Friday, June 29, 2007

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

I walked past my front door early this evening when I realized something didn't look quite normal. What was it?

It was a deer outside the screen door and it was..... are you ready for this.....

it was licking Charlie, my orange tabby!

As I watched, Charlie, who had been sleeping before being mistaken for a furry salt lick, woke, startled. I can only assume that in some cat form his thoughts were along the lines of "Whoa! WTF!"

It just so happened that my camera was nestled inside my purse on a small table just inches from my left hand. I continued to watch as I tried to quietly pull my camera out and turn it on. Meanwhile Bambi and Charlie were sniffing noses, another cat outside was pressed up against the screen trying to look inedible, and a third cat, safely inside the screen door, watched the scene with great curiosity.

As you can see, by the time I was able to snap a photo, the deer had realized he had an audience. He quietly watched us watching him, with no apparent fear until Rosie pattered up to the screen to see what was so interesting.....


And off it ran. I stepped outside and saw it had joined a buddy standing in the yard, which you can see from the photo below, taken earlier today, wasn't very deer friendly, being full of fences, lawn furniture, decorations, etc. (Of course the baby and teenager weren't still sitting out there.) Not looking terribly worried, they slowly picked their way across the lawn and trotted off down the street towards the copse of firs across the street. (And when I say "they" I mean the deer, not the baby and teen.)

While you're looking at the photo, notice the pretty giant flowers? The sprung up instantaneously. Okay, so they're nylon whirligigs I found at the Dollar Tree yesterday. There are five of them (which you can see better if you double click on the pic). Pretty, kitschy, and the vibrations help keep voles and gophers out of the yard.

Something just occured to me - maybe it was some sort of DEER DARE! They were very young deer, just out of their spots. Maybe they were bored, teenage deer.

Mike (walking down the street with Bambi): Look at all those cats.

Bambi: Where?

Mike: Over there. In that yard on the other side of that picket fence. Hey, I dare you to jump over the... no, wait, I dare you to go up there and lick a cat.

Bambi (stopping in the middle of the street to stare at Mike): Are you frickin' nuts!? No.

Mike: Oh, come on! Do it. (Mike shoulders Bambi, pushing him towards the sidewalk)

Bambi: No. Way. I am so not going to lick a cat.

Mike: Chicken.

Bambi: I am not chicken.

Mike: Chicken. (Bambi still looks hesitant.) I'll tell you what. I'll go up there into the yard with you. Look. That orange one is sleeping. You can sneak up on it. Go on. Go lick it!


Thursday, June 28, 2007

I've Been Gone Long Enough

I didn't mean to abandon you all, my loyal readers. (My mother has been reduced to sending threatening e-mails if I don't start blogging again soon) I hadn't planned a two week hiatus. Last you heard from me I was rushing out the door all willy nilly to San Diego.

I thought I'd continue blogging in the cracks and crevices of time left between family and activities. I even brought my lap top as my son has wi fi. The wi fi didn't work and the cracks and crevices were so small that it wasn't worth trying to squeeze anything into them. Instead, I decided, I was on vacation and you'd all hear about it when I got back home.

At least, that was the plan. What really happned was, everyone followed me home. It was a good thing, a planned thing. More family arrived after that. Unplanned, but nice. Computer time was still elusive. Who wants to be staring at a keyboard when the other option is a smiling grandbaby? I couldn't even manage to find time to upload photos. And for me, blogging without photos is like ice cream without chocolate sauce - sweet, but not worth the time/calories.

Last night I finally got the photos uploaded. Tomorrow the crowds are leaving. Things will be calmer, quieter (less expensive). I should be at least a teensy bit happy about that. But I'm not. I only resigned to it. I'm gonna miss 'em all. It's been hectic but it's been lovely.

So. Let's get caught up, shall we. With no attempt at a segue - The Graduation.

I made it in time.

Don't you think us girls cleaned up rather nicely?

There were a lot of flags. (I wondered about these guys' silver helmets - keeping the aliens from reading their thoughts?) Flags on poles....

Flags on grandbabies....

Flags at the podium.

A few rather odd guests. Should I have used the red eye eliminator on this photo?

Even the tents looked like flags.

I make jokes, but it was also very touching. And a bit too long, as graduations tend to be. But not long compared to the many hours of training it took for my son to accomplish his goal. I'm very proud of him.

Proud mom with three fantastic sons.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Catastrophe Narrowly Averted

My mom called this morning.

"Are you already on your way?"

"No. I'm not leaving until tomorrow."

My mom was surprised. "You're going to drive the whole twelve hours in one day?!"

"No, I'm going to drive to the Bay Area tomorrow and drive the rest of the way on Friday and get in late Friday night."

"But the graduation ceremony is Friday morning."

"No it's not, it's Saturday morning."

"The invitation says it's Friday morning."


"Yep, here's the invitation. It says Friday."

SHORT PAUSE. DEEP BREATHING. "I have to call Lisa now."

So I call my daughter-in-law and it turns out that every time I had said "I will arrive on Friday night" she heard "I will arrive on Thursday night." and no one realized that I had it ALL WRONG!!!! I suppose that's a compliment, that they assumed I knew what I was doing.

So. ACK!!!!!!! I've spent the last hour gathering and packing and making phone calls and doing last minute things and after a quick shower William and Rosie and I will be on the road to San Diego.

Later gators!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tarot Challenge

Check it out!

On Laume's Studio today I've announced a blog challenge in which one creates their own personal tarot deck. I know I have more readers here but, it seemed an artsy thing. If you're interested, check it out.

