Wednesday, October 31, 2007

All Hallow's Eve

In San Francisco, it's hard to tell who is in costume and who is not.

On any given day, it is not unusual to see people with piercings, tattoos, and multicolored hair, wearing their entire wardrobes at one time. Some are homeless, but others have adopted a nouveau 60's lifestyle to turn on, tune in, and drop out.

The Castro, San Francisco's famous gay district and the most colorful part of the city, has always had a gigantic parade and party on Halloween. This year, the city, in a most cruel and misguided move, canceled the entire celebration and even stopped running public transportation to the area at 8:00 p.m.

Most of the trick or treaters in my neighborhood were dressed as little angels and bunny-wunnies, which is not exactly my idea of scary Halloween costumes, but most offensive was the person dressed as a Native American dancer.

Fancy Dancing, as it is called, is both cultural and spiritual. There are competitions at pow wows, but in typical Native American fashion, nobody really loses as all are praised and admired for their unique style which expresses their own relationship with the Creator.

Such trivializing of a great and rich culture by turning it into a Halloween costume is nothing new, but remains as tasteless as ever.

There seemed to be an abundance of baby hookers and pimps on the candy trail, which led to the obvious conclusion that all their parents had gone brain dead on the same day.

Flip wanted to don his pig head and go out. He reminded me that I still have my wolf mask, tail and red cape from a party we attended a few years ago, but I declined. I just wasn't feeling the love.

Maybe it's the Shingles. Or maybe I have simply outgrown Halloween.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


My friends, we have another animal rescue issue before us. My daughter in New York, who is involved in cat rescue, informs me that the Port Authority of NY and NJ began trapping feral cats at JFK Airport this past weekend with the plan of exterminating them. Rescuers were barred from feeding or attempting to rescue the cats and were threatened with arrest by federal wildlife officials from USDA.

In addition, a Port Authority spokesman admitted to the NY Post that his agency had lied when telling the public last Friday that the cats would all be adopted into good homes. The Post confirmed that the cats would instead be put down immediately.

The Port Authority claims that the cats pose a risk to aviation because their food supposedly attracts seagulls. The truth is that JFK Airport is located near the ocean and has mountains of trash strewn all over the grounds, which attracts seagulls. An insignificant amount of cat food is not a factor, and in fact, cats are usually blamed for killing birds, not attracting them.

The only appropriate solution to the problem is trapping by experienced feral cat workers, neutering, and returning to their chosen home where they will continue to be monitored. Only through sterilization and long-term monitoring by caretakers (Trap-Neuter-Return or "TNR") can the cat populations be reduced.


Phone, fax or email the people listed below and demand that the Port Authority suspend the trapping immediately and meet with representatives of the NYC Feral Cat Initiative and the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals to come up with a humane, effective feral cat management plan.


Anthony Shorris
Executive Director
Port Authority of NY and NJ
(212) 435-7271

Shawn Larenti, Director
Government and Community Relations Dept.
Port Authority of NY and NJ
(212) 435-6903

Charles E. Meara
NYC Community Relations Dept.
Port Authority of NY and NJ
(917) 596-0492

Port Authority Corporate Headquarters
(212) 435-7000 (get a live person on the line and
demand to speak to someone about the JFK situation)

Susan Baer (let's try reasoning with her again, this time not accepting Port Authority lies)
General Manager, JFK Airport


LIE #1: "The cats will all be adopted into good homes."

THE TRUTH: Feral cats are unadoptable and are usually put down immediately when brought to shelters, as Port Authority plans to do. Port Authority ADMITTED LYING to the public about this in the NY Post article, "Frequent Liars", published Saturday, October 27, 2007.

LIE #2: "Feeding the cats attracts seagulls and the birds are an aviation threat."

THE TRUTH: Seagulls are at the airport because JFK is NEAR THE OCEAN!! and because there are tons of trash strewn about the airport's grounds. There is not enough cat food to attract large numbers of birds and there is no food left anyway when the cats finish eating. Cats hunt birds, they don't attract them. There is ZERO evidence proving a link between the presence of cats at an airport and an aviation risk. DON'T BE GULL-IBLE!!!

LIE #3: "We can achieve a cat-free airport."

THE TRUTH: You can't wipe out the presence of feral cats in a 5000 acre area in which new, unneutered cats are constantly being abandoned or lost and then reproducing, and where there are plentiful food sources.

