Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Welcome to the Beach! Please pick up your trash before you leave . . .
With the recent hot weather, folks have been flocking to the beach, and I have one question - where were you raised, and didn't your mother and father tell you not to litter? This question is somewhat rhetorical, since most of the groups leaving trash and food all over town include the mom and pop.

The result is that from now until Labor Day, I don't take my dogs for walks - we go out foraging for food. They can smell a dropped potato chip at 50 yards. And I cannot even estimage the number of chicken wing bones they'll find and eat over the next 5 months. I have a 50/50 chance of getting such a bone away from Noodles; my chances go down to zero for Nanners. Yes, I know dogs aren't supposed to eat chicken bones, but there's only so much a gal can do . . .

On the good side, look at my pretty hibiscus!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

One last photo of Buddy,in his box, on my lap, on the way to meet his new mother. She seems like a neat lady, and told Buddy he was a beautiful baby starling. As soon as she picked him up, Buddy opened wide to be fed, so I know he is in good hands.
I do miss him, though . . .
I had a nice birthday - went for a long bike ride along the beach, took Buddy to his new mom, and had a nice lunch, including a strawberry margarita.
Today, back to work!
Thanks to everyone for their good wished for both Buddy and my birthday!

Monday, April 28, 2008

So, Buddy is hanging in there. As you can see, beauty is not his strong point. He is covered in a combination of baby down and feathers, and it is pretty cute when he grooms himself.
I've been told that one lady takes in baby Starlings, and I'm trying to get in touch with her. If that doesn't pan out, I may be taking Buddy with me to work tomorrow in a shoe box . . .
Yay! The starling lady will take in Buddy! She has quite a few, so can find him a friend his own size to hang out with!!!!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Meet Buddy. Buddy is a baby bird of unknown type*, who managed to fall out of his nest which is located about 3 stories up in a palm tree. Hanna discovered him yesterday afternoon sitting under the tree and picked him up, only to drop him when he started to scream. There was no way to replace him in his nest, and he seemed to be prime snacking material for a cat or dog, so I brought him home and googled "caring for a baby bird". I had all the ingredients at home for making baby bird food - dry dog food moistened with water, apple sauce and hard boiled egg - so made some up to see if I could get him to eat.

At first I figured that I could at least give the little thing a warm place to die, but he's hanging in there. He's quite pleased when between the two of us we manage to get him a gullet full of food, and he made it through the night. Hopefully I can find some wildlife rehab place to take him in, but until then, I keep thinking of that children's book - "Are you my mother?"

* I have figured out that Buddy is a European Starling, and about 10 days old. As luck would have it, the baby bird food I found the recipe for online is specifically designed for starlings.

Friday, April 25, 2008

"Hubris" (or what your mother referred to as "getting too big for your britches"), is a term that comes from the ancient Greek civilization. According to its modern usage, it is a term used to describe one who demonstrates exaggerated self pride, arrogance, or self-confidence (overbearing pride), often resulting in fatal retribution. In Ancient Greece, "hubris" referred to actions taken in order to shame and humiliate the victim, thereby making one-self seem superior.

And let me tell you, the Golf Gods gave me a smackdown Friday. I have never been a particularly athletic person - I was picked last for teams more than once growing up, and I avoided participating in most sports to avoid embarassing myself, but with my recent return to golfing, I was starting to feel a little confidence.
I played pretty well two weeks ago, and I had a good lesson last week. So I ventured out to the course yesterday with a little spring in my step. Not to mention that I was wearing the cutest golf outfit ever, and having lost a few pounds was feeling pretty good about myself.
Then we got to the first hole. As Lynne and I were walking to the first tee, we encountered two men who were both "singles" and asked to join our group. "Why, of course!" I proclaimed magnanimously.
My tee shot was not good, but it went straight, and had some distance. I figured I could work with it. Then the wheels fell completely off. It wasn't that my next few shots were bad, IT'S THAT I COMPLETELY LOST THE ABILITY TO EVEN HIT THE BALL.
That's right. I'd swing and miss. Or I'd swing and ground the club straight into the dirt A FOOT BEHIND THE BALL.
Panic struck. I felt sick and like I wanted to cry. Perhaps I should take my ball and go home? For now, I decided to pick up my hot pink Flying Lady and start over on the second hole.
I downed the rest of my beer, and took a few deep breaths. The second hole was better, and I parred the third hole.
But since I am signed up to play in a client's golf tournament in 5 weeks, I better make my way to the driving range - fast. Let me tell you, the swagger in my step is gone . . .

