Sunday, September 25, 2005

Weekend Assignment #78: Things to Take

Weekend Assignment #78: You are preparing to evacuate your house due to an upcoming threat. You have already packed up all your essential items, people and pets. You have room for three non-essential items. What are they?

Remember, you already have your essentials: food, medicines, water, clothes, and all the people (including the furry ones) who live with you. "Non-essentials" are things you don't need but would like to have, and can include momentos, books, jewelry, objects of sentimental value, and so on and so forth.

Okay, I have my essentials already conveniently packed and ready to go. I'm assuming there's no size limit to  the "Non-essentials"  that I wish to bring with me. I would round up all my framed pictures that meant the most to me and a huge shoebox full of photographs that I've yet to categorize and place into albums. Photographs are priceless and some of the most important "things" we own. Next, I'd want to bring my bicycle. I'm thinking the availability/price of gasoline might be pretty dear. My faithful two-wheeler could take me where I need to go. And last, but certainly not least, my beloved collection of Christmas ornaments because my life is deeply intertwined with these beautiful, delicate and exquisite things


Sunday Seven - Episode 4

Picture from Hometown

A fairly new game to play each week.  Relatively short and sweet.  I like it!  Want to join in?  Click here Sunday Seven - Episode 4

Of the movies in your current DVD or VHS collection, name seven (in no particular order) that you have watched enough times to make your friends suspect that there might be something wrong with you but that you can't imagine not watching again.

1.  Allegro Non Troppo

2.  Coal Miner's Daughter

3.  Dirty Dancing

4.  Flashdance

5.  Midnight Cowboy

6.  Somewhere in Time

7.  Tombstone


Autumn Reflections

And so, once again, it’s autumn. Lovely, beautiful autumn bringing its annual gift of gorgeous foliage as the leaves reveal their hidden secrets of red, yellow and orange hues. A brilliant mantle of fall color descends upon the vineyards, transforming them into vast expanses of living tapestries which are a breathtaking sight. I never tire from seeing this year after year. It is a constant joy.

This is my favorite season of the four but its advent is always a bittersweet time for me. The start of fall is always on, a day before or after the day my mother died which was on September 21, 1995. She’s been gone from this world and my life for a decade. I’m past the dreadful, wrenching grief of the void her absence from this planet left in my heart, soul and very existence. Ah, but I miss her terribly. There is so much I wish to share with her. I miss her presence to offer me comfort; I miss that she is not just a phone call or a short drive away.

The Out Patient Department where I work is just like a doctor’s office within a private community. The confines of a doctor’s examining room can be the source of many emotions at the conclusion of a consultation. Joy, dismay, or utter relief are some that come readily to mind. Recently, such a consultation took place at my workplace involving a resident and three of her daughters. I knew this meeting with the doctor was to inform the resident and family of results from several tests which confirmed a prognosis of terminal illness with no hope of recovery.

Three of her daughters accompanied the resident into the examining room and before too long, one came rushing out and threw herself onto one of the chairs outside the room and dissolved into tears. We’re talking gut-wrenching, from the soul grief here. My desk was parallel to this chair and my heart achedfor this woman. There wasn’t much more to be done than to offer her a box of tissues, a brief, comforting hand on the back and an invitation to stay here as long as she wished.

God forgive me, the thought that bubbled up to the surface of my brain was how thankful I was to have this huge, impossible to imagine hurdle of losing one’s parents behind me. Been there, done that and good Lord! it’s sadder, more difficult and worse than you can possibly imagine. At least, it was for me. Large price to pay for the loss of fantastic parents. Were they worth it? Yes, you bet they were. If you are fortunate to still have your parents alive and well, enjoy time spent with them. Yes, life goes on after they’re gone, but with them also goes a major influential part of your life.

Happy Autumn, everyone. I hope the recent catastrophes of nature will ease up so we can focus on recovery for all the victims and move forward to better things in this new season.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Saturday Six - Episode 76

Picture from Hometown

If you'd like to join in the fun, click here Patrick's Place

. Of the following, which one best describes you at your worst? (You can't select "None of the above!")
a. One who doesn't finish what he/she starts
b. One who talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk
c. One who always finds the worst in a situation
d. One who generally knows what's right but does what's wrong

If my husband were choosing for me he'd probably select c. because, alas, I lean towards being a pessimist. I'm trying to change my tendency to think that way so I'll pick b. But I also try very hard to do that which I say I will.

