Thursday, December 21, 2006

Raising An Intelligent Child

...or a smart ass in the making! This gave me a good chuckle--

Yesterday my daughter brought home an unfinished math page that had to be completed and returned. When I saw her answer to the problem at the bottom of the page, I KNEW I couldn't let that little tidbit simply be erased and gone, so I grabbed the camera.

She is in second grade and learning to add and subtract both in word problem form and the 'stacked' version with columns for tens and ones. In the question they are clearly asking how little Johhny arrived at such a screwed-up answer (correct answer should be he put the 7 in the tens column instead of the ones column), but my kid had a more literal and to-the-point answer:

I'm surprised she didn't add, "What a doofus!" after it.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Two Went This Time...

We lost two of our hens this week, two days apart.



It was sheer coincidence that they both fell ill at the same time, with two seperate problems. Usually we can dampen or even cure most chicken ailments with our arsenal of preparations, books and online help from friends. This time we knew it was time to take them to the vet, so we did.

It wasn't good news.

Helen had Proventriculitis. It's an inflammation or blockage of the proventriculus (stomach) of a bird. Sometimes you can nail down a cause such as an obvious blockage or a mycotoxin, but usually it's cause is a frustrating mystery; which was true in Helens' case. She got sick and died within two days, and the vet told us surgery was not an option, just to take her home and make her comfortable. He gave us meds to try just in case, he's a softie when it comes to chickens. Helen was the only daughter of Jack, our beloved Barred Rock rooster of many years. She was a very calm girl except at feeding time, when she would YELL. She has a brother, Phoenix, who is currently our Head Rooster.

The other hen was Cutie. Cutie was so named because she habitually would look up at you with a cute little tilt to her head, as in her picture. Cutie contracted a fungal condition known as Favus, which caused her face to start peeling. It was several days before we could nail down what was going on, but both Cutie and Helen were given antibiotics and an antifungal from the vet. Despite our dosing them and handfeeding them every 30 minutes, Helen died on Friday and Cutie died last night. The were hatchmates, we hatched them in 2003.

I love having the chickens, but it is so hard when they die. It's especially worrisome to have two seemingly healthy birds go so quickly, and have to now worry about the others.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Oh NO...They Wouldn't...WOULD They...?!

Short answer: Yes, and most likely the bastards laughed the entire time.

Among my daughters' many stuffed animals is a small purple and white duck, which 'quacks' charmingly when you shake it. Like most toys these days, it hails from Asia. Well, recently it stopped quacking, and small, sorrowful kideyes were begging me to make it quack again. Because, well, I'm Mom, and I can fix anything.

Not wanting to nuke my reputation right out of the water, I agreed to perform stuffed duck surgery and see if I couldn't fix the quacker. I attacked a seam across it's back with a seam ripper and managed to work the noisemaker out of the thing.

The noisemaker looked for all the world like a black 35mm film can. I popped the top off and found quacker innards within. I dumped it out and found the problem immediately: The rubber casing of the thing was disintegrating. Inside the rubber case was a spring and a mysterious contraption made of a moving weight and a bit of colorful metal. The colorful metal looked to be aluminum recycled from an Asian soda can, amusingly enough.

As I explore the thing I determine that the noisemaker proper is working flawlessly, the sole problem is the rotting rubber sleeve. As I more closely inspect the sleeve to see if a replacement for it might be cobbled together somehow, I realize something.

The rubber sleeve is, indeed, A RUBBER.

They had the balls to name this line of toys "Playful Plush", too. More factory-wide sniggering over that one, I'm sure.

As soon as it dawns on me what the creepy, slimey, rotting thing I'm holding in my hands is, I drop it like a hot rock, accompanied by a string of choice four-letter words, uttered in a loud, disbelieving tone of voice. So loud that my husband emerges from the kitchen to see what prompted THAT aggrieved outburst.

I point in revulsion to the toy's parts. "Look at that!" I watch his face closely for his reaction.

Sadly for him, he doesn't realize what it is at first, either, and picks it up. After a moment, HE now knows what it is, too, and practically launches the thing into orbit in his haste to get it out of his hands. "Jesus!" He shoots me an incredulous, disgusted look.

"I know!" I say, before he can say anything else. "And this damned Toy From Hell won't work unless I replace it!"

Who WOULDN'T want to touch this?

He merely returns to the kitchen, laughing because it isn't HIM that has to fit a new condom in a toy duck. He does, however, volunteer to go to the store and get the needed condoms.

Now I know why this damned toy has such a look of Pure Evil on it's face, along with a creepy grin.

OK, I draw a deep breath, Mom Up and do the deed. Old condom removed, new one (lubricated, just like the old one) placed and *of course* it needs adjusting before the quacker works again. Husband makes requisite snarky remarks as to how the things never fit, now I know how guys feel, etc.

New, uh...'apparatus' in place

So for now Evil Condom Duck quacks again. Until THIS condom wears out...

Sunday, June 11, 2006


OK yesterday was a fluke. Back to feeling really crappy again and getting worse. Back to the doctor again tomorrow I guess. Oh God, PLEASE let me keep out of the hospital...I don't have time for that BS...

Today brings another new medicine: a PINT (that's 480 doses, zowee!) of Prometh w/Codiene 10 mg. cough syrup. The bottle is ridiculously large and must weigh in at around several pounds. When J. brought it home, he gave it to me with, "Here's your fifth of cough medicine!"

Please tell me the doctor does NOT expect me to drink that whole damned thing...

Today sister J. came and whisked little N. away for the day so J. and I could get some rest...he REALLY needs it, he's been pulling solo parent duty, working full time+ and caring for me for the last week and a half. He's tired. His family has been wonderfully supportive and right there. Great folks. :)

Side note: I see the side of the Predisone package carries a warning: "This medicine may lower your ability to fight off infections. Avoid people who have contagious diseases."

Wait--that's me. Tell me again how to avoid myself...?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Fun With Pneumonia

Here are the fruits of my stupidity, what I get to eat for my meals these days till further notice:

Robitussin AC (with Codiene) Cough syrup, 2 teaspoonfuls every 4 hours.
Levaquin antibiotic 500 mg. tablets, 1 a day.
Amox TR-K CL antibiotic 875 mg. twice per day.
Methylprednisolone (Prednisone) 4 mg. tablets, 6 per day.
Albuterol 90 mcg. inhaler, two puffs every 8 hours.
Azmacort 100 mcg. inhaler, 4 puffs twice daily.

Most of this stuff is screamingly expensive (nearly $500.00), frighteningly strong and tastes like death. The inhalers flavor your every breath and swallow for hours, and dry your throat out so you COUGH MORE! I had to make myself a schedule, I was spending so much time taking medicine.

OK, so on Memorial Day weekend, I come down with a VERY nasty fever and a very slight, almost unnoticeable bit of congestion in my lungs. I figure I'm getting a cold and start with the OTC decongestant/supressant/expectorant cough syrup and Tylenol. After 5 days of 102 to 104 degree fever, which cheerfully shows no signs of being in ANY way affected by the Tylenol, the lung gunkies take a turn for the worse and become the worst tasting stuff I've ever experienced.

