Thursday, March 27, 2008

Another Frackin' Cold

You gotta love the original "Battlestar Gallactica" series for their introduction into the language of the word "frack".

Yes. As in "Frack you," or "Those frackin' Cylons" ... we all knew what they meant.

At a low ebb, I am deep in the throes of yet ANOTHER frackin' cold. This has been the WORST frackin' winter for illness I think I have ever experienced. I can remember an illness as a small child that kept me bedridden for two weeks; I can remember one bout with the flu that convinced me of my mortality; but I cannot ever remember a fall-winter-spring when I was so sick for so long.

Can't sleep right, can't breathe right, can't do shit without sending myself into spasmodic hacking.

Also, the wind was up big time today here, and as we all know, I HATE THE WIND. So I didn't go outside and try to take pics of the new tulips and freesias and my neighbor's lilacs. Nor did I walk the dogs or ride the horse. It was Stay Indoors, Don't Move Too Much, and Read a Book Day.

The book is "Pretender" by C. J. Cherryh.

Sometimes I love her "Foreigner" series, and sometimes I resent that she's probably paid by the word. Or by the concept.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

March Day: Equinox Eve

Gotta love a camera with macro capabilities.

This is a close up of an orange that was on the counter. The lens was closest to the side of the orange; but in the dim light of the morning kitchen, the camera insisted on flash, which illuminated the topside.

Still, it was a groovy picture, inspite of the strange streak of dust which contaminated the lens for many subsequent shots. I have no idea where the streak of dust came from, as I am obsessive about keeping the lens cap on the inactive camera.

Nor does the streak appear on the portrait of my first freesias in the planter in the back yard.

Who could figure? It's Spring, and cold weather is pretty much gone until next November. I'm a wuss; I won't miss it.

Seder was last night. It wasn't a bad Seder, as Seders go, but the foodstuffs were kind of lackluster. Mostly overcooked casseroles. A competitive Filthy Piker chef who also attends our Seder said that my legs of lamb had outdone him and other Seder chefs. That was kudos enough to last me until next year.

The singing was great, though the attendance was about half of what we planned for. Well, duh. That's what happens when you don't tell anyone that Seder is on -- three days hence.

Still, the light turnout was yet another moment of grace. I'm so emotionally fragile yet that preparing even for a small crowd gave me the shakes and mental gray-out. Alex was kind enough to sit at my left hand and lead the singing, and offer me support.

I think that Seder showed me not only that there is a grace in relying on others, but also how shattered I am. I literally could not pull together in my mind what needed to be done. By the time the next Seder rolls around, I hope to be in ... firmer control.

That's what the Control Freak part of me says.

The More Rational part says, "Time to start training someone to handle overseeing parish Seders in the future."

Monday, March 17, 2008

Stacking: Pot Feet

These are "pot feet," used to elevate a potted plant off the ground so that it will drain properly.

But that's not what's cool about them. When I swept off the patio the other day, and cleaned up the winter drift of leaves, I found the pot feet in amongst the plants, and put them to the side of the brick structure.

Later in the day, having sat at my desk listening to Lillian noisily playing on the back patio for an hour or so, I looked out to see that she had made lovely use of the clay items.

Perhaps she's a born rock stacker. Maybe that's why she's so madly in love with Jerry Seeger. (He's got rock stacking pics in his gallery.)

Lillian also gave me pause for thought as I passed by her room and saw her standing at her easel, drawing, the a couple days ago. She had a sheet of paper about 15 inches tall and as wide, and on it, she had drawn a figure that went from border to border, top to bottom.

I usually leave a lot of space around my sketches, and they are always in the middle of the paper. I even have a traceable grid to make sure I center the sketch.

Looking at Lil's off-center and stretched drawing, I was stunned. Why not? Why not use every bit of the dimension of the paper? If it looks drawn out (so to speak) -- so what?

I've got to experiment more.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Wonderful Time of the Year

Back East, during the third month of the year, every morning, I would get up and look out the window and say, "I hate March."

When March was done, until the ground thawed from its frozen state, I would get up, look out the window, and say, " ... and I'm not too fond of April, either."

Not so my reaction to Central Valley months. Mid-February the almond blossoms dominate the vision of the farming landscape and the scent of the air. Then the plums, peaches and nectarines take the stage, raising March to a pinnacle of beauty.

No frozen ground here; I sat out in the afternoon sun for a goodly amount of time yesterday and got a bit of color to my undead-like winter skin. Not a burn, mind you, but color.

