Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I Do Believe in Faeries! I Do! I Do!

I barely know where to start, trying to explain what it was like to attend the Faerieworlds Festival. Remember all those old stories about humans who wander into a fairy ring or are lured away by a will o' the wisp or by some step, either intentional or misplaced, find themselves somewhere where human time and space does not apply? The stories all have one thing in common. Once the person find themselves in the land of the fae, they are so lulled, tricked, seduced or entranced, they never want to return. That's what it was like. So magical that we didn't want it to end.

What did I love best? EVERYTHING! The costumes. Thousands of people and easily 90% of them had let their inner child chose what to wear. The food. The people, both our small faery clan and the strangers that all seemed like friends. The smiles. The dancing. The music. The beautiful art and amazing crafts. The gorgeous setting. The kids. There were so many lovely fairy children. The magic. In an article about the festival, Emilio Miller-Lopez, one of the originators, was quoted as saying "It's a movement right now. Fairy is the new hippie. People are bored with tie-dye and drugs. People want real magic." I love that last bit. "People want real magic."

I took hundreds of photos. Everyone was walking around taking photos of each other. Joli enchanted folk so much she had her picture snapped hundreds of times every day. I'm not sure about putting up photos of other fairies on my blog, hmmm, I'll have to ponder that one a while. I'll eventually put all the photos up, probably on Flickr. There are already almost a thousand photos there that other people have posted, including a few of us.

I don't even have my photos uploaded to my computer yet, so it took forever to dig through the CD file to find some to share. Here's a very small taste of our two faerie days.

Although this photo is a bit blurry, I think the look on Joli's face perfectly captures how much fun we all had dancing. She loved when we danced with her.

One of the two main announcers was the Greenman. I snapped this photo of him on stage and love how you can't tell where he ends and the forest begins.

This was Joli on the second day. We set her in the grass and within a few seconds people were swarming around to take her photo.

One of the people taking her photo kindly took a photo for me with my camera. Three generations of fairies.

There were so many wonderful booths full of... well, just about anything a faery could possible want. This was one of my favorites, a group of women artists. I loved the gypsy tent look to their booth. In the day you could see the three birds atop the sign that read "Magpie's Daughter". They sold gorgeous collage necklaces, handmade books, and art dolls. I bought a necklace/mirror. I'll have to share a photo of it on Laume's Studio as soon as I take one.

On the trail into the festival there was this sign. There was also a sign on the dirt road into the festival that said something like "Please drive slow, don't make dust, sneezing fairies will combust." The location, the Secret House Winery, was green and gorgeous. The weather threatened to rain but held itself to clouds and muggy air although it was in the 70's, high 80's at the worst. In searching for the link, I just discovered the winery has a events page with all sorts of photos up from this year's festival. Go here to see all sorts of wonderful images, including two of me and Joli on page 4 (you click on the small arrows to the side to see each new page, I didn't see them at first).

Here's a group shot of us all on the second day. L to R: Joli, Lisa, Lisa's sister Elena, me, Lisa's sister Brianna. The girls all made their wings. Lisa even made two sets, one for each day's costume. She didn't make Joli's wings though, she bought them at Summers Past. (they have a small local fairy festival too - they have photos on their website.) Because I didn't have any time to work on an outfit, I planned on buying wings at the festival. There were hundreds to choose from, big ones, small ones, all colors and styles. I never could make up my mind - bat wings or butterfly wings? Those gothic black ones? Or that pretty tropical floral pair? - and so I went wingless the entire time. Alas. Maybe I'll make some for next year, or at least decide what I want so I'm prepared to make a decision and purchase some.

I'm too lazy/tired to go back and fix this photo so, tilt your head. The first day we all had our faces painted. The next day both Lisa and I had our arm painted. This was Lisa's. Lisa took a photo of mine but I don't have it yet. Mine was a sea unicorn, as I had a sort of ocean theme going with my costume the second day.

Here's a group shot of us the first day.

We walked around looking at all the booths, talking to people. We spent a lot of time just hanging out in the shade of a tree. We were close to the stage. And we danced. A lot. We danced so much I couldn't stop dancing and I found myself breaking out in a bit of a shuffle or weave and wave in public whenever I heard music for the rest of the trip. It struck me that if we all danced for at least a half hour a day, we'd probably all be a lot healthier.

This was the altar that was set up throughout the two days. They did a beautiful ritual and spiral dance on the first day and lit the candles. Lisa's sister Elena and I took part. Later Elena remarked that I had "fairified" her. It's true, I don't think she'll be the same "ordinary" girl she was, ever again. The folks on stage in this photo are some of the members of Gaia Consort, warming up. Since I have all their albums (except the new one they just came out with), I was really excited about hearing them. Turned out though that they were only one of many amazing musical acts. It was fun dancing to Gaia Consort but the absolute best dancing was the next afternoon, to a new-to-me band called Kan'nal. They were AMAZING. Both their sound and their show, which included the most awesome dancers. I wish I'd gotten a good photo of the women dancing in their skull masks.

