Big thanks to Jamie Dedes over at Musing by Moonlight for giving me the best happy weepy moment of the holiday weekend:
Big thanks to Jamie Dedes over at Musing by Moonlight for giving me the best happy weepy moment of the holiday weekend:
And on this day of hot dogs and beer, sunshine and fun, please take a moment to remember, to have memories, as the name of the day would imply.
While driving up the 280 freeway yesterday, I saw the Golden Gate National Cemetery right off the highway.
It had been decorated with flags and bunting in anticipation of today.
It looks beautiful and my heart is with all of the people who will pay a visit to that cemetery today.
I also think about the Santa Fe National Cemetery where my father's ashes reside.
Rows and rows of neat white markers reflect so many New Mexicans who have served their state and their country.
It is for them, today, and for all our active people still in service, that I feel honor and I have memories.
Cheers! And Happy Memorial Day.
Merchant Marine cemetery at Fort Stanton, New Mexico:
I had a doctor's visit this morning. Nothing special, just a routine check up for blood pressure and all of that.
My doctor was running late so I had some time to sit and entertain myself.
When all my email was read on the iPhone and I'd caught up on Twitter, I started people watching. You know, people watching at a medical center is quite a thing. You see a lot...
Anyhow, pretty soon, a nurse came down the hall pushing an elderly man in a wheelchair.
They came into our waiting area and the nurse helped the man to get up onto his feet, and he then took a few steps with the aid of a cane.
As he shakily got to his feet, he said to the young nurse, "Who would have thought it would come to this, eh?"
He said it in a wry way, but it carried a deep note of sadness.
The man was, by all appearances, pretty healthy. He was probably in his late seventies and from what I could see, was suffering a very bad hip.
The nurse helped the man get settled into the seat, with a groan.
He gave me a weary smile and I smiled back.
The nurse said to the man, as she departed, "one of my patients told me that his best advice was simply this: just don't get old."
"Yes, certainly," said the man, with a sigh.
The whole exchange made me a bit melancholy. I remember when my dad struggled with rapidly advancing lung disease. His mind was fine but his body crapped out on him way too early.
How angry that must make a person, your legs, your lungs, your eyes, your whatever body part you want to name just doesn't work like you know it should.
And me. Still fairly young but full of the knowledge that I'm not taking care of myself as well as I should. Now is the time to tend to these things.
Time marches on, whether I'm keeping step with it or not.
And even now, I know some parts of this ol' rig don't work like they should. But I still have time.
Time to remember to enjoy my legs that still carry me easily, a heart that still beats strong. Lungs that take in air without coughing.
Yes. It was just a nice reminder, a needed wake up call.
Because one day I might be uttering to a kindly young nurse, "who would have thought it would come to this?"
Sorry for the sort of down post today. The rain and the doctor's waiting room has me in a very thoughtful place.
As you know, over the years you and I have enjoyed an especially close relationship. You bring me the sun and the ocean and endless blue skies. You are in charge of all that is outdoors that I love and enjoy.
And you do a fine job of it, don't get me wrong.
Being a woman as you are, we all know that we ladies can be prone to *moods*, and that is to be expected. Fickle moods. Cranky moods. Just...moods.
Over the years I've forgiven a lot of your more extreme bouts of moodiness.
Remember the time I had to dive into a wet alfalfa field because you struck the telephone pole I was walking past with a big blast of lightening?
Yeah. I forgave.
Remember I cried my eyes out in the winter of 1997 (that so called El Niño winter) because I thought it would never stop raining?
Remember that time I drove to Silver City, New Mexico on the hottest day of the year? My car was overheating, so I had to turn on the heater to help keep it cool enough to finish the trip, and when I arrived, I realized I'd sweated through all of my clothing?
That wasn't fun.
But I've been able to let by gones be by gones.
You are entitled to be a little whimsical now and again. Heck, enjoy yourself!
But this year...well, I think it's time we have a serious talk.
You *might* need to seek professional help for this schizophrenic behavior you are exhibiting.
It's sunny, it's rainy, it's too hot, then it's too cold.
You can't seem to make up your mind, alternating between sunny and rainy on a given day!
Ma'am, today is the frapping twenty seventh day of May.
May. You remember? Spring?
When the birds sing and the sun shines and a (straight) young man's fancy turns towards young ladies in short skirts?
No one wears short skirts in the drenching rain!
Um. Look. I just did my toes and they are a fabulous shade of melon pink. I want to show them off.
When it's fiercely raining and yes, HAILING outside, I can't show of my fabulously painted toes because they are covered by my wellies.
Ok, look. I understand that living in Northern California means ya gotta accept the rain. I get that. But c'mon! Can't you give a desert born and raised girl a break?
And let's talk about my friends in places like Utah and Colorado who are getting SNOW?
Look sister, you need to get a hold of yourself!
Might I remind you that this weekend is Memorial Day? Hot dogs and cookouts and the beginning of summer fun?
So why *exactly* is there rain and snow in the forecast?
You know, they make meds that can help this condition.
