Sunday, March 26, 2006

Saturday Snapshots

  • On the drive down, the Bradford pears that have been planted at every landscape junction in the mall parking lots were in peak bloom with no bees in sight.
  • As we exited the car, the concert at the new house site was so rich and complex that it took our breath away. Warblers were taking up the lyrical medley, cardinals then hit the high notes, and blue jays added the percussive rhythm.
  • Organic smells from the freshly excavated earth in the front yard mixed oddly with the greenness of the spring air.
  • Water across the bridge from the boat reflected only a gray glassy surface broken suddenly by a rarely seen speeding river otter who emerged for a few seconds to exhale and inhale, and then twisting snake-like, darted beneath the surface of the water and into a large pipe under the road.
  • The open window upstairs framed a perfect view of the finger of water that joined the river to the west.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Another Milestone? What Number is That Now?

Another milestone? Pretty soon my backyard will be full of them.

A week from this coming Monday is my husband's last day at work. He is retiring after 38 some years doing the science that he so loves. He has been talking about retirement for years and each year he got closer to naming a date and finally this past winter he put a number on the deadline. Work at his office has become more and more about process and bureaucracy and less and less about science and making things happen for people, so he knows it is the right time.

He has actually helped create a couple of millionaires in his field of interest this past few years. (He was the one that helped guide their research and provided the handholding for their partnerships and worked them through the maze of government regulations and processes. I remember the hours on the phone, that few government bureaucrats would have devoted.) And a few decades ago we would have been envious of their millionaire status, but interestingly today, as we look back on our lives, we are just happy for them and he looks on it as one of his accomplishments. This is another milestone for us in maturity.

My husband has had a few shock moments still where he is amazed that he is actually retiring. Like most men and a few women, his image and self-worth is all tied up in his career and the job description. So, this transition will be somewhat painful. He is trying to line up a few consulting jobs and he will be back to the same office working half-time as a contractor this summer. He is smart in doing this in stages, although he says he is continuing with a contract just to keep me company until I retire in a year or two.

He also got a scare last week with his prostate test and it looks like he may have prostate cancer. This is naturally a scare at a time when he was hoping to adjust to a new way of living. We have a few acquaintances that also are fighting this battle. If a man lives long enough, this gland seems to want to fail. My Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer about ten years ago and they decided to do nothing about it. He is still alive and doing very well for someone 92! We have a close friend that was diagnosed with this about 6 years ago and kept telling us he was preparing to die. He went through some painful surgery and chemotherapy, but he is still here and looks great, if still a bit of a hypochondriac.

I am worried, naturally, but more about the types of treatment and what they may do to my husband. I am not worried about him dying. Maybe I am very naive. We will know more in the coming weeks after he visits the specialist.

It is sort of strange, because as we got closer to finishing and enjoying this new house I was feeling guilty. Guilty that we are so blessed and wondering if somehow we were going to get our share of pain soon.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The special lunch

We met at noon downtown near the hotels and restaurants. I was the first to get there. The weather was cold but the wind was gentle. Sidewalks were busy with all the city people trying to squeeze in a lunch. Several well dressed gay guys were hanging out near the bike rack. Then I saw my son all dressed in black with a blue undershirt. He looked very handsome, but then I am related to him so may be prejudiced somewhat. He looked a little tired but he kissed me and gave me a big hug. We chatted for a while about his work which was going reasonably well. His management is manipulative and insecure and at least he sees through that. He likes his work and his band seems to be getting some play dates at least. He is carrying too much debt with his condo which he insisted on purchasing in the hot part of the city, and that concerns me. We don’t have the money to help him out.

My daughter had called earlier to tell me that Xman was sick and she wasn’t going into work and therefore not joining us for lunch. Then she called back and decided he wasn’t all that sick and so she brought him. She was her high energy confident self and Xman was a little under the weather and spent most of the lunch chewing on cheerios and watching us.

We ate in a little hole-in-the-wall bar down under the street because all the main restaurants had long lines of people waiting as they had just escaped from conference meetings. The lunch was quick but not rushed and the food was OK. I just sat and watched all of my favorite people interacting. My son and daughter are now adults talking about adult things; they were not teasing or taunting as they had done just a few years earlier. Time changes everything somewhat.

Busy, Busy, Busy

I have been super busy this week and don't even have time to think of something to post. I have been in meetings of one kind or another all week long and will look so forward to heading home this afternoon.

Actually I am also looking forward to noon today. I have a meeting downtown near where my daughter works, and she and I have planned meeting for lunch. To make the lunch even more appetizing I finally got my son to call me back two nights ago(by using his best friend as a go between!) and he is going to join us also!

This is such a precious little lunch as I am old enough to know the real value of time with those you love!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Stop the World I Want to Get Off

I am on a rant today. What set me off was a traffic light, a new traffic light that was installed to allow pedestrians to cross safely on a very busy road outside my office (cubicle if you really want the picture-perfect version.) This section of the road is very busy with buses, cars, and pedestrians leaving several high rise office buildings to cross to the small shopping center that has restaurants, a nail place, a hair place, a coffee shop, a cleaners, a drug store, a bank and a supermarket, just the kind of place that busy people might want to get to during their mid-day escapes from the office. Using the crosswalk was a dangerous game and several people had actually been hit by cars.

There never was a light until last year when they put up a caution signal light and a sign that said “Pedestrian Crossing.” On occasion a motorcycle cop would hide behind the shopping center sign to catch cars that didn’t slow and let pedestrians cross.

This didn’t work. There were still close calls, several even I experienced. The trouble was partially that pedestrians would not check the light down the way for the major intersection and they would cross whenever they felt like it, forcing a car to stop for them and then miss the green light at the big intersection. Part of it was the drivers on the opposite side of the road that were racing up the hill and just wanted to get by while you waited in the MIDDLE of the street.

Well, early this week we got a real light, a push button to cross, a ticking timing bell, and a voice that says you can now cross. Well, people are still crossing without the light, drivers are still trying to beat the light change, and I almost was hit by a stupid middle-aged white guy at lunch!

I have way too many things to worry about more than crossing the street! There is mad cow disease to my south forcing me to give up hamburgers indefinitely, as well as PCBs and mercury making me question both my salmon consumption AND my Omega 3 capsules,

I have to worry about my identity being stolen on the Internet to say nothing of my concern hoping that my employer doesn’t find my blog. I am worried that I will not get any Social Security when I retire. I am worried that the stock market will collapse under this crazy administration spending which has no regard for the country and I will have to work until Hell freezes over.

Even though my new retirement house sits about 20 feet above the water level, I have been told by scientists that the water is rising and the icecaps are melting. I also have to worry about Lyme’s disease (which I already contracted once) as we attempt to clear out all of the deadwood in the area near the new house in order to avoid any fire hazards from the increased lightning due to global climate change.

I am worried about my daughter’s storm door to the front of her house which leads to a VERY busy and dangerous street and which is only seconds away if Xman hits the storm door just right while running.

