Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Flora & Fauna

If you look closely, you can see hundreds of beensy little birds in the pine trees. (I wish I had a telephoto lense) I think they may have been finches. I know I am going to have to get a book on birds. These trees make me really nervous, especially around hurricane season. The one in front of the house toppled during Ivan right on top of the roof and made a rather nasty mess. The vine is gorgeous, but looks like it may be attempting to invade the attic, so hopefully I will be able to hold up to at least trim to top off. I thought it would be nice to have it cover the bathroom window - only I didn't expect it to be as black as night. These vines are gorgeous on fences - I may have to move a few starts. The tree peeking around the corner is our prolific orange tree. Tomorrow the sprinkler system pieces arrive. Yah! I used to get my exercise running around the yard watering. Then no one did. So I barely have a yard left. Another task to accomplish. Nurseries are bringing in their plants for spring and I can barely restrain myself! Oh dear, the neighbors have a pit bull puppy that runs free - it has just pulled the screen off my study window and the cats are screaming and trying to get through the cracked window and the pup is as anxious to get in out of the dark to some human company. Gotta run.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Jes' hanging 'round mah town

On my way to the college to pick up my transcript for a job application, I drove by my old haunt....where I became acquainted with Kona coffee four, five years ago. Ohhhhh - yum. Bad Ass was right across the street from the College as well as within a skip of work. They make good soup too.

The legend goes that donkeys were used to haul the coffee from the plantations in Haiwaii up the sides of the mountains to market - and the donkeys weren't always pleased - thus the name of the coffee company.

I stopped at my old place of employment and the bookkeeper/manager had been - uh - relieved of her duties. I left my resume - I loved working there - but I feel so beat up physically, not sure I want to work yet. Anyway, I think a job will click when its time to click, whether it be that one or another.

Today drove the 35 miles to the clinic that does the new back treatments. They want BEEEG moolah ($$$$$!!!!) up front, or BEEEEG moolah in three payments. I have to think and analyze some more. Yeh, that's a weakness. Analyze it to pieces by golly. I think I will visit my old chiropractor (who thinks these treatments might be a scam or close to one) - and have him look over my neurological records. Two of my good friends who really suffered with their books were able to obtain significant healing through these treatments, however. Also need to call my hubby's health insurance - most won't pay over $25 for a limited number of visits for chiro related treatment. It is a crime that the person who hit me has insurance which won't pay anything until they are good and ready (that way they force you to settle for less so you can have adequate medical care). To make matters more attorney has been way too silent.

I have to do something - I don't know if its the accident or what - but I hurt ALL OVER - my neck, back, hard to lift arms. Discouraging - so much to do!

The drive around town today - awesome. My car told me it was 78 degrees out so I rolled down the window and let the hot sun minister to my poor ol' aching bones. Grabbed a sliced barbecue pork sandwich - mmmmhmmmm. I want my X-M radio back so I can chew on barbecue and listen to the blues!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Rats Ahoy!

What's my fascination with rats you say? Well, none, actually other than wild ones are nasty. I had one eat my paints up, tubes and all when in storage. I committed murder with no remouse. Snap!

I just was perusing the news and found this clip - since there were only three fast food places where I worked out of State, and Taco Bell and Kentucky Fried were two of them, I gagged a bit watching these big fellows scampering about. I can never eat at either again.

I remember in high school we had a standing joke - there was a small hamburger joint a block from the school - it was a great time when we could get a dollar to go eat what we called "ratburgers" (it wasn't a very clean place) and fries. Best ones in town. The thought of scampering rats in the kitchen didn't bother me a bit.

