Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Newspaper: Either You Get It or You Don't.


Every morning at 6:15 go out to pick up my Bag O’ News from the end of my driveway.

It waits for me and I go to it a eagerly—a human bear just awaking from my mini-hibernation, hungry for my fish in its plastic blue bag delivered to me by some unseen benevolent zoo keeper. I grab it and return to my den to devour it in peace.

This ritual is a part of my day and on those rare occasions when the paper is not there, I stop short, confused, discombobulated. I look all around, under cars, in the bushes and then just sort of stand there, unsure of what to do next.

I am not alone in this behavior. Most people on our street take the paper and on the mornings when the paper does not come the other bears stand at the end of their driveways and we stare at one another and make our confused, early morning bear sounds.

When I was growing up I never thought I would be a paper reader. It used to drive me crazy the way my parents would sit in their chairs and read the paper, cover to cover. I used to roll my eyes and scream a silent scream. BORING!

Now, however, I am the bear at the end of my driveway picking up my daily fish. While some of our neighbors get the LA Times, I can’t handle that kind of big paper commitment, so I go for the smaller local county paper. It’s a combination of real paper (elections, wars, zoning commission reports) and funky hometown news (girl paints shoes for Iranian children, head lice infestations up in local schools.)


As I mentioned earlier, I read the paper first thing in the morning in bed and because I am Betty, you’d better believe there is order and structure to the whole process.

Number One: I pull out Sports Section and place beside me for Mabel to rest on. She loves a fresh paper and especially enjoys sprawling her extra large body across pictures of silly humans chasing assorted balls.

Then I proceed in this order:

A. Front Page/Section

B. National News/World News (skim this part)

C. County News

D. Arts and Living (intense reading of this part)


Yes, there are rules and schedules even within these sections. I won’t go into each one except to say that I once read Annie’s Mailbox BEFORE Dr. Gott and it pretty much rocked my world, so I don’t play loose and fast with the rituals any more.

Surprising Fact: I read only one comic strip—“Zits.”

Also, I always read the horoscope, which rates our days from 1 to 5 stars, and if it’s 4 or 5 star day, I announce it to HOB. If mine is a very low star day I go with the “I-was-born-on-the-cusp” defense and travel on to the next sign.


Alas, I am the only newspaper reader in my family and when it’s time to check movie times I sprint in to get the page with the schedule, hoping to beat the others who are tapping away on their I-Touches, cell phones and computers. I feel the need to show them that the black, white and “read all over” page still has a place in the world even if it’s just to search for that tiny box on Page 1, Section C.

I know the newspaper is on the endangered species list. I’ve read about the elimination of several major newspapers. It makes me sad to think that someday my own little town’s paper may have to fold. I would miss it, and the daily routine that starts off my day with a trip out into the world, rain or shine, Monday through Sunday.

Oh! Sunday!

That’s when I get an extra big fish I get to carry in and feast upon. That one has slick, colorful coupon entrails as well!

Yum.

Wishing you all five star days!


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Poetry Tuesday: "How to See Deer" by Philip Booth



How to See Deer

Forget roadside crossings.
Go nowhere with guns.
Go elsewhere your own way,

lonely and wanting. Or
stay and be early:
next to deep woods

inhabit old orchards.
All clearings promise.
Sunrise is good,

and fog before sun.
Expect nothing always;
find your luck slowly.

Wait out the windfall.
Take your good time
to learn to read ferns;

make like a turtle:
downhill toward slow water.
Instructed by heron,

drink the pure silence.
Be compassed by wind.
If you quiver like aspen

trust your quick nature:
let your ear teach you
which way to listen.

You've come to assume
protective color; now
colors reform to

new shapes in your eye.
You've learned by now
to wait without waiting;

as if it were dusk
look into light falling:
in deep relief

things even out. Be
careless of nothing. See
what you see.

--Philip Booth



(Betty's Note: I took these pictures last weekend on the UC Santa Cruz campus. Deer sort of just roam around there all day. I didn't see any of them studying or going to class. Of course, I knew some humans like that in my days at college too!)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Morning Flowers With Fishy Bonus Too!

Good Day Darling Ones!

Betty has returned from her trip up north and fetched some flowers for you.

These were all flowers in Sonny Boy's front yard.
Aren't they lovely?


We had a great time on our trip and enjoyed our time with our oldest son who is thriving in his college years.


We drove back home to our youngest son who had capably handled all the responsibilities of the house while we were gone.
We were so happy to see him and catch up on what he had been doing.


