Monday, July 30, 2012

domestic goddess - bah, humbug! . . . or where the hell did i put the creamer?


I'm participating in Photo A Day challenge. This is my July 30 photo representing the word for the day, CALM, and including it here on the off-chance it might influence my day.

So much for calm.  When I went for my second cup of coffee this morning, I couldn't find the creamer. The most likely spot would have been here, next to the coffee maker.

Under normal circumstances, it might also have been on the counter on the other side of the sink, but, as you can see, circumstances aren't normal. These are waiting for disposal, as soon as I figure out what that would be.

Or maybe I put it away here, where it is always stored.

Cannot have disappeared. Gremlins have not had time to snatch it.

You know how sometimes in a last ditch effort you look even where you wouldn't expect to find it?

But of course . . . right in the spot that was vacated by the coffee cup,
where it has never been before.

*     *    *    *    *

I awoke befuddled today, not able to answer "what day is this?" The familiar sounds of the Today Show at the Olympics failed to distinguish it. The extra pain in my back reminded me I'd vacuumed "yesterday." But was yesterday Sunday, or was it Monday? If today is Monday, I have no appointments. If it's Tuesday, I'm not sure. I didn't want to get up yet; I'd rather take an Excedrin and let it work its magic for a few minutes. But if it's Tuesday and I have something to do soon . . . ?

Before Chloe could figure out what I was doing, I zipped out the bedroom door and closed it so she wouldn't meow her way down the hall as I fetched my PDA. I didn't want the cats all stirred up in anticipation of morning routines yet. (Why do we always walk "down" halls? Have you ever heard anyone say "the cat will follow me 'up' the hallway?) I snagged the PDA and tiptoed back to the bedroom.

I pressed one of the ON buttons. Nothing. I pressed another. Nothing. Same for three other buttons. Nothing but a black screen. Rats! I pulled out a charging cord and plugged it in. Nothing. Nothing? Uh oh. Okay, kitties, I'll tend to you now. The PDA back-up is out on the computer.

Kitties taken care of, I confirmed today as Monday and free of appointments. On Tuesday, I have an 8:30 lab appointment. Whew!

They don't seem to sell PDAs anymore. Do smart phones hold all the same kinds of data? I started browsing my cell phone provider's website and there's nothing mentioned about shopping lists, address books -- with real snail mail addresses -- Excel and Word files, pdf's, even limited free web browsing. I don't want to pay another 50 bucks a month just to have a smart phone.

I put on a pot of coffee.

When I finally returned to the bedroom, the PDA was glowing brightly. Apparently it had needed to develop a little charge before it could come to life.

*    *    *    *    *

I thought for a moment at the start of the weekend that I was going to get some domestic tasks accomplished, in particular, vacuuming, since the rubber soles of my Birkenstocks scuff up rolls of cat fur on the wool carpet in the places I frequent. Like, under the computer table and in the bathroom. My lady who cleans is still out of commission, unable to work at the moment but imploring me not to fire her.

So Friday night, I actually cooked dinner before going to the Eagles tribute concert, if by cooking I can include boiling the water for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and wrapping an ear of corn in buttered and salted wax paper and nuking it. Oh, and don't forget the salad. And an Original Drumstick.

Nothing to drink. Not a thing to eat. Not even the warm smell of colitas rising up through the air at the Groveland Hotel, but I came home on a music high from the concert. Saturday I ignored cat fur on the carpet and wrote about Hotel California and all the rest.

Sunday would be the defurring. My preference (!) for cleaning is to straighten up, dust, scrub sinks, basins and toilets, vacuum, then wash the linoleum floor surfaces (or would that be vinyl in my not-as-dated-as-linoleum 1990 house?). If I were to follow that sequence, I'd run out of steam no farther along than basins and toilets and the fur rugs would still remain. So I began at the linoleum end of the house.

Ages ago, my cleaning lady sent me from store to store, buying and returning, until I got the proper mop for washing the floor. I'd always used some kind of sponge mop or another, but she seems to get good results with this:

It stumped me for a while, until I figured out how to work that bumpy tube to wring out the mop strings and how to keep the bumpy tube from scraping along the floor. (That's an attempted smile with my back already hurting.)

