Friday, December 30, 2011

No Pain, No Gain...and a New Year Ahead

Okay, here's how it's got to go or I won't make it to the New Year. I will spend one day doing Pilates, the next day doing yoga, and the third day crawling on my hands and knees, whimpering and pitiful, too stiff and sore to do anything except take shallow breaths. Until I get a handle (or die) on this exercise crap, I've got to take a day off after every two. In the unlikely event that I don't croak, I will hopefully be able to adjust this wienie stance in the future.

Also, if anyone ever doubts that yoga is hard work, sweat-inducing, and painfully difficult...well, you just come on over here and let me clue you in. I thought I was sore yesterday with the Pilates session. It's a workout, don't get me wrong, and I felt the muscles stretching as I did my hour, but compared to the Eagle asana??

This doesn't look very difficult does it? Ha! You don't have the slightest idea what muscle stretching really means until you've done this pose.

At one point I thought I heard the instructor say that if this pose was too hard to maintain, just ease into the chair. I nearly passed out with relief. Then I realized he meant the Chair pose. Buggers.  That's only marginally easier than the Eagle. 

I finished the whole hour, but I lost the plot around the 45-minute mark and don't know how I got through that last 15. I came back to myself laying on the mat, sweat rolling, trying to take calm, relaxing breaths while all my muscles began packing their bags in disgust to move to Bali. (And interesting that this particular cool down pose is called the Corpse. I was so there.)

I suffer. I am beyond sore. So I figure the only way this will work is if I take every third day off to recover, and to avoid doing irreparable damage--though it might already be too late for that. But hey. It can only get better from here...right? When I start to falter, I'll just bring back that vision of myself in the bathroom mirrors. That should keep me motivated like nothing else.


I'm also bailing on the blog for the weekend. And not because I'm going to sit around being a crybaby--though no guarantees I won't snivel a time or two. I'm going to finish my movie marathon of the Thin Man series, do a bit of work on my neglected book, make red beans and rice for good luck on New Year's Day, and ease my way into the New Year with a laid-back couple of days--minus the aggro of Pilates and yoga on Sat and Sun. (Mirror, Mirror on the wall...)

So, to all of you who read my stuff, and all my friends and family in Scotland and elsewhere, here's wishing everyone...

(NB:  I changed the yoga photo.  The other picture didn't show the depth and misery of this asana.)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Just Stuff...

After a comment made by Pearl on yesterday’s blog about my Leatherman, I was inspired to look deeper into the best tool on earth.  Interesting details emerged.  Tim Leatherman—mechanical engineering grad from OSU (that’s Oregon State University.  And seriously?  The guy’s from Oregon?) 

After trying to repair a bad car and leaky plumbing with a pocket knife as he and his wife traveled Europe & the Middle East in the 70s, he came back to the States and invented this terrifically useful tool.  The first Leatherman was born in 1983, and now Mr Leatherman has a massive manufacturing company in Portland, and produces 50 different products sold in 82 countries.  Wow.  Who knew, right?

All I really know is, I’ve had mine for years, and would be lost without it.   In fact, just this morning, as I was leaving with the dogs for their walk, one of my many silver bracelets fell off my wrist and with no effort at all, I whipped the Leatherman out of my purse, fixed the clasp, put the bracelet back on and voila--in about 4 minutes, tops.  The boys didn’t even have time to grouse.


I had a rude awakening day before yesterday, which led to a grueling new exercise program that started yesterday afternoon.  Ugh.  On both counts: awakening and exercise.

My bathroom has this very nice, large linen cupboard along one wall.  Unfortunately, it's one of those sliding door deals, but worse, it's mirrored.  What insane lunatic designer thought a woman would want to step out of the shower and see her totally naked body in a giant, full-length, double mirror??

I've gotten used to not really paying much attention anymore.  I mean, after the initial shock and horror wears off, no sense in revisiting the crime scene ("Move on people, there's nothing to see here").  But for some reason I happened to catch sight of myself the other day, and trust me, it was bad.  Real bad.  Bad enough that I decided I wasn't going to wait until January to start my get-back-on-track regimen, I had to start NOW.

Yoga is my torture of choice, although I decided to alternate between Pilates and Yoga to vary the routine, but holy crap.  I walk the dogs every single day, for at least two miles, often more.  I can't do anything in my house without climbing two flights of stairs.  How could I possibly be this out of shape?? 

By the halfway point I wanted to reach through the television and kill the Pilates instructor.  The size 0 instructor.  The one who kept saying, "If you can't keep up today," (big cheesy smile), "you can still pat yourself on the back for trying."  I can't reach my toes, let alone my back.  If anyone heard the grinding of tectonic plates, not to worry, it wasn't The Big One, it was just me moaning and groaning and gnashing my teeth through my first agonizing session.  The only thing that isn't sore today are my fingers. 

In an hour, I'm heading to the mat for my yoga torment.  Pray for me.


On a more pleasant note:  For Christmas, I bought myself some Fiesta ware dishes.  I'm going to change things in the new year, not just in myself, but in my world.  One of those changes is sorting through years of hanging onto stuff that I don't need, or want.  I decided to start easy, with the dishes.  The old ones were just that: old.  I wanted something bright, cheerful and sturdy.  I love Italian pottery, though happened to see this beautiful display of Fiesta ware and just knew it was the perfect thing.  I waited until the store had the best sale ever, and bought:

Six different colors--Scarlet, Sunflower, Marigold, Paprika, Lemongrass and Tangerine.  Even the names are cool.  In real life, these look so joyful, happy and bold, with sort of a Southwest feel to them.  They also remind me of some festivale...but that's a story for another day.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Leatherman Tale

The other morning I was reading one of my usual daily blogs.  The post was about purses: how big, how heavy, what we women carry in them.  These days I don't have much in my bag.  There was a time I was prepared for anything, including leaving the country at a moment's notice.  (Not that I had any reason to be prepared for that, I just liked the fact I could).

Nowadays, I have just the bare essentials: wallet, coin purse, tissue, lipstick and mirror, a small tablet and pen, usually my Kindle or a book, and always, no matter what, my Leatherman.  A work of art in a tool.

This is the handiest, most efficient piece of equipment ever made, in my opinion.  It makes a Swiss Army knife look like a toy.  The Leatherman is compact, has a tool for any eventuality, and is worth it's weight in gold.  Every women should have one.  I've had mine for absolutely years and except for when I fly--security considers it a weapon, so I have to put it in my suitcase--I am never without it.  There isn't much this tool can't deal with.

