Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Hobbit Wisdom

"Not all who wander are lost." That quote is attributed to J.R.R. Tolkien. I'm not sure which character actually said it, or who was being addressed, but I've always assumed, in both cases, it was a hobbit. Because hobbits are creatures of habit and so it would be a bit of a stretch for them to understand and therefore, a valuable saying. The other characters in Tolkien's books, being fairly adventuresome already, would have heard those same six words and replied "And your point is?" But a hobbit would be somewhat befuddled and chew on the idea.

I bet you think, speaking of wandering and adventures, that I'm gonna talk about my upcoming trip some more. Well, you'd be wrong. I'm actually just rambling on, or rather, wandering about with the use of words, about this particular morning, but in so doing, using it as an analogy for my life in general, and even, life in general. There, I've done all the work for you. You now can just sit back with another cup of coffee and read on without having to figure out where I'm going with this.

I've never been much of a planner. I'm not a complete free spirit - with no directions or goals in mind. But compared to some, I have less expectations of where I'm going or how I'll get there. I might take out a map, or make a to-do list, but I rarely fight it when things don't continue down the road I thought I'd be headed down, nor am I surprised anymore when they don't.

I've learned from experience (and much experimenting), that getting from Point A to Point B, whether it's a plan to get from blogger to bestselling novelist, or Susanville to Redding, isn't necessarily something one can do in a simple straight line. Unlike 10th grade geometry class, real life doesn't have a lot of straight lines. In real life, for example, there is a volcano between Susanville and Redding that one must drive around. In real life there are things like husbands and mortgages and sick friends and french fries and football games and holidays between blogging and signing a contract with your new publisher.

More to the point though, is even if I WAS a planner, even if I tried for as straight a line as I could, it's not necessarily the best, fastest, or most interesting way to get places. And it's probably not possible anyway. In real life, there's always SOMETHING. But even if I could, I wouldn't want to use a straight line for most things, because despite reaching the point, I think that somehow I'd be missing THE point. Yep, you've guessed it. I'm,gonna reach in a musty old bag of wisdom and pull out that dusty old cliche. Get Ready. Here it comes....

It's more about the journey then it is about the destination.

I've learned that whatever I thought the journey was about, even if I manage to reach Point B at all (which is always a nice surprise in itself, at least for me!), the greatest gift from the experience is often something completely unexpected and discovered not at the end but somewhere along the way. Usually, for me, the original goal, although valuable, is overshadowed by other treasures I gather along the way. (Uhm, what's the name of this blog again? Right.)

An example - something I was just talking about to someone the other day - A few years ago I went to a big quilt show in Chicago. My only goal, when I started out, was to go to quilt show and see quilts. But as things went along, things got more complex. I invited a friend. I decided that since I was so close, I'd go visit my sister and other relatives in Wisconsin. Now, years later, I am still glad I went and saw those quilts. It was a real turning point for me in the way I think of my quilting and my art. But that gift, of creative challenge and inspiration, isn't what I hold most dear from that trip. What I consider far more valuable is the deepening of friendships that resulted from meeting numerous online friends at the show. And I am more grateful for the extra time I got to spend with my sister, who lives so far away that we count our time together as adults in weeks or perhaps months, not years. I am also thankful for what turned out to be the last visit with my uncle, who passed away this last year. Last but not least, I'm thrilled to see, in hindsight, how the trip was a small trigger that led my friend, who suffers from a chronic condition and, at the time, the resulting depression, into a much healthier and happier direction in her life. See my point? NONE of those things were planned when I first decided to go to a quilt show, but somehow, as I wandered along, picking up details, those were some of the unplanned but important results.

I started out by saying this post was going to be about this particular morning. So, okay, here goes. This morning I woke up, pulled a blanket around me, scooped up the chihuahua and headed outside to let her do her thing. That finished, I came back inside, got dressed, opened the drapes in the house, and turned on the computer. So far, pretty routine. The next thing I wanted to do, which is what I usually do next, is make a pot of coffee. Here's where the road gets a bit windy, all so I could get from Point A - wanting a cup of coffee - to Point B - DRINKING a cup of coffee.

I reached for the coffee pot and..... ewwww. I'll save you the gross details. Let's just go with this - it's a good thing I don't know WHICH furry monster DID it, because their ass would be grass. I pulled on my jacket, grabbed my purse, and drove off to Starbucks. On the way, singing loudly to "Don't want to be an American IDIOT!!!!", I thought about my friend Shelly, who has a couple of stressful situations going on at the moment, and how she would NEVER ever be driving along singing this song at the top of her lungs, and suddenly realized that I could RAOK (Random Act of Kindness) her with Starbucks coffee too. I got to Starbucks and asked for a phone book so I could look up the address of the office where she's been working this spring. While I was doing that, the barista, who is the parent of one of Joe's old football buddies, got talking with me, and we had a really interesting conversation about kids and the military and DIL's and a few other things, and it was really nice catching up on each other's lives. I surprised Shelly with the coffee. She gave me a huge smile and a hug. Came back home, took off my jacket, picked up the squirming Rosie so she could sit in my lap as always, sat down at the computer, and took a sip of my coffee. <------ <------- BIG ARROWS! - this was the original Point B. See how NOT straight that line was?

Granted, this wasn't a BIG amazing wander. It was just a small wander. More along the lines (or would that be curves?) of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, than The Lord of the Rings. But it does show that life prefers the beauty of curves over the efficiency of straight lines. And that if we trust in it, wandering is it's own reward. And even, that a series of events that starts out with vile, evil (hey, those two words have the same four letters in them!) creatures peeing on your coffee pot can end up having some unexpectedly pleasant consequences.

But it's still a good thing I don't know which cat it was - GRRRRRRR.

