Almost there...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Oh really?

I really do love the world I live in. Sure we've lost a lot, no longer able to have a great statesman protected by the media rather than exposed by it, but the flip side is fantastic. It's just not as easy to lie to the world anymore when you've got every person with enough wit to question what is delivered having an outlet in which to broadcast what they've uncovered. Case in point: Howard Kaloogian, a leading Republican running for the seat in Congress. On his campaign website, a photo was posted, affirming that life in Bagdhad wasn't all that bad, and that normal daily life went on apace, arguing that the media is insisting on only showing the negative side of this righteous war. Well, it would help if his evidence was actually a photo of Bagdhad and not say an entirely different country.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Revolution Without Dancing is a Revolution Not Worth Having

I've got a love for utopian and dystopian stories. Few will ever surpass the experience of reading Fahrenheit 451 for the first time, but all are held up as a lens through which to see the hopes and fears of the collective consciousness at the time of their telling. V for Vendetta is another dystopian future tale, but the telling was a great ride. After the last two Matrix movies, I really thought the Wachowski brothers had lost their touch, but V was well told, and Hugo Weaving was again a master of vocal acting. And like so many dystopian future tales, this one celebrated the art and culture that makes life worth living as the thing that gets lost in a totalitarian future, pausing for a moment just before the denouement to take a moment to embrace the music and dance. I hope that I'm dancing in the last days of my life, whatever those may be. Hopefully like the little old couple at Disneyland, who danced there every Saturday night until the night before she died. That sounds perfect to me.

Not a Gardener

There are those who find keeping a garden or yard very satisfying. This is not me. I just spent three hours wrestling weeds, tearing them out around rose bushes, being crawled on by some unsavory bugs, and getting dirty and sweaty. I've been putting it off for weeks, so it was really bad. There were four major kinds of weeds - an evil broad leafed thing with huge roots, a tall common thing with yellow flowers and milky ooze, a creeping grass thing that's easy to pull up, and a tall grassy thing that requires shoveling under and still a bunch of effort to pull up. I took three yard cart loads to the curb, and sprayed Round-Up on what I couldn't get out. Also, 3 more rose bushes died over the summer so out they went too. I don't like having roses, and eventually, the yard will get a major overhaul and the roses aren't going to make the cut. But for now, the yard is mowed and weeded and slightly tamer. And I'm going to dinner and a movie because I've earned it. This brings to a close 8 days of house cleaning. I've cleaned up all the electrician and dad mess and generally have the house functioning again. There's still holes in my walls, but I'll get to that. I'm going to take a few days away to not be a home laborer, starting tonight. Oh yes, I will get my life back.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Gorgeous

I went out to grab a soda from Lutticken's at lunch. It is the most unbelievably gorgeous day outside. Weather.com says it's 66 degrees. On a bicycle, with the sun on your back, it's utter perfection.

Doc Marten Joy

It's the littlest things that can make me so very happy.

I had this pair of shoes. Doc Martens. 3-eyelet with a little cap toe. Fit my foot like they were moulded to it. I had worn them most every day for 5 years. They were the perfect shoes. When I saw Amelie, I noticed she was wearing a shoe in an almost identical style. Really, I loved these shoes.

Then I left them one night at the South Bay Ceili at St. Stephen's Green. I called the next day, but they hadn't seen them. I stopped by on the way home from work. They were gone. I was actually heartbroken at losing these shoes.

So for the past couple of years, I've searched Doc Marten's websites and other shoe sites and even eBay searching for a replacement for my shoes. I've bought similar shoes, but none measured up. So then a friend posted about the shoes she bought herself for her birthday, and I happened to look one more time. After eBay, I searched Google and clicked on one link at the top which took me to a list of Docs, and there, right there, was a shoe that looked much like mine. I clicked on it, and found yes, it was very very similar. And they had two pairs left, one in my size. I can't wait til they arrive next week. Then I can start the process of breaking them in, and hopefully, with a little luck, they will become my new favorite shoes.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Some People Juggle Geese

In my wanderings I happened across a Beanie Baby goose at the thrift store, and happened to pick it up thinking that it might make a fun small prize at the Browncoat Ball. But now I'm having to wrestle with that idea.