2. Not counting shows like Saturday morning cartoons designed specifically for kids, what single show that you grew up watching religiously is now the one you most hate to sit through?
Hate is such a strong word. I watched "Leave it to Beaver" religiously, loved it (and Tony Dow is still cute!). When I watched it as a youngster, I never realized how oh, gee golly, Wally it really was. I never tuned into how the two boys lived exclusively in their rooms while home unless eating at the dining room table, helping with dishes (or occasionally cleaning out the garage) unless summoned by Dad. Oh yeah, like that's a realistic scenario. I can still sit through an episode; I'm just much more critical.

3. Have you ever been so angry with a company that you swore you'd never do business with them again?
If so, it's been deleted from my memory. If so, did you keep that promise? I couldn't tell you.

4. Take this
quiz: Are you psychic?

You Are 20% Psychic
You are barely psychic.
Sure, you sometimes predict things...
But is it a matter of luck? Or something more?
Pay closer attention to your first intuitions
You may be more psychic than you know!

Lily: What's the longest you've talked on the phone in a single phone call, and who were you talking to? I'm not big on talking on the phone to anyone for any length of time. It was probably a phone call with my husband when he was my beau a very long time ago and I couldn't begin to tell you the time spent. When we were first together, an hour seemed like a minute so who knows?

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #69 from Betty:   (She recently returned from a trip to Las Vegas!)  How do you feel about gambling?  I'm not much of a gambler, I think I'm probably too cheap, I mean frugal,  and can think of much better ways to waste my money.  I've got to admit, however, that the sound of quarters raining down into that little bucket is quite exciting and makes you want to keep playing...



Tuesday, September 20, 2005

An Artsy Essay for September

Daniel, the old well-loved patriarch that he is, rests on a special pillow in a quiet place in the corner. From his vantage point, he can observe and silently approve the going-ons within his small kingdom. His mate, Patsy, is close by and while she too is getting on in years, she can still kick up a heel or two if circumstances demand it. Biff and Baxter are very snuggly and affectionately referred to as "the surfin' dudes". Buffy lingers adoringly in the background never too far from her Biff. Nothing makes them happier than surfin' the waves, hitting the beach to catch some rays, snackin' on burgers and fries and listening to The Beach Boys. Rocky and Natasha are of a more serious bent. They actually go to work and earn their keep. Rocky, a cocky Italian from Brooklyn diligently goes to work each morning to rid his place of employment from leopards and fierce mountain lions or any such creatures that might be lurking about. Natasha, a small black-furred beauty of Russian descent, patrols the perimeters in the nighttime; she's so dark that she's sure no one can see her as she goes about her business. Each night Rocky returns home to his Angel, a slightly fiesty little female from Flushink! Natasha continues her vigilent guard about the house upon her return for work.

Meanwhile, on the home front, a couple of mothers and their small babes keep each other company and an eye on whoever else happens to be around. Diana and little Noel snuggle quietly on their section of the comforter. Emily and her little one, Susannah, whose first name is Oh!, are interested in everyone and everything. They could be anywhere about the place. Always up for a bit of sport and mischief are Reggie and Casey, fine English-bred creatures that they are. Quite genteel are these two, extrordinarily polite and somewhat snobbish in their uppercrust attitude. Tatania, a throwback to the old Communist ways, can usually be found preparing to deliver some sort of political bombast for a meeting in the town square--she insists on referring to it as Red Square!

