Thursday, December 25, 2008

RIP Eartha Kitt

Eartha Kitt passed today, Christmas Day 2008.

Eartha, may you rest in peace, secure in the knowledge that you became an American icon. I don't think anyone who ever heard the classic "Santa Baby" could forget it.

RIP dear woman.

Wishing your family love and blessings on this day,
A Fan

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Mini Vacation Is Nearly Over

I have gotten a few things accomplished. I still have more to do and today is the last day of my Thanksgiving holiday.

I pruned the tomatoes back yesterday.

Don't laugh, the bush was all the way over the picket fence and over the sidewalk. You had to step into the gutter to go around the plant. It was HUGE.

I still feel a little guilty, it was still loaded with blossoms, but the weather is getting cooler, I don't think it'll set fruit this late in the year. I harvested the green tomatoes, so I need to look up a recipe for fried green tomatoes.

I only pruned it back to the fence, I really should prune the bushes a bit on the inside so I can mow my patch of lawn.
And I need to weed whack over to the right of the gate.

And I have some things covered with plastic on the front porch, I need to arrange them a bit better.

OOOh, and there's hummingbirds at my feeders, I just saw one flit by.

Well, I guess I'd better get busy.

I still have to put a little more roofing tar on that low spot. I've got it almost done, there was just a little water standing after the rains last week. The roof didn't leak anyway, I got the cracked spot patched. So that's a plus.

I didn't work on my shed project at all. Oops.

I'm STILL unpacking and arranging books. I think I have an OCD problem when it comes to books...

Well, guess I'd better get busy before the Raider game. (Hey, I have my priorities straight! Football season is too short!)

Duty calls and my mini vacation is nearly over.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

We Give Thanks Today

My parents are here for the weekend, so while they're out at the gun club at the Toys 4 Tots shoot, I'm cooking.

Here's the menu:

Smoked turkey
Dressing with sausage and chard
Mashed potatoes
Gravy
Yams with brown sugar and pineapple
Pea salad (green peas, cheese, mayo, Ranch dressing and spices)
Apple Walnut Salad
Sweet potato pie
Apple pie

Still debating about mac and cheese....

Tomorrow, they go back to Oregon, and I'll be at work. Next weekend will be my long weekend and I have MUCH to do.

Yes, we'll have turkey again on Thanksgiving Day, I'll smoke a small turkey and we'll go to my neighbor's for dinner.

We are truly blessed to be together today.

We give thanks today, and every day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hockey -- The Perfect Working Parent Sport!

Roller Hockey, the perfect working parent's sport!

The practice and games are all on the weekends, usually just on Saturdays. So I don't have to try to transport a child to practices and games during the week. Since I really can't do all that, I have a J-O-B, hockey has the perfect schedule for me!!

video

The Golden Compass Movie -- Rated Just OK

I haven't written about The Golden Compass. For one thing, I haven't read the books yet. Perhaps I'll ask for them for Christmas.

We did go see the movie and to be honest with you, I wasn't all that impressed.

The special effects were so-so.

The story line kinda dragged in spots.

And I left the movie feeling like there should have been much, much more. Compared to richly layered storyline and textures of the Lord of the Rings, The Golden Compass fell flat.

Now, I do have to say that both of my kids, the teen and the preteen, liked it. Apparently it is reaching the target audience.

But for me, while it's an interesting premise, the movie fell flat.

(And did anyone else notice the evil woman was named Coulter? Hmmm, is there another Coulter in real life that's just as nasty? Probably a coincidence, but hey, I noticed it...)

Rated just OK, although I did buy the DVD.

(My personal scale is AWESOME, Good, OK, DVD ONLY, Don't think so, and NOPE.)

Update On The Leak

Whew! Not as bad as I feared.

The freaking contractor left a low spot that got a puddle of standing water. Of course at a spot where the roofing paper has a seam.

So I have the Henry's, I have the tape, I have a friend coming over today. We're just going to use the Henry's, tape over the seams, more Henry's, and level out that low spot.

And while we're at it, I have a caulking gun and plenty of tubes of roof repair tubes to go around every bit of flashing.

I'll fix the ceiling in the spring, after I'm sure I've fixed the leak.

FYI folks, if you ever have a leak, punch a small hole through the ceiling where the water is coming through. Now you can make sure it drains out into a bucket and you don't have to worry about the ceiling falling in. Believe me, it will dry out just fine, especially if you leave it open for a while. Also, it will be way easier to patch a little hole than to redo the entire ceiling.

I was thinking about repainting my ceiling anyway, there's a new product that you add to the paint that helps insulate. Interesting stuff, I'll talk about it later in another post.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Black Like Me

With all that's happened on the American political scene, I think it's well past time that we reread "Black Like Me" by John Griffin.

We have come so far, and yet in so many ways, we are still so, so stuck in the fifties.

Is it because another generation will have to pass, so there's no one left who remembers riding in the front of the bus, because it was a white right -- and of course, "white was right" during those many long years since this country was founded?

In my opinion, we need to revisit our past before we can look forward to our future.

We need to remember how SHAMEFULLY our Brothers and Sisters were treated, so we can see how and why there is such joy in the Black community today. Validation is the right word. I heard someone say it today. Validation. Our Brothers and Sisters have been validated.

Hope has been rekindled in America.

We need to go back and reread "Black Like Me" to remember how bad it was, and see just how far we have come, and then check out today's Internet to see just how far we have to go.

Take a step back from the drama, take a step back and review our sad history of race relations in America.

Reread "Black Like Me" and remember how it used to be.

And worse, at the end of the book, remember how John Griffin and his family moved to Mexico to escape the hate. Yes, John Griffin was absolutely hated because he had passed into Black America, and then returned to tell the truth of what it's like to be a Black man in America.