Monday, January 30, 2006

YAH! I did it!

All month I've avoided a task I needed to do. I've avoided it with the amount of avoidance energy I usually reserve for things like doing my taxes or tackling my garage or cleaning my desk. I avoided it like it would be BAD, although really, it was a task that most people would envy getting to do, or rather, at least getting to USE once they'd done it. True, I discovered that my fears weren't all unfounded, the actual task DOING was pretty difficult and exhausting. It ended up requiring many MANY hours staring at a computer screen, several bouts of hair pulling and stomping and slamming of innocent furniture and doors, and the liberal and loud use of any and all swear words I could dredge up from memory.

I kept avoiding it because I thought that if I waited long enough someone would point out to me that it was a huge joke, or mistake, and then I'd be sooooo relieved I hadn't actually gone and done it and had to explain, to everyone's confusion and my complete and utter embarrassment, that I didn't understand that I wasn't supposed to take the idea SERIOUSLY. I kept avoiding the task because it was a huge commitment and apparently I have huge commitment problems.

But finally, I did it. It's done. It's official. I am now the proud owner of two sets of round trip tickets, one to New York and back, where William and I will stay with friends, see the sights, and get our feet wet on this whole tourist - nay, that sounds too American, let's go with traveler - this whole TRAVELER thing. And then we'll use the second set of round trip tickets to, starting from New York, fly up and over the big blue wet thing and land in London, where we'll have just over three weeks to get the accent down well enough to bring it home with us again.

Whew! I know, laugh at me if you will, but this was a huge, huge, HUGE thing for me to do. It's not that I'm not adventurous at heart. I most certainly AM. I go off on round-abouts all the time and I'm even adventurous enough to do it without making reservations ahead of time. But apparently my brain has gotten old and sort of creaky and didn't quite believe me anymore when I told it I was up for adventure. It also didn't believe we were actually going.

But finally, it's done. I've bought the tickets. NON-refundable tickets. Gulp. We also have our passports, which I also dragged my feet at getting, but they were cheap enough for me to play along with everyone even though I knew it was all gonna turn out to be make believe.

Now all I have left to do is - let me count off on my fingers - get hotel reservations (for the first night or so), an international driver's license, some British Rail passes, perhaps British Heritage passes, some universal chargers so my phone and camera will work, and a bazillion memory cards and extra batteries for aforementioned camera, appropriate footwear for stomping through castles, clothing that will scrunch down to approximately the size of a cookie (or as they say over in England, a biscuit) so that we're not hauling around luggage the size of an small elephant, and those little traveler's sized toothpastes and.......... I've run out of fingers. I think I'm gonna need pen and paper.

Fortunately, I just discovered that I should be capable of all these tasks, and more, even saving the world from apocalyptic ruin if necessary, because I took an online test today and discovered my true Superheroine self is......

You Are Buffy the Vampire Slayer

"We saved the world. I say we have to party."

How cool is that! I'm Buffy. Makes sense. Y'know, I've always told everyone my ex-husband looks a lot like Angel. Dark and brooding like him too, although, unfortunately, not in a fun way. But I'm not one of those Buffy/Angel fans. I'm definitely in the Buffy/Spike club. Which probably explains why my ex is my ex, eh?

Well, okay. Enough gibbering. I have to go off now and use my superheroine powers. I think I'll start by saving my fragile, old card table from being crushed beneath mountains of evil fabric and several villianous (not to mention FAT) felines.

P.S. Another amazing thing happened today

Equally worthy of comment, William vacuumed today. And by this I mean, he vacuumed not because his father or I told him he had to, not because someone said they'd take him to Taco Bell if he did, not because he was trying to butter anyone up to ask if they'd take him to Taco Bell, not because anyone was coming to our house that he would be embarrassed if they saw our rug unvacuumed. No. He simply vacuumed.

He did this while I was gone at Walmart. He'd called me there to see if I would buy some sodas. I said yes. I also told him he had to wash the pots in the sink, one of his regular jobs (at least in theory a regular job) before I got back home. That was all. Very ordinary. No hint of anything unusual about to happen.

I came home and the house seemed .... different. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. A few minutes later, after helping me unload the bags of groceries without complaint, and after offering to put the dandruff shampoo in the bathroom for me and...... oh my..... now that I think about, it's even more bizarre then I had first imagined...... after all that strangely compliant, unusually helpful behavior, he was heading back to his room to play video games and paused midway down the hallway to toss back at me -

"Oh, by the way. I vacuumed."

And then he was gone, his bedroom door clicking quietly as I stood there in shock, unable to speak, unable to move. Eventually I regained motor functions and went and looked in the livingroom. It was vacuumed. That's what had looked different about the house.

I guess it was a day for amazing tasks.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Today I am brown

Do you pick your clothes by color each day? I do. I mean, not always. Some mornings it's just - I can wear these black jeans one more day before they havet to go in the laundry, so the first t-shirt I can find that goes with black jeans - that's the winner.

But at least half the time, I wake up and think 'What do I feel like today?'

Some days a color jumps out immediately. RED. I definitely feel RED today. Then it's just a matter of putting together a RED ensemble.

Some times I'm not sure. And then I have to audition things. BLUE maybe? GREEN? ORANGE? PURPLE? Not all colors have equal favor in my personal wardrobe palette. I tend a lot towards BLACK, GREEN, and RED. For some reason I also seem to have a lot of PINK. Light PINK in the dark months, bright PINK in the sunny half of the year. Not sure what's up with the PINK thing. 'Cuz I'm not really much of a pastel person. More nature colors or zany brights. And speaking of brights, I like ORANGE a lot lately, too.

