Sunday, March 30, 2008


There's not much of a view out the window over my kitchen sink. The glass is also dusty and stained with water spots, which doesn't help. Nor does it help that it's winter. But as you can see, I'm trying to improve on things. I have baby spider plants, a prism, (and a few fairies and gnomes which you can't see in this pic) on the window sill. Outside there are prayer flags and an earth flag fluttering. The prayer flags used to be colorful but they've been out there for three seasons now. Plus, there's a grape arbor. In the summer it's green and lush and has many grapes - until the birds get them - and now there's one of my favorite religious icons sheltered inside it like a little grotto - a Virgin de Guadalupe. I know. I'm a Pagan. But I'm also an equal opportunity spiritual enjoyer. Enjoyist?

You can just barely see it half in/half out of the left edge of the photo above, but I finally filled a small birdfeeder I have had for a number of years. I bought it and filled it years ago and no one visited it. I thought I'd give it another try and LOOK!

Little finches! Hard to see through the dirty window.

If you click to open this photo, you can get a better idea of what the grape arbor looked like. In person it looked as if it had been decorated by at least a dozen bright yellow little balls. Or maybe eggs, for spring. They were much brighter than they look here. There were also some slightly larger birds with red heads and breasts - no, not robins - but a larger finch or perhaps a sparrow. Can you see them all? And that's just on the top of the arbor - there were more on sides of the arbor, the feeder, fence, and nearby apple tree. I counted seven.

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Friday, March 28, 2008


A few days ago.

A few minutes ago.

He's just out of the shower, so his hair isn't this dark, but definitely darker than before it was cut. When he walked into the room, Rosie growled at him. She didn't recognize him until he called her name and then she started wiggling and insisted he pick her up so she could make sure it was really her boy up close and personal.

There were two haircuts between the two photos. I like his hair and I was trying to convince him to just shorten it a little bit. He let me cut it a bit shorter, and then even shorter, and then finally said he still wanted it all cut off. Weep. But, sigh, it's his hair. I'll get used to it. And check out those blue eyes now.

I thought he might look more like one of his short haired brothers now. He does look a bit more like Sam maybe. But mostly, he still looks like William.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Just when I'm About to Throw in the Towel....

.... he makes me laugh.

William is a wonderful person but a pretty typical teenager. In other words, he's often driving me crazy. And this often surprises me. It shouldn't. But for some reason I cling to the illusion that being the fifth child he should know better. He should know the spiel by now, know what works, what drives his parents crazy, what should be avoided, what is useful and mature and what is certain to get him in trouble. I mean, after all, it's the same old stuff his siblings tried and tried and tried before him. Surprising (to no one but me I'm sure), he was off picking daisies or something when all that other teen angst was going on in our house. I've even confronted him about this peculiar and futile insistence he has to run through all the same tricks as his siblings and he just looks at me like he has know idea what I'm talking about! And in my more objective moments, I realize he truly doesn't have a clue. Those teenagers weren't driving him, their favorite little brother, crazy. They were saving it all up for hubby and me. (and an occasional teacher or two.) It seems so unfair that he has to reinvent the teenage wheel.

But every day, just when I think only masochists willingly live with their progeny past the age of ten or eleven....

he makes me laugh. A lot.

Tonight we were watching American Idol and William says:

"You know that thing you can do with fortune cookies, where you add "in bed." to the end of the fortune to make it funny? Well, you can do that with the Idol judge's comments too."

Later a commercial came on advertising a Bible CD. The announcer assured us that it was an exact reproduction of the King James Version, word for word. William commented:

"Word for word? Like, what are they going to do - offer a Reader's Digest version? Or do they mean they haven't left out any words. Do other offers randomly remove words from their versions? Like, "And God said "Let there be....." Let there be WHAT? They left out a WORD! Oh no! What did God say!?"

When my kids were little and were driving me crazy, and I was, perhaps, theoretically, about to scream into their impish, adorable, startled, sometimes even chagrined faces, sometimes just that, their face, was enough to dam whatever was going to come out of my mouth and instead I'd shake my finger at one of them and tell him/her - "It's a good thing you're cute!"

