Friday, February 29, 2008


I’m no fan of reality shows. I don’t watch American Idol. Occasionally I catch a glimpse of the failed attempts at Idol auditions and I wince. Do they really think they sing well? Didn’t anyone tell them? Heck, I could be one of them.

I don't sing in the shower; even after more than 30 years, Mark does NOT want to hear that sound at oh-dark-thirty plus the puppy would howl and the hens would crow. I DO, however, sing in the car. I usually have the decency to keep my car windows up…usually.... I know I’m not the only one out there. You’ve looked at the guy in the car next to you beating out the rhythm of Bohemian Rhapsody on the steering wheel and you laugh because you had your radio on the same station and were head-bangin'. I get my ring tappin on the shifter and I sing. And I sing LOUD! And if I actually know the words, it’s even louder! Matchbox20. Billy Joel. Tony Bennett....hell, I don't care, I just love to sing.

How about you? Are you a highway diva? It’s worse when I bop across campus with my iPod on….sometimes I forget and start singing then wonder why people are smiling at me. Could be they’re LAUGHING more than smiling but hey, pataytoe patahtoe.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


If I won the lottery tomorrow, I can't say for sure if I'd continue working; I guess it would depend on the amount of the winnings. But as long as I have to work, I couldn't ask for a prettier place to have to be each morning.It's so easy to take it for granted. The deer that I had to stop for last week. The squirrels that run past our building. This little dock (at least I think that's what it was) over the mossy lake. I parked at Creative Arts and walked down to the lake before work getting my feet a little soggy in the wet grass but I'm glad I stopped.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Last night’s eclipse got me thinking about a trip up to the Kneeland Airport to star gaze. The astronomy club was having a gathering and posted a public invite in the paper. I took Hope and Glo, Hope’s friend Ashley Cooper and Ashley’s mom, Shirley. Truth be told, I don’t drive much at night and had only been up Kneeland once or twice, always in daylight. I figured that with Shirley’s help, we’d find the airport without a problem so we piled the kids in my van and headed up the mountain.
I cautiously plodded along, high beams on, alert to any form of wildlife or ax-murderer that may bound across my path. (women ALWAYS worry about ax-murderers). About halfway up, my headlights go out. Yes…OUT! Pitch effing dark it is on that road with no headlights. I pull over, turn off the switch, breathe, switch them back on, all good. WTF? Oh, well, back on the road, a few miles later, they go out again. “Mom, I’m scared”. “Of course you’re scared honey, I’M SCARED and I’M DRIVING!” Luckily Shirley and I shared the same odd sense of humor and we got through with dark humor mixed with panic. She offered to sit on the hood with the mag-light. “It’s a van, Shirley…no hood. How `bout the roof?”. The lights continued going out then back on, all the way to the airport.
We pulled into the dark parking lot of the isolated Kneeland Airport to find it full of cars. In order to maintain big fat dilated pupils required to see in the dark, there are NO lights ANYWHERE. We made our way towards voices and find this odd world of legs, tripods and disjointed voices. At the first cluster of voices, we have the opportunity to see Saturn. If you’ve never seen Saturn through a proper telescope, it is a truly surreal experience when you realize it really does have rings just like those pictures..... The five of us take turns looking through the lens, oohing and aahing appropriately, then wandered to an adjacent pod of voices. “…and you’ll see a green nebula…it looks like a green Cheerio”. What?! Sure enough, taking turns at the lens we see what looks like a fuzzy green Cheerio floating in space. I was almost doubted it was real, it was that cool. We wandered around for more than an hour looking into a variety of telescopes, each with their own human voice telling us what we would be seeing. No faces. Just the reverent voices because the dark always makes you whisper, doesn’t it? As we went from scope to scope, we were sure to tell everyone about the problem with the van lights and to “please watch for us as you head down the mountain”. (Now we’re telling strangers who we couldn’t describe on a BET that two women and their children will be vulnerable on a dark mountain road.)
Mark was a tech inspector at Redwood Acres at the time and couldn’t be reached at the races so we nervously headed out of the dark gravel lot and make our way back down the mountain, hoping that the trouble with the lights was over. A few miles down, out go the lights. I finally got into a rhythm of turning off the switch then back on again every time the lights went out. "If we can just get down to Three-Corners, we can WALK if we have to". Once I was out of panic mode- it took me half way down the mountain before the light dawned…this only happens when the high beams are on. Hmmmm..coincidence? I turn off the high beams and had no more problems for the rest of the trip. Damn, why didn’t I think of that a half a mountain ago!?
My mechanic (that would be Mark) tells me later that, “Yep, Ford van light switches are prone to overheating” “Of course the high beams made it hotter”. Probably if I drove more at night where high beams can be left on for miles on end, I would have discovered the problem sooner in a more convenient location.
So it was an adventure. One for the memory books but somehow none of the kids have ever taken me up on the offer of a star gazing trip up Kneeland.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


"My ideas didn't seem to carry much weight with the local constabulary. Behind the toiletries was a paperback, which I imagined from its brittle condition to be reading material Laura took into the sauna. It was a day-by-day meditation book, advocating strength and courage and calm."

