Friday, May 30, 2014

One Thing Leads To Another...

This week I've been struggling with the immensity of being the sole caretaker of my 5-acre landscape. I work, toil, weed, mow, water, prune, hack, curse, weed some more, fight the deer, and fret over the task of washing/staining both decks before the Gates of Hell creak open for the Summer.

On Wednesday, after a morning spent on my knees trying to wrestle with weeds that seem to have roots in Middle Earth, I decided life is just too bloody short, and since I really can't burn down my house, take the insurance money and run to a new life on the Amalfi Coast...

I went to my neighbor's house and stole her gardener.

Jack is now my official garden hero on Friday mornings.  I will still mow and edge and water my pots--cause that's the easy part really--but he will do all the other stuff, AND help me with the two decks. My sense of relief was overwhelming.  Can you get drunk on relief?  Feel high when a burden is lifted? Yes, peeps, you can.  And without the hangover, too.


Yesterday morning I was going through my usual blog reads over breakfast.  On Lynn's site, Paperback Writer, she was talking about getting back to basics: writing for fun, no matter content or style or format.  She chose Thursdays and invited her readers to join in. I thought it would be a great way to get going on my latest plot idea, so with my new-found freedom from garden graft, I got other chores out of the way and sat down in the afternoon to write.

And realized immediately that I had more world-building to finish first.  My plot is an alternate Earth that is vaguely familiar to what we know now, except the continents didn't drift apart as much and the Mass Extinction event wasn't quite so...extreme. Because of that, I'm using the actual shape of the continents 65 million years ago but mixing things up a bit more with Ice Age melt-down that flooded vast areas, changing the entire scope of the planet, altering borders, climates and geology. I like the configuration, the possibilities, the same-yet-different Earth.

Now, the whole point of this excuse explanation is to say that although I did research, developed some plot points, and figured out a few keys issues...the entire first chapter was only written in my head.  By the end of the day, I felt like I'd been studying for hours and just couldn't do anymore.  You know that feeling?  Head clogged with facts, fuzzy details swirling, wine calling...


So, as one thing leads to another this week: the grueling garden chores led to freedom and a great new helper, my alleged writing led to getting some major research and clarity for my new world.  And hey, I even have a map.

Now all I have to do is know...start writing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Now, I feel a need to forewarn those of you who are frightened or otherwise creeped out by snakes. Big snakes. Really big snakes. I freely admit to being totally freaked out from start to finish in yesterday's melodrama. The only thing that made this experience an exceptional one was the role played by the turkey vultures in this episode of My Life in the Wilderness.

And lucky you, dear readers, I will also spare you from the blood and guts portion of the show--mainly because I can't bear to look at those particular photos again.  Don't ask me what I was thinking to take them in the first place; just be glad you don't have to see them.

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Yesterday afternoon.  I was at the laptop doing some research when this large shadow flashed across the windows next to where I was sitting.  I got up to look.  I don't initially see anything, not in the front yard or up and down the winding mountain road.  Then I spy a few turkey vultures, circling around my driveway in long easy loops.  At first I just admire their form, the way they can glide without ever flapping their incredibly large wings.  I watch for several minutes, then as I'm turning to go back to the laptop, one of the vultures drops onto the road.

Wow.  That's new.  They rarely land, unless there's...oh.  Something dead.

I grab my camera and try to quietly step out onto the front deck.  I swear I didn't make a sound, but the bird instantly surged into the air and as he takes flight I see...a shape in the road, just beyond my drive.  I get goosebumps because, oh holy hell, what is that?  I zoom in with the telephoto so I can determine it is NOT a rattlesnake, because from my deck it has the right coloring, marks and size. Thankfully, the tail was sticking up, thin and rattle-free. Still.  I am horrified to see a snake this big practically in my living room!!

(Later I look it up.  It's a Gopher snake, bears a remarkable resemblance to a diamondback rattler, adults are 3 to 7 feet long.  Holy. Crap.)

I see right away the snake is either near death or already there from that large wound in it's side.  I don't care.  I don't want to know that this creature was slithering anywhere near me.

