Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Scottish Terrier Next Door


Yesterday morning I got up early and shuffled to the kitchen counter, poured my ritualistic cup of hot coffee and then raised the blinds and surveyed the small area visible to me, of my neighbor's side and back yards, also ritualistic as I've been standing in that same place every morning, pretty much, for the last twenty-two years. They have a hot tub I can see, a garden and a garage I can see from that vantage point, and a beautiful golden retriever named Rikki, who is, by that time of the day, wandering around the side yard surveying HER surroundings, too.

I never realized the neighbors owned a Scottish terrier, but there it was, standing quietly near the garden at the back of the house, apparently happy, staring off into space at something my human limitations would not allow me to see. I blinked and rubbed my eyes and looked again, and it was still there, standing perfectly still, it's little pointy ears straight up, it's little bobbed tail not wagging.

Rikki just ignored the intruder, as a matter of fact walked right to it and through it, like it was not even there.

Recently I have been watching a lot more TV, since it's cold and I am cooped up inside a lot, and one thing I always seem to tune to are the ghost shows. The haunting investigations. So when Rikki passed through the terrier in her back yard, I became excited and ran for the camera!

Quietly I propped the side door open with my right foot and balanced precariously on the step with my left foot, squatted to get the perfect angle, decided to change the setting on the camera to the "close-up" mode, to insure the picture was as awesome on paper as it was in my head.

Rikki passed back through the apparition doggy and disappeared into the garage, leaving me a perfect shot.

You can see the Ghost Dog in the photo. It really IS there! It really IS there! I probably am the first person in my neighborhood to see it, much less photograph it!

Boy, it sure stood still.

I continued to watch, sipping my coffee, and soon noticed that the little dog was changing shape as the sun began to travel across the sky.

Sighing, I rinsed my coffee cup and headed for the shower, very pleased with myself. I had taken a picture of a shadow in my neighbor's back yard. If I am lucky, the media will never find out about this. We all know how they would pounce on this on a slow news day.

Tomorrow I am going to start photographing UFOs.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Arm Flab and Skin Tags

My paternal grandmother, may she rest in peace and God bless her soul, was a fun-loving and energetic woman well into her nineties, even when that ultimate trick of dementia was played on her. She never lost her sense of humor. And when she was a fun-loving, energetic woman, I was a young stupid one.

After spending an entire Christmas Day viewing Grandma's arm flab unashamedly exposed by a sleeveless house dress, I remember saying to my boyfriend: "If I ever get flabby arm fat like that, shoot me."

At the age of fifty, being her one and only beloved granddaughter, I've realized I am destined to share traits with my grandmother. One, of course, is the sudden appearance of the beginnings of that arm fat. Not only that, but God has played an added bonus joke on me and has blessed me with a couple of skin tags under my boobs.

I can almost see Grandma and God in Heaven sharing a Budweiser and a high five as we speak.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Communities

This is a bit of a change from my usual blogging, but I just had to say this...

There are so many people on the Internet, at some of these community sites, who have so frickin' much time on their hands! I just joined a community called StumbleUpon. You rate websites, basically, and whenever you like one, you give it the thumbs up and it connects you with a group of people who liked the same one.

Today I was humming through websites and ran across one about making chihuahua shaped snowflakes. The guy was on there apologizing, "Oh, I'm sorry that it's not BLUE like all the normal snowflakes, but I lost this program and that color scheme and had to download all sorts of potentially virus-laden crap to get it to look just the way I wanted it..."

I thought, dude, the only thing sadder than hanging around a website making Internet snowflakes and getting that involved in it is...well, sitting here reading about your damned Internet snowflakes and enjoying it.

Well, I'll go stumble around a little bit more and see what else catches my eye. I don't think I'll be adding myself to this guy's little community of Snowflake Makers, though. I really DO have work to do.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Academy Award

This year's nominees for best dying act are: The kid on "House" that saw aliens and the wasp in my kitchen window. And the winner is...THE WASP IN MY KITCHEN WINDOW!!! Applause!! Cheers!

"Oh, man, what a surprise! How thrilled The Wasp will be! Unfortunately, he couldn't be here tonight so accepting the award in his honor is the Academy Award winning actress...ME!"

I have never seen such a poignant death-grip scene in my entire life as the one I experienced this morning. My Dachshund, Annie, was doing her prairie dog act in the kitchen, sitting on her very generous-sized butt, staring first at the window then slowly, so as not to get off balance and fall over on her generous side and not be able to get up, turning her head to look at me to make sure I understood her gesturing, then turning back slowly to the window.

On one of Annie's head-turns in my direction, The Wasp she was pointing swooped out of the window and toward my head. Annie yelped and quickly abandoned the pointing position and just concentrated on getting her little short Dachshund legs and fat little Dachshund ass into the living room, leaving me behind to spray wildly in the direction of the flying Wasp with wasp and hornet foaming spray.

