Monday, November 10, 2008

What Was I Thinking?

In my previous post I said the waitress at the Buena Vista's rent was three times the midwesterners pad rental.

Then I looked it up.

A studio in The City goes for about $1400, and you can rent a spot for your mobile home in Nebraska for about $235.

My bad. Her rent is six times the pad rental. Tip her all I'm saying.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Black is Back

Wake up and smell the coffee. It's morning in America, and I've gone back to black.

I've downed many cups of well-creamed coffee over years past, now I'm going back to black. To tell the truth, I like cream or half 'n' half in my coffee because it cools it down, and "warms" it up at the same time. Black is so cold, even when it is piping hot. The word foodies use is "mouth feel." I like the creamy mouth feel you get from fat. It's cozy.

So why am I going without cozy coffee? No reason. It just seemed like time to make a change. Can I do it? Yes, I can.

I'm also drinking more wine than vodka lately, although wine has such a soporific effect on me I refer to it as Winesta. Even my best friends are getting sick of that quip, though, so this might be the last time I use it. If only that were true.

Not that I drink all that much, or all that often. Still, I do drink, and thanks to my dad, I can drink with my foot on the brake. My friends drink, too, thank god. And also thank god, we all drink pretty well. None of us are sloppy drunks. We all know when to stop. We all know when not to drive. We rarely cry, or puke, or get lezzy on each other...even though we are all charter members of the Lesbian Sex Club. (Two rules: you can't be a lesbian, and you can't have sex with another member.) But what I like best is, we all know how to order. When the server comes to our table we're not all, "Hmmm...I can't decide...I don't know...I wonder if I'd like a Sidecar. What is a Sidecar? No. I'll have a Chardonnay. What's a good Chardonnay?"

If you want to be my friend, you have to order your booze ~you'll pardon the expression~ like a man. Short of "Scotch. Neat." which is a little TOO manly...unless of course you ARE a women friends know what they want. And more important, what they drink doesn't embarrass me. Red wine works. Martini works. Tequila shot works. Even a Cadillac margarita, on the rocks, no salt works, but only if we are at Chili's or any such place that has a laminated, full-color photo flip chart drink menu on the table.

Just don't order a Cherry Vodka with Diet Lime Soda...also known as a Cherry Poppin' Daddy...UNLESS you are my beloved niece and her friend who are young enough and hip enough to order anything they want and not look dorky. They are still in their twenties. They are still experimenting. They are in the process of learning who they are, and they're doing it in style. On their 50th birthday, if they are still drinking Appletini's or wine spritzers I'll take them aside. For now, they're cool. Cool enough to drink coolers, that's how cool.

Back to my new black friend. I have to make a major exception for my black coffee switch: Irish coffee from The Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco. The BV prepares a perfect "Irish" which is its nickname, but to be honest, you can hold up two fingers and nod and I can guarantee the waitress won't ponder your meaning. Always order two. The first one is really, really good, but the second one is even better. And no, you can't order the second one first. And need I say this? Never order seven...unless of course you are sitting at a table with three other people. I had seven once...I recall of that night is hazy at best. About all I can remember is it was the first time I was in San Francisco and was not cold.

Sorry to be the big ol' Rule Maker, but so-help-me, if you order decaf, or no sugar, or no cream, I will reach through my blog window and choke the snot out of you. If you get the right waitress, your cocktail napkin will fly down onto your table top like a whirlybird. Tip her big time. She has to put up with tourists from the midwest who think 10% is a good tip, not realizing her apartment in SF is half the size of their mobile home, and three times their pad rental. She is the nicest mean lady you'll ever love to hate.

We live in a world that is changing. America always changes for the good. For some of us, this last know, the one that began before the previous election and cost more than the war...was a victory, and a disappointing defeat for others. But the American socialscape and its ideals are like the American landscape and its mountains, plains and rivers...high, broad, and always flowing. Another way to view and accept change is this: imagine a world without it.

I take my coffee black, my martini dry, my tequila straight, and I take my politics on the rocks, no salt.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bats and Spiders and Snakes...oh my.

Happy Halloween from Templeton. We take the holiday very seriously here. No fake decorations for us. Our pumpkins have seeds, our hay is for horses, and our creatures of the night are real!

We have a bat. "He" lives directly above the front door. He poops directly below the front door. And he has acquired a taste for giant insects that live here, too. We have retrieved no less than three giant bug heads from the porch since bat"man" moved in. He leaves the head and pincers behind. Now you know, some parts of a bug you just don't eat.

We also have lizards. They are the invited guests of Artsie. He befriends them, and brings them home to recover from their injuries. You see, nearly all of them are missing their tails. What a good kitizen you are, Mr. Cat.

We also have tarantulas. October is the month they migrate. They go from point A to point B, and they inch their way over whatever ground lies betwixt the two. They are completely harmless...if you don't see one and run away screaming so fast you trip and fall.

We have rattlesnakes as well. They eat gophers. And as you know, we also have coyotes, which eat snakes and cats, which eat gophers which feed snakes. Such are the rock, paper and scissors in the "game" of life.

No ghosts, no bleeding eyeballs, no skeletons, no witches (unless you count that woman at Citibank) and no need to decorate for Halloween here, boss.

Templeton, after the harvest, is paradise...if by paradise you mean a place fricking scary as Hell!

Speaking of harvest... this year we pulled 15 tons of fruit. Our estimated yield was 10-12 tons, so 15 tons is good. Really, really good. For those of you not familiar with agricultural terms, "to pull fruit" means a crew of knife-wielding Mexicans deftly coax bunch after bunch of grapes off the vines, hurling them into bins a'waiting. Up and down every row they go, until, mere hours later, a big honkin' truck loaded with 30,000 pounds of grapes escorts the purple little bundles to their new life first as juice, then as wine. And the pickers themselves are also the next vineyard. They will not stop working until the grapes are gone.

We all know wine is made from grapes, but when we drink it we rarely envision knife-wielding Mexicans, do we? We picture Lucy Ricardo with her skirt tucked between her legs, or if you're old enough, that jolly man who called himself "That Little Old Winemaker...Me," or maybe you picture the Sunmaid Raisin lady with her big basket of fruit and her sunny bonnet, and think wine grapes are probably harvested by one of her sluttier friends.

However you imagine the journey from grape to wine, take the time to be thankful for people like me who selflessly lose money year after year growing grapes, Mexicans who risk giant pinching bugs, hairy spiders and venomous snakes to get them off the vine, hemorrhoidal truckers who ship them, and the winemakers who, lord have mercy, try to negotiate a treaty between the gods of art and science in an effort to transform tiny balls of juice into the juice of balls.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Giving New Meaning to the Words "Left Bank"

Banks. Can't live with 'em. Can't live without 'em.

Citibank, I can live without.

I'm not much for boycotts, they rarely work, but I am for solidarity so I ask you, will you please help me punish Citibank? So long as punishing Citibank doesn't also punish you, that is. It's as simple as withdrawing your funds and putting them in another bank, a good bank, a bank like, say, Bank of America, Paso Robles Branch, where the wise and wonderful Jackie had the wisdom and wonderfulness to shed any bank-issued lead-lined robes and don angel wings. Her actions came on the heels of Citibank's indescribable rigidity and complete unwillingness to be human, no doubt caused by lead poisoning. Thank you, Jackie of Bank of America. Shame on you Citibank.

The sad, sad story of the bad banking practices which incurred my wrath will be reserved for the next two people who ask, and then the story will be retired, as other sad, sad stories have been retired. Unlike Beanie Babies, retirement does not increase their value, rather it banishes them to the sad, sad story dungeon where they will be forgotten. The only way the sad, sad story can be resurrected will be if Citibank comes to me and makes restitution, at which time I will rewrite the story and give it the happiest of endings, and in a sparkling new blog entry, I will ask you to cease all punishment of Citibank, possibly even encouraging you to utilize their services. But we all know that ain't happening.

