View Club Day and Parrots

I have nothing interesting to report today.  Spanish class was canceled yesterday, went to Creative Writing class today, took my View Club shots.  It was raining, which made me happy, but my umbrella, already bent, snapped outright in two spots!  Booooo!

San Gabriel Mountains, 1-24-13

San Gabriel Mountains, 1-24-13

The only downside to clouds collecting around the hills is that I lose my focal point behind them.  It’s a small price to pay.

Construction, 1-24-13

Construction, 1-24-13

Boone Sculpture Garden, 1-24-13

Boone Sculpture Garden, 1-24-13

After school I found my step-dad with his camera on the porch.  He pointed to the tree in front of the house.

Wild parrot

Wild parrot

Parrots!  This area has a thriving population of wild green parrots.  Legend has it that these birds are descendants of birds that were freed during a pet store fire.  My step-dad says it was a place called Simpson’s Garden Town in Pasadena, which had, among other outdoor-related retail offerings, a pet store.  The entire complex burned to the ground in a massive fire in November 1959.

Two parrots.

Two parrots.

They travel in huge, noisy flocks.  They usually stay far away from people, so to get these pictures was a treat.  Sometimes we catch a glimpse of yellow-marked varieties in the walnut tree in the backyard, but this flock had smatterings of red and blue.  Upon further research I found out they are called Red-Crowned Parrots, are endangered in their native Mexico, and that the Los Angeles Natural History Museum is tracking the wild flocks around here.  So I sent them the info about this lot.

If you like hidden object games, try my version:

Click on this picture:  how many parrots can you find?

Click on this picture: how many parrots can you find?

How about this one?

How about this one?

Have a great day!

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I Done Wrote A Poem!

I’m taking general, introductory Creative Writing this semester.  It’s more structured than last semester’s Creative Nonfiction (surprisingly, because I wouldn’t expect anything “creative” to be structured), but it’s exactly what I need.  I wish I had taken it before Creative Nonfiction, but oh well.

Yesterday we had 30 minutes to park ourselves somewhere on campus and freewrite what we could see, hear, smell, etc.  All observation; as little reflection as possible.  That is so hard for me!  I’m one of those obnoxious reflective writers.  I love written pieces that paint pictures in my mind, but I suck at it myself.  I tried to stay observant, but I started to tell a story and I had to fight the urge to be reflective.  Then the professor said something miraculous that I don’t remember her saying last semester:  “Observation leads to reflection.”  Oooooh!  Well then I guess I’ll stop kicking myself.

My class is on the other side of the construction site in my View Club shots. I saw three trucks drive off the site at a snail’s pace, surrounded by 3 or 4 crew members on foot, up a service road and off campus, one after the other with big gaps in between. I was on my way to find a lovely, picturesque spot for the assignment, but those trucks struck me because they reminded me of the Rose Parade: whenever the floats are on the move, they are always slow and surrounded by a walking crew.  So I sat myself right there and wrote about the trucks.

The homework assignment was to take that freewriting piece and turn it into a formal piece of creative writing.  I decided to turn mine into a poem.  I haven’t written poetry in about 20 years, but honestly, don’t construction trucks naturally lend themselves to poetry?  Hearing it out loud makes me cringe, but since the final draft isn’t due until next week, I’m allowing this draft to stand for now.

And the trucks file by slowly, one by one like parade floats,

Resplendent in glittered layers of metal dust, earth and grime. 

Each escorted by fine footmen in worn jeans and workboots,

Reflective orange vests and hard hats in varying shades of beige.

The humble procession leaves the skeletal edifice

Through chain-link gates; led not by mace, twirling baton, or whistle,

But hexagonal red “stop” sign.  Pedestrians shuffle

Alongside the route, heads bent against their mirror images,

Silently considering, “Can I make it across now,

Or should I just wait? How much longer is this going to take? “

It doesn’t matter: in a hurry they scurry across.

And the trucks file by slowly, one by one, like a dusty grand parade. 

So there you have it.

My View Club shots, taken yesterday:

San Gabriel Mountains, 1-22-13

San Gabriel Mountains, 1-22-13

From a slightly different perspective, the chem trail was tilted at a similar angle as the mountain roads, which made a strangely pleasant picture.

Mt. Wilson, 1-22-13

The more I looked at the sky, though, the more chem trails I saw.  Ever since Homeland Security was established, the closest military installments have increased training maneuvers over our area.  I’m not exactly sure why they choose this area, but I assume it has something to do with the mostly uninhabitable mountains and the nearby open desert spaces.  Not that they practice combat or anything.  Whatever the case, it’s currently beyond my working knowledge.

