Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Neighbors, The Skinks

There are tons of wild lizards around these parts, some quite beautiful, some cute as a button, some as ugly as sin. One variety is the skink. We have lots of skinks around here. The blue tail skink is my favorite:

But there is another type of skink lurking around in my backyard, called the red headed skink. Today, we caught this one peeping in our window:

These skinks are true lizards but they're often described as a cross between a lizard and a snake. I've seen grown people run scared from one of these, especially if they're big ass lizards, but I love them. (then again, I like snakes, too.)

In that photo of the red headed skink, I tried to get the image of my cat watching this critter from inside the house but the flash went off and the reflection on the window glass obscured the cat from view, tho if you look real close, you can just barely make out his one ear.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ollas and Oysters

Today was my day off from the bookstore. I had planned on doing a lot of little things today so when Cynthia texted me to see if we could meet for lunch, I told her that, regretfully, I had too much to do. I had ERRANDS. Yes, the formidable ERRANDS, mundane stuff that needs to be done. I had to run to the bank, make some payments on bills, run to the store, and then the hunt I've been planning began. I have been looking for an Aztec clay pot. I knew exactly what I wanted but had no idea where to find it. but find it I did, after a search through several stores.

There are various styles of Aztec pots, some of them quite beautiful and pure art. Here are some examples:

The artwork on some of these is nothing short of outstanding:

But I didn't want anything quite that exquisite; I wanted just a simple Aztec terra cotta pot, something like this:

This is what I found:

And a close up of the detail, which continues along the bottom:

The pictures don't do this pot credit. It really is beautiful.

i got home and admired my find and was just about ready to do some chores around the house when John appeared home early.

"Let's go get some oysters." he said.

I do not eat oysters. I will eat just about most any other seafood, and I will eat myself silly on steamed clams but there is something about oysters that does not appeal to me, but off I went with him, anyway, to Barrentine's Fish Market and Oyster Bar.

As you can see, this is not a fancy pants place. It's just a small, plain building, a long trough running the length of a back wall. In that trough is ice and oysters and at the bar, men shuck the oysters non stop. They put these on large trays after shucking and checking for pearls (one man told me he recently found a nice black pearl.)

The owner, a small elderly, but quite spry woman, makes up her own sauce with ketchup, horseradish and a touch of Tabasco. People get a sleeve of crackers, toss the oysters on them from the half shell, douse it with the mixture and down they go.

I ordered a hot dog with chili sauce but the more I watched everyone delighting in these crustaceans, the more I was inclined to give one another try.

I chose a small need wasting a cherished large one...plopped it on a cracker, drenched it in the sauce. It wasn't half bad! I didn't want another, but I gave it a try and might get some for myself one day.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Am Still Queen

When my kids were little, I was the BIG MAMA DOG. My word was gospel. I ruled the roost. I was Queen.

As such happens, they grew. I am no longer BIG MAMA DOG. I only rule myself, now.
However, trust me..I am still Queen.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Adults Only

Yesterday was a milestone day; my youngest child hit his 21st birthday. To him, it means he can now purchase alcohol. To us it means we are no longer legally responsible for any child's screw ups.

This is such a blessing for us, especially since this particular youngest child is known for his vehicular screw ups. Many a night has caused me to worry that he would make a quick, rash decision on the road that would result in a lawsuit. Now, I am not talking about an accident where someone would be physically harmed. Of course, his welfare is of utmost concern to me. But when you take into account that when he first got his driver's license, I gave him my 'old' car (I had just purchased the vehicle I drive now.) It was a cute-as-a-bug, dent free little silver Hyundai, one that I was actually emotionally attached to, for a variety of reasons.

He was thrilled when we handed him the keys and told him "It is now yours."

Of course, it came with a set of rules; do not load it with kids. Do not allow anyone else to drive it. (This particular rule was one my dad gave to me when I was a teenager. I immediately broke that rule, allowed a friend to tool around town in it, and got caught, which resulted in my dad taking it from me...and it was a beautiful dark blue mustang with a white leather interior...and selling it.)