Yeah. About that sad, sad story. You see, the way it works is, you had to have been at least second in line to hear it. Yeah. And you were third. Aww. Sorry. Yeah. You were third, and yeah, you had to be second. That's the policy. There's nothing I can do. Yeah. Sorry. If you had been second, you would have qualified to hear the story, but yeah, I can't tell the story to you if you're third. I wish I could. It's policy. Yeah, sorry.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Understanding Homer

Are you mad! You did what!? You willingly put that...that THING... into your mouth and swallowed! What are you? Some kind of self-destructive, sicko-pervert, twisted, glazed, custard-filled, fried fruit fritter freak? Step away from the bar. That's right, the maple bar.

Let's step back...oops, pardon me, Officer, sir...and take a closer look at the crime scene. A glass case, covered with fingerprints. A box that dispenses wax paper squares. A smiling counter clerk with one hand on a yet to be unfolded box and the other hand on a yet to be unfolded white paper bag. So what's it gonna be? One or two (or three) in a pristine white bag? Or a dozen...make that a baker's the box. If you buy the bag, you are admitting your guilt when you walk out the door. "Yeah, I bought three but I ate one before I got back to the car, so technically I ate two. And no one saw me, so one."

If you buy the box...sure it's a better deal, do the math...but the value is in the volume. They are not for you, they're for the gals in the office, the work crew, your kids, their teachers...the Others. And here's the beauty part, the box only holds twelve, so that baker's so called dozenth donut, went into an innocent, little white bag. You can eat it before you get back to the car and if no one saw you, who's to call it a crime? Back at the office of course, you can come clean. That is to say, you can wipe the sugar off your chin, and grab "just one".

But wait! What kind of pig eats an entire donut? No one, except that pale, skinny guy in the "I [lightning bolt] Jolt" T-shirt. He eats two, in four bites, and doesn't bother to wipe the sugar off his chin because he's saving that for his lunch. So you cut them into halves or maybe even quarters. And you put a little stack of crispy white napkins next to the box. Sure, they're little now, but if you unfold them, and stack two together, they're the Chinet of stealth snackers world over. Your grandma could fit a whole basket of dinner rolls into a paper napkin strategically folded, and still have room for the foil wrapped butter pats.

Where you put the box requires some strategic planning. Should you put it in the break room, on your desk, under your desk? Heavens (and by that we mean Hell) no. You walk around the office offering them to people. Starting, of course, with the thin ones, the vegans, the gays. They won't take even so much as a quarter. They just ate...a hyoooge Breakfast Salad, consisting of a tablespoon of plain acidophilus yogurt, an organic peach slice, 5 wild Maine blueberries, and nine flaxseed and wheat germ granola buds. "If I ate that I think I'd have to hurl"...which is sad, because it is also true. (Do they really think we don't know?)

So you move on to the next tier: Guys who work out and single women. He's crunching the numbers, "How many crunches would I have to do to work off two quarters of the plain cake?" She's trying to remember the last time she had sex, and thinking, "Oh no! I can't even remember the last time I had sex! What if the last time I had sex was the last time I will EVER have sex, and I missed it! I'll just take a little piece of each."

The last group, which includes you, has no qualms about eating deep-fried white flour and sugar-coated heart attack bombs. These seasoned donut-eaters know to layer three napkins, and they take two more for their face and hands, because through experience they have learned how to use coffee to make moistened towelettes. They are silently annoyed that you cut them up, but they know why you did. Still, they take advantage of the system and take one quarter of each kind, knowing full well that by 4 o'clock the remaining stray rejects will become victims of drive-by chocolate coconut poppers, so dried out that no one will even bother to use the cut side to gather up the loose droppings of sugar, frosting and sprinkles littering the bottom of the box.

It's a sad end to a glorious journey from vat of boiling oil to permanent exile in the lily white ass of a post-menopausal, divorcee with no recollection of having had sex...ever. The good news is, while there are still donuts in the world, who's complaining? Not me, Officer.

On the other hand, if you're young, lean, single, fit and healthy, go to "Heaven"! Kidding. Just say NO. It's white flour, mixed with white sugar, and fried in hot fat. How much more evidence do you need to convict this brutal criminal element waddling free in our society. Did it occur to you that cops hang out in donut shops because donuts are a crime in progress? Yeah, I thought as much. And if you remain unconvinced, and still want to eat one harmless little donut, try this mental aversion technique: Imagine whirring the donut in a blender, and drinking it. Yes, you may go and hurl now.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Freedom AND Information: How Much is TOO Much?

The Freedom of Information Act. It's what makes America great. ONE of the things, anyway. The underpinnings of it are that We, The People like to have facts that help us choose. Our right to choose is as dear to us as the right to know. The Constitution grants us neither. Ah, but the Internet, grants us BOTH!

In the loosie-goosie sense of the word, not the legal-eagle sense, we have the "right" to send information to the internet for all the world to read. And we also have the right to choose what to read, and perhaps more important what NOT to read.

Here's where you separate the muck from the duck. There is so much...make that soooooo much much much...out there to read, or not read, that we have been forced to apply filters to our lives to shield us from an informational tsunami. And the filters aren't working.

The filters, like the filters on a swimming pool, can only remove the innocent little leaves and papery petals that are sucked into that little trap door on the side of the pool. The wasps and yellow jackets, and those tiny black "dirty bastard bitey bugs" as my friends and I have dubbed them, land in the water, right next to us--and they'll have hours of opportunity to sting us-- or bite us, which is it-- before they meet their eventual fate. And so it is with the wordy bastard bitey bugs that land next to us as we float idly along in front of our televisions and computers. We have the technology to filter the flotsam from the jetsam, but we can't seem to keep out the stuff that truly bugs us. In case you were wondering, flotsam is stuff floating in the water, jetsam is stuff someone threw overboard. Wonder no more.

Television commercials are jetsam, like colorful beach balls and inflatable pool toys thrown from a party boat--crazy good fun, sometimes not a good fit for you, but a great fit for someone else. They pop easily, but they were cheap in the first place. Sometimes the jetsam is from a corporate yacht--expensive, custom tailored life jackets offering security and long wear. But here's the thing with commercials: the boat owner is paying for your entertainment. Without commercials, there would be no boat, no toys, nothing.

Computer "commercials" are another kind of jetsam entirely. For one, spam-gangers don't need to provide the boat, the toys, the entertainment or the life preservers. They just toss a big ol' nasty mess overboard guessing someone is bound to mistake the net for a rope. And it must be working, because they keep throwing crud over the side. And someone keeps grabbing the rope.

What should we do? As much as we might like to stay ashore and not get our feet wet, we cannot. The sea level is rising, and soon there will be no shore. In preparation for this eventuality, how about learning to swim through the innocent little leaves in the great unfiltered sea of information? Then, how about finding a way to scoop out the dirty bastard bitey bugs before they can sting us. And finally, how's about learning to discern the difference between a net and a rope. Because sometimes the thing thrown off the boat actually IS a life saver, and if you don't grab on to it, you surely will sink.

If you're 80 years or older--and in hospice--you can stay ashore. If you're reading this, grab your scuba gear. Next stop Waterworld.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Kids Post the Darndest Things

Yesterday LA had an earthquake. And the levels of devastation were beyond comprehension. I heard one woman's French manicure went on totally crooked and she had to remove the polish and start completely over. And a guy was carrying a tray of Cadillac margaritas and the quake caused the Grand Marnier float to totally mix in. The humanity of it all.

Here's my deal. My son works in LA, on the sixth floor of a building that overlooks the 405 parking lot...I mean freeway. He called to tell me he was okay, not knowing I had not yet heard about any quakin' going on. I thought, what a great kid. He thought enough of my feelings to put me out of my misery...even when I had no misery to be put out of.

So later, I'm on FaceBook...don't ask, a friend put me up to it...and for those of you who don't know about FaceBook, there is this feature where it asks, "What are you doing right now?" and you type in, oh, I don't know...what you're doing right then, and such as that. Anyone reading about me would see, "Lori is..." followed by my most recent entry. Mine said, "Lori is...recording coyotes howling from the gulch." I was up at two a.m. the night before doing just that.

