Saturday, December 28, 2013

My How Things Have Changed!

Melvin before and after!
About 22 1/2 years ago we went on our  very first cruise. It was a short cruise from LA to Ensenada and back. A short stop at Catalina Island and a day at sea for gambling purposes.

We had just taken a trip to Las Vegas (my first) where I talked Mel into getting a permanent in his hair.

So on the cruise we looked like matching mushrooms!

When we moved to the hinterlands of SLO county Melvin vowed to let both his beard and his hair grow.

Tonight at that lovely dinner we noticed that he had the longest hair in the place.

Not just male hair.

HAIR.

I swear it has grown two inches in the last week.

SO I took a picture of him.

You will note the picture on the wall of the matching mushrooms.

Things have changed a little in the last 23 years.

I, for one, really like it!

When It Doesn't Go Quite Right

Remember my Christmas present from the Spouse?

Yup, that's it.

The Yamaha Clavanova (electric sound-no soundboard).

I was SOOOOOO excited to get a piano again and so happy to be able to play with out disturbing people. (It has headset outlets)

I played it nearly everyday from the 15th until the 22nd of December.

Haven't touched it since.

Why, you might ask, hasn't the woman touched the piano since the 22nd of December?



BECAUSE IT BROKE!!!!!!

The bass speaker suddenly decided to crackle and rattle when the low notes on the keyboard were struck. I could hear it over the PHONE it was so noticable.

Since I bought the thing at Costco I figured that should be the outfit to call. And I did.

They told me I had to bring it back to the store to replace it.

Now, in my most CONGENIAL of tones I informed the person to whom I was speaking that it was a PIANO and had been delivered to my home and that returning it to the store might cause considerable more damage to the item AND that it was under warranty AND that even if I could get it back it was a "road show" item and, thus they could not replace it as THERE WERE NO MORE IN THE STORE.

I was as congenial as I could be. (==snort==)

I was given a phone number to call Yamaha. (Yamaha had the warranty)

I called the number. It was answered by a machine that said that "I am out of the office until January 3. If this is an emergency please call ############.

I called the number given for emergencies. Yes, I know, it was not really an emergency but I figured it wasn't 991 so it wouldn't constitute making a non-emergency call to an emergency number. Besides, at this point my patience had left the building.

The emergency number was answered by a machine that told me to listen carefully to the menu as many items had changed.

I called this number several times trying a new menu number each time. I did that because there was no menu number for warranty or customer support or repair or ANYTHING that came close to the purpose of my call.

Eventually, I got a machine that told me (READY???)


That Yamaha Corporate Offices were CLOSED for the holidays! 

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!?

Now I am getting pissed off. I just want to find out how to FIX the piano. This is not rocket science or even mathematics. It is, however, customer service. An Art.

The next call is back to Costco.

I delicately explain the situation to another customer service employee. She gets it. She gets a manager.

That young man asks for all the pertinent information: date of purchase, purchase order number (if I have it), date of delivery, and my member number. He requests that I send all of this to him by email and he will contact his Corporate Office regarding the proper contact at Yamaha.

I send the email that night.

I expected a phone call on the next business day to apprise me of his progress. As of yesterday- nothing.

I call Costco again.

I ask for the manager by name.

LONG PAUSE.

"He isn't here, can I take a message?"

I briefly (no sarcasm- I was brief) told her that I had expected a call since I had sent an email directly to him regarding my issues.

LONGER PAUSE

He had been gone since that day. I was not told why (it really wasn't my business) But I was referred to another manager. I was given his email as well. I was told he would call me as soon as he was available.

I did apologize to this person because I had been a bit of a Christmas Boob. She understood and laughed telling me I was one of the easier ones.

Anyway, I forwarded my first email (the one with all the pertinent info) to the second manager and added that I was not expecting much as I had been lied to at every step in this process and frankly didn't expect a call from him.
(yeah, I was snotty)

Lo and Behold!

I got a phone call yesterday. This manager had called Corporate, had call Yamaha , found the local repair person AND called him!

Tonight I contacted the repair person who says he will be here about noon on Monday.

