Monday, April 02, 2007

Lived-In Look

The Painting Contractor Chickie may appreciate these photos. I have the wallpaper guy in all week putting up wallpaper in the front formal room---we really are using it as a quiet room rather than a formal room as we are the farthest thing from being 'formal' folk. Anyway, I did pick a wine and gold abstract design and the room did take on a plumish color after we painted it ourselves. I was surprised, but I think that I will like it. I do not have any furniture for this room so will have to find something that goes with plum wine? At least if people spill their drinks, it will blend. Hubby painted the trim on the bay window and deserves an award for that work.

And below the wallpaper guy has taken on the dangerous job of completing the kitchen. (I really like him and his work style, by the way.) Thank goodness we put up the pictures already so that he could just rehang them! It also is a strange wallpaper. I bought it because it was a faux finish pattern...but it ended up looking like a birch bark canoe I am thinking. Oh well. And, yes, we are going to re-paint the living room to better coordinate. The great butter yellow just doesn't go so probably something called "bagel". Wallpaper guy has agree to paint the high harder walls and we will paint the easier stuff. I have to put up the two samples this weekend and decide.

As you can see from the photo below of the master bedroom, we are really getting settled in now and developing that lived in look. I had to make curtains for the masterbath as I was tired of feeling strange walking around in the nude even though no one within miles can see in and no one would look twice if they did! I was going to sew the curtains and then got lazy and just used the iron-on tape and they came out pretty good, even if they do look a little cheapo!

The two framed harp shells are from something I did in Indonesia when I was working in batik. The colors don't really go anywhere in the house, but the frames were so nice and matched and so we decided to put them up in the masterbath. Yes, they ARE too far apart, but between my cold and the difficulty of hanging stuff at the end of a long day, we just decided to live with it!

For what we did outside go to the "Room Without Walls" blog.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Rome wasn't built in a day

I have finished planting some portion of the two front landscape beds and I am still fighting a nasty cold, So I decided to rest and watch some television. I am watching a program called "Impossible Islands", a National Geograhic show. This show is about that enormous palm shaped artificial island being built with oil money in Dubai. The island is a palm tree shape offshore which will be a luxury resort and ocean city. The engineering aspects of this monumental task are phenominal. Using a private satellite is the only way they can get the curves on the palm branches accurately curved. Tons and tons of rock are taken from the inland and delivered on a 24-hour-a-day schedule to build the breakwater which I see slowly takes place before they can deposit the sand for the actual island on the inside of the breakwater.

This whole enterprise is mind boggling. The narrator explains that enough rock to build two pyramids was used for the breakwater. Tons and tons of sand are dredged for the island. Environmental issues have not reared their tenuous head yet on the show, although I admit I am watching from the middle of the program. Somehow, though, while I have personally listened to Arabs criticise the way Americans waste petroleum resouces, this argument is not being applied in Dubai.

The engineer that they interview sounds as though he is American. Why do I think that Halliburton is involved somewhere in the massive distribution of money?

Lots of engineering problems are discussed such as stagnant water during the finish of the breakwater (no biologists were clearly consulted in this engineering nightmare), being built in an earthquake zone, and problems with newly deposited and uncompacted sand.

"22 hotels--3 mile island--two years to complete phase one--400,000 apartments and shopping malls." All of the houses are sold in something like three days with the most expensive going for 1.2 million dollars. They keep adding and expanding and as I watch this I wonder why anyone would want to live on a crowded busy island with the business of Miami...wouldn/t a tiny island with a small cottage be so much more lovely?

In a world with starving people, weapons of mass destruction, and new disease challenges every day, this whole project is such a waste of resources and time to me. If I were a Crown Prince, I would like to think I could spend my money in better places. For centuries leaders have built temples, palaces and pyramids to insure eternity of their memory and to show their power.

If you get a chance to see the show, it is most fascinating!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Free lunch

It appears that everyone likes a free lunch prepared by someone else and also likes to eat outside with a view. (Home sick today, so this is all you are going to get.)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Barking up the Right Tree

According to an article I found on the Internet (the pentultimate location for research information) there are "probably 118 species of native trees," This was stated by Robert Zahner, coordinator of the Arizona Register of Big Trees. "Approximately half of those are endemic to the desert Southwest, which means they occur only in southwest New Mexico, southern Arizona, and southeast California, and also, of course, in Sonora, Mexico. Nineteen species are endemic to Arizona, which means their national champions must be in Arizona" he says. In spite of this information I still could not find the species name of these beauties below. Of course, since I did not take pictures of the leaves, I am at a bit of a disadvantage. But while these photos may frustrate amataur botanists, the beauty below should give artists lots of inspiration. (As in my prior post, the photos have been reduced in size, but if you click on them, they are still pretty inspiring.)

This last little guy gets honorable mention because he is hanging in there!!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hold your breath now

There was so much beauty on that Arizona trip to Sedona that I think I took over 300 photos. I deleted a few, but the natural beauty of this harsh land lends itself to the most amateurish of us. The weather was variable and one day we even got caught in a light rain and I had an umbrella in my back pack which I used. It was exotic being in the desert during a light spring rain.

If I was a geologist I would point out that "Major depositional episodes occurred in the later Paleozoic, Paleocene, Miocene and Quaternary periods." According to the local tourist page this beauty was "formed from ancient deposits of limestone, mudstone and sandstone when this area was the west coast of a still emerging continent." Hey were are talking 2 billion years here folks. Think about that as you smoke your peace pipe and gaze out over the valley and watch the bluejays perform their mating swoops. We are such a little teeny tiny blip on the surface and in the grand scheme of things. And while we are quite lovely, we don't hold a sparkle to this beauty.

Sometimes you will see granite that formed from the volcanic explosions that has layered over the exposed red sandstone. The exotic presence of this violent geology seems to attract psychics and spiritualists from everywhere. They feel the overwhelming presence of locked time and try to grasp its meaning, share its energies, explain its strength, feel its vortexes. But we are too small and we try too hard (and the commercial exchange of money for this is most annoying).