Anyway, my son had that car for maybe a month when we got a call from him.

"This car is a piece of shit." he said.

"How is it a piece of shit? It wasn't a piece of shit when you drove away in it."

"It stalled and then it crashed into a median and hit the 'caution, road repairs ahead' sign and now its wrecked."

"Wait a minute, son. Let me get this clear. The car stalled and while it was stalled, it veered into the median and wrecked."

"Yeah. It's a piece of crap."

I drove out there and found his car in a deep dip by the side of the road. There were huge caution signs all around because of the extensive roadwork. The car was, indeed, wrecked and it was fair to say it was now 'a piece of *shit.*'

There were also skid marks..maybe twenty feet of skid marks.

A police car arrived and I sat there, appalled, as my kid told the officer the same story he had told me; the car stalled which resulted in twenty foot skid marks and a totalled vehicle..not to mention a totally destroyed caution sign.

We contacted our insurance company who, after a brief investigation, let us know that they would not cover the accident because..Because!!! our son had falsified his police report. There was no debating this and all we could do was notify them that (after years with this company) we were 'firing' them and taking our business elsewhere.

'Nuff said about that, and the point is, we are now, as of yesterday, no longer financially responsible for this kid..or any kid, considering that he is the youngest..and this called for celebration.

So yesterday early evening, a group of us trekked across town and went to a Japanese Steak House. This place serves quality Japanese cuisine, teppanyaki style, which means hibachi cooking right at your table.

I figure most folks have tried a Japanese Steak House at least once in their life but if you haven't, you are missing a treat. Not only is the food delicious, the chef puts on an often hilarious show as he cooks.

We started with a plate of sushi.

followed by a bowl of beef broth, mushroom and leek soup and a salad with ginger sauce.

Then our entertaining chef appeared, turned on the grill and set it afire in preparation for frying our rice and vegetables.

After that, our chef made a volcano out of onions and oil, which he then set ablaze.

And then the good stuff, the meats. Chicken, scallops, shrimp, steak.

The birthday boy ordered a beer and was just delighted, like he has never been before, to show the waiter his ID.

His girlfriend/fiancee arranged for an ice cream cake to be delivered to our table after the meal..and yes, its a cake!

The birthday 'king' and his 'queen.'


My son, if you are browsing through here, I want you to always remember...I am your mother. Nobody in this world will ever love you the way your mother loves you. Remember that. And never lose sight of the matter how old you become or how big you get, no matter how far away you may travel in your life..always remember..momma can always find you and you are never too big for a whupping.

Happy Birthday, my big man. And please. Drive carefully. I love you.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

We All Gots Our Reasons To Blog

I've been at it again, pounding the next blog button and seeing what the rest of the world has been doing. Let me tell you, lately the rest of the world has been:

A.) taking photos of their families and telling me day after day how darling and beautiful and witty their babies are. I don't really care about that. And there is an exorbitant number of 'wonderful family' blogs on here.

B.) showing me the artsy-fartsy stuff they've made and hope to sell. I mean, there are a few folks who matter to me and I love to see their homemade things. However, I do not need any of that stuff because (surprise, surprise!) I am fairly artsy-fartsy, myself and have been known to put together a few homey decor items.

C.) talking about their love life. This falls into two categories; 1) they have found the love of their life and want the rest of the world to know how absolutely wonderful Mr or Miss Perfect is. Again, I do not care. And 2) the person who has been in love with the same elusive wonderful person for a long time..(or a short works both ways..) and who is convinced that this elusive person is secretly in love with them, too, but for some very important reason, is expressing their extremely selfless soul by dumping this particular blogger. (If he/she wanted to be with you, they would be with you! They are not with you because they don't want to be and have probably moved on to greener pastures which, in that case, you should stick your nose up in the air, blow a kiss goodbye and move on,dignity intact.)

