Friday, January 30, 2009

New Words

I finally finished my first book of this year, The Emperor's Children. I have to agree, at least partially, with one of the customer's reviews on Amazon: "the author likes very long sentences; many paragraphs are absolutely incomprehensible. Are we to be impressed with the overuse of commas and dependent clauses so that it often takes two or three readings to render a sentence understandable?" By D. West "Bones

I almost set it aside numerous times because of that very thing. It's tiring. However, by the middle of the book, and it's a somewhat long one (479 pgs.), it started to get interesting. By the end, she had my attention.

That being said, what I really liked about the book was the number of new words I had to look up! As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I love words! Here's some of the new ones I had to look up. Please, no laughing if you already know what they mean! Oh, go ahead and laugh! Life is short!

Affianced [uh-fahy-uhnst] –adjective
betrothed; engaged.

Akimbo [uh-kim-boh] –adjective, adverb
with hand on hip and elbow bent outward: to stand with arms akimbo.

Corollary [kawr-uh-ler-ee] –noun, plural -lar⋅ies.
1. Mathematics. a proposition that is incidentally proved in proving another proposition.
2. an immediate consequence or easily drawn conclusion.
3. a natural consequence or result.

Excrescence [ik-skres-uhns] –noun
1. an abnormal outgrowth, usually harmless, on an animal or vegetable body.
2. a normal outgrowth, as hair or horns.
3. any disfiguring addition.
4. abnormal growth or increase.

Uxorious [uhk-sawr-ee-uhs] –adjective
doting upon, foolishly fond of, or affectionately submissive toward one's wife.

Insalubrious [in-suh-loo-bree-uhs]–adjective
unfavorable to health; unwholesome.

So now I can start "The Hour I First Believed" by one of my very favorite authors, Wally Lamb!!!!!!

My Father

Today is my father's birthday. He died back in 1989. These are the facts that I absolutely know about him. I can't say what year he was born, or how many siblings he had. I had heard that at one time he raced mini cars. I would like to have known more about that. Evidently, there is a family history booklet that a relative had put together years ago that I have repeatedly asked for, that just doesn't seem destined to be in my possession.

One of the stories shared from that booklet is that my father's father abandoned his family when my father was very young. Years later, someone, a friend, spotted him in front of a theater and called out his name. My grandfather, it is said, turned to look in the direction his name was called, and then turned and ran, disappearing around a corner, never to be seen again.

Some role model, huh? If you don't have someone to show you how to do it right, I guess there's a good chance you'll do it wrong.

I heard that my father fought in WWII and came home, like many others, with nightmares. In time, he became a supervisor in a company that worked with linoleum. A union shop. When the workers went on strike, there was trouble, a demonstration that went out of control. He ended up on the ground with one of the employees holding a 2x4 over his head. I'm told that what he saw at that moment was himself lying on the ground in the war, with an enemy soldier readying a bayonet to come crashing down to end his life.

After that incident, he soothed his rattled psyche with alcohol. Lots of it. Often. More and more.

I remember after my father died, I could "feel" him in the clouds. There was clouds everyday for a while. I imagined him sitting on the edge of one, watching us. I understood that the picture was my imagination, but I "knew" he was there.

My father was an alcoholic and with that came all of the tortured issues that that entails. Missed birthdays, no-show Christmases, late night arguments heard from my bed.

I remember one Christmas Eve when all of us kids wanted to open just one gift on Christmas Eve, my mother said we would have to wait until my father got home. We excitedly watched the clock from 5 o'clock, minute by minute, hour by hour, until none of us mentioned it again, and then went to bed.

Then the times (plural) that I would go to his apartment, thirty minutes on the bus, because we had planned to spend time together on the weekend. He was never home. Crossing the street, I would always find him at the bar. "No, honey, I'm working. We'll do it next weekend."

When I got married, another no show. My brother gave me away. When I was older, with kids of my own, and he was sickly and bedridden, he mentioned to me that he was always afraid that he would miss seeing me grow up (him dying). Well, he did miss it, but not the way he thought. He never saw it.

When he died, I went to work, not knowing what else to do. But he was present in the clouds. I know that for sure. That lasted about a week and then he was gone. I'm grateful for that bit of time. It was like redemption and forgiveness.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dark Night

I was walking home about 11 o'clock at night. I had been down at the dam with all the other kids from town. It was a moonless, summer evening and I was a little nervous walking down my black street. I had just started down the long stretch of road ahead of me before I would round the curve in the road that held my house.

When I was young, I was afraid to be alone at night. We lived in a small mountain town of 3000 people. In the early days, the whole town closed up by 6 p.m. Everyone was home from work by then and there was not much reason for people to be out after that during the week.


It was dark at night. Not alot of streetlights and we were away from the lights of the city. Many of the homes were summer cabins that stood empty a good portion of the year. I loved that small town atmosphere. We lived fairly close to downtown, such as it was, on the river. Such a beautiful piece of property that held walnut trees, maples, and winding pathways through mounds of ivy. The paths were lined with rocks that we had hauled up from the riverbank in back. The house itself was single wall heart redwood. Even the built-in shelves were redwood. Gorgeous! It looked like a log cabin from the outside, with a huge porch in front, but from the inside it was varying shades of red and cream.

