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Apr. 2nd, 2015

This post delighted me so totally fully much, other than the medical stuff of course. The waving statues and your comments made me laugh out loud. "We got a bingo everyone! Over here, it's us! Bingo winners!" They also look a little like dearly departed bingo players who are headed into the big Bingo Hall in the sky where they serve milk and honey. Love this.


Overall, I think I'd give the past 8 days a B+.  

* Last Saturday Chris and I went to Sacramento with fallulah71 for the day.  She had two spare tickets to see the musical "Mama Mia" and asked if we wanted to come along.  I'm not really into musicals (or generally any theater for that matter), but a production built around the music of ABBA?  I'm in.  We drove down in the morning and dropped by the Goodwill thrift store outlet downtown.  Apparently they take all the best donations and name brands and put them together in one store, which makes a lot of sense to me.  I walked out with a really great pair of leather shoes by Kenneth Cole for $15 (which I put on and wore for the rest of the day) and Fallulah bought some very pretty silk blouses for cheap.  We wandered around downtown for a bit and then had a really great lunch at PF Chang's before the show.  And the show?  Was awesome.  It was funny and goofy and the music was total ear candy (with not a little eye candy in the cast too).  I'm really glad we got to go.  

*Thursday I had to attend a training in Orland, a small farming town an hour south of Redding, with the rest of the analyst team.  The training center for the entire north state is located here, and I've driven down there about a million times over the years.  The training itself was a complete and utter waste of time.  The computers were ridiculously slow and then no one could access the software we were supposed to be learning how to use.  Also, the instructor was himself only a beginning user, which meant we spent the entire time reading the manual together.  After two (!) hours of trying to get the software to work properly, he told us to go ahead and head to lunch early.  At 10:30.  In the morning.  There's nothing open that early, so the other two guys and I wandered to the auto parts store next door (one of the guys needed oil filters) and then waited for the pizza place to open at 11:00.  We should just have called it a day and headed back to Redding, and I'm still not sure why we didn't just leave.  After "lunch", the software was mostly working, but I struggled greatly with it.  I'm not a stupid man, but this software has always been confusing and frustrating to me and I simply cannot grasp it no matter how hard I try.  I didn't even bother attending Day 2 of the training.

*Friday night the whole family attended my niece Caroline's school play, "Mulan."  All of my nieces and nephews attend the same grade school as my brother and sister and I did, which is pretty cool.  The school was very rural when we went there, but the area has since become very gentrified with very wealthy residents, and consequently the school has gotten very fancy.  The play was like a local Broadway production, but with more screeching voices.  Caroline played a Hun, and I have to say that she would have made a terrible Hun because she kept smiling at us in the audience.  I think soldiers should scowl a lot more, but war does strange things to people, so what do I know?

*After the play was over, I met up with Chris and some friends from work at a local dive bar called the Bell Lounge.  They had karaoke that night, something I would normally avoid, but we had a really great time.  There was one douchey guy dressed all in white with a scarf, wearing sunglasses indoors, and he was pretty entertaining but not for the reasons he thought.  I don't know if the drinks were extra strong or my body chemistry was off, but wow did I get tipsy quickly.  I'm a lightweight anyway, but these drinks really caught up with me before I knew it.  However, I think it's good to blow out the cobwebs once in a while and let my hair down, so I just enjoyed myself.  I didn't sing karaoke (thankfully), but I danced a lot, something I don't really get to do enough anymore.  When it came time to leave, there was no way I was going to be able to drive home, so I hitched a ride with one of the designated drivers and I hope I didn't say or do anything that brings shame to my family.  I also remember now why I don't drink well drinks anymore because that stuff is like poison.  I need top shelf booze, and top shelf only because the cheap stuff will kick my ass faster than anything else in the world. 

*The hangover wasn't much fun, but it was totally worth it.  I had plans to see "The Hunger Games" with my family (everyone has read the books), so my sister dropped by and took me to my car.  I haven't had to do the Walk of Shame in a long time, but that was far more preferable than a DUI.  We got to the movie theater early because this movie is really popular and before long there were at least 100 people in line behind us.  Some people got a little pushy when it came time to open the doors, but I snarled at two different people who tried to be sly and cut in line because I just do not.  Put up.  With.  That shit.  While the story was originally written for the young adult market, I've read the books and they're quite good.  The audience was a surprising mix of young and old, male and female.  And the movie itself was fantastic.  The acting was really solid, with a few moments of pretty heavy emotion, and I think the director made some good choices for casting and which parts of the story could be left out.  After the movie we all went out to lunch and then I said goodbye to my niece Kathleen who was home from college for the week.  She's headed back to Cal Poly today and her new quarter begins tomorrow.  I can't believe my baby girl is almost through her first year of college already.  *sniff*

*After lunch I made the mistake of going to Walmart to pick up a few things.  Walmart on a Saturday with a hangover is one of the worst places to go, but I HAD to pick up a few things and couldn't really put it off.  I survived, but just barely.  I needed new windshield wiper blades because it's been raining pretty hard for the past few days and my old blades didn't exactly give me much warning before they literally came apart all at once.  Once I got home from that horror, I crashed and slept for a couple of hours and woke up feeling much better.  The rest of the evening was quiet and while Chris and I were supposed to go out with some friends to listen to a band, he was pretty sick (not caused by the drinking) so we cancelled.  I was in bed and asleep before 9:30 anyway, so I'm not sure I would have been much if we had gone out.

*Today it's gray and wet and cold and I think I'll get caught up with some reading or puttering around the house or I might even get ambitious and replace my wiper blades.  So many possibilities.

If there are any misspellings or bizarre syntax, it's because I'm feeling too lazy to reread and edit this post.  

I hope all is well where you are.  Go have some ice cream, it'll help. 

Last night I watched a really interesting documentary on National Geographic about a search for a lost fresco of Leonardo da Vinci in Florence.  In the 16th century Leonardo painted a fresco, "The Battle of Anghiari", on one of the walls of the Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of the Five Hundred) in the Palazzo Vecchio.  He abandoned it before it was finished and it remained incomplete for many decades until the hall was enlarged by Vasari.  The theory is Vasari, who greatly admired Leonardo's fresco, built a wall in front of the painting rather than destroy it and then painted his own version of the battle.

(The fresco is on the left side of the picture, the panel next to the balcony in the back of the room)

(Here it is again, on the right side of the photo.  I had no idea when I took the picture that it was the center of such mystery!)

(And because I have the maturity level of a fifteen year old, I included a photo of this statue, which is right below the fresco.  I snicker every time I see it.  I'm not proud of this, but it is funny)

Over time it was forgotten on which wall Leonardo had painted his fresco, but researchers discovered a gap behind one of the walls which led them to believe they had discovered the location of the missing painting.  They drilled holes in the fresco and inserted a tiny camera to take a peek inside the gap, to mixed results.  While the researchers did not specifically find what they were seeking before they ran out of time, nothing was ruled out either.  The biggest problem was the drama caused by the press, who made it look like the researchers just stumbled in out of the rain and began randomly banging on the walls with a hammer.  In actuality, they had the full cooperation and permission of the government, but due to the pressure from the press the officials threw the research team under the bus and cancelled the entire project before a proper inspection of the fresco could be made.  However, there were enough intriguing clues to indicate they should take another look at this and I suspect one day they will.

Any story about Florence is naturally going to capture my interest, but I particularly loved this one.  I've been in that room in the Palazzo Vecchio and it's an incredible space.  There's a Michelangelo sculpture, among many others, as well as dozens of rooms that are simply breathtaking.  I can't vouch for my impartiality though.

One of the things I loved best about the documentary was the passionate debate about exactly what needed to be done, and how and where.  After all, even though they were searching for a lost da Vinci, they still had to make tiny holes in another masterpiece.  So many reputations were on the line and no one wanted to be the one who gave the green light to a procedure that ended up knocking and entire fresco onto the floor in a cloud of dust and horror.  On the other hand, they all wanted to be the ones who discovered a work of art that had been missing for nearly 500 years.  I understand there was a certain amount of posturing and politics and ego behind some of the debate, but that doesn't take away from the wonderful notion of people fighting over a painting.  Lives didn't hang in the balance, but they argued as if they did and I find this pretty cool.

I guess I just love that there are people out there who have dedicated their lives to the study of these wonderful creations that, to be honest, don't serve any real purpose other than to speak to the soul.  These people are committed to preserving and protecting the art for as long as possible, acting as stewards for an artist who has been gone for centuries.

Something that made an impression on me the first time I visited Italy was how important to mankind these works of art truly are.   I didn't feel like I was seeing a part of Italian history and culture, I felt like I was seeing something that belonged to every human being everywhere.  I was seeing something of beauty created by a regular person just like me who had good days and bad days, who drank wine and complained about taxes, who bonked his head or got sunburned, who laughed with his friends or liked the smell of grass.  It's hard to picture the human behind the art, but it's there and when I see it and feel it, I feel a connection that is stronger than nationality and time.