Let's Get Back to Nature

For a while now I've been feeling the need for a "nature" fix. You wouldn't think this would be too hard to manage as I'm fortunate enough to have lovely trees and gardens in my own yard, a pasture full of cows just a block down the road, a copse of fir trees kitty corner to the side of our yard. Even more convenient, I'm only a 30 second car ride or a ten minute walk from the edge of real honest-to-goodness, get-lost-in-it wilderness. But it's not that easy. Life is busy. There are distractions.

Everything came to a boil for me the other day, stirred up by all the treasure hunting shows I mentioned in my last post. Yes, I only had three days left to do a month's worth of work before I ran out of time and have to leave for San Diego. Yes, I was already behind schedule because I felt under the weather last week. But I decided that I'm always behind schedule and there's no way to get a month's worth of work done in three days anyway so, what the heck!

I recruited William to be my wilderness partner for a day of rock hunting. Or if we didn't have any luck with that, then just wandering along a stream. My expectations for the trip were low, I just needed to get out in the woods. He wasn't excited about spending his "one and only day of summer vacation" (he started a summer school class today) with his mom. But I wasn't willing to go out into the wilderness alone and he was, if not enthusiastic, at least willing to be cheerful about his forced companion job.

It turned out that William didn't actually have the day off, he had to be back for weight training by early evening, so we just went a few miles out of town where I decided to investigate a road that I'd never driven, although I knew it led off along a local trail and campground. A quarter mile off the highway the road turned into a one lane, gravel, fire road but thanks to the Subie's all wheel drive, we were able to persevere.

Our first stop was at an open rocky hillside on the up grade of a mountain. I got out of the car and wandered around looking for rocks. I didn't find any that seemed to want to come home with me, but I discovered a whole tribe of "stone people" living there and spent time taking photos. They're worth a post of their own so I'll save them to show you here or over at Laume's Studio on another day.

William always finds a more active form of interacting with the world and before long he'd set about creating stacks of rocks all over the hillside. It looked tres cool although the sun was still high in the sky, making the piles almost shadowless, so it was difficult to take a decent photo of them.

Here's a picture of one of the shorter piles. I like how it looks like a squat little figure placidly sitting there watching William building off in the distance.

When William got tired of building rock spires, he started on another endeavor. You've heard of a Shoe Tree? Well, William made the first ever (I presume) Rock Tree.

Here's a close up of it.

When William finished creating his art, we continued, up and over a mountain ridge until we arrived at a fork in the road and a small creek. William found this throne. I love this photo.

He walked tightrope style along a fallen tree to investigate out of sight for a bit, while I wandered along the creek. I found a small dark agate. Not an amazing specimen but still, I found an agate, that made the trip worthwhile.

Except for the mosquitoes, it felt so great to be out in the woods. I kept thinking "why don't I come out here more often!?" I was reminded of a woman I knew who lived in a beautiful home with an ocean view. From their house it was perhaps a quarter mile down a road that made a T with the Pacific Ocean. There was even public access and a parking lot right there. We came to visit and of course stopped at the beach and she said she hadn't bothered to visit it for years. YEARS! I remember thinking I would never take such a great treasure for granted but apparently I do. No matter how scenic the view, driving by the trees and river and chapparal and mountains every day isn't the same as getting out of the car, walking around, and interacting with them. (Although I still think I'd be on the beach at least every week if I lived close to it!)

Here is some manzanita, Douglas Firs rising in the background. The manzanita leaves were backlit by the sun and looked like gold coins floating on the hillside.

After eleven windy, dusty miles we reached Goumez Campground on the Susanville River. It was very picturesque. It was also completely deserted. William had taken a mistep at the creek and soaked one of his shoes so he chose to stay in the car listening to music, Green Day shattering the wilderness quiet, while I went down to the river.

I saw this fellow laying in the river and wondered if he was dead, he stayed under the water for so long. I threw some pebbles his way to see if I could get him to move. After the fourth or fifth rock he got tired of having rocks thrown at him and turned to swim directly towards me. I didn't know if he was poisonous or not so when he got just a few feet away and put his head out of the water to look RIGHT AT ME, clearly more annoyed than curious, I decided it was a good time to leave.

It's a great time of year to see mountain flowers as this is the greenest you'll ever see these dry mountains. I didn't stop and take photos of them all because I didn't want to push William's goodwill too far. Most of the flowers are amazingly small and fragile looking for growing in such harsh conditions. Except these, which I call Mule's Ear but I don't know if that's what they're really called. They're huge and bloom everywhere in late spring. The hills around the campground were literally carpeted with them.

If you click to open up this last photo, you can probably see the small flowers in the foreground a bit better. I liked this tree stump on the edge of a large meadow which was our last stop. It looked like a portal into the faery world or perhaps a place someone would hide a bag of gold and then, as stories like this often go, never return to claim it. Just before I took this photo, I saw a... I think it's called a skink. It looked like a short, fat snake but it was really a legless lizard. The front half of it was green and the back half of it was blue! William was bummed he didn't get out of the car fast enough to see it before it disappeared beneath a pile of old branches.

Just after the meadow, the batteries on my camera gave out, we arrived at a paved road (the road went through and came back out on another highway) and it was time to get back to civilization, food, and weight training.

