Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Windows 7

The new computer is here and in use. I like it a lot -- the larger and better monitor is fun; the speed of the processor is dazzling; and Windows 7 IS much better than Vista.

Tonight I hit my first brick wall, going a hundred. I tried to download a photo to Photoshop from a gmail attachment, and the damn programs would not acknowledge that Photoshop was in the computer. I will find a way around it, if I have to delete every Microsoft photo imager crawling piece of shit on my machine one at a time.

Don't thwart me when I'm in Work mode. I will delete you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I took this picture of Sebastian and Howie because I am continually amazed at how much they enjoy each other's company.

They were both tired from a long run by the river, and after Howie jumped up on the loveseat for a snooze, Sebastian hopped up, curled into a tiny ball, and nestled in.

Howie never would have done that with our German Shepherd, Babe, because Babe would have roared at him. Likewise, Babe would never have done that with Desi, the border collie we had when we adopted Babe, because Desi would have bit the shit out of him and driven him away.

But these two are buddies, in spite of Howie giving Sebastian his puppyhood beatings several times a day for a couple years. They like each other, and wait for each other when they are out together.

For the record, Howie is a trim 65 pounds, and Seb just had a vet checkup that pronounced his physical condition "perfect" at 75.

(Also for the record, it's been raining steadily all day. Until the last half hour or so. Now it's pouring steadily. I have water standing on the back brick patio in lakes, and the north side of the house is about two inches deep in water, with rain pouring off the roof like a waterfall. This is an inconvenience for our dogs, but could be an absolute disaster for the almond farmers.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Weekend of Prophetic Vision

A three-day weekend for Bernie! Three days of Bernie for me!

Saturday was a puttery day, between garden and indoor house chores. I made wicked nachos and home-made salsa. Mostly I wanted Bernie to rest from his week's work.

Sunday found him ready for adventure, and we set off for the River Park for an amble through the forest with the dogs.

The day was simply glorious, low sixties with sunshine, the dogs leaping crazily through the wet grass (there had been fog in the morning), grabbing mouthfuls and chomping them in defiance of our admonitions: "Quit that, you grass-eating craphounds!" We leisurely wound our way from the broad City path to where the Kids path takes off towards the Stanislaus River, west.

Bernie looked at the fork that led east. "Where does that go?"

I didn't know; I assumed that it wound about for a bit between the blackberry brambles and the nettles and led back to the main City path, and our starting point. However, though he plays the innocent, Bernie knows that is a question that, in the woods, is irresistible to me. It was the question that earned me many spankings and groundings and lectures, but a question to which I was never able to resist finding the answer. "Where does that go?"

Where does that go? Who made that trail, and did they have a goal? Is it aimless, or purposeful? Was it originally a game trail, or was it kids escaping the life of the town to throw in their imaginations to the river and the bamboo thickets?

We turned east.

As we were very quickly hailed, and passed by a young boy on a bike, I knew that the path was not one I had to slink along, scanning the brush for danger. Indeed, in short order we stood off the path to let a couple pass who were toting a backpack and a couple blankets, having spent the night in a small area off the path. (Totally against ordinances, as "camping" and "fires" are forbidden in that park.) It was a veritable freeway, but I still was entranced to find out where it led.

Another fork, and the path to the right led to a vista of the river that I never knew existed. It was a big bend, like a small lake, simply beautiful. At that point I gave up trying to figure out the shortest way back and instead, gave myself over to the winding path.

At length, and I do mean at length, we struck a gravel City path again and followed it to the underbelly of Highway 99. I knew that the City had intended to merge the River Park on the west side of 99 with the east side River Park, but I'd had no idea they'd come so far. A quick walk across dry mud took us to the eastern park.

My feet were throbbing, having been encased in my 1-hour limit Reeboks. Bernie had his phone with him, so I made him call Alex, to see if she could come pick us up and take us to where our car was parked on the other side of the town. No luck. She wasn't home. We trudged our way to the bridge back over the highway, where Bernie stopped to buy some bottled water for us and the panting dogs, who were both so tired they were walking quietly at heel.

All of us loved the water. At that point I should have removed my shoes and walked barefoot, but had a bad case of "responsible adult" so I kept my shoes and socks on. By the time we got to the car, I was so tired I wanted to swear off walking forever, as well as wearing shoes. The dogs had to think about their leaps before they jumped up into the cargo space, and as soon as we were underway back to the house, Howie flopped himself down on the rug in the back of the car.