Perhaps I'm overly sentimental, but this is the kind of stuff rolling around in my head.  Watching this National Geographic documentary gave me goosebumps and reminded me of all the things I love about my Italy.

Saturday Morning Post

This was the first full work week I’ve had in a little while, thanks to holidays and back-to-back colds, and I swear it feels shorter than the short weeks.  It’s a strange phenomenon, this.  As much as I love three day weekends, I’m always surprised at how long the following week feels.  A four day week can feel like it takes ten days to finish.

Speaking of work, I finally finished the computer rollout at work.  The months of setbacks and confusion and frustration made this a project unequalled in my entire career, and I had some pretty low moments.  Since my work wife fallulah71 left in October, I’ve been doing my job and hers until a replacement is hired.  The toll that’s taken on me has been profound because there were very few duties I could reassign to other people.  I do admit that staff have been pretty patient with me (with a few exceptions, as there always are), and I’m grateful because they certainly could have made things a lot harder. Still, it’s been a difficult five months and I have no idea when a replacement will arrive.  Maybe never, who knows?

On Wednesday we had our annual all-staff meeting where they hand out longevity awards.  I got my 15 year pin (it has a single sapphire atom), even though I’ve actually been here 16 years because of where my hire date falls.  It’s a weird feeling to see a chunk of my life represented in a tiny metal pin like that.  I was 26 when I started, and I’m not sure I even recognize that guy any more.  My hair was certainly darker and thicker.  I have no idea where the time went.

I don’t think I mentioned it here, but a couple of Saturdays ago, as I was taking a nap I heard someone pounding on my door. I don’t often answer my door if I’m not expecting someone because, well, it’s my property and my house and I don’t much care if a stranger knows I’m inside ignoring them.  This time the knocking continued and I heard someone calling my name.  I went to find out what the fuss was all about and when I opened my door, there was a car parked in my front yard on top of my picket fence.  My goodness, my neighborhood came ALIVE.  Such excitement on Jay Street!  Apparently a guy up the street didn’t curb his wheels, nor did he properly set his parking break and his car slowly rolled down the hill until it came to rest on my fence.  I called the cops and while we were waiting, Old Guy Bob who lives next door animatedly told all of us about the time his daughter crashed his brand new car into the post in front of his house.  He was SO THRILLED to tell this story, and then he repeated everything to his wife Betty, who is deaf, so she could get up to speed with events.  The cops finally arrived, knocked on doors until they found the car’s owner, and he stumbled down to my house in a daze (he was napping too).  He was very apologetic about the whole thing, and I got all of his insurance information after he dug around in his car for a really long time.  A couple of days later I called his insurance company, which he had also done, and they were very friendly and helpful about filing a claim.  As soon as I got an estimate for repairs and emailed it to them, they cut me a check.  No quibbling, no delays, no fuss at all.  When have you ever heard of an insurance company doing that?  Here’s the kicker:  the car happened to crash through the part of my fence that was only being held together with sunshine and good wishes.  I’ve been meaning to replace it for some time and just hadn’t gotten around to it yet, so he pretty much did me a favor by knocking it down.  Also, the estimate was double what I thought it was going to cost, so the check was a lot more than I expected.  So I’m going to remove the rest of the fence, put in some boxwood hedges that won’t require a lot of attention and move on with my life.  That’s a win in my book.

Lately I’ve had a rather mysterious ant problem in my house.  They always end up in my bathroom, usually in the tub, and I haven’t got a clue where they’re coming from.  There aren’t any in the kitchen, where I’m sure they would find plenty of things to get excited about, and as I’m not exactly doing cartwheels in the shower, flinging water all over the place, they aren’t finding any water sources either.  What’s more, no matter how careful I am about getting rid of the scouts, more will reappear the second I look away.  I’m suspecting they’re being deposited by micro wormholes.  It’s the only logical explanation.

Today's plans include hitting the thrift stores in town and hopefully finding some good junk.  Chris and I have had pretty good luck in the past, but there are days when you don't find anything worth a nickle.  I have no idea what I'm shopping for, but I'll know what it is when I see it.  Isn't that really the best technique when it comes to treasure hunting?

Anyway, I hope all is well where you are.  I've been lurking on LJ in my cloaking device, reading posts and commenting here and there.  Go have some ice cream tonight.  You have my full endorsement.

Monday Morning You Sure Look Fine

Another quiet morning in Northern California with a charming cold rain. I thought we were supposed to have sunshine for the whole three day weekend, so it was a nice surprise to wake up to the wet stuff this morning. Naturally, the rain came because I had already watered my yard yesterday.

Today is President's Day in the United States, and I'd like to take a moment to recognize their noble sacrifices so I could have a long weekend to play video games and nap.

I'm at Starbucks again, with my blonde roast and a cranberry scone. It's warm and clean here, with the little baristas fluttering around the counter, chattering and snickering. If only we could understand their language, we might unlock the secrets of the universe. The only thing disturbing the place this morning are two people sitting ten feet away from me, and two feet away from each other, talking like they are on opposite sides of a wide chasm. Here's a little sample of their conversation: SO I SAYS TO DALE, SAM WROTE A LETTER AND HE AND CUT AND PASTE EXACTLY WHAT THE RULING SAID AND SO IT WAS JUST BLATANT BUT THE BRIEF WAS OKAY, AND ONE TIME WHEN I WAS IN FLORIDA I WAS OUT SWIMMING AND I SAW THIS BARRACUDA AND I WAS LIKE WOW BARRACUDA YOU ARE UGLY AND LET ME ASK YOU THIS DID ROBERTA HAVE A GOOD TIME ON SATURDAY BECAUSE ROBIN SAID IT WAS LIKE CHRISTMAS AND I SAID NO ROBIN, IT'S BECAUSE OF THE ECONOMY. I'm not even joking.

Hurrah, they just up stakes and left! Ah, sweet peaceful calm. Now I can enjoy the fantastic playlist they've got going on here. Old R&B, soft and soothing.

Last night was the season finale of "Downton Abbey" on PBS and I've ranted enough about it over the past couple of months that I'm sure you've at least heard of it. Such an amazing show and so beautifully shot. Towards the end of the show last night, one of the principle characters was standing on the terrace watching the snow fall, wearing a dark red dress that just popped against the blacks and whites of the space around her. It would have made a beautiful painting.

I got to spend some nice time this weekend with each member of my family (well, except for the niece and nephew away in college). Friday night I invited myself to my brother's for dinner, and we had pizza and played some Xbox and then for reasons that are unclear to me, my brother and I ended up getting sucked into a show about children's pageants. The level of freakery present in that world is difficult to comprehend. One of the mothers (age 47) had a stripper pole in her living room, I kid you not. Of course, she called it an "exercise pole", but I suppose "daddy-issues pole" is too much of a mouthful. Look away, we could not.

On Saturday Chris and I went for a long walk along the river trail, and let me tell you it was cold. I was woefully underdressed, thinking shorts would be perfectly comfortable, and I certainly suffered for my mistake. We did have a nice time however, and afterwards we got some coffee and did a little shopping at this random thrift store near Chris' house. He came home with a brass lobster. If you know Chris then you'll know he's going to find some way to make it even more awesome than it already is.

Yesterday I tagged along with my mom when she took my niece shopping. She's 15 and a great kid to shop with because everything excites her. She found a dress with pink flowers that looked super cute on her, and I thought she was going to do a cartwheel. I picked up a few things myself, and apparently they had just marked the prices down fifteen minutes before we got there, which is so full of winning I can hardly stand it.

In the evening I went to my sister's for dinner (I did not invite myself, she asked me first) and watched some tv with her and my brother in law and my nephew. We're all hooked on "The Walking Dead", which is about killer zombies, and followed it up with two hours of Masterpiece Classic on PBS. It was a strange combination, but my brain is already rotten so very little damage was done.

Okay, now I get that it's early in the morning, and people come to Starbucks to relax and read the paper and drink their coffee, but do they forget they're actually out in public? The couple that just came in look like they stood in front of their closet and yelled to the clothes, "JUMP!". Perhaps there aren't mirrors in that home. Or combs.

I'm not sure how I'm going to spend the rest of this last holiday weekend, and I'm trying not to think about the fact that it's the last one until the end of May. At least the pressure at work lightened up for the first time this year, and I feel like I've gotten a handle on the computer rollout. That project almost did me in, and while I'm not done by a long shot, I can at least breathe a little easier since most of the machines are installed and working. And universe? Don't pull some BS move and send plagues of hardware issues. You'd better hadn't, I'm tellin ya.

Yesterday I made a kick ass stew and got some awesome artisan bread to go along with it, and since it looks like it will be a cold and rainy day it might be nice to catch up on movies and lay around in my pajamas. Oh, and pay bills because my paycheck was deposited a day early due to the holiday. I always feel good when that chore is complete.