Now, this is saying a LOT.

It's foul. I can't even describe it properly--it was mostly bitter, with some salty-sickly-sweet-death taste mixed in, and it was STRONG. I knew that this was BAD, so I started myself on some Penicillin I had. I figured it was a chest cold gone awry, and spent most of my time trying to sleep/cough till I pulled muscles/sweat/freeze from chills.

No dice. The fever cleared after about 7 days, the lung gunk remained, evil as ever. OK, continue with cough syrup, slack off a bit on the Penicillin.

Until last weekend, when the fever creeps back and I start to feel really, dangerously ill. The kind where you want to turn to your spouse and say, "OK, call 911..." On Wednesday I give up and go see the doctor, resigned to having my ass chewed out for trying to self-medicate and avoid his office (he did, and I deserved it). Almost three hours later I'd had a chest x-ray (his reaction was, and I quote, an eye-popping "GOD--!"), a diagnosis of Viral Pneumonia (which I'd kinda figured out) provided him the sample of lung cookies he wanted, had a nebuliser breathing treatment, a HUGE shot of Roecefin (killer antiobiotic) to the hip and got the bad news that my blood O2 (oxygen) levels were only one point away from 'hospital time'. He gave me FIVE prescriptions to fill and told me to come back the next day for another breathing treatment and another shot of Roecefin, which I did. He also added another antibiotic to the pile of medications I was taking for a grand total of 6.

That night was scary as I got REALLY ill, and I realize that had I waited just one more day, or even a few more hours, hospitalization would have been the only option. It hurt to breathe, I COULDN'T breathe, I was coughing insanely and the high fever made a spectacular comeback. The next day I managed to drag myself back to his office for more of the same. My blood O2 levels had not changed and he stared at me long and hard, obviously trying to decide if he was gong to stick me in the hospital. The only thing that saved me was the fact that I felt a *tiny* bit better. OK, he says. If you don't feel *BETTER* by tomorrow, come in again for another breathing treatment and shot. OK.

So progress was made finally today, Saturday--I'm out of bed for the first time in more than a week, although I am 23 pounds lighter, still have no appetite and cannot eat, which to my surprise isn't bothering me in the least. I figure it's the negative side effect I'm getting from having to have three different kinds of high-powered antibiotics in me. Antibiotics kill off ALL the bacteria in your gut, the good AND the bad.

Which just makes for one more medication to be added to the routine: Imodium.

Life is a joy. Hopefully in another few days I'll be able to walk across the room without having to stop and rest and get my wind back.

In conclusion, DON'T BE ME. I'm an idiot. The nurse says this crap is making the rounds, and it's damned sneaky and nasty, starts out just like mine. If you start to feel ill, get to the doctor right away...


Saturday, May 20, 2006

Thrift Storing!

One of our favorite things to do is go thrift storing. Much like yard saleing, only less catch-as-catch-can, especially if you are after a particular item.

Today we went in search of a few things--a cheap wedding gown and dress form/mannequin for our Halloween yard display and bits of technology or mechanical devices for N. to take apart. She has recently developed a fascination for digging into the innards of machines, and if we don't provide her harmless subjects for dissection, she's apt to find her own lying around the house. When we advised her against this, she confidently declared, in her little, piping 6 year old voice, "That's OK, I can put them back together and fix them!" Oh, dear.

Unfortunately and a bit surprisingly, today's trip didn't yield any victims. The stuff we found was mostly irons, phones--boring, one-step, take-the-back-off-and-your-done stuff like that. We were hoping to find something more mechanical with more interesting bits, like an old clock. We did see one groovy '70's clock, but it was priced well above today's budget.

But--! As J. was digging through the used cameras he came across no less than 4 of them that still had film in them. He was able to get the film out of two of them, we plan on taking it in to get developed out of curiosity, then submit anything worthwile to found.com. He seems to think we'll find something creepy, I think it'll be more along the lines of grandma's 80th birthday party or something.

We also found a cool toy remote control cobra, minus the remote but we think we can find one. If not he'll be a toy as-is, or fodder for the child and her screwdriver. Another cool find was a Revere Ware copper bottomed saucepan in great condition and a 1960's toy with Peter Max-type graphics involving little spring loaded birds that ring metal bells tuned to the musical scale. We also picked up one of those inflatable mylar Hoverdisc toys for $1.99, them promptly took it home and filled it with the last of the helium from last year's birthday party. We had to take it to the park to play with it properly, as it flew WILDY about with the slightest toss and floated quite well. :) As we were leaving the park and driving down the street, we had to stop and rescue a tiny, fuzzy headed starling nestling that was waddling across the road. WAY too early to be out of the nest and no parents around as nightime came on, so he's now residing in a birdcage in the kitchen. He's our third baby bird rescue so far this year, the other two (a sparrow and another starling) being released as soon as they were big enough to manage on their own. We get these every year...

Still, the wedding dresses were priced too high for thrift store aged, stained and torn gowns...they are having a 50% off sale on Memorial Day so I plan on picking one up then. Also, our town is having it's annual city-wide yard sale this weekend, so we can tool around tomorrow and check for wedding dresses and fodder for N.'s curiosity.

I'm dying to see what's on that film, though... :)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


We went and saw the new movie "Hoot" over the weekend. For anyone who doesn't already know, the book was written by Carl Hiassen, whose writing I really love. He is a faithful supporter of the Florida Everglades and it's flora and fauna, has written many fictional novels and also is a columnist for The Miami Herald. His stuff is always fun, clever, thoughtful and quirky. He always tosses in characters and situations that will just about have you in tears from laughing. Once you read one of his books, you'll want to read them all. My favorite is "Native Tongue", about what happens when a couple of thieves break into a wildlife amusement park and steal a pair of rare blue-tongued voles. The park then has to decide what to do, especialy since they DON'T want it to be known that the rare animals are a fraud, and all about the problems of dying rodent tongues blue. Freakin' hilarious.

This movie/book 'Hoot' though, is about some kids that discover that a national pancake house chain plans on building a new restaurant on land that someone is already living and raising youngsters on...burrowing owls. Anyone who has ever pulled up a survey stake or two in their time or otherwise considers themselves an ecowarrior, has a fondness for George Hayduke, is a rebel or likes to see the good guys win should see it, and read the book. It is also VERY beautifully filmed, set in Florida. No surprise ending, you can see it coming a mile off, but it's just a good film. We took our 6 year old to see it, and it was such a pleasure to see a movie that didn't insult anyone's intelligence and did not involve bathroom humor or characters simply hitting each other in the misbegotten notion that that is what kids today find 'funny'.

Very glad they made this book into a movie, although it wasn't the first. Hope many more follow. :)

I Dooooooo......

To our surprise, the Attic in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland has undergone some changes.