I reduced the size of the pictures, so I apologize if the digital rendition is compromised. And where you may ask does the red come from?...iron oxides.

The next lesson is on botany and involves tree bark...yes more photos of tree bark that are like Monet or Pissaro paintings. I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Early to bed, and better yet, early to rise!

There is a bit of tension between those folks who are up bright and early like eager squirrels ready for their daily nut hunt and those who role out of bed late wondering why their gray matter is so sluggish and why they can't find the coffee pot.

I am a squirrel and usually up at 5:15 getting my shower, dressed and then making a quick cup of French Press java to carry with me as I walk the few blocks to the office. I left the apartment at 6:00 this morning, and everything went as usual, until I reached the steps up to the parking lot. Something was odd...what was I missing...oh.. yes, that great cup of coffee had been left on the kitchen counter.

I was over half-way to the office, so, since my walk takes me right by the Caribou Coffee store, I decide to get a cup from them. The lights were on low toward the back of the store, but the door was unlocked. There were two people ahead of me waiting for their order to be taken, and the two java vendors were busy setting out all the carbohydrates for "breakfast on the run" and getting the paper cups stacked. They seemed to take their time taking orders. First the woman in front got her coffee. I wasn't paying much attention when the man in front of me got his coffee. Good, me next.

"I want a 16 ounce Fireside." I looked at the young man in the dreadlocks behind the counter.

He turned and proceeded to fill my order while I reached for my wallet.

He handed me the coffee and then shook his head. "No charge. Technically we are not open, so it is free this early."

Geese mareese, I have been way too efficient in the mornings...making my own coffee and all.

Where were you when?

Remember when the Dixie Chicks got trashed for speaking their minds? Where in the h*** was Donald Trump then? The master of the opportunity, oh yeah, he speaks out now??

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Weather or not

"Everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it." ...or so it is said. (The Parks Ranger said this was a rare purple flower...can't remember if he said the name and I simply cannot find it on the Internet. I stumbled across it several times while hiking, so methinks it is not that rare.)

Well we can't say that anymore about the weather...can we?

Guess who is changing the global weather, big time? Yep, we are. We are talking more about the weather because we are doing something about it. Not proactively, but certainly reactively.

Those of you who are not able to afford beachfront property, if you live less than a mile from the coast just wait.

Above are photos of some of the first blossoms that I was able to photograph in the Arizona Sonoran desert. This is the third year of a major drought that has confronted the flora and fauna.

Below is someone I have only seen in cartoons. Catching this shot was a 3/10s of second feat with my head cranked backwards in the front seat of the car. Therefore, it is not a great photo. He CAN run!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Water and the surface of living things.

As a human being I have been told many times to make sure to drink lots of water because it makes skin look better. This directive does not seem to apply to desert trees. Look at this beautiful bark below on this sycamore.

No water and yet the bark of the Manzanita or Mountain Driftwood is like flowing red ribbons in the desert air.

Below the trunk of the same species gives you a better look at how lovely the deep brown-red bark can be with access to so little water.

Here is a Manzanita lifting weights!

I think that this is the Alligator juniper below. It was tall and shady along one of the hiking trails we took. It's bark looks just like the and rough.

And finally the bark below is the underside of the roof (restored) of a traditional house for the Sinagua (meaning without water) Indians that started extensive agricultural communities in the valleys, on the hill sides and at the tops of hills and disappeared suddenly from the Arizona valleys many many years ago.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Travel is REALLY so much fun! LifeStory #8

I have to admit that I have traveled LOTS and LOTS in my life. I have traveled across the United States, throughout ASIA and even somewhat in Central America and Europe and Northern Africa. This was due to a promise I made to myself as a young girl that I would see as much of the world as I could, come hell or high water. And, after all of these trips, the airlines has lost my luggage only once. This was on my first trip to my new in-laws in Florida. I didn't panic too much because at 24 you can still look good in clothes that you have been wearing for 24 hours. With the luck of being young, the very next morning a van arrived at my new in-laws door and dropped off the suitcases intact and locked.

I was watching the Today Show a few weeks ago and they were talking about lost luggage. The guest expert was providing tips for when the airlines lost your luggage. He repeated the word "when" and emphasized that he did not say "if."

If you live and travel long enough the world changes and your luck changes. Upon our arrival at our airport in the early evening this past weekend, we noticed a large number of people waiting for their bags at one baggage claim. We lined up like penguins and waited and watched as the intermittent and sometimes static aluminum delivery belt went round and round. After 20 minutes my husband realized that our luggage had not made the transition from Phoenix to Denver to Columbus and to our final destination. (When you travel on 'points' you get to see a lot more of the country than you can imagine or actually want to see.) . Shortly after my husband's realization, there was an announcement on the loudspeaker system that the baggage officials (hiding behind the speakers) were very sorry but they did not know where the luggage from the Philadelphia flight was. They were working on it and they asked for patience. About 50% of the people moaned, groaned and wandered off. We were not on the Philadelphia flight and while wondering how an airline can lose all of the luggage on a flight, we became more concerned about our sweaty but well-packed clothes.

We were rewarded almost an hour later with a blue form to complete regarding our missing luggage. (One of the wives asked her husband if this meant they would get a free flight---she hasn't traveled much I was thinking.) I walked the length of the entire baggage claim area which is about two football fields and I hate to tell you that I saw hundreds and hundreds (not exaggerating) of suitcases and bags that sat on the floor forlornly alone next to baggage claim areas on that Sunday evening. The dozens of strollers alone made me sad for the aching arms of mothers and fathers in our nation.

The announcement that we had been recently moved from yellow to orange in our homeland security settings (much like the settings on your oven) did not assure me in any way as I saw all these potential lethal weapons of mass destruction sitting on the floor as far as the eye could see.
Thus, we went home and to bed.

Hubby got a call at 1:00 P.M. on Monday. "This is United. Are you going to be home for the next 4 hours? " When he answered "Yes." they hung up. They were either planning on delivering luggage or robbing us. So, he waited patiently.

