Sunday, April 27, 2008

red hot saturday nights

One of the comforts of getting older is not being judged on how I spend my leisure time.  I can quite happily admit to being addicted to 1990s British TV sitcoms, my favorite: As Time Goes By, a story of lovers who are accidentally reunited after a 38-year separation. Not hilarious, but heartwarming and good for a chuckle or three; and never veers into the slapstick vein of British comedies. 

For slapstick, you can't beat  Keeping Up Appearances, the story of  Hyacinth Bucket ("It's pronounced: boo-kay"), a social climber of the highest order, who holds candlelight suppers using the finest Royal Doulton china with the hand painted periwinkles...

So, set me up in the rocking chair with a cat on my lap, a glass of wine in my hand (using only my finest Ikea glassware) and some dark chocolate covered pretzels from Trader Joe's, and I'm a happy camper.

Friday, April 25, 2008

they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...

Ok, it's not like I want to be Bossy, or anything, I just wanted to figure out how the heck she takes such good pictures. And by pictures, I mean those dang self portraits. I've come to the conclusion she has exceptionally long arms and strong's very difficult to hold a heavy Nikon backwards, point it at yourself, and actually be able to reach the shutter without dropping it.
Here's one of hers:

Now, here's mine:

I'm telling you, the gal's a genius. Great contrast, lush color, sharp focus...and nobody licks her!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

no blog left behind

I checked in on Just Another Manic Mommy's blog the other day, and found a link to this very interesting blog rating site. I must say I'm not exactly unhappy with the rating (see sidebar). I am shocked, though, with the ratings given for my other blogs:
Camp Cactus and Dietary Indiscretions
blog readability test seems I write for geniuses! (Though I'm not sure how this rating system works. It's a little odd that I barely write at all on Camp Cactus, and have not yet even published a single post on Dietary Indiscretions.) Maybe it means my writing is so obtuse (and you can use whichever definition you feel fits) that it takes a genius just to figure out what the heck I'm getting at.

I'm sure it must be the eight years of Catholic school. (Shhh...don't tell the Pope I never actually finished college) But I can frickin' write for geniuses! (And yes, it is perfectly all right to begin a sentence with either "and" or "but". Look it up.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

where in the world is Bossy?

Perhaps you've clicked on the "i am bossy" link on my list of interesting reads. Maybe not. But if you had, you'd know already that Bossy, the blogger, has embarked on a fascinating, 5-week-long cross-country traveling blogfest, where she has risked life and limb (and several pairs of expensive sunglasses) to bring together bloggers of every stripe and color imaginable.

I signed up for the Portland meet-up, set for Sunday evening at a fabulous tapas restaurant nearby. Once there, I met up with some of Bossy's Portland readers waiting outside in the suddenly chilly spring weather. We kept telling the sweet hostess who checked on us (she probably didn't want anyone freezing in front of the restaurant) that we didn't have any idea how many were in our party, but at least one more person would be joining us...after about an hour, she seated us at a table with a few extra chairs, just in case.
She was there, and she was there, and I was there, as well as she who doesn't blog, but does play in a marimba band...

We ate fabulous food, drank lovely wine, sangria and martinis, got to know each other a bit, worried about discussed Bossy's possible whereabouts, and flirted with the cute waiter (Bossy, you missed a winner) and generally had a great time.

All in all, we were disappointed that Bossy couldn't make it, but we're grateful she brought us all together. Safe travels, Bossy!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

what is that bright object in the sky?!

Oh, that? Could it be? Is it even possible? Yes, by golly, it seems as though the sun has finally returned. And, possibly because the headline in this morning's Oregonian referred to the "you-know-what" returning on Monday (nobody around here even dares utter the word rain out loud), all the pasty, pale denizens of my neighborhood were out. Walking through the park with the pups this morning, we passed a soccer game, 4 full tennis courts,  two little league games going simultaneously, dogs madly chasing squirrels, balls and frisbees, and a playground that was a veritable hotbed of activity.

When we got home, I dusted off the electric lawn mower to ready it for its spring debut, and Abbie and Cooper set about basking in the sun on the warm deck like seals sunning themselves on a dock. Later they moved out to the yard, where even Frisco joined them on the lawn, putting up with their sudden urges to roll in the grass, which sometimes means having to move quickly to avoid being crushed by 80 or 90 lbs of joyful canine. I love spring!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

through thick and thin...