'The Bride' was always a fixture there, with her glowing red eyes and beating heart. For years I couldn't understand the low moan that was clearly saying something...until I realized it was The Groom saying, "I doooo.....". I always loved The Bride and plan on adding one just like her to my Halloween yard display this year, with a thrift store wedding gown, beating heart sound effects and some red lights.

New to the Mansion attic are portraits of The Bride with her husbands (she's had several, ya know, just has some kind of bad luck with her men and that pesky ax), in which the mens' heads disappear from the portrait. The NEW bride has relocated across from where she used to stand and is now a projection with cool effects rather than a mannequin in costume.

I wonder what they did with the old one...? I think the old one was MUCH creepier....

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Tech Support...?!

Here at Dell, we want to assure our customers that our tech support team is staffed by fully competent, highly skilled personnel. Each one has been rigorously trained in the latest hardware advances, and use only the highest quality repair intrumentation under strict 'clean room' conditions to ensure that your treasured electronics are in good hands and completely safe when you entrust them to us...

I mean, we'd never just plop it in the middle of the living room floor, hand a screwdriver to a six year old child and say, "Have at it!"...

Yes, she took that old, defunct computer completely apart. One screwdriver and 2 hours later, she had a pile of technological trash, and had a wonderful time doing it. :) I love that demonic expression...


...his name is 'Ace'.

He is my daughter's long-awaited (more than 3 years now) pet bunny. He is a Netherland Dwarf so he'll stay small, and he is a very tame, sweet little guy. When you hold him he stretches out and falls asleep, practically drooling on you.

For years now, everything with N. has been bunnies. Stuffed bunnies, bunny slippers, toy bunnies, pictures of bunnies, bunny shirts--you name it. The kid is more nuts about bunnies than I am about chickens, which is really saying something. The other day at the feed store we were admiring the vat 'o bunnies there (marked down from Easter prices of $50.00 down to $20.00, the high prices weed out the flippant animal purchases) with another couple. The man laughed and said, "Ours are cuter." Up perked my ears, as we have been telling N. since before Easter that she was finally bunny-ready. We soon found out that this family raised bunnies in their backyard for fun and profit, and the woman was steely-eyed about making sure we knew that she did NOT allow bunnies to leave before they were weaned. After talking with them we asked for their phone number to come and see the bunnies, which we did this morning. They had warned us that their backyard was a free-range bunny haven, full of holes and warrens. The place was Watership Down come to life! We grinned and told them they should see OUR yard, full of chickens. We felt right at home. The rabbits were very obviously healthy, well cared for and raised by knowledgable folks. Before we left they also pressed some avocados from their huge backyard tree on us, and we promised to retaliate with fresh eggs, which they agreed to. :)

Instant love...

Friday, April 28, 2006


The high school that I attended was in a VERY small town (population 49) high in the Eastern Sierra mountains of California. Our school consisted of a gym, an office and nine classrooms, all stuck together in one giant building. It housed grades 9-12 and boasted a grand total of 100 students--of which 12 of those made up my class. We were all friends, even with the teachers and high school was marvelous.

I am one of those people that doesn't make many friends, but the ones I do have, I consider friends for life. All through high school I was best friends with two other girls.

Here's what one of them wrote in my senior year school yearbook:

"Being your friend this year was one of the main things I will remember about all my years of high school. My senior year was great, especially all the things we did together--only we didn't pull the fire alarms or plug the toilets like we had planned. Tell me your address when and if you move--write me or come back to visit and play some tennis, and if you get lucky you might win me (but don't count on it). Maybe we were such good friends because we're almost the same height! Well whatever the reason, we were the greatest of friends and probably will always be. The hardest thing about meeting new people and making new friends is saying goodbye. So let's not say goodbye, but so long for now and see you soon. Though we may be apart physically we will never be apart mentally. Never become a stranger or just two ships that pass in the night. Too bad we only knew each other for a couple of short years because they were the greatest, and longer would have been even greater. This time at school went by so fast and far TOO fast. I wish I could do it again just for the fun of it all, and I would have done everything with you the same only I would have enjoyed it all the more. Like the old saying you don't appreciate what you have until it's gone and this is so very true about our friendship."

Love you always,
Marcia '78

Marcia died yesterday.

She was only 45 years old and had, unbeknownst to me, been suffering for years from Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was talking with my mom, who still lives in that wonderful small town, on the phone tonight when she suddenly said she'd have to call me back, someone had come to her house to talk about getting a cemetary plot (mom is in charge of the local cemetary arrangements). When she called me back 15 minutes later, it was with the shocking news of who the plot was for--one of my best friends on Earth. I had no idea that anything at all had been wrong with Marcia, nor had my mom.

Marcia was a tiny little Paiute Indian girl and we did often joke about both of us being so damned short, especially since the other friend in our trio, D., was very tall. We called her 'Marsh' for short, which inexorably became 'Swamp'. Marcia was Salutatorian in our senior year, and besides being frighteningly smart as a whip, was pretty, truly kind and universally sweet to everyone. Everyone loved her. We all thought she would go on to college and do something easy (for her) like find a cure for cancer or establish world peace, she was one of those people that you just know are destined to make an earth-shattering difference in this world. Instead she chose to remain in the valley with her family, got married and quietly and happily raised a family of 5. I had moved to Southern California, but whenever I went up to visit my mother I would get in touch with Marcia to try to arrange for a visit. She always kind of shied away, being too busy or whatnot. Now I feel bad, like it should have tipped me off...?

So I spent this evening going through old yearbooks, pausing to point out pictures of my friends and family to my six year old daughter. Mostly she laughed and said, "What a funny picture!" With some of them I had to agree. While I was leafing through the yearbook, a program for the big multi-year reunion fell out of it. As I opened it I remembered that both myself and my other high school buddy had tried very hard to get Marcia to go to the reunion, which was held just a couple of miles (at the most) from her home...but she refused.

I also read the names of the people that had passed on that were listed in the program, and realized that now not only was Marcia gone, but also her brother, her sister and a cousin. I knew them all as sophomores and freshman in my senior year.

The next time I travel to that small Eastern Sierra town and stop by the cemetary that holds my father, I will also pay my respects to my departed friends.

This is the first really close friend I have lost, and I'm finding it a very disjointing, jarring and heartbreaking experience. What I want to do most right now is jump in the car, stop by Bakersfield just long enough to collect D., my other high school best friend, and drive up to my old small town. What I could do, how I could help...? I don't know.

I just know I want my friend back. I feel cheated.

Marcia said it best:
"I wish I could do it again just for the fun of it all, and I would have done everything with you the same only I would have enjoyed it all the more. Like the old saying you don't appreciate what you have until it's gone and this is so very true about our friendship."

Hug your friends, tell them you appreciate them and savor the good times now.

Marcia, my friend, I love you.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


I'd like to exchange this week for another, please.