The afternoon was physically tiring but oh so spiritually rejuvenating! It convinced me I need to try harder to spend more time outside with the elements this summer, whether it's more time in the woods or on the beach, or just having tea outside or weeding in the garden. We drain our own batteries when we spend too much time away from the natural world. Our computers, televisions, cars and the like are all brilliant accessories in our lives but they are all things that take energy from us, they don't share energy with us. We need to reconnect more often with flowing water, fragrant breezes, patient trees and ancient rocks in order to recharge our reserves living energy.

One last photo - here are the rocks I brought home. Nothing terribly out of the ordinary, although I found a pretty rose quartz. Just different colors, textures, and patterns that caught my eye.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Rocks in My Head

Maybe. I've been known to be as stubborn as a boulder. But I definitely have rocks in my house. And my garden. Lots of them. I love rocks.

I've discovered this new show (at least new to me) on The Travel Channel called Cash and Treasures. The hostess and her camera crew travel around the country treasure hunting. A week or so ago, right after I was digging for bottles where they'd dug up the street for the new sidewalk outside my own front door, I watched their episode about digging for bottles. After the show was over I spent the next couple of hours studying and researching the old bottles we have, a collection from scavenging trips hubby took with his grandmother when he was young. I discovered that it's unlikely any of our bottles are worth more than $10 at most, but it doesn't really matter because the value is in their sentimental value for my husband.

Last night Cash and Treasures had five back-to-back shows on. Let's see if I can remember... they went hunting for geodes, meteorites, sunstones, gold, and ... a blue stone somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains appropriately enough.... tourmaline? Aquamarine? Anyway, it was a rockhound's idea of a FUN evening. Gawd, am I a nerd, or what!? Or would that be a geek?

I have a lot of rocks around my house. I couldn't possibly show you all of the bowls, baskets, rows, and piles of rocks and stones I've collected. But I can show you a few.

These are all large stones. From L to R: a brittle sandstone-ish rock, some ocean clay, California jade, and a stone fossil of a sea sponge.

I've got green rocks. They're actually a lot greener in person. Hmmm. If you click on this one, you can see the green better. I wonder why it doesn't show up well?

And white rocks. And red ones.

These are my agates. Agates are my favorite rocks. I find myself almost hypnotized by the swirls and patterns in them. They remind me of lace or music or fractals. Oil looks like that sometimes when it spreads in rainbow patterns across a puddle. Or cream in coffee makes these complex designs for just a moment before it blends and disappears. I found most, but not all, of these agates.

In the Cash and Treasures show, the hostess goes treasure hunting and then has her rocks or fossils cut, polished, or turned into gems and then they have them appraised. I'm more like the collectors they interview during the show who keep their treasures in their natural state. It's not about how much the treasure is worth, it's about the anticipation of the hunt, the thrill of discovery, the beauty and uniqueness of each individual find.

Here are my smaller agates. These are really small, some towards the bottom of the pile are almost grain-of-sand sized. There are several layers of them in this tiny jar. They may be small but they're still beautiful.

This is half a geode that I purchased. I liked how it reminded me of underwater kelp forest. You can't see but, on the other end of this same shelf are some small otter figurines.

I collect more than rocks. Anything I find walking on the beach or in the forest. Here is a basket full of beach treasures - rocks, shells, sea glass, fossils. One day while wandering a long stretch of shore, another beachcomber walked up and started up a conversation. He asked what I was searching for and I told him agates, although really, anything that caught my eye - shells, sand dollars, pretty stones of any kind. He said he was looking for fossils, he'd heard this was a good place to hunt, but he wasn't having much luck. I looked down near my feet, bent over, picked up the large shell fossil you see in the upper lefthand corner above and showed it too him. "Like this one?" The look on his face. I recognized it, having been the one looking at another person's treasure with the same awe and envy. (if you are confused, the rippled line is where the edge of a shell, probably a scallop or a large clam.)

In fact I found several of these fossils that day. I don't know if the gentleman who stopped to talk to me ever found one. For a long time I was the only one in the family who could find an agate on our beach trips. My kids and husband would show me stone after stone - "Is this one? Did I find one? Is this an agate?" They'd show me quartz and small rounded pieces of shell, even sea glass (which is getting really hard to find these days!) It's hard to explain exactly what makes them stand out, what to look for when you scan the beach or sit in a gravel bed running your hand through it. William finally got the hang of it and has found several although he loses interest after awhile, more interested in building sand castles (or destroying them), and climbing in the tide pools. Hubby was the last one to find one and it was cause for great celebration when he found his first agate. He, too, is only interested in beachcoming for a short while before flopping down on a dry spot to simply listen to and watch the waves.

I would have shared a photo of some of my shells but they were a bit dusty and I'm too lazy to clean them off tonight. As you can see, I collect driftwood too. Oh, and I just remembered, I still have a gift box of labeled minerals and rocks I was given as a child. I used to have a box of rocks I'd collected when I was young, including some beautiful Lake Superior red agates, but sadly I lost them sometime in my late twenties or early thirties. I don't know exactly when. I only know they had disappeared after a couple of household moves in as many years while going through my divorce. The box also held other childhood and teen mementos, including the poems and stories I'd written.

Here I am watching Wordplay, a movie about crossword puzzles and the people who do them, taking about rocks and poetry. Yep. Definitely a nerd.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Different Kind of Bug

Remember the bug invasion I was discussing last week? Well, knock on wood, the bug population seems to have peaked and I'm not having anywhere near as much of a problem with kamikaze bugs diving into my drinks as before. That's the good news. However yesterday a new bug appeared on the scene - a stomach bug. ERG. That's the bad news.