Some people, it seems, are just destined to be your friends. It's not always obvious why they should be, because they may not share the same philosophical, political or experiential differences, but you're joined somehow by a shared something.  It's very hard to define. 
This weekend we drove a couple of hundred miles to help an old friend pack up his stuff in preparation for a move 2,000 miles away, to the Oklahoma Territory. For the past ten years or so, he'd been raising sheep and breeding and training Border Collies on a few hundred acres of high desert land in the beautiful and wide open country east of the Cascades near Bend, Oregon.  Now he's planning on creating a hunting and fishing reserve on 300+ acres in south eastern Oklahoma, practically a world away from Oregon, and a universe away from where we met in San Francisco.  
So, we packed up the van, left instructions for Caitie and Matt covering the idiosyncratic feeding and exercise schedules for the animals, and headed east at a fine clip, only to come to a screeching halt mandated stop about an hour later, and 3,500 feet in elevation.  Due to inclement weather that required the use of traction devices,  Dave was forced to pull into one of the many conveniently located chain-up areas on the western flank of Mt. Hood and unpack the brand new, never-been-used tire chains from Les Schwab. (Meanwhile, giant luxury SUV's and jacked up 4 wheel drive pickup trucks full of weekend ski bums careened carefully maneuvered past, spraying dirty slush on our backs.) We tried to figure out the directions so thoughtfully printed on a vinyl mat meant to keep your knees dry when kneeling in the wet snow, but of course we didn't figure out the reason for the vinyl until after Dave got back in the van with soaking wet knees, his teeth chattering. In any event, I'm afraid I wasn't terribly helpful, aside from reading the directions to him in between recording the events for posterity (and blogging purposes, of course).
My hero eventually got the chains on properly and we continued our climb up and over the mountain, where we repeated the process in reverse. (This time I actually helped, managing to get the chains tangled around the axle a just tiny bit.) We made the rest of the trip almost without incident, getting lost only once (when I just happened to be at the wheel) but after driving only a few miles in the wrong direction, Dave insisted we stop to ask for directions at a friendly neighborhood Les Schwab dealer in Redmond. (Can you tell I'm a loyal customer?) And, yes we do know how to read maps, and certainly would have done so if someone hadn't stolen the Oregon map out of the car.
We eventually arrived at the ranch, albeit a few hours late, and after hugs all around, then downing a couple cups of coffee, we started in blowing dust off  admiring and carefully packing fragile antiques and irreplaceable collectibles, while our host also packed and orchestrated the whole process, all the while reminding us how valuable everything was.  (No pressure or anything!)  It was actually fun hanging out together again and catching up. After a few solid hours of packing and story-telling, the pile of boxes in the living room grew ever taller and the box of wine in the fridge grew emptier, and we gave up packing in favor of pizza and some mostly good-natured teasing about our respective political differences. He's a certified republican, gun owner, avid hunter, and opinionated member of the National Redneck Association, and I'm a bleeding heart, left-wing, opinionated New Deal democrat, and card carrying hippie. It's a testament to our level of tolerance and affection for each other that we could actually have any sort of political conversation at all, but even so, Dave spent a few tense minutes avoiding the controversy and trying to blend into the background by pretending to watch a fascinating Discovery channel documentary about Sasquatch on our host's big screen HD TV.  We ended the evening looking at websites and blogs (on his Apple macintosh...proof that he hasn't totally gone to the dark side), and comparing different website metering systems. All in all, an enlightening day.
The next morning, following a breakfast of quiche (I'm not kidding...I told you he's not a lost soul) and coffee,  we packed up a bunch more fragile collectibles. He collects the sharpest and heaviest stuff on the planet...knives, cleavers, hatchets, and about a ton (literally) of cast iron skillets and pots of every shape and size imaginable. He even gave me a couple of skillets. (I promise not to cook acid foods in them and to never ever clean them with soap!) After packing up the van with a few more gifts from his barn, sorting through his rock collection for some choice pieces he insisted we take for our garden, and hugs all around, we hit the road for home.  
The trip back over the pass was uneventful, and due to the heavy weekend ski traffic, the roads were clear and it was smooth sailing the rest of the way.  When we got almost home,  we were greeted by a rather Disney-esque group of clouds. And I knew then that everything was as it should be.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I'm kinda foolish, I suppose...

The bees! The bees are massing in the neighbor's driveway! Are they planning something? A massive protest, maybe? What if it's an attack? Are they American bees? Someone call Homeland Security, quick!!!