No, it wasn't the weather, the midweek rain was just enough to make everything muddy, and I discovered that one of my windshield wipers keeps falling annoyingly out of the bottom clip.

It wasn't the kid, either...although she did do time in the principal's office...again...

Mostly it was my teeth.

No, that's not right, either...it wasn't all of my teeth, it was juuuust one.

The one that needed a root canal.

I find this doubly annoying and a personal affront since I am a Registered Dental Assistant, and know all about all that stuff on how to take care of your teeth. This tooth didn't even have any fillings in it, for cri-yi. It simply started to hurt, got dramatically worse before my appointment for next week, and when I went in on Tuesday to get it checked out, needed a root canal. For added fun, he couldn't get it numb, either and had to keep poking away at me with the syringe. Sometimes all you can do is hang on until it's done, which I know from my years in the assistant's chair. So now I've got the classic swollen face, can't speak or eat, etc. Some fun.

I also have another of my chickens in the house, living out her last days. She is one of a set of identical twin sisters, and I think suffered internal damage from suddenly coming back into lay after many years--she's too old for such nonsense. When we got these two buff bantam cochin hens in 1996 they were already adults so we have no idea of their true age, but they have been with us for 10 years. Since we couldn't tell them apart, we named them The Chicken Sisters (after a favorite book of my daughters'). They are cute little buff-colored fluffballs and did everything together, they were never more than 6 inches apart. They even brooded a clutch of eggs together and raised chicks. We have never seen them peck at each other or fight.

I think at her age she's not going to recover. She is in the house and seperated from her sister for the first time, which we did not like to do, but the other girl was freaking out because of being in the house. We will keep her warm, comfortable, safe and loved until her time comes.

Other, more serious and depressing things are going on this week as well, all of which just leave me...tired of life. Some times are like that, and it's a struggle to find anything good.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Lily Passes

Lily was my Valentine's Day present in 2006. To heck with flowers, say it with chickens! She was a stunning adult white Sultan hen who was suffering from a VERY bad respiratory infection when we got her, doubly dangerous for a crested breed. She had to stay in the house for several weeks on antibiotics until it had cleared, but was obviously the worse for it and was never strong. She had no concept of getting the heck out of the way and tended to look a little too much like a pair of sweatsocks when she plonked herself down in the middle of the floor. Lily was very sweet and loving towards humans, but jealous of other chickens. Lily had her own idea of where she ranked in the pecking order and it was near the TOP, thank you. She 'talked' and chewed her words just like a Siamese cat. And Lily talked CONSTANTLY.

Lily picked fights with most of the other chickens, the roos included. Nothing serious, just enough to get the point across not to EVER mess with her. Because of this Lily ended up spending most of her time alone, and was having a bit of trouble coming to the horrible realization that she must now sleep in the coop with those other chicken-things. Instead, she always wanted to be in the house and at dusk when it was time to close up the coop, we'd find her waiting politely but a tad impatiently on the back porch for one of those idiot humans to open the door and let her in. Lily never really realized she was a chicken, and just decided to refuse to believe that particular nasty rumor.

We will miss her, she was only with us for two months but we just loved how special and unique she was.

Goodbye, darlin' Lil.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Easter!

Thankfully, none of the 7 newly hatched chicks from this weekend are anywhere NEAR this color...

NO, she was NOT amused...

This Is Strangely Fitting...

OK, I couldn't resist...

Your Famous Last Words Will Be:

"I dunno, press the button and find out."

Sunday, April 9, 2006

How Big IS This Little Guy's Nest, Anyway?!

Well, after taking Saturday off (I imagine it's some kind of Sparrow Union rule), our little guy had polished off another few inches of window screen today. We're up to 6 inches gone on the right side and 5 on the left, with the hole in the middle right slowly spreading to meet them:

Could be that he's told all of his little sparrow friends and they have all been having a whack at my window screen for laughs.

Friday, April 7, 2006

Ooh, me too! Me too!

Go to Wikipedia and look up your birthday (excluding the year). List three neat facts, two births (OK, I did three) and one death in your journal, including the year.

October 2nd

Neat Facts:
1836 - Naturalist Charles Darwin returns to Falmouth, England aboard the HMS Beagle after a five-year journey collecting biological data he will later use to develop his theory of evolution. (Go, Chuck!)

1959 - The Twilight Zone pilot premieres.

2001 - First palindromic MM-DD-YYYY date since August 31, 1380.

1800 - Nat Turner, American leader of slave uprising (d. 1831)

1890 - Groucho Marx, American comedian and actor (d. 1977)

1945 - Don McLean, American songwriter

1846 - Benjamin Waterhouse, Cambridge physician and medical professor (smallpox vaccine pioneer) (b. 1754)

Today's Progress In Sparrow vs. Window Screen...

He's been a busy little guy!

At least he's evened out the bottom to a level 3 inches gone all the way across...is there such a thing as an anal-compulsive sparrow...? However, he's also decided that a long strip on the right side of the screen halfway up must go.

Can't WAIT to see what happens tomorrow...

Thursday, April 6, 2006

WELL--! Here's A Surprise...

Chalk this one up to one of those well-now-I've-seen-everything moments...

Our house has a raised foundation and was built in 1952. I also don't think it's had any improvements since that time, so it is really showing it's age in some spots. This morning, after my daughter went to school, when I walked into the kitchen I heard this tiny little scrabbling, scratching sound. It came from the area by the back door that leads from the kitchen to the back yard. I walked over quietly and stood there a moment, trying to ID the sound.

"Ah HA!" I thought, "Geraldine the tortoise (currently hibernating on the pantry floor) is finally waking up! This MUST mean it's really going to stop all this bloody raining nonsense and be SPRING!" I toss open the pantry doors, 'cause if Geraldine is awake and moving about, you'd best be right spry with getting things out of her way, otherwise she simply rams right through them and makes one unholy mess.

Geraldine is still, slumbering happily on. The noise continues.

Oh, I know! The chickens are on the back porch and are pecking at the back door, wanting goodies! I open the door to see who it is.

Not a chicken in sight, never mind on the back porch. Hmm...

I close the door and wait. After a few moments, the noise resumes. Scrabble, scritch. It actually begins to sound a little like chewi...

"Oh, shi--dear!" I now think to myself, "It must be TERMITES IN THE WALL." Then it occurs to me that this noise is too BIG for termites. Larger, more unhappy alternatives to termites chewing on things in the wall come to mind. *shudder*

I sigh and put my ear to the wall, moving my head a bit to find out exactly where the noise is coming from. It seems to be coming from the bottom of the window, which has a closed venetian blind covering it, that looks out onto the patio. As I stand there, I further realize that the sound seems to be coming from outside! Now I remember that the circuit breaker panal and electrical meter are right there, and if Big Chewing Something is having breakfast in there, it's gonna be expensive.