Then the clean-up crew come back, looping and diving, silent as the grave.  Truly, other than the faint swish of air through their wings if they fly close enough, they're soundless. No one lands though, or comes closer than about five feet above the snake, before they all just...glide away.

No.  Wait.  Come back!  I don't want to see this thing every time I look out the window!

Hours go by.  I've glanced outside a dozen times, notice a couple of those times that the snake is shorter than before and has been moved, so once or twice something has come by for a snack, but I can't figure out why the vultures aren't just cleaning things up quickly.  Is the snake too fresh?  Are they waiting for it to cook on the hot pavement?  Don't they like to eat slithery things?

Then.  Towards late afternoon, this guy shows up...

And man, I wish I knew someone who was versed in turkey vulture behavior because it was just the most interesting thing to watch.  He walked around several times.  Complete circles.  He stood motionless for long periods, then he would do this:

Over and over.  He would pace, then posture, stand perfectly still, then start the whole dance again. At first I wondered if he was trying to tell his brethren to stay away, that this was his dinner, but there wasn't anyone else around.  Then I thought he was making sure the snake was well and truly dead and the aggression was to provoke a response. Whatever, it went on for nearly half an hour before he decided it was time for lunch. 

I have spared you that visual peeps, it was the stuff of nightmare.

At one point, the vulture tried to take the snake airborne, but dropped it behind my hedge.  I took this shot through the window, standing on a chair as a trio suddenly descended out of the sky, ready to share lunch with the first guy.

Evidently, he didn't want to share.  Flurry of wings, some scuffling and these two ended up in a tree next to the hedge...

About ten minutes later, everyone had left the scene except this one. And honestly, could there be a bird more scary-looking?  When I think of hell spawn creatures, a turkey vulture ranks right up at the top for having a face only a mother could love... 

I couldn't see what happened to the snake--and I wasn't about to go look--though this morning when I drove down the driveway to the park, I saw a tiny scrap of...something, stuck to the pavement.

So, nature's cleaners did their job.  And even though the drama was a bit much at times, they took care of things so I didn't have to deal with a dead snake in front of my house. Living on a mountain is usually fine with me, but I really just have to draw the line at snake disposal...

Monday, May 26, 2014


The new National Cemetery at the VA complex was full of people, tents, a high-ranking general or two, the media and many veterans as the boys and I took our walk this morning. This is the first Memorial Day at this new place so it was an event, but it made me wonder what was happening at the old cemetery.

After the walk, I drove through the complex and over the river to find out.

There weren't many people, though every stone had a flag, and many had fresh flowers. My photo is just a very small glimpse of the more modern section (Vietnam, Middle East); in another area to the left are the upright gravestones from the other wars that go back to WWI.

I was glad to see no one was forgotten...

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Magic Of Four

While the dogs were running helter skelter across the field at the VA this morning, I was in more of a meandering frame of mind.  It was sunny, already edging toward too warm, while birds chirped and squirrels loudly scolded the boys from high in the tree branches.

I was pondering nothing in particular when I noticed I was walking through a very large section of the field that was blanketed in clover.

In a heartbeat I remember finding my first four-leaf clover; I actually found two of them when I was in grade school. In high school a boyfriend gave me one to press between the pages of a book.  As I stare at the hundreds of perfect shapes at my feet, I try to recall which book...and which boyfriend. Tony maybe?  Or Bobby--he was always good for romantic gestures.  But then again, Greg was quiet and shy, a four-leaf clover would have been his style.

I bend down and lose myself in memory while scanning the multitude of little green leaves; fan my fingers through the threes, looking intently for a four. The dogs grow curious, bound back toward me.  What could I be looking at?  Ozzy burrows into the clover, snorting and sniffing, then looks at me expectantly.  Laughing, I stand up, shoo them away and we carry on walking.

I can't help but wonder why I haven't seen a four-leaf clover since high school.  Is it a kid thing?  Have I lost the ability to find them?  Do they even exist anymore?

But then again...when was the last time I sprawled on my belly in the grass, surrounded by the soft hum of bees as I daydreamed the afternoon away searching--carefully and methodically--for a tiny bit of magic?