Monica has tagged me which, in turn, reminded me that I'd already been tagged by Kym. I had forgotten but honesty didn't know how to react. I really hope I don't have to do this twice since I don't know many people that blog so have no idea who to tag in return. I wasn't sure if it would be seen much like an e-mail forward that you're required to forward to eighteen unsuspecting friends lest you be doomed to have the worst luck in all you attempt. I hope not. I NEVER send forwards.

When I am in a reading cycle, I get little else accomplished so I've not gotten INTO a cycle for awhile. I mostly read magazines so I grabbed the latest issue of Oprah, flipped to the page to find an advertisement. Line five had something about intestinal tracts and bloating. Ewwww. So, I went to my shelf of paperback murder mysteries, collected at thrift stores and garage sales, and grabbed the book I will most likely read when I next have the chance. The main character of this author's books is a caterer and all book titles are cooking puns - Dying for Chocolate....Sticks and Scones....I think this is the first in the series but I've never read it.

So, the rules:
1. Curse the person who tagged you. (I can't curse my beautiful eldest. She has made me a Queen mother).
2. Grab the nearest book. (I haven't read for pleasure for SO long though I did manage to get through Harry Potter but little else got done).
3. Open it to page 123.
4. Find the fifth sentence.
5. Post the next three sentences.
6. Tag five people. Sorry guys but maybe you have something juicy or historical to quote .... Eko, Ernie, Fred, Huck, Sandi

Saturday, February 16, 2008


It is with much pride that I tell you daughter wrestled in oil last night. To be honest, my first reaction when I heard that the Queenly convention had this brainstorm was not excitement. This is an extreme version of missing the PTA meeting and being elected President by a unanimous vote. When Monica was not at a meeting, a decision was made on behalf of all queens, present or not. I cringed. I winced. Hell, SHE cringed! But ya know what? She DID it. She did it for Kinetics. She did it for the Glory.

I would like to tell you that I have somehow inspired her to be as outgoing as she is. In actuality, perhaps I did ... by being just the opposite. Don't get me wrong, I can be as weird as the next person when I feel like it but I didn't have much in the way of guts when I was younger. I smoked (pitooey) because it fit me in with the cool kids with awful breath but, hey, they SEEMED cool. Left to my own devices, I was tragically uncool so I struggled to find my spot. I was a poster-child for peer pressure; if the cool kids approved, I would be cool by extension. I've (finally) grown up and no longer give a crap whether someone else approves of me -- what I drive or how I decorate or dress. Sure it's nice to be complimented but, if they don't like what I've done, I can live with it. Monica REVELS in it. She offends no one with her behavior yet she is her own girl. No one is quite like her but I suspect they would like to be. I am very proud to be the Rutabaga Queen Mother.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Heading north from CR after work, I glanced over to the southbound lanes and spotted four logging trucks, alone and single file, deadheadin’home, their log trailers on the truck (is there a proper term for that, Ernie?). I know the song “Convoy” made it on to Eric V. Kirk’s response to richard’s most disliked songs list but if my Mark had been with me, he would have joined me in…. “Looks like we got us a CON-VOY”.

We were married in 1975. I was just a child. No really, I wasn’t “legal” until we’d been married for a month. Before you presume, if you know Monica and can do math, you’ll know I wasn’t even in the “family way”. We drove across country so Mark could work at his dad’s diesel shop in South Carolina. We were there for seven months and money was plenty tight. We had cable spools for tables and some hand-me-down vinyl rocker. It’s hard to imagine in this age of cell phones and an inability to be without a telephone for ten minutes but what we didn't have was a phone. We did, however, have a CB radio in our Dodge maxi-van.

I don’t know if CBs were ever as popular up here without an interstate nearby but Camden was right off I-20 in South Carolina. Everyone had a CB in 1975. We were the Freedom Flyer. The only other “handle” I remember is a guy named “Stump Puller”. If you wanted to get hold of someone, you climbed in your truck and called for “breaker breaker one nine”…, trucker talk for channel 19. You'd get a "go ahead, breaker".... to which you'd ask if your buddy "had his ears on". No privacy but odds were you'd find who you were looking for.

