Saturday, January 31, 2015

Super Bowl and Bud

It's that time of year again, peeps:  Super Bowl.  I don't watch it, but I do love the extra effort advertisers put in to make really great commercials.  Too bad they don't do it the rest of the year.

As always, it's Budweiser and those beautiful horses that are my best pick. This year is no exception...especially with the added heart crunch of the wee dog.

Monday, January 26, 2015

As Good As A Hug

Well okay, maybe not as good as a solid, all-encompassing, full body press, but still...

I was feeling a bit sorry for myself yesterday afternoon.  Nothing too serious, just one of those days where being on this mountain in the middle of nowhere dents my head.  I'm a woman who appreciates having a man in her life, though lately that's becoming less and less likely to ever happen again--hence the wee bout of pathetic yesterday.

Is there a quota on love, I wonder?  Have I reached it?  Had too much fun when I was younger and used up the relationships allotted to me in this life?  That would sort of suck, wouldn't it?  Although, if I'm truly done--all the heart cards played--at least there were men I've loved, and men who've loved me.  That has to count for something.

So. What's as good as a hug?

A beautiful loaf of freshly baked Amish bread.  Seriously.  There's something so elemental in the heady scent of yeast, being soothed by the push-and-turn of kneading dough.  The house smelled like a bakery--aromatherapy at its finest: calming, relaxing, productive.

I could use a good man, definitely a good hug, but there's also comfort in something as basic as this...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

I've Said It Before...

...and no doubt I'll say it again before all is said and done:  Sometimes it's just exhausting being me.

Thursday morning Max jumped off the bed and sprained his foot.  I actually hoped to make it one bloody damn week without going to the vet. HA!  He's okay, though limping and miserable, but at least it's not a serious injury.  Then, Thursday night Ozzy had me in and out of bed all night long needing to go outside because he had diarrhea.  No rhyme or reason, nothing different in his diet, just one big mystery.

So I could barely get out of bed yesterday morning--lack of sleep tends to do that to me--but dogs still need to go out, food needs to be eaten, walks need to be taken.  Then, because the gods weren't done toying with me, I was carrying an armload of bedding downstairs to the laundry room, caught my foot in the dangling corner of a sheet and pitched forward, heading straight to my doom, when I somehow managed to break my fall by hurling myself into the wall on the landing.  Good save...except for the elbow slam and now the truly spectacular bruise.

Early evening, hour or so before dinner, I poured myself a nice, big glass of wine, finally ready to relax and cruise into the weekend.  I set the glass on the end table, turned to reach for my Kindle just as Ozzy jumped into the chair. The Kindle conked him in the head, he yelped, tried to jump over the table and knocked into the glass, spilling my Lambrusco (a nice dark red) all over my beige carpet.

An hour and at least a dozen rags and towels later, plus two kinds of carpet cleaner, and I'm pretty sure I've gotten the stains out.  Except night has fallen and even with all the lights on in the living room, I can't be absolutely positive that I found every splash and drip.  And now the dogs want dinner and I have another load of laundry to do.

Tired, bruised and cranky, I did the only thing I could: I switched from wine to whiskey.


P.S.  I did not, in fact, get all the wine stains out after all.  I spent another hour this morning while the sun blazed through the windows, showing me just exactly how much I'd missed.  Good thing I washed all those rags and towels last night...they came in handy today.  Sigh

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Mid-Week Smile

I was watching television last night and as usual when the adverts came on I reached for the remote to block the noise--no sense having a mute button if you don't use it. By the time I'd unearthed it from beneath the couch throw and Max's butt, I'd been captivated by one of the ads.

It was for an online university.  Several children--I'd say between 5 and 8 years old--are responding to a question. They're various ethnicities, a mix of boys and girls, in different locales from playground to backyard to bedroom window. They're also seriously answering the question, until the last kid.  I actually laughed out loud.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

Girl:  A lawyer

Boy:  Superhero

Girl:  Nurse

Boy:  Architect

Girl:  Teach gymnastics

Girl:  Work in an office like my mom

Boy:  I wanna be a marshmallow


Still makes me smile...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Holy Gas Prices, Batman!