Emmett and Katie hail from the old country and often regale the group with an Irish folk song, dance or both. They've been known to hit the whiskey bottle or down a Guinness or two when the urge hits them. Bear, who isn't a bear at all, is quietly stoic and provides comfort and warmth on a cold winter night. "Doc" is a smooth-talking southern gentlemen whose accent brings magnolias and mint juleps tomind. He is a most charming fellow. And over there, across the room, is wee Douglas. A sturdy little Scottish fellow is he, fond of reciting the poetry of Bobby Burns while sipping upon a smooth, peaty scotch, neat. Elsewhere in the room is Pretty Perry. She is writing furiously, trying to meet the deadline of her weekly column which appears in a local newspaper. Its title is "If You Would Be Beautiful...". She never seems to run out of ideas. Amazing. Close by is Trill. Sociable, beautiful Trill. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer but so exuberant and such a pleasure to look upon, her lack of brilliance doesn't seem to matter.

Scamp looks out over the living room from his perch atop the DVD player. He is "very river" and only he knows exactly what that means. Cagney and Suzy-Q spend their time in fond recall of the days of bathtub gin and speakeasies. They're rough and tough on the outside but actually cream puffs once you get to know them better. Opie speaks in soft tones, always, so as not to scare away everybody. His growl is truly frightening and he tries to keep it under control. Little Holly's energy level and exhilaration of the pure joy of living is exhausting at times. It is her untiring efforts that keep everything clean and dust-free. If there's one thing she will not, cannot tolerate, it's dust! Last, but certainly not least, is Mistletoe who has taken on the title and duties of "the Mother" to this assortment of creatures. She'll mother just about anything and keeps everyone in line when necessary.

And just who are all these assorted characters? They are some of the inhabitants of our personal, make-believe world of otters who live with us, help keep our bed warm and provide us with much amusement. Furry, adorable, appealing little animals. This is how I perceive otters. I've never seen one alive in the wild; only a pair of river otters in captivity at the San Francisco Zoo. Sea otters, while extremely cute too, seem to be better known but the river otter is my absolute favorite and the animal I would choose to be if given the opportunity.

If I had property with a body of water on it, the time and most definitely the money, I would love to share my life with a river otter or two. My awareness and affection for these playful, engaging creatures began twenty-seven years ago on Christmas when I was pregnant with my first child. Coincidentally, my husband and I presented each other with a stuffed otter as a gift without knowing each other's intentions. I topped his stocking with a small sea otter and he gave me a lovely, brown river otter with great whiskers and a jaunty smile. I fell in love instantly and from that moment our stuffed menagerie began to grow. I started reading about otters; finding out where they live and what they do. They are inquisitive, social animals. An important part of an otter's day is to simply play for the sheer joy of doing so; be it in the water or sliding down snowy, icey paths in the winter. They play not to assert dominance but merely because it's fun. Play is an essential, integral part of an intelligent person's day; ergo, this small aquatic mammal must be intelligent.

As the years went by, our collection of stuffed otters began to grow. We couldn't pass a toy store, the toy section of a department store or a nature-themed store without going in and checking to see if there was an otter to "save". It became one of our missions in life; to save a stuffed otter from the lonely life of sitting on a dusty shelf in a toy store. I believe this is when my husband became a "stuffed-animal rights activist" and I his diligent disciple What fun we've had with these stuffed representations of the real thing. Each one develops a distinct personality, is properly named and never fails to fit in seamlessly with the rest of the gang. Our house has become an otter haven and over the years I've even come to depend on them for warmth and comfort. We have soft, plushy otters to cuddle when sad, feeling a bit under the weather or simply in want of a soft, nonjudgmental pal. We have large otters that work well as "back warmers" when the nights grow cold. According to my most recent count, I believe we have around 35 otters in residence. They are the perfect pets in that they have the wonderful quality of being there when needed and are none the worse when neglected. Existence as one of our beloved stuffed otters is what I would choose in a surrealistic world.




This is my secret world; this essay is my entry for Judith HeartSong's

September's anniversary edition of the Artsy Essay Contest which can be found here:

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Sunday Seven - Episode 3

Picture from Hometown

You will be locked in a tape vault for six months and you can only have seven choices of television programs to watch.  Name the seven shows -- present or past -- that you'd want to make sure were accessible by your remote control.   Don't worry about listing them in any particular order...just pick seven you wouldn't want to be without for six months.

1.  "Are You Being Served?"