D.) Let's not forget the complainer. I am not talking about the dear blogger who shares with us some bad times and rightfully expects us to give them a little cyber hug. I'm talking about the person who goes on and on, day after day, month after month, bemoaning the fact that the rest of the world does not admire them as much as they admire themselves.

E.) And then there's the depressed soul. Now I feel bad for him. In fact, I ran into one of those today. There I was between mopping the kitchen floor (its my so-called day off..right.) and cleaning the kitty litter box. I sat in front of my computer, munching on my baloney sandwich and hitting that next blog button when I landed on the blog of what has to be one of the most unluckiest people on the web. His cat had died. His mp3 player had died. And then he had to get an emergency root canal! This person cant even buy a new bathroom scale without an ordeal erupting; he ordered a balance beam scale (whatever that is..) and when it arrived, it was soooo big he was unable to get it to fit up his stairs and into his bathroom. He had to take apart his brand new scale, haul it upstairs piece by piece and then reassemble it. What a bummer! Maybe he'll lose a few extra pounds with all that exertion, tho. One can only hope there ends up a bright side to all that.

Now, I don't mind listening to this depressed soul. He got quadruple whomped and I just might sign up as a follower just to make him feel a little better.

(then again, he might take it as further reason to be depressed.har.)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Never Forget, Betty, A Good Wife Always Knows Her Place

Before I ever got married and before, of course, I had my kids, I used to dream of what life as a married mom would be like. I decided I would be exactly like Olivia Walton, the matriarch of The Waltons.. I would have eight kids, live on a farm or at least in the country. I would clean house, bake bread and be adored by my entire family. I would be respected in my community for being a great lady, full of wisdom and kindness. I would let my hair grow and wear it up in a nice chignon and never never wear anything but dresses. My husband would remain romantic and adoring. My life would be absolute heaven.

I would be..
Olivia Walton.

Man, was I ever wrong! I live in a community in the burbs. I have two kids. I work and have worked most of my adult life. A farm?? Forget that! Tho I do have a sweet but large dog,

a cat justifiably nicknamed El Diablo,

and of course, my two lizards.

I cannot picture Olivia Walton feeding crickets to lizards. I can't picture Olivia Walton hunting down teenagers in the middle of the night. I cannot picture Olivia Walton cussing through gritted teeth.

Obviously, I am not..
Olivia Walton.

I was thinking about that long ago dream, just this morning. Why in God's name would I ever have wanted to be like Olivia Walton??? Heck, I don't even think Olivia Walton wanted to be Olivia Walton! The poor lady was pregnant most of her adult life and when she wasn't pregnant, she was picking up after the kids.

Thank God I was not alive during that time. And things got worse for women over the next few decades. We all know about the fifties when women were supposed to clean house in heels and a flowing dress, when hair was always curled, meals were always on time, kids were always clean and warned to be quiet when daddy got home from a long day at work. When men made all the decisions and women just agreed with all those decisions in the name of being..
The Good Little Wife.

I recently came upon this cute little video. I laughed out loud several times..I probably should have cried, because I think it's (sadly) a fairly accurate description of the way things used to be:

Did you hear that last line? Did you hear it??

"Never forget, Betty, a good wife always knows her place."

I ask you, what kind of crap is that? First of all did you notice how that woman looked while getting her beauty sleep so she's refreshed for Tarzan? Now, lets be real. this is more what I personally look like during a nap.

And whats that 15 minute nap business? Two hours is my personal minimum. And if I happen to be sleeping still when Tarzan makes his grand jump off his vine and through the front door? Well, maybe he can get Cheeta to fix dinner.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Hundred Crickets in a Single Bag.

So, the other day I finished my time at the book store and drove over to the pet store across the highway. I needed to get crickets for the lizards. I was tired and I was hot and this stopping for crickets was one of those pain in the patootey necessities.

Usually the wait at the pet store is irritatingly long. But that day, the young guy who was manning the crickets station was right there.