I'd go on about the rest of the music but it would take a post all by itself. Suffice it to say you can find a list of the music on the Faerieworlds website and then google the different bands and musicians to get a taste of their different styles, everything from tribal to folk to rock to mystical. I doubt you could go wrong buying any of it.

Just a little baby goddess eating a bunch of baby grapes. (no, we didn't pick them unripe from the vine, she found them at the edge of the vineyard)

Within minutes of arriving at the festival we were all saying "When we come next year....." I am already planning for it. One thing, hopefully things will be less hectic prior to the date and we'll have time to organize and pack so we can stay at the festival campsite. I'm already pondering what I'm going to wear. Lisa and I keep phoning each other with new ideas. I hope more of the family can come next year. Those that will. Jeff is game. William has looked at the pictures and hasn't said no, which is a good sign. Joe said no already, he'd just be a party pooper. (Ahhh, when he was little, he was such a little hippy child! You'd never guess now. Sigh.) I'm not sure about Sam but I know Kyla would love it so I'll count on her talking him into it. And I can easily imagine Noel and my other three faery grandkids all dancing and dashing about! (she should definitely plan to bring a friend to help with the wild wee ones.) In fact, I think a lot of YOU should come as well. Start planning now!

Until then, alas, I'm back in the real world now. But I'm already longing for the magic and the music to return. I'm counting the days until the portal opens and I can enter the faery realm once more.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Spoiler Free Harry Talk

I got back home yesterday and the first order of business was to finish Harry Potter. I'd been chipping away at it best I could while I was on holiday this last week, but mostly surrounded by people all the time (or alone but driving - and it occurred to me a few hundred pages into the book, read a half dozen pages here, a couple pages there, that it would have been worth it to pop for the audio book!), I was frustratingly only about halfway through yesterday.

As the days have gone by, despite staying off the internet, I was finding it more and more difficult not to get hit with clues and spoilers. People I know have been calling me to see if I'd finished it yet. Waitresses, seeing me reading feverishly, while trying to shove salad in my mouth without looking at it, would interupt me to say "I finished it last night", trying for a deadpan face that wouldn't give anything away. At a coffee shop late Saturday night, eating dessert after the play, we had Harry readers seated on both sides of us, discussing the story, trying politely to be ambiguous but ARGHHHHH! I finally gave up and told hubby we had to go, NOW, and I jumped up singing "La-la-la-la-LAAAA" and quickly walked outside.

One of my husband's more annoying idiosyncracies is his habit of reading the end of a book first. Or to just listen to William and/or I tell him about a book (or movie) and then discuss it, analyze it, talk about it as if he's actually read it. Annoying to me. My best friend reads endings first too. It drives me nuts. I hold to the opposite viewpoint with what can only be described as a sense of sacredness, that a writer goes to great pains to tell a story, weave a plot, foreshadow, build up, create moods and images and dialogue and that the reader works and is rewarded by the ending by READING THE BOOK FIRST!!! So it bugged the crap out of me that even though he hasn't even read six out of the seven Harry books, he went online and read the spoilers about this last one a week before the book was even released.

He's been going around with a smug look on his face (which I've wanted to slap but have settled for screaming "SHUT UP!" at him every time he wears it, to which he laughs (an evil laugh) and all self righteously responds "I didn't SAY anything!"), waiting for me to know what he knew. Today he kept finding reasons to come into the bedroom - for a pencil, to check his calender, to lift random papers on his dresser - while stealing glimpses to see how much longer I had to go to the end of the book. Why couldn't he read it himself instead of having me vicariously read it "for" him!? Hubby, the phone calls, even the cell phone messages asking "Are you done yet?!", it was all starting to drive me slightly over the edge. (and you all know I walk very close to said edge most of the time anyway)

I didn't even unpack the car. I just pulled my book and what was left of my now melted fancy chocolates out of the backseat, and, with a few interuptions, hid in the bedroom and read. (oh, well, AFTER Rosie went frantically and deliriously bonkers about my return and jumped in and out of my lap and ran in circles around the room and then bounced on me and then ran some more circles and then licked my face off and then more circles and.....and so on. I also hugged William after a week's absense and got a smile and a nice "that's long enough" pat on the shoulder in return. Sigh.) Anywaaaay. I read until my eyes closed halfway through a page early in the wee hours and then this morning, when I drifted up through enough layers of sleep to remember where I'd last left the motley crew of characters, I bolted upright, grabbed the book, and kept reading. I stopped to heat something in the microwave a few hours later. And then kept reading.