Pixel thinks this goose is the best toy ever. Rick caught him playing with it a month ago, and put it on top of the shelf in the bathroom where Pixel couldn't get it. So I was cleaning last night (day 4 - still cleaning. Tonight's task - clean the dirty hand prints off the walls and ceilings) and I pulled down the goose. I put it down, not really thinking this was some sort of magic kitty summoning tool. But before I know it, there's Pixel throwing it into the air and catching it and tossing it and swatting it, over and over again. I yell, "Hey!" and take it away from him. I put it in the center of the table, and I didn't think he saw me do it. He's not allowed on the table. But a few minutes later I walk in and he's just fished it off the table, and again with the fling-catch-fling-swat.

So, I took it away again, this time locking it up in the wardrobe. But now I'm feeling bad about that. Maybe Pixel just really wants to juggle geese. It seems wrong not to let him have his fun. Maybe I can order some other Beanie Baby geese for the ball.

Gonna Kill Me a Bicyclist

One of the stresses of working at Stanford is the bicyclists on campus. For some reason, they seem to believe that they are immune to all traffic laws and equally immune to being killed by being run over by a car. Between the edge of campus and parking today I nearly ran over 3 kids on bikes. The first one ran the stop sign I was turning right at, and nearly got squished as I turned into him. The second ran the same stop sign while riding on the sidewalk after I was clearly in the middle of the turn. I actually honked at him. Then after dropping off Christyn, I passed through the intersection at Palm and Campus Loop and a third bicyclist ran a stop sign from the sidewalk while I was already accelerating thorugh the intersection. I had to stomp my brakes in the middle of the intersection to avoid hitting him. This is bad, especially since the car from the other side of the intersection was anticipating my exit of the intersection and had to stomp her brakes to avoid hitting me.

So here's a little memo to all the nigh-invulnerable brats on bikes on campus: I don't care if you don't stop for every stop sign. Run as many as you like WHEN THERE'S NO OTHER TRAFFIC PRESENT!!! But when there's traffic, at say, rush hour, then stop at the bloody sign, or at least slow down to assess what's going on in the intersection before rolling out. You have no seat belt. You have no metal surrounding you. And 99% of you aren't even bright enough to wear a helmet. I will kill you with my car. It will happen, if you don't decide to start treating the road signs and traffic laws as if they apply to you. And I'm going to feel really bad when that happens. I've never even hit an animal on the road. I'd hate to start my history of road carnage with a crunchy little undergrad who clearly isn't smart enough to be at Stanford.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Stupid Body

I want a body that works better and heals faster. Remember when I bailed back in January? Well, I do. I found out this weekend that I still can't kneel on the right knee without experiencing pain for the next few days afterward. This morning my index and middle finger on my left hand are tingling. I'm hoping it's just momentary, that maybe I just slept on it wrong, but I've switched to right mousing again and will be bracing the wrist for another week or two starting tonight. Grr.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

St. Patrick's Day

I've gotten in the habit of taking St. Patrick's Day off. I did it again, and it was great. After having lunch with Cynthia at Le Cheval, I went to the Driving With Fergus show at the Oakland City Center. The show was great, and old friends kept trickling in for dancing. We had the most perfect Chutney ever - long arms, big figures, and no flubs. It was magical. Big thanks to Steve, Naomi, and Alex for that moment of zen.

The evening was consumed with Friday Night Waltz and Jammix. We did a polka set demo at Jammix at 11:30. They'd learned the Kerry Set during the lesson, and Richard wanted a demo of Irish dance as a living, evolving tradition, so we did a wild 5 minute (too short!) set of all the good stuff - angle saxon squares, m-f, ring out the dishrag, country square, grand quick square. It was really fun. And there was cheering. That felt good. Usually in Palo Alto/Stanford, Irish dancing is that annoying thing happening in the middle of the ballroom. But this time they were watching, and I think they thought it was kind of cool. And Forest was there, which was a real treat as I hardly ever get to see him anymore, and he's the one who invented the angle saxon square, so it was especially nice to see it (and therefore him) get such big cheers from the audience. I really would like to get the South Bay ceili rolling again soon. I miss doing regular Irish dancing. Ah well, after I finish dealing with the Browncoat Ball.

