Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Some neighborhoods are rougher then others...

What Color Orange Are You?

Nicely appropriate today, doncha think!

You Are Pumpkin

Realistic and practical, you see the world for how it is.
You know what it takes to succeed in life...
And you're happy to help others reach their goals.

Monday, October 30, 2006

A Day of Art and Relaxation

Yesterday I had the loveliest getaway. The whole day was just one lovely surprise after another. In fact, think of it as a fractal of fun, unfurling, one pattern after another after another after another....

I didn't know I was going to go anywhere until I woke up yesterday morning and remembered a postcard sitting on my desk about an art show in Reno that was the weekend before Halloween. I climbed out of bed, dug through the mountain of papers next to the computer and voila - the postcard. Yes, the show's last day was Sunday.

I'd like to say I jumped in the car right then and there but alas, first I had to copy edit William's English paper for him. I had a lot to do - help William with his school work, laundry, etc. I almost didn't go at all. But common sense, fortunately, did not prevail and an hour and a half later I was off.

The first wonderful thing is that the 90 mile drive flew by as I was caught up in listening to my music (no teenager to argue over CD selections with), the breathtaking autumn colors, and the mental space to work out plot details for my Nanowrimo story. (Less then 36 hours before the writing begins!)

The show was by an art guild called Wild Women Artists. See the circle of hands on the first page of their website? This was so much more amazing in person. So much more amazing!

My favorite artist was, hands down (hah - a hand joke) Kathleen Durham. She introduced herself and explained that she didn't sell her art. Originally she felt as if she had to sell it, to justify her work, and then every time a piece sold, she was miserable. So she decided she was supposed to do storytelling instead. She had a prime location in the exhibit hall, next to an inside tropical garden complete with a koi pond, perfect for displaying her figurines amongst the rocks and trees. She walked around introducing me to assorted members of "the Underwood" and told little tales about everyone. It was delightful. I'm going to see if I can get our local art guild or library or elementary school to invite her up to do storytelling for kids (young and old) in our community.

I really liked Barbara Glynn Prodaniuk's work as well. It had a wild peacefulness about it. I purchased a handle-less ceramic mug from her. It is shaped like the base of a tree. I think it will be the perfect vessel for herbal teas, tinctures, anything earthy I want to honor.

Browse through the other artist's pages as well. There was a felt maker, a textile artist, several wonderful painters, an amazing jewelry maker..... oh, just go look.

One more artist I'll mention by name was a guest of the guild, Gretchen Ericson. She did lovely unique basketry, but the thing I loved most on her table was this little figure.

Do you know who this is? Well, it's Little Dead Riding Hood of course!

I finally left the art show, coming out of the building blinking in the bright autumn sunshine. The show was at Rancho San Rafael Park, a wonderful community treasure. I put my new mug and my purse back in the car and, grabbing only my camera, went wandering through the park's extensive botanical gardens. There was a photo op every ten feet. The shadows, the late afternoon light, the blue skies, the leaves of every shape and hue. I put a couple of photos from my walk up over on my studio blog.

The end of my walk brought me to the Labyrinth Gardens. I walked the labyrinth. Labyrinths are such amazing places. I've never walked one without receiving the gift of a timely message, but when I first step into the serpentine maze, it feels silly. Walking back and forth, round and round, my mind races with a million things it suddenly can't stop thinking about. Yet eventually, with no effort on my part, my thoughts all skitter away, like dried leaves across the pavement, and all that's left is an infusion of peacefulness and some new understanding of myself.

Even returning to the parking lot I stumbled upon an artistic moment - crabapples. Aren't they pretty against the blue?

Or like a little apple Stonehenge scattered across the pavement?

Or used to create a picture?

Finally it was time to move on to the more practical half of the day. I was headed to Trader Joe's but I detoured into the Spirit Halloween store (bought some cute ghost lights on sale) and JoAnns (bought a teensy bit of fabric, some sculpty clay (inspired by Durham's Underwood characters), and some miniature autumn leaves to scatter in my Halloween village). Then Trader Joe's, to stock up on soy milk. And since by this time I was starving, a number of impulse purchases, including these wonderful looking fruit muffins. Had one this morning for breakfast - YUM. Last but not least, I stopped to get a box of Krispie Kreme doughnuts for William.

By now I was starving. I was craving Thai food but the only Thai restaurant I knew of was way clear the other side of Sparks, plus I thought it might close early on a Sunday. I decided to settle for one of our regular stops. Olive Garden, Claim Jumper, something like that. But the parking lots around each of the restaurants were packed. I could see people overflowing the restaurant doors, waiting. I decided to drive in a big square up one main street, across on another, down the next main street... there are a lot of small strip malls in the area. Maybe one would have a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant that wouldn't be as crowded. I only made it to the first corner when what did I spy, tucked between a loan company and a take out pizza place, but a Thai restaurant!

I pulled into the parking lot. The completely empty parking lot. Glanced at the building again. Yes, the lights were on. The neon sign flashed "Open". Well, worst case scenario was that the food was horrible.

I walked into a.... well, it looked like a palace! In fact, I think the name of the restaurant was The Thai Palace. Bright red walls, gold and silver everywhere. Bling, Bling, Bling! I was the only person in the place. A man greeted me as if I was an old friend and seated me at a very fancy table. I picked up the menu he had placed before me wondering if the reason I was the only one in the joint was because the food would be priced for a king. Opened the menu as if I'd find a bomb inside....Whew! The prices were a dollar or two more then I had expected, but nothing that made me need to leave.

Eventually another server appeared in the room, as did several people waiting for take-out, and a young couple with an adorable baby. My food arrived - Tofu Pad Thai, white rice, and Pumkin Red Curry with shrimp and chicken. Oh! Oh my stars! Oh the food of gods! The bliss of taste buds! In other words, the food was fantastic. Guess where I'm taking Jeff next time we go to Reno!?

Last but not least, Barnes & Noble, where I treated myself to the next books in several of my favorite urban fantasy and mystery series. I also found a couple of books on those fun bargain displays. A book about the mythology of different witch stories - a really different perspective on a topic that often gets the same old comments dished up about it. And another book called, I believe, This Haunted Isle - photos and stories about haunted sites in Great Britain. Well, can't pass that one up, can I! The only negative, their cafe espresso machine was broken - ack! So I had to make one more stop at a nearby Starbucks for a raspberry white mocha latte for the road.

The drive home was just as pleasant as the drive earlier had been. The waxing half moon hung low over the mountains, which made the ridgetops a black silhouette against the moonlit sky. I spent half the time driving home on a cell phone conference with William helping him with the last adjustments on his short story that was due today. "How do you spell "realized"? "Does the question mark go inside or outside of the quotation marks?" I made it all the way home without a single deer trying to jump out in front of me, only to almost hit three big buck standing directly in front of my fence where I park my car. I guess they know the only safe place to be during hunting season is inside the city limits, eh?

It's so hard to allow myself a day without justifying it somehow as practical. I was tempted to justify my trip to Reno by filling it up with all sorts of errands that eventually need to be done. (Yeah, I did buy soy milk, and that's pretty practical, but I love to go to Trader Joe's and I almost always run out of time before I get a chance on most trips.) But hubby was the one who allowed me such a wonderful, rejuvenating getaway. Still half asleep when I shook his shoulder gently to suggest I might take the day to myself, he mumbled from beneath the covers "Go! Enjoy yourself! You'll have fun honey!" Ahhhh. He does have his moments of wisdom.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cute Pet Photos

Yesterday I wrote a blog entry only to have Blogger eat it during a scheduled outage. I can't even blame Blogger - it was posted right there on the page I was typing on. I noticed it a nanosecond after I had clicked on "Publish Post". A good 30 seconds of loud cursing the heavens immediately followed my realization.