What beautiful bookends of a great trip!
Betty is grateful for this wonderful life.

Thanks so much for visiting even though things have been a little crazy and I have not gotten around to my favorite blogs.
Flowers just don't seem to be enough this morning.



Here's a bonus koi for you.
Hope you enjoy your new pet.
(He looks hungry. I think you'd better feed him.)

Hope you all have great weeks ahead!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Betty and HOB Go Hiking At the Pinnacles.

On the way up to see Sonny Boy and unload a bunch of Birthday Love on him, HOB and I stopped by Pinnacles National Park.


Part of the trail went through some caves. We had to use a flashlight to make it through. This is a shot from inside the cave.


The Pinnacles are the remnants of an ancient volcano which erupted about 23 million years ago.


The San Andreas fault has moved these rock structures about 195 miles from their original site.



Betty and HOB send a big thank you to Mother Nature, volcanic forces, and the San Andreas Fault for our nice day hike.

We've had a great time in Santa Cruz! We head home today.

Hope you are all having good Sundays!



Friday, June 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Sonny Boy!



Happy 22nd Birthday to my Sonny Boy!

(You're never too old to go to the zoo with your Mama)

My birthday wish for you:


May you always look at life through kind eyes.


May you always be willing to stick your neck out for others in need.


And when you are facing an uphill climb, may you always be sure-footed and know you are never alone.


May you continue to love and cherish the beautiful one with whom you have chosen to share your life.


May you be confident and secure of your place in the universe.


And may you always be close to your brother.


May you have time for self-reflection.


And time for curiosity too.


Even in the hurry of life, may you always take time to stop and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you.


May you always stubbornly look beyond any temporary barriers in your path and think about your unlimited future.


And may you always, always recognize and celebrate your beautiful uniqueness.

Happy Birthday, Sonny Boy.

We love you!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Back from Gal Pal Retreat. I Brought Pictures. Sit Down and Look At Them. I Worked Hard On These. It's the Least You Could Do.

Betty went on a fabulous mini-vacay and brought you back some pictures.
(What? You all expected T-Shirts?)

Can you guess from the pictures where we went?


Here's a hint: Betty was HOT and I don't mean just because she hung out in her thong bikini by the pool.


Another hint: We stayed in buildings meant to resemble native adobe structures. They all had giant air conditioning units beside them, painted to match the faux adobe, of course, just like in ancient times.


Golf anyone?
Long-time readers know that golf courses bring back unspeakable experiences with HOB, so, even though it was beautiful, I did not linger here.


Cactus picture. (Major hint for my slower readers.)


While I would have loved to have had a couple of shots of alcohol and then had a couple of shots of of the Neurotoxic Protein Botulinum Toxin, I was pretty busy eating cookies and reading while I was there. Maybe next time.


There were hundreds of these critters there.
I believe this one had just returned from his Viagra Hoppy Ear shots.
(Happy Hour/Hoppy Ear joke for my more advanced readers.)


I missed you all! Being the early bird that I am, I got up before the woman I was sharing the bedroom with and snuck into the closet to try and do some blogging, but it was a little too cramped and dark, so I had to come out after a few minutes. My roommate was a little flattered though, that after only one night with her I came out of the closet the very next morning.

The traveling continues....

HOB and I are loading up the car with the Hits of the 70's CD's right now for our trip up to Santa Cruz to celebrate Sonny Boy's 22nd birthday.

I'll try to report in from there!

Until then, everybody sing along with Betty and HOB..."Lovin' you is more than just a dream come true and every time that we oooooooo, I'm more in love with you. La-la-la, la-la-la,...




Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Poetry Tuesday: Three Poems


It's Three, Three, Three Poems for you on this Poetry Tuesday!!!


Oh,
I am thinking.
Oh,
I am thinking
I have found
my lover.
Oh,
I think it is so.

--Chippewa Song



....Really, I began the day
Not with a man's wish: "May this day be beautiful.
But with the bird's wish: "May this day
Be the same day, the day of my life."

--Randall Jarrell



The memories of long love
Gather like drifting snow,
Poignant as the mandarin ducks,
who float side by side in sleep.
--Kenneth Rexroth--"100 Poems from the Japanese"


Please note: Betty is going away for a little Gal Pal Retreat! I will miss visiting all your blogs, but I'll be back to catch up soon!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Morning Flowers

Ah! It's Monday and I see a certain little spark in your eye.

