I Love the Whole World, Too!

Kelly posted a wonderful video that I just have to share with you. We have cable, but I hadn't seen this commercial yet. I especially like seeing Steven Hawking singing. Enjoy... and sing along!

"Boom de yada!"


Summer Blogcation

Over the years, I've noticed that blogging really slows down during the summer months. People go on vacation, spend more time outside and less at a desk when they're at home. Although I frequently take my laptop out to the veranda, I sometimes find it impossible to fire it up because I'd rather just sit in the hammock and daydream, and listen to music.

Even after six years of blogging, I still feel twinges of guilt when I don't leave an entry once a day; I doubt that anyone out there is waiting on me, but you know how it is. So if I blog less frequently over the next two or three months, you'll know why.


Easy Rules for the Summer

1. Please don't leave dishes in the sink. If the dishwasher is full, empty it.
2. Please push in the bar stools after you get up from them.
3. Please straighten the pillows on the sofa after you leave it.
4. Put the toilet seat/lid down.

Just sayin'...


Aw, Man...

"'Older' sounds a little better than 'old,' doesn't it? Sounds like it might even last a little longer... I'm getting old. And it's OK. Because thanks to our fear of death in this country I won't have to die — I'll 'pass away.' Or I'll 'expire,' like a magazine subscription. If it happens in the hospital they'll call it a 'terminal episode.' The insurance company will refer to it as 'negative patient care outcome.' And if it's the result of malpractice they'll say it was a 'therapeutic misadventure.'" George Carlin (1937-2008)


The Homecoming

After being away for 10 months as an exchange student in France, Lauren came home last night, exhausted, thin and speaking English with a slight accent. At last, all the chicks are in the nest.

Only about 1/3 of what she brought home.

Back in Mama's arms - and to being an older sister again.


Hell With It

In honor of:

~ the beginning of summer,
~ the beginning of Nettl's vacation,
~ the beginning of Nettl's birthday week and
~ the end of a long week of work, in which I put in over 52 hours on a client's website...


How Much is That Froggie on the Window?

We get all kinds of varmints this time of year: flies, wasps, spiders, June bugs, and crickets. Especially crickets. In fact, I call our foyer the Sacred Cricket Burial Ground. I'm not kidding. One day I swept up 30 or more in there.

Each summer seems to spotlight a different insect. 2004 was the June bug summer, 2005 starred crickets, 2006 saw the fly swarms and 2007 it was wasps. This year it's not insects, it's baby frogs...


Of Cabbages... and... Zzzz...

Do you ever experience times when your fingers on the keyboard can't keep up with the thoughts in your head, and then other times when you can't think of anything to blog about at all?

Nah, me neither...


Family Counts

This is weird. Last night, Nathan spent the night with some of his dude friends out at Lake Carl Blackwell and Heather spent the night with her best friend, Kalin. Micah has gone to Kansas to take care of business following his father's death and Lauren isn't due home from France until Sunday. Joel was here, but he went to bed early and Nettl fell out fairly early herself after a hellacious day at work. I was... ALONE. I don't meant that I was left alone, I was actually alone.

A few of you have been reading me since I began blogging in 2002 and some of you have been around long enough to have learned that when I acquired this ready-made family of 7 (and at one time 8), I didn't think I could do it, or at least do it well. I've been a loner all of my life; I've always needed vast amounts of alone time, but when our two families got together, my alone time ended.

For a short while we all (6 minus Micah, plus Mom) lived in a 3-bedroom house. Our bedroom was actually a loft-like room with a big-huge opening into the downstairs. We also shared the master bath with Joel. Privacy --whether day or night time-- was non-existent. When we moved into this big house we got a bedroom with no interior windows, but our bathroom was the only one with a shower, so mornings up here resembled Grand Central Terminal with three teens getting ready to go to school. I didn't dare wake up and have to pee...