Since I'm trying to be useful in a real life, non-computerized way today, I'll just leave you an offering of some cute pet photos.

First of all - How many angels fit on the head of a pin? How many college students will fit in a volkswagen bug? And of course...

How many cats will fit on the seat of a chair?

Here we have one string, and two animals. The question here is - does the dog (Rosie) think she's playing with the cat (Yoda)? Or does the cat think she's playing with the dog? Nah. The cat thinks everything is done for her. That's simply the nature of a cat. She would never do something for someone else. Particularly for Rosie. Most of the female cats tolerate Rosie good naturedly. The male cats actually put up with Rosie jumping on them, greeting them with nose kisses, her insistence that they all need their ears cleaned, and even occasionally a bit of cross species play wrestling. But Yoda and Rosie usually treat each other like arch nemeses. I guess they got caught up in the moment and forgot to be jealous of one another.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Holiday Photos #15

Instead of whining, I decided to do another holiday photo post. There are no corresponding artsy photos in my studio blog, this little section seemed to all fall in the tourist photo category to me. These pics were all taken on a tour at Plas Mawr Elizabethan Town House in Conwy. To quote from the link I just offered - "Possibly the best preserved Elizabethan townhouse in Great Britain." Or the term we heard used - a Tudor home.

It's one of those places that we walked by several times, didn't notice, and probably wouldn't have paid to get into if it wasn't for the British Heritage Passes that we purchased ahead of time that gave us free entrance. It ended up to be quite worth the time we took to tour it. We found quite a few hidden gems by looking at what was available with our passes. The passes also paid for a number of the large exhibits and places that we had already planned on seeing. I'm not sure if we went to enough of the locations to actually have saved money, but we undoubtedly got our money's worth out of the passes. Another advantage was that the passes usually allowed us to bypass long entrance lines.

As always, you can click on any of these photos to enlarge them for more details.

I really loved the quiet comfort in this home. It was very beautiful. I'm sure it was elegant in it's own way and time, but it seemed to be a beauty for it's own sake rather then beauty in order to impress visitors. Sorry this photo is a bit fuzzy. This is a fireplace mantel, wall, and ceiling.

This wasn't the kitchen. I accidentally showed a photo of the kitchen in an earlier post. Remember the pic that William took of me holding a broom, all the green herbs? This was a storage room just off the kitchen.

This was the backboard of a bed in one of the bedrooms. Believe it or not, my grandmother had a bed like this. Not exactly like this, but she had this amazing carved bedset. It was dark oak, intricately carved, I think my mom told me once it was from Germany. I used to love sleeping in that bed. It disappeared somewhere along the way, I think quietly given to another relative. Although, I was so young at the time that it was probably more a matter of no one bothered to ask my opinion on where it went. I wish I knew where it was now. I don't even think our family has any photos of it.

This very annoyed looking cat was part of an illustrated board display that discussed what life would have been like in the 16th century. I would have been annoyed too, if I could have read what it said about me in the text. If you click and enlarge it, you can read it. Basically it accused cats of having evil vapors or sucking the breath out of people while they slept or some such nonsense.

This is the attic. Look at those unbelievably beautiful rafters! Look at the time worn wood floor. It almost looks like water it rolls so unevenly.

This was a little courtyard inside the walls of the home. Everywhere we went we found doors of various sizes, even in buildings still in busy use today. I couldn't help but think of what we might do with buildings like this in the U.S. Not to code! Not accessible! A legal liability! Danger, danger Will Robinson! I wonder how many of these historical idiosyncracies would be lost in our attempt to make everything fit today's building standards? Of course 6'3" tall William made the size differences seem all the more dramatic.

Next holiday post - more castle! (why does that make me think - "More cowbell!"?)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The post I ended up not writing

I had great plans for a post today. It was gonna be all about mixed up orders at Starbucks and long lines and stupid people at Taco Bell and irritating husband tricks and and time consuming computer issues and lazy football watching sons. But then I ended up talking to or reading about other people's woes and troubles and I realized that my whiny, annoying troubles are far too slight, far too mosquito sized to be of any serious consideration. Dang. I hate when that happens. Now I have to be all grown up and maturish.

So, instead I put up a photo of the new scarf I knitted. You can go see it here, at Laumes Studio.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Autumn in the Sierras

Is there anything that can compete with the contrast of vibrant autumn hues against a backdrop of brilliant blue sky?

For some people a trip up into the mountains is a rare holiday event. For me, it's a regular event, and not always a welcome one. Back and forth, back and forth, it's a long drive and I do it often, for assorted reasons. Despite that, I still haven't gotten blasé about the scenery. Tall, dark forests of green, deep blankets of snow, the moon playing hide and seek behind the trees, creeks bubbling and dancing downstream.

Yesterday we had to make the trip for the last of the away games for William's football team. I wasn't looking forward to more travel. I consoled myself with the thought that I could spend the time pondering plot and character for the fast approaching Nano date. Instead, we were distracted and rewarded by gorgeous fall foliage, the colors at their peak at the higher altitudes. I wish I could have stopped to taken even more photos, alas we only had a tiny bit of extra time to get to the game. Mostly it's wilderness, but here's a bit of civilization on the edge of the town of Chester.

I liked the one leaf aloft, free on the wind, a final hurrah before it falls to the forest floor.

I wish I could show you a 360 degree photo instead of this one little box of forest. The red popped up unexpectedly, all around us.

The football game itself wasn't so fun. Our team lost - by a lot. And the valley temperatures - 86 degrees with a hot wind - made me long to head back into the hills as soon as we could. Still, Sam and Kyla surprised us by driving down from Redding for the game and we went out for great conversation and Mexican food afterwards. Sunset comes early now and so it was too dark for more photos on the way home, but all in all a tiring but lovely day.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Do-it-yourself Crossing Guard kit

I've been meaning to write about our new Crossing Guard kit, ever since they installed it on our corner several weeks ago. In the ten years we've lived here, they've always had a crossing guard at the corner of our street, which is also the corner of our lot, because kitty corner and across a small plot of fir trees is the local junior high school. Not only do we have the junior high kids walking past our house, but since the bus stop from the elementary schools also drop kids off at the junior high, we also have the neighborhood elementary kids walking across this street as well.

In the last decade they've had a number of crossing guards come and go. Some worked out for a few school years but most of them only lasted a year at the most. They've left, or been let go, for a number of reasons - ineffective, too nice (yes, too nice - still trying to figure that one out), can't handle the kids, too mean..... at one point they had the principal of the junior high down there morning and and afternoon. I'm sure he had better things to do then daily crossing guard duty.

In any event, this year no crossing guard appeared with the start of the new school year. Instead, for want of a qualified applicant or I suspect for lack of funds to fill the position, these flags and signs showed up a few weeks later.

Here's a close up of what the sign says. Read it. Go ahead, I'll wait. (Jeopardy music begins to play in the background......)

All finished? Okay. Now imagine that this sign appears on the Stop sign in the photo, and also across the side street tacked to a large tree on the other corner. It does NOT appear across the busy street that our side street ends up at in a T formation. So, the first issue here is - it's only a "Crossing Guard" for the side street, not for the busier and more dangerous through street.

You'll also note that there are TWO flags. They are always both stuck in on our side of the street. The same side of the street. So if you're on the other side of the street, there are no flags. And even if there was, note that the instructions tell you to RETURN the flags when you are through using them to cross the street. Uhm, er, o-kay. But then, doesn't that defeat the purpose of using the flag to cross the street as you have to then go BACK across the street to return the flag and then cross again without a flag?

Of course, this would only be an issue if I'd actually witnessed anyone ever trying to use them. The little kids haven't given them a glance. The junior high kids wouldn't be caught dead doing something so embarrassing. I think the only person who has ever made use of the Crossing Station is William, who thoroughly enjoyed going out to the corner the first 3-4 days they were installed. He would grab one or two flags and march back and forth in a fashion that would have easily earned him a promotion within The Ministry of Silly Walks. Alas, even he has tired of the the fun.

