Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dear Readers...


Happy Hallowe'en...and a Blessed Samhain
 
Sunset, Southern Oregon, October 2013

 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dreams, Dogs and Words

 
My Wednesday started at 3:08 this morning.  The dead zone.  The witching hour.  The buggers-now-I-won't-get-back-to-sleep-anytime-soon hour.
 
I have no clue what actually woke me, but the words were still ringing in my ears.  Sturm und Drang.  I rolled over and stared at the ceiling for several seconds, listening as the word echoes faded into some distant black hole in my brain.  Sturm und Drang.  What in the world could I have been dreaming about?   Nothing comes to mind except the words.  I know Sturm und means Storm and, but I can't remember what Drang means.  Danger?  Despair?  I toy with the idea of getting up, finding my dictionary, but I don't want to be on the prowl at 3:00 in the bloody morning, though I still toss and turn for nearly an hour, the words running in a continuous loop in my mind until I finally fall asleep.
 
This morning, cup of coffee in hand, I sit at the laptop and immediately go to Wikipedia.  Drang means several things, as it turns out: turmoil, urge, impulse, drive.  So.  Storm and Drive?  Storm and Impulse?  No matter what word is used for Drang, the phrase basically means expressing extremes of emotion...in other words, the opposite of rationalism.
 
According to Wiki:  The protagonist in a typical Sturm und Drang stage work, poem, or novel is driven to action—often violent action—not by pursuit of noble means nor by true motives, but by revenge and greed.

I'm confused, and a bit concerned at what appears to be percolating in my subconscious.  I'm not a vengeful person, nor greedy, and most assuredly not violent.  What could these dream words mean?

******************************************

More words.




After breakfast and my shower, I'm getting ready to head down the mountain and out into the valley to take the boys to the county park for a good, long walk.  I have a checklist--which I recite out loud to the dogs as they patiently wait for the only words they want to hear.





Phone...check
Watch...check
Water...check
Treats...check
Poop bags...check
Keys...check
Purse...check

Now they're at full attention, tails stiff, totally focused on me--and this part always makes me laugh:

When I say "Ready to rock and roll?"  Ozzy leaps to his food dish and grabs a mouthful, chewing as fast as he can.  I don't know why he does this, but it's like he needs one more boost of food for the walk ahead.

Max hasn't moved.  He also hasn't taken his eyes off me.  Then I say, in a very good imitation of Barbara Woodhouse, the British dog trainer, "Time for walkies!" and Max barks and runs in circles, overcome with excitement.

I have no idea how this all started, but somehow it's become our daily ritual.

**************************************
 
After a great walk at the park, quick dash to the store and a drive thru at my favorite coffee kiosk, we head home.  As I come around the bend just before my house, I hear it.  Even over the sound of the Blazer and the radio, I hear it.  And suddenly, in that crystal clear moment, Sturm und Drang finally makes perfect sense.
 
The leaf blowing lunatic is already starting her maniacal assault on the ever-present leaves, my ears and my solace.

No wonder my dreams are fraught...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Week 44 of the 52s...Lessons at Lunch

Friday morning:  When I originally wrote this post on Tuesday, I was thinking more about the women and the experience of hanging with them.  But in hindsight this adventure was one of the better ones I've had this year and most definitely should be included in the 52s.  I decided to do just that.

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Sunday afternoon I get a phone call.  Bunny, one of the women I know up the mountain, wants to make a date for lunch.  We do this every couple of months and this time agree on Tuesday, I offer to drive, we're good to go.

Today I stop by her house to pick her up; there's another woman with her that I don't recognize.  Turns out Bunny's best friend of 50 years has unexpectedly arrived for a brief visit before she makes her way home to Canada, after a month traveling in Europe.  By herself.  With a shoulder bag, a passport, phone and an iPad.

{Before we go on, here's a little tidbit:  Bunny is 79, Jean is in her mid-80s.  Both women are great-grandmothers, but take away the wrinkles and holy crap, stand back because they will roll right over you on their way to living life to the absolute fullest}

We get to the restaurant, place our orders, then I just sat back and listened.  It was like looking into the future with my BFF when we (hopefully) reach this exalted age: lots of inside jokes, raucous laughter, and true enjoyment in the familiarity and ease of their friendship.  The BFF and I have told each other things no one on the planet will ever know...and Bunny and Jean were exactly the same, I could tell.  It was really cool.