I hope all is well where you are. Put ice cream in your near future, you won't be sorry.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.


Untitled Post Without Structure or Form

A cold, quiet rainy morning in Northern California. It's still early here, really early, and I am comfortably ensconced in the corner spot at Starbucks where I can observe the room and blend into the wallpaper.

This is my favorite Starbucks because it's so close to my house, but the staff here are very nice. A few years ago I met up with some people I grew up with and who I hadn't seen in many years. Everyone was in town for our 20 year high school reunion, and the barista overheard us talking and she changed the music in the coffee shop to all 80s just for us. I don't know why that charmed me so much, but it really did. Also, just now, as I'm sitting here typing a man came in and asked for some ice water. He clearly was just trying to get out of the cold and the wet, and the girl behind the counter gave him some water with a smile. He took a seat by the windows and has nodded off, which I can hardly blame him for because it's warm and cozy in here. One of the other ladies working here quietly came over and set a hot cup of coffee at his table and then slipped away, so he'll have something warm to drink when he wakes up. It sounds like such a simple kindness, but I'm really very touched. So if you live in Redding, or are passing through, drop by the Starbucks on Placer Street.

Oh, and another quick note about this place, several years ago my niece decided to be a barista for Halloween (she was about ten or eleven I think), and she came in and asked if she could borrow an apron and a hat for the night and the people working here gave them to her with a smile and told her she could bring them back whenever. Needless to say, I'm a fan of this particular branch.

I'm up very early this morning even though it's a holiday and I've earned the right to sleep in, but it's so hard to change my inner clock. I'm a morning person anyway, but I sure wish I could sleep in to the late hour of, say, 7:00.

This holiday could not have come at a better time because I am ridiculously burned out at work. I've spent the last four weeks installing 52 new computers in my office, a task that is absurdly complicated and one in which there is literally no one who can help me. Due to the limitations of regulations, only an administrator can do most of the work and until another person is hired, I'm the only one. When the new machines arrived, I set about the task of installing the software package we use for our network, only to discover there was something wrong with the disk. I managed to make the disk work, but it took twice as long as it should have. So, I reported the problem to my support people in Sacramento, and they were stumped about how to fix the it. So I continued along, cranking out machines and getting them ready to roll out. After I had done 30 machines, I got a call from our other support team in Sacramento telling me that they STRONGLY recommended that I redo the completed machines. The machines I had spent ten days and two weekends working on. My anger, frustration and dismay were profound and I literally, not figuratively, literally considered quitting my job on the spot. I was (am) exhausted from four months of doing the work of two people, and handling the stress of supporting nearly 200 staff members scattered over four locations and it's taken a toll. Hearing that I needed to redo work that had taken me hours to complete was just about the end of me. But I pulled myself together, started over and just got to work. I installed software like I was a robot at an auto assembly plant and when I was down to the final ten machines my phone rang. It was the support team in Sacramento (the ones who provided the software package), telling me that I in fact did NOT need to redo all those computers. The two groups hadn't spoken to each other, and the people who are supposed to keep things like this from happening didn't actually call and speak to anyone. There was a lot of finger pointing, some vague apologies and a lot of "whoops, sorry about that." Honestly, at this point I'm just numb from it all. I don't think my administration understands how close I've been to having some kind of neurological event and going out on stress leave. What's more, as I'm sitting here reading those words, in the back of my mind is the knowledge that they sometimes read this blog and have discussions about me at their meetings. So, in addition to the stress of trying to do the best I can with few options of support, I also have the very real concern that they will view this post as me being a whiny complainer. So I've got that going for me.


Whitney Houston. A sad waste doesn't begin to describe it. When Michael Jackson died (another sad waste) part of me thought that at least he and we were being spared having to watch him become more strange and eccentric as he got older. With Whiney, I think we were deprived of getting to see her turn things around and stage an amazing comeback. I wasn't a huge fan of hers, but I can't help but admire what an amazing gift she had, and what a terrible loss this is. And I see that Chris Brown won a Grammy last night! Cool! So, you can beat the crap out of your girlfriend, pitch a hissy fit and break a window on Good Morning America when someone dares ask you about it, rail against people for being legitimately scared of you, and when you make a new record you'll get a big hug from your peers and a shiny trophy!

Hey look! Debbie Downer has a blog! What say I move on to less heavy topics, yes?

I had my taxes done on Saturday, and I'll be getting a nice little refund back from our good friends at the IRS. I should use the money to treat myself to something nice, but I'm never really good at that. You know I've been mulling over a Mac book, but I did some research last night and I read that they are overhauling that line of machines and will roll them out in the spring. Perhaps I should wait a couple of months before I take the leap. Or I could plan another vacation to Europe and see some new places. And by plan I mean move, and by new places I mean Italy and by vacation I mean rent an apartment and work in a gelato shop owned by one of the hot members of the Roma soccer team. So many choices!

Wow, someone needs to tell the lady who just came in that she isn't 23, nor is she a member of the biker gang on "Sons of Anarchy." Oh, and bedazzled jeans don't look as sassy and fun as she thinks they do. And J Lo wants her hoop earrings back.

A very nicely dressed man is at the counter wearing a gun on his hip. I'm choosing to believe he's a cop and not a twitchy threat to my safety. Wait, he also has a a badge, so I think I'll be okay. Whew.

This cold, wet, drizzly day is really nice. Our winter has been cleverly disguised as an early spring, and I don't like the signs that perhaps summer might not be far off. This brick oven of a town doesn't need the blistering heat coming any sooner than its going to. I'm really wired for cold and wet days, which makes sense when I live in a city that has precious few of them.

Two hours I've been sitting in this corner, drinking my coffee and eating my scone (which was actually eaten one hour and fifty eight minutes ago), watching the world come and go. It's relaxing, this. Something I noticed about lingering in a cafe in Italy is that no matter how many people are present or how many conversations are being conducted, often at alarming volumes, I can only understand part of what's being said. This means I can't eavesdrop on anything and the cacophony just becomes this lovely flowing soundtrack to the scene. The words don't intrude on my thoughts, and I can make up any dialogue I wish. The beautiful woman in the elegant black coat with the red buttons wasn't talking about her clogged plumbing, she was describing how she caught her handsome lover texting his wife while she was making him dinner. The young man in the yellow scarf isn't a cell phone salesman, he's a student at the university working on his art history degree. The elderly couple isn't bickering about who left the milk on the counter, they're having an animated discussion of Berlusconi's peccadillos. I sometimes daydream about how much I love sitting quietly in Italy, and once in a while I can recapture a pale imitation of that feeling. Today is one of those days.

It is with heavy heart that I said goodbye to my dear Miss Anita Margarita at work on Friday. After nearly 30 years with the county, she decided to retire and begin the next chapter of her life. While I will miss her terribly, she certainly hasn't retired from my life and I look forward to hearing about what life can be like on the outside, My retirement is far, far in the distant future, so I will be living vicariously through her. For whatever reason, for me the pinnacle of indulgence is to be able to see a movie in the middle of the day if I'm in the mood. One day.

If you're still reading this far down, I appreciate your attention. Sometimes when I start to write, it's like the words pour out of me and I can't get them all down quickly enough. It's particularly easy to do when I'm on the iPad, but reviewing and editing what I've written can be a pain, so if there's an occasional word out of place or I've committed the cardinal sin of a your/you're or a to/too/two error, I hope you'll keep the demerits to a minimum.

Directly across from me is a table with three people sitting having coffee. One of the men is facing me and we've made awkward eye contact like fifteen times now. Every time I look up in his general direction, so does he, and our eyes keep meeting. Not in an eyes-across-a-crowded-room kind of way, but in a your-head-is-right-below-a-clock-and-I-swear-I'm-just-checking-the-time kind of way. You know what I mean. Oh thank heaven he just left. I feel like I'm at peace again.

It's time for me to hit the bricks and get out of here. I hope you have a good day and the people who shape it take pity on you and cut you some slack. Please, treat yourself to some ice cream because you know you've earned it.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.


Monday Monday

This morning I woke up early, as I always do, and decided to get out of the house and treat myself to coffee and a pumpkin scone (NOM) at my favorite Starbucks.  I don't much care if you sneer at me (I know how many people feel about Starbucks), because sometimes it just feels good to sit someplace warm and clean with free wifi and comfy seats, surrounded by the smell of brewing coffee and the hiss and rattle of industrial size espresso machines, the sounds of which reminds so much of the love of my life Lady Florence.  Plus, this morning they handed out free samples of salted caramel macchiatos so tasty it makes my knees weak.

Random, wandering post ahead.  I'll walk slowly.

This weekend we get three days off in the United States for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and I admit I'm not exactly using my time in a productive manner.  I should be working in the yard or puttering around the house, but I think I'll forgive myself for wanting to just do as I please for a few days.  After all, I won't lie in my death bed filled with pride over that time I dug up a shrub in my yard when I could have been doing some writing or catching up on movies or working on my photos.