The attitudes that drove Griffin out of Texas still exist today.

There are many who will deny it.

Reread "Black Like Me" and reflect upon how much America has changed and then contemplate, if you can, on how much has stayed the same.

Trust me, there's still a deep undercurrent of racist thoughts and behaviors in this country.

But hope has been rekindled in America.

Links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Like_Me
http://www.aaregistry.com/detail.php?id=955

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

DANG IT!!

Darn, darn, darn!!

I had a LOT of work done on my house, finished it about a year and a half ago. Actually, the contractor never did finish, but I got my final from the building department, so I thought it was all good.

I converted the garage into a master bedroom and bath.

Well, we had a lot of rain since last Thursday night and tonight, when I got home, I notice there was a bit of water on my new bathroom floor.

Hmmm....

And then I looked up.

My roof leaked.

DANG IT ALL!!

I do NOT want this man working on my house any more. I'm torn between calling him and telling him to get over here and find where it's leaking, or calling the Contractor's Licensing Board and having them deal with him while I get a roofing guy to take a look at my roof.

Darn it all.

I was supposed to get a new roof over that section of the house, but because of changes required by the building inspector, the plan was changed. Now, I wanted a new roof anyway, but he talked me out of it, claiming that it would cost a lot more. And he assured me that the roof would be fine, it wouldn't leak.

Well, with the other things he screwed up, I ended up with the same amount as it would have cost to put a blasted new roof over it. Like I insisted it would. And he insisted it wouldn't.

Personally, I think he was tired of the job and just wanted out of it by then.

I don't even want to go into how he took so long to "finish" that I got utterly screwed on my refi...

So I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I'm so mad I could spit nails.

I did punch a hole in the drywall so it could drain, and there was only a tiny bit of water, so that's one blessing, I really may only have one spot that needs a patch because it really did rain a LOT last weekend. But it will have to wait for next weekend, because I am NOT getting on the roof in the dark.

Sigh.

If it's not one thing, it's another.

I'll sleep on it, it's not like I can do anything more tonight. Other than check the weather report.

DARN IT ALL!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Time To Rest

It's finally raining here in Northern California.

I wasn't ready for it to rain yet, I've been building a shed, little by little, one side at a time.

Like most of you, I don't have a lot of time, so I have to do everything bit by bit in those brief moments we call "spare time".

Yet it's almost a relief that it's raining today.

I have so much to do, yet I can spend a few extra minutes in bed, spend a little time just chilling, watching TV and relaxing.

Yes, it's finally raining.

Time to rest.

Time to rest.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I'm A Hockey Mom Too!!

My son plays roller hockey on inline skates, but other than that, the game is very similar to ice hockey.

In fact, he plays a little ice hockey in the summer when he stays in Oregon with Grandma and Grandpa. When I retire, in hopefully four years, we're going to move up there so he can play ice hockey in high school. He wants to live within walking distance of the rink. LOL, he even suggested that I should try to get a job at the rink!!

Anyway, I don't have much time this morning. I have to get ready to go to the rink. Then, after hockey, I'll rush home and get ready to go back to the rink for the fundraiser tonight.

I have a busy life.

It's going to get busier, I have a LOT of writing and painting to do over the next couple of months. Plus I'm building a shed in the backyard and then enclosing my back patio, all on the no budget method.

Have to run, too much to do today!!

See you tomorrow!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Winter Is Coming

Winter is coming.

Yes, I can (literally) feel it in my bones.

Winter is coming.

We're all so dang tired. Our bodies are reminding us that winter is a time to hibernate, to huddle inside and sleep.

We don't listen to our bodies though.

Back in the day, when many were farmers, winter was a time to both rest and endure. In the high Plains, the snow swept across the lands. The harvest was in the root cellar, in canning jars, dried or salted down. The livestock was in the barn. The family was inside during the worst of weather, reading, playing games, knitting, sewing, repairing the necessary tools for the spring planting. People more or less lived by the sun.

Winter was a time to endure the storms and cold, and renew and revitalize for the spring.

We don't listen to our bodies.

We don't hunker down in the winter, giving our bodies and minds time to rest and revitalize.

Instead, the hustle and bustle of our lives presses on.

So far, the weather here in Cali is warm and dry, but the nights are colder and colder. Winter is coming.

Winter is coming.

My body tells me so.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Where Have I Been??

Oh my, it's been that long since I posted? Where have I been??

Well, I've been hecka, hecka busy preparing for a Stand Down.

Plus, at work, one of the big bosses decided that we needed an annual report for our part of the agency. Guess whose desk it landed on? Friday am, he wanted it COMPLETE by Wednesday.

Well, it was actually another week before it was complete and posted, but I got it done. The fact that I'd done the job, only needing a few things to finish it, and oh my, he loved it BUT just wanted a few things moved around.

Yes, we know what that means.

A complete redesign.

But they're all happy, so joy, joy, another project completed. Another upcoming project for next year.

Success does have its own punishments.

Do a project well, for sure you'll be working on it next year!

In any case, more importantly, I've been really busy preparing for the Stand Down.

What is a Stand Down? It's an event, in our case a three day encampment, meant to "hook up" homeless and at-risk Veterans with VA, County and community services.

Too many of our Veterans are homeless. Some stats suggest up to 25% of homeless are Veterans. That's just shameful.

So we plan for a year, putting together this event to help our Veterans get their lives back on track.

I know, for some, it's just a good time, a haircut, a flu shot, three hots and a cot [in a tent] and they can even leave if they choose.

But for some, this is the first step in turning their lives around. This is their first step Home.

So this year's even was a rousing success, nearly 200 Veterans plus 20 or 30 dependents received assistance with VA medical, signing up for County services, seeing the Judge for small offenses like traffic tickets, panhandling, camping and other infractions, and much, much more.