Saturday, May 24, 2014


Last night was a first-time ever Camelopardalid meteor shower (otherwise known as the Giraffe--though wouldn't you think camel, based on that name??).  Anyway, I was really excited and couldn't wait to see it. It was only going to be visible in North America and no one really knew if it would be spectacular or only so-so.  Some reports I read said there might even be colors from the hundreds of meteors expected per hour.  I was more intrigued that the dust trail from the comet formed two centuries ago would be the meteors I would see in the night sky now.  I love that thought.

So, I get out my tripod, the camera, a cozy thick blanket to sit on and leave everything at the back door.  I'm prepared for an event that should be in full display mode sometime after midnight.

Midnight comes. I can hardly wait! Because I live up this mountain and my back deck overlooks the valley, I'm in total darkness at night.  No streetlights, cars, city lights...nothing.  Perfect for meteor watching.  I glance up at the sky to decide where exactly I want to set up the camera and my cushy blanket.

No. No, no, hell no.

Clouds.  Thick, dark, impenetrable frigging damn clouds!  The nights have been brilliantly clear for...well, nights.  Now the clouds roll in?

I set the alarm for 1:30.  Stagger outside.  Nothing but clouds.

I set the alarm for 2:30.  Stumble outside.  No visible stars, let alone meteors.

I set the alarm for 4:00.  Look out the bedroom window.  Give up in defeat.

This morning--cranky and tired--I get up, open the drapes...and see the most beautifully clear and sunny day you can imagine.  Sigh.

Earlier today I was reading what other folks were able to see across the country, and looked at some great photos taken in Canada, though I also read that the amount of meteors was not as numerous as anticipated and one astronomer even said that they might be off a day or so in their calculations.

I was very happy to hear that plotting comet dust trails is apparently not an exact science after all.

Tonight I will try again.  And hey, who needs sleep when it comes to watching dust, two centuries old, streak through the night sky...

Friday, May 23, 2014

I Don't Want To Know

This morning after walking the dogs in the muggy heat, I had to do a quick side trip to the bank to make a deposit.  The boys are panting in the backseat, so I just wanted to hit the ATM, take less than a minute, and be on my way.

The ATM has a big sign taped to the screen; it's out of order.

Of course it is.

Into the bank I go.  To stand in a fifteen-person line...with one teller.  Ah well, so it will take me ten minutes instead of one.  It's Friday, a three-day weekend, the windows are down in the car, the dogs should be's all good.

There's an old, old man standing in front of me with a large chocolate chip cookie in his hand (provided by the bank along with coffee as you enter the lobby).  I'm reading the notice board about pub crawls, horse shows and congrats to the 2014 graduating class when the old guy turns to me, waves the cookie under my nose and says loudly, "First food I've had since yesterday."

I can't just ignore him.  I really wasn't interested in chatting, but since I'm stuck in line anyway... He's dressed well, has a cane, doesn't appear to have any reason for a cookie to be the only food he's had since yesterday. Against my better judgment, I ask, "Why haven't you eaten?"

"I didn't feel well yesterday and ended up in the hospital, just got out about an hour ago."

Oh. I look over his head, hope the line is moving.  It's not and now he's staring at me, waiting for me to ask why he was in the hospital.  I don't want to, but damn.  He's an old man, by himself, just out of the hospital. Be kind.  Still, I try to stick to generalities. "You must be okay now," I say, smiling politely, "because here you are! Eating cookies at the bank."

And that, dear readers, is all it took. The floodgates open.  He starts to tell me about his bladder issues, how he couldn't stop peeing yesterday, and just as he's getting into the graphic nature of his ailment, bringing his...manly bit...into the story, I hold up my hand and say firmly, "No details. I don't want to hear details."

He blinks, opens his mouth to speak, then miraculously two more tellers arrive, the line moves forward, and I am saved.

Then there is a tap on my shoulder.  Crap.  Now I expect to get an earful from the woman who's been standing behind me throughout this whole ordeal; maybe she thought I was rude to an old man.  I have a second to wish I'd just left the frigging bank while I had the chance before I slowly turn, prepared to defend myself.

The woman beams at me.  "Oh, well done!"  She leans in, whispers, "I just about died when he started talking about his penis!  Can you imagine?  A total stranger talking about...that?"

I started to laugh.  "That's what I get for trying to be nice."

