Monday, May 31, 2010

Poems for Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day.

Here, then, I share with you two poems from the public domain.  Be forewarned: The poems are graphic. They are ugly. They are painful. As they should be. These poems give us a glimpse into the world of  men and women who live and risk dying in war, any war, so that corporations, businesses, churches, and other institutions may continue.

I am not advocating for or against war by presenting these two poems. I'll tell you this though: I would love the ideal conditions that beauty contestants want, "World peace."

This first poem was written by Alan Seeger, an American poet who joined the French Foreign Legion in 1914 so he could fight in the war against the Central Powers. He was killed in action in France two years later.
Rendezvous
by Alan Seeger
I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air -
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath -
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows 'twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear...
But I've a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

This second poem is by Thomas Hardy, the novelist who wrote Far from a Maddening Crowd.  This poem about war was published in 1902.
The Man He Killed 
by Thomas Hardy
            "Had he and I but met
            By some old ancient inn,
We should have sat us down to wet
            Right many a nipperkin!

            "But ranged as infantry,
            And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
            And killed him in his place.

            "I shot him dead because —
            Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
            That's clear enough; although

            "He thought he'd 'list, perhaps,
            Off-hand like — just as I —
Was out of work — had sold his traps —
            No other reason why.

            "Yes; quaint and curious war is!
            You shoot a fellow down
You'd treat if met where any bar is,
            Or help to half-a-crown."

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Reusing and Repurposing

The mama is a professional reuser and repurposer, and she doesn't even know it.  See the photo of different types of containers. I picked all those things up from behind her seat at the kitchen table the other day so I could mop the floor. That box is not empty. It's loaded with empty peanut butter jars. I'm sure I could find at least a dozen boxes full of empty jars stashed in the garage and the tool shed. Maybe one of these days, I'll take some of the boxes down to the recycling center.

For as long as I can remember, the mama has saved jars, worn out clothing, boxes, paper bags, bread ties, containers and trays that food come on, tree branches, wood, linoleum tiles, and so on and so forth. She turns them all into functional things such as dust rags, garbage bags, seed containers, and plant saucers. The mama has a lot of soft kitchen towels that she made out of rice bags when rice was sold in white cotton sacks. As for tree branches, she keeps the sturdy tall ones that she prunes so that she can use them to hold up branches full of apricots, in the summer, and persimmons, in the fall.

Over the years, I've become like the mama.  My cache of stuff is full of fabric, old clothing, buttons, jewelry, yarn, and such that I want to one day turn into purses, bags, jewelry, curtains, and other fun, but useful, things.

How do you reuse or repurpose things? Need some ideas? Here are a few sites to check out:

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cu'Pie Baby Bird

The blogathon is a few days away from being done.  Hooray. I've decided that my daily posting experience would be incomplete without a mention of sweet baby Cu'Pie. Those who knew Cu'Pie would agree.

Cu'pie stands for Cutie Pie and he was a bright (as in color and intelligence) little budgie that flew into our backyard in another place and time. He hopped into our house and lived with us for the next 11 years. Cu'Pie first hung out with the husband and me, then the mama, and finally with all of his three humans together.  He taught us many things, including unconditional love. We taught him how to say "Chirp. Chirp."

So, dear readers, today I give you a post previously published on June 12, 2007 in my first blog, Cu'pie Baby Bird Says "Chirp. Chirp." (Yes, I like long titles.)
Cu'Pie Speaks

Cu’Pie was a bilingual baby bird. He spoke his brand of parakeet as well as human. When he hung out with Greening, another parakeet of a different breed, he learned to screech and squawk her language. So, maybe being multilingual would be a better description of the little yellow bird.

He had a good-size vocabulary, I thought. When he was younger, he was constantly saying words and phrases. Much of it we couldn’t understand. I suppose if the humans didn’t speak clearly, neither would he. In his later years, he repeated only a few things that were obvious. Mostly “Cu’Pie.” “Dicky.” “Frances.” “Kiss. Kiss.” And my favorite one, “Chirp. Chirp.” How many birds have you heard say the human translation of a bird chirping?

