Friday, January 29, 2010

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Good things come

Doesn't he have a great head?
7 years old
51 lbs
The rescue thinks he's a
Shepherd / American Staffordshire Terrier mix.
But he could be part Boxer or even Great Dane.
The rescue will drop him off next Sunday.
Any suggestions on names?

Doggie #2 will show up on Wednesday.
She's an 11-year-old black Lab.
Family she has known her whole life has
fallen apart and she is collateral damage.
We will foster her for a rescue organization for now.
But probably keep her if it works out.
(No pictures yet.)

I was right to wait.  This feels good. 

Kittimus Maximus is about to have his world rocked.
Poor Kitty.  He doesn't even know it.

(Don't worry.  Kitty has been a participant in some doggie slumber parties 
when we dog-sit for a friend.  He's adjusted more and more each time.  
Once he gets the fact that he's not in danger, he relaxes.
There will be an adjustment period, but he'll be fine
and we won't let the dogs bully him.)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Science Saturday

This website is the best!
I don't know why it makes me so happy to find out
the names of the bugs in my yard, but it does.

Valley Carpenter Bee
Xylocopa varipuncta
And she's a female!
I love that there is someone in the world who knows that.

 I bet you thought this was a Flame Skimmer.
You're wrong.
It is a Neon Skimmer - Libellula croceipennis. 
(Do the kids still say that these days?)

Green Lynx Spider
Peucetia viridans
Peucetia longipalpis
It is still being hotly debated.
I'm hoping for longipalpis because that is much more fun to say.

Silver Garden Spider
Argiope argentata
(I still see a monkey giving us the finger.)

Scudder's Bush Katydid
Scudderia furcata
(sounds like an Italian curse word)
Scudderia mexicana
He's a male.
Okay kids.  Class dismissed.

The question is not what you look at, but what you see. 
Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Wait

The photo is called "I wait" by the photographer Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879).

And that is what I am doing.  I wait.  I can't make a decision right now.   I don't know why and I don't have to know why.  I just wait. 

I do believe in my own intuitive sense.  There have been times when something feels right and I have followed that leaning and it brought me to the place I was supposed to be.  I can wait for that again.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dog Love

Duke and Satchmo.  Boxer mixes.  Brothers.  Adopted them when they were 10 years old.  Duke made it to 12.  Satchmo to 13.  Both died of cancer.  One of the vets told us that Boxers tend to be "tumor factories."  They had severe separation anxiety.  Duke was extremely dog aggressive (not with Satchmo.)  They were a huge pain in the ass.  But I loved those dogs.  They gave me so much joy.  I still get teary-eyed when I think about sitting with Satchmo when the vet put him down.

Haven't had a dog since.  It's been almost 7 years.  Didn't deliberately decide not to get another dog.  Just moved and couldn't have them and then acquired a cat.  Decided recently to get another dog.  Thought to myself, "I know they make me happy.  What am I waiting for?"

They do make me happy.  Always have.  I was the kid who would bring the stray dogs home and beg to keep them even though I knew we never could.  It is a simple, buoyant heart-happiness.  Gives me joy like nothing else in the world.

Met a bonded pair of dogs at the Human Society.  A Golden Retriever and a Chihuahua.  They tried to separate them because it is always easier to adopt single dogs.  But the Golden can't live without her little friend.  They didn't make my heart sing, but their story touched me.  Lived in the cement backyard of a family for all four years of their life.  Both have health problems that were left untreated, including callouses that form after years and years of a dog never having a soft place to sit or lie down.  Both will have treatable, but not curable, health conditions for the rest of their lives.

The woman at the shelter seemed to say that if we decide to get them, we have to take them right away.  Even though it would be better if we could take them home on a Friday and spend a couple of days bonding with them before we have to leave them alone during the work day.  If we had to take them, we could work that out, but it wouldn't be ideal.  But there's nothing ideal about them sitting around the shelter, right?  Even though it is the Humane Society and they have their own doggie condo, with furniture, dog beds and TV.  But the woman was pushy.  It somehow bent me the wrong way.  I left there feeling sad and doubting if this was the right thing to do at all.

And now I've spun into all sorts of doubts and uncertainties.  Am I really ready for this commitment?  Should I only get one dog instead, even though the landlord said it was okay to get two and wouldn't it be great to rescue two dogs?  Should I wait for that love that shoots you through the heart?  And I just feel bad and guilty about the whole thing.  Maybe I really don't want to have a dog that needs eye drops 4-10 times a day.  And I've just wasted everyone's time.  I feel bad for these dogs, but do I really want to take them into my home because I feel bad?