I just finished it a bit ago and I'm exhausted both physically because of little sleep and emotionally because.....well, for a zillion reasons and you have to read the book yourself to find them out. I'm just relieved to have made it through without a spoiler. And sad to think that this is the end. No more Harry Potter adventures to look forward to, no more.... well, there's the last two movies still to see on the big screen. I can hardly wait to see what the do with the Deathly Hallows. It will will be a very exciting movie.

Oh, two more things - slightly hinty, but no outright spoilers, so it you're manic about them like me, you can stop reading now. If you're a relatively normal, sane person though, you can safely read them. One, for those of you who have finished the book and have been reading my blog long enough to know about current events in my life - How weirdly, spine tingling coincidental is ... well, the coincidence! Two, after reading the sixth book (the first time, not the second time just a few months ago) I'd mentioned to a few people that I thought I had something figured out about the plot. I refused to tell anyone what it was that I suspected but, just for the record, I was right. There's more of a twist to it than just my basic suspicion. But I was right.

So, okay, that's all. If you've finished the book and you want to talk details, you can e-mail me privately. If you haven't finished the book yet then, well, what are you doing reading my blog instead!? Get back to the story!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I'm Still Not Here But...

I'm still not here. I've been off having adventures. And lots of fun (except for maybe some of the long driving parts). So much fun that I've abandoned my blog this week with nary a backwards glance.


I have not abandoned my blogging friends. In fact, you were all frequently in my thoughts this last week. Ooooh, Chocolate - Laura. I bet Deb would wear that! Hey, Joshilyn's book. What a cute pug - like Madness's - s- s (how many s's do I add?) These are pretty, but not as pretty as Katy's beads. Hey, I think Jan lives just off this highway. Wish I'd brought her phone number with me. Oooooh, Jaye would love these polka-dots!

And so on.

You've all invaded my head even when I'm offline.

For all you lonesome folks sitting by your computers day and night, clearly pining away for a new blog entry from me (because let's face it, without my blog, what's left - only a few hundred thousand other interesting people?), the good news is I'll be back soon. In a day or two. And I've got lots and lots to post about - Faeries! And grandkids! Chocolate and other delectable treats! Art! Music! Books! Theatre! Shopping! And Faeries!!! Did I mention Faeries!?

And lots of photos because - a picture is worth a thousand words. So it saves a lot of time. Although, words are good too. So, soon compadres, soon.

But just now I need to get dressed for an evening of dining and a bit of French comedy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Friends, Food, Fun

I've been a bit crabby the last few days. For a number of reasons, a few I was tempted to blog about but so far I've been able to stop myself from subjecting you all to one of my self absorbed, if eloquent, rants.

Instead I'm going to tell you about dinner with our friends Deb and Dave last night. Deb and Dave are one of those rare sets of friends where everyone enjoys everyone elses company. We all met on the bleachers, parents rooting our sons on in hundreds of baseball and football games over the years. Although Deb and I are the ones that took the friendship to the next level and get together most often just the two of us, the guys like to be included whenever we can manage it. The problem is, both husbands work long, unusual, and always changing hours on their jobs, so it's not easy to get everyone together.

Deb called up this last weekend and said that Dave was switching shifts again so would we like to come over for dinner this week, probably the last weekend of the summer we'd be able to do it. Plus, she's also in the midst of major remodeling their home and, after many months of having it torn apart, she finally had a kitchen again to both use and show off.

I knew this would be a crunch week for me to get everything done before leaving on another trip this weekend. If it wasn't for the "probably las time we could all get together" issue, I probably would have said no. But I didn't. I said yes. And then as the days got shorter and shorter and I got less and less done and my reserves of both energy and generally optimistic mood were shrinking smaller and smaller, I even toyed with the idea of cancelling at the last minute. But that would be rude. So I didn't. Instead I took a two hour nap and then got up and said "Time to go."

The miraculous thing was that I felt a bit better as soon as we arrived. And when the food arrived, I started to feel downright giddy. Debbie had been cooking all day long. I felt like I was at some fancy private restaurant, or maybe at my sister Laurie's house (my sister creates amazing vegetarian multi-ethnic cuisine and I am now, in true Pavlovian style, conditioned to start salivating at the very thought of visiting her).

But, back to Debbie's hard work, I actually took up close photos of each and every dish. Now I'm running short on time, so instead I'm just uploading this overview of our wonderful meal. I think you can still see things pretty well if you click and open the photo.

Clockwise from the bottom right: spicy baked sweet potato chips, veggie and cracker tray (check out the purple cauliflower in the middle!) with a side dish of homemade hummus, seasoned and barbequed shrimp, papaya kiwi salsa, barbequed artichoke halves with dip, fresh green salad with raspberries, mozarella cheese and other goodies, iced tea, and last but not least, a variety of sauteed vegetables.

