Super Family Fun Time

On Saturday the folks treated us to a family day trip.  In our family that means choosing a starting destination, then going wherever the road takes us from there.  It’s been awhile since we’ve been able to do that, but with our dauntless vacationers gone only three days, there was some vacation budget left.

Our starting destination was Galco’s Soda Pop Stop, a rather famous store that sells all kinds of small-brand soda and old-fashioned candy.  It’s not very far from home, but who doesn’t love soda pop and candy?  For the first ten seconds Galco’s looks like an outdated neighborhood grocery store full of boxes, old equipment, and unused office furniture.  Then we start picking up soda bottles.  Elderberry soda?  Mint?  Birch beer?

Dandelion and what?! Are you sure this is soda?

They had over 400 types of sodas and beers from around the world, a make-you-own-soda station (a hand-made blue soda named TARDIS came home with us), and vintage candy. (Anyone remember something called a Chick-O-Stick?  Sen-Sen mints?  Zots?)  This place is as fascinating as a museum!  After we left we learned [from one of our more observant, less communicative family members] that they had a small deli, too.  We decided to take our sugary purchases and let the road find us another hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop for lunch.

Now friends, remember that we are following the people who had two weeks of vacation available to them, and could only handle three days.  There is a reason for this.  My step-dad, Rob, is a notoriously bad driver, so Mom does all the driving.  Unfortunately, Rob is also a notorious backseat driver, and sometime’s Mom can only take so much.

Let's flashback to 2006 for just a moment.

Let’s flashback to 2006 for just a moment.

Seven years ago we took a two-week family vacation together.  We followed them just like we are doing today.  In the Sierra Nevada mountains, about five minutes after the above picture was taken, Rob consulted his new GPS system and told us to exit the parking lot and make a right.  According to the old-fashioned Thomas Bros. paper map, however, we needed to go left.  Rob insisted it was right.  So we followed them out and made a right.  A minute or so later Mom made a tire-squelching U-turn on the two-lane mountain road, passed the parking lot we just left, and pealed into the first turn-out she saw.  It was like watching a silent movie: Mom parked the car, got out, slammed the door with all her might, stormed over to the passenger’s side, yelled at the window with arms flailing every which way, stomped over to the edge of the turn-out to find a rock to throw at the window, decided she didn’t want her insurance premium to go up (and couldn’t find a good rock anyway), marched back over the the car, started yelling and flailing again, threw herself back into the driver’s seat, and drove away.

Flash forward to now. Here’s a gratuitous picture of a beautiful car owned by our friend, John.

So here we are today looking for a sandwich shop: Mom, Rob, and Shelly in the lead car, with Drew, Joe, and me following.  We enter the parking lot of a little báhn mi shop, start to park, and then leave.  We drive a little ways, turn a corner, drive completely around the block, go back to the main road, and keep going.  We turn another corner, enter an alley, drive completely through the parking lot of another sandwich shop, stop in another alley, head back to the main drag, pull over under some trees…

At this point we expect Mom to fling herself out of the car and read someone the riot act.  Alas, not today.

We end up back in Pasadena, at a sandwich place called Ginger Corner Market that sells hoity-toity stuff like a ham and brie sandwich with fig jam and arugula, green pea salad with mint and feta, and lavender lemonade.  Okay that was just my lunch:  everyone else had turkey or grilled cheese with potato salad and iced tea.

Shelly's lunch.

Shelly’s lunch.

The owner gave us free lemon squares for desert, as a Welcome To My Restaurant present.  How nice!

We couldn’t decide what to do next, so we came home to regroup.  Poor Mom and Rob fell asleep almost as soon as their feet hit the living room carpet.  Drew just wanted to plop down, Skype his friends, and play computer games.  Shelly wanted to do anything please Janine don’t make me stay home let’s go somewhere else we’re supposed to be on vacation please please get me out of this houuuuuse!!!

We drove to a nearby garden center and bought these beauts,

Thyme, sage, and spearmint.

Thyme, sage, and spearmint. Note the empty dandelion-burdock soda bottle. Not too bad, that stuff.

came home and started these things,

Seeds!  Bell peppers, tomatoes, sunflowers, and hollyhocks.

Seeds! Bell peppers, tomatoes, sunflowers, and hollyhocks.

and then told Rob about my new herb garden idea.  Today, he bought me this:

Eeeee!

