Thursday, November 26, 2009

Friday Shoot Out: Faces and Smiles

If my brain is on properly, today's Shootout theme is Faces and Smiles. Here's a fishy face for'ya.

Boudica with her favorite toy at Dog Beach! Now there's a smile.

And since I spent Wednesday at the San Diego Zoo with my long-time friend and fellow backpacking & cookie-selling Girl Scout Anne P, here are some furry faces.

Oop, that's not a face.
To see the other Shoot Out members, click here!



Zebras Thursday

If it's Thursday it must be Zebra Day!
Happily, I went to the zoo and saw them yesterday.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday Shoot Out: My town is known for - the beach

Sorry I'm late with the FSO post! Been vacationing here in my growing-up town of San Diego. So what is SD famous for? The zoo. The sun. The harbor and its nuclear submarines.
Oh, and Torrey Pines. Torrey Pines grow only here, at Torrey Pines State Beach, and couple of other spots.

The park's pines today have been sadly diminished by fire and pollution, though the sandstone cliffs are still spectacular and the beach is one of the prettiest I know.

Meet up with the rest of the Friday My Town Shootout group here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Friday Shootout : Places of Worship

Yes, I'm posting early. I'm traveling on Friday and Saturday, so I figured if the day didn't get too overwhelming I'd post my Friday Shoot Out on Thursday. This week's theme was chosen by Rebecca: "Places of Worship". The rest of the club can be found here. Not being a religious person, I don’t have a particular place of worship. In fact, I just don’t worship in the sense that you probably mean it. There are churches and chapels all over France, of course. Common as houses. But you can see that any time. Do I disappoint?
Have you come over here thinking Now we’re going to see some great history and glorious architecture? Here will be Notre Dame de Paris. The Cathedral at Chartres. The Vatican with its most famous chapel. Or maybe, more in my style, there will be little stone churchlets still serving after thousands of years. The unusual and striking. The mosaic inlays of mosques in Paris and Marrakech. Nah. That would be too expected. These are my places of worship.
The open spaces. The towering skies. The life of the world going quietly its way.
The stones sparkling in the surf.
I have occasional moments too in the cemetery, where the colorful tombs of France are so peaceful and serene. Yet at the same time it is lively and lived-in with the traces of people coming to visit regularly: the flowers are fresh, elderly women come and go, the gardener is about. This is another part of our town. No matter the day it is quiet here. I can commune with those who have gone before, and reflect on the ephemeral nature of our lives, the will of people to remember, and the continuity of our life together. I find that this life here and now is all the more precious justly because it’s all we have.
Have a good weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Our little pet

There's a lot of whispering that goes on in our little waiting area. People talking low, like people do in doctor's waiting rooms. Then you'll see someone lean down, and crane their neck, looking left. Then straighten up and turn to their companion and whisper again, and then the other person will lean down too. And they'll kind of smile and laugh together.
It's fun when all the chairs are taken, because it can be delicate to get a good look at the spot behind and between the chairs when they're occupied, without seeming rather indiscreet and strange.
My favorites are the elderly women, the ones who can't see very well to begin with. These women just cannot believe their eyes. A cat in the waiting room! My goodness. Whoever heard of such a thing. Cats in the waiting room indeed.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The empty place

Yes, folks, I'm still taking the Monday Poetry Bus, whether it comes around for me or not. That's the thing about poetical busses - you can make your own. Plenty of room left: hop on board!

The guests have left.
The stadium has emptied out
detritus decorates the field
empty popcorn boxes
crumpled plastic cups sticky with beer dregs
cigarette butts
scraps of torn tickets swirl in a sudden november eddy of wind

The lights have been put out
amplifying the echos
of the roaring and laughing crowd that was here so very recently
That filled the world with their voices
and turned the very air into a web of connections
a woman smiling at a man
a child pointing at an escaping balloon
challenges encouragements mockery bravos
being thrown from one to another
They keep each other warm
They keep each other happy
They meet and separate and meet
like a flock of birds
And now they have gone

It is quiet
but for the creaking of a gate
nobody closed the gate, and now it opens and closes in the wind
counting the ghosts as they come and go.

See y'all on the bus next week, when I promise to be over mourning the sad wreck of our big red bus and on to some more cheerful verse. (not least because Monday next I'm On Vacation!!!)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Oh, and Dad you might find this of interest:

Friday Photo Shoot Out: Skylines

I apologise if this week's Shoot Out is kind of lame. Confluence of circumstances. First, there's not much of interest in the way of skylines in town. Second, it was cold and wet out and the light was poor. Third, I wasn't hit with one of those creative moments that make the lack of natural material irrelevant.
Okay, there are some interesting skylines, just nowhere to photograph them from, unless you have friends with upper-story balconies facing the right way.