"Can I help you?"

"Yes I need crickets."

"Yes ma'am. Large or small?"

"Large please."

"What are you feeding?"

I am always asked this at the pet store and I usually say I am making a new, exotic recipe for my family, just to see some jaws drop. But this time, I was too tired to joke around.

"I'm feeding two large bearded dragon lizards."

"How many do you want?"

I just want to get home, kid!!! Gimme my crickets!!

"A hundred."

"Do you want them individually bagged?"

Now I looked at this baby faced young guy to see if he was kidding. His face just dripped of sincerity.

I threw back my head and laughed out loud. I guffawed, slapped my legs, shook my head and wiped the tears from my eyes. All the while the poor kid, now red in the face, just stared at me. I think if there had been a hole in the floor, he would have crawled into it. I was, all at once, filled with sympathy. Oh I wish I hadn't laughed.

"A hundred crickets individually bagged is a hundred bags. Honey, I do not have that much room in the backseat of my car."

Here is a short video that shows what the bag looks like after its been filled with air and crickets:

Now imagine a hundred of those.

Anyway, this sweet sweet boy turned bright red.

"I'm sorry I laughed but that was absolutely adorable."

He smiled at me.

"Well, do you want a few in each bag?"

"No. You can put them all in one bag."

Which he did. And off I went, giggling all the way home.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Never Dull In My Back Yard

I love to sit on my back patio with a good cup of coffee, There is just so much to see. First of all, the turtles; I have two box turtles who love the plums that have fallen on the ground. Our tree was so loaded this year that the branches literally bent to touch the ground. The turtles gather there daily and take their time to munch on the succulent fruit. I have walked up to them (they appear to be used to my watching them.) One stood there and stared back at me, a large scrap of plum skin hanging off his cute little beak. I so wanted to clean off his face but I knew he would retreat into his shell and likely take the piece of plum with him and i wasn't sure that would be a good thing. My dog Abby is just totally perplexed by these turtles. She will slowly mosey up to one, as curious as can be, but each time the turtle retreats into its shell and Abby stands there, ears cocked forward in confusion, nose almost touching the turtle, trying to figure our where the hell did its head go??!! I laugh each time this happens.

The squirrels love the plums too. This morning, I sat out back with my first coffee of the day and watching these three squirrels eyeing the same plum. One finally took the lead and went over, picked up the plum and sat back on his haunches, chomping away. A second squirrel timidly watched but a third squirrel, much smaller than the other two, bristled his back fur into a perfect mohawk, jumped and twisted in the air and did a full fledge attack on the squirrel with the plum. They got into quite the physical assault on one another, twisting, turning, chirping angrily at each other. Finally they broke up, the little one chasing the bigger one across the yard and into the lower branches of a nearby dogwood. Now the third one might have been timid but he wasn't stupid because he watched this all happening and when he realized they were off and running with their conflict over that plum, he slowly crawled over, almost on his belly, picked up the plum and began to leisurely munch on it, never once taking his eye off the nearby dogwood.

I'm sure there's a lesson from which we can all learn, in all of that.

Anyway, speaking of squirrels, we have a new event beginning to recur daily. Our grill is set right next to our patio. On both sides of the grill's hood is a round hole about the size of a tennis ball. Some wise-ass squirrel has realized he fits, though tightly, in those holes. Yesterday morning I was out there doing my coffee and nature thingy, when there was a crashboombang behind me. After I made a quick attempt to wipe spilt coffee off my chin, I turned around and there, about three feet behind me, was my grill, and a squirrel's head was sticking out of one of those side holes. He looked at me and I looked at him.

"You got yourself into this mess and you can get yourself out of it!" I sternly scolded!.

He struggled to get out of there but all he did for quite a while was cause a lot of loud noise. Finally, his body shoved the lid open enough for him to escape, and he tumbled to the ground, making a fast and furious retreat.

"Serves you right." I told him.