At one point, Jean's phone rings (Born in the USA), she yanks it out of her pocket and begins texting faster than a 12 year old--speed texting that was awesome to behold.  When she's done, she drops the phone on the table, turns to Bunny and says, "Philippe." (she says Phileep in French).  Bunny raises a brow, they look at each other, Jean nods once.  Nothing more is said.

I have just witnessed an entire conversation about...something...and only one word was spoken.  I totally loved it.

We talked about Scotland, Europe, places we've been, then Bunny asked me how the blog was going and the writing.  Jean is intrigued and we spend more time talking books and writing and somehow meander our way into discussing photography.  This inspires Jean to hand me her phone to take some shots of her and Bunny.  Hilarity ensues as they act like high school girls in a photo booth at the mall.

I mention that I've had no luck at all with the selfie thing and in fact posted a truly regretful photo awhile back on the blog that frankly I should remove before people either turn into stone, or a pillar of salt.

Can of worms slowly opens...

Turns out Jean is fluent in high tech everything.  Guru status.  She begins rattling off all kinds of stuff that flies right over my head--and I'm pretty tech savvy myself...or thought I was until meeting an 80-something great-grandmother.  She asks if I have a tablet, I say yes, she whips hers out of a large pocket of her bag and starts to tell/show me the best apps, what each one does, which to avoid, yada yada. 

Holy Overload, Batman!

In an effort to stop the data dump, I tell her I'll try her top pick one of these days.  In the near future.  If I ever again want to take a crap photo of myself.  I think that's the end of it.

Never underestimate a woman who travels the world in her 80s with just a single bag, her passport, a phone and an iPad.

We pass my house on the way to Bunny's.  Which Bunny mentions as we approach my driveway.  The next thing I know, we're are trooping up the stairs so Jean can show me the exact app to load and how to use it on my tablet.  I was a bit overwhelmed--not my usual state--but too late, they're now in my living room.

And buggers, but she was good.

My own version of the photo booth...



















My very first, real and authentic selfies.  It was wild, and fun, and I was completely, utterly exhausted when they left an hour later. The energy was thrilling...and death-defying.

I had the best lunch ever, and besides getting tech lessons, I learned a really great thing: just because someone has decades under their belt, doesn't mean they're old.  They danced rings around me.

I want to be just like them when I grow up...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Christine...



Are there certain sounds, irritating noises, that can drive you nuts, dear readers?  I don't think I'm alone in this.  Surely everyone can reach a point where they would like to get in their car, drive along their quiet, peaceful little mountain road at 90 mph, wiping out any and all OCD leaf blowing neighbors.
 
No?  Ah well, then before someone calls the coppers allow me to explain my homicidal broodings...
 
A few houses further down the road from me, I have a newly retired couple who apparently have yet to work out what to do with themselves.  Every day--really, every day--the woman goes out into the road and blows the oak leaves from one side of the road to the other.  I live in the wild and yet all I can hear for over two hours in the early afternoons is the constant, high-pitched whine of buzz-z-z-z-z-zing that rips through the stillness like a gigantic mosquito on crack.
 
I try really hard to ignore it, but as the endless minutes drone by, I contemplate using the car as my weapon of choice, visions of crushing her the blower under the wheels of the Blazer dance through my head.  Then suddenly, she will stop.  I breathe a deep sigh of relief, begin to relax back into the peace of living on a mountain.  NO!  Wait!  An oak leaf has fallen!  Oh my God, quick!  Fire up the bloody machine and blow that sucker over the ridge!  And, oh look, another one...and another...
 
I'm considering an intervention.  I mean it.  There's just something so wrong about this behavior.  And in case you think I'm being rude or snarky about the woman, think again.  My attitude toward these weirdos includes both of them because later, in the early evening, just as I'm settling down for dinner or a nice glass of wine and my book, the guy comes out and begins his nightly ritual of one to two hours blowing whatever leaves have fallen since the afternoon.  Seriously.  He even keeps going in the dark.
 
If everyone along the road got out their damned blowers to deal with the leaves, I would truly think it was just me.  After all, I haven't lived in America for years and maybe leaf blowing has become a new Olympic sport for retirees. 
 
But no.  Clearly no one else along my road acts like this.  The rest of us seemingly have lives that don't revolve around daily leaf blowing.  We wait until the trees are bare, and with any luck a good strong windstorm will have come through and taken care of the leaves anyway.
 