Construction, 12-22-13

Construction, 12-22-13

The “skeletal edifice.”

Boone Sculpture Garden, 1-22-13

Boone Sculpture Garden, 1-22-13

Someone once said that here in Southern California we don’t have weather: only climate.  Call me spoiled, but climate is boring.  Today was perfectly warm and lovely and comfortable, but when it started to sprinkle tonight I was excited.  We are supposed to see rain through Sunday, but by the sound of the cars driving by outside I can tell that those first sprinkles have already stopped, and the pavement is dry again.  Dangit!

A Better Day

Thank you all for your kind words last week.  It was a tough one, but I’m feeling better. ❤

My classes this semester are in different buildings than last semester. I hadn’t considered this possibility when I chose my View Club shots from the parking structure.  Oops.  Nevertheless, I got my shots in this afternoon at about 1:00 pm:

San Gabriel Mountains, 1-17-13

San Gabriel Mountains, 1-17-13

Construction, 1-17-13

Construction, 1-17-13

Boone Sculpture Garden, 1-17-13

Boone Sculpture Garden, 1-17-13

I feel a little guilty when our skies are so blue and our sun is so sunny, when so many others are taking pictures of frost and snow.  Especially when we have days like today, where the highs were in the upper 70’s.  How do we even know it’s winter here, you might ask?  Well, because Mt. Baldy is covered in snow,

Mt. Baldy, 1-17-13

Mt. Baldy, 1-17-13

the closest ski resorts have their own spots on the morning news broadcasts, and the nights are still cold.  I wish it would just keep raining.  I love rain…have I said that enough?

I had the chance to visit with a high school friend today.  We sat in the quad at PCC and talked the way old friends do, of everything from kids to men to work to being back at school.  She’s taking courses in automotive technology.  How kick-ass is that?   I’m so proud of her.  Our little visit made for a great school day.  ❤

Tomorrow is my first Inter-Club Council meeting.  I don’t know what to expect: I’ve never been involved in any kind of student government-type stuff.  My hope is that I’m not the only grown-up (read: over 30) student rep there.  My second hope is that the faculty member in charge isn’t younger than me.

And last but not least, Smushy!  I took him and his mommy to another check-up this week.  Mommy is shrinking and healing rapidly.  I can see a bit of that crazed glint in her eye, though, the one that comes from being stuck indoors for weeks on end, with nothing to do but milk and wipe poo. As for Smushy, he’s growing the way babies tend to do.

DJ, 2 weeks old.

DJ, 2 weeks old.

His little face makes me so happy, I feel fluttery.

Have a lovely day.  ❤

California Cold and Doubt

It is cold!  Maybe to the thicker-skinned types this would almost be shorts-and-tank top weather, but I’m telling you I’m freezing my you-know-what off.  It is currently about 7:45 pm and 42°F.  We had a 10 minute rainstorm this morning, then sun and puffy clouds the rest of the day.  The combination of wet earth, lack of insulating cloud layer, and mild wind has sent us on a downward temperature spiral.  I may actually wear pants to bed.

I managed some View Club shots today:

San Gabriel Mountains, 1-10-13

San Gabriel Mountains, 1-10-13

Construction 1-10-13

Construction 1-10-13

Boone Sculpture Garden, 1-10-13

Boone Sculpture Garden, 1-10-13

I know the sky looks absolutely clear, but here’s what I saw when I turned east:

ds1 ds2 ds3The remnants of that morning storm were moving out of our little valley and piling up over the low desert areas.  The high desert areas, on the other side of the mountains, were iced in.  All roads over the mountains were restricted or closed.

I’m glad to be back at school. This is the first time in my entire life I’ve actually missed having homework!  Either I am definitely on a path I need to be on, or I’ve finally snapped.  Probably both.  I still doubt this path, though. The few short months I’ve been back at school have already been an amazing journey.  Just today I joined my first ever club!  And I became the Inter-Club Council representative!  I have no idea what that entails other than twice-monthly meetings, but it sounds good on an application.  Financially, though, things are plain bad.  Extra expenses that used to be minor inconveniences, like doctor visits or car troubles, are catastrophic now.  A student worker job at school, plus another weekend job, are both in the works, but they are very, very slow to come.  The weekend job is contingent on someone else being fired, and hoping for it to happen screws with my karma, but that’s where I am.  I feel guilty every day: that living has become so hard, that my kids have to do without so much, and that other [generous] people have to pick up my slack.  It’s taking it’s toll on everyone’s patience, and support for my academic endeavor is waning.  I’m starting to wonder myself if this is really a good idea.  For every high there seems to be an equal and opposite low.  Or two.