We ate outside on a shady green deck at the top of town. Their dog Barnaby (in the corner) kept careful watch to clean up anything we might have accidentally dropped.

After dinner it started to get dark so we went inside where we chatted some more, played several rounds of Scattergories (I humbly admit winning them all although Debbie was giving me a run for my money by the last round!), drinking coffee, and scarfing down a delicious chocolate ..... something. She wasn't sure what it was exactly as her cookbook showed no photo and got away with calling it a Baked Chocolate Fudge Dessert. No clue there. It was sort of a pudding/souffle thing. All I really need to know, it was decadent and it was delicious. And by the time I remembered to take a photo of it all that was left was a crescent moon shaped edge of crust and a chocolate smeared casserole bottom. You'll just have to imagine it. Don't forget to imagine the mocha sugar sprinkled on the top of it.

So, a good time was had by all, especially by my stomach. The only down side to it was that it seriously cut into my curmudgeoning. (can a woman curmudgeon? Or maybe that's not a verb. It's a noun. So can a woman BE a curmudgeon? Hmmm. Oh well - my blog, my rules) And it also means I have a serious culinary debt hanging over my head to reciprocate. Which means eventually I have to unpack all these boxes, shove all this furniture about, and find my kitchen somewhere behind and underneath it all.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Yeehaw! Awesome! Awwww!


The big news today is I finished the painting in my living room last night. Today I'm supposed to be clearing away the plastic sheeting and painting supplies and arranging the furniture. First I have to clean the floors though, so instead I'm procrastinating by writing blogs.

To see photos of the painting go to Laume's Studio. I'll post photos here too, once I get the room back together again.


We went to the local Main Street Cruise event a while back. We had to go early before hubby went off to work a second shift, so they were just setting things up, but it was still fun to see all the old cars arriving.

If I drove an old car, this is the car I'd choose - a convertible Mustang. Only mine would be Baby Blue. Or maybe a Poison Green. Or there's always Cherry Red....

I liked this badass steering wheel.


Just because I can, I'm including some cute pet photos.

Isn't my dog just the cutest thing you ever saw!

Yes, George. You're cute too. (Except in this picture - he looks sort of evil)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Just Flitting By

I might have mentioned that I'm reorganizing, painting, and decluttering my house. And working on the back yard and gardens when the temperatures dip enough to allow it. This last week has been a push to paint and do some faux work in the living room so I can finally start putting things back, dismantling the maze that we walk through to get anywhere in the house these days. If I can keep the day clear of other activities and generate enough energy (iced coffee, for starters), there's the possibility that I can finish the walls today! Oooooh, keep your fingers crossed for me. If you want to see photos of the stages so far, you can check my progress over on Laume's Studio. I've got some nice artsy photos up there as well.

The other big excitement is I'm counting off the days until the Faerie Worlds Festival. I've wanted to attend for years but something always got in the way. This year it all came together for me. Lisa and her sisters will also be attending and they have been happily working the last week or so on making costumes for the event. I'm itching to make something for myself as well. I even bought some fabric and patterns. But everything is such a mess that I can't even squeeze into the sewing room, much less find the time to do so. I did buy a couple of cute fairy tank tops so if I can't manage to create a masterpiece, I can at least wrap on a sarong, a tank top, and buy some fairy wings at the festival. I have a tendency to live life on the stressed edge - simplifying or letting go of expectations are much better solutions than ranting and driving myself to the point of exhaustion.

Oh - if you scroll down in my sidebar, you'll see I've morphed into a fairy this week. Actually, TWO fairies. I couldn't decide which one I liked best, so I put up both of them. They both represent different aspects of me. One is an earthy nature loving fairy, the other sort of a mischevious punk who makes her own rules. Sometimes I'm more one, sometimes I'm more the other.

The only negative I can't fix is that I didn't realize until the plans were already set that the festival was the same weekend as the 7th Harry Potter book release. I swear I wouldn't have gone if I'd thought of it ahead of time. I'll be buying the book at midnight, the night before the festival, but I doubt I'll be able to read it much over the weekend. All these years in anticipation, I'm counting the hours! I just finished a light fantasy, now what to read this week while I'm waiting - something else light and fast? Or something more engrossing for distraction? Decisions, decisions...

I posted a photo a few weeks ago of my new whirligigs. I took this photo the other day, when they were all in motion. I love how they make these beautiful "color wheels". Hmmm, now that I look at the uploaded photo, I realize the rainbow colored ones bear a striking resemblance to the dreaded "swirling beach ball of death" that shows up on my computer monitor when it's unhappy with the amount of work I've asked of it. (is it "bear a resemblance" or "bare a resemblance"?) Well, it's still pretty in the garden.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sea World

Since I've been too busy to come up with something new to say (plus I really have to do something with all the photos I have in my computer before I upload any more), I'll entertain you with some photos I took when I was down in San Diego last month.