It does boggle the mind, doesn't it? Anyone have any other brilliant ways to use our public school monies?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Changing Seasons

A question has been passed around on some of the blogs I've read recently - "What signals the beginning of autumn for you?" Of course the question could also have been phrased "What signals the end of summer?" It's all about the little things that let us know that the season is changing.

I thought about the question and decided it was different for me from year to year. Some years there's a pivotal moment when the first thing changes. It might be the first cup of hot tea. It might be the first fire of the season in the woodstove. Or just that "something" about the light and air that changes as summer wanes. Other years it's not one of these things, but a constant questioning at each of these markers - is it fall yet? Yes? No? And some years, I'm sorry to say, if I'm frazzled enough, distracted enough, I can look around me and realize the new season is well under way and somehow I missed the change completely.

This morning I woke up feeling grumbly. For no discernable reason. It wasn't hormones. Or rather, it's not the right time of the month for me to think it's hormonal, although with the menopause goddess dancing in and out of my days, constantly flirting with me now, it's hard to tell what I'll feel like on ANY day of my cycle. Anyway, I wasn't feeling crabby because of anything bad happening in my life. In fact I've had a handful of good news lately. I wasn't mad at anyone. Husband? No. Children? No. Dogs? No. Cats? Well, one, but with thirteen of them, at least one is on my shit list at any given time. No, I was just grumpy for no reason.

Coming up with no reason, and therefore no way to correct it, I figured the best thing to do was to try to ignore my mood best I could and get on with today's tasks. As it was a brilliant blue, if somewhat chilly, sky, I pulled a load of wet clothes out of the washing machine, dumped them in a wicker basket, and carried them outside to hang on the clothesline. As I walked out into the backyard I thought about how there won't be too many more days until I'm forced to switched to the winter routine of using the clothes dryer.

Just as I was setting the basket down, I noticed it. The garden. All of the heat loving plants were blackened and limp. The peppers were only stalks with their once full leaves hanging dead. The tomato vines were looped stringy and spent up and down their wire cages. We had finally had our first frost of the season.

In a blink of an instant it came to me that this, even though I hadn't known it on a conscious level, was what had put me in a bad mood this morning. I know that doesn't make sense. It's one of those unexplainable things. I just knew.

It's not that I was terribly upset at the garden being done for the year. Honestly, I hadn't planted much of a garden to be upset about this year. I was so busy this spring and I just never ever got caught up. In some ways it's more of a relief. I can stop feeling guilty about not having planted much - it's too late now.

What upset me was the symbolism of the first frost. More then anything else, this is truly a sign that autumn has unequivocally arrived. The lazy days of summer are done. All those things I was planning on getting done this year - many of them have time limits on them. Harvesting the garden, putting up the apple harvest, making jalapeno jam, transplanting bedding plants - all these things need to be done now or they won't get done at all. Their time will have passed. And while there's always another summer, another chance at them next year, when we're talking about the bigger picture, my life changing seasons from summer to autumn, for some things there are no second chances.

I've been at loose ends lately, feeling overwhelmed by all the things I want or need to do. It feels completely indulgent, as I'm one of the more fortunate people I know. I can usually call my own shots. My schedule is more flexible then most people's schedule. I have the time and the money, within reason, to do many many things. And yet I spend a lot of my time and energy feeling overwhelmed and, in the end, not accomplishing much at all, even when most of my choices are things I REALLY REALLY WANT TO DO!

I'm struggling with my personal changing of the seasons. It's not that I think that my life is over - snort! Not at all. In fact, let's go back to that garden frost analogy. Looking out over the garden this afternnon, there are still plenty of hardy plants going strong. The grapes haven't succumbed yet and still hide ripe, juicy bunches of grapes. The swiss chard will be even tastier because of the cold temperatures. There are several flowers going for a second and even third bloom before they call it quits. If I'd planted any this year, there would be plenty of carrots and parsnips for months to come. But - it's too late for tomatoes. Too late for peppers. Or eggplant. Or delicate greens.

My life is still rich and full. But it's too late for some things. Every time I make a choice now, I realize it's no longer a choice between now or later. It's very often a choice between now or never. There are only so many years, only so many seasons, only so many chances. When I was younger I could always tell myself that anything I wanted but didn't pursue then could be returned to at a later time in life. Now is that later time.

Not that there's not any later later left. I plan to stick round for decades to come - knock on wood. But unlike the younger me who thought of the concept of later time as being pretty much unlimited, the current me knows that not true. If I chose to do Option A with my life now, there very likely won't be time now to do Option B later. Some days, understanding that "Quantities are limited" makes me feel more of an urgency to get to it, whatever it is. But most days, it only makes me feel more overwhelmed because I'm not very good at making what feel like permanent choices. And yes, I know how unproductive it is. That's why I feel so overwhelmed and frustrated with myself. Aka - grumbly!

The funny thing is, stumbling upon the reason for my mood lightened it. I felt better knowing the why. Oh, DEATH! Then never mind. Because really, it's not like we can do anything about it, can we?! As much as the prospect of growing older and having to make all those choices once and for all might be hard to face, there's really only one alternative - and that is to not grow older at all. Well, two alternatives. We could just die now, and avoid getting older. Or we can grow physically older while the rest of us - spiritually, mentally, emotionally - refuses to come along for the ride. I have no intention of being one of those people who's physical age and maturity age part ways and they end up being a whiny, stupid, resentful ol' geezer. Or in my case, would that be geezerette?

In any case, I'm grateful for the glimpse into my little demons today. They're still hanging around. I mean, I haven't jumped up suddenly joyful and completely enlightened, batted them all out the nearest window, and am now ready to make all those decisions I'm avoiding. I'm still feeling overwhelmed. My demons are still flitting about trying to trip me up, pull my hair, sticking out their tongues. They're such annoying little buggers. But at least I'm not wondering where those little cackling noises are coming from.

So, anyway - changing seasons. Yeah. Sigh.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

We are what we wear

Or are we? In some completely improbable loop of reality, I ended up agreeing to serve on a uniform committee at our local high school. That is, the idea of requiring uniforms. I heard about the idea through my son and the local newspaper and I felt strongly enough about the subject that within a few days I had called up the school board to give them my opinion. I was adamantly AGAINST school uniforms.

Regardless of my teensy little bias on the subject, I got a call last week asking if I'd like to serve on the committee. In a moment of half awakeness (they called at some ungodly hour of the morning, like 8:30 am or something - ha!) I agreed.

The first of three meetings was this afternoon. It was..... interesting. I thought I'd be the lone dissenter but it appeared that the bulk of the people attending, except for one student and the board member who suggested the uniform requirement, were all leaning in the same direction. By the time we were two thirds of the way through the meeting it was clear that the main issue for most people, primarily the school staff, wasn't about wanting uniforms. It was really about the dress code that we have in place right now (which is extremely basic and reasonable) not being enforced because many of the teachers have been cowed by the threat of being accused of inappropriate actions or words by students or parents if they mention anything about undergarments, cleavage, or midriffs being exposed. Sad, but true.

I left the meeting with a new appreciation of the frustrations of the staff. I still don't want to see all the kids have to don uniforms because a small percentage of the kids aren't following the rules.... okay, so a fairly large percentage of the kids are stepping over the line on a regular basis...... but I'm surprised to find myself thinking that, if it came to that, uniforms wouldn't be the end of the world. I still think, from experience both as a person who had to wear a uniform, and as a parent who had to buy, launder, and cloth my children in them, that uniforms are a big pain in the butt.