Nowadays I say that one to my grandkids. I've sort of adapted the line for William. I don't say it outloud to him, but I think it - I'ts a good thing he's so funny!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Holiday Photos #31

We saw and did a lot on our first couple of days in London, but the photos are a bit sparse. I suspect it was because this is when William hurt his foot and when we got out of the ER, I spent more time paying attention to how he was holding up than I did taking photographs. Still, I took some.

William wanted to see the changing of the guard. We had front row..., er, front fence seats...,er, standing room. It was mildly entertaining. Certainly not something I need to do again. Sam and Kyla want to see it on the upcoming trip and I suggested they go on one of the two days they'll be in London before we arrive.

I thought the crowds that came to witness the event and the statues near Buckingham Palace were a lot more interesting. Check out the kangaroo in the nearest sculpture in the above photo. And the variety of people and clothing in the crowd. Remember you can click on the photos to see more detail.

This was a beautiful multi-sculpture statue - or would that be a multi-statue sculpture in the middle of the traffic circle in front of Buckingham Palace. You can't see it in this photo, but it even had fountains on the bottom design tier. I took a lot of photos of sculptures and statues and most of them I put up on Laume's Studio.

We mosied over to Trafalgar Square. They were doing some cleaning or repair work on many of the sculptures but we still enjoyed wandering around. It was pretty but, I really liked the energy in Leicester Square a few blocks away better. I went in the National Gallery (the building on the left) for awhile but William's foot hurt and he sat and people watched.

And pigeon watched. I think this was the first place either of us had seen large "gangs" of pigeons. Did we see pigeons like this in New York City?...... no, not that I remember - although I'm sure they are there - we just watched the movie Enchanted. I love the clean up scene with all the New York City "wildlife".

Lots of beautiful fountains.

In the overview photo above of the square, you can see a church spire just left of the fountain in the center. I can't remember the name of the church... St. Martins? Beneath the church is cafeteria style dining (but excellent food) called Lunch in the Crypt. Pull up a chair. Dine with some of the local residents. Or more accurately, dine ON some of the local residents.

I took this photo with a telephoto lens from inside the cloisters of Westminster Cathedral. I liked the complex design of the towers in the background in contrast to the more modern interpretation of a .... phoenix? dragon?... on the pole on the right.

So, now, go check out all photographs of the sculptures and statues I posted over on Laume's Studio. And then we'll leave London behind (but don't worry, we'll be back later) for someplace COMPLETELY different!


Monday, March 24, 2008

Breaking News! Deer in Susanville!

This photo was in our local paper about a month ago. I just got around to reading (well, skimming) it the other day. The caption reads:

"A buck heads south on Paul Bunyan Road at 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 20, after sitting for several minutes watching the traffic go by."

I had to laugh.

First, Deer in Susanville - oh my stars! It would be just as amazing if the photo had been "Car Sighted on Local Highway!" or "Wind Blows Through Town." Deer are abundant in this area. I don't even live in the country, I live in town and I open the door to find deer in my yard as often as not. If I point out a deer or herd of deer while driving, William has this annoying habit of pretending to be hyper-excited, exclaiming "Deer? Where?! Deer! Oh my God! I've never SEEEEEEN a DEEEEER before!" Armed with sarcasm, that boy, and NOT afraid to use it frequently.

And secondly, it sounds like this deer was wanted by the police or was perhaps a celebrity sighting. Why all the information!? Was he a famous deer? Would it have been less interesting if the buck had been headed north instead of south? Was the time important - did he need an alibi? Was he going against traffic or breaking the speed limit?

It must have been a very slow news week in town.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Movie Quote Game - The Unanswered Answers

First List

There were five unanswered from the first list, even with clues. Although, on the plus side, that means people guessed two thirds of them. I'm not surprised a couple of them went unguessed - I think they were too difficult, especially now that I've tried guessing other people's lists and discovered how hard it is out of context. But I thought a couple of them were obvious, especially after the clues were added.

2. "I already know an awful lot of people and until one of them dies I couldn't possibly meet anyone else."

"Well, if anyone goes on the critical list, let me know."

Clue: This is from a very old movie.

Answer: Charade with Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, and Walter Mathieu. If you haven't seen this great old movie full of wit and surprises, rent it immediately.

3. "You mean she would rather imagine herself relating to an absent person than build relationships with those around her?"