Duranta repens

Sorry I couldn’t get a better picture of it.  It’s a type of verbena called Skyflower, Golden Dewdrop, or Pigeon Berry.  It has the prettiest purple flowers edged in white, which become clusters of yellowy berries.  The flower and berry stems arch willow-like from between the foliage.  Usually they’re big hedge shrubs, but this one is trained into a small ornamental tree that is going right into the center of my herb garden, where it’ll attract birds, bees, and butterflies.  Eeeee!

Tomorrow is the taping of The Sing-Off with Daddy. Yay!  So I’m off to get some shut-eye.  Sweet dreams!

Sing-Off snacks are ready to go.

My Backyard – The Summer Tour

It has been a tough few months.  I finally hit my breaking point, and hermited myself away to calm down and regroup.  I absolutely hate writing when I’m in a bad state of mind, so I took to reading voraciously instead. The time has come, however, to unhermit myself.  So last weekend I grabbed my camera and documented the better aspects of my reclusive little world to share.

It is definitely summer here.  We have been in the 90s (30s C) for a good couple of weeks now. I staked a claim for myself in the shade of our big redwood tree in the backyard to get away from our oven of a house.

My new throne.

My new throne.

It is theeee best place to sit and read.  It’s also a nice place for a nap, which is unfortunate for the neighbors because I snore like a freight train.

The view from my chair, looking up.

The view from my throne, looking up.

The four trunks of our coast redwood tree.

The four trunks of our coast redwood tree (Sequoia sempervirens).

Once the yard is completely in shade, which is at around 4pm, I might turn on a sprinkler and water something nearby to feel the spray carried on the wind.

four o'clocks

Like these four o’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa), which grow wild in a little corner of the yard.

Or my sister's little garden.

Or my sister Shelly’s border garden.

If it’s particularly hot, I’ll sit directly under the water, which is kind of boring really because I can’t read or tippity-tap on my laptop, and no one ever wants to join me.  I need to suffer mightily to go that route, but go it I do.

The grass is dead in the majority of the yard.  Even the usual weeds such as clover, couch grass, and dandelions, have all but disappeared.  There is still some color to be found, though,

From Shelly's garden to the front of the house:  dead grass, green fruit trees.

From Shelly’s garden to the front of the house: dead grass, green trees and shrubs.

and interesting things abound.

busted pots 2

Tree stumps bursting from nursery pots

These are near the four o’clock colony.  I think they were silk floss trees.  My step-dad, Rob,  propagated them from seeds he liberated from a tree at a golf course,

busted pots 1

Ceiba speciosa, if I’m correct.

and then apparently forgot about. They took root where they stood, wimpy plastic pots be damned.  During a bad windstorm in 2011, Rob worried that they would fall onto the neighbor’s property and cause damage.

spiky logs

Spiky wood pile.

So now they’re firewood.

Have you ever seen one of these?

Homalocladium platycladum

Homalocladium platycladum

It’s known as ribbonbush, ribbon plant, tapeworm plant, or centipede plant.  It is native to the Solomon Islands.  This one is at the edge of Shelly’s garden.

Ribbon plant "leaves"

Ribbon plant “leaves”

It has  long, flat, segmented “leaves” that are actually flower stems.  Tiny flowers pop out along the edges.

Homalocladium flowers

Homalocladium flowers

Here’s the color I promised:

Bouganvilla

Bouganvilla

Hibiscus

Hibiscus

Purple lantana

Purple lantana

Lemons

Lemons

Passion flower and fern

Passion flower and fern

Passion flower face

Passion flower face

And this???

And this???

I have no idea what this little orange flower is,

The orange flower's vine

The orange flower’s vine

but its vine is gigantic.  This picture doesn’t do it justice.  By my best estimate it’s 15-20 ft tall, 60 ft long, and 30 ft wide.  It is tended by at least three different property owners. It was here when my parents bought the house over 30 years ago.   Come to think of it, so was that passion vine, and the lemon tree.  Of course the redwood tree.  Oh!  And the black walnut tree!

Black walnut tree, as seen from my bedroom window.

Black walnut tree, as seen from my bedroom window.

When we moved here this tree had a huge hole decayed into the trunk, like a child’s drawing minus the owl inside.  Rob said the tree was rotten and told us not to eat the nuts, and said it would likely die within the year.  Obviously it didn’t, and a couple of summers ago we discovered that the hole has completely healed over.  We’re still scared to eat the walnuts, though, so the squirrels and wild parrots get their pick.

