Sunday, April 30, 2006
I got all misty over the score to The Fellowship of the Ring yesterday. I admit being less than thrilled with the movie when first I saw it. My enthusiasm did not bloom till the third movie, when it all came together with poignancy and majesty. Really a magnificent acheivement, cinema-wise. And, as it my bent, I bought the soundtrack to The Return of the King. Loved it. So I bought the soundtrack to the first movie, too. It's my way; just don't sit there, buy something! Anyway, there is an Enya song at the end, May It Be. Really good message about emerging from the darkness, whether it falls on us, or we volunteer to plumb its depth. Like most alcoholics. I made a dandy poster with the lyrics on it for my sponsees. They think they have to turn over boulders to find spirit in the world, when, in actuality, it is right in front of our noses, if we take a moment to see it. Take Sister Act, I will never again feel the same about that song My Guy. So I put a copy of my poster on my refrigerator. It is a new one, and hasn't done its double duty as spiritual advisor yet (didn't want to subject my roommate to my issues). I, for one, have been there, and back again.
Friday, April 28, 2006
Remember my friend who lives in one of the Great Lakes states, Minnesota, I think, who told me they have two seasons, winter and roadwork? Well, this is true in California, as well, though more temperate climes allow year-round roadwork; I realized that the "Expect Delays" billboard has now been on College Avenue for 11 months, it went up during summer semester last year. Our seasons are winter and leaf-blowing. Leaf-blowing season lasts nine months of the year, and was officially innauguated yesterday, which coincided with the beginning of lawn-mowing season as well. Now, I am grateful to live in such a tidy neighborhood. But I also advocate the return of the rake; it doesn't proliferate dust on my automobile, and is not noise-polluting or headache-producing. OK, I am being a stick-in-the-mud here. I really do believe in modern technology, especially when it involves labor-saving. But here I draw the line. Down with leaf-blowers! There, I feel better.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
It was a red-letter day for me, one worthy of marking for celebrating annually, anniversary-wise. I lost my lawnmowing virginity today! Kind of sad to note that I could reach the advanced age of 61 and never mowed a lawn, but true nonetheless. And I did it without a tutor. I am a self-taught lawn mower person. What a thrill. Actually, it was my yard of shame that impelled me. Our little street is bordered with beautifully kept yards, and then there was mine. So I hauled out the manual, followed by the Craftsman, the red gas can, and the oil. We all convened in the backyard first, because if I was going to look stupid, I wanted to be sure Boo would be the only witness. I filled up my new baby with essential fluids, pushed the red button with authority three times, and pulled the ripcord. Sputter, sputter. So I gave it another couple of burps, and voila! It started! I thought I had better not push my luck, and tried to get the whole backyard done in one fell swoop. Alas, not to be. It actually took three sessions, and much emptying of the grasscatcher as well as a gas refill to finish it, somewhat. I missed some of the periphery, it was just too hot out there. Then I did the front, much smaller area. Hard to describe it as a lawn, though. It is more like a lot of green stuff that covers the area that normally would be occupied by a lawn. If viewed from a suitable distance, it looks like a lawn, sort of. Whatever, it is now all of uniform length. I even scooted around the edges on my bum, trimming and weeding the flower bed. Some things I learned; best to pick up stuff like twigs and dog poop before mowing, don't run over the hose, and the cool of the evening would be a better time to do this chore.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Did you know that every so often, the earth's magnetic poles change, like from north to south? It all happens in the blink of a geologic eye, about 100 years. And, at some time in the process, there isn't any magnetic field. That is very bad. This is the barrier between us and all that radiation coming from the sun. Well, we are in one of those cycles, like, now. So why are we fussing about global warming? We're all toast anyway! Extra-crispy, at that. I just love my college education. If I couldn't laugh, I'd slit my throat.