Maybe I'm just too organic.  I sweep and I rake.  It's quiet, doesn't disturb a soul, and most assuredly doesn't leave any kind of footprint except the outline of my shoe in the soil.
 
 
*********************************************
 
The title of this post refers to a book written by Stephen King about a homicidal car named Christine.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Is It Always A Tradeoff...??


Nearly every day for lunch I make myself a smoothie; banana, blueberries, Greek yogurt and cranberry juice.  Simple, easy, healthy.  I use a stick blender in my LeCreuset batter bowl, a staple in my kitchen for over a decade.  Plain white, no frills, heavy, durable and oh, so wonderful...


This afternoon I made the smoothie, cleaned the bowl and was putting it back in the cupboard--same routine for endless lunches--but somehow, this time...


...the bowl flew out of my hand.  My most favorite bowl for pouring pancakes, mixing cornbread and making smoothies broke into three large pieces.
 
Damn and blast.  I'm cleaning up the mess, sweeping the floor for odd shards, pissed that I didn't catch it before it hit the counter, when I suddenly remember that about six months ago whilst wandering the aisles at the local Ross store, I actually saw a red LeCreuset in the kitchenware section.  I almost bought it at the time, but hey, I already had one, didn't I?  Quickly finish drinking my smoothie, then jump into the car and head across town.
 
Okay.  It was a long shot...a very, very long shot.  Of course there is no bowl, nor could I find a single thing that would work in a pinch.  Buggers.
 
Walking toward the front of the store, bummed and a bit sad that another little piece of my old life is gone, I stumble into a rack.  Literally.  I wasn't paying attention, head down, mind wandering, and I just walked straight into a display that--for some unknown reason--was directly in the middle of the aisle.  Not off to the side, or leaning out, or misaligned.  No.  Just inexplicably...there.
 
At first I was cranky, because what's a damn rack doing blocking the aisle and assaulting people like that?  Then I realize that what's hanging on the rack
 
***Insert angelic voices and the Hallelujah chorus here***
 
are purses.  Designer bags.  Heavenly creations.
 
I have a serious girl thing for a good purse.  There's just something about the creamy, smooth textures, the smell of the leather, the fun in shifting the contents of one bag into the new one.  But I'm also extremely picky, so the bag has to be just right. 
 
And it was.

The most excellent cheered-me-right-up-and-who-needs-a-mixing-bowl-anyway purse...








 
It fits on my shoulder like it was made to be there, hangs perfectly tucked against my hip, and has any number of pockets and hidden nooks.  And it feels like...leather butter.
 
Even better?  It was $229.00 off retail; one look at the price tag snapped me right out of my pissy mood.  I might have skipped to the register.
 
So, I didn't replace the ultimate batter bowl today, but I did find the best purse I've had in years.  Isn't it odd though...if the bowl hadn't broken, I wouldn't have the purse.
 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Randomness and a Camera


Wandering with the boys this morning, through grass wet with heavy dew, it was quiet at the park, the only sound an occasional snick from the shutter as I took random photos...





There were so many colors in this one tree, I couldn't believe it...red and yellow, burgundy and gold, orange and green.  It was just glorious in person...











Standing beneath, an umbrella of hues as I looked up...













And underfoot...like fallen stars...









As we headed toward the river, we cut through the picnic area.  I liked the curves and lines of this cement picnic table, and the funny holes in the center sections.  I crouched down to line up the two holes and just as I got this photo, the dogs scampered after a squirrel.  Since they were leashed and I was at the other end, I tipped over like a bowling pin.
 

Nothing like laying in the dirt on a cool Fall morning...though the boys thought it was funny, judging by the licks and tail wags.

After brushing off the debris and smearing mud down my pant leg, I put away the camera and we walked along the path that meanders beside the river.  The dogs were sniffing and snorting, I was enjoying the quiet and the views when I spotted something across the river.  Pulling the camera out of my zippered hoody, I focused on a large rock and hit the telephoto.
 
What a handsome fellow.  A very large Blue Heron...


I took a few more shots, but the boys were getting antsy and no doubt tired of me stopping and starting the walk to take photos, so we carried on until the trail ran out at the small boat launching area.  At this point, we usually climb a hill and make our way back to the car, but just as we're turning for the rise, something again catches my eye across the river.
 
