Sunday, November 26, 2006

Gratuitous Cute Pet Photo

Mo-ommmm! They won't play with me! I've tried barking at them. Jumping over them. Sitting on them. Running in circles around them. Growling at them. They're just sitting there! Ignooooor-ing me! Make them play with me!

Holiday Photos #18

After our long train ride, where did we end up? In Edinburgh, Scotland! It was raining when we got there and pretty much rained (or drizzled or misted or rained some more) almost the entire time we were there. We saw blue skies the morning we were leaving.

But, that didn't stop us from loving this city. It's hard to say which part of the trip was my favorite, because that's sort of like being asked to choose which of my children I like best - it depends on the day you ask me and who's pissing me off at the moment - but it's pretty fair to say that if Edinburgh wasn't my favorite location, it would most assuredly always be in the running for the top of my list.
A fuzzy photo but the one that most easily explains why one of the first comments William made upon arrival was "You sure wouldn't want to parachute down into this city!" They were very big on spires of all sizes. The spires and all the dark stone and brick made me feel like we'd walked into the middle of a gothic tale. The only thing we did the first evening in Edinburgh was find our B & B and take the bus back down to the Royal Mile to scope out the area of the city we planned on investigating the following day. And we were starving and needed to find someplace to eat. Someplace turned out to be an All-You-Can-Eat Italian buffet, filled with both familiar and exotic dishes. I think it was probably William's favorite restaurant of the the entire trip. We have this photo of William and I at our table, one of the few of us together, because a young couple at the table next to us offered to take it. Notice how frizzy my hair is because of all the rain. William's hair looks like that simply because William doesn't believe in torturing his hair with the use of a comb or brush except on very rare occasions.

The rain made the restaurant warm and steamy. William made this little fellow on the window next to our table.

That's about it. Not too many photos of what we saw, I'll save the start of the sightseeing pics for the next post. Just this one more now - another of those very popular dark gothic spires in a park.

Notice the brightly colored wildlife in the foreground? They were having an Art Cow Parade. This herd of brilliantly bedecked bovines were scattered here and there all over the city. After a week of taking photos of ancient weathered this and thats, these cows were a pleasant change of photographic pace. If you'd like to see some of my cow photos, check them out at Laume's Studio.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Travel Meme

I'm doing another meme from Deb's Red Shoe Ramblings because she always has interesting meme's and I've just not been up for blogging recently. Stressed. Ugh. That's what having no roof and no heating system at the end of November will do to a person. I don't really want to talk about it. Unless I already did? Did I complain about all my house woes? Hopefully I've spared you. And like I said, I don't want to talk about it, I just want it to be all resolved. ASAP!

Today I forced myself to finish fitting all my novels into the shelf space I alloted for it. To do so I had to squeeze into a very small space between the television cabinet and the shelf space, not fun, so I've been avoiding the task for weeks. Months? The books have alternated between being piled up and topped down all over the fireplace hearth all this time. So it felt good to finally get the task completed. Now I just can't buy any more books because I don't think there's room for them, except for a few odd alphabetical spaces. Not buy any more books - snort - like that's gonna happen.

I also got all my holiday cards written out and addressed this evening while watching BBC comedy with William. It's not over yet, there are a few zip codes to find, some folks have moved. So I've got to add some info and seal envelopes and what not. It's easier to do cards in the last few years though. Since I blog and e-mail long distance friends and family so frequently, I don't have a year's worth of news I have to catch up on with anyone. No more holiday letter! And hey, if you're one of the few of my friends or family who doesn't have e-mail, well, sheesh - GET WITH THE PROGRAM! It's the 21st century - helloooo! Although, if you're one of those people, you probably don't have internet either, so it's not like any of them are any of you who are reading this. So, never mind.

Okay, I said I was gonna do a meme, so here ya go:

On The Road Again

1. If you had to move 100 miles or more to the north, east, west, or south, which would you choose, where would you end up, and what's so great about there?

Hmmmm. Do I have to go straight north, east, west or south? I can't go, say, 100 miles northwest? I know, I never answer a question without modifiying. So, let's see. North - I'd have to go at least as far as Bend, Oregon before I'd bother moving. That's probably more like 200 miles. 100 miles north is Alturas, CA, and that's even more isolated then Susanville, so forget that. 100 miles south of me is Reno, NV. I wouldn't mind living somewhere in that area. Carson City is even nicer, that's about 120 miles. A little out of my price range probably. Reno is a nice small city in that it has some culture but still lots of wide open spaces. 100 miles east is.... nothing. I mean nothing. I think it's about where the Black Rock Desert is, that's where Burning Man is held every year. And when it's not, then there's nothing there but salt flats. I think there's nothing east of me until you get to Salt Lake City and although it has beautiful mountains, it's in Utah, so probably not a good fit for me. Very hard to find a coffee shop in Utah. 100 miles east of me is Chico, CA, which, except for 100 degrees plus temps in the summer, I wouldn't mind living in at all! Very liberal college town, pretty old neighborhoods, rural surroundings, mountains just a few minutes away. Although, alas, again, a bit too pricey. If I kept going west from there I'd end up somewhere on the Mendocino or Humboldt coastline and I'd LOVE to live there but it's completely out of my price range. Sigh. Which would I choose? Probably east since I would be closer to the ocean, but I'd choose north if I could go northeast since that's where our retirement property is located.

2. Do you have a favorite stretch of highway or byway for driving, touring, or wandering?

I'd have to say Highway 101 from San Francisco all the way up and around the Olympic Peninsula. My favorite part of the stretch is the Oregon coastline. Great beaches, lots of friendly small towns, lighthouses, quilt shops, sea food, forests... what's not to like!

3. Are you happier to start a trip or return home?

A little of both. Starting out is best because I still have a trip full of possibilities ahead of me. I tend to give myself just enough time to get back home, with just a bit of dawdling time built in, so it's not very relaxing to drive back home. But I also suffer from anxiety attacks pre-trip, until I'm well on my way, so that's a not fun part of starting out.