At the base of this tree is another border garden of exotic plants.

Garden under the walnut tree.

Garden under the walnut tree.

Taro, aka elephant ears.  (Colocasia esculenta)

Taro root plant (Colocasia esculenta). Since we grow them for decoration, we call the plants elephant ears.

Nestled into the tree itself are some amusing knickknacks:

Large glass fishing float

Large glass fishing float

Lion's head

Lion’s head

M 'n M man

M&M man

Other curious things are scattered around the yard, too.

Cony sentinel

A cony sentinel.

Cast iron cockerel

Cast iron cockerel left.

Cast iron cockerel right.

Cast iron cockerel right.

An ugly cactusy thing with pretty yellow flowers.

An ugly cactusy thing with pretty yellow flowers (and another bunny).

Logs from a downed oak branch, a casualty of the 2011 windstorm.

Logs from a downed oak branch, a casualty of the 2011 windstorm.

Lantana berries

Lantana berries

Old ferns tangled up in the rangy passion vine.

Old ferns tangled up in the rangy, spider webby passion vine.

Today is overcast and the heat isn’t quite so bad. Cross your fingers that it holds!

Orange Storm

Kitchen window, et al.

Kitchen window, et al.

Last week we had the strangest weather.  Rain and thunderstorms followed by humid, unbearable heat.  Last Monday we got up to 101F (38C).  Sitting in my car waiting for my class to start at 6:15 pm, it was still about 95F (35C)!  Which is why I was in my car, engine idling, AC full blast.

Barn in the suburbs.

Barn in the ‘burbs.

A few days before the heat we had a crazy storm blow through.  I thought a neighbor was moving trash cans  I kept hearing the familiar plastic rumbling sound.  The thing about moving trash cans is that there’s sort of a slow Doppler effect: the sound starts out far away, gets louder as they roll even with wherever I am, then fades away.  This rumbling was sustained as if it was on an asphalt treadmill.  There was never a big clap, just this sort of roiling.  I’ve never heard thunder like that before.

Facing south at sundown.

Facing south at sundown.

It was early evening and already chilly, so I grabbed a blanket and told my sister, Shelly, to sit with me on the porch.  We hunkered down and watched the lightening, which would streak across the sky in jagged pink cracks.  “OOOOOO!”  we’d holler, loud enough to echo across the street, and count down until that grumbly thunder started.  My step-dad went on-line and found the storm’s exact location and trajectory.  It was dumping buckets of rain to the north and east of us.  We were situated in a little pocket of clear, but the storm was closing in.

orange storm yard 7

Dollops of rain.

Eventually giant dollops of rain fell around us.  My mom came out to join our little storm-watching party.  My step-dad pointed out a huge  black and yellow swallowtail butterfly perched on a corner of the roof, sitting perfectly still with its wings closed as if intentionally making itself razor-thin to avoid being bombed by the huge raindrops.

Retreating storm

Retreating storm

A low shelf of dark clouds passed over the mountains and headed straight for us.  About every 3 minutes a lightening bold shot horizontally across its underside.  “OOOOO!” we’d shout like a bunch of 7-year-olds in a science class.

orange storm sky 6

California post-storm

The best came last.  It looked like a giant spider:  I saw at least three bolts shoot out from a spot on the sky hidden by a tree.  “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  OMG did you SEE that?!”

Orange storm clouds

Orange storm clouds

Once the storm passed, I caught these shots from my parents’ backyard.  The post-storm dusk was amazing of course, but the colors everywhere were breathtaking.  They made even the utilitarian parts of the yard seem magical.

Like this.

Like this.

R and R Week

(I tried to title this R&R Week, but the ampersand was not welcome.)

This is my rest and relaxation week.  No school.  No work.  A whole week of nothing.

Not really.  Without school or work, though, it sure feels like break!

First off, View Club shots.  I don’t have too many because I wasn’t on that end of campus much this past semester, but I managed my shots when I could.

San Gabriel Mountains, 4-24-13

San Gabriel Mountains, 4-24-13

Another day of hidden mountains.  We’ve since had a brush fire in our foothills.  It was a few blocks away from our apartment in Monrovia, which is much farther east than the [normal] view in this shot, but this whole mountain range is very fire-prone.

