Saturday, January 30, 2010

Photo of the day: Smallness

It's easy to overlook the small things that happen around us everyday. But if you look up, or down, you'll be amazed at the beautiful things that exist where we least expect them.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Things I Love
My husband. My friends. Chocolate. Hot baths. Electric blankets. Bookstores. Packages from Amazon. Cashmere. Flannel jammies. Finding a new musician that I fall in love with. Picking up a much-loved book and have it open to a favorite page. The Philadelphia Story. Giving money to charity. Animals. Hot cocoa with Bailey's Irish Creme. My bed. Old sweaters that feel like a hug. Comfy jeans. Black leather boots. My kitty. Pot stickers. Mexican food. Being caught up on work. Hearing good news. Finding something other than bills in the mail. Old movies. Hash browns. Louis Armstrong. Taking photographs. Making my husband laugh. Baking. Watching the Olympics. Being on the radio. Lord Peter Wimsey. Popcorn. Turquoise. My wedding ring. Art. Words. Dictionaries. The SF Giants. Volunteering. Generosity. Good pens. Meerkats. Red pandas. Antiques. Sleep.
Unwanted Relationship Advice
God knows why, but I turned on Dr. Phil. And there was some psycho woman on the show who is single (big surprise) because she has a 20 point list that the men she dates have to fulfill. Included in this list were:
- parents must still be married
- parents must live locally
- no medications or history of health problems in family
- must be earth or water sign

and on and on.

I've seen similar lists from other people. Men's lists usually include a mandatory bust size. Women's list often mentions a minimum income.

Here's my unwanted relationship advice....get over it.

How in the world can you pick someone from a list? I can understand having certain requirements (no convicted felons) that are pretty obvious. But trying to find someone who fits every item on a "must have" list just seems like a good way to remain single. Forever.

Back when I was single I had very few requirements, and none of them were outlandish. (Like parents must still be married. Why would I hold someone responsible for what their parents did?) My list was: must have a good sense of humor, must be smart, must like books and music. I think that was it. Not out of the question, is it?

Husband is a thoroughly wonderful man and I am most happily married woman I know. But there is no way we would have gotten together if I had some ridiculously arbitrary list. While I think he's beautiful, I know he's not Brad Pitt. While he has a good job, he's not Bill Gates. He's just a normal guy. But to me, he's extraordinary. I never cared about looks or income. (Sure, he has to brush his teeth regularly and had to have met a bar of soap on a regular basis.) What I wanted was a nice guy, someone who would treat me well, someone who was funny and smart, with a good heart. And that's exactly what I found.

So, if you're looking for love, tear up the list and open your eyes. The best matches for you are those that respond to your heart, not your list.
Photo of the day: The Unknown Rose

This rose grows in the front yard of our next door neighbor. I have no idea what kind of rose this is, but I just love the multi-colored petals. Not much of a fragrance, but really beautiful to look at.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

CD Pick of the Week: Christopher Tin

Calling All Dawns is a song-cycle in three parts (life, death, and rebirth) featuring some shiver-inducing music with guest stars like the Soweto Gospel Choir, opera star Frederica von Stade and Anonymous 4. 12 songs in 12 languages, united by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Knock-your-socks-off good. Seriously powerful.
Swimming Against the Tide
J.D. Salinger author of The Catcher in the Rye has died at the age of 91.

Personally, I don't care. Sure, I've read it. Fine book. But it's not my bible. And yet wanting-to-be-seen-as-sensitive-and-literate poseurs all over the world are in mourning. And I have to wonder if it's because the author of their favorite book has died, or because they want people to think that CITR was their favorite book. People like that burn my knickers.

I cannot stand people who pretend to like or believe something because they think it'll make them appear smart, or hip, or in. People who say Citizen Kane is their favorite film because critics say it's the best American movie ever. But, in reality, their favorite movie of all time is The Breakfast Club or Caddyshack. These same people are now posting all over Facebook that their lives are darker because Salinger is gone. The fact is, they read it in high school and didn't like it. Their favorite books is actually The DaVinci Code but only losers admit to liking Dan Brown.

Which brings me to music. As a DJ at a college radio station, I'm surrounded by people who pride themselves on being at the vanguard of music. The most indie or the indie pop. But, bless them, they also admit to liking cheese. In fact we just had a discussion about our guilty pleasures....the artists we like but would never play. (My guilty pleasure? Garth Brooks.)

