Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Guest Chef

After assisting our guest chef in the kitchen it's all I can do to post a link to the food blog. Visit Peanut Butter Etouffee for a special treat.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

"They" are wrong

Sixty is not the new forty; Sixty is the new fifty-nine. Happy Birthday to me.

Yes, I know many of my friends are confused. I am celebrating my birthday on the anniversary of my birth this year, why? Because I'm sixty. I'm neither upset nor depressed, hey, it's a number, but I am happy to be closer to Social Security. Plus, I get to ride the bus for half fare. Tender mercies.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Let the Christmas season begin

Heading off to Seattle this Wednesday for a visit with a friend. She's very excited and has all sorts of plans for us. We were hoping to get there for her 30th anniversary with her company but couldn't work out the details. We'll celebrate that milestone anyway. I'm hoping the weather will cooperate and not rain, but hey, it's Seattle. That's the reason we are not driving, unsure of the weather in the northern part of California this time of year. Could be icy.

It's difficult to believe December 1st is here and soon we'll be heading for the desert to have our Christmas celebration. I'm planning a few things here before we go but really low-key this year. I know more folks than ever out of work but I have hope for a bright 2010.

Speaking of December 1, it's a day of worldwide AIDS remembrance; A Day Without Art. If you are visiting the Getty Center today, check their page for a parking coupon and what they'll be doing.

Twenty-ten will be the year my beloved and I travel more, I've rearranged my Getty Docent responsibilities, and bought him a little dash navigator so hopefully I'll be sending some posts from the road. Not sure what I'll do about that yet, though, so many options for communications these days. I'll start by making a Wish List of places we'd like to visit. Camping in different places will be at the top of mine.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

Recently I'd heard of a "Buy Nothing Day" for Black Friday, the day that merchandisers all over the world anxiously await. Buy nothing? Sure, not a problem for me but maybe less to joining the BND group and more that I can't stand the crowds. The last time I braved the masses was maybe 25 years ago and said a silent vow to never do that again. There is usually nothing I want that bad to wait hours in line for.

Our small family reduced it's Christmas buying habit a long time ago by drawing names at Thanksgiving and purchasing a gift for just one person. We started when my father was ill and wanted to take the pressure off his wife and just kept it as a tradition. I like it a lot. Christmas is less about presents and more about being together. Plus, you find out you need less and less as you get older. I'm trying to reduce the size of my "stuff."

Less time on present buying means more time for a wonderful, gourmet Christmas dinner and it's always quite tasty. I'm sure this year will be no different. We all meet in Palm Desert with our darling step-mother and laugh, play cards, eat and catch up. It's very relaxing and I look forward to this time more than any in the year.

If shopping is your family tradition then make this the best Black Friday it can be--we all know the economy can use it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

This time of year is always bus and this year is no different. Our Thankful day was last week so I won't need to get up tomorrow and cook a bird but I am planning to get a turkey smoked before the end of the year. I'm just itching to try it. The wind has to stop though because that cools my smoker down too much and makes for inconsistent temps.

Our friend Di's visit was short but fun with a trip to the beach and a little sitting in the sun. She resides in the Seattle area and rain is a big feature this time of year so she visits us and her family for this holiday event. Even with the wind Southern California is a much better choice. She still thinks of herself as a S Californian which I understand fully.

Taking her to her family yesterday required a few of the regular and not so regular stops. Tito's, Surfas and a new stop in Silver Lake; Intelligentsia Coffee. Little, very busy, coffee house in a transition area. The area can't make up it's mind whether to be hip or not but it's trying. Cute shops (she bought a fantastic leather shoulder bag) coffee bars and restaurants with whips and leather shops. Not completely gentrified--yet.

Since I don't have to cook a bird in the morning I whipped up a batch of Posole and am planning to head to the Christmas Tree lot for lunch but, shhhh, don't tell my sister, it's a surprise.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanks for the memories

Our dinner with my sister and bro-in-law might be the last until Christmas. They'll be busy at their assignment, hawking pine trees in Valencia. We did laugh at the stories they told about last years gig. Anytime you work with the public you will be challenged and selling Christmas trees is no different.

Our time together has been fun and we've laugh and ate and cooked together. Shared a sad time, the passing of their dear Buddy-cat, and had fun with friends. Our Thanksgiving was small but delightful last Sunday with big and lil bird and Doodles and Mr Doodles. How can something so simple as cooking a meal be filled with so many wonderful memories?

Doodle and I watched the princess for a few hours while her mom went to the beauty parlor. Just using that phrase dates me much older than I am but my grandmother used that term. She also called a women of less than adequate morals a "strumpet" so I have a useless albeit colorful antiquated vocabulary floating around in my brain.

Most times the princess is a tiny mass of near two-year-old energy but when she can "color" she sits quietly for a long time. We sat at the kitchen table with her while she, with her crayons, drew in her color books. What I did find interesting is she knew the difference between a ball and a circle. At this age you can almost see them learn and being with her reminds me so of my own sweet daughter.

The past few months have been good times to remember for a long while.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A sad passing

My sister's darling Buddy-cat has passed away. I'll let you read about him but he will leave a whole in their heart for sure. We loved you, Buddy.

Friday, November 13, 2009


After a larger dinner party last night with family, extended family, family of the extended family all the way from Canada, and friends; my hips are screaming this morning. Thanks to the help of my darling sister and all our pre-planning, it was a success.

What did we serve? A fantastic antipasti, pasta with artichoke tomato cream sauce, and sausages. Barb supplied a great bottle of wine from Arizona. Yes, Arizona. Coronado Vineyards 2004 Meritage. I'll let my wine-snob friend Tina comment on the wine but it was very tasty--dry and spicy--perfect for the sausage and garlicky pasta.

We had a double-long table and a darling friend summed it up. This is like a typical Italian meal. Big table, lots of food, people coming and going, and many conversations at the same time. Maybe the wine had something to do with it but we had a wonderful time. My hips will feel better tomorrow but I'll remember the fun we had much, much longer.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Time out

It isn't because I've been bad or I'm not well or my beloved isn't well, it's just because I need to be able to spend more time with my darling husband. I'm giving myself a bit of a time out. I truly love being a docent at the Getty Center but for the next six months I'll not be there every week. I'll work as a substitute probably once a month. I'm hoping 2010 will be the year of travel and exploration.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

We make fun

We attacked Los Angeles yesterday morning. Arriving at Union Station on the Metrolink we hit the ground running, literally; I had to find a rest room. The usually clean facility on the train had passed the "use by" date and a dash through the train station looking for another relief station wasn't of much help. Standing in line for a marginally clean stall I decided we'd catch a Dash Bus to our first stop and I'd turn off that section of my brain.

After a few false starts we found the correct bus and headed to Clifton's Cafeteria for a quick bite of breakfast and a bit of reminiscing. Sister Doodles had eaten there when she was enrolled in Beauty College a few blocks away but this was my first visit to this location. Both of us, as kids, often were taken to the Clifton's on Crenshaw. It was a Friday night ritual and we laughed and speculated that maybe the food wasn't as good as we thought. Our breakfast was just a snack to hold us for lunch and finally; whew, a clean restroom.

Back on the bus and over to the Garment District, an area selling fabrics, notions, and beads. Doodles was bitten by the necklace making bug after our own Lil Bird reintroduced us to this area. You see, our mom, Lorna had frequented these streets when she had a bridal shop. She made custom bridal/formal wear and since she didn't drive, I accompanied her downtown. We'd also drag the poor lil bird and when Doodles was in town, she'd come, too. These trips were always a treat and full of laughs and lunch.

It was like necklace making heaven and bought enough supplies to keep my sister busy all winter. She has a very good "eye" when it comes to colors and design so I bought some stones and handed them over to her. I'll get a necklace or two back. Nothing like custom made anything.

We were getting a bit hungry and had pretty much run through all our money so it was back on the Dash Bus to an ATM and then the Metro for a trip to Langer's Deli for lunch. I love the public transportation in Los Angeles. After the ATM it was down stairs to the Red Line and over one stop to 7th and Alverado. I did get a bit turned around in the Metro Center Station, we entered from a different area, but some nice gentlemen pointed us in the right direction and we were on our way.