I would lay in bed at night, worrying about what was out there in the dark, waiting to "get me." I tortured myself with the thought that if that dreaded situation did find me, that I might not be able to scream. I would be paralyzed with fear, unable to move, to protect myself. I struggled with that thought over and over again.

That night, walking by dark windows and closed up houses, I saw a sillouette of someone walking in my direction at the other end of the street. I slowed down, thinking to myself that the person walking toward me walked like a man. He moved to the side of the road, close to the bushes, as if waiting there for me to pass. I crossed to the other side of the street and so did he. My breath came faster now and I could feel my heart start to race. I could turn around but there would be nobody left in town, and the only way home was down this street. I crossed back to the right-hand side and he did the same. He was getting closer and I was looking wildly around me, gasping for air, hoping to see a light on somewhere. My heart was literally pounding in my chest. As he grew closer still, I could feel the paralyzing fear grab my throat. I would not be able to scream. I would not be able to stop the heinous thing that was about to happen to me. Moving to the middle of the road, he was a couple of yards in front of me when he jumped to grab me! I threw my head back and screamed at the top of my lungs!

"Oh my God! I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! It's just me. I was kidding. I'm so sorry!" As my knees buckled, my friend grabbed me again, but this time to keep me from hitting the asphalt. Relief ran down my cheeks in tears as he held me, whispering over and over again how sorry he was. Jerk!

Photo Bug

Last summer, Hubby got the photo bug. He had it bad! I enjoyed going out for drives with him and could appreciate the scenery when he would pull over on the highway because he saw a cool shot.

But once I got the camera in my hands, I caught the bug. Big time. It's like seeing snapshots around me instead of scenery. It's exhilerating when you see something that you know will shoot well!

This morning was one of those times. I went outside to leave a cut-up orange that was past its prime for the thrashers, and on my way back in the house, spotted this...

It's like a water chandelier. I know this is going on all over the U.S. right now, ice that is, but not here. I ran into the house to get the camera for fear it would start to melt. I shouldn't have worried. It's 10 a.m. and it's still frozen outside.

I can't wait to get better at this photography thing. Practice makes ... a whole lot of pictures that you can't use! LOL!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Clover - Must be lucky!


Who knew you could grow clover indoors...and that it would be happy?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bike Show

It was a beautiful, sunny, Sunday afternoon. Warm, but not hot. It was one of those days where the sky was a deep blue, perfectly clear, and I didn't want to be encumbered by anything that would feel like a drag on me. Not a sweater, purse, or much in the way of clothing, as far as that goes.

But we were working; taking pictures for one of our clients at a motorcycle show. The parking lot was full of sparkling chrome, and colorful bikes, of all shapes and sizes. Their owners inspecting their machinery, would every so often wipe an imaginary smudge from the tank or handlebar. The pride was palpable, even from the owners of the rat bikes.

A friend of ours drove up on a trike, a short, rather round, spikey haired woman, with her elderly mother helmeted on the back. The trike was fairly new so we walked over to say hello and take pictures for her.

As we were standing next to the trike talking, I felt a breeze kick up. I had to squint as I felt something blow into my eyes. My mouth started to feel gritty and I actually had the thought "close your mouth." It felt like I couldn't catch my breath. My hair lifted and I could feel it waving above my head. There were tiny pin pricks on my face, arms, and legs. As I peeked out from under my lashes, it was as if I was in a cloud, a whirling cloud of dirt, and I couldn't see the people I was standing with.

It was over quickly and as I opened my eyes, I could see a dust devil move away from us across the adjacent lot. Holy crap! We were just in the middle of that thing! We stood there, wondering what the hell had just happened, and began realizing that we were covered with dirt and goatsheads, a small, but incredibly painful thorn when stepped on, that is prolific in this area.

We often see dust devils in the desert, moving off in the distance, pulling whatever is in it's path and twirling it up into the air. What a trip!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Architect: A Son's Journey

We watch a lot of movies. All kinds. Drama, comedy, documentary, foreign films. When we lived in CA we went to the movies every weekend because there were several theaters that carried different genres of movies and whatever your mood dictated was available, and matinees were fairly cheap then. So many movies, so little time. Once we even got to see one of our very favorites on the big screen, Dr. Zhivago. The ice house was incredible ten times its normal size in front of your face! Awesome! But I digress.

Hubby got a Roku for Christmas. It's a little box that hooks up to your tv, then you go online and pick your movie on Netflix, and the movie downloads to your tv instantly. Pretty cool. Last night as we were trying to decide what to watch, he came across this documentary called My Architect; A Son's Journey. Inwardly, I was rolling my eyes, like I have a tendency to do, thinking that it was going to be like that program How it's Built, or How it's Made, or How'd dey do dat. Those programs always end up being interesting and informative, for sure, but how many times can one watch how a bridge is made, or the Hoover Dam. Evidently, many times, as has been our case.