It's weird when I look back at the music I've owned over the course of my life. I've realized that I've never owned the album. The one everyone else in the world owns. I was probably the only kid in my high school who didn't own "Frampton Comes Alive" or the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever. I didn't own "Thriller", "No Jacket Required", or "Dark Side of the Moon." Nor did I own "Born in the U.S.A.", "The Joshua Tree", or "Like a Virgin." Which is not to say I didn't listen to this music on the radio, and even enjoy some of it. But I've always kind of swum against the stream when it comes to popular culture.

I don't watch reality TV (unless you count Mythbusers and Dirty Jobs). I've never seen "E.T." I've never cooked anything with sun-dried tomatoes. I have never gone on a diet. I have never read an Oprah book. In short, I'm a freak.

And The Catcher in the Rye? Overrated.

P.S. The Internet is Made of Cats
As a history buff, I find myself frequently caught up in history books or biographies about kings and presidents and the like. I've just finished one biography of Anne Boleyn, The Lady in the Tower by Alison Weir and I've just started another The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn but Eric Ives.

The Weir book is highly readable and provides insight into the rise and fall of the most famous consort of them all. The Ives book is already proving more scholarly, with endless footnotes that cite sources in Latin and such. But both books (and, surprisingly, the Showtime sex-and-blood-filled series The Tudors) have made me realize in a new way something which I have long ago acknowledged about myself. I have no ambition.

Now mind you, I do have ambitionS (plural). I'd like to write a novel. I'd like to buy a house someday. That sort of thing. But I have no ambition about the acquisition of power. I look at stories like Anne Boleyn's and I thank god that I live in the 21st century where my father couldn't marry me off for political reasons or, worse, whore me out in the quest to win king's favor. But I would never have the ambition to push myself into positions of authority just to flatter my ego and to have power over others.

I cannot imagine selling out my beliefs, morals, and self-respect in return for a title or a manor house. I can't imagine giving up life in a quiet setting with someone I love in favor of non-stop scrutiny, malicious gossip, and a naked scrambling for power that has friend turning on friend and families divided. I just don't possess that kind of ambition.

The Boleyns seem to have turned ambition into the family business. Anne's father, Thomas, was a noted courtier who learned how to play the game and earn his way into the inner circle. Along the way he pushed not just one, but two daughters into the path of Henry VIII in the hopes of currying favor. It worked. Anne's sister, Mary was Henry's mistress for a while (and rumor has it Mary also had an affair with King Francis of France and Burgundy). In fact, one of the excuses Henry had for declaring his marriage to Anne null and void was that he had had an affair with a close blood relative of his wife's and, therefore, the marriage was incestuous and against the laws of the church.

Anne herself became a willing participant in the ambition game, and seemed to have done a good job of stringing Henry along with the right amount of seduction and refusal to keep his interest for six years before they married. While queen she happily used her position to reward her brother and other family members but along the way alienated people with her high-handedness. It was the alienated ones that eventually got their revenge on Queen Anne.

All this lust for power is completely out of my scope of feeling. I know many people who have ambition. Who are willing to sacrifice family life in order to earn a bigger salary or a more important job title. I have known people who are total ass-kissing yes-men because that's what gets the rewards. How can you live with yourself when you're like that? Is it all worth it in the end.

I know I'm weird. I have quit two extremely well paying jobs because I was either bored or I hate the work/people/or atmosphere. I just wasn't willing to give up liking who I was in order to keep making six figures. So now I'm earning no money, have no job title, no fancy office, no sexy career. I had that. I worked for Apple, one of the sexiest companies around. But I was miserable. And now I'm incredibly happy. Why? Because I, apparently, have no ambition.
Photo of the day: Pebbles

Well, finally the weather was nice enough to go outside and take photos. I had planned on taking a walk but I had, with complete lack of forethought, failed to ensure my camera battery was charged. It wasn't. The result? No photo safari. Hopefully tomorrow will be clement enough for me to take a few shots.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Spinach vs. Parsley
Nowhere on earth is as mysterious as the produce section of your local grocery store. It's the one place where people will voluntarily admit ignorance and not feel bad about it. You'll often see men (and women too, let's be fair) wandering around with a glazed and pained look on their face as they consult a list and try to figure out what green thing might possibly correspond to this mysterious word on the shopping list.