I remember waking up one morning about.... I don't know, a year? A year and a half? Two years after Joshua died? I can't remember now. I try not to keep too much track of sad anniversaries. The dates of it, not the experiences themselves. But anyway, I woke up and realized I very specifically need to wear an ORANGE shirt. Not just wanted to. NEEDED to! HAD to! The thing was, I didn't happen to own an ORANGE shirt at the time.

So, I called up my friend Deb and told her I was going shopping for an ORANGE shirt and did she want to come along for the trip? Being a good friend, the kind that knows me well enough not to be surprised by this sort of request, she came along. Unfortunately Susanville is NOT the shopping capital of the world, and my search was short and not very successful. I found something that "would do", but I didn't find what I was really looking for, although I knew I'd know it the minute I saw it.

I also knew WHY I needed an ORANGE shirt. It made complete and immediate sense to me. I was tired of being sad. Tired and sort of angry, but not in bad way. In a "I'm tired of this sh*t and I'm not gonna be like this all the time anymore" way. RED seemed to angry. YELLOW seemed to happy, too carefree. ORANGE was just right (said Baby Bear). Since then, of course, I've come across numerous shirts that were just what I was looking for that particular day. Of course I have to buy them. Now I have MANY ORANGE shirts. And they usually make me feel happy, in a defiant, grateful, and at the same time, calm way. Odd combination of emotions, I know, but it works for me.

Colors have meaning to me, but they're personal, and they aren't always the same meaning on any given day. And there's my mood to factor in - so the meaning ends up coming out of a blending of the color itself and the way I feel on that particular day. I might feel sort of down in the dumps, and so BLUE or GRAY will seem depressing and joyless to me. On another day, when I wake up feeling restless or agitated about life, GRAY will feel restful and meditative, like the ocean on a stormy day, or BLUE will feel expansive and peaceful, like the endless sky across the chaparral. When I wear BLACK, sometimes I'm saying "I'm Bohemian cool, baby, dig it?" other days I'm saying "Back off, do not mess with this bitch today." I might pick RED because I'm feeling like living outloud, or I might pick RED because I need a burst of color to help me get to a place where I feel like that.

Hmmm, interesting, now that I'm giving it some thought, I realize GREEN is sort of my center color. GREEN doesn't make me feel more one way or another, it is just ME. When I wear GREEN, whether it be a deep pine GREEN or a wacky lime GREEN, I just feel comfortable in my skin. Maybe GREEN is my true color. Think Kermit - It's not easy being GREEN. Think Elphaba - defying gravity whatever the cost. Think Hedgewitch - GREEN magic. Okay, enough with the GREEN. Because suddenly the word is looking really strange. You know how that happens. You write or say a word too many times and suddenly it sounds unfamiliar or wrong in some way?

I don't wear PASTELS a lot. Or BEIGE. I don't think I have the skin coloring for them, mainly. Plus, sort of blah. Why bother. Other colors I like, but don't have a lot of for no particular reason. CRANBERRY and YELLOW are nice colors but just show up as accents mainly.
PURPLE. I like it. Used to not like it. I have it in my wardrobe now at least. It's actually growing on me. And showing up in all it's many varieties - PLUM, FUSCHIA, PERIWINKLE, LAVENDER, EGGPLANT.

Today though, I am BROWN. I don't wear BROWN a lot either, or rather, I didn't. For some reason I seem to be acquiring more BROWN. It was actually one of those mornings where I started out just trying to use the BROWN corduroy pants for one more day, but after I was walking around in my outfit for a bit, I realized I was feeling sort of BROWN. Woodsy. Earthy. Fertile with opportunities. Down to earth and practical. A Laume Tree. In my RED shoes (er, can't be ALL BROWN), HOT COCOA colored socks, dark BROWN cord pants, long sleeve t-shirt that's a swirl of TAN, BROWN, RUST, GOLD, a bit of BLUE, and a new dark BROWN cardigan. I'm also wearing Rosie, my little monkey girl, who climbed up into the Laume tree to sleep, snug in my branches.

Sigh. That's the end of my wardrobe musings. This Laume tree now has to pull up her roots from this computer forest, transform into Laume car and go up to Coppervale to be Laume mom, waiting for William and his buddies to be done snowboarding. Where I'm sure, the color of choice will be WHITE. Which, unfortunately I can't type IN color because then you couldn't read it. So, you'll have to imagine WHITE. Snowy hills. Snowy trees. Snowy snowboards. Snowy kids. Snowy roads. No, wait. Scratch that last one. Although, unfortunately, I heard that the roads WERE snowy. I better go. Drive snow. I mean, slow.

Friday, January 27, 2006


Or in this case, perhaps it would be more appropriate to say *Head-Counter*. Although in actuality I waited until I was out to the car before expressing myself so let's go with *Head-SteeringWheel*.

I went to the library this afternoon to get a copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. William wanted to read it. I have to add, I was a very good parent/teacher when I didn't remind William that we had the entire set of The Chronicles of Narnia but he had insisted several years ago he didn't want them and I'd given them to the library. So, I know they had at least ONE copy. I looked for it. I checked Children's, Young Adult, Sci-Fi, and regular Fiction sections. Couldn't find it.

I walked up to the counter. A woman approached me, about my age maybe, or maybe ten years younger, but certainly no youngster, and asked if she could be of any help. I'd never seen her working there before, so perhaps she was new, although I still don't think that explains what happened next.

"Yes, would you mind looking up The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and see if it's in?"

"Sure." She put her hand on the mouse of the library computer, glanced at the monitor and then back at me. "What was the name of the book again?"

I was surprised, but perhaps she hadn't really been paying attention to me. "Uhm, The Lion... the Witch... and the Wardrobe." I said it slowly.

She started typing. "The Lion, the Witch and.... what was that last part again?"