4. Plane, train, automobile, bicycle, or foot?

I don't like to fly, but I won't let it stop me if I'm going a long distance and it's the only practical way to travel. I mean, I don't want to walk to Europe. I'm not a fan of bicycles - to me it's just a sore butt in the making. I like to hike, but I like to hike once I get to where ever I'm going, not as a means to get there in the first place. I travel by car a lot and although some of it is boring and tedious, I like having control of my own method of transportation, I like the freedom to come and go as I choose. Car would definitely be my first choice. Having said that, I love the feel of traveling by train and I like the freedom to relax, knit, eat, chat, watch the scenery go buy and not have to keep my eye on the road. I thought I'd hate not having a car in England but traveling by rail was so easy that I didn't miss having a vehicle and having to deal with it at all!

5. Do you overplan or underplan your travels? (Assume that "no" is not a valid answer.)

I always underplan. I only plan enough to make sure I don't (usually) end up with no place to stay the first night. I usually know where I'm headed or who I'm visiting, but I like to leave a lot of open space between definite plans in order to be spontaneous and enjoy unexpected stops or events.

6. Do you like to travel alone or with others? This wasn't one of the original questions, but I think it's an interesting one. I like traveling alone or with just one or two family members. It gets more complicated when traveling with other people. Everyone has their own idea of what they want to do and it's hard to fit everyone's expectations into the itinerary. Several of my family members are great travel companions though and so having the pleasure of their company makes up for the compromises I need to make to keep everyone happy. Having said that, I do enjoy meeting up with other folks on my travels, or going to visit other people as the destination of my trip.

There are a lot of other questions I could think of to add - fast food or stop to eat? Camping, motel, or fancy hotel? Driver or passenger? Back to the same places or someplace new each year? Business or pleasure or a bit of both? Pack light or carry everything including the kitchen sink?

I don't tag folks for meme's but if you do this one, let me know so I can come read your answers!

And now, tea kettle is whistling. I've got to get to bed so I can get up in the morning and wonder where my roofer is yet again. Sigh.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Holiday Photos #17

These are the last photos from Wales. And no, this isn't another recreationist's group. These were, we were told, dignitaries on hand for the parade. Parade? What parade? And if you're an American, at least, if you're an American who lives in the western half of the continent, the land of "dressing up means wearing your nice jeans", aren't these robes and uniforms a kick?! And the women, in proper wool suits and those hats! I felt like I was watching a scene being filmed for some period movie. People don't really dress like that still, do they? Well, apparently they do. (Remember, you can click on these pics to see more detail.)

I rounded the corner onto, well, not the high street, I guess it was the "cross high street" and the sound of drums and horns rose up, the marching of regiments approached. The parade!

But what kind of parade was it? What was the occasion, the event, the holiday? The locals seemed to be as confused as us tourist folk. No one seemed to have known there was going to be a parade. I eventually asked the right person however and learned it was to celebrate the graduation of this marching class of... I think they were called The Sea Cadets. The British Naval version of our ROTC from what I can gather.

You can't see the building in either of these photos, but the pub on this corner, the one these young sailors are marching around, was also where we stayed for the last night in Conwy, in a room on the second floor. I had gone out to run an errand, leaving William in the room and I was bummed that he was missing the excitement down on the street. But then I looked up and saw the pub window above me open, William leaning over the sill enjoying a bird's eye view.

And as I mentioned in the beginning of this post, we must say goodbye to Wales for now. We're off on a long train ride to new adventures. I spent most of the day looking out the window at the scenery and knitting a hat in rings of green and gold. As you can see, William, both Williams, spent much of the ride catching up on some sleep.

And when we arrived........ where would we be when we stepped off the train? Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of William and his mother.....

Saturday, November 18, 2006

I was going to go to Reno today but I went to Paris instead

Huh? What's that you say? You went to Paris today!?

Well, no. Not really. One could only dream, eh? But it was a little bit like going to Paris.

But before I tell you all about that, let me just go back another day or two and say I've had a lovely week. Not a very productive week, mind you, but I don't really even care all that much. In part because I've made a decision to stop feeling guilty about every damn thing I do or don't do or should be doing or shouldn't be doing or.. well, you get the idea. I've decided to give myself the rest of the year off from guilt. A vacation of sorts. And so far, let me tell you, it's been a lovely one.

I already told some folks, but just because it was so absofriggin' cool, let me brag about it one more time. We attended William's football awards ceremony on Wednesday evening. All the kids got a certificate. A handful of kids got trophies. William was one of them. It was sooooo cool to see him get this little bit of home town glory.

Like the coaches said, they wish they could give all the kids trophies. It's a team sport. And so on. All true enough. But William summed it up when he pointed out that this was his first "real" trophy. He has a whole shelf full of the things, all purchased by his parents for the end-of-the-season party for Little League or Youth Soccer and so on. But this trophy wasn't bought, it was earned. He worked hard and a combination of that effort and bit of natural talent made him stand out. His coaches chose him for this award and that meant a lot to him. Everyone was shaking his hand and slapping him on the shoulder in congratulations. It was the type of thing that he'll remember even when he's the one getting gray hair and perhaps sitting in the bleachers watching his own child down on some sport field some day. It was a glowing, grinning sort of happiness moment for both him and for his proud parents.

I was supposed to go to Reno with Jeff Friday. He had a doctor's appointment and I had a lot of shopping errands, the kind that have to be done in the big city. When, by Thursday night, I still couldn't find all the receipts and assorted needed papers and objects I needed to accomplish the errands, Jeff decided to go to Reno on his own and I'd stay home and try to get some projects done around the house.