I often wondered if Cu’Pie knew what he was saying. In our early years together, Cu’Pie and I spent our days working away in my office. His favorite thing (so I thought as he did it a lot) was to fly over and sit on my shoulder when I was talking on the telephone. Sometimes he sat silently while he eavesdropped, sometimes not. This one particular afternoon I was talking on the phone with Winifred. We were discussing a problem that I was having with our writing project. Cu’Pie sat quietly as I droned on and on and on. When I was done, Cu’Pie piped up, “What shall we do?”

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Mind Easer

I used to iron a lot, but it wasn't because I had a lot of clothes to press. Well, there was that. I liked ironing because it kept my body busy and focused while my mind aimlessly thought away at nothing and everything.  Nowadays  I play a game of Jungle Jewels or some other game that destroys virtual bunches of jewels or bubbles. Unfortunately, I'm getting pains in my wrist and forearm from playing them.  Bummer.

But guess what? I found a mind easer that actually gets me back to writing sooner than later, and I can listen to the results of  the game as I work. It is called the Raindrop Melody Maker by Lullatone.com. You click on different raindrops to create  your own music. Here's the link.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Wandering Date


This is how the husband's and my fifth 23rd date started: We sipped coffee and ate chocolate doughnuts.

This is how our date ended: We sipped coffee and ate chocolate cake.

In between:

We went downtown to watch the Portuguese Festival Parade march up and then down. Caffeine and a parade on a Sunday morning. I didn't know I would love that combo. For more photos, click here.



We drove over to the Great San Juan Bautista 2010 Rib Cookoff. Lesson I learned. Do not go to the rib vendor that has barely a line. Oh well, sitting on the curb and bobbing along to the rock and roll music of the Sound Bytes made the sandwich I ate taste better.




The husband stood patiently as I went nuts taking shots of fences around town.


We got back in the car and drove the back roads for awhile.

See those brown specks. Those are happy bees minding their own buzzness.

We drove up a mountain, then down it, only to get out of the car to start walking back up it. But only for a bit.

Enough of a bit to see some tall trees!

And, after the coffee and chocolate cake was eaten,
we headed home to watch us some LOST.


Another great 23rd date! For those of you new dear readers, click here to find out what the 23rd dates are all about. As for me, I wonder where we'll end up wandering next time.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

I had no idea what this movie was about. I didn't know it was directed by Terry Gilliam. Nor did I know this was the last movie in which the late great Heath Ledger acted and Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell stepped in to play his role after he died.  Netflix categorized the film as fantasy/science fiction, so I  stuck it in the queue for the husband. I'm glad I did.

The movie is stunning. I can't think of any other word for it. The story, the acting, the direction, the scenery, the camera work, everything about it is incredible. The storyline is simple, yet intricate: Dr. Parnassus makes a deal with the devil for immortality. Flash forward a thousand or so years, the man falls in love. He makes another deal with the devil so that the woman will fall in love with him. The catch: Should Dr. Parnassus have a child, the child becomes the devil's when she turns 16. Just before her birthday, Dr. Parnassus tries to make deals with the devil to change his mind. How Gilliam presents that plot is amazing. There is a lot of interweaving of the past and present as well as of reality and the fantasy world behind a carnival mirror. Sometimes it was hard for me to distinguish which side was reality.

Christopher Plummer plays Dr. Parnassus. It's the first time I ever saw him play a drunken, down-in-the-dumps character.  He was a far cry from Captain von Trapp in "The Sound of Music." Heath Ledger portrayed Tony as a dark character who gives a sense of hope to Dr. Parnassus and his troupe. And, yes, Depp, Law, and Farrell were believable as Ledger's character when it was each their turn to play Tony in the fantasy world.

After seeing this movie, I now understand a bit more of the breadth of  Heath Ledger's talent. I am so sorry that he died. Depp, Law, and Farrell were all friends of Ledger, according to what I've been reading. They volunteered to play Ledge's character for Gilliam, and then donated all their earnings from the movie to Ledger's daughter. Their selflessness act, too, was stunning.




Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Haiku, One Day Later

Yesterday was designated Haiku Day for the Wordcount Blogathon. I missed it. Well, I could've posted my haiku, but then I'd have to think up something for today.  Drum roll please. . . . I give you the haiku that visited my mind.
The Lawrence Welk Show

Tenor Feeney sang.
Daddy listened and then said
"He earned his two bits."
I have a feeling my haiku is really not one. Oh, well. That's all that's in the old noggin for now.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Simply Love

Frank Yoon (1920 to 1995)
 My Lola Julia told me that the ideal man to marry is one who is twice your age plus seven years. I was pretty close with the first husband. He was 33 years older than me. Some people thought I married him so I could get a green card. The husband and I were/are both second generation Americans. Early in our marriage, we were in an emergency room  where a doctor asked the first husband if he was an actor or some kind of famous guy. Guess only actors and famous guys marry younger women. Of course, some people thought at first that the first husband was my dad. I liked to say that I had robbed the grandpa cradle.

Ours was a marriage of love. That was all. We met at a party I gave and in the middle of it we left so I could show him my new red truck. I don't know why I did that.

We found that we had a lot of things, beliefs, and values in common. We moved in together, then married. We hiked down the Grand Canyon, backpacked through the Sierras, and traveled here and there.  We talked and listened to each other. And when we got mad, we learned to get the anger over with rather than drag it on and on.

The first husband helped me find peace within myself. He told me regularly to live in the present, not the past nor the future. I understood that more clearly when he was gone. In his dying, he taught me to live and be alive. It's been 15 years since his body died.  Happy Birthday, Frank.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Voodoo Photoshop

I can do simple things in Photoshop. Resize photos.  Sharpen images. Fix color and brightness.  Easy stuff. I can kinda smooth away scratches on photos. For instance, here's a before and after photo of the mama and the baby older brother.

Original photo


 I'm sure a Photoshop expert could make the photo finer, but I'm happy with my results.

If I need or want to do something harder, such as stitch up a bunch of shots into a panorama, I ask the husband. When I can't remember how to do a certain skill, I ask him to teach me again. And again. Fortunately, the husband is patient. Another thing I love about him.

Here's an example of one of my stitched-up panoramas:

If I had been more patient, I may have been able to match the brightness of all the shots. Maybe. By the way that's Monterey Bay in the distance.





All in all, I use about 1/19 of what is possible to do in Photoshop. Hmmm, I had planned this post to be short, and really to focus on what is coming up next. Guess my ego got the better of me. Anyway, want to see what voodoo an expert can do with Photoshop? Sure, you do.

At Yanman Photographers Blog, you can see how someone used Photoshop to delete three items, including a person standing in a crowd on a busy tiled floor. It's incredible, I tell you. Check it out: Now You See Through That. . . Now You Don't. 

What I wonder is why the person was deleted rather than doing something simple like coloring her dress? You'll see what I mean.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dialogue

"I came down to check out the chicks," said the middle-aged man, still looking quite youthful in a charming way. We were standing by the egg vendor at the local farmers market.

"The chicks you eat or the other kind?" I asked.

"We ate chicks last week," he answered, looking amused with himself.

"Okay." I noticed the straps holding up his glasses. "You won't get anyone wearing those straps."

He pulled off his glasses and looked at them with concern. "I can't lose these glasses. This is my last pair. These are more important than chicks."

"So, you're seeking middle-aged chicks then."

"Yeah," he said, looking confused.

I enjoy interchanges like that.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Want to Take a CIA Personality Quiz?

Do you think you have the right personality to work for the CIA?

No, not the Culinary Institute of America.

The CIA! The Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America.

The CIA has a personality quiz on its Web site that anyone can take. Want to give it a try?