Few photos:

Sort of looks like a weird frog in the last photo...though you can see how many bits are involved in this totally compact and cool design.  You can also see how marked, scarred and scratched up the original case is.  My Leatherman has been around the world and back again many times.  I wouldn't be without it, for sure.


An instance where the Leatherman saved a life:

Alan and I were hiking in the Highlands one spring weekend when we chanced upon a ram who had his very large and curly horn tangled in wire fencing.  I'm not sure why there was a wire fence in this particular area as usually there were just stone walls or nothing at all, but whatever, the ram had been stuck in this thick wire for quite awhile.  He'd worn a deep groove in the soil, he was foaming, and it looked like he'd damaged a back leg in the struggle to free himself.  His females were gathered around him, bleating with distress.  It was really upsetting to see this poor creature who looked so weak it was clear he didn't have much fight left in him.

I dropped my pack, zipped open a pocket and pulled out the Leatherman.

"What are you doing?" asked Alan.

"We have to get the ram out of this wire or he's going to die."  I snapped open the case and took out the tool.

"We can't cut the wire, all the sheep will get loose!  This is the Highlands; the shepherd will come eventually, and if he doesn't," Alan shrugged, "well, then that's how things go up here.  Sheep get lost, killed by wild animals, or get tangled in wire and die.  Survival of the fittest."

I glared at him.  "Thank you, Mr bloody Darwin."

I opened the tool to the wire cutters.  As I approached the fence, I snarked over my shoulder, "They don't die if I can help it."   When I got close to the ram, he wigged out and began struggling even harder, his females getting truly agitated.  Alan sighed, dropped his pack and grabbed the ram's horns.  "If we get caught doing this, we'll probably get shot by a really angry shepherd," he muttered.

"Then we'd better hurry."

Alan ended up practically putting the ram in a head lock to keep him still, while I quickly cut through three lines of wire wound around his horn.  When I was done, Alan and I stepped back, and the poor ram dropped to the ground like he was dead.  I was really upset that our rescue had come too late, but after a few minutes, and some heavy, deep breathing, the ram staggered to his feet, shook his head, and limped off, his females following.

I looked at Alan, and suddenly we were both grinning wide as could be.  "You did good," he said.

"So did you."  I turned to look at the gaping hole in the fence.  "Can we fix it?"  It was one thing to free the ram, quite another to leave a giant escape hole in someone's livelihood.

Using the pliers portion of the tool, we managed to twist the wire into a makeshift binding that we hoped would hold.  I put my Leatherman back in its case, zipped it into my pack and off we went.

"I want a Leatherman," Alan said as we continued our hike.  "That's a really handy tool to have, isn't it?"

"Wouldn't be without it," I said, thinking I knew what to get him for his birthday.

(He loved having his own Leatherman, and always kept it in the glove box of his car).

100 Words and a Happy Birthday

There's been a writing experiment on the internet for a long time, called 100 Words. Originally, the concept was to write 100 words for 100 days. Then it was shortened to 100 words for 30 days. I have read several blogs where the writers are randomly doing their 100 words, not sticking to any time frame, just tossing in the 100 words whenever they feel like it. I like that idea, though the 100 in 30 is an intriguing exercise to me, as well. After all, if I can do 50K in 30 for NaNo, hard can it be to do 100 teeny little words in a day?

(Back when I was writing a lot--professionally and personally--I used to concentrate on short stories. I loved the idea of writing so succinctly--and the shorter the better--that I could tell a story like O. Henry in just a few pages, if not paragraphs. Eventually I broadened my scope, wanting to relate more details, create a more full-bodied story, and over time, I wrote myself away from the shorts.)

The 100 words notion appeals to me. How much story can you actually convey in 100 words? This morning I wrote the first idea that came into my head. I thought it was short. It was 115 words. Hmm. I pared it down, taking out a whole paragraph. Well, nuts. Now it was down to 94 words. Okay, add a few more words here, shift this sentence, and voila...right? Wrong. Now I'm up to 105. Seriously, how hard can it be to write a meager 100 words? Very hard, as it turns out. Especially as it can only be 100--no more, no less.

I dinked with this wee story for quite awhile. I'm rethinking doing the 100 in 30 deal. I don't think I have enough time in the day to revise, edit, rework, start over, write the blasted words. I can write 2,000 with no trouble, but 100? Holy crap.

Still. I might do the 100 words in the random way other bloggers are. Maybe if I can get my mind away from long chapters and whole books, I can remember how to write short and sweet. It might be interesting to see what happens.

In the meantime, here's my very first attempt at:

100 Words

Walking into the building, she did a quick scan.  Her gaze stopped abruptly when their eyes locked.

He froze, afraid to move, to break the spell.   Please, be here for me.

Love at first sight.  Compelled, winding her way between the other people in the room, so focused the voices and sounds around her nothing more than meaningless babble.

When she stood in front of him, they stared at each other for a heartbeat before she dropped to her knees and pulled him into her arms. “This one,” she said, smiling up at the woman from the dog adoption center.


Today is Max's 4th birthday, hence the reason I picked him for the 100 Words experiment. Course, we don't really know this is his birthday, but it's the day we chose, and according to our incredibly cool veterinarian, Dr Barry, he was about 3 years old last December when we adopted him.

He's been the best little dog ever, and I feel privileged to be his human. Happy Birthday, buddy...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Recap

I had a great Christmas, considering for the first time in my life I spent it alone.  No, wait.  Alone makes me seem so...pitiful and sad, and I wasn't.  Let me say instead that I spent a pleasant day by myself with the boys.  There, that's better...and more accurate.

Christmas Day.  And this is the first thing I saw when I opened the blinds to start the day:

Close up...and how cool are those colors.  And the clouds..??  Three different layers, three different types of cloud formation.

I did indeed watch the Thin Man series, though only made it through four of the six.  I got sidetracked here and there during the day with one thing and another, but so loved watching these hilarious and lighthearted movies.  It was a great way to spend Christmas.  Here are a few excerpts, and I know they're corny...that's the simple joy of it.


The Thin Man
Nick (William Powell) and Nora (Myrna Loy), discussing the newspaper articles after Nick was shot solving the murder mystery:

Nick: I'm a hero.  I was shot twice in the Tribune.
Nora: I read you were shot five times in the tabloids.
Nick: That's not true.  He didn't come anywhere near my tabloids.

After the Thin Man
End of the scene, murder solved, Nick and Nora are leaving the building:

Nick: Come on, baby.  Let's go have dinner.  I'm thirsty.