Was I wrong about this one! Turned out to be a very poignant story of Louis I. Kahn, and about an illegitimate son that knew little of his father until he went on a quest, 26 years after his father's death, to learn about him through the buildings his father built, the people he worked with, and the families that he shared blood with.

We felt our hearts open towards Louis Kahn, along with his son, through interviews with people who truly loved this architect and the amazing use of design, light, and space. It's a somewhat sad story of his father's failings and selfishness as well as his brilliance and occasional tenderness. Sad, mostly, because he could never allow himself to be truly happy. There's a point in the movie when the son, Nathaniel, is sitting in this beautiful house, with his siblings from three relationships, that his father designed and the three of them discussed the fact that their father could build these beautiful buildings, but never allow himself any of that beauty. I don't mean to imply that this is a movie that requires a box of kleenex. It is not.

The buildings are truly art, and I just can't imagine someone sitting down to envision what he did. This is well worth watching! If you happen to see it, let me know what you think!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

After two cloudy, grey, gloomy days (very unusual here) we finally got a bit of rain! Not rain, rain. But wet all the same. I know. What's the big deal, right? I'm a pisces. I'm a fish. And I grew up on the coast, i.e. fog, rain. When we do get a bit of sprinkle, I sometimes go out and stand in it, raise my face to it, breath it in, try to plump up my dehydrated soul.

And LOOK! Look what I found happening right out in my own backyard!

Yes, people, my wild violet is blooming! Oh the future is surely full of promise and possibilities!

If you have never smelled a wild violet, you owe it to yourself to experience a sweetness like you've never known. Here are some other pictures off Wikipedia of the Viola odorata.



This file is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License

Okay, mine don't look like that right now, but it will this spring. Let's face it, we've had a couple of hard freezes and hairy creatures out there. No, not tarantulas, they are only out in the summer. The dogs, my friends. And yes, despite that thought, I did stick my nose down in the middle of that plant, and was rewarded with an olfactory slice of heaven.

This wonderful plant will spread in time, and although it looks quite delicate, it is not. In my youth we had gobs of it in our yard. When I would go out to water, I was so careful to put the hose under the leaves so the leaves and flowers were not forced to the ground. Silly girl.

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, January 23, 2009

People Just Love to Play

Remember Men at Work? Loved them! I heard recently that the lead singer, Colin Hay, is still out there touring. I also loved that song "People Just Love to Play" with words...back then too.

I love words! I love them! I have scraps of paper all over the place, on my desk, the table, nightstand drawer, with words that I've never heard before or have heard but don't really know what they mean. Some I get the gist of just by the context that it's being used, but I look them up anyway so I'll know for sure.

I found a very cool blog by Scriptor Senex that has different words or phrases every day. Right up my alley. Check him out.

I have a folder on my computer filled with words, phrases, quotes, and slices of brilliant writing that I have collected over the years. But I like Scriptor Senex's idea of a journal to keep these treasures in. In fact, I have a beautiful journal that my wonderful friend made me not long ago that would be perfect!


Thank you both!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Twitterpated? Already?

The last few mornings while taking the dogs out to potty, standing in the early morning light, I have noticed the birds singing. I mean really singing!

Since winter has set in they are way too cold, and way too busy to sit around peepin' the bull. Know what I mean?

But hearing them belt out their melodious crooning, makes me wonder if they are starting to think about L-O-V-E. Maybe they're eyein' that cute little red breast, or last year's mate that suddenly is looking very sexy!



Do you think I'm sexy, come on honey, let me know!

And maybe they are thinkin' about starting to build their...loveshack!








Baby, loveshack!






Ok, I'm obsessed. With birds, with bird houses. I can't help it.









I'm hopeless.








The coolest birdhouse though is the one we found at an arts and crafts fair in St. David a few years ago. We have had numerous tenents and several hatchings of babies every summer. It's totally made of twigsmoss, and driftwood. Because the nest sits back inside, it's hard for the bigger birds, like the cactus wren and roadrunners to get them.
Whether they're serious or not right now, I sure do love to hear them sing. Fills me somehow.

Northern Lights

From an email:

Northern Lights over Yellow Knife , Yukon , Canada ..





Aren't these pictures gorgeous?

I have always wanted to see the aurora borealis.

My dream is to go to Alaska and spend a few weeks. I would hope to time it out to see these fantastic skies!

Imagine just standing around, looking up, and that is waving around above your head! I would probably end up with hypothermia for standing out there for hours with my mouth hanging open! I wonder if people in the north take that for granted. It would be like looking out at the moon. Oh, there it is again, the moon. Although there are some pretty awesome moonrises. But imagine if there were three or four moons and it was an everyday thing. Ho hum, there's all our moons.