Click here: CIA Personality Quiz

The result to my answers: Impressive Mastermind. Hooo Boy!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sunshine Award

Three Mondays ago, Brooke of Makin It Domestic presented me with a Sunshine Award for the post on my pancit recipe. It was the first award anyone has given me for a blog post. For that matter, I can't recall ever receiving an award in all my years of being an adult. So, yep, I was very happy and flattered to receive the Sunshine Award.

Of course, me being the wary wort, I did a google search on "Sunshine Award bloggers."  I was happy to see that all types of bloggers throughout the world were receiving them. The purpose of the reward is simple:
The Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspire others in the blogging world.
Totally cool indeed! Thank you, Brook of Making It Domestic, very much!

As the recipient of the Sunshine Award, I am now asked to present this to twelve other bloggers.

Hooo boy!

I'm not into judging who deserves an award unless I've been employed to judge. My employer, who is me, says judging is not part of my job description. Being a good employee, I follow my rules.

Yeah, I know. I'm such a cop out and a party pooper. That's why it took me so long to acknowledge the award.

Congratulations to all Sunshine Awardees out there!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sew, Mama, Sew! Giveaway Day

"Busy, busy," the husband said to me when I asked him if he read my latest Take 25 to Hollister, California post.

"Yeah. But I'm not making any money," I said.

"Well, you're not robbing a bank."

That's why I love the husband.

The mama's sewing machine is still good to go!
We're two freelance writers, just minding our own business. Though lately we haven't been good at minding it. Yesterday, I did look at online job ads for freelance writers and bloggers. Is it so bad to say I'd rather earn nothing for writing a post to my blog than get paid moldy peanut shells for researching and writing a tight, comprehensive article? Well, at least for yesterday. I may just be disciplined today.

Yesterday, I spent much of the afternoon checking out the various sewing and crafts giveaways being hosted by Sew, Mama, Sew! I didn't count, but I'm sure there were far more than a hundred bloggers who were participating in Sew, Mama, Sew's Giveaway Day! I clicked through three pages of links for my chance at winning fat quarters, yarn, and handcrafted items. I enjoyed running away for the moment, checking out blogs of talented crafts ladies and dreaming about things I'd like to make. Tomorrow, Thursday, May 20, is the last day for trying your luck, if you're interested.

Needless to say, I found quite a few interesting blogs. Here are some blogs that caught my eye, first by their names, and then by their content. I'll have you know that I am not mentioning them because I want another chance at whatever they may be giving away. Cross my heart. Besides, I don't remember which blogs I did comment on. Go ahead, take a look-see. You know you want to.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Over at Two Hands and a Roadmap

Isn't Tara hilarious? I hope you took a bit of time and checked out some of her other tales at Two Hands and a Roadmap.

The random writing prompt generator that we used gave me this doozy to wrap my brain around: "You are a letter in the alphabet on your classroom wall chart. You are tired of being up on the classroom wall. Write about an adventure you could have if you were down for one hour."

Yeah, I know. What?  To read what I finally wrote, click on over to here at Tara's blog.

Guest Blogger Tara

Dear Gentle Readers,
You're in for a very special treat. The Wordcount Blogathon chose today as the day that blogathoners switch it up and do guest posts. My guest blogger  is Tara  of Two Hands and a Roadmap. She's one of a kind. Everyone, say, "Hey Tara!" 

Su-sieee! Mac and I didn't know each other until early in the Wordcount blogathon, but we managed to find and enjoy each other's blogs (unless she's lying, which is totally possible). I'm so glad to do my first guest post for her.

Because neither one of us was flush with ideas for this assignment, we used a random writing prompt generator. Here is what I got:

"Think of a real experience you have had that would be hard to forget. Think about what makes it so hard to forget. Tell what happened."

OK, I started to write the story of how one night in the '90s I was in my underwear when a song from The Full Monty came on the radio, so naturally I had to ham up a little Fully Monty sarcastic striptease, and my HILARIOUS husband decided to videotape me, and he never erased it even though I told him he had to.