Langer's was everything we wanted or needed. The #44 is a Hot Pastrami on rye with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing on the side. We shared this as they are huge sandwiches. The waitress gave us two pickles, what a doll. After this fantastic lunch, and a discussion about how to pronounce "Philippe's" with the table next to us, we were back on the train and headed for Little Tokyo.

Our trip to the Japanese section of LA was short. We were both running out of steam and felt heading back towards Union Station to be our best bet. Plus we'd been dragging bags of merchandise all this time. When purchased who knew how heavy twelve long-sleeved t-shirts would get. We HAD to stop at Olvera Street and, though we couldn't eat another bite, darling Doodles bought some sweets from a vendor; I enjoyed my Alfajor this morning with my coffee.

Union Station is a short five minute walk across the street from the Calle and we sat in the beautiful waiting area for a few minutes. We are both marveled by the architecture. On to the platform and the hour-long train ride home. Love the Metrolink for it's comfort and cleanliness and at 5:20 pm we pulled into Simi Station. A lovely day and we really laughed a lot. Can't ask for much more than that.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Like a big asprin for traffic woes

My beloved need some traffic info because he was making the big trek, to Culver City, and didn't want to be stuck in traffic, again. I found a few sites for up to the minute traffic problems but I liked this one the best. Sigalert

The site also has a button for "Routes." You can select your start and destination and it gives you a suggestion for alternate routes, how long it should take, and the number of miles. If I traveled the freeways a lot this would be the best reason for an IPhone. If you don't have such a device it's also good to check before you head out.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Baseball and meteors

After looking every night we gave up on seeing many meteors from the Orionids. Oh, we'd see one but that was it. Yawn, let's go back to sleep. Well, this morning, and a long way from Wednesday morning, we saw about ten--that was only in about an hour. It was at 4:30, one of our favorite times to get in the spa, and though it wasn't amazing it was better than we've ever seen them.

Like I said, a world full of ups and downs.
Dodgers; down
Angels; up
Meteor viewing; up

Seems like there are more ups this week.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Showers tonight

Grab your towel and run outside tonight for a cool fall shower. The Orionids meteor shower should be quite visible for the next few nights. Wednesday the 21s is the peak but we saw about three or four this morning.

Get somewhere dark and look towards the constellation Orion. Don't worry if Orion isn't visible when you are viewing just scan the whole sky. Most of the ones we saw this morning were higher in the sky.

What's the towel for? To lay on the ground and get a good view. You didn't expect to get naked and get moon dust on you, did you? Oh, glad I said something, then. Just have fun!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Life has ups and downs

After a fun time at the Pumpkin Patch, darling Mr and Mrs Doodles hosted a get together for all the small people; friends and family, we came home to watch the Dodgers explode all over Philadelphia. I'll just keep looking at these smiling faces rather than the box scores. Better for my psyche. Oh yeah, much better.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

As seen on a t-shirt

This reminds me of a co-worker that spent hours taking the wrinkles out of her employee photo; hours.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Oh Crap!

Well, that's what I said when walking on the treadmill I snagged my ear bud cord and flung my Ipod on the belt when I think proceeded to kick it off onto the floor. I wish I could say it was in slow motion but it happened in a heartbeat; literally. I slapped the STOP button, which I might just add doesn't really stop it quickly, and pickup the Ipod. It paused its self so I thought it was broken but no, I changed selections, it started and I went merrily on my way.

Thanks you Apple, for making something to withstand that trauma.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The dishwashing saga continues

Sears agreed to replace the dishwasher but, because my dishwasher model would cost about $400 more, I was expected to pick up the difference. This was not acceptable. I'd entered into a contract with them that basically states, I'll pay for your dishwasher and an extended warranty and you'll make sure my dishwasher or something of equal value will continue to work until that time period is up. No where does it say just because my dishwasher is four-year-old does it diminish the value to me. It's just that simple.

Armed with my original manual and the feeling I had right on my side I went back to the store where the salesman, a very helpful employee of Sear; one of the few I might add, found a model comparable to mine and called the Service Contract division and informed them this was the only model I needed and it was $400 over what they offered. They reevaluated my claim and before I knew it we had a schedule for the delivery of my new unit.

So what did we learn here? It was way to difficult to get this far and I'm sure there are people who just give up and don't complain. Don't give up if you think you are right and have the proof. The first store and sales person told me I'd have to pay the difference because the dishwasher was old. Four years is old? I'd expect it to last as long as the extended warranty. I went to a different store and someone who knew what they were selling.

What made me stay with Sears after all the problems? The fact that they did fix it, and it has a decent warranty period and I like the dishwasher I had for four years. Now, we just have to wait for Thursday and the deliver of the new dishwasher and hopefully, no problems. I'm hopeful but my beloved is a bit more skeptical. Good or bad, I'm sure I'll post about it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's their prize to give

In his will Alfred Nobel wrote:
… portion of the award to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.

The "most or the best work." After the last eight years I think they gave the Nobel Peace Prize because he wasn't George Bush and the subtext of the award, it goes to the American people for electing Obama. He reached out to the world to assure them he was different and hopefully brought some honor back to our country as a nation of the world. We, though some don't like it, are a part of this ever shrinking neighborhood.

To critics: have you all forgotten what Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld accomplished? They were damn lucky no one tried them as war criminals.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Happy Anniversary, to me

This is an anniversary I share with no one. My baby blog is four years old today. Four years. Which means it is four years since I moved back from Bakersfield and four years since we remodeled the house. We're almost finished but more on that later.

How I discovered blogging is tied to the horrible Katrina events of 2005. While surfing the 'net to find out just how those poor souls were doing I ran into, a new-to-me, bit of information; a blog. There was a small business in downtown New Orleans and they owners/employees were lucky to be on floors about the flooding but unlucky to be trapped. As I remember, they were all young adults and the business had something to do with electronics. At first, the posts were sporadic due to the lack of power but as I read each gripping update I felt I was there with them. They talked candidly of their fears and the best part, they were showing photos from their offices on the top floor of the events at street level. Amazing. Just normal folk getting the word out.

Coming back to my home after being away for two years and starting two new things, the remodel and retirement were important to me. I need to keep a diary and what better way, a blog. I also found I could "vent" a bit about other important things going on. It was the Bush Years and there was much to vent about. I didn't do much to market my blog because I really don't care who reads it or if it's ever read. It's the writing of it that make be turn on the computer in the morning and sometimes not turn it off until late at night.

My daughter had been blogging for a few months so I was happy to join up. It wasn't long before we had my sister up and running. They were planning to become Gypsies and blogging would be a great way to keep track of their coming and going. It wasn't until March '06 that we came up with Peanut Butter Etouffeé, the food blog. The food blog has become our bastard child and doesn't get the attention it once did or deserves. We all seem to cook less but I still enjoy writing for it from time to time.

It gives me much joy to blog and if someone else reads it and is pleased, well then that's good too. It did give me a chance to meet a distant relative. This year I've been writing down some family tales, Kitchen Stories, and more specific to me, Growing Up. Out of the blue I received a comment and e-mail from a branch of the family tree. He had most of the genealogy done but wanted to add the "extras" to the family history. I was quite pleased that these stories might get passed down a few more generations.

Thanks to anyone who's wandered in and maybe enjoyed a post or two. My tracking software says I have a few visitors that stay and read more than one page. And a big thanks to anyone who comments, bad or good, I accept all forms of communications. Finally, if you like to write think of starting a blog yourself. I did talk a friend into blogging and she kept a journal of her travels last this year. It's fun to go back and see what you were thinking or doing.

Looking back to October of 2005, here are a few of my favorite posts.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Sears: The only lemon I don't want

My bout with the flu was thankfully short and though I never felt horrible, just crummy, I am feeling better today. Just in time for my semi-annual visit from the Sears repair man to fix my dishwasher, yet again and my ongoing battle to have them replace this lemon.

My dishwasher is not new as in, "this is the first month I've had it" but it's not old, as in, "sorry they haven't made parts for this since Nixon administration". The dishwasher came to us on the tidal wave of our 2005 Remodel, or as I like to call it, "It's gonna cost how much?"

When you are replacing all of the three majors in the kitchen it's easier to go to one store and purchase them and since Sears had the refrigerator I wanted they were the lucky recipient of my business. I also paid extra for the extended warranty for all three and glad I did because just a short year after we finished the GE refrigerator crapped out to the tune of 900 bucks. Not actually a tune more like a friggin' opera. This, you might ask; but sorry after you do, is the lemon I'm referring to? Oh no, I have a much larger problem with the dishwasher.