That means yesterday was a complete wash in getting anything accomplished. The bright side of things is I still felt well enough to fill in the hours reading. And well enough to run out and get myself a huge order of sweet and sour soup from the new Chinese Restaurant and that seemed to help, or at least not hurt.

William hung around the house being glum. Remember he was grounded? Well, yeah, good thing you remembered. Because I didn't. A couple of his buddies came by in the middle of the afternoon and they hung out in his bedroom for about forty minutes before William popped his head into the bedroom where I was quasi-napping and said they were all going to walk down to Burger King. I had the "o.k." halfway out of my mouth before I suddenly remembered "Hey! You're supposed to be grounded!" So I nixed the Burger King trip and told him to send his friends home. Even though he'd managed to get a free forty minutes break from being grounded, apparently it made things all that more unbearable.

Hubby was home last night and we all watched a movie that has been on the "to rent" list for a while - The Prestige. I'd heard a bit about it, how it had a twist ending. (Don't worry, no spoilers) Jeff and I spent the movie trying to be the first one to figure it out while William, who'd seen only the end of the movie, kept his mouth shut and knowing what was to come, gathered an impressive number of clues that he shared with us after the ending. I'm usually really good at figuring out the plot twists or the whodunit but I have to admit that the writers did a fantastic job of luring me off down lots of dead ends. I started to figure it out just before the ending, but there was still pieces of the puzzle missing all the way to the "OH!" So, yeah, good movie.

Now we want to see The Illusionist which I've heard is also a surprise ending. And speaking of endings, in case you didn't know, the real ending to the new Pirates movie is after the credits roll! I wish someone had told me this BEFORE I went to see it. The frustrating part is that I'm always a credit sitter but for some reason I didn't sit through the credits for Pirates 3 and so now I'm left wondering what it is. I have a friend who sat through forewarned who can tell me, and of course I can probably find it out online - you can find out almost anything trivial online. It's amazing how many times a day we find ourselves asking ourselves a question and then log on and voila! The answer. What did we do before the world wide web? Did we walk around with thousands of unanswered questions all the time? How did we bear it?! - but getting back to the movie, I'm not sure if I want to be told or if I want to go back and see it for myself. Maybe the local theatre will let me just go back in for the last few minutes of the film. It's a small town, they just might if I go during a slow night.

I also rented Wordplay. I mean, come on, how could I not! (And speaking of Wordplay, I'm planning very soon... as in, when I can get around to it, soon being a relative term.... giving Wordplay it's very own blog and starting some new word games. So, stay tuned for that one.) The movie Wordplay, however, is about people who do Crossword Puzzles. No one else in my family will be at all interested, but I thought it sounded interesting. Just like when Lisa and I rented Shut Up and Sing - the boys did the "Yawwwwn" thing and went off to find something more interesting to do. But we really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look at the Chicks.

Well, ugh. I'm still feeling a bit off my feed but I'm going to try to get started on the rearranging. I was going to do it one wall at a time so I could avoid the whole packing and unpacking of belongings but with my new plan, that's looking pretty unrealistic. So, I'm off to find some boxes to pack up the books and knicknacks on the old shelves for the transformation to begin. Yippee. Fun. My favorite activity. Yah!........ Not.

He did it again! I just heard voices, opened up William's door and found two of his friends. Jeff had let them in. I sent them off laughing at William's misfortune.

Friday, June 08, 2007


You've all heard of Stonehenge, yes? Did you know there is also a Woodhenge? There is! Right in the middle of my livingroom!

How many standing wood cases can you see? Hint: there are seven visible in this photo. (And for the record, there are a number of real woodhenges. )

Our elderly neighbor across the street passed away last year, her husband passed away about six years previously. Her son, our friend Al, lived with her for most of those last years to help her as her physical and mental health failed. The family home is now being sold and today they began an estate sale of the contents that the family didn't want to keep. Last night Al showed me through and I set the alarm and showed up bright and early this morning to have the first opportunity to purchase two floor-to-ceiling, glass fronted, oak book cases.

They're exactly the type of older piece I've been on the lookout for, with little success, for years. I start to pull apart my old make-do shelving units and suddenly these two bookcases appear, and for a reasonable price to boot. It certainly lends credibility to the theory that one has to clear out the old in one's life to make room for the new!

The bookcase in the middle of the photo is one of the new cabinets. The second one is a matching piece, well, same size and trim design, but rather an accompanying piece with a different front, two full length glass doors. You can catch a glimpse of it behind the rocking chair. After I get everything in place I'll post some real photos of them. As you can see, at the moment there isn't enough space in the front room to back up and get a decent picture.

Unbelievably there are now SIXTEEN tall shelf units or bookcases in my living room and dining room area, plus three cabinets that are only waist high. There are bookcases and cabinets coming IN and cabinets and bookcases going OUT, or going to other rooms. It's crazy insane.

Of course these new treasures mean all the deliberations about what should go where that I'd finally worked out over the last few days had to be re-deliberated this afternoon. I spent several hours alternating between wandering around with a measuring tape in hand and sitting on the sofa pondering and trying to visualize various options. Okay. Not exactly true. I ended up with less then three hours of sleep last night, so I probably measured and pondered for about an hour and I fell asleep on the couch for about forty minutes until the phone woke me up.