This is probably my hardest quote. Clue: The character is talking about a person in a painting.

Answer: Amelie with Audrey Tatou - another must see movie. French subtitles but do NOT let that scare you off.

4. "Thank you, Madame, for that fascinating lesson in our cultural differences."

Clue: Imagine this line with a French accent.

Answer: French Kiss with Kevin Kline and Meg Ryan - Love this movie!

5. "I'm just like every modern woman trying to have it all. A loving husband, a family. I only wish I had more time to seek out the dark forces and join their hellish crusade."

Geeze, how many characters would be seeking out dark forces!? Well, okay, maybe there's a lot of strange movies out there. Okay, for a clue, I'll add another line by a different character in the same movie.

"Be afraid. Be very afraid."

Answer: Addams Family Values - Morticia said the first line, Wednesday the second.

15. " Maybe you should put some shorts on or something, if you want to keep fighting evil today."

Clue: This line is being said to a naked man.

Answer: Mystery Men - The Bowler says this to The Invisible Boy.

Second/Easy List

This list was easier, only two remained unanswered. There are three quotes below because one of them was guessed just in the nick of time and so I'll give them credit with the answer.

3. "A gun rack... a gun rack. I don't even own *a* gun, let alone many guns that would necessitate an entire rack. What am I gonna do... with a gun rack?"

Clue: the actor who who says this line was at one time a Saturday Night Live regular. William not only knew this movie immediately, he could also continue reciting the entire scene!

Answer: Wayne's World. I'm totally amazed this one wasn't guessed right away. Well, it was, by William - but my family watches almost all the same movies so that kinda disqualifies them from the competition.

4. "But did you put the pellet with the poison in the vessel with the pestle?"

"No! The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon! The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true!"

"The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon; the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true."

Clue: This one is from a really, really, really old movie. I know some of you have seen it, but probably you folks are really, really, really old too.

Caty guessed this one at the very last minute - The Court Jester with the incredible Danny Kaye.

14. "Paris is always a good idea."

Am I the only person who loves this movie!? Clue: there are two versions of this movie. This quote is from my favorite version, which is four decades more recent than the first one.

Answer: Sabrina - the 1995 version with Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond, and Greg Kinnear. There's a 1954 version with Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, and William Holden. Although I love all those older actors, I just don't feel they managed to create the same chemistry between the characters that is created in the 1995 movie.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Sam and Kyla Day

Yesterday we went to Redding to spend the day with Sam and Kyla. I stopped on the drive over to take a few photos of this rock lake. It forms here every spring from snow melt and when you're driving by it, with the sky reflecting off the water, it looks like a field of floating rocks.

It's really three or four times as large as in this photo, but there isn't an easy way to take a photo of the whole thing.

Don't these rocks look like they're suspended in midair?

Along with the two hour drive there and another two hour drive back, we had a full day in Redding. First we took care of some shopping needs we could only complete in the city. We slipped in an hour browsing at Barnes & Noble. Then we hung out at Sam's house for a bit. He was cleaning and adding chemicals to the pool. They were watching the pool cleaner swim around like a strange ocean creature in an aquarium. Every once in a while it would hit the surface and spray water at us.

Sam bought his house eight months ago and he's been working hard at fixing it up ever since. When he first moved in this pool was just an abandoned hole in the ground with decades of dirt and debris in it. He had it refinished. He's fixed dry rot on the house, pulled off the old siding and added a very pretty stucco finish. He's painted inside and out, put on a new roof, new windows and doors, new kitchen appliances, and put in new carpeting where there wasn't hardwood floor inside. He's clearing brush (it's a half acre lot) and just had asphalt laid in the driveways. It doesn't look that fancy from the photos but if you knew what it looked like when he bought it, you'd be VERY impressed at the improvements. And he's not finished yet. Sam is one of those people who works hard and plays hard. He does more in a day than two or three regular people.

Here he is "playing" with a bull whip. We finally got it away from him thank goodness! Then we all went for a DELICIOUS dinner out, where between courses we spent all our time discussing our upcoming trip. Everyone enjoyed it except William, who kept pointing out that he wasn't getting to come on the trip. Sam countered by pointing out that William got to go on the last trip and it was four times as long!