Remember when Hale-Bopp came around in 1996-97? We bent over backwards to try to see it before it became so easily visable. We went down to the beach one night because we thought we'd get a better view. We spent hours down there with the kids and a telescope. Loads of other people were doing the same thing. Every once in a while someone would yell, "I think I see it!" And we'd all go running over to his telescope. When we went home and pulled in to the driveway, there was HaleBopp as big and bright as could be, even without the telescope. I know. But we checked on it every night until we couldn't see it any more.
The email also showed this photo, a fire rainbow. It said the picture was captured this week on the Idaho/ Washington border. The event lasted about 1 hour. Clouds have to be cirrus, at least 20.000 feet in the air, with just the right amount of ice crystals, and the sun has to hit the clouds at precisely 58 degrees. Beautiful!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Crown Jewel of Southern Arizona


So, imagine that you're just a couple of guys out roaming around the Arizona countryside and you spy a little crack in the side of a mountain. I don't know about anyone else, but when I see a little hole anywhere around here, I'm thinkin' tarantula, rattlesnake, gila monster, scorpions. Truly, the VERY last thing I would think is, "Hmm. Wonder what's in there. Shall we go look?" No way, baby!"

But that's exactly what Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts did back in November of 1974. Amateur spelunkers they were. And were they ever rewarded! It opened up into a HUGE room! They didn't even tell the land owners for four years, for fear that it would be spoiled.

See, it's a living cave, full of stalactites and stalagmites, that are still growing today (unlike Carlsbad Caverns). It wasn't until 1988 that it became known to the public, when the Arizona State Park system bought the property. Extraordinary precautions have been taken during its development to conserve the cave's near-pristine condition.

Here's some info about these living caves.


Cave Formations
The formations that decorate caves are called “speleothems.” Usually formations are composed of layers of calcite called travertine deposited by water. The form a speleothem takes is determined by whether the water drips, flows, seeps, condenses, or pools.

Kartchner Caverns is home to:
* one of the world's longest soda straw stalactites: 21 feet 2 inches (Throne Room)
* the tallest and most massive column in Arizona, Kubla Khan: 58 feet tall(Throne Room)
* the world's most extensive formation of brushite moonmilk (Big Room)
* he first reported occurrence of “turnip” shields (Big Room)
* the first cave occurrence of “birdsnest” needle quartz formations
* many other unusual formations such as shields, totems, helictites, and rimstone dams.

The Discovery Center features museums exhibits, a large gift shop, regional displays, theater, and educational information about the caverns and the surrounding landscape. There are also campgrounds, hiking trails, lockers, shaded picnic areas, a deli, an amphitheater, and a hummingbird garden.

So worth going to see!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bird Giveaway!



How cute is this bird?

I know where you might be able to win him...


It's a bird give away! With or without his glasses, he is adorable!


Gotta leave a comment on her blog!
She is so darned creative!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Shootout at Miracle Valley

We live in a pretty historical area of the country. Tombstone is about 15 miles away. Anytime anyone comes to visit, we always take them out there to see a couple of original buildings (Crystal Palace & Birdcage Theater) and the actual site where the shootout happened at the OK Corral, and the staged "shootouts" that happen every 20 minutes or so in the middle of town during the summer. Fun.

There is another place close by that has a huge historical past as well. It's called Miracle Valley. It's actually a stretch of two lane road between Hereford and Bisbee.

It happened in Cochise Co. Arizona in October, 1982. It involved a religious cult from Chicago and Cochise County law enforcement. Seems next to impossible to have happened here, considering the circumstances...but it did.

Our current sheriff, who was wounded in the shootout, sat in our kitchen one morning about 9 months ago and gave us the firsthand tale of this unlikely story. It is now available in paperback and for the first time, this book gives the law enforcement side of the events of that day.


Editorial Reviews
A little over one hundred years after the legendary shootout at the OK Corral, a radical South Chicago preacher named Frances Thomas moved to Miracle Valley, Arizona. She brought not only her congregation, but also a dangerous cocktail of fanaticism, faith healing, bigotry, and dynamite. Believing that God had called her to take over Miracle Valley, Pastor Thomas and her cult of followers set out to do just that -- with explosive results.


Customer Review:
An Enlightening Read!!, December 27, 2008
By
Adam W. Miller - See all my reviews Now and then a story comes along which is truly a page-turner. This story of the goings-on and eventual showdown between Pastor Frances Thomas' followers and the men and women who maintained law and order in the early days of the 1980's in Cochise County, AZ ranks right up there with only a few that I've read. It is a compelling, thoughtful and provocative account told by Mr. Daniel through his research of the facts surrounding this incident. It seems a shame that so many years have passed for the other side of this story to be told. A side which it seems was ignored or refuted at the time by self-serving politicians and others who sought to sensationalize the events for their own use. I would highly recommend this account to anyone who has an interest in humanity, conflict, religious-fanatacism, justice and the old and new west!! They say that fact can be stranger than fiction and in this case it rings true. I ask myself "what the hell were people thinking?" after putting this book down.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sumptuous Sunday

Well, today I'm posting what we had for dinner last night...a day late, really, but still sumptuous all the same!

