Friday, May 25, 2007

Free at last, praise the Lord, I'm free at last . . .

and getting on a plane tomorrow at 8 am to Maui! I have books for Liz’s Summer Mystery Reading Challenge. I have my used copy of the The Ballad of the Flim-Flam Man for Maggie's Southern Reading Challenge. I have my new swim suit, my old running shoes, my mask, snorkel and fins, and some knitting. My brother is dog sitting Nanners and Noodles, and by 3 pm California time, I should be sitting on the patio at Kimo's in Lahaina drinking a cold beer and noshing on their kalua pork ribs . . .

I hope everyone has a nice, relaxing 3 day weekend, and my hope for this Memorial Day is that our troops will be home soon.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

The great thing about bulbs is that you never know what may emerge from the soil in the Spring. Last year, (or the year before?) I planted a potted pink Calla Lily, and I am unduly excited to see it return this year. Every day, I check to see the progress of the flower, and this is where it stands today . . . .
'Tis true, simple minds, simple pleasures . . .

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

So, Apolo Anton Ohno prevailed on Dancing with the Stars, and took home the hideous mirror ball trophy . . . now I can die a happy woman. . .

I have been driving my current car, a small suv, for about 5 1/2 years, and although I usually drive my cars for about 8 - 10 years, I'm thinking about checking out a Toyota Prius. I'd like to move into a hybrid for a number of reasons, and the look of the Prius is starting to grow on me . . .

I'm proud of myself for being a big girl this week, and notifying the folks with whom I work that I am raising my hourly rates. My deep seated insecurities kept me from doing this a month ago, but I finally got the gumption, and guess what? The world didn't end, no one threatened never to work with me again, and in fact, a bunch of new work came my way today. Things have been a bit slow, so I'm excited about the prospect of being a bit busier . . . some one has to pay to keep Nanners and Noodles in Scooby Snacks, pay to keep me in lovely yarn to knit and books to read, and pay for me to travel to cool places . . .

Monday, May 21, 2007

What can I say? I don't watch alot of reality tv, but I LOVE Dancing with the Stars, and tonight was the pay-off - the finals with Joey Fatone, Laila Ali and Apolo Ohno - the three stars I predicted would make it to the final round after the first show. (I could not have predicted how long Billy Ray Cyrus would stick around . . .)
There is something really fun about watching some of these stars develop as dancers (like Apolo - my personal favorite) and bust it out for the freestyle dance in the finals. Laila Ali suffered from the same miscalculation as Stacy Kiebler 2 years back - playing it too safe in the freestyle round. On the other hand, Apolo came out doing a hip hop/break dancing number with his teenaged partner, and it was a ton of fun. Joey came out and did a bunch of difficult lifts, and both fellas earned perfect scores. The girls and I cast our votes for Apolo, but I 'd be happy with either him or Joey winning the mirror ball trophy.

In 5 days, I will be donning my 007 quality fins, mask and snorkel from my aborted attempt to learn to Scuba, and swimming among the fishes of Napili, Kapalu and Honolua Bays! And what is almost as cool as that?

When I did a Google search for Hawaiian Reef Fish to find an underwater photo, I found this "Hawaiian Reef Fish in Counted Cross Stitch" pamphlet on Ebay for $1.35. Needless to say, this once in a life time opportunity was too good to pass up. I won't mention that the shipping was $4.00 . . .

Sunday, May 20, 2007

This is my mirror . . . .

And this is where it hung on the wall above the sofa, before it fell apart and NEARLY KILLED NOODLES AND ME!
Ok, "nearly killed" is an exaggeration, but it was pretty scary, and it is very big and heavy. Fortunately, I heard it start to crack, and it fell down to the back of the couch before it fell forward, and I caught it. . . .

I've recently learned that many bloggers are involved with summer reading challenges, revolving around different genres of books. A couple caught my eye . . .

The first is Maggie’s Southern Reading Challenge, which encourages readers to explore the world of books by Southern authors, set in the South. Following the recommendations of Sage, I'm going to read the following this summer:

Flannery O'Conner - Wise Blood
Robert Raurk - The Old Man and the Boy
Guy Owen - The Ballad of the Flim-Flam Man

I was unable to find any of these books at my local Barnes and Noble, but found them all online. The Flim-Flam Man was particularly challenging, since it is apparently out of print. Both and B&N online offered used copies through outside sellers. There were 2 copies offered on Amazon, but the least expensive was nearly $40. I did find a seller on B&N - a used bookstore in Tennessee - offering it for $10, so we're good to go!