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Time to wonder what I could have been thinking when I began this odyssey through academia. Three weeks to go, and summer vacation. But first, finals. Eeeeyoouu. They aren't going to be any more difficult than midterms, though two will be at 7 AM in the morning, how awful is that. Two days in a row, getting up at 5 freaking AM! That's the freaking middle of the night, isn't it? And I am in the throes of a book response to a Gore Vidal overwritten, very pithy and highly opinionated rendering of the character of our founding fathers. Apparently Washington was a kind of bumbling, humble but very tall man, a mediocrity on the battlefield who had the fortunate help of French Gen. LaFayette and even more mediocre resistance on the English side with Howe and Cornwallis. His main accomplishment in his presidency was to keep the new nation out of war with the French and lead an army of 12,000 against about 20 moonshiners in western Pennsylvania, the so-called Whiskey Rebellion. And John Adams was a pompous rotund little guy who was sure of the moral and intellectual supremacy of New Englanders over the Cavaliers of Virginia, which included Washington, and Jefferson, of course. Jefferson was a Francophile, a Republican who insisted on the Bill of Rights before his state ratified the Constitution. I liked him the best; he seemed more principled than most of the other characters, though all were riddled with self-interest, particularly where property was concerned. The American aristocracy consisted of the landed gentry. That is why we have a Republic and not a Democracy in this Nation. And, Alexander Hamilton is portrayed as just this side of a treasonous snake. His self-interest bordered on the fanatical. Dear Gore, he is such a guy. If I can just get this abominable paper written (I just finished the book about an hour ago, and diddled up a couple of pages), I am going to be so happy. Studying for the Geology test on Monday is nothing. Really.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
That sounds like a curse, as in, "may you get your just desserts". Actually, I think of it as a blessing, a day of no main courses, just desserts. We always had dessert in my family of origin. Mother often put a bit of effort into it, and we routinely had things like homemade applesauce cake with a thick layer of chocolate frosting, or this amazing concoction of lemon pudding, whipped cream and angelfood cake. Someitmes it was just Jello with bananas and (real) whipped cream, the kind that you buy in a miniature milk carton and add sugar and vanilla and whip up in your Kitchenaid. I was baking cookies in the big oven while others were still monkeying around with their Easy Bakes: chocolate chip, refrigerator cookies, snickerdoodles. We weren't much into oatmeal, but man, I loved peanutbutter cookies. I can't do them like I used to, the old metabolism rebels and packs this spare tire all around my middle. But I still do ice cream, Dreyer's Slow Churned with 1/2 the fat and 1/3 the calories, or is it 1/3 the fat amd 1/2 the calories? Whatever, it serves my sweettooth well. And I have this container of chocolate covered almonds, both dark and milk chocolate, that I am sloooowly devouring. Almonds are good for you, right? And chocolate, that raises levels of endophins, always a good thing. It is a blessing, getting my just desserts.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
So, I was laying in bed with my Susan Isaacs novel, watching CSI reruns and getting my week-nightly William Petersen fix, when I saw this commercial for frozen pancakes. What is this world coming to, anyway? Really, people, there must be a limit here. I am not above picking up some Lean Cuisines once in a while; it is good to know sometimes exactly how many calories and carbs one is eating before dipping into the Dreyers. And I can see the need for frozen waffles, for those waffle-iron deprived folks (though the ones I have tried are tasted a lot like sawdust), and even frozen French toast for people like me, who live alone and are convinced they cannot finish a loaf of bread before it turns green (though I do pride myself on being smarter than bread mold; I freeze half the loaf), but pancakes are about as easy to make as it gets. You can buy pancake mix where you only add water! And how satisfying it is to pour batter into a hot skillet, watch it cook up all golden brown, flip that sucker over, then drop it onto your plate. I made some myself this morning, though I use Bisquick, which requires (gasp) eggs and milk in the batter. I made mine really thin and rolled them up with fruit preserves and topped them with Cool Whip. OK, I had to wash the mising bowl, the whisk, the skillet and the spatula, but one has to wash the dish one eats off of, too, right? One would hope so. The image of Americans eating pancakes like toast, right out of the toaster, now that's frightening.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
I often do not sleep very well. It is a real drag when I have to be up at a certain time everyday to do something onerous, like work. It is better when it is something fun, like going to school. But this week, spring break (yay!), even though I can't afford to go somewhere tropical, I think it is a real vacation just to sleep in. That usually means 8:30 or 9 AM. Today, it was 10. OK, that's a little slothful, but it was a horrid night. I slept very lightly, woke up often, once because one of my electronic thingies was beeping in distress. I tried to turn on the light, and found the electricity had gone off. Oh. There are no street lights on Wild Rose Drive, we are not in the city here, a tiny pocket of unincorporation, but my neighbor across the street keeps his porch light on all night. Without it, it is very, very dark here. I woke up several times after that because it was