I am worried that my son will never have a social life since he works nights and he will never meet the right girl, I will never be allowed to enjoy his children, and he may end up depressed and a recluse. (HE NEVER ANSWERS MY CALLS OR EMAIL.)

I am worried…OK, I can go on and on and on. Now I know why I have trouble sleeping nights. It is time for my Yoga tape. Breath in…breath out…

Sorry, but remember this blog is my therapist sometimes.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Finishing the meme—job #2 and #3

I was tasked to list four of my jobs in a meme a while ago. I listed #1 here. Being the anal-retentive that I am, I am doing them
in chronological order; and, since I have to go into the WAAAY back machine for that, the process is a little painful.

#2: Job number two for me was the second oldest 'profession' in the world, babysitting. This is where a stressed and deluded parent hires a young, innocent, naïve, and poor girl, and pays her slave wages to watch human an
imals that behave like wildcats (I like the graphic on this site as it conveys the true nature of the beast)--- or like Tigger on speed.

There is something about that sweet, blue-eyed child that waves to you from across the neighborhood street that changes him/her totally into another personality when they know that Mommy and Daddy are out playing for the evening. They have entered the next dimension. They seem to sense that you do not know where anything is, do not know what all of the rules are and have no qualms about loosing your dignity at any time during the evening.

The greater danger in this job is that you may gain some self-confidence (actually I became addicted to having a little cash on hand) and you take on greater and larger responsibilities. One of my ‘clients’ was a family that had six children. They were age 2 up to age 9. Remember I lived in a farming community where large families were an asset. Those evenings with 6 kids were such a blur in my mind. I remember it vaguely like a terrifying roller coaster ride. I was petrified the entire time and so glad when the evening was over and I didn’t have to call an ambulance---not for them---for me. Needless to say, I was the only babysitter the parents could get!

#3: My third job was a step up. I think I increased my wages to about $1.50 an hour and babysitting only paid $.50 and this third job also paid my Social Security, which as we know today is a real benefit.(!) This job required the following skill set: abilty to lift heavy weights, balance things, be speedy, have an excellent memory, ability to hear in a noisy environment, and no aversion to putting fingers in half eaten food, AND the ability to avoid dirty old men---particularly the boss. You guessed it, waitressing in a small-town diner.

I hated that job because the boss always wanted to get me into the kitchen where he could tell me a dirty joke. That was when I realized that I don’t find dirty jokes funny. If my parents knew what he was like they wouldn’t have allowed me to work there that summer. But I needed the money to save for college and they were glad I had some small income. Fortunately he kept his hands to himself. I was such a schmuck in those days.

Well, next blog will be job #4 and the last of the this meme.

(Addendum: When I was 11 my mother gave me another sister and when I was twelve I got another brother...therefore, since I clearly had inside experience, I was pretty much in demand during my teen years.)

Monday, March 13, 2006

Can You Still Catch a Sunbeam?

It Takes Two to Tangle, Or Does It?

I spent Saturday evening babysitting that grandson of mine. Xman was in his usual crazy-man endless-energy form. I arrived early and kept him entertained while the young couple got ready for their evening out. Xman and I played a little ball, played a few musical instruments, stacked some foam blocks, dropped some plastic blocks down the giraffe's neck and raced a truck, but spent most of the time exploring areas of the house that he is not allowed to explore! He does know what ‘no’ means, but it requires physical re-direction to get him off of the track. He also is now the age where he is not afraid to protest/wail when re-directed.

I discovered when it was my job to feed him that, unlike many of us, dinner is not necessarily the favorite part of his day. He is intrigued by the way the belt connects and disconnects on his high chair, and he likes to chase the cheerios across the tray, but he is only mildly interested in the colorful puree in the plastic spoon. I have learned that if you keep up a quick and steady pattern of moving the spoon into the mouth as soon as it opens, you can cram about six to ten spoonfuls down before he is finished. I have to watch carefully on the timing of this, as he begins the head swaying (i.e. Stevie Wonder) and arm flailing which leads, of course, to blobs of food on the walls, the floor, him and me.

After the meal he gets to play a little longer while I clean up his mess and then attempt to eat a quick sandwich for dinner. (This sandwich eating is interrupted numerous times.)

Then it is bath time--his. Anyone who has bathed an 11-month-old will shudder involuntarily when they think of their experience. Trying to get him undressed, away from the floor heater, the bottle of baby soap on the edge of the tub, the toilet and my watch which rests on the edge of the counter all while I sit on my knees in this tiny bathroom is the first challenge. Then I realized that I should have started the tub water in the beginning, so I had to keep him entertained with “Ducky” while I tried to fill the tub. I filled it just a hair too warm (it felt COLD to me) because he wouldn’t sit until I had added more cold water and it was then tepid like a tea cup that had been left out for a (long) while.

Finally, he sits and plays with toys while I try to soap and rinse him. That is when he discovers the pink bar of soap on the tray above his head and stands precariously on tip toes while reaching for it. He knocks it into the tub and then sits back down to retrieve it. It slides under his leg, and I sneakily remove it from behind him and put it back up into the soap dish. I am so pleased that I have pulled one over on him and then I discover why it was so easy. While looking for the soap he has discovered that little bobbing appendage between his legs. He tries to grab it and playing with it occupies his time for another five minutes.

Finally it is time to drain the tub and dry him off. I grab the warm wet mass and wrap him in a towel without getting me too wet. I actually am able to hold him and stand up from a kneeling position at the same time, Yay!

Then we head into the bedroom where an attempt is made to dry him completely. This is like trying to wipe a doll while it is in the spin cycle of your dryer. I then apply lotion and diaper cream. If you have not greased a squirming baby and then tried to diaper and dress him, you have not faced one of life’s most interesting challenges. Each appendage is flailing and swinging like the legs of beetle on its back. And each of those appendages is slicker than butter on a pre-basted turkey—except this analogy has gaps because the turkey isn’t moving, at least MY turkeys don't move.

In what seems an endless series of almosts as I grab and lose one arm and then one leg, he is finally in the diaper and in the pajamas and the hair is combed (sort of)

We read a story together about colors, but he is more interested in turning the pages—back and forth and back and forth. After ten minutes, I admit defeat realizing we are never getting to the end of this book much less read it in any chronological order. I put it aside and grab the bottle.

He attacks his bedtime bottle like a drunken sailor and when finished he immediately goes to sleep with the finality of a light switch being turned off--- no guilt, no regrets, just down until the next day's adventure.

Then, I headed for that glass of wine.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

And We're Off!