First thing I did was get up and do a bunch of regular daily tasks - laundry, dishes, a bit of straightening up. I had just pulled the vacuum cleaner out when Jeff returned, several hours earlier then I'd expected him, looking quite chipper. He'd gone for his yearly check up with his oncologist, blood work tests in hand, and the doc had said (knock on wood) that he looked healthy, he looked great, he could come back next year if he really felt like he wanted to, but that really there was no need. Jeff wanted to go out to celebrate so we had lunch at the nicest place in town.

I was going to go back home and vacuum after that but on the way home, we picked up the tall, active teenager who we spied walking home from school and aforementioned teenager reminded me that there was nothing left in the house edible to anyone but a tofu freak like me. Except for the no food thing, he was in a great mood as he had a) no homework and b) no school for ten days!

So instead I went to the market. Except, on the way to the market I noticed the little house on Main Street that they'd been remodeling into a business for the last month. I had thought it was a beauty salon, but on closer inspection this afternoon I realized it was in fact a gift shop. So stopped in to see what it was all about.

I walked in the door and my, oh my, oh my - I'd stumbled into France. It was a home, bath, gift shop, all things French! The beautiful colors! The old but classic style! The flowers! The statues! The opulence! The texture! Sooooo purty! Smelled sooooo good!

And some of you will recall that I've been pining for all things French since my five days in Paris this spring. I've stopped talking about it all the time. At least I've tried not to talk about it all the time. It sounds a bit selfish, y'know - "Oh, I'm sooooo missing Paris!" But that hasn't stopped me from missing it. It's just gone underground. And not just Paris, but all places far away or exotic or both. You know the saying "I dream of going to...." Hey, I just thought it was a saying, y'know. I didn't understand it, I thought it was just a way to say one was thinking about a place. I didn't realize that one can literally dream of places. Long for them. Wish for them. And yeah, I know that it's all rather fairy tale like. I'm not really going to go off on world adventures for the rest of my life. I don't even want to, I'm rather a homebody. (Okay, you can all. stop. laughing. Now.) But I do dream of Paris. I go to bed at night and wake up in the morning having traveled the globe. (And speaking of traveling the globe, have you all seen the Where the Hell is Matt video? Probably most of you have, as it's all over the internet. But if the answer is no, then go here, watch, enjoy.)

But don't worry, I didn't lose my head and buy everything in the store. Nope. I remembered the whole "I'm decluttering" mode I'm working on at the moment and I only bought a teensy box or bag or two. All my items lovingly wrapped and boxed and then tissued and gathered into a decorative high end store bag. I felt like I'd had a teensy little vacation without even having to hit the highway or runway.

Oh, what did I buy? A garden weathered looking bust of a young woman. (I'll have to show a pic eventually) A couple of gold rimmed cup and saucers, mix matched and on sale, in pink and burgundy. And two brightly colored nubby kitchen wash clothes. See. I didn't go overboard at all. I might go back later for a pretty painted tin or two, and some lavender soaps. I mean, I need to give the shop my regular business so it will stay in business so I can go in there and wander and smell and pretend I am back in Paris whenever I need a fix. Ahhhhhhh.

I finally did manage to get to the market, after stopping at a couple of other gift shops (hey, they were on the way) and picking up a couple of holiday gifts on sale. I spent a long time at the market, bumping into folks I knew and having long aisle-blocking conversations. One of those small town perks. Still pretending I was somewhere else, where food is thought of in terms of cuisine, I bought all sorts of edible goodies, including some ready to eat soups, a round of French bread, and some brie cheese and a caramel/cranberry/nut spread. Of course William complained it was stupid food. Until he saw his father's tray of food. Then he conceded he might eat it if someone else would fix his plate and bring it to him. Sheesh. And I fixed his plate and brought it to him. Double sheesh.

Tonight was relaxing on the couch - where William declared he was bored. BORED!? He's only been out of school for an evening. What, oh what, will he do with ten more days of freedom!? Jeff and I, however, enjoyed the idea of bored, we in fact embraced it and spent the evening as a pair of couch potatoes watching our favorite television shows, the grand finale being my weekly fix of Doctor Who. And if that wasn't enough excitement, I discovered that not only is Doctor Who Season Two on the Sci-Fi Channel, but Doctor Who Season One will be starting from Episode One on the BBC-America channel starting next week! My new obsession, now twice a week!! I am so jazzed!

Ah look, it's 3:17 am. I've been sort of backwards lately on my day and night, sleep and wake patterns. I mean, more backwards then usual for me. I'm trying to get back to something reasonable, like being in bed by oh.... say..... 1 or 2 am. And it's gonna get a bit tricky this morning in particular as, in theory, roofers are going to show up bright and early this morning to put a new roof on our house. It's not like the guy gave us a time, but I can only assume with the short days this time of year, he'll want to get started soon after daylight. Right? Makes sense, doesn't it? So, I'm guessing the TROMP TROMP TROMP of work boots and the BANG RIP BANG RIP of shingles being ripped off above my head might make it difficult to sleep after their arrival. You think?

Yawwwwn. I'm getting tired just thinking about it. Oh no, wait. I'm probably tired because I haven't gone to bed yet. Well then, I'll be off to my tangle of flannels and quilts.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Y is for.....

I wrote my Y is for... post a week or so ago and Blogger ate it. I'm finally getting back to it. It's been almost a month since I've posted a Wordplay post. In part I can blame busyness and that "brain fog" thing that us "old folk" get sometimes (menopause is so much damn fun. NOT) But I also have to blame reluctance to finish up. Sigh. All good things must come to an end, eh.

yarn - I was a knitter and crocheter before I ever discovered quilting. I'm not particularly interested in crochet anymore, but I've been doing quite a bit of knitting in the last couple of years. Easier to sit on the couch or train or porch and knit then to set up the studio for fabric work. And faster gratification.

yarn - as in, a good story. Love one of those too!