2.  "I Love Lucy"

3.  "Masterpiece Theater", more specifically the entire production of "Upstairs, Downstairs"

4.  "SCTV"

5.  "Star Trek - TNG"

6.  "Taxi"

7.  "The Twilight Zone" original series


Saturday, September 17, 2005

Saturday Six - Episode 75

Picture from Hometown

1. When is the last time you took a vacation and went basically nowhere?  Was it as relaxing as previous vacations where you have actually planned a trip?  A little over a month ago I took a week off from working when I left one job to begin another. I wouldn't say it was relaxing because I had lots of places to go and things to do to prepare for my new job. Also, I was apprehensive and excited about starting a new job in a new place after so long. I have used vacation time in the past and stayed home, puttering about doing just what I wanted to do and these have been extremely relaxing vacations. I highly recommend them as a chance to enjoy the home we work so hard all year long to maintain.

2. Take this quiz: Which historical lunatic are you?

You are Joshua Abraham Norton, first and only Emperor of the United States of America!   Hmm.  I highly suspect this may be the only answer.  My husband took this quiz and came up with the same results.

3. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #64 from Jaymi:   What is your favorite book from childhood and why?  As always, these "choose one" questions are so difficult. I will pick Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. This is a charming book which reads well on many levels. It's as enjoyable a read today as it was when I received it as a birthday gift from one of my older sisters so long ago.

4. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #65 from Hannah:  What book character do you most identify with and why?  Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz because, after all, there's no place like home.

5. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #66 from Holly:  What do you think is an appropriate gift to a party?  What do you consider a quality Christmas gift from an acquaintance to a party or get together, a friend, and a GREAT friend?  A lot depends on what sort of party it is and the social habits of who's hosting it. I always think a nice bottle of wine is an appropriate gift; if the host is a teetotaler, they can always give it away or open it up and offer me a glass. A quality Christmas gift from an acquaintance to bring to a party or get together could be, again, a nice bottle of wine or a good box of chocolates. A quality Christmas gift to a friend could be a unique Christmas ornament. A quality Christmas gift to a Great friend could be a very nice bottle of wine and an exquisite, unique Christmas ornament. Yes, I enjoy wine, I live in one of the most beautiful areas of northern California's wine country and I make no apologies.

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #67 from Judi:  If you had to make a choice for the rest of your life between food and sex, which would you choose, provided the following conditions: If you chose sex, you would never feel hungry, but just wouldn't be able to enjoy a nice meal or the tastes of good food or drink; if you chose food, you would no longer have the physical intimacy and pleasure, but you still wouldn't feel deprived of it.  In other words, whichever one you choose to give up will be a series of pleasures you'll never be able to experience firsthand again.  Firstly, I would like to congratulate Judi for providing one of the most interesting, thought-provoking questions ever to appear in the Saturday Six. This is a the extreme!  I love both. A lot has to do with how old one is when answering this question but that's not part of the equation. I'm not young, but I'm not that old either. I would!






Friday, September 16, 2005

Weekend Assignment #77: When I Grow Up

Weekend Assignment #77: What do you want to be when you grow up?

This can be answered one of two ways: You can answer by saying what you wanted to be when you were a kid, or, you can answer by saying what you still want to be, one day, one way or another. It's up to you.

This may sound incredibly lame and somewhat mundane in this day and age but I wanted to be nothing more than a homemaker when I grew up. This is not the same thing as a housewife. Ye Gods! Who on earth wants to be married to a house? I can think of plenty of more interesting diversions as residing lady of the house than being subservient to a house, being little more than a slave dusting, performing unnecessary tasks past the reasonable requirements for a comfortable, clean home. All I ever wanted to be was the woman who remained at home, in charge of the household and depended upon to be there when my children returned home from school and to greet my husband with a passionate kiss and a well-mixed Manhattan upon his return from work after a long, but successful day.