My faith in humanity is gradually being restored!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Music--Again


There it is. The piano.

All set up and ready to go.

But for me to make it go I had to find my old music.

I knew I had it because when we moved to the country I seriously contemplated throwing it all out.

But I didn't

It held a lot of memories.

And a little hope that I would play again.

So when the piano was delivered this morning I went to the box that said "MUSIC" on the side. I brought it out to the piano.

I sat down and opened the box.

And the memories came roaring back.

There was my Aaron Thompson, Grade One piano lesson book. Grade 4 was next to it. (Have no idea where 2 and 3 went to)


There were Etude books and practice (scales) books. There was an intact copy of the May 1954 Etude magazine with the name "Hanigan" in very precise script on the front. There was a hard bound book from 1947 of Stephen Foster songs inscribed by my Aunt Louise. (I believe that was a gift to my grandmother.)

There was a copy of the "Sound of Music". I had played that from memory for years. (although I had to do a great deal of reading this morning!)

But the one that REALLY got me?

A copy of "The Impossible Dream" from the musical Man Of LaMancha.



This was the copy that Virginia Hanigan gave to Dad as his theme song when he became Lieutenant Governor of California, Nevada, Hawaii Kiwanis Clubs. It was 1969. And she wrote his name on the front.


Dad sang that song at every Kiwanis Meeting that he went to  as Lieutenant Governor that year. I must have heard him sing it a hundred times.


I had memorized it and played it for him at home.


Playing it today was a little weird. I couldn't remember where my fingers were suppose to go.


Guess I have to practice a bit.




Friday, December 13, 2013

It's About the Music

Christmas 1972- Barbara, Giz, Daniel, Gael and Bill

 I am, I guess, a music junkie.



I don't listen to radio music much and I can't tell you who the current artists are. But I have every Frank Sinatra song in my head. Peter, Paul and Mary live there as well--along with John Denver, The Righteous Brothers, the Weavers, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Herman's Hermits, and a LOT of classical folk. There are a few off-beat jazz pieces in there just to mess things up.

(One of my favorites is called "Bitch with a Bad Attitude" Used it as my ringtone for years.)

 Yeah, it's stuck in my head.

I often sing show tunes to people on the phone instead of saying hello.

And I always call my brothers on their birthdays to sing "Happy Birthday" as horribly as is possible without laughing.


For my ninth birthday my father bought me a Chickering Spinet Piano. I loved singing so a piano made sense. It stayed in the living room where I would practice (occasionally).

It was a major part of the Living Room decor and it was gorgeous. The keys had a great touch and the sound was pretty amazing.

So it was surprising to my entire family (and me) that I couldn't make a piano "sing". As Charles (on MASH) said, "I can play the notes but I can't make the music sing." 

Off and on, over the years, I have had pianos of one kind or another. Good grief, I moved one to Sacramento when I went to law school!

But it has been awhile now. And I have missed having that instrument.

I might not be very good at it but it always brought me a measure of comfort.

It is about the music. It keeps me sane.

It says things through me that I can't express any other way.

It makes me laugh, it makes me cry, it makes me angry, and it makes me sad.

It is a language that speaks to my soul.

Every time, every song (even the ones I don't like!)

So every Christmas I get a little nostalgic for that rosewood Chickering piano.

All of that is to give some context to my crying in COSTCO today.

You see, they had one of those traveling shows at the entrance. You know the type. Some major product or other that you can't find in many places. Sometimes it is clothes, some times it is jewelry, some times it camaras.

Today I walked in to get some catfood and canned peaches and there it was......A Yamaha Clavanova Spinet. With a dark rosewood finish.

Now a Clavanova is technically not a piano. It is electronic. There is no sound board. But it has an 88 key keyboard with grand piano touch. It will play recorded music (from wav files) and it will record what you play (if you want). Oh, I wanted it. It was small enough to fit in our little country home and it sounded fabulous. (yeah, I played a few notes)

But I walked away. I couldn't afford it. Not right now. And besides, Melvin would kill me (figure of speech use of that phrase)

Now Mel had been asking me what I wanted for my birthday. And I didn't know.