Why don't I make you an appointment? Maybe some talk therapy will help you work out your issues.
I'm here to support you. Just so you know...I'm a much more supportive friend in the sunshine.
I'm just saying.
(bonus points if you remember the tagline from this commercial)
Especially photographic type toys.
Yay plastic cameras!
After lusting and longing for a while, I finally broke down and spent some money on a Fuji Instax instant film camera.
It's like a Polaroid, only a Fuji brand. You know, *coff coff* a financially solvent company?
Anyhow, this fabulous little Instax makes very small instant photographs, they are 2 x 3.25 inches in size.
I LOVE that I have an instant photo camera again!
It hearkens me back to my youth. One Christmas holiday, I got a Polaroid under the tree. Oh what a fabulous present!
I could spend my allowance on buying Polaroid film, which was fairly cheap back then, and then run around snapping photos of whatever I saw with *instant* gratification!
Ok, sure, these days digital cameras provide that instant look at the photo you just took, but there sure is nothing like the sound an instant camera makes after snapping a photo. The motor engages and it shoves out the cloudy photograph. Oh the sweet agony while you wait excitedly for it to develop.
Gah! I love it!
So as I do with every new camera I buy, I take it out of the box, ooh and ah over the features, load up the film or memory disk, and then turn it on and point it at the Feline.
She's my test model for all new photo and video devices in the house.
Ah, the long suffering Feline....
(scanned photo, not actual size)
And yet, she always manages to strike a pose. I really do think she's getting better at this job of supermodel.
"I won't get out of bed for less than two scoops of kibble."
Such a Diva.
And yet...she sure knows how to work the camera.
As for me, I'm still giddy with the fabulous gadgety goodness of it all!!
Since yesterday was a whirlwind of deadlines and today is a whirlwind of meetings, I thought for the blog today I'd share a bit of what I was working on yesterday.
The deadline was for the Arthouse Co-Op, located in Brooklyn.
I participated in a project they have going called The Fiction Project.
They sent me an 80 page Molskine notebook and challenged me to fill up the pages with stories. My topic for the stories was, "And suddenly..."
Whoo. And I thought this was going to be *so* easy to do. I love to write short stories and flash fiction. What a snap!
It was a fun challenge. Writing the stories wasn't even the hard part, though it was hard enough. The rough part was in actually putting all the stories into the book in some coherent form. It's harder than you'd think.
I thought I was done and had a full book of stories, but when I glued it all into a first draft piece, I still had four pages left to fill.
I suppose I could have left those four pages blank, but that seemed like cheating.
So I sat down to dash off something quick.
Dash off something quick. Har, har. Of course, that's when writer's block set in.
Anyhow, it took a while, but when I did finally write, what is below what came through.
It's in need of more editing, but as I ran out of time, I had to just run with it. This is what covered the last four pages of my Moleskine book. For your perusal.
It's called "And Suddenly...It's Over"
I look at my oldest, most reliable friend and plead silently, "speak to me!"
The blinking eye of the cursor just beats a perfect metronome rhythm back at me, waiting. The whole empty white page, devoid of the text I yearn for so much, mocks me openly.
I love the words, the black squiggles and marks on the page. Words that express how I feel, how I want to feel, how I ought to feel. But the words don't flow so easily from my veins.
I plead with the empty page to fill up quick, but it never helps. So I take another course and appeal directly to The Muse. She is recalcitrant and obstinate, but I goad her along.
She wakes from her satin sheets, stretches her pale, lovely long arms, and rises.
"Oh, all right," she concedes after I've wooed her with mimosas and caviar.
And so we sit down to write.
I step back, ceding control of my body, my thoughts, and my mind to The Muse. I let her dance. I let her sing. I let her weep if that's where she wants to go.
I am at her service, totally, completely.
We write tales of the life cycles of the human, of cranky old men with faithful dogs riding in rusted old pickup trucks. We write of lost girls with music in their head and small town girls finding their way in the big city. (editors note, these were the topics of the other stories that filled the book)
Sometimes we write of horses and cows, other times about diamonds and millionaires. We write of everything and nothing. All of it and more.
Today, however, this day when there is nothing I want to do more than write, I can't manage to coax her to give more than a single paragraph.
This is the worst. We begin the takeoff sequence, the words start to form, but I can't get wind under my wings. Soon we stutter and the engine fails. We write, but then we don't get very far before we don't write anymore.
The cursor blinks. Waiting.
I sit, begging, pleading with her. I try to do it on my own, force the words to come through, but each letter oozes painfully out of me like blood from a fresh, deep wound. It's not natural like when she does it.
I used to think this was a terminal condition, this writer's block, and would last forever. Over the years I've come to know that the diva inside of me, she of all the ideas and brilliant turns of phrase, will always come back. No matter how firmly she leaves or how far she goes, one day, I know she will return.
And she does.
She'll always find a way to embody my fingers and my soul because she just can't resist. The pull toward the joy we feel in those moments when the words flow free is too great. It's like an addiction, stronger than any drug or drink.