Only Trap-Neuter-Return can, over time, reduce the numbers. The Port Authority's extermination effort is futile and will only result in new furry faces, not fewer. The killing is senseless and cruel.

For more on the NYC Feral Cat Initiative:

For more on the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals:

For more on Neighborhood Cats:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mysteries I Would Like Cleared Up

1. Why Michelangelo sculpted Moses with horns.

It has been theorized that the artist, who of course was an uber-genius, was demonstrating the common belief that Jews had horns. It's hard to imagine how that one took hold as I have never, personally, seen anyone with horns.

Flip thinks that the two bumps on Moses' head were supposed to represent rays from God. If so, then why are there only two? Surely God could come up with at least five or six of them.

2. Why we can't have Daylight Saving Time all year.

It's just plain stupid to do the time-change dance twice a year when the reasons for it are obsolete: There are so few farmers left in America that their hours should not dictate what the rest of us do.

As for children not waiting at school bus stops in the dark, they end up coming home in the dark instead, so where is the logic in that?

3. Why one cup of coffee produces four gallons of pee.

This would seem to contradict every known law of physics, yet I can absolutely attest to its veracity.

4. Why beings of supposedly high intellect and thumbs willingly, even gleefully, choose lives of servitude to creatures with four legs and a tail who do not even speak English.

Anyone who has a dog or cat knows that no explanation is needed here.

5. Who is Murphy, and why does his Law govern my life when I don't even know him?

Murphy's law states that things will go wrong in any given situation if you give them a chance.

A little-known addendum to Murphy's Law is Flanagan's Precept, which categorically states that Murphy was an optimist.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


My good friend, the CEO at The Morning Meeting, has given me the Blogging that Hits the Mark Award. Thank you so much, Monty. All I can say is it takes one to know one.

I would like to pass it on to the ever-lovely and succinct Liz at Los Angelista's Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness.

To the beautiful inside-and-out as well as funny Claudia at On a Limb with Claudia,

To the most delightful and charming Velvet at Velvet's Room,

To the clear-eyed and straight-shooting I Am Not Star Jones at The Unemployment Cafe,

And to the incredibly talented, witty Jocelyn at O Mighty Crisis.

These ladies are totally different from one another, but each of them hits the mark every time, and I love them all.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Case Study on the Dysfunctional Duck Family

With Recommendations:

This memo from Children's Protective Services of the Department of Social Work concerns the Donald F. Duck family, which has come to our attention on numerous occasions because of certain mysteries which remain unclear despite several investigations into the workings of this Social Unit.

The State has sent three different Social Workers to the domicile to monitor a situation which involves the care of three minor male ducklings, known only as Huey, Dewey and Louis whose relationship to the Head of the Household, known as Donald, is ambiguous at best. They refer to the aforementioned Donald as "Unca Donald," but there is no evidence that Donald ever had a sibling who could have parented these three minor male ducklings.

Also of concern is the apparent inability of said minor male ducklings to form an independent thought. They have been observed by all three Social Workers dividing every utterance among them three ways, which leads to the obvious conclusion that they share a single brain of which each of the three minor male ducklings owns one-third.

It is not known if they attend school, or if their alleged "uncle" home-schools them.

To all appearances, Donald has a good heart and good intentions. Yet, the police have been called to the Duck residence too many times to count because he also has a very bad temper. It has been suggested that his middle name is Fauntleroy, which could possibly account for a goodly share of his generalized anger, but that is just speculation.

Donald F. Duck has, in the vernacular, a "short fuse" which is often triggered by mounting evidence that his friends Mickey Mouse and Goofy, who seems to be a canine, often get what they want without having to fight for it. We believe that Donald suffers from extreme angst over being forced to hoe a tougher row, but it should also be noted that he has developed a most tenacious temperament.

Even when he is up to his beak in trouble, Donald does not give up, although he is overly inclined to say "Aw, phooey!" which is cited here as further evidence of his hot-headedness.

There is also the matter of Donald Duck's wardrobe. He wears a sailor suit, which, while unquestionably adorable, is the official uniform of mama's boys everywhere. It would be remiss of we, the Petitioners, to overlook this further evidence of his patent unsuitability to be a sartorial role model to impressionable young ducklings.

He has demonstrated considerable ability to manipulate his environment, which is of concern to the Department of Social Work even as it elicits our reluctant admiration since to our knowledge, the Disney extended family is generally at the mercy of its surrounding landscape.