However, I find the older I get, the more freaky I get about germs. Grandson & I went to Blimpie's today - and I noticed the workers wiping their noses, foreheads, and fiddling with their hair while wearing their plastic gloves. I started to fidget - the last straw was when I observed them handling money and then not changing the gloves before dipping the same gloves back into the lettuce and sandwich ingredients. Suddenly, I blurted out, "I want my money back, we aren't hungry." Finally I decided I needed to be honest. I explained what I observed. They were ticked. I needed to tell the truth.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Post Traumatic Stress

Took a drive the other day down the beach about fifteen minutes from where our house is. I had hoped that time had erased the damages from the hurricanes of a couple of years ago. It hadn't.
The public beach was fenced off with wire and there were signs that said "Stay on Walkways for Safety." The landscape was changed. Vegetation was attempting a recovery - trees and brush were black.
One of the most significant changes to the landscape was the amount of building that was going on. Condo after condo was going up. One would ask themselves, "Why would people want to live on the edge of a danger zone, especially after the awesome and horrible display of nature's power to destroy?
Well, I'm sure the builders all have enough money to sustain a loss. But what about us homeowners whose insurance has shot up 4,000 to 6,000 dollars more per year? What about our property taxes which are going up to provide amenities and infrastructure to the wealthy who build these highrises that bar our view of the beach and water? Now, instead of enjoying a view for free, we get to spend (and not easily affordable) around $3,000 a week to be 20 stories up with a pool below so we don't have to get that sticky sugar white sand on our bodies.
Already I am longing for the old days of gathering up baskets, towels, lotions, a good boom box and heading to the beach to loll in the sun, play in the water or snorkle, and enjoy family and friends, then head home for showers and laying around recovering from the hot sun, then pulling out the barbecue to make hamburgers. We will have to hunt for these places now.
Here is an excerpt from a study done on one of the storms that lashed through here at 140 mph and 85 mph.
A number of changes were seen on the Key when comparing the before and after pictures. The coastline was straightened in places and massive overwash fans were present at a number of locations. Large scale movement of sand was apparent across the entire study area. Man-made structures were severely damaged during hurricane Ivan; property damage can be seen in almost all the photographs. Wide-spread burial of features such as parking lots, roads, and tennis courts took place. Some buildings were flattened by wind and/or storm surges while other buildings were badly damaged, including missing roofs and/or missing sections of the building. Several boathouses and their associated piers were also damaged.
Now some of the folks from the Wyoming area might say, "What is the big deal, we've had 100 miles per hour breezes a good deal of the winter!" Well, the scientists say it is the pressure phenomena that arrives with these winds that generate over the water (for us, from along the coast of Africa usually) and that build as they get to warmer waters. The wind that was generated by Ivan caused 40 foot waves of water according to the report I read.
The weather can terrify, but the trauma stems also from watching your friends roam a pile of rubble that once was their home, looking for any trinket to hold on to. The trauma is from suddenly realizing that the community you live in is YOUR community, and its wounds are YOUR wounds. Trauma is when you walk out and find your car on its side, a tree through your window, half your roof gone, and you feel lucky. Trauma is standing in line an hour waiting for clean water. Trauma is not being able to reach your family to say, "Mother, we're ok." Trauma is eating army rations because the stores can't get food because of damaged roads. Trauma is when the nurses have to pump the ventilators by hand. Trauma is not knowing if your child made it through the storm alive where they were staying.
Why do we stay? I don't know - maybe Southerners are incredibly tougher than we think. Maybe the love of the coast and the water is worth it all. Maybe it is denial. Maybe where we are is just "home." I dunno. Maybe its the birds that begin their chatter and twirping early in the morning until late in the evening. Maybe it's the dragonflys on a hot still day that hover the garden with the sun glistening off shimmery wings. Maybe its the sounds of blues or jazz wafting from the restaurant you just walked by. Maybe its the festivals, the art shows, the concerts enjoyed from a blanket in the park under the 100 year old oaks. Maybe it is huge waxy magnolias, fragrant gardenias. Maybe it is soft southern accents. Why do we stay?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Musings on Mardi Gras

Wandering Coyotes' post about traditional serving of pancakes on Feb. 20th, got my curiousity going about more Mardi Gras traditions.