The river is wider here, at the boat launch, so I'm thinking I won't be able to hold still enough to steady the telephoto, but it's worth a try...




A Great Egret.  And wow, not only is this a rare sight of an elusive and beautiful bird, but check out that cave in the rocks--which I didn't even notice before I took this photo.  What a perfect place for a nest or a safe hideaway...








As I was trying to juggle the leashes, my camera and two restless dogs, the egret took flight.  I was really cranky because I'd missed a most excellent shot.  It flew a short ways downriver, just about out of my telephoto range, but I managed one last photo as it landed in the water...

These lovely Fall days will soon be over, the trees will be bare, their vibrant colors gone until the greening of Spring; birds are leaving for warmer climes--already the Turkey Vultures have left for California.  One day they're floating in wide, lazy circles over the valley, the next they're away.  The deer are getting thicker coats, the fawns now teenagers, gangly and confident.
 
I still have much to do in the gardens, front and back, though I haven't had to mow the lawn for a week, or water my pots.  I can almost feel the time slowing down, the hibernation months coming on the Winter winds...
 
And I am so very much looking forward to it.
 


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Week 43 of the 52s...Halloween Ghost


When out and about a few weeks ago taking random Fall photos, I stopped into Kruse Farms for some shots of their pumpkins and gourds.  Captivated by their ghost pumpkins, I should have bought some that day as there weren't many to choose from, but I had planned to come back in a day or two.  Famous last words and an Ozzy Incident later...

My idea for this week's adventure in the 52s was to carve a pumpkin, so after walking the boys this morning, we drove out into the valley to Kruse's, fingers crossed there were some left.  By a pure fluke and perfect timing, I got the last ghost pumpkin.  Right after I lugged it to the scales, two separate folks came after me asking for more, but lucky me, I got the last one, big and gnarly-cool.  And by big, I mean it weighed in at 29.25 lbs.  I could barely lift it into the back of the Blazer.  Then I had to haul it up two flights of stairs to the kitchen.



 
My scabby and bumply **Jack Skellington--before he came alive...










Two hours, a bin full of pumpkin guts, and a design that kept changing as I carved.  My frightening ghost just wouldn't stop smiling...












A bit scarier, glowing in the dark...










I love these ghost pumpkins.  I've never carved one before and they're different than the regular variety.  Easier to clean out, but harder to carve.  I saved some perfect seeds and can already picture ghosts meandering down my back slope next Summer...then it won't matter that I forgot to buy them before they were all gone.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

**BTW:  Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King from Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas...just in case anyone was, you know, curious about the name.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ziggy Had It Right...



I took the weekend off.  After my crap week, I felt like disconnecting and just hanging with my wee boys.  In the not too distant future, they won't be around, to warm my heart, or my feet on cold Winter nights.  I won't see happy faces as they dash across a field toward me, every single time making me laugh at the joy and freedom that practically glows around them.

Saturday night I couldn't settle on my book.  Max was all stretched out on one side of me, in my big ol' reading chair, while Ozzy snored at my feet.  It was quiet, except for the low, muffled sounds of the television.  Thoughts of mortality seeped between the layers of my mind.  Not just for the dogs, but for myself, too.  Life is so finite, so incredibly fleeting.

Just as I was headed toward the crossroads of Maudlin and Melancholy, I was distracted by the beginning of a program that I truly enjoy: How the Universe Works, on the Science Channel--and was hit with a serendipitous example of just when you least expect it, or maybe just when you need it most, the Universe not only works, but also provides.

The show was about stars, how they form, how they live, how they die.  The graphics were outstanding, as were the scientists who explained quasars and black holes and white dwarves, colliding pulsars bursting into neutron stars, and the immense and slightly terrifying explosion of a super nova.

When these massive stars die, they seed the Universe.  I could so easily imagine dandelion fluff blowing in the cosmic wind, particles of all that shapes our world swirling, drifting, waiting for the next perfect collision of atoms and matter to birth new stars.  Then, the program finished with stunning photographs of space and stars and planets--the tantalizing supposition that everything around us came from the heart of an exploding star.

Including us, the stardust children of the Universe.

Sunday afternoon.  I'm having my usual phone call with the BFF and I tell her about my mortality funk, followed by learning that we're made from the stars.  She's quiet for a minute, then asks me how that jives with my Pagan-Wiccan-Buddhist self?

I smile.  "Since nobody has a clue what any of it means, I'm good with adding it to the philosophical resume."