The competing Warner Brothers family, on the other hand, traditionally employs great expertise in working with guns, dynamite, Acme brand anvils and rifles with barrels that can be tied in a bow. There are witnesses who will swear under oath that one of them painted a tunnel road onto the side of a rock outcropping to facilitate his escape from the law.

We mention this because we believe that it calls into question Donald's loyalty and willingness to behave in a manner befitting a prime representative of the Disney family; therefore, how can we then expect him to satisfactorily discharge his responsibilities as "pater familias" to the minor male triplets, Huey, Dewey and Louie?

It is the Opinion of this Office that Donald is constitutionally incapable of providing a wholesome environment for the said three minor male ducklings, Huey, Dewey and Louie.

There is more: A female duck known only as "Daisy" seems to be a part of the Duck family entourage, but her relationship to Donald is cloudy. She maintains her own home but is often on hand, lending her feminine energy to the all-male Duck family.

While we would like to believe that her influence is benign, her association with Donald and his so-called "nephews" who are of impressionable age and might be particularly vulnerable due to their lack of a mother should be investigated further. It must also be noted that Daisy Duck, like that Britney Chick, does not wear covering on her lower body.

There is also an elderly millionaire named Scrooge Duck who seems to be a relative of Donald's, but this is never explained to our satisfaction either. He appears to be of sound mind, as nearly as we have been able to determine, but again, the issue of the minor male triplets rears its ugly head(s.)

It does not seem that Scrooge contributes to the wellbeing of Donald's household and in fact, consistently exerts pressure on Donald to accompany him in his many travels around the world. Who is tending the aforementioned Huey, Dewey and Louie in the absence of "Unca Donald?"

Despite the indisputable fact that the minor male ducklings Huey, Dewey and Louie evince distinct affection for the aforementioned Donald F. Duck, we hereby and with great reluctance Petition the Court to remove them from this home for placement in the Foster Duck System pending reliable evidence that Unca Donald provides a safe, decent and stable home for the care and nurture of the duckling triplets.

Signed in Triplicate,

Social Worker # 1
Social Worker #2
Social Worker #3

Friday, October 19, 2007

Under Construction

I dragged my Blogging awards into Photoshop to make them smaller, and somehow managed to lose my entire blog. All of it. So I dumped it into a new template and in so doing, lost all my changes -- like links to your blogs.


I am going to have to rebuild all of it. I stupidly did not make a list of the many blogs I read and enjoy. It will be a long and hard process.


The word of the day: BACK IT UP.

Saturday. I changed it over from "template" to "layout" and things got even worse. Please send a guru or the deity of your choice.

Community of Friends

Rachel, the radiant spirit at Lessons Learned has given me the Community Blogger Award. This one clearly belongs to all of us because there is no such thing as a community of one.

Rachel is a wonderful writer and artist, and if you don't know her yet, you are in for a great treat.

Thank you, Rachel! I'm so glad we found each other.

As soon as I formed the thought that I would have to pass it on to someone else, one name came to me.


Chani at Thailand Gal embodies community. Everything she posts is designed to exchange ideas with her readers on how we can all be better, more conscious citizens of the world. And she manages to do it without preachiness, but with humor, warmth and elegance.

I know that awards go against the grain with Chani, who eschews anything that smacks of competitiveness, but I think these blogger awards are simply a means to acknowledge each other, virtual wing-dipping or proffering bouquets of beautiful flowers.

In honoring those we admire, we grow more like them.

So man up and deal with it, Chani.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Happy Birthday, FLIP!

You are a lovely man, and I treasure you.

Thank you for your many gifts to me, especially that you understand me perfectly and love me anyway.

Your wit and intellectual curiosity still delight me, and your kindness to all has taught me to be kinder, too.

You make me feel safe, and I know that together, we can handle anything.

It's been a great ride, and the (k)night is still young.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Tales of the Crypt

Today I called in one of those "I would do anything for you, honey's." I got Flip to remove some of the cobwebs from our ceiling as it was beginning to look a lot like Halloween.

I normally accept that if I want something done I should do it myself, but the ceilings are high, and he is the only one of us who is 6'4". A tall man nowadays is hard to find.

For this favor, I had to endure bad jokes, like "I see all these cobwebs, but I have never seen a cob." With endless variations. His father was from Oklahoma. He seems to have been raised on a steady diet of corn.

I have never seen a spider in our living quarters either. These cobwebs seem to be made entirely of dust and cat hair, which is good because I do not practice or solicit murder. It would be wrong for spiders to live or die at the whim of a creature they cannot even comprehend. Which would probably make me God to the spiders.

