Tuesday, March 31, 2009
My little community college is erecting a behemoth of a student center. It is at least as big as our new library, and that's four freaking stories tall. Yesterday, I sat on the patio of self-same library for a few, soaking up the vitamin D, and watched the workers. Now, the frame is all up, the walls are (mostly) bricked in, and the roof is about half shingled. It seems to me that it hasn't changed at all from the beginning of the semester, in January. I saw about 10 guys, in their little orange vests and white hardhats, just ambling about. None of them stayed still for very long, but none of them did anything as well. They shuffled from one end of the room I could see into to the other, several times, sometimes actually carrying something, a bucket, a tool belt. The one working the backhoe stood and watched his pal write things in a notebook. One guy climbed up to the roof, apparently just to look at it, because he immediately climbed back down. Funnily enough, he was the biggest of all of them, up there on that scaffold. Now, I know the economy sucks, and, if it were me, I wouldn't be in a hurry to finish a paying job either. But, guys, you've got to look busier! I know someone was working as I could hear an electrical tool buzzing somewhere in the guts of the monster. I figured that was where the foreman was at the moment.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
After my favorite Sunday morning meeting, the one where there are two speakers, and no one opines from the floor, thus saving me from hearing, yet again, what those really tiresome folks think, I headed out to Raley's. Now, usually I shop at (soul-sucking) Safeway, or Trader Joe's, or Costco, or Walmart, but today, I needed 1)AA batteries, 2)baking soda and 3) new garden gloves, not a long enough list to send me 6 miles up the freeway to Walmart, or down to Costco, and none of those things sit on the shelves at TJ's and I didn't trust Safeway to have good gloves at a decent price. Besides, Raley's has a nice public bathroom, always a relief. And I did find everything I needed, plus organic bananas and some nice Mandarin oranges for my nightly salad. Also caught up with the latest dirt on the beautiful people. Brangelina seems to always be on the verge of breaking up, and, let's be honest, don't we all wish they would, after being so nasty to that sweet all-American Jennifer, who by the way is never going to marry again? Britney has another baby bump, or a fondness for 31 Flavors. Unfortunately, the line moved too fast for me to get any of the juicy details. I had uncharacteristically remembered to bring in my green grocery bag, and found that Raley's gives a $.05 credit! How sweet is that! So, I toodled on home, put a battery in my wall clock, put a dish of baking soda in my waterheater closet (it's not a gas leak, I had that checked - something died under the house, I think), and am about to travel to the backyard, to sweep up the patio and pull some very big weeds, before putting up the market umbrella and unfolding the chairs so I can sit and admire my newly mowed pseudo-lawn. Ah, Sunday.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Spring, ah. Return of life and all that stuff. What it really means is that the backyard is a jungle, again. And I always swear I will not let that happen, no no, not again! However, it rained, then I got sick for a week, and here we are. Happily, the lawnmower did its chugging best, and most of the really tall stuff is down to manageability, yay. Then I folded up the last of the piano box and crammed it into the recycling can. It begins, that good old ritual of spring cleaning. And nice as it is to feel so righteous, it is even nicer to have everything (well, some things) tidier, too. And isn't the mustard spectacular? It is everywhere now. I stopped by the side of the road on my way west the other night, to breathe in our sweet air, and shoot some lovely pictures for my collection. I am so blessed to live here in this amazing place.
Friday, March 27, 2009
I am thinking of inside jokes, mostly because, in the process of sloooowwwly converting my vinyl into MP3 files, I was listening to Prokofiev's Classical Symphony, a little 12 minute marvel meant to emulate Mozart or Haydn, and considered a tiny gem in the musical lexicon. It rigidly adheres to the classical framework, while also kind of doing its own raspberry at the rigidity, too. Now, I hate inside jokes, actually. They are mean-spirited, even when I am one of those in the know. There was a time when I would just play along even if I was so far outside the know I couldn't find it at noon in the Sahara Desert, because not being "in" seemed to negate me as a person. It is a testament to my recovery process that I have no problem asking "what?" whenever I am out of the loop. And in that question is always a kind of "shame on you", I fear, like how nasty can you get, leaving me out here all by my lonesome. I'm not all that recovered, after all.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
I started taking photos with an eye to producing reference pictures for paintings. Then some images were just so fresh and sweet, all by themselves, I wound up framing them and putting on a little show, in a podunk bakery in Duncan's Mills, out in the middle of nowhere, but still, MY SHOW. I don't ever know if what I am doing is any good, really. I only know that, sometimes, something happens that I just love, like this yellow iris that was just minding its own business in our garden. I walked by it and its sisters for years there before stopping to focus my lens on it. Now, it is immortal! Well, at least noticed. I took a bunch of my images to the Digital Imaging class, heart in mouth, and hoped they were at least okay, and found that I was in the ballpark, for sure. An eye for photography is a gift from HP, for sure, and isn't it interesting that I can compose through a viewfinder, but have such a difficulty in my paintings that I just ordered a book about it from Amazon.com?
