Friday, August 06, 2010

Photo of the day: Hold the Olive

Come to think of it, hold the martini too. I'll have a margarita.

Thursday, August 05, 2010


Husband went to Stanford. I've always been a Stanford fan and have been a Stanford radio DJ for going into my 11th year now.

My ex-husband, with whom I am still friends, went to Cal. Through him I met the people who went on to become my dearest friends. They also went to Cal. Of our book group, five members went to Cal.

Out here, the Stanford vs. Cal rivalry is long-standing and heated. It got me wondering why. How do rivalries get started? Of all the schools they play against, when Stanford is against Cal in anything, the crowds get wild.

Today I went to see the eye doctor, a Cal grad. Last year was my first visit to her and we got to talking about schools. She, as a joke, actually put it in my patient file that she would only agree to treat me if I promised not to wear a Stanford Cardinal sweatshirt when I came in for visits. Her assistant brought up my file and asked me to look it over to make sure everything was still correct and it's in the "special notes" area. I laughed at that.

I'm a huge SF Giants fan and love to attend their games. But the games against the LA Dodgers get especially heated. Chants of "Beat LA! Beat LA!" echo throughout AT&T Park. On game day, if you buy a soda, it comes in special "Beat LA" cups that are only used when they play the Dodgers. And I find it funny that it seems more important to the crowds that the Giants play well against LA. I mean games against, say, the San Diego Padres are equally important in the pennant race -- yet not as emotionally charged.

Perhaps it's part of the whole SF vs. LA thing. Those of us who were born and raised in Northern California will never accept that LA is anything other than a smog-filled, traffic-choked pit.

One other interesting division, though, is the use of the word "the." There's some sort invisible north vs. south thing when it comes to freeways. If you are on highway 101 up here that's what you say "I'll be taking 101 up to Marin County." But somewhere around, say, King City, a "the" gets added. "I'll be taking the 101 down to San Diego."

We don't need no stinkin' "the."
Photo of the day: A Completely Different Flower

I know what you're thinking, but you're wrong. This is not the same flower as yesterday. I chose this one because I love how the little bits in the middle (I never took botany) are all highlighted like they're at attention or something.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Photo of the day: Cactus Flower

The only plant I've never managed to kill. A cactus. This one used to be in the house but when we got Cipher we decided to put the prickly things outside. It's been out there for nearly four years and finally flowered. Yes, it really is this color.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Where'd it go?

Cipher (The World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree tm) is not the most intellectual of cats. Face it, as much as we might love the beasts, cats are not known for their deductive reasoning. They rarely solve mysteries or debate foreign policy. They are smart enough to be cats and figure out things like killing empty toilet paper rolls, but sometimes higher concepts defeat them.

Gravity is one of those concepts that cats don't seem to grasp, and Cipher is very much symptomatic of this failure.

One of her favorite things to do is knock items off of tables and then wonder where they've gone.

Her favorite target is books and since both Husband and I are voracious readers, she has plenty of game. She loves to jump onto the coffee table and bat with intense concentration at a paperback. Then when she finally manages to knock it onto the floor she looks completely mystified. "Hey," she seems to express, "it was here a minute ago!" She'll look at us with a "where is it?" expression and a few moments later appears to be extremely surprised when she jumps off the table and finds a book on the floor.

I usually have three or four books on the nightstand next to the bed and they plague her in the middle of the night. Suddenly she just can't stand it any longer and she'll walk over me to knock one of the offending books onto the floor. That'll teach it. Then, having disposed of another book and completely perplexed as to where the damn thing went, she'll walk back over me and settle at the foot of the bed once more, no doubt to meditate on the amazing disappearing book.
Photo of the day: Celtic in Colma

I love the design of this carving, which I find to be both elegant and simple.
Scenes from Silver Creek: The Girl Who Was Lost

Silver Creek was, and is, a safe town. Growing up we had little crime, and what there was wasn’t serious. Cars being broken into. A little vandalism. That sort of thing. But in 1976 we had a murder. And it hit pretty close to home.

Paula Bradley was only two years ahead of me in high school. She was a cheerleader and sang alto in the choir. She lived two blocks away on Alder Street and I used to see her in the evenings walking a very yappy beagle.
She dated the brother of my best friend, Sean. She was whatever the female equivalent of an Eagle Scout was and every year my family bought Thin Mints from her.

She had long brown hair, parted in the middle, and so straight it looked like she ironed it in the morning. She had blue eyes and a small constellation of freckles on her cheeks. She collected blown glass animals and shy male admirers. And when she sneezed it sounded like a cartoon character.

Paula was one of five girls of similar appearance who was killed between 1975 and 1977. She was last seen leaving choir practice at school and was found three days later in what was then an empty field behind the local Mormon church.

Back then there was more privacy for grief. The news didn’t push microphones into the faces of devastated parents, and the papers didn’t publish all the grisly details. All we knew was that Paula was dead and we were stunned.

Silver Creek High was small enough that pretty much everyone knew her, at least by sight. So we shared a quiet, shocked sorrow that, in retrospect, caused irreparable changes in my town. We didn’t have grief counselors back then, no canceling of classes for the day while we dealt with the news. In fact there wasn’t even an official announcement. It was just a word whispered between classes in increasingly quiet hallways. I’m sure the parents knew a lot more than they told any of us – but we who knew her, even slightly, were kept mostly in the dark.

There was no public assembly. No huge, publicized funeral. Those who were close friends went to a service – those who were merely acquaintances stayed away because it seemed intrusive back then to go to the funeral of someone you barely knew. Back then sorrow required a degree of familiarity. Today if someone in a high school dies the entire school, whether acquainted or not, shows up in some TV-covered service; usually wearing homemade buttons with photos of the deceased. But in 1976 it wasn’t seen as support for the family, it was seen as mere vulgar curiosity to attend unless you were related or deeply close.

So we had no acknowledgement of her. She was a solo photo on the back page of the 1976 yearbook. The only “official” sign of her loss at school was a dramatically empty chair in the alto section at the year-end choir concert. And by silent agreement of the manners of the mid-sixties, she was a subject you didn’t talk about because it was scary or rude or mean.

She was, both physically and emotionally, lost.

But she was never really forgotten. And her killer was never found.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Photo of the day: William

William. A big name for a little kitten. William the Conquerer. William Shakespeare. And William the kitten.

Little William's had a rough start. Fleas and a cold. But one of our dedicated volunteers has taken him to foster in her home and I'm glad to say he's doing much better and is, apparently, terrorizing one of her adult cats.