We write because we must write.
And so today, I wait her out. The first paragraph is written and I wait, blinking in time with the cursor.
If I don't squeeze too hard, if I don't press her, it will happen.
Magically, it will happen.
So I avert my eyes and pretend it doesn't matter. I fix a cup of coffee and I read the news and I say in a sighing way, "oh, I guess we're not going to write today."
And finally, when I've got her fully convinced that it just doesn't matter, The Muse shows up with a "who me?" look on her face and suddenly has the will to write.
So we take another go at that runway. Faster this time, we let the words start to flow free. Soon, with enough speed and plenty of ideas to fuel our ascent, we break away from the land below and we begin to rise.
The adjectives and adverbs and participles flow smoothly over the wingtips and we soar, together, my fingers are her engine while The Muse is pulling all the levers.
It's magnificent. Suddenly, we kill off the main character and bank hard to the left. Oh this is a great run. Then a plot twist, some suspense, upward we climb, faster, faster.
And finally, when it feels like my fingers might snap off from the speed and the altitude, the climax of the story arrives and we climb to impossible heights and finally crest that hill.
Once over the apex we begin coasting down the story arc of the glorious dénouement.
Then, the story draws to a close. The engines slow, the fingers wind down, and we touch gently back to down earth, weary but fulfilled.
Flaps come up, we coast to a stop and ease our rig back into the slip.
And suddenly...it's over.
It is then, with much melancholy, together we type the words...
Yeah. Had a big one today. Been looming out there since January.
Funny how May seems *so* far away in January.
And then without looking, it's May 24th and you are NOT finished with your project.
Anyhow, it was a race across the finish line...but thankfully, I did cross the ol' finish line.
Back to our regularly scheduled bloggy goodness tomorrow.
And yet, it is.
Was reading an article today in the online version of the San Francisco Chronicle, the SFGate with the headline of "Flushed jail items cause S.F. court flooding."
The article talks about how inmates at the San Francisco Hall of Justice managed to flush two orange jumpsuits and a bed sheet down the toilet, thus causing a major backup of raw sewage into the courtrooms.
Workers got the mess cleaned up last night only to have it flood again in the morning.
Just. Ew. Talk about a crappy day at work.
Sorry. No really, I actually am sorry. I've been on a pun kick lately. But that's not the funny part.
The funny part comes toward the end of the article.
Here, I'll quote it directly:
"...the last major problem occurred in the mid-1990s and prompted the city to purchase grinders, known as 'muffin monsters,' that are installed on sewage pipes."
Giggle. *snort* Chuckle. Guffaw.
Ok really. Honestly?
How am I not supposed to laugh at that?
I immediately dashed into the other room to share my new phrase with The Good Man.
Thus proving once more that I am the intellectual equivalent of a twelve-year-old boy.
But come ON. Muffin monsters?
Ok, ok, they really exist and that's really what the manufacturer calls them.
They look like this:
That's all well and good, but I don’t care who you are, that's still funny!
I had a really great time being in southern New Mexico over the weekend. I got to spend time with many of my old Ag College friends who still rely on the weather and the earth to make a good part of their living.
I got back to my rural roots. It was a fresh reminder.
While I whine and complain about all the rain we got this year in Northern California, I was reminded, plenty reminded, that water is still the heart of life in a town like Las Cruces.
Simple water. Yet not so simple.
As we drove out to my best friend's house, which is well and gone north of Las Cruces, my old senses kicked in. I smelled the water before I saw it. We rounded a corner and could see that the main irrigation ditch was running high.
"Someone must have ordered water," I said aloud to no one in particular.
"That looks like almond trees going in," I pointed out to my husband.
"Whoa, that used to be a cotton field...looks like they put in chile," I commented.
I greeted each pasture and expanse of farmland like an old friend.
"Chickens!" I exclaimed when we came to a traffic jam on the road (us and another car). The Good Man had asked, "um, why are we stopped?" and I had the better view around the car ahead.
There was a bantam rooster doing his strut on the warm asphalt of that rural New Mexico state road. We all waited for him to go by. He took his time.
Once at the party, The Good Man and I at one point talked with my best friend's dad. He said that they were having trouble with a neighbor up the road diverting their water. They'd order and not enough would show up.
I've been reading a lot of Louis L'Amour stories lately. In those books, diverting someone's water is a killing sort of offense.
I said to my dad-by-proxy, "you oughta weld that guy's gate shut" and he laughed. Don't think he hadn't already considered it. (and by gate, I meant irrigation gate, not the entry to his driveway)
As the night wore on, it got to be about two o'clock in the morning. The evening dew, such that it was, was starting to settle. I said to my husband, "this is good hay cutting weather." He asked why, and I said, "the dew makes the stalks wet and they bend instead of break."
I used to date a guy in college who had to end our dates fairly early because he had to get home and cut hay. I learned to recognize that smell. It meant it was time for him to scoot on home. Time to work when the water is in the air....