Vacuuming had to include fixing a problem in the kitten room. I mentioned last Thursday the problem I have with their getting into the closet in that room where they spend the night. Or any closet, for that matter, because they climb up the clothing, knocking it off the hangers into heaps on the floor, then they throw everything off the shelves above. The closets with the ceiling high sliding mirror doors in the bedrooms are relatively cat-resistant, except for one, which I hold closed by stuffing a down comforter between the door and end of dresser.

The kitten room doors are a double fold arrangement and I try to keep them closed with a belt cinching the knobs together. I showed you what they did recently.

I knew there was a bunch of stuff on the floor, blocking the doors. There was also "soil" from the basket of flowers that needed to be vacuumed up. The minute I opened up the closet, they made a beeline for it and had to be banished to my bedroom. It's hard to lock them in there because they know how to open doors, but it worked for a while.

Meh! Upper left: They'd torn my Kachina's leather basket and scattered the contents.  I had it stashed in the highest place I have to keep them from messing with it but there's nothing out of their reach. Top right: boxes of Christmas cards and original containers for other little geegaws, tossed off the closest shelf and book shelves. Lower left: Looking downward at what blocks the left door: the flower basket, a tackle box full of quilting tools, a baseball cap dryer frame, and . . . Lower right:  . . . other miscellaneous stuff.

I hate not being able to enjoy my beautiful Kachina.

The santon is covered with cat fur, so this is probably not his first encounter with cats.

In fact he sat on the buffet for years, until he suddenly became a target. I bought him for my Papa in Monaco because he looks so much like Papa. After he died, my sister let me have it back.

I will be measuring these and other treasures for acrylic display boxes, so I don't have to lock everything up out of sight.

You've met this final item back at the beginning, covering up my sink. The book shelf in that closet was once a pantry of sorts, until the food got blocked behind other boxes. I dug in and found some expiration dates of 1998, and decided that if I haven't used it by now, I'm not likely to use it. I think most of this stuff is rancid or stale (although I wonder about the sealed packets of natural mashed potatoes). Some of it, if it's not rancid, can go out for the animals (deer or raccoons?) and the rest on a trip to the dump, er, transfer station.

I did finish vacuuming in time to go to Sister's for dinner but my back is out of whack so alternative arrangements for vacuuming need to be made.

I'm not sure what the moral of this story is, but don't worry about those sinks and basins that I didn't get to. I need to replace a broken kitchen sink faucet and that order has escalated into several basins, a sink, several faucets, one new toilet and ancillary items. I'm forgetting other things on the list but looking forward to a plumbing invasion. And I love my kitties, little monsters that they are. I just have to live like I permanently have a couple of two year olds, and baby-proof the house!

See you soon.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

rockin' it . . . life in the fast lane


Friday night, a stompin', feel-good evening at the Groveland Hotel for an audience younger than I am but still largely of mature years.

I sang along to Eagles' tunes on the radio long before I ever found out who they were. In fact, when I heard the first collection of their songs, I went "Wow! I love these guys. Who knew?"

I love them so much that I gathered up Sister-In-Law for the Eagles' 2005 visit to Arco Arena in Sacramento. Two-thousand-five? That long ago?  I got a mad crush on Don Henley, so un-rocker-looking now, with the voice of an angel. I'd follow him anywhere.

I love them so much that I use the DVD of their 2005 Eagles Farewell I Tour for dance exercise, should the inclination to exercise strike me unexpectedly. Nothin' like movin' to the music!

So, of course, when I drove by the Groveland Hotel a few weeks ago and saw the sign for an Eagles Tribute Band concert, I said to myself, self, gotta go. SIL didn't think she could go, and Sister and Brother-In-Law were on a trip elsewhere, so I bought a ticket for me, just me.

Anticipating a bit of a parking problem around the hotel -- it's across a small street from the Iron Door Saloon, California's oldest continuously operating drinking establishment, which has its own Friday night crowd -- I went a little early, as in first or second to be seated while the band was still setting up their equipment, still not in their performance duds.

Two band members get shots of the venue in the
 hotel patio below, five minutes before starting time.

 Four minutes past starting time. They're all fidgeting on stage.
They're waiting. It's odd. Is anybody going to come up
and introduce them, or are they on their own?