And then we both forgot about it until his mother and her foreign exchange student were sitting in our living room watching some home video. And the world seemed to move in slow motion when I realized what was coming. And when my mother-in-law saw my half naked self come onto the TV screen and start gyrating, she looked at the screen so blankly -- without knowing the context of The Full Monty, without seeing the sarcasm, and probably focused on trying to maintain her dignity while she was forced to watch some homegrown porn featuring the future mother of her grandchildren.

But no one wants to hear that story. It's pathetic.

So then I thought about the summer I was living at Ohio University, when I sublet some stranger's apartment, not knowing she'd agreed to let her friend live there too, rent free, and take the larger bedroom. All this was fine . . . well no, it sucked. But I could have forgiven that if it weren't for the fact that late one Sunday night I was awakened by a naked man -- who had gotten lost between the pisser and her bedroom -- crawled into my bed by accident.

No, that's kind of gross. Instead, I'm going to tell a family memory of fatherhood and even-handed discipline in middle America in the 1980s, when Reagan was president and the world was fine. Are you ready? Do you have a cup of warm milk to drink as you read? OK then.

I remember being young, like around 7 or 8 years old, when my cousin Mike came to visit. It was at the house where I grew up, and the adults were in the house, probably just grateful that we were outside in the front yard and not bothering them.

I don't know what we were playing, or how it all went wrong, but Mike and I started fighting. First it was just with words, but before I knew it, I was slapping at him with both hands and he was doing that kind of boyish posturing that meant he wanted to knock my block off. It was go time.

Then my dad showed up on the scene. Oh crap, busted."That's about enough of that," he said in a terrible voice, and he separated us. The look on his face was fierce, and I was scared that I was in big trouble. My aunt came out of the house, and she and Mike drove away.

I stood facing my dad, worried about what he might say. I knew it was coming.

"Tara," he said gravely, "if you ever, EVER get into something like that again -- for God's sake, make a fist."

Yep. Make a fist. That's my father.

Oh, did I say warm milk? I meant a cold can of Schlitz. My bad.

If anyone is interested, I'm probably going to tell those first two stories in more detail on my blog, Two Hands and a Roadmap, after this blasted blogathon is over and I can give them the time they deserve. Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Chocolate Croissants

Not to worry. This is not another post about food as metaphor like yesterday's post about potato salad.

I really have a recipe about chocolate croissants. A cheating recipe, that is.

Yesterday I had a yen for chocolate. The whole time the husband and I were waiting in line at the grocery store, I was eyeing the candy bar racks. No, I won't moan about the rising cost of candy bars that are smaller than they once were. Oh, I just did. Anyway, the only thing that kept me from grabbing a chocolate candy bar was knowing it really wouldn't taste as good as I imagined. I wanted a true chocolate-taste experience like the one I get when I eat chocolate croissants from an honest-to-goodness patisserie.

Unfortunately, we have no patisseries in town. The market where we shopped did sell freshly baked croissants. Not flaky, buttery rich ones, but okay enough. Fortunately, when the husband wasn't looking, I had slipped a package of them into the cart. La, la, la, la. Look over there, Husband.

So, short story long, as we were eating dinner, I was eyeing (yes, again with the eyeing) the croissants. I wanted to eat one. But how do I introduce it into a meal almost done. Ah-ha! Dessert. Ah-ha, again! Chocolate croissants.

Here's my recipe, which serves two.

Ingredients
  • Chocolate chips (I was lucky to find leftover organic semi-sweet chips in the fridge.)
  • 1 croissant
Procedure
  1. Split croissant into two pieces.
  2. Sprinkle chocolate chips over each piece.
  3. Microwave for 35 seconds.
  4. Fold each piece in half. Serve.
Verdict: The husband said, "We must have that again."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Potato Salad

I tend to make what I call a tacky potato salad. That means I put in one ingredient too many. Before I added the whatever ingredient, my potato salad would have the right balance of flavor and presentation. And then, bam! In goes that "let me try this" ingredient and now the salad tastes and looks a bit strange. In other words, my potato salad becomes one that you'd like because you acquired the taste to eat it. Visual reference. Think of adding a clown collar to your job interview outfit.