The next day, out at my friend's place, I learned the water in the irrigation ditch was running so high because it was a "free day" for the community. They got to water as needed.
I was wearing flip-flops and I tromped around the soggy yard helping my god-dog look for his favorite ball. The water made the air smell sweet. It also made the frogs come out and sing their sexy mating songs rather loudly.
We ate dinner outside with a chorus of humping frogs to accompany our meal.
All because of water.
Living in the city like I do, I take water for granted. I turn on the tap, and there it is. It falls from the sky and I curse the nuisance.
Yesterday, I was shopping at Nordstrom for a nice outfit to wear for a very important meeting today.
While I shopped in luxury, I looked down at my flip-flops. They still bore the dried mud from my friend's home. I tossed back my head and laughed at the beautiful, grounding irony of it all.
May I never forget the land and the people who rely daily on the value of pure, simple water.
Rather out of focus photo of my cranky god-cat and the gate at my friend's place.
You know, looking at a photograph of myself is always an interesting and somewhat humbling experience.
In a photo, I never quite look the way that I imagine I look.
Where did those lines around the eyes come from? Do my hips really look like that?
The other day, I received an interesting photograph that surely has me pondering some things.
Here, I'll share the photo with you, my fabulous readers, so you can see what I'm talking about.
It is a fun photo of me driving! Isn't that neat! A perspective one doesn't often get.
Look at me...intense expression on my face. Hands firmly at ten and two. Or maybe more like eleven and one, but no matter.
That's a concentrated and skillful driver, no?
Yup, that photo was kindly mailed to me by the Superior Court of the county where I live.
Wasn't that sweet?
It appears they are of the belief that I didn't stop fully before making a right turn at a red light into a very busy intersection.
And so for the luxury of a faboo photo of me behind the wheel, I was charged $500.
I'm *ever* so pleased about that. Tickled pink. And other euphemisms I can't think of right now to sarcastically convey that I'm not very pleased AT ALL!
Next step: onward to driving school. Yay me.
Have I ever mentioned how much I hate red light cameras? Oh I really hate them.
So, this past weekend, The Good Man and I made a whirlwind trip to Southern New Mexico to celebrate my best friend's 40th birthday.
There was bbq brisket and tender ribs and homemade ice cream with homemade german chocolate cake on the menu.
Of *course* I was going to be there.
It's not a bad trip from San Francisco to Las Cruces, but it does take a skosh of effort sometimes.
So while riding planes, trains and automobiles, I learned a few things about myself.
Here's some of the top thoughts while on the journey:
The speed of the girl, while in motion, is variable depending on geography.
New Mexico, the land of mañana, moves very, very slowly. San Francisco, on the other hand, moves very, very quickly.
I do ok going from the super fast pace to the nice slow moving pace.
I have one hell of a time coming back from slow motion into 90 miles per hour.
In fact, I think I stripped a gear.
The sort of person you are becomes self evident after sitting for an hour on the tarmac.
San Francisco was having bad weather yesterday, so our connecting flight was delayed by a couple hours. Then they said, "hurry up and let's get loaded" so we complied. The plane backed from the gate, rolled toward the runway, and stopped.
And there we sat.
They were having a hard time getting a window for take off. They said we could go at any minute. So we all had to stay seated and buckled in.
As we waited.
You really get a sense of a person under these sorts of circumstances.
The lady behind me started making ever more angry calls to her husband. The people in front of us who started out as strangers quickly became friends, trading stories about delayed flights in their collective past.
A lady across the aisle angrily flipped pages in her magazine and sighed. Loud, frustrated sighs.
Me, I read. I had a really good book, so that helped. But after a while, I was getting grumpy and frustrated too. So then I put down my book and started fidgeting. And then it seemed a good idea to start annoying The Good Man because isn't that what husbands are for?
I guess I'm the sort of person that can be patient...but only for a little while.
Southwest Airlines open seating policy makes people rather aggressive.
Seriously. It's a seat. It's not a gold medal event. Find a seat. Sit in a seat. If you have to sit in a middle seat, it doesn't mean you lost the contest. It just means you have to sit in a middle seat for a few hours. Get over it.
Airports will go to great lengths to get you to buy their overpriced food.
I'm almost positive Auntie Anne's pretzel place was piping hot cinnamon sugar odor into the terminal. Gooey tasty cinnamon suguar. It was damn near irresistible.
I saw another guy with three Popeye's boxed meals walking by. He was by himself...
And then there's Starbucks. Evil place. They suck you in.
I *might* have to succumbed to some of these delights, but the food in the airport is NEVER as good as it is at a real stand alone shop.
But they manage to sucker in almost every weary traveler, prisoners of TSA policies, too weak and famished to resist paying seven dollars for a soggy hamburger.
It ain't right.
Millions of years from now, archeologists will describe us as a quaint nomadic tribe so attached to our possessions that we dragged them around with us in small wheeled wagons called "samsonites".
Honestly. Have you ever seen people so damn attached to their suitcase full of crap?
Ok. Well. I am way guilty on this one.