The other challenge that caught my attention is Liz’s Summer Mystery Reading Challenge. Liz is encouraging readers to read 6 books this summer by mystery authors that they have never read before. I have picked out some books my Margery Allingham, Dorothy Sayers, and John D. MacDonald, among others.

I'm looking forward to a good summer of reading, and plan to get started while in Maui!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

My latest project is "Gigi" from So far, I have completed the sleeves, and have started knitting the body in the round.

My favorite Hibiscus is in bloom. I love the deep pink color.

Samantha wants to know what we have planned for today? Not much is the answer. As usual, we got up at 6 am, and went for a nice long walk. I've done a bit of gardening (I had to re-pot 2 Plumeria), and have been knitting and listening to "The Observations", by Jane Harris.

Harris' debut novel, set in Scotland in 1863, is narrated by the lively, sharp Bessy Buckley, who leaves Glasgow and happens into a job as a maid at Castle Haivers, an estate nowhere near as grand as its name suggests. Her mistress, Arabella, takes a personal interest in Bessy and encourages her to write her thoughts and experiences in a journal. She also subjects Bessy to odd experiments, but Bessy goes along with them because she is flattered by the attention and quickly growing attached to her mistress. Things change when Bessy snoops in Arabella's locked desk and discovers the book Arabella has been writing, The Observations, a study of the "habits and nature of the Domestic Class." Bessy is incensed to read some less-than-favorable things about herself in the account, as well as to learn of her mistress' affection for one of her predecessors, a girl who died under mysterious circumstances. Bessy concocts a revenge that ends up having consequences far more lasting than she ever envisioned.

When I started the audible book and they said it was narrated by the author, I sighed . . . But it turns out that Harris is quite talented as a narrator - able to use different voices, and she has a lovely singing voice. I'm enjoying this audible book quite a bit!

Happy Saturday, all!

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Countdown to Maui continues . . . .
I first travelled to the Hawaiian Islands with my brother and mother in 1977, a few months after my father was killed in an automobile accident. From that first trip there, I have always stayed in Napili Bay, an area north of Kaanapali. The island was, of course, much less developed then. Kaanapali and Kapalua were just plans on some developer's table. Napili Bay is a pretty beach, and used to have some of the best snorkelling around. For awhile, the Bay took a big hit - all the development north and south of it took its toll on the reefs contained in the Bay. I'm happy to report though, that the last few years, there seems to be a resurgence of underwater life. I've even enjoyed swimming with some turtles feeding on the reef.

Here I am snorkelling in Honolua Bay, Maui, circa 1997 . . .

Thursday, May 17, 2007

These are the two words I had to look up in the dictionary today.


Pronunciation: 'pi-thE

Function: adjective

Inflected Form(s): pith-i-er; -est

1 : consisting of or abounding in pith 2 : having substance and point : tersely cogent

synonym see CONCISE


Pronunciation: "be-n&-'dik-sh&n

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English benediccioun, from Late Latin benediction-, benedictio, from benedicere to bless, from Latin, to speak well of, from bene well (akin to Latin bonus good) + dicere to say -- more at BOUNTY, DICTION

1 : the invocation of a blessing; especially : the short blessing with which public worship is concluded2 : something that promotes goodness or well-being3 often capitalized : a Roman Catholic or Anglo-Catholic devotion including the exposition of the eucharistic Host in the monstrance and the blessing of the people with it4 : an expression of good wishes

The first, to see if I was being insulted (I was not), and the second, so that I could use it correctly at Reality Rant

Ok, so I went out on my blind date last night, he turned out to be a really nice guy, and . . . . screw this . . . he made it clear he's not interested, so I figure that frees me up to be honest. I got to the restaurant a few minutes late and he was sitting at a table having finished most of a glass of wine. He's 48 and kind of cute in a chubby sort of way. Within 3 minutes of my sitting down, before I even had a glass of wine, he was telling me about his recent stool sample. It seems he had not bothered to read the instructions, and had failed to abstain from eating red meat for 24 hours, so the sample came back "positive" - I assume for blood or protein or something. So . . . as a result of this false positive, the doctor recommended a colonoscopy and a scope down the throat which ran him $4,200 . . . about this time my glass of pinot grigio arrived.