Another Thin Man
Reporters asking Nick about the latest murder:

Reporter: Can't you tell us anything about the case?
Nick: Yes.  It's putting me way behind in my drinking.


Dinner was really good, too.  My roast came out perfect, and yum, so did the gravy.  I am so going to stop eating like this, but until the roast and gravy are gone, it won't be today.  I don't do the New Year Resolution thing--setting yourself up to fail is not something I condone--but I am going to get back into healthy eating and my daily yoga.  I have a lot of changes coming in 2012 and I need to be at the top of my game.

So, my Christmas was fine.  I actually enjoyed being in my own company, and sharing the day with my two stalwart and true boys, Max and Ozzy.  And, of course, solving murders and mysteries with Nick and Nora Charles.  It was a good day.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Break

I'm going to take the next few days off, so no posts until Monday.  I'm not doing any Christmas stuff this year, but do have an eventful day planned for myself.  Not suitable for everyone, but totally cool to me...

Yesterday I taped the entire 6-movie Thin Man series--my most favorite series of all the old, old black & white movies.  I love the interplay between William Powell and Myrna Loy, to say nothing of the clothes, all the boozing, and the mystery solving.  Having all six to watch in a row is an amazing treat.  I was channel surfing in the early afternoon and stumbled upon this wonderful happenstance on The Classic Movie channel and nearly broke a nail in my haste to get them scheduled for recording.

So, after I get back from walking the dogs on Christmas morning, it's into my comfy lounge-about clothes, watch a few movies, have lunch, watch a few more, cook my beautiful pork roast, watch some more, then have a great Christmas dinner with a nice glass of wine while watching the last installment.  And really..??  I can hardly wait.


Though I have a story or two rattling around in my head, I'm still taking the weekend off, to recharge, rest my little gray cells, and chill.

So, here's wishing everyone a good holiday, whatever your predilection.  See you on the flip side...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Solstice and a Turtle

Okay, so we made it through the longest night of the year.  Winter has officially started, the shortest day is over and it can only be uphill from here.  Right..??  The only hurdle that I can see is January.  Could there be a longer, more dreary, endless month than January..??  No.

Beautiful shot of Stonehenge on Solstice Day...


"Sea turtles, mate."

Anyone know where that line originates..??  This isn't actually a quiz, it's a segue into my story, though if you're curious, it's a quote used in the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  Said by Johnny Depp (first movie), by Orlando Bloom (second), and Keith Richards (third).  Every time I hear it, I inevitably think about my own sea turtle--hence the reason for this post:  I watched one of the movies last night.

I was living in Hawaii, staying in a beautiful cabin-like place near Wai'anapanapa, in the jungle, about three miles outside the tiny settlement of Hana, in the far west end of Maui.  This was about two months before I went back to civilization (Lahaina), eventually became a crew member on the schooner, and sailed off into the sunset.  Hana back then was all Hawaiian--not a rock star or celebrity to be found--with a small general store, lots of funny cute kids, grumpy old grandmothers and not a whole lot else.  The road ended not much further past Hana making it a very isolated and wonderful place.

So.  The day started off with a walk along the lava beds as I head toward Hana to get some groceries.  There is very little sand along this part of the coast, though there was a most excellent little sandy cove right below my house, where I did lots of snorkeling.  Mostly though, the lava had piled up right to the water when Haleakala blew up ages before.  It was a pretty dicey route along those beds as the lava was sharp and jumbled and in places very treacherous, but it was also a shortcut to the village.

I do my shopping, chat with a couple of the women, talk to the kids, then head back the three miles to the house.  When I get within sight of my place, I pick a favorite flat piece of lava to sit on--one that jutted out over the water a bit, so I felt like I was floating in space.  The ocean is about 15 feet below me, the sun sparkling on the water.  It was a really beautiful late morning in Paradise.

Reaching into my small pack, I pulled out my flute and began to play an impromptu tune.  I took that flute with me everywhere back then.  It was battered, dented in a few spots, and molded to my lips and my fingers.  I loved that flute.  Anyway.  I'm sitting there, eyes closed, legs dangling, soft notes drifting, as I invent the song to express what I'm feeling in that moment.

Hearing a splash, not from a wave, I glance down while I'm playing and below me, treading water is an enormous, gnarly, grandfather of a sea turtle.  And he's looking right at me.  I stare, he stares.  I lower my flute to reach for my camera.  He hesitates for a moment than uses one huge front leg to turn away.  I quickly start playing again, and damn.  He stops and turns back.
I played my flute for that sea turtle.  The whole time his gray, old head is stretched out from his wrinkled, prune-like neck, his eyes ancient and knowing as he watched me through hooded lids, and listened to the music.  His shell was mottled, and scarred, and there wasn't--and still isn't--a doubt in my mind this was a very, very old creature.  (The Hawaiian green sea turtle can reach 3 feet from stem to stern, and weigh over 200 pounds.  This guy was every bit of that).

He paddled his legs, treading water, occasionally dropping below the water for a moment, and for about five minutes or so, I entertained him...or at the very least caught his interest.  Then suddenly, he spun one leg, turned himself about, and dove under water, and I never saw him again.  It was an experience like no other.

For days after I would go down to that flat rock of lava and play my flute.  Once I thought I saw something deep under the clear, aqua water, but if it was him, he didn't rise up to hear more music. 

Bizarrely, I actually had my camera with me, but couldn't take a picture.  The vision in my head, however, is crystal clear: I can hear the waves lapping below my perch, the notes of the flute, feel the sun on my face and legs, smell the ginger blossoms in the grove behind me...and can look into those ancient, primordial eyes and marvel that I have somehow, mysteriously, captivated a sea turtle.

Sunshine, a Smile and a Shirt

Today is truly beautiful.  Roseburg has been redeemed in my eyes, though I'll only go so far as to say redeemed for right now.  It still isn't my place, or where I belong, but that doesn't mean I can't recognize and enjoy the occasional perfect day.

Here's a sunny little video of this morning.  A view from the back deck, over Garden Valley with the Coast Range as backdrop.  Ignore the dork factor.  Let's just say, it's a good thing I didn't go into live broadcasting, or something equally spontaneous requiring ad libs and/or a functioning brain...


After the boys and I did the park, I had to dash into Freddy's** for a couple things.  I was pretty much in a rush to just get in, get out and was actually accomplishing that feat until I walked past the jewelry department.  I suddenly remembered that Alan's ring had fallen off my finger one other time: either in my kitchen or my sister's, I couldn't remember which.  What I did remember was her telling me I should take it to Freddy's and have it sized. 