After my mother's death, we invited Micah to come stay with us while he got his recording career on track and I installed a shower head in his bathroom (the kids still have to use our shower). Then, last August, Lauren went off to study abroad for the better part of a year. Earlier, Nathan went to live with his father. (No wonder I always lose count around here.)

The past year has been pretty quiet and I've enjoyed a fair amount of alone time during the day. Then, suddenly, Heather graduated from high school and was home all day (she works at night) and Nathan came to spend the summer with us. It's nice having the chicks in the nest, so to speak, although we're one chick short for a few more days.

My point is, in the past four years I've grown to be really family-oriented, I guess, because last night felt soo wroong. There was NO one downstairs! I realized that I might as well turn the downstairs lights off (even the small lamp in the living room that helps them see when they go out to the kitchen or onto the veranda), and I didn't have to adjust Zone 1's thermostat. Also, I could turn off the outside lights and lock the door, because no one was going to be coming in after midnight. It was weird. I didn't like it very much.

Today, only Joel and I are here, but he'll be leaving soon for a dental appointment. Since moving into this house in the summer of 2004, I've been all alone here exactly one time. I used to be alone all the time before Nettl and I got together, but I hardly remember what that's like. Did I dance? Did I walk around naked? Did I play my piano and sing at the top of my lungs? What the hell did I do? No idea, but you can relax; today I'll just sit here and work. I'd better enjoy it though, because on next Monday morning EVERYone will be home. All 7 (or 8) of us.

I lose count.


123 - 5

I don't know why, but I always get a kick when someone tags me for a meme. It's probably due to the fact that when I was a kid in school, I always was the last kid to be picked for kickball.

Anyway, JKelly tagged me for this 123 Meme. I've done a version of this one before, about four years ago, so it's about time for a new one. Here are the rules:

To participate, you grab any book, go to page 123, find the 5th sentence, and blog it. Then tag 5 people.
"He was a bondman of Count Johann Joseph Anton Thun-Hohenstein, who had him trained oin music and in whose private orchestra in Prague he played from 1763 to 1766."
The book is Peter Clive's Mozart And His Circle (Yale University Press, 1993) and the fellow to whom this sentence refers is Giovanni Punto, a French horn player with whom Mozart was greatly impressed ("Punto blows manufique!").

I'm not tagging anyone.

My Thyroid Nightmare

I try not to complain too much. In fact, I try to make light of how my thyroid has completely destroyed my happy, busy, passionate love of life. I make jokes about the 25 pounds I've gained, the puffy face and eyes, and the fact that sitting in the hammock is some days all I can physically do.

But sometimes it's just such an oppressive load to carry and no amount of "putting on the red rubber nose" is effective. It's really hard at only 56 to think that moving to Vienna may be too much for me, or to curb my rare boosts of energy (when I feel 75 instead of 85 for example), because to enjoy that one day means living in hell for a week after. I can't get excited about anything, or laugh too much, be too physical, or enjoy feeling normal once in a while; in short, I have to keep my adrenalin as calm as possible or else I really pay the price.

No one should have to live like that...


Great Gobs of Glorious Nothing

I'm not taking any credit for yesterday's Feast-o-Rama Backyard Barbecue Electric Boogaloo. Nathan and Nettl get all the credit for that glorious pig out. A feast of what seemed to be several chickens, an entire Babe, Grillin' Beans, potato salad, Texas toast, Coronas, Bacardi Silvers and Mike's Hard Lemonade served up for seven+ people who came over was nothing short of, well, glorious. What was even better was that I wasn't the one sweating my ass off over the grill in the 94° heat. Bless their hearts. No, I was allowed to lie in the hammock under the ceiling fan, entertaining our guests while I sucked down beers and took care of the stereo playlist...


Bovine Blogging

I really love the commercials for Real California Milk. Not only are they shot in my own back yard (the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, where I grew up on a cattle ranch), but the humor is priceless. I think the first one was the two cows who ring the farmer's doorbell, then stand in the pasture watching him come out wondering who it was. Then, when he goes back inside, the cows giggle. Then came the "Hey, you work out?" commercial and others. The latest one shows the cows enjoying an earthquake as if it's only a foot massage. That one really cracks me up. If you haven't seen them, you can, here.