It is a sad, dreary day.  Clouds covering everything.  I hate when something small pushes you in a bad direction and all of the gloomy things you think about yourself come creeping out.  I have been through this enough to recognize what it is.  Just on the downswing in the mood playground and the up will come again.  So I know it is not simply about the dogs.  I just won't make any decisions while I'm feeling this way.  And I'll do what I can to get that swing headed back up again.

Photo by Angie from Sawara, Chiba-ken, Japan
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
Yea, I know.  The logic of this is messed up.  Dogs make me happy.  But I'm feeling bad so I won't get the dogs.  It's not logical.  It just is.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Black Bee

It has been a while since I've taken any pictures of bugs.  This is from May of 2009.  I never got around to posting it.  If you click on the pictures, you can really see the details.

Two things I found out while searching for the identity of this creature:

1.  There's a website where you can post pictures of bugs and people will try to identify them for you.  I am so excited by this!!!!

2.  Black Bee is a position in the Karma Sutra.  I'll leave it to you to find out more about that if you are interested.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

winter fires

Sat in my backyard this morning and watched the hummingbirds and bees have a little pollen rave on this flowering bush.  I don't know what this is called but it blooms like crazy this time of year.


Just spent 20 minutes trying to find out what it is.  It might be a Hummingbird Trumpet.

I feel very fortunate that I can still see blooming flowers and hear the birds sing while the rest of the country is either buried in snow or just plain freezing.  I really have to remember to appreciate it and take more walks.

I know that there is a natural rhythm to the seasons.  Winter is a time of going inside, letting the earth rest, slowing down and being quiet.  But I remember that winters for me were just dark.  Dark for a very long time.

Nocturne:Grey and Gold - Snow in Chelsea (1876) by James McNeill Whistler

I think that I might be able to handle it better now.  (Easy to say, here in my sunny, 72 degree day.)  I know that I would have to face winter differently.  Instead of burying myself deeper, trying to hide from the darkness, I would have to embrace winter's brighter moments.  Take walks on brisk, sunny days.  Find ways to play in the snow like we did as kids.  Spend those dark nights in a circle of warmth and laughter with family and friends.

Light fires.  That's it.  I would have to keep remembering to light fires in my life.  It is easy for me to stop.  To hide.  To let darkness surround me.  If I keep lighting fires, I might be able to confine the darkness to a smaller corner of my world.  I couldn't banish it entirely.  It will always be there, I know.  It is because I have known the dark that I am now more able to greet the light with such joy and gratitude. 

For those of you who are in the midst of your dark and cold winter - keep trying to light fires.  Spring always comes.  Really.  It does.

Photo by Ryan Mahle from Sherman Oaks, CA, USA
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Don't just do something, sit there!

Believe it or not, I have another airport shuttle ride story.  Yes, the same shuttle ride home from the airport with Mr. Who's on First.  It was a long, strange trip, my friends.

We were taking an exit to get from one main freeway to another.  The exit is one lane that curves around to the right.  Suddenly up ahead there was a pickup truck with its front end smashed in, halfway into our lane and facing the wrong way.  I noticed it first, so I  pointed it out to the driver from the backseat to make sure he could avoid hitting it.  It was a dark color and that exit speed is very fast.  He swerved around and kept driving.  Which was absolutely the right thing for him to do.  I would never in a million years have trusted him to stop safely on that curved road with one lane and high speed traffic.  It would have been dangerous for anyone to try that.

Three other passengers in the van said, "Hmmm. Weird." They all craned their necks to stare at the smashed truck as we passed it.  Then they settled back in their seats and did nothing.  I was the only one frantically searching in my bag for my cell phone so I could call 911.

What is that about?!  Did it not occur to them that the smashed truck might have a person in it?  Or that it was almost inevitable that some other car would fly around that curve too fast and hit it since the truck was jutting out halfway into the only lane?   Did they really think they didn't have to do anything?

Is there something about being a passenger, being driven and not in control of the vehicle that makes people more passive?  Or maybe they were all just tired after a long day of traveling.  We were actually all on the same plane that arrived late because of an aborted landing.