I'd never been to Sea World before when we lived there or in all the trips we've taken down there since. In part because it's outrageously expensive (and with five kids...) and in part because we used to live near Marine World in northern California and had been there on numerous occasions (it used to be really nice but now it's just sort of a water themed amusement park - eh) so I didn't feel the need to see more of the same.

But Sam really really wanted to go, so I decided not to be a party pooper and forked over the money, or rather, the credit card. It turns out that Sea World is much larger and grander and, unlike Marine World, was still all about the animals. We had a fantastic time!

One of many funny moments was when we walked by flamingos and I jokingly said "Look at all the lawn ornaments!" Lisa looked into the enclosure and said "I don't see them." Everyone pointed to the flamingos - hard to miss as there were at least a hundred of them, and she replied "Oh! I was trying to find the gnomes." I do love her. Cute AND entertaining.

Another fun thing was during the seal show, they had a trained otter as well. Sam's girlfriend Kyla thought it was a muskrat. Sam tried to tell her it wasn't a muskrat, it was an otter but she was didn't believe him. She finally rolled her eyes and waved her hands to dismiss him - "Fine Sam. It's an otter. Okay? Whatever!" Of course it was an otter, we all explained after the show. And of course we had to tease her for the rest of the day - pointing at different animals and saying "Kyla! Look! A muskrat!"

Oh, and they had a walrus! A trained WALRUS! (I wonder if his name was Paul?)

Here's Joli very intent on grabbing a starfish.

These moray eels were really creepy. William said they reminded him of the Basilisk in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Shudder.

Everyone posed for a group shot. I'm behind the camera of course. Apparently it was Black Shirt Day.

Except for Grammy and Joli, we rebelled and wore bright red.

Look at this awesome guy! Girl?

This was the Cirque de Mer Show. I sooooo wanted to get inside that big ball!

This was so awesome - beluga whales! Their display was inside a building and looked like the north pole even though we were in tropical southern California.

You know I had to break out in song -

"Baby Beluga in the deep blue sea,
Swim so wild and swim so free.
Heaven above, and the sea below,
And a little white whale on the go."

Awwww - penguin love

The best show of all was the summer night rock n' roll Shamu show! Lisa and Joe waited in line while the rest of us went on a virtual helicopter ride so we could have great seats. Us girls were all dancing and singing. They kept moving those video panels back and forth and had all sorts of gorgeous images, plus music both live and taped, AND of course not one, not two, but THREE killer whales. It was awesome.

Isn't this pillar beautiful? There were a bunch of them and they surrounded the the Atlantis roller coaster ride, which was the last thing we did. Well, everyone else went on it while Joli and I waited at the bottom of the ride to watch them all come zooming down through the waterfall. Between rides we watched the fireworks. I kept trying to get Joli to watch them but I couldn't get her to look up into the sky. Oddly though, she would jump and laugh every time one went off. I couldn't figure out what was going on until I realized that she was seeing the fireworks in a big puddle in front of us left by the splash of the waterfall behind us! I had to laugh. I guess her way of watching them was just as legitimate as mine.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Special Effects

We witnessed lots of special effects yesterday. A storm rolled in and pushed out the smoke and heat we've been suffering under for days. Lightning is always a big thing in the mountains as it's responsible for so many forest fires, including the one that caused the smoke we're dealing with now, but concerns aside, it was quite the show! We went out for Mexican food and across the parking lot we had good seats for watching it. It was a lot more impressive than this photo indicates. Huge multi-branched strikes filled the sky, one after another for almost an hour. I just caught the end of one here. I was still excited to capture it with my camera though.

We had to laugh at another customer who yelled at the waitress, who is a friend of ours. The guy told her to hurry up as "my house is on fire." She looked at him and said "Your house is on fire. Right now. You know this for a fact." He scowled and said his house was right underneath the lightning and so it was probably on fire. Then he paid his bill and left in a hurry. After that as each group of people finished their meal they announced that they had to leave because their house was on fire.

(Just for the record - Clearly, NO ONE'S house was really on fire, including the crazy who yelled at the waitress. It would not have been funny if a house was really on fire.)

Later we went to the midnight premiere of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It didn't disappoint. Like the books, as Harry gets older, the movies get darker and more dangerous. The furious wand fights in this one were, if I may, pun intended, "spellbinding" to watch. (I wish I'd had a wand of my own and the ability to seal the mouths of a row of teenagers sitting behind me however. GRRRRR.)

