heard a loud CRACK. A pebble, bullet, an armed WMD hit my windshield. When I parked I stared in horrified fascination at a round, pierced hole, located on the driver’s side, only an inch or two above the wipers.

$#@%& trucks!

Always hated trucks; Tyrannosaurus-sized behemoths, driven by rude bastards that ignoring the fact that I own the freeways, believe that they own the freeways. Arrogant bastards! Ought not be allowed on freeways. I don’t care that they carry the merchandise and thus are essential for me to live my life in a manner that I am accustomed to; that being a princess in exile.

Skip to tonight. I picked up my car and headed home. I noticed something weird – someone had drawn a foot-long, white chalk line across the bottom of my windshield. The chalk line was actually an enlongated crack, which on this frigid winter evening was traveling from its source; the bullet hole in my windshield. Gasp!

I was sick with annoyance. I hadn’t done anything to deserve that damned windshield hole in the first place, but here it was ruining my car's perfection. Why are trucks allowed to cruise freeways spewing boulders that crack the windshields of sweet innocents such as myself?

$#@%& trucks!

I was fuming as I drove along. Then, I chanced to look down again and GASP! The crack had grown, another 8 or 9 inches! A frost demon had possessed my car and before my very eyes was having a go at cracking my poor windshield!


I was so upset, I left the car for an errand, and when I returned 45 minutes later, the crack had transverse another foot, ending in a downward curve under the windshield wiper on the passenger side.

$#%& trucks!

My beautiful, Mohave Mist copper brown Honda CRV now looks like a decrepit old SUV. Will get windshield replaced in January, after which I will never, ever allow a $#@%& truck within a half mile of my wee ikle Honda.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Second Saturday

The State Indian Museum held a Second Saturday event - Hurrah!

It rained buckets - Boogers!

Had fun anyway. Those of us hosting the gig; Ranger Henry, docent Karen and two artists who had art for sale, outnumbered the visitors. One of the artists, Larry, brought a beautiful & humongous hand made drum with him. I wish I had a photo of it - it was almost four feet in diameter, octogonal in shape and was stretched with cowhide on one side and elk skin on the other. We stood at the K street door of the museum and Larry sung some songs in what may have been Miwok or Wintun. I was too excited to think to ask him the significance of the songs. He let us have a go at beating the drum - way cool.

I was so excited about getting to beat the drum - to call passersby - I called up the Codina's, got Rick, me thinking perhaps Diego might enjoy coming down with his flute, get a little ensemble going. What was I thinking? It being a Saturday night - even if it was raining - he was off on adventures.

But us old folk sat around after the drumming and enjoyed a nice chat. Big surprise, Mommy Nancy showed up! I was thrilled to see her. I had that same sort of feeling I used to get when I was a kid and my Mother showed up for the bake sale.

Honestly, for a rainy night, I sure enjoyed myself.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Center Stage

It’s the last day of my 3 day weekend and as usual, I got very little done of what I wanted to do. I got some things started though, like pulling some things, like my shoes out of the ‘junk room’ and into my bedroom closet. I don’t know precisely how they got there, but I found several color slides – archaic artifacts of the past. The slides were of an afternoon spent in Monterey with Mommy Nancy, I, and our babies. Did I mention my baby had a tail?

Nancy had a real baby – Diego, who was 16 months old and quite a busy little guy. My so-called baby was Chiquilla, my whippet pup of four or five months old.

I remember that day well, and I know Nancy does too. We drove down to and stayed at a motel which involved smuggling Chiquilla and her little kennel into a motel that, like most motels, did not allow dogs. Ah! Those were the days. Later, Nancy, baby Diego, Chiquilla and I took a long stroll through a lush regional park. I nabbed a gopher snake and took photos of it – which were among the slides I just found.One lingering memory of that lovely spring day was how the baby that got all the attention was Chiquilla, the puppy. Nancy said she very nearly felt hurt that people who saw us made a bigger fuss over my floppy pup than happy little Diego, which brings me back to the present.

Diego is no longer the happy baby – in early November he became 18 - cast his first vote in the National election. Friday night I went with Mommy Nancy, Rick & Diego's 14 year old brother Adan, to Diego's high school to see his performance in a comedy, Moon over Buffalo. I was totally impressed by Diego’s performance as a man confronting his fiancé’s highly bombastic theatrical family. It was amazing to see Diego mold himself into a character, on stage, in front of an audience. He may not have gotten the attention way back in the day with a puppy for competition, but he sure had center stage on Friday. Even Chiquilla would have spotted Diego as a young master worthy of our admiration.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Everything Old is New Again


Wow.

I just heard a bit of the remix of Beatles songs by their original producer George Martin and thought I'd pretty much died and gone to heaven. I shamelessly worship the Beatles to this day and hearing an imaginative remix of their music pretty much reduced me to a puddle of happy goo. Seconds after hearing a selection online of the cleverly remixed songs from a new album, LOVE I ordered the album from Barnes & Nobles. I can't recall the last time I purchased something so on-the-fly but budget aside, I feel the same as I did when I was a teenie bopper and HAD to have some album. Everything old is new again. But, tell you what; I'm not going back to plastic disks played by virtue of a quarter, scotch taped to the back of a phonograph needle. There's only so far old school will get me with my new Beatle bits - I'm stuffing the puppy on my iPod.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Company over the Weekend

It was not the most productive weekend I’ve had of late, but it was a fun one. Friday night Don & his daughter Rose (my 22 year old adopted niecelette) came for an overnight stay on their way up to visit friend in the north county and myself.

Don had high hopes that the pair of us would get down to serious discussion and mapping out of our upcoming 'All Birds, All the Time' trip to Wisconsin this spring. No such luck! Instead, while Don sat neglected amid a pile of Minnesota and Wisconsin Birding Guides in the corner, Rose and I got into a lively game of Trivial Pursuit - the Harry Potter version. Soon it wasWHOOPUS ARSEUS! That means I won. *Tee hee*

Saturday morning we had one of the house specialties, heart shaped waffles with blueberries & maple syrup and then we were off to the Farmer's Market. Don & Rose bought some beautiful iris to take to their friend. I bought my usual lilies and on impulse bought a fresh Christmas wreath for the front door - the only sign in my home that the holiday season is upon us. After the Farmer's Market we all went our separate way but that was not the last of seeing my buds.

Sunday morning on their way back to the Bay Area Don & Rose popped by again. Don, in a spontaneous act of incredible kindness (which actually happens annually) took it on himself to clean my roof and gutters of leaves. Honestly, do I know how to pick my friends or what?

I asked Don & Rose to pose for me in the back yard by my beloved Hawthorn tree. A berry fight immediately erupted, after which they headed back to the Bay Area.