I reach out with both hands and gently part the vertical blinds to see if I can get a peek at whatever it is. To my surprise (and his) I startle a male House Sparrow who was perched on the edge of the window sill. Not unusual, as they often light on the side of the house to feed on little bugs. He flies a few feet away and when I look closely at him, he has some nesting material in his beak. Just before he darts off to the birdhouse we have hung from the garage, it registers in my mind what the nesting material is.

It's strands of nylon window screen material.


The little &#@* has been yanking my screen apart by the beakfull! Since I open that window every day, I know it was fine yesterday. So here is a picture of what I found a 8:30AM this morning:

He had taken off three inches on the right side and one inch on the left, all the way across the bottom. Since the screen is ruined anyway, and I don't think it's harmful to him (it's not metal and quite soft) I'm going to let him have at it and measure his progress each day--that's why the ruler is there. :)

The really funny thing is, we had a similar hole develop on our sliding glass door screen a few feet away, and I had been silently blaming my 6 year old daughter for it, figuring she punched a hole with a toy or something.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Oh Good, More Rain.

I just can't say that and sound sincere anymore. And I love rain. But really...Mother Nature, are you listening? Enough, please. The snowpack is good, the lakes are full, the lawn is lush, the car has been rinsed clean. We're good here. I think that Texas is most likely still (or again) on fire, could you send a little their way? Thankyouverymuch.

Besides which, the chickens look like drowned rats and are NOT happy. When they aren't happy, they blame ME.

The "Before" version of Phoenix:

Phoenix soaked and embarassed:

Oh NO!!! Don't take my PICTURE!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

T'was A Fine, Soft Day In The Spring, It Was...

...and I do believe that this time it might stick! We've had several false starts before now, single days of 75 degree, clear weather...then back to slashing rain, howling wind, cold and mud.

Today was beautiful.

Even the nectarine tree has finally been coaxed into bloom, albeit late.

Today was the kind of day that brings people to California to stay. The kind that makes you want to lie down in the grass and inhale. The sky was brilliant blue, the air clear, the day warm and the breezes soft. The songbirds are out in force, madly building nests, chasing potential mates and singing.

 The sage plant in the herb garden with it's snapdragon-like blooms.

I made a quick stop at the market so that this afternoon after school N. and I could have the first squirt gun fight of the season, along with blowing bubbles which quickly floated throughout the neighborhood. Mostly we lazed in the sun and pointed out the budding and blooming trees and plants to each other.

The blood orange tree, which we harvested just a couple of weeks ago, is beginning to bloom, but most of the buds are still closed up tight. I don't think they really believe that Spring is here to stay yet, either.

We did finally find one brave bloom fully opened, it will be another few days before that heady orange blossom scent pervades the air though.

Our little hot rod male mockingbird was sitting on the power lines above us, running through his song catalog. He still does the gang of crows cawing in the distance, to my endless amusement. We have more Phoebes this year, a cute little grey and black insect-eating crested bird that has a very sweet song. N. did teach herself one important childhood skill, with no prompting from me: learning to drink from a squirt gun.

Summer, here we come!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Saturday Night Wrestling...

...pit bull wrestling, that is.

Tonight when J. came home from a late-night foray to Starbuck's, he found a young male pit bull sitting very nicely on our doorstep, as though politely waiting for him to get home. It had been raining and we had had a massive thunderclap earlier, so we suspected that the dog had done the dog thing and gotten loose when the thunder scared him. Luckily he had both collar AND two tags, so armed with a rope, pen and notepad, we attempted to sit him still long enough to get a look at his tags.

This was easier said than done, since he was SO very happy to have found friendly, awake people at 10PM. He demonstrated this by continuously leaping up to try and lick our faces, despite being tied to the front rail.

My, but pits are STRONG! I genuinely feared for my wrought iron porch railing.

To add to the fun he was wet and muddy, and his name tag was so worn as to be very nearly unreadable. His animal control tag was legible, but was zero help that late at night.

**Note to all dog & cat owners--read your animal's tag aloud as if you have NO IDEA what it's name or address is. If you can't read it, neither can the Good Samaritan that is trying to return your animal to you.

Everytime we got him still long enough to allllmmmost read the tag, up he'd leap again to slobber all over one or both of us or even worse, thump that oh-so-solid head into your breadbasket. He just couldn't help himself, he was SO grateful. We learned eventually that his name was 'Sam', and that he at least DID know the command 'Sit!' when combined with a healthy shove downwards on his fanny. Down he would sit, just long enough to sucker you in so you'd lean down and get your face down next to those tags.

Again eventually J. had taken numerous knock-ya-down-and-lick-ya-silly episodes and I had been suckered in for a couple of jump-up-and-place-his-paws-on-my-shoulde
rs affection attacks, along with one VERY memorable claw up my left nostril. That one ran me right off the porch for a moment while J. retreated into the house to get a flashlight.

It took 20 minutes of bellowing "Sit!" and pleas for him to be still, combined with wrestling and huffing and rolling around on the porch before we finally got his info. I can only imagine what the neighbors thought was going on. Turns out Sam had only wandered over a few streets.

The number on his tag was a cell phone. His owner was driving around looking for Sam, and was smart enough to have his cell with him. Once we read his tags, Sam was picked up within 5 minutes. The owner confirmed that Sam had freaked out in the thunder and jumped a fence that his owner had no idea he could clear.

We did tell the guy that Sam needed new, LEGIBLE tags, waved goodbye and then went indoors to get hot showers and Bactine. The next day we compared sore arms from doggie wrestling. Thank goodness N. was already asleep at that time of night and didn't insist on getting involved.

Fun begins at home!

Friday, March 3, 2006

Off-Season Indoor Easter Egg Hunt!

When it's raining heavily, as it is this morning, we have 5 hens that need to take shelter in the house. This is because their heavily feathered head crests can get wet, pull on their heads and cause brain injuries. Since they don't have the sense to shelter in the coop during the rain, inside they come. Usually they are well mannered and just kind of tool around in the kitchen until the rain stops and they can go back outside to hunt for drowned bugs.

But today, unfortunately, TWO of the girls were gearing up to lay an egg.

This means lots of anxious searching for THE perfect nest site, accompanied by top-of-the-lungs caterwauling. We've gone through this before, so I just try to wait it out, reassuring them from time to time that they are OK, and with repeated pleas to just lay the damned egg already.

So Poof searches and inspects the area behind one of the living room end tables...

Hmmmm....nice, but not quite perfect...how about in that pile of unfolded laundry?


Meanwhile, the other hen, Sugar, has become ominously quiet. When I go to find out where she has gotten to, I find her thus:

That's a bowl full of oranges I picked off the backyard tree yesterday, intended for Blood Orange jelly and marmalade today. I removed the egg (and the one in the laundry) later after it was properly worshipped and appreciated by all, an important part of the egg laying process.

I think this is quite possibly the cutest thing I've ever seen.

How Serendipitous...

Gleaned from my sister:


You will sink in a mire. You like to think you're
normal, but deep down you really just want to
strip off your clothes and roll around in
chicken fat.