Usually Wikipedia is a great source, but all I could find was mostly on New Orleans Mardi Gras. Southern tradition here has it that Mardi Gras started in Mobile. Well, whatever. I think it has something to do with Catholicism, maybe there are Catholics out there that could enlighten me?

I found these old photos on Wikipedia. The fully clothed ladies with the whips are a far cry from the breast exposing babes of today's Mardi Gras. The whips were used to fend off unwelcome advances. (Must have been pretty wild even back then.)

We love to get our King Cake in Mardi Gras season. These are brightly colored almost sweet-rollish circles with a plastic baby baked into them. The person that gets the baby in their piece of King Cake is supposedly going to have good luck for the rest of the year.

It was interesting to note that the encyclopedia said the City of New Orleans is bankrupt and could not put lots of money into the parades and celebrations, so this is the first year that corporate sponsors were sought after.

Wikipedia also stated that Mardi Gras was introduced to New Orleans by the French. If that is so, then my next question to my Canadian friends is - are you guys celebrating with parades, etc.? Has the southern U.S. tradition of Mardi Gras been altered and assimilated into other customs? Anyone know?

Ah, sad New Orleans! I have to make a trip before too long - before the heat rises along with the humidity - and see her. One of my friends gathered some ladies together and they traveled over there, but it was a sobering event rather than the fun they expected. Well, we are STILL digging out of Ivan over here, still putting things back together - it will take the grand ol' dame of New Orleans years and years I fear.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Gaining the Kingdom Back or the Rodent Turd Wars or Woman on the Warpath

Well, I am making a bit of progress. The Christmas Tree is down, the presents put up, and the living room is now passable for living.
The purple couch is marvelous - it goes with everything! See that pale throw rug? Well, something bright and zowie is going there! I still have to get the carpet cleaned. Apparently one of the boy cats went rogue and well - - -
Ms. Meowi has made herself at home, apparenty sensing the study is MINE!
Little guy had to show me his fun day outfit for school - this is my study looking into the kitchen. I made my husband move his 130 books (don't ask how he got that many into the bookcase) on marriage out! I think he's an expert on marriage, only he must have another wife somewhere. Anyway, he has three other bookcases, this one is MINE.
Now - the awful thing about this reclamation project - is the RAT CRAP WARS! Little fellow has a pet white corn snake, which is really pale pink with hot pink stripes and even though snakes are down on my favorite pet list, this one is tolerable because he is PURTY. He stays in his aquarium like a good snake. Well, the story goes - snakes eat mice, rats. Supposed to be fed outside! So ex-son-in-law who thinks he owns the house does the snake feeding inside. He buys two rodents. The snake only wants one. Instead of flushing the blasted extra thing down the toilet, he locks it in my study! Yah. I am roaring crazy mad; imagine Turtle Woman on the Warpath. You betcha.
My husband figured out the whole rodent mess from the odor emanating from the study - and commanded ex- to get the blankety rodent out of the study, out of the house, period. Well, the rodent ended up in a plastic box in the garage. Next:
My husband heard the words all husbands fear to hear - "What in __________ is that dead body smell in the garage?" "Who has turned into Dahmer?" "I want answers, NOW, answers!"
Hubby headed to the garage and discovered plastic tub full of rodent droppings and pee that ex was storing in the garage. You'd think that was the last straw, right? Nope, it wasn't.
I continued cleaning the study - and found a folded up black plastic carry all. Looks like the cats have barfed on the outside. So I opened it and only the strongest will power kept me from adding to the barf. It was full of rodent crap and pee. So this is where the rodent was living. I screamed and took it directly to the garbage can outside.
And, under where the bag was, as a very special present for me from ex-son-in-law on my pale grey carpet, is a now yellow and black polka dotted with rodent excrement, grey carpet. We begin cleanup - Hubby goes back to garage to get old vacumn cleaner - who wants hanta virus in the new one? Vacumn cleaner is gone, OF COURSE.
Guess who has it? Yep, ex. Two calls, he refuses to bring it back. He thinks we have no business telling him what to do with his rodents. Tonight is the third night, the carpet has to be swept, cleaned, then sterilized. I feel a real urgency. Carpet will later have to be removed, a rather expensive project.
Today; still no vacumn. Three is the magic number, tonight I am calling him asking him if he thinks his right to keep rodents in my study/and or garage is more important than being jailed for stealing a vacumn cleaner from our garage.
Now, it all comes back why I spent two years in Wyoming facing down blizzards, ice, snow, boundary invading landlords, five ruptured discs from two accidents, hostile County Commissioners and employees, no sushi, loneliness and so on down the long list. No one will stand up to this crazy idiot - well, I'm taking my house back. The Rodent Turd Wars is not the only battle in the past with this fool.
Am I mean? Yes. Do I care? No. My house. I (& hubby) pay for it. I clean it. We pay the taxes. Idiot can keep rodents in HIS house and leave mine alone! Grrrr.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Blue Plate Special