It started last year with a broken door hinge. Scenario: Call to Sears, they apologize for the inconvenience and send their best to fix it. Wait for the repair man; if lucky you get a four-hour window. He orders the part and reschedules an appointment to fix it. The part comes in the mail, the repair man fixes it and we are once again, in business. Until a month later when something else happens.

Return to Scenario, and do it three more times. It has cost Sears over 900 bucks in parts and labor. Not me because I got the extended warranty but someone had to pay it. Granted, they would charge me more than what it actually cost them, hey, someone has got to make some money here. It has cost me time and aggravation. It has given the repair guys a job, wait that isn't so bad but it has made me lose hope in Sears.

After arguing with "customer service" for near an hour they agreed to have the tech evaluate the dishwasher to see if it qualifies as a lemon and give me a new one. Jeeeze, I'm not sure I want another Sears product but what I finally told them is "… just saying your sorry about my inconvenience is NOT customer service; doing something is."

Ah, and the warranty? It doesn't expire until October 2010. Imagine how much more money I could rack up in another year.

Update after the lying MAMF repair moron was here:

The tech was supposed to evaluate the problem and call his main office. I gave him my case number and the name and phone number of the customer service person on the case. I stepped out of the room to answer the phone and when I returned he said, "They said to order the part and fix it." Can't get much plainer than that. I was not happy and when he left called the number myself and he had never called them. After 30 minutes of going over my problems, why ever do they give you a case number, the rep said he would forward this on to the committee to decided if I have a lemon and it should be replaced and, hey, gave me a new case number. Sure.

So while they decide I'm looking a very lovely looking dishwasher that doesn't work and causes me aggravation. Sears will sell you the extended warranty but just give you so much grief it makes you want to NOT SHOP AT SEARS EVER AGAIN!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

When life gives you lemons

My lemon tree is feeling the brunt of the drought. With water restrictions we are not watering as much and our darling lemon tree is going dormant. It never goes dormant so I'm hoping that is what it has decided to do and not the alternative; dying and I just can't think of that right now. It's a good old tree and in '07 it had some problems but came back to us after a severe trimming so I hope it will be resurrected, yet again.

This solid old tree has given us lemons year round for the thirty-six years we've lived here. The track, built in 1965, could very well have been built on an existing lemon grove. The parcel of land east of us, now a large apartment complex and huge grocery chain store, once had citrus groves. When we moved here developers were in the process of removing the trees to build these two project. So much of the valley was walnuts or citrus so this tree could be much older than the track itself.

Life without this dear old friend would be sad indeed for it's supplied many memories. Every year we make lemonade for 4th of July and, in it's hay day, supplied neighbors and friends with bags full of lemons. Our spring brings the most blossoms and on a warm day the scent from the tree can be almost overpowering but comforting in a way. Spring has a way of doing that, reminding us everything will continue on it's cycle again. I hope the old lemon tree has not forgotten that promise and next spring will bring forth the bounty of years past.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mi Doyers: poor Joe

The Dodgers acquired John Garland in a trade with the Diamondbacks for "a player to be named later." For a while I hoped that player would be John Garland but he actually pitched a decent game in Pittsburgh last night. Now if only the other players could have helped. Two errors led to three unearned runs and a loss.

The Pirates record: seventeen consecutive losing seasons and the Dodgers can't beat them? Poor Joe, he just shakes his head. He must sleep with a bottle of Maalox. Not only are his players being dumb during the game one of his star pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, is out with a shoulder separation. And, how did he injure himself? Ran into a fence at practice. He's a pitcher for god's sake. What's he doing running around in the outfield?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nothing better to do than annoy the cats

Some bizarre pong game. Even has sound effects.

Friday, September 18, 2009


If your baggy-half-masted jeans are riding so far below your BVDs that we can see skid-marks-- you are no longer making a fashion statement but a statement on your hygiene. Dude?!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How many fingers?

Let me confess. I'm not proud of the fact that I've driven while under the influence but I did. It was a very long time ago when I was young and feeling invincible. WRONG. But I was lucky and nothing bad happened. Lucky. Now me, or my beloved, would not think of slipping behind the wheel while impaired; most of our friends, same thing. Good for us but what about other people? This young Dr., with a promising career, kills a young girl with an equally promising career; what a waste. Drunk Dr. kills young ballerina.

This is all relevant after being at the Greek Theater to a concert last week. Great to see Dave Matthews Band again thanks to my generous darling daughter. Now, I have no problem with people having fun and if that includes drinking or getting high, don't care. You don't bother me and listening to DMB in concert includes whatever you imbibe, I'm OK with that. But what would possess you to get behind the wheel of your car and drive away?

Anyone who's attended the Greek knows the "stacked" parking sucks, but they eventually do get you out. So while waiting for cars to move in the gridlock that is so, Greek, we saw a number of people having no business getting behind the wheel of their cars. It would be safe to say if you can't maneuver over a small two-and-half-foot picket fence; give up the keys to someone who can. If you have to shake your head to focus; get in the damn backseat and sleep it off. If your friend says, how many fingers and you think he's an alien with more than five; dude, you're drunk.

If LA were smart, they'd have a cattle pen with cots and coffee and offer that to concert goers. Five buck, sleep it off and avoid a ticket or the horror of a lifetime of guilt for killing another DMB fan. The exit should be a two-and-half-foot picket fence. Can't get over? More coffee.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Health care; it really is up to you

Tell your member of Congress to get off their butt and support the President. They did it for Bush when they allocated billions (I still shake my head at that) to fund an immoral war in Iraq. Let's doing something for our kids and assure they will have health insurance in the future. We owe it to them for letting Bush ruin this country.

Sign the letter!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wait a minute …

… wasn't she just a baby? What happened?

Friday, September 11, 2009

A different Day of Rememberance

Today brings back some very strong memories for many folks and I'm no different. September 11, 2001-- I would normally make that date a link but it might be insulting to anyone alive 8 years ago. If you do not know what happened on that date then good for you because the common consciousness will never let us forget.

This post's purpose is to remember what happened on September 12, 2008. Remembering some anniversaries are not happy; but necessary. It has been a year since the train wreck and to be honest, I don't really want to remember. Remembering gives me a the hollow feeling I felt after the crash. I wasn't even on the Metrolink 111 when it crashed though many Friday afternoons I had been. Fifteen minutes longer in court kept me alive and with my family; fifteen minutes earlier would have had me on that train.

My heart aches for the survivors and relatives of the dead because of what they went through, and more than likely what they still experience, was far worse than I can imagine. Living in Simi Valley you can hear the train whistle as it cuts through the heart of the valley going east. The freight that crashed into the Metrolink comes through about 4:15 and thankfully I notice it less these days. To some it's a constant reminder of what happened last year.

My wish is for peace to find these survivors and relatives and for other to remember, albeit a struggle sometimes, how precious is our time together.


My sister is a passionate person and her blog sums up this situation so I won't do anything other than post a link to it.

Mind if I'm a bit appalled?

If she calls you a dope, she's pretty spot-on and she's feisty, too; you'd love her.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Get your fact of the day

Until someone proves them wrong, I love Factcheck.org.

This little factoid caught my eye. This fact is for the last 20 years and they say nothing of what the enrollment difference is from last year but this is an encouraging fact that there has been an increase.

There are an estimated 19 million students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities this fall. That’s a 41 percent increase from 20 years ago.

Source: Census Bureau

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Help me out

Please, I'm begging you, someone tell me why you would NOT want the President of these United States to speak to your child? A bright person who was not handed his education, nor did he waste it, giving an articulate account of his experiences and how important it is to stay in school; this is not good enough for your children? This is not a good enough role model for them?

Please do explain because my senses have been numbed by the last administration and their eight years of folly.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Almost all alone on your birthday

What the heck happened to Admission Day in California? September 9th was always a holiday when I was a kid but it's sort of disappeared from the state radar. The state offices will be closed for Labor Day but open for Admission Day. This has become a non-holiday relegated to a small celebration on the capital steps with a few songs and some ice-cream and cake. No whoopla, not even an Admission Day sale; we have sales for every holiday.