Because of what happened a few days ago, I stopped and asked one of the jewelry people if they could fix it so the ring was firm on my finger, instead of loose.  Amazing.  In about 5 minutes, I slipped on the ring and it fits like a glove.  It won't fall off again for any reason.  The only downside: I can't twirl it with my thumb, or play with it; there's no wiggle room.  Oh well.  Small price to pay to keep it securely on my finger.  And, thanks Sis for the idea.

** For you guys across the Pond:  Fred Meyer (Freddy's) is just like Sainbury's.


Got my NaNo tee shirt today.  It's cool.  Makes me smile that I have it.  Now, instead of resting on my laurels, I really have to get back to the book.  My main character is bobbing in the sea and after a month, must be pretty wrinkled, to say nothing of waterlogged.  And no doubt really cranky with me for leaving him adrift for so long.


Speaking of my sister, it's time to call her.  We've been trying to connect for a day or so, and right now is the agreed upon time.  Besides, the sun is blazing through the window and practically melting me; I need to move.  And, hey, go figure such a thing on a late December afternoon, huh..??  Beats the crap out of that mind-numbing, shoulder-slumping, nearly endless fog.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Got Nothing...

I've spent the better part of my computer time today sifting through lots of old, defunct and meaningless links, gleefully eliminating them.  I'm on a cleaning campaign so I can start the New Year with only my true favorites and other informative links.  I've also modified the blog page a bit, adding a couple things like my Daily Fix, and removing that horrid photo of myself and adding an adorable little Buddha, similar to the tat on my forearm.  So much cuter than I am...

Other than having a nice, long chat with a friend in Edinburgh, and working on tidying up the blog site, I've got absolutely nothing of any relevance to post today.  I'm off to take the dogs down the mountain for a walk before dark and dinner, so best get on with it.

Here's a pretty glimpse of summer on a crappy winter's day...

Sant'Agnello, Italy

Monday, December 19, 2011

Connect the Dots...

I was walking the dogs this morning in Stewart Park--the one in the center of town.  It was fairly quiet, weather is warm today, around 40* with no fog, so I'm enjoying the stroll, my mind wandering along with the meander of the dogs.  There's a long stretch of paved pathway that edges the golf course.  I call it Damnation Alley because half the time the golfers miss the bloody fairway and balls come lobbing over the trees onto this path.

As we're walking, I see one of those puff ball things.  You know what I mean??  If you step on a ball, this big puff of dust wafts out and you've just helped Mother Nature spread spores.  Absentmindedly, I step on this big one off to the side of the path, and as the spores drift into the air, a memory drifts into my head.  I burst out laughing, the dogs look at me like I'm nuts, and I pause to wonder at the circuitous route our minds take, when one thought leads to another without any conscious participation.  When dots connect.


Jan and I met when we both worked for the same publishing company in Seattle.  We became instant best friends and remain so today.  At the time she had just moved with her husband Rick from LA where he made MTV videos.  He'd been sent to Seattle to cover the burgeoning music scene; video the grunge bands...(Nirvana ring any bells??)  Rick was a wonderful, funny, gorgeous Bon Jovi-looking guy with long blond hair and the bluest, twinkling eyes.  We three were best pals for a long time.  I loved Rick, though unfortunately most women did.  After too many--well, that's a heartbreaking story that isn't mine to tell.  Suffice to say, they divorced, and it was just Jan and me against the world for the next few years.  We had a ball, doing any and everything we felt like.  Then I met someone, and we became the Three Musketeers, until eventually, my guy introduced Jan to his best friend.  And now, there were four.

About a year after they began dating, Jan and Cal moved in together--into Cal's house.  Jan had lots of stuff, as did he, so they enlisted our help one Saturday to clean out the garage and the basement to make room for the merging of two households.

Jan and I are in the living room, sorting through boxes the guys have brought up from the basement.  We have piles for the thrift, piles for the dumpster, and piles to keep.  Cal drops off a big, bulging box and says, "This is Spanky's.  I don't know what's in here."

Spanky was a long-time friend to both guys.  He had stored a few boxes with Cal a couple years back and then disappeared.  Last anyone heard, he was headed to the East Coast, but why and where, no one knew.  Cal wanted his stuff sorted out and consolidated; what Jan and I thought wasn't worth keeping was to be tossed.  We weren't really comfortable going through a stranger's personal belongings, or making such a judgment call, but we figured better us than our guys who would no doubt just throw everything away without any thought.

Eventually we get to the bottom of the box and find this cool metal container.  It looks like a small strongbox of some kind.  Neither Cal nor my guy have a clue what it might be, though Cal thinks he's see it before but can't quite remember in what context.  The box has a lock-type thing on it that won't open, so I get a screwdriver, hand it to Jan, then go into the kitchen to refill our coffee.  As I come around the corner, two mugs in hand, Jan is kneeling on the carpet, the box clutched to her chest, the screwdriver jammed into this lock thing, a look of fierce determination on her face.  "Maybe we should let Cal do it," I suggest.  "No, I've got it," she says through clenched teeth.  I set the mugs on the coffee table and turn to help her with this blasted box.

Suddenly the lid bursts open, and the contents explode out of the container, dust flying into the air in a great puff ball.  As it slowly drifts down, covering Jan's head, her face, her clothes, the carpet all around her, Cal walks into the room, stares for a heartbeat, then whispers in horror, "Oh Christ, it's Spanky's Mom!"


Lots of years and many miles later.  I'm stepping on a puff ball in Roseburg, Oregon this morning and the dots connect in my brain.  I'm back in Cal's living room in Seattle, watching the puff ball that was Spanky's mother drift all over my best friend.  And, regardless of the total inappropriateness of it, but unable to stop myself, I'm laughing my head both places.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Camera Angst

We all know that old adage about a picture being worth a thousand words.  And it's true, as is always carry your camera because you never know when you might need it.  After all, it's a bit hard to take that perfect photo without it.

I have been caught so many times without my camera that I've sort of trained my brain to take the picture, and amazingly, I can dip into my mental photo album and pluck out a crystal clear vision of what I was not able to capture on my camera.

If I let my mind flip through that album, here's what randomly pops out:

**  Driving east across the Great Plains in Montana, during a monumental early spring storm of wind, rain, hail, and snow, when suddenly a break in the sky, the sun pierces, and a brilliant triple rainbow glows to life arching over the highway directly in front of me.  It was like the entrance to Nirvana.  The colors were gem-like and beautiful, shimmering and mind-boggling.  My camera was somewhere in the jumble of stuff in the back seat, stashed after the Rockies, because, really, what would I see that could possibly warrant a picture as I sped over the bleak and barren Plains?