Flip was happy to zap the furry stalagtites with a broom, although he repeatedly shooed me and my superior eyesight away as I pointed out dangling particles that he had missed.

Directing the operation was like operating a remote-controlled toy without the noise. I wonder what else I can have him do before he reaches critical mass.

Still, he got off easy. Most people buy new cars more often than he washes ours.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Confessions of a Blue Meanie

My next-door neighbor is out of control. Between the incessant coke-induced clattering of high heels on wood floors, the loud head-banging music and the hysterical giggling, I am losing my mind.

Flip can't record his music because his mics pick up extraneous noise, and we are living in a hotbed of extraneous noise. (I do believe hotbed is the operative word here.)

A thrumming bass line coming through the walls is like the Chinese water torture.

Her apartment seems to have a revolving door. A great many people pass through there, some of them staying for a few days or a week in her absence. I suspect that she is renting out the apartment and parking space to anyone who needs a place to crash and is willing to pay for it.

She uses the garage as a dump. There is an enormous pile of discarded furniture, comforters and a computer monitor as well as actual garbage, all of which has become a fire hazard. It's hard to imagine why anyone would do this when there is a large trash bin behind the building.

A leopard print car seat has presided over the pile since she moved in, as well as an assortment of bottles and pacifiers. I wonder what she did with the baby.

Yesterday, I removed a milk crate in which I kept a bag of potting soil that had been completely covered with her junk. I found a parking ticket from May, as well as two empty boxes addressed to her at two different addresses in the city. I finally know her last name, which of course does not appear on the mailbox or buzzer since she is an illegal tenant.

I had what may be my meanest thought ever. It occurred to me that I could send the parking ticket to the DMV with a letter stating her name and present address and informing them that the car described on the ticket was rented by her at the time the ticket was issued. This ticket may be the tip of the iceberg. She is clearly a grifter who does not play by any of the rules that govern the rest of us.

She probably has a string of unpaid parking tickets racked up on rental cars and has moved so many times that the address on her license is obsolete.

My anger made me feel particularly toxic, so I went to an Ikebana show at a lovely Japanese boutique hotel in Japantown. Ikebana is the ancient art of flower arranging. The word "Ikebana" means "live flowers."

Ikebana is rooted in Buddhist culture but has undergone many changes since its beginnings in the 9th century. Flower arrangements are a way to celebrate events or to express emotion. They speak to people without words and bridge diversity.

The Japanese attitude toward floral arrangement, as in many things, is more spiritual than the Western approach and strives to express the wondrous creations of Nature, on a reduced scale.

There are certain inviolable principles:

An arrangement must fit the environment in which it is displayed, and the individual arranger's emotions and character must be expressed in the arrangement. Ikebana is an art of human communication, not just flowers crammed into a vase.

In contrast to most Western floral design, Ikebana compositions are based on asymmetry, requiring specialized artistic development and technical expertise.

Ikebana is noted for its mastery of proportional harmony between the flowers, vase, and setting. Its uniquely beautiful proportions have made a permanent impact on Western-style floral design, as there is probably no other culture with the highly developed aesthetic sense of the Japanese.

It was wonderfully healing to see that there are still those practicing gentle beauty in the world. Sadly, it is too easy to lose sight of that when one is denied the peaceful enjoyment of ones home.

I am focusing on the flowers.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Books, Glorious Books

Rebecca at Rebecca James has tagged me with a Book Meme.

I love books. I am a veritable bookaholic with absolutely no plans to change anytime soon. In many ways, books raised me, for I spent much of my childhood buried in them, learning about people and the world and imagining myself in other cultures.

I wanted to be Pocahontas, Maggie in "Mill on the Floss", and Joan of Arc. I yearned to come of age in Samoa, thanks to Margaret Mead. In my imagination, I was a delicate geisha in training when I wasn't Atalanta or Athena. I was a pirate lass, and Becky in"Tom Sawyer." I was Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen, and Anne Frank of the beautiful soul.

Books furnished me with many lives besides my own small one, and I treasure the chair side travels they provided.

1. How many books do I own?

Dunno. Many. Hundreds of them. I can't count that high.

2. What was the last book read?

"The Penelopiad" by Margaret Atwood. Very short, quite charming. It took only a few hours to read, which is quite a lot of bang for ones buck.