Five hours later I was home and had eaten dinner and there is still no luggage. Hubby called the number that had called him at 1:00 and heard from a computer that they were too busy to answer the phone and to call back later. My guess is that the all-great office of baggage losers had been discovered and passengers were holding them hostage.

After this recent trip, I wondered if the wagon trains crossing the desert had it any easier? I really think that the good ole USA is getting to be more like a developing nation each and every day. It is a good thing I have traveled in the 'third' world or I would have said some of the things that were being said at the airport last night when people headed for their taxis empty handed.

Post Script at 6:00 P.M.

Hubby is currently talking to a computer.....

Now he is talking to someone who clearly lives in India or Pakistan...

Now he is listening to very irritating United Airlines music ...good choice on their part to continually remind us of the company that screwed up...

9:10 P.M. the phone rings. Our luggage has arrived and doesn't appear much the worse for the wear. I wonder where it got to travel?

Loved to Death

On some of the days the sky in the desert was an indescribable blue. Have you ever seen such a color? I didn't do any digital tweaking and for once the camera lense captured what I saw against the white bark of this desert sycamore. The green in the center is mistletoe. They must do a lot of kissing in Arizona, because it was everywhere. (Click the photot for a bigger view.)

The mornings were a cool 45 and by afternoon Sedona hills were warming to a toasty 70 degrees. Perfect weather for hiking if you layered your clothes.

We had not been to Sedona, Arizona for almost a decade and I noticed substantial changes starting with the fifteen minute traffic jam to get to the other side of the hill where we were staying upon our arrival. This place in the desert among the red rocks is being loved to death by soul searchers, mystics, retirees, real estate developers, bike riders, hikers (us), rich Californians and tourists from around the world. The year-round population of Sedona is supposed to be about 12,000 but this is followed by the statement that over 4,000,000 tourists visit each year. The city of Pheonix to the south is growing even faster.

In spite of the initial shock we were able to get away from it all and find some restorative hours studying the flora and fauna each day. We packed light lunches and extra water and always found a challenging or not-so-challenging trail to fill our day.

I still have over 300 photos to sort, but will not post them all here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

On Another Way

I will be leaving tomorrow for my Dad's memorial service. I love him too much to write about this. Most good writers get their feelings and thoughts down and come to some growth and realization as well as a beautiful written memory. I will have to write about this much later. I have many regrets and pain and just CANNOT share it. I may be a coward but I just need time. So enough on that.

Now for some random thoughts that are keeping me sane.

1. How do you think Al and Tipper's evening went and what were they thinking when they ate dinner with people who use double-sided tape to get dressed?

2. I may never retire, with today's stock market free-fall. Have you bought anything made in the United States lately? Most of my new furniture, towels and sheets came by way of China even though I purchased from U.S. firms. I guess you can't manipulate the market forever! Wonder where this leaves Bush's private retirement accounts idea?

3. I will not get a lifetime achievement award in my field (as my husband has recently gotten) when I retire unless not killing an immature twit that I work with counts as a mature gesture on my part. I am still trying very hard to kill her with kindness and this gesture deserves some type of reward, don't you think?

4. Now the US Center for Science in the Public Interest says that chain restaurants routinely serve "A 2,000-calorie appetizer. A 2,000-calorie main course. Another 1,700 calories for dessert." While I am smart enough to know the caloric dangers of eating in a restaurant and frequently split entrees or desserts with my hubby, I am a little sruprised at these numbers! Shouldn't we get a little truth in advertising on the menus? After all, this isn't a once a year visit to Roy's, my favorite restaurant.

5. Whoopee! Spring is coming. After my memorial long weekend with my family, my husband and I are escaping to Arizona using up some 'points'. Please tell me you want to see a few of the lovely photos I will take of the very unique area where I will be staying.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Dealing With It

8:30 A.M. and Tabor was running late on an already full day. A morning doctor's appointment followed by a ten mile drive and two afternoon meetings. These days she had a second job as back-up for a departing colleague. Two jobs and her time was always overfilled. She wouldn't have been late except for the 6:00 AM phone call. That call resulted in several other phone calls all of which took more precious time. Time she didn't have. Also she was moving slowly and without energy because for some reason she woke up at 2:00 A.M. after just a few hours of sleep. She found herself lying in bed --wide awake. Never really got back to sleep.

The trip to the doctor's was way back in her old neighborhood. Morning rush hour was in full play and she had to squeeze her little car between two big SUVs. Although she was driving back to the old neighborhood, she found it irritating that the new buildings and road changes were confusing. This confusion seemed to happen to her more often these days, and it was irritating. She began to realize that her distracted mind needed to concentrate or she would miss the turn.

Arriving at the doctor's office 20 minutes early gave her time to make some calls to work to let people know of her changed schedule. Too much sympathy and chit chat. Just make sure that the right people get the changes. Just need to get through this day.

She liked this doctor and had gone to him for years. He asked how she was and she provided the usual 'fine.' He didn't really want to know and she didn't really want to start the conversation. Four clinical breast massages later he called the nurse into the room and Tabor took the 'position.' God this was painful this time! It felt as if he was inserting pointed knives. Tabor bit her lip as tears streamed down her face. Doc E. apologized and did try to be more gentle. Tabor commented that getting old was the pits. She knew if she didn't stop these tears they would flow like melting snow. Doc E. asked again if she was OK. Tabor smiled and winced.

It wasn't until she got to the technician who was taking her blood later that the how-are-you question was answered honestly. Tabor was surprised that she was able to say directly to this perfect stranger that her father has passed on last night. Now she had said it three times this morning. Once to her husband, once to the secretary at work and now to this perfect stranger. Since it didn't get any easier, Tabor decided she wasn't going to say it anymore.