And for the record, I don't dislike any uniform in any situation. Different uniforms have different meanings. I'm quite proud of Joe in his Navy uniform or William in his football uniform. I wore a Girl Scout uniform and school drill team uniform with great enthusiasm. On the other hand, I hated my Catholic school uniform. At the local prisons, the prisoners probably aren't thrilled with the symbolism of their uniforms. Some restaurants force their employees to wear horrible uniforms and I don't like seeing them in them anymore then they probably like wearing them. It's all relative.

In my opinion, a public school, in our culture, is not a place for uniforms. It's not a place or activity that people have a choice in attending. (well, yes, they do, but most people don't think outside the box.) Perhaps if there were some overriding and serious reasons to require uniforms. Gang infested city schools for example. In fact, all of the examples in the reading material they handed out were examples of large city schools. We have a small country school where the one and only reason that seems to fuel this uniform issue is that no one wants to enforce the rules they already have set in place.

I've decided that if it gets to the point where uniforms are being seriously considered, I'm going to throw two suggestions into the ring. 1) if students have to wear uniforms, then I think that the staff should also be required to wear them. Seriously. They should. 2) I'd like the uniforms to be black pants, sweaters, striped ties in school colors, long sweeping black robes, and pointy black hats. Seriously. Okay, not seriously. But hey, those are some school uniforms I could get behind.

There's a really large part of me that thinks that the whole thing is entirely stupid. I went to a public high school that was more like today's community college. We had a lot of freedom and a lot of responsiblity. And so I think of high school in that way. I think it's so off the point what ANYONE wears. It wouldn't distract me, well, not seriously anyway, if someone wanted to come to school naked. Whatever floats your boat, y'know.

But of course there's another part of me that knows that is an unreasonable idealistic opinion. Because of safety and health laws and because there are cultural expectations of dress - no matter how ambiguous and vague they might be - we have to have some sort of dress code. Too, there's another, more important issue for me. It's simply disrespectful to the teachers and other students to waste everyone's time by not following the rules. My kids know that if they choose to participate in some activity or group, I expect them to follow the rules. If they think a rule is stupid, by all means, address it, change it. But in the meantime, you know what you're getting yourself into and you follow the rules.

I think about the things I wore when I was a teen and young adult. Mini skirts so short I could barely bend at the waste for fear of revealing what color underwear I was wearing that day. Hip huggers so low that... uhm... ditto. Elephant bells - anyone remember those? Fortunately the style didn't last long but while it did, I wore them. Each pant leg was wide enough to double as a pup tent or hide several small children inside of it. How about the hippy style - jeans that were ripped, torn, patched, appliqued, and markered up with peace signs and favorite quotes. I find it amusing that one of the clothing issues that teachers and parents have with today's teen is that the girl's bra straps show. Uhm, hello!? We didn't even bother to wear a bra! For all that, I guess I was a pretty follow-the-rules kinda of teen. None of those things broke any of the dress codes at the schools I attended.

Too, I don't think that we had as many style choices when I was growing up. At least not where I grew up. One of the things we didn't have were the "Goth" kids. It was too late for the beatnik look and the hippy style wasn't quite the same thing. I think if I was a teen now, I might be one of those kids out there dressed like a character from The Matrix. Why? Because a lot of those kids are the thinkers, the kids that hear a different drum. The intellectuals and the rebels. That's a lot of who I am, who I was. Although, I didn't really know I was all those things when I was a teen. I didn't know other people who questioned the rules. I didn't know other people who read classic literature "for fun". I didn't know anyone else who wanted to experiment with different cultures or protest war or question why we all had to dress the same or think the same. I did all those things and for a long time I only the barest of understandings that those things made me different then "most" people. That came later. I led, in some ways, a sheltered childhood.

I don't really think of them as "Goth" anymore though. I think the style has infiltrated it's way into more widespread use and the kids that do it up in a big way still - black, piercings, different hair styles, etc. - are a lot of different groups that are sort of thrown together because to the average adult they all look the same. And although the intellectuals and artsy kids tend to gravitate towards that look, the uncentered, lost kids who are experimenting with drugs and other destructive behaviors are also pulled into that circle. So it's not so black and white. Or in their case, not so black and black. Heh.

We think of the whole clothing/identity thing as being a teen issue, but I find it's still something that I struggle with today, decades later. If I dress "my age" I feel boring. And frumpy. If I dress in clothing that I truly enjoy people accuse me of dressing too young for my age. Dressing in things that make me happy often make others snicker comments about "still living in the hippy days" or being "flamboyant". If I dress comfortably - I've had my feminity questioned. Somehow getting in touch with my gender requires the use of high heels and cherry red lipstick??? And of course no matter WHAT I wear, I'm sure to embarrass my offspring. Sigh.

The one good thing is that with age comes at least a wider perspective on life. Most of the time I can brush aside comments or hesitations. Most days I can make a mental comment that those folks trying to tell me what to do and what to wear can "stick it where the sun don't shine." It's just annoying that after all these years, we still apparently judge people not by who they are, but by how they look. And hey, I'm as guilty as the next person. I might know to look deeper after my first reaction to someone, but I have a first reaction just like anyone else.

Maybe it's time to start wearing my tiara around town again. Or, oh! Better yet - Later gators - I'm off to find my pumpkin beret.

Monday, October 16, 2006

X is for....

The most underused letter in the alphabet, this shouldn't take long.

X-chromosomes - Double X chromosomes are rare in this family. I'm surrounded by people with one X and one Y. When you look at a Y, it's really just an incomplete X. It's missing one if it's legs. Do you see that? Hmmmm, that might explain a lot....

X marks the spot - Argh, shiver me timbers! Yo ho ho! Where's the bootie!? Who could possibly resist an old fashioned pirate map!

x-rays - I have been very fortunate (knock on wood), haven't had too many x-rays in my life. But my boys, my hubby, different stories altogether. Sigh.

Xander - okay, I cheated. I saw Deb had added Xander to her list. Even though I try not to read other people's lists ahead of the letter I'm on, I couldn't help it, I caught a glimpse. But of course, Xander. I love all things Buffy, but Xander is particularly loveable because he's the only character without any magical or otherworldly aspects to him. He's just a plain ol' human, but does that stop him? Of course not. He's brave even when he's not.

x-actly - even more cheating. That's not how you spell "exactly". But I don't care. My list, my rules. "Xxxx-actly" was Joshua's trademark comment. I still get a little jolt when someone else uses the term with just the right emphasis.

XXXXOOOOOO - hugs and kisses

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The trouble with tribbles.... er, teens

Yawwwwwn. At least it seemed like a house full of tribbles.

William had half the neighborhood over last night, or so it seemed, and they stayed up playing video games and plundering the kitchen until the wee hours of the morning. Actually, the entire neighborhood seemed to be up and about all night. Someone was shooting a B.B. gun at the neighbor's house, the police were called, the kids at my house kept wanting to go watch the exitement and to run home and back to get more video equipment. I spent the whole time juggling how much I could and should set limits on what someone else's child (teen) could or could not do on a Friday night.

On one hand, they were all good kids and they were doing nothing inherently "wrong". And we've never been a normal family, in bed at ten, that sort of thing. The kids are used to our home being open day and night. I have many a fond memory of being out under the stars with the kids watching for shooting stars, playing "Ghost in the Graveyard" or making snowmen by moonlight. But teens are in that dangerous zone between being watched and being on their own and recent teen deaths in our community are proof that no matter how much they need to be allowed to stretch their wings, they really aren't capable yet of understanding the consequences of their decisions and I don't think it's safe to give them freedom without any limits at all.

Too, I knew that part of the reason these particular kids were all hanging out at our house was because they had all chosen not to hang out with other neighbor teens who were spending their Friday night in less socially acceptable, less chaperoned ways. Nothing really wild, but not completely okay either. I suspect there was alcohol or pot involved. Definitely cigarette smoking. Did I want to give up my Friday night and my house to video games and soda cans everywhere? No. But I did want to give the kids an option that didn't punish them for making a good decision.