When we headed back home to California, we came across Interstate 10. We had our CB. We would flash our lights to let a passing truck know there was room to merge back in. He’d flash his lights, often hundreds of them surrounding the box and cab, in thanks. We’d monitor Channel 19 to find out when “Smokey” was on the prowl or “in the air”. But the ultimate “Convoy” moment was traveling one night, somewhere in Texas, listening to raunchy jokes crackling in the speakers from truckers traveling the same road. Eventually, as we approached the New Mexico boarder, one voice asked where the “front door” was of “this here convoy”? -- the front door being the lead truck. The front door was in Arizona. The “back door” was somewhere behind us in Texas. We, as well as probably more than a hundred trucks were “sittin’ in the rockin’ chair”….filling up the interstate and chiming in with the mile markers we passed.

I haven't heard Convoy in years but….when a clip of C.W McCall was on VH1 last week, damned if we didn’t remember the words. "Pig Pen, this here's the Rubber Duck...."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

MY LITTLE a minor key

Second morning in a row I looked out from our upstairs bedroom window to see the world blanketed in fog which makes my funny old Eureka neighborhood look even more like home. Fog makes for the best lighting for pictures plus it has the advantage of blurring the clutter in the world. It makes me happy, possibly because I know that it means there is warmth somewhere to cause that fog and today, like yesterday, promises sun and warmth, at least RELATIVE warmth considering it's February. Growing up in Santa Cruz, fog chased away the tourists who didn't know it would burn off and often stayed away from the beaches if the morning looked too foggy. More for us locals. Of course, in my youth I didn't recognize the value of tourists and the money they leave behind when they "go back to the valley". Either way fog makes for a nice, minor key start to the day.

Monica and I took an art class with Bob Benson. I'm no artist but I learned about value keys in the world. I tend to prefer a major key which, if Bob will excuse my simplistic description, has more contrast. Black and/or white is required which makes for a more dynamic look. I used to outline my crayon art in black.... However, sometimes fog pulls me in. It's a minor key, neither black nor white...just grays in varying tones. It softens things... removes distracting details. Interesting that I'm drawn to music in a minor key as well - songs that have more sharps and flats, not quite natural. Now that I think about it, perhaps not such a surprise.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


I like grocery shopping. I know it’s weird but, since I like to cook, wandering the aisles puts me in a creative mood. Start with produce….what looks good? What can I make from it? What goes with? Mind you, I’m no foodie…no gourmet. I just like to cook and I cook from scratch because I fear the stuff on labels I can’t pronounce. I read labels because I’m afraid NOT to. Think I’m exaggerating? Humor me and compare the labels on sour cream….any brand…whatever you have in the frig. Then read the Daisy Sour Cream label. Yeah I know, the one with the llame commercial “ . a dollop of Daisy….” Work with me here. I’ll save you the trouble. There’s ONE ingredient – grade A cultured cream…that’s it … compared to a LIST of unpronounceable gelatins and preservatives in the others. Scary no?! Well it is to me.

Anyway, I have peeves…things that flat PISS ME OFF and threaten to ruin my shopping experience: First, the G-damn intercom system in Winco and the checkers’ insistence on hitting that additional (unnecessary) SQUAWK button when they page. I shop with my iPod, happy music in my ears to cover most of it up and to keep from getting grumpy but still it leaks through. Second, people who change their flipping mind and set their abandoned item on a random shelf, especially when it’s a perishable. What kind of brain dead idiot doesn’t think that costs us all when they say…”Oh I don’t want this cheese…I’ll just leave it here with ….the Cheerios”. ? Third, people who are unwilling to put shopping carts away in the corrals in the parking lot. They have just done a half-marathon, wandering around a freakin’acre of food and assorted obstacles and they can’t manage a FEW MORE FEET to put the cart away to keep it from planting itself in the side of a car! Don’t get me started on the unsupervised little urchins allowed to put their fingers in the bulk bins and taste the generic jello or drink mix or whatever. I wouldn’t buy that stuff but, if I were in charge of the bulk bins, I’d put the pinto beans down low and the pretty candies and fruity flavored ANYTHING up too high for the oompaloompahs to reach. Where is the couth and decorum? Where is Miss Manners?

OK … better now. Ommmmmmmmmmmmm…

Monday, February 4, 2008


Wait…what is that in the sky? It’s bright and blinding, dare I say it…warm? Must walk. Must gather equipment:

Shades(to protect eyes from those rays)? Check.

iPod (on shuffle as am I)? Check.

Cellphone…(in case the tweakers at 9th and K are bashing the piano with an ax again)? Check.

Camera (to record my findings on this unusual day)? Check.

Pocketed sweatshirt with “menacing hood” option? Check.

To the waterfront and back. Amazing how we really appreciate the sun in the middle of a wet winter. Made my day!