**  Kitchen door is open and I hear a loud shout, people talking excitedly outside.  It's a clear, warm afternoon in Edinburgh.  I dash out, thinking someone has fallen, needs help, whatever.  I see several of my neighbors standing in the middle of the street, looking up in the sky.  What in the world??  Alien invasion??  UFO??  I run to the gate, and ask what's going on.  They are speechless and a few just point.  I turn and look up.  The last flight of the Concorde flies right over our heads, close enough to see every mark on the underbelly of that majestically doomed flying machine.  The noise is incredible, the style and grace beyond description.  This was the last voyage, the close of an era.  The Concorde was making its final stops before landing in France, forever earthbound. NY, London, Edinburgh, then across the Channel to its place in history.  It was amazingly beautiful.  And I had no time to grab the camera.

**  One of 12 crew on a 56-ft double-masted schooner.  Night watch, I'm alone on deck, 3:00am.  The night is pitch black, the sound of the water quiet and soothing as we slip through the gentle swells of the South Pacific.  I feel--for the first time in my life--the utter insignificance of our tiny little lives when measured against the sea and the heavens and the earth itself.  Phosphorescence gleams in streaks around the bow as we make our way through the water.  I look up, stunned at the stars, the beauty.  The Southern Cross is low in the sky, the star formation perfectly bright and clear.  I marvel at the myriad of sailors and seafarers who have navigated by that celestial map point.  I can't leave my post to snag my camera below decks; don't even know if I could take a photo that would be distinct enough.  This is the very first photo to go into my mental album.

**  I had a friend who never learned to drive.  She asked me if I would teach her.  Reluctantly, I agreed, though wasn't too hopeful; she was terrified of the whole experience, hence why she'd never learned.  She was in her 30s, so if she wanted to learn, okay, I would try to teach her.  We drove way out of Seattle, onto the Tulalip Indian Reservation, where it was quiet, far from traffic, and over the course of several weeks, I taught, she learned.  On our last day of lessons, she was driving, and a reservation police car pulled in behind us and followed for ages.  She was getting more nervous by the minute, I was being calm--though frankly, I wasn't sure how much trouble we'd be in as she didn't have a licence and we were on reservation land.  Still.  I kept her from freaking out, and at a quiet, isolated 4-way stop, we carried on, and he turned off.  Anxiety for nothing, though my friend was totally wigged out.  I told her to pull over when we got to the bend in the road so she could calm down.  She did.  We got out, walked a short ways to look out at the view of Puget Sound, and just as we reached the edge, far, far below us, surging along the coastline, two whales breach, the noise of their splash and spouting reaching clear up the cliff face to where we stood, in total awe and amazement.  Seriously, people wait their whole lives for such a sight, and here we are, accidentally in the right place at the right time.  My camera was at home.

**  I was on a month long road trip through the Southwest; Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico under my belt.  Stopped in Winslow, AZ and stood on that corner, the song whispering in my head.  That night I camped in a place where they were excavating 11,000 year old artifacts from the original natives who had lived in that very spot.  The guy camped next to me was from San Francisco and on his way to New Orleans to play a gig.  He was a saxophone player.  The next morning, I rolled out of bed, made some coffee, and in the quiet and peaceful beauty of an Arizona morning, the low, sweet notes of a tenor sax drifted over the campground.  I went outside and there, on a slight rise in the desert, the sax man stood, facing the rising sun, the shape of his body and the sax a glowing silhouette against the yellow glare, his music nearly visible in the air.  I was too mesmerized to move at first, then just as I turned to get my camera, he finished his song, bowed deeply to the rising sun, and walked away.

**  On a flight from Miami to Chicago, flying between massive thunderheads, swelling and rising hundreds of feet above our altitude of 35,000 feet.  It was like being on an alien planet, the seething columns alive, menacing, and eager to snare our fragile little machine as we dodged and darted, desperate to avoid flying into one of these monsters.  My camera was in my pack, stowed in the overhead, the seat belt sign and the turbulence anchoring me in my seat.

I could go on...and on.  My mental photo album is full of these vignettes, and all because I haven't had my camera handy. 

So.  What set off this post today??

I was walking the dogs through the VA complex this morning, as I love to do on the weekends.  It's quiet, usually nary a soul, and I can ruminate, plan my day, drift in my head.  As we're coming around this one long bend on the path, suddenly there is this raucous noise of blue jays.  Not just one, but many.  I pinpoint the tree and as we approach, more blue jays are arriving from all around the area.  Frankly, I didn't know there were that many of them in all of Roseburg, let alone in one tree.  The volume of noise is tremendous the closer we get.  Even the dogs pause and look up.  I'm not sure what kind of tree they're in, but it's still got all it's leaves and though I can hear dozens of birds, I can't see them in the foliage.  I walk under the tree and look up.  The center isn't as dense at it looks from outside, more like an umbrella effect, with clear views up the center of the tree to the top.  And on every branch, twig and limb, are literally dozens of blue jays yelling at the top of their little lungs.  They looked like vibrant, bright blue Christmas baubles in the lush green of the leaves.  I couldn't believe how unexpectedly beautiful it was.  Of course, my camera is at home.

Sigh.  Ah well, I've still got plenty of room in my head to add another picture to the album.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


I haven't had a very good week, what with two lunatic altercations, eating four slices of the Italian Creme cake when I shouldn't have eaten one, the endless fog weighing heavy, wrapped around my shoulders like a shroud, and then this morning...I lost Alan's wedding ring.

This ring has been on my middle finger, right hand since the funeral director handed me Alan's effects.  It's a beautiful Celtic knotwork band that fit his big hand just right, and though it's a bit wide for me, it's only once fallen off and that was in the shower.  I can distinctly remember the day we picked it out at the jewelry shop on a stormy, wild Edinburgh afternoon.  We were about two weeks from the wedding, the ring was the last thing we needed to get done.  We went out that night and drank too much whiskey to celebrate.

This morning, after walking the dogs, I had a few errands to run and as it's warmer today I didn't have to take the dogs home first.  I went to the vet's for more dog treats, got gas, and popped into the grocery store for some milk.  As I'm waiting in line, I tapped my finger against the trolley handle and suddenly realized I wasn't hearing the usual clink of metal on metal.  I raised my hand, and stared in horror at my bare finger.