"I wish I could handle awkward moments like that. I just get so flustered and turn red and can't think what to say."

"Well, I have to draw the line at penis-talk while standing in line at the bank."

We smile at each other like old friends sharing a bizarre moment in time. Then--at last--it's my turn and I quickly do my transaction.  As I head toward the door, I overhear the old man telling his story to the girl at the next window.

I don't glance back at the poor teller.  Hopefully she was able to say that she didn't want details either...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

La Familia

Though it was a great weekend, I wish my sister could have stayed longer.  With our two-state distance and busy lives, who knows when we'll get together again.  Ah well, I'll take what I can get and not complain.

As always, she came bearing gifts and not just for Mom's birthday. My very cool moss, twig and leaf basket filled with Verbena...

Then, too cute and very funny considering my voracious reading new frog prince.  My sister should be a professional gift buyer. She somehow always finds the perfect gift to fit the person, and not just for family.

We had a really good road trip, the weather was just right: not too hot, no rain, beautiful scenery. Driving through the southern landscapes of Oregon is just breathtaking. All you can see in every direction are mountains and valleys covered in forest; myriad colors, hues, shades of green that are indescribable. I would have loved to stop, take some photos, but being the driver navigating the twisty, hairpin curves over five mountain passes made that impossible.

It was good to see Mom, enjoy her birthday, eat lots of delicious food. We fixed some computer issues for her, did a few other little things to make her life a bit easier, and Mom got to hang with the boys, who wiggle and squirm and wag their tails for their Granny.

It was a fun weekend, but before we knew it, it was already time to pack my sister's car yesterday morning for her drive north. It really is true that time flies when you're having fun...

But now, playtime over, I have to spend the next few days hacking my way through the jungle vegetation in the backyard that took advantage when I wasn't looking.  And of course, I can't forget the Decks of Doom nightmare looming on my horizon either; that project has to get done before the scorching heat of Summer begins...

Nuts. I'd rather be playing...

Friday, May 16, 2014

She's The Short One

My sister will be here in just a few hours, then, after some last-minute birthday shopping later in the afternoon, it's pop the cork time.  We'll enjoy some seriously convoluted girly talk, laugh and eat and drink wine until the bottle runs dry. We don't see each other very often so there's lots of ground to cover...a very thirsty business.

Tomorrow we'll be up early and on the highway headed south to Mom's, with treats, gifts and two excited wee dogs eager for a road trip.  Not sure when we'll be back.  A lost weekend could be in my future.  And yeah, I'm smiling about the possibilities.

With that in mind, dear readers, have a great weekend and maybe get a bit lost yourselves just to see where you end up...

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Magpie Tales 219...Falling Leaves

image by Martin Stranka

She hovers
neither here nor there

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The prompt for Magpie Tales this week really drew me, yet I had a hard time finding the words t0 fit with what my mind was seeing in this picture.  Still not sure, but whatever...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

You'd Think I Could Resist...

...but you would be so, so wrong.

In the deep dark of Winter, I wear over-sized, cozy flannel shirts that I've bought either in the Men's department at a regular store or a thrift shop.  My objective is to stay warm; they are roomy and easily fit over my thermals and long-sleeved tees.  I used to wear expensive Italian suits and 4" heels and hang with the big boys.  Now that I don't do that anymore, I find my style has become more...comfortably casual.

That's not to say I can't muster the flash; I have fancy dresses for most events, and the shoes to match.  It's just...I'm living on a mountain in a very small town with not many--okay, zero--occasions to play dress up.

But then. When the weather changes and the heat rises and it's time to shift the flannels to the back of the closet...ah, my heart skips a beat.  The beauty and color and feel of my Hawaiian shirts beckon as I lovingly hang them in place of the warm flannels.  Now I want cool and silky, air flow and ease.

I have an inordinate variety of these shirts.  Some go back years, to my tropical adventures, those days of sailing the South Pacific, where I learned loose and free is the only way to survive in certain climates. Then, as time passed, I've added more shirts, some found in unlikely places (a small shop in the Scottish Highlands on a freezing cold afternoon in July); discovered another by chance (Schiphol airport in Amsterdam), and was completely surprised (at a small open air market in Positano, Italy).