too dark, waiting for the electricity to turn on, trying to remember where I could find that 800 number I used to call for PG&E when the lights went out at the house on the edge of the world. In the year I have lived here, it has leached away from my memory, but I knew it by heart when I lived there. I am the worst weinie when I don't have my power. I cannot make coffee or blowdry my hair. Major fiasco. And all those appliances blinking mindlessly, 12:00, 12:00, 12:00. That's crazy making for me. So I am just short of bumping into things this morning. If the VCR had not been blinking at me, I would have stayed in bed longer. As it was, I felt majorly guilty for not uncovering the bird till late. Boo, well, he has a cast-iron bladder; if I don't kick him off the bed at 11, he'd stay there till noon.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
So, there I was, sitting in the Social Security office at 9:15 in the morning. I had my little number clutched in my fist, Z17, and they were only serving Z5. I also had my folder with my retirement info in it, including my birth certificate (I had a feeling they would need it). Well, it beat the DMV, where one has to stand in line. I guessed it was because most of us were either old or disabled. I didn't feel I fit in either category, no really. I spent a happy half hour playing hide and seek with a blond toddler in the row in front of me. By the time he and his mother got to the window, he was pretty tired out and cranky. An hour, later, they got to me, only to ask me to take a seat for my interview, whenever that number came up in their inner sanctum. That was when I went out to the car for a book, which I always keep in the car for just such occasions. I didn't need it though, because this older couple sat down next to me, and the wife began this long, rather one-sided conversation; her husband was a Superior Court judge, he went to Stanford, after going to West Point, they lived in Japan, she had lost her Medicare Card, which was too big to fit in the slots in her wallet, etc., etc., etc. Dear as she was, I was grateful when I was called in to my interview. Trish was a perky young woman who looked about 15 years old, a skinny little thing with a whole bunch of diamonds on her left hand. During our conversation, I learned she had a Masters degree, and I wondered why she was working for the government, but I felt assured she would not screw up my application. It took about another half hour, and voila, I was all signed up for benefits. Funny, it was so easy to pay the money in. Getting it out, well that's a different story. I was kind of expecting an argument, too, like "wait till you're 66 and you'll get more money". I had my retort all figured out; it would take 12 years to make up for what I didn't get at 62. So there.
Monday, April 17, 2006
My cable went out last night. Bummer. And while grousing about it, knowing I was going to have to call Comcast and complain to get it back on, I was already defending myself. I didn't do it! Really! I am hardwired to feel guilty. Saturday was confession day for about a decade, from 7 till 17 or 18, when I had to catalog my sins for our parish priest, and hope he would not yell at me from the confessional for the rest of the penitents waiting in line to hear. So, I usually lied to him. Well, some sins were imaginary, some were just omitted. Yeah, that's lying. But I needed to look good for my folks, you know, kneel at the altar in my Sunday best, all innocent and sweet. That was what my early life was like; if I looked good, everything was all right. It has changed, a lot. Now I try to actually live honestly. And I sure don't look all that good all the time. Sometimes, I look like hell, actually. That is OK, too. I'm doing the best I can here with what I have left to do it with! And the cable came back on, all by itself, the same way it went off. I really didn't do it!
Sunday, April 16, 2006
I have been thinking a lot lately about my feet. Like, how nice it is when they don't hurt. My ankle still does. Hurt, that is. Oh, not when I am stomping around during my day, when I am too busy to notice it, but at night, when it swells up around the bone and pulses with pain. Anyway, it is interesting to note that I began with skinny feet, 8AA with a AAAA heel, very hard to find shoes that did not slop around on me. Then I lived in Honolulu for three years, and went barefoot most of the time, and my shoe size changed to a 7 1/2 B. They grew again, to an 8 B, and eventually peaked out after my late-in-life baby to 8 1/2 B, and I never have trouble finding shoes. And, though the rest of my body has wrinkled and drooped and puckered around the edges, my feet still look 16 years old. They never gain weight like my thighs. Since menopause, they don't even grow hair on the first phalange of my toes anymore. It is time to take them out of their winter nest of cotton socks and polish their toenails and soften up that hard heel skin. The best thing about my feet is that they hold me up admirably well at my advanced age. Feet are good friends. Even better since I have given up vanity and no longer cram them into pointy high-heeled torture machines. Long live Reebocks!