It's a good feeling, to be one of the people who are saying to the men and women who have sacrificed so much of their lives in service to their country, saying: "Welcome Home!"

"Welcome Home."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Last Day Of Summer

Yes, today is the last day of summer.

So what are we doing today?

We're going to the skate park and having cake and ice cream for my youngest son's birthday! We've done this several years in a row and it's really fun. The boys get together again. So far old friends, his brother, his dad and family, and more are supposed to be there.

I'm wondering if I should take hot dogs too, boys use a lot of energy.

We go to that particular skate park because we used to live in that town. Also, because the skate park is pretty fun, if there's wheels on it, the kids are using it. Skateboards, skates, inline skates, bikes, I even saw a kid on a unicycle there one day. It's not like the skate park here in West Sacramento, they don't allow bikes.

The boys really enjoy it.

Sigh, so Mom had better get busy, the truck needs to be packed up, have to go to the store, etc, etc, etc.

Much to do.

Oh, and yeah, I have a mini TV that runs on batteries. No need to miss ALL of the Raider's game, LOL! Even in black and white, football is FOOTBALL!!

See yah in the Fall!!
(Oh, hey, that's tomorrow, LOL!)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Weather Is Changing

Yes, it's starting to change. It's getting cooler at night. The leaves on my cherry tree are barely starting to turn.

It seems a little earlier than usual.

According to the Farmer's Almanac, the weather is going to be turning cooler, not warmer.

I'm already feeling it. I need to hurry, I have things to do before the rains come.

I feel the rain, it's coming. It's coming soon.

I think it's going to be a cold and wet winter.

I need to stock up on beans and rice and canned goods. You should too.

The weather is changing. And I don't think it's going to be hotter, per the global warming blather. It's going to be cold this winter.

Get ready.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

GO RAIDERS!!

Yes, I'm a proud Oakland Raiders fan.

Yeah, I know, they have issues.

I don't care!

I'm a Raider fan, win or lose, good or bad, Al Davis or not.

GO RAIDERS!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Way Cool Trailer!

Wow, there is so much to do, but I already love my "new" little '66 Shasta Compact. We went to get her on Sunday, put the new tires on, greased the wheel bearings, added safety chains (of course!) and brought her home.

The inside is pretty much gone, so I have a blank slate. Unfortunately, there was a leak, so I'll probably have to remove every panel and fix them, fix and seal the leak(s), etc. The first thing to go will be all the nasty carpet!


A little work and a good paint job will do wonders for the outside. Yes, it'll be white and the red stripe repainted exactly as you see here.

I must say, it tows like a dream. It's light enough I can easily tow it with my light truck.

I'm excited! There's much to do, but I'm the proud owner of a classic tiny trailer.

Way cool!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Rereading Alan Garner's Books

I've been rereading Alan Garner's books.

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, Moon of Gomrath, The Owl Service, and Elidor.

I have to say, I've really enjoyed all except Elidor.

Yes, I know that's sacrilege to a fan of Garner's books. But Elidor feels like he just got tired and stopped writing. There's no finish, no conclusion, we're just left hanging at the end, wondering what happened in Elidor.

I hate it when that happens.

All of his other books are magical, well written, full of mystery and folklore. I love them.

But Elidor, alas, it's lacking.

Teachers, I'd add the other three to your reading list. They're great books for any fantasy fan.

Not Elidor.

Sorry.

Monday, September 1, 2008

My New Book

For my friends who've been asking, yes, I'm still working on my novel.

It's going to take a good while, I like my fiction, especially near future fiction, to have a factual basis. I'm not going to just make something up, it needs to be scientifically plausible.

Fortunately, my sister is a geologist, teacher, and fellow sci-fi fan, so when I'm to that point, I'll ask her to read it and see what she says. Trust me, my family is not known for being tactful. If she thinks it's boring, she'll tell me.

But I'm only on Chapter 3, so there is still much writing and then rewriting to do. Since I really only work on it on Sunday afternoons during my son's Skate and Shoot practice at the hockey rink, it's going to take a good while...

Actually, it's going to take even longer, since my ex and his wife have been showing up at the rink. They are simply not capable of leaving me alone to work and my book is NOT ready to share.

Today, being Labor Day, I've got to get busy, I have a LOT of labor to do around the house today.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

My "New" Trailer




1966(?) Shasta Compact - 13' total length!
Yes, she needs a lot of work, but for a 40+-year-old trailer that's been sitting out in the weather for at least 5 years, she's in pretty darn good shape.

And a plus, my parents have one just like her, so I have a lot more experience on my side (my dad!) to help me get her in good order.

I hope I don't get into a tight $$ spot and have to sell her, because this is the size I've been looking for -- for years!

This is going to be fun!

I Bought A Trailer!

Well, only a minute today.

I bought a vintage trailer last weekend. I'm not even going to tell you how little I paid, because you'll be mad! LOL!

It's about a 1966 Shasta Compact, only 13 feet end to end, including the hitch.

Yes, it needs a ton of work. But the exterior is intact, the windows are intact, and once it's stripped out and I've checked the framing, fixed the leak in the ceiling, etc, it's going to be great for my son and I. (Daughter says she doesn't like to camp. Yes, I know, that's what she says.)

I've already taken care of the DMV business. Only $41 and that included the $17 for the title. (I always get the title because then if I need $$ and I sell the trailer, it's just so, so much easier!)

So today's project is to roll over there, put the new jack on the front, get the trailer up off that rim so we can remove the flat tire, check everything else, and then head home. I'll get a "new to me" tire at my favorite used tire place and then go back to put the tire on and then carefully limp it home.

Then we can get busy on it.