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My peruvian lilies blowing in the wind . . .

I was going to take tomorrow off, but I think I'll go into the office for half day, and then head over to the links for 9 holes with a friend. Too bad that I probably can't wear my new plaid golf shorts into the office. . . .

I had a golf lesson last Friday. I was knocking the snot out of the ball with my 7 iron. (Ok, relatively speaking). My driver? Not so much . . .

I'm still debating whether to take Monday off, since it is my birthday, and I will be really, really old . . . :-)

Today I ordered tickets to go see "Curtains" with my niece while we are in NYC in June. I wanted to see this show in October, but David Hyde Pierce was on vacation that week. Second show will be Gypsy!

But at least the Angels took 2 of 3 from the dreaded Red Sox - go Halos!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sixty-Nine Dollars and Fifty Two Cents, baby! My check for payment for jury duty arrived today . . .

Suggestions for good ways to spend this money? And while I generally support saving money, not this $69.52.

And if you add in the $105 I spent at Barnes & Noble on books and magazines, I'm only 35.48 in the hole!

I'm happy with all three books I currently have going - The Book Thief in my car, A Dirty Job in my iPod, and Paula Spencer in actual book form.

The NY Times describes the Book Thief as: "Markus Zusak has not really written "Harry Potter and the Holocaust." It just feels that way. "The Book Thief" is perched on the cusp between grown-up and young-adult fiction, and it is loaded with librarian appeal. It deplores human misery. It celebrates the power of language. It may encourage adolescents to read. It has an element of the fanciful. And it's a book that bestows a self-congratulatory glow upon anyone willing to grapple with it."

Publishers Weekly describes A Dirty Job as: "Cult-hero Moore (The Stupidest Angel) tackles death—make that Death—in his latest wonderful, whacked-out yarn. For beta male Charlie Asher, proprietor of a [second hand] shop in San Francisco, life and death meet in a maternity ward recovery room where his wife, Rachel, dies shortly after giving birth. . . . When objects in his store begin glowing, strangers drop dead before him and man-sized ravens start attacking him, Charlie figures something's up. Along comes Minty Fresh . . . to enlighten him: turns out Charlie and Minty are Death Merchants, whose job (outlined in the Great Big Book of Death) is to gather up souls before the Forces of Darkness get to them. . . . If it sounds over the top, that's because it is—but Moore's enthusiasm and skill make it convincing, and his affection for the cast of weirdos gives the book an unexpected poignancy."

And Entertainment Weekly had this to say about Paula Spencer: "The heroine of Roddy Doyle's 1996 novel The Woman Who Walked Into Doors is back in Paula Spencer, widowed and newly sober but as endearing as she was a decade ago. Writing in Paula's voice with such assurance that there isn't a single dishonest word, Doyle reintroduces a woman who tends to her fractured extended family and troubled children while coming to terms with the fallout of her alcoholism and marital abuse. Doyle treats Paula and her pain with a tenderness that transforms what might be a bleak story of a working-class Dublin woman into a tale of triumph and great humor. It is, as Paula herself likes to say, ''just grand.'' "

And I would recommend all three books.

As to the primary . . .

Taking a page from Clinton, if the Tampa Bay Devil Rays beat the Red Sox in a late season game when the Sox have an insurmountable lead in the Division, The Rays should get on a soap box and scream about how momentum is in their favor, and ask that the Commissioner declare them the winners of the division.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Here is a blurry photo of me snorkelling off the coast of Lanai a few years ago. (Insert Jaws theme music here).

This is how my week is shaping up. Yesterday was one big firedrill at work, but the rest of the week, may be, (fingers crossed), a bit more calm. In fact, I intend to take Friday off, (I worked both Saturday and Sunday last weekend), and golf.
I finally set up my new HP Notebook with Windows Vista. I feel like James Bond when I use the fingerprint identifier, rather than a password.
So far, I have lost 2 lbs. on my "Get Fit for Maui - 2008" campaign . . .
Monday is my birthday, and I will be really, really old . . .
If you've never seen BBC America's Wire in the Blood - check it out! The main character is a police psychologist profiler, and Sunday's episode was pretty creepy.
Former president Bill Clinton was embroiled Tuesday in a new campaign flap after accusing his wife's White House rival Barack Obama of playing "the race card on me." - So, my question is . . . when did Bill get so bat-shit crazy? He was more normal in the 90's, right? And he's done good works as a former president . . . is he worried Hillary will be spending too much time at home of she loses?
Here's hoping the good people of Pennsylvania can see clear to doing what is right for America in 2008 - GO OBAMA!!!!