3. What was the last book I bought?

Several. The annual Friends of the San Francisco Library Book Sale was a few weeks ago. Some of the newbies are: "Salt Dancers," Ursula Hegi; "Do the Windows Open?" Julie Hecht; "The Memoirs of Helen of Troy," Amanda Elyot; "The Law of Love," Laura Esquivel; "The God of Animals," Aryn Kyle; "The Strangeness of Beauty," Lydia Minatoya; "The Professor's Daughter," Emily Raboteau; "Voodoo Dreams," Jewell Parker Rhodes; "Deception," Philip Roth; "Tell Me Everything," Sarah Salway; "The Snow Fox," Susan Fromberg Shaeffer; "The Writing on the Wall," Lynne Sharon Schwartz; "Peony in Love," Lisa See; "Gardens in the Dunes," Leslie Marmon Silko; "The Notebook," Nicholas Sparks; "Frangipani," Celestine Vaite; "One Hundred and One Ways," Mako Yoshikawa; "Driving with Dead People," Monica Holloway; "The Joy of Living," Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, "Waiting for Snow in Havana," Carlos Eire; "The End of the World as We Know It," Robert Goolrick; "Little Edens," Barbara Klein Moss; "The Ten Bamboo Studio;" and extra copies of "Their Eyes Were Watching God," Zora Neal Hurston and "Tatterhood," (feminist fairy tales) for gifts.

4. Five meaningful books that I've read:

1. "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. I had never had any interest in cooking, or even eating, as a child, but when I was first married and expected to provide meals, I bought this book and taught myself to cook.

I have been a vegetarian for many years now and am also health conscious enough not to use huge amounts of butter and cream, but learning to cook French recipes gave me confidence that I was a fairly competent adult who could take care of my family.

2. The poetry collections of Paul Engle, no longer in print. He later founded the Iowa Writer's Workshop, which is my idea of Mecca, Due North, and the Holy Grail.

"Verse is not written, it is bled;
Out of the poet's abstract head.
Words drip the poem on the page;
Out of his grief, delight and rage.”

3. "The Pearl" by John Steinbeck. A small masterpiece. I have loved it forever.

4. "The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder" by Henry Miller. Yes, that Henry Miller. "Tropic of Cancer," etc. This is a tiny but gemlike book about an august clown.

5. "Mama Day" by Gloria Naylor. A little old lady with supernatural powers fights the forces of evil on a tiny island off the Georgia coast. Beautiful.

I am supposed to choose others to do this exercise, but I'm not going to tag anyone. If you feel inclined, please do it and let me know so I can read your selections. Thank you.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

MapQuest Does it Again

Yesterday, I ran a MapQuest to get directions to a part of the city I hadn't been before. I wrote them down. I followed them.

After several miles, I found myself at the ocean, which is always nice, although not where I intended to be. If you are going to take a wrong turn, there is no better place to end up.

I was nearly out of gas, so I went to the nearest gas station, where the nozzle leaked on my hands. Luckily, I don't smoke.

I have known for a long time that MapQuest operates on the diagonal, or sometimes as the crow flies. It often has no relationship to actual street names and locations, but it also has no accountability. I mean, who are you going to complain to?

There have been periods when I boycotted MapQuest, sulking, after particularly unreliable intelligence, but inevitably, I forget my grievances and give them another chance. I can almost hear them laughing their heads off as they rip me off yet again.

"Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me."

This morning, I looked at a map, which I should have done in the first place. All the street names were accurate, but every turn was reversed. Every one of them. Where it said to go right, I should have gone left. And vice versa.

I'm pretty sure that with MapQuest, there is no right and left. There is only right and wrong. And they manage to be wrong at least half the time.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Award Assembly

Kevin at Kevin Charnas has bestowed a very cool award on me and all who come here. I'm not sure I can say its full name without giggling. The Totally Fabulous Award.

Ohhh, dahling.

I made the mistake of mentioning it to Flip, who is now walking around speaking like a toothless Englishman. "Totally fabulous, fabulous, I say there," like Benny Hill.

"No, it's not Benny Hill, you twit," he says. I hate it when he reads over my shoulder.

I sent him packing with a jolly chuff up his duff. Sometimes you just have to do that.

Now, where were we?

Kevin. Kevin is the epitome of fabulous, and has the feathers to prove it. Kevin is over-the-top adorable, funny as the Mad Hatter, and writes as naturally as most people eat and sleep. Kevin is incomparable, and did I say lovable? Kevin steals hearts, which brings us back to me.