The Last of the Three

The first gift for my birthday last December that came from my daughter was part of a three month flower show and was a lovely orchid. This was followed by an amaryllis. My last gift is the fragrant and fragile looking Lily-of-the-Valley. I love all three plants, but being the garderner that I am, when I looked at the catalog and saw what she paid...she paid way too much. As some of you may know, amaryllis are easy to propagate and grow. The LTV is a little plant that takes off if planted in a moist and shady wooded area. The orchid was the only exotic one and as Hoss said, I will probably kill it. In spite of the cost, they have been a bright addition to my kitchen table.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Love is in the Air

I left the apartment for work before the sun was up today. The air was cold but not bitter. I heard the pure and loud song of a bird that I could not identify against the black silhouette of the tree across the parking lot. I think it was a sparrow…the poor English interloper sparrow of the Mid-Atlantic. He was singing his heart out, even though the sun had not yet sprayed its yellow warmth across the asphalt. His song was full of bird passion. He was clearly looking for that someone special, calling in that cavalier way that identifies the single male. Those clear notes against the increasing murmur of the morning city noises told me that spring was on its way! Hurray!

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Since I have nothing to say before I leave for a very few errands today, I am going to load a few photos that have kept my attention this month. I had a difficult time loading under blogger, so went back to my old friend, HELLO under Picassa and that seemed to work. The photo below is the first real sign of spring that I saw while sitting in the car and waiting for my husband to finish something on the boat in the boatyard yesterday.

These flowers are very tiny and can easily be crushed under one's feet as one races from the cold wind to any shelter for warmth. They are the first homage to warmer days.

This is the scar left behind from the snow-laden branch that fell after that heavy wet snowfall a few weeks ago. It is impossible to get through life without scars and this is the farewell to winter.

This is a photo from the recent Las Vegas trip where I took a brief hike with friends in the desert on the last day. The person in the foreground is 85-years-old and such an inspiration to someone just a few months away from 60!

At the boatyard, this little skiff hidden in the vines and weeds seemed to be calling to me. "Spring is almost here, let me out, let me out!"

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Slouching towards Bethlehem

While it has been the only thing on my mind for months, I was not going to write about this in my blog; but maybe I can move on with my life if I put it down in black and white and try to figure out WTF is going on and how should I handle it! I know that no one out there is interested because we all have our problems but….sigh.

I did blog briefly about this a while back. I had lost my program budget last year and yet still had to play nice with the people who had a budget in the partnership part of the program. Well, the good news is that I got my budget back, but the warning “Be careful what you wish for” has new meaning for me.

I submitted an annual operating plan AOP (bureaucratic speak for ‘What are you going to do if we give you some money and how will you measure your accomplishments in concrete terms?’) in November. I never got any feedback on that AOP and yet 60 days later I was notified that I got the budget I requested. Now, I don’t think I am crazy when I say that I logically assumed the activities and goals in my AOP were what I was going to work on implementing. Right?

As the past three months have transpired, I have been thwarted at every level in doing this. How? 1) 50% of what I do has been assigned and TAKEN OVER by someone else. She is very smooth about consulting me, but she has been given permission by the money people to run the show and she has reduced my role to baby steps. 2) 20% of what I do (outreach) has been put on hold until we are ‘ready’ to move forward. We are not going to be ready in this area any time soon as anal retentiveness is this groups claim to fame. 3) 20% more of what I do is being continued because it involves international relationships, but I have been told that the leadership has no, zero, zilch, nada interest in pursuing this part of the program any more. 4) 10% of what I do is based my own creative efforts and with the approval of my immediate supervisor. This is what I have been filling my days with, along with participating more fully in professional projects of my colleagues.

I will not be fired if I don’t get anything done in my AOP nor will I be reprimanded as my boss can find many ways to use the money. I won’t get a raise or any rewards, though. Why did they give me this budget? I think it was all political to show that they play nice with all the divisions. This group is big on showing TEAM efforts. It would have taken real guts to tell me to go suck an egg.

Even though I have been around the block a few times, it does make me feel as if I have lost any competence I may have had. It makes me feel as if any past work I did was not really worthwhile or significant. I intellectually know this cannot be the case, because I have been evaluated well and even gotten an award two years ago. But this is a really crappy way to move toward retirement.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Almost the rest of the Meme

A while back I was tagged by Sky
to complete a popular meme that is going around the blog land. Below is almsot all the meme. I still have to hold the jobs for a future time. That will take me way back since as you can tell from my first job, I started pretty young.

4 jobs I have had
See post here for #1
#2, #3, and #4 to come at a later time.

4 Movies I would see over and over:

Bridge on the River Kwai
Casablanca or African Queen
Out of Africa
West Side Story

4 Foods that I Love:

Anything chocolate
Does wine count as a food ?—definitely Cabernet Sauvignon
Freshly caught grouper prepared any way
Saga cheese

4 Vacation Spots I have enjoyed: (Don’t hate me now, because I have been very fortunate to travel to many places and this list took painful editing.)

the Alhambra in Spain
Florence in Italy
Chiang Mai in Thailand
Bali or Toraja Land in Indonesia

4 Places I have lived:

Estes Park, Colorado
Honolulu, Hawaii
Koror, Palau
Jogjakarta, Indonesia

4 Places I would rather be right now:

Snorkeling a coral reef in Palau
Sitting on a beach almost anywhere
Visiting a museum in Italy
Walking somewhere in the wilds of Australia

4 Television Shows I Watch:

Gilmore Girls
The Daily News with Jon Stewart
Almost anything on PBS (esp. mysteries)

Monday, February 27, 2006

A Short Whine

I know that a crises can occur and something demanding comes into our lives. But it is NOT fair that you just delete your blog. At least say goodbye and leave the farewell up for 30 days so that we know you are OK and just moving on with your life. No one says you have to continue your blog, but it IS polite to say goodbye.

Another Solution?

(Image courtesy of Princess Bride.)

I may have a solution to the problem below. I still hear that 30-pound tenant that lives beneath the roof and above my apartment ceiling. It continues to rearrange furniture, chomps noisily and re-does its space in the evening hours. Maybe it is 'borrowing' the socks when I am not looking, since the winter is getting so cold and the heat for its abode is strictly ambient air coming from my space.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

This Isn't a Scientific Theory

This picture above is a suburban mystery and probably contributes to urban legends as well as bad horror film scripts. Calling all detectives.

Scene of the crime:
  • Apartment laundry room, fifth floor
Time of the crime:
  • This started a year ago when I moved into this building and has occurred randomly whenever I do laundry, but most recently 02/25/06 at 8:00 A.M.
  • ME! (not my husband)
  • (My husband?)
  • The washing machine
  • Stupidity and old age
  • Tenants with a fetish
  • Other
  • See picture above

  1. Husband is playing a trick on me. This theory was recently disbanded since husband is currently in Korea. Besides he does not have the personality to find this funny.

  2. Washing machine plumbing is swallowing a single sock. This theory is questionable, because why is it only MY socks? Why doesn't the plumbing eventually regurgitate its diet of cotton blend fabrics? Why doesn't the machine plumbing suck up delicate panties?