Addendum - I'm adding Pennsylvania to the list of states I can do without. Now maybe Ohio and Florida won't feel lonely.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

An equally lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon . . .

Unfortunately, I'm still inside working . . .

Friday, April 18, 2008

A lovely way to spend a Friday morning . . .
Unfortunately, I'm indoors, working.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

This is the view I will be enjoying from the lanai of a condo in Maui in exactly 38 days.

I would like to lose 8 - 10 lbs. in the intervening 5 1/2 weeks, and towards that end, I am considering signing up for Jenny Craig. I did Jenny before, and I will admit the food is pretty good, the plan is pretty easy to follow, and I did lose weight, some of which I have kept off.

What I HATED was having to sit down with some skinny, tweener, goth chick who was assigned to me as my consultant and answering stupid questions: "so what challenges did you face this week?" Real answer - "making it through the week withoug killing any skinny, tweener, goth chicks?". Answer I likely gave - "ummmm - going out for mexican food with friends?"

All I want is to go in, weigh myself, and get my food . . . if I wanted "support" I'd do Weight Watchers.

Serenity now . . . regardless of my weight when I get on that plane* I will enjoy my week of relaxation - walking, swimming, sunning, reading, snorkelling . . . did I mention eating and drinking?

*wow - have you booked a flight lately? The prices are twice as high as a year ago, and this year I will have to fly out of LAX, rather than the more convenient Orange County airport . . .

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Today I headed out to the the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. It opens at 9 am, and I left the house early to get there about that time. It was about 120 miles to drive there (ok, so I should have googled that before I left), but was well worth it. I was glad I got there early - - it was in the 70s when I got there, and about 85 when I left for home about 11:30, which was much better than the 104 my car was registering as I was on the 5 Freeway below Griffith Park heading back through LA.

They had enough rain this year to bring out the poppies, and while they were warning folks about rattlesnakes, the only reptiles I saw were a few lizards, like the one pictured below. (Hint - you gotta look close).

They have lots of trails meandering through the hills, and I took lots of photos . . .
Man, it was hot in Southern California yesterday. Hopefully, it will be cooler this morning, because I am heading out to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve to see the hills full of wildflowers.

But in the mean time, I remain enamored with the flowers around my house . . .

I love the vivid colors of the ranunculus . . .

Even the impatiens and petunias are doing fine (though the plant stand needs a coat of paint) . . .

My neighborhood was invaded by thousands of ladybugs yesterday . . .

The birds are out in force . . .

And the heat gives the dogs the "groggies" . . .

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I hadn't golfed in awhile, so yesterday was my first chance to wear my new golf cap. Here's me on my way to the Newport Beach Golf Course. It was a lovely, sunny and warm day and I hit enough good shots to make me want to make golf a regular part of my plans again. Either that or I think I did after drinking 2 beers to "loosen up" my shoulders. To lessen my panic about embarassing myself in public, I hit the driving range a few days last week. I can't tell you how good it felt to get out and do something physical for a change I've been spending way too much time working and veging on the couch I quickly came to realize.

And in more good news, my Obama '08 stickers and lapel pin arrived!

The stickers were described as being lapel stickers - I figured I could wear them on days when I didn't want to use the pin; however, they are a bit bigger than I expected. Whoever thought they were lapel size must be fond of zoot suits.

New episodes of old TV shows are trickling in after the writers' strike. The Thursday night NBC comedy line up returned with My Name is Earl, 30 Rock, The Office and Scrubs. I don't what the writers were doing during their time off besides whining alot, but they sure weren't honing their skills or brainstorming new ideas. All 4 shows were disappointments. Here's hoping they get back into stride soon.