Yosemite - this was one of those places I figured would be fun to visit but I wasn't in a hurry to go to as, eh, I'd seen a thousand photos of the place. Of course a photo never captures a place completely and the first time I finally did visit, I spent the first drive through the valley with my jaw dropped to my chin and my hands on my chest in awe (fortunately I was on a bus, not driving). It was so breathtaking! We were just gonna spend the afternoon but our car had other plans for us and broke down on the way up the river canyon. We ended up with an emergency camping spot and a day and a half to see the sights. It was the one and only time I packed the tent - "just in case" - intuition comes in handy on occasion.

yarrow - one of my favorite herbs. It's taken over my flower beds. Once I was with the kids at a park in the middle of the wilds of Montana when Sam decided to try to take the tip of his finger off in the handle of a water pump. I had nothing with me - no bandages, nothing. Fortunately yarrow, which will stop bleeding, can't think of the medical term for it - antihemmorhagic? - anyway, it was growing all around us. I chewed it up and wrapped Sam's finger in and it worked beautifully. Boy, was my stomach queasy after that little adventure! Blech. But Sam still has a working finger. And yarrow is a very pretty herb. I've won a number of ribbons entering it in our county fair.

yardage - what quilter doesn't adore yardage! And I have lots of it to adore!

York - we wouldn't have gone to York if a working class fellow in a truck hadn't pulled over to see if we were lost, a bedraggled pair (William and I) dragging suitcases up a long hill in Conwy, Wales. He insisted we had to go, so we did. And I fell in love with the Shambles, a little bit of medieval street still thriving with shops hundreds of years later. It's like getting lost in Diagon Alley!

yam - I love yams, sweet potatoes, squash, all that sort of yummy winter storage food

yard sale - I think we've already firmly established that I'm part treasure hunter, musta been a pirate in a past life, eh? ARGH! So yard sales are such fun. I haven't been to a lot of them in the last few years however - not enough time to plan for them (mainly I just go to ones because I see it set up and swerve to the side of the road at the last minute) and remember, I'm trying to reduce what I own, not add to it.

yellow - a lot of quilters don't like yellow in a quilt. I have a quilting friend who is infamous for her fear of using yellow in her quilts - LOL. Me, I rather like it's audacity, it's refusal not to be cheerful. And not just in quilts. Who doesn't love a hillside covered in daffodils!

year - I put this on my list and can't for the life of me remember why now, but I figured I'd leave it in here and see if it occurs to me later. But I have this to say about it, off the top of my head - the year sure does speed by faster nowadays then it used to!

yearnings - who doesn't have them. Sometimes I wish I could be more content with life "as is", sometimes I think yearning for something new, different, or far away is what makes life appealing.

yeti - William wanted to be a yeti for Halloween a number of years ago. Eventually we found the perfect yeti mask and I set about to be a good mother and make him a shaggy white costume to match. Alas, I'm not that good a mother. I don't get along well with patterns and the shaggy fabric just about did me in. I called up a friend at the last minute, who doesn't even celebrate Halloween, and she came through for me and finished making the costume. And that's how good a friend she is!

yoga - I used to do yoga back in my early twenties and I have to say I was surprised even then, and still remember all these years later, by how much better I felt when I kept up the practice. But life and and kids and what not got in the way and I haven't done it in decades although I've been meaning to start it back up again for years. There's even a class in town, or at least there was the last time I checked.

Yule - You call it Christmas, I call it Yule. Or, truly, I call it both, as we still have residual Christmas traditions from my childhood and my childrens' childhoods. I'm not gonna throw out all the traditions just because we've changed over the years. As if I could, tradtions don't work that way, and the family wouldn't take too kindly to it. Boy oh boy, you should have heard the ruckus the year I tried to put up a theme tree with new decorations and not use the old decorations. But old traditions have been tweaked and new traditions have been added and stuck and for me now, it's all about the turning of the wheel and the return of the sun. And it's about getting together with family and hot cocoa and peppermint candy canes and brightly wrapped gifts and candles glowing and fir trees scenting the room and houses decorated against the long nights sand holiday music and.....

yes - there's a lot of talk about "Just say no!" Which is good advice if you're talking about dangerous drugs or people asking you to sit on a committee. But it's equally important to know when to "Just say yes!" Don't think about it - just say yes to jumping in the water, calling up an old friend, eating dessert, dancing in the street, giving someone a hug. Yes!

yin/yang - y'know (and there's another Y word for you. I use it alot. "y'know") the older I get the more I see the world not as yin or yang but as both simultaneously. I've not only gotten less confused by the concept but I now understand, in a way I doubt I can express, that life is always both. There's no peak without the valley. There's no sadness if it hasn't followed some joy. It's not really saying yes if you don't have the option to say no. Summer doesn't delight if one hasn't longed for it through a long dark winter. Two sides to every coin. Two sides to every argument.

yum - or more specifically - YUM! - I love to eat. I suppose if I had to, I could eat to live. But I would much rather live to eat.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

An Odd Question MeMe

I'm feeling too lazy to go find my Wordplay notebook, and too lazy to upload pics, and even too lazy to think from scratch, so I'm gonna steal this MeMe that Deb did over at Red Shoe Ramblings a bit ago.

Someone knocks on your door at 2am, who do you want it to be?
A knock on the door at 2 am would make me nervous, even in our topsy turvy time lifestyle. It would probably be one of William's friends or perhaps Jeff home early and not wanting to find his key. But if it could be anyone I wanted it to be - well, hell, let's go totally fantasy. Johnny Depp. Joss Whedon. J.K. Rowling. Someone fascinating to spend a night in conversation with - put on the coffee!

Your boss tells you he/she will give you a $20 raise if you'll do your job naked. Do you stay and take the raise?
Since I'm my own boss, it would mean walking around my own house naked. Of course it also means I'd be paying myself. And cats jumping on my lap - claws plus skin. Doesn't sound worth it.

Put yourself in a nutshell.
Why? If I did, it would have to be a rather large one - maybe a coconut.

Ever see a ghost?
I'm not sure if it was a ghost or a nature spirit or...what it was. Twice. Like Deb said, I've felt them around me from time to time though.