My tacky potato salad is my metaphor for when I overdo things. I may have made a potato salad out of my blog design today when I added a signature to my post below. Or not. Doesn't matter really if it does. I enjoy eating my tacky potato salad. Most times.

If you're interested in creating a personal signature, check out My Live Signature

By the way, fellow Blogathoner Tracy Doerr is featuring an interview series of the Word Count Blogathon participants at her blog Tracy Doerr 3.0.  My interview was posted yesterday. If you're interested in reading it, please click here. Thanks, Tracy!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Funny-side Up

In fourth grade, one of my favorite books was the Scholastic produced joke book that had a joker on the cover. This joke has stayed with me through the years: What do you call the sun and wind?

You call the sun rose and the wind blue.  Ha!

Long ago, I thought it would be cool to make a living off writing jokes, gags, and other ha-ha stuff. What happened? Funny-on-the-brain constipation. Turns out I am much too serious for my own good, like lately. QuĂ© bummer! Yeah, I know this slang is dating me. For sure.  Anyway, now and then, some good jokes (from my perspective) grace my mind. So, for today's post, I thought I'd share three of them.

What do you call lanes that police race on? 

Bacon strips.  Was that a groan I heard?

What was the revolutionary soldier's favorite dish?

Chicken Catch-a-Tory. Ba-da-bing!

Miguel and his auntie were eating in their favorite Mexican restaurant. As his auntie reached across the table for a dish, Miguel noticed her ripped sleeve and asked, "Tore, tia?"   Bazinga!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Rambling Away Today (Yesterday)

Clouds playing leapfrog across the sky.
Today (which will be yesterday by the time I post this) is a brunch day. It was 10:30 by the time I went down to the kitchen to eat breakfast.

Why so late? Because I woke up at 10:04.

Why so late? Because I stayed up to 4 a.m. doing some gratis work for my high school class alumni scholarship fundraiser, and okay, I kept falling asleep on the documentary The Botany of Desire. (P.S. If you click that link, it will take you to Amazon. Just saying.) The parts I did see were quite interesting.

Did you know that apples originated in Borat land, and that Johnny Appleseed dressed like a beggar but was some smart cookie of a business guy, and that the first apples in America were too sour to eat but perfect mash for getting drunk?

I also woke up to learn a bit about marijuana. Naturally, it can grow to seven feet or more. I didn't know that. Because folks have been furtively growing marijuana indoors, a new species was created so that the plant doesn't grow as high and that the stuff that makes folks get all happy-loopy is more intense. Something else I didn't know. The most interesting fact was that some experts call marijuana the drug that helps tokers "forget"  bad things that happened or are happening in their lives. Hmmm. That could be why I sought the drug after my dad died and after my first husband died. It did help me through the initial pain of grief. The documentary also discussed tulips and potatoes, but I slept through those segments.

I'm thinking this moment, as I'm writing, that my sleepiness  last night (the night before) may have been the result of drinking a pint of lager; helping two young gals push their car down half a block of main street and up another half a block into a parking lot; and eating two Russian teacake cookies and a bowl of fruit salad made of fresh strawberries, peaches, and apricots, which were all bought at the farmers market. Now that's what I call a long sentence. I wonder if it is a run-on sentence. Anyone care to tell me? 

Yeah, yesterday (the day before) was a one-of-a-kind day for the husband and me. Going to the pub was a spontaneous thing. It whispered across the street to us after we walked through the farmers market that we really wanted a beer. So, we went and perched at the bar and contentedly sipped lagers and ate jalapeno poppers. I enjoyed listening to the guys nearby talking about Hollywood all storied out because they're producing too many remakes. One guy shook his head sadly as he mentioned "Cool Hand Luke." Well, maybe I wouldn't mind seeing Gerard Butler in the part.