Spare the berries, spoil the child.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Brownie Bite

I for lunch I chose a ubiquitous cup of Campbell’s Chicken & Dumplings soup; no big deal. On the way back to my desk with my microwaved soup I passed the remnants of the first of many of my office’s holiday season buffets. I nicked an eensie little brownie 'bite'. ‘Bites’ are those scaled down tidbits that are popular now. I like them; I can sample something which in full size has more calories in it than the Carlsbad Caverns have bats.
So back at my desk, the soup went down easily enough. Then I tried the brownie bite, which to be honest here, was a half dried out leftover that had probably sat on the counter since yesterday, was most likely no fresher than last Wednesday’s last minute Thanksgiving bakery sale at the local market.
To my delight – and to my horror - that one stupid, sucky, old, counter-stale brownie bite resulting in explosions of chocolate goodness in my mouth. I’m talking oral-gasms of rich chewy chocolate goodness - a sybaritic sensation of fudgey joy dancing a tarantella as it journeyed down my throat.
It is ungodly cruel what a couple of week's reduced sugar intake can do one’s perception of flavor.
Note to self: have taste buds scrapped from tongue; cost of surgery will be offset by the aggravation saved in the long run.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tah Dah!

Most people have a ‘ta dah’ point when something tips them over the edge. I had one a few weeks ago. A new vest I ordered off the Internet fit far more snugly than it ought, especially considering that I ordered it in a size roughly equivalent to the girth of Jupiter.

I was horrified; felt myself tipped over a dreadful precipice of admission - I have become… uh... increasingly ample. You know what I mean.

In the past decade my weight remained static, or at least seemed so to me. I gradually built up a wardrobe of comfy clothing that I like. Then I had the BIG ACCIDENT, which resulted in my having snapped my ACL ligament in my right knee. Post-accident I stopped whatever exercising I had been doing - walking and using my treadmill - but my eating habits remained the same. No surprises there.

That brings me back to the vest; a marvelous, cream colored, faux sheepskin lined, pocketed & hooded vest which is so cute I squeal every time I look at it. I ordered it in 'my' size but to zip it up I had to suck in my gut and turn blue. The aggravation! That was the 'ta dah' moment that pushed me over the edge - decided I must do something.

My concession to girth challenges are two:

1. I may eat anything I like, as long as I write it down.

That may not sound like much of a concession but happily, doing so pretty much halved the amount of calories entering my vast untamed maw. I'm apparently too vain to eat some things some things if I must record it on paper. The spiral bound journal I log my chow in is adorable; has lovely feathers all over the covers and pretty lined paper. I'm into esthetics.

2. I
exercise a minimum of 30 minutes, 3 times a week.

That's the full extent of my new routine – write it down, work it off. No big changes there, but the pounds ounces are just pouring trickling from my ample arse.

Progress report: my adorable vest can be zipped up & within its admitedly still snug grip I do not feel quite as much like a ten-pound sausage in a 2-pound skin.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Turkey Day

Had a lovely Thanksgiving with friends. At one time I gave consideration to flying to Atlanta for a family reunion over the Thanksgiving weekend. My Uncle Calvin and Aunt Cynthia and some cousins live in Atlanta, and I've never been. However, I am a tightwad. I thought I could fly free using my American Airline miles but soon discovered the milage dissolved back in March, so I gave up the idea of a long distance Thanksgiving. I am sick with fretting over my long hoarded fifteen thousand miles. Had I realized they were soon to elapse, I would used them up or at the very least I could have donated them to charity. Damn, damn, double damn.

Still, Thanksgiving in Sacramento was loverly. It was also our smallest ever - just Rick, Mommy Nancy, their boys Diego and Adan, friends Mark and Fran from Grass Valley and myself. Oh, and Tippy, the dog. There was enough food to feed two or three times the number of our gathering - how blessed are we, eh?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

!

Today was the antithesis of yesterday. The day before Thanksgiving and Christmas are always dead days at the office. But while many coworkers take the day off for traveling to holiday destinations, I ususally come in because we're always released early anyway - why waste the vacation hours? Today was remarkable - they released the hounds! released us from CalEPA at the earliest I can ever remember - 2:30.
Hurrah!

Normally we're lucky if we get off by 4:00. Suspect Governor Ah-nee may have been in a generous mood due to his recent reelection. If he knew how I voted I'd still be downtown. Anyway, I shot out the office beelineing it to Curves to get that the eff over with. They closed at 4:30 today, my normal quit time so I thought I wasn't going to go today.

So there I was tonight, post exersion, collapsed on the couch - a knock at the door. It was my neighbor Chrissy - new resident from the other side of the Great Wall of China*. She gave me the most adorable little ceramic loaf pan with a homemade sweet bread, probably pumpkin. Isn't it adorable? Wasn't that totally sweet of her? Am filled with low-fat, 2% milk of human kindness!



* Great Wall of China: the ten foot high fence between my property & property next door by former neighbors. Have long held opinion that old, damaged 6 foot fence was replaced by massive TEN FOOT HIGH fence due to former neighbor's opinion that I and my kind needed to be fenced off, much as the first Emperor of China erected the Great Wall of China to block the onslaught of the Mongol hordes. I mean h
onestly - just once, on a hot summer day, you let a friend scamper naked in your back garden, accidently observed by former grumpy neighbors over the 6 foot fence and your reputation is marred for life!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Target Practice

Heh... interesting day for repelling humanity; electronic and otherwise.

Made a random email comment to group at work about an amusing spam which resulted in my being bombarded by a genuine troll - my first! After several volleys very-nearly-nasty comments from the troll I recommended he take a laxative and chill. Astoundingly, he agreed a laxative for himself might be indicated. I wonder if that got him off in manner of a sicko?

Then after work this evening, discovered a note on my car, chastising me for using up THREE (yes, you heard it here - THREE) parking spaces I was informed, that might have been used by other cars had I not mis-parked.

Stared at my Honda; stared at the parking space.

THREE
spaces?
This morning I had been a hurry to abandon car & leap onto the shuttle bus, and yes, it was pitch dark so could not easily see faded white lines and to ramble on, this morning I did not perform the cleverest of my parking efforts, but honestly! The notewriter had taken a bit of imagination to credit me with a three full parking spaces. And come to that, the parking lot is at best only 1/2 full on a busy day and just prior to Thanksgiving the lot is barely 1/4 full so no one was expelled from the lot by my mis-parking adventure.


Must conclude that today I was broadly mistaken as having a large target glued to my forehead.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

#@$%!