I don't know.  I almost didn't write about this because I feel like I am being very judgmental.  I just found it unsettling that not one of the four seemingly capable adults in that van seemed to think anything should be done.  After we passed the smashed truck, they were all quiet and acted as if nothing had happened.  I was in the last row of seats in the back, so only the man sitting next to me could see what I was doing.  When I finally found my phone (it took me a minute) and dialed 911, he casually asked, "Are you calling 911?"

I nodded yes.  I thought of shouting loudly, "I AM A WOMAN OF ACTION!"  But I didn't have my cape or bracelets with me, so I just would have sounded crazy.  (Airport security is suspicious of such things, so I try not to carry them when traveling.  Have you ever tried to get a magic Lasso of Truth past an X-ray machine...not easy, my friends.) 

There is no real resolution to this story.  I called 911 and told them about the smashed truck and where it was located.  We drove on and all made it home safely (eventually.)  The next day I looked in the news to see if there were any stories about an accident, but did not find any.  It was just one of the things that made the shuttle ride one of the strangest I have ever taken.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Super Shuttle Muddle

I was going to try to write a long, funny description of my shuttle ride home from the airport.  But I think I've lost interest in trying to convey the weirdness of it.  I do, however, have a question.

Part of what made the trip interesting was that the shuttle driver was astoundingly inept.  Really, it was almost a comedy routine - you'd say left, he'd go right.  You tell him Jones Street, he says, "Okay, Smith Street!"  He brought the first passengers to the wrong hotel.  They said Holiday Inn.  He drove to the Hyatt.  I had the feeling that we could make up our own "Who's on First" routine with him:
Left, right?
[He turns right.]
No, left!
You said right!
Right is correct, not right.  Just take a left up here.
No, left!
No lefts?  There's no sign for that.
There's no sign at all.
No, left!

The whole time he seemed to be cheerfully unaware of his own incompetence.  He didn't acknowledge or try to apologize when he made a mistake.  He didn't have any kind of attitude about it.  He simply would take our repeated corrections and change course. 

So my question is this:
Would you complain about him to the shuttle company?   He wasn't necessarily unsafe and definitely not unpleasant.  He was just ridiculously inept.  It wasn't a language issue and it didn't seem to be about intelligence.  He pointed out a local high school that he recognized because he had kids who played there in the past.  So I think he was a local.

The guy is 65 years old (I looked at his ID badge.)  He should be bouncing grandchildren on his lap, not driving an airport shuttle at 11 PM on a Wednesday night.  So he must need this job, right?  It is obviously NOT a job that plays to his strengths, but who am I to screw with his life?  And I was actually laughing most of the time and marveling at his fascinating level of ineptitude.  So I didn't have much of a reason to complain.   But do I owe it to future passengers and/or the shuttle company to give them honest feedback when there is a problem?

I know what my answer is.  I am wondering what others think.

I was the last one to be dropped off at home and I asked him, "Does that GPS work?"  (There was a little GPS unit mounted to the dash.) He answered with a chuckle, "It does when I turn it on!"

Sunday, January 3, 2010

All Hail Kale

Last night's dinner: Frozen Grocery Store Pizza

Tonight's dinner: Roasted vegetables (beets, parsnips, turnips, carrots, onions, garlic, brussel sprouts - roasted with parsley, rosemary and thyme from my back yard) and store-bought sesame baked tofu.

Which dinner should I have more often?  Hmmmmm? 


The star of my night, though, was the Roasted Kale.  I have never eaten Kale before.  Got the recipe from Persephone's awesome blog.  It was SO INCREDIBLY GOOD it deserves those capital letters.  I can't tell you how EXCITED I am about how DELICIOUS it was.   Mmmmmmm...kale.  I am going to cook it every week.  It is a beautiful dark green color so you know it has to be good for you. 

I did not get a picture of it cooked because I ate it all up immediately.  But there it is raw, sitting next to what I think is a turnip.

I also got the roasted vegetable idea from Persephone's blog.  Cooked it for my sister's family while I was home for the holidays and they all loved it.  I wouldn't look twice at turnips, brussel sprouts or beets (yuck!) before, but everything tastes great when you roast it with olive oil, salt and pepper, and fresh herbs.  Really.  I promise.  (Even the beets.)

Thank you Persephone!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

If the day and night are such that you greet them with joy and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet scented herbs - that is your success.

Henry David Thoreau

Wishing everyone abundant joy and "success" in the New Year.