As we sallied out of the pub, I noticed a woman walking in the street pushing a car. "We ran out of gas," she said when I asked what was wrong. Of course I had to step into the street. I recall a few times of being young and running out of gas in the middle of a busy intersection. Strangers came from no where to help me push my car to the side. Unlike my then light box of a car, theirs was one heavy mother of a sedan. "You're lucky we're full of beer," I told the young woman as the husband and I bore down against the car next to her.

When we turned the corner, the husband sped off like a jack rabbit pushing that car along. What got into him? Okay, maybe it was the fact that we were in the middle of the street and he didn't want the cars behind us to be inconvenienced. He's so conscientious. Once the husband got going, I wasn't able to keep up. The young woman also dropped out, probably from the combination that she was also out of shape and her pants were falling down.

And, you know what? As I'm writing, I realize that I can't remember if those women even thanked us for our help. But then, it could've been that we just walked away after all was pushed and done. We were so jazzed because we, the husband and I, still have it in us to spontaneously help push a car in distress. I'm wondering, though if I've officially become a fuddy-duddy about this young generation. I also experienced the solicitation an hour later.

Now, this post is what I call a ramble of nonsequiturs. A racing one at that because today (yesterday) is coffee day. I let myself drink one-and-a-half cups of delicious Peet's coffee. Black and strong, the only way to drink coffee. I've been off coffee for a few months because I'm trying to determine if caffeine  triggers my eczema. Truthfully, I can't tell. But I do know it triggers the brain cells that gets me happily rambling about this and that, here and there, now, sometimes then.

One more thing, dear gentle readers. I'm dedicating this post to Tara at Two Hands and a Roadmap. The coffee I've drunk today (yesterday) may be a catalyst, but her ease of talking and writing in her blog has reinvigorated me to have fun with writing again. You'll be in for a treat next Tuesday when Tara does a guest stint here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Solicitation

Ding dong.

"Who can that be?" asked the husband, not getting up from his desk.

I scrambled up from mine and down the stairs.  I hoped it wasn't another salesperson from the carpet cleaning or bug zapping service. I also didn't want to get down there and find someone clutching slick campaign material to give me. I doubt it was religious people. They rarely show up around dinner time. Aw, gee. I hoped it wasn't anyone we knew. The husband and I bought hot dogs at the Farmers Market for dinner. There was only enough for the mama and us.

Our front door was open. I saw a young man on the other side of the security gate. "Hello," I called, as I walked down the last few steps.

"Hello," he said, pressing his face into the gate. I love that security gate. I can see the people on the other side of it, but they can't see me. I'm just a voice behind it.

"What do you want?"

He stepped back quickly. "I couldn't tell where you were."

I laughed. I almost opened the door. Less gruffly, I asked again, "What do you want?"

"I'm not selling anything."

"Okay. What do you want?"

"Uhm, my name is Danny. I live down the street," he said, pointing to the north. I didn't recognize him from any of the houses on my block.

"This is going to sound odd, but I need an ingredient." I finally noticed an empty glass jar in his hand. "I'm cooking a special meal for my mom's birthday and I ran out of an ingredient."

He paused. "What do you need?" I asked.

"Would you happen to have some vodka or gin?"

I paused. Do I really want to give someone I don't know some liqour? "Sorry. Can't help you."

"Thanks anyway."

Upstairs, the husband asked, "What did he want?"

After repeating the tale, the husband asked, "Why can't he go down to the liquor store?"

We heard our next door neighbor saying, "Sorry, we don't have any."

"I've never heard of a neighbor asking for an ingredient," said the husband.

"I've had neighbors do that, but I knew them."

"What's he going to make anyway? A martini?"

I wonder if the kid ever did get his jar filled with vodka or gin.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hollister, My Hometown

"What's with all these Hollister tee shirts?"

That's the kind of question folks would ask me when they learned I was from Hollister, California.

"I was standing behind this gal wearing a sweatshirt that said Hollister on it. 'Hey, I'm from Hollister, too?' She looked at me like I was some kind of perv."

That's the kind of story I would hear from local folks (or folks who used to live here) about their first encounters with the Hollister line of clothing sold by Abercrombie and Fitch.