One of my FaceBook friend's entry was this, "Daniel is... earthquake." He must have been on FaceBook when the quake hit. If you knew Dan this would not surprise you. He's all about socialization and connecting with people. But my son's FaceBook entry was this: "Joey is...buried under six stories of rubble."

I think I busted my O key when I wrote back, "That is SOOOOOO not funny." Even though it kind of was. In a morbid way. But I "do" morbid. My sisters and I could call ourselves the Gallows Humor Gals. We are sicko's to put it mildly.

And so, it would seem, is my son a Gallows Humor Guy. Welcome to the club, Joey. And know this, if you had NOT called me BEFORE I read that, and I had needlessly choked on the razor sharp blades of terror and drowned my lungs in buckets of bitter tears of grief, make that scald my face with the caustic tears of all-consuming grief, I would have been forced to come down to LA and sick my rabid, but well-trained eyeball-eating raccoons on you...while you slept. Muahahahaha! Love, Mommy.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Marshmallows in the Snow

If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all. There's a message we've all given to others...and we've all received from others. It's an offshoot of the Golden Rule. Both are good rules, for the most part. But for bloggers, who are all about expressing a thought, or relating an experience, or shining light on a foible, it is a particularly vexing rule.

When bloggers blog they often write about a piece of life. A snippet. A snapshot. And their views are not always delightful and positive because to do that would be like taking a snapshot of a polar bear eating marshmallows in the snow...too white. No contrast.

When I wrote about my observations about the Hell fair I got hand-slapped by a reader for my not having anything nice to say. The insinuation was, so don't say anything at all. I am here to defend my observations.

Let me start by saying, I love The Fair. I love corn dogs. I love the bright lights of the midway at night. I love the smell and cacophony of the animal barns. I love the dorky green ties the FFA kids wear. I love the vendor booths, especially the ones with really good demos and free samples, like the VitaMix demo, still too soon to ask but, guy man, one machine can make both ice cream AND soup! The ShamWow can soak up a 2 liter bottle of Diet Coke! The stainless steel cookware is cure cancer! The titanium bracelet cures everything else! It's all good. I love love love the fair.

This year's fair, and to be "fair" I only went late on this one Saturday night, was a tad more hellish than usual. Maybe it was because the Stone Temple Pilots were performing and they attract a different crowd than say Al Jardine of the Beach Boys. Maybe they were filming an episode of "Paso Robles Ink" that night. Maybe there was a babysitter strike. Maybe carnie-folk are good, clean, sober people who, even though they have advanced college degrees, take time to teach Sunday school before they get back to their fair job. After all, the fair doesn't open until noon. Plenty of time to get in a meditation and do your Tai Chi. I may have seriously misjudged the people I saw at the fair. And you might ask who am I to judge?

Here's the answer to that: I am the person who was eye witness to a snippet of life, and wrote about it. I am also the person who says to the hand-slappers of the world...if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Those Poor Unfortunate Souls

If there is a Hell, and if you're walking past its gates on your way to the pearly ones, peek inside. Bet me fifty bucks there isn't a big ol' ferris wheel smack dab in the middle of it.

Last night I went to the Mid State Fair in Paso Robles, California. "God's country" my lily white buttocks. $15 to park. $8 to get in. Corn dogs are $4.50. And if you must know, the VitaMix is up to $449 this year. DON'T ask me how I know.

The fair is, I think, a sort of clearing house for the future residents of Hell. The devil roams the grounds, taking notes and snapping a few photos with his BlackBerry. Later, he'll run them past The Master, and I'm pretty sure Bill Gates. And come time, some poor unfortunate soul will arrive at Will Call. His picture, contact information, and resume will already be in the database. All he'll need to do is show an acceptable form of ID. The name on his hand-carved leather belt should do it.

"Our records indicate you took your two-year-old son to the fair after 10 pm. Is this correct?" the gatekeeper will ask. "And your wife was pregnant at the time, is that right?" You bought them both deep-fried Twinkies. Correction, your son got the Twinkie, your wife had a deep fried Snickers, correct me if I'm wrong. Had you been drinking? Beer perhaps? Wasn't the money you spent on beer, deep-fried foods and attempts to shoot the star out of the center of a wiggling piece of paper with a shot-worn BB gun supposed to be money you were saving for your next tattoo? I thought as much." {~stamp~} "Approved!"

"I apologize for the third degree. Most of our applicants would not have bothered to feed their wife and child. You have to admit it seems suspicious, what with all the opportunities to terrify your child and humiliate your wife within such easy reach. Instead you chose to, I can't even say it, nourish them. Yet under all these suspicious circumstances I am forced to allow you to enter. There's a note in your file from Bill Clinton saying you voted for him and he feels he owes you. Go on in. The flavored margarita stand is off to the left, and the knock-off Oakley sunglasses are straight ahead. Dinner tonight is churros. Remember to get your hand stamped if you leave and want to re-enter."

"Next! It says here you WORKED in the carnival industry...on and off...since you dropped out of the sixth grade. {~stamp~} "Approved!"

Friday, July 18, 2008

Coyotes in the Night

Last night was the full moon. With all the fires in California this fire season--the other 49 states call it summer time-- the moon was the color of a ripe peach. I know what you're thinking, "Where'd you find a ripe peach!?" Hey, I'm 54. In my lifetime I've actually EATEN a ripe peach. You kids will never know what that's like. And did you know watermelons used to have black seeds in them? Apparently they were more than just seeds, they were flavor pods, because the newfangled watermelons have neither seeds nor flavor. Let's get back to the peach-colored moon.

The moon was full, and the light of it was so bright it shone on the pool cover until it glowed like a sheet of ice. It looked like you could skate on it. But I'm in no mood for skating, Mr. Cat is still out and he's not taking my calls. "Mither Cyat. Mither Cyat. Time'a come inna houth now Mither Cyat!" I call him like this every night. And every night he comes to that lispy stupid kitty talk call. Tonight nothing.

I lay down on the bed and eat a chunk of watermelon knowing full well it will cause "watermelon dreams." Watermelon dreams, like pizza dreams, are bizarro dreams that are almost fun to have, and more fun to tell, but disturbing. Not scary, just odder than odd. I watch TiVo. I get sleepy. I drift off and awaken to the familiar sound of the coyotes whose den is down in a gulch behind the vineyard, I'm pretty sure. The neighbor dogs are barking. The coyotes are...well, the thing is, coyotes don't bark. They yowl, or sing, more like hyenas than dogs. They almost sound like children pretending they're Indians. Do your best Native American impression and raise the pitch two or three octaves. You got it.

The sounds of the coyotes, the fullness of the moon, the watermelon...and Artsie not curled up on my legs...brings terror to my gut. They are night hunters. They have a full moon. Tonight they can see their prey. Artsie is not home because they've eaten him. And I won't know until morning that he is, for sure, coyote chow.

I fall asleep the only way a late-night watermelon eater can, in other words, not quite. It's the worry hour, between 2 and 3 a.m. Not to be confused with the worry hours (pl), between 1 and 4 a.m. This is the time of the night when your mind cannot be trusted. Its thoughts are not yours. Its thoughts are not real. It is dark outside, and it is dark inside...your brain. Stop it. Stop it. He'll be fine. He'll jump up on the bed any minute now with that Vinnie Barbarino look on his face and, "Whut." on his lips.

Good god, who is that! It is 3:47 a.m. and my cell phone is ringing. It was only when it woke me up I realized I was asleep. Oh no, it's Julie. I answer, "Hi, Julie. You scared me. You woke me up. What's the matter?" She's talking to someone else. I listen carefully because OBVIOUSLY she dialed my number in stealth so I could be ear-witness to the rape, murder, robbery or other heinous crime being perpetrated on her at this moment and with the help of a crack team of Crime Scene Investigators we would find her perp and effectively convict him.