Tabor dealt with things in the cliched fashion of not thinking about it, not talking about it, not retrospectively writing about it, not dwelling on it. It was over. The long battle of hospitals and IV's and feeling guilty because her brothers and sister and sister-in-law bore the heavy burden was passing. Tabor felt relief. But she wouldn't tell her family that. They wouldn't think her honest...just cold. She knew that she would be dealing with this in bits and pieces in years to come. But that was the only way she could swallow it right now.

Now for the call to the kids...Tabor realized she had to say it again.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Looking at the scenery from the car window as we headed down to the 'house on the rivah' we were given an interesting lesson in weather patterns. Our starting point was bitterly cold and the land was covered in about an inch of white snow covered by a crust of ice---like a white chocolate covered vanilla ice cream bar.

After we had gone about 10 miles the snow disappeared and the land was covered in a silvery glitter with dirty mounds of earth peaking through the farm fields.

Then after another 10 or 15 miles the land was clear of ice, but the trees and shrubs looked as if they had been painted with silver paint. The sun was bouncing off the sices of the branches making it look like a forest of minimilist Christmas trees.

As we reached the last ten miles, the trees resumed their normal winter gray dullness but when I looked at their base I saw broken silver bits of glass beneath the branches in a circle like a round lace petticoat.

When we reached the river, it was frozen over and mirrored even more beautifully the various sunlight angles and shades of the late afternoon. At times the view from the window was a watercolor painting. There was a small pocket at one end of the river that had not frozen over and the geese were using this area as their strategic starting and stopping point.

(By the way, Weary Hag, is back. They always come back, sooner or later...hee, hee. It is nice when friends move back into the neighborhood.)

Monday, February 12, 2007

And Life Goes On

Being responsible for a wonderful newly manufactured human being for an entire weekend is rewarding, daunting, exhausting, instructional and life-changing. He has been to our house before and didn't mind at all being there without the parental unit. (That is except for the Saturday nap time when he managed to get out of the Pac-n-play shortly after being put down. The Pac-n-play was totally upright as was Xman when I went in ten minutes later to check on him! Those of you who know what I am talking about will smile as well as gasp...the little guy is not yet two!)

Each day we spent some time outside in spite of the cold weather. He is an outside guy. My walk on saturday was just down the road. Hubby took Xman for a "boatride."

There were lots of hiding games including at least twice when one or both of us had a minor heart attack when we could not find the little tyke ANYWHERE!! He is quiet and stealth-like, a real challenge. I THOUGHT our house was a reasonable size, but when a little guy hides the house becomes huge and daunting.

Everywhere Xman went---so did Big Bear. Just like Christopher Robin.

Early on Saturday it was a real pleasure to watch him discover one of his favorite celestial bodies---the moon.

Here he is calling to his grandfather to come see this wonderful miracle.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Frivolous Friday

"Learn the best colors, bedding,
furniture, lighting, accessories
and more for creating a
hotel-inspired bed and bath »"

The above is text from a link from a HGTV email that I received yesterday. I had to read it twice to make sure that I read it correctly. Maybe I am missing something, but the last feeling I want to create in my house is that I am still on the road in that “luxury” hotel. I want a home that is inspired by me, myself and I, and doesn't reflect in any way a ‘mass luxury’ design. They also had a section on “Decorating in Red.” I’ve got news for them…that is so yesterday. Orange and burned rust is the new red and anyone with any design sense knows that!

2. We have Xman for the whole weekend. What DOES one do with a high energy 20-month-old when you can't take him outside?

3. My favorite (and only) son came to dinner last night. A big deal for me as I see him on average every other month or even less. He is working on audio-engineering some training videos for the government. The feedback to our illustrious leader from parents who have lost their children in the war is that the people who bring the news are pretty green in age and really not prepared well to handle this very difficult task. So now some new training videos are being created. My son says they are actually pretty well done. Wouldn't it be nice if he got a paycheck for some other type of training video---any other?

4. My week at work has been exhausting. It is either boredom or a flat-out race in this job of mine. I hope I am still alive by retirement time. Several personnel changes have put everyone on edge.

5. I accidentally sent an email to the wrong person about picking up a new server for deployment in our office. The other person was a little panicked because they had heard through the rumor mill their program might be shut down and they thought we were getting their server! She was relieved to learn it was just my crappy typing.

6. I got some bad news in the mail yesterday...but can't write about it...not just yet. Therefore, I am writing about everything..but


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Oldest Profession

Well, while it is the oldest "job" and really is a profession there is yet some discussion on whether it is 'paid.' I am talking about motherhood.

I have been reading and watching someone in blogdom go through a painful breakup of a marriage involving small children. (Blogdom is like the rabbit fall into another's honest life and it becomes as important as the lives of those you talk to each day.) Like all marriages her's is complicated and there are many sides to the story including the sides of the children. She has decided to get a divorce and that decision is neither right nor wrong. Since this decision involves tremendous pain and sacrifice, I know that she has thought long and hard about this and feels that it is the BEST decision for her--and for those she cares about--maybe even including her future ex. While I have never gone through a divorce (and therefore probably cannot really write about it) I always thought of it like the amputation of a limb. Sometimes the limb is so diseased and painful that the owner does not miss it nor its usefulness for any length of time once the initial pain and inconvenience are gone. The fear and pain of the amputation is replaced by a deep breath of freedom and safety.

For others, this limb is loved and useful but requires too much bracing and support and therapy to keep it working and the owner just becomes tired --- muscle tired, bone tired. So they carefully and intellectually proceed to get the surgery. It is preceded by therapy and advice from EVERYONE around them. They know, even without hope, though, that the divorce is the final necessary act.

In so many cases marriages dissolve because the woman loses herself. She views the marriage like any very important job. She puts in 125%. But there is no promotion and certainly no change in status in this world. She works 24 hours a day seven days a week and doesn't think about down time or her needs. She is going to be the best G--D--- wife ever and her kids are never going to want for support and sustenance and her husband is going to be treated like the breadwinner king that he is. This is a particularly difficult role to play if you are also working 40 hours a week as many women are. Of course, hubby is in shock when the big D rears it ugly head. Men (and yes, I generalize here) are not perceptive in relationships and tend to ignore subtle and blatant clues. He thought that the pure love was the only currency necessary. He thought she really was passionate about all of this stuff. Clean toilets, perfectly crafted couponed shopping, child psychology on call, and of course, sex on call. Few men are raised to look at marriage the same way they would look at a business partnership. I admit I didn't raise my son that way.