But at least I'm willing to check my rolley bag and not have to clutch it to my chest, and cram, shove and heave-ho it into the overhead compartment.
Ah well, as the old saying goes, all's well that ends well. It was a fantastic trip to New Mexico, much green chile was consumed. Many wild college era stories were told and fun was had.
Now back to our regularly scheduled insanity....
You'll recall I first asked this question back in November.
The answer then was: persimmon.
Today, in my continuing quest to understand what in the sam hell is growing in my own backyard, I bring you the next installment in the series.
Ladies and Gentlemen...ask you. What exactly is *this*:
(no fair answering first, Natalie!)
I have a tree laden with these little guys. The birds fight over the fruit that bears a color and skin resemblance to an apricot.
The neighborhood squirrels will come running up the power line, put their little paws together over their head, and swan dive into the tree to sample of these fruits.
The bugs love this tree so much, a spider has moved in and built one hell of a web. This allows him to freely sample of the bug buffet. There are bug carcasses strewn all over the place. I haven't seen a spider web like that since Hawaii!
The fruit on the tree looks a little bit like a small peach or a big apricot. But they aren't.
Curious, I pulled one that looked ripe from the tree and split it open.
This mutant fruit has not one but TWO stones at the center!
Another I opened had not two but THREE stones!
What the hell?
I didn't sample the fruit right away. The saliva-evaporating tannin in the under ripe persimmon I ate first and asked questions later taught me a huge lesson.
Nope, I was going to do some research before biting in this time.
With a little help of another overheard conversation between my landlord and his elderly father, I remembered them discussing the old man's love of something called a loquat.
Hmm. Loquat. It sounds like a concatenation of a couple other words...like lemon and apricot. Or lemon and kumquat.
Is this one of those weird hybrid fruits? No. It's not.
Loquat is actually an Americanized spelling of a Cantonese word, lou gwat, or the words mean "reed orange."
This is another tree that is found mainly in Asian countries and was brought along to the Bay Area. It's a very hardy tree!
Evidently the fruit has a mild sedative effect.
Evidently the seeds have a mild bit of cyanide. Yay.
Note to self: eat the fruit, not the pit.
So today I dove in like a squirrel and picked a couple ripe samples.
It's very tart like a citrus fruit but a consistency much like an apricot.
I like it!
Ok, mystery solved! Off to find recipes for loquats!
Oh, by the by, I also have this creepy creature in my backyard:
It's almost a foot across and it looks like it could devour small animals.
Fortunately, I know what this bad boy is....
It's an artichoke that my neighbor grew and forgot to pick.
If it gets any larger, I may have to move.
The later you are for an appointment, the closer the needle on your gas gauge is to "E".
The more important the meeting, the darker the clothing you will wear.
The later you are for the meeting, the higher likelihood that you forgot to buy sticky roller.
The bigger the emergency, the fewer bars of coverage you will have.
The bigger the emergency, the fewer bars of battery charge you will have.
When waiting for a vital call, the phone will ring the moment you go to the toilet.
When sleeping, ten inch tall, eleven-pound cat become queen size.
The more valuable the item, the more likely the cat will knock it off the shelf.
After rainy winter, the more sun you have, the more "waaaachooo!" you have.
The more "waaaachooo!" you have, the less Claritin you have.
The more you want to diet, the more your coworkers bring in donuts.
The more rabid you are about your Southwest boarding pass, the more likely it is you'll receive "C".
The more you want to carry on, the less likely it is that any of your toiletries are less than three ounces.
When flying, long legged girl going to Bend.
I've been a proud holder of a driver's license for, oh say, about twenty-five years.
I first learned to drive our automatic transmission, four-wheel drive, 1972 Chevy Blazer on the hard packed dirt roads around Logan, New Mexico. Population 1,002.
Those roads were wide, empty of other cars, and easy to navigate.
Ya wanna park? Sure. Pull up somewhere near the house. That'll work.
Then I got a more formal education from the ubiquitous McGinnis School of Driving. Don't know if it is still the same now, but back then, every high school kid in Albuquerque learned to drive from McGinnis.
We got the usual lessons. Hands and 10 and 2. Back up in a straight line. Parallel park between the orange cones.
That parallel parking one...I didn't need that much in Albuquerque.
I needed it A LOT more once I moved to the Bay Area.
Parallel parking in San Francisco is like a sport. People will actually spectate the event. Comment on your technique. And point and laugh as you make six runs at that freaking small spot that you've just spent over an hour searching for.
These are things that Mr. McGinnis didn't teach.
That "spent an hour looking for a spot" is what got me thinking. Last night, The Good Man and I had an event up in the great City of San Francisco. It was to be held in the part of the City they call the Marina.
Now...we were feeling pretty good about our odds of parking (another thing McGinnis didn't teach, thinking ahead to where you'll park) because where we were headed has a pretty ample parking area. It's a big wide street with a line of parking spaces down the middle (Fillmore, for my SF readers). Plus, it was a Tuesday night.
Lots of spaces and a weeknight? High potential! Score!