What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?
brought to you by Quizilla

Hmmmm....is THAT why I have all those chickens...?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

I Find It Interesting...

that the amazing and beautiful rainbow of eggs we get from our assorted flock of hens includes creamy pink, army green, robin's egg blue, pale blue, beige and dark brown...note the lone white egg in the center...

...the hens who lay these eggs are generally your Basic Model Chickens, although some DO have the Americaunas facial tufts and beards. Hardly exotic looking though.

Amusingly, the REALLY exotic-looking hens, the Polish, with their fancy headgear and beautiful lacing on their feathers--

...are our only white egg layers. :)

Whatd'ya mean, my eggs are 'plain'?!

Friday, February 17, 2006


Go thou here and buy...

I'll need at least two of The Fantastic Menagerie Tarot decks, one for readings and the other to frame and hang and ogle. Everything here is very cool, but the Tarots and Bohemian Cats are right up my sister's alley, especially. The vampire kitties are beyond wonderful...

Fun & quirky antique prints, clothes, purses--cool stuff, check it out!

Another Ticky Tack Landmark Gone...

...and southern California is the sadder for it.

Movieland Wax Museum, which opened in 1962, closed forever on Halloween 2005. On March 11 of this year, they will auction off EVERYTHING in the building, and I do mean everything! Check out the auction catalog here:


Movieland was one of those kinda creepy touristy places where you would wander around and wonder how anything like this ever got started. The figures were badly done and nearly always damaged somehow...wigs askew, spitwads decorating the faces, fingers and noses chipped off, etc. But it was kinda cool because it wasn't big time, if that makes sense.

So anyway, if you want you can even buy the huge, glitteringly lit sign that runs along the top of the building. Or employees uniforms. Or wax, molds and wax figure making equipment (open your own wax museum!). Wax figures. Sets. Boxes of postcards. It goes on and on.

As I was looking through the auction catalog, it got sadder and sadder. The last time I went was back in 1978, and it only got more forlorn and abandoned-looking after that.

Movieland Wax Museum joins the rest of long-gone southern California theme parks such as the Japanese Deer Park and the Alligator Farm, which were nearby. I have a wonderfully tacky tin California souvenir plate that includes the big places like Disneyland, but also features Movieland, The Japanese Deer Park, The Alligator Farm, Marineland, Graumanns Chinese Theater, The Pike...

All the good stuff is gone.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

What Does THIS Mean...?

Today as I pulled up alongside a Cadillac hearse on Imperial Highway, I noticed that my car is both larger AND longer than a modern-day hearse. Are people getting smaller or are we just STILL getting the shaft on legroom, even in the Hereafter?

Note to self: Check trunk for Jimmy Hoffa.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day to my family! That's me on the bottom left of the picture...

My Dad (in the center)--taught me so many things I can't list them all...how to REALLY grow things and care for the earth, how to care for all kinds of animals, how to do all those things that most girls CAN'T do like refinish a table, change a tire and butcher a chicken or rabbit, and how he used to sneak us out of school once in a while to spend the day with him on his work route, LONG before there was such a thing as 'Take Your Daughter To Work Day'.

My Mom (next to Dad)--was our Girl Scout leader for the entire long haul, Brownies through Juniors, took us camping, helped us earn our badges, taught us how to cook, sew, can fruit, vegetables and preserves, and always carries herself with beauty, grace, poise and ease as a simple, quiet example of how a true lady should be. She's a tiny 5 foot thing, but once grabbed up a 2x4 and chased away a group of teenagers who were terrorizing our Girl Scout troop during a late night campout.

My sister B.(top left)--an expert seamstress, cook, and anything else she tries her hand at, sewed my sister K. and I tons of Barbie clothes and made us Barbie furniture that was the envy of the neighborhood. Always kind, elegant and beautiful, with a big heart and a home open to everyone, people naturally just flock to her, her home has become our family gathering spot.

My sister C.(top right)--taught us kids the finer points of Halloween mayhem, soaping windows and smearing peanut butter in screens, would tickle us mercilessly and made us learn NEVER to allow her to be banker at Monopoly, can make us laugh till we cry just by telling a story, was a guaranteed great time and grand adventure whenever she'd say, "Let's just go for a drive!"

My sister K.(bottom center)--taught me how to ride a horse, but NOT before I learned all about them and how to care for them properly, my playmate, and, along with my brother, my co-conspirator in all those childhood adventures. Generous to a fault and absolutely fearless, there is simply nothing she can't do.

My brother P. (bottom right)--from him I learned a truly wicked sidearm throw and other baseball skills, he continues to provide a shining example of wit mixed with cleverness, heart and brains. The leader of our childhood pack, he continues to be a leader as an adult, a fantastic example of a man and parent, and the life of the party.

I hope everyone is lucky enough to have gathered about them a family as wonderful as mine. I look forward to the coming years, as MY daughter gets to grow up and enjoy and discover all of these wonderful people and the family stories we tell, plus our extended family of aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins.

I love you all.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Chew Your Air Thoroughly Before Breathing It, Please...

...it's brush fire season, bleah.

For the last few days a very worrisome fire has been persistently burning uncomfortabley close to both one of my sisters' house and my brother's family. We don't miss out here though, it's raining large chunks of greasy (why?) ash here at my house. The air is horrid and smelly, and the chickens are coated with ash and miserable. I go out from time to time and mist them and the yard and plants with the garden hose, which seems to be appreciated by all. All three of us here have developed the same lovely hacking cough, and tonight the sunset was beautiful, but the sun was literally blood red through the smoke. No good photo ops unfortunately...

I called my sister yesterday but only got her answering machine, and she hasn't returned my call yet. I'm sure she's OK but it's still bothering me, in that nasty, nagging at the back of your mind way...

I'm all Natural-Disastered-Out. The last 12 months have been too much of a whupping from Ma Nature all around.

Something Stupid...

..the ONLY kind of personal experiences I seem to have.

Today it was the car. I just had the transmission rebuilt on Ruby the Plymouth, and ever since I had gotten her back, I had noticed a slight--at first--hesitation on shifting into second gear (and then with that I-just-turned-on-the-afterburners kick), then she was lateshifting into third, at around 45 mph (normally around 35). Not a huge deal, but she hadn't been like that before. Call the mechanic, who says he may need to make an adjustment to the tranny, drive it for a bit and see. Today it's dramatically worse, she insisted on staying in first gear aaalllllll the way to N.'s elemetary school, which causes other drivers to look at you in weird ways. On the return trip home, she does get into third gear, but at 53 mph, thank you--way too late. Mechanic says OK, bring her in. I do so, and interestingly, the first thing he does is pop the hood (isn't the transmission housed elsewhere, somewhere darker and more greasy...?). Anyway, I start the car for him and pop out from behind the wheel just in time to see him take off the air cleaner housing, then make a face and step back a moment. I follow his eyes and see...

The large armature and spring that connects the carbuerator to the accelarator pedal dangling free!