Yeah, I know, like I need another project.

This will be fun!

Got to run, much to do on this long weekend!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Burning Man Blues

The other night I was over at Wally-World (Wal-Mart) and saw a bus. The paint job of primer grey plus various happy smilies and other art on the sides made me think of the 60s.

Yes, I stopped and asked the kids if they were going to Burning Man.

Oh, those sweetie pies asked me if I was going! Honestly, I was flattered that they'd think I might go.

They looked like they were ready to have a good time, I could see inside the open bus door. The front seats were gone and it looked like they had a couple of sofas up in there. Very cool.

I sort of wish I was going.

And then I think of the dust, the heat, the long drive.

Nahhhhhh.

As I told the kids, nope, I have to go to work in the morning. So I don't get to go.

Burning Man blues...

I kinda wish I was going.

Kinda....

UPDATE
Well, darn, those poor kids went all that way, and I see on the Internet this am (August 31) that a huge dust storm has sent many participants home early. Maybe that "kinda wish I was going" has turned into "Thank You Lord that I couldn't go..."
http://home.peoplepc.com/psp/newsstory.asp?cat=TopStories&referrer=welcome&id=20080831/48ba1740_3ca6_1552620080831-2061622505

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Should Roller Hockey Be An Olympic Sport?

This is a conversation we had at the rink last weekend.

Should Roller Hockey be an Olympic Sport?

Heck yeah!

Roller Hockey is a great sport and a lot of the teams are coed times, so it would be great to see our sport at the Summer Games. It's definitely a growing sport, with more interest all the time.

I know that there are a LOT of kids and parents who'd watch Roller Hockey. There are even high school, college and professional teams!! (Bet you didn't know that!)

On Monday, I asked some coworkers about Roller Hockey. All said yes, it would be great to see at the Summer Games. One said, yes, she'd watch it and they need to drop ping pong, that's not even a real sport. (Not my opinion! I'm just repeating her words!)

Olympic Committee, take note, there's a lot more interest in Roller Hockey than you realize.

Roller Hockey should be the next addition to the Olympic Games!

Journey To The Center Of The Earth

My kids and I went to the movies last night. We saw Journey To The Center Of The Earth.

They liked the movie. To be honest, when taking the movie as it is, a fast ride like a ride in Disneyland, it was pretty fun.

According to my preteen son, it was a little slow at the beginning, but once the ride started, it was fun. My teen liked it.

The 3-D effect was interesting, it succeeded in making me jump several times. LOL!

I thought there could be a LOT more to the movie, the 3-D effect could have been used more effectively, the characters were merely OK. Charging an extra $3.50 for tickets, I assume to cover the cost of the 3D glasses, was a bit much.

OK fare for kids and budding sci-fi fans. (My son has expressed some interest in Jules Verne, I'll have to find my copy of the book.) Definitely go to the matinee so you can stop by the library or bookstore to pick up a copy of Jules Verne's book after the movie.

I rate it as a B-.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Children Keep You Young

Yes, that is so, so true.

Children do keep you young.

But then...

But then...

But then they grow into teenagers -- who will age you beyond your years.

I LOVE my kids dearly, but omgosh, when they're teens, I don't always LIKE them very much.

Fortunately, they do eventually grow up.

I want to give some hope to all the other mothers (and fathers) of teens. Yes, they will grow up to be fine young people. Those little flashes that you see bursting out, every now and then, past the drama, attitude, and rotten rude behavior, are the signs of what your teen will become.

Just stay on track. Keep being the bad guy. There is still time to be your teen's friend -- in about 10 more years.

Children keep you young.

Teenagers remind us why animals eat their young.

Thank God, we're not animals!

FYI: A teenager's brain does eventually connect to the body and then the teen will turn into a human being. Sometime between 18 and 22 or so.

Oh, yes, there will still be much growing and learning, but you'll see them growing into themselves, becoming the man or woman they're supposed to be.

And just so you know, no matter how stupid your teen thinks you are today, when he/she has kids, you'll become the all-knowing mom and grandma (or dad and grandpa) that he/she turns to for advice in raising his/her own kids.

So hang in there!

The teen years, they too shall pass, like all the other storms in your life.

Dang it's going to seem quiet...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Is Self Publishing An Option?

Hmmm, that's always a good question.

You probably don't want to be trapped with a vanity press, where they charge an arm and a leg for the books, and you have to do all your own promotion, shipping, etc, etc, etc. Although "How to Shit in the Woods" by Kathleen Myer is a self-publishing classic that has sold well over a million copies, most self published books are not very successful.

On the other hand, trying to get "hooked up" with a regular publishing house can be overwhelming to a first time author. Major publishers see many, many manuscripts and a whole lot of them go straight to the shredder. Aspiring authors usually have a lovely selection of "thanks but no thanks" letters.

However, with computers and the Internet, there are other options.

I've been looking at BookSurge, http://www.booksurge.com/. This company is owned by Amazon.

The basic premise of the company is that you don't have to maintain a large inventory of books. Essentially, the book is printed on demand. So if someone is perusing Amazon and comes across your book, they put in their order and the book is printed and shipped directly to the customer.

Good side, easier for you. Larger royalties per book. No inventory to maintain. BookSurge gets the ISBN number for you. You have choices in hard cover, trade paperback, color, black and white, submitting in .doc, .txt, .rtf or a completely designed book in .pdf.

Bad side, you still have to do your own promotion. You still have to write, edit, design the book or pay extra to have it done. I haven't gotten that far yet, but I expect there are some up-front costs for the book. Cost per book may be higher than a traditional run of 10,000 (but you don't have to pay for that 10,000 all at once, so it's six of one, half dozen of another). You don't get the customer list, so there's no opportunity to do mailings for new books (unless BookSurge does it for you -- haven't gotten that far into the website yet).