Anyway, it was a great day of fabulous dancing, and that's the best part of St. Patrick's Day for me. It's the one day a year that everyone else is interested in Irish dancing, and I get to grab my friends and dance my legs off.

(Also it's Bates' birthday, which is cool too. Happy Birthday Bates!)

Mostly Done

Well the electricians finished around 1 on Saturday. My dad left around 2. I have lots of new plugs and a porch light and a lightswitch by the backdoor to turn on the kitchen light and a plug in the bathroom that works when the light is off and a floor in my attic. But oy, what a journey. It'll be months to recover. We've got to patch and paint and before any of that, we have to clean everything. The kitchen was covered in dirt and dust and plaster. I spent the first three hours after everyone left working from one side of the counter to the other, wiping and washing and scrubbing. It was pretty amazingly dirty. But it's clean now. And I have all sorts of appliances plugged in to outlets that didn't exist a week ago. That part is pretty cool. And heck, having a very freshly cleaned from top to bottom kitchen isn't a bad thing either. But now I need to do the same thing to the bathroom and the dining room and the bedrooms and the living room and the attic. Oy. And we're still waiting on getting the permit signed off and two fixtures in the attic. Then it'll be done. And yes, it really is better now that it's over.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

This will be much better when it's over.

Electricians came yesterday for day one. We walked through, went over the plan, and they got started.

Meanwhile, my dad was hot to get started on the floor to the attic.

I am very grateful to my dad for coming down to supervise the electricians so that I could go to work. But the man is a bit of a bull in a china shop. Last night I came home and Rick met me in the driveway so that when I got angry, it would be out of earshot. My dad got impatient with the electricians, so he just cut the wires that were in his way, and figured they'd fix it before the end of the day. They did not get to that point. Instead, we spent last evening with no lights in any of the bedrooms, and various plugs around the house not working. This also meant there was no live television because the network goes through Rick's office, which had zero power. There were no lights in our bedroom, but a couple of the outlets were working so there was a clock and my bedside (4 watt) reading lamp. This made for an interesting evening and a more time-consuming than average morning. Finding two shoes that go together in a sea of dimly lit black shoes is fairly challenging when you were asleep less than 30 minutes before. But I made it to work. Work is nice and normal and has coffee. There is no longer coffee at home because somehow my dad managed to break the coffee pot while pulling it out of the dishwasher. I'm not clear on how that's possible, but did I mention bull in a china shop? Yeah.

Tonight we're going out to dinner. Partly this is because it sounds relaxing. Partly this is because I have no faith that my dad will have left lights in the kitchen by dinner time.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Weekend

This weekend I'd planned to go to the Calaveras Celtic Festival with the Merrie Pryanksters. As the week wore on, it became increasingly clear that the weather was aiming towards some unpleasantness. But I was determined, and had a warm place to sleep regardless of what the weather was doing outside. So I tried on my faire costume, packed up my things, and headed to Calaveras. I met up with Rick in Stockton. (He was returning from Sacramento.) We dropped a car at the Stockton Inn (where thankfully they were very generous and let me park even though they were no longer an official Park & Ride location) and headed the final 52 miles to Angels Camp. By the time we were crossing the high point in the roadway, the rain had turned to snow. Rick found this surprisingly stressful to drive through as the lines made by the falling snow were at an odd angle to the lines on the road, and being an unfamiliar place, it took more than a little concentration to stay on the road. Luckily we had cars ahead of us making their way as well, and as long as we could see their taillights, we knew they were doing okay ahead of us.