Saturday morning I was in the shower and got water in my ear, which has yet to get out.  I've tried every remedy possible (no joke, every single one), but so far nothing has helped.  Almost everything I hear out of that ear sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher and I keep hoping if I'm patient it will go away, but this is day three with no relief. I fear I'm going to have to see the doctor about it, a notion that thrills me to no end.

On Saturday Chris and I decided to take a short road trip to Sacramento for a little shopping.  The weather was perfection, and it wasn't really crowded anywhere we went.  We hit IKEA, grabbed the cheap but tasty breakfast, bought all sorts of random stuff (shelves, kitchen utensils, hooks, pictures frames, etc) and then hit the mall.  There's a Toys-R-Us near the mall we go to, which I always check out in case they've got new Superman stuff, and I found the Best Thing Ever:  a replacement Tiny Camera!  The one I bought and used several years ago didn't survive the last computer upgrade, and then it lost its tiny mind and started deleting photos randomly.  The Tiny Camera 2 that I found is actually a GI Joe digital camera for kids, but it's just what I was looking for. It was all of $5 and I suspect I'm going to get more than $5 of fun out of it.  I've taken a dozen photos just sitting here at Starbucks and I can't wait to see how they turn out.  Stay tuned.

We also went to the Macy's in Sacramento and stumbled across some pretty good sales.  I walked out with some Ralph Lauren clothes that normally would have cost $160 for $22.  Thanks, Great Recession!

The guy sitting next to me this morning has a MacBook Pro, and it's all I can do not to steal it while he's in the bathroom.  I've been wanting to make the leap to Mac for a few months now, but I simply can't justify the expense, so matter how how cool and sexy and useful and fun they are.  I could afford it (hush, I'm not being snotty about it), but I just can't talk myself into spending the money. I'm starting to suspect I'll never be able to shake that poor kid inside me.  Will I ever stop feeling guilty for enjoying the fruits of my labor?  I swear, I can't tell you how many times I've gone shopping and I've  found something I love for a decent price that I put it back and tell myself it's not a good use of my money.  I mean, I know we all do that, but it's practically a highlighted feature of my personality.  

There is literally only one customer in the building who is younger that me this morning.  It's like the waiting room of a doctor's office office in here.  At least with my blocked ear, I can't hear all the conversations that I'm certain are revolving around ailments and the obituary page.  Unfortunately this also means I can't eavesdrop on anything interesting.  I've got this expression I call my "wallpaper face"  that allows me to blend in with the background and observe a room without being noticed.  It's an effective camouflage that often comes in handy.

In addition to the free samples of the salted caramel macchiatos this morning, they also just handed out free bags of the new Stabucks Blonde Veranda blend.  Score!

I'm using the iPad this morning, so if any of my syntax, spelling or word choices seems peculiar, it's because I'm not going to bother proof reading this entry.  Lazy Matt expresses his sincere apologies.

The guy sitting next to me (on the side with my good ear) with the beautiful MacBook Pro has an accent I've been trying to place ever since he picked up the phone a half hour ago. I've pinpointed Texas, and I'm fairly sure I'm right. He just said, "He looked her in the AHAYE" and that's a Texan twang fer sure.

I think it's time to post this and hit the bricks.  I haven't yet figured out what I want to do today, but there might be a movie in my future.  I hope the people who shape your day take it easy on you.  Have a bowl of ice cream, you deserve it.

Video Post

I'm home from work today feeling sickly, and in my boredom and desire to escape what will surely be a long day of denting my couch, I came across this video meme.  I think the purpose is to demonstrate how you pronounce certain words, and what words you use to describe things.  I've seen this one before, but found it again recently and thought I'd post my take on it.  I think I came out a little stiff, but I'm blaming that on the fact that I had to keep two screens open so I could read the words while I was recording.    

I hope you post your own version(s).
(Upon review, I realized my mic is really awful.  It sounds like I'm speaking into a tin can, which would probably be an improvement.  I typed in my short answer to each question in case you can't hear it on the video.)

Say these words:
Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, 
Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, 
Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught

Now answer these questions:
What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
A pill bug
What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
What do you call gym shoes?
What do you say to address a group of people?
What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
Daddy longlegs
What do you call your grandparents?
Gram, Grumpa
What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
Grocery cart
What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
What is the thing you change the TV channel with?
A flippie

2011 The Year in Review

I'm not sure what grade to give 2011.  I mean, it certainly had to be better than the suck-filled 2010, so I had high hopes that it couldn't be much worse.  Thankfully it wasn't.  Overall I'd give it a B-.  After all, I did go to Venice in the Spring, and I met David Sedaris (not at the same time).

Every year between Christmas and New Year's I pull together a favorite photo from each month and put them together on my blog.  I've done that here, but I haven't organized them in any way and they aren't shown in any chronological order.  2011 was a year in which I tried to quit being so fussy about certain things, including self-imposed rules and regulations.  So, tucked behind the cut and loaded with photos, is 2011...

Take your time, there's plenty to see. Also, my apologies to the elves in your computer who have to make each picture appear.Collapse )

Whatever your faith or beliefs, I wish you love and happiness in the coming year!

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.


Something Wicked This Way Comes?

Taken this morning with the HDR app on my iPhone. I really like the sinister vibe the double image produced, even though it was a bright and cheerful morning.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.


Midnight in Paris, deux

As described in my previous entry, here's the opening sequence from "Midnight in Paris."  Soak in the beautiful scenery and let it sweep you away because you've earned it.

Thanks to nzguy1 for finding this clip.

Midnight in Paris

We have a movie theater in town that shows second-run films for a very cheap price.  It used to show all of the new releases until the leviathan across town opened, and since then it's been in a gentle decline.  It's owned by the same chain, but as it's running movies that have already been out for a while, usually right around the time they are shown on airplanes or are released on DVD, it charges a lot less.  The first showing is $1, and later showings are $2.  I really like this.  It allows me to see movies I'm not sure if I'll like or not without feeling like I've been ripped off, or I can watch films that I already saw and loved because there's nothing like watching it on the big screen.

Today I took a breather between other responsibilities and chores and to-do lists, and saw "Midnight In Paris" at the cheapo theater.  It's Woody Allen's latest film (he's not in it), and it didn't last long in full release which is a shame because it's quite marvelous.  The first five to seven minutes of the movie are nothing but shots of the city, with gentle music playing.  No credits, no narration, no dialogue, just beautiful and languid scenes of a lovely city going about her day, in the sunshine and the rain, at dawn and dusk.  Lazy, charming pictures that do not forward the story other than to show the audience those places that make people fall in love with the city.  I can't remember the last movie I saw that set the table for me, pulled out the chair and said, "Enjoy!"  

The movie is about a writer from California who visits Paris and feels immediate chemistry with the city.  If you've ever been somewhere, taken a look around and breathed deeply and thought to yourself, "This!" you'll know what I mean.  One evening he decides to walk back to the hotel after dinner, gets hopelessly lost and rather than panic, he sits on some steps and just takes it all in.  An old car pulls up, he is persuaded to climb in by the passengers waving glasses of champagne, and finds himself dropped off at a party in the 1920s.  It's surreal, but not as weird as it sounds.  He meets many famous writers and artists from that golden age and his experiences help renew his love for writing and life in general.

I loved the movie more than I can say.  The music, the dialogue, the strangeness, the scenery were all perfect and at the end of the film, I even sat through the credits (something I never do) because I wasn't eager to break the spell.  There were only three people in the tiny theater besides me, which made the experience even more special.

What's more, I spent yesterday with my niece Kathleen who is home on winter break from Cal Poly.  We went to a bunch of thrift stores with my mom and my sister, and then I took her to my favorite used book store, Cal's Books.  She had never been there before, and was blown away by the stacks and stacks of books piled up to the top of the 30 foot ceilings.  I took her to the back corner where the classics are located and we had a wonderful time talking about great books and writers, many of whom were depicted in the movie I saw today.  It was a cool coincidence and if I had known I would have taken her to see the movie with me.

Considering the way things have been going lately, this movie could not have been a better medicine for shaking off the stress and frustrations of daily life.  It was just what I needed to catch my breath and renew myself for another week.

I hope all is well where you are and you've had a moment or two to take a look around you.  Plus I hope you've taken the time to eat some ice cream.


My kryptonite is totally "Eat, Pray, Love."  The movie AND the book!  In every way. 