Construction, 4-24-13

Construction, 4-24-13

Lots of progress since our last shot.  I hear this is going to be some sort of science building.  It’s bumped right up against an old building that currently houses some of the tech and music classes.  The science classes are in a group of trailers called the Science Village.  So I’m still not positive about what this building is really for.

Sculpture Garden, 4-24-13

Sculpture Garden, 4-24-13

The big pampas grass that was chopped down is coming back.  The next time I take a shot of this area, I expect a lot more sun and foliage.

Smushy, 4 months

Smushy, 4 months

Look who’s learned to smile!  He does it all the time now.

Finals were last week.  The past few weeks have been tough ones, so when finals came I felt like a shipwrecked sailor crawling onto dry land.  My Spanish final was easier than I expected, and Creative Writing didn’t have a final exam, just a project:  another chapbook, which I’ll share in my next post.

For now, some unhappy news.  A few weeks ago, we found out we have to move…and that’s putting it kindly.  I suppose it’s never a good time for this sort of thing, but the timing is especially bad.  I was broadsided with the news while preparing for finals, and now with a 6-week Physics class looming I’m still moving and dealing and trying to reign in the chaos as best I can.  Thank every higher power in the universe that the kids and I have somewhere to go, but this is unimaginably un-ideal.  It’s so un-ideal that I have to make up my own word for it.  I actually have two made-up words for it:  apecially un-ideal.  There, now I’ve made up my own phrase. Apecially un-ideal =  really sucks a whole lot.

On top of that, the job at the coffee shop is over.  It makes me sad, but honestly I couldn’t hack it.  It was five hours of non-stop running, and physically it was murder.  If I came to work stressed, tired, or not feeling well, I couldn’t even fake it.  So the other waiter got his hours back, and he’s much faster and more competent than I ever would have been, so I think everything is right with that corner of the universe now.  The owner was very, very nice, and I’ve already been back to eat there more times than when I actually worked there.

Let’s look toward a more positive future.  I had an interview with a temp agency last week.  The lady was very excited about my resume, especially my phone experience.  She sent me on-line skills tests in typing, filing, Microsoft Word, and phone etiquette.  I aced the typing and filing, missed 4 out of 30 on the Word test, and…get this..missed 4 out of 37 on the phone test!  How did I miss any on the phone test?!  I’m sure that’s still an acceptable score but dude!  I am the phone etiquette queen!

As I mentioned already, I start a 6-week online Physics class next week.  The instructor sent everyone a list of questions to answer about ourselves.  He said when he has to teach without personal interaction, it’s easier when he knows as much as possible about his students.  The questions were mostly about our education.  It was like writing an essay so of course I had a field day.  I imagined that my maturity and wit would win him over and I’d be the class favorite before the class even started.  He replied to my email with, “Thanks!” followed by a message to the entire class with a correction about how he wanted their replies formatted.  Bubble, burst.

So lots of pot-stirring going on in my little bubbly cauldron, and I’m not going to lie: I am stressed the you-know-what out.  BUT…it could be a whole lot worse, and besides, it’s always darkest before the dawn, right?  And I have every confidence that if I stay on my path, we’re gonna see one heckuva sunrise.

I am off to construct my chapbook post.  Here’s a sneak peak to make you smile.

Chapbook #2 cover

Chapbook #2 cover

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!

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. ❤

Oh, What a Day

My Tuesday morning started with rain.  Lovely, silvery, crystal rain that makes the drab streets shine and the colors of everyday life vibrant.  I made sure I had my camera AND memory card before I headed out the door.  School is out until January, but I wanted to snap my view shots in the rain, so I swung by the college just for you guys.

San Gabriel Mountains, 12-18

San Gabriel Mountains (or not), 12-18

Naturally, it stopped raining before I got there.  I tried to take my mountain shot without the parking lot, but my auto focus rebelled.  I like my auto focus a great deal, much more than my manual focus, so I compromised and gave it some lines to focus on.

Construction, 12-18

Construction, 12-18

I had hoped to be in the rain, to prove my “stoicism in ‘all weather’ shoots” to Steve Pulley.  Oh well.

Boone Sculpture Garden, 12-18

Boone Sculpture Garden, 12-18

As you can see it was still plenty drippy out.  I decided it was the perfect time to introduce you to the sculptures in the sculpture garden.