I'll have to go see it once more when the crowds thin as I missed a bit of dialogue - good thing I'd just reread the book so I didn't have to worry about following the plot.

And now it's time for me go attempt my own special effects - to turn my living room chaos into a spectacular show case. Sigh. I wish I had a wand.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Wall

A traveling wall came to our town over the weekend. I was surprised, that a small town like ours would be able to pull together something like that. I didn't really give it too much more thought except that it was an opportunity we shouldn't miss and that it would be one of those "educational opportunities" for William.

On the drive there we were wondering why they'd chosen the location they did, which is a huge sports field complex on the edge of town. When we came around the corner and saw it for the first time, we realized why - the display was HUGE, easily taking up several playing fields, plus parking needs.

It was a long walk around to the entrance. The first thing we came to was a large tent filled with art work and information stations. There were a number of people using the telephone book sized volumes filled with names, searching for a friend, a school mate, a loved one, a child. Suddenly I couldn't breath. William looked around a bit longer but I left the tent immediately. I thought if I stayed even a second longer, I would start sobbing. I stood outside and stared at the wall, still somewhat off in the distance.

William was suprised by how large it was, how many names. Later he said when I told him we were going to see a wall that he thought it would be a "wall", y'know, like in a house - like an oversized plaque.

Mostly though, we didn't speak. Mostly, I don't think I could have if I'd wanted. My throat felt full and tight. To open it would have been to open to too much. I don't know what William thought, but he didn't speak either. We walked the length of the wall, each in our own thoughts.

There were a lot of people there, most of them silent as well. Some sitting in chairs provided a little distance away. Some like us, wandering. I was surprised at the number of people and at the flowers, medals, letters, poems, and photographs left leaning along the panels. Even though this wasn't the REAL wall, it was the wall in spirit, and people left offerings and did rubbings on the names of those they had not forgotten, people who have been gone for almost 40, 50, even 60 years! One of the offerings was for a familiar last name, our neighbor. I wonder if it was a brother, or a cousin, or an uncle?

In another soccer field they had a display called The Field of Flags. Each of the small flags you see in the background represents a soldier lost in the current Afghanistan or Iraq conflicts. There were so many flags, I couldn't figure out how to photograph them all at once. At the front of the display was this display for the tomb of the unknown soldier and behind that was a crescent of state flags with a plaque listing the names of those we've lost state by state.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I hoped for a girl. I didn't know anything about boys, told myself. My father was present in my life, but at a distance because of divorce, and my family was, for all the time that I knew it, matriarchal. I remember thinking I wouldn't know what to do with a boy, although when that baby boy was placed in my arms, for a boy it was, I wouldn't have traded him for my pick of baby girls. All these years later, walking around, watching the families, I suddenly flashed on a memory of myself as a young girl deciding (in the innocence of youth believing I had a choice) that I would have ONLY girls, NO boys, because boys went off to war and died. I hadn't thought of that decision for probably 30-35 years but clearly it had been the seed of my undefined wish for my child to be a girl.

Of course the times have changed and now gender isn't completely the issue. We fear for both our sons and daughters.

We discovered the display was open 24 hours a day, so we came back later that night so hubby could see it. It was close to midnight when we arrived and yet there were still people coming and going.

It was a bit easier on this second visit, although it was haunting in a completely different way under the stars, different memories and different thoughts floated through my mind. We spent some time talking to people who we knew, sharing stories and learning more about both the real memorial in Washington D.C. and the traveling one.

I remember how divided the country was back then, the soldiers who did return from Viet Nam were stuck in the middle of a fight in their own country, those for the war, those against it. It frustrates me to a frenzy at how little our country seems to have learned from the past conflicts we have faced but in this one thing, we seem to have finally gotten it right. Although, ironically, the government still isn't doing right by our military people, it seems as if the people of this country support our troups regardless of how they feel about the war. The soldier is not the war. We need to remember that. We need to never forget.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


In search of some place air conditioned to spend some time in, I went to the movies Thursday night and saw Ratatouille. I picked it because I figured a children's movie at least would be amusing and because I'd been hearing some adults say good things about it. I wen expecting it to at least not suck and even if it did, I'd be someplace cool and my body temperature could go down a few degrees.

It turns out I thought it totally did not suck! In fact, I loved this movie! (and I happen to love the dish it's named after as well) Enough to want to encourage you all to go see it, with or without children. Because, if you're like me, you might have missed it if you didn't have anyone under the age of ten to justify choosing a children's movie.

I read one negative review that said it was too wordy and not enough action. I think that's exactly what I found worthy about it. I went to see Pirates 3 a few months ago and while it was entertaining, I also felt like I was being held in my seat by a bit of trickery - I wanted to see the ending (if indeed it had an ending this time around) and I liked the characters. It didn't have much of a plot and I wondered about two thirds of the way through it I got too bored with the special effects, when could I just say enough is enough and leave?