Next up I heard about the therapy he is undergoing for his tennis elbow. The therapist is providing some sort of ultrasound treatment, which he swears is unbearably painful and worse than anything I have possibly ever experienced. He then paused, and noted that he understands that women sometimes have to go through procedures that are painful, so maybe I have had a similar experience. (Me - to myself - buddy, have your urethra widened by having ever larger metal rods inserted and then talk to me about painful procedures.)

From here we discussed our health insurance policies. Since mine is consideably cheaper than his - and has better coverage - he wanted to know if this was because I had waived pregnancy coverage since I'm too old to have babies. . . . I could go on, but you get the picture. He ordered himself a second glass of wine, made it clear that I wasn't welcome to order a second glass, and I was out of there about 7. I didn't offer to pay for my glass of wine . . .
On a happier note, here is a photo from a couple of years ago of me snorkelling off the coast of Lanai!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

View from the lanai of Napili Bay.
You know how you can tell I'm going to Maui in 10 days? Today I made the dogs run with me, and then I did 150 sit-ups. How much good can this do me in 10 days? Not much, but it's a start, I suppose. I do get alot of exercise while I'm there - walking, running, and swimming. All this will be good, because my next 5k is 2 days after I get back to So Cal.
Calgon, take me away . . .

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

This is what my new swimsuit (pictured) would look like if I was 25 years younger and alot thinner . . . nevertheless, it's not bad on me. Yes, my new swimsuit arrived in the mail today from, and it fits! I leave for Maui in 11 days, and it can't arrive soon enough. I'm cranky and stressed, and I just might alienate everybody in my life if I don't get away and to a beach soon . . . .

So, tomorrow night I may or may not be on a blind date. I haven't heard from . . . let's call him "Bob" . . . in about a week. If the date is on, I will definitely try and keep the crankiness to a minimum. Fortunately, we have golf in common, so I'm hoping to keep him enthralled with my stroke by stroke description of my last round of golf, culminating in a gritty par on the final hole. Either that, or I will wear something low cut. Alternatively, if things are not going so well, I can claim I need to get home to bathe my dogs.

I started a new audible book today on the way home from work - Simple Genius by David Baldacci. I've neve read any of his works before, but I do enjoy a good thriller. . . .

Tomorrow is a new day, and I hope to have better attitude . . . wish me luck!

Monday, May 14, 2007

So we're down to the semi-finals of Dancing with the Stars, and I've just finished voting 15 times for Apolo Anton Ohno and his professional partner. They are so cute, and perform dances with incredibly complicated choreography. I mean, Laila Ali is good, but she is performing fairly simple routines. There is no way she deserved a 30 for her Cha Cha Cha when Apolo only got a 29 (Judge Len Goodman thought it was too raunchy . . .) In my book, the two strongest couples are Ohno and Joey Fatone . . . on the other hand, my getting behind any contestant or sports team is a pretty sure kiss of death.

Did anyone else catch the Sopranos Sunday night???? Not to give too much away, but my undoubtedly wrong theory is that Christopher isn't really dead, and is going to run to the FBI for witness protection. He'll testify against Tony and the boys, and Carmela will find out that Tony had Adriana killed . . . I'm also looking for something bad to happen to AJ. . . . This final season started a bit slow, but things are moving fast, as they rush to the final episode . . .

It's almost 10, and I can hear the fog horn out on the jetty . . . it's kind of cool and kind of ominous . . . Night, all . . . if anyone needs me, I'll be tucked in bed, knitting away . . .

Having finished my baby knitting in the nick of time, I headed out to the shower at the Fairy Tea Cottage (not actually depicted here). I've seen it many times, but had never gone in; they serve an English style tea. At the shower we had pots of tea with scones with cream and jam. I would definitely like to go back and try some of their tea sandwiches. The baby blanket and sweater were big hits, and I think the mom and dad to be really appreciate the gifts. I hope Baby Ellie will use them in good health for many years.

My brother and I headed out yesterday to our mother's for a BBQ. I picked up 3 filet mignon steaks at the butcher's . . . the cost? $37.17. I admit they were really good steaks, but damn! The day went fairly smoothly. Mom went ballistic when I suggested that she open her gift from me while she had the tea pot on to boil, snapping that she wouldn't be told what to do, and would open it when she was ready to. She did have the good grace to look sheepish when she later realized that I had made the suggestion because I had bought her some goodies for brewing loose leaf tea.