  3. I am accidentally washing only one sock and the other is still under the bed. Yeah, right, like I am this old and this stupid! I can actually get down on my knees and crawl (thanks to Xman) and have checked every nook and cranny.

  4. There is a tenant in the apartment complex with a sock fetish. This could be a valid theory, but I haven't heard anyone else complain about missing socks and I hardly think my socks have an unique style that appeals to a fetish...I mean look at the picture above!

  5. Other: I need your help here readers! Any OTHER theories?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Busy Sunday

I forgot to mention how busy I was on Sunday afternoon. Daughter, Hubby and Son-in-Law worked on locks for the kitchen cabinets and hung a flat screen TV in the basement. I got to play "Catch me if you can!"

No One Asked, But I am Going to Tell You Anyway

There is some kind of meme going around, with one of the questions being your first four jobs. Well, no one tagged me, but I thought I would tell you about my First Job:

Colorado summers, while lasting less than three months, were really wonderful in late 1958. The air that raced across the spring snow melt of the Rocky Mountains before crossing our farm at the foothills was crisp and fresh. People would have laughed at you if you had asked about air-conditioning. What for? The ten days of hot weather each year? Most Coloradoans didn't even know what air-conditioning was, including me. Those that knew about it were too Puritanical to consider it anything but a sin. In 1958 the skies were blue and the mountains a crisply dark blue/gray (none of that crappy pollution that hangs on the front range these days). Working outdoors was great.

I had just moved to a small farm the fall before and had just finished my first year in the new Junior High School. I was skinny, flat-chested, and pretty smart. I was also an obedient daughter and knew that I had to comply when my father gave me my first summer job. I 'think' he paid me, but since I can't remember an amount, probably not. My family was not into that remuneration thing and money was scarce anyway. It was just assumed you would work in the summer around the house. After all, you were free all day,... duh!

Dad had planted a crop of wheat, ...wait, maybe it was corn, or ... (?) well I WAS only 12 so who knows what the heck he was growing. Anyway, we were under the old system of irrigation ditches. The ditches were about 2 feet deep and three feet wide. The ditch ran through the center of town and then was diverted by a canal system to whichever farmer ordered it. Our farm was just outside of town. We actually had what were called water rights that came with the land, and therefore, got a subscription of so many gallons through the summer months. (Water rights in the West are a whole book these days.) If anyone tried to steal the water, it became evident fairly soon because Colorado is very dry and you can pretty well determine where the water goes and where it is not going. My Dad's biggest problem was the "city" kids that played in the ditch in town and caused a back up and overflow into the main street when they filled the ditch with their toys and other stuff. When the water got too low, we knew we had to 'ride the ditch' and find out what was blocking the water. My Dad actually had a full-time construction job, so farming was a second career. These were the good old days.

Now to my job. That summer Dad explained that I was responsible to run the dams. Irrigation dams are exactly what they sound like. They are a rubber (or heavy canvas) sheet attached to a heavy wood bar across the top. You set up a new dam in the dry part of the ditch beyond where the water had been soaking. You place the wooden beam across the top of the ditch and the rubber sheet carefully across the bottom of the ditch using a shovel to cover every edge with soil to block the water flow. After everything is packed in place you go to the dam that is currently stopping the water and release it.

This sounds easy, but it means you get down on your knees in the muddy water and remove the packed soil and then jerking and dragging pull up the heavy dam and place it to the side further up the dry part of the ditch. Since I weighed around 60-70 pounds, this probably looked really funny to an outsider. The water then flows and fills the new part of the ditch. You wait until it reaches the edge of the dry field and then you make sure that all the little valleys in rows between the crop lines are clear and that the water is making it all the way to the end of the acreage. This can take a long time. I remember one-inch cracks in the soil that went all the way to the devil's penthouse apartment as water disappeared for what seemed forever in a noisy waterfall before finally filling and continuing on down the field. When all looked good, I got about an hour break.

I ran to the farmhouse, washed off my feet, got something cold to drink, set a timer, and plopped down in front of the TV and watched "General Hospital" or "Dark Shadows" which were THE soap operas for kids my age those days. Once the timer went off I had to go back out and do the process all over again. The water stopped flowing about dinner time and started all over again the next day. This went on for a week.

I hated it because it tied me down, but I also liked it because of the way it interacted with nature. Water making insects scurry for cover, encouraging the birds, and capturing catfish in the ditch. I also loved just being in the great outdoors away from Mom's boring house chores. I was a Tomboy and really liked doing stuff outside. My First Job.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Strange Food

I sometimes think I could live very well on another planet. There are many ways in which I do not understand my species. There are a number of reasons why my personality is much more stable when I am alone in the woods facing wild plants and animals. This following example is one reason I am confused these days:

Our office has a kitchen with a refrigerator, a sink and a microwave oven. Staff use the refrigerator to keep their breakfast and lunch food and the refrigerator is also used when we are planning a party for some reason or another. Fairly traditional stuff, right?

When I first came to work here I got a key to the kitchen. Yes, we keep it locked. When I asked why, I was told that food frequently disappeared, and so several years ago, they requested from the landlord that we get a lock.

Guess what? Food still disappears on a regular basis. There is no pattern. It doesn’t always happen overnight so we can’t blame the guards. It happens within the morning hours…sometimes. People will discover their lunch is gone. Sometimes just part of their lunch is missing! I have found my lunch missing a few times. Once before a staff birthday party all of the strawberries, whipped cream, and shortcake that were brought in that morning had disappeared by early afternoon.

I used to think it was that weird Hindu man that spent his work hours developing a religious web site instead of doing the job he was hired to do. Well, he was fired several years ago and the food continues to disappear!

The kitchen is used by at least 20 staff, so it would be hard to find out if it is any one of them. The kitchen is also around a corner and down the hall, so it is not easy to watch. One of my colleagues said that it was probably a kleptomania problem since all of us are paid well enough to afford food. I had never thought of this. It is creepy thinking that one of the people I work with has a psychological problem like this. Most of these people are professionals and there is a broad salary range. Bizarre.

I am tempted to buy this, but probably won’t. It would end up being a joke instead of a solution to the problem.

Counting the days, months and years until retirement.

(By the way did you see that Kimmie and Sasha? Wow. You go girls!)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Spread the Word!

I am related to someone in this band. Help me promote these guys, as I think they are pretty talented! Besides, I am trying to get one of them married, wink, wink.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

L is for loneliness

L is for loneliness surrounded by loose slots.

A is for the asses (bare) which are seen in the advertisements on the back of taxis as you navigate the strip. They are in your face and unavoidable when waiting for the light to change. (No, I didn’t take a picture!)

S is for sand which is the constant reminder that all the fountains, waterfalls and flushing toilets are taking place in the middle of the desert.

V is for the views which are breathtaking once you head out of the city.

E is for exotic architecture. Las Vegas is the Orlando for adults.

G is for gold which is the bling, the shoes, the purses and what everyone hopes to win.