Where is the ring?  When did I lose it?  I start patting my jacket pockets, hoping that the ring has slipped into a pocket whilst I was walking the dogs.  I dig frantically in my purse.  My stomach sinks, my mouth goes dry.  I pay for my milk but can't talk to the cashier around the lump in my throat.  I practically run out of the store and start a manic search through the car, front and back.  The dogs think I'm nuts as I shove my hands underneath them in their beds.

As I drive home, tears pressing painfully against my eyeballs, I try to remember the last time I felt the ring on my finger.  I can go back two days: reading my book, twisting the ring around my finger with my thumb.  This ring has a lot of texture, with curves and's very tactile and I play with it a lot.  I realize that in two days I have been in a multitude of places in town, including the park with the dogs.  I'm fighting the tears as I climb the mountain, already picturing in my mind where I will need to look in the house.

Unload the dogs, the treats, the milk, grab a flashlight and head back to the car.  I remove everything: two dog beds, towels for the elusive rainy days, extra dog treats, water; empty the glove box.  I shine the light under the seats.  Ah, break my heart.  No ring.

An hour later, and I have pretty much covered the house.  I'm mumbling to myself, fighting the growing sorrow of losing another little piece of Alan, I'm mad for not noticing when and where I could have missed the weight of the ring on my finger.  I wonder if it's worth driving down the mountain and retracing my steps at the park.  It seems daunting, but I imagine for a moment someone finding it in the grass, or along the river, or in the parking lot...and wearing it...and my stomach lurches.

I head back downstairs, get in the car, and with tears threatening, I start the car and prepare to back out of the garage.  Something catches my eye.  I look to my right.  The ring is laying in the middle of the passenger seat.

Turning off the car, I sit for a minute, stunned, and just stare in disbelief.  Seriously, honestly and truly, there is no way on earth that ring was there at any time while I was searching frantically for it.  And yet.  There it is.  I snatch it up, put it back on my finger where it settles perfectly and suddenly my week seems pretty okay after all.

And hey, Alan?  Thanks for finding it for me, love.  I won't lose it again...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Story for Another Day

Remember when I said I knew what coyote pee smelled like??  Here's the story of how I know...

For many years my parents lived on an island in the middle of the Columbia River--between Oregon and Washington--on a houseboat.  It was a great place, with a huge deck, and the family had lots of gatherings and good times at their house.  There was a very long ramp from the main walkway, over the water, connecting to the land and the parking area.  On bad winter days, almost always when I had come down from Seattle for Christmas, the ramp would freeze solid and everyone would be stuck.  I thought it was very adventurous of my folks to live like this, and it was ever so much fun to visit them.

But, one defect to living on the water, is of course, what keeps your house afloat.  Mom and Dad's houseboat was older; part of their flotation were these enormous logs--picture small redwoods--with huge styrofoam blocks wedged between the log rafters.  Very sturdy, very water-worthy, totally safe and secure.

Until the beavers showed up.

One day my Mom is leaving for work and notices all these bits of styrofoam bobbing in the water around their house.  She yells for Dad.  He comes out, takes a good long look, shakes his head, lights a cigarette and tells Mom he will take care of things, go to work.  At first he thinks one of the blocks has just broken up due to weather, the rise and fall of the river tides, something easy to deal with.  Poor Dad.

He gets the local scuba guy in, he dives under their house/deck, and tells Dad there's a lot of beaver damage on one of the old, gigantic logs.  I can just see my Dad:  Blinking, rubbing the back of his neck, patting his pocket for a smoke, as he ponders this new scenario.  Somewhere in his mind is also--no doubt at all--the horrible task of what the hell he's going to tell my mother.  She of the short fuse and zero tolerance for things going awry in her world.

Mom isn't happy.  There's lots of "oh my gods," and "what if the house sinks," and "Tom, do something."  Dad tries chicken wire around the whole house like a shark barrier in Jaws.  That seems to work for awhile, then bits of flotsam and jetsam begin swirling around the house again.  Plus, Mom thinks she can hear the beavers at night chewing their way through the logs and into her bedroom.   Again, I have to say, poor Dad. 

Eventually, Dad's methods aren't working, so he breaks down and does the guy networking thing.  He asks around the houseboat community, then canvasses his fishing and hunting buddies.  This is usually where guys end up on America's Funniest Home Videos, or win the Darwin Awards.  Thankfully, my father was smart, clever, and very handy.  He discounted several ideas, but unfortunately, latches wholeheartedly onto one allegedly foolproof plan.  Uh huh.  You know where I'm going with this, don't you.

Months have gone by as my parents have tried to deal with the Beaver Situation.  It's time for my early summer visit.  I drive down from Seattle, get all settled in my room, and plan on sitting outside on the deck, in the sunshine, and mellow out with a nice drink in the peace and quiet of life on the river. 

I come downstairs.  My Dad has this look on his face.  A look that says he's up to something.  Something that will probably involve me and that I won't like one little bit.  I give him the eye, edge around him, grab a beer from the fridge and go outside.  He follows.  Damn.  Making conversation while I try to figure out what gives, I ask him what's happening with the beavers.  Oh oh.  Now there's the smile that goes with the look.

"Funny you should ask," he murmurs.  I raise a brow but don't say anything.  "I found something that will take care of them," he says cheerfully.  I start to protest, but he assures me he doesn't mean murder or death, just something that will drive them away.  Permanently.

"Dad, I don't think trapping beavers is something you should be doing.  Can't you call the wildlife people?"

"I'm not going to trap them."  He scowls.  "And the wildlife people won't do a thing, I've already talked to those morons."

"Well then?" I say, taking a sip of my beer, wondering where in the world this is going.

He whips out a small vial from his shirt pocket.  I look at the vial.  I look at my father, note the expression on his face as he waves it in my direction.  "Um, Dad, what is that?" I ask carefully.

"It's something that will drive off the beavers.  I just have to sprinkle  a little dab of this liquid here and there on the logs under the deck and the house, and there you go.  No more beavers."

Skeptically, I say, "What in the world kind of liquid could do that?"

He hands me the vial and says, "Take a whiff."

I take the vial, give it a little shake, wonder what the heck it is.  It's watery thin, pale yellow, and doesn't look like much of anything really.  I do NOT pop out the cork, however.  "Okay, Dad.  What is it?"

"I want you to help me sprinkle it on the logs, but first take a whiff."  (If you lay on your stomach and hang off the walkway, and the deck, you could actually reach the logs, so this isn't a bogus request and he says only a little dab is needed, so I should be able to do this quickly and get back to my relaxing weekend.)

I ignore the 'take a whiff' comment, set down my beer and ask him where he wants to start.  He smiles and says, "We can start here at the deck, but be careful, we only need a little and the stuff is potent."