My collection is wonderful...not just because these are great shirts, perfect for the scorching heat of any Summer's day, but more because they are wearable memories.  I love each and every one of them.

You would think enough is enough, wouldn't you?  HA. You know nothing then of the allure, the romance of these shirts.

I had to pop into the store this morning because I forgot something whilst shopping yesterday.  I took a shortcut through the Men's department which is normally way off the beaten track in my usual circuit of this store.

And what do I stumble upon, in this unexpected detour?

Hawaiian shirts.  On sale.

Of course, they are way more beautiful in person, with the vibrant colors, the silky feel of the fabrics. Joy hums through me as I add two more to the mix.

Sigh.  I'm telling you, peeps, resistance is futile...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bad Day All Around...

My sister is coming this weekend; on Saturday we're driving south to visit the mothership for her birthday.  I have many chores to accomplish leading up to Friday afternoon when she arrives and the cork comes out of a nice chilled bottle of vino.

The heat is escalating, yesterday, 82*, today 88*...tomorrow 94*.  I got up very early this morning to get to the park--Ozzy is having trouble breathing in the heat because of his heart issues--then I had to bring them back up the mountain, drop them off, and go back down to town for shopping and errands.  Summer mode begins.

At last, everything done, it's a bit after 1:00 when I get home again.

Digression: Because I have way too much outside work to do and I'm only one person, I borrowed my neighbor's gardener. His name is Jack, he's a very nice guy and is supposed to show up to do some serious weed-eating just about the time I fly up the driveway.

I'm on the last round of unloading my groceries, having already made several sweat-inducing jogs up and down two flights of stairs, when I hear this ear-piercing shriek overhead from a hawk. I was just closing the back hatch of the Blazer and almost dropped my bags, it was so loud and startling.

Digression Two: If you live around hawks long enough, you come to recognize what their sounds mean.  I know when the female is scolding her mate; when the male is hunting and has spotted dinner; when the pair are...ah...making babies.

This was a screech of pure fury.  And it was really scary.

I step out of the garage to look up, to see what's going on...just as the bloody, gnarled body of a quail splats at my feet.

Oh man.  If the poor thing hadn't been killed by the hawk, the splat would have done it.

I stare, blood runs, the hawk circles, screams again.  I don't know what made him drop his prey--I could actually see the claw marks in the quail's breast--but drop it he did.  And he was one pissed off guy.  I wasn't too happy either.

I decided to take the rest of the groceries upstairs, maybe give the hawk a chance to reclaim his bounty, save me from having to deal.  I put away all the groceries, gave the boys their lunch, dawdled.

Just as I'm going back downstairs, Jack showed up.  I met him in the driveway and we both stare at the corpse...and the tiny rivulet of blood drying on the concrete. Thankfully Jack offered to get rid of the bird for me.  I told him I thought the hawk would've come back for it, but Jack said that's why he was so angry, it wasn't fresh kill once he'd dropped it.

Well crap.  It looked pretty fresh to me.

So.  Bad day all around.  For the hawk losing dinner for his new babies, bad day for me having to see the mangled remains, but wow, really bad day for the poor unfortunate quail...

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ramblings and Rushes

This past week has been exhilarating, thanks to a constant barrage of storms.  Rain, wind, hail...then a pure, hot beam of sunshine spears out of the sky and raises long, steamy tendrils like wraiths from the ground until moments later the clouds crash together, the wind howls and the next storm roars in. Hour after hour, day after day.

To say I love this would be an understatement.

But, for all of you east of me--which is pretty much the whole of the country--batten down the hatches because these weather tantrums are headed your way like spoiled children who've had way too much Hallowe'en candy.

And, too bad for me. On Monday the temps are to rise into the 90s and stay that way for several days...if not weeks...months...sigh.  I'm just not ready yet for the endless days of nuclear fusion.


In Wednesday's post I mentioned the weirdness of the Repeating Numbers Phenomenon that I have been experiencing for awhile.  Strangely, once I wrote about it, they've stopped appearing.  I was seeing these repeating numbers almost every day, often more than once.  Now nothing.  Either aliens have cut off their signals, or the Heisenberg effect is in play.