I may have stumbled upon a gem of a book with "A Little Trouble With The Facts" by Nina Siegal. Publishers Weekly describes it as:

"Chick lit meets Raymond Chandler in this slick debut about a Gotham gossip girl's rise, fall and resurrection in New York circa 1999. Sassy, brassy journo Valerie Vane—née Sunburst Rhapsody Miller, born to a pair of hippies—wants to be famous and does so the old-fashioned way: by tossing gossip bricks. She's quickly scooped up by the style section of the Paper (a thinly veiled New York Times), but becomes undone by cocaine nights and her social-climbing no-good boyfriend. After a drug-fueled rage that gets her mug on all the trashy tabs, Val is relegated to the obits desk. There, the disgraced writer learns to be a real reporter, investigating the mysterious death of revered graffiti artist Malcolm Wallace. In the hunt for his killer, aided by her dark and handsome source, Cabeza, Val uncovers corruption that will put her name back on page one—and her life in danger. Siegal, a former journalist, blends glamour and gutter into a delicious cocktail, equal parts behind-the-scenes dish and crime novel. With a tantalizing if undeveloped side plot involving Val's long-lost relatives, a sequel would be both logical—and welcome."

I don't know where I first read about this, but I used my handy-dandy iPhone notes feature to write the name down . . . I'm about 60 pages into it, and loving every bit of it . . .

Friday, April 11, 2008

Jury duty - Day two
10 am - We return to the courtroom Wednesday morning, and it's the attorneys' turn for voir dire. The same thing happened to me as before when I've been questioned - the lawyers like to use me as a teaching tool for the other jurors:
Lawyer: "Ms. X, you're an attorney, my client is entitled to have the case proved against her beyond a reasonable doubt, correct?"
Me: "Correct"
However, I am less inclined than the other jurors to just adopt what the lawyers say, and I assume this will get me excused. In my mind I am sure that one of my answers was enough to make the defense boot me, and another, the DA.
11 am - I am wrong. I am selected as juror no. 3 - one of the 12 jurors and 2 alternates.
After lunch we get down to the nitty gritty. The female defendant is accused of aiding and abetting two men who went into the home of the victim, and beat him with a bat and hammer in the middle of the night. In addition to stealing his drugs (allegedly) and money, they clean out his garage and steal his car. She drove them to the house, and waited for them outside. She had also threatened the victim earlier in the evening. She is later apprehended in the company of tattoo man (see below) at a no-tell motel in Lake Elsinore. Attacker number 2 is apprehended - driving the stolen car - in a Jack-in-the-Box parking lot.
The defense is that - 1. we should not believe the victim because at the time of the crime he had pending against him charges for possession with intent to sell and prostitution. (He was caught with the hooker, he isn't one himself); or
2. the attack was some sort of white supremacist pay back/drug deal gone bad (one of the attackers has an iron cross and swastika tattoos).
The defense attorney seriously grills the victim (ok, we get it, he's a minor league drug dealer who paid a hooker 60 bucks for oral sex, and is not the sharpest tool in the shed). Overall, the victim is a believable witness, and appears to have turned his life around from hanging out with sleazy meth heads. (He met the defendant when his bi-sexual then girlfriend brought her home for a three-some). We also have a steady stream of cops testify, including one undercover one who is kind of attractive in a looks like a tattooed bad boy who hangs out on Main Street in HB kinda way . . . but I digress.
It kills you as a juror to not be able to discuss with anyone what you are hearing in testimony. You REALLY want to turn to the juror next to you and say - "do you believe this shit?"
The case is given to us Monday afternoon, late. We begin some initial discussions and it seems most of the jury is on the same page, except for maybe, two guys. We don't take any vote on any of the 4 charges
Tuesday morning we resume. As has been my experience in the past, jurors from all walks of life take their assigned task seriously, and want to get to the right result. After reviewing the evidence and the charges, we find her guilty on all charges.
Jury duty is an interesting and valuable experience, though incredibly inconvenient. It's also a bit disconcerting to convict someone of serious charges.
Once more observation - many people react to jury duty service by another as if that person is just too freakin' stupid to have found a way to get out of it . . . Everybody should do it at least once.
Me? That was my third time . . . .

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Another photo of my white-with-lavender-edges, gladiola . . .

Ok, so yesterday we reached a verdict, but let's go back to day one.

Tuesday, April1 - 8:30 am - I report to jury duty and find that every, single chair in the jury room is taken. Fortunately, they skipped the lame movie - "Jury duty is an honor" - and call the first group out to a court room. My name is not on this list.

10:45 am - it's hard for me to get all the details, what with my iPod in my ears, but it seems to me that one of the jurors called to the courtroom has somehow escaped. A string of Sheriff's deputies enter the jury room, looking for this woman, and they have a guard at the door making sure none of us leave.