Tons of errands today which took me from one end of town to the other.  My last stop before Petco for dog food was the gas station.  I turned off the main road into the station and my jaw dropped, then I quickly changed direction.  The lines were beyond crazy, all bays at least ten deep, the cars winding out into the entrance to the mall, even blocking the Starbucks drive-thru.

Okay, it was getting toward lunch time, but still this was bizarre.  Where I get gas is affiliated with the largest grocery store in the area.  You get reward points for shopping with them; these points give you extra coupons, discounts on merchandise, and money off when you buy gas.  But that still didn't account for the volume of cars.

To say I was stunned would be an understatement.  What's going on?  Did I miss the memo about the zombie apocalypse?  Is there a reason everyone is suddenly filling up?  Am I having an Austin Powers moment and been transported to the 1970s?

I went to get dog food instead, then came back around the mall in the hope that whatever the rush was, it was over by now.  It wasn't.  In fact, it was worse, though I managed to get in a shorter line--only five deep--and settled in to wait it out.  I had a short debate with myself about leaving--I was below a quarter tank, but I could get home and back down the mountain again tomorrow with no trouble.

Right about then the attendant came to my window.  I gave him my points card, credit card and told him to fill it up.  (Oregon law says you can't pump your own gas. An inexplicable law that is totally annoying most of the time...unless it's howling rain or 105 degrees).

So the car gets filled and the guy hands me the receipt.  I stare in disbelief.  He looks at me, asks if something is wrong.  I stammer, no, no, everything's fine and leave in a daze.

I drive a Chevy Blazer.  It's a great, reliable SUV, but it does love chowing down on gas. I'm used to spending anywhere from $45 to $60+ when I fill up.

Check this:

Not only were the prices unbelievably low--less than $2 for mid-grade--but I got an additional 40 cents off with my points.  I actually filled the car under $25.  I can't remember when gas prices have been so low.  In fact, I feel a sudden urge to get back in the Blazer and drive to the coast, or San Francisco, or up north to visit my sister, because hey, I can get two tanks for the usual price of one! I could drive across the country, go to Canada, call the BFF and tell her to pack her bags...

Yikes!  Wild abandon is a dangerous thing...

Monday, January 19, 2015

Noir and DIY

I didn't get to the "put up a new blind" part of my weekend--for no reason other than I couldn't be bothered.  Saturday was wild and stormy, too wretched and miserable for walkies...assuming I even could have dragged the boys out in the deluge, so I read, and watched a few film noir movies on TCM, like...

Thunder Road, with Robert Mitchum.  It was totally great.  Loved his voice, the cleft chin, those droopy eyes.  The guy wasn't handsome at all...and yet...oooh baby.

Maltese Falcon.  I've always wanted one of those statues.  The BFF--originally from LA--used to work in the movie industry. She told me about going into this massive warehouse, filled with props and costumes and paraphernalia, stuff that went back to the silent films.  She mentioned a shelf.  With dozens of Maltese falcons. I've had dreams about that shelf...and a little B&E.

Sunday was too nice for January.  Bright sunshine, temps edging into high 60s.  The boys and I had a long walk at the VA, then I dinked with the two photos I might enter in the art exhibit. I started out with a possible three, but I've already eliminated one and I'm not too sure about the remaining two.

These two...

Click on the photo and look at that scary, scary body.  See those strange dimples?  It's like the spider has been tucked and rolled...eeewwww, really creepy, but bizarrely cool...

Creeping Beauty

I'm still debating with myself on this one.  I really like it.  But again, it's sort of creepy, mainly due to the fog and the empty swing.  It could be poignant, or utterly heartbreaking, or frightening.  For me, when I took the photo, the scene made me think of lost childhoods and days gone by and dreams of being a kid--a dream shrouded in...

Mists of Time

Frankly, I don't know if either photo is worth submitting.  I'm still pondering.