I knew all the families of all the kids who were here, except one, a kid from William's football team. They're all nice families, but I knew that all the kids were here that late because they'd all asked to spend the night somewhere and I doubted that here was where at least some of the parents were told they'd end up. I don't really know. I know I would never let William spend the night at anyone's house without talking directly to a parent.

Although, that said, the parents all probably knew that William was one of the kids in the mix and I suspect that part of the reason the kids weren't asked for their whereabouts to be more specifically accounted for was that they knew that I'm pretty strict about where William is allowed to go and what he is allowed to do. So, were there parents out there that assumed I was in charge? Or were the kids spending the night at James or Brandon's house and just hanging out over here? By the time it was a question, it was too late to start calling and waking up parents. Ironically, it was my very familiarity with the kids that made it a question at all - if they'd been kids I didn't know (or who's parents didn't know me), phone calls would have been absolutely in order. With this particular bunch, I knew that all the parents involved generally trust my judgement.

I know, it probably sounds like I contradicted myself a few times in there. But that's it, really, I was struggling to sorting it all out in the moment. It feels kinda like trying to navigate a rockbed across a stream by moonlight - is it just fun? Too deep? Dangerous? Can I really see all all the possible choices? Is this a good idea? Am I saying no just to say no when the worst case scenario is wet clothes? Is there a dangerous deep spot I can't see in the halflight? It was the same thing when my older kids were this age - it's a constant balancing act.

In the end, I decided 4 am was late enough for me to not be able to sleep. They were being pretty quiet, it's just I can't sleep with people up in the house. And I knew what dealing with a sleep deprived teenager is like - so NOT fun. So I told them to call it a night and find a sleeping spot. They all decided to take their video equipment and head two doors down to Brandon's house where the all night gaming could continue. All exceptWilliam, who chose to stay and go to bed, so I suspect he wasn't upset about calling it a day... er, night... morning? Eventually all the kids must have fallen asleep somewhere. They've been trickling back over to the house all afternoon.

Parenting - not a sport for the weak.

Parenting teenagers - an X-treme sport for the those that like to push sanity to the very edge!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

100 Favorite Things

I've been working on this list for a few days, ever since finding Deb had done it over on Red Shoe Ramblings - Oct. 11 post. She said she got it from Susannah on her blog, Ink On My Fingers. I couldn't find Susannah's list of 100 favorite things, but her blog looked intriguing so I'm sure I'll go back and dig some more for it.

I used the word "things" loosely, some of my things are experiences, not objects one can touch. It was difficult to come up with 100 things worth including and at the same time I knew as soon as I clicked "Publish", I'd think of a thousand other things that should have been on the list too. So really, it's more like a list of ....

100 Favorite Things I Thought of in the Last Couple of Days

1. clean sheets dried on the clothesline
2. the feel and sound of knitting needles
3. horseback riding
4. homemade quilts
5. Friday night fish fries
6. cats

7. a book I can't put down
8. Lisa Loeb style glasses
9. being out under the stars
10. the sound of rain on the roof
11. gazpacho
12. dining al fresco
13. chihuahua kisses
14. hearing my kids say "I love you"
15. hugs from my grandkids
16. dancing
17. good pasta
18. fresh herbs
19. finding volunteer plants in the garden
20. my flax heating pads
21. having a car mechanic I can trust
22. my Harry Potter scarf
23. getting a photograph where everyone looks good
24. real art
25. getting personal mail
26. a hot cuppa tea
27. quoting Monty Python
28. walking on the beach

29. hot cereal
30. getting theatre tickets up front and center
31. having my hair brushed by someone else
32. backrubs
33. watching autumn leaves dance in the wind
34. breathing in the mist from a waterfall
35. lilac season
36. tortilla chips - hot, thin, greasy, salty
37. red shoes
38. catching the peak colors in a sunset
39. the first tomato from the garden
40. 500 pc. jigsaw puzzles
41. my sheepskin slippers
42. a football game with a close score all the way to the end (which we end up winning)
43. a pen that works smoothly
44. agates

45. having to drop everything to write down a poem
46. lots of garlic
47. traditional biscotti
48. the sound of a foghorn
49. people who remember to RSVP
50. scented soap in the shower
51. houses that creak
52. dragonflies
53. the sound of kids laughing
54. English coins
55. those little soaps and shampoos in hotel rooms
56. real sourdough bread (probably only found within 40 miles of San Francisco)
57. finding a penny head side up
58. the smell of beeswax candles
59. when my bangs fall just right
60. the rocking of a boat
61. candy corn
62. parades
63. a kiss that makes me feel weak in the knees
64. songs I can sing along to
65. paintings that make me wonder what's going on just beyond view behind the frame
66. the full moon
67. the smell of a bay laurel
68. old fishing floats
69. riding on a train
70. storms
71. people watching
72. fresh raspberries
73. Emily Strange
74. talking to trees
75. finding shapes in clouds

76. board game nights with friends
77. beach glass
78. hammocks
79. the possibility of discovery in an antique shop or junk yard
80. shooting stars
81. padiddles - wishing on one eyed cars
82. drumming circles
83. fractals
84. poems that make my heart ache
85. long scarves
86. margaritas with lots of salt on the rim
87. Tarot decks
88. handmade soaps
89. gargoyles

90. turtles
91. open windows
92. fuzzy caterpillars
93. moss
94. old wooden blocks
95. the aurora borealis
96. the smell of the Yule tree
97. fabric
98. watching otters
99. Lime Margarita Popcorn salt
100. flip flops

If you post a list on your blog, please come back and leave a comment letting me know so I can come read it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Guess who had a birthday today?

Somehow I ended up married to an old guy. Don't know how THAT happened! I mean, I haven't changed a bit in.... what has it been.... 17 years or so we've been together now? Lucky for him, eh? Snort!

And today he got just a bit older. Keep up the good work, honey.

Happy Birthday Jeff!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

We Are Seven

Yesterday I posted some more photos from our visit to Conwy, Wales. I have already posted several photos from the graveyard/church yard in the center of town. Actually I posted most of them over at Laume's Studio blog, the ones I posted here were more silly ones. But I wanted to post this particular photograph separately so I could share the accompanying poem that was inspired by this very grave.

It's interesting that it came up in the order of things at this particular point in time, as it seems appropriate to be tucked in between the sadness of our local community's recent tragedy and the upcoming holidays that celebrate and honor our ancestors and loved ones who have passed on before us. Like the persistent young girl of the poem, my family also numbers seven and I share her persistence that death does nothing at all to change that fact.

We Are Seven

by William Wordsworth.

A Simple Child,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death?

I met a little cottage Girl:
She was eight years old, she said;
Her hair was thick with many a curl
That clustered round her head.

She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad:
Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
--Her beauty made me glad.

"Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
How many may you be?"
"How many? Seven in all," she said
And wondering looked at me.

"And where are they? I pray you tell."
She answered, "Seven are we;
And two of us at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea.

"Two of us in the church-yard lie,
My sister and my brother;
And, in the church-yard cottage, I
Dwell near them with my mother."

"You say that two at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea,
Yet ye are seven!--I pray you tell,
Sweet Maid, how this may be."

Then did the little Maid reply,
"Seven boys and girls are we;
Two of us in the church-yard lie,
Beneath the church-yard tree."

"You run about, my little Maid,
Your limbs they are alive;
If two are in the church-yard laid,
Then ye are only five."

"Their graves are green, they may be seen,"
The little Maid replied,
"Twelve steps or more from my mother's door,
And they are side by side.

"My stockings there I often knit,
My kerchief there I hem;
And there upon the ground I sit,
And sing a song to them.

"And often after sunset, Sir,
When it is light and fair,
I take my little porringer,
And eat my supper there.