Okay, take a good, refocusing breath with me.  Thank you for your sympathetic thoughts during my pity party.  It’s over for now.  I’m serving coffee and handing back your coats.

On a completely positive note, Squishy…no, that’s not right.  That’s Finding Nemo.  What did I call him?  Smushy!  Smushy is a week old, and already looking less smushy.

DJ, 1 week old.

DJ, 1 week old.

He is just the cutest!  Mommy is recovering well, laughing about her new battle scars and handling the rigors of caring for a newborn with relative ease.  Daddy is just being his phenomenal self.  You’ve never seen a more precious trio.  ❤

Enter Title Here – Cuz I’m Not Doin’ It

Another frustrating day.  I don’t know if it’s “them” or me, but chocolate, wine, and cake are helping.

It’s them.  It’s definitely them. #$%^ers.

*deep breath, another sip of wine, carry on, calmly*

Today was the first day of school.  It did not go well.  On the bright side, I was finally able to take some new View Club shots:

San Gabriel Mountains, 1-7

San Gabriel Mountains, 1-7

Construction, 1-7

Construction, 1-7

Boone Sculpture Garden, 1-7

Boone Sculpture Garden, 1-7

The weather has been too cold for our tender skins, but in the grand scheme of things it’s been glorious.  The bleachers that line Colorado Blvd. for the Rose Parade have already been dismantled and removed.  Do you watch that on New Year’s Day?  I grew up sleeping in the gutter overnight to get a front-row seat for the parade.  I’ve only done it once as an adult.  I have since decided that it’s much more convenient, and informative, and warm and comfortable, to watch it from home.  The parade is rebroadcast by a local television station all day long in case we miss something.  Plus, several floats drive past my parents’ house the day after the parade on their way to be dismantled.  This year, 19 of them went by.

The annual Tournament of Wilted Roses.

The annual Tournament of Wilted Roses.

Jess and the Rotary International float

Smile, Jess!

I didn’t take pictures of them all, but I got some good shots here.

DJ is doing great, and so is his mommy.  Jess and I spent a couple days at their house, helping new mommy and staring adoringly at DJ, cooing at his smushy smallness and exclaiming with delight at every little twitch and yawn.  Jess tried to wake him up for a feeding once, but she didn’t have the heart to do more than pat his baby tushy back to sleep.  So I woke him up for the next one, to show her how it’s done.  I had way too much fun.  At one point I raised him up like Simba and sang “Circle of Life.”  Who says newborns have to be boring?

On Saturday, a Facebook friend posted a picture of a double rainbow.  I was ready to ask where she lived when I remembered she lives near me!  The post was only a minute old, so I ran through the house shouting, “Double rainbow! Double rainbow!” like a town crier.  Seven of us stampeded out of the front door, then around the house to the backyard because a huge tree blocked our view.  We didn’t see a double rainbow, but we did catch a beautiful single one:

Rainbow

Rainbow pouring from the clouds

That about does it.  Have a lovely…anything. ❤

New for 2013

This holiday season was a particularly hard one for me.  Not that the holidays were bad, because they weren’t: times are lean, but I still have my family and friends, a roof over my head, and children who survived past the age of 6.  Those post-holiday blues, though, hit me like a ton of bricks.

And then, before 2013 could even get a foothold, this little guy showed up:

Image

DJ, 15 hours old

My new nephew, Dominique, Jr., decided it was time to come out and play, fooling the doctors who told his mommy he was nice and snug and not going anywhere for another week or so.   Jess and I went to visit them in the hospital today, with flowers, balloons and Cheez-Its in tow.

Image

We have about a dozen shots just like this.

Mommy did great and is resting uncomfortably, as new mommies do.  Daddy is completely in love.  DJ’s tiny face is just the smushiest.  I went into mommy mode, not with the baby but with my sis-in-law:  I fixed her socks, rubbed her head and her shoulders, validated her discomfort, comforted her fears, and snuggled.  It was sweet to have her folded in my arms with her head on my shoulder, as if that’s exactly what she needed.

Visiting hours start up in 15 minutes again, and we promised we’d be back.  I know the first thought is to let her rest, but I hated being stuck in that tiny utilitarian hospital room alone, and she seems to share the feeling.  I had to share the good news, though.  Blew that post-holiday depression right down the road.

Oh, stats!  (Other moms always want stats, don’t we?) DJ was born on 1-1-13 at 8:25 pm, 7 lbs even, 20 1/2 inches, no complications, all 10 fingers and all 10 toes present and accounted for.