I'm still looking into this option, as I'm not ready to go to print yet. I'm still writing the first draft, then I'll have my sister, the geologist and fellow sci-fi fan, review it for accuracy and to bluntly tell me if it's interesting or not. (My family is NOT known for being tactful! LOL!)

So, I thought I'd mention this company today. I'm definitely looking for other opinions and options in publishing, so comments are more than welcome.

www.booksurge.com

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Dark Knight

Yes, we went and saw the new Batman movie on Sunday night.

It was good.

Plenty of action, the plot line was pretty good. Lots of ins and out. Interesting how no one really "got" the Joker.

Most criminals have obvious motives. The Joker, oh my goodness. We never did find out where he came from or what happened to him to make him so psychotic. Heath Ledger's performance was awesome. His death is a true loss, he was enormously talented.

Morgan Freeman was good too. He is such a great actor, underappreciated by most. His performances are often way too subtle for the average person. You have to pay attention, it's not just what he says that's so good, it's the body language, the subtlety of his face and expressions.

I wouldn't recommend this movie for small children, this is the grown up Batman, a seriously damaged man trying to do right in the world. Little kids wouldn't understand it.

I'm definitely going to buy the DVD for my collection.

I'm actually looking forward to the next Batman movie.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Projects, Projects, More Projects

I have been busy.

I do kinda poke along on my projects. By the weekend, I'm hecka tired.

I've been gathering window screens and old sliding door screens for my patio project. Between what I've gathered and buying a roll of window screening (48"x25') next payday, I have almost enough materials to start.

Now to start looking for the wood. Yes, now I need to scavenge for 2x4s for the frame. Then either boards for the half wall or siding. I don't know which yet. It might be easier to go to Home Depot hell and actually buy (gasp! buy???) inexpensive 4x8 sheets of siding or exterior strand board. I'm going to paint it anyway.

Oh, better make a note, put up an ad for exterior house paint. White satin.

Between craigslist.org and freecycle, I expect I'll be ready to work on the room by the end of August. It's truly amazing what people are ready to throw away, all you have to do is ask, and you shall receive!

Projects, projects and more projects.

Sometimes I don't know where to start.

But you know, I'm hot, I'm tired. Maybe I'll go take a nap and work on my yard when it cools off a bit.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

EARTHQUAKE!!

Yeah, people were all excited for a minute. One of my buddies called me at work, wanted to know if I knew anyone in Chino Hills.

So I called my son.

He said yes, he and his wife were just leaving the apartment when it hit. They stopped and turned on the TV, yup, there was an earthquake. So they picked up the ironing board that fell over and checked on the cats (the cats were a bit freaked out). Then they went to lunch.

Not to sound cynical, but I'm quite sure that every news station in the LA basin was searching for a liquor store with broken glass all over the floor. I'll watch the 10 o'clock news to see.

I wasn't even concerned enough to turn on CNN.

You see, a 5.4 is a nice little jolt, but it's not all that bad. Enough to rattle the dishes and knock over a few things, that's about it.

I know, we sound so calm about it.

I was in the Loma Prieta earthquake. Now that one was scary -- and it wasn't even the Big One!

Today, just another day in the life of a California kid...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Frodo Lives

You know, the other day I was talking about Darkover.

It brought back memories of other favorite books, chief among them, The Lord of the Rings.

I can't count the number of times I've read and enjoyed The Hobbit and the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings. (Too bad I foolishly lent out The Two Towers from my set, now I need to find another copy or buy another set. Darn it all, and you wonder why I don't lend my books out!)

I was so excited and pleased with the LOTR movies. While some fans may criticize some of the characterizations and changes from the original book, the sweeping tale was very well done.

Let me say, Hollywood at its best. A rare thing.

Being a huge sci-fi/fantasy fan, I've seen some pretty bad movies made from some pretty darn good books. Somehow Hollywood manages to skew the book to fit the flavor of the month.

Yes, the LOTR movies did justice to the books.

Frodo lives. Immortalized in book and movie, Frodo will always be with us.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The New X-Files Movie

Yes, blush, I'm a HUGE X-Files fan.

So my daughter and I went to see the new movie last night.

I enjoyed it, it was interesting. It could've been more complex, more wheels within wheels, but it was good. The ending left a few details hanging, but you know, that's the X-Files. Nothing is ever completely answered in real life and the X-Files has always reflected that.

Faith is a large component of the movie.

Fox WANTS to believe. And so does Scully, although she battles against it. Science vs Faith, which will win?

I'm not going to be a spoiler, but I would recommend it to all of my friends who are fans of the old show.

It could've been deeper, but it was good. Better than a lot of the pap the movie studios put out these days.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Darkover

I've been re-reading some of my Darkover novels, by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Darkover was huge in the 70s.

A complex world, mistaken by Terrans as a feudal culture, Darkover is filled with angst, conflict, death and life. A telepathic society that has already had its Age of Chaos, Darkover chooses to remain independent of Terran technology.

I've really been enjoying re-reading my old friends.

I would recommend starting the series with Darkover Landfall and then working your way through them chronologically. Well, as much as you can, since the books are all loosely set on Darkover, but were written over a long period of time. So the "first" book was actually written much later than the "last" book of the series.

Darkover, highly recommended.

(Hey, you can do a search on the Amazon, just look to the right, I have an Amazon link available for your convenience.)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Wish Upon A Hero

I've recently come across a wonderful website called Wish Upon A Hero, http://www.wishuponahero.com/.

Talk about a wonderful place.

It's all about fulfilling wishes, needs, wants for people.

It's a very simple concept. You post what you wish or want. People comment if they choose, donate if they choose, give helpful hints and often just plain sympathy for the situation. If they choose to donate, they can use PayPal, so their personal information remains private.