A is for amazing luxury in the lobbies of most of the fancy hotels.

S is for the silly people who need to get a life.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A Burden Too Large

While lovely, it is a very wet and heavy snow. Photo one of this old pine tree was taken when I got up early this morning and photo two was taken a few hours later after that well-laden branch in the foreground gave up its heavy burden by crashing to the ground. The lower branches on this same side of the tree are also missing maybe from previous burdens?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The lucky thirteen

This week at work has been crazy. I have been hosting two Korean visitors (a scientist and a web developer) as well as finding every committee I am on has a deadline. Of course, there were at least 13 lucky glitches on Friday alone! I am off to Vegas for a meeting on Monday coming back on Friday. What number do you want me to play on the roulette wheel for you? (AS IF I played roulette!)

Monday, February 06, 2006

What did the referee say and is that poop on the floor?

Being at the Superbowl in Detroit could not have been more chaotic or noisy than where I spent Sunday afternoon --- at my daughter’s house. My daughter had been on a three-day business trip and my son-in-law had been in charge of Xman during that time. His parents came down and spelled him over the weekend but had to return mid-afternoon on Sunday. We agreed to give him a baby break for the Superbowl and planned to arrive early Sunday afternoon. I could baby-sit while he and my hubby watched the game. My daughter was due to fly in around 5:30 PM and hoped to be home near the kick-off time.

Well, my son-in-law also invited one of his best friends with wife and 6-month-old baby girl. He also invited a friend from work with his wife and their 8-month-old baby boy. Are you getting the picture? No? Let me paint it a little more clearly.

The living room of this house is about 12 feet by 15 feet. It has one of those large modular furniture units that fit in a corner with a matching lounge unit against an opposite wall. The TV is one of those 4 foot high projection units taking up a large part of another corner near the fireplace. There is a cage (moveable play pen that I bought in desperation to save my grandson from untimely death by falling down stairs) that takes up about 40% of the remaining floor space in the living room.

Ok, here we go. Eight adults and three babies; two of the babies are mobile; Xman is not only mobile these days, he is fast as a snake and just as hard to grab.

Half filled beer bottles get placed randomly on the floor near the furniture and grabbed by other people as crawling infants head that way. The bottles were placed elsewhere just as randomly. I don’t think anyone knew that they hadn’t drunk out of the same bottle all evening!

What little that could be seen of the game was interspersed with son-in-law dashing back and forth from the kitchen with snacks from the oven and other food and drinks. (Frozen taquitos only hit the kitchen floor once, but that was before going in the oven, so they could still be served.) The two other young fathers spent part of their time changing diapers and part marking statistics on a paper chart to see who got ‘points’ or not. These guys had worked out a point schedule for who guessed whether the first toss would be heads or tails, who guessed when the first beer commercial would air, which team got the first foul, etc. The three young mothers were socializing amid the babble and comparing notes on feeding habits and diaper size and bowel movements (of the babies) while mixing baby food.

The noise level was pretty high and only increased when the little girl angel began shrieking like a jungle rooster and then grinning at the decibel level she had achieved. I swear she broke a beer bottle at one point.

Before we left our apartment in the early afternoon, I had asked my husband if we could possible come back to the apartment at half time instead of staying until the end. He was concerned that he needed ‘bonding’ time with his son-in-law and wanted to stay until the final score. Well, he was more than ready to head home at the half-time as was I!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Don't Confuse Mother Nature

Global warming? An aberration? Who took winter? Who is complaining? I took this photo as we sped out on errands yesterday in the rain. Yes, that tree IS blooming. Talk about confused. I hope we get a pretty spring, but at this rate, we may not.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Sometimes I am Too Looney for Blogs

Got this precious little guy from a friend after a dinner the other night. She knows how much we loved the sound of the loons on our many canoe camping trips in Canada years ago. If I was tech savvy I would create a .wav file or something like that so you can hear his call when you push that red button on his back! It is an actual recording and I am an idiot...I just keep pushing it and smiling.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Secret of My Success

I am so lucky and not for the reasons that one might think. Yes, I am building a nice custom house, and yes, I can afford it, if I work a few years longer than I want to before retiring. I am fortunate that I am able to build within an hour or so of where my two children live, although some might think this is not a fortunate thing. I have been able to afford a choice piece of land, although this nest egg came about by having lived overseas for years in free housing that had intermittent electricity and water and no security (another life story) and lots of isolation—one must make sacrifices.

So, why do I think I am lucky? I am about 75% through the building of this house and my husband has not killed me. That’s why. I have not been the easiest person to live with while sharing the process of building a house. Lord knows I am not an easy person to live with, anyway. Put me under time stress and financial stress and I can become a freakish witch. I get short-tempered, demanding, and loud. (Don’t I sound like someone you want to live with?)

For example, at a recent visit to the electrical showroom, I said to my husband, “You pick out the fixture for the foyer because you really are into that and I will look for the lighting over the kitchen island.” We go our separate ways in this large showroom with heat from 1,000s of watts beating down on us and alarm rising in our hearts from visualizing so many choices. In ten minutes, hubby returns with a suggestion of a copper fixture. I roll my eyes. “Copper?” I ask incredulously and not necessarily lowering my voice. “What are you thinking? We don’t have any copper at all in the house anywhere. Get something that fits with the house! You know, European, Old World or traditional.” He wanders off in another direction with the patience of Job and probably having no idea what he is looking for.

He returns with another suggestion which I completely reject since it would look nice in a ranch bunk-house but not a house-house. Finally, the third selection he points out is close enough to fly and we go over it and then select a different finish. Any other guy would have headed off for the football game long before this time and said, “You pick it! I clearly can’t find anything that you like. Besides, I don’t know anything about this stuff!”

Now multiply this scenario by the 100s and you get the idea.

I am also very lucky because my husband does not have a lot of definite opinions on color, style or décor. He stops me from going down a path of no return, yet is patient bringing me back from burnout, and still remains so easygoing. I am SO particular about STUFF. And because I am particular I can work myself into a panic trying to make sure I got the exact color or item from 1,000s of choices. I have a reasonable sense of style, but am not a decorator.

Well, enough about hubby, and no, I do not let him read my blog. and, yes, I guess I will tell him how much I appreciate him when he gets home tonight before I go into another house tirade.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Do you see the salt shaker?

I have too many plants on my small table! When I moved here there was only the antherium and that was a about a fifth the size it is now. I made the mistake of transplanting it. The other two are gifts from people who know how I am missing plants and gardening in this apartment. This may be a great way to loose weight, the food will get lost under the plants.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

According to Bartlebys , the phrase 'familiarity breeds contempt’ means: “The better we know people, the more likely we are to find fault with them.” It seems the quote originally came from Mark Twain. “Familiarity breeds contempt. How accurate that is. The reason we hold truth in such respect is because we have so little opportunity to get familiar with it.” (I love Mark Twain!)