It's the story of a woman who has a crisis of the soul ("mid-life crisis" is too trite and a not quite strong enough a term to describe it), and upends her entire life.  There's a divorce, an identity crisis and a torrid love affair in rapid succession, none of which is good for her and all of which were probably vitally necessary for her personal growth.  So she decides to quit her job and spend time in Italy to learn the language, and then move on to India to live in an ashram and then travel to Bali to find herself spiritually.  The book (and the movie for that matter) is a little too precious at times, too self-aware on the level of "I'm living my own Ya-Ya Sisterhood all by myself!", and yet it's the underlying theme itself that calls to me like I cannot explain. 

anita_margarita, herself a bit of a siren in my life, loaned me the book and said she thought the parts about Italy would appeal to me.  She wasn't kidding, not by half.  I have discovered that even though I can't really relate to the author on practically any level, I understand what she's getting at.  I also discovered that I can only read about two or three pages before I want to set down the book with a scowl, stare at my car keys for a moment and walk out of my office never to return.  I imagine, in vivid detail, the conversation with my boss, the discussion with my family, the talk with Chris, the cashing out of my retirement accounts and then finally placing sheets over all of my furniture in my house, like they do in the movies when the master leaves the manor for an extended period.  

I can imagine all of it.  I imagine my family saying, "Mattie, are you crazy??"  I imagine Chris and Barbara saying, "Go.  Go now.  You may not get another chance.  We'll come find you when you're settled."  Melissa/Cindy/Cathy would say, "Fly, you fool!"  And Miss Expatria already beckons like a ghost from across the pond, whispering "Come.  We have gelato and wine."   

Even watching ten minutes of the Julia Roberts film version of "Eat, Pray, Love" is difficult.  In the book I can only imagine the things I'd be seeing.  In the movie I actually see them.  She stands on a terrace as the sun sets over Rome, in the distance are the green hills north of the Vatican, with a look of trepidation and contentment on her face.  That scene all by itself makes me want to check my account balances and pack a bag.

I don't think for one second that I'm as tragic a figure as that writer (or Julia Roberts even).  I don't imagine that my life is a heavy coat that must be shrugged off and thrown to the floor with a sneer.  I've got many wonderful things in my life here that give it meaning and purpose and value, and lots of people who care about me.  Still...still. 

I want to be able to move to Italy and find a charming dive to live in, with a grocery store nearby where the people recognize me and smirk when I ask for a "cat's ass", when what I really need is some laundry detergent.  I wouldn't mind finding a Marco to take me under his wing like Miss Expatria did, but she hit the lotteria and I suspect the universe isn't so kind as to provide an opportunity like that again.  I want to learn the language and have a favorite kind of pasta and walk the streets with my head held high knowing that even though I'll never be mistaken for an Italian, I will always feel like one on the inside.

Perhaps I'm over-romanticizing it, but I suspect I'm not because I know exactly how badly I would love to do what she's done (minus the Indian ashram or the spiritual center in Bali).  As the author is studying Italian, she learns the word "attraversiamo" which means "let's cross over", like when you cross a street with a friend.  It's a simple concept but loaded with so much meaning, particularly when you're looking for something that means exactly that.  I want to cross over, and the street would actually be the size of a continent plus an ocean, but it still fits. 

I have to stay away from "Eat, Pray, Love" or I am going to end up a cautionary tale for others.  I don't even particularly care for the book or the movie but...ugh!  How does she make me crave changing every single thing in my life?  Perhaps I shouldn't tug too hard on that thread.

I know this post is a little rambling and random, but I just had to figure some way to get these words out of my head so I can get back to being content with my ordinary, beige life in my familiar world.  As long as I can still get away every so often and have a taste of Italy I think I'll be okay.  Probably.

(I know, I know...a hat at dinner.  I wish I could take it back.  But the moment is perfect) 

Sedaris, David

A couple of months ago I noticed on David Sedaris' facebook page that he was going to be going around the country on a speaking tour.  I'm not sure how to describe him exactly, but he's a humorist who writes essays for a lot of different magazines and he's a contributor to NPR.  I came across his book "Naked" a few years ago and was instantly drawn into his weird little world.  He's a smart guy with an interesting way of seeing things, and you'd never know to look at him that he's got such a wicked sense of humor.  I've been a fan ever since that first book and have bought all the others since. 

So I noticed that he was going to be speaking in Northern California at a couple of universites, but both of those were going to be on week nights, and while I was trying to figure out how to pull off the logistics of a long drive and work, a new Sacramento date opened up on a Friday night.  I quickly called Chris to see if he was interested, and while he wasn't familiar with David Sedaris, he decided my interest was good enough and he said to buy him a ticket.  I got tickets, booked a room in Sacramento and took the afternoon off work for the drive.  It's not far, only about two and a half hours, but those hours are some of the dullest, most bleak hours you could ever spend.  There is absolutely nothing of interest to see practically the entire way, unless you're really into miles of farms that are growing what appears to be weeds, but at least it's an easy drive.

We got to Sacramento, checked into the room and wandered around downtown to do a little shopping.  A couple of hours before the show we grabbed some dinner at the brewery next to the theater, and while our table was literally smack-dab in the middle of the restaurant and under a huge light fixture that made us look like we were on stage, the meal was pretty good.  It was VERY cold outside and we walked around for a bit and decided to go to the theater early and get out of the wind.

Just as we got into the lobby they began setting up tables for book signings and some random woman declared that she was going to go ahead and just start the line.  We jumped in behind her and an orderly queue quickly grew.  She mentioned that she had seen David several times before, and always had him sign the same book each time.  I thought that was pretty cool and then Chris told her that he hated her because he thought it was cool too.  The two of them were BFFs in seriously like 30 seconds.  I don't know how he does that.  He bonded with a total stranger over a writer he'd never even heard of. 

Within just a few minutes David Sedaris arrived, trailing a small crowd, and took a seat behind the table.  Chris' best friend held out her book for him to sign, and no sooner had she stepped away that he said he thought that was really weird, to have the same book signed over and over.  I brought two of my first editions of his books ("When You Are Engulfed In Flames" and "Holidays On Ice"), and told Chris to get one signed for me.  He told him his name was Matt, and David wrote "To Matt, With Friendly Friendship".  I stepped up and told him my name was "Matthew" and he said, "Oh!  Like Matt and Hugh!"  Hugh is his husband of many years, and I nodded and grinned.  He drew a little candy cane in my book and colored it in, adding that he could have left it for me to do myself when I got home but he wanted it to be complete for me.  I told him that made it more magical and he laughed.  That's going in my lifetime highlight reel, y'all.

Also?  He invited us to take a postcard from a stack he had with him.  They were ones he'd had made that amused him, so we each grabbed one that was a picture of the skull of a Pekinese dog, like from a science museum.  Weird, random, and just plain cool.  There was another one with owls on it titled, "Let's Explore Diabetes in Owls", which he explained later during the show.  He wants that to be the title of his next book, and I wish I had snagged one of those.

I clutched my books like I'd just gotten one of Elvis' silk scarves and we wandered off to our seats.  He spoke for about two hours and read some of his essays as well as some new things he was working on.  Naturally he was funny as hell, and it's really great to get to hear a writer read his own work, in his own voice with his cadence and inflections.  I loved it when he'd start laughing as he'd tell these stories, really getting into it.  He also talked about how it was his own personal crusade to stamp out the overuse of the word "awesome", something I have sprinkled generously throughout my vocabulary.  There was even a note on his signing table that said "AWESOME FREE ZONE."  I can't promise to drop the word altogether, but I'm taking it under advisement.

At the very end of the show he mentioned an incident that happened in the lobby earlier when he was signing our books.  A woman stepped up to take his picture and he asked her not to (there were signs that told people not to do that), and scolded her just a little.  He said he wanted to apologize to her because he felt he had been rude, when really he just doesn't like people to take his picture without asking.  I gotta say, I thought that was a really cool thing to do.

After the show it was pretty late, so we headed back to the hotel and crashed.  We woke up WAY TOO EARLY the next morning and figured since we were already up, we may as well wander around downtown and look for something to eat.  Sacramento is quite a lovely city, and she is so often overshadowed by her flashy big sisters of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.  There are lots and lots of trees, gorgeous in their fall regalia,  the streets are easy to navigate and the entire downtown looks like a sleepy eastern college town.  And you simply cannot beat the magestic state capitol building, which I unfortunately couldn't get a picture of because I was driving around it trying to figure out where we were going.  Here's a tree instead:
We'd read about the city's best donuts in a magazine and were able to finally track down "Dobots." I had a vanilla bean donut and Chris had the chocolate and chili, with a cup of coffee. The coffee was amazing, and I need to call them and find out where they get it because it may honestly be one of the best coffees I've ever tasted.
Once we finished our sugar blasts, we decided to head across the river and hit the IKEA in West Sacramento.  They didn't open for another half hour or so, and when I got back into the car to start it up, I heard an ominous "clickclickclickclickclick" but the engine wouldn't turn over.  I knew I was going to have to replace it, but I thought I still had some more time on the clock.  Thankfully, the Auto Gods were smiling on me and there was a Walmart right next door with an auto shop and they were able to take care of me with a minimum of fuss and cost.  I've never been so happy to see a Walmart in my entire life, I kid you not.