Dictionary.com lists sumptuous as: luxuriously fine or large; lavish; splendid: a sumptuous feast.

Whitefish with Lemon Vinaigrette - Giada De Laurentiis


Good Lord! This was both, luxuriously fine, and splendid!


I knew nothing about radicchio before trying this recipe except that it was $6.99 a pound (they weigh almost nothing) and it looked like something I would not be fond of.
Oh contrere, mon frere!

It is so mild that you really will not object, I promise!

And, I had no adverse reaction to the cannelli beans.

I will say that you have to be a person that appreciates lemon! Fortunately for us, we have been going to extremes to protect our lovely lemon tree and so were able to incorporate our very own into this recipe.

For the whitefish we used talapia. I hope you'll give it a try and love it as much as we do!
Whitefish with Lemon Vinaigrette
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 6 servings

8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 large head radicchio (about 12 ounces), coarsely chopped
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup fish broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 (5 to 6-ounce) whitefish fillets, such as tilapia
All-purpose flour, for dredging
Lemon Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the radicchio and saute until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and broth, and cook until the beans are heated through, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Season the radicchio mixture, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a 14-inch (or 2 smaller) nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the fillets with salt and pepper. Dredge the fillets in flour to coat completely. Shake of the excess flour and fry 3 fillets in each pan until they are golden brown and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.

Spoon the radicchio mixture over the center of the plates. Top with the fillets. Drizzle the vinaigrette over and serve immediately.

Lemon Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Blend the lemon juice, parsley, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running, gradually blend in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with more salt and pepper.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Steppenwolf

Every once in a while Hubby will come up with a way to knock my socks off! I know he's been thinking of me. Tonight was one of those nights....no silly, not that!


In the late 60's, one of my very favorite bands in the world was Steppenwolf! OMG! John Kay's voice reached in and dragged my attention in his direction. Raises the hair on my arms to this day! He will always be the sound of my youth.


We lived in a small community (pop. 3000) in the mountains. A small town where there is little to do for wild little teenagers but hang out at the dam at night, drink beer, and listen to music that was cranked up! I suppose kids still do that today, but I think it's different. Seemed a much simpler time back then. Anyway, John Kay was there with us all summer long. What great memories.


A few years ago, my daughter called me to say that she and her friends had gone to the Del Mar fairgrounds in San Diego to see Steppenwolf, and she was the only one of her friends that knew the words to all of the songs because she had listened to my album over and over and over again!.


Tonight Hubby rented the DVD "Rock n Roll Greats, John Kay and Steppenwolf" to surprise me.

Can John Kay still play a guitar? Oh yeah! And it looks like he's been pumpin' iron cuz he looks good! And yes, he still has that voice that can grab my attention any day!


His band today is great too. I wish I had the names of the band members, but they are different from back in the day. That being said, the man on keyboards is unbelievable, the lead guitar is awesome, and the drummer is fantastic!

Hope you get to see it. We had a good time watching it!

Two Families

In the beginning, there were four parents and 5 kids living at home, with two others out on their own. As far back as memory allows, I see these young families struggling to make ends meet, days at the beach, baskets of sandwiches, with kids laughing, running in and out of the waves, lips blue with cold and shivers.

As time went on, Jack found his place at the bars and his new best friend, the drink de jour. Freddie found his place with another man. Jan found his wanderlust and disappeared for 5 years.

That left two women with 4 kids and no money. They went to nursing school together while working and trying to keep food on the table and a lid on these kids who were on the edge of puberty. The strength of these two women is still a wonderment to me.

In days before the term ADHD, Arline would chase Dennis, threatening him with a flip flop or a phone, or a spatula, whatever was close at hand. Cynthia would sit on her bed, smoking, lamenting about the latest antic of her then boyfriend, future husband. I thought it was so cool that she could smoke at home. She was so grown up in my eyes. I remember getting a few hand-me-down clothes from her once. My first little tight denim skirt and a shirt with an embroidered cat on the front. Did I ever feel like hot shit walking down the street in that!

Matt decided that he needed to stay with Jack and take care of him, when in reality Matt was only taking care of himself. He built and operated his own radio station out of his bedroom, seriously broadcasting news, weather, and parties with his friends. He did eventually get shut down for hooking into city lines, but he also got a job offer from a large radio station that said "When you're old enough, give us a call."

I left home for a week with a friend of mine and slept in various people's cars and apartments in San Francisco. I loved being young and free, in a city that opened its arms to everyone. The music was everywhere, the love, palpable, the dreams of a new generation in its infancy.

I got a tap on the shoulder in the form of a realization that I needed to go home and back to school. Arline was waiting there with my mother, always a best friend and support.

We all made it through those tough times, moving off in different directions, starting families, and turning out as responsible, loving, adults that still carry around a bit of baggage from those days and a few trials of our own making.