He knows how to lure me in.  Now I'm so curious I forget my reservations.  Just what is this stuff??  I pop the cork, stick my nose into the vial, and three things happen simultaneously:  my Dad starts laughing, my Mom yells, "NO!" and my senses completely explode.  My nose hairs melt, my tear ducts expand, my throat closes and I begin to choke while also attempting to cough this most vile of all odors out of my body.

I end up sticking my head under the kitchen faucet, trying to flush out my nose, mouth and eyes.  My mother is berating my father, but I can sort of hear a note of laughter in her voice.  I consider suing them for trying to off me.  When I can see again, and breathe without choking, I go back outside and glare at my Dad.  I take a good swig of my beer but it seems I've lost all sense of taste.  To say nothing of having possibly destroyed my sense of smell.  All I am tasting and breathing is...whatever that is.

"Okay, Dad.  Killing off your oldest daughter is just not funny.  Do I need to go to the ER?  Have I been damaged by some horrid chemical concoction?  Really, what is that stuff??

"Coyote pee," he says, then laughs so hard, he nearly falls off the deck into the water.


 -- It took nearly two weeks to get my taste and smell back.

 -- The beavers fled, though came back the next year and had a family of little beavers.  I refused to help Dad deal with them.

 -- Dad apparently was able to buy the coyote pee at some freaking bizarre local sporting goods store.  I should have sued them.

 -- Every time I brought up the coyote incident, my Dad would just howl with laughter.  Glad I could brighten his day.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Frost and Magnets

Yesterday's wonderful relief from the fog was very short-lived.  Opened the blinds this morning--after a crystal clear night with a million stars twinkling in the sky--to find the house completely socked in, again.  As well as the fog, it was 26* (-3*C), the coldest so far this winter.  I skated out onto the front deck over a layer of ice and took these few photos.

Very "winter wonderland" looking, isn't it??

As I was shuffling my way back to the front door trying not to slip on the icy wood deck, these two enormously chubby robins landed in one of the trees.  They caught my attention with their chatter; they were having a heated debate about something.  In Edinburgh, the robins are tiny, about the size of a little sparrow.  They look exactly like an American robin, but shrunk down to baby size.  I loved them.  These two are about the size of 6 Scottish robins.

In my late 20s, early 30s, I went through this 5 to 6 year period where I attracted weirdos and lunatics (stories for another day).  Seriously.  I could have worked for CSI finding wackos as they gravitated straight to me.  It was creepy, sometimes frightening, often too funny for words.  If I went out with my girlfriends, they would make bets about who would approach me.  They called me the Loon Magnet--short for lunatic, of course.  I swear, I met them all, no matter what coast I was on, or where I went.  Eventually, inexplicably, the curse was lifted, and I moved on.

It appears the curse was not lifted after all.  Remember yesterday's candy wrapper incident??  You might have forgotten, I'm still obsessing over processing the experience.

So.  Today. 

After I walked the boys at the park, I brought them home because it was way too cold to leave them in the car while I went shopping.  I popped into a store, came out, and as I walked across the parking lot, I see this woman has parked her car in the middle of the main parking aisle.  This is usually a "two directions" lane, so with her parked in one of the lanes, people are having to swerve around her, folks are honking, traffic jam imminent.  I'm right on the end of the aisle, and if this strange woman had not stopped where she did, all I would have to do is drive forward out of my space, and Bob's your uncle.  Heavy sighs on my part, but I don't do anything except start the car, put in a CD of soothing meditation music, and wait it out.  I mean, really.  What choice did I have?? 

I sit there watching the chaos of people yelling, honking, getting more pissed at this bizarre woman and the situation.  After a few minutes, I rifle in my purse, dig out my wallet and balance my checkbook, I hum along with the 5th track on the CD.  It always reminds me of New Mexico, so I try going there in my head.  Won't work with the angst all around me.  Two guys start yelling at the woman, two cars nearly collide trying to get around her...jeez, this is getting ridiculous, but still I don't do anything.  And that is very, very important to keep in mind.

Finally, and suddenly, as I'm starting to read the car manual in desperation, the woman rips open her door and jumps out.  I toss the manual back in the glove box and think, yippee, something's happening now and I can get the hell outta Dodge.  Okay.  Reasonable assumption, right??  But guess what??

She storms toward me, and starts beating on my driver's-side window.  Oh come on.  Really??  Has the sign on my head switched on after all these years and is now blinking off and on in bright neon colors: Lunatics Here I Am??  I stare at this crazy person, who is yelling at me to just drive away and stop honking my horn at her (side bar: people all around us are honking, I am sitting in the car, doing nothing).  I'm torn between honking the horn just to prove I wasn't, and reaching for my cell to call the cops.  I tell her to get away from my car, loud enough for her to hear me through the closed window,  but calm enough to not set her off more.  Ha.  Someone's already lit her fuse and anything I say or do at this point is just fanning the flames.  She's in a froth.  I tell her I'm calling the police, and pull out my phone, but just then the security guys at the store come out and the focus of her lunacy shifts.  In the meantime, the car behind me, blocking me from backing out, has reversed the entire length of our aisle, along with a dozen other cars, so now I have a clear shot at getting out of the Insane Asylum parking lot.  Which I do, faster than a speeding bullet.  In reverse.

At this point now I am so pissed, and outraged, suffering through two lunatic experiences in as many days, that I drive to my favorite shop, run to the bakery section, and buy this:

When Alan and I were in Italy, we went to several weddings (a story for another day).  There is a most delicious and traditional Italian Wedding Cake that is very, very similar to this one.  This is called an Italian Creme Cake.  It's almond flavored, cream cheese frosting, toasted almonds around the edges and the top.  It is decadent, yummy and transports me.  And believe me, I needed transporting. 

I came home, put away the groceries, took this photo, and ate a big, meltingly fabulous slice.  I closed my eyes and went to Italy.  A far, far better place then Roseburg, where apparently they have let the loonies out of the bin for Christmas.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Mayhem

The day started out pretty good.  The fog has finally lifted and I feel like a ton of weight is off my shoulders.  Funny how heavy the fog and dense clouds seem to the human psyche.  Plus, there's a goodly breeze finally which is freshening the stagnant air, too.

So, when I opened all the blinds this morning, I couldn't resist taking a mini-video of the valley.  Course, you can't see the ridges and shadings and the real beauty of the mountains in the distance, but still.  Also, try to ignore the sniffing noises.  It was about 20* with the wind chill and I was standing out on the back deck in a tee shirt, jeans and my slippers.  Took about 12 seconds for my nose to start running.