Could it be you have come to see if I have flowers for you, my lovelies?

I do indeed.

Put your sweet little noses up to your computer screens and see if you can smell these beauties.


First we have a rose that symbolizes your deep and abiding affection.



Then we have this pink and white flower that symbolizes your beauty and delicate sensibilities.



Then we have this bad boy of the flower world. YoW. Come and get your Flower Love, baby! Let me buy you a beer!


Bonus SKY picture this week.

Taken out of the sunroof of my car while driving at 75 miles an hour down Highway 5.

Kids! Don't try this at home!



I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.

--e.e. cummings


Hope you all have great weeks!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!



Noble fathers have noble children.
---Euripides


Happy Father's Day!!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Long and Short Goodbye.


It was 2005 when my husband and I were given the news: we were losing our fathers.

Mine was in a nursing home in Kansas.

He was a diabetic with congestive heart failure and colon cancer that could not be removed. At 90, he was folding in on himself, talking less and less, eating fewer foods, the light in his eyes growing dimmer.

A tough midwestern farmer, he had rarely been sick. He carried bales of hay as if they weighed only a few pounds. He could lift a plow with one arm and drag it to the tractor’s hitch. In the winter, he hoisted great stacks of wood through the snow and into the house to build fires that would keep us warm for hours.

Now, his muscles betrayed him and he couldn’t lift his own body into a wheelchair, but had to depend on others to do it.

My sisters and I each went back to say goodbye, to say thank you, to kiss him farewell. Then, those of us who lived far away went back to our homes to go about our daily tasks, to our daily routines. However, the thought that he was dying permeated our lives like a frustrating, static-filled TV show that was always on.

We hastened the pace of our lives, running errands, throwing ourselves into our jobs, taking care of our children with such ferocity, all in the attempt to drown out the knowledge none of us wanted to face.

But in the quiet of our cars, in the time just before sleep, when we were idle for a moment at the sink after supper, we recognized the hum of the truth that awaited us and we prepared ourselves for it.


My husband’s father turned 74 that same year. He looked healthy and strong, his eyes shone bright when he opened the door to welcome us. “Come into this house!” he said. He played golf and loved to exercise with his sons. His upbeat demeanor had always affected everyone and we stood there, looking at him, thinking, the doctors can’t be right.

That was the year he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Though he tried to glide through life as he used to, we finally saw his mind began to snag on questions that rose up to trap and snare his brain. Soon, visits to the doctor became cruel games of trivia. What street do you live on? What year is it? Who is president? What is your full name?

A brilliant lawyer in his earlier years, he spent his days arguing cases, studying statutes, attending conferences. Now he tried to remember what his toothbrush was used for. He was the mayor of his community and headed up the arduous task of building a new fire station. As a city council member, he kept track of numbers, fact, and schedules. As a friend and neighbor, he kept up on news, taking care to remember people’s names and the names of their children.

That same man now needed to be reminded of what day it was and to remember to shower in the morning. Driving was impossible and so he depended on other people to take him places—places he often did not remember going to.

And his sons stood beside him and watched him slowly disappear, over-compensating with reassuring remarks whenever he forgot something. They watched as the father they knew slowly leaked out, dissolved, leaving a familiar-looking shell.


We were both losing our fathers, and we struggled with the hard flint of this stubborn reality in our own ways.

Though I prided myself on my appearance of maturity and resignation, more than occasionally the petulant little girl inside of me who did not want her daddy to go, rose up and shattered that fa├žade. I often went to my room, sat in a corner and cried, butting my head against the intractable rules of nature.

After hearing his father’s diagnosis, my husband searched.

Night after night, he sat in a darkened living room and stared into the glowing screen of a computer, hoping to find cures, hoping to find studies, praying to find medical trials. He spent hours and hours in the darkness with only hope by his side. He knew enough about the disease to recognize that would eventually happen, but at that moment he was unwilling to accept it. He saw acceptance as defeat and as a form of disloyalty to his father.

Acceptance would mean grieving for his father and to grieve for someone when that person is still alive, still shaking your hand in greeting, even if he does not recognize you, is at best incongruous, and at worst, a betrayal.


It was 2005 and we were both losing our fathers. The terrible tickets were in our hands and we waited for the calls to begin our trips into this territory, unknown to us.


My father’s death came on Father’s Day that year.