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
When I took my first art class, a defensive measure to counteract the mega-algebra Math 151 (two semesters in one, how smart am I), I thought I was taking a drawing and composition class. Surprise, it was design and composition. And the teacher was a ditz, and we did very little of either. Actually, I painted, a lot. That worked out just fine, was easy and fun. Now I have started my digital imaging class, which I thought would involve photography. Not so. Don't even need a camera to do this class. It is actually a photo montage kind of thing, very Dada. Not my favorite art style, one of those reactionary things that says anything new and different is also good. But I am up for this, mostly because one of my bugaboos in painting is composition, and arranging objects sounds like a good thing to do to learn about that. And I just love this teacher. I think I may be up for the BIG Photoshop class after this. We use Macs in this class, and I was surprised to find I enjoyed getting up to speed on one. I like the way the windows whoosh away, just get sucked off the screen. But those little symbols they use instead of alt and ctrl are a bit too cutesy-poo and smack of condescension to me, like we are all kindergarteners and can't read. Of course, they had to make their product different. And confusing.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
It was one of those spring days that look lovely out the window, but in reality, there was a frigid wind that blew into all my orifices once I set foot out the door. This did not make me happy. Screw gratitude parking on days like this. I cozied up to the Center for Spiritual Living and went in to hear all about forgiveness, always a good thing. Saw a lot of dear and old friends I had not seen forever. Then sojourned down the 101 corridor to speak at a noon meeting, where once again, friends popped up. A quick trip to Costco yielded Sumatra coffee and one of those jumbo hot dogs with lots of relish and gourmet mustard, which I managed to scarf up on the short drive home. I then got out my vinyl and took my new turntable for a spin. First recording was Eugene Ormandy's 1960ish recording of Tchaikowsky's 7th Symphony. Wait, you say? He only wrote six, right? Right, but someone found the sketch of this one, at least the first two movements, then students filled out the requisite third and fourth, and voila! Listening to it, it is so obviously Tchaikowsky, so like him, and really brilliant. And kind of poppy and there is a scratch or two. Gee, this record is over 40 years old! What do you want, anyway? I'm actually rather proud that it is as good as it is. And precious. My youth in a cardboard sleeve. I get all gooey listening to it. And I remember a day when my husband yelled "come quick!" and we heard the self-same first two movements played as the 2nd Piano Concerto! I never want to forget that day, and how in love I was with this music. Still pretty wonderful, too.
Friday, March 20, 2009
My techie guy came by yesterday to solve my little sound problem with the computer. At his bequest, I had uninstalled the software that came with the new turntable and tried, once again, to get back my audio, alas, at no avail. So, he noodled around, looked perplexed, then decided to update my operating system while he mulled, and we schmoozed, and the dogs played with him. Pleasant moments here in the little yellow house. Finally, the update was finished doing its thing, and he noticed that there was no little light on the speaker, like there should be, if it was plugged in. Oops! Must find a way to keep dogs from under the desk. Was I embarassed or what! No wonder the troubleshooter kept folding on me. Anyhoo, he reinstalled the turntable, which he kind of lusted over, it is that nice. And sound does its little fanfare when Windows welcomes me every morning, and its little raspberry when I mess up. I especially missed that. Wish all problems were that simple.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Well, just spent a happy quarter hour perusing celebrity mugshots and reading all about the style smackdown between Suri and Shiloh. Oooh, how purient am I! And what a sad comment on our society that this is the stuff that fascinates. Toddlers in designer garb, and SUNGLASSES! You've. Got. To. Be. Kidding. And I think it is a tie between Nick Nolte and Sam Shepard as to the most degrading mug shot. That Culkin kid looked the most stoned. And Robert Downey Jr. just looked fierce and pissed off. In fact, so did a lot of them. Isn't rich and famous enough? Oh, right. That's all about things and illusions. Real connections, now that's where it REALLY is. Bunch of lonely, angry, disillusioned folks out there, some of them beautiful and famous. And screwed up. Happily, so am I, but in a different way. Things have their place (like my new piano, which gives me much joy), but they are just things, and (like my old piano) temporary. What is real and enduring us who I am beneath all this, spirit. A wounded one, to be sure, but at least I know where the wounds are. And I know I can heal. Slooooowwly. And soberly.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