After breakfast, shower, etc., I took the dogs to the big county park (the one I mention in the video).  We haven't gone for awhile, mainly because they have the Festival of Lights there until the New Year and it's a bit hard to walk the dogs through the light displays, let alone all the electrical cables and wires.  This morning though, I felt like doing something different besides the usual park in town, and it was a good choice.  We were the only ones there in the whole entire park,which is massive, so we meandered around to our hearts' content.  It was really, really cold though, walking along the river, and I was halfway to hypothermia by the time we got back to the car.  Definitely runny nose weather.

So far so good.  I drop the dogs back at the house and go back down the mountain to do some quick shopping.  The women up here are getting together on Friday morning for a candy, cookie, whatever deal.  I'm taking those Needhams I made a week or so ago and put in the freezer.  I can only hope people don't fall into diabetic comas over the sweetness.  Anyway.  I wanted those little paper cup things--like you get in a box of chocolates--so popped into Michael's.  Yippee, they had a huge selection.

And here's where my lovely morning goes all to hell.  And why I would just love to forget Christmas.  Or live on top of a mountain and never have to deal with humanity.  Oh.  Wait.  That one I'm doing.

I find the baking section.  I am alone in the aisle (a pertinent thing to keep in mind).  As I'm going down the row, looking at all the choices of candy wrappers, this woman comes around the corner and begins looking at the wrappers as well.  She stops right in front of the wrappers I want and though I was there first, and it's obvious I have been heading directly to the spot she is now blocking, she makes no effort to move, or be courteous, and in fact acts put out that I'm standing next to her.  As I am at least a foot taller, I carefully reach out and snag a package--a package I might add that is two feet above and beyond where she is standing. 

She abruptly steps back and snarks, "I don't appreciate being shoved out of the way!"

I blink, turn, and look up and down the aisle.  Surely she is NOT speaking to me.  Oops.  Apparently, she is.  "Sorry," I say, "but I didn't touch you."  And I start to walk away to pay for my wrappers.

"You shoved me out of your way!"

Well, crap.  I wish I could just let this kind of nutso stuff go, but dammit, I haven't done anything except pluck a little packet off a bloody rack!!  I stop. "I most certainly did not shove you," I say calmly.  "That would have required touching you," and now, through gritted teeth,  "and since I didn't touch you, there's no way I could have shoved you!!" 

She stomps away.  Okay then.  I take a breath, shake my head, wonder what makes people so crazy just because it's Christmas.  As I walk toward the end of the aisle, she flies around the corner and gets right in my face.  "The least you could do is apologize for shoving me!"


Now, I should mention here that I have a temper; I always have, though the more "grown up" I get, the better I am at not losing said temper.  This woman has been sent by Satan to test me.  I look at her.  I really look at her.  I give her what Jan (my BFF) calls my Death Ray look, but instead of going off like the Roman Candle I want to be, I suck it in and say pleasantly (albeit again through my teeth), "Have a Merry Christmas," and attempt to walk past her.

She sputters, then blocks my path and hisses (no, really, hisses like Voldemort), "You have no right to shove people."

Blink, blink.  Blood pressure rising.  Nanosecond visual in my head is a fist to her nose, when she drops I stomp on her, then---Okay, okay, don't go there.  Get a grip.  For some reason this woman has lost the plot.  Sigh.  As I am bigger, badder, and at least a foot taller, I forge ahead, walk past her, and as I get to the end of the aisle, I turn and say, "You really need to check the attitude before someone really does shove you."  Her turn to blink.

I walk to the cashier, pay for my $2.00's worth of candy wrappers, and head for my car.  The whole way home I'm aggravated by this woman.  Now, here I am, two hours later, still aggravated by this woman.  Why is it that these kinds of situations/people stick with us longer than kind, decent, nice situations/people??

I hope she has an instant karma moment somewhere along the line today.  She deserves it.  All I wanted were my frigging candy wrappers, not an altercation with a Christmas fruit cake.

Bah humbug.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Trees, Pee and Chocolate

Yesterday when walking the dogs in the park, I took this photo of the last colorful tree in the whole park that still had leaves.  There are still the pine and fir and other evergreen trees, but this was the only deciduous tree left.  Even on a foggy, crap day, these yellow leaves were just glowing, and the fallen ones around the base were like the richest of carpets.

This morning, there wasn't a leaf on the tree.  I didn't have my camera with me, but the contrast between one day and the next was pretty startling.  Golden vibrancy to bald in a day.  Sort of life in a nutshell, really, isn't it..??

Speaking of trees.  The deer ate a small tree today.  One of my replacement cypress trees.  They skinned the poor wee thing to the bark.  And really...a cypress tree..??  My Rose of Sharon one day, a tree the next.  There's plenty of stuff to eat up on this blasted mountain, so I'm pretty pissed that my landscaping seems to be the New Jersey Diner this week.  I had one dose of the Deer Fence left, so after chasing them out of the yard, I grabbed my sprayer and went out to dose the remains of the tree and several other shrubs.  Apparently--not having used the sprayer for a few months--there was something stuck in the nozzle.  When I pressed the button for the spray, the end cap on the nozzle blew off and I got a face full of coyote pee.  (At least that's what this stuff smells like.  And how do I know such a thing, you ask..??  A story for another day.)  So, so gross and stinky.  I had to fix the nozzle, finish spraying, then strip off my clothes in the laundry room and take a shower.  Eeeewww, it was bad.  Hours later I'm sure I can still smell that horrible odor, no doubt because it's permanently absorbed into my pores, no matter how hard I scrubbed my skin.

Managed to get all the cards and letters mailed yesterday. It actually took me two days from start to finish, mainly due to notes I had to write in each card. Still, I enjoyed doing it, and since it's basically the only thing I'm doing for Christmas, I feel good that I was able to write to everyone, and get everything mailed before next year.

In the throes of a very good book, so think I'll make myself a nice cup of hot chocolate and get back to the story.  Ah, nothing quite like the warm, heavenly, soothing taste of hot chocolate, is there.  Sure beats a face full of coyote pee...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Out of Time

Today I must get to the Christmas cards.  I have many to send abroad and they should already be winging their way out of America and across the pond by now instead of sitting in a heap on the dining room table.  I somehow lost track of the time for mailing things.

So.  No post really as I will be writing madly all afternoon.  And actually, it's a good day for it: cold, dense fog, and very dreary...perfect for doing the cards and not thinking about the mountain of leaves that are piling up outside my windows...aarrgghhh.