But....

I called him. And, being considerate of his feelings, I shaped remark saying that I knew we couldn't afford it, BUT there was this Yamaha piano at COSTCO.

To my astonishment he asked how much it was. I told him and again let him know that I knew that we couldn't afford it.

His response?

"That's perfect. Get it."

He had been saving.

And that is why I was crying at COSTCO today. Big drippy tears.

The piano will be delivered on Sunday.

Monday, December 9, 2013

And We Sang!






Now I have been with the Vocal Arts Ensemble for nearly 8 years. You would think I would have a current photo of the group.

BUT NO!

The best I have is this one from a couple of years ago.

Pathetic...

But this weekend? This weekend this group was anything BUT pathetic.

We kinda took the roof of the place on a couple of pieces.

Two shows (Saturday Night and Sunday Afternoon) that were both sold out! Like you couldn't buy a ticket at the door!

That really energized us and we sang our socks off.

Sorry if you missed it but we have another coming up in the Spring.

Stay tuned for our next episode!

Monday, November 25, 2013

IT ISN'T THANKSGIVING YET!!!

I was raised with one strict, immutable rule.

It was not to be broken under any circumstances.

No one ever broke it so I don't know what the consequences of such contemptible behavior would have been. But the mere thought of the possible consequence placed fear in the heart of every child in the house.

The Christmas decorations DO NOT come out until AFTER Thanksgiving. No lights, no tree, no tinsel, no cloth elves, no ivy. NOTHING.

So on Thanksgiving night or the day that we got home from Aunty Doo's house, all the cornucopias, waxed fruit, paper turkeys, color leaves, and anything that was orange, brown or gold was vanquished to their appropriate boxes.

In their place came boxes full of plastic ivy, wreaths, Santa Claus(es), spun glass, Nativity scenes, bright colored lights, ornaments, tinsel garlands, and tree things.

What an incredible collection of Christmas Kitsch as has never before or since existed.

It took the rest of the long weekend to get it all up.

It was so bright outside that I could find my way to my house on a dark, Tule fog night just by the glow!

So, every year that I have had my own home, I have judiciously followed the rule. Even in the years where I had to do all the work.

The house would be strewn with real pine wreaths covered in bows and beads and tinsel and flowers. Every flat surface would be covered in a themed cacophony of  kitsch. One table was all porcelain Santas in a field of snow. The next, elves in a musical tableau.  One a religious nightmare of tin and hay.

AND THE TREE!
Covered in ornaments of all shapes and sizes. Paper, glass, wood. Commercial, handmade, and heirlooms. Lights-some years large, some years small. Some years white, some years multicolored. Some years had strings of bubble lights or penguins, or chili peppers. Ever inch covered.

Then there was the year of the shaving cream........I would rather not talk about that one.

But always, ALWAYS after Thanksgiving.

Well, until yesterday.

I went into the "storage" area under our house. And I saw them. Four giant and three not so giant plastic tubs labeled "Christmas".

And I thought to myself, "Hmmm, I will need those on Friday. I can get them out today."

And then I opened one.

Because if I was going to give any of them to Goodwill (which I wanted to do because you can't put seven tubs of kitsch from a 2700 square foot house into a 1600 square foot house) then I should do so before Thanksgiving.

So I started to pull things out.

I tried to figure where they would go in the new house. What would fit and what wouldn't.

So I HAD to take some into the house to see for sure.

And then they had to have the cotton snow around them to see if they would look right.

And then.......

There it was.

Lighted ginger bread house
AND IT ISN'T EVEN THANKSGIVING YET!

    (P.S.--spouse comes into my office that night and says (very gruffly), "You have to call Mrs. Bread" and I say, "You mean Mrs. Beard?" And he says, "NO! Mrs. Bread. Ginger left the lights on again!" And he leaves.  Some one save me! ;-)  )

Saturday, November 23, 2013

That Girl---Again



Today is Vicki's birthday. She is officially one year younger than me for the next month.

I have told our story before.