It's a neighbor helping neighbor kind of thing.

Just since I came upon it, I've seen people asking for such simple things as a sandwich and much larger things like groceries/grocery money after a power outage wiped out their food.

I'm pretty new, so I'm going to keep checking it out and reading the wishes and wants.

Wish Upon A Hero.

If only we didn't need such websites -- and thank God we have them!!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Still Working On My Little House

Oh me, oh my!!

It's a darn good thing the Lord put a healing on my knees, because I have been so darn busy!

As you can see in the picture, I've been very, very busy working on my white picket fence. It's ALMOST done, I have to paint another half dozen or so pickets, and add 2x4 rails behind a couple of sections, and then I'm done with that part of the project. Then dig the flowerbed behind the right side of the fence and next to the driveway and get that all planted. You can see the tomotoes and morning glories growing through the fence on the left side. I also have an inexpensive arbor to put together to go over my little brick walk in the front.

I would have done more yesterday, but it was 105+ at my house. After I mowed the worst of my weed filled, dried up backyard and wet that down, I was THROUGH. And it was only 9am!!

Anyway, once I'm done with the front, oh my, then I'm going to go into the backyard and start working on my back patio. It has a cover, so I've decided I need to add 1/2 walls and screening to make it into a nice screened room. So I'll be scrounging for building materials.

Ah, the thrill of the hunt!!

I really have done a lot to my little house over the last six years. It's been a struggle, like many people, I basically live paycheck to paycheck, sometimes I get behind, then I catch up.

But I work on my house because:

1) It's something I can do, little by little, to improve the value of the property.
2) I won't live here forever, when I retire, I'll sell and move to be closer to my family.

So, I keep working away at it.

Oh, you probably need a point of reference, don't you? Well, here's the original realtor picture of my house. (The tree had to go, it was rotting and had termites. Believe me, I miss the shade!)


I have been busy...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I Am So Not Happy With The New Andre Norton Books!!

No, I'm really, really unhappy with some of the newest Norton books.

Since she passed, the quality of her books has dropped dramatically. I believe that the editor and/or publisher did her wrong -- especially with the new Beastmaster books.

Now, I don't have a problem with the idea of the books. It's a pleasure to see the old characters and the introduction of new characters. The problem is that the characters are not Norton characters.

She had such a deft way of suspending all disbelief, her words came alive on the page. But the new writer has written himself into the books. The characters react in a way that a Norton character would NEVER act. To put it bluntly, they whine.

"It's not FAIR!"

No, no, no, a Norton character would NEVER say that. Never. They fought against all odds. They never gave up. They never whined.

I can only hope that her family steps up and says "NO, either write in her style, or don't write at all."

I am so not happy with the new Andre Norton books! I am such a long time fan, it is such a disappointment to read books set in her worlds of the future, and know that they fall short of the Norton standard.

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Magical Fantasy

I've recently reread The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip.

The prose, oh my goodness, it's like flowing poetry, like a song from ancient days. The descriptive words of the story fill a space in my heart, my mind, a space that I didn't know was there. Her prose is lush, compelling, it's hard to describe, you have to read it for yourself:

"Sybel sat long among the trees after Gules Lyon had gone. The sky darkened; leaves whirled withered in endless circles above her. The wind was cold as the cold metal of locked books. It came across the snowcapped peak of Eld, down through the wet chill mists to moan in the great trees of her garden. She thought of Tam running bare-armed, barefoot through the sweet summer grass and the tiny wild flowers, shouting at great hawks with the voices of rough mountain children echoing his. Then her thoughts slipped away from her to the silent rooms and towers of wizards she had stolen books from. She had listened to them arguing with one another, watched them working, and then she had smiled and gone quietly away, carrying ancient, priceless books before they had even realized anyone had come."

I really, really like this author. She wrote a series, The Riddle Master of Hed is the first book, that also fills that need for an ancient tale of magic and love and intrigue and revenge. I'll talk about the Riddle Master series later, I want to reread the trilogy again. Let me just say that it's an underappreciated masterpiece that just as complex and magical and wonderful as The Lord of the Rings.

You can find a list of her books and other information at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patricia_A._McKillip. More information can be found at www.sfworld.com -- http://www.sffworld.com/author/360.html.

According to the website, she lives in Oregon. I think I may try to look her up one day when I'm in Oregon, invite her for coffee, just so we can talk for a while about her books and poetry.

I really recommend not just reading her books, but buying a set for your personal library. These are DEEP and every time you reread them, you'll find new nuances, new ideas to contemplate. I'd also recommend that teachers put them on the shelf for elective reading.

Seriously, check her books out.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day With Love

What a beautiful day it was!

My most beautiful daughter wrote in my card,

"I know I don't say it enough but you are a great mom and I wouldn't know what to do without you! I love you with all my heart! Because you're my mom, duh!"

This is my child that I battle with darn near every day.

Yes, I cried.

And my youngest gave me a gift bag.

And my oldest called me to wish me a happy Mother's Day.

What a wonderful day!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Another Beautiful Spring Morning


Yes, it's another beautiful spring morning.

I love spring, it's my favorite season. The flowers are blooming, the ladybugs are flying around my yard, the hummingbirds are working the feeders. Life is just bursting out all over the place.

It's that quiet time of day, kids are still asleep, my life is my own for a few short sweet minutes.

Of course, I really need to raise up off the computer and get back to work in my front yard. I can't start on the back until I finish the front, and I still have so, so much to do.