After waiting years for a lung transplant that never came, Cynthia could wait no longer and died yesterday. My heart breaks for her family and although I know she is beyond the suffering of this life, it makes me sad.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why Norwegians Don't Have Time for Golf

A must to watch! Sooo cool!



This is the fastest-growing sport in Norway right now.



http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=1778399&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1



Hubby said, "I wonder what their mothers think of this."



I replied, "Their mothers do not know." Right?

The Queen Reigns Triumphant

I swear, I thought these things were indestructable! The "Fat Cat" toys are made from a tough canvas-like material. We've had them around before and nobody ever tried to dissect them.... until now.

All she had to do was get a tiny hole started and within minutes it was all over. All for the love of that little squeaker. Once it was out, Willy grabbed the squeaker and rolls over on his back and starts "raising the roof" with his hind legs. What is that all about? And speaking of strange behavior, what's up with after Willy poops at the dog park, his head held high, the dirt flies behind him as he shoves his hind feet out one after the other? I know you'd think he was trying to bury it or something, but no. He is proud. "Yeah, I am King!" "I'm bad, uh huh!" Never mind that he NEVER does that at home and the fact that he is an absolute whus at the dog park. The only dogs he really likes are Chihuahuas.

I've been picking up the guts of this toy for days all over the house. And truth be told, it's much funnier now than it was before!

Sick huh?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tough Night

Yesterday, in between making birds and watching football with Hubby, I was reading the book No Plot, No Problem. It's amusing so far. And it's true that when I think about writing I let my head get so twisted in what ifs that I don't get very far.
I spent a night of weird dreams of being in school and having a paper due. A history paper yet! The subject was of a man living in the back hill country of Guatamala or some other such place that is void of modern conveniences that I know nothing about. I started gleening little pictures of him in my mind. He made some kind of art (or furniture) that he carved from wood the old fashioned way. In my dream I could see his worn, brown, dry hands working the wood to smooth it. He had two small boys that he was trying to show his woodworking skills to but they were little children that just sat and snickered.
My paper was due the next day and I hadn't even started it! I talked to the teacher and walked with friends, one by one, that all gave me pieces of information about where this little town was and a few stories about this man and his family. How did they know this man?
Next thing I knew I was watching this same man making adobe out of straw and the deep red earth. He built adobe blocks that would be used in making houses in the poorest regions of Guatamala. Again the two small children were by his side but they had their hands in the wet earth as well.
When I awoke this morning, I felt as if I had labored all night long, worrying, troubling over this paper. I'm relieved to be awake, the sun peeking over the horizon, a fresh new day. Who knows, this man may have a name by tonight.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

This Day in History

January 11, 1964 – In a landmark report, U.S. Surgeon General Luther Leonidas Terry issued the warning that smoking may be hazardous for one's health, concluding that it has a causative role in lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and other illnesses.

I used to smoke. I used to smoke alot. Everyone in my family smoked. As soon as I opened my eyes in the morning to the minute before going to sleep at night, I smoked.


Yes, I tried all of the tricks to try to fool myself, thinking that I was cutting back. Only one an hour, then a half every 30 minutes. Yeah right. When I got pregnant the first time, smoking made me sick as a dog. I quit, for 6 months. Being young and stupid I started again even while I was with child. When I got pregnant a second time, it again made me sick. I did quit for good then. I remember the feeling of being truly free. No longer to realize that I didn't have a cig for first thing in the morning, putting clothes on and going out into the night to find an open store.


When my mother quit smoking, she joined a support group that met every night for weeks. I remember she would call me every day. In the beginning days of her quest to be rid of that addiction, we would talk for an hour, the only subject being cigarettes. As the weeks went by the conversations started including things like the weather, what she had done that day, and less and less about cigarettes. That was probably 25 years ago. Back then, too, I remember hearing that once you quit your lungs will start to repair themselves. Reassuring, right?


I bring it up because not only was it 45 years ago today that the surgeon general deemed smoking hazardous to our health, but because I spent all day yesterday trying to get my mother in to see a doctor. See, if she gets so much as a cold, she ends up in the hospital for a week with pneumonia. She has severe emphysema, COPD, on oxygen 24/7, and she is 86 years old. She started running a little fever and thought if she started on antibiotics right away she might avoid getting any worse. Long story short, after all the running around she never did get to see a doctor (urgent care with a closed sign on the door, doctor calling back but she couldn't remember what he said, a different urgent care where she realized she didn't have her medicare card). I'm keeping a good thought that her low grade fever was not necessarily indicative of a full blown illness.




Saturday, January 10, 2009

Generation "Y"

- The Silent generation, people born before 1946.
- The Baby Boomers, people born between 1946 and 1959.
- Generation X, people born between 1960 and 1979.
- Generation Y, people born between 1980 and 1995

Why do we call the last one generation Y? I did not know, but a cartoonist explains it eloquently below...

Okay, the cartoon does not show up. However, the picture is the backside of a kid with his jeans hanging below the "Y" of his backside. Yeah, that explains it!