"The first that died was sister Jane;
In bed she moaning lay,
Till God released her of her pain;
And then she went away.

"So in the church-yard she was laid;
And, when the grass was dry,
Together round her grave we played,
My brother John and I.

"And when the ground was white with snow,
And I could run and slide,
My brother John was forced to go,
And he lies by her side."

"How many are you, then," said I,
"If they two are in heaven?"
Quick was the little Maid's reply,
"O Master! we are seven."

"But they are dead; those two are dead!
Their spirits are in heaven!"
'Twas throwing words away; for still
The little Maid would have her will,
And said, "Nay, we are seven!"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Holiday Photos #14

Some more photos from Wales - an odd assortment. If you want to see some more picturesque photos from the same part of the trip, click here - Laumes Studio.

This was a section of the sidewalk in Conwy. Who knew Lego made life size building materials!

William took a lot of photos of Welsh/English signs. We passed this particular sign frequently as we walked around the town and I have no idea what it is that's not actually allowed but it tickled my fancy. It seems to be saying "No dim'ogwbl-ing allowed - At any time!" At any time? So, like, not even evenings or weekends?!

I was trying to be artsy with this one. Not sure if it worked or not, but I do like that it's half red and half green. In the UK they like their public service containers in red - phone booths, mail boxes, even dog doo receptacles.

This is a police car. No way you could say "But Officer, I didn't SEE you!"

And if you're from the UK, and you're chuckling at me for noticing ordinary things - they're not ordinary where I live! You're welcome to come to the US and be amazed by our police cars (although most of them, unlike yours, are boring) and mail boxes if you'd like. Or whatever. You never knows what will seem different or unique to someone else if you're used to it yourself.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Foto Booth Fun

Click if you want the image larger.

Just recently we rerented (we'd seen it before)and watched the wonderfully odd foreign film Amelie. It was fun to watch it again now that I've been to Paris. If you haven't seen this movie, even if you've never been to Paris, run out and rent it. It's lovely and funny and touching and will explain the reason I'm mentioning it in this post. It will also explain the reason Travelocity has a gnome for a spokesperson on their commercials.

So, just as we were leaving the mall this weekend, we spied a repairman working on a foto booth and we decided to wait and give it a whirl. At $3 a strip, even though the prints came out pale and streaky, it was still a lot of fun for our money. Goofy was definitely the way to go with these. Next time we'll be even zanier.

I had to convince my husband NOT to look underneath the machine. Huh? Go rent the movie.

It's almost Nanowrimo!

Okay, I can't stand it anymore. I have to talk about Nanwrimo.

Some of you are going "Huh? What's Nanowhowhat?". Some are you are groaning "Oh no! Not another person obsessed with it!". And then there are a few of you who are jumping up and down in excited agreement.

If you are one of the "Huh?" people, you can go to the website or less time consuming, their What is Nanowrimo? page in their FAQ's. If even that's more then you want to bother with, basically it's a crazy project that they expect about 70,000 people to participate in this year. It stands for National Novel Writing Month. That's right, you're not confused. All these people will attempt to write a novel in a single month. The month of November to be specific. And no, no one said anything about writing a good novel. Most people don't even finish. I think the success rate is about 20%. Is that right? I'm too lazy to go check right now.

Last year was my first attempt and I managed to drag myself across the finish line against great odds. It was the most fun I've ever had doing something insane! I had to set it all aside on December 1st to "do" the holidays last year and I went through terrible withdrawals. I missed the break neck speed, the focus, the comraderie of all the other crazy Nano writers.

Sadly, by the time I'd finished my holiday commitments, I'd lost my momentum and then I got sidetracked by other things and.... sigh. I checked into the Nano forums now and then over the last year, but I never managed to get back to finishing or editing my story. (My story hit 50,000 words, the criteria for "winning", but I didn't actually wrap up the story - it needs at least 20-30k more words.)

Regardless, none of that has stopped me from getting excited about being able to do it all over again this November. I started to check the website regularly in late September, waiting for it to be "reset" on the first of October for this year's mad writing dash. Since this year's settings have been available, I have spent more and more time every day getting ready for the starting line on November 1.

Mainly I've spent the last week angsting over having not settled on a story. I knew from last year that I wanted to do a few things differently. Specifically I wanted to try first person voice. And while I really loved last year's characters, the story was set up to fit into the Young Adult genre, which meant I couldn't do anything too wild or off color. I wanted to have more freedom with my characters this year.

I spent a lot of my hours behind the wheel this weekend juggling plot possibilities. I didn't manage to find a new plot. In fact I ended up discarding all the ideas I already had filed away as potential projects. But I did manage to find a couple of brand new characters I was excited enough about getting to know that I knew I could easily spend 30 straight days with them. And today, jackpot! I was able to sit down and shuffle around what I already knew about them until it all snapped together into a framework for a P-L-O-T!

It's not like I've got it all figured out yet. I still don't know how almost everything is gonna to happen! But it's a huge thing to have that framework. Without it, I can't answer any questions. With it, all I have to do is ask the right questions and answers will follow. Eventually. With a lot of coffee and head banging and "arghhhing" and .... but still - that's the FUN part. Mwahahahahahaha! (And you were still kinda hanging on to the possibility that I was a normal person?")

It's hard to explain but trust me - from where I'm sitting - I have a story! Oh! I know how to explain it - It's like seeing that double stripe on the pregnancy test. You're pregnant! Part of you knows, especially if it's not your first child, that there's a lot of work (and let's be honest, pain) in your future. But at that moment of discovery, all you can do is think about that new little one you're going to bring into the world. You aren't ready to complain about stretch marks or poopy diapers or sleepness nights. You're too smitten with how miraculous it is that a tiny person is growing inside you. You're imagining how cute, how brilliant, how perfect he or she will be! It is sooooo exciting!!!!

Well, it was exciting a while ago when I decided I wanted to write about it. Now, a few hours later, my batteries are in serious need of recharging and so I'm mostly excited about pushing "Publish" on this post and dragging myself off to bed. But trust me, it's.... yawnnnnn.... it's most definitely exciting to have my plot and my characters, let's finish off this analogy, conceived and gestating. I can hardly wait to see what happens next!

One more thing before I turn off the computer and pull up the covers. If you, too, decide to take this wild Nano ride, let me know and we can add each other to our Nano buddy lists so we can check on each other's progress, spur each other on, remind each other to drink more coffee, eat more chocolate. Hey, writing is hard work - we need the extra energy. (Oh yeah, it's not a cult. Uhn-uh. Not Nano. Trust me. Would I lie to you?)

Okay, good night.

I need to name my characters.....

I need a title......

Okay, I'm going! I'm not gonna write anything else tonight. I need to figure out whether or not the protagonist is going to...



Monday, October 09, 2006

Weekend Adventures

This weekend was packed full with activities. Except for having a terrible cold/sinus "thing", everything else pretty much fell into the FUN category.

Friday we drove over the mountains (with an hour and a half extra driving time because of road construction (or by the looks of it - deconstruction) - maybe that part wasn't fun) to watch William's football game in Yreka. We had to sneak Rosie past the ticket booth into the game which wasn't easy as she didn't like having her head inside hubby's jacket. Once we were in the bleachers she got lots of "ahhhhs" from other families, and no one booted us out. Our team won by many touchdowns. It was the perfect sunny, crisp autumn day.

We backtracked a half hour to Mt. Shasta City to meet up with Sam and Kyla and had a birthday dinner for hubby at an Italian family style restaurant. (It's actually not his birthday until next weekend, but we're celebrated it during his time off this weekend.) Lots of eating and laughing. We transferred William and Rosie and their belongings to Sam and Kyla's car, as they were staying with them for the weekend so I could treat Jeff to a weekend in Ashland for his birthday gift. We got a call on our cell phone when they got back home asking where William's clothes were. He was still wearing his dress pants, shirt, and tie and the only backback he had with him was his school books. Oops, we'd backed the wrong bag. Good thing he fits into his brother's clothes.