And then as the children grow and she gets a little space and down time she has moments of clarity that she lost her real self somewhere along the way. She realizes that the woman her husband married is deeply buried in a half-lidded body and an ugly gray sweatsuit. She finds there are things she would like to change in the marriage, but she doesn't have the necessary power or energy to make the changes, that is, until she makes the BIG change.

I wish there was some magic formula to make marriages work for those intelligent people. Some perfect therapy or medicine or chant.

Oh well, it is not the end of the world in the grand scheme of things. It is the beginning of a new life and both will stretch and grow and learn. And both will look back on this time, and if they are mentally healthy, they will view it as a lesson and it will make them better people.

Your turn.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Sunday Morning

Sunday morning

The first misty birth of today’s morning
Brushes the smell of warm sun on the blanket’s edge.
A distant feathered cry of elation invades the mind’s smoky eye.
I wait.
I do not open my eyes and command the end of floating
Between the sheets in this transformation in time.
It is still an addictive mystery,
The rare alone moment when nothing is demanded
And no one sings a song of need.
There is yet again the promise of new.
No footprints on the snow or sand.
No expectations not yet met.
It is another chance for a day of peaceful challenge.

(Post Script: I deny the existence of a Superbowl today.)


Dancing and gnashing and wailing
Waiting and learning and dying
Arising for breath in the next ring

Around and around and around
Halting and jerking and moving
Pausing and breathing and staring

Act I and Act II and Act III
Predetermined and predicted and preceded
Missing the answers already

Monday, January 29, 2007

Oh yeah, like you blend!!

With the new immigration reform law, I thought I would link to this old post.

If you had to guess the location and heritage and profession of the man above, you might get it right...but then again, you might not.  If I told you he was a Japanese movie director, would you believe me?  Maybe a gangster out of Tokyo waiting for his limo or perhaps an urban designer from New York?  It is hard to judge a book by its cover. 

He was a fisherman from one of the tuna boats on an island in Japan. I was busy taking photos of the tuna being loaded and unloaded and the sorting of the fish for auction. He came up and in sign language asked me to take his picture. If you recognize him, I would love to send him this photo which came out very well.

The title of this blog was taken from a movie called "My Cousin Vinny" which came out in 1992 starring Joe Pesci, Ralph Maccio and Marisa Tomei. It is a silly black comedy about a murder trial and the class of regional cultures in America. Due to a series of miscommunications and misunderstandings, two young New Yorkers are charged with murder in a small Alabama town. Joe Pesci, a personal injury lawyer, flies down from New York to save his cousin. He brings along his girlfriend Marisa Tomei and the clash of cultures begins. The line above results from a discussion between the boyfriend (Pesci) and the girlfriend (Tomei) who accuse each other of not fitting adequately into the rural southern town setting. The movie did not get great reviews, but it obviously has struck a chord with me if I remember it after more than a decade. I loved the clash of the culture of New York 'gansta' and Alabama 'good-old-boy'.

I am drawn to those stories where characters from totally different backgrounds have to interact, adjust and begin to understand and respect each other. Vinnie is totally regarded as a loser at the beginning of the movie because of his thick accent and strange black suit. He wins the case with the help of his 'smart' girlfriend in leather and boots and raw outspoken bravada.
While it had a predictable ending, I enjoyed the cultural dance and surrprise.

I was intrigued by, if not quite understanding the allure, the recent news that the Japanese woman are drawn to the cartoon SpongeBob Squarepants thing and that all of his iconic wares are selling like hotcakes or should I say okonomyaki?

I was reassured (not threatened) by a featured news story about a a very popular New Jersey theater that shows only Bollywood movies and serves Indian food. The Asian Indian Americans can relax in a theater and pretend they are back home.

I am pleased to see the salsa dance clubs that are filling our cities due to the influx of Latino immigrants-- even though I think I have forgotten my salsa steps totally and could never match a real latino woman who loves her rhythm.

While waiting in line at the maternity store this weekend (for my daughter, of course) I watched and listened to the ebullient discussion between a woman from the Philippines who was interviewing a woman from Gabon for a job in the store. Each with their own thick accents talking in English.

I have a friend who years ago had car trouble in her hometown of Miami and had to pull into a gas station in a part of town where no one spoke English. She spoke no Spanish. It was a very difficult night for her. I don't feel so good about that incident as she related it, and while I respect other cultures, I think English does have to be the official language. Communication is everything. English has to be the language we can depend on in our schools and our businesses allowing other languages to be used for supplement and assistance only.

(Although I will admit the media has allowed American English to fall into the realm of disaster!)

(As a 2013 addendum to this post, I watch refugees take shelters in every ruined corner of the world and on every open dust swept dessert this year and want to find them mixing their accents in my neighborhood.)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Frivellous Friday (Why does that word look so weird?)

I saw this statement somewhere a few weeks ago: "If the world didn't suck we'd all fall off."

If you just think about that (rude) statement it is more than funny, more than cynical, more than fatalistic and yet all of the above. What would the Dali Lama say?

".. .Be gentle with the earth." Is that because he knows it will quit sucking if we aren't gentle?

1. Today the office received a FedEx package that had been sent from our own agency in an office only two doors away!! The strangest thing was that 50% of the people who were told about this were not surprised. As long as we continue to hire people based on their politics and not their skills....

2. I was told to pick up a new access pass for my apartment today and to turn in the old access pass. The lady who gave me the new pass said that it should be operational, but she also handed me back my old pass and smiled, "just in case." Lucky for me I had the old pass when I tried to enter my apartment building on this very cold afternoon.