Speaking of Heisenberg.  Many things have been relegated to the nether regions of my brain as either not necessary to keep anymore, or irrelevant data that has no meaning in my adult life.  Still, a few concepts remain front-and-center because they captured my attention, for whatever reason.

Chekhov's Gun.  One of my favorites, a principle learned long ago in a Lit class and never forgotten:

Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off.  
If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there.

Another is Heisenberg's Effect.  Although this is actually a concept more in the world of physics, I studied it in Anthropology, and the same theory applies: In the act of observing something, it's changed by the fact it's being observed. Observation changes reality.

This appears to be true for me.  I observed the weird time repetitions, and now they've changed, or just...disappeared.  I'm okay with that.


I was working with a story on my writing blog, posted one installment and then decided not to continue.  It just seemed like more of the same paranormal stuff that I've been doing for ages. I think It's time I changed the channel and tried something new, different, not something I've done before.

Maybe that's the reason my mind's been an empty well of late.  Because as soon as I made the decision to strike out into uncharted territory, it was like I left a dark room and walked into a party going full swing.  Seriously.  Names, places, ideas, colors and scents, desert winds and humid jungle raced through my head.  I filled several pages with notes; characters told me their names; exotic places built themselves as I frantically tried to keep up with the flow...

It's an amazing feeling to create a new world.  And oh, how I've missed the rush...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Now, Here's A Weird Thing

For the past month or two--perhaps even longer before I began to really pay attention--whenever I glanced at a clock, it would have the same sequence of numbers.  This started with 11:11.  At first, I ignored it as pure coincidence; I'm often in the kitchen around that time because Ozzy has to take a pill an hour before eating lunch.  But then...when I went grocery shopping, the clock in the car would say the hardware store, 11:11...sitting at the hair salon, my tablet said 11:11.

Then, not only did I keep seeing 11:11, but over the past few weeks I've started to get 2:22, 3:33, 4:44. The weirdness factor has grown exponentially.

So, okay, I began to pay attention. And somewhere, deep in the archives of my mental library, I seemed to recall that this time anomaly thing has a name.  This morning when I woke up and my little clock beside the bed said 5:55, I decided it was time (no pun) to investigate.

Repeating Numbers Phenomenon.  That's what it's actually called.

What I discovered today, along the many avenues I explored in my research, was a plethora of opinion, controversy and inexplicable theories.  Are these cosmic signals from the Universe?  Angels trying to communicate?  Sheer, absolute coincidence?  New Age nonsense?

Numerologists claim the numbers are the key: ones mean new beginnings; twos are the transitions; threes are moving forward toward the goal...and on goes the progression of growth through the numbers.  Very similar to the Minor Arcana in Tarot to my mind.

But there was one point that every source agreed on, whether they were scientific, esoteric or philosophical:  This is a global phenomena; it might not happen to all of us, but it happens everywhere to some of us.  I'm not sure how I feel about being one of the chosen.  On one hand, I might be feeling a bit creeped out, though on the other?  Hey, at least I'm not alone in the surreal.

The last site I read this morning had a bit of advice for those of us who experience the repeating numbers; a positive take on things that also ties in with my own Buddhist/pagan way of thinking:

"It's a reminder to stop, slow down and pay attention.  
Find the quiet within and be aware of the message given."

I can do that.  And hey, dear readers, if I hear anything, I'll let you know...

Monday, May 5, 2014

Caveat Emptor

I wasn't going to tell anyone about this--I wanted to keep the embarrassment factor to myself, hang onto a shred of pride--but now I'm so pissed, all that's out the window.

Allow me, dear readers, to tell you a story that begins last Friday, in the early evening as I'm walking the dogs to the mailbox...

My closest neighbor--the Englishman--and his partner were leaving Sunday on a holiday to France for three weeks.  We were discussing what, if anything, he wanted me to do whilst they were away. In the course of the conversation--too long to relate all the deets here--he quietly mentions that perhaps it's time I thought about getting out more, maybe meet some guys, go on a date or two. After I finished scoffing about meeting someone I could relate to in this part of the world, he told me about his experiences with, a dating service we all know from the happy, clever totally false couples advertised on the television.  I listen politely, then wish them a safe trip and move on.