Luck was not on our side. An accident on 280 and backed up traffic for a hometown baseball game left us running late as it was. And when we got to the Marina...there wasn't a spot to be had.
So we did what we had to do. We began the slow circle around and around and around. Trolling for a spot.
McGinnis didn't teach me that.
Then the consideration of an ever so slightly empty spot at the curb. Can I fit my car in that? What are the odds the people living there will call the cops because my bumper is hanging in their driveway? Am I leaking over into the red zone? What are the odds I'll get a ticket?
Mr. McGinnis also did not teach me that.
And then, while panic growing and growing as we are now a half hour late for our event, the sheer ecstasy of actually FINALLY finding a spot. A big spot! A good spot! A spot we didn't even have to fend off other drivers to get into!
Yes! Sweet mystery of life at last I've found you!
Oh the relief. The weeping. The joy.
McGinnis School of Driving definitely did *not* teach me that.
I had to learn that all on my own.
I'm pretty lucky these days because The Good Man, a longtime San Francisco dweller by way of a Brooklyn upbringing isn't a'feared of these sorts of things. He'll plunge into the wackiest of driving, parking and navigating situations with ease and aplomb. Most of the time, like last night, he's got the wheel and I don't have to worry about it.
Because me, I learned to drive on empty dirt roads.
What the hell are all these cars doing around here!?!?!
(Don't think I haven't TOTALLY whipped in front of a Trolley Car to get to a good parking spot. Because I have.)
Whoooo! Some homestate love once more on the Failblog!
Oh Fair New Mexico!!!
Wait. That's not the shape of New Mexico.
I know, I know...the *name* of the company is New Mexico Soap. But...it's still confusing.
Maybe the label could be..."State Shaped Soap, brought to you by New Mexico Soap" or something similar to avoid the perils of the Failblog?
For the record, the people at New Mexico Soap also carry this little product:
There ya go! That's the right shape! They left off that little jut up near Oklahoma, but that's ok.
I'm sure the people who live up in the jut (uh, that would be round about Clayton, NM) don't mind being left off the soap. Much.
By the by, this is not the only New Mexico fail on the failblog. Here's the one I posted back in October.
I know that Mom's Day was yesterday, and was well celebrated, but today, in searching for a blog topic on my favorite idea generator, this little bit popped up onto my screen:
"What happened in your mother's life when she was exactly the same age you are now?"
So I thought about it. And then thought to myself...whooooa.
My mom's life at age *mumblefortyonemumble* was quite a bit different than mine.
And by quite a bit, I mean a LOT.
Let's see. Well, for one thing...mom and dad were juggling three kids aged thirteen, ten and six at the time.
For the record, when I imagine what that must have been like, let me just say...GAH!
On the fun side, back then we used to go bombing around the wilds of New Mexico in an 1972 blue and white Chevy Blazer ("Karen, get out and lock in the hubs!"). My dad was big on road trips.
The back seat was bench style. I'd cram in the middle between my brother and sister.
Mom would pack up a lunch of cold fried chicken with all the sides and we'd head up to Cuba, New Mexico, in the Jemez mountains, to spend the day.
It was on one of these trips that the now infamous piñon nut up the nose incident took place...I'll spare you the details.
We'd spread a blanket under a tall, shady tree and eat. After lunch we'd all head off in different directions to explore.
Dad would bring a portion of his vast gun collection and each kid would take turns learning how to load and shoot every one. Our target was an old, soft tree that had been felled by lightening.
It was important to him that we weren't scared of any of the guns kept in the house, and we weren't curious about them either. We knew what they were and what they were for, and were very respectful of them.
Yes, I was shooting guns at the age of six. It was big, huge fun!
Mom wasn't much for shooting. She'd participate sometimes, but mostly she'd be off to the side keeping a wary eye on us.
It had to about that time in my mom's life, too, when we were taking a hike up in at our Cuba property. My mom, who was always looking down at the ground in search of a geode, instead found herself a genuine arrow head.
No, not one of those you find in a tchotchke shop in Arizona.
A real, honest to goodness, genuinely used by an actual Native American, arrowhead. The land we were on was once the hunting grounds of the Jicarilla Apache, among others.
Let's see...what else was going on in mom's life at that time....
She cooked dinner every night. Homemade tortillas and venison burrito meat were faves. (At the time, I would balk and get weird about eating Bambi meat. But in honesty, it tasted pretty good. Ssssh, don't tell mom, okay?)
She volunteered as a librarian at my elementary school so she could be out of the house, but still around for her kids. She was running my sister and me to our ballet and tap lessons. She would proofread my homework, too.
A career secretary (now known as an executive assistant), she was hell on a typo or misspelled word.
Back then, life at our home wasn't always perfect. It wasn't always bad either.
So at the age I am now, Mom was managing a constantly in motion family focusing on kids and husband and work and home and putting a lot of effort into her days.
Me, I focus on work, my still fairly new husband, and spoiling my overindulged pets.
