Saturday, January 16, 2010

I'm not sure where I developed my social conscience, because my family was never that altruistic. We didn't have much money, so I don't recall us supporting any charities when I was growing up. But to me, the best thing about money is being able to give it away to someone who needs it more. Seriously, I get the kind of high from making a donation to a non-profit that some women get from buying shoes at Nordstrom.

And yet it's amazing how there are so many people where it doesn't occur to them to give.

I think everyone I know can afford to skip a dinner out or a movie this month and give that money to help the people in Haiti. My favorite worthy organization in situations like this is Mercy Corps. They've already received a donation from me. And I'm sure most of my friends, if not all, have given to their favorite organizations. Red Cross. Doctors Without Borders. Whatever cause they feel like supporting.

And yet I'm sure there are some of you who might have stumbled across this blog by accident who haven't yet made their contribution. And I'm sure you won't come back because they only interesting thing I have to say today is "give." It doesn't have to be much, but I'm sure can all scrape up $10 or $20 to help ease the pain of those in need.

So please, look into your heart and do what you know is the right thing. And if you've already made your donation, thank you.

End of sermon.
Photo of the day: Button Up Your Overcoat

I spotted these winter visitors huddled against the wind. I just love how they have their beaks buried under their wings. I don't blame them, my nose gets cold in the winter too.

Friday, January 15, 2010

CD PIck of the Week: Jazz Around the World

For any lover of world music, a new Putumayo compilation is always cause for a happy dance. This latest release does not disappoint. From established megastars such as Hugh Masekela to relative unknowns such as Chantal Chamberland (who does a dishy French version of the old Bobby Darren classic "The Sea") it's a CD that hits with every track. The most unexpected track is The Kora Jazz Trio doing the Latin jazz standard "Chan Chan" on African instruments. Wicked cool!
Photo of the day: To Cipher, From Santa

Santa left a present for Cipher (the World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree tm) on Christmas. A wand with feathers on it and these lovely little crinkly plastic bits. She loves it so much she carries it around the house, meowing. She loves licking it. (As Husband says, the feathers are apparently bird-flavored.) But she loves it so much that it's already falling apart. Little trails of plastic streamers follow Cipher's nocturnal trail through the house. And random feathers keep appearing on the floor.

She's such a goofy girl. It makes a bit of a noise when she plays with it, because the plastic bits rustle. So she'll be doing this at 6 am in the bedroom, waking us up. I'll pick it up and take it into the living room. She'll follow and then a few minutes later we'll hear her patented "I'm meowing with my mouth full" meow signifying that she's carrying something with her And back into the bedroom comes the feather wand.

Cipher is a very determined cat.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Photo of the day: When Good Bath Salts Go Bad

They turn into little rocks that catch the light. I turned this one into B & W because I thought the actual color of the salts (bright blue) made the whole photo look like a giant close up of Elmo. This way it could be anything from torn up concrete to, well, a black and white photo of clumps of bath salts. Sigh...I really must get out more.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Constant Surprises
I am a non-stop reader. I always have at least one, usually two books going at once. At the moment I'm reading a very well researched bio of Anne Boleyn. (The Lady in the Tower by Alison Weir) plus I just received the copy of White Mischief by James Fox that was recommended to me by a loyal reader (thanks Kittie!).

In turning to the pages of White Mischief I found something I'd seen before, but never understood. The mention of (and I'm making this name up) Lord Hobnobble of that Ilk. Of that ilk? What the huh? I've seen this before and finally got around to looking it up. It refers to cases where a person's surname and the title of his estates are the same. In this case, it would be Lord Hobnobble of Hobnobble. So instead of, say, Lord Harfsniffle of Fleem, we have Lord Hobnobble of that Ilk. I want an ilk!

The next surprise came from The Maltese Falcoln. There's a character in the movie played by Elisha Cook that Sam Spade refers to as "a gunsel." And from its use hard boiled detective fiction, I assumed it meant some kid who carries a gun. Turns out that Dashiell Hammet used the word intentionally, assuming that editors (or censors) would take it to mean the same as I. Imagine my surprise when I looked up the word and found a definition that was completely different. According to Wikipedia a gunsel is "a young man kept for sexual purposes." This makes perfect sense in terms of the plot of the book and the movie. An older man who has a younger protege. But it came as a total shock to find out that this word I always thought was something out of crime noir fiction was specifically used to mislead people into thinking it meant one thing when it really means something completely different.

And finally, this obscure and vaguely horrible eye-opener. A term I'd seen in many history books is a household title, the Groom of the Stool. It was apparently a position of some trust and respect in the king's household. And, finally looking it up, I discover ... ewww ... the Groom "presided over the office of royal excrement." actually mean "stool." Ugh.
Photo of the day: Baywatch

Another postcard from the San Francisco Bay. When the tide is right it's a perfect egret-spotting hangout. Aside from the crazy lady with the camera, that is.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ups and Downs. And then Up. Always Up
After a life of ups and downs our garage door died a sad and tragic death last week. It died in the up position. We can open the door, but we can't close it. At least not automatically. You can pull it down to close it. But this door remains when of the few wooden garage doors in the history of garage doors and weighs about as much as my Honda. It takes both me and Husband to close the door, and even then it's not closed all the way.

It's been like this for a week and it's amazing how annoying it is. Typically I park in the garage, which I haven't been able to do. So I park on the street. We do have a driveway, but it's nose-bleedingly steep and I live in fear of the parking brake on my 10 year old car going and Anubis (my car) rolling down the driveway, across the street, and crashing into the house across the way.

OK, so parking on the street is a minor annoyance. Except that I'm spoiled not having to carry bags of groceries up the hill, up the steps, and through the house. I'm used to being able to park in the garage and go straight into the kitchen. It's also hard going to the shelter because I have "shelter shoes" that never leave my car and, usually, I pull into the garage and close the door. Take off my shoes, leave my clothes out there, and come into the house and go immediately into the shower. Some of our shelter cats are sick and I want to do all I can to make sure I don't infect Cipher (the World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree tm).

I also haven't used my house key in 15 years because I come in through the garage. Last week, when I first started having to come through the front door, I actually didn't know where my house key was. I has to stand on the porch and take everything out of my purse to find it.

It's amazing, though, how dependent we become on something as obscure as an automatic garage door. Until we get a new door (and it's looking like that won't happen until next week) it's not life as usual. We have to go through the house to take the garbage out. I have to get all wet and cold heading into and out of my car on my way into the world. I'm shopping lighter because I don't want to take three trips from the street to the house carrying heavy things like a gallon of milk or a 15-lb box of cat litter.

Today a guy came by to give an estimate on the door. Here's a man who has spent his entire life installing and fixing garage doors. What an obscure way to make a living. He's in his late 60s and this is his entire business. Garage doors. Not one of those careers you dream of when you're a little kid. I want to be an astronaut. I want to be a cowboy. I want to install garage doors. And yet he seems quite happy with his business and I'm quite happy that there are people like him so that some day I can park in my garage again.
Photo of the day: Tie One On

Husband is the only man I know that wears boy ties and isn't either 90 or a pediatrician. This is one of them. It's new (since Christmas) and I just love this pattern.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Photo of the day: Cheer

Is there any flower more cheerful than a yellow daisy? It's like the Muppet of the floral world. No matter how gray the day. No matter how thick the fog. Yellow daisies always look like sunshine. When I'm in one of my cynical and bitter moods, that insistent sunniness can be quite annoying. But not at the moment.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Photo of the day: Unworn

A tacky fake coin charm bracelet left over from a fortune-teller costume.