Now, how in the HELL Ruby was even moving under her own power with that whateveritwas hanging there like that (don't know the technical name for that part, sorry), I don't know. To make matters worse, there was a good-sized bolt that went to a limiter on the carb lying on top of the valve covers, and the clip that held the armature and spring in placed has vanished. Once he reconnects this part (as I laugh, quite frankly) and fashions a new clip out of a metal chunk, the car runs like a freakin' top. Go figure.

All of this got me thinking--I rarely HAVE normal experiences with cars or other things such as injuries. This car previously had, in the middle of Nowhere, New Mexico, snapped a large spring in the carbuerator which caused the accelerator to stick in 'Oh Holy God FLOOR IT!' mode, which is quite thrilling when you are driving, thank you. Luckily J. was driving and manhandled it to the side of the road, engine roaring at full throttle all the while. He found a small hardware store and jury-rigged a replacement spring, which is still functioning to this day.

Then there was the Ford Mustang I used to own that one day, for no damned good reason (or so I thought at the time, it was actually planning ahead) decided that the welded piece of metal that holds the adjustable seat in place MUST BREAK, causing the drivers' seat to rocket back and forth like an E ticket ride at Disneyland at every minor movement. Driving was impossible, I actually had to have the thing towed home where a large C clamp was permanently installed, the piece that broke being a component of the frame (great design!). Six months later, when I went to lunch at work one day, I discovered, to my horror, that I couldn't get my seatbelt unfastened! The button refused to depress when pushed. The clasp/release button arrangement on the seat belt of this particular car (bucket seats) were down too low for me to see WHY the damned button wouldn't press.

Here's where the broken seat and C clamp thing comes back into the picture: since I am short, I drive with my car seat all the way forward so I can reach the pedals. The C clamp was holding the drivers' seat firmly in it's steely jaws...I couldn't move the seat back and so loosen the shoulder/lap belt combination to escape in that way! No cutting tools in the car, either. I would have gladly cut the damned belt in frustration, just for the pleasure of maiming the car.

I was well and truly trapped, and everyone else in the office was gone to lunch. I sat there for a moment, trying to figure out how in the hell I was going to ace my way out of THIS one without becoming an Amusing Office Story, even IF those heartless bastards would stop laughing long enough to free me.

I ended up driving over to my mechanic, who, lucky for me, just happened to be walking through his garage bays when I drove up. He waved as he walked by, then came over, puzzled by my frantic waving. Once I explained to him how I was trapped, he climbed into the passenger side of the car, peered into the clasp of the seatbelt, pulled a screwdriver out of his back pocket and used it to pop a penny out of the clasp! It had wedged itself perfectly behind the button so I couldn't press it. Couldn't have happened like that in a million years. I thanked him for saving my dignity but I saw he was grinning as I drove away. Oh well, I'd rather be an amusing story at his place than mine.

What about that personal injury thing? Glad you asked. One morning when I was in a hurry to get to work, I rewarmed my scrambled eggs in the microwave. Just for a few seconds, not too much.

OK, too much.

I took one bite and gave it half a chew (since you don't REALLY need to chew eggs) and swallowed. Fatal mistake. Ever swallowed lava?

I have.

It took it's sweet time going down, too. I drove to work later on anyway, but no amount of ibuprofen and sipping cold water all morning eased the considerable pain. I finally gave up and called my family doctor, who was nice enough to give me something for it. He DID laugh, which I did not begrudge him in the slightest.

When I was a kid it was stubbed toes, mostly because I insisted on going barefoot. Once I walked down the asphalt driveway to join my mom, who was leaning in a friends' car window, talking. Stub my right big toe. Retreat to the house for Big Fun with the methiolate bottle (read: battery acid for cuts) and band aids, then come back out to visit. Stub my OTHER big toe this time. Retreat in disgust back inside where it is carpeted and safe. My other thing was whacking my head on the large, crank-out windows of our house that the sidewalk leading the the garage and back yard passed under. I was juuuuust tall enough to crack my head on the damned things, but NOT tall enough to seem them in time. My dad even hung strands of red ribbon ("The color of the blood coming from your head!" He chirped.) from the corners of the windows, to no avail.

It's no different at work...need to open the cleaning supply closet? Well, then! The two brooms, dustmop and mop will have been leaning up against the door, waiting for ME to open it so they can leap out and suddenly pummel me on the head, in full view of three of my coworkers, while I flail about and try to defend myself/stuff the demonish things back in the closet in a Marx Brothersish frenzy.  That time I pulled a hat trick--THREE people laughing at me at once.

It's summer! Well then! Weather is nice, so I leave the front door of the apartment I was living in at the time open for a moment as I step outside to walk the three feet to the laundy room. When I come back with my laundry fresh from the dryer, I discover that an Alligator Lizard the size of Milwaukee is now standing in the middle of my living room, looking ill tempered and bitey (those damned things bite like nobody's business). I run to get a broom, but he resists all efforts to shoo him back out the front door and instead bites the broom briefly before dashing under the drapes. This, at least, gives me time to form Plan B, which involves my ironing board, my large foldable cutting mat I use for sewing and several cookie sheets pressed into service to form a Lizard Expressway. Surprisingly, between the Rube Goldberg contraption, my by-now determined broom (I've wasted enough time on Lizard Boy, already!) and a bored Alligator Lizard, it works and he is funneled back to the great outdoors, where he is no doubt looking for a small child to bite.

It's Christmas! Been tirelessly wrapping gifts, and down to the very last one? Well then! As I stick the last bit of ribbon in place and stick down the bow, I sigh, "That's it, I'm done!" The word 'done' has scarcely left my lips and is still hanging in the air when the ribbon on the package springs apart with an audible "thoing!, flinging the bow across the room for good measure. I sit there and stare at it bemusedly at J. doubles over, laughing, on the couch.

So now I reflect on how it's ALWAYS Something Stupid, and now that SONG by the same title is stuck in my head...at least it's a great rendition, performed by The Mavericks and Nancy Sinatra.

*sigh* I shudder to think what Fate has in store for me next...

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Earthquake Weather!

I used to have a boss who would practically foam at the mouth whenever someone used this phrase, which since we worked in a dental office in southern California, was pretty darned frequently. For some reason patients would figure that since he was a doctor, he MUST KNOW about all things scientific, or even pseudoscience--of which there is a multitude, as everyone knows.

Be that as it may, every time we have this strange, still, hot-during-the-day-and-cool-at-night weather, it summons up the spectre of 'Earthquake Weather'. Everyone tosses off the phrase lightly, but still with a nervous laugh. Today was a perfect example, and tonight it suddenly got VERY foggy, but still with not the slightest breeze. It's as if southern California is holding it's breath in anticipation. I've noticed it makes people decidedly on-edge and jumpy. To make matters worse, yesterday and today we DID have a couple of minor tremors, somewhere between 2.1 and 2.9 on the Richter scale, pretty much right under us. Not much if you aren't right there at the epicenter, but when you are it gets your attention. We used them to practice our family earthquake drill and N. got into the designated doorway quickly and without the usual dawdling when asked to do something. Afterwards we discussed again what to do in an earthquake, etc. Good practice.