I tried hard not to smile. I repeated the title. She looked, she moved the mouse, she typed again, moved the mouse again. Then she turned to me. "I'm sorry. You wouldn't happen to know the author's name?"

Now I tried really hard not to laugh, although my smile was now way too wide for the circumstances and she looked a bit nervous. "Lewis"


"Lewis - L. E. W. I. S."

She typed some more. Moved the mouse some more. Looked a bit flustered, apologized and said "A first name?" She said this like she thought she was really pushing her luck that I'd know it.

"C. S."

More typing, more scanning, more searching the monitor, and finally, aha! She'd found it.

"I'm sorry. That's checked out. Due back in 18 days. Would you like to reserve it?"

"No thanks. I think I'll just go buy a copy."

I left quickly before I could do anything as rude as roll my eyes or burst into giggles.

I'm sorry, but wouldn't you think that most people would have at least HEARD of this book? Especially someone who would want to work at a library? Someone who would be HIRED to work at a library?

I shouldn't have been surprised, not really. A few years ago almost the entire staff, a wonderful, literary-loving staff, quit en masse when the library board decided that paying for benefits on top of salaries were luxuries they couldn't afford. They didn't even have a librarian to run things for years after that, and therefore had no one to work on grant money, which mean that they couldn't pay for those benefits then, so good thing that everyone quit, huh! The library hours were reduced to something like Mondays from 12pm to 1pm and Thursdays from 6pm to 6:15pm. Wait, I have to stop for a minute while I roll my eyes.....

.....okay, I'm back.

After that they had a bunch of new staff, most of them complete...... okay, maybe they weren't idiots. Maybe they just weren't "into" books and computers and obscure stuff like that. Maybe their interests lay more in band lyrics and nail polish colors. Maybe they should have been working at Macy's instead. Wait. We don't have a Macy's in Susanville. Anyway, I still remember the time Jeff asked one of the new staff, a young woman, 19-ish, a simple question. A really simple question. She couldn't answer it and frustrated, he remarked cattily "I guess you've never worked in a library before."

"True" she answered him, completely unaware he'd just been rude to her. "In fact, before I got this job, I've never even been IN a library before!"

And for THIS we pay taxes for public education!?!

Anyway, the story continues...

This was the beginning of a time when I did a LOT of "unofficial" volunteer work for the library. Basically, every time I went there, within a few minutes, I'd overhear a frustrated library patron trying to get an equally frustrated employee to help them - find a book, open a computer program, make a photocopy, look for audio material..... and I'd end up, completely nosy person that I was, offering to help. After awhile, I didn't even have to eavesdrop, the employees started LOOKING for me to ask how to do tasks. The woman in temporary charge (a very competent woman herself, but completely swamped since what she really did was run the adult literacy program, a more then full time job in and of itself) made sure to seek me out to thank me and pat me on the back as often as possible.

It was fun for awhile, but eventually I simply got frustrated - incompetency is only cute temporarily, or in very young children - after that it gets old. So our family stopped using the library for a long while and started spending a lot more money at bookstores just to avoid going there.

Now, a few years later, some of the older staff are back part time and things are usually running pretty smoothly. This morning wasn't typical anymore, thank goodness. But just to be a smart ass, next time I go in, I'm gonna look for this same woman and ask her if they have a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. We'll see if she recognizes that one.

"Harry.... I'm sorry...Patter? Would you happen to know the author?"

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Elderly abuse on the high seas

No, I didn't abuse any elderly - they abused US! At least, ONE elderly person abused us. And maybe it wasn't on the high seas. I just remember, there was the smell of fish and....

I'm back from a day trip yesterday. Jeff, William and I zipped over (two hours there, longer to return) to see Sam while the going was good. Squeezing it in between storm fronts. The drive over was uneventful, lots of snow (Mt. Lassen was breathtaking, almost too bright to look at with the face of snow all glittering high up there in the sun), but the important thing was the highways were completely dried out.

We met Sam at work. He gave me a cute little garden gnome that was left over from when they took out the garden department. He carried Rosie around the back offices and had all the female employees following him around going "ooooh!" and "She's so cuuuute!"

Sam and his girlfriend and their roommate Brian have a new place - they went from a two bedroom/one bath apartment to a two bedroom/two bathroom duplex, with laundry room, garage, and yard. On the end of a long cul-de-sac in a newer neighborhood where the duplex and condo units were designed to look like regular single family homes. Very nice. The only funny thing, although it actually looked great with their black couch and dark wood furniture, was the carpeting was brand new in a multi-toned plum wine color. Or maybe it was more of a garnet? Anyway, not what you'd typically expect in a rental.

We went out, Jeff and I, William, Sam, and Kyla, to dinner at Red Lobster. We asked to sit at a table along the side of the restaurant that was all window, facing out onto a strip of landscaping, then a sidewalk, and then parking up against it. That way we could keep an eye on Rosie out in the car. All was lovely, except for these big spotlights outside that were shining directly into the window blinding us. Being a take charge kinda fellow, Sam walked away and a few minutes later there he was in the landscaping twisting the lights out to the parking lot. He came back to applause and handshakes and thank you's from every table along the wall of windows.

After that we had a great waitress and were thoroughly enjoying ourselves until just as our food started to arrive, a huge party of, oh, 16-20 people arrived. The staff pushed all the tables in the middle of the room into a long row and seated them there. All elderly folks, a few perhaps in their 60's, the rest clearly in their 70's and 80's. This would be fine except, one woman had a huge camera, with an even more gargantuan flash mounted on it.