How would you feel if no one remembered your birthday? So here sits a 159 year-old in the corner of the nursing home–on life support–wearing a party hat and no big party. "Boy, says the state, I hope I live to be 160, maybe then they'll do something for the old girl."

Jeeze, I hope she lives another year, too, don't you?

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Since I'm always back-assward most of my life it would make sense that I don't have Seasonal Affective Disorder in the winter like the normal folks. I have it during heat waves. Not sleeping well, cranky, not inspired to do much, it's been hell since the temperature has hit triple digits. Compound the heat with the smoke in the air and you'll notice there are claw marks on our walls.

We have air-conditioning so it's not that personally I'm hot but it's the fact we have the house closed up tight for more than 24 hours. Sure, when it's hot here during the day night times are likely to be wonderfully cool and after sunset we can open the doors and windows and let the westerly breeze in. When my gut starts grinding it's when the drapes are drawn, the windows and doors tightly shut and, if I do venture outside, I move from an air-condition car to a fortress against the heat. Yesterday, when the thermometer hit 107 standing by a glass window you could feel the heat radiate off.

And then, there's the air-conditioning unit itself. I'm not a fan of white noise so the constant hum of the unit only adds to my discomfort. I vote for warmer temps in the house if it means the AC runs less; I'm usually outvoted.

Other sufferers of this malady might wonder how do I cope. Probably the way SAD folks deal with winters. I sleep, and eat, and watch TV until I can fall asleep, again. Can't wait for winter and it better come quickly before I eat any more and can't get through the door.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Half a life ago when comfort was my enemy

Facebook allows me to play Scrabble with my sister, 1500 miles away, and my daughter, 40 miles, and for this one reason I accept this silly little social networking program. My life did not need social networking. I'm already busy with this blog and our food blog, Peanut Butter ´Etouffee, that is when I post. I give myself no deadlines because I lived by them for so many years. UGH. That's the sound they make, deadline, when they fall on your desk.

What I did find interesting is that "Six Degrees of Separation" thing. I accepted, as a friend, a past co-worker and on her list of friends was the brother of Tony, the best man at my wedding and life long friend of my husband. Then, I found on another co-worker's friend list a man I'd lost touch with, my photography teacher and, I have to say, one of the most influential people in my career, John Gray. Without John I would not have known the joys of photography or never made the career jump to computer graphics and web design. In 2005 I retired from a career I would have never had without his coaching.

John has created a site for John Gray's Photography Classes at Moorpark College to "Share ideas about Photography, Ask Questions, Find out what is happening at Moorpark College." This was a giant leap back in time for me; giant. When I stopped to figure out just when I was there I realized it was half my lifetime ago; thirty years.

At that time I was trying to work and go to school and be a mom so I usually took evening classes and it wasn't until the early 80s, when I quit work for a while, did I get a chance to take one of John's classes. I was hooked and should be honest enough to say I quit so I could take his class. There, now that little secret is out, I feel better.

John always let you go in your own direction; explore your art but reminded you when you became to comfortable in what you were doing. He never preached he taught by example and the critiques in his class by fellow students were the most beneficial lessons learned.

One of the best classes I ever attended was not in the classroom but in a Moorpark College van. Every week we'd go to a different destination to explore all types of photography, or art, and a bit of the local dinning. Exposure became not only light to film but different ways of thinking to eager minds. Most fun were impromptu lessons on depth of field or exposure where ever we happened to be. I cherish the photos I took that year.

Moorpark College drifted in and out of my life but a pivotal moment came when I visited John's classroom while I was taking a process camera class. He dragged me to a his tiny little Macintosh computer to show me I could do the same things I was doing with the process camera but quicker and without a darkroom. I quit that class and signed up for his Intro to Macintosh class and never looked back. Well, except to reminisce about what a great opportunity I had taking John's class.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Too much time on my hands

There a far more important things I need to do.
I have a problem just watching TV.
The Dodgers are on every night.

This is a result of two of the three previous statements. Often I'll read and watch TV unless there are subtitles or the show is interesting to me; PBS's History Detectives is my summer fav. It seems if my brain isn't busy my hands need.

After Lil Bird went on her Sheepherding vacation I found myself reintroduced to some woolie crafts, at one time I did some weaving but that was long ago and I was looking for something creative to do. Needle Felting had been on my "must try" list for a while and found the needles and a book while on vacation.

Briefly, you take roving, unspun wool, and form it into a desired shape, then stab the hell out of it with a special barbed needle about a million times. The barbs racing in and out of the wool causes the fibers to grab hold of each other and hold on for dear life resulting in a denser fabric; felt. It's a pretty mindless repetitive motion; just what I needed. I'm for anything that keeps my hands out of the candy jar so I punched up this little bowl. It might even get better looking by giving it a wash in hot water, can't tell.

My next project is little animals made of wool, maybe people.

Editors note: That last sentence reads odd, doesn't it? Am I going to make animals out of people? That's a chilling thought. Let's have another go at this.

My next project is animals sculpted in wool and I might even try to create some human faces in the fiber, as well.

Whew, glad that got changed.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Another Reagan legacy

When riding public transportation there should be a caveat; try not to travel on really hot days and avoid full moons like the plague. On my trip to the Getty last week I broke both those rules.

Let me remind my readers, new and old, I love riding public transportation. My experiences on LA's train and bus system are, for the most part, easy and rewarding. I've sufficiently moved on from the train wreck to be able to travel again on all systems though the anniversary of the crash is looming. I'll deal with that at a later date.

One observation is so blatant on the bus. Most of the riders either can't afford a car or for some reason are physically/mentally unable to obtain or keep a driver's license. I don't have a problem with that because I truly don't want to eliminate the poor, disabled or chronically unwashed. I want to add more people that own cars and decide it is more efficient to ride a natural gas bus to work/shop or whatever gets them on the street. Everyone knows the traffic in LA is a nightmare. But does everyone know we have a very efficient bus system?

Unfortunately what keeps people from trying the systems are the wackos that ride the bus. Yes, I'm ashamed to call them wackos but everyone riding the bus has a similar story. And, yes, I know they are not going to go away, nor should they. They are part of the Public in public transportation. If we only had a few more semi-normal people to ride it would balance everything.

Take my last ride. Everything was pretty tame until the lady with four stuffed teddy bears got on. She rode quietly until, imagine this, someone started talking loudly on a cell phone. This sent the bear lady over the edge and with fingers stuck in both ears, started ranting and raving. It wasn't until she screamed, "You can't take my baby!" that I noticed all four of the stuffed bears were wearing baby clothes and realized this poor woman needed much more care than the State of California is able to give.

Thank you Ronald Reagan. In the 1980 his policy toward the treatment of mental illness failed to address the issue: the mentally ill. I know it's easy to blame him for the past but what scares me is to think of what will happen with the current budget cuts coming from Sacramento. What legacy will that create?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Now, I've seen everything

Signs of the Apocalypse: Plague, pestilence, wars, me buying a PC. Readers that know me would agree this is a disturbing sign.

It's not that I've never used a PC, there is one in my husbands office and when I was employed I used both a Mac and a PC; I can see some benefits of both. And it's not like I'll be using it for anything serious, just surfing the web when we are camping. A bit of bill paying, blog posting, or e-mailing–nothing serious at all–just a need for a laptop.

Why did I pick a PC over a Mac Laptop? Honestly, it's the price. For the very few times I'll need it I couldn't justify a Mac. That and the fact the Mac Tablet won't be out until next year sometime. What is the Tablet? It will be larger than an Ipod Touch and smaller than a laptop and I'm sure more expensive than both combined but when it does come out I'll have to investigate, sell some blood and buy one. I'm a sucker for Macs you see, been one for ages.

Here's hoping the Mac Tablet comes out next year and not 2012 since that is the expected year of the Apocalypse. I'd sure like to enjoy it before Armageddon.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Is nothing sacred?

There is honestly a product called Anti-Monkey Butt. With this guy on the bottle do I have to say more?

This product was featured at the check-out of a hardware store in Solvang and I can't say why, maybe the picture, it brought me to my knees with laughter. I so wanted my friend to purchase some but he refused but it's still funny. Side splitting, pants wetting, cry your mascara off funny.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

True confessions

I met him in parking lot of the Post Office of all places. He stole my heart with his sexy body. He was black with yellow stripes. I felt like a school girl and when I learned he was electric; I fell head over heels in love.