I really like fog, as long as I can stay home and enjoy it--driving in it sucks. I do wish there was a bit of a breeze though, as the air is very still and dead. Uck.

Friday, February 3, 2006

How To Annoy A Chicken...

...or a whole BUNCH of chickens.

Time to dust everyone for mites! Oh, joy.

Since our chickens free-range (fancy talk meaning they walk around the back yard), they hang out with the wild birds, who in their comings and goings, leave behind not-so-pleasant calling cards in the form of parasites, both internal and external. Our chickens are very healthy and having great immune systems, rarely get ill. However we do take the precaution of worming them and dusting them with Sevin (an insecticide powder). Usually we only have to undergo this routine twice a year, but occasionally there is an outbreak of mites that demands an unscheduled round of 'Piss Off Your Pets'. Like yesterday.

Thankfully, yesterday no worming was needed, we had just seen some creepy crawlies on a couple of the hens so we got out the Sevin. Dusting is a procedure that any self respecting chicken RESISTS, and resists with vigor. It neccessitates grabbing the bird in one hand, a handful of Sevin in the other, and massaging the dust deep into the chickens' feathers, all over their body. ALL over their body. Including wingpits and undercarriage. Hens, quite rightly, have a deeply-seated sense of dignity and modesty, and DO NOT take kindly to having J. grope them in such a familiar and thorough manner, and in full view of the rest of the flock. My job was to catch the chickens and hand them over to J. for dusting (the look they shot me reminded me of french aristos going to the guillotine), a process which is much easier in some birds than others. Sweethearts like Babs, Rita, Sugar and Phoenix complied with a minimum of squawking and struggle, but some of the others (Houdini, Juliette and Splash), when they caught on quickly to what was going on, became deliberately slippery and impossible to catch. As the procedure wore on, the dusted birds would stand fearlessly at our feet, in an invincible, "Hah, I'VE already been done!" manner. The as-yet-unmolested chickens hid under any available bush or lawn chair and willed themselves invisible.

Eventually everyone got done, and the coop, roosts and nests as well--for when you dust you have to do the living quarters as well, otherwise it's like taking a shower and putting on grimy clothes. Today not ONE of the chickens will come near me, their noses are severely out of joint. I'll bribe them in a bit with a leftover cheeseburger...food goes along way in chickenland.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

What Else Can You Do In A Hotel Room?

Bored with the generic art hanging in your hotel room? Think you could do better?

Maybe someone already has.

Take a peak behind the ugly, boring, useless framed art on the wall next time you are checked into a hotel room, see if there is anything like this:


Secret Wall Tattoos! My favorite is the one done on the bathroom tile, a miniature of the open bathroom door with Munchs' 'The Scream' in the shower...that or the chalk outline under the bed. :)

It's an outsider art project begun by the lead singer of the rock group Queens Of The Stone Age, and his buddy who is a tattoo artist, while on tour. The complexity of each piece reflects the amount of time they had to spend in each room while in that town.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Here And There...

While I'm thinking of it, a few random bits and pieces...

Found a really cool site and new interest that I didn't even know I had, courtesy of Preservation magazine, a mag devoted to the national trust for historic preservation. There is a new photographic hobby, taking pictures of what are called 'Urban Ruins'--abandonded, decaying buildings, whether businesses, factories or homes. If you do a web serch on 'urban ruins' you'll come up with scads of sites, but I REALLY like Rob Dobi's work, here:


Check out the Tumblr section, which is futher subdivided into various areas for insitutions (mostly hospitals and asylums), factories and homes. He never discloses where these places are or their real names, so that they will remain undisturbed (Go, Rob!). The photos are the kind that pull you in, and make you want to know what is behind that tantalizing, half-open door.

CoolHunting, a site devoted to all kinds of art--and anything else you can think of. Each entry has a short description and a link to the page of the artist:

There are pages and pages to go through, check it out and find cool art projects and pieces!

PostSecret, an online/snail mail art project that collects and posts anonymous postcards sent in that each share a 'secret'--be it a wish, a hidden need, a secret, confession, fear, fantasy, regret or hope. Their only rule is keep it brief and that you have never revealed it to anyone. Updated weekly, it's fascinating:


Street art that fools the eye into thinking it's 3D:


My favorite is the one that looks like someone has cut a chunk of bricks out of the sidewalk, leaving a large square hole. People are actually walking around it!

Friday, January 20, 2006


...and so NOW the Plymouth has decided that today--oh yes, it must be TODAY is the day for a new transmission.

She decided this, considerately enough, AFTER I had parked at N.'s school to pick her up. When I got us all strapped in and ready to go home, there was an ominous 'bang' when I put the car in reverse--almost as if someone had hit my bumper--and the car wouldn't move. When I looked in my rearview mirror and saw no other cars around, my heart sank, and I had a sneaking suspicion that this was going to be expensive.

It will be, never fear.

My mechanic tells me, though, that he is currently looking for a 1969-70 convertible for himself, and was shocked at the price of even fixer-upper Camaros and GTOs. I told him he couldn't have picked more popular cars--heck, everyone wants a Goat, for cri-yi! He told me that my car was well worth repairing, since it is very rare and worth (even in it's present seen-better-days condition), around $30,000 to $40,000 dollars. I had recently learned this so it was no surprise, but it was nice that someone else praised my (accidental) automotive accumen.

Especially since it's currently sucking my purse dry in huge gulps...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

So Cal Bad Fashion!

In line at the bank the other day: twenty-something guy, black spiky hair, slouched into line while chatting on his cell, OBVIOUSLY thinking he was hot stuff. I think he forgot to change out of his kick-around-the-house-on-laundry-day duds, though:

Old, torn white (once upon a time, eew!) long underwear shirt with equally eldery light blue T shirt mercifully worn over it...
khaki cargo longshorts, pockets stuffed to the gills with who knows what...
...beige Ug boots, complete with fleece!

Even the little old lady in line behind me stared.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Batch 'O Fun...

A few recent discoveries via the good old Jib Jab site that gave me the giggles:

A site devoted to badly translated Asian (mostly) to English instructions, menus, product packages, signs--you name it. They even sell Tshirts, coffee mugs and other items emblazoned with the more outlandish stuff. You'll laugh till you cly!

The Llama Song! To quote one reviewer: "We can safely say this song is about llamas with other subjects thrown in; like ankles, oranges killing rakes, and a duck. Put on your headphones and see how long you last. I was found two days later, drooling on myself, hugging a paper shredder."

'Nuff said. I'm going to show it to N., she'll insist on us singing it tonight at bedtime.

For those who have never experienced Jib Jab, it's a site devoted to mostly political humor, using Flash movies done in Monty Python style. Well worth a visit!