3. My husband called from the house to ask about pulling a wine from my little chiller so that he could bring a gift to his Carolina friends when he drives down this evening. I cannot tell you how funny it was trying to understand what he was saying as he read each wine bottle! I finally told him to just go the wine store and tell them he wanted a nice Cabernet in the $25 range.

4. My co-worker told me that his father-in-law, who lives in Las Vegas, thinks that the whole recycling program is a Communist plot and he refuses to participate when he comes to visit. Guess which party ticket he votes?

After perusing my latest order from Netflix and watching my choices for TV shows, my husband has suggested that I may have a bit of a personality disorder. I like to watch Monk and Gilmore Girls, both TV shows that reflect very neurotic people al la Woody Allen with much second guessing, over-talking and lack of self esteem. I also seem lately to order movies from Netflix that are dramas about the racial problems and wars in third world countries. What is up with that? (In defense I think Ugly Betty is one of the best TV shows to come along in a long time and watch it regularly.)

6. I love Star Trek--the TV shows-- and think Rosenberry was a wonderful writer but the Star Trek actors are given terrible lines. Great plot yet such soap opera dialogue and over the top acting. Just turn off the sound and watch the TV show and see if you can keep from laughing.

7. I am moving from an area where I am in walking distance of a 20 screen movie theater and also another 5 screen venue for art films. In the future I am moving to a place that has an old movie theater with just one or two screens and an audience that talks back to the screen.

8. After much searching on the Internet I found the location of the showing of the movie,"The Painted Veil." If you like a rich and realistic love story set in an exotic location with lots of good drama and great acting, than this is worth a long drive to see. This movie will rapidly disappear from the listings, so catch it now.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Get Your Whirligig On Straight

The world is a whirling place. It stops for no man and as everyone's lives around you also whirl you most certainly will wake up and find yourself in a strange or different place before your whirling is over. Last night I had drafted a blog on how miserable I am at my job and realized before posting, but after the cathartic writing, that people who have truly difficult jobs or even more challenging, no job at all, would not really be interested or sympathetic in my painful office politics or how useless I feel in my waning career these days. (I make good money, I can pretty much do what I want each day...get over yourself, Tabor.) And while I blog primarily for myself and posterity, I also have grown to love and admire co-bloggers and therefore feel some responsibilty in wasting their time. So I deleted the post.

Then, as if this realization was not enough, I was standing in my boss's office talking this morning when one of our guest speakers was brought in for an introduction. This man had had a good career in the environmental sciences in the military and retired in his mid-50's and was currently working on a PhD in another area. One chapter from his thesis was what he was going to talk about to our group.

He was small in stature and not exceptional physically in any way. You would not notice him passing on the street. But his personality was noticable. He was energetic and effusive and charming. There are people in this world that just love life and love what they do and when they stop doing what they do, they find something else to love and you can feel the magnetic pull of that enthusiasm. They always seems to land on their feet and see the glass as half full. In talking about his life and family he revealed that he had two children. One of them was a daughter who had
drug problems and also had a two-year-old out-of-wedlock child. He said that she was going to lose custody of this child and after many meetings with lawyers and social workers, he and his wife realized that if they ever expected to see this grandchild again, they would have to adopt her. He clearly was still working through this big decision. The fact that he shared it with complete strangers without compunction puts him in that category of people who have total trust in the world. (Not a category where I have ever had the luxury of being a member.)

He mind was filled with questions about how his physical stamina would be so that he could still be a parent in ten years when this girl was 12. His whole concern was about his energy levels waning...not at all about the expense and scheduling adjustments and personal sacrifices involved in raising a small child.

I have a grandchild that is about the same age, and while I would throw myself at the foot of any judge without a second's thought to beg for custody, I also could not fail to realize all the work that is entailed in raising another human being. All the sacrifices, the compromises, the intellectual effort in trying to find out what is happening in a young person's culture. Trying to understand MySpace, YouTube, Wii and still sharpen the tools to protect that person from all the bad stuff while ALSO defending your gray hair and cane in this youth obsessed culture is not a challenge I would be eager to face.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


This creative project was motivated by Colleen's comment on the business card left by one of the many geese on the river in my earlier post. I couldn't resist and since I don't have anything to write about right now due to some stresses at work, I have decided that I need to continue to focus on such humor in my down time.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Beauty is in the Eyes of the Beholder

Dali in the Church

Blue Sunday Worship

Two different interpretations of a cathedral photo I took in Sicily this past fall. The first is pretty abstract and reminds me of melting candles in cathedrals. The second is more traditional. Both were done on the computer without the smell of turpentine or the chance of spilled tempura. Which do you like more?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Out of Place Life Story #7

In every person's life, most likely when they are crossing that uneven bridge between childhood and adulthood, but many times happening even later, there are times when you go to a social gathering or you are among strangers and you know immediately you do not fit. You are suddenly and coldly an alien on the side of the planet where you have just landed. This has happened quite a few times in my life, maybe due to my insecurities or maybe due to my conservative (don't laugh) nature or maybe my plain impatience with society and unwillingness to "fit in."

In graduate school in Hawaii, as a very poor student only months away from obtaining a teaching certificate, I and a date from Nicaragua (another life story) went to a party at one of the houses near campus. Neither of us knew the party givers very well, but we sensed almost immediately upon entering the dark living area that we were out of our place. The group of young men and women were very casually sitting around the floor draped around furniture and each other and talking in quiet tones as if they had known each other for many years. The sweet smell of marijuana took its laid-back time reaching us as we both sat on the floor with our backs to the wall.
It may come as a surprise to readers, but I never tried the stuff. I knew it was against the law and while I may have gotten three sheets to the wind on good beer in my college days at the dance hall near campus, I was not going to risk losing my teaching certificate (my ticket out of poverty) just to try some illegal buzz.