Rats. Saturday night Oliver!, the second play in my season ticket for the Davis Musical Theater Company. My play-buddy Cornetta had an emergency so couldn't attend. I found myself musing over who to invite to use up the un-partnered ticket. I attempted to invite musical loving buddies that being Mommy Nancy and Karen, but neither were available. I went to Oliver! solo.
Tonight was the first play for my season's ticket to the Davis Musical Theater Company. I love the Davis Theater. The actors are engaged from volunteers in the Davis community so it is like unto that box of chocolates Forest Gump carries on about, i.e., you never know what you're going to get.
What I got was Bumble, Mrs Bumble, Artful Dodger and Fagin as polished singers with, I am sure, as much singing voice, projection, humour and moxie as in any divas Broadway. The lead, Oliver, was an appropriately rail thin 13-year old with a sweet voice that could blend in nicely with any choir boy of the Austrian Boy's choir.

To the reverse, the very white-bread gentleman who played Mr Brownlow would have been out of his league if he was in a non-speaking role of a kindergarten class's rendition of The Little Engine that Couldn't Could (not if you tied it up with a freakn' bow).

Suffice to say the play was enjoyable and ditto to say it would have been more fun if I had a buddy to chat for the occastion, which brings me to why I'm blaspheming up a storm here - $#%#!!!!

Sunday night buddy-Jeannie called me to chat. She often as not rings me up to provide her with someone to chat with while she has a last smoke in her garage. Sunday night she called and as I told her about Oliver! it hit me - why hadn't I thought to invite her!

Ok, I know good and well why not. Jeannie has never been to a play or musical in her life, unless you count any school productions she may have been forced attend (tied to her chair, no doubt). I've longed to drag her off to the theater for ages. Saturday night would have been the ideal time haul her to Davis and expose her to her very first musical.

Honestly, I could just drop kick myself from here to Broadway. Had Jeannie gone to Oliver! and found herself enjoying the musical that would have been nice. But - even had she hated it - we'd have had a ball fighting over how lame it was/was not. There is no way we would have not had a great deal of fun.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Last Precious Hours of Freedom via 4-day Mini-retirement

9:51

Got up, put laundry in and mused in dejected manner that I have to fly to San Diego tomorrow for a work thingie on Wednesday. Don't want to go anywhere, want to stay home. Yes, cry me a river Claire.

Decided to do something different for breakfast - instead of eggs or cheese/fruit, decided to finally cook up a pot of steel cut oats. Have no clue why steel cut is better than rolled. If I had a choose between the two for myself, I'd rather be rolled than cut via steel. Ouch.

Put new pot on stove to bring water to a boil. Nose twitched - what is that funny odor? EEEEK! It was the paper label glued to the bottom of the spanking new pot. Ashes & smoke everywhere.
No bother! Paper burned away so no real harm done, didn't even take pot off stove. Stirred in oatmeal - when thickened put lid on. Five minutes pass. EEEEEK! Oatmeal boiled up and spackled surface of stove burner. Blast. Steel cut oatmeal had better fecking taste like the food of the gods is all I have to say. *fumes*

10:00 AM

Sat down with wholesome oatmeal, turned on The Wind and the Lion, an old epic featuring Sean Connery & Candice Bergan. Love the old movie. Love Sean Connery then, now. Oatmeal = yum.

11:30 AM

Took off to Curves for 2nd visit of the week. I require three visits per week. Will go again on Thursday. The routine already feels obligatory; and that is a good thing.

2:00 PM

Back from Curves. Collapsed on couch. Slept like the dead.

4:15 PM

Time to do laundry & pack for trip to San Diego.

8:45 PM

Bags are packed. Ready to go.

It is amazing how easy it was to go for a gym workout if you haven't spent the previous 8-9 hours sitting at a desk and haven't spent 2 hours of the day commuting. Not so amazing it is fun to be done with the exercising to come home and collapse on the couch.

Mini-retirement was a success. Tomorrow it is back to the real world. Drat.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Mini-retirement - Day 3

8:40 AM

Blast! Got up too late to watch CBS Sunday Morning. I was up till 1 AM which never would happen if I were not retired. I am allowing myself the luxtury of reverting to my night owl ways for my mini-retirement.

9:04 AM

Am doing something I haven't done in years - I'm keeping a food journal. Not because I am on a [fill in the 'D-word' here], but because it forces me to think about what goes in my mouth. I'm continuing to eat my usual healthy stuff. I'm totally slipping on my campaign to drink a minimum of 5 glasses of water per day. Even being at home hasn't gotten past more than three glasses per day and that is not enough. Anyway, here I am, a whole day for myself... what do I feel like doing?

11:00 AM

Bored. Ought to make phone calls but as usual I am not making them. I have no clue why I don't call people, particularly family. I'm fine when going for visits, but calling just doesn't happen. My medium is either face-to-face, the Internet, i.e., e-mail or Internet forums, this blog and such. I love chatting so why don't I love picking up the phone?

5:45 PM

Can't say I got nothing done today - I cut and sewed curtains for that last window in my bedroom and I made a nice go of it thankyouverymuch. Still I was bored so decided a trip out was the only thing for it.

Thanksgiving will be at Mommy Nancy's & Rick's this year; small crowd, Fran & Mark, Ingrid. Really small and I will be free to go to the State Indian Museum on Friday or Saturday to help out with the Thanksgiving weekend arts & crafts sale. Everyone loves if I prepare 'my' speciality - Sugar Pumpkins baked with a filling of bison (yes, real buffalo meat) and wild rice. Really a showy dish and what everyone loves it combines foods that were on the continent pre-Europeans. Unfortunately, that means I have to find suitable Sugar Pumkins and some years - like this one - it just doesn't happen. The pumpkins at Corti Brothers gourmet market were for carving, not eating (and they were HUMONGOUS.). And Whole Foods had Sugar Pumpkins but they were the size of freakn' apples - way to small to be of any use. Damn, damn, damn. Will have to use some other cool recipe from my Spirit of the Harvest cook book.

Anyway, I decided my outing out would be to hit Corti Bro & Whole Foods in search of pumpkins. How can explain how dangerous shopping at those two stores are? Their prices are as spectactular as their produce sections. If a Pink Lady apple costs 50 cents at a Safeway market, the same apples are bound to cost a buck fifty each at Whole Foods. Food at Corti Bro & Whole Foods are as incredible as they are expensive. You want venison, fresh chantrelle mushrooms, imported Bel Pase cheese or double chocolate stout from a little known micro beer brewery? You know where to go. I spent the afternoon perusing the aisles at those markets and I did good - not totally breaking the bank.

Honestly, I am THRILLED that Whole Foods charges so much for their baked goods. My choice there is 'pay the mortgage this month' or 'buy cheesecake at Whole Foods': I can't afford to do both. If Whole Foods ever drops the prices of its goodies I am doomed; will be featured on a medical channel undergoing surgery to remove my entire digestive tract & replacing my throat with a padlock.