The first thing you must know:  there are only three…yes, three…whole sculptures in the sculpture garden.  There was one more, but it seems to have disappeared.

"Bound Goat" by Jack Zajak

“Bound Goat” by Jack Zajak

goat3

Close up of “Bound Goat”

Before I actually looked at it, I thought this was a bull.  Hmm.

"Column Figure" by Stephan Balkenhol

“Column Figure” by Stephan Balkenhol

Close-up of "Column Figure"

Close-up of “Column Figure”

Column guy here is roughly 10 feet tall, including his column.

"Red Pine" by Deborah Butterfield

“Red Pine” by Deborah Butterfield

horsey3

Close-up of “Red Pine”

Last week I learned something astonishing about this beautiful driftwood sculpture:  it’s not wood at all!  It’s metal! Cast bronze and scrap metal to be exact.  Even up close it looks like wood: you have to touch it to believe it.

The lingering droplets of rain and extra-vivid colors were too good to pass up, so I took some flora close-ups, too:

Fountain grass

Fountain grass

Pampas grass

Pampas grass

More pampas grass

More pampas grass

My favorite pampas grass shot

My favorite pampas grass shot

Raindrops on something green

Raindrops on something green

These were the unedited shots.  I played with some special effects on my paint program to make them look extra special in black and white, but I won’t bore everyone with those.  You can view them here if you’d like.

Peek-a-boo!

Peek-a-boo!

The elevator in the parking garage has a mirrored ceiling. 🙂

I took myself to the Reyn for coffee, breakfast, nice people and a comfy corner to spread out my book notes. (In case you’re a new friend and don’t know, I’m writing a book for my grandmother, my Oma, about her experiences during WWII in the Netherlands.) I decided to tackle the beginning, the opening that describes her family and life before the war came.  I thought it would be easy since she wrote a good chunk of it herself, and the rest she dictated while I typed.  The plan was to simply organize the information into a decent opening.  Easy peasy, right?

No, not at all.

As I went through my notes, I found lots of little mistakes.  Oma has more than a touch of dementia, so I already anticipated something like this.  During our interviews I had her repeat as many stories as I could without being obvious about it, just to make sure they were consistent.  I didn’t think to double and triple-check background and family information.  I can do my research and fix it all, but it’s time-consuming and she wants her book sooner than yesterday.

My biggest concern, though, is that making these corrections is beginning to alter the story:  it’s becoming her story versus the story.  But whose story is the story?  Mine?  This isn’t a book that’s going to be on any Best Seller lists, so in the grand scheme of things I guess it doesn’t matter if some of her details are wrong, especially since they’re true to her.  If she was in her right mind, though, she’d want me to make the corrections.  At this point I don’t know which is the more ethical choice: to correct or not to correct?  It drove me to frustrated tears.

Back at Mom’s house the weather was funky.  First it started to hail itty-bitty balls that looked like nonpareils.  Then it started to rain big drops…

Sunny rain.

Big rain drops and proof of my stalwartness

…but it was sunny!  Look!

Sun!

Sun in the rain

Sun + rain = rainbows, so I scanned the skies.

No rainbow here.

No rainbow here.

Or here.

Or here.

Nothing but clouds there.

Nothing but clouds there.

Maybe it slipped through this cloud hole?

Maybe it slipped through this cloud hole?

I never found a rainbow.

About ten minutes after the rain stopped, the wind picked up.  It blew the clouds clean away, but somehow the skies were still dark.  The mountains were illuminated orange, then pink, and wouldn’t you know the camera battery decided it was the perfect time to die completely.  Which was okay, really, because the wind was freezing cold!  It drove us back inside to scramble for any little bit of warmth or coziness we could find.

The wind blew through the night.  It was calm this morning, but still so cold.  We were thankful, though, that we didn’t get a windstorm like we had last year, that kept us cold and without electricity for four days.  (Here are some aftermath shots from that exciting night.)

Whew!  Quite the Tuesday!

Hope you all are keeping warm and holding your loved ones a little closer.  ❤

A Day of Compliments

After class yesterday, I stayed behind with two classmates, Maria and Vicky, who are Italian and Russian respectively.  They began talking about how much they miss their own cultures and how dissatisfied they are with American culture.  Maria said I’m one of the most human Americans she knows, and Vicky said she is fed up with superficial, emotionless Americans.  “You are an exception, though, Janine.  I’m sorry, Honey, but it’s true,” she crooned, and gave me an apologetic hug as if she were insulting me.  It made me laugh.  How is that an insult, to be called human and unsuperficial?