She laughs.  "You are such a hippy."

"No," I say, "I'm a star child."

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Irony Hasn't Escaped Me

First, dear readers, let me begin this tale with...

The Backstory...

Almost eleven years ago, Alan and I got a wee tiny Papillon puppy.  We also got insurance for our new kid, just in case something went awry along the way.  The entire time we lived in Scotland, we never made a claim. 

This dog insurance company was founded in Britain, but they had branched out to America, so it was an easy transition when, a few years ago, we moved to Oregon. 

Shortly after arriving, however, Ozzy got really ill, ended up at Death's door and was in intensive care for almost a week.  He recovered and has remained a happy, healthy little dog ever since.  We filed the one and only claim in ten years for this emergency, the company reimbursed a goodly portion of the bill, and everyone moved on.

Two years ago, the company changed carriers/underwriters.  I will refer to these Greedy Bastards henceforth as the GBs.  The first year they took over, the premium skyrocketed from $325 per year to nearly $450.  I called, disputed this incredible rise--to no avail--and was forced to change the policy to a lower premium, with less coverage and a higher deductible.

Last year the GBs upped the ante again.  The nearly $450 escalated to $580.  I called again to complain.  I believe at this point I might have mentioned what I thought of the GBs and their price gouging.  Again, I had to drop the coverage to reduce the premium.

July 2013 arrives.  It's doggy insurance month.  I can honestly say, my jaw dropped when I saw the charge for this year.  Heading toward $700 now and I am so outraged I can hardly dial the phone.  This time I was told the increase was due to Ozzy's age (he had turned ten in January), and the possibility of future problems.  Never mind that he's healthy, immunized, and only been ill once in all those years.  I disagreed most vehemently, blustered about age discrimination, the shocking way this new carrier only cares about money and not the beloved pet...yada yada.  The GBs could care less.

I consider my options, weigh Ozzy's health against the likelihood of future illness, talk to my sister, the BFF and anyone else who would listen to my harangue...and decide to cancel the insurance.  My thoughts were--barring catastrophe--I could manage most vet emergencies myself.  After all, the teeth cleaning, well-dog checks and immunizations aren't covered by insurance anyway.

The Present....

Wednesday, this week, Oz was scheduled for his annual teeth cleaning.  Because he's a tiny thing, I always do the pre-op stuff to make sure he's fit for the anesthesia and won't croak whilst unconscious.  Going about my day, I'm surprised when I get a call from my vet.  He says there are some problems with Ozzy's heart and he wants to get X-rays on his chest and do a few extra blood tests.  He tells me not to worry, this is just a precaution, come at 3:00 to collect Ozzy and we'll talk then.

Stomach lurching, heart pounding.  What does this mean?  How did we go from an easy teeth cleaning to something that sounds pretty ominous?

Without belaboring the minutia of the 3:00 meeting, I'll just cut to the chase.  Ozzy has a significant heart murmur, which on the X-rays show his heart is sort of...stretched on one side like pulled taffy. This weirdness is affecting his lungs where fluid is clearly visible in the left one.  Results on the blood work won't be back from the lab until Friday (today) but in the meanwhile, Ozzy has to take these little yellow pills for his lungs.

The vet calls me this morning and I dash to the clinic to meet with him and discuss the diagnosis.  Turns out, my poor wee boy has a serious heart condition that, without meds, will surely kill him.  He has to take three different medications--for the rest of his life--though in a month, when we go back for an evaluation, there's a slight chance we can drop it down to only two.  I've already seen a real difference in his appetite and energy levels with just the little yellow pills, so who knows how much better he will feel in a month?  Sometimes what we mistake for age-related changes in an elderly dog...is really something else, and possibly treatable.

The Irony...

The three prescriptions, over the course of a year, will cost almost to the penny, the exact amount of the cancelled insurance premium.
 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Nature vs Nurture

My friend Morag, in Edinburgh, sent me this video yesterday.  It's an advertisement for a program by Sir David Attenborough on BBC One.  No one does the natural world as well as this man, and the tiny glimpse he gives us into that world is...breathtaking.

 
I'm not sure why it made me cry, though I've been known to weep at nature's beauty--a realm so often exploited by political machination, destroyed by greed, buried under dogma.  Sadly, our planet would be better off without the madness inherent in our humanity.
 