It was a good walk, but a long one. That Sebastian had to be helped to jump up onto his master's bed that night tells that it was a long walk.

Thank God my mattress is on the floor.

And though the next day, I fully intended to milk the "sore feet" thing for the whole day, we spent our day in search of bicycles -- first, for Bernie -- and we found him a comfy rider; and then for me, after 15 minutes of riding Alex's bike made my neck and shoulders ache. (Her handlebars are too low and too forward for me.) We drove back up to Wal-Mart and got me a Geezer Bike, very comfortable with a fatass seat and wide, sloping handlebars. And no gears. It's just a bike.

And then we rode our bikes around the neighborhood, me trying not to wreck.

They say that you always remember how to ride a bike, but after 30-some years of NOT riding a bike, well, hell. You don't really remember as much as you think you might.

(I strongly endorse the herb valerian when you know you've over-used muscles; I woke up this morning with no muscle pain and was rarin' to go for another training ride on the bicycle.)

In all, it was a great weekend, with sun and my husband's company, and woods, and the long-lost pleasure of bicycles. 43 more days until I have his charming, soothing, always entertaining presence again 24/7 ... at least for a while. I've missed him so.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

49 Days

Pansies and violas are winter color here.

These lovelies are in the vegetable garden boxes, because their petals are edible: peppery if you like pepper. I occasionally use them in salads or as garnishes, but I love them for their intense color and the velvety touch of them as well.

Today I needed a little "pretty" in my life: I went to the dentist -- oh, God, voluntarily -- and had him put a crown on a tooth he's been nagging me to have done for the last ten years. Better a crown than a root canal or an extraction, and this is the last chance for me to have dental work done with dental insurance taking up the bulk of the cost.

In 49 days (if not a bit less) all our medical and dental and eye insurance disappears, like a popped balloon, as Bernie's job ends permanently. Horror of horrors! Unemployment! Drastically reduced income! Oh, the social stigma!

While the dentist and his assistant crawled into my mouth with their hobnailed boots and jackhammers, (and I was stoned to the gills on nitrous oxide), I kept thinking, "This is it. This is the last for a long, long time. No more 'Doctor wants to replace that filling because he's sure it will expand and break your tooth.' No more crowns, they're all done with this visit; see ya around the campus, Doc, don't call me I'll call you." (NOT.)

As is my nature, I left the dentist's office feeling a bit over-used and weary. It was idiotic of me to have errands and cooking on my daily list after such an appointment, but I managed to take my recyclables down to the City site, get water, stop at the drug store for my favorite wine, go to the grocery store for the items I forgot yesterday, and once home, set up the rotisserie oven and put a couple fat chickens on to roast. All the while, I kept thinking, "I'm done. I've done all the crap I needed to do before Insurance Ragnarok."

And while I've done all the crap I needed to do before the insurance runs out, it still remains to be seen that the laundry HAS to be folded and loaded and switched over before I can crash tonight. Which means that tomorrow, most likely, I'll be blogging about how other people react to the countdown to Bernie's plant closure.

Monday, February 08, 2010


That's the missus, on the right.

This morning, while I was working on the Piker Press, I heard the unmistakable call of a hawk, along with a number of crows. I ran to the window and had a look at the backyards I can see.

In the evergreen in a neighbor's yard, up near the top, a pair of hawks were mating. I haven't identified them accurately just yet, but they were sitting side by side in the palm tree on the southeast corner of the yard the other day, and I know I've seen one of them perching in my northside neighbor's sycamore tree a few times recently.

Ignoring the crows, the hawks conversed after their mating ritual. What an incredible thing to see from one's window! I felt vastly privileged to witness the event. How many people do you know who have seen hawks mating? I could count on one elbow how many I know.

It's fully Spring here, after a grueling six weeks of Winter. Birds are mating, the first trees are blooming and humming loudly with bazillions of bees. My Japanese maple is showing the first pips of blood-read buds; my freesias are unfolding cascades of blossoms-to-be. And the almond blossoms are starting to pop open ... watch this space for more photos of the orchards of the Almond Capital of the World.