As I go through getting my place in shape, I find art work I don't remember doing until I see it. This is one of two - called the Blue Plate Specials.

I must start painting today for at least an hour a day even if it means sitting down in a blooming mess. Some evil thing in me wants me to wait to paint until everything is "perfect" around me.

Mardi Gras parade at 2:00 and I think of the delicious possibility of photos - but worry about walking & standing. A scan of the movies and I see current (woo, woo what a treat) movies - like a Bridge to Tarabithia - the Labrynth - yay - civiliation! So much to do, so little time!

Have to get to it!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Is it STILL Christmas?

River in Louisiana - looks like a pretty nice place to come stay a couple of days in the summer and fish!

Help, help, help! Help me someone, anyone!

I've made some inroads moving back in - reclaimed the study and my corner of the kitchen for the easel and tambora (paint, art supply holder). My computer is up! I've transferred unemployment and registered here. Just finished paying the month's bills, while having a string cheese binge, but I'm too scared to see what's left (money, not string cheese) so I haven't balanced the check book just yet.

Stuff left to do:

Take down the Christmas Tree. Yes, they left it up - that way you don't have to go through the take down and put up for next Christmas, ya see. (And, the Valentine problem - yep, solved, because the tree makes you think its still Christmas, and yep, there are a few straggler presents under it.) Needless to say there are a few things about being back home that really stress me.

Still have to unpack three suitcases and a box. But have to figure out where to put it. My closet was bigger in WY, how did I get so many clothes? Besides, I stored lots of stuff in closet when I left - to prevent it getting lost, damaged or just disappearing. My giant $75.00 canvas has a hole poked in it where they laid sweeper attachments against it, sigh.

Dust everything, I'm coughing again. Find room to put things away in an organized manner when there is no room. Restore lawn - two years lacking water & fertilizer has not been good. Dig up front planter - most looks dead. Then replant. Find treatment for back. Get a primary doctor as now I am on an HMO and can't see my Crohns doc without a referral, or my Gyn, or my lung guy. Hey, I'm in good shape otherwise. And the list goes on - and on - and on, wash windows, blinds, have furnace serviced, find out if termite people are doing their job - no one remembers them being here, file taxes, etc.

I just really want to take a day and go mindlessly watch movies all day at the theatre and eat popcorn, hot dogs, nachos and drink coke. Did splurge on a manicure, pedicure. Daughters start me on habits I can't afford to keep up, always. Have not gone to eat sushi yet. Soon, soon.