Take a moment and marvel at this amazing place we call home.  Maybe someday we'll actually learn how to appreciate and care for it...
 
Or maybe that forlorn hope is really the cause of my tears.
 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

No Doubt, I'll Regret This...


The weather is staying warm and sunny so I've been working outside in the never-ending task of getting things settled for the Winter.  I should be staining both decks, but the morning dew is way too wet--almost like rain--which leaves the decks very damp until late in the afternoon, too late to start such a major project.  I might have to wait until early Spring.  And oh, boo hoo, I can hardly stand the disappointment...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The serial is denting my head at the moment.  I thought I had things worked out for this next installment but after writing around 700 words, I don't like where it's going and want to scrap it and start over.  Bah.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ozzy's at the vet today for his annual teeth cleaning.  It's too bad they can't figure out something less traumatic for that procedure.  He's such a wee dog and to get knocked out really takes a toll on him.  Ah well, at least he'll have shiny white teeth...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yesterday afternoon I got a surprise phone call from one of my dear friends in Edinburgh.  We caught up on all the news in the neighborhood and had a good, long chat about life in general.  I'm sorry I wasn't able to make it home last month, but with any luck I'll make it in the new year.

We were talking about the blog, and some of my photographs, then she asks me why I took the shot of my new hair color with the Cyclops camera in front of my face.  I laughed and told her she wasn't the only one to ask that question, but for obvious reasons--difficulty and vanity--it was easier to just show the hair...which was the point of the post anyway.

But, against my better judgment, I made another attempt, this time with the camera below my chin.  I am not in the least bit photogenic so frankly, to me, I look like a dork...with chipmunk cheeks.  And hey, isn't it weird how one eye is always shaped differently than the other?  I know it's not just me.  Right??  It's not just me?  I still really love the color--which looks way better in real life than in this shot. 

So, Morag, dear friend...you asked and here I am, regrets and all...

 


Monday, October 14, 2013

Week 42 of the 52s...Arezzo and Adventure


My closest neighbor is a Brit.  He and his partner travel a great deal, including at least four trips to the UK every year.  Last month I had planned to head that direction myself, to visit friends and family, renew my residency, have a holiday.  Unfortunately I couldn't work out the logistics, mostly because of my wee dogs, a very small town, and few options for house/dog sitting.  I'm hoping to figure something out for next Spring instead.

Anyway.

When I found out a few weeks ago they were going to England, then on to Italy--my third favorite place after Dublin (2) and Scotland (always first)--I asked him if he would drop off the next book in my BookCrossing adventure.  I told him I'd planned to do this myself but things hadn't worked out.  Once I explained the concept behind BookCrossing, he gladly took on the challenge of finding the perfect spot somewhere along their route to release the book into the wild.

Yesterday (today in Italy), I got an email, and a photograph.  It was so cool.

The book I chose this time is a wonderfully funny, excellent read.  Here's a blurb but it doesn't come close to the amazing plot...or the hilarity of the characters:

When the children of his village were struck with a mysterious illness, Number Ten Ox found master Li Kao. Together they set out to find the Great Root of Power, the only possible cure, and together they discover adventure and legend, and the power of belief....


And here's where the Bridge of Birds begins the next leg of its journey...Arezzo, Italy, southeast of Florence.  The book is laying on that first table to the right, at the cafĂ© in front of the Tourist Office...


I can only wish I'd been the one to leave the book in Arezzo, though it's great to share the adventure of the 52s with my neighbors.  And I'm totally looking forward to finding out who will discover the book...and where it ends up next.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Moment

The weather has been exceptional this weekend, which has meant I've been outside for most of it.  And no, not having fun.  I've begun the winterizing chores: pruning, weeding, mowing, edging, trimming, sweeping, hauling, dumping, and now see the error of my ways...I need to hire a gardener.

Finally, this afternoon I actually lifted my head from the work and looked out over the valley.  There was a mist in the air, though the sun was very warm.  I was inspired to do a little video, something I haven't done in ages.  I didn't realize the breeze was strong enough to hear, so ignore that bit and my inane chatter.  

Stand beside me, here on the back deck, and enjoy the view...

Friday, October 11, 2013

Mysteries and Madness


Woke up this morning with a weird torque in my lower back.  It wasn't there when I went to bed last night so what happened between then and now?  Do I walk in my sleep?  Did I go dancing with the fairies?  Have I been abducted by aliens?  It's a very painful mystery.