Ratatouille on the other hand had a plot, real dialogue instead of a series of one liners, and plenty of endearing characters. I can't see where it didn't have enough action. There were a number of madcap scenes. They just didn't take over the movie, that's all. The movie was sophisticated enough for adults to enjoy but still not too adult for kids. There wasn't anything said "over their heads" that I could see anyone objecting too but it wasn't watered down or sugared so that adults would find it unrealistic. Well, the dialogue unrealistic - the whole premise of the movie is pretty unrealistic - a rat who wants to be a French chef. I wasn't too sure how I'd handle that one but I found I had easily suspended my disbelief early on.

And don't wait for it to come out on video either. It's worth the big screen experience. When the main character goes scrambling up to the rooftop and you see the City of Lights spread out in front of him for the first time, it's as if you're really truly in Paris. I found myself noticing and enjoying the animation many times throughout the film.

So, enough talking. Go to a matinee today. Buy the popcorn. And Bon Appetit!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Sick But Still Scrappy

Fortunately Nonny is home now. In fact, last time I talked to Noel on the phone, she had to pause to stop her dear daughter from doing something nefarious to one of her brothers. So, everything is back to normal apparently.

She sent me some recent photos, including this one she took when they were still in the hospital.

See in the background, how the shower head is low. It's adjustable. Noel was able to let her take little baby-sized showers under it. Nonny thought it was the cat's pajamas. Then they had to lance her foot and she wasn't allowed to take any more showers. This was how she felt about THAT decision.

"I want the water on NOWWWWW!!!!"

Hot and Smoky

It's a surreal sort of day. We have a big forest fire just the other side of the mountain and the smoke (and all the thunderheads caused by the smoke and heat) have made it feel like a muggy twilight all day.

The dark is all smoke.

In the afternoon, moisture started "plopping" from the clouds. Not raining. I mean "plopping". As if the sky was spitting at us. Just to the south of town, apparently, it wasn't a random plopping but a downpour with flash flood warnings.

In town ash is falling. As I was unloading the groceries I set this soda can down on the sidewalk to show you how much and how big it is! Picking it up, it looks like chips of bark. The long thin pieces disintegrate completely when I try to pick them up, but I assume they were once needles.

At least, if there's a good side, it's cooled down a bit. Hopefully that will help them control the fire.

On a completely unrelated note, Rosie had decided to steal my spot in bed every time I get up.

"I'm just keeping it warm for you."

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Some Photos Need No Caption

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Red, White, and Blue

I was going to be spending the 4th with family but at the last moment plans changed and I'm alone today. By choice. I'm the teensiest bit bummed about it. I could have gone with for a full day of sun and boating and fireworks.... but it would also have included long hours of driving and sleeping on a couch and a day and a half of visiting. I would have had a good time but it's just, I've had soooo much family and sooooo much traveling that I'm ..... burnt out. Just burnt out. So I chose to stay behind at home to continue to pack up the livingroom. And except for that teensiest bit of me, I'm feeling pleased at my decision and happy at my freedom.

But without the distraction of noisy family and activities, I'm finding it harder not to think about the meaning of this day and what we're celebrating - the birth of our nation. A nation to be proud of and yet lately..... See. That's it. It's not my nation I'm not proud of. It's the actions of some of the people in charge I'm having trouble with. I'm having trouble keeping those things separate in my mind. Remember - Different. Not the same. I gotta keep that clear.

Here's a photo I took when we visited the ghost town Bodie a few week ago. A small flag alone in the past. Hmmmm, seems somewhat symbolic, doesn't it.

(Yes, that's an electric light hanging in the background. No, it's not ghosts. This window was in the visitor's center.)

Here's some more red, white, and blue.

These are the newest prayer flags hanging in our yard. Hubby strung them up on the front of the house but I thought it looked a bit like a circus tent, so I asked him to move them. I think they look much prettier here in the tree. We have some older ones in the back garden and some smaller ones still flying above the front door. Not a week goes by that someone doesn't ask us about them. Sometimes nervously (as if they're afraid of what we're going to say) or just out of curiousity. But everyone seems happy (and sometimes relieved) when I tell them what they are.

Now look - just as pretty when joined by other colors.

It reminds me of the bumpersticker - "I love my country, but I think we should start seeing other people."

Of course, we're flying our big ol' American red, white and blue as well.

I can still get a catch in my throat at the sight of her. She is a flag to be proud of. We need to remember our responsibility to always make sure we're a country she can be proud to represent.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The First Hot Day of Summer

Yep, it finally feels like summer. In my car I tried to buckle my seat belt today and burned myself on the hot parts. The a/c in the car struggled to bring the temperature down to Tolerable. The noise of the house fan was less annoying than dealing with the quiet but hot rooms. I've been wondering when we were gonna get our first heat wave, it seems late in coming.