Happy with your body?
I'm not unhappy with it, all things considered. There are things I wouldn't mind changing, but not enough to actually do surgery or anything. If someone could wave a wand and *Poof* - new skin tone, or something like that then, well heck ya.

A reason to move to Iceland.
None that I can think of, and I wouldn't want to be so far away from my family, but if there was a reason, why not.

A place you've lived that you miss.
A little bit of almost every place I've ever lived. Obviously some a lot more then others.

A job you'd never do, no matter how much you were paid.
A hit man.

A band/group you thought was cool when you were 13.
I was only just getting the idea of contemporary music when I was 13. That might have been around the time my folks bought me a record player. Yes, RECORD player. The first records I owned, my father bought me. Neil Diamond Tap Root Manuscript. The Fifth Dimension - Age of Aquarius. Gawd, I'm old.

You have a nightmare, who's the first person you think to call?
I wouldn't call anyone. I might get up and read or something.

Wanna have kids before you're 30?
I did. Several.

A memory from high school.
Having a friend's boyfriend come up to me in the hallway and give me a hug. On reflex, I had my own boyfriend, I gave him a kiss on his neck. How embarrassing. I have a lot of memories of high school, but that was the first one that bubbled up to the surface.

Ever had a crush on a friend's parent?
Not that I can remember. I had crushes on teachers on occasion.

Do you look more like your mom or dad?
I've always said I look more like my dad, or rather, my dad's side of the family. And yet, I have an old photograph of my maternal grandmother and it's eerily like looking into my own face. The older I get the more I think I am starting to look like my mother.

Something you've always wanted to learn to do.
Well, here's the thing. I know for some people, learning to do something is the fun part. My son Sam is like that. For me, I like the part where I already know how to do something. But if we could list something I've always wanted to know how to do - meditate, speak a foreign language (or two or five), create my own website (I'm not sure if the length of time the computer has been in my life would qualify for "always"), learn different dances, how to talk to ghosts, snowboard..... there are a lot of other things but they're more accurately "things I'd like to know how to do better".

How you'd like your life to be in 10 years.
I think I'll just keep Deb's answer - it pretty much covers all the important parts: I'd like all the people I love to still be here and healthy, and I'd like for us all to be happy with ourselves and our lives. If all that is true, then the details of it all don't matter that much to me.

Something you learned this year.
How to find my way around a subway system.

What do you want for your birthday?
Nothing specific. I'm not like a little kid for which the world will be perfect if only they get that one perfect gift. Like a Red Rider B B Gun or whatever it was the main character wanted in A Christmas Story. Things I can really just go out and buy if I really want them badly enough. What will really make me happy is just to have all my family remember to call me and wish me a happy birthday. Not have to cook. Do something I enjoy or just relax.

Name 4 things you did yesterday.
Made a bunch of phone calls.
Visited the new Walgreens in town on their first day open for business.
Went out to dinner with my hubby.
Put Rosie's dog fences back together (we'd been using half of it inside to keep the grandkids away from the woodstove)

Last item you bought yourself?
I bought some things for other people today but, for myself? Hmmm..... I guess a Starbucks coffee a couple of days ago.

What did you have for breakfast?
A cup of coffee and some Organic Frosted Mini-Wheats with regular milk instead of soy milk because I still have half of a gallon left from Noel's visit and no one else will drink it.

Name a celeb you crush on.
Oh, they come and go. My newest crush - David Tennant aka Doctor Who.

Name the last 3 songs you heard.
The soundtrack from Donnie Darko. It was on a commercial. Who sings that song anyway? I've always really liked it. Uhm.... the radio was on when we went out to dinner, but I can't remember what songs we heard. Right now there's an infomercial about Loretta Lynn on the television and there was a clip of her singing in the background. Oh, and we watched Men in Trees tonight and Jewel was on it and she had a scene where she sang, but I don't know the name of the song. Man, I'm really batting zero on this question. Ah! Now they're playing "Coalminer's Daughter"! Yah, a song I know the title of!

How many hours of sleep do you get each night?
Six to nine hours.

What do you wish you were doing right now?
writing my Nano novel - zipping through, word count soaring, ideas tumbling out as fast as I could type them. I could come up with something more fantastical - off on some amazing vacation perhaps. But really, I'd be thrilled just to break my writer's block.

Who's the first person in your phone book on your cell?
William's friend Brandon

Last time you witnessed a fight?
A physical fight? Good grief, I can't remember. A verbal fight? Oh, probably a few months ago my hubby and I probably yelled at each other, slammed a door or two.

Name 3 places you'd like to travel to.
Thailand or Bali, back to the UK, Greece

Do you know how to ice skate?
Yes, I do. I used to be quite good at it - skate backwards, twirl a bit. Now I'm lucky stay upright.

Name something you like that's out of the ordinary.
I suppose it depends on what you consider ordinary. I like things like cemeteries and skulls and stuff like that. There are a lot of people who like odd things like that, but to another crowd that would be out of the ordinary. I like old fashioned vegetables that a lot of people say "blech" to eating. Ditto for tofu.

Is bigger really better?
It depends on what it is. Bigger sections of the world living in peace - bigger is better. A pile of dishes to wash - smaller is better. And even something like a delicious plate of your favorite food - bigger seems better but truly, you can only eat so much before you start to feel sick.

What do you think of Brad Pitt?
I guess he's handsome but he's never done it for me.

What color are your toenails.
natural - toenail colored.

Do you own anything with a skull on it?
Lots of things!

Traveled to Europe?
Aren't I the lucky one. Yep. For the first time this last spring.

Last movie you watched?
On television I watched Uptown Girls with Noel when she was here. We both thought it was going to be an amusing but cliched comedy. It turned out to be very sweet sad. Before that.... I've watched television but not a lot of movies lately. Oh, a few weeks ago we rented Prairie Home Companion. And before that I think I saw The Libertine and before that V for Vendetta.