So much for my bowl of cherries. Nasty cold blindsided me Monday, and kept me curled up in a feta position on my memory foam all day. Didn't even eat anything, that's how lousy I felt. I managed to rise up from my bed of pain and make the first session of my eight week class, thank HP, because otherwise I would have had to drop it. Not one that can afford any absences. And once again, today, I made it to Art History, to catch up with those slippery Egyptians, Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, try to get back in the saddle. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, you would think that having two dogs would mean some puzzlement over the messes all over the house, but not so when one of them is the Pickle. Honestly, I chose this little hellion because of the ten serene years I have spent with her big brother Boo, thinking that this puppy would be mellow and sweet as he is. Alas, not so. If it is down there, Pickle will find it. Stuff out of the waste paper basket all over the living room floor. Stuff out of the pocket of my book bag all over the office floor. Stuff off the coffee table all over the bathroom floor. And let's not even mention all the stuff that winds up on the back lawn. I am fond of baskets. I have lots of them. Most are in various stages of being shredded, slowly, by teeny tiny teeth. You can see the wheels turning in that tiny mind, just waiting for me to turn away. And my attention has not been on her nearly enough lately, as I wend my way back to health. Oh, well, it's temporary.
Friday, March 13, 2009
So, that was the subject of my thought for the day. How apropos. Now, I love my new piano, all put together, plugged in. The first night, I sat and played and played and played. It had been a busy day, I was kind of buzzed, and it felt instinctual to play. The next day, I struggled. Is that an E or an E flat? My fingers stumbled along like a toddler on a mission. True, I was all stiff from sitting on the floor putting the damned thing together. But one should be able to expect to get BETTER, shouldn't one? Alas, not I. So I decided to hook up my new turntable that I got to turn my vinyl into MP3s and CDs. It was easy. And there was this little pink paper that said I would need to reset the default playback device after installing it, and I did that, and the sound worked just fine. Until I turned it on this morning, that is. No sound. I tried doing the thing over again. I hit the "troubleshoot" button, but it just keeps fluffing me off, saying the device is working just fine. It has been a while before I added anything hardware-wise to this system. I had forgotten that almost nothing has ever worked right the first (and second, and third) time. So, my records are here, in their boxes, waiting. Hysterical e-mail to techie person has not yet been answered. Back to tripping over my own fingernails. Chopin, roll over, baby! I'm coming back. Soon.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Just checked my e-mail, and piano is due to arrive TOMORROW. I thought at least two weeks, isn't that what always happens when you are excited about something? Wait, wait, wait. I just ordered it last Saturday, and if it arrives tomorrow, that's just five tiny days. So, time to flex muscles, and move the roll-top secretary desk to the back room to make room for the new baby piano here in my office/study/den. Really, I don't know what the hell this room is. I just know I spend more time in here than in any other in the house. And it is the perfect place for the piano. The one that is coming TOMORROW!
Monday, March 09, 2009
I was perusing my daily New York Times headlines they so sweetly e-mail to me everyday so that I will not miss anything important, like I did when Luciano Pavarotti died, and had the privilege of getting that gut-wrenching stab of culpability so reminiscent of my days as a Catholic. First, this delightful, insightful and frightening article about a $30 throw pillow caught my eye. The writer's decision about whether to buy or not to buy became an issue of immense economic importance. This pillow, already 40% off, represented the economy as a whole, and every structure from the Home Expo that offered it for sale to the Chinese foam factory, to the shipping company and draying company and import agent and fabric designer and sales clerk were sinking or swimming based on the outcome of his mulling. He didn't buy it. I wouldn't either. And in the end, it is a wonder that the designer pillow industry has been able to survive, at all. What kind of world is it that supports $30 throw pillows? And then there was the article about baby strollers. Some sociological person has done a study about the efficacy of forward-facing strolling vs. face-to-face strolling, and found that caretaker and child interact significantly more when the child rides backwards. And, of course, this is integral in the development of all sorts of skills for the baby. Well, both my children rode facing away from me, head on into the world. So I begin my day knowing I have not only deep sixed the economy, I have also damaged my children for life! Oh, hell, I will survive this. I always do. Maybe I will buy something today. For my kids.