So.  Today I decided to do the blind. I gather my tools, the drill, the ladder. According to the frigging worthless does anyone speak English? instructions, it was a fifteen minute install.

Come on.  When has it ever taken just fifteen minutes to do a DIY project? Everyone knows the equation:  any job X 4.  Hours, days, weeks, months.  Just multiply the initial time frame by four, and you'll be close.

In my case, it was an (alleged) fifteen minute project that took three hours, although part of that time was lunch, two loads of laundry and a couple backyard trips for the boys. But finally, and a crapload of aggro later...


And can I just say, I don't like this door.  I truly don't like that a front door is half glass.  Makes no sense to me.

I was very glad to get rid of the cheap, skinny blind and switch over to the wider, plantation style like the rest of the living room.  It's also a sun and cold blocker.

Almost perfect.  And considering the time it took to get there...I'm good with almost.

After:  Ta Da...the new blind...

It's dark out now, a bit after 7:00, the blinds are closed and they look great.  So even though DIY is a total pain in the butt while it's happening...if you get the right result in the end?  Totally worth it.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Musings...

It's 74 degrees right now.  In mid-January.  Have I fallen into a black hole?  Has the earth shifted on its axis and I'm now living in the southern hemisphere?  How can it possibly be okay that in the dead of Winter, it feels like an early Summer's day? Worse, what does this mean for the heat and humidity and the Gates of Hell effect when it really is Summer?

I'm contemplating entering the ArtWorks Northwest Photography show again this year, though I don't have a lot of truly good photos this time around so I'm still waffling on the decision. Yesterday I went through my photo program, looking over the last two years (criteria for the show) and only found three possible choices that I thought were semi-worthy.  However, in the process of sifting through folder after folder, I realized something: I have shots of thick ice, heavy snow, dangerous icicle spears, trees bent with snowfall...all from typical January weather these past two years.

So why is it 74 degrees this year?  Why am I thinking I shouldn't have put my Hawaiian shirts away? Will the drought never end in this part of the world?

We're going to hell in a hand basket, peeps, no lie.


I'm in the middle of trying to find a new kitchen floor.  Mine is old and crappy...and definitely needs to be replaced.  I had a guy come last Friday to give me an estimate on the job that I thought was reasonable, though I will have to factor in the cost of the floor tile to the overall total expense.  So now, my job is to find the right stuff and still keep the cost down.  I went to Lowe's on Wednesday and wandered aimlessly, disappointed in their selection.  I started to change my mind about the whole project and called the tile guy to tell him so.  He convinced me to go to Home Depot as they apparently have a wider choice of colors and materials.  We'll see.


Also Wednesday, while at Lowe's, I bought a new plantation blind for the front door.  Half of the door is glass, which at night really bothers me.  Living on a mountain with no street lights makes for a very dark experience and I don't like the exposure, so a few years back I hung a basic (okay, cheap) Venetian blind over the "window" portion of the door. It worked just fine until last week when the pull cord shredded. You get what you pay for. But then, as luck would have it, I found a much better blind that actually matches all the others in the great room and it was on sale.  Installation to commence this weekend.  I think.


I'm suffering from a book hangover at the moment.  I was on a roll for a few weeks, but now, no matter what book I pick up to read, nothing is grabbing me.  When I have to make myself continue reading, I know the story isn't going to work.  Course, it doesn't help that I spent last weekend reading some great stuff.  I find it difficult sometimes to move into a new world when the old one still has its hooks in my mind.


Okay, that's enough blather.  I'm going now as it's about time for a cuppa before I take the boys for an afternoon walk.  Have a great weekend everyone...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Lost In A Fog

I spent most of the weekend and yesterday in Louisiana...metaphorically.  I read the first book in a trilogy earlier in the week, which was good enough that I downloaded the second book, and although I had plans on Monday, I got lost in the third book, ignored my To Do list and finished the series. The writing was so well done, whenever I looked up from the story, I blinked in confusion that I was enveloped in a damp, cold fog instead of breathing in the humid heat of a Louisiana bayou.