We arrived, and boy was I giddy. Snow! I think it's been 3 years of no snow for me, so this was a treat. I just wish I had a disk to go sledding on. Erik and Marissa had arranged a condo at the Trendwest resort. It was pretty nifty, with a nice Murphy bed in the living room that became ours for the next couple days. I dove immediately into playing Fury of Dracula. It's a bit like Scotland Yard that I used to play with my dad as a kid. We called the game at 1am for the sake of sleep. At 7:15 the power went out and the smoke detector battery backup was failing so it was chirping every ten minutes. This woke me up. Then Jennifer called and the whole household was up. What I hadn't noticed for those few minutes was the winter wonderland that had emerged outside. Six to eight inches of fluffy white snow was covering everything outside the window and it was still falling. I commenced jumping around like an 8 year old.

So I had to be to faire site to check in by 10. I rode in with Steve and Erik and Jennifer. The snowing had mostly stopped by then, but everything was covered. The only way to find where to park in the parking lot was to line up on another car. We trudged down to the check in where I was very happy to bump in to Laura.

Funny story - at the girly clothing swap, I gave away my old faire cloak thinking I never much used it when I did faire regularly, and I certainly wouldn't be going to faire if it was cold and miserable. In the Karma Fairy's relentless cause to show me that I don't know jack, here I was standing in six inches of fresh snow getting my cloak back from Laura before she put it in the loaner box.

After check in I headed up to the Pryankster's area where we proceded to start unburying one of the pavillions that had gone up the night before. With a broom and a bowl and an iron skillet and finally a sledge hammer we managed to right the tent. I took a moment out to call my dad and say, "Yes, the faire is happening, and it will likely be interesting as our shows have moved indoors for the most part, but make sure you have chains." While trying to leave this simple voicemail, I started getting pelted with snowballs. Ah yes, snow cannot stay mere snow for long. It must be pounded into balls to rocket through the air to explode gloriously on the back of my head. The inevitable snowball fight ensued, made slightly gentler than average by the certain knowledge that we needed to stay in these clothes for at least another four hours.

So faire opened at 11, and surprise! There were actual guests showing up. We danced. A small but intent audience applauded. Go figure.

By 1:00 the sun was shining bright in the blue sky and the snow was starting to melt a bit. I got to see an interesting band I'd not heard before called Stand Easy. After the 3:30 Pryanksters show, I headed inside to see the Tempest show. Others kept trickling in and by the final number we had a polka set running. It was great. I danced myself senseless. So we packed it in and headed back to the condo.

Truly, Marissa is a wonder. She had planned a feast for some of the Pryanksters after faire. With the other cabin snowed in (20 miles away and another 2500 feet up), she was feeding pretty much everybody. There was veggie lasagna and lemon tarragon chicken and chicken pot pie and curry carrot soup and spinich potato salad and baked zucchini and well heck, the food just kept coming. Eventually, everyone was fed. And everyone meant 30 people crammed into the living room. It was too crowded to really play games, so mostly it was just chatting and telling stories. It was really nice.

The next morning I woke up just before 8 and peeked out the windows. The snow channel was on again so I opened the blinds and lay in bed watching it fall and accumulate. It was sticking less this morning, so only a couple of inches on the ground. But again, it was still falling.

We fixed breakfast of many leftovers - eggs, bacon, biscuits, potatoes, and spaghetti. Then we headed back to faire site and did a couple more dance shows and I found the most wonderful heater vent in the back building. This led to seeing the Black Brothers perform for a while. Finally headed back to camp for some root soup - garlic, onions, leeks, carrots, celery, potatoes, etc. This was great with some crusty bread soaking it up. After lunch I headed down for another Tempest show and finally made it out of the faire to meet up with Rick. He'd spent the morning off-site checking email and wandering around. He went to an old local cemetary where one of the biggest monuments was to the Snow family. He showed me the photo he took of the Snow headstone covered in snow. I laughed a lot.

I made it home just before 7 to start my week. This week is going to be a big adventure. The electricians arrived this morning and started tearing up the place. Meanwhile, my dad had arrived last night and had dumped half a lumber yard on our deck. He's planning to install floor joists and a plywood floor in our attic while the electricians work. So I made dinner and we watched the season finale of Battlestar Galactica.