Everyone was facing a screen at the end of the room with a slide projector set up at the opposite end. There was some food on a table behind the furniture, but no one seemed to be interested. In a short time familiar psychedelic 60's music started and the projector was turned on. The slides seemed to be about some camping vacation that several of the people in the room had taken, although it was too dark for me to really tell who in the room matched with the slide photo. Pictures of the camp set-up, food cooking and people sitting around a fire were the first part of the show. No one in the room did any talking, everyone just watched. The following slides of the next day's camping were a little different. Everyone had seemed to misplace their clothes and the weather in Hawaii was warm enough that no one on the camping trip seemed to notice that they were all naked. Looking back on this show, I realize it was not as shocking as I thought at the time. I wasn't all that innocent in life, but my date (a good Latin Catholic) turned to me and suggested we may want to leave and go get some coffee somewhere. I found myself very uncomfortable seeing people I didn't even know in their birthday suits and agreed to leave. We made a 'graceful exit.' Perhaps if I had really known these folks, I would not have felt quite so odd and out of place. Maybe if it had been more than the second date with my Nicaraguan friend, I would have felt more comfortable. Who knows. I just know I was Out of Place.

It has been a long time since I felt uncomfortable in any social or other situation.

On Monday morning my husband and I were on our way back to the city from our house on the river. Since we were goofing around and failed to eat breakfast, I proclaimed that we deserved Dunkin Donuts and coffee. This is a rare treat as we tend to eat healthier in our old age. After loading the car we headed to the nearby shopping center.

It was about 9:00 A.M. and several early workers were already taking their mid-morning coffee break. We seemed to be noticed by several of them as we exited our car, which would not have surprised me so much when I was a young and, if I do say so myself, attractive woman. But since this was certainly no longer true, I was wondering what was up. Then my husband passed ahead of me in his eager stride toward the pastry palace. Aha! Mystery solved. He had on a very nice suit and tie for a luncheon meeting that he had planned in the city. He looked so out of place and I quietly mentioned it to him when I caught up. He threw back his head and laughed, which caused an elderly man in front of us to turn and look, not once but several times. My husband said under his breath "Make way for the Senator." Something only a man raised in the South would say and I had to smile.

Upon entering Dunkin's my husband actually turned to the two men behind us and smiled and gesturing to his suit said apologetically, "I have a meeting today."

I grinned thinking they probably thought he was appearing before a judge. Weddings and court hearings would be the only time one would see someone in a suit in that part of the county...unless they were a Senator, of course.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Good Side

While global warming is going to bring very bad news in the coming years, we have had a wonderful three day weekend in the high 60's where we set aside the curtain ironing and hanging and the bill paying and put the canoe in the river for a rare January paddle.

The river was full of a convention of noisy geese who rushed to lift high into the air everytime a motorboat went up or down the river. A lot of energy was expended by them to live on the river next to man who uses the river as a freeway.

By the time we caught up to where they were resting there was only a floating "calling card."

Remember my bald friend?

Note the photos have not been downsized so be prepared for slowness of loading if you click for a larger view.

I don't know if this was the same fellow/fellowess who ate lunch in our backyard a while back. It was too hard to get close in the canoe for a better look. I am not sure that my powers of observation would have been up to the challenge anyway. The faster and yet quieter we paddled the more careful he became. He would let us get up only so close as we headed toward the channel and I still don't have that telephoto lense. He/she is breathtaking regardless of the distance!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Second Glass is a Rose

There are phrases reserved for people who blog when they are less inhibited due to consumption of alcohol. I think one of these is call "beerblogging". Well, I am on my second glass of a blush wine that was actually made by a friend of mine and so I am "blushblogging."

This rose is very good and reminds me of the Portugese rose that was all the rage among the young college set in the 60s and 70s. To a college student the wine seemed so exotic and came in an interesting and unsually shaped red clay-colored bottle. It had gentle little bubbles and was as close to a champagne as we could afford. I cannot for the life of me put my finger on the label...but I am sure my peer bloggers will help me out, please! I think it was introduced via the soldiers who traveled to Europe and then came back to let us know how sophisticated they were because I remember that I discovered it from a soldier or two that I dated.

Anyway, enough about my youthful love life, because this blog entry is about something else. Two glasses of wine now have made me admit after all these years, that birthdays are sort of important. In case anyone is interested, I turned the big 60 on the 21st of December. My sister remembered and sent me a lovely cashmere shawl (?), my daughter and her husband got me an espresso coffee maker (? kitchen appliances at 60?) which I returned for a food processor which is a little more practical, and my hubby and son bought me a lovely drusy necklace with a garnet that they got at a Colorado gem store. And that was it! I turned 60 and I actually thought something really monumental would happen even though I am always ready to poo-poo birthdays as just numbers. I thought I would get the first payment on an African safari (which is something I have been dreaming of for years) or maybe a trip to a New York broadway play.

I mean 6 decades should be worth something a little special! On my husbands 60th we went to a salsa club and danced the night away with about a dozen friends and our kids and their dates.

No luck. Daughter was sick and the putanesca pasta dish that I asked for, in spite of the fact the I am the only one who likes anchovies, was inadvertantly mixed with the jar of vodka red sauce my daughter also bought at the Italian store as a second choice for the small group of guests for dinner. My daughter was sick and passed the recipe on to my hubby who mixed the two sauces, either subconsciously and on purpose to overcome any teeny tiny flavor of anchovy which he hates, or accidentally, because he was trying to impress our company, mixed the two recipes...thereby totally negating the meal.

At work I got absolutely no notice (although the two guys who turned 50 and 60 earlier in the year got cards, well wishes and small gifts.). I mean I don't really care...REALLY. It is just a little irritating as I think this is a BIG birthday.

Oh well enough whining into my wine. Happy Birthday to me!!

P.S. YES, Peruby, it was Lancer's. Wouldn't you know it would have a name like that. For those of you who find the number 60 important...go here for a nice walk down memory lane.

Monday, January 08, 2007

If it is not one end, it is the other! Life Story #6

Years, alright, decades ago when I lived on a very small island in the South Pacific with water that ran or not and lights that lit or not and cars that started or not, I had a very bad case of the flu. I swear to this day that it was Dengue fever but I am usually poo-pooed by medical intelligentsia when I say this. I guess one should not live through Dengue? Dengue fever makes you feel as if you have been run over by a large train and every joint aches.