We have fairly regular visits from fox and armadillo. Our yard abuts a large section of woods where they live.

But there are new neighbors in those woods; this Spring, a pair of red tail hawks made a nest. The rather large babies fledged a week or so ago and they have been flying (and sometimes falling) from treetop to rooftop and back to treetop for days now. I've gotten fairly close to them and tho they seems a bit wary, they are not really scared of me. They have been a joy for me to watch. I saw one of them approach a squirrel (yes, here we are back to the squirrels) but the squirrel must have sensed it was a youngun because he began to stalk the hawk. That hawk was scared witless, began to scream the way hawks do, and literally fell off the branch and onto the ground before he gathered his senses and flew to our roof.

I love all this wildlife. As you can tell, there's never a dull moment in my back yard.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Soul Mates

Once upon a time in a land called North California, there lived a family of three orangutans and they were very happy. Then one day, one of the big orangutans died and soon the other big orangutan died and that left their three year old son all alone in the big land called North California. And he became very sad. He was so sad that he stopped eating. The animal doctors tried to treat him as his health began to fail but the poor, sad animal did not respond to the medicine. I don't think there is any medicine that can fix a broken heart.

The animal doctors believed the young orangutan would die and so they sent him off, as a last chance, to their animal treatment center.

On the way, the zoo keepers found an old, sickly dog in the park that was part of the grounds at the zoo where the orangutan lived. They took the dog there, too, since he was very very sick and they hoped to keep him alive.

Quickly, the dog and the orangutan sized up one another and quickly they became inseparable souls. They are inseparable to this very day and they have both found a new reason to live.

This is not a made up fairy tale; this is a true story about two living breathing creatures who have discovered the meaning...and the power...of true friendship.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

An Open Letter To the Postmaster General

Dear Postmaster General:

Hi. It's me, Beej. I hope you are having a good day even tho I heard a rumor that the price of stamps is going up again. I know it's not like you're pocketing money. In fact, you probably are losing money because people can email for free. (But I think it should not make folks hate your guts the way they do.)

Anyway, I have a question; I hear that the U.S. postal system is really hurting for cash. Does this mean you have been hiring folks with less education and maybe even a few extra handicapped people? The reason I am asking you this is because I think the person who delivers our mail might be blind.

I'm all for hiring the handicapped but I worry about whether our mail deliverer is blind because, you know, she does drive a truck and it might be extra hard for her, considering that the steering wheel is on the wrong side.

ANYWAY..."Why.." you might be asking, "Why do you think she might be blind?"

Well, it's like this, Mr General, Sir; a couple of weeks ago she delivered to our house what looked like a handwritten letter, that's cool and all, BUT! It was addressed to somebody I never heard of to an address that is no way mine. It's even an entirely different street. So I put it back in our mailbox and put up the little red flag and she took it way..

...for a few days..and then there it was again, in my box. That's when I figured she might be handicapped. I am a kind person so I put it back in the box and set that red flag back up.

And guess what, Mr General Sir! I got the mail today and there it was again! Now I do not believe that anyone our government would hire to deliver our mail (which keeps going up an up in price) would be that stupid! So I'm going to believe she is blind.

I am sure you provide her with medical insurance. I think it would be a kind thing if you dropped her a letter and recommended an eye exam. I know she will listen to YOU!..
..if she gets the letter that is..

Anyway, thank you for listening to me. I'm sure you have better things to do than read about blind mail deliverers.

Yours and SWALCAKWS,

you may have forgotten what SWALCAKWS means; it means 'sealed with a lick cause a kiss won't stick."


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Classic Lennon

He wasn't the nicest man. He could be cruel and hard hearted. But he was a complicated soul with a talent that was large as it comes. This is so classic Lennon.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


blogger is having a problem with posting moderated comments. Just to let you know, I'm not ignoring your (appreciated) comments. just that I'm unable to post them. Hopefully, this will be fixed very soon.