Noon - we are excused until 1:30 p.m. Having completed the NY Times crossword and read the paper front to back, I decide I need more reading material. I head to Barnes and Noble and blow a hundred bucks on new books and magazines. That's right a 100 freakin' bucks - that's how desperate I was at that point. I did however, include in that purchase a book on NYC for my niece, so she can pick out some sights she'd like to visit in June.

2 pm - a group is called to a courtroom, and my name is on the list. When we get there, I'm among the first group of 12 put into the jury box. Bad feelings come streaming over me. We are told that the case involves 4 felony charges, robbery, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon and auto theft. Looking at the female defendant, I'm pretty sure methamphetamines will be an issue too.

2 pm to 4:30 pm - most of the afternoon is spent with every juror who emigrated from Vietnam - in some cases more than 35 years ago, transforming themselves into stereotypical characters more appropriate in a Vietnamese Charlie Chan movie. All claim not to understand English. One claims he was in a Viet Cong concentration camp, and is freaked out by the lights in the courtroom. That's right - John McCain claims he has no PTSD, but this guy thinks the bailiff is going to shoot him. He is excused.

4:30 - we are ordered to return the next morning.

Monday, April 07, 2008

My main accomplishment today? Completing the New York Times Crossword (ok, it's only Monday) while waiting for Court to start. Yes, I'm still on jury duty.

I'm working at home this evening, trying to keep the work fires burning. The advantage of working at home at 9 pm? I can enjoy a lovely glass of Cabernet from Francis Ford Coppola's winery, and I'm semi-watching WWE Wrestling. I actually used to watch it sometimes circa 1999-2000, and it seems to me that HHH has finally mastered his sibilant "S"s.

FYI - my favorite wrestler? Edge, baby.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

I went to the driving range this morning, and after a rough start, was swinging the club ok, and I signed up for a lesson in two weeks . . .

The girls and I went for a nice long walk this afternoon. Hanna is a firm believer that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun, so we stopped for a nice long rest in the shade half way through.

A couple more days of jury duty, and then back to the office . . .

Saturday, April 05, 2008

I've been keeping an eye on my first gladiola stalk of the spring, and finally have the answer to my question - what color will this one be?


And I have my first rose of the spring, too . . .

I'm working today, but hope to get out and get some exercise and some time in at the driving range. It's overcast here at Mayberry by the Sea, and we started out the day with a power outage. Thankfully, I have a french press coffee maker that I could substitute for my automatic drip coffee maker this morning.
How is your Saturday going?

Friday, April 04, 2008

So, I was going to post today about my usual trials and tribulations . . .

About how I hung out at home until 9:45 am and then headed over for a 10 am hair appointment, only to find out it was at noon . . .

About how I then stopped in at Nick's Deli for one of his world famous breakfast burritos, and added a cupcake on top of that . . .

About how I pitched a fit about how overwhelmed I am with a workload that is crushing me, and how much it pisses me off when I walk past the office two doors down from mine to see a salaried employee with no work on her desk, staring at her computer . . .

About how my neighbor keeps using my hose to wash his motor home . . .

But then I was reminded that this is the 40th anniversary of the assasination of Martin Luther King, Jr., (who amazingly was only 39 when he died), and I thought I could perhaps post something more inspirational than the above . . .

So, in the words of Dr. King:

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom."

* * *

"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word."

* * *

"The time is always right to do what is right."

Thursday, April 03, 2008

My garden is going crazy these days! These are a pot of ranunculus - or ranunculuses - I'm not sure how you plural that . . .

I'm reading a funny book that my mom recommended - Hot Six by Janet Evanovich. It's one of her Stephanie Plum bounty hunter novels, and happens to involve a large, unruly retriever, so my mom thought I'd relate to it.

We had a long lunch break today from the trial, so I stopped at Dairy Queen and had a vanilla soft serve cone dipped in chocolate. I still believe that there may be nothing better on earth than ice cream.

All I can say for tomorrow is TGIF!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The girls and I are hangin' on the couch (and loveseat) tonight . . .

I'm currently doing time as a member of a jury. . . . but I can't talk about it until it's over. . . I'm scheduled to golf a week from Friday, which will be my first time on the links in months. I think a trip to the driving range is in order . . .

I'm taking my (will be 19 years old) niece to NYC in June . . . I have the feeling I'll be spending more time in Times Square, and less time drinking wine at the Boathouse in Central Park, but I refuse to eat more than once at TGI Fridays . . .

How's your week going?