We stopped in a coffee house for coffee-to-go (we had reservations on up the road) but we ended up staying for a "Bob Dylan Open Mike Night". All sorts of folks got up on stage and sang old Dylan songs. Some musicians were really wonderful but it was equally fun to listen to people totally screw up the lyrics. Most of the time the audience sang along. Even this dog did a few rounds of singing.

After a horrible night at the hotel (see previous post about my sinuses)....

Because of my bad night, we made it to the ticket window too late to snatch up any of the remaining last minute tickets for a play. I had a short period of feeling all horrible and weepy at screwing up the plans but hubby was all "I'm just happy to spend time with you, don't need to go to a play, everything is fine....yada yada". After I got annoyed at him for destroying my pity party, we had a lovely breakfast al fresco and I decided he wasn't evil after all, and neither was I.

We ended up getting tickets after all, buying them from someone with extra seats, for a matinee of The Winter's Tale (synopsis here), which was even the play I most wanted to see. I didn't know this play at all. Despite that, I had a few criticisms of the way it was done but for the most part I enjoyed the production.

After the play we had dinner at what used to be our favorite vegetarian restaurant. I say used to be because we discovered they are no longer a vegetarian restaurant. They still have most of their vegetarian menu selections, but somehow it's not the same. I liked that we could just open up the menu and order anything. It's too confusing now. I ended up ordering something that had ground lamb in it without realizing it. I think next time we come to Ashland, it might be time to find ourselves a new favorite restaurant. Sigh. Life changes. It's inevitable. It's just that it takes energy to keep adjusting, even it's ultimately a good thing.

After dinner I was delighted that some of the shops were still open. I hadn't expected that, but many of the shops must stay open until 8 pm on weekends. So we strolled up and down the fun "old town" tourist section of town popping into some stores, window shopping the rest. What was most fun was that being both a tourist and a theatre town, this is a place that enjoys decorating and drama. So everything and everywhere was already decorated for Halloween. All the shop windows looked so great. I could hardly wait to get back home (and feel well) so I could decorate my house, something I've been trying to find time to do since the equinox two week ago-ish.

Sunday we went back to the shops to go to a couple places that were closed the night before. We started off by trying a new place for breakfast and it was wonderful! I had eggs with a sweet potato hash that was delicious and I know I can (and will) easily make again at home. Next I got to visit a new quilt shop. They had the most wonderful Day of the Dead quilt in the window. It was apparently from a book. I didn't catch the name but I'm sure folks could google and find it.

One of my favorite stores in Ashland is called Unicorn Gift & Toys. It moved from Main Street a few years ago and the last few trips I haven't been able to find it. We finally found it this trip, tucked in on a side street with it's front entrance facing an alley - no wonder I couldn't find it for so long. I always love their selection of goods but I was completely surprised and delighted to discover that along with their regular items, they were stuffed to the rafters with high quality Halloween items - lots of folk artists work and reproductions of old paper goods - that sort of thing. It took me forever to pick out one special thing to buy, there was soooo much to choose from! I also found a Halloween advent calendar - how cool is that! Hubby spent a lot of time in the children's toy area bemoaning the fact that our children were too old to buy toys for anymore. He finally decided to buy himself a toy instead - a lance wielding Welsh knight on horseback. I'm glad he indulged himself. I realized years ago that if I wanted dolls and children's books and wondrous things like that, I would have to start buying them for myself. Dang kids only want things like new snowboard pants and CD's and parts for their cars nowadays.

The last shop we visited was the best new discovery of the weekend. Dang, I can't remember the name. Something like Behind the Velvet Veil. It was a "goth" store for grown-ups. Lots of cemetery stuff, Victorian Gothic decorations, Edward Gorey designs, Day of the Dead art, and pirate stuff just because it's fun. It ran from the silly to the beautiful. Even the building itself was wonderful, all brick walls and old wooden trim and high ceilings, like somewhere in London or Paris. I bought a handful of little treats and a black t-shirt with a gravestone image on it.

The only negative was that after being relaxed and fun all weekend, Jeff woke up Sunday morning in a antsy mood and went all "Bill O'Reilly" on me, talking politics with everyone he met. ARGH! I "accidentally" stepped on his toe to get him to stop going on about immigration with the lady at the quilt shop. All he did was say "Ow! You stepped on my toe!" Duh! I stepped on his toe again a few minutes later and he almost said "ow"again but then finally the light bulb lit up and he decided to go repark the car while I finished up making my purchases. I think he was just starting to think about having the vacation come to an end and having to go back to work and.... sigh. One never knows with my silly spouse sometimes. I suppose he wonders the same about me although heaven knows I'm never eccentric or embarrassing in public places. Uhm, don't ask my kids about that last comment, okay?

The ride back was even fun. We stopped at all the little towns. I wanted to catch each of the quilt shops. None of them ended up being open on a Sunday, but it was still fun to drive down all the old town main streets. We made it back to Redding by late afternoon and met the kids at the mall because not only did William not have any clothes with him, he also does not have any winter school clothes and there is no place in Susanville (except Walmart, where we found nothing to his liking) to buy him any.

Sam and Kyla thought it was beyond hysterical that I had to force William to buy new clothes. William hates shopping, hates trying things on, hates trying new ideas out. Sam and Kyla kept shaking William and telling him he was crazy and that he was giving teenagers everywhere a bad name! They kept offering to make the ultimate sacrifice and let me buy clothes for them, since I was so determined to spend money and William was so resistent.

We had a lot of fun at the mall. William and Sam auditioned for jobs as male mannequins at Old Navy.

I'm amazed at patience of the workers at the Halloween store. Here's the whole motley crew in alternative personas. William complained that the camera flash hurt his eyes. Hahaha.

Right after I snapped the photo of William in this cute little ensemble, he tried to take it off and accidentally took off TOO MANY LAYERS, almost exposing the real thing. Oops!! Blush!! Let's all have a laugh anyway at William's expense!

Fortunately our mall adventures were ultimately successful - whew! William found a zip up Burton sweatshirt at Zumi's and a three pair of pants at Old Navy. Sam and Kyla even convinced William to try on and buy a pair of jeans, something he has refused to wear except for a pair he needed for horseback riding lessons one year. I bought Sam a pair of jeans too, as a thanks for "babysitting" the teen and chihuahua. And then we took everyone out to Red Robin as a thank you too. Expensive, but well worth it as Jeff really loved his vacation.

We even made it home at a reasonable hour last night which was quite a treat. I was never so happy to see my own bed again as I was after this trip. Big dog Buck and all thirteen cats were well and accounted for (a friend watched them for us) but the cats were all MAD at us! I've never had them be angry at us for leaving, or at least not act that way. They acted wild, running around, batted us with their claws, laid back their ears, growled at us even! Well, except for Charlie who just jumped up on William, head butted him, and started in purring. All the kids keep threatened to "accidentally" take Charlie home with them. After an hour or so they finally decided to forgive us and we ended up on the couch covered with cats. It was like a scene out of the Star Trek episode "The Trouble with Tribbles".

I'm watching hubby suit up for work at the moment. Alas, all good things must come to an end. I hadn't been very enthusiastic about all the travel and work to make this trip happen (and the work yet to come to unload the car, laundry, etc.), but I'm glad I went ahead anyway. Surprisingly, even with all the road construction and driving and ticket troubles and stuff heads and everything, it ended up being what a vacation is really supposed to be - fun and relaxing.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The simple pleasure of breathing

I'm sitting here on the motel bed, propped up by four, count'em FOUR, pillows. It is a wondrous luxury. The bed had three. I stole two and allowed my hubby the remaining one. Then I inquired of the lobby clerk if there were extra pillows and she went out of her way to dig me up the last two pillows she could find, hiding in the laundry room. With this pillow bounty, I'm hoping that I will actually be able to to sleep tonight!