This is over at the university campus. Some of the worst architecture in town!
I was up there Thursday morning to teach
There's a real love of naked concrete in buildings from the 1950's through the 80's. People tell me they like the modern look of it. Until modern moved on to glass. I guess compared to the stone of previous periods, it was new and different.

This is the current skyline around my building. Changes every day!
The Cancer Center is the white building in the center and our administrative offices are in the little annex off to the right. I'm in the teeny building squeezed between them that you can't really see from here.

View from our front step. Since I took this picture on Sunday they've already covered this field of reinforcing rods with a smooth layer of concrete. (The base of the crane is just barely out of view to the left.)

Then on the other side of the whole complex, this is the skyline of the main hospital, with the med students' dorm on the left and the med school classroom & admin buildings on the right.
That's all for this week. I will be posting something next week (not least because for that topic I have plenty of great material already shot!), though possibly not on time because I'll be on my way to Paris that day and from there to California. So internet access may be difficult.
To connect with the other Friday Shooters, or join the group, click here: http://mytownshootout.blogspot.com

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Good things come to those who wait

I am an empress of procrastination.

Just wait long enough, and problems will go away. Won't they? No, no, I'm not having visa issues again. Nothing like that.

This global warming business may or may not be behind the very mild fall temperatures we've been having. There was a pretty cold week in October, and I went down to the basement and set the heater to prepare hot water to circulate throughout the radiators as needed.
Nothing happened.
Back downstairs, maybe there's a valve somewhere that I forgot I closed last spring.
Hmm. I know the thing works, since it heats water for the faucets just fine. I must be missing something in getting the heating circuit going again. Something simple. How about wearing a sweater?
Then the weather warmed up again, a little, and a sweater combined with actually using my step-machine while watching tv instead of sitting like a lump on the couch kept me sufficiently warm to just kind of ignore the issue. I have a really hot comforter on the bed, too, so sleeping is fine; it's just getting out of bed in the morning that's difficult.
I don't spend much time at home anyway, so what does it matter if it's cold.
Then I invited friends over for Desperate Housewives Tuesday. With Pizza and Munchies.
Perhaps heating the house would be nice. What with guests and all.
So I mentioned to my friend (and scheduled guest) this slight temperature problem, and he came over early to go down to the basement and peer at the mysterious water heater item down there that usually keeps my house not exactly hot but at least warm.
Umm. Everything looks okay, it's just that nothing is happening. There's no sound of water circulating through the heat pipes. Are all the valves open?
Valves open!
So we flipped the switch several times, and hit the lighter button many times, and turned the whole thing off (and I remarked then that just that morning I did in fact have hot running water, thanks Jerome), and we did succeed in getting it to light again. But not to circulate hot water through the heating system.
Maybe now we've messed with it, it just needs some time to get started.
It's just shy to start working with all these people peering at it expectantly.
Yeah right!
Gotta call for repairs after all.
So we had our pizza and our two episodes of DH (one really boring, alas), and kept our sweaters on.
Then yesterday it was warm again so I forgot to call about repairs, as usual.
And I got home in the evening, and opened the door and thought I must really be coming down with something after all because it was positively balmy inside. Warm.
The radiator in the living room was hot!
It works!
Just like that.
See. I would have looked pretty foolish having a repair guy come to look at my perfectly functional heater.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

If we just did Tigger, it’s time for Casper.