So, why am I writing on this subject? Well, pull up a chair and I will elaborate. I got an email from my sister last week. Dee wanted to know when a certain art exhibit was going to be in my town and how hard it would be to get in and see it. She makes 6 figures and flying halfway across country is not an expensive proposition for her. She is not a rich snob, but when she wants something she goes for it. But there was also something else in her email. She currently has my middle brother and his wife as ‘guests’ at her house and she said she was going crazy and she wanted to warn me about planning for their visit out my way. Was she getting a little too familiar? Getting a little contempt thing going?

Here is the back story about my siblings. About a decade ago my middle brother, whom we shall call Lem, was unmarried and in his 40’s. Lem and my sister were the best of camping and hiking buddies at that time. Dee was married but her husband was on travel 80% of the time. These two siblings of mine worked together on house repair projects, went on skiing trips and camping adventures and prepared massive feasts with original recipes for all the local relatives. It seemed to me that they spent most weekends together.

At 51 Lem married, for the first time in his life, a lovely woman who had been married once before. This gal whom we will call Annie originally came over from Europe as a teenager and was a teacher at my brother's school. She is very outgoing, high energy, and tends to ‘get involved’ in your activities. She is a ‘do-gooder’ liberal who is now retired and she is the one who organized the recent 4-month volunteer adventure with my brother in Madagascar that I mentioned in a prior blog. As part of this travel adventure, they had rented out their house in Colorado for 12 months. While they have many travels and activities planned for the next 6 months, they have to stay with my sister and also my other youngest brother for at least 3.5 of the weeks this winter (along with crashing at other homes). They are hoping to also come out and visit us during their house rental hiatus in the Spring (should I be concerned?). I welcomed them with open arms, even though we will be between a tiny apartment and a newly finished house.

According to Dee’s recent email, she is ready to kill them (note she is not planning on killing herself). Dee is a strong but normal liberal--whatever in hell that is--I guess I just want you to know she isn't into wife-swapping or Bible burning. She pretty much has her big house to herself and except for the demands of her job, she doesn’t find a need to make many compromises in her life. She has no biological children making demands on her time. She is a nice person.

Much to the total surprise of my whole Democratic family, my brother Lem morphed into a conservative somewhere along the way. He is a strange conservative. He is not religious, non-militaristic, living off of a teacher’s retirement salary. I guess this bothers all of us because we wonder how in late life he married to a do-gooder liberal. He writes a conservative blog, not read by anyone, but it gets him access to the state Capital. My brother-in-law says that Lem really hasn't thought this stuff through because he is a contradiction.

I guess I wonder if the real problem lies with the fact that my brother, who used to be my sister’s best friend, is now a married person; or if it is the fact that he is a conservative; or is it the fact that Annie keeps getting involved in everyone’s business; or is it just that familiarity does breed contempt? You can have your relatives for guests for short periods of time and as Ben Franklin said, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”

I get along with everybody in my family (she types smugly)…but then I live thousands of miles away! Maybe that is the secret to good family relations among siblings. How long should I let them stay?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Something that lifts my day

Winter is here. We do not have the pristine white snow magically hiding all the rough spots as it does in some parts of the globe. We have warm days in the 50's interspersed with cold rain, like today, that bores into your bones and threatens to freeze your soul. The cymbidium orchid above was a birthday gift from my daughter and son-in-law. It is getting ready to bloom. Boy does it keep my spirits up. I can pretend that spring is just around the corner.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Don't Drink at Work, No Matter How Stressed You Get

I had one of those steadily busy days at work. Trying to catch up on email, then met with a colleague for some information on a database, then went to a demo by a vendor in the main conference room. I also had scheduled another meeting about 20 miles across the county at 1:00 PM and was planning on leaving work at 12:30 to get there in plenty of time, since I wasn't sure exactly where the meeting was.

12:30 at my desk I get a phone call from the front office.

"Freight called and said they have something for you and you have to sign."

My mind is blank as I don't remember expecting any shipment.

The caller asks if they can transfer the call from the security guard down in freight and I say fine.

Ok, while waiting for the return call I will give you some background. I work in a very large building in the city. This building has commercial employees and federal employees. Among the federal employees are people who are responsible for regulatory actions. I say this to let you know that any area that houses regulators is a "hot" site and gets top security especially after 911 and the Oklahoma bombing. Please note that I am NOT saying the building is anymore secure than your house, it just has top security procedures and staff in place to make SOMEONEs feel it is protected.

The phone rings again. I answer. A man with a thick accent tells me he has a package which I must sign for.

"You want me to come down to the loading dock?"

"No, no. Just got to floor 4 and go to the freight elevator there."

"The fourth floor?"

"Yes. Go down by the printing press."

I have no idea where this is, but I do know that there is a publications office somewhere in the building---must be the fourth floor.

"Ok" I reply and hang up.

I go to the fourth floor which happens to have some offices of people I know. I ask the secretary there where the printing press is and get a blank look. I then ask about the freight elevator. She walks me there. There is NO ONE there. Just an empty hallway and NO printing press.

I ask her if by any chance the 3rd floor has a printing press and she says "maybe." She actually gets on the freight elevator with me, after a wait of ten minutes. I am watching the clock tick away. I get off and sure enough there is a large piece of equipment that could very well be a printing press on the inside wall. There is a large open office with desks and some people at the other side of the press. I go toward one of the staffers and ask about freight deliveries that need signatures. He says I need to go to the loading dock several floors down!

I tell the secretary to go back to her office. Today is VERY COLD and WINDY so my trip back to the freight elevator and down to the loading dock is not pleasant and this freight elevator moves at a snails pace.

I enter the freight elevator with two rather grubby but pleasant bears (men) whose complaints about the sound of the elevator and concern about the last time it was maintained do not help my mood. I get to the windy loading dock and a uniformed female security guard sits in a glass booth inside the archway of the dock. I ask her about a delivery.

She looks at me and points to a box on the nearby chair. She then walks over to the X-ray machine and asks if I recognize the contents of the package. Chemicals?

I look at the X-ray and saw what appeared to be two bottles. The light goes on in my head. I remember my daughter telling me she had given me a Christmas gift of three months to a wine club and was sending it to my place of work since I wouldn't be home to sign. I told the security guard it was wine.

She looks at me and smiles. "I will have to call my boss to see if you can take this package." (You know what, I am so tired I don't even react.)

She makes the call to the BOSS and then says I can only take the package if I take it directly to my car. I am SOOOOO late for this meeting that I realize I will be running to my car in a very short time.

"Can I take the package upstairs to get my coat and papers," I ask.

You readers know the answer. Of course not, those regulatory officials in my building are so on the edge they will mug me and drink both bottles before they check out for the day. We can't have alcohol anywhere near federal employees...and can you blame them? Really?