Where were you when you had your first kiss?
In a car with a guy that I definitely didn't consider myself out on a date with. He didn't have kissing privileges and sort of sprang it on me before I could react. I washed my mouth out when I got home. Ewwww. Fortunately I kissed a very nice guy soon afterwards and figured out why folks found it such a worthwhile activity.

Last board game you played?
I don't remember - Taboo? Scattergories?

Leather or lace?
I'm not really drawn to either. Velvet? Angora? Nubby linen?

Ever had a black eye?
Uhm, I can't remember. I can remember a bruised forehead and bruised cheek but I'm not sure about an eye.

Have you ever worn fishnet stockings?
Oh probably, back when it was in style. That would have been when I was in junior high school, so almost 30 years ago.

Whew. Done. What an odd MeMe indeed!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Holiday Photos #16

The last full day we were in Conway they were doing recreations by a group called the Plantagenets, something like the SCA in the US I presume, up at the castle. It's a little bit of theatre, but fun.

There's something sort of surreal about the players and their tents and banners set up in living color in the grays and greens of what is more of a castle ruin then a castle the way it would have been in the actual time of knights and ladies. Sort of like watching two time frames running at the same time, or ghosts, although whether the stage or the players are the apparitions, who knows.

Here's William being taught how to shoot a long bow.

A troup of musicians.

By the time they had a round of exhibition sword fighting, there was a light drizzle falling. I managed to score a fairly dry seat... er standing spot, in an archway above the crowd.

Here are two knights going at it. See the knight in the yellow and black tunic in the middle of the background crowd? We had met and befriended him the night before when we stumbled on the troup in a local pub. Before the sword fighting began, they introduced each of the knights with great flourish and at each name the crowd cheered. When they reached the yellow knight and announced his name, a French name, we cheered once again while the rest of the crowd did what was apparently expected - they booed! We were confused and tried to switch midcheer. Something along the line of "Yaaaaa-ooooo?" which caused the crowd to laugh at us silly Americans.

This is one of my favorite photos from the entire trip. This little girl went to great effort to drag her papa's shield to him.

And as always, I've quasi-arbitrarily divided the photos into touristy and artsy. You'll find more castle pics over at Laume's Studio.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The post that is about nothing at all

Nothing except as a useful attempt to avoid starting in on my real writing for the day, the nameless Nano novel that I purport to still love but realize too late I started out on the wrong foot with and am dread to keep writing without fixing first but know that the fixing should be done later.

We had rain predicted for yesterday. We had a few pregnant with rain gray clouds billowing across the sky, but mainly more of what we've had for weeks - beautiful too blue to be real skies. With all the water pouring from the skies just north of us (okay, hundreds of miles north of us, but it seems close in the greater scheme of things) I felt guilty hogging all these blue skies. I might regret that comment later this winter, watching foot after foot of snow accumulate on top of my car perhaps. We'll see.

Rosie the chihuahua is either loony crazy or perhaps suddenly stung by an imaginary bee as she is racing back and forth from the couch to the floor, looping round a cat with each wild turn and leap. The cat is nonplussed, except she's watching, moving her head back and forth almost imperceptibly so, she thinks, no one will notice.

Jeff wanted to go out for breakfast this morning. By the time I was ready to eat, it was noon and I suggested we go out for Mexican food instead and since it was such a nice day, we should walk. He sort of stared through me, blinking and said "Walk? Why?" Uhm, because it was a nice day and it would be nice to walk. On purpose.

And it was nice. I brought my camera and took some photos of autumn leaves, what few are still clinging to the trees. Gusty winds the last couple days have sprung most of them free of their moorings and they're all dancing or piling underfoot.

We passed by the thrift store on the way and I spied a nice stroller. How much? Four dollars. Sold! Perfect for when the grandkids come to visit. Then I noticed some frames in the dumpster and the fellow sorting through them said "Feel free to take what you want!" and so I did. I filled the stroller up with about a dozen frames because who can't use more picture frames and my kids are always wanting them too. Found a few more things as well. They have men do most of the sorting at this thrift store and y'know, men just don't know what sells and what's garbage. And then off we went down the street, now pushing a stroller overflowing with STUFF. I felt like a bag lady. Or rather, we were a bag couple?

I have an online kinda buddy (don't want to claim to be her best friend or anything!, but she's certainly more then an acquaintance... although, actually, we've never met in person. Although one of my in person good friends is actually good friends with one of her good friends and their children are going to marry each other when they come of age and so that almost makes us relatives.... kinda. Oh rats, someone should really sort out the new etiquette of internet relationships!) Now that I've nicely digressed, back to.... I have an online kinda buddy, and she's a marvelous writer. Her name is Joshilyn Jackson and you can check out her website and then, if you haven't already, you should rush out, purchase, and immediately read both her novels because they really are that good.

But I didn't bring her up to mention how great her books are, although I figured I might as well, but to tell you that in my mental flailing around for a name for my nano work-in-progress, I thought of Joshilyn's work-in-progress, which she refers to in her blog as TGWSS. I've been seeing the acronym here and there over months of reading her blog. I've never really thought about what it might stand for before and then yesterday, suddenly, I thought of it and realized at the same moment that it simply must stand for The Girl Who..... what. Something Something. No.... The Girl Who Saw Spirits? The Girl Who Sang Slowly? The Girl Who.... I couldn't get it out of my mind. Who cared about my pitiful untitled plot anymore.

I thought about asking her what it stood for but decided that was presumptuous. I mean, I know how I am about my writing. Sort of superstitious and secretive. If she'd wanted us to know what it was, she'd have told us, right? And then, accidentally, I found myself on her Bio page instead of her blog page and there it was - the name! Written out for the entire world to see. And now, dang, I know it and I can't obsess about it anymore and so I'm back to - what do I name my own story!?

William came home from school today and didn't say hi. He just went straight through the livingroom, James in tow, into his room, door shutting behind him. He ignored me on the couch. He ignored his father on the computer. he ignored his Rosie jumping for joy at his feet that her boy had returned!