But today is SPECIAL so I thought I could share another story about her. After all, embarrassing her is the best present I could give, right? (==giggle==)

I know that this particular story took place when we were in our late 20's. My spouse was flying in a B-52 somewhere over VietNam (or Cambodia- but that is another story) so I was in Lindsay. I was living with my parents at the time. Vicki still lived there.

Vicki and I decided to go play tennis.  And we invited my mom to join us. We figured she would sit under the sycamore trees and watch. After all, we only had two tennis rackets. And it was rather warm that day (if my memory serves me-which occasionally it fails to do. Memory does take a vacation every now and then)

HAH!

When we got to the courts, mom wanted to play so Vicki and I ended up switching off to play her.

After about an hour or so, Vicki and I were sitting on a bench. Sweating. Breathing HARD. Tired.

Mom was jumping around on the other end of the court yelling, "What's the matter with you two? Let's play!"

Vicki looked at her, looked at me and said something to the effect that we were out of shape wimps. I don't remember the exact phrase.

I do remember Vicki's smile and my mother jumping around on the court. Racket in hand.

I do remember thinking that I had a perfect friend who would share my humiliation that day.

But then, she always had and she always will.

Happy Birthday, Vicki.




Friday, November 22, 2013

And Another One Passed THE TEST

Several years ago, a young man walked into my office and asked for a job.

He was attending the local law school (if you wanted to call it that) and wanted some practical experience.

Now I am the world's WORST interviewer. I have never been interviewed for a job and I have no idea how they are suppose to go.

But I asked a few questions (finding out that he was attending that dreadful place) and he seemed nice and was obviously VERY smart.

I didn't really need anyone except to do gofor work or to help out the kid at the front desk.

So, I did what any good boss would do. I asked the kid to talk to him. She had done lots of interviewing of prospects at her old job and she has a knack for picking the right people.

As they are talking right outside my open door, she told him that she had an English degree and where she was going to law school. Then she says, "What do you do with a BA in English?". And the dear young man begins to sign the opening song to the Broadway play "Avenue Q". The song is "What do you do with a BA in English"!

I almost fell out of my chair laughing. I got up and walked over to them, pointed at him and said, "You're hired!"

The young man was Angelo.

He spent about 6 months with us (before I ran out of funds to pay him) and he became a family friend.

He and the kid took the First Year Law School Exam together and both aced it.

Then he realized that he wanted to go into Patent Law and he needed serious law school credentials to get there. He quit the local school and applied to Santa Clara School of Law.

It drove him nuts and made him really work but he made it through and graduated last May. He took the Bar Exam this summer.

And today he got the notice.

Angelo is a lawyer.

It is his day but I feel so proud of him. I feel like a parent to him. And my heart explodes at the thought that he made his dreams come true.

Today is your day, Angelo.

Thanks for letting me be a part of your life.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Friends

I had a very, shall we say, "protected" childhood. I was born and raised in the same town, in the same house, with the same neighbors and friends until I left for college. I always knew who was who in the social structure around me.

So when I went to college with my best friend, I was flummoxed by people who didn't act or react like all the people that I had ever known. I didn't adapt well to new stuff. Somewhere in my brain it was suppose to stay the same no matter where I was.

And when I tried to get people to act like I thought they should act (in my little world) I was stunned that they didn't. 

Self-centered? Yeah.

Naive? You betcha!

Frightening? Oh, yeah.

But I learned, eventually, that I was not the center of the earth (I am still a little off-center) and that all those other people had stories to tell and places that had molded them.

And through it all, I had a friend.

Someone who was always there when I needed a voice or a shoulder or a "talking to ".

She still calls me "Gizzy" and she still laughs with me.

She remembers how I acted that horrible first year in college because she was there and was the bright and shining light that kept me attached to the ground.

Today, I called her. Just to say "hi" and to tell her what my latest blood tests had revealed. Nothing serious but a call to lose the weight and get my big keester off the chair.

I have never laughed so hard about dieting.

If there is one thing that marks our relationship, it is laughter. My mother (and hers) would always have to tell us to knock it off and go to sleep when we stayed at each other's house.

My husband will tell you that if I am on the phone and giggling I am talking to Vicki.

So today, as usual, she was there for me and, well, I just wanted to thank her.

