Sunday, March 26, 2006


We should have seen dozens and dozens of rainbows this winter during the rainy season.

But we didn't. When we got rain, the cloud cover was too solid, until this past week, when we got a couple beauties. If the clouds had been more cooperative, and the other rainbow brighter, this picture would have shown a double rainbow.

When we lived in Pennsylvania, we didn't see that many rainbows. Just another reason to love living in California.

Lillian was out playing in the rain with her umbrella. She's already seen enough rainbows that they are nothing unusual to her.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Eye-strain A Go-Go, Isn't that what they used to say?

Let's see, I've been working on this project for two full hours ... if I charge $30/hour, that means someone owes me about $60 -- gee, is my math correct?

There's art, and then there's work. Some art flows so senselessly easily I can't bear to charge for it; some art has a lot of value to me and to pry it loose from my possessive little hands will cost a pretty penny. But when it's stuff that I don't want to do, and only end up doing because no one else handy has the skills to do it, I feel a simmering resentment that looks like the timer on a taxi dashboard.

Did the project really have to take two hours? Well, let's see, if Someone had provided a template or even a list of what the project had to include, if I could afford a better damn printer, and if Word wasn't as obtuse and stubborn as a constipated mule with a bad attitude, no, it would not have. But if I don't get paid for what I do, how do I afford a top-notch printer?

My resentment doesn't simmer long, though. By morning, the enthusiastic "Thank you!" that I'll hear will be worth millions, anyway. The project is DONE, and my brain is starting to fill with little DONE endorphins.

It's a good life, and I'm glad I have the skills I have.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Gone With the Spring Cleaning

So lovely in the morning sun.

Nasturtiums, second or third generation. Or maybe more than that, because I don't remember planting them last spring. I thought summer color was supposed to be geraniums, and that the previous year's nasturtiums had been removed.

The incredible, edible nasturtium is an energetic plant. It puts forth blossoms in 40 days of the seed going into the ground. Heat deters it not, nor cool weather. It takes on poor soil or well-fertilized, perhaps not with equal abandon, but with enthusiasm. It thickens its leaves so well that weeds don't like to compete with it.

Yesterday I filled a 54-gallon city compost can with the viny buggers that had flourished from the spring before, engulfing celosia, geraniums, a small fountain, and the electric connections that had kept the fountain going. One of the strands of foliage was ten feet long.

Too bad it doesn't taste good enough to make it a staple. On the other hand, if we could no longer get the seasoning pepper, we could make do with the slightly peppery nasturtium. Remember that when the world breaks down and trade becomes impossible.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Pitch Dark and Raining

I just looked at the weather service online and they said it was "cloudy."

Obviously their weather station is run by a drunken optimistic sea lion who can't see out the windows. It's pouring and blowing rain, hard enough to soak the dogs, who woke me to tell me they wanted to go OUT, and hard enough to make the woodstove sluggish.

WTF are we having to stoke a woodstove at this time of year? Last night Bernie reported that there was snow on the mountainsides in the Bay Area! This global warming has resulted in a very cold spring, and a greater icepack in the Sierras this year than in the year before. Good for the ice pack, bad for anyone who is accustomed to putting tomato plants in the ground in mid-February. (Uh, that would be me.)

I'd post a photo, but everything is gray,
or needs a flash even
at the height of the light of the day.

Unexpectedly rhyming, neh?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Chicken, How to Elevate It?

I stood in front of the stove with a big package of frozen chicken and thought, "Blech."

"Blech" is a word I learned from DC's truly ancient comic book series in which Bob Hope was a cartoon character. The jokes were so hokey and story lines so idiotic that I bought every one I found. Back in the day, that was a hard-earned 12 cents, btw. But those comics have nothing to do with this post.

I intended to bake those chicken thighs. Unfortunately, previously frozen baked chicken thighs smell like cooked shoes to me. (Do not ask about the cooked shoes. It was in Seattle, and I was living in a cardboard box, but that's another lie -- uhh -- story.) They say that there is a kind of knowledge that you can receive when you need to receive it, and there is even a theological term for it that I can never remember. My mother used to say that "Knowledge is in the air." However one cares to describe it, a taste came to my mind, with a list of the ingredients I would need to procure it.

Once the chicken was all nicely defrosted (thank God for the microwave) I prepared it on a rack in a big open roaster with a little salt and some garlic powder. While it cooked for the first 20 minutes at 385 degrees, I made a basting sauce.