Then later on at The Reyn, Jess and I were engaged in a conversation about…I don’t even know what about, to be honest, but the subject of jobs came up.  “You should work here,” Jess said.

“I’d love to work here.  How much fun would that be?”

Israel, the owner, whipped around.  “Why didn’t you tell me that when I was looking for a new waitress?”  he almost screeched at me.

“I’ve never worked in a restaurant!”

“Bah! You’d be a good fit here!”

The Reyn, if you haven’t read about it yet, is an old, small coffee shop that my family and I frequent.  They’ve never had more than a couple waitresses, and only during busy times, so losing one is losing a big chunk of the staff.  They’ve been down a waitress for about a year.  Israel finally hired a couple of young guys from a type of work-study program, and while they’re good kids, they’re less than stellar at their jobs.

Israel looked at me out of the corner of his eye.  “Maybe I should fire Matthew.”

If only.

One of my classes at school is actually a position on the staff of an annual literary magazine called InscapeInscape only meets officially in the fall semester, to choose the written pieces that will be published that year.  Last week…okay so maybe it’s been a week of compliments…last week the instructor told us that we can continue to work on the magazine next semester and he’d sign off on independent study credit for it.  After class, he asked me specifically if I’d continue on the staff, because he thought my input would be valuable.  I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m the only grown-up on the staff this year:  professors seem to appreciate students over 30.  Still, how nice was that?

OH!   I submitted my essay, When The Hospital Calls, to be published in Inscape, and it was accepted!  Several other editors, not knowing it was mine, said it was one of their favorite pieces of non-fiction.  It would have benefited from more revision, but, you know, wouldn’t they all.  This counts as being a published writer!  Woo-Hoo!

If you read the essay and don’t know Joe, here he is, alive and well 10 years after surviving a brain aneurism:

Jojo, 12-03-12

Jojo, 12-03-12

I learned how to knit this week.  Go me!  My sister, Shelly, bought some round knitting looms that are good for making hats, so last night I made my first hat.  Joe is modeling it.  He actually kept it and wore it to work this morning.

My views for Monday:

San Gabriel Mountains, 12-03

San Gabriel Mountains, 12-03

I decided to get a tighter shot of the mountains with less parking lot.  Today my point of reference is hidden behind clouds, so I expect this shot to change again.  Wednesday should be clear, so I’ll be closer to getting it right.

construction, 12-03

construction, 12-03

Boone Sculpture Garden, 12-03

Boone Sculpture Garden, 12-03

Here is the rest of The View Club, you should go take a looksie:

Celi, from The Kitchen’s Garden (Celi’s currently on vacation, so go back a day or more)

Claire, from Promenades Plantings

Marie, from My Little Corner of Rhode Island

Linda, from Life on a Colorado Farm

Cathy, from Words and Herbs

View Day

Wouldn’t you know it, I forgot my camera Wednesday.  So I borrowed my sister’s point-and-click for my biweekly shots.  It was supposed to start raining, but as you can see the clouds were just starting to creep over the hills.

San Gabriel Mountains, 11-28

San Gabriel Mountains, 11-28

The construction workers wrapped the top of the building frame with yellow stuff, I assume in anticipation of the rain.  I tried to find out what it will be, but no luck so far.

Construction site, 11-28

Construction site, 11-28

The well-manicured sculpture garden looked lovely as usual.

Boone Scupture Garden, 11-28

Boone Sculpture Garden, 11-28

The rain finally came yesterday morning.  Just a light, misty rain, but enough to pool and collect in small places.

Raindrops on bamboo plants

Raindrops on bamboo plants

I’ve been impatient to show off my beloved San Gabriel Mountains.  They’ve been so beautiful all season.  I picked a bad time to start taking pictures of it, but I guess the whole point of the project is to get it all, the good and the bad.  Fortunately, yesterday I happened to see a great view of the mountains as I was driving, so I pulled over and took a few pictures.  Unfortunately, it was through a power line field.

I don’t know how to use the panoramic setting on my camera yet, so I stitched my shots together myself. My panorama isn’t seamless, but the mountains are perfect, I promise:

San Gabriel Mountains between rain showers

San Gabriel Mountains between rain showers

Our rain is expected to continue until Tuesday.  I like a good, long, aggressive rainstorm, but this spotty, misty stuff is better than nothing.