Vicki, I love you!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Goodbye, again

Mohawk and LadyBug with Danny at Pismo Beach


One year ago today, I came home from work and Melvin and I had to make a decision. LadyBug could no longer lift her head, even to greet me. And Mohawk had lost the use of his back limbs.

I called the vet in Arroyo Grande and their whole crew stayed until we could get there.

And we said goodbye.

I miss them. And Zelda misses them, too.

When they were little, we would take them to a local school yard and throw a tennis ball for them. They would race to get it and bring it back. We would throw that dirty, smelly thing until they just lay down and quit.

We had learned not to take them to dog parks. The danger of ill trained dogs and untrained owners was more than we would let them face.

We had them trained at the All American Dog Kennel. The first command they learned was "Wait". They never forgot that word. Or the word "Food". They NEVER jumped on anyone.

If they got out of the backyard, we would go after them only to find them resting on the front door step. Waiting for food, of course.

They sat in my chair with me at night. They slept on our bed. They terrorized the cats.

They were never apart after we let them claim our life.

They were our kids, our pets, our friends.

They have been gone for one year.

I hope doggie heaven is full of tennis balls and they are never tired.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

WITH THE GIRLS

When I was quite young, I was introduced to card playing.

I mean quite young.   Less than 8 years old.

I wasn't introduce to this serious form of gamesmanship by any of my male relatives or friends.

Oh, No. Not in my family.

That would have been---treasonous??

No. My brothers and I were introduced by our great-grandmother, Barbara Roth Flynn. We called her "Cese". (The C is pronounced as an S)

She was a tower of a woman. One of the last of the Victorians.


She stood at least 6 feet tall. And she had the will and stamina of a Percheron stallion.

She outlived her husband by several decades. And in her widowhood she enjoyed many female friends. And one night a week, four of them  would meet.

To play cards.

A nice "friendly" game of Canasta.

Mind you, the youngest of the girls (in chronological age) was in her mid 80's!

Occasionally I would be visiting her with my brothers (who drove us there) when one of "the girls" was absent or unable to complete the game.

This was not an excuse to end the game prematurely. Oh, NO!

One of the great-grand kids was enlisted to fill the empty seat. And we were expected to play well. VERY well. Until the game was done. One, two in the morning.


So we learned Canasta.

And, we learned to play Cribbage. Against Cese. (As a result of that I can add to 15 faster than anyone I know. I can't get to 8 or 10 or 16, but I got 15 down!)

I was reminded of all of this yesterday.

I was invited to a brunch in Morro Bay by my childhood piano teacher. Her name is Virginia Hanigan.



It was a brunch to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Morro Bay Chapter of PEO. Virginia had help to found the group.

PEO is an organization of WOMEN dedicated to the EDUCATION of women. A powerful idea and group.

And so about thirty women ate together and reminisced about their chapter. Some were in their 80's and some just out of college. A fabulous mix. And the whole thing was great fun.

And at the end of the meeting Virginia walked over to the piano, sat down and played a piece for me.
 And  this is what she said:

video

"That's one of the pieces I had your grandmother learn"

Cese's daughter had taken lesson from Virginia, too! Something I never knew.

There is something about women. The life histories that are intertwined and remain with us forever.

So, yeah. There are times when I just like being WITH THE GIRLS.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hello, Fall!

Around here there are as close to four seasons as you can get in Southern California. (I consider this south as it is south of Monterey--It really is Central Coast but that is a little too narrow for the thought to work...)

In any case, the temperatures have not been out of the eighties in a couple of weeks and the nights are in the forties. We had a morning temp of thirty-five a few days ago.

The leaves on the fruit trees are turning and falling. The squirrels are fighting for food. The rabbits, hares and deer are turning brown and black. The air smells like fall.

But my rose bush doesn't know it. It decided to provide the appropriate color for this month:





Please donate to whatever charity you like that supports breast cancer research.

My rose made a special effort to ask you.



Saturday, September 28, 2013

I am Not as Dumb as I Look???

I have been on this earth for "several" years.

I learned to cook in my own home as a child.