Monday, July 5, 2010


I'm always full of fear on the fourth of July; I fear this will be the year when someone I love will blow off an arm or burn a house down. Or that my dear dog Abby will have a heart attack from all the explosions going on.

The men in my family are pyromaniacs. I swear they are. If it's loud and it's fiery, they are there. On this day, they all answer to the nickname 'Torch.' Years ago, when we lived in the country and had acreage, we were the hub of the activity on the fourth. We would set up tents and set out tables of food and buckets of beverages. It was an open invite sort of thing. Neighbors and friends and co-workers would gather at our home. The kids would traipse through the field and woods across the road to get to a secluded cove whose water was rated as a 'class A' meaning it was sparkly clean. They would gather fresh mussels and haul them home on a rubber raft. Once there, the kids would load the mussels into a tub of water and we would put them on a grill. Deliciously fresh.

One year, after the kids were told we had enough mussels and to hold off on a trek to the cove, they decided it was too much fun to give up so they sneaked. With all the company and laughter and music and noise, (and daiquiris and beer..) nobody noticed that they continued to fill the rubber raft with mussels. We also didn't notice that they hid the loaded raft in the woods near the house..and where they promptly forgot they put them in the excitement of Uncle Joe revving up his Harley and giving each child a ride on the road in front of our house and down around the horse farm which neighbored our property.

A couple weeks passed in the July heat and we couldn't help but notice a sickening stench emanating from somewhere nearby. It got worse and worse and we even considered the possibility that a) the cove had become polluted or b) our septic had malfunctioned. Then the dog found it, a black raft covered with rotted mussels. Our children were given the job of hauling the putrid mess far far into the back acres and dumping it.

Now we live in a neighborhood. We don't have the acreage needed to hold that sort of shindig. The kids have grown and moved out. I don't have the fear of MY house being bombed by mistake. However, my son has taken over the nickname of 'Torch.' And last night I feared for his safety.

I love the quiet of an empty nest. But sometimes I find myself missing the big fourth of July celebration and I am overcome with bittersweet nostalgia. I even think back fondly on that time, years ago, when my entire property smelled of rotten shellfish.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Judge 'TATTY'

Yesterday I got stuck behind TATTY again. It never fails; if I'm running late for work, I inevitably will get behind the white minivan with the license that reads,'TATTY.'

What do I do when this happens? I cuss. Like a sailor. 'TATTY' is the old retired judge who lives on the next street over from my house so I try not to cuss real loud because I'm sure the judge still has ties and I certainly do not want to get arrested for cussing out an old respected judge. But what I would like to do is ram the back end of his shit ass white van and send him flying through the air and out of my way.

'TATTY' drives anywhere between 10 and 20 mph. He does it on purpose, I'm sure. Maybe he does it only to me as pay back for my 20 year old son who travels like a bat outta hell on our roads, I dunno. (I've spoken to my son about this, Yer Honor, yessiree I have! Many times over! I don't like it either but it's no reason to make me late for work!)

Anyway, as I was saying, yesterday I got stuck behind TATTY and I was already running late for work and I still had to make a quick stop at the store before I got to the book store. I finally got past the old bastard judge and to the store and was making my purchase when I realized the man behind the register was being trained. Plus I think he was deaf because he made me repeat every thing I said to him. Unfortunately, he needed my birthdate to process my card and for some reason, he could not understand/hear what I was saying. And he spoke sllllllllloooow as molasssssses..

"I am going to be late for work!"(I am smiling through gritted teeth at this point which is not an easy thing to do..)

The lady who was training him shot darts out of her eyes toward me.

"" she says just above a whisper.

Finally I am out of the door and at the bookstore. I am late as I thought I would be and there at the door is........!

Judge 'Tatty.'

"Young lady," he scolds me.."you are late. And that's not fair to your customer."

"Sorry sir. I got stuck behind a slow driver." I said.

"Maybe you need to leave your house earlier." he said, with a wink.

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