Saturday morning.  Rainy, gloomy day, my book isn't interesting.  (And I am a perfect example of why this quote, "Idle hands are the Devil's playground" is apt, though in my case it should probably be idle head).

I decide to check out  Hey, they offer a free trial.  What can it hurt to look?

Seriously.  There are times I really shouldn't be unsupervised.

There is, of course, no such thing as free trial.  You can sign up, fill out the forms, but to look at anyone, check out the site, wander around, you must pay.  I debate, eat lunch, ponder, try to find a different book to read, but alas.  Eventually, curiosity pulls me back to the site.  I give in, and pay $68.87 for three months' worth of................

Holy crap.  What's this?

I have barely posted my first photo when this barrage of little chat boxes begin to fill my screen. Fourteen guys, swirling like mosquitoes, eager to talk to me.  I was so startled, I didn't quite know what to do at first, but before I responded to any of them, I clicked on each of their profiles...and what do I find?  Not a single guy matched the kind of man I wrote would interest me, plus nearly all of them were 10-15 years younger than me, which I found odd and disturbing.  Two professed undying love for me--based solely on my photo because my profile was only half done at this point.  Another told me he had to meet me in person immediately because he'd fallen instantly in love and I was his soul mate.  One demanded my phone number so he could hear my voice. Another kept referring to me as his Precious--and yeah, Golum came to mind in a very, very creepy way.

Then, out of the chaos came a man who was okay, and perhaps even normal.  Until he started to criticize my profile, began to instruct me in how I should have done it, what I should have written.  And let me just say here that I'm a long way from being a kid needing instructions or being told what to do by a moron perfect stranger, believe me.

This was one of the weirdest, most unsettling experiences I could have imagined.  No, that's not right, because never, not once, did I ever imagine something like this.

And you know what the very worst part was, peeps?

The level of desperation.  It oozed through my laptop, burned my eyes with their frantic words, made me so uneasy...and sad.  The sad, lonely guy version of Eleanor Rigby.  I expected to have some fun, maybe make a friend or two, but nothing prepared me for what I actually got.

So, I logged out and took the boys for a walk, my head reeling.  This was not what I wanted, not what I expected.  What the hell was I thinking?  What kind of shit are they shoveling on the television about these happy-sweet couples, because damn, nobody mentioned this circling sharks, feeding frenzy thing.

Later, after dinner and a calming glass of wine, I went back to, cancelled my subscription and breathed a sigh of relief, glad to have come away (mostly) unscathed.

And now we come to the pissed off part of my story...

This morning I wanted to check that my refund had appeared on my credit card.  It had not.  I gave it more time, it's Monday after all, but just before noon, I checked again and still nothing. So I decide to call and talk to an actual person just to make sure everything gets handled properly.

Twenty minutes on hold, I finally get a human, who unfortunately can't speak English. It took me several "I'm sorry. What now?" moments before I could understand his accent. And no, don't bother asking what country this guy called home; I'm truly clueless what part of the known world he could have originated from.

In any case, indecipherable language aside, the bottom line? doesn't give refunds.  No matter what I said, there was no budging on their "policy."  I won't bore you, dear readers, with my vitriol, my outraged comments, my opinion on their highly questionable policies.

I spent $68.87 for approximately two hours of membership and thirty minutes' worth of male desperation.  What a complete and total ripoff. I could have burned the frigging money in my backyard and gotten more out of it.

Just wait until my neighbor gets back from France...

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Brain Tricks

I woke up this morning and realized that I'd written about the wrong bird in yesterday's post. Was the error lingering in the back of my mind all along, just waiting to pop into existence in reality, or was it a flash of insight upon waking, or perhaps an obscure neuron snapped into focus during the night?

I talked about seeing an egret's nest.

This is an egret, a bird I have photographed and seen numerous times throughout my life. I know what a bloody egret looks like...

What I saw yesterday at the park was an osprey, yet another bird I am very familiar with:

I had the picture of an osprey in my mind as I blogged yesterday, but somehow between the head and the hand...out came egret.  What I find unsettling, however, is that it took until this morning for my inner librarian to share the mistake with me.

Good thing I'm not in a position to make life or death decisions, isn't it?