Our nectarine is loaded with blossoms, simply beautiful in the back yard. We might even get a fruit or two this year! (Last year the tree was 'way too little.)

Now as to the scent of nectarines' and plums' and peaches' blossom, I cannot attest, for this is also the season that ornamental pears bloom richly, attracting hundreds of bees to their flowers, and turning my stomach with their aroma, which is exactly like rotting meat. And unfortunately, the idiot who landscaped this development went strictly for looks -- Ooh! Streets lined with poofy white blossoms of ornamental pears in the spring!

Beautiful, to be sure. But not the kind of air you want to open windows to.

Good Job, Crows!

I've been hearing the hawk screeching almost every morning, and it sounds like the bird is right above the back patio.

But every time I'd open the back door to see where the hawk was, he (or she) would shut up. Or I'd catch a glimpse of him gliding silently away.

This morning, before I heard the hawk, I heard the crows shouting up a storm, and could tell from their calls that they had found either an owl -- or a hawk!

Leery of being crapped on by a mob of crows, I grabbed my camera and went out the door. Crows were circling the neighbor's nearest palmetto, so I thumbed my zoom and went to the far end of the yard, and caught the hawk's image -- indistinctly, I must admit, but there he is. Or she. Shortly after, the hawk swooped away, and the crows went back to their own spring business.

Now I wonder if, because the crows have spotted the hawk, if the hawk will leave and find another place to live. I wouldn't mind a hawk for a denizen of the neighborhood, but I am glad that the crows cued where the hawk was perched.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Man With Many Legacies

E. Gary Gygax died yesterday.

He was someone, he was no one. He didn't prevent George W. Bush from destroying our nation's reputation around the world; he didn't eradicate smallpox.

He invented "Dungeons and Dragons."

And had he not, there would be no "Aser Stories", as the stories found their inspiration as I listened to a bunch of maniacs playing D & D, and could not help laughing at their co-operational jokes.

My life without Aser would have been unimaginably poorer.

Thanks, Mr. Gygax, and may you be rewarded for the joy you gave countless individuals.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

You can't see him, but he's in there somewhere.

For the last week or so, I've been hearing what sounded suspiciously like a hawk screeching in the neighborhood. At times it seemed as though it was just above the patio, it was so loud.

Yesterday I heard the clamor and scrambled out of bed to stare out the window to see if I could spot the vocalist. This time I did. A gorgeous red-tailed hawk sailed across the yards and landed in the palmetto tree in my neighbor's yard. I watched the bird for a few minutes, then walked to the kitchen to get my camera. By the time I got outside, of course, the hawk had moved, though I could still hear him calling.

Maybe resident hawks would be a good thing ... there is this one cat in the area who thinks my finches are snack food ...

Monday, March 03, 2008

Almost Six, with a Good Dog

Sebastian is Lillian's dog, and she's really starting to bond with him.

At 75 pounds, he weighs more than she does. Even so, one of their games is for her to sit in this comfy chair and call him. He then climbs onto her lap (and chest and legs) and sits on her. She thinks it's hysterically funny.

In this pic, he was helping her put on her shoes for school. I was hoping for a view that would give some perspective of her "puppy's" size, but he's so dark that you can't see his head clearly.

What I'd really like to catch is him dragging her across the carpet with his tug toy.

I had my reservations about a border collie - hound cross, but there is no denying that this dog is perfect for her.

Almonds and Riding

The weather continues to be perfect for almond blossom pollination.

The afternoon temperatures are in the mid- to high sixties, giving the bees a long warm stretch during the day to be active.

I did go riding on Thursday, and had a safe and pleasant ride, though I felt a bit stiff throwing my leg across the saddle.

Friday I was really sore, in spite of taking valerian before I went to bed. Sore legs? No, not much. Sore hand!

You see, Dink is shedding. It's that time of year, for horses to get rid of their shaggy fur and uncover the glossy summer coat. So I used the shedding blade on Dink, and got a ton of white and roany hair scattered about on the ground. Then I used the deeply toothed curry, that charmingly makes round waffle-like patties of hair and added lots more hair to the ground. Then I used the shedding blade again to take away more hair loosened but not picked up by the big curry. Then it was time to use the small curry. Finally I was able to use the stiff-bristled brush, and then it was time for the softer brush.

I made the mistake of putting lip balm on my lips before I went out to the ranch. I probably had enough horsehair sticking to my face that I could have passed for Santa Claus.

But it was a good ride, though we kept it short.

If there's any sweeter time of year to be riding, I'd be hard put to think of it.