I knew I had won when The Wasp took to the blinds and started stumbling down the plastic rungs one by laborious one, but I covered him with the foam, just to be on the safe side, expecting instantaneous death, which did not come.

Spray.

Stumble.

Spray.

Stumble.

The Wasp began stumbling around on about the seventh rung up. At one point he was hanging on with his front legs, his back legs and thorax dangling, madly rubbing his little waspy eyes with his antennae. Thunk. He landed on the next rung down, on his back, his legs pumping in the air, and he rolled toward the side and thunk. Onto the next rung. He got up, shakily walked toward the edge and thunk. Down to the next rung, this time landing on the edge and rolling immediately off onto the next one.

I, the Wasp Condemner and Murderer, stared with horror as The Wasp gasped for air, his thorax thumping during what I was certain were his last few seconds of life, but no! He buzzed a little, fell to the cabinet, righted himself and started walking toward me. Armed with the hornet and wasp spray, all I could do was watch in total awe as this damned thing clung to life.

He tumbled into the sink where I knew the end was near, then got up and climbed onto the dishcloth, slowly dragging himself back to the cabinet. He fell off again into the sink, and this time I was prepared. I knocked him into the garbage disposal with an apple core, certain that I had finally won the war.

WHIRRRRRRRRRRR...grrrrrnnnndddddddd!

As I turned to the cabinet to find a cloth to start wiping all the leftover death foam from the window, the blinds and the cabinets, I noticed a slight movement in the sink drain and stood, appalled, staring as the battered little insect struggled to the rim of the disposal, at last lying down to die.

I shook my head and washed him down the drain, totally aware that the stinger that was going to be aimed at me while I slept some dark and stormy night was about an inch long and protruding like a medieval jousting sword as he finally went down the drain for the last time.

Looking at the directions on the killer foam can, I read, "Instantaneous death..." I tossed the can in the trash and dug out an old shoe to keep handy for the next attack.

The Robin on the Wire

See that speck there? It's right in the middle of that picture of wires and clouds. That is a robin.

This morning I stood up from my desk and stretched and looked out the window into my back yard and was surprised to see probably one of every bird species that exists in my yard. It was probably my imagination that they were all in orderly rows on the lawn, staring intently at the house, waiting for food to appear. That really is not too far off the mark, though.

The winter birds are back. They do not forget which houses are notoriously generous with the food supply all winter long. They might have very tiny heads, but they must have big brains crammed into that little space.

It took years to give up the old film cameras and move on up there with everyone else and purchase a digital camera. I now have what I refer to as my "practice camera," and while the neighbors all suspected I was a little strange all along, now that they see me taking a hundred pictures of the same tree at different times of the day, in different kinds of light, with the sun shining, during a thunderstorm or even just against that dark blue sky, stopping and changing the setting from "landscape" to "sunset" to "dusk/dawn" to "fireworks" to the "night landscape" exposure, they are scratching their heads and moving the children inside. There is absolutely no doubt that this house will be considered the Strange Old Woman's House at some point soon, the house that the children take dares to walk in front of.

By the time I had gotten the camera and turned it on and selected the setting I wanted to try to photograph those birds, they were all gone. They got tired of waiting, most likely, or maybe they decided to just play a trick on me, but it has been two hours now, and despite the fact that I have put out piles of bird seed in strategic places all over the yard, they have not so much as landed to take a crap in the yard. That, in and of itself, is bizarre, since usually they hit my blue chair from 500 feet, several times a day, just in the process of flying over the house.

Anyway, I might go steal all the food away soon to show them who is boss, but in the meantime, that photo in the upper right hand corner is the closest anyone is going to get of a bird today, so enjoy that!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

How Things are Changing

Last weekend I had two of my grandchildren visiting. David is a year-and-a-half old and Kaylee will be five in just a few short days. In the living room, pushed back in a corner to try to maintain some semblance of this being a grown-up home and not a daycare center, is a plastic box full of toys. Several of them are things my own children played with growing up, and nine times out of ten, those twenty-five-year-old toys are the first ones dragged out of the box and into the living room. What a joy to realize that some things will always stay the same.

But don't get too comfortable with that idyllic scene, because in my office sits the five-year-old computer whiz. I used to think that she was playing secretary back there. She would have her cell phone wedged between ear and shoulder, her fingers flying on the keys of the keyboard while she carried on a very detailed fantasy conversation with the person connected somewhere by satellite, explaining why she could not accommodate their requests, usually. Kaylee is Little Miss Control Freak. We all know it. We just are a little wary of what she might be like at the age of, well, six or seven, much less the attitude she will exhibit when she hits puberty. The thoughts of Kaylee having PMS are frightening, to say the least!

Anyway, I used to think she was playing secretary, now I realize she was the President of the United States during all those hours of multitasking.

To my right, I was watching my little grandson play spaceman with a 25-year-old plastic rocket that belonged to his uncle, and on my left was my granddaughter saying, "Hold on a sec, will you? I'll look that number up for you."