For the next five minutes it was FLASH! and then she'd move down the row and FLASH! again and then go around the table and FLASH! and for crying out FLASH! loud! and FLASH! I wasn't the only one FLASH! mumbling and giving her FLASH! dirty looks. The whole room was sort of staring around at each other like "WTF?" I tried to be gracious about it but I get migraines from flashes and rarely let even my own family use flashes around me. And this wasn't some little flash. Even facing the other way, everything went WHITE every time she FLASH! took another f**king picture.

I went from enjoying my meal to looking down into my food with my hand up like a visor above my face, and feeling like I had to gulp down my food. But I figured she'd take a picture from every angle and then sit down and order her food and that would be the end of it. And she did sit down. So we thought it was FLASH! alright. DAMN! But it wasn't! And for about another fifteen minutes we put up with FLASH! more photos, the flash going off FLASH! randomly every 30 seconds, or minute or FLASH!, or two, or several in quick succession. I finally threw up my arms in exasperation and decided I'd have to work up the courage to get up and say something. But my husband, fortunately or unfortunately, you decide, beat me to the punch. Suddenly Jeff, who really doesn't have an inbetween stage of reacting to things - it's either ignore or go beserk - turned around to the woman and yelled - YELLED -

"STOP USING THAT DAMN FLASH!"..... pause while the entire room stopped in complete shock..... "THANK YOU!"

And then he turned back to our dinner, which continued on pleasantly except for the scowls from the old farts at the table behind us. William said "What if they decide to attack us?" I whispered back "I think we can take'em." True, a few of them had canes. But I think we had youth, muscle and agility on our side.

I felt sort of bad but, you know, maybe I don't. I mean, we weren't the only table grumbling about the lady, we were just the closest and most affected - and I'm sorry, but that was RUDE of her! I would have just gritted my teeth and ignored it if she had spent a couple minutes, but we were all pretty shocked when she obviously planned to continued to snap away throughout the entire meal.

Eventually we left and as we were walking out to the car, I pointed out to Sam that maybe he should reset the lights the way they were before we arrived. Then I thought better of it and realized that was NOT a good idea because.....I called out but... too late. He twisted the lights around and the entire table of elderly people twisted in their seats and stared like a herd of senior citizen deer caught in the headlights.

Which, if that's all the damage we'd done, would have been somewhat humorous, in a twisted tit for tat sort of way. But Sam forgot all about the fact that completely new customers were seated all along the window tables. So they didn't know that we were "fixing" the lights, they just though we were being assholes, which of course we were. Not on purpose, but we were.

We were still standing out in the parking lot a minute later, trying to decide whether we should get on the road or do a bit of shopping we needed to do, when several large, burly men walked out, looking very angry, looking from the lights to us. We decided right then and there to go to Office Depot, and quickly.

We ended up running a quick errand and then grabbing coffees to go as it had started to rain steadily and rain in the valley (which came in early, it wasn't suppposed to arrive until the next day) meant ice and snow up and over the mountains. So off we went, where, one might say we had our karmic payback, in 50 miles of rain, fog, and heavy snow before we managed to get ahead of the storm. Although, I don't know about that payback idea really, since I was the one driving but I PERSONALLY didn't do anything to those old folks! They just did their best to blind ME!

So, got nothing done yesterday, but I did get the "go see Sam and his new place" checked off my list. And had a very nice, but VERY RICH, meal - that I DID pay for with an unhappy stomach this morning. And now a headache. I think I'm just gonna call today a wash and hope to be back on top of my game by tomorrow. Maybe by then I'll be up for more shenanigans. But, I'm staying clear of the elderly for awhile. That's enough fun with the gray-haireds for me for a long while.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

My new Nimbus 2000 arrives by owl post!

Okay, so maybe it's not a Nimbus 2000. And it arrived by UPS, not owl post. Although, my cat, who's NAME is Owl, ran out the door during the delivery, so there's a bit of truth in there. Isn't she a beauty!?

She's the multi-colored one on the right. She'll go in my studio to sweep up equally multi-colored scraps of thread and fabric and paper and beads and all manner of artsy flotsam. In case you too would like a beautiful new broom, I got her here - http://bereacc.site.yahoo.net/

The other broom in the photo is my kitchen broom. I do use her for sweeping on occasion, but mostly her job is magical guardian of the home. It's a kitchen witch sort of thing. A kitchen witch, for those of you wondering, is someone who does everyday magic - makes chicken soup to help cure a cold, sew a quilt to keep someone warm and loved, chases off a bad mood with a bit of silly dancing, and of course sweeps the dirt from her home, both physical and metaphysically.

When my new broom arrived today, the first thing my husband said was "Won't your old broom be jealous?" My husband is an odd duck. But then I thought about it (proving that I am also slightly odd) and said "No, because a) the new broom is for the studio, it won't be moving into the old broom's territory and b) the old broom is old enough to be mature about this sort of thing." But just to be sure, we put them together to get to know each other for a bit before new broom goes off to the studio. That's why they're BOTH in the photo.

Since I'm showing you my new broom and my old broom, I thought I'd show you the rest of the brooms I have around the house. Most of them, although not all, came from my mom. She loves all things crafty but wasn't really using them. She had them stuck in a corner of her garage. They looked dusty and sad. I was happy to take them off her hands when she downsized.

So, here's a photo of an umbrella stand full of brooms displayed by the front door. I want to find a little sign, or perhaps make one, to hang on the stand that says "Broom parking" - ha!

And another photo of some brooms on the hearth.

And because they deserve the credit, being the work brooms of the place while the rest of the bunch all just sit around looking pretty for the most part, here's one more photo of the pantry brooms.

I also have a few wisk brooms and miniature brooms (never meant to be anything but decorations) about the place, but I'll leave those to your imagination.