I melted 1/4 cup of Saffola Margarine. In my teeny Cuisinart chopper, I put one peeled and sectioned CaraCara orange, a heaping tablespoon of mango-pineapple-passionfruit jelly and another of raspberry-blueberry-cherry jelly. I poured in a little more than a tablespoon of lemon juice, a pinch of salt, a good hearty sprinkling of pepper, and a shake or two of Tabasco sauce. (I really wanted Louisiana Hot Sauce, but all we had was Tabasco.) After mixing all that up until it was a slurry, I added the melted Saffola and mixed again. Every 20 minutes, I basted the chicken with it, and towards the end, every 10 minutes.

It was pretty dang tasty. I cooked 12 chicken thighs, used about half of the basting sauce, and the chicken was done in about 1 1/2 hours. We had it with mashed potatoes and salad, but I think it would have been better with rice, and asparagus.

Too bad the whole family can't agree on rice and asparagus.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Miss You, Dad

Last night I dreamed about my father.

In the dream, we'd been traveling across country, and stopped at a rest stop. I went in, and along with travelers' amenities, I saw a rack of beautiful shawls. I picked one out that was simply gorgeous (in my favorite color, black) and took it to the counter to pay for it.

Alas, I had forgot my wallet, so I set the shawl down and went to the parking lot to find the car. The red Prism was nowhere to be seen.

I walked back through the building to the other parking lot, and the car wasn't there, either. But my father was there in the courtyard. "They sent me to pick you up," he said.

I was so glad to see him again. He's been dead for -- can it be seven years? I gave him a little hug, and then thought, "Hug him, you fool! When will you get the chance again?" so I hugged him like I did when I was an exuberant little kid. I was so happy to see him, and so happy that he was so glad to see me, too.

And if I cried a couple tears telling this tale, no biggie, because I spent most of the day smiling. I don't care if it was "just" a dream. I got to see Dad again.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

CHASE wants you to be their bitch.

Just a little rant.

In order to reduce the rate on my car loan, we did a transfer to a new credit card from the conventional loan. It was working well for us, until CHASE bought out that credit firm.

CHASE insisted that it was our bosom buddy, but refused to accept that when we paid twice or extra in a month -- that we had paid twice or extra. Unless the payment was the minimum or received within seconds of their "due date" nothing counted for the next month. So if the minimum was $60, but we had paid $500, none of that carried forward, and should they change their "due dates" suddenly we were "late" inspite of being $440 ahead. They charged us late fees and then changed the "special" percentage rate to the maximum rate, because we were "late."

We're supposed to keep track of their little pissant rules every day? We receive "YOU HAVE ALREADY PRE-QUALIFIED FOR A CHASE CREDIT CARD TODAY!" advertisements at least four times a week. Those cretins don't even know who they have in their accounts. Even if you can get a company representative on the phone, they will LIE to you and tell you that yes, your extra payment will be credited to the next month, and when you get your statement, the extra will not be, and the late fees will still be added to your balance.

I'm not the only one who has had that experience. CHASE = CROOKS.

We're in the process of getting a loan to pay off CHASE and never, ever, have to deal with them again.


Am I angry about this? You betcha.


There, was that bitter enough?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Prozac, and People I Used to Know

My cartoon this week was actually a commentary of sorts.

Happily the woman copes, hanging her laundry on the line. Prozac gets her through her daily chores cheerfully, contentedly. That she's washed and hung up her cat disturbs her not at all.

I've known three people before Prozac was prescribed for them. After Prozac, I could not have picked them out of a crowd by their personalities. They became totally different and utterly unexceptional people once the drug took them.

One was a mischievous, impish soul, prone to laugh and play tricks, loving and creative. There was some heavy misfortune in her life, and some doctor prescribed Prozac for her to help her cope. It did, I guess. It shortcircuited her grief, and she could get to work and home without bursting into tears. Her mischief stopped. Her wicked humor disappeared. Instead of laughing, she became enamored of smarmy e-mail forwards, and stopped sketching her marvelous cartoons. She lost contact with me ... for the most part, and even the halting short letters she sends sound nothing like my most beloved friend. She's gone, that person I loved so much.

The second was another close friend. We used to hang out and drink wine together while our husbands and our kids interacted, giggling over silly girl-stuff or telling stories about our ancestors: we were both hispanic, but cut off from the really Mex families. We enjoyed each other's company and could hardly wait to get together the next weekend or so. She moved away from my area, and though we promised to visit, after she started taking Prozac, visiting was suddenly not an option. I don't know why she started taking it. After she fell into the Prozac haze, she did not talk about the reason she thought she needed it. She listened only to those people who patted her comfortingly and said she'd made a good decision by taking the drug to hide her pain and anxiety. The last time I talked to her, I didn't recognize anything about her except her voice. It tore me up.