We spent some quality time at IKEA and picked up some cool things and then drove over to the Arden Mall for a little more shopping before heading home.  I didn't find anything I couldn't live without, but we did wander into an "Urban Outfitters" and they had a huge display of these clunky retro cameras that I instantly fell in love with.  The Diana camera is famous for taking wonky photos, as is the Holga camera.  The photographer has little control over how the pictures turn out, which often leads to some pretty amazing accidents.  I didn't buy one of the cameras there, but I found some online much cheaper and I think I'm going to have to indulge myself.  The camera colors are these vivid retro hues and it was totally love at first sight.

We got home in the early evening, very tired and hungry and a little snippy after such a long and busy weekend.  Still, it was so much fun and I'm so happy I got to meet someone I've been a fan of for so long.  I'm also happy I've only got a three day work week and then the best holiday of the year, Thanksgiving, is on Thursday.  I'm going to eat until I can't breathe, I promise you.

The Big Day

Disclaimer, again.  This post was composed on my iPad and sometime the autocorrect makes weird choices on my behalf with regards to spelling, content, grammar and syntax. Anything wonky, totally not my fault. 

I woke up far too early this morning but felt rested and ready to start the day, so I did a little writing and had an early breakfast here in the hotel. Hotel breakfasts are never very good, but the hummingbird has to eat and I loaded up on pretty much everything available.  They didn't have any Danishes or nutella, but the front desk more than made up for this grevious insult by giving us several bottles of lotion. Did you know the High Desert has very, very, very dry air?  Did you also know that every time you step outside here, the moisture in your body evaporates in seconds, leaving you looking like a corn husk doll?  It's true. 

Our plans for the day were very uncertain because we weren't sure if we were needed to help set up for the wedding, or if our number one most valuable contribution would be to merely stay the heck out of the way.   We couldn't reach anyone in the wedding group so we decided to do a little sight seeing in Old Town Albuquerque. I love the freeways here (kind of a weird thing to say, but just go with it) because the lanes are wide, the interchanges are these elegant, graceful curves and all of the overpasses are made with pink cement and turquoise accents. It's a lot prettier than I'm making it sound. We found Old Town easily and spent a rather nice morning wandering the shops and admiring the adobe buildings. This is a beautiful city with lots of colors and rich culture. I wish I had more time to explore.

When we finally got ahold of my nephew, he said he was getting dressed soon and we should come to his hotel. We got all dressed up and headed over there, ready to help him with his tuxedo and tie and whatnot, but he was still wearing his clothes from the night before and the room looked like it had been flipped over, redecorated with a leaf blower put back together by a blind person.  Apparently the previous night had been epic and I'm glad I was outside of the blast radius.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that there were room service trays everywhere, with stacks of pancakes with one bite out of them, hash browns covered in tabasco sauce, most of a donut and random bits of food products that had clearly been intended as a hangover remedy.  There were piles of clothes everywhere and an intricate arrangement of furniture that had apparently been a sleeping pallet for one of his friends.  It was alarming, but to be honest I would have been surprised to find anything else.

We finally got Todd hosed off and dressed, which was like trying to put a really strong infant into an outfit for family picture day, and he proceeded to pace the floor with nervous energy.  At least he looked great in his tux, as did my other nephew who was the best man.

The wedding venue was all decked out when we arrived and there were some Very Tense Moments when the bride entered the building because she didn't want my nephew to see her before the ceremony. We were hustled off to the men's locker room (this was at a country club) to wait while she was whisked away to some mysterious part of the building, and we were threatened by at least four different people that if we let Todd see Vanessa we would be put to death.  I may be exaggerating. 

The ceremony started right on time and it was really wonderful. Todd got emotional when Vanessa came down the aisle and I nearly lost it myself more than once.  My uncle pride was stretched to tolerance limits, I kid you not.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur, as they always do, with the first dance, the dinner (amazing food), the cake cutting (red velvet!), the speeches and the general merriment.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I danced the Macarena and I KILLED it, as I always do.  

Its the end of the trip now and we're headed home first thing in the morning.  I'm so glad I made the trip, but then I wouldn't have missed it for anything. I'm happy for Todd and I can already tell Vanessa is going to fit right in with our family.  She's a good egg, that one. 

As you can see, my paragraphs are getting shorter and shorter as I start winding down from such a busy 24 hours.  I'm wiped out and need to hit the sack.  I also need to reapply another layer of moisturizer. Good night. 

Wedding and Such

Disclaimer:  Any typing, spelling or quality errors are entirely the fault of my iPad.  I'm not used to writing blog posts without my laptop and I refuse to take any blame if you aren't entertained, amused or delighted with this posting. Also?  This is a loooong post.  The first one of these I've done in a long time.   I'm not even going to proofread it before posting, so let the chips fall where they may.  I'm reckless like that.

This weekend I came to Albuquerque for my nephew's wedding.  Todd has been living here for a few years, since his first positing in the Air Force. I don't this he particularly likes it here, the seasons can be pretty harsh in both summer and winter, and the landscape is barren.  However, he was enjoying life as a single young man when, as he so romantically puts it, he met Vanessa who put some kind of black magic spell on him to make him fall for her.  It clearly worked. 

The date they picked for the wedding happened to be a three day weekend for everyone in my family (as public servants we usually get all the same holidays), but not everyone was able to make the trip.  Both of his parents (my sister and brother in law), his brother and sister and I booked a hotel and plane tickets and made arrangements to come down. We left Redding at 2:00am, drove two hours to the airport in Sacramento and had a very easy and event-free flight to New Mexico.  Part of the reason the flight was so easy for me was thanks to the makers of anti-anxiety medication because I am not an easy flier.  Every bump and rattle on a plane leaves me sweaty and committing my soul to baby Jesus, but I seem to have that fear a little more under control now. 

 Have I mentioned yet that none of us had met Todd's finance Vanessa yet?  That poor girl had to meet her new in-laws the day before her wedding. Anyone who has spent any time around my family knows we can be a rambunctious lot, which I think can be a little intimidating.  However, when Todd and Vanessa met us at the gate, it was like we'd known her for years.  She's a good fit, both for my nephew and for this family and her sense of humor and spunk will serve her well.  Plus, she's a cop in the Air Force, and can hog tie any one of us with little effort, even at 5'1, so a healthy dose of fear will keep the rest of us in line.

We had a really nice lunch at a fantastic Mexican restaurant near their house, and sat and talked for a long time, getting to know her and it was really wonderful.  The key moment for me was when I watched her face when she looked at Todd while he was talking, and vice versa, and they clearly adore each other. How could you ask for anything more?

We spent some time at their house meeting her brother and sister and being mauled by a pair of wild dingoes that may or may not have been pets of theirs.  The girl dingo took a shine to Vanessa's niece's stuffed animal, so we spent a lot of time holding the girl and the stuffed animal over our heads and out of reach, like we were fording a mighty river with a precious bundle balanced on our heads.

After a brief respite back at the hotel where we sutured and bandaged our wounds, we headed over the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner to meet the rest of Vanessa's family as well as some friends of theirs.  The Hard Rock here is actually a huge casino/hotel/event center, and they will be getting married there later today.  Dinner was a little disjointed because the staff sat us at a long, curved row of tables which made talking a challenge, but we had a really nice time.  Poor Vanessa on the other hand, got totally stiffed with dinner because they forgot to bring hers out, and when they finally did, her chicken was ice cold and we all shrieked as she was about to take a test bite of her potato salad. I can imagine few things worse than the bride being poisoned the night before her own wedding.  My sister, a powerful force of nature when someone in her family has been wronged, made the waitress bring out another meal, but when it arrived, Vanessa noticed the chicken on the bottom of the plate still had her fork marks on it.  Basically they pushed the food onto a new plate and tried tricking us.  

A weird moment in the evening came when the waitress approached our group and said a man at the bar wanted to buy all of the gentlemen at our table a shot.  He had been engaged to be married and had recently found out his fiancé was also dating his best friend.  Awkward!  He wanted someone else to hopefully have a nice evening and so we toasted Sad Stranger as he made his way off to another bar. 

My sister had a nice bit of luck because as we were leaving the casino, my nephew (the 13 year old) said she should play a certain slot machine.  She plunked down her money and doubled it in about five minutes, so she cashed out and gave him the winnings.  I'm going to have to have that little psychic pick out a machine for me later because Uncle Matt would love to have some luck of his own.

We haven't seen much of Albuquerque because we've been so busy, but it hardly matters. The important stuff is why we're here anyway, and I look forward to the wedding this afternoon. It's a strange feeling to watch these kids grow from tiny babies to adults with lives of their own.  I look at how far my family has progressed from where we started, and not to get overly sentimental or anything, but it's very humbling to know that what started as a tiny little group has grown into a tribe of noisy, funny, smart people that I couldn't be more in awe of.  

Today will be a busy day.   Hopefully my next post will be filled with lots of great pictures of the wedding, and then we pack up and head home first thing tomorrow morning.  I hope all is well where you are.

Still Here...