And it wasn't just me that got lost yesterday.  I couldn't get the dogs to motivate at all.  I was worried about Ozzy who wouldn't even get out of his bed in the morning. Eventually I picked him up and made him come into the living room, where he promptly jumped on the couch, burrowed into the throw and went right back to sleep.  He didn't eat breakfast, nibbled on lunch, then flopped down and napped the day away.  Max, always up for food, ate his meals, but then immediately jumped onto my reading chair and conked out. He slept most of the day, too.  It was weird.  Quiet, wonderful...but weird.

So today--again visibility zero--I was up early, determined to get everyone back into the world, regardless of a fog that appears narcoleptic.  Unnecessary as it turned out. Ozzy ate his breakfast like he was starved, and both dogs leaped out of the car for walkies when we got to the park like puppies.  They're back to normal now as if yesterday never happened.  Go figure.

Then I went grocery shopping.  And had three separate conversations--two with fellow shoppers, one with the cashier--and all three had different variations on the same theme: nobody had an ounce of motivation yesterday. I told the girl at the register that Monday had definitely been a "call in sick" day. She smiled and said that's exactly what she did.

I don't know if it was an insidious malaise, or the debilitating fog, or just a Monday, but I can't really say I minded.  Any day I can shut out the world and escape into a book is a good day to me.  Odd though, it wasn't just me or the folks I spoke to, the dogs felt it too. <<insert Twilight Zone music>>

One very happy surprise...when I came out of the store, the sun was shining, there were deep blue skies overhead and the fog was gone!!  It was so unexpected, I actually stood in the parking lot and stared as a weight seemed to lift off my shoulders.

Strange, how heavy fog can be...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I Am An Island...

...surrounded by a sea of dense, chilly fog.  It's been almost zero visibility for awhile now.  I don't really mind the cold--it's Winter after all--but not being able to see ten feet in any direction starts to mess with your head.  Is anyone out there?  I'm not a fan of the sun, but I still like to look at the sky, see clouds and mountains in a world that isn't damp and colorless.

Although. The up-side to the blank abyss is that I have the best motivation to settle down in my cozy chair and read all afternoon...maybe into the night if my book is as good as I hope.  Before that, however, I have to water all the plants, do laundry, unload the dishwasher and give the boys their lunch, then I'm off to read a story where bad things prowl in the swamps of a Louisiana bayou.

And for me, peeps, that makes this about the most perfect kind of Saturday...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wed Nes Day

Why do we say Whensday when it's spelled Wednesday...??  Who decided a strange amalgam of letters--with a silent and superfluous D--was the way to say this word..?? Language, what a puzzle.

And speaking of...

Remember, dear readers, a few months back when I was getting a coffee at the local drive-thru and the barista babe asked me about my bracelet?  Tibbet vs Tibet...


This morning, cold and foggy, I drove straight to the coffee kiosk after walking the boys so I could warm up with a hot yummy mocha.  The tibbet barista was on duty, she of the bright, sweet smile and happy-go-lucky personality.  We're chatting as she makes my brew, then she asks me what I'm doing for the rest of my day.  I run through my list of chores, ending with my plan to be sitting all cozy and comfortable in my reading chair with a good book by late afternoon.

"What are you reading?" she asks.

"New Orleans mystery, with Cajun bad boy romance on the side."

She leans over the counter and whispers, "Is it risky?"

Oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  This girl is going to kill me.  I have about twelve thoughts racing through my head in a nano-second as I bite back the urge to laugh out loud. Again. Just like last time.

I know she means risque, not risky, though I can see--spelling being what it is--how she might interpret the "que" as "key"...sort of.  Do I correct her?  Is it my job?  Does it matter in the whole scheme of things if she says the word wrong?

Digression:  When I was in grade school--around 4th grade or so--my BFF at the time, myself and several other girls were in the library reading this article in the newspaper for a class assignment.  I pronounced Tucson as Tuckson, having never seen the word before in my life.  My BFF laughed hysterically, embarrassing me to infinity and beyond in front of everyone sitting at our table.  And though I have never forgotten how to say Tucson, I also never really forgave her for the humiliation.  