Last night, in another motel, was horrible, horrible, horrible. The head cold that I thought I'd fought my way through the worst of, came back to double attack my sinuses. Last night was all about having to decide between lying horizontally or breathing. One or the other. I couldn't do both at the same time. In fact horizontally, vertically, at a 45 degree angle, hanging upside down - breathing was only barely manageable in any position. Any attempts to clear my sinus passages led to pain from my nose all the way up over my head to the back of my skull. The kind of pain that makes one cry at the very thought of causing it again.

With two thin pillows and a very uncomfortable hard backboard, I doubt I managed a couple hours of sleep, snatched in ten or fifteen minute increments. I was better today being up and walking about. You might wonder why I don't take a decongestant, hmmmm? I'm not sure of the science of it but the simplest answer is that I'm "allergic" to them. I've been popping Vit. C, drinking cup after cup of hot tea, and I found a herb shop where I bought some herbal cold formula for an exorbitant price. As tired as I was from no sleep, I was still dreading the necessity to try sleeping again. But the fates seem to have taken pity on me and although I'm still breathing through my mouth to a large degree, blowing my nose now only causes dull throbbing instead of migraine level shooting pains. I'm feeling hopeful that tonight will be, if not pleasant, at least far less of a nightmare then last night.

On a completely different note, isn't this exciting - I'm typing this on my laptop on the free wifi at the motel! I've never done that before. It's very cool. If I'd remembered to bring my card reader for my camera, I could even have downloaded some photos to show you some of the "funner" parts of this weekend's getaway. Alas, you'll have to wait for me to get home for more details.

Hold on - I can share one pic with you. Along with the four motel pillows, I have this soft, fluffy creature to help comfort and cuddle with me.

His name is Ice Bat. Isn't he cute!!? Okay, so maybe I'm a tad bit strange. I saw these little voodoo dolls in another store and I thought they were cute too.

He's fairly large - a 14" tall or so I'd say. I don't have a ruler handy, so I'm just guessing. He also comes in a smaller, but less huggable, size. I found him in a little shop here in Ashland and when I wouldn't stop hugging him, hubby figured the only way to get me out of the store was to buy him. (He also says I'm suffering from chihuahua withdrawals and that's why I needed something to hug. Hmmmmm...) You can see some photos of more of his other Ugly Doll friends here.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

W is for.....

William - my biggest W, my youngest son. It's funny because we ended up naming him William only because it was the only name that both my husband and I could agree on. It wasn't near the top of either of our lists. Frankly I didn't think it would matter as I thought he would be a she and her name would have been Chloe. I knew it was William only a few days before he arrived. Long story. Now I can't imagine him having another name. He is sooooo William.

William - this time we're talking about The Bard. I came into appreciating him later in life, but I try to see a play or two every year.

wind - I love the sound of wind and rain, preferably while I'm warm and cozy watching it through a window.

windows - are frames onto the world. Depending on the angle, a window holds many different "paintings". Just the other day I was laying in bed appreciating how fortunate that I was that each of my bedroom windows over the years have framed beautiful tree branches - enjoyable alone or with a moon peeking through them.

Wisconsin - the state where I was born and spent the first ten or so years of my life.

Wicked - my favoritest play ever. Probably. Haven't seen them all yet so I can't say that definitively. My favorite soundtrack. And a great book.

wood - I've heated primarily with wood for most of my adult life. That's sort of an odd thing in this day and age. Sometimes fireplaces, more often woodstoves.

water - there's something so healing about water, whether it's the crashing of an ocean wave or the gentle drops of a hot shower

witch - that's me, just a little ol' kitchen witch. I collect kitchen witches for my kitchen, witch dolls and figurines - primarily in my bedroom, a few in my dandy new glass faced cabinet (gee, I still haven't taken a photo to show you!)

writer - what I want to be when I grow up. I suppose I'll grow up eventuallly. Sigh.

Whedon - a most excellent and brilliant writer/producer. I can't imagine a Buffy-less world.

Wheel of Fortune - I love to solve the puzzles. My family wants me to go on the show and win them all sorts of money.

walkingstick - an insect that looks like a stick. I was fascinated with little critters when I was a kid

watermelon - an odd food in that I hated it as a kid, love it as an adult

waterski - for most of my childhood years we lived on a lake or two. I learned to waterski. I could slalom, jump the wake. Some of my male friends could even ski barefoot.

whimsical - I love the word, and I love all things whimsical. I'm not big on "cutesy", but I'm a big sucker for "whimsical."

words - I love words. I mean, I started Wordplay - duh! Can you even imagine a world without words? I can't even imagine thinking without words although I suppose it's possible. Speaking of words, there's a really fascinating book called The Alphabet Vs. The Goddess by Leonard Shlain. I love words so much that I read the entire book wanting to not like it. But dang it, I did. Very intriguing theory of how words affect how we experience the world.

Wordplay - a great idea, if I do say so myself!

worry - I worry a lot. With a lot of kids come that much more worry. If it's not people worries, I'm pretty good at keeping it all in perspective. I figured out fifteen or twenty years ago that things worked out or didn't regardless of whether I worried about it a lot or a little. I've learned to take breath, wait, trust. The one exception is my kids. I'm a worrier when it comes to them, even an occasional anxiety or panic attack.

Wheel of the Year - I love to watch the seasons go round and round.

weather - I like weather, variety that is. If I live someplace where there's no change in weather, I get bored with it, even if it's perfect sunny skies. I'll take a little bit of sun, a bit of wind, a bit of rain, a bit of snow.

whales - I love all nature, but whales are particularly intriguing.

wild - although I mentioned I'm more of a rural gal then a wilderness one, that's not to say that I don't appreciate and treasure wildness. We need it to keep our proper place on this earth, part of all things, not masters of all things. I also like people with a bit of a wild edge. Not necessarily mean or dangerous, but just wild enough to rebel when it's important, or harmless fun.

winter - although autumn is my favorite season, winter has been a big influence on me. Born in January in Wisconsin, my mom said I slept better when she put my bassinet out on the balcony where the air was cold. When I say it like that, it sounds sort of creepy, huh! But I still can't sleep in a stuffy room and will take "too cold" over "too hot" any day. Growing up in the Midwest I spent a zillion hours in mittens, building snowmen, crunching or padding through snow, ice fishing, skating, sledding, and just enjoying snowflakes on my tongue.

walking - I like walking. It's a way to get from place to place at a pace that allows one to appreciate where you are at the end of each step. Stop to enjoy a garden, appreciate an old house, window shop in a store window. Or get lost in your own thoughts and tune out the world around you. Although my kids are more into participating in sports then I am, I can out walk them all.

Waste not, Want not - I'm not perfect, but I try to tread lightly on the earth.

wander - one of my favorite quotes - "Not all who wander are lost."

Which Major Arcana Tarot Card are You?

You scored as III - The Empress. The Empress is a maternal symbol. She is the mother figure who loves, nurtures and protects.
She will protect you, she will always be there when you are in trouble. When you fall over and graze your knee, the Empress will kiss it better.
Yet she is not a weak figure. Her compassion is strength. If her children are threatened she will stop at nothing to protect them. If well aspected in a Tarot spread, the Empress can symbolise security, protection and unconditional love. If badly aspected it can represent over-protectiveness, fear of risk taking and refusal to face the real world.

III - The Empress


II - The High Priestess


X - Wheel of Fortune


XI: Justice


I - Magician


XIX: The Sun


XIII: Death


IV - The Emperor


XVI: The Tower


VIII - Strength


0 - The Fool


VI: The Lovers


XV: The Devil


Which Major Arcana Tarot Card Are You?
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