Trips out to mom's are always a bit awkward - we all have very little to say to each other, so we sit in the back yard drinking soda and eating chips. I brought some knitting with me, so I just sat there and knitted. Neither my brother or I are willing to share much about our lives with mom, because it can only be used against you. As an example, I would never mention to my mother that I went with a friend to see David Sedaris in Riverside a couple of weeks ago, because this is how the conversation would go:

Me - Hey, my friend Chris and I headed to Riverside to see one of my favorite authors do readings from his books.

Mom - why didn't you stop by? You could have come by to see me.

Me - Well, you live 40 miles in the other direction, and there really wasn't time to go see you before the show.

Mom - well, you could have left work early, and come by here - we could have gotten a bite to eat.

Me - well, that isn't really feasible, and Chris can't get off early.

Mom - well, you could have driven seperately and met her there.

There would be no discussion about the show, how it was, why I enjoy his writings, just me defending why I didn't make the trip all about her. So my brother and I have just learned to say nothing - ever. My niece, however, hasn't yet learned that lesson. So if the above dialogue seems unlikely, consider this conversation between my mother and niece from last October.

Niece - I know some guys who come dirt bike riding out this way sometimes (note - she doesn't come with them, she just vaguely knows guys that have on at least one occasion driven out near my mother's for recreation)

Mom - you know boys who drive out here and you don't take advantage of that to come see your Grandma? You could ride out with them, they could drop you off at my house, and then come pick you up later.

Niece - well, um, I . . . .

Niece hasn't yet learned that you NEVER mention to my mother being within 50 miles of her home, or knowing anybody within 50 miles of her home, or she'll immediately jump on this as the basis for a complaint that no one comes to see her.

So when mother asks what we have been up to lately, the answer is always the same - not much. It doesn't make for scintillating conversation, but it is the safer approach.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Ok, it is now 1:15 p.m., and the baby shower is at 2:30 p.m. I have finally finished the baby blanket and baby sweater. So, I made it, even if it was by the skin of my nose.

Friday, May 11, 2007

TGIF! It's a beautiful morning and the dogs and I went for a nice, long walk . . .

I have an early bloom on my Gladiola . . .

Tomorrow is the baby shower, so I'm working on sewing up the baby blanket . . .

I've started a cotton sweater for me - Malibu Blue is the color - and this is a sleeve. The good news is I already had this yarn in my stash . . .

The girls were kind enough to send me tulips and irises for Mother's Day, but since they have not yet been invited to join Canine Mensa, I'm guessing they had some help . . .

I'm golfing this afternoon, I have the baby shower tomorrow afternoon, and I'm having dinner Saturday night with a good friend from college. Sunday will be heading to Mom's for a BBQ - what do you have planned for the weekend?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ok, so I have my first blind date in about 5 years next Wednesday. The gal I golfed with a couple of weeks ago, and who is married, had met this fella when he was grouped with her threesome (for golf, you dirty minds). She thought he was a nice fellow, and has been trying to fix him up. Apparently, he is fairly new to California. She found out I am single, and voila! Although hope springs eternal, I have had so many bad blind and/or internet dates, that it is hard not to expect the worst, and I can feel myself falling into some old, and bad, habits . . . . like picking apart his email to me to find fault (did he really need to use 10 exclamation points? isn't he just a little too excited about meeting for a drink?).

So, wish me luck, but basically, hope that this isn't an evening that I wish I was home on the couch watching an Angels' game with my dogs.

Monday, May 07, 2007

If you let me play sports
I will like myself more;
I will have more self-confidence,
If you let me play sports.

If you let me play,
I will be 60 percent less likely to get breast cancer;
I will suffer less depression.
If you let me play sports,
I will be more likely to leave a man who beats me.

If you let me play,
I will be less likely to get pregnantbefore I want to.
I will learn what it means to be strong.
If you let me play sports.
If you let me play sports.
This was the text of a Nike advertisement from a few years back directed to women, and it's one of the few ads that has stuck in my mind - - I think it conveys a powerful message about the benefits of participation in sports - for all young people, but young women in particular.

I wish I appreciated this message when I was young, but it wasn’t until I was in my 30s and 40s that I started to work out, run, surf, ski/snowboard, and golf. I’d felt all my life like I didn’t belong when it came to athletics; that I was too uncoordinated and untalented to participate. I was the last one picked for a team on more than one occasion. Maybe it was just a matter of becoming less self-conscious; realizing that no one laughs at the gal running slow, that no one scoffs at the lady trying to learn to hit her driver at the range . . .
In fact, I have found that people are just the opposite - encouraging. And I’ve just recently come to believe that I may actually be able to become good at something athletic. For the first time in my life, I am really trying to improve at a sport - golf. Taking lessons, hitting the range, making an effort to get out and play.
My instructor tells me that I need to start swinging like I know I’m going to hit the ball, instead of swinging like I think I’m going to miss it. By gaining that confidence in my swing, I am hitting it farther, and becoming more competitive.