You know...in comparison...I have it pretty easy. And I owe my fairly easy, happy life to my mom. She worked hard so that her kid's lives could be better than hers had been at the same age.
And in that, dear mom, you are a resounding success!
P.S. to mom: I'm sorry we couldn't be together on Mom's Day this year like last year. I hope my stinky brother** took good care of you this year. I'll bet he didn't give you a hand crafted present like I did last year.
I'm still your favorite...right? Right?
** (because all boys are stinky)
I spent the sunny day yesterday as part of a City College of San Francisco photography class. It was a full day photo walk class through part of the City.
I was excited about this class because when I started shooting, I was all about the nature shots...but I'm moving steadily into more urban themes and this was a great chance for me to improve my skills.
Wow, did I learn a lot. There were actually two instructors, one a professional portrait photographer who really helped us understand about light and how to make people look great.
The other a professional landscape photographer who helped us understand that to take a good landscape photo, you need to have a point of focus.
Both were amazing teachers!
Anyhow, I'd posted on Twitter yesterday that I'd been up and down some of the grander hills in San Francisco, and Twitter friend @pcon34 asked to see a few photos on the blog.
So here you go pcon! A few of my faves.
I've only done some very minor corrections on the photos and haven't cropped or Photoshopped anything.
Click on any of the images to see in various sizes.
Down at Fisherman's Wharf, you can find lots and lots of good rusty things. The relentless wind off the water sees to that. This was a quick snap at the side of a shed where we had been working on portraits. This chain just caught my eye and the photo has become one of my faves of the set.
More fabulously rusty. I was endlessly fascinated by this thing. I have no idea what it is...but it must be valuable. There is a pretty new lock on it.
This is the hill leading up to Coit Tower. The photo was taken from the roof of the Art Institute of San Francico on Russian Hill. There are a million photos of Coit Tower and I wanted something different. Here, I was trying to make it look like those photos you see of the building covered hills of Greece or Brazil. This one is The Good Man's fave of the set. This small size doesn't do the photo justice. The full sized version is a lot of fun.
I wasn't totally into this photo when first downloaded, but I keep coming back to it. It has something working for me that I can't quite put my finger on. I may play around with the colors and cropping to see what emerges. These are windows at the Art Institute of San Francisco.
The Exploratorium has many fabulous outdoor experiments located all around Fort Mason. This one, the wind arrows, helps you see how the wind moves in different directions depending on height. I caught the arrows in a rare moment, heading mostly the same way. For me, what I love about this photo is the sky! It's CLEAR and blue. No clouds, no fog! Heady stuff!
A white-crowned sparrow singing his tune at Fort Mason. This was near the end of the day and the photo is a skosh out of focus. Ah well, what it lacks in technical skills, it makes up for in capturing the attitude of this little fella. A friend and bird expert says that Mr. White-Crowned Sparrow should have migrated by now, so she's a bit worried that I saw him. Here's hoping he finds his way....
Anyhow, if you're still with me, thank you for looking at my photos! If you want to see more, there is a set on Flicker, click here
How's my day? HOW'S MY DAY!?!??!
This, this is how my day is going:
This is what happens when you take the lovely rubberized cover off your iPhone and then go to a meeting and, whoops, drop it face down on a beautiful gray granite floor.
I have many, many curse words yet to go today.
By the by...the phone still works. Just not really inclined to run my finger across the screen.....
I'm going to help make you the smartest margarita drinker in the bar.
So what, exactly is Cinco de Mayo?
Ok, so like a super long time ago (1860's) there was this Mexican president named Benito Juarez...totally like that border town, you know?
Anyhow, Benito stopped making payments on debt owed to France.
And France was all like "Whoa man! No waaaay" and they *attacked* Mexico to get their money.
Then they totally thought they would also take over Mexico, and that would teach them a lesson and stuff.
But Mexico was all like "No way Jose!" and they fought back.
And in this one battle in the city of Puebla on May 5, 1862, the Mexican army totally kicked some French *ass* and there was much rejoicing.
And so we drink tequila and eat guacamole in memory of those valiant Mexican fighters!
Unfortunately...it didn't really hold up the French for long and by a year later they occupied Mexico City.
Some French dude named Maximilian thought he was all kinds of hot sh*t. Whatever Max!
Then the U.S. was all like "stop acting like children! Take your toys and go home!"
So they did. And Benito Juarez got to be president again.
But anyhow, there was that one super huge battle in Puebla, against all odds, and so that's why we all have to eat Mexican food and drink and stuff.
It's super patriotic.
2007 Cinco de Mayo parade, Calistoga, CA. Image by Karen Fayeth.
You know, I'm really very spoiled. Terribly so, and I must work to not let it all go to my head.
But, I must also say...I deserve a little spoiling now and again...
Like, say, around the celebrations of my birth? Yes. Always a good time to spoil me rotten, and my wonderful mom-in-law held nothing back.
In fact, Sunday was a darn good day in my life.
The day started with the opening of Localvision 2010, a photography exhibition. I was invited to add a photo to the event, and was totally geeked out by the first real gallery showing of my photography.