I'm surely planning to go back to Calaveras Celtic Festival again. It was really great having a combination of Ren Faire and Scottish Games and Celtic Music festival all in one place. And they had really good corn dogs too. And you know what? It's wacky but I've missed English Country Dance at faire. I think I'm going to hang out with the Pryanksters more often.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Touch Back

So I've spent the better part of my internal life this weekend thinking about my life 8 and 10 and 12 and 14 years ago.

One thing is certain, my Sacramento group is family. There's no other way to describe a set of people who treat each other alternately so well and so poorly yet always come back together and forgive and love one another.

On Friday, I felt compelled to call Suzi and check in with her. Her reltionship with Jen was probably one of the most stormy. She's doing okay, but I know that there was unfinished business there and wishes for a better reconciliation that will never come. On the other hand, she and Rachel did have something of a reconcilliation as a direct result of all this, so that's pretty cool. My god, we were all so young then. Stupid shit that seemed so important just wasn't.

For the first time in my life, I kind of get the movie "The Big Chill".

On March 25, we're closing the season of Dionysis, reopening the seas, celebrating the first fruits of the season, and burning the wreaths from Pyanepsia. It's been a crazy season. I'm so ready to go burn stuff on the beach.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Unexpected Passing

One of our group (the Sac crowd) is gone. Jen came into the crowd young (in both body and attitude), at faire. She was dating a couple of different people over time, most memorably for me, Jeff. It was a weird time, back when Suzi and I were living on T Street. There were a couple of Jens in the group, and she quickly became Chihuahua Jen for her small, thin, and highly strung manner. I shared my 21st birthday party with her at her house in Folsom. She was turning 18 either the same day or 2 days before. It was one of those oddly legendary parties, where Tiffany had just graduated, but was drinking too much Goldschlager and threw up in the hot tub. Turns out, Rick helped her to the bathroom, back before I knew who Rick was. There were tons of strawberries because I loved them. Will brought his frat boy paddle and folks took turns at the spankings. There was dancing. It's still vivid, but it was 10 years ago.

When Anne and Kier broke up, Jen and Kier got together. (And Anne and Mario got togther, and it was really better matches all around.)They got married and had a couple kids apparently. They drifted away from the group. For reasons I don't yet know, Jen hung herself in the garage.

I'm going to Friday Night Waltz, dancing my legs off, soaking up all of the joy that life has to offer, and sucking the marrow out of life.

For we may and might never all meet here again...

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Day In Pictures

Again, the SFGate has caught my attention with it's Day In Pictures segment. Today had two favorites. First, a Chinese water park that's a hot spring. For me, the worst part of water parks is running around freezing and soaked. But at a hot spring? Oooh that would rock. Warm water and water slides. That sounds great!

The other one was the Jesus on sheet metal. Why is it always Jesus? Why isn't it the soul of the guy whose arm was severed and bled to death in the sheet metal factory? Why isn't it the face of the finder's grandmother, come to wish him well in his creative endeavors? Why isn't it just a random heat marking and not a face at all! Gah! No, every bloody time, if it's a male face it's Jesus, and if it's a female face it's Mary. Stupid religious ninnies and the studpider religious ninnies who will buy it on eBay.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Mmm...

It's my one evening at home being mellow this week. Monday was dinner with Heather. Tuesday was having Auntie over for Supernatural. Thursday is experimental dancing with Paul. Friday is Friday Night Waltz. Tonight is a quiet evening at home, just me, Rick, and Pixel.

And for dinner, I'm having one of my favorite treats - grilled cheese and tomato soup. It's the perfect meal for me on a cold blustery evening. But as I sat there enjoying it, it occurred to me how many people I know would think this meal kinda poisonous. There's the yummy 7 grain bread, which would be poison to Maureen who has celiac disease. There's the cheese that would torture Christina who is lactose intollerant. There's the tomatoes that would likely kill Arthur.

But for me, it was just perfect. Yum.