The brain.  Such a convoluted instrument of torture, deceit and undermining.  Really, I put in enough effort just to get through the daily grind without my head messing with me too.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Paint, Plants and a Predator

I had several errands to run yesterday from hair appointment to hardware stores.  My hair came out very cool--still loving the champagne/dark chocolate effect, though my attempts to find Fuchsias for my three remaining hanging baskets was a bust.  Seriously, how hard can it be to find Fuchsia plants? Apparently very hard in southern Oregon.

I had to go to Lowe's and Home Depot to look at deck stain and/or paint. I'm having a really hard time deciding if I want to stain again, or use a new product that's a combo deal of stain/paint/sealer. Once I go the paint route though, I can't go back.  This is one of those times I wish I had someone to discuss ideas, colors, choices with.  Ah well...

After the deck ponderings, I looked at both garden centers--to no avail--then hit my grocery store and found two little--totally pathetic--Fuchsia plantlets underneath a large table.  I wasn't sure they would even make it home, but they did, poor neglected things.

This morning I decided to take the boys to the county park since in just a few weeks it closes to dogs until September.  The other reason was to go to Kruse's, the farm produce and gardening place in the valley which is along the same highway. They would surely have Fuchsias; they have six enormous greenhouses full of plants after all.

The park was quiet, with only occasional murmurs from the fishermen bobbing in their boats on the river. The boys haven't been to the park in quite awhile so the walk was exciting (for them), and seemed endless (to me), what with all the stops and starts, the peeing and sniffing and dawdling.

Every tree, peeps, every single tree...and this is just the beginning trail of a very large park filled with similiar trails...and trees...sigh.

Along the wooden fence that divides the park from a field and the University of Oregon Master Garden area, these beautiful wild iris have decided to grow...

I will never tire of my total and complete fascination with the inner workings of flowers...

So, now we leave the trail and cross a narrow road to the other side of the park that borders the river.  There has been a decrepit and abandoned bird's nest at the top of this large pole in the three years I've been coming to this park.  I automatically look up, but don't expect to see anything, then as we pass underneath, I notice several bits of moss and broken branches littering the grass.

Excited, I drag the dogs toward the river so I can turn back to see if there might be an osprey up there since I know they nest along the river...

Wow.  If I could have climbed a tree for a better shot, I would have.  The only thing I could do was use my telephoto.  I was amazed that even with the dogs twitching at the end of their leashes, I managed to get these two photos.  I know they're not perfect, but who cares.  A most spectacular bird (and yikes, what a beak), and an aerie made of oak branches, no less.

Then, off to Kruse's, but Fuchsias.  Either someone in town has bought them all for some weird reason, or I live in a very peculiar place.  I know which one I would pick.

So, I gave up my original idea of five hanging baskets of lush and beautiful Fuchsias--damn and blast--and bought some other trailing foliage instead.  But then as I was paying I saw a large, already-put-together Fuchsia basket hanging near the check-out area.  I brought it home and plopped it inside one of my own baskets.  Hey, whatever works.

Okay, gotta go now. There are books to read, movies to watch and plants to..well, plant. Have a great first weekend in May, dear readers!!

(Can you tell how happy I am that April is over?? Woo hoo!!)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May Day

Beltane is one of the four most important festivals in the pagan, Wiccan calendar of events; and also the first day of Summer.  Considering my morning is already hot and humid, that seems about right to me.

Maypole dancing, May Day baskets, bonfires and celebrations.  Amazing how centuries' old traditions are still alive and well in our present time.

When I was a kid, we would make May Day baskets and leave them on doorknobs all around our neighborhood.  In Edinburgh, on Calton Hill, they light a huge bonfire and wild revelry ensues. Dancing and chaos and Druids and ancient ways.  Villages across Britain have Maypoles and festivities.  It's also a holiday off work, which I always thought was the coolest thing.

Blessings and Happy May Day, dear readers...

In lovely harmony the wood has put on its green mantle,
and summer is on its throne, playing its string-music;
the willow, whose harp hung silent when it was withered in winter,
now gives forth its melody.
Hush! Listen! The world is alive!
                                      ~~ Thomas Evans, Welsh poet, 1840-65