Is nice being retired for a few days. Plan to sit up past 11 o'clock so as to watch South Park. Tee hee! *Nibbles on lovely fresh tuna and salmon sushi (Whole Foods) that will be followed up by a rose-flavored Turkish Delight (Corti Brothers)*

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Mini-retirement - Day 2

3:16 AM

Woke in freakn' middle of freakn' night. Hate that - but since I'm retired it was ok! Turned on lights and read for a bit, after all when one is retired one can do whatevertheef one feels like, whenever. HAHAHAHA! Am mad with the sudden power over my life.

7:23 AM

Woke. Stripped bed, preparatory to laundering sheets. Did dance of joy (in my head). Took shower. Decided deserved lovely facial scrub so got out of tub, grabbing lovely Philosophy microdermsomething facial scrub. Took about 30 seconds of scrubbing to realize was scrubbing face, not with lovely Philosophy microdermsomething face scrub but scrubbing face with Philosphy 'Soul Owner' exsfolliating foot cream with horrifying salicylic acid. Remarkable the vivid carnation-red the whites of one's eyes can achieve.

Note to self: read freakn' labels before applying products. Right.

9:13 AM

Decided to go to lovely Farmer's Market for the specific purpose of purchasing week's veggies and nice bouquet of flowers to bring hint of spring into arctic-frigid household.

Humongous green BOOGERS! Is raining. Ah! Make lemons into lemonade by realizing nasty weather means I need not venture into the backyard to care for long neglected flower beds which admittedly is where I ought to be gathering my fresh cut flowers. Must find alternate method of brightening my surroundings. Green is colorful... perhaps a festoon of vivid boogers?

10:30 PM

Went to Mommy Nancy & Rick's house. It was the third Saturday in a row I've done so. Have gone there to meet with a few other women to discuss a chapter or two from The Power of Intention by Dwayne Dyer. Interesting book, stuff I've heard before. Although I mostly go for the socializing though I'm getting benefit from the book, i.e., can brag I have actually read a book.

Tonight there was no meeting but Nancy invited me over for dinnner which was, as usual, yummy. Key food note was baked carrots that carmelized & were yummy. I'm going to try more oven roasted veggies myself. Veggies = good.

Gave Nancy her second crochet lesson. She gets a bit nervous, something to do with expecting critisism when she was a kid. Teaching her last night felt like I was working with a skittish filly who is likely to bolt at any minute. Nancy did well tonight though, learning single crocheting. I'm hoping to inspire her on to knitting her own scarf. We'll see!

One thing I know about my ultimate retirement is I will have to plan social events or I'll just drop from the lonliness. I must have my alone time but too much of it is just that, too much. Oh, and outings! When I retire outings will also be a must on a daily basis.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Mini-retirement

1:38 PM

Hurrah, am retired!

Ok, I'm lying. Am most decidedly not retired. Am taking advantage of four-days off by pretending I am retired for four days. Even though the retirement is pretend, it feels marvellous.

I went to bed late, got up late and lounged over hot coffee & fresh fruit. When I damned well felt like it I went to Curves for exercise. Stopped at a garden store that was going out of business on the way home but ought have shopped there at least a week ago if had any hope of finding anything of interest to me.

Mini-retirement is so far, so good.

6:03 PM

This afternoon watched lovely Antonio Banderas movie, Take the Lead. The man is too elegant, too attractive to be straight. Whatever his preference some woman, man, sheep, whatever, is quite fortunate. Hum.... may have to learn ball room dancing when I retire.

I was dreadfully sleepy this afternoon, entirely from autumn pollens. Lungs feel like I breathed in fourteen pairs of parakeets - lungs are tweeting & wheezing that badly. Stupid pollens.

8:45 PM

Damn it. My normal wake-up time is 5-5:30 AM. Refuse to go to bed early! Will stay awake until I have to pick bats out of my teeth!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Curses, Foiled Again!

Never fails - well, almost never. Nearly everytime I plan a little get-away, something comes up and my work requires that I travel - doesn't happen everytime I plan a trip, but damned near.

Last time it happened was when I planned my summer vacation for August - a conference came up in Monterey that screwed complicated my plans to get in a visit with my Aunt & Uncle in Pasadena - Grace & Elmer.

And now it happened again; no sooner had I planned a visit to southern California over a four-day weekend then two seperate workshops popped onto the horizon in Fresno and San Diego. Why fight it? Decided to skip my plans altogether in favor of driving to Fresno this week, flying to San Diego next week and staying home this weekend for four glorious days of doing whatever I damn well feel like doing. So much for driving down to San Diego. Instead, come December, I will possibly fly to southern California on my own dime.

Meanwhile, I prepare for a workshop in Fresno. I'm trying to come up with some sort of busman's holiday while I'm down there but honestly, what is there to do in Fresno? Not much of anything my lovlies.

Friday, November 03, 2006

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAsnortHAHAHAHA!

Watch this all the way to the end... it gets even better!



True tortoise Love. *sniff*

Oh, for those who need a translation, Mr. Tortoise = "baby oh baby"

Thursday, October 26, 2006

How Hitler Ruined Halloween

I have gazed into the bright shining maw of Halloween and lived to tell the tale! BWAH HA HA HA HA! After work I went to view a HUMONGOUS & beautiful collection of Halloween memorabilia. Learned all sorts of stuff about Halloween from a local guy, Mark, a Halloween fiend (a nice one) who collects antique Halloween memorabilia. His house is full from bat-filled rafters to black-widow haunted basement with all things Halloween. His place is to Halloween what the North Pole is to Christmas - if that makes sense. I've seen a lot of collections in my time, but never such carefully collected and well-kept stuff unless I include what I've seen at the Smithsonian.

Mark is a walking encyclopedia of All-Things-Halloween and like it or not, I'm going to tell you what I and his other guests learned at his Halloween open house. No! Sit back down and read - you'll enjoy this. I mean, who else is going to give you the straight facts on how Aldorf Hitler ruined Halloween?

Huh? Well, post WWI, Germany wasn’t allowed industries that manufactured metals – least they re-attempt to blow up the world - again, they had to find ways to keep the Gross National Product from disappearing all together (for my fellow Potter fans, that means $$ had apparated). To solve the problem Hans und Inge made Halloween decorations for the American Market. All sorts of items were made, from all types of materials - but no naughty metals. They made loads of die-cut, embossed paper decorations like the adorable Hoot Owl shown above and nifty little figurines of spooky headed ghouls and pumpkin headed monsters out of composite (whatever that is). The figurines held candy and were often given as party favors.



Das über creepy Kürbiskopf pumpkin-head. Would you eat candy that came out of that thing?

Now here's another cool Halloween factoid. Once upon a time Halloween was an adult holiday. I don't mean take off your clothing adult, I mean Halloween was not seen as solely a day for the kiddies.