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I took a photo of a bird today that I can't identify.  It's very unusual when I can't find a bird listed in my National Geographic book...in fact, I don't think it's happened before.  It was large, not flashy--except for the splash of yellow around the face--and had a slight hook at the end of its beak like a raptor.  See it here.  Another mystery...

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Blogger made some "improvements" recently.  Course, you know, dear readers, what that means.  Totally screwed up what didn't need to be improved.  I tried to change my "Ponder" quote this morning...to no avail.  For some unknown bugger-all reason, there's no saving changes in the Layout section now.  Eventually, after trying every trick I knew, I gave up and went to the useless Help area, where, after several false trails and meltdowns, I managed to discover that the engineers are working on the problem.  Seriously?  No, really.  Seriously??  From what I can tell--reading the long chain of comments and complaints--they've been working on the problem now for well over two weeks.  Holy flaming Hell.  This isn't rocket science, it's just hitting the Save button and having your frigging changes saved! 

Unless...

Is Blogger owned by our ridiculous embarrassing government?  That could explain much.

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I want to work on the serial this afternoon, but I also have a huge amount of winterizing to do outside.  Course, with my wrenched back, hauling and bending and twisting my way up and down the garden slopes might not be the best idea.

Maybe a little nap would help, both with my back and my decision-making.  At the very least it will give my tired brain a wee break from the madness...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Week 41 of the 52s...Champagne and Chocolate


Okay, let me say right off that no, I'm not being seduced, enticed or led astray by anyone tempting me with either the bubbly or Godivas.  More's the pity.

I am, however, doing what most women do when they want to shake up their appearance--without plastic surgery, because ewwww the needles--which means I changed my hair this afternoon.  

A few weeks ago I came to the conclusion I'm tired of looking the same.  Guys grow 'taches and beards, women do their hair.  In fact, I've been doing this since I was about 13 and dyed my hair bright red, much to my mother's horror.  So, I went to the salon awhile back and had a long chat with my hairdresser, we went over all the color options and I made an appointment.  For today.

I wish I had some really good photos, but it's a bit hard to take a shot of yourself--never mind all the selfies that abound on the internet--so I took this one standing in front of the bathroom mirror...
 

The top color is champagne, the bottom layer is chocolate, though it didn't come out as dark as I wanted so I'll try a different shade next time.  I love the champagne, it's almost effervescent in the sun; such a bright, cheerful color for the dreary months ahead.

This was a fun thing to do for a week in the 52s, and I should be really happy with the excellent results for awhile.  Well, at least until the next time I need a change...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Out and About

Instead of the soccer field park this morning, I decided to take the boys to the county park down in the valley.  It was chilly with a strong wind blowing off the river, but I was wonderfully happy with frozen cheeks and a zipped-to-the-chin hoody--such a contrast from sweat rolling down my face in the scorching heat and humidity of just a few weeks ago.  No question which condition I prefer...




After the walk, as I was driving out of the park, I passed the entrance to the gardens maintained by Master Gardeners from the University of Oregon.  It's a very cool place with a Japanese garden, Children's area, experimental section, formal, Victorian, vegetables...oh, just about any kind of garden you can think of.  I stopped in last Spring and thought I would check out how it looked at the end of the season.




To the left of the gate is the kids area...and a big, new addition, suitable for climbing on...



There were other new things, like these beautiful Victorian garden globes...










There were many clouds overhead so the light kept shifting between overcast and sunny, though with or without light, these were my favorite globes--especially this first blue one....



And how sweet are these little faces?


Finished at the gardens, I was heading home when I came to the junction for Kruse's, the local farmers market.  Suddenly the image of one of their homemade pies popped into my head and I found myself turning left down the highway.  Against my will, of course.

Before I could get inside the bakery, I was captivated by the pumpkins and gourds...





After wandering for ages amongst the beautiful produce, I finally made it back to the bakery, then spent many minutes drooling over the pies.  These are like the pies my grandmother used to make: juicy and tart, with a sugary, crunchy crust to die for.

I settled on a Bumbleberry pie filled with apples, cherries, rhubarb, marionberries and blueberries, because hey, fruit is important for a healthy diet.  Really...



Amazing isn't it, how a slight alteration to the routine can lead to unexpected adventures.  To say nothing of a pie that--with each yummy bite--will taste like my childhood.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

And The Winner Is...