I think, knock on wood, I've come up with a plan, but even with those forty winks this afternoon, that's still less than four hours of sleep in the last twenty four hours. The rest of the day was filled up with helping the neighbors, running errands, and tracking down William who was not where he said he was going to be and, in fact, tried to pretend he was where he said he was, not knowing I'd just driven across town and checked. He is now grounded for the first weekend of the summer. He hasn't tried a dumb teenage trick like this before and I hope the grounding convinces him it's not worth repeating. Argh. The bottom line, Woodhenge will remain standing until tomorrow.

I found a few other things at the estate sale today. I posted some photos over at Laume's Studio.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Crazy Me MeMe

I'm still in the midst of CD madness and some family angst. In fact, I think I need to do a couple of flow charts and lists to keep track of all the different stressses I'm juggling at the moment. Sigh. But I don't really want to whine about all that - I'm all out of cheese at the moment. (one more thing, I need to go to the market soon.)

So instead I will do this MeMe my daughter-in-law Lisa did on Creative Slave today.

1. Where is your dad right now? On a whole 'nother plane of existence. Unless he's been reincarnated already.

2. Last time you kissed someone? A couple of minutes ago I kissed my Rosie. She's furry but she's still a someone.

3. What is something you've learned about yourself recently? I don't know if I've learned anything new about myself lately. I just keep relearning the same things over and over again it seems. Like, once again I learn I can handle stress better than my husband. Or, I like rainy weather. Or I have a hard time keeping any part of the calendar free of commitments.

4. What color is your watch? I don't have a watch. I have a cell phone and it tells the time in the top righthand corner. The cell phone is black.

5. Who do you love? My grandparents, parents, ex-MIL Gloria, all my kids, all my grandkids, all my dearest friends, my cats, my dogs, Mother Nature, my garden, the beach, my bed, my laptop......

6. Are you close to your mom? Yes. I nabbed myself a good one.

7. Where does your best friend work? I've never known how to answer this question as most of the time I have several long term dear friends who are all "best friends". One of my best friends works for a San Francisco Bay Area school district running a program that helps families with special need children, doing assessments and helping them network with resources. Another best friend is a stay at home mom who is still home schooling her youngest teen. Another best friend is a Waldorf teacher who work with special needs children. Another is in the middle of remodeling their 100 year old Victorian home. Another keeps track of a huge multi-generational family and helps in a home computer business. Another works as an office manager for a company that does publicity for the bio-tech industry. And so on..... I don't really know where to cut this off. Think of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood - they were ALL best friends. Only in my case, they're not a group relationship but a bunch of individual relationships.

8. What are you listening to right now? Traffic going by on the street outside. The cat's tongue as she cleans her fur. The television on low in the other room and occasional comments or laughter from hubby as he talks to the screen.

9. What do you smell like? Usually I just smell like me. I don't wear perfume. But I do have this coconut lime body spray I like and sometimes I spritz myself with that. And I smell, I suppose, like whatever scent my shampoo is at the moment.

10. What color are your pants? Today they are black. I haven't been wearing pants, I've been mostly in shorts lately. But it's been rainy and cold here for a couple of days. In fact, I looked outside this morning and was shocked to see new SNOW on the mountains! So I'm wearing black jeans and even shoes and socks (instead of flip flops) and a long sleeve shirt (the new fairy shirt my mom sent me that I thought I'd have to wait for fall to wear) and a pink sweater. And underwear. No bra. And my glasses. And wedding ring. And a silver kokopelli charm on a chain. Uhm..... yep. I think that's it.

11. Do you have a roommate? MANY roommates! My hubby, a teen, many cats, two dogs, other family that have homes of their own but come for frequent visits. And don't forget all those bugs.

12. What color is your bedroom flooring? In need of refinishing oak hardwood. It's sort of a dusty golden tan.

13. Do you have a chair in your room? I have a footstool. But it's got a box on top of it. No chair, but that would be nice. I've always wanted a bedroom that had a little reading alcove.

14. What time of day were you born? I think it was in the morning. Which is odd, if you know me, you know I'm much more likely to ANYTHING later in the day.

15. Do you know anyone who is engaged? Engaged in what? Conversation? Illegal drug dealing? Oh! You mean engaged to be married! Then, no.

16. What's your favorite number? 9 or 8

17. Do you know someone named Lori? Yes.

18. What color is your mom's hair? My mom's hair has been every color under the sun, including purple and orange. Currently it's a dark salt and pepper probably.

19. Do you have a dog? Two of 'em. And I wish I could take in a young Boxer who needs a home but sigh, I'm not insane. I might seem insane on occasion. But I'm not.

20. Do you remember singing any songs as kids? Of course! Doesn't everyone sing! Songs my mom sang to me. Songs on my children's records. Songs from Romper Room and later from television shows (Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale. The tale of a fateful trip.....), songs my mother played on the stereo. And it's not like I stopped singing when I grew up.

21. When was the last time you went swimming? Hmmm. I went in my friend's hot tub last year. And I went out in Sam's boat last summer, but not in the water. I'm more of a water admirer than a swimmer. Oh. I walked barefoot on the beach in San Diego county this April. Does that count?

22. When was the last time you talked to one of your siblings? If you count e-mail, today actually. I don't talk to them as often as I should. I just forget to call. Of course they forget to call me more often too, so it's only half my fault. I enjoy talking to them. Just get busy and then we're in different time zones so that complicates things.