German-made Halloween ornamentation was used to decorate the homes of the BIG kids. Because Halloween was for adults the overall look of Halloween décor was creepy! People would decorated their homes with eerie looking witches, pumpkins, bow-backed black cats, call in the neighbors and party down. While the partying was on, kids were home tucked in their bunk-beds where we all know they damn well belonged.

Mark said Halloween was a wonderfully spine chilling event right up to approximately 1933 where the Germans come back into the picture at the start of WWII. Ok, this is where Hitler comes in. Hitler said 'Stop making mit der Halloween crazy stuff already und let's get organized here!' , or something like that. The interesting German decor dried up as Germany began again to manufacture WMD (think Iraq). America had to manufacture its own Halloween stuff and all the fun scary stuff, for the most part, dropped out of the holiday. Halloween transmogrified from an excuse for adults to drink beer and party down into a softer, kinder holiday for children to dress up in semi-cuddly costumes to bob for apples and go trick or treating.

Halloween hasn't been the same in the U.S. since WWII. Mark mourns that unfortunate and perhaps sinister turn of events as the point in time when the interesting, artful, creepy and scary Halloween paraphanalia
took a turn for the cutsie, saccharine and none-too-scary; in short - kind of boring.

I suspect Mark may wear a black arm band on Halloween to commemorate the loss of Halloween's former sinister ambiance at the hands of the Dark Lord, Voldemort Hitler.

And that, my dear little boys and ghouls, is how Hitler ruined Halloween.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Rice in Japan


Hurrah! Someone whose hair looks even more attractive than mine.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Big City Birdies


Show and tell! This photo of a juvenile Peregrine Falcon, napping on a window ledge of our 25 story CalEPA building, was emailed around work today. We have had Peregrines in downtown Sacramento for some years now.

Once, I was lucky enough to see a Peregrine diving after pigeons at the Resources Building, which coincidently, houses the California Department of Fish and Game. Another time I saw one in a cool aerial dog-fight with a Red-tailed Hawk by the light rail station. But my best viewing was while I stood at a window on the 19th floor as a Peregrine shot past just below my eye level. Back and forth, back and forth the winged beastie flew was so close I could see the details of light on its steel grey feathers.

We still see falcons downtown but they're not currently roosting on our building. I miss them. They used to catch and eat pigeons, flickers and other birds, sometimes dropping a wing here, a tail there, a blot of feathers and blood - on the lower story roofs. Though I'm certain the birdie bits did not endear the falcons to building management, for me it was a huge treat, like having a National Geographic Special on wildlife happening right before my eyes.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Acorn Day

One Saturday each October is Acorn Day at the State Indian Museum. It's a day is primarily for the kids, but I for one, first visited the museum on Acorn Day many years ago. I had so much fun I ultimately went through training and became a docent at the museum. For Acorn Day we set up tables in the back yard of the museum. The back yard has a sweat lodge, a round house and a traditional Indian house made of cedar planks. We load up the tables with activities; abalone shell, pine nuts, clam shells and dentatum shells for the kids to make necklaces, tule reeds for teaching kids to make Indian style dolls and rubber stamps and beads so kids can make non-traditional bookmarks.

This year I had a table at which I demonstrated a Chumash gambling game. The rules are simple and once the kids get it, they really enjoy it. I explain to them how each opposing player would have a host of friends and family backing them up, egging them on and playing square deer skin drums. Your friends would shout silly derisive stuff at the opposing player, not unlike the lively 'Yo Mama' sort of stuff that might accompany a competitive game of cards. So whenever the kids are throwing down their dice, I shout at them and try to distract them with raspberry noises and such. The kids LOVE it and get all giggly and competitive and by the day's end I'm worn to a frazzle.

Usually along with the Chumash gambling games I do my string figures (cat's cradle). I totally love string figures which help keep my mind - flexible. Unfortunately, right now my mind is as rigid as steel so I decided to skip the string figures for this year. Oh well! My second activity was showing the kids the museum's animal pelts - bobcat, puma, bear, river otter, sea otter (soft!) and mule deer. The kids love that too - they particularly love puting on the buck's head which in the old days would have been used for sneaking up on deer so they could be shot by bow and arrow for supper - to go along with that nice acorn mash you know.


All the above is well and good but the main attaction of Acorn Day is Acorns. There are day long demonstrations on preparing and eating of acorn, California Indian style. Anyone who wants can help to crack acorns and grind them up with stone implements. The dry acorn meal is spread on pine needles over sand in a little sand pit. Then hot water is poured over the ground meal to leach out the bitter tannins. The leached meal is then put with water into a beautiful woven Indian basket. Hot stones are added to the basket, one at a time, and gradually the water heats to a boil in the basket! It's a miracle, I swear it is. The stones are removed and replaced with fresh hot stones until the acorn meal is cooked. Voila! Then it is time to taste the acorn soup.

The process is fun to go through. The final acorn mash is not outrageously flavorful - in fact it is rather bland, but that's ok. Acorns pack plenty of nutrition and you have to imagine the acorn soup or gruel being served up under the pines, along with salmon, skewered on redwood planks and broiled over coals, or heaped alongside some nice freshly roasted venison or rabbit in the manner the Indians might have eaten it hundreds of years ago - or the way local Indians might enjoy it tomorrow night at their Sunday family dinner - yum! Acorns are still a beloved and traditional food for modern California Indian families.

Although nowadays there are pots to cook the acorn meal in, the old fashioned method of heating the acorns with heated rocks is still quite popular. The acorn meal gets all nice and crusty on the rocks and that adds a texture that doesn't happen if you just heat the stuff up in a pot on a stove. Sometimes the old ways remain the best.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Hello. My name is Claire - and I like to spin.

Oh Joy! I am in for two more 3-day weekends in a row! Hurrah! Three more days to lie idly around the house, gathering dust on my more stationary surfaces, celebrating the brat couch potato that is me!  I’m going to level with you – I have a secret that I don’t just share with just any old people, but as you bothered to come read my blog I’m going to come clean on this issue; I fancy fiber. Ok, I know you are shocked, and I can understand that. People don’t expect to scratch my surface and find someone suffering from fiberphilia.

I no longer remember how I got into fiber, it started so long ago. I started with wools, not the cheap stuff, but good wool - straight off the sheep - a mixed breed ewe named Misty. I still have a exquisite stores of her extraordinary russet fleece. Misty’s fleece satisfied me for a long time but then I entered my experimental stage. I gave flax a spin; then I dabbled in silk. Then eschewing plant for animals I went in for alpaca, llama and the curlicue hair of the cashmere goat. When that wasn’t enough I had to go for the small, the helpless – yes, I went for angora rabbit hair – plucked straight from the bunny’s tender little body.