I would've had lots of projects and interests going on to keep me happily busy while my family was away at school and work and had the luxury of thinking about starting dinner around 3 pm. I wanted to be a stable, dependable presence; this was all I knew of my childhood with my mother who never worked after she married and even so, was one of the most interesting women I've ever had the pleasure to know. I wanted nothing more than to continue in her footsteps and, hopefully, do half as good a job. When my family grew older and more involved in interests outside the home, I would've pursued outside activities that interested me such as taking classes about whatever piqued my fancy, shelving books in the local library or offering my time doing something worthwhile with senior citizens or volunteering at the hospital.

Extra Credit: What did your parents want you to be when you grew up?

My parents wanted me to be a happy, well-adjusted person capable of adjusting to and handling the complexities of this thing called life. They wanted to be sure that I learned a skill(s) that would enable me to provide for myself if needs be. They did this by funding my business school education following my high school graduation. The rest was up to me. My parents have been absent from my life for almost ten years now and to this day, I still hope I continue to make them proud of me and never want to let them down. It never ends, this desire for approval, and this may be tantamount to a major ingredient to a successful life.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

A Matter of Trust

Here's something to consider--

These days, there's not a whole lot out there one can count on and trust. We don't trust strangers, politicians, perhaps some of our neighbors and, unfortunately, possibly some members of our family. In a nation that has become fearful and suspicious of the unknown, there remains a daily event in which extreme basic trust among the human race is alive and well. Though we may not realize it, those of us who merge onto a freeway or main thoroughfare which takes us to work every day place a huge amount of trust in our fellow man. Nowhere have I ever before witnessed such a complete assumption of trust than seated behind the wheel of my car, driving along at a good clip en route to work. There I am in my very little car with assorted vehicles in front, in back, to the left and, sometimes, to the right of me. We are all placing our trust (our lives, actually) in the hands (on the wheel) and feet (on the gas and brake pedals) of these strangers driving along with us.

Having meandered along the backroads to get to work for the past 16 years or so at a relaxed pace, my perspective of the daily commute is fresher than those who are jaded to years of zipping along in a like manner. We're trusting everyone behind the wheel got enough sleep last night to function properly. We're trusting they're not still hung over from a big night out. We trusting they're not so worried or consumed by a major personal problem that they're unable to concentrate on the task of driving responsibly. We're trusting that they're not too busy chatting on the phone, looking up directions, eating breakfast, applying makeup, being distracted by noisy kids in the back seat...the list could go on forever. Scary, isn't it? But rather awesome as well.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Saturday Six - Episode 74

Picture from Hometown

1. You find out that you have to appear on a daytime talk show. It doesn't matter whose show you choose, but you must appear on one. Which show would you pick and why? I don't watch any daytime talk shows but I'll pick "Oprah" because I like her and am impressed with what she's done with her life. It would be much easier to pick which one I wouldn't be caught dead on!

2. Have you ever joined an online dating or penpal site?
No, I haven't. If so, have you kept in touch with anyone that you met there; if not, have you ever thought about joining up? No, I have no need to do so.

3. Who was the last person you promised you'd keep in touch with following a move or job change?
That would be all the residents and staff I bid farewell to when I left my last job on August 9th. Have you kept in touch? Not yet but I plan to visit them sometime next weekend to say hello.

4. Take this
quiz: What pizza best describes your personality?

Cheese Pizza

Traditional and comforting.
You focus on living a quality life.
You're not easily impressed with novelty.
Yet, you easily impress others.

5. You're having dinner with friends at a restaurant. Besides the company, what is the most important part of the meal: the appetizer, the drinks, the salad, the entree, or the dessert?
Probably the entree because it's only when I dine out that I order something like Prime Rib or New York steak and these selections are always a special treat for me.

6. Have you ever submitted a Reader's Choice question to the "Saturday Six?"
Yes, once. If so, did the answers surprise you? No, it was pretty much a pedestrian question. If not, why haven't you?

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

A Lesson For All of Us

Katrina. Up until recently, all this name meant to me was the object of Ichabod Crane's affections in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. How quickly things change. The surprise, the despair, the disgust and the outrage concerning the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina have been pretty well covered. I have nothing new to add that hasn't already been said.