23. Did you ever go to camp as a kid? Yes. It was a regular summer activities type camp but you could sign up for the horse camp and I did that. It was a lot of fun. I wish I'd been able to go more but it was expensive and my folks didn't have enough money to send me. Most of my kids had the opportunity to go to 4-H camp for several years. And Joe went to both football camp and he also worked as a camp counselor when he was a teen. Both Joe and Sam (and William next year) will go on our high school's sophomore Biology Field Trip which is a week of camping on the northern California coast. I really wanted to send William to a Harry Potter camp a few summer's ago but we couldn't manage it and now he's too old.

24. Do you play an instrument? I can play the basics on a clarinet, saxophone, piano, and guitar. I also can play a few notes, but not enough to really mention, on a flute and penny whistle. And anyone can play a basic drum beat, yes? I don't really play anything anymore.

25. Do you like fire? In it's place. I've heated my home with wood fires for most of my adult life. And I've spent many a night around a campfire. I'm cautious with candles because of kids and cats, but I like candles too. But I've had to pack my cars up for fear that a forest fire couldn't be stopped, so I respect the power of fire as much as admire it.

26. Are you allergic to anything? Boring people, stupid people, housework, bad food.... okay, seriously - not that I know of.

27. When was the last time you cried? Last night. I finished rereading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. And if you know what happens, you know why I cried.

28. What kind of shampoo do you use? Right now I'm using a coconut lime verbena moisturizing shampoo I bought on sale after the holidays at Bath & Body Works. Before that I used cheap Suave Shampoo for decades. But I noticed that even though this new shampoo costs more, it lasted a lot longer and I like the way my hair feels better. I don't have access to a mall to replace it, so I bought something new at the store the other day. Can't remember what it is. I'll find out when I use up the last of my current bottle and take this one out of the bag.

29. Have you ever been to a spa? No. I've had several massages - gifts from friends. And I've had my hair washed and cut at a beauty parlor maybe a dozen times in my life. But that's it.

30. Did you take science all four years of high school? No. In fact I only took it for two years and one of those years it was with a psycho teacher that, if it was nowadays, my parents would have sued for him to be fired. So, let's just say I didn't learn a lot in his class. But I liked the one biology class I took. And I really like science, so it's odd I didn't take more of it in high school. I did take quite a bit of it in college - pretty much everything but physics.

31. Do you like butterflies? Of course. But what kind of question is that? Like, are there people who would answer "No. I hate the little bastards. Always flying around looking so damn colorful and cheerful. Yuck. And I hate flowers too." Sheesh.

32. Do you like Coke or Pepsi more? Neither. They both taste too strong to me. In fact I'm not a soda drinker much at all. But if I do, I like Shasta Cola or one of the supermarket generic brands over ice accompanying pizza or popcorn.

33. What is the one thing you miss most about your past? Obviously the ONE thing I miss most are the loved ones who I've lost. But I miss other things too. If we go waaaaay back, I miss the innocence of childhood. I miss the sense that anything was possible that I had in my early adulthood. I miss the stamina and energy of my younger years. And I miss having a body that I could drape in something sexy with no fear that people would laugh, throw up, or run in horror at the sight of it.

34. Did you ever see the school nurse? A couple of times I guess.

35. Have you ever wanted to be a teacher? I've been a teacher. I've taught a lot of classes and workshops in my time - everything from childbirth and parenting classes to herb walks and quilting. And I taught all my kids of course in the normal course of parenting. I also homeschooled four of my five kids for some or most of their school years. I also homeschooled my niece one year and I've helped home school a few of my kids' friends here and there. I've also taught people things one on one, like knitting, cooking, gardening, etc. But I don't have a teacher's credential. I have actually considered going back to school and getting one but I think I've become far too radical and opinionated in my old age to put up with the institutional crap you have to put up with to work in the public schools these days. The actual teaching people part though, I like that.

36. What is one thing you've learned about life? Thankfully I've learned a lot more than one thing. But a few of the more important things. Kindness matters. Don't borrow tomorrow's troubles. Head's up. Speak up even if your voice trembles. If the emperor isn't wearing clothes, don't be afraid to say so even when everyone else is pretending he does. Be selfish enough to take care of yourself or you're not going to be any good to anyone else. Laugh and dance and sing a lot. Sometimes you just have to do things even if they're boring or suck or frighten you. Life isn't fair but that's okay, they seem to even out anyway. Love your enemies, it completely confuses them. Coincidences are rarely just coincidences. What's right for one person isn't necessarily right for someone else.

37. Jealous of anyone? Not really. Sometimes I think "I wish I could do that..." but I don't begrudge the other person the opportunity over me. Usually it's something that if I wanted to do it, I probably could, if I wanted to change directions or work harder or be more focused.

38. Is anyone jealous of you? I've lost three relationships that I'm aware of, including a really dear long term friend that I didn't expect in a million years to ever part ways with, because they were jealous or envious of me. In the latter case, the sad thing was that in many ways I admired a lot of opportunities and talents that my friend had in her life that I did not. The whole thing was so stupid. I mean, did she really want to trade lives with me??? Of course not. The whole thing made me both mad and ultimately sad because it was so unnecessary.

39. Ever been stuck in an elevator? Uhm.... I think once for a few minutes.

40. What does your dad call you? He's passed away, so he doesn't call me anything. I don't recall him having a nickname for me. No, wait. He used to call me LindaLou sometimes. That whole side of the family did.

41. What does your mom call you? Linda. Or "honey".

42. What does your hair look like right now? Auburn with liberal gray streaks. I'm growing out my bangs. I washed it last night and slept on it sort of wet and didn't comb it today so, you judge for yourself.

43. Has a friend ever used you? Not that I can recall. So I guess if I was used, it wasn't memorable or earth shattering.