I'll have to do it here: It's "Life in the Fast Lane -- The Songs of the Eagles Musical Journey," info gleaned partially from the band and partially from a website.

The musicians:
Lonnie Garcia, bassist
Jeff Poppinga, vocals
Matt Barrett, guitar
Rick Ricketts, guitar
Brad von Kirschner, drums
Steve Worley, guitars, keyboards
Everybody did vocals

Finally, Lonnie steps up and just starts, with Take It Easy.

The evening's playlist:

Take It Easy
Witchy Woman
Life in the Fast Lane

One or two at a time, people start to dance

One woman beckons to me to dance. My feet are tapping, my fingers are snapping or plucking at an air guitar. I want to move, I want to get up and dance, but I'm afraid. I'm afraid of my poor balance. I'm afraid of my legs . . . I can get so into dancing that I over-tax the leg muscles and crumple to the ground. Not that I think it would hurt so bad, but picking an old lady up off the pavement would become the center of the show. So, regretfully, I decline. I watch instead.

Love Will Keep Us Alive
Already Gone
Heartache Tonight

Lyin' Eyes
The Long Run
Get Over It

Are there any hotel guests up there that thought
they were going to get some sleep?

Hotel California

I loved to dance with my husband, gone now for 12½ years. He started the courtship with dancing on our first date and it continued on. I loved to dance with him to Hotel California, slow-dance style. I loved how dancing played out in sexual tension, a slow seduction, anticipation. Only him. I hated changing partners when dancing at a group event, hated being held by other men, sweaty men, whose dampness I had no desire to share.

James Dean
Victim of Love
Dirty Laundry
New Kid in Town
How Long

Non-stop dance trilogy:
The Heat is On - Glenn Frey
All She Want to Do is Dance - Don Henley
Rocky Mountain Way - Joe Walsh 

Rockin' It
Joe Walsh in a 1973 video seen on YouTube
Don Henley, From Eagles Farewell I Tour DVD Album Notes 2005

The crowd is up and dancing and begging for more.
I'm with them in my head and my core.

Doolin Dalton

A guy is up shooting pictures of his wife out there on the dance floor . . .

 . . . and then he's up and dancing with her

Hotel California*

So they start up Hotel California again for the finale. Memories come back of our stop, in the middle of the night, at a place called Little Lake, about 50 miles south of Lone Pine, California, a place that shone eerily out of the darkness at the side of the long lonely highway, a checkpoint for the 365 motorcyclists riding the 1978 3 Flags Classic, from Tijuana to Vancouver over Labor Day Weekend. It was strange and disorienting trying to get on and off the highway, to do the check in, to find the toilets. My mental image of Hotel California is much like that place, vague and illusionary.

As the song rolls on, tears begin to roll down my cheeks.

The crowd is shouting out for more. Some are standing at the back of the patio, others, like me, sit, limp, in our chairs. Then I realize what's happening and I start to clap and shout too. The crowd to the back is yelling for their favorite, but the band's choice for the encore is Heartache Tonight.

It's empty between the two rows of seats perpendicular to me down the left side of the patio. I abandon my purse and my camera on my chair and stand up and dance in that aisle. At least if my legs collapse, I'll fall in a chair.

*    *     *     *     *

Hotel California is the group's usual finale, according to the website, as the show is set in that mythical place. But I think the setting of the Groveland Hotel patio and the fanciful parallels that were made prompted them to play it at an earlier time in the playlist. The Eagles themselves play their pieces exactly the same every time. They feel their fans come to see and hear the familiar and they want the fans to get the familiar, so that pretty much sets a template for a tribute band if it wants to come off sounding like the real thing. Fast Lane was pretty much true to form. There were a couple of pieces where they did the lead-ins with different chording and I couldn't tell whether they'd done a different arrangement or were out of sync. There was some fabulous guitar work. Vocals were very good, although no one can match that high-pitched clarity of Don Henley, in my humble opinion.

The proprietor of the hotel asked the audience at the end of the performance for suggestions for next year's series of patio concerts and I think it showed its enthusiasm for a repeat from Life in the Fast Lane.

See you soon.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

When you hear the sound of fire bombers . . .