I learned to clean a kitchen in my own home as a child.

I was there when my parents had a dishwasher installed.
I learned to use the dishwasher. Without incident.

I was there when my parents installed a garbage disposal.
I was there when Mother put the potato peels in the garbage disposal.
I was there when the plumber fixed the garbage disposal.

I was there when Mother put the carrot peels down the garbage disposal.
I was there when the plumber fixed the garbage disposal.

I learned a great deal during those times of tragedy.
Do NOT talk to Mother.
Do NOT talk to Father.
Get outside as quickly as possible without them seeing you.
Never mention the plumber.
EVER!

I learned, also, not to put peelings of any kind (vegetable,  mineral or animal) in the garbage disposal.
Doing so brings the plumber and communication will cease in the household.

So, as I cleaned the kitchen this morning.....Well, wait. You need the whole story.

Last night Melvin asked me to make some rice. We have a rice cooker which I have used maybe once or twice. So I ask Melvin for the ratio of rice to water for proper use of the cooker. I know that in a pot it is 1 to 2. But a cooker is a bit different.

Melvin says, "2 cups of rice and 2 cups of water." I thought that was a bit strange so I reaffirmed his statement.

I then followed his instructions.

The rice was a TAD on the dry side. He ate some. I didn't.

We had a discussion regarding the TWO cups of rice. It turns out that the rice cooker came with its own cup. It measures 1/2 cup. So, when Melvin said two cups of rice he meant THAT cup. When he said two cups of water he meant the regular measuring cup of exactly one cup. He assumed that I understood the difference between the cups.

I am old and blonde. I did not get the subtlety there.

Meanwhile, I was cooking some fish that I had purchased the day before. It was Dover Sole. Or so they said. It turned out like the rice.

I had a bagel and cream cheese for dinner. (Much better than fish, if you ask me)

So, as I cleaned the kitchen this morning, I took the bowl from the rice cooker and dumped its dry, disgusting, hard contents....

wait for it.....

into the sink with the garbage disposal.

I turned on the said disposal.

Shortly thereafter the garbage disposal began spitting at me. The water rose. The water rose in the adjoining sink. It had little bits of dry, disgusting, hard things.

I remembered my lessons.

I informed Melvin and then ceased to communicate. I took the dog to the vet. (She needed another blood test)

I called our friend the erstwhile contractor/handyman for two lawyers.

Then Melvin called.

He had done the unthinkable. He had torn the pipes apart. He had found the rice cement. He had removed it. He had put the pipes back together. (In proper order) And then he cleaned the kitchen.

My punishment?

I shall NEVER cook rice again. (Thinking about the same for the fish)

I am a lawyer for a very, very good reason.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

(CORRECTION) IF I MUST

Melodie got married today. And it was the most un-traditional, wacky, fun wedding I have ever attended. And I was sober!

It was on the outdoor patio of a restaurant in Cambria. The temperature was suppose to be a bit nippy at 65 degrees. The forecast forgot to mention one small item-----

Rain.

Outdoor wedding. Hmmmm.

But we got lucky. Ninety-five percent of the patio was covered.

So at 10 am we began our work.

My friend Kathy cut ribbon. By the way, Kathy hates to have her picture taken so I had to take this one and post it because....well, because.....


Note the material on the back of the chairs. They turned into this.


What is it? Green (or cream) tea towels with white, green and gold ribbons and a stem of budded eucalyptus!

And on the tables? You might ask.... Well, a great idea.....


An assortment of tin cans with various cut flowers and CHOCOLATE CHEWS!

I really don't know which one I liked best. But each table was different and stunning.

And the whole thing turned out like this:


And then the fun started..
JR in his kilt

People started showing up. The bar opened. The appetizers appeared. And everyone boggled at the men's attire.

There is a story there. You see, Melodie wanted her dear friend Patrick as her witness. That made him the Maid of Honor. Since, according to tradition, the maid of honor must wear a dress, the entire male portion of the wedding party decided to wear the next best thing--kilts! 
Justin, JR. Keliki, and Patrick
Now Melodie's friend Keliki performed the ceremony after filling out the right forms with the County of San Luis Obispo. She had never done this before so she had a bit of studying to do.
Concentration aided by wine
But the best part was when dear JR, in response to the "do you" question, answered (almost with a straight face) "IF I HAVE TO MUST".

