Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Sparky Day

There isn't really supposed to be a way for people to affect machinery.

However, on a morning that saw me agitated about a dental appointment (to start the adrenaline and panic hormones moving) and that was added to by my mother asking me if my husband of 31 years died 30 years ago, I have been having problems with every piece of computerized equipment that I have touched.

At 5:30 am, my cell phone stopped working. Mostly. It received a voice mail, but not a call. The text messaging worked, but I couldn't make a call. At 6 am, Skype was spotty and twangy, and I have no idea how it sounded to my mother on her end. At 9:15, my laptop was kicking and bucking and "sulling up" (freezing) repeatedly as I tried to transfer one file from it to my graphics computer.

Trillian got disconnected four times.

After lunch, my printer locked up and it took me an hour to get it working again.

Oh, and the mouse attached to my laptop apparently has rabies and is going about on its own, biting random files.

I'm not hitting the wrong buttons. I watched at close range while I clicked on my gmail "send" button and watched it REFUSE to send a brief e-mail with an attached file.

I call the phenomenon "Sparking" and have seen it in action before, when I've been upset or stressed. Keystrokes and mousing just don't work the same as when I'm calm and happy.

Oh, sure. Tell me I don't know what I'm doing. Tell me that dialing the same number four times in a row (yes, the display showed me I was dialing right) only gives one correct response.


La Tante Marie says, "Cherie, I will fix your computer for you."

I'm going to let her.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Different Color in Autumn

The orangey fellow is "Just Joey" and the pink (which whizzed out the camera's ability to track color) is "Electron." I never used to like pink and orange together, but combined with the bronzey new foliage -- they look pretty.

They, along with white "Honor" and lavender "Angel Face" and golden English rose "Graham Thomas" are the only survivors of my once 21-variety rose garden. Over the past 10 years, I've grown increasingly impatient with getting hooked by thorns and less enthusiastic about all the chemical crap I have to do to keep the roses free of aphids and mildew.

The above is not entirely true. There are two other roses growing on the back bank that have been marked for removal, but are still there. They are two climbers, and while they're beautiful, they grow like weeds and I can't get near them for maintenance. One will be replaced by a cherry tree.

The other one will just be removed so that it will stop beating up on the euonymus and nandina.

Bernie also says that the alstromeria must go. The heavy rains late last spring made them go heavily to foliage, lush and huge and thick -- up until the temps went above 90, and then that weighty mass of green just went limp and smothered itself. After that trauma, it only bloomed sporadically and for the rest of the summer, looked weedy as hell. Looks like I'm over my alstromeria phase as well.

Working with the Press, my time has now become more compacted when it comes to gardening. I need easy color with a forgiving habit. I'll take my mother's advice and enter into my geranium phase for a while.

The only problem with geraniums is that they are so damn hard to photograph. Will I have to resort to -- gasp -- film?????

Friday, October 13, 2006

Autumn Images

Last Saturday Bernie and I went for a walk.

I packed along my camera, thinking I might find a bit of fall color for this blog. Well, you're looking at it. It's still too early for the liquidambar and Chinese pistache trees to turn color, and most of the rest of the trees turn shades of brown, except for the sycamores in the neighborhood, which turn brown with mildew spots.

In a week or so, the gingkos and cottonwoods ought to have a little color to them, too.

In the meantime, there is this flower, which looks to me like a gaillardia of some type, a plant which blooms most of the summer and loves heat and sun, doesn't need much water, and will reseed itself if it gets the chance. This particular variety is more compact than most, and the seed heads are rather attractive.

I don't particularly like gaillardia, so the beautiful display of color in an otherwise drab season is just all the more annoying.
On the other hand, the lower angle of the sun in the early evening does wonderful things for the horsetail grass in the water garden.

I love the way it makes the stems look as though they are lit from within.

Work on the Piker Press continues apace, with wonderful new stories submitted by Jerry Seeger, one of which will grace the front page of the Press on October 16. I'm hoping that during November, I don't have to do anything but write until my fingers hurt.

It seems like such a long time since I was able to do that.

Friday, October 06, 2006

La Tante and the Toad

Incidentally, La Tante Marie does not like the idea of toads in plaid pants, either. Especially when they hit on her.

"Take zeez toad, and shove it," she said.

What can I say in reply to her? The toad has a superior GPS and will undoubtedly find his way back to her.

If I were the toad, however, I'd leave her alone. Rumor has it that she carries a grenade-launcher in that purse.

Capitalist Toads

I fished a toad out of the pool again this morning -- a different toad, a little one who was desperate to get out of the pool.

No wonder -- it was downright cold this morning. I didn't snap a picture of the toad; it's just one more toad fixated on the materialism of being able to say that he swims in a large in-ground pool on his property and that he has more slugs than he can eat in fifty years. Damn capitalist toads. Next thing you know they'll be wearing plaid pants and boasting about joining the local Rotary Club.

Mind you, I have no problem with the Rotary Club, it's the boasting that gripes my ass.

And the plaid pants.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

An Early October Day

An improbable star in an Autumn sky.

Commonly called "Angel's Trumpet," a specimen of this shrub (brugmansia) dangles over our fence. My neighbor loves it, but most of it is not over her yard! The dangly yellow-orange blossoms are unusual-looking, fairly attractive, and immensely fragrant at night. I understand it doesn't like temperatures below 40 degrees, so I'm hoping for a good hard frost or two to keep the thing from getting any taller than its current 12 feet.

It drops an unending patter of dead leaves and blossoms.

There, that wasn't dripping with venom, now was it? I actually thought it was a cool-looking plant when I first saw one in San Francisco, but that was before I smelled it. I'm not good with strong floral scents at any time, but this one smelled like the men's cologne section of Macy's.

A bit later in the day, this fierce predator landed with a plop on the fence under the brugmansia. I managed to slowly get my camera up and then snapped this through my studio window. Still, the mockingbird looks pretty suspicious of my movement. After I held still for a while, the bird hopped along picking at buggies on the boards.

I managed to upload three articles to the Piker Press today, working ahead so as to have time to spare in November.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Persistence of Toadery

Now where do you suppose I found this toad this morning?

In the fish pond? No, guess again. In the shrubbery, where it might be gainfully employed eating snails? Not a chance.

Oh, but you knew all along, of course. In the morning sunshine, the toad floated in the middle of the swimming pool, and I swear it twitched in recognition and chagrin when it saw me.

Once again I scooped Toad out with the net and this time I didn't bother taking him/her to the fish pond. It's close enough to hibernation weather that the little pest will want to burrow in somewhere anyway.

2006: The Year of the Toad.