Weird Wednesday

I know -- odd title -- but "fire bomber" is what I mentally called air support for wildland firefighting until I Googled it as I sat down to write this, in search of a less alarming and proper description. But all that comes later in the Wednesday/Thursday events.  Weird Wednesday started with:

Bad Kitties

Kitties, whose names I won't mention (yes, I will -- Henley and Jean-Luc), wiggled through closed doors, climbed up on the closet shelf, and knocked off a basket of artificial flowers.

You can see I try to keep them out by tying the door shut!
They just laugh at me.

I believe the first part of the misbehavior occurred on or about July 12. When I went to let the kitties out of the kitten room that morning, the closet door was slightly ajar and there was something on the floor inside, impeding the opening of the door. I didn't force it open it at the time, not wanting to deal with the prospective chaos therein.  This Wednesday morning wake-up yielded the beheaded flowers.

Everything in the house is subject to disassembly. Sigh.

The unrepentant Jean-Luc had a doctor's appointment for check-up and kitty shots that day. Jean-Luc is a silent cat.  I seldom hear a meow out of him. (Purring excepted. He purrs well.) As soon as I put him in a carrier and into the car, he began to meow. Not yowls, just meows. All the way to the vet and even into the waiting area. Until a dog came in. It's interesting to know he has a voice.

As to the actual exam, he's more into passive resistance than a fight. "He's making himself look as small as possible," commented the vet. He's completely limp and malleable and weighs a ton. Well, he weighs 9 lb 5 oz, heavier than my son when newborn, and it feels like more in his limp condition. He flinched for the first shot, was impassive for the second. He was pronounced in good health and poured back into the carrier.

Good Kitty

He was a bit subdued for the rest of the day and spent a long time engrossed in watching "Bears of the Last Frontier: Arctic Wilderness" on PBS that evening.

At some time during the day, I heard the little pump on the Drinkwell Platinum Automatic Waterer grumbling, a symptom that the water level is getting too low. I refilled the tank and went about my business.

Later in the day I waded into a puddle of water spreading from the half-bath into the laundry room. The Drinkwell had pumped the full tank out onto the floor. I unplugged it quickly and threw towels onto the puddle.

I went online and on the phone looking into a replacement Drinkwell, in the worst case scenario. I also read in reviews that clogged filters could cause overflows.

Good news. The grate that covers the return water flow to the pump and filters large particles was clogged with cat hair, so the water entering the drinking bowl could not return to the pump intake.

The Drinkwell Platinum, happily pumping away

Bad news. I also checked Facebook and there is a nearby brush fire, more or less northeast of me, apparently on the steep down slope to the river. This is a common summer worry. I went outside to see if I could see smoke, often a tall thick column on a newly-minted fire. There was no smoke visible except for perhaps a white haze over the hill to my northeast.

But I could hear the fire bombers, or more properly, airtankers and helicopters, rumbling close at hand. I hadn't heard them with the TV on and the the house closed up.

Local photographer C. Wilkinson quickly posted what could be seen nearer the incident on Facebook. Here's a screen shot of her photos posted within three hour of the start of the fire.

Fire reports from CAL FIRE put it at 100 acres, 5% contained at 8 p.m. The fire is described as "in an inaccessible area and continues to smolder and creep in the brush with a possibility of a roll out, which will involve hand crews taking direct action on the line, with air support for the most difficult terrain."

There still was no smell of smoke, as the wind remained dead-calm. I went to sleep without an immediate sense of threat.

Thursdays Out

Sister and Brother-in-Law have returned to town from their car-race hopping in Europe (lots of rain) (lots and lots), so I picked up Sister for NeedleCrafts this week. We passed a lot of fire-bound fire vehicles on our way to the Little House. From the yard at the Little House, we could see smoke rising higher today, and we could hear the air attack on the fire well underway for the day, even several miles farther away from the fire than at home.

We eventually had 13 at NeedleCrafts.

While Sister and BIL were out of town, their house was being spiffied up so it would look as good as BIL's Grand Garage. The deck extension and repairs were complete, and the house was painted and a new roof put on. Some fine-tuning of the deck stain is still being done.