*shudders with delight* I am not proud to admit, I even dabbled in the über exotic; giving in to cravings for qiviut (ki-vee-ute) the undercoat of Muskoxen. Oh Joy! I am in for two more 3-day weekends in a row! Hurrah! Three more days to lie idly around the house, gathering dust on my more stationary surfaces, celebrating the brat couch potato that is me!  Yes, soon I was in deep – hidden around my home are boxes and boxes of fiber from every corner of the earth. But you know, a good fetish always comes with paraphanalia and I’ve got my share. I started off simple – becoming adept at the use of the drop spindle.&nbsp Then, hankering for something more complex I got a double-treadle Schacht spinning wheel; there was no turning back.
When spinning my own yarn was not enough I took up weaving. I bought myself a loom; a Schacht baby woof. I was tabby weaving with the best of them. 

Enough of my bragging about my little – peccadilloes. This past weekend, being in full hermit mode and had a hankering to get into the fiber.I went into my vast store and pulled out some lovely white Angora and some wool roving.

The Angora was plucked several years ago from a friend’s bunny that went by the name of Pinky – the bunny that is. The wool roving is lovely, brushed, un-spun sheep’s wool. I no longer remember where I got the roving, but it is soft and highly spin-able, with marvelously long, soft fibers.  I spun for hours, and the end product is two skeins of textured mid-weight yarn; the wool is off-white, and the Angora is bright white; really pretty stuff. I plied the yarns together. The angora wool will give the final product the soft halo of fuzzy hair. But that is later; first there I must decide between finishing this project up with some crochet or knitting. Perhaps I’ll tell you about the joys of those sinful pursuits at a later date. You know - if I'm looking for a cheap thrill. All About the Addiction

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Hurrah - Boo Hoo - Hurrah!

Good Grief.

Tonight was the first musical of the Davis Musical Theater Company for which I hold a season's ticket. My musical play buddy Cornetta also has a season's ticket and tonight, spot on schedule, I headed to her home in Sacramento to pick her up. I've dropped her off at home a couple of times after our ushering duties, for example when we saw the Music Circus production of Aida in July.

Our drives are nothing if not NOISY. Post-musicals as we barrel down the freeway, we can't help but sing our very-nearly-musical hearts out. So I've been by Cornetta's place a couple of times. Anyway, tonight I was spot on time, driving along Highway 99 and I suddenly realized I had no clue which freeway exit would lead me to 42nd, 43rd, 44th or whatever-the-hell street she lives on; no clue whatsoever.

Oh... a half dozen exits later, I realized I had NO clue where the ef I was. I got on the cell phone to Cornetta. No answer. I was supposed to by then have been on the street by her house honking my Honda horn, pissing of Cornetta's neighbors. No dice. A few more freeway exits - still, no dice. Finally I parked on some unknown street and called, and called and called - no answer. Had no clue if I was even calling the correct phone number.

I was in full self-pity mode. Why had I not made note of the directions to Cornetta's? I keep a little paper pad in my car that I jot location directions and even the hours kept by my favorite shops and such. Why the ef hadn't I made note of Cornetta's?

Now it was so late that even if I found her house we would not make the play. 'What an idiot I am', thought I was overwhelmed with self-incrimination. 'Now Cornetta will think I'm some sort of flake! And why-the-ef doesn't she call to find out why I'm not honking outside her front door?'

Awash with feelings of failure, I slowing aimed the Honda homeward. I was not going to the play by myself - I didn't deserve to see it after screwing up my promise to pick Cornetta up.

'Ring!' Cell phone - actually it plays Hedwig's Theme.

'Um... Claire?'

Turns out Cornetta was yaking on the phone with a buddy all the while patiently wondering where the ef Claire had got to. With directions I was over to Cornetta's spit-spot and we raced off to Davis. I realized all the driving around had nearly emptied my gas tank so I had to stop for a re-fill. By now we would be lucky to get in the first act and I could not stop appologizing. Cornetta, bless her heart, was totally ok with all this and forgave me over and over as I whinged and whined.

Ok, guess what? We got to the theater just as the play, West Side Story, began. We hadn't missed a beat. It was a true miracle of the sort that normally requires honking great hosts of angels fluttering around, molting feathers and blowing celestial horns.




And how was the play? Excellent! Herein lay the second miracle of the evening. The guy who played Tony sang 'Something's Coming' - it was so-so at best. Cornetta and I both felt like it was going to be a long evening. It was only after Maria lifted an angelic voice trilling to the heavens, to be joined by Tony's lower tones that Tony's voice shifted somehow. It was as if Maria's voice picked up Tony's voice, dusted it, dressed it up and polished it off. Is that clear? It was like their voices/ their souls - to use the overused expression - completed each other.

Honestly, your jaw would have dropped at the difference in Tony's voice!

Add to the above that Tony could dance! There were a few dance scenes to the musical and most of the cast's hoofing was only so-so. The Davis productions are only cast the plays a short while before opening - two months tops. But the guy who played Tony had it down - he danced with skill and from his heart. Cornetta and I were highly impressed, moved even, by the sight of Tony & Maria swaying to a brush of soft notes.

Suffice to say, we enjoyed the play immensely and both of us were choked up by the ending scene where Tony bites the big one and Maria knees over his body. Richard and Natalie could not have done it any better.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

To Yosemite's Heights


Today we decided to start our day up at Glacier Point, so we headed up hill and on the way stopped at an overlook. I’d hardly parked when I heard Gene shouting at me there were chickens in the parking lot, wtf? Indeed! The chickens’ were a pair of beautiful Blue Grouse hens and they certainly did look like chickens and they were as naturally tame and approachable as any farm yard chicken. I didn’t even bother to use a long lens to get pictures of the two ‘girls’. I took at least 50 shots of the grouse hens and I lucked into this wonderful sequence as follows:







Only minutes up the road from the grouse hens we spotted several more grouse roadside, including a Blue Grouse Cock was strutting around with a few hens. No pictures worth showing of the cock, but Joann pointed out a curious bird call like a tin trumpet. Our guest appearance trumpeter was a Red-breasted Nuthatch and I got lovely pictures of the lively little beauty.



These shots we took up at Glacier Point when we finally made it there. Joann and Gene hiked to the overlook and I made do a little closer to the main overlook. The view was spectacular; great looks at Sentinel Point and Half Dome. Gene and Joann hiked out to the point and I whimped out staying at the overlook. The view was the one you see just below - Half Dome.


We headed down to Yosemite Valley and then straight back up to Tuolumne Meadows. Joann enjoyed the wicked thrill of horn honking in the tunnels we drove through on the way up - weeeeee! We briefly stopped at the outrageously blue Lake Tenaya.
Tuolumne meadow was out from under snow, broad and lush. We made several stops along the route to the Visitor Center both for scenery and bird ID and photo ops that included scenery and wildflowers.




The drive made for a lovely final day in Yosemite and we enjoyed the hell out of it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Yosemite!