I must admit, my oldest son has always been one of "those people" that wear their jeans about a bizillion sizes too big, to where the top of the jean is hanging below the bulb of the bum. You know what I mean, right? I think Anchor Blue calls them "way big boy pants" or some such tag. I can't remember the actual name. :)

When he was younger, and I could see his whole boxered butt hunched about the refrigerator, I'd walk by and yank those jeans down, thinking that he would be so embarrassed that he would pull them up around me. But no. No pun intended.

Today, thankfully, he still wears jeans that are too big for him, but at least now they hang low on his hips, covering his tush!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Phalaenopsis

Four years ago Hubby bought me an orchid for my birthday. Every year it knocks itself out producing a stemful of beautiful blooms. This is the first bloom just starting to open this morning.

Before this plant I was afraid to buy an orchid because I had heard that they were so difficult to grow. I can't speak for the other varieties, but this one is a piece of cake! It sits in my bathroom just off of an east facing wall of glass block. I think the secret to successful blooms is this particular light.
To water, once a week I put the whole pot in a sinkful of lukewarm water and let it sit and soak for a couple of hours. Easy!

The little pot was at one time a huge orchid that our home's previous owners left for me. The appearance of
Wee Willy Wilson reduced that plant to shreds. (Good thing he was so cute)
But I shoved the pieces back in the pot and have continued to water it for a couple of years and, lo and behold, it has sprouted leaves. Maybe in a couple more years it, too, will bloom.
Here's what I found online for the official care and feeding of these wonderful plants.
Caring for Orchids
Phalaenopsis (fal-en-OPP-sis)
Phalaenopsis are among the easiest and most rewarding orchids to grow. An American Orchid Society demographic survey showed that Phalaenopsis have become America~s favorite orchid. The plants adapt well to the environment of the home or office. From the time that the first flower bud opens, the sprays will remain in bloom for the next 2 to 3 months.

LIGHTING: Sufficient lighting is a must for successful cultivation. Phalaenopsis prefer either an east or a lightly shaded south facing window. West windows should be used with caution. Depending upon the location of the home, the west window may become very hot during the late spring through early fall. The foliage on your Phalaenopsis may burn.

TEMPERATURE: Phalaenopsis thrive under normal household temperatures. For the best results, provide nighttime temperatures between 60 to 65°F and daytime temperatures between 75 to 85°F.

WATERING: Depending upon the temperature, Phalaenopsis potted in bark should be watered about once or twice a week. During the summer, the plants may need to be watered every 4-5 days. The rule of thumb for watering should be as followed : More heat more water, less heat less water.
Phalaenopsis potted in New Zealand sphagnum moss should be watered less often, about every 7 to 10 days.
Phalaenopsis prefer to be kept on the moist side. This does not mean that they like to be left in standing water,however try to water the plants early in the day so that the foliage will be dry by nightfall. To prevent bacterial and fungal disease use Physan 20 once a month.

HUMIDITY: Phalaenopsis prefer 50% humidity. Often a kitchen or bathroom will provide sufficient humidity. Humidity Trays may be needed for other locations in the house.

FERTILIZER: Phalaenopsis must be fertilized on a regular basis! For best results, use Norman's Optimal Orchid Nutrients every other week. It is recommended to pre-water the plants before applying the diluted nutrient solution if the potting media is dry.

POTTING: Phalaenopsis may be grown in either New Zealand Sphagnum Moss or Medium Orchid Bark Mix. Phalaenopsis should be repotted once every two years. Ideally Phalaenopsis should be repotted immediately after flowering.

PESTS: Common pests associated with Phalaenopsis are scales, mealy bugs and spider mites. X-CLUDE, an encapsulated pyrethrum time-release insecticide is the most efficient method of pest control.

FLOWERING: Phalaenopsis plants may flower again for a second time. After the plant goes out of bloom, cut the stem just under the the first flower on the spray. A new spray of flowers may emerge from the node below.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My dog

This is my dog. Not!


video

My dog is definitely smart enough to be this well trained, however, her owner is just not that good of a trainer! Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!

LOOK WHAT CAME IN THE MAIL!!!!




AND LOOK HOW FAT IT IS!!!!!!!!!



That is over 700 pages!!! I know it will probably be a very emotional read and not always easy. That being said, the man can tell a story! I love the way he writes. He is brilliant. Ever read "I Know This Much is True?"