Except she's saying things like, "We landed early." And I hear the clicking of seat belts. She's on a plane. She's deplaning. She must have dialed me accidentally when she turned her phone on after landing. I hung up. Unless there are snakes on the plane, she's okay.

And just then, onto the bed, leaps Artsie. I'm all, "Mither Cyat, Mither Cyat! You're alive. You're home. You're safe. The coyotes didn't eat you!" And he's all, "Whut."

We fell asleep in a heap.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

iPhone: And We're Back

This was posted less than two hours after my previous so sad Apple hoo, waa waa...poor me.

Everything's all back to normal.

Apple rocks! All my cool little apps work. I paid bills from my phone. I checked my PayPal balance. My iPhone is back. I am back. The world is turning. The cosmos is in balance. I love you, Apple.

How cool is this?


iPhone: A Million Bad Apples

I never dreamed this day would come. Apple wasn't perfect. I have long held the belief that PC users are banging around in Hell, wailing and gnashing their teeth, and pulling their hair. These poor unfortunate souls wade through viral cesspools...barefooted and blind...unaware that behind the slime covered, windows...of Hell are doorways to Heaven. And those doors have crisp apples etched in frosted glass, and they push open easily, and once you pass the threshold the world is bright and glowing, and the air is fresh and cool, and the people are smiling and they have all their hair.

When the new iPhone 3G was announced I piddled my pants a tiny bit. Still, I knew I wouldn't be an early adopter. My iPhone works just fine. All I'm going to do is download the 2.0 software and wait until the lines get a little shorter. I think I can go six months without caving.

But even before they knew of my plan to restrain myself the Apple "jealots" (I am the Apple zealot of which they are jealous) would warn me to wait "until they get the bugs worked out." Bugs, ha. Apple doesn't "do" bugs. Or worms. Or any of the afflictions PC's do do. (hee hee)

I downloaded the new software last night, along with a couple dozen of the new Apps...the free ones. See me showing restraint? Apparently, I was not alone. Overconfidence? Zeal? Whatever drove our bus over the cliff I don't know, but I can see on my iPhone screen that was one BIG BUG. Or more likely a million little tiny ones.

Whatever happened, things are wayhayhayhay messed up today. My address book is displaying contact information from four years ago. None of my bitchen new apps work. I can't text anyone, even if I type in everything by hand. What a mess. What a mess. Good god, what a mess. At least AT&T is holding up their end. I can make calls. Whoo hoo! A phone that can make calls. What is this, 2006?

To do my part I deleted the apps, my photos and music. I just said no to push contacts, mail and calendar, and I put my phone on manual sync. I may have gone too far, but at least I'm not putting any demands on the system while "they" are working on "it".

That's all they need...a bunch of Apple geeks like me singing "Are We There Yet" (to the tune of Frere Jacques) and blowing spit wads at the backs of their heads while they are busy trying to restore the devices on which we depend...and from which we can order our Depends.

My greatest fear is not wrath from temporary refugees like me. My fear is some ass hole will launch a multi-million dollar hissy fit over this. I would ask that none of us be lured into that trap. A class action suit might put a twenty dollar bill in your pocket, but it will cost us all much more than that.

Patience is the easiest thing to have in all the world. You just sit and do nothing and it lands in your lap.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Live! From Santa Cruz!

Tonight is Open Mic Night at the World Famous Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz. The tunes are groovin' uke style and the night is hot! Like 90 degrees hot.

Live blogging might NOT be the coolest thing to be doing so the iPhone gets tucked away in 2 seconds but until then keep on strumming your uke folks!

Goodnight from Bocci Cellar!

Friday, May 30, 2008

No Bootsie

I found a tuft of Bootsie's fur at the site of her doom. And another pound of it on my bed where she used to sleep.

With all the hubbub of that night I wasn't so much sad as I was astounded, shocked and horrified at the tremendous drama of the cat snatch, the water gush, the hot sauce in the eye.

The grieving did come, when I cozied with her brother Artsie, aka Mr. Cat. I buried my face in his curl where I heard the teeniest tiniest purr a cat can make. It was only audible because my ear was buried deep in his belly. And that made me think of this: maybe cats purr all the time. Like a kitty pilot light, maybe we can only hear the purr when they turn it up for us.

It was the sound of his purr that made me miss her purr, and then I cried for her. And it felt kind of good to cry. Having Mither Cyat there as my silent witness helped, too. In fact, that's when cats are at their best, when they're listening in silence. They are so aloof when you demand their attention, but when you are still and quiet, even if it is the sad zone, or the sick zone, that's when a cats' quiet ways turn from cold and remote to there for you.

I've found there is no shortage of people who have a dead cat story to swing. I have a few less recent versions of those stories myself. Still, even though it has been a short time since yesterday, I think I'm done sharing my story. Next time someone asks how I'm doing, I'll give them the usual, "Fine thanks, and you?" instead of the "Where do you want me to start?" Bootsie is gone and that's all folks.

It did occur to me that Mercury went retrograde on Monday, so I'm not so naive as to assume they'll be no more drama between now and June 19 when it goes direct again. I just hope I get to keep the boy cat around to sop up any stray tears. If he gets grabbed by a coyote, my next post will no doubt be entitled, "Shotgun Wanted".

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Getting Closure

It is 3 a.m. I'm up, awake, and my face is on fire. The fire department just left. It's not what you think.

I heard a cat fight. It woke me up from a sound sleep. It was a terrible, sudden, vicious fight, of an unusually short duration. No yowling and threatening growls, just that wild and wicked, scary cat sound you would make if you were doing the voice-over for a cartoon scene of a cat fight.

The cat sounds stopped mid-scream...and I heard something loping away crunching the dry grasses of the vineyard as it ran along the fence line away from the house. Coyotes lope.

I don't know with absolute certainty, but I suspect our kittie, Bootsie, was the victim of a coyote attack tonight. Her brother, Artsie, was sitting on the bed with the look of...of...well, he had the look of "Good. You're up. Pour yourself some coffee and then you can put some food in my dish, how's that sound?" What he did not have was the look of "What was that sound? Where's my sister? Was that loping? Do you smell coyote? Let's chase after it!" Artsie is a cat. Those are clearly dog words.

I won't know until later today, but I suspect Bootsie is either dead, or injured beyond the point of repair. My angel of optimism is insisting she got away and is hiding until morning. Won't that be a nice surprise.

But wait, there's more.

I stood at the window, yelling "Hey! Hey! Hey!" as if the shouts of a human had any effect on a predator's dinner quest. When the cat sounds stopped suddenly, I listened. I wanted to hear cat sounds. Cat running toward the house sounds. I wanted to see, or hear, Bootsie high tailing it back home with her tail all fluffed out and her eyes all big and glassy. All I heard was loping...and water running?

I put my Ugh boots on, and grabbed my big heavy flashlight, thinking I'd need to fend off a canine creature of the night...yeah right...and I headed out into the night toward the sound of the running water. A pipe had broken off at ground level and gallons of water were spewing out. It was well water, so I didn't panic about my water bill. In fact, I was quite calm and present. I picked up the part that broke off so I could use it to help measure for some kind of plug, and walked back to the house muttering to myself as if I were formulating the plan that would stop the water flow.

I returned with a rubber mallet, a pipe of larger diameter, duct tape and scissors, my glasses and some nylon zip ties. See how calm I was! I fashioned a slip-sleeve that was duct taped closed on one end. I tamped it down with the mallet and the zip ties held it in place. Water is a mighty adversary. My dorky rigging failed miserably.

Thinking of water as my adversary made me think of Bootsie's adversary and I scanned the dark vineyard with my flashlight while occasionally giving my more urgent problem the good old look-see. You know, where you just look at it...and think.