It was painful and I grieved, but along with that grief came the knowledge that the highway I traveled, though complicated and difficult, was natural. It was recognizable. People nodded. They understood. They had in their vocabulary familiar, well-meaning packets of words that they freely and sincerely gave to me. There was comfort there and an odd, unspoken kinship with others who had gone through the same thing.

Five years later, my husband’s loss continues.

For awhile he traveled in hope as took the blue highways, the small web-like roads that led in and out of anticipation and inevitable setbacks, but then just like the web-liked pathways of his father’s brain, those roads were clogged, blocked, cut off completely, leaving only the flat, unrelenting terrain of reality.

His father is now in a nursing home. He sits day after day, unresponsive.


His father is there.

His father is not there.


His father has gone.

His father remains.


The long and lonely journey continues.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Good Morning! My Name is Martha and I'll Be Your Worst Nightmare This Afternoon.

Betty likes most of her neighbors. They are a controlled bunch and generally very nice, but we aren’t really buddy-buddy with any of them. I learned soon after moving to California that this is the way it is here. We do the neighbor wave and make small talk, but maybe because of the close proximity of the homes, we maintain some sense of personal space.

(I'd like to apologize right now to the sour people across the street for aiming that strobe light right in your window, but it was pretty fun at the time AND we know you are the ones who reported us for having our garbage cans out too long.)


One thing we do, however, is vacation duty for many of the neighbors when they ask. Picking up papers, putting out trashcans, taking care of the dogs--it’s all good in the ‘hood.

This week Betty and family are in charge of the house next door as that happy family goes on vacation. Now, we’ve done this duty for this family before and for some reason, something always tends to go wrong when we are in charge.

There was the time the dog got hold of the garage remote control and we had to return it with bite marks on it.

There was the lost key.

There was the dog dish that disappeared.

There was the mystery of the open garage door at 6:00am.

There was the cabinet door that fell off in my hand.

It’s weird I tell ya! And when they come back, we sheepishly explain whatever weirdness occurred and they give us awkward smiles, look through slightly squinted eyes, and then slowly back away to go home and change the locks on their doors.

So yesterday I was sitting in my living room when I heard a large crash in their yard next door. I was eating a bag of Ranch Flavored Doritos and the crash actually made me stop snacking for a second or two. I figured the dogs had upset the barbecue or maybe knocked down a huge potted plant.

About an hour later (Betty works slow and it was a really BIG bag of chips) I went over with Evan to check on the dogs. When we entered the back yard I saw it: the glass of the patio table had broken into 50 million pieces.

There was no evidence of foul play. There were no rocks, no bricks; nothing had landed on the table.

The dogs were fine, but they were playing it cool and refused to talk about what happened.

We spent a lot of time cleaning up the glass. It was tempered, thank goodness, but it was everywhere--shot out over grass, over concrete, over the flowers. You get the idea.

I called HOB and told him about the mysterious shattering of the glass. He couldn't believe I was not able to figure out what happened. He kept pestering me with questions.


A SOMEWHAT UNRELATED BUT ENTERTAINING SUBPLOT:

So, I went into the garage to look for a push broom to clean up the glass and I heard a high-pitched voice say, “Hello! Hello!” I looked around and tried to locate the voice. I stepped towards the car and then back again. "Hello! Hello!"

I looked down at the mat I was standing on. I stepped off and then stepped back on again. “Hello! Hello!”

A talking mat! I looked for the battery, the on/off switch and found nothing. I tried it a couple more times. Then, I went back to the door that led into the house, placed my hand on the knob and heard the same high-pitched voice say, “Bye-bye! Bye-bye!” I tried it again and it said it again!

“Come in here!” I hissed at Evan who came right away. “They’ve got some trick mat that talks! Go ahead; step on it.”

He stepped on it.

No voice.

“Get off and step on it again. It will say 'Hello, Hello' to you," I said, imitating the high voice.

He gave me the beleaguered teenage boy “Why-do-I-have-to-have-a-crazy-mom?” look.

"Mom, please," he said.

He stepped. No sound.

“Try it again!” OK, OK. Maybe you have to do it lightly! Try it this way!"

I bobbed up and down and on and off the mat like a hopped-up trained pony or an aging Irish dancer refusing to give up in the audition for Riverdance.

Evan shook his head and headed for the door.

“OH! Wait until you touch the door knob!” I said, “You’ll hear it say ‘Bye-bye!’”

He rolled his eyes, touched it and nothing happened. I touched it and heard nothing.

"It's just not working right now," I said. "Maybe I did it too much. Maybe you have to wait a certain amount of time."