The Good Man and his mom went along with me to be my entourage for the fun.
It was really heady to see my framed print on the wall and to see people looking at it and talking about their impressions of the image. It pretty much made we want to go hide in the bathroom for the duration. But I held strong.
After the gallery opening, we went to my mom-in-law's place for dinner.
And oh what a dinner.
For appetizers, there was guacamole (yum!) and Italian salami, and olive and feta cheese and oh my!
I was already starting to fill up.
But then, oh then.......
That amazing cook made me chopped chicken livers. Fresh! From scratch! I saw the actual raw livers before the magic began!
Oh my heavenly days! My love of da liver is well documented.
A whole bowl of homemade liver-y delight! All for me me me me!
Whooooo! I get dizzy just thinking about it. It was the best chopped liver ever in my history.
I almost wept. I really did. It was a brown lump of heaven on a cracker.
If loving cooked chopped organ meat is wrong, I don't want to be right.
As I surrounded the bowl, my husband had to remind me that I could take some home, I wasn't required to eat it all there. Seriously, I was afraid someone would take it away from me!
But there was more!
Succulent chicken for dinner with the most delicate and tasty potatoes on the side.
Homemade baklava for dessert.
For me! Me me me me me!
Ok, I shared the baklava with The Good Man since he'll eat it (and not liver).
I loved my multicultural dinner (Mexican, Greek, Italian, Jewish, etc). I felt so incredibly spoiled and it was one of the best birthday presents EVER!
Today I might need to take a walk and burn a calorie or two. I may have overindulged just a skosh.
And that baklava in my 'fridge. It calls to me. Sings to me. Beckons me to come and sample of the tasty goodness inside.
I. Can't. Resist.
The chicken liver is already gone. I couldn't resist it so much I had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and every snack in between.
Feliz Cumpleaños para me!
....that living in the Land of Schwarzenegger, in the area of the Bay, there came to be a fish. A small fish. A fish who was filled with faith and hope.
A fish purchased under the accursed impulse-purchase vexation.
The fish was of the Betta clan, and was given the name of Benito, meaning "blessing" or "blessed one" in the Spanish culture (and meaning tiny little dictator in the Italian tradition).
And so it was that Benito came to live in the house of The Good Man and true to his name, blessed us all.
Benito swam and ate of the bloodworm. And it was good.
Until it wasn't good.
And forsooth, Benito ceased to eat, and lay on the floor of the tank, flat on his side, and took on a gray pallor.
Which only raised memories of Frank, also of the Betta clan, who came before Benito and expired so painfully.
And so it was that The Girl wept, felt necessary to rend her garments, gnashed her teeth and howled to the heavens, "Why! Why must I have the curse of killing helpless fish?"
Then The Girl resigned herself to the knowledge gained that she was not meant for fish ownership.
Another matchbox coffin was prepared, and sadness befell the house of The Good Man.
In the last, desperate hours, The Good Man proclaimed, "he who believeth in the bettas shall never die."
Thusly, The Good Man brought his mighty hand down and created freshly treated water and added the miracle of the antibiotic powder.
The limp body of Benito of the Betta clan was deposited into the fresh, medicated water and hope was not held out.
In the break of the morn, The Good Man, in his grace, went to the tankside of Benito of Betta, and proclaimed, "Yea, tho I believe this crazy fish is hungry!"
And chopped up pieces of bloodworm were deposited in the tank, and verily Benito of Betta did eat.
"No %$ing way!" came the cry from The Girl, who stared in disbelief at the miracle The Good Man had wrought.
"Yeah, don't get your hopes up," The Good Man admonished, but despite his downplaying the whole thing, The Girl did ignore him and did in fact get her hopes up.
And forsooth! Benito of Betta did continue to eat. And became more upright, and began to flap his fins in a normal manner.
And Benito of Betta was thusly nicknamed the Lazarus Fish, having risen from the dead.
So it is that some two weeks from coming to the house of The Good Man, Benito of Betta continues to live and eat and could almost be described as thriving.
And with the focus on a new, recovering fish, The Girl finds the sadness over the loss of Frank is beginning to ease.
With the help of The Good Man, guardian of the broken pets, The Girl may in fact learn to be a suitable owner of small helpless fish.
And for the moment, it was good again.
But don't get your hopes up.
P.S. Margaret, female of the Betta clan, and The Good Man's fish, continues to thrive quite nicely, thankyouverymuch.
I love, love, love Lomography and the fun plastic cameras that create such individual photos.
One of my faves is the Action Sampler camera that comes with multiple shutters the fire off sequentially. I use it a lot.
It works best with motion, making what can best be described as a four frame movie (or more frames depending on which camera you have. They go up to 9 shutters).
So of *course* someone created an iPhone app that does the same thing, making the camera fire off shots one after the other then bringing them together in one photo. It's called QuadCamera.
Check out today's trip across the Golden Gate. iPhone held out the window as we passed under the south tower on a nice sunny day. (straight off the camera, no adjustments done)