I had to do something, so I did what any child of the 50's would do, I applied a few methods popularized by the Three Stooges. First, put your hand over it, and get splashed in the face. Next, put your foot over it, and get splashed up the leg. Stop. Look at it, and try your foot again. Thanks folks, you've been a great audience. Exit to the garage. No wait, the kitchen!

In the kitchen I found a small bottle that had the same dimension of the inside of the pipe which, clever me, I had been carrying around just in case I ran into a bucket of giant rubber stoppers. I took the little bottle out to the gusher and stuffed it in the hole. Water sprayed out, but I almost had it. The problem was the lid! If I took off the lid, it would be a perfect fit, the water would stop, I'd zip tie the bottle to the iron stake, and there you have it. Except for the fact that it didn't work. Only now my proof of failure was a face full of Hottest F***ing Sauce hot sauce. My right eye, my right ear and my cheek are burning, water is gushing, and I'm standing outside, soaking wet, in the dark at 3 in the morning. Don't let "in the morning" fool you. It is night time. And quite possibly the dead of night for darling Bootsie.

In the house again, I put milk on my face because somewhere I read milk is better than water for stopping a capsaicin burn. Despite the pain and failure, I was able to muster thanks to my lucky stars that my miseries did not involve a skunk.

Gee, here's a thought, call 911. "What is your emergency?" is how the dispatcher answered the phone. I was embarrassed because my so-called emergency was so dumb. I'm pretty sure the 911 tapes will sound something like this: "a coyote got my cat...this is not an emergency really...I mean, no one is person is cat...I heard water...I tried to stop face is burning...I used hot sauce...I'm okay...I have milk on it...the water is running...I can't stop it..." until she interrupted me, and after determining I didn't need a paramedic, suggested I speak with the fire department. She transferred me. Help was coming.

I changed my clothes, washed the milk off my face, brushed my wet hair back and waited in the driveway with my big flashlight. After a few minutes two big diesel trucks and four firemen (one of whom was a woman) arrived. I can't tell you how validating it was to see them point their flashlights at the water and give it the old look-see.

We found the breaker and turned off the well pump so it would stop drawing water from the well, filling the storage tank. Good. Then we tromped down to the well and one of the guys closed a few valves, and made sure I knew which ones. Good. Thanks. We walked back up to find the water had stopped. On the way, one of the firemen sneezed and one of the other guys remarked maybe he was allergic to coyotes. Gallows humor, gotta love it.

Now it's a plumber's job...and maybe a vet's job. If Bootsie comes home happy and safe, or if I find an empty collar, or anything in between, I will be sure to post the news, good or bad.

In life and pipes, closure is important.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For

Uh-oh. A few posts ago I said these words, "Vespa For Sale." Now I find myself caught in the tractor beam of the Law of Attraction. Yikes. There's a guy who, gulp, wants to buy my Vespa. And yeah, I said I wanted to sell it, but, but, but...I'm having seller's remorse. Caveat Dumptor.

I guess I could exercise the greatest power known to man. No, not free will...lying. I could simply LIE to him and say it is already sold. Problem solved.

But what will that do to my karmic scale? It is already burdened with the heavy weights of past-told lies. "Any coffee is good coffee.", "Kraft Lite? Whatever. Mayonnaise is mayonnaise." and the lie I have told most often, "I'm half Italian." For some reason, whenever I get around someone who is Italian, I tell them I am half Italian. What is that?! I am, legitimately, a quarter Italian, because my dad was half. But I rarely show my math when I lie this lie.

What makes this stupid lie even worse is I am half! But Norwegian! My mom is full-blooded (not to be confused with cold-blooded). Still, even if I lied and said I was 100% Norwegian it wouldn't have the ethnic punch half Italian does. I don't even get any satisfaction from telling a Norwegian person I'm half. In fact, the only value my half Norwegian blood gives me is when I run into a Swede. "A Swede is a Norwegian with his brains knocked out" is a common expression with Norskies. Come to find out a common expression with Swedes is the very clever, "A Norwegian is a Swede with his brains knocked out." Oh, those scrappy folks from Latitude 62. (It's the nights. They're long and cold.)

Here's the question, when did the truth get so limp-dicked? When did lying become the cure? Which direction are we headed...on the easy, shaded path of the convenient lie, or up the shear granite face of respect for the power of the truth?

When this guy emails me back, I am going to tell him the truth. I am going to say, "I am half Norwegian, and although I have cooled on the idea of selling my Vespa, I feel like I have to be nice and let you buy it anyway. But my one quarter Italian blood wants to ride it wildly through the streets of Rome, with Audrey Hepburn on the seat behind me, laughing gleefully, her delicate white hands on my shoulders, both of us sporting sassy new do's. And even though my inner Norsky has twice as many delegates, my inner Wop is again the winner. I'm sorry, Vespa not for sale.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Best Mother's Day Gift EVER!

On Mother's Day I put my arms around my daughter. I hadn't seen her for a couple of years. It had been so long I could barely remember how amazing and unique that simple gesture feels. Sure, I hug friends, even strangers, and I get it, hugging is a good thing. But to put your arms around your own daughter is like no other feeling, except perhaps putting your arms around your own son! Then again, sons hug differently. They aren't as melty as girls. They hug with either too much manly gusto, or they keep back a bit so as to not breach the invisible force field that separates close from too close.

My arms fit around my daughter like I had the arms of ElastiGirl. It was Incredible. I felt like I could pass my flesh and bones through her flesh and bones, and back out again. The wave of emotion I felt surprised me, though, when I realized it was guilt. I had let too much time pass between us. I should have flown to London when she lived there. I should have flown to NY to see her new place. I should have toasted her 21st birthday with her. Sure, she said I didn't need to do any of those things, but I should not have listened. I should have made those efforts anyway. As her mother, it was my place to "be there for her." Even though that expression is too-much-used, it bears a simple truth, I should have been there for her. I did the wrong thing by listening to the words and missing the message.

She's in the hardest part of life...the twenties. She will not know it is the hardest part until she's well past it. Right now she is under the impression it is the best part. She's free, self-supporting, independent. This is how a prisoner feels when his head pops out of the tunnel he's dug under the fence. He runs for the shelter of the forest, finds a ripe berry patch and a spring to drink from, hitches a ride to the next town. He gets hired by some kindly folks, and spends his first paycheck on a new pair of boots. He may worry from time to time that he'll get caught, but freedom is so tasty he is delirious.

When she hits 30 she will wonder where are her kids, where is her house, where is her 401K? In her 40's she'll have her kids and house and 401K, but wonder where is her life, where are her flat abs. In her 50's she'll get a new life and a new house and wonder, again, where are her kids, and if she spends the money on a tummy tuck will her 401K be enough to live on when she's in her 60's.

Or maybe she'll hitch a ride to the next town and get hired by some kindly folks. Come to think of it, maybe she is in the best part of life, because even though the 20's are a lot of work they are the most free time of life.

And as much as I may envy her freedom, maybe my job is not to be there for her, but to be here for her.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Sun. Oh God, I Love You

The sun is why Earth is here, why Earth is habitable, why we have air, warmth and light, food and water, day and night. Yes, night. Night is simply us in Earth's shady part. The sun is on the other side. Correction, WE are on the other side.

We humans wouldn't be here if the sun hadn't got here first. And if it goes, we'll have no choice but to go too. In fact, that is exactly what is happening right this minute. The sun is going. It is continually burning...out.

Since the sun is how we measure time and since other than to mark it we have zero control over time, and since the sun seems to be taking its time, going, I think we should show some gratitude while there still IS time, not for the sun's sake, but for our own--so we don't forget how vitally important it is to our very existence.

The sun doesn't need us to worship it, or give thanks to it, or pay homage (or dues) to it. If we curse it, it doesn't get offended. If we block it out of our daily lives it burns on despite us, never to smite us. In terms of life-giving deities, the sun is very low maintenance. The sun is the best "god" ever.

I totally get why the history of man has stories about sun worshippers. Really, I think they had it right. It was the rituals and human sacrifices they messed up on.