I'm going for the white picket fence, cottage garden look in the front. The kids want us to put a tiny pond over by the orange tree (OK, it's really a bush) for goldfish. I like that idea, once the cannas grow up again, it'll be beautiful. But right now, I'm still working on my little fence and the flowerbeds just inside. So far I've planted a Thompson grape, Sweet 100 tomatoes, Yellow Pear tomatoes, geraniums, morning glories and daffodil bulbs that should've went into the ground months ago (hey, they're sprouting, they'll live through my abuse).

I still have to finish the fence. Dig more flowerbeds for more geraniums, tomatoes, maybe a lime tree in the front corner. And somehow weed the existing flowerbeds. Bermuda really is great for this climate, but it really is devil grass too. It's SO HARD to keep it out of my flowerbeds. Sigh.

One apricot tree is loaded, only one year old. The almond tree has a few almonds. The orange and lemon trees are blooming. The passionflower is waiting to be planted.

Oh my gosh, I have SO MUCH to do before I can even start on the backyard.

But it's a beautiful spring morning.

I think I'll have another cup of coffee and work on my other blogs before I get to work in the yard. (No, I don't want to talk about housework.... Not today.)

Lord, it's beautiful out there today. I'll be outside soon.

Soon.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

It's My Birthday Today!

Wow, where are the years going?

I'm having a quiet day. All of my kids called me and wished me a Happy Birthday.

I went to work, just like always. Thank God no one noticed, my boss knows I don't like fuss about it being my birthday.

We're going to celebrate on Sunday, after church.

I have so much to do, and you know, I'm starting to feel like time is getting shorter and shorter.

I have so much more to do.

And another birthday has come and gone.

I'd better hurry up...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I Read A LOT!!

I read a lot. In fact, I have a lot of books.

It's amazing to me, how people read a book and then get rid of it. Huh? I don't get it. You're not going to go back and revisit old friends, old stories? You're not going to reread to delve for deeper nuances?

My books are my friends. They tell me things I never thought of, never dreamed of. They open a world that's out there, but I'll never be able to visit. Sometimes the door they open is to the imagination. I dream the author's dream. There is more out there than I can imagine by myself...

Yes, the Internet is great, I use it all the time. But the Internet doesn't open to the page where I left off. It doesn't smell like a new book smells, I can't feel the pages turn under my hands.

It's not the same. I love the Internet (in fact, that's the only reason I keep a house phone, so I can hook up to the Net), but it's just not the same as a book.

And old books. Mmmm, faintly musty smelling at times, I open the book and there's information that just isn't available out there any more. There are fascinating differences between my 1934 Encyclopedias and the modern versions. It's not just informational, there are vast cultural differences that can be mined from old books.

I understand my own family history a little better when I read history or fiction of the era they grew up in. I understand the context of their world and can draw comparisons to the world I live in today. I can see the difference and, sometimes unfortunately, the parallels in the train of thought that people had and still have today.

My books are my friends.

Not the same as my human and animal friends, of course, but still my friends. My refuge when life is just getting too stressful. I can retreat, revisit Pern, or Hobbiton, or Rivendell, or Narnia, or the Little House in the Big Woods. I can relax into a space opera or a murder mystery. Or I can choose to learn about great women, or the San Francisco earthquake, or World War I (yes, I have the 1919 set about the Great War), or urban survival, or black holes, or space-time continuums. It's all there on the bookshelves, waiting for me to come home and open the book.

Books are a comforting constant in my life.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Grandma Loved The Hummingbirds

I'm sitting here in front of my computer, the rain is coming down, the wind is blowing. It's nasty outside.

From here, I can see the hummingbird feeder. The hummers have been eating and fussing all day, chasing each other away from the feeder, perching for a minute, then flitting away again. I've seen them in Oregon in a snowstorm, huddling at the feeders, all fluffed up and sipping the warm nectar my Mom put out for them.

Grandma always loved the hummers. She lived with my parents before she went to the home. The feeders hang outside the breakfast nook, where Grandma could watch them every morning while she was having coffee with my Dad, her son.

The morning sun glinted through the red nectar and the hummers would be busy as bees. Swooping in and out, sipping and then slipping away when a more aggressive hummer would zoom in. Brave little creatures, I've stood out there next to the feeder and they've buzzed me, too busy defending their territory to pay attention to a mere human.

Grandma loved those little hummingbirds. I think it was because she could relate to them, being tiny herself.

She was also a speedy little thing. In her younger days, a good trip from Los Angeles to Washington meant that she didn't get any speeding tickets.

She always flew, whether it was in her car or her little airplane. I didn't know until her wake that my dad hadn't ridden in any kind of a vehicle with her since 1953 -- at least as a passenger. LOL, that was the year she took him up in her airplane and that was the end of that for Dad!

I think she loved those hummers because they reminded her of her freedom, when she was younger and could pack up and go at a moment's notice. Like the hummers, she was always ferociously independent. She could and would cuss you out like a mule-skinner if you got on her bad side.

Grandma always did exactly what SHE wanted to do. No matter what anyone else said or thought. In fact, I suspect that's why she became a pilot. My birth Grandpa wanted to learn to fly. Supposedly, Grandma said she didn't want to learn, but then she changed her mind.

Knowing my Grandma like I do, what really happened it that Grandpa said "Women can't fly!"

Then Grandma raised herself up, said something unprintable, and proceeded to get her pilot's license.

Ironically, Grandpa never did get his pilot's license.

Yes, Grandma used to go and sit in the breakfast nook every morning, her sharp little eyes seeking the hummingbirds out, watching them flit here and there, chirping and whirring.

I think they watched her too. They knew that kindred spirit that lived in her.

Today I watched the little hummingbirds, in the middle of a California winter, raining and blowing, still hovering at the feeder. I bite my lips, tear up a little.

I miss her feisty little self.

And I'm sure when I get to the other side, she's going to meet me there and tell me all about me writing this. In unprintable words.