So, now when I hit the range, I tell myself to swing through the ball, extend my arms, and swing hard. Hit it like I know I can, and that is a beautiful thing.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

This morning I went for a hike in the Bolsa Chica Wetlands. The tide was very low, which completely changed the atmosphere and the type of birds present - - it was almost exclusively populated by shoreline birds - Dowitchers, Egrets, Sandpipers and Stilts. Here are a few of my photos of some birds, wildflowers and beasties . . . .

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Last weekend was busy, next weekend promises to be busy, but my calendar this weekend is delightfully clear.

I've started a couple new audio books - Sin Killer by Larry McMurtry and Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. I'm of two minds when it comes to McMurtry - he has written some wonderful books - Lonesome Dove and The Last Picture Show are my two favorites. When he is good, he is superb. But he also has the bad habit of veering into the ludicrous - creating comic book characters, instead of demonstrating keen insight into memorable characters. I'm hoping Sin Killer - the first of the Berrybender series - is not too silly.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter is the basis for the Dexter series - which I loved - on Showtime. I've heard good things about the book, too. Dexter is a highly respected lab technician specializing in blood spatter for the Miami Dade Police Department. He's polite, says all the right things, and rarely calls attention to himself. He's also a sociopathic serial killer whose "Dark Passenger" drives him to commit the occasional dismemberment - - but only of the bad guys who "deserve" it.

Last night as I was walking the dogs, a flock of 12 pelicans flying in a well formed "V" flew overhead. It was a beautiful sight. So, my big goals for the weekend are to work on my golf swing at the range, and to go for a hike or run in the wetlands. I'm hoping there will be a nice variety of wildlife in the wetlands . . . .

And, of course, the baby shower for baby Ellie is next weekend, so I really, really need to complete the never ending baby blanket this weekend . . . at least the knitting portion. Sewing it together is another story, and I have the feeling I will spend next Saturday morning desperately weaving in the gazillion loose ends of yarn.

My Memorial Day variety rose bush is beginning to bloom. It's not as showy as the Billy Graham, but the scent is strong and sweet.

And finally . . . for Mishy . . . .

Friday, May 04, 2007

When I got home last night, I found a large box from HSN (the tv shopping channel) Home Furnishings. My first reaction was a momentary panic - now that I'm 46, am I experiencing black outs in which I shop? Then my brother reminded me of a conversation I'd had with our mother.

Mom - "I ordered each of you a bread box. Now you can keep your bread out on the counter and Hanna won't be able to get it."

This statement, of course, pre-supposes that (1) I want to keep my bread on the counter, (2) that I have room on my counter for a bread box, (for those of you wondering, they are surprisingly big) and (3) that Hanna won't be able to figure out how to open the bread box given the potential reward inside.

As it turns out, all of the above suppositions are false. But in the bigger picture, mom sending this box is a bad sign. My mother's only interests are playing slot machines at Pechanga and shopping, and Mom definitely goes for quantity over quality. Instead of buying one $200 present, she will always opt for buying 20 $10 dollar gifts. So, while you have lots of gifts to open at Xmas, it's unlikely that any are worth keeping. (Last year the emphasis was on what she described as "gourmet food", such as curry flavored salt, and a bottle of spinach dip seasoning. The problem is that by the time these things are shipped to a discount store - her store of choice - they have been on shelves elsewhere for years, and have lost all flavor or have gone bad. The same goes for the bath products she buys.)
So an alarm sounded when she asked me last week if I "still collected tea pots". I never collected tea pots. But a few years ago she went through a phase of buying me tea pots as birthday and Xmas gifts. There is nothing wrong with collecting tea pots; in fact, I can easily imagine doing this. Finding beautifully hand painted ceramics, or pots in interesting architectural shapes . . . what I actually got, however, was a tea pot shaped like a cat wearing an apron. We have very different tastes - my mother's runs to cutesy country; mine runs to anything but cutesy country.

So the question remains, what to do with the bread box? Maybe I'll wrap it up and re-gift it as a Mother's Day present.