Our history also has Earth worshippers. I get that, too, but again, they go too far.

Spirit guides, angels, prophets, saints--we go too far.

The sun is the thing. It's the thing of it all.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Gone Green

I can't explain why, but today everything that was green was greener. Even yellow was green. I looked around to see if anything was NOT green, and of course some things were...not green, that is...but most of the world was green for a while. Very odd. Very cool.

Green is the most alive of all the colors. Funny that green also means not ripe. Today the world looked pretty ripe to me, boy.

Friday, April 11, 2008

How Lo' Can She Go?

Today is my mom's 85th birthday. Her name is Lola, and sometimes I call her Lo-- because that extra syllable just seems like too much effort.

In familial conversations, we refer to her as Gramma Yo. For a granddaughter who was not able to make an L sound, Lola was a tricky one. It came out Gramma Yo, short for Yoya. Some people insist the name comes from Grammy O, for Oliver, which would make sense for my dad, then, to be called Poppy O, rather than his real grandpa name, Poppa Yo. I prefer to think it was the cosmos balancing out all those years my mom was referred to as Mrs. Leonard Oliver. It was her turn to be moniker monitor.

Lo isn't too happy about the big eight five. She's at the age where you start to question the value of aiming for longevity. And here's the kicker: longevity was never her aim. It is, in a profound sense, her curse.

You see, she smoked for years and years. Cancer, heart disease, pregnancy...fuhgeddaboudit. She was going to smoke anyway. She lived on coffee and cigarettes for over 50-60 years. Lean, tall, strong, athletic...she was adept at most sports, although she never played sports. About the only sport she wasn't good at was swimming. Too lean to float--and hard to keep a cigarette lit!

In old age, her doctors told her her thin body was a good thing because she wasn't puttin as much pressure on her joints as a fat old lady would. And she was not a candidate for adult onset diabetes. And her heart could pump enough blood to her extremities because it didn't have to work so hard to feed the lard.

Those damn cigarettes, though, demand their fair share. Sure, smoking kept her thin, and kept her busy, helped her relax and made her look like a glamorous movie star (Lauren Bacall), but there was a price to be paid for the "get out of cancer free" card. For one, she is blinded by macular degeneration and she has osteoporosis, arthritis and a weak, irregular heart beat.

So now you have a woman who went from bone thin to thin bones, from tall to short, from seeing what her kids were doing behind closed doors to not seeing the door.

She is 85 years OLD. And life is not fun...or worth it...any more.

If I were to deliver some sage wisdom, stolen from her history book, it would be this: Think very carefully about the absolutely dirty rotten trick cigarettes are, and about the absolutely dirty rotten trick longevity is, and live your life from this dawn to the next dawn getting eight hours of good sleep, a glass of wine, and some buttered toast in there somewhere.

"Live in the Now" may sound New Age, but give me New Age over Old Age any day.

Monday, April 7, 2008

O, the Power of None

You buy an appliance with an on/off switch. It has two mysteriously simple symbols on it. One resembles a 1 and the other a zero. Or perhaps they are an I and an O. Which symbol indicates on, and which indicates off?

You think for minute about binary code. Okay, I think for a minute about binary code. Binary code is composed entirely of zeroes and ones. Our world of computers...make that our world binary.

One means yes--on, positive, point gained. Zero means no--off, no points, nuttin' honey.

Here's the cruel joke: The line and the circle look like numbers, but are not numbers. They also look like letters, but are not letters. They are symbols. Mysterious. Simple. Almost 2 simple. Yet too complex to include in a blog page without knowing some HTML.

Here's how my mind works, and why the symbols confuse me to this day: the line symbol looks closed, like a sea otter's nostrils underwater. The circle symbol looks open, like a sea otter opening its nostrils to take a deep breath. Big O, open. Open wide. Spread out your arms and give me a hug. Oh that feels good. In XO XO, the X's are the kisses and the O's are the hugs. In France I'm guessing the O's are the kisses. The X's I don't even want to think about.

The circle means on, oui?

No, no,'s not an O. It's an empty circle, a circle with nothing in it, a vacant, empty hole. It doesn't even count for zero, because zero is a number and it's so nothing it doesn't even count for the only number that counts for none. It is the symbol for none. Hence, the circle means off.

Using the process of elimination, the line symbol means on.

Why can't I get this?

Because it's just wrong. Otters cannot breathe underwater.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Frogs Here. Get Your Frogs Here.

If you ever get a fountain, and it starts croaking, don't assume it isn't a frog...because it is.

Think back to biology class. What do frogs do? No, they don't lay on their backs and hold real still while you slit them down the belly. Well, yes they do, but the live ones lay eggs, which become tadpoles, which grow legs, breathe air and become frogs again. And I have all three. The circle of life, baby, right in my front yard.

I'm also the neighborhood mosquito breeder. I went online to see what mosquito larvae look like. It seems Google Images had its camera in my fountain again! I've got a bazillion blood-red squiggling whacky wormies dancing around in the water. They are indeed baby future mosquitos to be. Did you know mosquito means little fly in Spanish? Would little mosquitos, then, be mosquititos? Forget it, don't bother naming them. Their destiny is in my hands. I plan to harvest them and ship them to Costa Rica. They feed them eco-tourist blood and grow them to the size of pterodactyls and use them in The Costa Rican Air planes.

If anyone wants to save the frogs, or the mosquitos, send a letter. Not to me though.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Vespa for Sale

I finished Motorcycle Training. I laughed, I cried, I passed. Now what?

I am more scared than ever. I now have documented proof that I am not a very adept rider. I missed 16 points on the range ride test. Minus 21 is a flunk. I didn't even make any friends in class. Why did I bother?

Here's why I bothered. I needed to prove I could do it. Indeed, I went from not being able to ride a motorcycle to being able to ride a motorcycle. And duh, I got 100% on the written.

On the bike, I can shift from first to second...while in motion, no less. I can brake...with both brakes, no less. I can turn...both directions AND both ways. You didn't know there were two ways to turn a motorcycle did you? Well there are. One way seems "normal" enough. You turn the handlebars in the direction you want to turn and shift your weight to the opposite side to balance the bike. They call this counterweighting.

The other way is less intuitive. The way to remember it is press left, lean left, go left. You actually press the left handlebar away from you (as if you were trying to turn the handlebars to the right!) and lean left. At the proper speed the bike will, no kidding, go left. I know! It should be called the counterintuitive method, but they call it countersteering. It only works when you are going fast enough for the laws of physics to engage. At too low a speed it would be more like press left, lean left, fall down on your left leg. But now, thanks to Rocky and Rick...who originally introduced himself as Bullwinkle...I can shift, brake, counterweight, countersteer, swerve around an obstacle, ride over a 2x4...and properly dismount.

Vespa for sale.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Motorcycle Mama? Hardly.

I had my first motorcycle training class the a few nights ago. And I'm all, Yikes!

I don't know whether to summarize the experience as:
What was I thinking?!
Why do motorcycle riders have a death wish?
Or, Vespa for sale.

For now, I am going to use past experience as my guide. A few years back I earned my SCUBA certification. It was very hard, very scary, and I really didn't think I could do it...but I MADE myself do it to prove something to myself: that I was neither a quitter nor a coward. In the end, I passed and not long after that I found I was no longer afraid of clowns. Bonus!

It would appear, however, I am afraid of motorcycles! And why not? The class is all about how dangerous riding can be. They talk about the freedom of riding in the open air, sure. But also the fact that you see more, and experience more, including but not limited to, injury and death.

I know people use extreme sports as a means of connecting with the true meaning of life. It's an addiction for some. They need to face death in order to feel truly alive. Yeah, about that...I don't need to face death to feel alive! I am having a hard enough time facing life. The way I see it, death is the can of Red Salmon (or for you vegetarians, the jar of Lemon Curd) in the pantry. It's there. You know it's there. You might eat it. But not today, thanks.