HELLLOOOOO! William!!!!! He came back out and stood, waiting to see what I wanted. Uhm, we do not walk past people in this house as if they do not exist until you need a ride to Walmart. You say "hello" when you enter a house and you say "goodbye" and "I'm going to blah blah's house" when you leave it. Or even better, you ask if it's okay to go wherever you are planning on going. Even teenagers. Especially teenagers.

My husband is listening to Wierd Al Yankovic mp3's on the computer for some reason. Did you know a college buddy of his was roommates with Wierd Al? Wierd but true.

Now William and James are going through old newspapers and ..... look! William and James both have their name in the paper in the local sports section. Here, let me read it for:

"Other Child, Other Child, James Crenshaw, William Zekas and Other Child led the defense for the Grizzlies."

Preen, preen, proud parent.

Okay, I can't stand Wierd Al a moment longer. I'm off to wrestle the mouse away from my husband.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I am mostly not here because I'm swept up in Nanowhino. Okay, okay, it's actually Nanowrimo. But my version is more of a whine-o. And it's not like I'm absent here because I'm busy actually WRITING. No, no, no. That would be too straightforward. Too simple. Too difficult and agonizing as well. No, I'm not here because I'm absorbed pretty much 24 hours a day in angsting about how I'm NOT writing.

Today I sorta, kinda, maybe have started to get a handle on it. I actually wrote some words. I clawed my way up past the 5k mark. Which makes me, oh, only about ten thousand more words behind where I should be right now to make it to 50k before the end of the month. And yet, I'm feeling a teensy bit hopeful once more.

I think it's because I'm finally remembering how freakin' hard it was last year while simultaneously realizing that it might possibly still be hard this year! You see, before this, I wasn't worried or nervous. I was excited, but in a calm "Been there, done that" sort of way. I was so high after winning last November that I don't think I stopped beaming smugly about it until some time in late February of this year. At the beginning of this month's Nanowrimo, I was going into it thinking, no sweat! Even after I missed most of the first week to my grandkids, no problemo. I thought this lackadaisical confidence would be an added plus. Uhm, no.

You see, I was remembering that glorious rush and I'd forgotten that before I hit that endorphinated high, I'd spent 30 days in absolutely mind boggling (mind boggling might actually be one composite word, but in honor of this being Nanowrimo month, I'm splitting it in two, and going on and on and on about it because there's that whole word count thing that turns "succinct" into a 4-letter, er four letter word and causes even the most honorable amongst us to pad our stories shamelessly. Shamelessly, I say. And just for the record, once more time - shamelessly.) .... oh, I went on so long I doubt any of you remember the beginning of this sentence, so let me start over again from near the beginning... I'd forgotten that before I hit that endorphinated high, I'd spent 30 days in absolutely mind boggling, woe-is-me anguish.

I'd forgotten all about it and so I was shocked to find that's what I'm sloshing around in now - a bunch of woe-is-me angsting with a bit of indignant surprise that I'm having to do the HARD PART all over again! How come I have to do the HARD PART again!? Unfair!

Anyway, I need to get back to writing, or staring at what I've already written, hands frozen in frustration over my keyboard, not sure what's gonna happen tonight. At least I've gotta go try write a bit more before turning out the lights. Maybe another thousand words. Five hundred words? Okay, at least I'll write until I run out of tea and chocolate. Send me some "good writing vibes".

Or send me chocolate. Whichever is easiest for you.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I got a personal letter from Michael Moore this morning. Okay, personal to me and thousands of other people, reminding me to get out and vote. He added that if we took a photo of ourselves in front of our polling place, holding a broom - see, we're "sweeping out the crooks and warmongers" - he'd put the photo up on his website.

Hey, I'm always up for a good public display of support. Plus it's fun to confuse people. Since I'm probably voting too late here on the west coast to get my photo up on Michael's homepage, I'll go ahead and put it up here.

I'm cleverly disguised as Elpheba sweeping away the Wicked Wizard of Oz and his minions. If you don't get the reference - Elpheba is the main character in Gregory Maguire's bestselling novel Wicked, which (witch?) is a wonderful read with a frighteningly timely political message.

And if you think I'm overstating the issue, remember, just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they aren't out to get you! When I took this photo - actually, a very nice young man with a pony tail, a stranger to me, took the photo. I just posed for it. - but as he was handing me back my camera and I was thanking him, a very angry looking official came storming out of the building and in her most stern I'm-in-charge-here voice she demanded "Can you tell me what's going ON here!?"

I told her I was taking a photo of myself in front of my polling place. No one else. Just me. I smiled sweetly. Did she have a problem with that? Apparently she did, but she couldn't think fast enough of how she might prevent me, and besides I'd already taken the photo and she looked vaguely familiar to me so I suspect I looked vaguely familiar to her as well, so she just continued to look very grumpy and went back inside. I wonder - oh, one can only hope here in this conservative backwaters! - that I wasn't the only broom wielding voter of the day and she wanted to know what exactly was up with all the wierdos.

But don't worry, despite the disguise, I voted under my real name, so as long as the crooks and warmongers don't tinker with it, knock on wood, my vote will count.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Halloween creatures and football

A few more Halloween photos, and that's all I've got. Did I mention that both my cameras decided to die on the same day. ARGH!

Here's mommy witch Noel and baby witch Nonny.

Another pic of baby Nonny just 'cuz she's so cute!

And then we had lions and tigers and bears.... oh my. Oh, wait. No bears. But we did have

Baby tiger Garret and

baby... big boy lion Joshua.

And then there's the hanger brigade. Teenagers are easily entertained. No need to buy them fancy toys like snowboards or ipods - snort! Oh yeah, and there's that flying monkey again.

We got Trick-or-Treating late, most folks had turned out their porch lights. Mainly we went to places where we knew folks and we went inside so we could introduce the grandkids. Now the babies think that T-or-T'ing means going into houses. Oops.