Friday, April 14, 2006
Being a person who is very easily bored, I change the desktop of my computer often. Recently, it was one of my photos of this amazing yellow iris glistening with dew. Then I put up a close-up of a luscious pinky peachy rose, just burgeoning with life at its absolute apex of its very short life. And I surrounded it with pinky peachy colors in all my backgrounds and tool bars. It's kind of, gee, aren't I smart. I do that a lot. I am so not well yet. But my computer has other ideas. I woke it up this morning, and my desktop was angels. OK, I can use an angel, I think, but who did that? Not I. This is not the first time this has happened. Weird. But the other thing that happened, that's just downright scary. Little Boo is getting older, and a little poochy around the middle, and while I am dealing with that now that we actually have a spate of dry weather, he needs help getting on the bed, which is admittedly piled up like the pea princess's bed with a 3 inch foam topper. So I decided to get him some doggie stairs. Target had them, just haven't gotten over there in the whirlwind of end-of-semester studying. Then my credit card bill arrived; I had a $30 bonus, and the product they offered was (just guess) doggie stairs! What a strange thing to offer. Who needs doggie stairs? Only people with small dogs, like, well, like ME! So Boo is getting his stairs and I am getting them FREE! How good is that! I guess the Universe listens to me. Better watch my tongue here.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
OK, not exactly dancing around naked, at least not yet. But last midterm is under my belt, and quiz that I didn't study for till 15 minutes before, and I think I did myself credit in both areas. That last study guide flowed from me with glacial speed. I am all tuckered out here, just too many months piling on months of school. This break is so very appreciated, only have to read a book, do a report and finish lab homework on plate boundaries. No more Whiskey Rebellion, Alien and Sedition Act, Reformation and Counter-reformation, popes and kings with Roman numerals attached. No more subduction zones, reverse faults, Principle of Horizontality. Not for a week, anyway. Good. My head aches with all this stuff I have crammed into it like a squirrel planning for winter. And sunshine! What I need is a day of Zen gardening, wit a car wash thrown in just for fun. Sounds like a plan.
Monday, April 10, 2006
I was sooooo excited to see sunshine when I exited geology dungeon today. It was, however, a pukalani, or heaven-hole to you malahinis who have not gotten immersed in the Hawaiian culture. And it moved away really fast, so it is, once again, raining. We are pretty spoiled here in California. The weather is temperate almost all the time, except when it isn't, like now. And it is a subject of some import for me. At my age, too cold means aches in places where old injuries lurk. Sudden change is raging headache as my sinuses complain loudly. Too hot, well, it's too gross to mention here. My main frustration with this weather was finding a window of opportunity to get my lawns mowed. The front one happened on Friday last, and how exciting it was to not look at this incipient hay field in the front yard, where everyone can see how negligent I have been. (I have a lawnmower, just don't know how to use it yet, and again, waiting for a window to have a friend give me lawnmowing lessons.) My back lawn got finished up yesterday, as we tried on Saturday, and it began raining, again. In reality, neither can be technically called a "lawn". Both are just patches of many different kinds of green stuff, that all resembles a lawn when cut back evenly. But I'll take it. And it is on my priority list to learn how to do this myself. If it ever stops raining.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
That's San Francisco in these here parts. It is always a thrill to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and be enveloped by the City. Antique buildings everywhere, wall to wall traffic on Van Ness. The Hippo is gone, world famous hamburgers, and I didn't see Tommy's Joint, though we were carefully watching street signs and watching the minutes eke away toward 5 PM, when the wedding was supposed to start. Very poor manners to arrive late to a wedding, even I know that. Fortunately, we found our way without incident, and arrived at the Ritz Carleton with 5 minutes to spare. What a joint! I mean, elegance out the wazoo: chandaliers, huge flower arrangements, red carpets, marble hallways. We hustled out to the courtyard on the 2nd floor, that was down from the lobby, as the hotel sits on the slope of Nob Hill. The wedding was in a huge white tent, which was completely filled with attendees. The bride had nine attendants n lavendar satin, with auxilliary flower girls and ringbearer. My friend Taylor's beautiful children were all in the wedding; her son was the groom. I had agonized over my wardrobe, mostly casual or work-type pants and blouses and shirts, and ordered a new outfit. It didn't arrive. So I got to do one of those emergency shopping extravaganzas on Friday, and got a lovely new short white jacket in a wonderful discrete white-on-white print, something like fleur de lis, very tasteful, and threw it over my black tank dress with my sex-pistol sling-back heels (well, as sex-pistolly as I get at my age), and I felt both comfortable and smart in a laid-back way. Wonderful evening, sit-down dinner for over 200 guests (filet mignon and fish, on the same plate, with chocolate mousse and raspberries for dessert). My bookkeeper mind kept adding up the cost. Just can't get beyond that little pettiness, one of my favorite character defects. I was grateful to be included in this joyous and tres chic occasion. And I felt pretty much at home there, so I guess I haven't lost touch with the City, after all. Makes me want to go to the opera! Good friends and warm feelings. Well worth the hour down and hour home.