So.  This morning I'm standing at the kitchen sink.  I have one last swallow of coffee before I rinse out my mug and head for the shower.  I'm not exactly sure what happened...maybe I inadvertently sucked in some air just as I tipped my head and the mug.  We will never know, dear readers.

I realize immediately--choking was my first clue--that the coffee has gone down the wrong pipe.  I can't spew it into the sink because my throat has already closed.  Before I can even grasp what's happening, the entire swallow flies out my nose.

If there was a contest for Extreme Nose Snorting, I would have just won the World Championship.  That seemingly small amount of coffee exploded in a volcanic burst from my nose, spraying the sink, backsplash and an innocent plant on the counter.  With coffee flaming through my sinuses, I cough and sputter and gasp for breath and yet somehow--an inexplicable conundrum of physics--still more coffee runs out my nose, down my chin, all over my shirt, my socks and the floor.

Holy crap, people, it was just one little swallow!

Eventually I get control of the hacking and spewing and near-death of it all.  When I blow my nose, I discover there's quite a residual caffeine rush in snorting coffee as opposed to drinking it.  Though I'm pretty sure this technique won't catch on...the nasal burn just isn't worth it.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Magpie Tales 189...Tick Tock

image by crilleb50


Time ever moving
Paralyzed by its passing
His future vanished


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I really loved this week's image for Magpie Tales.  The sepia tones, the dejected look of the man, the clocks--all with different times--made me think how often we look back instead of forward...
 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Week 40 in the 52s...Country Roads


A day of warm sunshine with just a hint of coolness in the air, and brilliant Fall colors equally as mesmerizing as the beauty in Spring blossoms...

I tossed the boys in the car after lunch yesterday and headed into Oregon's outback.  I don't know my way around these country roads, so every bend and turn was a new experience.  I drove for over two hours, meandering and backtracking and stopping for photos whenever something caught my eye.

Down my mountain and into the valley.  I turned off the main road and headed west...


After several miles, I found myself on one of the few straight stretches in the whole journey and glancing to my right, I saw this farm in the distance.  The remoteness of the location, the cattle placidly grazing in the sun, reminded me of a place out of time; this prospect would have been exactly the same to the early settlers...


As I pulled back onto the road and drove for another mile or so, I came upon a totally unexpected sight.  I parked the car and burst out laughing--remember, I'm in the middle of nowhere--because next to a mailbox was a sign at the edge of the road advertising a concrete business and up the long, twisting dirt road were these wondrous creatures...all made from cement...

The Welcome Sign...


The Creatures...



 
I walked amongst giants for a few minutes...
 
 
There were many more--full-size cowboys on horses, and buffalo, and other things further up the road I couldn't make out.  I didn't want to intrude, though it would've been really interesting to meet the person behind the art.
 
More miles, more sunshine and around a bend I discovered an abandoned apple orchard.  Dozens of gnarly old trees, choked by weeds and long forgotten.  I stood next to the fence and wondered who had planted them, and why the orchard had been forsaken.  Each tree was laden with fruit, boughs bending under the weight.  It was sad and seemed so wasteful...


This little Towhee dropped in to chirp at me while I was contemplating the orchard.  Maybe the fruit isn't wasted after all.  Deer, birds and other wildlife might have raucous midnight bacchanals when the apples ferment...


The boys were getting restless just about the time I discovered I was across the river from the county park.  After some wrong turns and extra miles I'm sure a local wouldn't have had to do, I managed to find my way there.





The river, through a grove of birch and shadows.  (I took another shot of the sun glinting on the water, but posted that one to Shot of the Week...)










The last wild rose on a bush.  The fragrance was rich and heady, like spice-filled dreams of exotic places...










While the boys sniffed and snorted, no doubt filling their own heads with the scents of raccoon and squirrel, I spied these pale, delicate 'shrooms just beginning to poke their little heads up out of the grass...










After looking down at the mushrooms, I lifted my head and realized I was standing under a chestnut tree, though these pods aren't ready just yet to release the nuts so they can be roasted over an open fire...







My last shot of the day...blue water sparkling in the sun on a most beautiful Fall afternoon...


This turned out to be a really great adventure in the 52s.  I explored unknown country roads, laughed at mythical beings, imagined wild parties, smelled intrigue in the heart of a rose, and reveled in the stunning beauty of the natural world.  It couldn't have been a better day...