I haven't posted anything in ages and ages.  I haven't made any updates to my website.  I've barely spoken on FB.  Somewhere along the way I lost my writing mojo.  And my photo mojo, dontchaknow.  It's 99% related to work stuff, and should I be foolish enough to go into it here, it will immediately be the topic of conversation at the next Big People's Meeting, which is illegal as hell and yet happens all the same. 

I'm trying to sort things out in my head, but I do peek in on LJ and lurk and creep about without saying much.  I miss it in here, and I miss writing and I miss thinking about writing.  I want it back and I'm pissed it's been taken from me.

Perhaps I've just needed a breather, and if I don't put something up, anything, I'll never get back on the horse.

I miss y'all and I hope the unicorns are blowing kisses to you wherever you are.

Food Lab

I put up a new post this weekend on Greetings Citizens.  I don't know why the main page isn't loading properly, and it's very frustrating.  I think the individual posts are okay, but the main page, with that awesome photo mosaic that I love, is wonky.  Grr.  I hope you bear with me as I try and sort this out!

So I decided to try something new in the kitchen.  I received some awesome eggs from my friend Shelley, who has her own flock, and last night I cooked a chicken.  I had a craving for an omlete (I don't make them very often), and I decided to add chicken, because...why not?  Ham and cheese go into an omlete, so why not chicken? 

While I am proud of how it turned out, I admit that the taste was...meh.  I think I should have added more spices.  While the combination of chicken and egg was fine, the whole thing was just too bland.  So, the Chicken Omlete experiment was a dud.  It happens. 



I gotta say, that omlete sure turned out purdy!


It's a really nice day today, meaning it isn't 95F like it was yesterday.  There were hints of rain and just a suggestion of sun, and I am more than happy to kiss summer goodbye.  I slept with my windows open last night, like I do when it's warm, and woke up to a nice chill.  I do love me some fall.

Thanks for all the support after my last posting (which has now been locked down).  I appreciate it more than I can say, and it helped me shake things off long enough to put up a new posting over at Greetings Citizens about my dinner party last weekend.  Honestly, if there was a way to have a big dinner party with my LJ friends, I'd throw one in a heartbeat!

I'm off to my brother's house to hang out  for evening, and I very much looking forward to that.  I hope you're doing something fun, or lazy, or quiet or exciting, whatever most suits your current needs.



I saw these in the sky yesterday. They didn't linger, and if I hadn't taken a photo I wouldn't know if I imagined them or not. I believe they are called "clouds" and I thought they were a myth!

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.


Friday, Friday, Friday

I've got a couple of new posts up on Greetings Citizens, one from last weekend and another from tonight.  The format looks a little different than it used to (as explained in tonight's post), and I made so many customized pieces on the former version that it's going to take me a while to figure out how to do it all again.  Web design is fascinating but really challenging, particularly when you've had no experience and you're learning as you go.  I need to take some classes, because there are lots of ways I want to expand the site, but I don't know how without turning the whole thing into one giant "404 Page Not Found" site.

Today was downright pleasant in the weather department, so thank you to whoever ordered that for us.  We actually had some clouds and there were moments when I was outside that I didn't actually want to run screaming back into the building with sizzling skin.  BRING IT ON, FALL.

I think I'm going to take it easy tonight and do a little reading.  I've got a ton of things to do tomorrow and the mere thought of it all is daunting.  Chores, BAH.

Labor Day Indeed

It's so nice having a holiday again.  It's been a long, hot march through summer since our last holiday of the 4th of July.  Today we get Labor Day off (in case you're not American, it's a national holiday for most of us) and I've made sure and put my time off to good use.

1) Did a little retail therapy.  Not too much, of course, but enough to satisfy my spending urge without breaking the bank. I do admit though that sales this weekend haven't been great.
2) Spent some time with my nieces last night, before the oldest one leaves for Cal Poly next weekend.  I'm pretending that isn't happening.  My imaginary world is a lot simpler to live in.
3) Cooked another awesome pizza.  I've got some for lunch today, so...NOM.
4) Washed the car, which I've been meaning to do since May.  It was filthy gross dirty filthy.  During the car washing, I busted some sweet moves while listening to my ipod.  I laid down some sick beats, yo.
5) Went and had coffee and a pumpkin scone early this morning.  So filled with tasty wholesome goodness it was.
6) Cleaned the garage.  WAY overdue, that.
7) Posted an update to the website.  I hope you're interested enough to swing by and check it out. 
8) Paid bills.  I'll have a roof over my head for another month.
9) Light house cleaning.  Where the hell did all these spider webs come from this year?  I've never seen so many!

That's plenty of accomplishments, so now I plan on resting and relaxing and perhaps watching the rest of season 5 of Dexter.  Or maybe a movie later.  It's hard to say where I'll end up.

I hope all is well where you are.

Two For the Price of One

Not that you have to pay anything for one, of course.

Two posts on the website in one weekend?!?  How did I pull off such a feat?  No idea.

But drop on by and take a gander if you're interested.  I hope you are.

Long week behind me.  Hot week behind me.  Next weekend is Labor Day, the unofficial end to the summer and it won't come a moment too soon.  I can't wait for the cool fall evenings.  CANNOT WAIT.

I hope all is well where you are.

Checking In

There's a new entry up on my little dog and pony show, Greetings Citizens.  I wrote about my peculiar quirk when it comes to sleeping.  I'm a little obsessed with getting quality sleep, and when stress or illness or an incessant barking dog interfere with my rest, I get a tad worked up about it.  I can't explain it, it just is.

I've been laying low on LJ for the past couple of weeks.  Lots of things have been going on on this side of the computer screen, most of it quite challenging, and once I've crashed through my door at the end of a long day, it's all I can do to push food into my head and unwind before bedtime.  I just haven't been in the mood, you know?  Here's hoping the coming week relaxes its grip just a little.

August.  It's almost over, but this month is always the hardest one.  I don't know how it is where you live, but August in northern California is always the same.  Very hot, very dry, few clouds, and on occasion we also get hot winds.  Since the heat never really lets up, it gets tiresome just dealing with it all the time.  I'm eagerly looking forward to the cooler days of September, and the start of a true fall in October.  Almost there, stay on target Luke!

I hope all is well where you are.  LJ seems to be pretty quiet lately, so I hope that's because everyone is out having a good time and not because you're all so busy that you can't get a moment to yourselves.  Either way, have some ice cream.  I promise it will help.

I'll be lucky if any of my LJ friends are still speaking to me after my last posting of the Devil Clown.  I know that's redundant because ALL clowns are devil clowns, but this one is extra special.  He got a double dose of teh scary.

New posting up on Greetings Citizens.  Random mood + random free time = random post.  Still, I think most people can relate to it.

I haven't checked in on LJ at all this week.  The reasons why are unclear to me, but I'm gonna fix myself a gin and tonic and take a gander at what y'all have been up to.  Good things, I hope.

My gratitude for a Friday post-work arrival is beyond profound.  It was a LOONNGGG week, filled with sucky things that sucked, and it was hot all week besides.  Both things are to be expected, but I don't have to like them.  I thumb my nose at you, sucky week!

Shudders the Clown!

I came across this abomination today at the thrift store. This unholy creature's name, you ask? Why, it's Happy Golightly! Ha ha, because of the lantern, you see.
Don't be afraid, he's only here to drink your soul and eat your lamentations as a snack.

I don't know if you can see it, but there's a cigarette burn on the box by the lamp. Nightmare fuel, this.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.


Summer's Bounty

It's almost worth putting up with the blast furnace heat of a Redding summer just to partake in the amazing fruits and vegetables that magically appear in the break room. This morning it was zucchini, squash. cucumbers and some strange green ribbed thing (see above). Now I just need to find someone who grows corn and I'd be all set. Because summer corn? Is a tiny stick of heaven. Corn on the cob with butter and pepper is one of the finest things life has to offer, hands down.
If I love this stuff so much why not grow my own, you say? Hush your crazy talk.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.



Earlier today when I checked my email, I noticed that I had TONS of new comments to my website.  Awesome, yes?  No.  It turns out that every single one of them, 150 at last count (they're still coming in), was spam.  I've had to go in and delete page after page of them.  So frustrating, so unnecessary.  A plague upon their houses!  I ended up changing some of the settings on my site so they won't just appear, but I'll still have to remove every single one.  BAH.

Meanwhile, I finally put up a new posting that I've had written for a couple of days but just hadn't gotten to yet.  I hope you enjoy it, although the whole thing made me hungry.  You'll understand if you go check it out.

In other news, I was feeling run down today and poorly so I stayed home from work.  I remember now how badly soap operas suck and why I'm so grateful to have Netflix.  Fifteen minutes of "Days of Our Lives" was enough to make me want to start self-harming.  Just awful, awful stuff.  And this coming from the guy who has watched "Jersey Shore."