Evan looked at me and sighed, “Mom….” and shook his head.

When we went back outside to the yard and I heard the voice again. It took me just a minute to put it together. It had been the other next-door neighbor talking to her two-year-old grandson. It just so happened they had been near the garage door talking when I had been on the mat. Just by chance, her voice had corresponded with my actions in the garage.

No trick mat. No magic doorknob.

No credibility for the mom.


AND NOW BACK TO THE MAIN PLOT:

We finished cleaning up the glass and went back home, still mystified by the shattering of the glass tabletop.

I immediately looked it up on Google and it only took me a few minutes to find it.

I called HOB. “Good news!” I said. “Apparently Martha Stewart patio tables frequently and spontaneously burst into bits.”


It’s scary but true. I found about ten items on Google about it.

This one’s from Consumer Affairs:

Sounds of Summer: Martha Stewart Tables Shattering

The sound of shattering glass is one of the most piercing, frightening and recognizable sounds on Earth. For owners of Martha Stewart outdoor patio tables from Kmart, that sound is pretty common.

ConsumerAffairs.com has received hundreds of complaints about the glass tops of these tables spontaneously shattering, launching shards as far as 12 feet from the table. Almost every day at least one person files a new complaint and the complaints are strikingly similar:

"I was sitting at my computer when I heard this tremendous crash," said David Potts of Marietta, Ga. "I went outside to see what it was and it looked like my patio was covered in ice. It was the glass from the table top.

"I got a couple of slivers of glass in my fingers while I was cleaning it and here I am a year later and I can still feel pain in the tips of my fingers," Potts said.

Federal and state agencies and the various manufacturers and retailers involved either know about the problem and refuse to discuss it, or deny knowing about it.

Almost all of these spontaneous explosions of glass take place in the summer. Within the summer months however, there is no telling when or if your Martha Stewart table is the next to blow. Sometimes the table shatters two weeks after it is purchased. Sometimes it takes two years.


And so my blogging buddies, especially you with little ones, learn from Betty! This is not JUST a blog post! This is a Public Service Announcement! Check to see if you have one of these killer tables, look up the information online, and then get rid of that evil time bomb!!!

As for me, I'll be printing out every one of those reports and leaving the fifty pages of information on my neighbors' kitchen table. Maybe they'll see it before they step outside and see this:


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Poetry Tuesday: "Evening Hawk" by Robert Penn Warren



Evening Hawk

--Robert Penn Warren


From plane of light to plane, wings dipping through
Geometries and orchids that the sunset builds,
Out of the peak's black angularity of shadow, riding
The last tumultuous avalanche of
Light above pines and the guttural gorge,
The hawk comes.
His wing
Scythes down another day, his motion
Is that of the honed steel-edge, we hear
The crashless fall of stalks of Time.

The head of each stalk is heavy with the gold of our error.

Look! Look! he is climbing the last light
Who knows neither Time nor error, and under
Whose eye, unforgiving, the world, unforgiven, swings
Into shadow.

Long now,
The last thrush is still, the last bat
Now cruises in his sharp hieroglyphics.His wisdom
Is ancient, too, and immense.The star
Is steady, like Plato, over the mountain.

If there were no wind we might, we think, hear
The earth grind on its axis, or history
Drip in darkness like a leaking pipe in the cellar.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday Morning Flowers, Your Quote of the Week, Announcement of the Winners of the JABs AND a Cute Puppy Picture! Can You Handle the Excitement?


OK! OK! Stop jumping up and down.

You'll only make yourselves sick.

We've talked about this before.

Pace Yourselves.

First your flowers for the week:


Pretty in Pink!


Hope You Don't Mind Sharing This One With A Friend.


Close Up and Personal? Oh Yeah.



And now, what you've all been waiting for!

Chosen via Random Number Generator
(my new favorite toy--hours of fun!)

The winners of the JABs are:



and


You lucky three e-mail me with your addresses, your bank account numbers, your mothers' maiden names and your Visa/Mastercard numbers and I'll send that bell right out to you!

ALSO!

Happy Flag Day!

and

Happy Birthday
to our friend Hana who turns 19 today
and who just adopted this sweet puppy from the pound.

Copper

One person's definition of success
is another's first step.
Only you can rate your accomplishments,
and find peace within yourself.

--Anonymous

(Good advice--whether you are housebroken or not!)

Hope you all have good weeks!

Betty Adores You All!