I have to ride the groaning elevator all the way back up, get my coat and papers, ride back down to the dock, get the package, walk all the way around the building through the garbage and around the huge parking garage, carrying this stupid box until I reach the street and can head for my car. All with a wind chill to die for.

Any ideas about to handle this the next two months? And no, I did not open any of the bottles before my afternoon meeting, but I will definitely have a glass now and make an entry on my neglected wine blog...if I am sober enough.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

What It Is All About--The Genetic Scream

Why do most of us fall in love with our grandchildren? I know some grandmothers and grandfathers find the whole experience dreadful, but for most of us, it is exactly like the first time we fell in love. We can't think straight. That face, that smell, that memory keeps creeping into our daily activities, even when we are far from the little ones. That inability not to let some sweet anecdote creep into our conversation with others is everpresent. That syrupy way we bring out each new photo or screensaver whenever we get a chance. I mean we are totally smitten. We have lost control!

I am sure that it has something to do with that genetic scream...those subtle pheromones, the strangely familiar smile, the way the child handles frustration...something that reminds us of ourselves...something that reminds us of our children.

Add to this the knowledge we have of time and how it flies over and above and beyond us with a fury. We have reached the age where we know what is important and what is not. We know that real pain is deep inside us and not that little superficial wound that will be forgotten shortly. We know how to savor the moments.

We also probably view this as a fresh start at the end of our lives. After all, we made all the mistakes with our own children, now we can go through this passage more perfectly (we hope). We will not be judged (Ok, maybe a little by the parents---but face it, they are novices.) We can actually freely interact and push the boundaries with this new life. We know where the edge of the envelope is. We know what will imprint and what will not.

Also, we have that great motivation. We want to be remembered. We want eternity. Just like that "Fame" song, we deep down inside want to live forever. Most of us are not going to be great writers, painters, leaders, inventors. But we hope to live forever through our children and their children in some way.

I find this new passage in my life more intense than I expected. I wish I wasn't so busy!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Small Talk 2

I had a former blog entry with this same title and it was about somebody who does mostly small talk.

In the musical, Music Man, the main character provided a quote that seems to fit with the philosophy of my blog site. See below:

Harold Hill: Oh, my dear little librarian. You pile up enough tomorrows, and you'll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. I don't know about you, but I'd like to make today worth remembering.

In addition to this there is a little gossip song sung by the townsfolk about ‘small talk.’ Or because it is a small town more like gossip.

Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little
Cheep cheep cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more
Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little
Cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep

I am not a fan of small talk as I have said before in this blog. Yet, I am married to the National Award Master of Small Talk. It is his life’s blood. He cannot get on the elevator at this apartment or at work at 6:30 A.M. without starting a conversation with whomever is on the elevator with him (If no on is there I am the target.). It makes no difference if the person has or does not have coffee in his/her hand. They only need to keep their eyes open long enough to make eye contact with him. He will start a conversation on anything including the WEATHER. I, on the other hand, can sit on a plane for three hours and not have a clue about where the person sitting next to me lives or what he/she does for a living.

Yesterday, the husband half of the new couple that moved in across the hall a week ago was knocking at our door. (I didn’t even know the girl across the hall had moved out!) He had talked to my husband on the elevator and wanted to know if he could listen to our bathroom fan. Sure, I get that kind of request every day(!). He is Chinese American and had a very thick accent, so it took me a while to even believe that I understood his request. It seems that his fan is so noisy he can’t sleep. But, since our fan is just as loud as his, it looks as though he will have to do something else for his problem.

It’s not that I don’t like people…I mean, my god, I blog. I respond to blogs. I like to read about others everyday lives. I also am a big people watcher and find sitting at an airport that I am torn from reading my book by eavesdropping on nearby conversations or studying the people that got off the last plane. BUT, I am not a lover of small talk, especially if I will never build a relationship with the person over time. I guess that is why I like email more than a phone call. I can talk on my terms, at my length and listen to the response when I am ready. During pioneer days I would have been the perfect quiet knitter, sitting and humming near the fireplace.

Yet, this is why I am so totally out of it most of the time. I am the one who would attend a meeting at a large company and find to my surprise they are downsizing, while everyone around me is sweating bullets before the boss even walks in the room. I am the one who finds out they are changing the parking fees the day they are changed.

I mean, I CAN make small talk with the best of them. But the back of my mind is racing ahead thinking about the day’s upcoming schedule, or when I should leave the cocktail party and head back to my hotel room and unwind, or thinking to myself if I really want to wait in this line much longer while the stranger in front of me talks about his three-year-old’s cold.

Thankfully I am married to the SMALL TALKER or all small talkers. He is the one who finds out the names of all the people on our floor and what most of them do. He is the one who finds out how many cars were broken into last week and how many were actually stolen in our apartment parking lot. He finds out who at work got inseminated without getting married before she shows. He is the one who got my son his first job because he made small talk with someone who was on a committee meeting that he attended as a fill-in for someone else.

Of course, he is also charming. He has those bold blue eyes that fascinate people. You trust people with blue eyes. I on the other hand am just a normal hazel nut. Hardly the charmer. More the inquisitive-get-to-the-point type.

So what is my point? I don’t know. I guess just that small talk is important and marrying somebody opposite from you can have its advantages.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Air Out There

My husband twisted my arm yesterday and insisted that I go for a walk to help get "my circulation going" to get me back "up-to-speed." I think he is getting sick of my illness even more than I. It was a good idea, this walking thing, as fresh air, people walking dogs, geese making noise as they skid across the winter water and picture taking are all therapeutic. The angle of the winter sun (at last breaking through the clouds) painted warmth into the dormant forest to give us a little hope of spring...someday...not soon.

Ok, look closely at the photo above. Guess who has the childlike enthusiasm in my family? Certainly not stodgy old me.

And of course, America ain't Italy, but it does have its lovers.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Silver Lining

I feel like the sun is finally peaking out behind the clouds. There is a breeze bringing the fresh air to my brain. My eyes are beginning to see through the fog. I actually think I am going to live once again like a normal person. There is a good side to life.

During the time (12 days) that I have been sick, I dragged myself through work and through weekends and holidays. I am the kind of person that shuts down when I first get sick. In the beginning, I don'’t attempt to force myself through the day, but instead make tea and curl up on a bed or couch and stop moving and take Vitamin C. I don'’t take medication right away. After about two days of this, I start to get angry if I am not feeling better. I like to think I am in control of my body. So I get up and force myself to go through each day regardless of how I feel, trying to pretend that I am not sick. This used to work when I was younger.

The last few days, I was living on wine and popcorn and chocolate. That has to be good for the immune system, right? I actually tried to eat healthy at first, but nothing tasted good.

Unfortunately, as I am getting older, my metabolism is changing. I don'’t seem to be able to control the "‘getting well"’ process as I used to. I totally loose my patience and get crabby with hubby and angry with myself. I hate the gray days, and I hate being cooped up in this apartment and I tend to see all the bad things about life. If a young Latino girl is selling flowers on the corner at the stop light, I get depressed about her life and wish I was a millionaire so I could send her to English classes and then to college. If the bathtub gets stopped up (as it did this weekend with all my "“luxurious"” hair) I get immediately frustrated---as if I will never be able to take a bath again.