I need to pass this award on to someone who is totally fabulous, and as usual, I have all your names running through my head. You are all fabulous and would look nice in pink.

Claudia at On a Limb with Claudia is always totally fabulous. She is courageous, smart, funny, a deep thinker, feisty when necessary, and a loyal friend to those who earn her trust.

She is an all-around fabulous person, and she wears fabulous lingerie, too. (Um. I know this from her blog.) She is someone I would like to know in person, which has nothing to do with the lingerie so STOP snickering. I hear you. She is a glowing spirit, a seeker, and also a down to earth accessible person. So Claudia, this one's for you.

And now I'm off to peruse the La Perla catalog, if anyone needs me.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Devil Wears Polish

I treated myself to a manicure and pedicure, which I do sometimes to keep the blood loss down. I am not a person who should be trusted with sharp implements, but own several. One of these days, they will find me bleeding to death from my cuticles.

The shop is staffed with Vietnamese women of all ages, none of whom speaks English well. They keep up a steady chatter among themselves, doubtless discussing their customers. I wish I understood their language so I would know what they really think of me behind their polite smiles.

I tip well and say "thank you" for everything, so hopefully they like me as much as I like them.

I was feeling particularly princessy with one lady-in-waiting working on my fingernails, ("You have nice hands, big scar," she said, tracing the seam which runs almost the length of my right middle finger. I once cut all the tendons and had to be surgically reconnected, definitive proof that I do not deserve to handle knives.) Another lady was squatting in front of me, working on my toenails. I was concerned that hunching over might be uncomfortable for her back, but she didn't seem to be in pain.

About 80 percent of California's manicurists and salon owners are of Vietnamese descent, while the number nationwide is about 40 percent. Many Vietnamese people work in nail salons because the licensing test is given in Vietnamese, which makes it possible to begin earning money almost on arrival in America without knowing a word of English.

I doubt that their burning ambition was to grow up and become manicurists in America, but economic necessity entraps them in an industry with health risks and no chance of advancement. Many of the chemicals used are considered dangerous carcinogens which can also cause birth defects.

Some of these women may have harbored dreams of becoming Rhodes Scholars, not beautifying spoiled American women, some of whom have never worked in their lives.

My Arabian Nights reverie was shattered by a voice that could have called hogs. Slaughtered them in their tracks, even. A young voluntary blond with a woman who was probably her mother was standing in the door, yelling, "Can we get a mani and a pedi and a pedi?"

The paint immediately peeled off the walls and fell to the floor. Splatttt.

It turned out they could.

Dulcinea was settled into a vibrating throne from which she commenced to give directions like a five star general at his command post. Her feet were lovingly immersed in a tub of water by the pedicurist.

"This water needs to be warmer," she yelled. "Can you make it warmer?" The pedicurist picked up the tub and hauled it to the back room, returning with presumably hotter water.

"Now it's too hot," she whined. "Can't you get it right?" I might have poured it over her head, but the pedicurist hefted the tub again and disappeared into the back room. This time, she didn't come back for several minutes.

She immersed her customer's feet again, perhaps a tad less lovingly.

I held my breath as if I had something riding on whether or not the third time was Just Right. Apparently it was, because she immediately began instructing the pedicurist on how to do her job. She demanded that her toenails be cut to her exact specifications, and made the incredibly patient young woman return to the same toe three times before she was satisfied.

She resembled a Hummel, one of those dreadfully cloying figurines manufactured in Nazi Germany during World War II which depicted cherubs of the Master Race with blond hair and pinched features cavorting through charming childhood activities like shooting squirrels while ice skating.

The manicurist asked her if she would also like her fingernails done, and she said, "No. I go somewhere else for that. A better place."

Oh, sweet.

Her mother hadn't said a single word since they arrived. I hope she was mortified to have produced such a bad seed.

Dulcinea kept staring at me. People do that sometimes and I'm not sure why as I have the usual allotment of everything, but in this instance, my disgust was probably written on my face in both English and Vietnamese.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Happy Birthday, Adolf!

I can't call you this year because you died and I don't have your new number. You would be 105 years old today, which is amazingly special, just as you were amazingly special for all of those 104 years and 9 months.

It's notable that you never lost your kindness and compassion for others, nor did the full function of your brilliant and far-reaching mind ever fail even slightly. I think that sad and inconvenient as losing your eyesight in your 90's was, it was wonderful that you (and all of us who loved you) had the full use of your mind to the end.