When I saw him I thought I recognized him only when he told me his name did I know for sure."It's Cooper, M. Cooper." Knowing how my husband would feel I went directly home and told him; I'm not ashamed of my new love. Devastated to learn we couldn't be together I begged for him to reconsider but I was informed he might have time for me in 2012 but no sooner.

My unrequited love will have to wait until then I'll dream of time we can be united and silently slip away.

Monday, August 03, 2009

One soul; stolen

He hates when I take his picture; he always said it steals his soul. What the hell would I do with his soul?

There wasn't a recent photo of my beloved so, with camera on the table I tilted it up a bit and snapped this without his knowing.

This pretty much sums up his existence. He's wearing a t-shirt and a baseball cap. The t-shirt is more than likely car related and the cap was probably given to him. It's summer so he's wearing shorts and tennis shoes; no socks. His arms are scared from hard work as is his back but you rarely hear him complain.

I've gotten to know his moods, both high and low, and love him in spite of the low ones. He takes very good care of me and I think I've been good for him. If I'm cranky, he knows what to say; if he is I know to leave him alone. Though the road to this place has not been easy; both of us can be stubborn beyond belief-we are good for each other.

This is the man I've known and loved for 40 years. The father of our one and only daughter and all around good guy and he'll never know I took this photo. He doesn't bother with the 'net and maybe that is a good thing.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The tasty grape

You can't write about our vacation and not mention a little wine tasting. The central coast of California in the past decade had turned from rolling hills of cattle grazing to vineyards.

We found Roblar Winery in the Santa Ynez valley when we went looking for an establishment listed in the travel book that featured olives. Don't trust those Chamber of Commerce books they send you, this one was more wrong than right.

Frustrated with the address given we pulled into the parking lot of a beautiful building that looked like a very large restaurant. No signage. None. But once inside we realized we'd found a tasting room/restaurant and completely ignoring the fact it wasn't even noon, approached the bar. This was the first of many.

The wine was very tasty and after the seven servings we were on our way. The Syrah was, in my uneducated opinion, the best but at 48 bucks a bottle not on my shopping list. Onward.

A few more stops, one for a light lunch which I did not partake and this is a key part to the afternoon for me, and then to Fess Parker Winery. Whoo doggies, everyone remembers Fess Parker, right? Well, for some of you youngins, here's what we were doing in the early 50s. Watching Davy, Davy Crocket, king of the wild frontier.

After that, it was all a blur, a few more wineries, some good others crap then, at the last, I realized how the word "tipsy" got associated with inebriation. First, let me state I was not drunk but tipsy, yes. I bent over to pick up something and just keep going. My inner ear was screaming at me to – balance, get your balance, girl – but my brain said, hey man, just go with the flow. So I flowed down to my knees. Glad I was alone.

All in all it was a wonderful day and by the time we got back to our camp, I was fine. I was surprised at how much wine I'd bought but fine.

Friday, July 31, 2009

On a mission

La Purisima Mission, just one in a chain stretching the length of the state, is a wonderful stop while heading to Lompoc. We put it on our list of "Things to do" while vacationing in Central California.

Because it is far from any city the mission complex has the space to show the vastness of outposts settled by the church in the 18th century. This large tract of land is used to illustrate the hardships of creating a settlement so far from Spain and whether you agree with their intrusion on the native population or not, it is interesting to see how they lived.

The local Indians did not fare well under the Mission rule, many died, their culture stripped from them in the name of civilization, and many conscripted into the army. Oh, and let's not forget their baptisms into Mother Church.

In 1834, when the Missions were ordered to secularize, the native population, once again, got the worst of the bargain. The promised land they'd farmed was eventually taken away and the Padres left Purisima to populate another Mission in Santa Ynez leaving the Chumash Indiangs to fend for themselves.

Walking through the buildings you get a sense of the pride once there but also the sadness of the treatment of the native peoples. Working so hard to be treated with respect that never came. My fourth-grade history never talked of this aspect of the California Missions but then that was in the late 50s. I wonder what they tell the kids now?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bees as far as the eye can see

It's only natural to find bees in a field of lavender but this was amazing. I've heard that with global warming there were less honey bees. You'd have never thought that by seeing this beautiful field. This is Andre's Lavender and they sold a variety of products as well as plants. Since I'd scalded my hand a few days earlier I bought a small bottle of oil. This oil is said to have medicinal properties and I can't say it helped but the aroma is great; and that's enough for me.

This is the second field we stopped to visit. The first was Clairmont Lavender Farm owned by a curmudgeon who, when asked about the tour touted in the vacationers handbook, told us we could walk through any of the fields if we liked. What a jerk.

If it weren't for the bees I'd have laid right down in this field it was that beautiful.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More little cuties.

The one horse wasn't happy until everyone was up.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Too late!

Vacation was filled with chuckles, this is just a sample. We did laugh a lot but eventually got around to a snap or two. I'll be posting them this week once I concur Dirty Laundry Mountain.

The horses referred to in the sign were miniature horses at the Quicksilver Ranch. Click on the link to see what they are all about but I'm warning you, it's a real schmaltzy website. The designer should be hung by their thumbs for that one.

The ranch is free to visit and if you're in the Santa Ynez Valley in Central California do stop by. These tiny horses are so cute and the babies even tinier.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Facebook is worthy; imagine that

Facebook has it's advantages though I've not yet decided it's worth all that much to me. It did let me get back in contact with someone I'd not spoken with in ages, John Gray. John was my first photography teacher and an inspiration to me my whole adult life. Everyone should have a "John Gray" in their lives. I would never have explored the wonder that is the computer graphics or stepped outside of my comfort zone to try new things. So I thank Facebook for allowing me to listen to John once more.

John would always propose questions to make his students think and now with Facebook he can reach a larger audience. Here is just one of the current questions. I'm posing this to you, the photographer or anyone else that would care to answer. Answer here and I'll send them on to John.

"Recently I asked my classes to write a paragraph or two answering the following question: How do you think the world would be different if photography were never invented? You can post them on Facebook or you can send them to my email account. If you are in touch with any photographers please pass the question on."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Time seems to fly faster than a Saturn-five rocket

A few years ago I had this post, Moon dust gets in your eyes. We are now celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Moon Walk as well as 4o years with my darling companion. Forty years ago Apollo 11 on a Saturn V rocket headed toward an eventual landing on the moon and I've been in love ever since.

Since my sister and her beloved also had their first date then as well, I'm wishing them a happy 40th year, too.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A royal visit

The Princess came to visit last night. She brought her royal entourage and was very pleased with her new ball and bubbles. Most of dinner was to her liking except for the carrots. We look forward to seeing her visit us again.

Lightening strikes

Some lucky bastard/bastardettet has won the California Lottery but that's not news. Someone is always winning the California Lottery; it's just not me. It's just never in my neighborhood, either. Ah, but Wednesday night some lucky schmo did indeed win and the ticket was bought blocks from my house. There was ten mil walking distance from my purse and I bought mine across the street.

At first I was pissed. Oh great lightening doesn't strike twice-- now I've got to go to another town to buy my tickets. Then it realized how great is to win ten million. Good for them. I hope they need it, who couldn't use ten mil right now, or I hope their family or friends or neighbors could use it and they will be generous enough to do something fun, like throw a big party.

So now I've got to change my lottery ticket buying policy, now I can't buy a ticket here anymore. Vacation is coming up and I'll buy a ticket when I get out of town. I might even buy a few tickets along the way. We could stop every twenty miles and buy a ticket or two. Or find a town where no one has won. I wonder if there's a list?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Warn the townspeople

Oh Crap! Sarah Palin is coming to Simi Valley to speak at the Reagan Library. August 8. I must find something else to do that week for the town will be atwitter. I mean honestly, all the Republicans will be Twittering their heads off.

Monday, July 13, 2009

This, is life

There is a blog I read regularly, The Pioneer Woman. She's funny, witty, and has a bunch of kids, dogs, horses, and family. Mix that all together with the fact she's a dynamite cook and a fantastic photographer who lives on a cattle ranch and you've got a great read. I keep a link to her on the right side of this blog under Foodie Friends so visit her from time to time for a laugh or a tear or a damn good recipe. If you are into homeschooling she's got that covered as well.