Another friend I have stopped taking Prozac not too long ago. I knew him before his Prozac time, and lamented his Prozac personality castration. Someone who had his ear told him frankly that he was catastrophically changed by the drug, and he had the courage to get off it. It was hard for him. The withdrawal made him irritable, fearful, and restless. Gradually, he started interacting with his friends and family normally again. He still has the anxieties and periods of "blueness," but my God, it's "him" again, not some oatmeal-brained pod-person hoping someone will give them a cookie and say "Good Boy/Girl!" What a relief!

It's not that I don't know what depression is about, God knows. I take the amino acid Tyrosine twice daily to stave off my own "why live" urges. It just seems to me that if the cause of the depression is chemical, there must be another solution than a drug that destroys your personality and ability to interact with the real world. And if it's a problem with coping with your life, why cover up the solution with drugs when what you need is psychiatric care or psychotherapy?

I don't know. But I do know that I miss the two friends who became Prozac very, very much.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Small Potato Makes the Newspaper

Bernie, doting fan that he is, sent my book Judge, Jury, Shaman to a reporter from a local newspaper.

She read it, and called me for an interview to go along with her review. Yesterday the article appeared in print. I'm transcribing it here, but I am correcting the spelling errors.

Ripon resident answers challenge by writing books, by Megan Gladden.

Ripon resident, Sand Pilarski began writing in 2001 in response to a challenge issued by, to write 50,000 words in the month of November. The 50,000 words she wrote became her first novel, Dreamer. That first novel opened the flood gates and she has since written five novels, several short stories, and created a cartoon series entitled "Fever Dreams."

"After you write 50,000 words, you have the urge to write more," said Pilarski. "It is technically a hobby, but it's more like an obsession. I write or draw every day."

She has published all of her books and a Fever Dreams weekly calendar through Lulu provides free online publishing services and print services for a small fee.

Pilarski's work can also be seen at where she is the West Coast Assistant Editor.

She says that all of her books are intended for an adult audience and cautions that they aren't intended for kids who haven't hit their teens yet.

Her most recent endeavor is a series of short stories that she has compiled into two books, Judge, Jury, Shaman and Oz Can Keep Them All. All of the stories in the books are told through the perspective of the shaman Ase Ur-Jennan.

Her adventures take place in a fantasy universe where wizards and trolls are all just part of an average day.

Pilarski originally published the works under the alias Ase Ur-Jennan but eventually felt confident enough to claim the work as her own. The author of Judge, Jury, Shaman is now listed as Ase Ur-Jennan as told to Sand Pilarski.

The character Ur-Jennan is a sassy older woman, unintimidated by dragons and evil witches, willing to battle with her powers of sarcasm. She is an engaging and relatable character.

Judge, Jury, Shaman is very well written and impressively self-edited by Pilarski. It is funny and touching, in turn.

It is not made obvious in the book that it was originally published as short stories, so it initially reads as choppy without as much flow as the average novel.

Each chapter is very short -- generally only one or two pages -- and has its own mini story line. Chapters often give their own little life lessons under the transparent guise of wizards, dragons, and trolls.

The overarching story becomes a bit more evident in the second half of the book as Ase Ur-Jennan makes some friends and with them, confronts a dragon and evil witch.

My favorite chapter of the book is the first, entitled, "Popping the Big Question," in which Pilarski discusses the big question: "How do you know if you have a big ass?" Hilarity ensues as Ur-Jennan describes the trademarks of a large rump including getting stuck in chairs and knocking over household objects with said rump.

While fantasy isn't my favorite genre of literature, Judge, Jury, Shaman was undeniably well-written and provided quality entertainment. The book does not talk down to its readers, nor does it drift too far off into its alternate universe.

It was also refreshing to read a woman-centered story in the particularly male-dominated genre.

"I like older women characters. There's not a whole lot of media about women facing the last third of their life," said Pilarski.

Pilarski pulls this unusual story line off with wit and intelligence.

As an author, Pilarski wants to "provoke thought and sweep the reader along." After reading Judge, Jury, Shaman, I'm excited to see more from this talented local author.

The quotes were pretty close, and it was indeed nice to get a good review.