Vespa for sale? Nah. Death wish? Nah. Courage to face my fear? Right on! Ow!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Under the Zinfandel Sun

ZinBitch. That's what the tattoo said. Four Vines Winery was passing out those little fake tattoos, the kind you usually see at a kids carnival in the form of a peace sign or a Tweety bird. In this case Rhonda and I were at the Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival, aka ZinFest.

ALL the wineries were pouring Zin. There were verticals all across the horizon. For those of you who aren't wine-types, a vertical tasting is where you sample the same variety from the same winery across a range of vintage years. A horizontal tasting is where you sample the same variety and same vintage year from a variety of wineries. A blind tasting is when you don't know what you're tasting, and a flight is when you are given small servings of a few wines (or tequilas!) in order to learn differentiation.

In the case of tequila flights, there is always the chance it will eventually become a blind tasting, or a vertical "dancing naked on the tabletops" tasting, or a horizontal "sleeping with the enemy" tasting, or worse, the humbling "praying to the porcelain god" tasting.

The most memorable part of the night--aside from the tremendous relief I felt when my live auction bid was outbid by a woman more heavily under the zinfluence than me--was the cheese, of all things. The needle on my cheese-o-meter all but broke the glass. I'm afraid I'll be forced to call a meeting with Borden, Kraft, and even Tillamook..."We have to talk." I will gently begin. "About the quality of your cheese. You see, here's the thing...". I don't know if I can do it. Wait, I know! I'll pour them a big ol' Ridel full of this year's event blend and see if that doesn't soften the blow.

This year it was Steve Felten, from Norman Vineyards who took 30 barrels of zin from 30 different wineries and blended "almost all" of them, he reluctantly confided, into the 2008 ZinFest special blend. It was fantastic. Thank you, Steve, and also thank you Gary Eberle who (as did with a few other donors) doubled up his donation when a second live auction bidder offered to pay $4000 for the same package that had just sold for the evening's (I think) high bid of $4000.

The next day, I dragged Rhonda off to Moonstone Beach and we bellied up to the rocks until the icy wind started to burn a bit. We found a less windy spot and taunted the seagulls by refusing to share our garlic rosemary, or our onion cheese bread. Nature of course, rules the day, and if for no other reason than to show us her blustery prowess, mother wind snatched an empty styrofoam clamshell and sent it off into the sea where some tide-pool docent will no doubt curse the rude defiler of nature who so wantonly despoiled the pristine coastline with manmade trash. There was nothing wanton about it. We swear. We also relented. We gathered up the remains of the feast and headed back to the car, looking forward to that special moment you get when you get out of the cold wind and close the car doors and flip your frozen hands like pancakes on a griddle on the sun-baked dash. And it's so quiet and cozy in there...until two minutes later when you can no longer breathe.

No doubt to punctuate its power, the wind, just as we were getting in, threw up another gust and flung an empty bag out of the back seat and over the cliffside where it is sure to be found around the neck of a mother sea otter, her baby still clutching to her belly as the two drift helplessly in the surf...on the next episode of "Man: The Ultimate Predator" tonight on Animal Planet.

I swear. It was an accident. We would never. Sorry.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Someone Saved My Life To(day)

I got a speeding ticket today.

I had been entering a phone number into my contact list, and just as I put my iPhone down I glanced up and saw this cop looking to nail some dumb sucker with his radar gun. I slowed down just to be polite.

Next thing I know, my window is down and I’m saying, "Hello, officer. No, I didn't realize this was a 25 mile an hour zone. I think I must have thought it was a 35." (That's true, I did.) Later, I remember someone telling me this was a well known speed trap. It's a steep hill and you have to brake the whole way down to keep it at 25. I hate that. It feels like brake abuse.

At first, I "prayed" to the angels to enlighten the officer who stopped me. "Help him see I am not a threat to safety..." it began. "Help him change his mind."

Then I got this huge cosmic head smack that "arrested" my selfish prayer. I was indeed a danger to myself and other drivers. I had been texting all morning. On the freeway, winding through the Del Monte Forest, and now in a residential area. Furthermore, that morning I had eaten a burrito, drank a cup of coffee and a bottle of water. The only departure from my usual in-car routine was I had not put on my makeup or brushed my teeth. Well, not yet anyway. I was going to do that after I checked my email.

Instead of getting mad, another well-documented cause of bad driving, right up there with drunk driving and road fatigue, I showed remorse even going so far as to express gratitude to the officer. He could have saved my life, or yours, today just by intervening at that moment. The good and the bad walk hand in hand.

Several cars passed by as I was being written up. When the red Corvette went by going a painfully slow 24.7 mph I said, "You're welcome." My ticket-getting experience had obviously slowed him down, too.

I guess this means I get to go to traffic school (again). I think I'll do it online this time. Although it would be kind of amusing to attend a hotel conference room traffic school like I did 10 years ago, with a pack of 90 mph speed racers, and a few cell phone talking red light runners. That was the time the instructor went around the room asking us to admit our "crimes." This time mine would be an innocent "36 in a 25." Until, of course, the instructor reminded us all that statistically more people are killed or maimed in residential areas at low speed than on the freeway. Online it is!

My only other pressing decision is to decide what my new bumper sticker should read: "I go the speed limit. Go around me if you feel you must." or "I see you back there. I just don't care." or "I won't go faster just because YOU want me to. "

Nah, too whiney. Maybe I'll just stick with RonPaul2008.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Vespa by Any Other Name

I picked up my bitchen new Vespa on March 6. Together we rode off to Monterey, with the scooter strapped in the bed of my pickup like the M half of an S&M couple. The occasion was to meet up with friends and support our mutual friend, Allyson Sanburn Malek, who was showing her art pieces in a three man show of abstracts in the upstairs gallery at the Monterey Conference center, which to this day people call The Doubletree-- even though the adjacent hotel has been the Portola Plaza Hotel (now Portola Hotel & Spa) for several years. I guess the tide turns slowly. A few people still think Clint Eastwood is the mayor of Carmel when in fact he was mayor for a single term twenty years ago and the current mayor, Sue McCloud, is in her fourth term.

Mary Titus and Johnny Apodaca were the other two "men" in the show. I don't buy art as a rule, but I am proud to say I have two of Allyson's original works from the "Perfect Pair" series. They are paintings of two pears, by the way, not me and my Vespa. What struck me was a piece from Mary's collection. From across the room I just knew it was going to be called "Moonstone Beach." I was wrong. It was untitled.

I had just been to Moonstone Beach in Cambria the previous day and was struck by the wonders of this coastal hideaway and the user friendliness of its long, flat beach. It's a "deep" beach both front to back (dry land to water's edge) and deep as in ankle deep. You sink down when you walk on it. Even though I had lived all those years on the coast--in Carmel with its steep dune of white sand, and Pebble Beach whose pebbles you can count on a dozen hands, the rest of it beige wet sand--I had never cozied up to the beach part of coastal living, primarily because of the sand. What a messy thing sand is.

Moonstone Beach is a true pebble beach. It is a marvelously pebbly beach. The messy kind of sand is a few layers below the smooth surface stones, with a layer of teeny tiny smooth pebbles in between, providing just enough of a barrier to keep the sand off the surface of the beach and you. On Moonstone Beach you can lay flat on your stomach, or flat on your back, or up on one elbow without benefit of blanket or towel and arise sand-free. The stones themselves are as smooth as hard candies that have been sucked for 10 minutes...when in reality they have been sea-buffed for decades. They are jade, moonstone, somethingacite, and every shade of black, brown, grey, green, rust, and tan rock, with occasional bits of opaque white tumbled shell, and translucent sea glass in very cool man-made colors like Seven-Up green and Milk of Magnesia blue. In a way, thank heavens for the slobs who leave their trash on the beach for the waves to pulverize it into these colorful gems. Now stop it!