Now, I'm off, ironically, to do some housework. Not sweeping though. Laundry. With another magical tool - my washing machine.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Snowy mountains

Left: Lake Almanor framed through the trees on a ridgetop above

I've been feeling restless lately. I get online and read blogs but e-mail makes me antsy. I've had several ideas for my own blog this week and then just sighed and
signed off instead of following through. But now I feel guilty as there's nothing new here for anyone to read. So, I'll just make it a quick hello and then I'm seriously considering getting off my butt and cleaning my house. The sun is out. A whisper of spring cleaning in the air perhaps?

Yesterday I had to "X" off the calendar for anything I wanted to do, and commit to taking William up to Coppervale to go snowboarding. The local ski hill FINALLY opened and he wanted to meet his buddies up there for the first weekend of the season. It's mostly an all day sort of thing and so I always feel a bit frustrated at all the things I could theoretically be doing if I wasn't stuck up there. Not that I seriously think I would accomplish anything if I was home. But there's the fantasy of it.

I ended up having a nice time yesterday despite my preset resistance to it. A few days earlier we'd had a big storm. Well, we were supposed to have a big storm. It fizzled out before it got down to the valley, so until I drove up into the mountains the other day, I didn't know that in fact the storm HAD been big and just a few miles up the road from me, the scenery changed from blah/gray/dreary into a winter wonderland. It looked like the scenery in the Narnia movie - all fresh white snow blanketing the mountains, drooping heavily on fir trees, topping dark rocky outcroppings. Quite breathtaking.

So I dropped William off at the resort and went galivanting about the mountain roads taking photographs. I drove from spot to spot on the highway and then stomped knee deep through assorted unplowed side roads and snow plow berms in an effort to capture images without the distracting addition of telephone wires, fences, open highway. I didn't hike all that far, but when you're moving through that much snow, it's hard work. I spent two hours, until my boots got wet. Then I stopped in Chester and ordered a pineapple pizza to bring back to the William and spent the last couple hours chatting with another mom while waited for our children/teens to be tired enough to call it day.

We both got a good work out apparently. William boarding up and down the slopes, me climbing, falling up and down the roadside berms. I offered to take William to see the new Underworld movie last night and not only did he turn me down, but I realized I was too tired to care. We both found ourselves dozing off on the couch in front of the television instead. So, who won the Miss America crown?

Here, for your viewing pleasure, are a few more of the beautiful spots I captured through my lens (click on them to see a larger image):

I wish the sun had been out when I took this shot. In real life the red of the creekside bushes really stood out against the darker firs.

If you click on this, you can make out the starfish patterns in the middle of the ice where it is melting. Several days earlier, when I didn't have my camera with me, in this same view we watched as flocks of hundreds of Snow Geese, Canadian Geese, and white Pelicans flew across the sky.

I liked the way the cloud looked like a wave about to crash down on Lake Almanor

Sunday, January 15, 2006

NO photo

Apparently the cure for the January blahs is to a) go shopping and spend a lot of money, b) enjoy a bit of sunshine and c) get a new haircut.

It also helps, no doubt, to get healthier. I've been fighting off some germ of unknown origin, although I'm thinking it was some sort of tse tse fly germ. Isn't that the one that causes a sleeping sickness? Because mostly, this germ just wanted me to sleep. A lot. Mostly during the day. Not so much at night. But accumulatively, enough hours to count as at least half the time. And there was a lot of sitting on the couch or in front of the computer pretending to be awake but really nodding off time too.

But, somehow, I finally fought it off. Knock on wood. Maybe my life just got so boring that it got tired of me and went off to find someone with more energy to drain. Whatever. I'm just glad it's gone. I haven't been so tired since I had a newborn baby, or that time I got mono in college.

Anyhoo, I feel much better now. Knock on wood again. And I think, or rather - THOUGHT - I looked downright spiffy with my new perky energy and my new clothes and my new haircut.

That is..... until..... I tried to take a picture of myself to post for everyone else to see. I mean, I didn't literally try to take a picture of myself. No, wait, I did hold the camera in front of me once. Then I had William's friend Brandon take some shots, so William could be in the photo with me. Why waste perfectly good film...er digital pixels... on just little ol' me. And I had Jeff try to take a few shots. Inside. Then some more outside. I would have had Rosie try to take a few as well if I thought it would have helped. But I'm sure it wouldn't.

So I give up.

The problem was, every time someone pushed the button on the camera, this very bizarre woman JUMPED in front of me and we ended up with a picture of her instead of me. I mean, she's very odd. Fast. VERY fast. I'm guessing she has to be either fae, or mult-dimensional. How else can I explain how she could be there one second, and the next, be gone again!

So instead of pictures of me, I ended up with about a dozen photos of this short, round, older woman. She's got a double chin. And her bangs are ugly. And her boobs aren't very large but her chest is way too wide. And she's sorta squinty eyed too.

Anyway, so that's why I can't show you how great I look now. And hey, if you happen to see someone that fits that description, could you tell her to stop being so annoying! I'm tired of wasting film on her.

Er... wasting pixels.

Oh wait! I was wrong. I do have a photo for you. I was able to salvage this teensy little section of one of the photos. This part of the image came out just perfect.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

What do you think I can get for this guy on eBay?

I was making myself a bowl of soup for lunch and heating up a tortilla to go with it. Got distracted by, I don't know - phone, cats, homework question. Regardless of what kept me away, when I came back, this is what I found puffed up and trying to escape the tortilla pan.

An evil snowman?

Or perhaps it's an evil happy face?

I showed it to William and reminded him of the Virgin Mary someone created on their grilled cheese sandwich. It made The Tonight Show! And sold for a ton of money to some kook on ebay. So, what do you think I can get for an evil looking - hey, maybe it's a bust of the StayPuft Marshmallow Man from the big finale in The Ghostbusters movie!