Then she's going to point out the hummingbirds feeding on the flowers that twine around those Heavenly Gates and take me to see the rest of the family.

And knowing my family, Jesus will be having a piece of homemade apple pie with Grandpa Jack (Grandma's fourth husband and her soulmate) and playing cribbage -- the cheating way...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I Love Craigslist

Oh man, I LOVE Craigslist!

You've never heard of www.craigslist.org? Oh my goodness!

Free online classifieds, forums, community.

Yes, like any internet forum or website, there are people acting like fools (we call them trolls). But I just love CL!

For example, I had Tuesday off and I was FLAT broke.

But I had some things listed for sale on CL. Yes, it took some time, I'd listed these items on Friday. I got e-mails, then phone calls, had to coordinate buyers and hope that they wouldn't flake on me.

But let's just say, I sold enough stuff to make it worth hanging around the house on my day off -- well, at least until the kids got home. But I did still have a couple of nickels left even after they got through with me!

Man, I LOVE Craigslist!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Best Super Bowl I've Seen In Years!

Man, that was the BEST Super Bowl I've seen in years! Exciting, not a blow out, plenty of hard hitting and a few fights trying to break out.

That was a GOOD game.

And I was even rooting for NY!

Being the rabid Raider fan that I am, I had to pick a team and I sure wasn't going to root for New England (think: tuck rule). Oh heck no!!

But you know what. The ads sucked.

And the one with the energy drink and tow truck driver, omg, I will NEVER be able to look one of those in the face again. All I'll think of is that guy with the jumper cables.... UGH! Who came up with that? No, no, no.

The only ones I even thought were decent was the Coke ad with the floats, the lizards dancing to Thriller, and the Clydesdale with the Dalmation. Although I did laugh when the giant pigeons dropped the car into the office, and dude cut the car alarm -- it was his own car.

But in general, what the heck?

Happily, I was watching the game and I really had a great time. And we were all jumping up, on our feet and yelling when NY got that last touchdown.

And there's always NEXT YEAR! GO RAIDERS!!!!!

Oh, and Jordan Sparks did a fine job on the National Anthem. I was proud of her.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Think Before You Drink

Alrighty then!

It's a windy day here in West Sacramento. At least it's not raining.

I have a few things to take care of around the house, pop the chicken in the oven so it's ready to go to my buddy's house. No big party, just some friends kicking it while we watch the game. None of our teams made it, so we have a hard choice.

I think I'll root for NY.

No alcohol for me though. I have to drive home and even though it's only about 10-15 miles, I just can't afford the problems that a DUI would cause. Thousands of dollars in fines, lawyer fees, insurance costs, DUI classes, and losing my drivers license. And I'm a commuter, so it would RUIN my life.

No, no. If I decide to have a drink, it'll be after the game, after I get home, when I'm chilling before bed.

My friends out there in cyber space, think before you drink!

A few brews just aren't worth the time, money, jail and just plain hassle you'll go through.

Think before you drink.

Please.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

It's WAY Past Time To Write Another Book

Life is so busy and it's hard to sit down and write.

Yet, more and more, I feel the need to sit myself down and write another book.

I had started one a long time ago, but I've misplaced the printout, and the text is on an old big floppy, so I don't even know if I can get it moved onto a diskette or CD anymore. Hmmm, but it came to me as I was writing that my mom might still have an old computer with a big floppy drive. I'll have to ask her. I just want to copy the file, so maybe it'll work...

I also started a small cookbook, but I've neglected it. With my daughter growing up and getting ready to leave home (or at least that's what she says), she's going to need this so I'd better hurry up and get it done!

Anyway, the book I'm thinking about right now, well, it's been floating around in my head in the last week. I keep thinking about it.

I need to start working on it. This one is going to be fiction. Kind of near-future science fiction.

My kid is going to be taking a class on Tuesday nights, so you know what, I have a little QuickPad, so I can work on it during the three hours of her class. If I write a chapter every week, it'll be done by the time she's done with the class.

Hmmmm, you know, that's a plan, isn't it?

It's way past time to write another book. And now I have a plan.

I guess I don't have any more excuses -- it's time to write.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Believe In Yourself

Ijajee's Story
Charlotte Declue (Osage)

When you are traveling
and find yourself alone,
it is not wise
to think of yourself as ignorant.
Because when you travel alone
you have no one to depend on
but yourself.
And would you trust someone
you thought to be ignorant?

Just say, "I do not understand."
These things that you do not
understand.....
put them into a
carry them over your shoulder.
As time goes on,
the bag will get empty.

Songs From This Earth On Turtle's Back, Contemporary American Indian Poetry,
Copyright 1983 The Greenfield Review Press
Edited by Joseph Bruchac

------------------------------

Self reliance, confidence, believing in one's self...

The poet hit me it right where it hurts. I can't be doubting my Path. I need to just put the things I don't understand in a bag and carry them along. All will come clear in time.

All will become clear in the end...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

In The Ocean Of Night

I love that title.

It has images that flow through my mind when I read it. I can feel the crashing of the waves of imagination, the sense of being connected to the spiritual whole of our conciousness. In the ocean of night, I'm just one tiny creature peering up into the vastness of the universe.

I really like this book. Gregory Benford is a very talented storyteller who weaves a fascinating tale of an astronaut who isn't afraid to do the right thing when humans find their first alien artifacts. The book, published in 1972, has aged pretty well -- umm, anyway, if you kind of ignore the dates. The nineties have long passed.

Benford pulls together fact and fiction along with great insight into human nature and politics to make a great sci-fi story.

I really need to read the next books in this series.

In fact, in the new year, I really need to spend more time reading and relaxing. I've had a really stressful year, but I'm looking forward to 2008. It's going to be a good year.