Its cold here, but no wind, no ice, no snow. Hoo Hoo - that's good enough for me!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Road to Tucumcari

We stopped in Cheyenne and cleaned Ms. Kittie up for next leg of trip. The land was covered with snow obviously drifted deeply across the road in some places. Cuts by the snow plow left about three feet deep snow on each side of the road in places.
In southern Colorado I saw a large abandoned steel mill and an interesting looking little town, which I'm sure was suffering economically. Colorado had the worst roads of any state I've seen. I enjoyed the mountains, including Pike's Peak always being on my right. Colorado's mountains and forests are entirely different than Wyoming's.
On into New Mexico and finally losing the white, crusted, shining snow covered lands, I found a charming place called Las Vegas, New Mexico. I drove around enjoying the town, snapping pics. I especially enjoyed the old-fashioned drug store with old soda fountain and the little adobe gas station. At the station I met a man who told me about a road to Tucumcari which would cut about 2oo miles from my trip.
After a few miles, I should have had a clue that I wasn't going to like it when the speed limit dropped to 25 mph. On a highway? I slowed down, and then for miles felt like I would just faint away. I have an extreme fear of heights and the road to Tucumcari wound through steep, beautiful canyons. I should never have watched that documentary on the Road of Death in Peru. I could not look out at the vista which must have been awesome, because my head was swimming. Anyway, I made it and thankfully did not meet any other vehicles. Then, down, down, down, down, to flatter land. No wonder New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment. It was sooooooooo beautiful and fascinating.
I did not have any fantastic meals, as I lived off of string cheese and oranges on the trip. I thought if I spied a good Tex-Mex place in Las Vegas I would splurge - but it was too early in the morning.
The next States were a bit of Oklahoma and a skip across the top of Texas. Ugh. More later.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Leaving Wyo

Ms. Meowi - packed & ready to go - (complete with water bowl and clean up towels.)

The night before departure - reminds me of the old, old song, "Red Sails in the Sunset."

Bob Dylan (I think) had a song where he sang about "leaving Wyo" - in fact, there are at least a handful of songs about leaving Wyo - must be a good place to leave, drive through, visit, etc., not stay!

One of my daughter's friends, Paul, came over and networked us with a router - I'm on line on my OWN computer - it rocks! Thanks, Paul!

The two ladies prefer to remain anonymous due to cyber stalkers.

More pics later.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Settling In

Yippeee ki yo - I made it in! Not much time, had to run to Mobile this a.m. for granddaughter's band competition. They placed lst and - they are going to STATE! I was completely blown away - a private school band that sounds like the orchestra pit during a "CATS" show!

Now, slowly unloading car, putting things away.

Seems like during the time I was gone, the "hole" I left, if any, filled up quickly and most traces of me eradicated - now to dig my way back in - I started with the study, but still have not hooked my computer up yet. Daughter got the router connected with hers so hopefully can share high speed internet.

Miss Meowi seems quite happy. Psycho is even hissing at me, he likes being top dog - oops, cat. Big Meowi took off this a.m. Blast his hide - he scares me when he does that! He usually returns at 3:00 a.m. under the cover of darkness to shred the bedroom screens announcing that the pleasure of his highness' presence is now available.

I have pics of trip and some wandering stories, will post when I get a little more acclimated to actually "living" here. Now, off to visit each of you tonight - I hope. Gotta check the chicken & the brussels sprouts first.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Egads - not gone yet

well, surprise, surprise, I made it through the dialup - took two attempts - just a short note - I've been delayed because of weather - lots of snow, wind, ice, sub-zero temps - parts of Wyoming are 50 below. US Weather says the first of the week will be breaking for I-25, so I shall either do it tomorrow or Sunday! My mother has me freaked, convinced I will be blown off the road and freeze to death in some barrow pit. No wonder I have a morose personality...I mailed more stuff - not much is fitting in the car - going to have to leave stuff I would rather not leave - like my ceramics, some clothing - (some of which the dogs have already chewed up ) - my feather comforter (sob) - boy what a mess in Florida last night - I'm really getting the lectures today about how awful it is to live in Florida - but I have to remind her that we've had many, many highway deaths already this winter here in Wyo. "But they didn't lose their houses." "No, mother, but I guess they don't need them now, huh?" Gotta go - make arrangments to pick up Ms. Meowi - pack her stuff - clean up this bedroom - say a prayer I get out of here safely - once I hit New Mexico I ought to be ok. Miss ya all - first thing I'll do is get my 'puter up and going!!!!!!