Unfortunately, we'll never know how much money he would have brought in because Jeff came home from work and minutes later, ambled into the livingroom. I looked up and saw, to my horror, he was carnivorously finishing off the tortilla creature before my very eyes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Football is now completely over for the season

We went to William's football banquet the night before last. It was nice, as far as kid's sports gatherings go. The families were nice. The food was good for a potluck. I slaved all day over my contribution. Hahahaha. Who am I kidding. I went and bought a bucket of honey barbeque wings at KFC. It was a win/win decision. No work, and the kids scarfed them up in a few minutes. Everyone happy. And there was enough chocolate in the desserts to stop a herd of stampeding, hormonally-crazed women.

But, what was really nice about the gathering was to watch William be immediately surrounded by a crowd of buddies. To see the coaches greet him with a friendly punch to the shoulder or ruffle of the hair. It's nice to know that one's child is socially happy and well liked (not that I was concerned that he wasn't, it's just nice to bask in the knowledge specifically from time to time.) It was fun to sit back and just enjoy the crowd of young teens jostling and bumping around, at that wonderful pack-of-puppies stage they go through without it happening in one's own home, where my usual response is to say "No wrestling in the house!!!".

I forgot to bring my camera, alas, but William came home and immediately made a football shrine with his jersey and the giant trophy that he was given, surrounded by numerous trophies from sports years past. His team came in second in their league, undefeated except for the one team that beat everyone by a gazillion points because it was really made up of teenage yetis, disguised as human boys by frequent shaving. It was a big deal that they were allowed to keep their game jerseys.

You can click on the photo to make it bigger. Is that one big ass trophy, or what!

So, except for the practice pants we forgot to turn in, we are now finally done with football until next season starts. Which won't be until midJune. In the meantime, we're free of the daily practices, weekly travel for games, expenses incurred for equipment, gas, food, cleats, team sweatshirts, and coffee for the road. This means we're free to relax. Except for snowboarding. And all the equipment, gas, food, ski wax, lift tickets, and hot chocolate that it incurs.

William just let us know he needs a new jacket.

Monday, January 09, 2006

4-Things Meme

I've been tagged by Deirdre, who was tagged by Deb, who was tagged by... I don't remember. But anyway, i was tagged for the 4-Things Meme, which is nice, 'cuz I was gonna do it anyway. I love this sort of thing. And while we're on the subject, does anyone know why it's called a Meme? Someone asked me and I stared at them with a blank look while I thought about it and then had to admit I couldn't figure it out.

I was also incredibly amused by the difference between the way Deb answered her questions and the way Deirdre answered hers. Deb's answers ramble on with great detail and a bit of sidetracking. Deirdre's, on the other hand, were short and to the point. Gee, which style do you think I resemble most? LOL. Deirdre is a dear friend, but my brain style is obviously more Deb-ish.

So, enough preamble, here's my answers.

Four Jobs You've Had:

1. Receptionist/office manager/bookkeeper for an real estate developer
2. receptionist in an insurance agency
3. freelance writer
4. lactation consultant and rental and sales of breast pumps

Four Movies You Could Watch Over and Over:

1. Practical Magic
2. French Kiss
3. Sleepless in Seattle
4. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Wish this was a 10-Thing Meme. It's hard to just list four. But I'm being good. So far.

Four Places You've Lived:

1. Wisconsin
2. Minnesota
3. New Mexico
4. California

Four TV Shows you love to Watch: currently, I'll go with

1. Bones
2. Numbers
3. Wonderfalls (yes, I know, it's not a new show. In fact it's an old show that wasn't even shown when it was new - it got cancelled before an audience could even find it. The network, in their wealth before wit thinking, replaced it after only a few episodes with The Swan, another mindless reality television show that the average American with the intellect of a 7th grader could enjoy. I'm still pissed. But fortunately, the first season was just released on DVD.)
4. Ghost Whisperer

Four Places You've Been on Vacation:

1. Butchart Gardens, Vancouver Island, Canada
2. Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
3. Chicago, Illinois (quilting conference)
4. Trinidad, California (redwoods, ocean, beaches, fog)

Four Websites You Visit Every Day:

1. Google
2. Red Shoe Ramblings
3. Yahoo My Groups
4. Faster Than Kudzu

Four Of Your Favorite Foods:

1. hot cereal (oatmeal, cream of rice, 10-grain....)
2. posole (a Mexican soup)
3. canadles (Lithuanian recipe for potato dumplings)
4. tea (and if that doesn't count for a food, then let's go with brussel sprouts)

Four Places You'd Rather Be:

1. walking on a beach
2. working in the garden
3. curled up in bed with a cup of tea and a great novel
4. waiting for the lights to go down, the stars to come out, and the play to begin
at the Elizabethan Theatre in Ashland

Four Albums You Can't Live Without:

This is a tough question for some reason. If I answer for ALL the albums I've ever listened to, worn out, and been influenced by, then the answers would be very different then if I answered to what I am currently listening to all the time. I might not listen much to some music that meant a great deal to me and defined who I was for a period of time, but I still wouldn't want to have lived without it. And music I'm currently obsessed with may not continue to be important to me a month, a year or a decade from now. Okay, I'll answer both ways, although even then, another time, another moment of pondering, I might make different choices.