After dinner the boys tried out a new indoor go-cart race track. Look at how big this thing is - see the tiny people halfway across the open track?! It was sort of pricey so just the boys raced. Kyla and I decided we preferred to save our money for buying shoes and settled for eating ice cream and watching the guys go crazy on the track. It was pretty fun even just being a spectator.

They went REALLY fast - it was hard to take photos. Here's William cutting Hubby and another guy off on a curve. Sam is the racer in the background but he's not "behind" - he looped around some of the other racers several times so he's actually ahead of the people in front of him. Hubby drove fast but pretty sedately. However, William and Sam were going for it and they both spun out on a corner at least once. William's spin out caused a four car crash. Apparently it's all part of the fun though, they got it worked out and off they went again.

They all got out of their carts whooping and grinning and high fiving each other. They had a really great time. It's obviously a Guy Thing.

Sam was totally full of himself when he checked out the ratings board and saw he'd won the race.

After all that excitement it was time to go back to Sam's to shoot some pool. I beat William in a game and won a game against Sam but didn't beat him he says because I won only because he put the eight ball in too soon.

Eventually it was time to call it day. We stopped for snacks to sustain us on the long, dark drive home. On a full moon night like last night, the drive becomes more of an experience than a chore. The moonlight is so bright, especially this time of year with snow still at the higher elevations, the forest shadows are as crisp as the objects themselves. The light flickers through the trees so brightly they feel like city lights, even though we're miles from anywhere and anyone. We pass hardly a dozen cars for two hours.

When we get up on the high ridges were we can pick up radio reception, I like listening to the odd, bizarre, sometimes silly, sometimes fascinating, and sometimes scary stories of people calling in on the AM radio Coast-to-Coast Show. What's more fun that telling ghost stories in a spooky old house? Listening to stories of aliens when you're driving in the dark on a highway in the middle of nowhere! I have to listen carefully because there's still a lot of static so far out there. (Did you know we live so far out that not far from us there is a SETI radar station, sitting out there under the mountain skies, listening for signs of extraterrestial life!?) I drank my Starbucks latte first, for the caffeine jolt, then switched to alternating between the sweet, creamy fruit of a Jamba Juice and the salty crunch of a bag of Pirate Booty.

All in all, a lovely, lovely day.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Day with Friends

My friend Kristen and her two sidekicks made the long drive up today for a visit. It was a lovely day. The first thing we did, after all the cats and dogs were greeted, named, and petted, was to have lunch at the local tea room.

Such a cute photo of Kristen!

Kristen's lovely daughter Irene having her first cup of English style tea - Earl Grey Lavender with cream and sugar.

Here's my hubby listening intently as Kristen's son Rhys introduces him to his box of Star Wars action figures.

After lunch hubby went home to take a nap (think the kids tuckered him out a bit?) and the rest of us went for a walk. We gave the kids their choice of a walk along the shops on Main Street or a walk through a quiet neighborhood to the pioneer cemetery.

As you can see, they chose the cemetery, where we had a lovely, peaceful ramble through the gravestones (saying "Excuse me" when we had to step over someone) and discussing the meaning of life and death. There seems to be a pattern of us taking visitors to the cemetery - either Susanville has a derth of options for tourist activities or we're just a very odd family.

Don't answer that.

I'd never noticed this beautiful gate before today.

Walking through the nearby neighborhood, we also saw this unusual tree which ... "Is brought to you by the Letter O". Thank you Sesame Street for burning that line into my brain.

We also saw this very angry looking vehicle abandoned near the sidewalk. Someone bought this red eyed demon car for their child. Uhm, really? Even for me, this is very creepy looking. It looks like a combination hearse and Ghostbuster station wagon. Okay, maybe my kids would have loved it.

We also saw this yard simply covered in star shaped flowers.

Then we went for a walk through the canyon because Rhys wanted to see the river.

The kids worked hard to get all the rocks into the water but alas, the task was too much for such a small group and we had to leave some of them unthrown.

We were fortunate enough, however, to discover a small nest of beer cans nestled beneath the roots of a tree. The ones that hatch and make it to maturity will turn into some fine keg specimens, I'm sure. Party ON, people! Support the local wildlife! Wooooo!