The first cow commercial I ever saw was made by Gateway and showed a cow sitting shotgun in an 18-wheeler with the chairman of the company, who is driving. The cow produces a CD labeled Cow Mix, "Whip It" by Devo comes on, and the chairman and the cow sing along.

I don't know why I'm writing about this. I have less than one cup of coffee in me and this is what you get, I guess. Growing up with cattle, I know their personalities and they can seem a little smug at times. And they're not as stupid as they appear.


A Coffeemaker Spurned

Well, that was a helluvaway to start the day!

I got up, as usual, the first in the household (after Nettl, of course) and went about putting on a pot of coffee. I filled the carafe, poured it in the reservoir, cleaned out the wire basket and measured out the usual number of scoops of coffee into it and put it in its place. I turned the coffeemaker on and, as usual, came upstairs and turned on my laptop, waiting the usual amount of time. We expect a certain reliability and fealty from these little bots in our homes, don't we?...


Through the Lens

One of the really great things that has happened in the past week is that I found the perfect photographer to do the spotlight color plates for my book, Box of Wine: A Cultural Icon. Finding him was like falling in love: as soon as I saw his work, I knew I'd found my soulmate for this book. I said aloud, "That's it. The search ends here."

Yesterday morning, he drove to my house from OKC for our first meeting and we got along, as Forrest Gump says, "Like peas and carrots". Not only is his work perfect for this project, but so is his personality and sense of humor.

Go take a look at his portfolio: Keith Ball Photography.


It's Alright Ma, it's Life and Life Only

"I've looked at life from both sides now;
From win and lose, and still, somehow,
It's life's illusions I recall,
I really don't know life at all."

When someone dies we bombard ourselves with all of the clich├ęs. Our heart repeats a certain field of messages while our head repeats another, and then the people around us lend their comfort with yet another. They're all true, of course, but none of them really do what they're supposed to do. All we know is that it hurts and we're not sure if it's ever not going to hurt...


I've Had Enough of This Crap!

I.Hate.Wind. We've been having high winds now for almost a week and I'm sick of them. The news forecast tells me they're going to last through the weekend, too. Our veranda is in shambles; a trellis has been completely blown down (the wind pulled it off of the joists, nails and all), the plants keep blowing over (I brought the tall ones in) and as soon as we water the flowers and plants, they're dry again.

My eyes are red and swollen from their incessant watering and my nose and throat feel like the Sahara. And the noise! I wear earplugs at night to get away from it and it rattles the house all day. I'm a grouch.

Growing up in southern California, hot, dry winds are no stranger to me. We renamed the Santa Anas to "Satan Anas" because they drive people crazy. Literally. These are no different. Wind like this affects the brain. Schools report increased bad behavior and nursing homes and mental hospitals say their patients become more difficult to manage. We're entertaining guests this weekend and were looking forward to spending some time outside. Pfft!

Mosaic Me

B.E. Earl has a nifty thingamahoochie on his blog. Don't know what it's called, but here's how you make one:
  1. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
  2. Using only the first page of results, and pick one image.
  3. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into Big Huge Labs Mosaic Maker to create a mosaic of the picture answers.
The Questions:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. What is your favorite drink?
7. What is your dream vacation?
8. What is your favorite dessert?
9. What do you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. What is one word that describes you?
12. What is your Flickr name?

Yeah, I know. Some of the questions sound a bit too MySpacian, but hey, lighten up and have fun!


While I Wasn't Looking

I was interviewed by Newsweek a couple of weeks ago. It seems that the article is in this June 2nd issue, but I received minimum press:

"Wine should taste good. It's that simple," says Steph Waller, a California wine lover who is working on a book called "Box of Wine: A Cultural Icon."

But wow... Newsweek! Guess I'd better get out to Hastings and buy a copy.

Here's the article: Boxed Vino Goes Primo.