Friday, April 07, 2006
I just learned that the sad-eyed woman in black, who always wore this black fedora and walked with a cane, and sat in the front row of the Friday noon meeting, died. She was 43 years old, and assigned to AA by her surgeon as the price of a new liver. Yet, she didn't have a problem with alcohol, and continued to drink. She bled to death, internal hemorhage. I always try to welcome newcomers, but not overwhelm them with enthusiasm, either. She was always tolerant of my greetings, but you could tell she thought I was crazy. Well, I wave at cows. I could be crazy. But I am alive now, and she is not. I think that is because I was willing to look at myself with the same critical eye I turn on others, and see that there was a lot of room for improvement. Still is, for sure. Poor soul. I am sure that her life was not happy, and it could have gotten so much better, if she could just have opened up, just a little. Another reason to be very, very grateful.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
I will wake up for a 10:30 class even though I did not set my alarm. In fact, I woke at 9 AM, which until only recently was 8 AM. That was good thing number one. Then, I found that I can handle the 40 lb. bookbag, an umbrella and a 20 oz. non-fat latte on my trek to Western Civilization. I can even unfold my automatic umbrella one-handed! Super. And, surprise, I can take four pages of notes without my glasses, which I think I walked out of geology wearing yesterday and tucked in the pocket of my coat, which I didn't wear today. Sigh. Long words today, like renaissance, inquisition, reconquista and Machiavelli, multisyllabic words that now have crossed ls and missing letters, because I would forget where I was in the middle of writing them and couldn't see to reference my position. Sigh. Next great revelation is will I be able to read the notes. Ah, that is the question. And there are now three pairs of glasses in the bookbag. Redundancy, that's the ticket.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
OK, I admit it. I am an old fuddy-duddy about this daylight savings thing. Change has never been my strong suit, not by a longshot. And this totally puts me into chaos. Not to mention the clocks I have: two computers, two VCRs, the wall clock in the office, the alarm clock (very important), the microwave, the coffee maker, my watch and the car, of course. At least the computers know to change themselves. I have to dig out manuals to remember how to change the answering machine and DVD player, always a crapshoot as to whether I can find them, and when I do, understand them. Totally discombobulating, this time change thing. And way too long to wait for that hour of sleep I didn't get. October! Makes me want to move back to Hawaii, where they don't need another hour of daylight because it is hot all the time, anyway. OK, not what I want. At least I will get to frolic about after dinner every night. If it ever stops raining.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
I don't know about you, but I never really want to grow up. I just love Disney films, like Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, I own a whole library of them. And if I were in charge, everyone would have to see one at least once a year. Oh, not like poor Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange, but go out for a wonderful dinner then all troop to the theatre and sit there for just a couple of hours. It is good to reach down and touch that child within, the one that wants to dance around on a sunny day, and sing along with the 3 tenors, at the top of her lungs. A little 101 Dalmations goes a long way for me. And while I appreciate a thoughtful adult movie, like Crash, life is just too gritty all by itself to have to sop it up again at the movies. So let's hear it for Harry Potter and Frodo, heroes and innocents. Hakuna matata! And a big sigh of relief that Barney was not born til after my children were grown - there, I draw the line.