Most of you, dear readers, most likely know that the Hollister clothes sold in stores nationwide popularize a fabricated beach town called Hollister, California. It would be funny if it weren't for the fact that a few years ago, Abercrombie and Fitch came through our very real town and told small business owners to stop selling any and all clothing that have Hollister printed on it. If they continued,  the corporation would sue the small business owners to high heaven. By golly, by gee.

I don't get that reaction from the corporation at all. Is it afraid that the teens and tweens will want to buy clothes that shouted Hollister from the actual town? Let's see. The store's fictional Hollister is a surfer's haven. The real Hollister is the center or an agricultural-based county and about 30 miles from the nearest beach.  So, kids who aren't into farming would want to sport a piece of clothing that brings to mind cattle and organic lettuce? Really?

Want to know more about the real town of Hollister? Head over to my other blog, Take 25 to Hollister California  and/or this page I put up at Squidoo, Hollister California—The City That Is! 

And, if you're interested in reading about the Abercrombie & Fitch fit, check out "Abercrombie & Fitch Threathens to Sue Merchants in Hollister, California for Trademark Infringement." 

P.S. The corporation won't open a "Hollister" store in our town because we don't fit its demographics.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Flexibility

When I was being ambitious last week, I planned for Tuesdays to be the post-a-list-of-things day. All because I posted the list of fellow WordCount Blogathoners.  Now here I am several hours before my imposed posting deadline with no desire to think about putting a list of something together.

Oh, well. The rules I make for myself are not set in concrete. I can be flexible. That's my lesson for me this moment.

It's a lesson I need to reinforce every so often; otherwise, I'll miss so much.

Like this evening, actually yesterday evening. As I was dumping a bowl of green waste into the compost bin, a bit of yellow caught my eye. The first sunflower of the year was opening up. It was a volunteer growing in a pot of another plant that had volunteered on its own. Flexibility.

Of course I had to run inside for my camera. Flexibility. 

After taking a photo of the sunflower, I looked around the backyard and saw other wonders. Flexibility.

Looking at the photos I took, I realize that I do have a list of things to share for today. Flexibility. 





Monday, May 10, 2010

Suddenly Mashed Potatoes

The plan was to make potato salad the other night. I had a bunch of mini Yukon Gold potatoes from the organic farm stand. And, the summer-like weather that night just called for having potato salad for dinner. So, I washed and scrubbed the potatoes  and put them on the stove to cook. I set the heat to medium so I could forget about them for half an hour.

By the time I took them off the stove, I didn't feel link mincing and dicing the other ingredients. I didn't think about doing all that while the potatoes were boiling. Playing Jungle Jewels on Facebook was just so urgent, you know.  Sooooo, I made mashed potatoes. Didn't even take off the peelings.

Here you go. My top-off-the-head recipe for Suddenly Mashed Potatoes.
  1. Dump potatoes into bowl. 
  2. Add the last of the martini olives and their juice. (In my recipe, it was about 4 olives and a 1/4 cup of liquid.)
  3. Add about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of plain yogurt.
  4. Add about 3 tablespoons of butter or whatever you use in its place.
  5. Mash. Mash. Mash.
  6. Take photo of the dish, then serve.
The Verdict: Definitely not a mashed potato taste, but still delish. The husband said, as he took a second helping, "This almost tastes like potato salad."

OK, then. Maybe I'll turn the leftovers into potato salad. Or not.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Mama's Vegetable Garden

The Mama's Vegetable Garden in 2009
The weather was so glorious last week that the Mama started planting her vegetable garden. She was very happy to be playing in the dirt again, after being cooped up in the house during the rainy and cold days. To read more about the gardening Mama, click here.

Happy Mother's Day to you and your Mamas!

This is how the Mama's garden looks today.

Soon bean and squash vines will be climbing up these wires again.

The Mama threw these bean seeds in the ground about two weeks ago.

The first artichoke of the season!

Those are all volunteer apricot tree saplings. No idea how that happened.

The Mama at Work