I was in the produce section today when I was stopped by a man who pointed hopefully at the bundle of cilantro I was carrying and asked "is that spinach?" No, sir, it is not spinach, I explained. But I pointed to the spinach, whereupon he thanked me and wandered over to where I had pointed and picked up the parsley that was next to the spinach. "That's not spinach," I explained. "That's parsley. This is the spinach." And, so saying, I picked up a bunch of spinach to show the difference. He thanked me. Then he pointed to my cilantro one ore and asked "is that parsley?"
Photo of the day: The Neighbors

A local deer enjoying an afternoon snack. I love living someplace where I get to see deer on a regular basis.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fools and Horses
Not since the days when I worked in bookstores to put myself through college have I encountered such contact with the general public as I now experience as a volunteer at the shelter. I mean when I worked for IBM and Apple, the public was hardly likely to wander through the office asking stupid questions. But now I see them on a fairly regular basis and am constantly amazed by the folks I meet.

Most of them are normal human beings. They're polite and intelligent and ask regular questions about the cats. ("Can you recommend a cat that really likes to play?" or "Do you know if this cat gets along well with dogs?" kind of things.) But then you get the wackos. The ones who ask what do you have to feed cats. When I replied " food" they came back with "so you don't need to give them live mice or anything?" (Oh god, please don't let them adopt a cat.) Or the lady who asked specifically for a black and white cat and when I pointed out a particularly cute one she told me it wasn't black and white enough. (Oh, sorry I didn't know you had a ratio in mind. Can you give me numbers? Are we talking 50-50? 60-40?)

When confronted with the odd I find myself just sort of invisibly shaking my head in disbelief as to how these people function in the world. How do they hold jobs? And why, oh god why, do they breed? (Because many of the dumbest questions come from people with four or more kids in tow.) (Such as the lady who thought it would be fun to get five cats, so that each of her kids would have one to play with.) (No!!!)

But nothing tops working in a bookstore for stupid questions. For a while I actually kept a notebook with such gems as "do you have the yellow book that was on Oprah last week?" (Why yes, ma'am, we keep all our books filed by color. Please check our yellow section.) Or, one of my favorites, "has Jane Austen written anything new?" (Well, no, not since her death she hasn't.) A few more of my top idiot queries:

- Do you have that book, A Hundred Years of Solid Food? (No, but I've heard good things about A Hundred Years of Solitude?)
- I'd like that book by James and Harriet Yorkshire. (We're fresh out, how about a copy of James Herriott's Yorkshire?)
- I can't seem to find a copy of Shakespeare's "Death of a Salesman" can you order a copy? (Sure.)
- I need to read Jane Eyre for a class. Do you have any books like it, only shorter and not boring?
- Do you have any Sherlock Holmes books? -- Certainly, in the mystery section under Conan Doyle. -- No, Sherlock Holmes. That's the author's name. Do you have any books by Sherlock Holmes? (Oh yes, in our "books by fictional characters section over there on the invisible bookcase.)

And then there were the requests for such famous titles as:
- Lady Chatterley's Butler (a shocking tale of how to serve Port correctly)
- A Tale of Three Cities (the sequel)
- Uncle Fred's Cabin (which I think must be all about fishing)
- Donkey Hokey (this one gave me a moment's blankness before I led her to Cervantes)
- Anna Karimazov (finally Anna Karenena and the Brothers Karamazov together in one great novel!)
- For Whom the Bell Rises (Can I interest you in a copy of the Sun Also Tolls?)
- Sense and Prejudice (sadly, we were out of Pride and Sensibility)

And those are just the ones I remember without the aid of that infamous notebook.
Photo of the day: Frieze

It's been too rainy to take my camera out on a date. And I'm getting the itch. If I go too long without taking photographs I get all squirrelly. Anyway, in the interest of my "post one photo every day" mantra, I pulled this one out of my library. It's from the Pulgas Water Temple down on the peninsula. Courtesy of the SF Water Department. I took lots of photos of the building itself, but for some reason I love this one for the design an the beautiful grey of the stone.

Hopefully I'll be able to go shooting soon. If not, I'll have to find interesting things inside.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Mysteries Mind of Mom
My mother's mind is a mysterious place. She just turned 87 and doesn't have much of a memory anymore. She can't remember the names of all her children and spent the afternoon calling me by one of my other sister's names. She couldn't recall which brother took her to dinner last night.

And yet...

I have satellite radio in my car and there's a channel that plays only 1940s music. I always put it on when she's in the car. Here's a woman who didn't remember the name of the street on which she's lived for the past 50 years, and yet she remembered all the words to "The Hut-Sut Song." No, really. And those lyrics don't make any sense, yet she knew every single one.
Photo of the day: A Barbed Retort

From up by the reservoir. For some reason, I think it's worth a picture.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Photo of the day: Silver Lining

The silver lining to this series of storms is that everything is green, lush, and lovely. Even the thistles look pretty.