I had a two year-old daughter at the time and was confined to a small apartment with no real help...including my hubby whose life revolved around his job and who never took any of my illnesses very seriously anyway.

I clearly remember being up part of one night helping my daughter through her share of the illness only to have her reach the top of this roller coaster ride to health and end up the next day as the energizer bunny. Something that happens to small children with amazing and unexplainable speed. Their eyes become bright and they run everywhere and their chatter can hurt the ears when only hours before they were panting with weakness on your chest.

I was lying on the sofa in real pain when my little two-year-old found the two-inch-thick tabloid-size fairy tale book she had received for Christmas. She lifted the book (almost as big as her) with surprising ease and hurried across the room. She lost her grip just as she reached the sofa and dropped the book like a slab of concrete across my abdomen. I almost blacked out from the pain and barely heard her sweet voice asking me to read her a story. Trying to care for a tiny someone when you are sick is a real challenge!

Now to the present. This weekend we babysat for Xman who had the flu. He hadn't eaten much in days and had intestinal flu and all that that entails. His dad also had a long night rendezvous with the porcelain throne the night before. Mom, who is now pregnant, is sick from the pregnancy and may be fighting a lighter version of the flu. They were a trio of sad sacks. Fortunately they have us and we took Xman for a long drive and a brief visit to the park so that they could recoup and re-focus. Family is so important and I sure could have used a grandparent when my husband and I were being adventurers in our youth.

Another Movie Review

It seems to be a week of movie going for Tabor. Months go by and we don't go near a theater and then we spend two weekends in a row taking in movies. I saw The Good Shepherd this weekend. It was a last minute decision and I was not expecting much. Although the story line has a few more twists and turns than expected, it is still a bit plodding and could certainly use some humor—even if it was black humor.

The movie is a fictionalized account of the start-up of the CIA and is directed by Robert DeNiro who also plays a small role as a retired General. Matt Damon plays the lead as one of the new spies selected from a carefully vetted group of young men from families of wealth. These men selected seem to all belong to the 'formerly secret' Yale "Skull and Cross Bones" fraternity. Angelina Jolie who plays his long-suffering wife is totally miscast in the part. Her personality doesn’t match her actions and her interest in Damon (who plays an unbelievably stiff conservative patriot) doesn’t make sense. The movie is dark and slow. The primary theme seems to be that you cannot trust anyone. People will betray you either by design or accident.

Some of the spy techniques such as the tedious way that photographs were analyzed before our new digital technology were interesting.

There is one scene in the movie which left a very chilling impression on me. Damon goes to visit Joe Pesci who plays a cameo scene as an Italian (Mafia man?) who is being asked to assist the CIA with the Bay of Pigs operation. Pesci ,who clearly has no respect for the CIA guys and says the CIA creates the “big wars,” then asks Damon to tell him what he has. Pesci says (and I paraphrase) “We Italians have got our family and our food, the Jews have got their tradition. Even the Ni**ers have got their music. But what have you guys got?”

Damon replies expressionlessly, “We have the United States of America and we let you live here.” Whew. (Does this bring to mind anyone---maybe someone who retired from a Cabinet position a few years ago?)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The View on the Other Side of the Castle Wall

I renewed my prior free subscription to "Food and Wine" this year because I found the recipes and wine news interesting, even if a little luxurious and expensive. I had received this subscription free last year when I bought my daughter a gift certificate to Williams Sonoma ---a very expensive 'kitchen' store.

I am sitting on the sofa perusing the February 2007 issue and decided to share some of this with bloggers who might never pick up such a magazine.

On the cover is a lovely photo of a red bowl of butternut squash soup with apple slices and smoked cheddar. (Already I am hungry.)

The ads show luxury gourmet kitchens, luxury vacations and products that only lottery winners could afford. The editors page talks about how unexciting Februaries are following the holidays and discusses a feature story about how two famous chefs in Colorado arrange a meal in a "gorgeous old barn...surrounded by huge snowdrifts...prepared a delicious grilled meal of capon with salsa verde, meatballs and butter coal-roasted potatoes. Winter grilling..." Being the age I am and having grown up in Colorado, I am thinking how cold it must be to eat a meal in "gorgeous old barn." The beauty of a Colorado winter is in the warm sunshine...not the shade of a windy old barn. I picture myself trying to cut through the capon with woolen gloves.

The "news and notes" page does talk about products that are good for the environment...a floor cleaning solution ($25) and reclaimed hardwood from Seattle made into lovely tables ($1,200). It appears to cost money to do good. (To give them some credit they do talk about an Oregon nonprofit that sends bikes to Rwanda so that the coffee farmers can transport their coffee beans to market.)

They also praise a velvety jam that is a dollar an ounce and only 100 jars are made each year. Among the rich it is all about getting the rare.

There is a really neat ad for a Breville blender that they claim transforms ice into snowflakes via a patented "hemisphere bowl/blade system". The design eliminates all 'dead' zones and makes smoothies with no lumps. It seems the rich never have to take their lumps.

So why am I on this luxury rant? I think it has something to do with the movie I saw last night--Blood Diamonds. As a side comment, this movie is well done (just a little derivative) and it has made me a big fan of DiCaprio. I saw him in the violent bloody Departed a few months ago and he is much like Meryl Streep in being able to fold gently in the subtle differences of each character.
There is a reasonable love story and a heart-wrenching father son theme and the great scenes of that beautiful continent that contrast with the blood that runs so freely.

Blood Diamonds
tells the well known story of how we rape Africa to support our luxurious life style in the rich nations of the world. It makes you watch the news with impatience at the stupid stories and with cynicism at the others stories. It makes you look at diamonds in a whole new glint. But, for me, I now feel, once again, that my retirement hours must be spent more usefully as payment for all my good luck at being born in the right place at the right time.