The entire place erupted in laughter and my Melvin was heard by all when he (rather loudly) labeled the answer  "Rookie Mistake!!"

They finally got married.


And the people stuck around. Eating, drinking, talking, laughing. But the best part for me was that all of Melodie's family was there.

Manuel (her Dad), Michelle (step-mom) JR, Melodie, me, and Melvin.
Her Uncle Ernie was there. Her nephew Ethan was there. Her cousin Ryan was there.

Oh, and, as you can see, the rain stopped.

Cuz, well, IT HAD TO MUST!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Slipping the Trolley Tracks

To say that we love our place in the middle of nowhere is an understatement.

There is wildlife everywhere.






We had a mother and four pups of the California Gray Fox variety in our backyard for two evenings.

Melvin regularly makes friends with the birds.





Zelda plays hide and seek with the gophers.





Flowers bloom in profusion.





But best of all, is the solitude and quiet.

You see we are on a small offshoot of a dirt road. The road goes on but to get to us you have to veer off. No one even sees the little offshoot. And, I must add that you have to go about a mile on the dirt road to get to our little offshoot. No one comes here.

It is a 20 minute drive to a town with a decent grocery. Our mail box is a mile away.

At night there is little, if any, ambient light and the stars are....well, they make you feel very, very small in the grand scheme of things.

So we tend to ponder things. The Spouse works in the yard.

Watering here and there. Checking the bird feeders and the bird baths.

I have to go to work and deal with insane people.

He stays here and ponders.

But I am beginning to worry about that.

After all, too much time to yourself can lead you to, well, live where you are pondering.




I think he has slipped the trolley tracks.......

===sigh===

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Style By Zelda

Zelda had surgery yesterday. A large unknown type growth on her gums and a lot of warts. She also had her teeth cleaned.

It took longer than the Dr. expected so we got a couple of phone calls in the afternoon about the progress.

But at @6 she was ready to leave that place.

The doctor doesn't like the plastic dog collars. So while I was trying to figure out how to keep her from licking the sutures on her belly the assistant walked in and said she should stay warm for the next couple of days.

It is still freezing up here at night.

The solution?

Style By Zelda. Of course!

Style By Zelda
A white T-shirt and hair ties....Simple.

It took a little custom fitting but she was too stoned to care at that point.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Zelda Doesn't Feel Good

Zelda the Gopher Hunter
Zelda has never caught a gopher. She smells them. She digs for them. She stares at the gopher hole.

But never a gopher.

She is very patient. She will sit there for hours. Through rain, snow and heat. Waiting.


But in the last two weeks or so she hasn't much wanted to go gopher hunting. Odd behavior for our Zelda.

In the last month or so, she has moved off our bed to sleep on the cold floor. Odd behavior for our Zelda.

In the last few weeks she doesn't want to go outside or go for walks. Odd behavior for our Zelda.

In the last few weeks she has had a ravenous appetite. She will eat anything. Odd behavior for our Zelda.

Then yesterday one of her warts (she is prone to them) swelled and burst.

NOT GOOD.

Off to the vet.

We were a little apprehensive about this vet hospital. We had taken Mohawk there once a year ago for an emergency.  We did not know how they would be with Zelda over just a swollen wart.

Well, we needn't have worried about that.

We should have been worried about her little pot belly, her lethargy, her appetite, her disinterest in exercise.

They found a growth on her gum that we are hoping is benign. They say the warts have to be excised and, oh, by the way, Zelda has Cushing's Disease. Usually caused by a microscopic tumor on the pituitary gland it causes an over production of steroid hormones.

It is literally poisoning her.

And, as a side effect, she has a urinary tract infection.

If you want to know more about Canine Cushing's Disease go to www.kateconnick.com/library/cushingsdisease.html .

So on Monday, Zelda has a date with the dog surgeon to remove and test the growth on her gums and remove all her warts. After that she will get antibiotics and then we decide how to treat the Cushing's Disease.