Mary's untitled abstract was pale like the color you would imagine a moonstone to be if you had never seen one, but only heard the name. And there was a suggestion of a horizon, with a hazy, lone rock out to one side, like Morro Rock. And it was brightly lit, like daytime, warm and pink like sunset yet cool like the shore. And there was just enough brown, not enough to make the painting dark, but to give a nod to the dark brown of the pebbly beach. Untitled or no, that was an abstract of Moonstone Beach.

Yeah, about Bruno. After bringing my Vespa home, and releasing it from its bondage, I rode it up and around the back of the house and parked it by the pool. Almost IN the pool, whoops. I wanted to see it when I woke up the next morning, sunning itself out back. This morning I realized I can't name my new scooter-toy Bruno. For one, it is disrespectful to the real Bruno, who is not an object, a toy, or in any way own-able by another person, and for another, my Vespa is obviously a girl! Pearl white, with a red leather seat, this sexy little scooty patooty is without a doubt a girl Vespa. We're talking Vegas show girl, girl. Country western singer girl. Beauty pageant girl. She's all girl. And from what I have told you Bruno is not. From my observation I would say he is, as multi-dimensional a man as he is, utterly devoid of a feminine side. If you don't believe me now, you will the first time you see him, or more convincingly, hear his voice. If you ever find yourself needing a name for a male German Shepherd, Bruno is a good bet.

To take the naming of the Vespa one step further I have come to question this whole gender bended humanification of an object path I started down. I find it is throwing a bit of a monkey wrench into my spiritual awakening. In "A New Earth" not only is the notion of stuff ownership challenged, the notion of labeling things is too--a notion until now foreign to me, as I actually labeled my label maker if you must know.

To appreciate the fragile, fleeting beauty of a flower is not to know its botanical name, its growth habit, nutritional needs or propagation schedule, no. To appreciate its fragile, fleeting beauty is to be present, and not think about it. Just be. Perceive it for what it is at this very moment, the present moment. See the flower as it is, not think about what it is called. Not what it WILL be, or was. Or reminds you of a time it a good time or a bad one. Appreciate its beauty right now. Don't plan to see it tomorrow. Don't regret you didn't see it yesterday. Don't put so much of your identity into it that when it is gone, you feel you have also lost a part of yourself. Don't suffer a personal sense of loss when it wilts, or a deer eats it. Don't yank it out of the ground, wrap its stem in a paper towel, drive across town, and hand it to someone with an expectation that they will be grateful for all you have done, for sharing the beauty, for braving the traffic, for thinking of them. Just enjoy the fragile fleeting beauty of it with a still mind, in the present. It is remarkably easy to do, and the enjoyment you get from the exercise will surprise you. You don't need to drop acid to see magical colors and hear trees speak.

My Vespa, and I suppose I can say "my" because my name is on the title, is sturdy, fleet, and beautiful and when I ride it I will enjoy the freedom of an open air ride. And if anyone asks, "Where's Miss Daisy?" I'll have to say "Well, I'll tell ya. She's gone, but before she left, she bought me this-here scooter. Wanna ride?"

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Good Day to Say Goodbye to Daisy

Today I sold Miss Daisy. The new owner of this 1971 VW Super Beetle is as happy as I am. For one, I am happy for Miss Daisy because now she won't be neglected. I'm happy for Lisa because she is going to LOVE driving Miss Daisy. And I'm happy for me because now I can buy my Vespa, who until further notice will be named Bruno.

Last night I and a half a million others logged in to to hear Oprah interview Eckhart Tolle about his book "A New Earth". It was the first of 10 classes. The prayer for the server didn't stick, but the video did. I gave up after about 10 minutes of wishful thinking. It's like a DVD that sticks and freezes--you think if you wait a few more minutes it will miraculously clean and repair itself, when you are better off accepting the fact that this is one situation where positive thinking has little effect. Eject. Wipe. Insert. Play. Works every time.

Why Bruno? I am like many women who have "this guy" in there past who affected them deeply in some way and it's almost always a pheromonal thing. As wrong, as bad, as not Mr. Right as he is, he still owns a piece of our hearts and we can't shake the feeling for love or money. 

My first ex-husband told me once that even though he would never do cocaine again, he knew he would always want to. I totally get that. I have no desire to have (the real) Bruno in my life, but like the non-smoker who collects Zippo lighters, I can't give him up entirely. And like the Vespa, he is Italian. Well that's not true, he's American, but his people came from The Old Country, as did a few of mine. I've been to Italy and seen the pitiful crop of men they grow over there. I can only say that our American Italians are superior in quality, and California American Italians are even better. So to honor California, America, Mr. Wrong, The Old Country, and my new Italian scooter, I think the name Bruno is going to stick. 

If you want a piece of Bruno, too, you can buy his wine under the label DiBruno. He is a marvelous winemaker. His woman, Chris, is a winemaker, too. They are perfectly paired.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Welcome to Wild Oats Way

I was born in 1954. Today I am 54 years old. March 3, 2008 is the beginning of my year. And it would seem it is also the beginning of my blog.

I am reading "A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose" by Eckhart Tolle. Tonight I will be online with hundreds of thousands of other men and women taking the first class in a 10 week course on this book.

If there is a prayer for a server, pray it.

Future blog posts are bound to be on the progress of my awakening to my life's purpose.

Today, cosmos-willing, I will sell my 1971 VW Super Beetle "Miss Daisy" to a woman I met in my past life, in other words, yesterday. When her check clears, I will go to Santa Cruz and buy the Vespa that is calling to me.

Happy Birthday, Dear Lori, Happy Birthday to Me.

I was inspired to start a blog today by Teresa Holladay of MLMs I Love (dot blogspot dot com).

I recently became a distributor of Mona-Vie, the premier acai blend. It is a functional beverage containing a blend of Brazilian acai berries and 18 other fruits, and it is quite delicious. Acai berries are very high in anti-oxidants. I feel like I'm rusting from within, so I'm trying to stop that with Mona-Vie.

I know acai looks like it should be pronounced with two syllables and a K sound, like a lazy version "okay" but actually the c is pronounced with an S sound and the word is a very tidy three syllables [asaˈi]. If I knew how to do it I'd type the c with a cedilla like this: açai. Well lookie there! I just made a good and proper c with a cedilla! (for Mac users, type option + c) (for PC users, type "")

I extend my thanks to Teresa and her blog--high in anti-scamidants. I was able to descamificate Mona-Vie to my own satisfaction. It was disconcerting to see the words Mona-Vie and scam side by side when I first searched it. It was all a big misunderstanding, if by misunderstanding you mean slanderous misinterpretations of the facts by a competitor. No scam to fear here, boss.

To my knowledge, neither anti-scamidant nor descamificate are real words. I am an uncertified, unlicensed, amateur "wordametologist" however. That is to say, I "make up" words. (hyuck, snort, get it?) My apologies to the linguistic puristas out there. Here's another one that'll curl your hair: A cosmologist studies the make up of the universe. I first heard that from a woman who had been working to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. My girl friend Francesca made up wordametologist. You will hear more about her in future posts.

I read Teresa's evaluation of Mona-Vie's parent company, Monarch Industries. She gave them a good review, and I trust her judgement. Thank you, Teresa, for helping me with that, and also for inspiring me to launch myself into the blogosphere today.

Why "Wild Oats Way" for a blog name? Well, I'll tell you. I own a vineyard. A real small estate vineyard. It is called Wild Oats Estate Vineyard because Wild Oats Real Small Estate Vineyard was unwieldy. I also like the message "wild oats" conveys. It is, unfortunately, confused with wild oaks when spoken, and wild cats when I'm not careful with my hand writing. I can see neither being a problem here.

Speaking of names, when Miss Daisy sells and I buy my new Vespa, I'll need a name for him. Due to the fact that it's sexy, Italian and you ride it between your legs I'm guessing about the him part. Then again, it's coming from Santa Cruz, so I could be off by an entire gender. It is metallic white and has a red leather seat. If you would like to help me name "him" feel free to suggest away. I'll start everyone off with this suggestion: Bruno. Your turn.

Lori Oliver (Kohn)