If I am watching football (which I did a lot of this weekend and I am not a football fan) I realize what a stupid shallow game it is at which society throws so much money. Why aren'’t we rewarding the teachers, the pro bono lawyers, the policemen and soldiers, the nurses in the same way?

Ok, enough ranting, as I said, today is finally going to be a good day. I actually feel that the germs are all dead, Dead, DEAD! I can actually think about seeing my grandson again and holding him...wait a minute, isn'’t that how this all started?

Friday, January 06, 2006

I Need a Better Immune System

I think this must be the third cold I have contracted the last few months, and this devil is hanging on --day eleven. I don't feel bad all over anymore, just wake up coughing and sniffling every two to three hours. Now I know how Manababies feels. Ugh! Only I don't have any cooing and giggling to greet me awake. Just a 'harumph' from my hubby which makes me move into the living area trying to sleep on one of the two loveseats in this apartment. I jury rig a "bed" by removing all the back cushions from the love seat and then moving the ottoman to the bottom side as an extension. Fortunately the apartment is warm enough that just a throw is all I need for a cover. Besides when you are coughing your head off, you generate a lot of body heat.

Hubby has an excellent immune system and doesn't seem to catch any of these little devil organisms. I am popping Vitamin C and drinking expectorant, but this is like crossing a sludge river very slowly--sorry for the imagery.

I am feeling so guilty about my exercise routine. I didn't exercise much in Hawaii (hiking doesn't really count--no aerobics or weight lifting there--OK, I don't appreciate what you are thinking), and then when I got back, there were the holidays and somewhat fortunately the cold to keep me from eating too much. Still, no real exercise.

Today I am home because I am leaving in 45 minutes to meet with my builder's interior designer/real estate saleswoman. She called me to ask if she could help with any interior selections and we worked out a mutual time to go to the flooring place to pick out the wood and tiles. (Actually the builder's show home and other sales in his subdivision are moving slowly due to the housing dip and I think she is bored, bored, bored.)

So this afternoon I will add something to the house building blog. Due to wet weather, exterior stuff going VERY slowly. Interior pretty much on schedule.

Well, I am starting to feel a little better as I finish this blog...maybe the computer screen has irradiated the germs!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Hawaii 2006--Part II

The Rare and the Not So Rare

These next Hawaiian photos were all taken on Kauai during our real vacation. The geological wonder that you see below is called the “grand canyon” of Hawaii. The story goes that Mark Twain named it the Grand Canyon of the Pacific and yet never saw it! A good writer can describe anything when hearing it through another’s words, I guess.

We did quite a bit of hiking and were rewarded by far too many photos to post here. I actually ran out of memory and next time, maybe, I’ll take another chip. (While at our hotel we ran into a 40-something couple who were there celebrating the tenth anniversary of their second marriage. We were sitting with them in one of the four(!) hot tubs so we kind of had to talk. Anyway, all of the activities that this couple had done during their stay on Kauai were “awesome.” The guy had taken 500 photos and had to go out and buy another chip. He figured he would have 700 photos when he got home. But that “would be awesome.” Tabor was planning on only 300 photos for this trip and it was awesome enough for me, especially when going through all those .jpg files when I got home.)

One of our early hikes was a trail around the Kalalau valley. My daughter later told me that when she went on her honeymoon there, ‘they’ told her to only hike a mile in because couples were being kidnapped in the jungle. Wish I had heard this, because we hiked about 2.5 in and then 2.5 back out. Guess they didn’t want our old tough meat. This view in the photo below is the Kalalau lookout on Kauai at the very beginning of the hike. Takes your breath away even in the photo, doesn’t it? The hike goes completely around the upper ridge and we did half of it before running out of both time and energy.

This photo below was taken at the beginning of one of our horticultural tours. This gentleman’s great grandfather or grandfather(?) was the first and only doctor on the island of Kauai in the early days. He gave us our tour of one of the large botanical gardens. He wasn’t great on the botany part but pretty good on the Hawaiian folklore.

The photo below contains two Brighamia insignis plants. We were told that this plant is very rare and indigenous to the island of Kauai. It grows along coastal areas and gets three to 8 feet high and has fragrant yellow flowers…such a strange and cool-looking growth. Flowers are in the photo below and did smell gently exotic.

What follows is a photo of our breakfast nook in the hotel just below the TV. We usually eat breakfast of fruit and yogurt and granola that we get at the local stands or grocery stores. Then we pack fruit, cookies and maybe beef jerky or cheese for lunch. Dinner we eat at a really nice restaurant to pat ourselves on the back for saving money all day. Actually we can’t eat all that food that we would have if we ate out three times a day!

We took the big splurge this trip and went on a helicopter tour over the island. While this is expensive, it is well worth the money. We went up with two other couples that appeared to be our age. When we sat at the benches at the outside porch near the airfield and were putting on our life jackets (a little orange fanny pack), the other folks greeted us and introduced themselves with the following speech from one of the men:

“Hi, looks like we are going up together. We are from Utah. Where are you from?”

We answer.

“Well my wife and my two friends are from Utah. This is our second trip to Hawaii. My friend’s wife over there is the sister of our state Senator.”

OK, wheels are now turning and hubby was the first to win the booby prize.

“Your friend is the sister of um…Orrin Hatch?”

“Yep. She is Senator Hatch’s sister.”

Since we didn’t jump up and down with excitement or grin from ear to ear, they probably figured out we were two of those damned liberal heathen democrats. Senator Hatch’s sister is a very sweet, reserved, and attractive woman, in case you want to know.

We flew into the major dormant volcanic crater on the island of Kauai and were VERY lucky since all the low hanging clouds and rain were not there as usual. The pilot was actually able to fly us into the crater which has collapsed on one side.

We also flew over the set of falls that were used in Jurassic park. Recognizable, no?

Below is a view of the Pali on the Northeast side of the island of Kauai. This coastline has beaches accessible only by some pretty intense hiking or by boat in the summer. During the winter months the beaches completely disappear under the tremendous and dangerous surf.

These two photos show the well marked but somewhat dangerous trails which we hiked. If the roots didn’t get you, the slippery mud did. Of course, we are now older and we were amazed that the younger folks were doing this in sandles(?). Even a few guys had toddlers on their backs in backpacks. There was so much salt spray I didn’t chance getting a photo of the surf we hiked down to with my digital camera.

Well, time to put away the suitcases and re-enter the world of reality. (Yes, Hag, once I get unpacked in my new house I will have to find the ‘turtles.’

Aloha nui loa.

Looking Back

First there was the lecture from Xman to keep us up to speed and then there was the race to save the food. This pretty much summed up most of the Christmas Day.