PW often photographs her dogs and this snap makes me smile. I keep going back to these photos and what I realized is this is an analogy for life. Sometimes it grips you right by the throat but if you relax it will stop. It might even give you a slobbery kiss.

Editors note: No dogs were harmed in the shooting of these photos. PW wouldn't hurt a flea. Well, maybe a flea but never another dog. That's one of her attributes I admire.

Friday, July 10, 2009

It's not what's for supper

I've never had a problem eating animals. Killing them, that might be more difficult but if I were hungry I'm sure I'd have no problem. I never had a problem until now. Lil bird is off at Sheep Camp and these two precious animals were born while she was there. She also has adorable pix of her holding one shortly after it was born all dewy eyed and nuzzley.

Look at them, all sproingy with their new little lambie legs and sweet little lambie eyes. Well at the market this morning, as a picked up some lamb chops, those sweet little lambie eyes were staring back at me. Damn. I love lamb, in all chops and cuts but those precious little wet noses and darling sproingy legs wouldn't let me put those tasty lamb chops in my basket.

Now one of lil bird's fortes is a scrumptious rack of lamb and I wonder how this experience will effect her. That lamb she fixes is wonderful. Damn, I say, damn.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Life is good but going to get better

As a working person looking at a retired person a vacation doesn't make any sense. But I am looking forward to getting away and relaxing. At home I have no excuse for being lazy but on vacation I can sleep late, eat someone else's food, and drink wine.

The past two weeks have been challenging but being evacuated from the Getty Center yesterday was the last straw. My beloved Wednesday afternoons canceled. I do so look forward to spending my time there and it was snatched away before we even got started. Not one visitor did I assist in finding the restroom nor delight with my humor about the coffee cart. No special information such as the number of goats that eat the brush on the hillsides. Which brings up a good point, did those goats do their jobs this year? One does wonder with the ferocity of the fire racing up the canyon yesterday.

So I missed one day, there will be more, and now we know how efficient the GC is at getting 2500 people off the hill. Good job.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Lil bird goes to camp

Our darling daughter is going to camp; Sheep Camp on Martha's Vineyard to be exact. You can follow her adventures on her blog, Maltese Parakeet. There will be a request for a Twitter password but if you don't have one, just cancel and you can read her blog updates. Her first update was from the airplane at 30,000 feet.

The backstory for this trip; she loves to knit and is quite accomplished, so when see saw the blog Fiber Farm she jumped at a chance to visit and learn how to get yarn from the sheep to the needles.

Some people were very suprised when they heard how she was spending her vacation but not her mother and father. She has always been the type of person who, when sees something she wants, goes out and accomplishes it. Love her spirit. Good luck lil bird.

Friday, July 03, 2009

A funny for the 4th

Because I'm not a fan of the e-mail passed on from friend to friend my good friends rarely send them to me but after the week I've had this one was appreciated.

Briefly, my week: First was the leak and now our Honda Hybrid, six years of age, has decided it would like some new batteries. Not those everyday, lets buy them at Pep Boy's batteries, but the fancy designer type. You know the type, the ones costing us three grand. Yes, three large will just about cover it. I'm wondering how much you can get for a kidney.

So, here is a funny for the 4th. I do need to predicate this with a warning. Do not be drinking, sipping or even thinking of doing the aforementioned while reading this. Honest.


Some of you may have already been warned of this …

You've heard about people who have been abducted and had their kidneys removed by black-market organ thieves.

My thighs were stolen from me during the night a few years ago. I went to sleep and woke up with someone else's thighs. It was just that quick. The replacements had the texture of cooked oatmeal. Whose thighs were these and what happened to mine?

I spent the entire summer looking for my thighs.

Finally, hurt and angry, I resigned myself to living out my life in jeans. And then the thieves struck again.

My bum was next. I knew it was the same gang, because they took pains to match my new rear-end to the thighs they had stuck me with earlier.

But my new bum was attached at least three inches lower than my original! I realized I'd have to give up my jeans in favour of long skirts.

Two years ago I realized my arms had been switched ...

One morning I was drying my hair and was horrified to see the flesh of my upper arm swing to and fro with the motion of the hairbrush. This was really getting scary - my body was being replaced one section at a time.

What could they do to me next?

When my poor neck suddenly disappeared and was replaced with a turkey neck, I decided to tell my story. Women of the world wake up and smell the coffee! Those 'plastic ' surgeons are using REAL replacement body parts -stolen from you and me! The next time someone you know has something 'lifted', look again - was it lifted from you?

THIS IS NOT A HOAX. This is happening to women everywhere every night.


P.S. Last year I thought some one had stolen my Boobs. I was lying in bed and they were gone! But when I jumped out of bed, I was relieved to see that they had just been hiding in my armpits as I slept.. Now I keep them hidden in my waistband.

Thought this was too 'important' not to pass on... Have a wonderful day - with a joy filled heart.

P.P..S. - These same thieves came into my closet and shrank my clothes! How do they do it????

Just thought you should know.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

My jackass ears payed off

For the past two days we've known we had a water leak in the wall between the living room and front bath room. Soggy carpet drew our attention to the problem but replacing the toilet seal didn't fix it at all. After tearing up the carpet in the living room we saw it was a very slow but constant leak. This morning, when all was quiet, I listened to the wall and I heard what I thought was a hissing noise. My beloved measured the area of the sound and climbed into the attic about the bathroom. When he came down he knew the next step was to remove some drywall. Behind the toilet was the logical place and after exposing the water line in the area I'd heard the hiss he shined a light into the abyss.

It took a minute of peering in to find an almost imperceptible pin-prick of a leak in the copper pipe. The water was spraying against the wall stud, then dripping down to run out into the living room.

Now the oddest thing about the leak, there was nothing touching the pipe or had touched it nor was it bent or crimped. The house is over 40 years-old but copper isn't supposed to corrode.

Now, my darling is putting on his plumber pants and fixing this problem. And, no one should complain about my "jackass ears" again.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Momma, ok you can take my Kodachrome now.

Kodak announces the end of Kodachrome. Reading that article had me searching my archives to find an unused roll of Kodachrome. No luck but I did take a bit of a trip down memory lane. Pictures of our lil bird when she was actually a little bird. Family long gone. Family and friends, including myself, no longer young. Ah photography, thanks Louis Daguerre, and while I'm at it, thanks George Eastman. "They give us those nice bright colors. They give us the greens of summers. Makes you think all the world's a sunny day," Paul Simon sang.

Now, the replacement: digital. Not as sensual as developing your own film. Long hours in the dark room replaced with snap out the disc, stick it the computer, open a file, choose print. Amazing for someone like me because I can look at a black and white I labored over in the dark room remembering each exposure I tried, each area I dodged or burned. There was something magical about controlling the light in the dark and it was a feeling I don't get from Photoshop.

Digital is what we have, what I use and actually what I'm happy with but, I do long for a darkroom session, again. Anyone out there feel the same?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Buddy: The poor little doggy

He might have had a reaction to the non-itch meds he's been taking so they gave him Valium, put him on IVs for a while, and now he's home. He's asleep and not puking or shaking so there was an immediate improvement. We'll see how he's doing tomorrow. I thought he was a goner.

Accepting good wishes and cookies

When our thirteen-year-old wire haired terrorist walked away from his usual piece of toast this morning I told my beloved there was something wrong.

He's been seeing the Vet for a "chewing" problem and the meds seemed to have slowed it down but he's not his usual self. I goog'ed (this is my new word for research on Google) his meds and one of the side effects is lethargy but I'll give the Vet a call today because walking away from a handout is something he'd never do if he felt good.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Two and a half months

I had a visit from the lil guy and his mom on Tuesday. This time he was wide awake and ready to smile. What a cutie he is. He's 14 pounds and 24 inches long and he won't be three months until July 3rd. We won't be able to call him lil guy much longer.

Friday, June 19, 2009

When parents die

So many times when adversity visits a friend I can't say, yes I know what you are going through because I don't. I don't have Cancer. I've not lost my job. My child is alive. I can only be a witness to the pain and hold a hand or lend an ear. I guess you could call me lucky in that respect. Sure, I've had adversities but none so powerful as the loss of your mother and this is the journey a good friend is experiencing right now.