Have a lovely weekend!

Noncation, Day 6

This is way late, because frankly I got sick of it.  Recording every day was like being on a vegetable soup diet.  Day one is, “Yay!  Vegetable soup!  Skinny me!”  Day six is, “%^&* this %^&*ing soup and the $%^&ing idiot that came up with it and %^&* it I like being fat anyway.”  Okay not that extreme but you get the idea.  This blogging stuff is hard work.

Day 6

7:30 am:  Wake up for no good reason.  I decide I should clean up a little:  do the dishes, take out the trash.  I turn on the water in the kitchen to let the hot water warm up.  I decide it’s too early for such nonsense.  I turn it off.

8:30 am:  Put the last two farmer’s market eggs on the stove to boil.  Jess calls.  She and John are back on dry land.  Dry land is moving.  She caught five fish:  two dorado, two yellowtail, and one bluefin.  John caught a bluefin.

Fishie fishies

Jess’s catch

There are people at the dock who will process the fish and ship them to you.  Jess and John are having the bluefins made into jerky and the rest fileted.  Jess says that each fish took about 15-20 minutes to pull in.  She caught two more, but lost them when their lines snapped.  Her hands are bruised.  She’s exhausted.  Everything smells like fish.  She hopes  they can take the 5-day trip someday.

9:30 am:  Hear a squeaky pop from the kitchen.  I was so excited about the fishing trip that I forgot about my eggs!  Nothing burnt or ruined, but the eggs might be a little over-cooked.  I fill the pan with cold water and set it aside.  I toast a couple slices of the garlic sourdough.  One of them contains a whole clove of sweet roasted garlic.  Divine.  The eggs aren’t too bad either.

9:45 am:  Hit the Internet for information about these fish Jess caught.  I learn that Bluefin are tuna; yellowtails are jack fish, which are similar to tuna; and dorado is another name for mahi-mahi.  I foresee Jessica’s mother eating very well in the near future.  Perhaps I should look up some recipes.

11:45 am:  Drew sends a text, asks if I’ll pick him up and bring him back here.

1:00 pm:  Drive home.  Seeing the inside of my own home for the first time in days seems surreal.   It’s such a luxury to take a shower with my own soap, dry off with my own towel, and have all the beauty products I want at my disposal.  Being home means not having to go without or make due.  What an epiphany:  to truly appreciate what I have.

Drew tells me all about how he spent last evening.  He donned a fez and technicolor suit, which were recent birthday presents, and met some friends at the weekly street fair down the street.  He bought himself a Dr. Who mug.  He wants to be the next Dr. Who and will wear a colorful suit.  His friends have nicknamed him The Doctor.  He’s thrilled.

Someone recently accused him of being influenced by a “fallen angel” and even asked Jess, “He’s getting darker, isn’t he?”  Here’s my answer to that:

Suit and Fez

The future, multi-hued Dr. Who.

Enough said.

3:00 pm:  Drew is craving McDonald’s fries.  I treat us to the drive-thru.  Tasty, but that’s it:  I’m officially declaring my intention to cook real food again, good readers.

3:30 pm:  Shelly and the folks tumble through the front door.  Mom and Rob collapse into chairs.  Shelly empties the car with a look on her face that says she’s the only one who does anything around here.  Mom says unpacking can wait.  Shelly won’t hear of it and pretends to be annoyed.  I think it’s just excited energy.

Last night they discovered a place about a block away from their hotel called the Forestiere Underground Gardens.  In the early 1900s an Italian immigrant bought a chunk of land in Fresno, CA, intending to grow grapes.  Alas, the climate was too hot and the ground too clay.  He dug through the clay and built himself a cellar to escape the heat and plan his next move.  He discovered that the soil under the clay was rich and fertile.  He planted trees and vines in open subterranean rooms and created a whole complex of underground caverns.  It was one of the highlights of their trip.  If they had come home last night they would have missed it.  I don’t want to say I told you so, but I told you so.

The kids and I, even Joe, score all manner of souvenirs:  mugs, teas, trinkets, t-shirts, jewelry, and a fat wad of cash for my trouble, which was no trouble at all.

(Don’t get excited: it’s already gone.)

And with that, Noncation 2012 comes to an end, while my humble little life goes back to normal.