It is so hard to think of her as an older dog. But she is 10 now and she has experienced a lot of change this last year.

I hope she feels better soon.

She needs to catch a gopher.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Collections and other Odd Things

A long while ago, over 30 years if my memory still serves me, I fell head over heals in love with Opus. Doonesbury was my favorite cartoon and Opus was the wisest of waterfowl. I especially loved him when he was a lawyer. "I object! I object to the question, I object to the form of the question, I object to object!" Or something like that.

I had that cartoon strip taped to the inside of my storage closet at the Public Defender's office for years.

To get an idea of how long this has been going on, the volleyball team that I played on in law school was called Penguins in Bondage and our shirts had Opus with a ball and chain around his neck. We thought it was hysterical. Others didn't share that opinion.

Anyway, one of my public defender colleagues took a shine to my fascination with Opus and bought me a wonderful Opus t-shirt. 

And my collecting life began.

One glass penguin here, one china penguin there. A little Waterford crystal, a little cloisonne there. And it just sort of grew. And grew.

At one point I had toy penguins. But as the artistic collection grew the toys were abandoned.

We bought some really incredible sculptures, too

These were done by an artist from Monterey, California. We got them on one of our first trips to the Defense Bar's Death Penalty Conference. We bought the Dad and egg the first year and the family on the second year. When we went back to find out if there were more, he had passed away and the molds for his sculptures had been destroyed.

But I kept on getting penguins. My brother found a little tiny one at a truck stop. He had one made out of a pine log. It fishes in my living room to this day!





The Spouse was always finding odd and unique ones.

And this is the collection (the most part-they are all over the house) today.


Except for one more addition. A Valentine's Day present from my sweetie that he found in Monterey while we are at the conference. 




I did tell you that I went for the odd or original, didn't I?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Little Winter Trim

If you read this blog much, then you are familiar with the Spouse pictures. My favorite is Mel the Bird Man.



To say that I love his beard is an understatement.

Probably a result of growing up in the sixties and listening to too many songs from "HAIR". (Something about a nest for the bees...)

But it was getting a bit scraggly as winter wore on. And a bit unmanageable.


And people were beginning to think he had lived in the woods a little bit too long......
After all, our neighbors would probably think he owned a banjo. (We are sure that they do!)

His hair now is to pony tail length but needed a bit of a trim to keep it in order.

So off to Amy he went.

She is a miracle worker and now he looks almost ready for prime time! Well, he can go into court without the weird looks from the defendants!


She even trimmed his mustache! I can see him smiling!!!

What a little winter pruning can do.

Handsome, isn't he!!

Friday, January 25, 2013

FOG!

When I moved to Bakersfield in 1986, I considered it a short term assignment until I found a better job. As it turned out, THAT was the job that was meant for me. So I remained a transient resident. I could not call the place home. It was a place where I worked and lived.

My home, to me, in my small pea brain, was still Lindsay. I hadn't spent a night there since I started law school, but it was still "home".

One of the things that I remembered most fondly from Lindsay (remember a child's magical thinking here) was the fog. I remember seeing Christmas lights shrouded in fog and warm fires in our fireplaces while the outside world surrounded itself in quiet mist.

All very romantic.

Then I grew up and moved 60 miles south to Bakersfield.

Fog is not, I repeat, NOT romantic.

Yesterday, The Kid and I went over to Bakersfield to see old friends and do some business.



And we had an encounter of the second kind. FOG.


Now I have seen it worse. Or should I say I have tried to see through worse. But it was slow going in any case.

Off the edge of Highway 58 you wouldn't know there was a 500 foot drop.


But once we got there we met with some of my old friends. The warmest, most wonderful people on the planet. We had a wonderful day sharing stories and food and more stories and more food.

It was food for the soul.

And I stopped to see the resting place of a very good friend and mentor.





I miss you, Your Honor. 

Fog, past and present.

Monday, January 7, 2013

mighty fly

My daughter sent me this after my GREAT lunch pun. She never appreciates my quick wit and gentle laugh.  (==snort==) 
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