Last night was William's last football game. I've been looking forward to having the season over - well, not true. I've been relieved to have all the away games over with as it's a real pain to drive back over the mountains in inclement weather. We were lucky not to have any snow or rain for any of our away games. We did have inclement weather for yesterday's game - yes, it was a DARK and STORMY night. The rain did stop during the game though, so the bleachers were wet but we didn't get too wet.

Here's Josh with his "fuh-ba" and Garret with his "buh-bah". Notice Garret's ball is tied to him with a string? I got tired of climbing up and down the bleachers to retrieve it. I took it with my NEW camera. I was going to get another relatively inexpensive Kodak, like my orginal digital. It was user friendly and sturdy. I don't blame it for finally kicking the bucket, it had gone through a lot of abuse over the years. But they didn't have any at Walmart, the only place in town to buy a camera, so I went for a Panasonic Lumix Mega O.I.S. It was just a little bit more and it had twice the telephoto range, which is an important feature for my needs. I still need to return my second camera - it was almost brand new and had NO business breaking on me. I'll do that in Reno so can have more options for a second camera.

The kids were amazingly well behaved during the game, which was a good thing because it was the most exciting game of the season. (of course they made up for it by being cranky and wild at the restaurant afterwards. One can only ask so much for so long out of little kids.) William and his buddy James were both tackling players left and right. It was one of those high scoring games where we'd score then they'd score then we'd score. So it was exciting almost to the end. But then we stretched ahead 40-28 at the end so the coaches could let all the 2nd string kids go out and finish the game and so everyone got a chance to play the final game. It was one of those perfect nights.

I think Joshua is a natural sports kid. Noel is soooo not a sports person. Hehe. He was fascinated with the lights, the players, the footballs, the crowd. He kept standing on the bleacher seat so he could get a good view and yelling at the top of his lungs "Uncle William!!! Go!!!!" Of course he thought every player in a purple uniform was "Uncle William." This morning he woke up and the first thing he did was sit up and ask me "Uncle Willliam put on his big hat again?", meaning his helmet. Maybe I'll have to get him his own uniform for Yule. It's never too early for grandparents to start giving gifts that mom and dad would never purchase. Hehehe.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A witch and her flying monkey

Here I am, sans cape, freshly dressed in "ordinary clothes" the one day of the year when I'm not cleverly disguised as an typical small town mom. Hehe. I'm not sure if you can see them very well, try clicking on the photo to enlarge it, but these are the shoes I found on sale months ago. I saw them and instantly thought "witch shoes". Even though this was the first time I'd worn them, they were 100% comfortable all day and well into the night, even through hard pavement carrying a heavy load - more about that load in a minute.

And here's a second photo that more clearly, hopefully, again, click to enlarge, shows Rosie's wonderful wings. I'd have a better photo to show you but right after this not one, but BOTH of my cameras decided to sputter, take a few last photos with great effort, and then DIE. One refuses to open the shutter. The other one insists that any and all batteries I insert into it are "exhausted". ARGH!!!

And right after the mass demise of cameras, the phone rang, and things really started hopping.

It was Noel on the phone. I was halfway through telling her I was still a tad bummed out that she hadn't been able to come up for a visit when she interupted me to say "But I am coming up. In fact I'm driving up at this very moment!"

Happy happy joy joy!

And then she added "I haven't had time to get the kids any costumes. Would you mind running out and...."

And so that's what I did. I hung up and ran about town - in my wonderful shoes and my wonderful hat - and found costumes for the grandkids.

William got out of football practice right after sunset and I just had time to squeeze in taking him and his buddy James to a local haunted house (which was even better this year then last) before Noel arrived. I came home to find Noel the witch, Joshua the lion, Garret the tiger, and Nonny the baby witchling all waiting anxiously, treat buckets in hand, to go out trick-or-treating. All those wee trick-or-treaters were the aforementioned "heavy loads". Thank goodness William and James, strong, fit, football playing teens, came along to help carry the slowpokes.

Noel is planning on staying until Sunday morning, which is wonderful. It's always hard to spend quality time with the grandkids when the visit coincides with other family and a holiday. It's nice to be able to relax and just hang out with the kids. Although one doesn't actually "hang out" with three children 27, 18, and 6 months, respectively, old. One runs after, juggles, grabs, balances, hops over, heads off, cuddles, pulls out of assorted dangers, and decodes children of that age. Hanging out is far too passive an activity to be included in the activity list.

And if that wasn't enough wee folk energy for you, my friend Kristen came up for a visit today with her two little hobbits, Irene and Rhys, in tow. Throw in a chihuahua, rain, a cat in every corner, and an obstacle course of blocks, toys, other child paraphenalia, and it was enough to keep a dozen mothers/grandmothers busy.

Despite the chaos, it was a lovely day. It's fun to have so many different ages and developmental stages together to contrast and enjoy. I wish I had had a working camera so I could show you just what it all looked like. Although I don't know when I would have had a free hand to take a photo..... unfortunately you'll just have to imagine it. Or maybe fortunately. As I swore to Kristen, and I wasn't even making it up, I had vacuumed just the day before - I swear!

The one complication to all this happy confusion is that November 1st is the start of Nanowrimo. But hey, by cutting out a few unnecessary hours (snort!) of sleep, I managed to write a few words tonight. Er, this morning. To further slow me down, somehow I managed to misplace the notebook full of plot outlines, character names, and other important and helpful tidbits of information I've been gathering for weeks. So I not only battled writing in the brain-dead-zone of deepest night, but I'm working with only the roughest memory of all the pre-planning I'd worked so hard to collect in order to help the writing flow along smoothly.

Thursday and Friday hubby is home from work so I'll be able to slip away for a few hours of writing time in the middle of the day. I'm not sure that will be enough time to catch up, but at least I won't slip farther behind in the pack. Knock on wood.

I'm sooooo gonna need caffeine in multiple dosages