Over my lifetime:

1. John Denver - Back Home Again
2. Opening Circle - a collection of songs and chants collected and sung at the California School of Herbal Studies
3. Tom Petty - Full Moon Fever
4. Avril Lavigne - Under My Skin


1. Green Day - Bullet in a Bible
2. Green Day - American Idiot
3. Green Day - Dookie
4. Green Day - Nimrod

Uhm, you might have noticed a pattern there.... I've also listened to a bit of Steve Earle, Bob Marley, Eminem.... I'm sort of stuck on power to the people type stuff at the moment... I'm sure I'll move on to other obsessions some time soon

Four People You'll Pass This On To:

1. Lutra
2. Margi
3. Frank
4. Jan


It's my BIRTHDAY! YAH! And for the first time in two years, I'm actually going to change ages on my birthday. What? Huh? Run that one by me again, you say?

Well, last year I was 48 the day before my birthday (or so I thought) and then I discovered that somehow I was turning 48 ON my birthday, so even though I had a birthday, I didn't get any older. Okay, so I did. I'm sort of magical, but not SO magical that I can warp time. To that degree anyway. The real story is that the year I was really 47, I THOUGHT I was 48. I know, I know. How could someone actually forget how old they were!? But I did. Really. It must be part of that getting old business.

So, anyhooooo, after two years of holding steady, I've finally jumped forward to .... drum roll..... 49.

It's funny. For a few years now it seems like I've been zooming towards becoming an antique (do you become antique at 50? Or a collectible? Maybe you have to be 100 to be an antique. Maybe I've just been zooming toward becoming "a collectible")... well, whatever I've been zooming towards, it seemed like it was happening fast. And yes, I know that appears to contradict my previous comments about staying the same age for two years. It doesn't though, contradict that is. In my mind at least, and that's what counts since I'm the one saying it. But now I have this birthday, and oh, I'm only 49? I'm still in my 40's? People all around me have been cresting that half century mark and for some reason I guess I figured if I ever got around to having a birthday, so would I. Maybe I thought since I was stalled at 48 for two years, I'd have to jump ahead two years when I finally did, to make up for it. Hmmmm. That does make sense. So how come that didn't happen? .....

Well, let's move on. So now, I'm 49. And that's fine. I'm not in a hurry to catch up with all those other old fogeys. I'll be there soon enough.

And since we're speaking of old age, or at the very least, we're speaking of aging, have you ever noticed that there are two ways to age? The first way is to have the age define you. I know people like that. In fact, a frightening number of people my age are like that. They are in their 40's now, or their 50's. They go "Oh, I'm this old. I must now start to act my age." So they start to wear sensible shoes and discuss their medicine chest and/or sagging chest, and frown on "kids these days" and say all the good music has already been written.

And then there are the folks who say "Oh, I'm a new age! I wonder what I'll do now?" They also change in some way, but not necessarily in a predictable direction. They branch out, move on, or forward, or even backwards (second childhoods aren't a BAD thing). They don't let the age define them, they decide how to define the age. Instead of treating middle/old age as a uniform cut out long ago and waiting for them, they treat it as an opportunity to dig through the dress up box and try on a new costume. They might even ignore all the old combinations of scarves and capes and hats and go out shopping for something entirely new. After all, it's an adventure they're planning for, a new twist in the road, or even a new path waiting to be cut from the wild woods.

Oh sure, hopefully we all MATURE. I mean, I don't really want to stay young in the sense of "If Frank jumps off the bridge, do I have to jump off the bridge?" I don't want to try sky diving to prove anything to anyone. I KNOW I'd much rather spend an afternoon sitting with friends around a round of lattes and laugh about why someone would jump out of a perfectly sound airplane. Call me a chicken? Go right ahead. I'd probably feel compelled to jump up and dance The Chicken Dance for you.

One of the benefits of getting older, to make up for things like gray hair and wrinkles (or as someone said to me recently, sparkles and crinkles), is that I'm much more comfortable (or resigned) with who I am. I'll never have more then a passable singing voice. I won't get any taller. I'm a great cook - when I feel like cooking. I'm an enigma of both selfishness and generosity. I'm messy. Opinionated but generally good with people.

I'm less hesitant to be me, all me, all the time. Yes, that's part of it, I feel the sense of time running out. I don't have time to second guess myself anymore. And I've had enough experience to know that, although there are important things in life, most of what we think of as important, really isn't. Really. So, although I've always worn funny hats and danced in public, I've stopped giving a damn if anyone sees me or doesn't see me or cares in any way. It's not about them. It's just about being me. If it bothers him or her or them, that's not my problem. If I'm embarrasing you, just go stand over there with the folks wearing sensible shoes, and give me more room to dance.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A new start

This is a new start for my blog in a number of ways.

For one thing, it's a new year. A new year is always a new beginning. A marker in time where people make lists and plans to become new and improved. Of course a week or so goes by and and folks realize they're just the same ol' person they were the year before, but when the last number on the calendar shifts, it feels as if it should be somehow signifigant.

Secondly, I'm typing this on a new web program. I notice there are many new bells and whistles on this page, and I'm hoping it means that I will...... dare I say it..... no, I won't. I'll just try it and see if, against all odds, it might finally work.......

OH MY GODS AND GODDESSES!!!!! It WORKED!!!!! I am beyond ecstatic!

Ohhh! Ohhh! My heart is thumping with joy!

So, the THIRD new thing is I can finally, dare I say it.... knock on wood..... post photos on my blog.

This particular photo, btw, is a photo I took last night of William with his cousins. The thing that's interesting about this photo, to me anyway, is that William is honest to goodness biologically RELATED to these people. So much of our family is a made up of a patchwork of folks, none of us with the same genetic background. I find I have to remind myself that these kids are not only his cousins, but that he's related to them in a way that I usually give no thought to. It's really startling to me to see how much they LOOK ALIKE. Because they are RELATED.

From Left to Right: William, Justin and Malena (Jeff's brother's kids), and Troy (Jeff's sister's son). Also in the photo, a dog cousin, Zoe the French Bulldog, who belongs to Jeff's sister.