I was twenty-one when I first entered Yosemite Valley, one of several co-eds, out to hike over the Spring break. We were young, fit and ready to hike up the steep Vernal and Nevada Falls trail into the back country where I saw my first black bears and if I recall correctly, I pretty much pissed meself when I saw one of the great bruins eating out of some unfortunate backpacker’s campfire stove. I was so scared I ran away backwards because it would have taken too much time to turn around and then run. I’m not kidding, I ran away backwards; nearly slammed myself silly into a Ponderosa Pine. Each day we hiked I felt stronger and stronger. By the end of the trips I was always feeling more fit than when we arrived. Oy - are those days over!
This week I am back in Yosemite with my childhood buddies Joann and Gene; eschewing the Vasque hiking boots for Berkenstocks and Nikes. We spent the day viewing the great Yosemite Valley via the valley’s touring bus system. My so-called hikes did not take me more than 500 feet from the comfort of my Honda. Yeah, my high country trekking days are just a fleeting memory.
Happily, Yosemite is accommodating to old farts as well as young ones. I am happy to proclaim the Valley remains a land of perfection and beauty of the ‘point your camera and you get a frame-able Kodak moment shot, Yosemite is the place. Honestly – you can’t take bad pictures there. I sincerely believe anyone can be anywhere in Yosemite, turn, point their camera at an upward angle and get what I think would do for a National Geographic Cover Shot. See? Just look up and there's a shot.
Day one we started our tour with Mariposa Grove. We played the soundtrack of the PBS special on the Civil War and shortly afterwards found out it was Abraham Lincoln who put aside the Mariposa Grove and the Yosemite Valley lands for California to protect – long before California was even a state. Later it was John Muir & Teddy Roosevelt that took the lands back and made Yosemite a National Park so we can still admire the beauty of the place. Here are Joann and Gene posing with an eensie, weensie - as Sequoias go - tree.

We drove through the granite tunnels (with Jo happily honking the horn) and took in views of El Capitan from above, and then from below on the Yosemite Valley floor. We watched the late summer waters cascading, wind blown down Bridal Veil Falls. Gene recalled when he was a kid seeing the burning logs tossed off the falls after sundown to thrill the spectators below. That must have been awesome.


We parked and took the Yosemite tour bus for a little trek that took us to the Awanee Hotel and the main visitor’s center where we toured a Miwok Village.




Outside the Visitor Center (see it at the base of the mountain in the picture above?) first a mule deer buck, and then a doe and her spotted fawn wandered so close I had to back up to get a photograph of the fawn.


I’ll be the first to tell you the animals at Yosemite, are not as diverse in species as those at Yellowstone - which I admit, still owns my heart – but the Yosemite critters seem to just romp out of the forest at every turn to pose for my camera.


Late in the day as we headed back to where we were staying at the Apple Creek Inn at Fish Camp, we passed a golf course near the grand old Wawona Hotel. There we spotted a mule deer buck. I barked out instructions for Joann to stay in the car, least the buck run off. Seconds later I was leaning over a wooden fence taking picture after picture of the buck who showed no shyness what-so-ever. I sheepishly told Joann she could ignore my instructions and get out the car. That buck posed like a pro and we spotted a second buck nearby, one with his impressive antlers still in velvet. This photo, astoundingly enough, was taken with my 55mm lens.
The bucks were so bold and so unafraid of people; the only photo hazard was avoiding photographing the golfers in the background. This buck's impressive antlers are still in velvet.

It was a lovely day in Yosemite. Not hot, not cold, just right. How could I have stayed away from Yosemite for so long?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Best Wedding Eh-Vah! Phil & Krista Tied the Knot Yesterday

Yep, went to the best wedding ever yesterday. It was for the son of my childhood friends Joann & Gene. Why do I say it was the best wedding ever? Ok, not just because I'm a big sack of sentimentality, but because... (oh, and I'll have to choose my words carefully here since I've been to many of y'all's weddings...):

1. It was held in a forest – not a church, gymnasium, rec hall, it was in a lovely green mountain forest on a wooden quite pretty & serene boat dock (wish I had pictures of that);

2. The bride & groom said cool stuff to each other about being best friends, which they are, and which to my mind ought to be the first requirement for marriage; friendship, not lust. The groom held the bride's hands and after repeating cool stuff, said ‘I do’ & put the ring on the bride's finger. Then the bride held the groom’s hands and said the exact same things, ring, etc.;

3. The vows were said under a gorgeous, huge, garden arbor that Phil (groom) made and brought up for the occasion. The workmanship was incredible. I didn’t have my camera with me at that point or you’d HAVE to see a photo. It included the engraved crests of both families. Honestly – it was remarkable;

5. The priest had the audience promise to help the couple remember their vows etc. and the Audience said ‘We Do’! That was like soooo very wonderful, t’wasn’t a dry eye on the pier;

6. The bride & groom were so happy they were smiling, laughing, crying through the ceremony. Only ever saw such a happy couple getting hitched one other time; several kids and many happy moons ago when my cousin Dovin & his wife Jackie married (it was so cool, they held lit candles as they said their vows to each other). Both couples were the sort of matches you just know were preordained somewhere in heaven, the universe or both;

7. The ‘you may kiss the bride’ statement kiss was the freakn’ sexiest, Frenchy, ‘wholly crap does Phil know his mama is watching this?’ wedding kiss I’ve ever seen. Two thumbs - God only knows what else was - up;

8. The bride & groom’s Labrador dog, their surrogate daughter, was the ring bearer - she was howling good too;

9. Two words: free bar;

10. Reception, up the short slope from the lake, in a Yellowstone-ish sort of Girl Scout Camp log recreation hall;

11. Three more words: barbeque reception dinner;

12. Just after dinner a sentimental music (think Izzy playing ‘Over the Rainbow on ukulele – pictures of bride, then groom growing up, then pictures of their lives together thus far. It must have sent at least half the hall boo-hooing with the sentiment of it all. You have never seen so much running mascara in one spot unless you viewed the losers of the last Little Miss Tart-lett kiddie pageant;

13. Wedding party getting down and dirty for some dancing in the cabin hall, mostly those under thirty who could still bend in more than one direction without risking injury;

14. Us old(ish) folk building a campfire, having loads o’ fun spitting mouthfuls of brandy into the flames to see the flames billow (how rich was that? Brandy fer spittin’ AND fer drinking!); and

15. Making paper balls out of the paper that topped off the fancy white linen from the tables and we tossed the balls into the fire for points. Mine kept bouncing off the logs; you’d be surprised how much skill it took.

I mean, what more could you want? A formal wedding that wound up into a bitchn’ party campfire scene AND nothing anywhere but happy people. I wonder what the rental shop will think when they get back the groom’s party’s smoke scented tuxedos? Like I said, best wedding Eh-vah!