Wanting to play, too, I went to my desk drawer and pulled out the big old phone book and told her I would look up the number for her. She spent a few seconds looking at me, then the phone book, then back at me, sighed a sigh of tolerance and began to frantically key something into the computer. Then, watching me like she was concerned I might explode any moment she said into the phone, "Uh, oKAY, I have that number for you, sir. It's 555-5555." Then she clicked Delete, terminated her call and ignored me.

I am perfectly aware that things are changing but when did THIS happen?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Break in the Clouds


Just when you think you'll never see the sun again, THIS happens! HELLO SUN!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Trees and Churches


Profile of a Chinese Throwing Star Smuggler

Would you like to know what a Chinese Throwing Star is? Evidently it is one of those star-shaped sharp Kung-Fu contraptions that superior martial artists can zing through the air at lightning speeds, piercing an enemy's heart from a hundred yards. You have probably seen those used in movies. The scene is usually about the same: A dark alley in a very unsavory section of some large city, graffiti on the walls in the background, a single streetlight shining a yellow glow in the rainy darkness. There are always gang members forming an unbreakable line of defense against a rival gang, and just when it looks as if World War III is going to commence in that alley, someone dressed in black leaps from the roof of a building and throws those Chinese Throwing Stars into one and then another of the bad guys' chests. When the scene ends, we see a
business office in China where men dressed in high-priced business suits are given the news that the deed is done.

Would you like to know what a Chinese Throwing Star smuggler looks like? According to the TSA, she might look quite a bit like the woman pictured above.

My cousin and I were leaving Phoenix to make the short 45-minute flight to Burbank, California, a couple of weeks ago. We had two goals in mind after a wait in a two-hundred person line to check our luggage: Drink a beer.

Being the avid reader and rather compulsive person I am, I had packed my little one-quart zip-lock bag of carry-on toothpaste, make-up and perfume in less than four-ounce bottles for inspection by the security folks, had remembered to remove the bag from my backpack and place it in a bin by itself for x-raying and was very proud that they complimented me on getting that right, so imagine my surprise when, after heaping the praise on, they asked to see me in the secure secure area.

"Something in your backpack is upsetting the screeners," the rather large man with the weapons attached to him said.

"Well, you can go through it," I said in my most confident big girl voice.

"Stand against that wall and don't touch your bag," he said, smiling a terse smile. I could almost hear him thinking, "We've got you now."

Tracy had zipped right through security and was partway to the gate before she realized I was no longer with her. She wandered back into the security area to find me standing with my hands in my pockets, trying not to grab the backpack and empty it out and go through it myself.

"What happened, Cousin?" She smirked at me.

The TSA official said, "Do you wear jewelry? Maybe a broach?"

I said, "The ring on my finger is the only jewelry I ever wear. No, there's no broach in there.

"Well," he repeated, "Something in your backpack caught the attention of the screeners. Are you sure there's not a broach in there?"

Finally, after it was already too late to get that beer that I REALLY needed now, I remembered what was in that bag that was making the "screeners nervous." The proverbial light bulb probably popped on over my head. I giggled, the officer still did not find anything funny about the fact that he had a five-foot tall, one-hundred-twenty-nine pound grandmother of three under suspicion for trying to smuggle a weapon onto the plane.

"I know what it is. It's in that birthday card, sealed up. It's a pewter flower-shaped rear view mirror ornament. It's a gift for my friend's fiftieth birthday. Go ahead, you can open the card if you need to." I was not sure if I preferred he open the card or if I prefer he not, since the card not only contained the pewter ornament but also a picture of a nude man.

He said, "Okay, no, I don't need to open your card. I'll just take it and x-ray it."

As I was preparing the bag to go again, being released from the grips of the TSA at last, I quipped, "I'm sure glad I didn't ask if I could bring my cross-stitch onboard with my little sewing scissors." I laughed a condescending little laugh and the security officer said, "Well, that would have been okay. You can bring scissors onboard."

My cousin smirked and said, "Well, isn't that special? You couldn't take your Chinese Throwing Star on there but you could take a pair of scissors. What a joke."

Out of the side of my mouth I was whispering things like, "Shut UP, please."

Mr. Security now seemed to see the humor in this, though, as he explained to me that yes, a pair of scissors no more than four inches long from the pivot point, would have been allowed.

Does anyone else see the stupidity in this?

The mystery was solved, but the rest of the time spent at Sky Harbor Airport was a fantasy for me. I had always wanted to be the bad guy. I had always wanted to smuggle Chinese Throwing Stars into Burbank, California. I was bad. Everyone knew I was bad. Screw the airline, they could wait for us to board the plane because we were really bad characters and in the movies, they always wait for the criminals.

I corralled Tracy into the nearest bar, slapped down my money and ordered us drinks. Then I took a long swallow of my Corona to wash down my Xanax. It was proving to be a long memorable ride to The City of Angels.

Monday, November 06, 2006