You were in every way a man others should emulate. You gave so much to so many, and always had time to listen. Your interest in others never flagged, which may be one of the reasons for your phenomenal longevity.

You personally witnessed the entire 20th century and remembered it verbatim. You were the best kind of living history because you had the insight and mental acuity to connect the dots and draw conclusions from events both technological and political.

You remembered both World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the 6-Day War, the Gulf War, and were dismayed by the Iraq War. Your recollections ranged from travel by horse and buggy to moon rockets. You lived in many parts of the world and understood at the cellular level that all people are connected, despite the fact that some deny it. You were deeply concerned about global warming and urged me often to buy a place where I would be safe.

I've marked your birthday on my calendar as I always do and will probably continue to do for as long as I live. I miss you every day and my life is smaller for the loss of you, even as it is immeasurably bigger for having known you.

I would toast you with a Rob Roy, your favorite drink, but as you know, I'm allergic to liquor. Instead, I've bought you a box of thin mints, which you liked so much, and will eat them for you. I hope you enjoy them.

Love always,

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Calling All Animal Lovers

My daughter, who lives in Los Angeles, rides at a horse ranch in the area. She has sent the following letter to everyone she knows, which I am posting in the hope that someone can help her save a horse who is being sorely neglected by his owner.

I have met Shane, and he is a lovely animal.

He needs a new home. He will die if that doesn't happen soon. Please take a few minutes to read Catie's letter, and if you know of anyone who can help, let me know. Thank you all.


It sucks to depend on humans for your care.

Hi, all-
Apologies for the spam, but I need to get the word out to as many people as possible, quickly. The last time I sent out an email to my whole address book was after 9/11, so please believe this is serious, and cut me a little slack since i've put up with years of chain letters, personality tests, stupid animal tricks, find-your-porn-star-name, and god knows what kind of emails in an effort to communicate with you people. (I'm saying that in jest, if tone doesn't come through. Point is, we all have things we care about enough to get others involved with, and if you've ever sent me a "hey, lipstick is cancerous! pass it on!!" email-o-gram, this one's for you. :) Seriously.

So, basically-- my barn has a wonderful horse named "Shane" who colicked (basically a stomach upset that's very serious for horses and can twist the intestines so badly everything vital is cut off). Because he has a bit of a quirky personality and is getting on in years, the owners don't want to try to save him-- they're leaving him to rot in a dirty stall and ignoring him until he dies. They are neither feeding nor walking him-- and movement is crucial in this situation. There are animal cruelty issues here that must be dealt with, but the more pressing need right now is to save him, and time is truly of the essence. He is not suffering right at this moment-- I've been giving him Banamine for days and walking him as much as possible, but there isn't a lot of time he can exist like this.

My request is that you please help me save this beautiful horse if you can. It doesn't cost you anything.

Why? Because he hasn't yet given up on himSELF, he still has a lot of life in him, and sick as he is, he still pricks up his ears and looks right at you, as if he is trusting that someone cares. He is not a mean horse, but he is high spirited and mischievous, and people don't like him because there are easier horses to ride. That's why he's been left to die. They said it isn't "business-minded" of them to save him. This is not some communist missive that will end with "down with the rich people!"-- we all of us make sound business decisions every day. But someone else's life shouldn't fall under that same rubric. And saying it costs more than a being is "worth" to treat him just deep-down fundamentally bothers me.

Without being overly anthropomorphic, please consider for a moment how easy it is to be misunderstood, and just think if your life depended on that misunderstanding. He's a good horse. He just needs a chance, and someone with a little patience. Imagine if you needed urgent medical care, and no one wanted to help you because sometimes you're a little crabby. Shane has taught a lot of people a lot of things, but at the end of the day, just wasn't bred to be a lesson horse. Someone abandoned him many years ago after spending a ton of money to buy him-- his original owner saw a pretty horse and had to have him, but had no real idea what to do with him, and wasn't experienced enough to deal with his spiritedness. The barn management made him a lesson horse so he'd earn his keep, and for many years now he's been doing a job decently well that he shouldn't do at all-- but it isn't his nature to be ridden by amateurs all day, and every so often he sort of acts out. He is NOT dangerous-- he just has some tricks to riding him that a confident rider can quickly sort out. But rather than just accept they made a mistake trying to make money on this one, they've decided to let him die so they can get more docile animals any junior can ride. Most of us have at one time or another found ourselves in a situation at which we arrived purely by circumstance. But because we are beings with free will in a free world, we're able to generally wiggle ourselves out. Animals aren't so lucky. This is a trapped spirit reliant on humans to fight for him, and I hope you will help get him on the better path he deserves.

