There is so much good stuff to choose from in life I get overwhelmed sometimes. Like a couple years ago when I went into a big box store and stood in front of the socks: ankle socks, knee socks, quarter socks, over-the-calf socks, thigh highs, tights, footless tights. Towering rows of sock in every color of the rainbow and three shades of green.

Another lady my age or better was cruising the aisle and I asked, "Remember when mostly what was available was black socks to wear with dark colored clothing, and white socks to wear with light colored clothing? Too many choices these days." And she nodded sympathetically.

Yeah. So. I might be morphing into that old lady who is nostalgic for a simpler time.

Except you can keep your hands off my 500 channels of satellite radio. When I get tired of NPR I surf over to BBC or CBC or RTE. I get enormous pleasure listening to the variety of cultural perspectives in the English-speaking countries of the world. Sometimes I tune in a French Canadian station, but my high school French only picks up about every seventh word so that is less enlightening but still good exercise for my brain.

I am somewhat interested in exotic places like Asia and India, but the other places in the world where English is the mother tongue, not a second language, seem to call to me.

So when I get a hankering to canoe across Canada or spend some time living in Limerick, I put my butt in the seat of my trusty chariot and head down the road with my satellite radio transporting me to those faraway places while I travel the familiar local roads of my little corner of the world.

And somehow too many varieties of socks seems less problematic.


Regional Wildlife

Do you think this is what a roadrunner looks like?:
I did until mere moments ago when an actual roadrunner crossed the road in front of me on China Grade Loop.

I was returning from another glorious day on the Kern River, alone in my car, when the creature darted out and I blurted, "Hey, that's a roadrunner!"

The one I saw was running the opposite direction and looked very much like this:

Another local celebrity I have seen on several occasions within city limits is the San Joaquin kit fox, which looks like it would make a cute and cuddly pet, but is in fact a wild animal that would rather not interact with humans. 

It looks like this:
I am a lover of most of the animals with whom I share the neighborhood.

Birds. And mammals. Well, OK, I don't love possums, but I do tolerate sharing the neighborhood with them.  

And I am not so much a lover of creepy crawly creatures. I really could live without flies and spiders and slugs and snails and mosquitoes and ants, regardless of passionate arguments to the effect that we would be in a hopeless mess without them because these critters keep our planet in balance. You know. By eating decaying garbage and sucking blood and stuff.

So...anyhow...creepy crawlies aside...it's fun to spot animals around us!

End of biology lesson for today.
All photos courtesy of Google Images


The Panda Has Spoken

I am not sure what chances I have taken in the past to convince Panda that I shall continue to do so. I am glad for many unexpected joys that have shown up along my path, but I am not an adreneline junkie so you won't see me skydiving or rockclimbing.

We'll see what lies ahead. Watch this blog for further developments.

In the immortal words of Yul Brynner Pharaoh: "So let it be written; so let it be done."


Invisible Birdie Revealed!

It gives me great joy to announce I was so very mistaken about the Doves:

Welcome to our world, Ugly Baby!


Bird Brains

So you remember the Dove family from an earlier post, right? He & She were taking turns incubating two little eggs, right? Well, mysteriously the Doves disappeared one day leaving the nest empty with no signs of life having ever been present. No ugly babies. No eggshells in or around the nest. Nuthin'.

About that time the neighbors were accusing a wandering raccoon of plundering their koi pond, so we speculated that perhaps the plunderer wandered down our roofline and reached his sneaky hand under the sitting dove and helped himself to a snack. But, again, no shells, no feathers, no evidence of any kind.

It was weird.

But this is weirder.

The pair (or another pair that looks exactly like the last pair) recently returned. We were excited and delighted. Until we peeked in the hanging plant nest, and this time...

... STILL nuthin'!

Not even little eggs this time. But lots and lots of nesting behavior.

Maybe we were too quick to blame the raccoon. Perhaps we have a hopeful infertile couple. Or just plain crazy birds that are sitting on imaginary eggs. I'm thinking it's more likely the latter.

"Beautiful" Films

I was recently reminded how much
 I love this sweet story:

Each time I watch the film, I am charmed by Guido (Roberto Benigni) and inspired to squeeze the juicy goodness from every day. What hand you are dealt in life does not does not matter so much, but it matters very much how you play the hand you are dealt.