I've read several entries in journals in which the writers state they feel "guilty" for enjoying a hot meal, a warm bed and a roof over their heads as they struggle with the knowledge of the loss and suffering of so many in this cataclysm of nature. This is a sympathetic, understandable reaction but what I feel is not guilt. What I do feel is a heightened sense of gratefulness that I nor any of my friends or family were victims of this catastrophe. It has given me a renewed sense of appreciation for all the wonderful things I have and where I live. I also see a warning, a wake-up call.

Where I live, we don't expect hurricanes. This is earthquake country and the occurance of a major earthquake is anticipated, expected but when? None of us know but we do know it's coming. I see how New Orleans has been all but swept off the map and the same could happen here. If nothing else, one good thing that should come from this horrific disaster in the south is the realization that we all should be prepared in the event of an emergency. What fools we would be if this incident didn't open our eyes once and for all and teach us a lesson. That being at the very least making some sort of effort to think of a plan of escape, gather together supplies to carry one's family through for at least several days in case of an unexpected event. That is what an emergency unexpected event. There's no warning headline in the morning newspaper, no mention of it on the TV or radio, no means of knowing ahead of time.

I see this disaster as a blaring, not to be ignored message that it's time to put all our thoughts of good intention into action. It's time to begin storing away gallon containers of water. It's time to purchase an extra can or two of items with infinite shelf life while doing weekly shopping and stowing them away in a designated safe spot. A bit of warning seems to precede hurricanes; not so with earthquakes. One minute the earth is terra and firma, the next, it's roiling and rolling and all hell begins to break loose. I've yet to experience a big earthquake in my 29 years in this state. Oh yes, lots of little ones and I certainly felt the Loma Prieta, CA quake of 1986 and my house is a long way from where its epicenter was. If this tragedy gives us nothing else, at least let it serve as a graphic example of what could happen more quickly than we can possibly realize and let us learn from it and be better prepared for that which we know will eventually come.

Sunday, September 4, 2005

Sunday Seven - Episode 1

Picture from Hometown

"The Sunday Seven" will feature a single question with seven answers.  Sometimes, you'll have to rank seven things, other times you'll have to list seven things you come up with on your own to answer the question.

 Here, in alphabetical order, are The Seven Deadly Sins

Anger, Envy, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Pride and Sloth

Rank the seven sins in the order that you most often commit them, one being the sin you're usually most guilty of, seven being the sin you're usually least guilty of.

1.  Pride  2.  Envy  3.  Sloth  4.  Lust 5.  Gluttony  6.  Greed  7.  Anger


Saturday Six - Episode 73

Picture from Hometown

1. What is the price of gas at your regular station?  It was $3.05 when I passed by about two hours ago.  It's probably up to $3.10 by now.  Have you made any changes to holiday plans because of gas prices?  Not really because we don't usually make plans to travel any great distance on holiday weekends.

2. Some people feel that the song that was #1 when they were born somehow helps shape their life.  Which song was #1 when you were born, according to this siteAlas, I'm so old I have to go with what was the #1 song on my 18th birthday and it was "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart"by The Bee Gees.  Do you think it relates to your life at all?  Not at all; I received my engagement ring on my 18th birthday and my heart was bursting with love and it still is.

3. Take this quiz:  Which child does it say you are?  You Are Likely a First Born  Is it correct about your birth order?  It's totally incorrect; I am the last child of four.  The choices of answers to the questions in this quiz were so bad it's no wonder the answer was so inaccurate.

4. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #61 from De:  What animal do you equate your spirit with and why? 

Butterfly on Flower  I chose the butterfly because I very much think of myself as someone who emerged from a cocoon into a person of value and interest.  When I clicked on the Animal Totem site and checked out the butterfly, I liked the sentence which states:  "It may take some time being alone with ourselves to listen to Butterfly's gentle requests that we allow the natural transformation of things in our lives." 

I have always thought of myself as a late bloomer.

5. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #62 from PsychfunIf you had to describe your personality as a nut (as in the eatable kind) what nut would you be and why?  A pistachio; a little bit harder to crack but the meat inside is sweet.

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #63 from Chris:   Who knows the "real" you better - - your real world friends or your Jland readers?  My real world friends