Rhys was all about being four and having "skills". There was swinging on the tree swing with no hand skills, rock throwing skills, jumping skills, climbing skills, and this very difficult standing on a rock on one foot maneuver to show his balancing skills.

And here Irene shows off her photo taking skills so the two moms can both be in the picture.

We all had a great afternoon - although I think we tuckered Kristen out, she asked where the Starbucks was located before heading off for the drive home.

Movie Quote Game - Ready for the Answers?

Are you folks tired of playing? Or do you want more clues? Leave a comment letting me know whether to keep going or call it a day and I'll update this post tonight one way or the other.

In the meantime, I've got to get off the computer and ready for company. They should be arriving in about ten minutes or so. Hmmmm, maybe getting dressed would be a good idea too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Holiday Photos #30

Anyone got the time? Snort! I love this photo of William being William. But seriously, got time to browse through some photos? I don't think I need to tell you where we are, this first photo gives it away quite nicely. (I'm so glad they fixed this thing after the alien spaceship crashed through it.)

How many London icons* can you see in this one photo? I've listed six obvious ones at the bottom of this post. Can you guess them all? Can you see any I've missed?
More umbrellas. And oh yeah, that building in the background - Westminster Cathredral. We had to go back three times before we finally managed to arrive at a time when we were allowed to visit the inside of it.

Slightly down from the British Parliament Building (pronounced "Par-lee-ah-mint" according to Sam's sweetheart), is this statue of Abraham Lincoln. Whodathunk!

This is outside of the Templar Church - the one in the movie The Da Vinci Code, which is how we knew to visit it. I liked this photo I took right after an afternoon mass was ending, with the showy red cardinal standing by the door. I'm used to a sentence about a "showy red cardinal" meaning capturing a red bird in a snowy winter landscape.

I took quite a few photos inside the buildings in the Tower of London. Most of them are blurry. Here's a full set of armor for both horse and man - how did the horse carry all that weight!?

These firearms were displayed so gracefully.

More "gun art". This lion looks like he's had a few too many espressos. Or perhaps he's just a bit demonic.

Everyone loved this display of the King's armor and the Mini Me's armor.

Check out the cool lizard on top of Mini Me's armor. I know, this armor was really meant for a child - which is obviously odd or indulgent or something else completely untranslatable to our culture - but I couldn't help to think that any young male would LOVE the lizard. Or maybe it's a dragon. Either way - what boy child could resist!

More umbrellas. It's amazing everyone in London isn't walking around with eye patches from umbrella accidents.

One of my favorite photos of William, ever. This was taken not far from the Tower of London. Shortly after this photo was taken, the wind picked up the umbrella and carried it over into a private garden. We got it back. I can't remember how. No, seriously, I can't. Maybe William remembers.

Before we left on our trip William spent a lot of time trying to convince me that we had to go up on the London Eye - a ten story tall (or is it twenty story tall - in any case - it's TALL) ferris wheel. I don't do well with height, and ferris wheels in particular, so I insisted that under no circumstances would I be going on the Eye, although William was free to go without me. It turned out to be a slightly different set up than a regular ferris wheel and I did go with him and it was a lot of fun. We were actually a lot higher than it looks from this photo above - it was taken witha telephoto lens (through the glass cage that encased us), but I wanted to share this photo to show you the overview of Westminster Cathredral, to show you how it rambles forever.

This photo gives you a better idea of how high up we went. We're up above the Thames and for all the non-British who don't recognize it immediately the large building across the river in the, foreground I guess we'll call it... is what Guy Fawkes wanted to KABOOM.

Speaking of kabooms, this was a peaceful peace rally right across the street from the Parliament Building protesting involvement in the Iraq war. I've never actually been to my own national capital, so I can't say for sure, but it seemed to me that it's unlikely that something like this would be so casually tolerated in Washington D.C. At least, under our most recent administration. And here we are almost two years later and still...... I wonder if the protest is still there? I'll have to check when we go back in a month.

I put all the photos of statues and artsy photos from this London set up at Laume's Studio. Be sure to hop on over and check those out as well.

* 1) man holding umbrella 2) red telephone booth 3) cars driving on the "wrong" side of the road 4) Westminster Cathedral 5) London Eye 6) peeking out from behind some shrubbery - Big Ben