Both my parents lived to an age where you wouldn't say they died young but any age is difficult to lose your parents. The title daughter isn't something you earn it is bestowed on you by your parents and, eventually, it is them that takes it away.

Death steals from the living and hopefully, gives peace to the dying. So to all my dear friends who've lost that title I wish peace as well.

Di, Ingrid, Sandi, my darling sister, and now Kathleen your memory will never replace their presence but it will soothe your heart.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Right in the middle of the stinkin' valley

On Monday I was feeling rather tense. Honestly, I was in a hateful mood. I hated my representatives in Sacramento and wrote them.* I hated the idiots in Thugville for rioting after a stupid basketball game. I hated the city of Los Angeles for wanting to spend way too much money on the parade to honor the Lakers and wrote the mayor. I hated Iran but didn't know who to write. About the time I was ready to hate the whole world my beloved walked into my office, sat down and said let's go somewhere. Quickly I Googled, "What to do in San Fernando Valley" and came up with a few gardens to visit. We chose The Japanese Garden at the Tillman Water Reclamation plant in Van Nuys.

Skip this part if you don't care what happens to your poop.
Don't know what goes on at a water reclamation plant? Neither did I but check the link to find out. It's quite interesting. Let me give the highlights. You flush your toilet or run your garbage disposal and all this stuff goes to the sewer. Eventually it makes to 6100 Woodley Ave, Van Nuys, CA. There it goes into a series of holding tanks where it is screened and sifted and aerated and then some stuff heads off to another plant, the sludge, and the water is cleaned so it can be used to water golf courses and landscaping. This water is not for drinking though they say it would be safe but some of the water is used in the Japanese Garden.

All of this is done in large open tanks and yes, it smells like crap, because that is what most of it is. They have life preservers hanging on the fence around the open tanks but honestly, would you want to live after falling in? Lets move away from here and go to the garden.

We parked in the lot, payed our senior price of $2, and walked to the entry of the garden. It's a small door, traditional to a Japanese garden, made so you can't see what's in there just yet. When you walk through the whole expanse opens to this wonder garden of lakes, streams, water falls all beautifully and skillfully landscaped. Huge Koi swim in the water and there is an occasional water fowl. I can't describe everything because ever path we took had a different water feature or exquisite grouping of plants. The more than six acres was peaceful and, even though a group of pre-school children followed us into the garden, we found some quiet places to sit and watch the water; sometimes moving, other times calm. Ok, this was what I needed and when I left I felt calm and relaxed.

* If you want, you can e-mail your representatives in Sacrament and tell them they better get busy and do their jobs while we still have a state to do it in. Don't know who they are?

Find your CA state rep.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lakers win, LA Citizens, losers

Look at this fat bastard. He has expensive shoes, a Lakers jersey, and a Lakers jacket. He could afford to pay for the damage he's done. I hope they threw his sorry ass in jail so he can celebrate with Bubba who would love this wanna-be punk.

Los Angeles, in as tight a financial situation as most of California, is going to co-host a Lakers victory parade. Why? 1 milbucks could very easily be spent on something equally as good for the city, couldn't they? LA aleady payed overtime for the rioting last night. Some please make the connection for me between pride in "your" team winning a championship and destroying a city bus.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Kitchen stories: Thanks for the move

The first settlers to the area was the Miami nation and village became their traditional capital. The settlement, at the Maumee, St Joseph and St Marys Rivers, was called Kekionga and the Miami lived there peacefully until around 1676 when the French missionaries found them.

In 1790 President George Washington ordered that Indiana be "secured", which meant the native population better skedaddle or die. After two losses to the Miami tribes General "Mad" Anthony Wayne routed the tribe, established a fort at the three rivers, and named the fort after himself. Fort Wayne was established and was a moderately successful venture.

By the mid-20th century it was a strong manufacturing center with the likes of GE, Westinghouse, Magnavox, and a variety of auto manufacturing support industries. At the end of the century Ft Wayne went the way of the other mid-west cities and became part of the country know as the Rust Belt. General Electric was the death knell for Ft Wayne and it has struggled ever since.

My family left in 1957 and not because they were visionaries but only because my father was stationed in Port Hueneme for a portion of 1944. He'd never gotten over California and they finally made the move more than ten years later.

In 1995 and divorced for many years, my mother found the need to be with her brothers and sisters and moved back to the town where she grew up. While visiting her I found the area beautiful but stifling. It felt as if the town was stuck in a fifties era mentality of segregation and ignorance. All my relatives, plain and simple, were bigots. Because of that President Obama carrying the state of Indiana, great though it maybe, was a shock. Growing up in California was the best education our parents could have given us. Thanks Mom and Dad.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hot flash for him

Man discovers hot flashes and cravings from the other side. This story, though only humorous to women of a certain age, is so painfully honest I thought some might enjoy reading what menopause is like.

My Brief Life as a Woman

Monday, June 08, 2009

Moon and K go to town

Friday found two friends on public transportation heading East under cloudy skies. Since my traveling companion posted about the trip on her blog, I don't have to.

She took some very good snaps.

San Antonio Winery

Friday, June 05, 2009

Here comes the pole

Editor's note: While chatting with some friends I related the funny story of the electric company replacing a power pole in our back yard in late 2005.

To find the exact date I looked on my blog and to my amazement could not find the original post. Very new to blogging then I could have deleted the post. Luckily I still had the text and photos from the event. I'm republishing the story even though it's over three years old.

You can rock my cradle just don't kick my cribs

Cribs, in this instance, are platforms the outriggers of HUGE cranes sit on while they lift a power pole over your house. Let me say it again, over your house.

We have a power pole in our back yard and two weeks ago Edison, our power company, came and dug a new hole next to the old pole. The existing pole also carries the TV cable and over the years had gotten pretty beat up so they had plans to replace it. The next week we received a notice that next Monday the power would be off for most of the day. On Thursday they delivered the pole along with street signs warning Monday morning, bright and early, the street would be closed. Don't park on the street or they'll tow your car. Amazing how many didn't read the notice but the crew gave them time to get their cars moved anyway.

I can't say enough about how nice these guys were. After they got the serious business of setting up the crane they were kind enough to talk with us and answer some questions; I always have questions. I was totally fascinated with just the idea of lifting a forty foot pole over my house and I'll admit, a bit nervous. I had a vision of the pole crashing down through my almost-finished new kitchen but after talking with the guys, and seeing their attention to detail and safety, knew that wouldn't happen.

Here are the guys when they were done.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Now blooming at the Getty Center Central Garden

This plant, Geranium Maderense is a true geranium. Hard to believe for it doesn't look like and geranium I'm used to. It has a long woody trunk that ends in a two to three foot head of blossoms. It's blooming right now at the edge of the stream, as well as other locations in the Central Garden. By the looks of it it will flower for a few more weeks. Very showy.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Never wake a sleeping baby

The lil guy, now two months, came to visit and this is what we got. Adorable and we stood and watched him sleep. He was sleeping so comfortable who could pick him up. Unfortunately we were on our way out so Mom will just have to bring him back again when she can visit longer and we can actually see those eyes open.

Buddy dog was interested even though he didn't make a noise. Don't you wonder what the dog is thinking when he sees a little person?

Note to lil bird, he seems to like the car seat.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Growing up: Pre California

My sister and I were born in Indiana but left in 1957 which made me seven-years-old, her 14. We had both sets of grandparents and a myriad of cousins, aunts and uncles, and assorted friends of the family and one Aunt and Uncle in California and no friends. My parents being the friendly type they had no problem with the latter and as crazy as both sided of the family were leaving the former seemed ok, too.

When told about the move, which was only a few weeks before, I never remember feeling sad at the thought of leaving all this. Though only as far as the first grade in my education I still had friends I'd made but I can not remember even one day in California that I yearned to return to Indiana. My sister might have had different feeling, maybe my Mom but my Dad, nope he knew what he wanted and it was to get the hell out of Indiana. He was stationed in Southern California during World War II and he never got over the fact that the weather was so nice. No snow in the winter, no bugs in the summer. I remember watching something about President Eisenhower at his Palm Springs Western White House and Daddy commenting on the fact we had feet of snow and they had yards of sunshine and they were golfing right there in January, hitting the ball is short sleeves. Our time had come to move. Yes, I remember President Eisenhower, I'm that old.