I was shocked the other day to look up at the mountain crest and see that there's only two tiny pockets of snow left. Usually the snow doesn't disappear until late July, sometimes even August. It hasn't been hot so I was surprised to see how much of it had melted. Although now that I think about it, it probably has more to do with how little snow cap we had fall this last winter than snow melt we have had so far this summer.

We had our first close fire last week. On the edge of the valley, it burned fast through chaparral and fields near houses and ranches and was visible from the edge of town. The girls and I sat at Starbucks drinking cold drinks and watching the smoke darken and lighten, the flames flare up, the CDF and Forestry trucks rumble past, the planes painting the sky above with red streaks of fire retardant. We chatted with travelers who wondered if they should wait it out or take off down the highway and hope it had reopened. I discovered a friend of our's father-in-law had gone out in the fire with his Cat to help the firefighters and had gotten trapped. He had to jump and run for it, getting some third degree burns but escaping. His Cat wasn't so lucky and got burned over. I was telling Lisa and Elena about all this and they looked very troubled. Eventually after a comical "Who's on first?" conversation, I realized they thought I was talking about a cat. No! I was talking about a Cat! All they could think about was what sort of evil man would take his cat out and abandon it in the middle of a fire!

Although I don't think it was really that hot today compared to what it's managed in the last few years - a weather report check says the high was around 90 degrees. It's supposed to be near 100 degrees by the end of the week. I think I'm gonna make myself some iced coffee and try not to think about it.

I'm too tired to do a theme post tonight. I'm just gonna ramble a bit and then I'm going to go back to sorting magazines and being slowly and methodically productive. Progress in my reorganizing, at this point in the game, means only that things are getting messier and more chaotic around here as I take more and more apart.

Here's a tip - When you bump into a shelf with a heavy box and knock over a quart of green paint and you have to choose between rescuing the heavy box or the relatively smaller can of paint, choose to save the can of paint. Because the paint can will hit another shelf halfway to the floor and the lid will fly off and all the paint will come sailing out in sllllllllloooooooooooooowwwwwww moooooootioooooon while you watch, horrified.

SPLAT!!! All over the wood floor.

Yeah. Guess how much fun THAT was to clean up!?

And if that wasn't enough adventure for one night, I spied a magazine laden shelf that was wobbling and threatening to throw it's load onto the floor. So I decided to be smart and unload it and straighten the shelf BEFORE it unloaded itself. As I was grabbing some of the magazines, the shelf gave way and the impact jarred the shelf above it loose, which came down flat onto the shelf below it, my elbow still wedged inbetween. I'm now sporting a heavy duty, magenta bruise on my elbow. And on my knee. Not sure why, maybe from some of the stuff that flew off the shelf while I was busy screaming about my elbow.

On a HAPPY NOTE, Nonny is finally out of the hospital. Turns out she had an infection called MRSA, a very scary anti-biotic resistant super bacteria. It's a wonder she was only hospitalized for four and a half days. I felt so helpless so far away. I'm glad I'm going to be going up to see her in just a few weeks. I want to see her all healthy and smiley for my ownself and I want to hug the stuffing outa her.

My son called me up today and accused me of trying to "take over the world". Oh? Yes. First I somehow brainwashed his wife, making her a clone of me, who quilts and blogs and (I love the logic (?) of this next one) hangs their clothes out to dry in the sun instead of using a dryer! AND NOW, Lisa's sister Elena is quilting and blogging. PROOF that I am secretly gathering an army of women bent on taking over. Uhm. Okay. We're taking over the world so we can.... baste it? If you want to see some of my handiwork (in so much as I'm responsible for my "clones"), here's Elena's new blog, Wind, Water, Fire. I love the name she chose for it. Although I'm not sure why she left out "Earth". I find her words to be surprisingly sophisticated for her age. Maybe she's a fledgling writer. Please stop by and say hello to her.

And now for something completely different!

Here's a couple of odd photos, just 'cuz.

Here's a picture of my foot next to Ginny Weasley. I have a big ol' fat foot for a girl but LOOK how fat my cat is compared to it. Everyone who meets her looks, looks a little longer, and then asks if she's pregnant. Nope. Just ROUND. And HEAVY. Maybe she's eating some of my rocks.
Here's a photo I took of William when we were at the beach last week. When William looked at the photo he then held out his hands side by side in front of him and looked at them. In real life they're they same color. Isn't that wierd how they look like two different people touching him in the picture?

Okay, that's enough rambling. I'm gonna go make that iced coffee.