44. Has anyone recently told you that they like you? My hubby told me he loved me today. My son Sam told me he loved me last night. My daughter told me she loved me yesterday afternoon. My daughter-in-law told me she loved me this afternoon. My chihuahua leaps and wriggles in pure, uncontained joy whenever I come home, even if I only go out to the garden for a second, so I think we can define that as "liking me". Charlie Weasley tried repeatedly just a few minutes ago to sit on my chest and purr and rub noses with me. So I think he likes me. Unless..... wait a minute..... maybe he's just trying to USE me for a warm spot to sleep. My friend called me to go to lunch with her today. But she was definitely just using me as an excuse to go to the tea room. Hehe.

45. What have you eaten today? An entire pot of Irish Breakfast tea (my order) with milk and sugar and one cup of spiced tea (my friend's order). A cold creamy peach soup with a hint of cinnamon. A currant scone with lemon curd and clotted cream. A slice of cheese and green chili quiche. A two inch square tea sandwich with ham, mango and cream cheese. Four grapes, a strawberry slice, and two orange slices.

46. Is your hair naturally curly or straight? Straight, but with a bit of wave. When I go to the sea or in really humid weather it tends to get rather curly.

47. Ever been called white trash? Not to my face.

48. Who was the last person you drove with? Last time I drove I was alone but yesterday William drove the Bronco with hubby and I in the car. ACK! I offered to sit in the backseat but hubby beat me to it. Last time I was at the wheel with someone else in the car... can't remember if it was hubby or William.

49. What are you looking forward to? The 7th Harry Potter book coming out, getting my redecorating etc. done in the house, seeing all my grandkids (one in June, the other three in July), the first tomato from the garden (I rarely eat fresh tomatoes from the store - why bother, they hardly have any taste), hubby's insane work hours being reduced to something close to a normal work week, going to Paris again some day.....

50. What is your favorite color? Green usually. Depends on what we're talking about - homes, flowers, clothing, paintings.... I like all colors.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Sippy cups and Sorting CDs

I found the solution to bugless drinks - an adult sized sippy cup. JulieZ had a good idea too, a water bottle. I didn't think of that. But I have these Tupperware tops that fit both the child and adult sized cups. I've had them for decades. They don't make these anymore but they are the greatest idea ever because they're not just for babies. They're great for bringing a cold drink in the car or out into the garden. Last night it occurred to me, duh, I could use them in the house as well.

As you can see, the cup is sitting atop a stack of CD's. Specifically, it's sitting atop the "L" stack. On the left you can see a tiny edge of the "K" stack (not very big - Killers, Alison Krauss, Kiva, and Carol King) and on the right looms the "M" stack, which is one of the larger piles. On the shelve below is a bit of the "S" and "T" stacks.

I've been talking about my rearranging saga more over on Laume's Studio because up until recently I was focused on choosing wall colors and learning faux painting techniques. But now I'm in the onerous, tedious, slow going stage where it's all about cleaning and sorting and rearranging furniture - mostly shelving and office furniture. Ugh.

I spent most of yesterday evening categorizing and alphabetizing our CD collection. A few years ago I organized and boxed (you can see in the photo below some of the boxes) our rather substantial cassette tape collection. I really wanted to transfer all our music to CD to save space but it turned out there was no economically viable way to do that. I wasn't willing to give up on listening to our old music, so I settled for these nice clean boxes.

Instead I decided to save space by getting rid of all the CD cases and storing our CD's in binders. Hubby was dead set against the idea, he loves his cases, the art work, the lyric pages. So I dropped the idea and let him keep his cases.

But that was a few years ago. In the meantime our CD collection has grown and a lot of the CD's don't even have cases anymore as we download a lot from iTunes or make copies because William and I both want the same music in our CD binders. I'd been stealing CDs from the family collection and adding them to my travel binders for a long while, until now half the cases simply stood empty on the shelf.

Now I'm getting rid of that shelf, so I made the unilateral decision to go ahead with the case tossing over hubby's objections (which I rather felt had lost their validity long ago). Hubby sometimes doesn't like me to do things simply because he doesn't like changes, period. I'm trying to make the change more palatable by storing things in several different categories and by alphabetizing it all for him. I'm also removing the song list papers from the back of the cases and storing them behind each CD. I was going to also store the front lyrics and cover art booklets behind each CD but the slots are too tight to accomodate them, so instead I'm going to save them (alpahbetically) in their own folder. Whew. Time consuming. Ripping apart those CD cases - my fingernails are shot. If it was just for me, I'd toss the cases in their entirety and fill the binders willy nilly. Okay, so maybe I'd put all of one artist together. But I wouldn't do all the extra organizing.

I was going to present it to him as a fait accompli but I underestimated how long it would take. I was still at it when hubby came home from work. In fact I didn't even make it through the C's before I gave up for the night. Hubby just sighed and looked resigned. So that's good. I think he'll actually like the new set up once it's done. No more piles of CD's left to be knocked over by the cats. No more Rubik's cube situation with CD's stacked in multiple rows.

As you can see, the cats think the new shelves are for them. This is George in the photo but all the cats have spent some time lounging here. Boy, are they gonna be disappointed when I move the books into their new cat perch.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Something is Really Bugging Me

Has anyone else noticed that this is the buggiest spring ever!?

Okay, so only a few of you live near enough to anwer that question with any degree of accuracy. Because obviously my weather isn't your weather in Connecticut or York or Auckland or Ohio or Montreal or Finland or San Diego. (Yep, I've got a real global readership!)