2 ways you can help. Neither involve money.
I have struck a deal with the barn owners not to put him down while i try to do what i can to help him-- I've got vet care under control, but if he makes it, I will want him rehomed.


- 1. If you know any horse lovers in SoCal who could give an excellent home to a nearly 20 year old Arabian gelding who is otherwise sound... please let me know immediately. He very much wants a person of his own with whom to bond. Arabians are not bred to be ridden into the ground by many people- they are loyal and loving and trusting when it's earned, and this particular horse needs someone kind who will shower him with personal attention, and not push him to heal too fast so they can keep making money. He will need a good 3 months solid time off from work, but I am betting he will again be sound and a great riding companion for many more years. He just needs an honest chance, and someone to watch over him and not throw him back into work with idiots as soon as he clears medical. I have ridden him extensively myself, and am more than happy to give a thoroughly candid assessment of his abilities, personality, etc. if you know anyone interested.

-2. That said, IF he pulls through is still up for debate. This is somewhat more personal than asking for a new home rec.... but please. If you can find a quiet moment, or better yet: several-- please just send your best and most healing thoughts, however you conceive of that. I do believe that helps tremendously. He has a heart and soul. I know it's probably corny, but if you saw him, you would know that. This horse has really no one on his side, and every bit of attention he gets seems to be helping right now. Like people, they get sad when they're sick and no one cares.

So that's really it. Long explanation, but it boils down to helping find him a new owner, and please just adding him to your prayers, good thoughts, and positive energy. Everyone at the barn expects him to die, and I want to counteract that somehow. This horse has really touched something in me.
Cynics among you, what can i say.
Philosophy friends: just think of this as a combination of a prayer wheel and pascal's wager.
Psych friends: am i over-personalizing this? have I over-identified with this animal? -No.
Old friends: have i gone and completely lost my mind? Maybe. I just don't think that putting forth good energy to this can hurt. I hope you'll help.

Thank you..

Smiles R Us

Ian at Or So I Thought has given me the Smile Award. Ian's posts are always enlightening, entertaining, and I have spent many a smile at his delightful site, so I am particularly thrilled to receive it from him. Thank you, Ian.

We all like to smile. Every baby's first smile is notable to his adoring parents, and throughout our lives, we smile at others to communicate so many emotions. Different smiles for each of them. We would be lost without our smiles.

I am now supposed to honor five (only) bloggers who make me smile. This is no easy task as all my sidebar buddies make me smile at different times, in different ways. I get to exercise my entire repertoire of smiles as I go from one delicious site to another. I live in Smile Heaven.


How can I possibly narrow it down?

Bigger sigh.

But I'll try.

Pam at Audio Video Disco... I Hear... I See... I Learn is one of the most supportive and sunny people on the planet. Her photography is wondrous, and even more so is her giving spirit. If there were no smiles in the world, Pam would have invented them.

Franki at Frankily Yours makes me smile (and laugh) often with her acerbic wit, her straightforward honesty which would be childlike if not for her sophisticated turn of phrase. She has brought forth every kind of smile I possess at one time or another.

Rebecca at Rebecca James is new to me. I haven't known of her blog for long, but she is a published author whose talent is the perfect vehicle for her big heart and sweet spirit. She makes me smile in recognition of our shared humanity as she writes about events that so many of us can relate to.

The Thinker at Theory of Thought is a phenomenon, in my view, in that she is a teenager who writes with the instincts of a seasoned author. She is honest, funny, complex and a spiritual seeker in that she tries hard to be the best person she can and to facilitate the same in others. There are many smiles to be had there.

JR at JR's Thumbprints & Other Such Vagaries makes me smile because he is someone who makes a difference in the world. He teaches at a prison. It is hard to imagine a more difficult and demanding job, although lately, it seems that his greatest challenge is not his students but the state system which has determined that educators are non-essential. JR is also a fine poet, and if you don't already know him, he will make you smile, too.

I offer a special smile to all who read here, some of whom have become back channel friends as well. I try to spread these awards around when they come my way, but in my view, you are the most smile-worthy group of people ever and all of you deserve each of these little acknowledgments.

My face hurts from all this smiling. I think I need to do some really good frowning now.