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com ReviewProduct Description
Wally Lamb's two previous novels, She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, struck a chord with readers. They responded to the intensely introspective nature of the books, and to their lively narrative styles and biting humor. One critic called Wally Lamb a "modern-day Dostoyevsky," whose characters struggle not only with their respective pasts, but with a "mocking, sadistic God" in whom they don't believe but to whom they turn, nevertheless, in times of trouble (New York Times).
In his new novel, The Hour I First Believed, Lamb travels well beyond his earlier work and embodies in his fiction myth, psychology, family history stretching back many generations, and the questions of faith that lie at the heart of everyday life. The result is an extraordinary tour de force, at once a meditation on the human condition and an unflinching yet compassionate evocation of character.
When forty-seven-year-old high school teacher Caelum Quirk and his younger wife, Maureen, a school nurse, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School. In April 1999, Caelum returns home to Three Rivers, Connecticut, to be with his aunt who has just had a stroke. But Maureen finds herself in the school library at Columbine, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed, as two vengeful students go on a carefully premeditated, murderous rampage. Miraculously she survives, but at a cost: she is unable to recover from the trauma. Caelum and Maureen flee Colorado and return to an illusion of safety at the Quirk family farm in Three Rivers. But the effects of chaos are not so easily put right, and further tragedy ensues.
While Maureen fights to regain her sanity, Caelum discovers a cache of old diaries, letters, and newspaper clippings in an upstairs bedroom of his family's house. The colorful and intriguing story they recount spans five generations of Quirk family ancestors, from the Civil War era to Caelum's own troubled childhood. Piece by piece, Caelum reconstructs the lives of the women and men whose legacy he bears. Unimaginable secrets emerge; long-buried fear, anger, guilt, and grief rise to the surface.
As Caelum grapples with unexpected and confounding revelations from the past, he also struggles to fashion a future out of the ashes of tragedy. His personal quest for meaning and faith becomes a mythic journey that is at the same time quintessentially contemporary—and American.
The Hour I First Believed is a profound and heart-rending work of fiction. Wally Lamb proves himself a virtuoso storyteller, assembling a variety of voices and an ensemble of characters rich enough to evoke all of humanity.

Also in the editorial review section on Amazon, Mr. Lamb was asked what he was reading when he wrote his novel. His response was, "The better question is: What and who am I listening to?"

He shares his playlist, an interesting mix. Music does seem to make words flow, doesn't it?

I can't wait to finish what I'm reading now to climb into this new book!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Bird Patterns

I am on the hunt for bird patterns. My friend Janice told me about a blog called creativekismet that is hosting a Birds of Change Exchange. I was going to offer up my noisy cockatiels (Hubby thought it would be cool if the birds could wolf whistle and Woody Woodpecker whistle, which they now do endlessly) but they aren't taking real ones.

I do love birds. All birds. Yes, even those pesky road runners that like to jump up and try to pull the little sparrows out of the bushes. (Never saw that in any roadrunner cartoons, did you?) One of my favorites are the huge crows we have here in southern AZ. The biggest I have ever seen. Imagine one of those sitting on your shoulder!

I have been a real slug over the holidays, half-heartedly picking up one project or another, and have needed something that would get me fired up again. This could be it.

I have made a couple of birds but they're not quite right. Too much stuffing, not enough stuffing.

I'll continue my search. I'd love to enter into the exchange, but only if I can create something somebody else might want. I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Tonight Hubby rented Journey to the Center of the Earth from Netflix


He was thinking that it was a sequel or redo movie of the "good movie" that was released in 1959 (before my movie watching debut, I might add) that was released with more recent film stars.
Excuse me.
WRONG!
No, my friends, don't do it. Do not do it! Do not rent this movie! One of the most STUPID movies that I have ever seen. I'm sorry. Truly. Just no good. I feel bad for the kid that plays the nephew. He is good. This movie should not be on his resume of great films.

Sigh. I, too, am disappointed.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Arizona Skies

Here in Arizona, we have some very extraordinary skies. I'm not sure why. Maybe because you can see for miles and miles. Maybe because of the "dry heat." Maybe because we're just plain lucky...

From sunrises,



to bright sunny days,
to stormy clouds,



to after the storm,



to a dramatic sunset.



I look forward to sharing photos from the monsoon season this coming year. You won't believe it!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Beginnings

So I've jabbered on about the new year on the last couple of posts, but as I was looking out at the back of the house this morning, I was thinking about trusting in the future. A good example is this:


From this...


To this...


And from this...


To this...


Before we moved in to this house, the previous owners had given blood, sweat, and tears to create this beautiful yard full of roses. It's like a sanctuary in the desert. I fed them and trimmed them and had flowers in the house all summer long. I don't know how to take care of roses, truly. Like we do with most things, I learn as I go, mickey mouse my way through. The last couple of years I knew I had to prune these beauties in the fall but I was afraid to prune them too much.

Well, this past summer the rose bushes were HUGE, but gangly, and a mess of entangled branches. Yes, they still produced gobs of roses but the plants looked stressed. So we decided to have a professional come in this year and cut them back. When I saw just how far he had cut them my jaw dropped, but what do I know.

I'm choosing to trust that he knew what he was doing and that we'll, once again, have a beautiful garden come spring.


Flora & Fauna

Books I have known & loved

  • Life of Pi
  • A Hundred Years of Solitude
  • Kite Runner
  • The Way the Crow Flies
  • Fall on Your Knees
  • Poisonwood Bible
  • East of Eden
  • Shantaram
  • I Know This Much is True

Illegal Immigration