Speaking of that group of mouthbreathing idiots, the new season starts tomorrow night and they were in my beloved city of Florence.  I'm not even kidding when I say the mere thought of that makes my skin crawl.  Orange-skinned Snookie barfing on the same corner where I had tears in my eyes just being in the city?  HORROR.  I feel like I need to hurry over there and help heal my girl Flo.  She must feel dirty and shameful now.

I'm comin' Flo!

Is LJ up or down right now? Who can say?

Ahh, LiveJournal.  You hurt us every time you act all wonky 'n stuff.  Is that what you want to do?  Hurt us?  We give and we give to you, but you still insist on walking all over us.  We only want you to work and be happy.  Is that too much to ask?

I'm just guessing here, but I suspect LJ isn't going to hear me.  It's going to still act all wonky.  Booooo.

I've got a new post up over in the Greetings Citizens neighborhood.  Drop by, I'll put the coffee on.


I've been a total lurker this week and haven't commented much.  I'm reading what I'm allowed to read, when LJ is actually functioning like it's supposed to.  Hopefully I can finish getting caught up today.  I hope all is well with you, and much ice cream hass been eaten.

New Posting, New Ants, New Anger

New posting up today.  I desperately need to take more pictures.  I also need to learn to take my camera with me whenever I leave the house.  It's not like it takes up a ton of room, but I never know when I'm going to see something really great and I'd like to have my camera with me for that. 

I'm having some problems with my Italian lemon tree.  It's got scale, which is a rather distasteful term meaning it's got these wet slimy bugs like aphids with shells.  The ants LOVE these little monsters because they secrete some kind of gross sugary thing that basically ant crack.  The scale sucks up all of the life force of the lemon tree and thus I'm not getting any fruit.  Last weekend I scrubbed each branch by hand, taking off all the scale and washing away the ants.  Last night when I checked on it, it was like I had opened some kind of ant Walmart because there were 8 gazillion more than had been there before.  I think I'm going to have to take the equivalent of nuking the poor thing by cutting off all of the offending limbs.  I don't want to do this, but until the scale is gone, I don't have much of a plant anyway.  The tree is pretty robust (other than the ant and scale party), and I think it will ultimately survive.  If it doesn't, well I don't really have much of a tree now anyway.  Something has to be done and I'll be damned if I let a bunch of dumb ants and armored aphids drive me away from my own garden.  Damn them!

I'll go have some ice cream now and settle down.

Words are inadequate to describe how bummed I am that I didn't go to last night's concert by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus.  A group of us went to see them back in January, and when they returned last night I passed on the chance to go for stupid reasons that are stupid.  You can see a video of one of the funniest bits over on anita_margarita 's blog.

One thing I did do right was join Anita and her husband and Chris and our friend Hurricane Sue at the 501 Club for the after party.  Anita and Gary left early because Gary was starving (which I understand all too well), but Chris fetched drinks for Sue and I and we grabbed a spot near the bar to hang out.  Most of the Gay Men's Chorus came to the bar and I swear I've never seen such a group of people have such a great time.  It was raccous, funny and everyone was laughing and dancing.  Chris and Hurricane Sue befriended the Patsy Cline impersonator (see the video over on Anita's blog) and I have no idea how those three became thick as thieves so quickly.  Patsy got up on the pool table at one point (which servces as an improvised stage/dance floor for the tiny 501) and did a little song for us, which naturally was greeted with great cheers.

Probably my favorite part of the whole evening was when Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" came up on the jukebox and the entire Chorus began singing along.  Pretty much the whole bar did, but you can't imagine the power of those incredible voices in such a tiny space.  It was seriously amazing, and I got goosebumps.  It was like having our own free mini concert, and good lord can those guys sing.

I struck up a conversation with one of the singers, Bruce from New Zeland (who apparently took quite a shine to me) and he said that Redding was one of their best venues to visit.  I expressed my surprise, considering this county is 70% Republican and he said that they have always have incredible turnouts in Redding and have been welcomed with open arms.  This fills me with such pride I can't even tell you.  He said some cities have small attendance and the audience can be pretty flat, but they love coming here.  That's very encouraging for our backwards little town, I must say.

When they come back, I'm not missing the show, period.

Today's random posting on Greetingscitizens.com brought to you by the colors gold, pink and purple.  My mind was a little unfocused and lazy this morning, and thus I ended up writing about my bungalow and the evening light.  I don't know.

Off to do some power shopping today.  This means I'll pick out fifty things, carry them around the store and then leave them in random places because I'm too lazy to put them back where they belong.  Don't judge me.

Why am I up this early on a day off?

The weather is so perfect this morning, it's hard to imagine we're ever going to be scorched this summer.  The brutal heat isn't gone for good, but even one day of a break is more than welcome.  More of these please, universe.

I'm back to work tomorrow.  I have no idea how the time slipped past me, but there you go.  Work days usually feel 25 hours long but vacation days last about 12 seconds.  Am I the only one who has noticed this?  Why isn't anyone doing anything about it?  I should write a strongly worded letter to some authority somewhere.  Isn't there an agency for Time Displacement or Temporal Anomolies or something?

I put up a new posting over at the site.  Click on over, there are comfortable chairs and mojitos, or iced tea if you'd rather.  The bartender is out of town, but I'm happy to fetch a drink for you.  Fair warning, I do make them strong. 


Going home tomorrow. Booooo. I put up a bunch of photos on greetingscitizens.com, but Rocco my iPhone won't let me link to it. He's selfish like that. If you're willing to type in the URL yourself, I'll have a bowl of ice cream in your honor.

I hope all is well with you.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.



I don't know if it's the salt air or the gentle breezes or the sunshine, but I'm finding that I'm almost toally unproductive on vacation.  This.  Is.  Awesome.  I don't have a schedule and I don't have to watch the clock because all too soon I'll be back in the real world.  Normally I read to relax and escape, but I've barely cracked a book this entire time, and instead I stare at the ocean like a statue and eat salt water taffy like a man headed to the electric chair.  Not to throw too many metaphors into the mix, but you know what I mean.

I added another post to greetingscitizens.com this evening.  I want to write a hundred things about what I'm seeing and doing and enjoying, but words fail me and all I want to do is soak up the calm like a sponge.   

I'm off to catch up on my LJ friends.  I hope all is well with you.

Caffeine. Please.

An early morning posting, as long as I'm up at this absurd hour (on vacation!), and before my laptop decides to stop participating due to lack of fuel.  Plugging it in would require that I get up and walk across the room to get the cord, and I'm not willing to agree to that just yet.

Here it is.  I think the pictures turned out great. I hope you had a good holiday, unless you're outside the United States.  Then I just hope you had a good regular day.

I'm off in search of coffee.  I need my own fuel before my lazy laptop gets anything.

Greetings From the Beach

It's 9:00 in the evening and the sun is still up.  We're at least an hour away from the fireworks show, which feels weird except I keep forgetting how much farther north we are than usual.  I'm hoping for some really good pics of the show, but I'm not totally sure if we'll be able to see everything from the deck.  It's way too windy to head down to the beach, so the view we've got will have to do.

I put up a new posting this evening.  Things got a little wonky for a bit, and I had to add and delete the post several times before it finally took.  Ive been fiddling with this for the past hour and a half, I swear, but I think all is well now.

I hope you had a wonderful and relaxing holiday, unless you live outside the United States, in which case I hope you had a totally awesome Monday.  I also hope it involved ice cream.  In fact, I think I'll go have some now.

Ciao, bellos e bellas.


I added a new post to greetingscitizens.com and I'd link it here but the iPhone isn't link friendly and I'm hoping you'll be able to type in the URL yourself.
The work week is done, I'm finally packed and ready to get the hell outta Dodge tomorrow morning. I'll have time to catch up on LJ, so in the meantime I hope all is well with you. Ice cream all around.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.


Workin For the Yankee Dollar

I put some pictures that I took yesterday on Greetings Citizens, as well as some descriptions of the day.

I survived yesterday's ordeal, although I don't know how.  It took all day to install the new computers and muscle the old ones down into the Creepy Basement Where the Zombies Live, but I did it.  By the time I got home I was covered with dust, my coworker's shed skin and their past meal crumbs, sweat and blisters on my feet from the flip flops I was wearing as I stomped up and down the stairs 500 times.  But the office was quiet, I cranked up my music and the time pretty much flew by.  Not too bad overall.  The downside is that by the time I got home (after an incredible meal at Chris' house), my whole body ached and I was so tired I couldn't sleep.  I got up around 5:30 this morning rather than just lay in bed being uncomfortable, but I'm dragging today.  I got a bunch of my chores done, but I'm also going to start packing for my vacation that starts on Saturday.  I work all week and if I wait until Friday night to pack, I'll be a goner.  Best to do it now when there's no hurry and I can take all the little breaks I want.

I hope all is well with you.  I lurked on LJ this morning and peeked at what my friends are up to, but kept mostly quiet, making only a few comments here and there.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, unless it's already Monday where you are, in which case you have my condolences.

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