So, present day, all these thoughts cascading in my mind.  And I tell her it's totally risky, she hands me my mocha, we both smile cheerfully at each other and I drive away.

What can I's Wed Nes Day after all...

Monday, January 5, 2015

Un-Natural Selection

I live on a mountain ridge.  The road up to my house is a winding, one lane, cliff-hugging bit of tarmac, with three hairpin curves before the top.  Some folks who share this wilderness like to think they're Formula One drivers, much to the peril of other humans and wildlife.

About three weeks ago, in my daily travels up and down the mountain, I noticed a young deer, still with a smattering of fawn markings, that always seemed to be alone. Often this little creature would be standing in the road as I came around one of the blind turns, terrified to see my car, indecisive about which way to run before bounding down the slope into the underbrush.  Several times I waited for a glimpse of the mother, but no, and eventually it became obvious the deerling was an orphan.

I worried about her.  Without guidance how would she know what to eat?  Where to sleep out of danger?  Understand the road was a kill zone?  But, after nearly a month, she was managing on her own and I began to feel hopeful that she'd make it.

This morning, after walking the boys and going to the vet for an issue Ozzy's having with his heart and breathing, I was feeling particularly sad and teary because my wee boy is going down that slippery slope and I'm not ready.  At all.  Never will be.  Ever.

So, I'm cruising up the ridge, alert for the usual deer herd, and the little orphan, though my mind is replaying what the vet and I have talked about earlier as Ozzy's options are dwindling.  I come around the last hairpin turn and instantly see it.

The little deer is crumbled beside the road, lying dead in the ditch.  I stopped the car and just stared in disbelief.  She wasn't there when I went down the mountain an hour or so before, so between one hour and the next, someone--racing up or down the winding road--killed her.

I understand that Nature is cruel. Intellectually I completely grasp the concept of natural selection, survival of the fittest, Nat Geo and life vs death.  But Man is not natural.  And it broke my heart. This poor little orphan had such a bad start, with no mother, no herd, but still she kept herself alive against the odds.  And then some careless jerk wipes her out in an instant.

I made it home, gave the boys their lunch, and was just making myself a cup of tea when the whole morning hit me. And yeah, I cried like a baby, not just for the senseless death of the little deer, but Ozzy's declining health was in the mix, too.

I don't find a real sobfest in the least bit cathartic. I know there are women who feel much better after a good wail. I am not one of them.  I usually end up with a stuffy nose, a headache, swollen eyes and an urge to sleep for a year.  All I could do today was blow my nose, wash my face and make a stronger cup of tea.

Because really, there wasn't anything else I could do...

Saturday, January 3, 2015

View From A Saturday

After some bitterly cold and frosty days, the fog is back in my part of the world. Chilly, damp, with hints of ice in the tiny droplets that stick to dog fur and wet boots, eyelashes and mittens.

Five minutes ago, off the back deck...

It's an eerie feeling some days, to float above the void, though truly, I love the solitude, the quiet in the fog as it absorbs light and noise and birdsong and sight.

A perfect day to read, to get lost in another world with no distractions from this one; a good day to meditate, eyes focused on nothing in the silence; a day to fill the house with the scent of Italy as sauce simmers in the crock pot.

First weekend in the new year...and it's just fine by me.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

First Day

How do I know it's New Year's Day?  Easy..

*  The 126th Rose Bowl Parade from beautiful and sunny Pasadena has just started. This is the most obvious event that means it's the first day of a new year to me...

*  I have the red beans and rice ready to be cooked later in the day.  My mouth is already watering. There's just something wonderful in following a tradition that welcomes health and prosperity and hope into a new year with food...

*  I'm staying in my pajamas all day.  It's about 19 degrees this morning, everything is coated in a crystalline layer of frost and I'm keeping warm and toasty in the house. In my pjs.  All day long...

My  wish for the new year is for positive change in a world that sorely needs it.

Blessings ~ Namaste ~ Happy New Year