Now, what color was November's Cat of the Month, Casper????
You got it!
Casper was a big white lump. Talk about a sit-around cat. He would eat anything, too, food or not. One time he ate a rubber band, and I had to give him a severe haircut in the back (he was a long-haired manx) and shut him in the laundry room until it was over. He was always eating things that gave him problems. Then we had problems. It was gross.
If you’ve been following, many of our cats seemed to have skipped right to the last life without our barely realizing it and they were gone. Casper, we saw them go by. There were the gastrointestinal episodes of course. There was also the frostbite time. One winter Sunday during the obligatory week at -40° (°F or °C take your pick; they’re the same) my parents left for Mass and I stayed home with my coursework. White Casper snuck out, unnoticed against the snow. He may have been mighty fluffy and well-insulated with fat, but -40° is a bit much. So he went around back to the kitchen door and started wailing and luckily I was home to hear him. Though not before he’d frozen a couple of toe pads and part of an ear.
One of his other lives involved climbing into the engine block of my car one Saturday. I started it up to go to work, and there was this awful thumping noise. Damn it, another breakdown. Maybe if I try again it’ll be ok. Nope. Resigned to repairs I couldn’t afford, I got out to check the engine. That’s when I noticed the large cloud of white hair drifting off in the breeze. Casper looked dead when I opened the hood, but he was only stunned. I reached in to pull him out and he leapt up and ran across the yard to hide in the bushes the rest of the day. He had the grease stains for a while.
Plus the fire, which killed his buddy Tigger. For a while we thought they were both goners, though neighbors assured us they’d seen the white one escape. We found him a couple days later, hiding in the ruins. There were some singed areas, and lots of soot, but otherwise he just missed Tigger.
I moved out after the fire, but my parents had Casper for years after that. He eventually moved with them to California, and lived to a ripe old age.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Waiting for the bus

I think I'm early
They've taken the schedule down,
but if I remember it,
I might be just a bit early.

It's a fine autumn day
I don't mind waiting
The leaves are in their last days of gold
if it rains they'll be gone tomorrow
There's plenty of time to think
here waiting for the bus
watch people go by
a stray dog
Nobody else is waiting

I could go.
But you know how it is
you give up on the bus and just
when you're halfway to the next stop
it passes you by
and you feel more foolish than usual.

It isn't early any more
but there's a zen-like peace in waiting.
A peace until you start to think about it.
what if it never comes.
They must have taken the sign down for a reason
maybe they changed the route
Perhaps you missed the last one
and now you're going to have to walk home
laden with all these packages
in shoes that were never meant for this
in the drizzle that's started.

It's getting dark.
The rain isn't letting up.
The streets are empty.
May as well hoof it.

Other authors driving the enigmatic TFE's bus for themselves:

The courageous Titus http://titusthedog.blogspot.com/

The melodious Rachel http://crowd-pleasers.blogspot.com/

Creative Niamh B http://variouscushions.blogspot.com/2009/11/promptless-titleless-poem-help-needed.html

The wonderful Weaver http://weaverofgrass.blogspot.com/
I'll post other links as I find them, though probably not until after work.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The story of PRs

Alright alright.
The hidden-in-plain-sight thing in the Shootout post was Maurice, but you pretty much had to enlarge the pictures to see him. The clue was clicking through to the Swings and Autumn Leaves post over at Pink Rabbit Abroad, but nobody did that.
You probably wonder what is it with this plush toy.
Pipe down and I’ll tell you the story of Maurice and the Pink Rabbit Obsession.
There’s history there, so let’s begin at the beginning.
It started at the library. Our local branch, Serra Mesa, was quite small, but in the front room, facing the desk behind which The Librarian ruled, they made an attempt at a kid space, with low chairs and a low table. Eventually a large, very large, stuffed pink rabbit was added. For “ambiance”, I suppose. A kind donation. It was huge, not new, and frankly quite frightening.
A girl I liked was often there at the library, and, being the sort who doesn’t know what to do with myself when I like somebody, I delighted in tormenting her. At the least, it got her to notice me.
Anyway, this girl Marie was particularly sensitive to the horribleness of the monstrous pink rabbit inhabiting the children’s section of the library. It would move around, visiting the reference stacks, and Literature for Big People. Then it would migrate back to Children’s, and Marie would screw up her courage to touch it and push it out of sight. Sometimes I would hide it just around the corner by the drinking fountain and she’d go for some water and **ack**.
One day the library seemed blissfully free of its large pink horror. Marie was enjoying her books in peace. Then she went to the bathroom, opened the stall, and what was there taking up the entire space but the rabbit.
She was terrorized.
Scarred for life.
Anytime after that you could mention pink rabbits, or lime jello, and she’d tremble.
Some time later, after we became real friends, I started giving Marie pink rabbits. It’s therapeutic, isn’t it, to face your fears? A cute porcelain one for her birthday, a fluffy one for Christmas. For years and years the collection grew. Through college. Through grad school. Through marriage, and divorce (for me). Through moving across the country and back and forth again and over the sea.
Then one day, nearly 30 years after the initial episode, I saw Maurice at the flea market. Bought him, of course, for the outrageous sum of 50 centimes.
But for some reason, I didn’t send him.
The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain had just come out, with its peripatetic garden gnome, and I thought... Hmm. What if I had a stuffed traveling companion...
The rest is called Pink Rabbit Abroad. (Dot blogspot dot com!)