By the time I left their place in the afternoon after dropping Sister off, smoke was more widespread, though still not dense. Winds were light. I just happened to glimpse out my front door about sundown and noticed pinkness through the trees. I ran out to amazing skies. I think these are smoke-made clouds, and what a spectacle.

OV-10A "Bronco"
Air Tactical Group Supervisor
Command & Control

Smoky moon

Tonight's CAL FIRE report indicates that an Evacuation Warning has been issued to the residents on the road along the upper edge of the canyon. To be clear, I do not believe an Evacuation Warning is an Evacuation Order, so any evacuating at this point would be voluntary. 

Interesting and unsubstantiated reports and comments have begun appearing on Facebook about the fire. Speculation. Titillating gossip. . If well-sourced information develops, it could appear here later.

See you soon.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summerfest·ivities . . . and Tidying Up

Last week was the run-up to the big Soroptimist Summerfest on Saturday. All hands were called on to turn out at the stables picnic grounds at 10 a.m. Saturday to set up for the event. The day started sunny and hot and only got hotter.

Stables staff had set up seventy-some tables and I was on the committee to decorate them. Fortunately for the aesthetics of the tables, I wasn't in charge of figuring out the decor, and, in fact, I volunteered to work with the teams unrolling and taping tablecloths to the tables, while other teams put stones in bottles and added flowers.

"Floral arrangement"

The team

Tables ready and waiting

Others sorted and set up items for the various auctions . . .

. . . And barbecues and food booths and games, and the "saloon" where beverages were sold.

It's time.

"Get your food and game tickets here . . . "

What's happening here?

Food: nachos, grilled Italian sausage with tomato, pepper and onion sauce, and
grilled chicken sandwiches. We also had hot dogs and strawberry shortcake.

Games and things for the kids: Bounce house, Bob Baird, The Balloon Man, and steer roping

Little tot looks on. He's just learning to walk.

Bean bag toss pro -- he was hitting them all; wet sponge toss;
"tattoos" and hair painting; also a fishing pond for the little ones

For the big kids: Classic cars. For auction: a hand-made doll house and furniture.

Line-dancing instructor arrives . . .

. . . and we have line-dancing

Summerfest attendees had a good time, despite the very warm weather which may deterred some from attending.  We do have good shade and breezes at the stables, so it's fun, cool or warm.

It was all hands on deck again to "strike the set-up," and went home tired. Yours truly, the night owl, went to bed directly and then woke up too early Sunday morning, with three uncalendared days ahead of me. Whatever would I do?

This is where a big breakdown between "shoulda" and "did" diverged. Here's the part where some burst of nostalgia triggered by this being Provence time of year reminded me that I hadn't finished a Facebook album of my Provence tour of 2011. Some of it I blogged about at the time, but I'd only put a few pictures up on Facebook.

I really should have, I really intended to, vacuum up the cat fur and swirl a little dust around, since my lady who cleans is nursing a broken foot. I didn't even try on Sunday. I felt a day of "relaxation" was due. Get me into those digital photo files and I'm lost. I dove into it and worked all day until late that evening, finishing up the one album underway and continuing with another so the albums wouldn't be too large. Monday I intended to vacuum and first thing in the morning got a nosebleed with no particular provocation. Well, who can vacuum when a spontaneous nosebleed can break out at any time? So Monday allowed me to make corrections to the Part 2 album and do a Part 3.

Today I had every intention . . . just check email and Facebook and do my Photo A Day for today and then pitch into the cat fur. Then there it was on Facebook, the August Photo A Day list. I've been participating in this monthly challenge since June and have been joined by several friends. An Australian blogger started Photo A Day by making a monthly list of daily prompt words for a photo a day, which can be posted on Facebook, which I do, or Instagram or other social and photo-sharing media I'm not familiar with.

It's fun trying to figure out a new photo twist on a common word or phrase and compare it with everyone else's "take." Well, that meant it is time to spread the word and find out new ways of sharing the photos and then get into "housekeeping" the photos that I used in June and July so far and searching for existing photos that it would tickle me to use as an illustration for some of the words. You can see I'm running on and on about it and that's how I use up a day.

I decided to "collage" all the photos I used for the June prompts.

June Photo A Day Collage
Tomorrow. Jean-Luc gets to see the vet for his checkup and shots.

See you soon.