But take my word for it, it's been unusually, exceptionally buggy here. I know some of you live where bugs are regularly more of a problem. My childhood in the midwest was full of bugs. The northern woods are one of nature's Bugs 'R Us superstores. But here in the high and dry desert, we're spoiled by our less crowded air space. We're blessed with a relatively low bug population - well, the kind of bugs I'm talking about anyway, the kind that buzz around and want to share your meal or bite and make a meal of you - until a surge in the late summer and then it's only a matter of time until the first freeze gets rid of them until next year.

Just for the record, not all bugs bother me. There are good bugs. My husband just ordered three shipments of lady bugs for the garden. Generally we here at Chez Clutter live fairly contentedly with a small but regular cast of spiders, earwigs, roly poly bugs, and garden bugs. We ignore or sweep outside the friendly or innoccous creatures and use organic methods to take care of the less desirable ones.

This spring, however, bugs are everywhere. I can't sit down without being crawled on, flown over, or jumped off of - I'm beginning to feel like a large bug tourist attraction like the Empire State Building or the Eiffel Tower. I can't seem to keep a glass of tea bug free for more than a few minutes. I've started to automatically put little paper caps on all my beverages. Even with a sturdy cover, last night I found three bugs doing the backstroke in my iced tea.

Of course the cats try to drive out the swarms of evil invaders. They mean well, but their attack techniques leave much room for improvement. Ultimately, the result is that along with trying to protect ourselves from the bugs, we also have to protect ourselves from unexpected (and very fat and heavy!) leaping felines who race across our laps without warning (OOMPH!), knocking over beverages, books, and even large lamps in the process. Even Rosie got in on the act last night with a particularly loud flying what's-it. There are so many different kinds of bugs in my house that, despite being a nerdy, field guide loving type, I can't identify them all, except to say that they are all members of the Extremis Annoyicus family, some in the Gianticus subcategory, others in the Gnatinicus group.

The night before last (pre- capmaking) I made a glass of tea to take to bed with me and by the time I'd finished turning off lights, shutting doors, etc. and came back for it, it had a fly in it. I'm willing to pick out a tiny gnat and still drink something, but a fly - a big, juicy one at that - UGH. I dumped the tea down the drain. That was the last of the iced tea, so I grabbed a V-8 instead. (Hey! Doesn't that sound familiar?) I popped the top of the V-8 and it sprayed and fizzled. I was startled! V-8's aren't supposed to fizzle, are they? To be on the safe side I dumped it out and went in search of something else. The only thing left in the fridge was a small amount of white wine. I poured a couple inches into a glass and made it all the way back to the bedroom before I realized the cup, although I'd taken a new one from the cupboard, was dirty - the wine had a sandy bottom of unknown particles. It must have looked like a tropical beach though to the ant floating on the top. Dumped it. I found a bottle of juice in the pantry and poured myself a glass over ice and brought it to bed. Read a few pages, reached for the glass... gnats and what was probably a couple of cat hairs.

Is the universe trying to kill me by dehydration!!??

I drank a glass of water standing at the sink and called it a night.

Well, that's it. Complaining about bugs. Pretty lame topic, ain't it. But I've been letting the days slide past me without accomplishing a quarter of the work I'd hope to finish, so I need to get back to it and leave a more poetic post for another day.

Friday, June 01, 2007

I've got nothing

Can't think of what to blog about tonight. Too tired to come up with a theme. I'm going to climb into bed in a couple of minutes with my HP book, some garlic dill breadsticks, and this awesome smokey flavored baba ghannouj I found at the market the other day. And some iced tea. So, I'll just throw up a few photos I'd meant to post earlier but kept passing up at the last moment when another topic would catch my attention.

I found this little guy at a local flea market a few weeks ago. Apparently he used to be bolted onto the top of an exterminator's truck. The last owner painted him these surreal colors. I thought he might scare a few bugs out of the garden.

I walked to a dinner date a few evenings ago and took photos of gardens along the way. I want these gorgeous peonies!

This afternoon my friend Shelly called me up and asked me to go to the tea room. I was going to be good, stay home and clean, but aw' come on - you weigh the options. Clean house..... or a friend and tea room..... Yep. I thought so.

Since my last visit (earlier this week with my hubby), they'd placed a couple of tables on the front porch. It's a nice location, on the top of the valley with a view peaking through a couple of large shade trees. It was one of those odd weather days that seem unique to the high desert, with storm clouds rolling back and forth along the mountain ridges and around the valley floor like a roller derby team. We sat in the unusually humid air and enjoyed the distant roll of thunder.

It was still storming all around us (but not on top of us!) for the spring football exhibition game this evening. Along with thunder, there was the sound of fire engine sirens going up and down main street. Apparently the lightning started up a few brush fires.

It was a nice change from watching "our shows" most evenings this last spring. I chatted with a few friends, watched William play "flackle football". It was supposed to be flag football but the kids grabbed the flag on some plays, grabbed the player on others. So flag/tackle = flackle. It was all for fun.

I forgot how hard those damn bleachers are. After the game I helped dish out hamburger buns, chips and brownies to what seemed like a neverending line of smiling players.

It felt like summer jumped into town today, waving it's arms (you didn't know summer HAD arms?) and yelling " Surprise! Didn't expect me yet, didja!?" Nope. I seem to go along thinking a season just arrived and then I'm surprised when suddenly it's over and gone. How does that keep happening? When did a season start acting like a week used to feel?