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.