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Well, I did it. Twelve years ago I sold my piano, a Yamaha baby grand. I couldn't watch it being carted out my door for the last time. I was moving into a house on a steep hill, with beaucoup stairs, and there was no way we were going to get that sucker up there. The proceeds allowed me to live there, as well. I got more for it than I paid for it, so it was almost worth selling it. But my heart kept aching for a piano, and lately, I am thinking that my days here on the Big Blue Ball are numbered, and putting things off is not such a hot idea any more. So, I got my tax refund and I sold The Peanut Gallery, and I ordered a digital piano from Costco.com, just like that. I tried the one they had on the floor the other day, and it plays just like a regular instrument, with hammer action. And it is small, which is good, because so is my house, but, with digital enhancement, it will sound just like my grand did. How sweet is that! Someday, I hope to have another swell instrument, but for now, this is fine. I found all my music in the garage yesterday, and am happily perusing the Web for more. Abundance! Gratitude!
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Gee, I really hate losing this hour that is flying away tonight. The older I get, the longer it takes to get used to little changes like this. I sort of have this internal clock, you know, one that knows what 6:20 PM is supposed to look like, and tomorrow, it will totally be 7:20 PM, and just not look right. I could move to Hawaii. They don't do this little dance with the clock. Oh, wait. I already did that. OK. Now to find all the clocks in my life, and there are bunches of them, like at least a dozen, when you count the coffee maker, the microwave, the stove, two VCRs, the wall clock here, two computers (which think the clock changes at the end of the month, so will have to be reset when they, um, reset), the alarm clock, the iHome dock, my watches (three of them, I like variety) and the clock in the car. Okay, that's FOURTEEN clocks. Like I need all these clocks, really I didn't ask for them, they just came attached to stuff. I am just praying I don't have to find any manuals to accomplish this. I want this watch I saw in one of my Woowoo catalogs, you know, one full of angels and zen stones, stuff like that. It had no hands, and just said NOW. Which is what it always is, anyway.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
So, here I am, decompressing from this morning's madness midterm in Art History, kind of diddling around on the computer, and I keep hearing this little knocking sound on the carpet beside me. And there's Pickle, wagging her tail and chasing little pinpoints of light that are shimmering in from between the blinds. She is as happy as a pig in s--t, this little dog, who very well may be part cat, because I think this is cat-like behavior. I wouldn't know for sure, never having had a cat stick around long enough to find out. Anyway, this is joy in a flufly little package, just leaping about, not caring if she looks silly or not. I want what she has!
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Ah, a trip to the post office, guaranteed to bring out the worst in just about everybody. The guy behind me was pretty steamed, for sure. There were 18 people in line in front of me, and two clerks working. One was the Business Line guy. People were coming in with packages piled too high to see over, and he was slooooowly stamping and weighing, weighing and stamping. The other clerk spent 15 minutes schmoozing with this couple, who had one, count 'em, one package to mail. To the moon, presumably. Eventually, another clerk arrived, and he spent 10 minutes getting set up, counting his bills one at a time. while we all shuffled our feet. And his very first customer wanted something he didn't know how to do, so he spent another 5 minutes talking to the other clerk, and neither of them were helping any of us. I would have left, but it was worth $90 for me to stand in that line, to return an item I didn't order and didn't want, so I counted my blessings. After all, as dorky postal employees are, we are fortunate to have a postal system that works as well as it does. And I am GRATEFUL, goddamnit. Really I am. And what do I expect at the post office, Einstein clones? Like, get over it.
Monday, March 02, 2009
Well, it's raining, again. And don't you just love it when they say it won't help the drought conditions? Like, it's going to hurt them? Doom and gloom, everywhere. I am pretty cozy here in the little yellow house. Wish I could say that is where I will be all day, but not so. School today, and hairy midterm looms, so I had best show up. And later, some shopping. I broke my only hand mirror the other day and have been using an itty-bitty compact to check the back of my hair before heading out the door. I would be horridly upset if I walked out with my hair all mushed in, looking like a senile old lady. Walmart seems to be my best bet, as I also need mouthwash and dog biscuits and probably a DVD or two. Oh, there's bound to be more stuff I need, just eludes me at the moment. Then home to study like a good little student. Happily, we already had a quiz on half of this material, which I am sure I aced (we get it back today). So, all I need to do is buy my green books (which used to be blue, go figure), fire up my ball point, and off we go.