I figured out Phil's parents and I've been friends about forty years now - count 'em, FORTY! It's stranger still when you realize that Joann and I are not a day over thirty.


I'm sitting here waiting for Jo & Gene to come down from Nevada City where they've been for the wedding & such the last few days. They'll stay with me tonight and tomorrow we're headed down to Fish Camp (yes, fish camp!) from which we'll tour Yosemite for a couple of days. You'll be hearing about that later in the week.

Friday, September 15, 2006

$#%*&@

ARRRRGGGHHH!

Are you ticked off as much as I am? Cell phones just do not ring long enough any more! They ring only long enough for your ears to pick up 'something is calling you'.

When my cell phone rings the race begins, me tripping over furniture, racing toward the NOISE, and/or stumble through crap on my desk for where-the-ef is the acursed phone. And just at the point I find the thing and open it - the ring stops, at which point I give the cell a flying lesson. Weeee! Across the room it sails until if makes contact with the wall or a startled cat.

Ok, I don't throw the cell, it costs too much to do that, but that is what I want to do with all my heart. Why don't phones ring 30 seconds giving you time to answer? Mine rings only long enough to make me a serious candidate for anger management training.


Monday, September 11, 2006

A Quick Whine

Damn, damn, DAMN! How did it happen? I am down to sixty-nine vacation hours! Mind - normally sixty-nine is one of my very favourite numbers but NOT when it represents the sum total of vacation days on the books.

I seldom drop below 100 vacation hours but this year a lot of time was eaten up by trees ripping the electrical wiring out of my house, feckless daytime burgularies and such, including some degree of self-stupidity, such as me taking time off work to do things at home. STUPID!

I am going to use up a couple of holiday 'credits' and two days of vacation next week when I go to Yosemite for a few days with friends Joann & Gene - my oldest buddies from when my parents and I moved to San Diego in the last stone-age. More on that upcoming vacation next week.

Meanwhile I'm getting ready for having company on Wednesday night. Must continue backhoeing the 'stuff' on the dining room table.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

My Birthday Week Comes to a Happy End

Ok, Wednesday, the 6th was my birthday, and though I went out of my way to not celebrate it, it was celebrated very, very nicely, thank you very much everyone. I got loads of cards and prezzies in the mail and I as amazed and felt like I did not deserve such attention.

The fun started last Saturday when I went to that dinner & a movie with Mommy Nancy and ended last night with my second birthday dinnerat a Korean Restaurant for barbeque with Jeannie & Ron - poor things, I nearly chatted their ears off. Those two are always friends to me, above and beyond the call of duty. I've always said if there is one thing in my life I've had phenominal luck with it is in my friends - and Jeannie & Ron are the proof of it. If I had that kind of luck with men I'd be married to Bill Gates.

We had a really good time and there were loads of prezzies for me; a cute window mounting bird feeder with a birdie-motion monitor & a lovely, curli-que Harry Potter drinking straw - a far bigger hit with me than I will admit to. I am sipping iced tea through my straw as I type.

There was also a lovely bouquet of orange lilies (which look so marvy by the new sofa that I may have to keep flowers on that spot for the remainder of my natural life, AND this...

Isn't it adorable? The cake measures three inches on each side which means as soon as I am finished with this post, I am going to eat my entire birthday cake all by myself! Sorry, none for you. Maybe next year.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Four Degrees of Separation

It is said for each person on earth, there are no more than six degrees of seperation between them and everyone else on earth. I thought that was crap but then I found out I was only 3 degrees from a great star of my childhood. I am a friend of Don Peri (1st degree), who is a friend of Ollie Johnson (2nd degree) who is the artist who animated Bambi (3rd degree). Finding out I am only 3 degrees of seperation from Bambi was a humongus thrill for me and I revel that I am just two pen strokes and a wooded glade from the critter whose movies still make me tear up.

I am only 3 Degrees of Seperation from Bambi
I was thinking of the six degrees of separation thing since yesterday when I found out my friend Don Pendelton (1st degree) has an acquaintance (2nd degree) whose son-in-law (3rd degree) went to school in Australia with Steve Irwin (4th degree). I am only four degrees of seperation form a hero of mine, Steve Irwin - the Crocodile Hunter. Crikey - talk about your tearing up!
Of course as a ravid environmentalist and lover of all-things-creepy-&-crawly, Steve Irwin ranks high in the heart of anyone who loves wildlife. On September forth a freak accident ended Steve's life. I've grieved along with millions of others who have adored the guy as much as I do. Who didn't love to see the Crock Hunter, with that happy Aussie face, holding up some godawful- deadly poisonous or aspiring to be deadly poisonous creature, while he reverently cooed, 'Isn't she beautiful!'
That always cracked me up. Steve was genuine - he would coo at those scaly critters with a love and genuine devotion in his voice that is normally only extracted from men on the night of their honeymoon.

It is marvellous knowing I was only four degrees of seperation from such a great guy. To Steve Irwin there wasn't a gangly lizard, a tooth crock or poisonous lizard out there that wasn't lovely. And through him millions of people around the world began to see in those same scaly critters for the wonderous marvels Steve saw knew they were. In the past day or so some culmudeons who say the Crock Hunter's penchant for leaping onto the backs of crocks or flinging himself at venemous spiders and such was exploitation of wildlife, plain and simple. What a crock of the non-scaly sort! That man never leapt on a critter unless he was either transporting it to a safer local, taking it into custody for educational purposes or, gods forbid, just enjoying the beauty of it. I believe the bloke hadn't an exploitive bone in his body. To my mind Steve's best skill was not that he wrassling wildlife. His best talent was his skill at urging even the most squeemish, reluctant or hard core people to appreciate wildlife. You would watch him dandling that Gabon Viper by its tail as he told you why the critter, though poisonous, was a marvel to behold and had a important place on our planet - and by God, was beautiful. He could turn people onto the sort of wildlife that are not easy to love. I mean, anyone can convince people to love animals with a fluffy Bambi sort of charm, but Steve could make people love & appreciate creatures the other critters out there; the ones with low profiles, smelly breath, bellies that were dragged over hot desert ground and eyes that stared cold, yellow and without the benefit of eyelids or lashes. Thank the Crock Hunter for millions of people who now know the value of snakes, lizards, crocodile and mammals Tasmanian Devils and the like - critters that are far from cute or cuddly.
Turning people onto the less cuddly wildlife, educating, protecting animals and their habitats - that is how Steve filled the scant 44 years we were allowed to have him with us. He sparked appreciation for all wildlife in the hearts of millions and millions of people. We loved him and he was taken from us by a freak accident by a creature he was probably admiring even as it did him in.
Steve Irwin - Crikey! Wasn't he beautiful?