It was June 1957, we had a new Mercury Turnpike Cruiser, ours was two-toned copper color, and after selling everything in our house we loaded up a few things and off we went down Route 66, heading West.

That was an adventure for a seven-year-old who'd never been further than Chicago. Momma planned ahead for me she had books and paper and crayons so I had things to keep me busy but I did enjoy seeing the country whiz by my window and every night, Daddy would find a motel with a swimming pool for us. I thought life was grand.

We had one near tragedy. When my parents sold everything they took the money with them. The cash was in a wallet and Momma kept it in her purse or in the glove box when we were traveling. One morning, for some reason she put it in the pocket of her jacket. As the day went on and the weather brightened she removed the jacket but had it in the front seat.

Often we'd stop and get gas and that meant we could get out, stretch our legs and make a potty stop. We'd all done that and were back in the car and ready to head down the road. We were only about fifteen minutes away when Momma screamed. Her jacket must have fallen out of the car at the gas station and all our money was in the pocket.

I never saw my Dad drive so fast and when we pulled in to the station there was the jacket lying on a stack of tires. He waved to the attendant, said it was his, grabbed it, then got back in the car just as fast as he could. He couldn't look but handed it to Mom and yes, all the money was still in the wallet. That was the first time I'd seen my parents cry. Daddy found a motel early that day, he was way too upset to go any further.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sad Day

California Supreme Court upheld the ban on same-sex marriage. The decision, however, preserves the 18,000 marriages performed between the court’s decision last May that same-sex marriage was lawful and the passage by voters in November of Proposition 8, which banned it. Supporters of the proposition argued that the marriages should no longer be recognized. (as appeared in NY Times article)

So those marriages from May to November are ok? How does that make sense. If they are valid then this shouldn't even be a question. This is what I hate about the way we handle propositions in California. If you have enough money you can get anything on a ballot measure and those bastards in Sacramento do nothing.

Free, not always the best choice

Today started the free-in-the-park-concerts and we tried the Thousand Oaks flavor of the month. The group billed themselves as Manhattan Transfer meets Take 6. This was a bit of an overstatement but it was free. They were real fine with the harmony but white people should never cover James Brown, N-E-V-E-R.

Free concerts mean people drag their kids and food and chairs and blankets and it's a bit odd. Why would people come to the concert only to talk with friends and ignore the performance on stage? On one side of us, a man started talking when the performers came out and never; never shut up. I mean he didn't even take a freakin' breath.

The group on the other side had a million kids with assorted parents and not once did they look at the stage. They too were afflicted with diarrhea of the mouth. These people were not on the periphery but close enough to see the group.

Truly, I have no problem with kids being at these concerts, and if they run around and don't pay attention, hey they're kids, but what's up with their stupid parents? Sit out away from everyone who might not like to hear your conversation or your cell phone and have a nice day in the park.

Up by the stage there were a group of parents dancing with children. The kids were having a ball, the parents, too. This is great, kids need to see live performances and what better place. Their experience was much better than the little ones running amok while their parents all chatted like magpies. Selfish bastards. And to think, the park wouldn't let me bring my dog. Why?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Today is our little girl's birthday

Being parents mean you no longer turn on your planetary axis but on your child's. The world slows when they are small to give you time to learn about each other. Time for you to bring them from their world into yours. Your steps become tiny as they run to keep up until you stride together side by side. Hoping all along you've prepared them for the lives they'll live without your guidance.

From the beginning your hearts are tied together, and though miles will eventually separate you, the gentle tug is always there reminding you both you are made of the same cells, the same breath, the same stardust.

We wish our lil bird the most happy day and look back on all the love and good things she's accomplished this year knowing a year isn't made up of days and hours and minutes but of memories.

Happy Birthday

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wish I'd said that

It's not a lie, it's a gift for fiction.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Growing up: Wild Violets

ED note: I follow a blog from Chicago, Mr Brown Thumb, and his latest post reminded me of a long forgotten memory. I found his writings on Blogs of Note and his blog is being picked up by Chicago Now an offshoot of the Chicago Tribune, their new online venture. He is funny AND informative.

In my early years I remember my grandmother Emily, everyone called her Pruce, lived in a small house with her second husband Virgil. The house was Pruce's before they married and I guess they saw no need to move anywhere else. Pruce had raised her children there after her first husband, Thomas died.

The house was tiny, just two bedrooms, with the kitchen being the biggest room in the house. There was a walk-in pantry and only one bathroom but who even noticed then. No one but the wealthy had more than one toilet. The tub was big and deep and sat on four claw feet. The underneath of the cast iron tub was painted the color of the walls but occasionally the paint would chip off to reveal layers of the past decor. Baths in that tub were the greatest and it was usually with a cousin or two but it was big enough for the whole family. I can still feel how cold that porcelain was until the water warmed the iron tub. If we were lucky we'd get a bubble bath which was a few sprinkles of Tide detergent. I'm surprised we had any skin left after that.

There was a register in the floor and after a bath on cold days momma would spread a towel on the grate so you could warm up while she dried you off. The coal furnace in the basement would be humming along sending a continuous blast of warm air through the register. I was too young to shovel coal so it seems like a great way to heat the house. To leave the bathroom you had to run from register to register, jumping like little goats, until you got to the bedroom and changed your clothes. As an adult, I know it was two steps to the register and two steps to the bedroom but as a little kid it was a race to stay warm.

The basement was always a bit scary for me down a few rickety stairs and always smelling of dust and mildew. The furnace took up most of the space but a little corner held the washer. It was a big tub with a wringer. The two rollers had an electric motor and you had to be very careful not to get caught. Today we say, "Don't get your panties in a bunch" then it was "Don't get your tit in the wringer" -- same thing.

Grandma had a big wooden paddle and she'd fish out the clothes from soapy water of the tub and feed them through the wringer into a deep sink. Then she'd drain the water, refill the tub and rinse the clothes, then back through the wringer again. You can see why wash days took all day and this was seen as modern for the time. The clothes would go into a basket and upstairs to hang outside on the clothes line.

She'd fill her apron pocket with clothes pins and stand on a box while I helped by handing her the wet clothes. Not the sheets because they were too big and heavy even though she'd run them through the wringer a few times.

Because the clothes line would sag under the weight of the wet clothes you had to prop it up. For that there was a long stick with a notch at one end. You'd put that notch in the center of the line and lift everything up. This made sure nothing like the heavy wet sheets would drag in the grass. Everyone had this method and I remember a cousin getting whipped from my Dad's father for running through the wet laundry and knocking out the post. You only had to see that once before you figured out we couldn't play there but there was something quite strange about running through the wet sheets as the wind flapped them about.

Besides the clothes line, the back yard was big enough for a small garden and a sidewalk leading to a detached garage set on the alley. Along that sidewalk, in the spring, the wild violets would grow and it was our job to carefully pick hand fulls and bring them to Grandma where she'd put a little water in a jelly glass and set them on the kitchen table. If you grew up in the 50s who culd forget the jelly glass, everyone had them. Good old Welch's Grape Jelly. On the shady side of the house the lily of the valleys grew and when there were enough they'd get added to our bouquets. We learned at an early age what not to pick because my cousin Dana and I got our butts spanked for picking some of Grandma's strawberries, green of course, and proudly bringing them to her.

There were no fences but we knew not to wander anywhere or play in the alley for the fear of the switch. When I was old enough we could walk down the alley to a little store about a half a block away. The proprietor was Herb and he knew everyone and everyone's kids and grandkids. You'd walk in the back screen door to the distinctive smell of butcher shop. Herb had penny candies and he'd always stop what he was doing to sell you some. I'm sure it wasn't his biggest sale of the day. Next door to Herb's was the Dewald Tap, a small neighborhood bar that my Grandpa Virgil frequented. Virgil love his beer. This bar was not unlike the one in the Simpson's and anytime they show Moe's Tavern I'd remember the Dewald Tap. The door was always open and it was dark in there but, on occasion, we'd peek in to see the bar stools and hear the jukebox.

So this post was suppose to be about violets but somehow it got me thinking of a variety of different memories on East Creighton in Ft Wayne, Indiana in the 50s. You see, it was at this kitchen table that I heard most of the stories, met most of the relatives and have most of my Indiana memories.