John Nash (played by Russell Crowe) was dealt an amazing mind that creates remarkable mathematical theories and schizophrenic delusions. The struggle to deal with what is real is one we all face to a greater or lesser degree, and this story is moving and thought-provoking also:

Just a couple of "beautiful" films you might enjoy.


Ten Thousand Pleasures

A few years ago I started a list of The Ten Thousand Pleasures of My Life, and the first item on the list is a purple bicycle with a silver glitter banana seat. My dad took me to the Schwinn store for my eighth or ninth birthday and let me pick out any bike I wanted. I don't know why, or how, in all the old family photos none can be found of the purple Schwinn, but it looked similar to the one above.

I loved that bike, and it took me all over the neighborhood for years. One day I took my little sister around the block "riding double" behind me on the banana seat and her heel got caught in the spokes of the back wheel, just like Mama warned us could happen, and Sister had to be taken to the pediatrician's office to get stitches to close the gash. That was unpleasant for all of us, most of all for Sister, but it didn't keep me off the bike for long. I was pretty cautious about "riding double" from that day forward, but I still remember the great pleasure of owning and riding my very own purple Schwinn with a silver glitter banana seat.

From time to time I will share more from The Ten Thousand Pleasures of My Life.


"Don't Grit Your Teeth When You ..."

I once heard a celebrity or comedian on the radio talking about parenthood. He observed that one of the crazy things about having children is you find yourself saying things no human being should have to say to another human being, such as, "Quit licking the neighbors!"

In fact, a beloved nephew was a hit-and-run licker when he was a toddler, so I found the observation not only astute, but hilarious. And I called my nephew's mom to reassure her that her son clearly was not the only child to shock his family (and victims) with such behavior.

Anyway, in our family, the emerging generation of teeth clenchers is learning "don't grit your teeth when you hold the baby" which were the words that sprang forth from my lips when my beloved boy held his baby sister with visible intensity. And browsing photos the other night, I noticed something. See if you notice it too:

Perhaps we should start saying "Don't grit your teeth when you smile for the camera"...


A Couple of Crazy Kids

This is one of my all-time favorite photos. This handsome, curly-headed young man and that slender dark-haired beauty were highschool sweethearts in the 1950's before they became my parents awhile later. In fact, if you look real close you can see Little SpiritJulie behind my Daddy's leg. Oh, OK. It's not really me, it's my cousin, but still I like to imagine I could have made a sneaky appearance in a photo years before I was anything more than
 a sparkle in my Daddy's eye.


Four Generations and Then Some

Baby Bee, her daddy, me, my Mama. Fortified by Young, Younger, and Youngest Aunties. Not in that order. But those who need to know can sort it out.

Number One Son is quite comfortable surrounded by a room full of femality. Even when all the extras are not there, the household is predominately female, including the pets.

So it was only natural that we congregate in his living room to do what we do best. Which this day included persuading him to put on a solid-color shirt with those plaid shorts before going out in public.

No charge. It's just a thing we do. Bounce babies and dispense maternal advice.

Happy Mothers Day


Artsy Train Tracks Pictures

You know those cool portraits of people walking along train tracks, often seen in engagement or wedding portfolios? Yeah. Well, this isn't one of those. But the model was humoring me and my experimentation:

Her own experiments turned out much better. I'm kinda used to that by now. She's been exercising her keen eye for composition for years. Here's a taste so you can compare and contrast and conclude that every generation improves upon the one before:


Talented & Beautiful

Yes. I am. And so are my offspring.
I know boasting is unbecoming,
but look what my child did with my hair:

and her own hair:

So I photographed her in the park today:

and made us OrangeBerry Smoothies:

Because after five Saturdays pass this
last birdie will fly away from the nest.

Who will braid my hair when she goes?
Who will sip smoothies with me?
Who will laugh at with me?

Oh, I know who.
That guy I met at the Elephant Bar:
on my last first date four years ago today!

If the Shoe Fits...

I call this combination "Chocolate & Raspberry"

Tonight Mr. Last hugged me and kissed me and
noted with much enthusiasm,
 "Hey, you're wearing matching shoes!"

It was a noteworthy occasion because just a few days ago I wore high heels to work and took a pair of flats to put on when my feet got tired. Later in the day I discovered my relief shoes were mismatched -- 
I had grabbed one black flat and one brown flat. 

Kinda like the time I spent an entire day at the coast before my mismatched sandals were discovered:

I keep meaning to simplify my footwear collection, but in the meantime I think I'll start turning on a light when I get dressed in the morning.