Santa Cruz 2011 008The sidewalk variety found in a number of tourist destinations.  This was specifically in Santa Cruz.  Right there on the boardwalk, one of the sketch artists who duplicates your likeness to the nth degree.  Sort of.  Check it out.  I have always wondered where such an artist is trained.  So, I asked my artist.  His response was, “On the job.”  He continued to tell me that most sidewalk sketch artists are self-taught.  Hmm. Impressive.  Never mind that I had to make an effort to find any resemblance to me.  I think there must be some template used for all types, and the artist goes from there to sketch tap shoes and a cane in order to tailor the drawing to suit specifications.

In spite of the resemblance, or lack thereof, the drawing, signed by Wing, is hanging over my desk.  A reminder of the 45 minutes of labor and artistic expression necessary to produce an original work of art.

I did ask him for big hair.  He complied.

Mony Mony

imageTommy James And The Shondells did it.  Billy Idol did it.  And I did it.  While I may not share credentials with the two artists mentioned, I did dance to their shared hit, Mony Mony.  You want to move, right?  Play the song.  You would have to be comatose not to get up and move (euphemism for dance) to this wildly infectious, seriously upbeat song.

So, how’s this for movement?  Walking toward the building on the CSU, Sacramento campus that housed my evening statistics class, I muttered to myself, “Why is this such a dull campus?”  But wait. What’s this?  A rumbling of unrecognizable origin.  The sound was emanating from the eaterie from where I was known to purchase cups of coffee.  Following  the beacon, I was surprised to discover a university professor doubling as Dee-jay.  Not one soul was up and dancing.  Not enough liquor, I guess.  Well, I don’t even drink.  And I need no more motivation than what a good piece of music offers.  With conviction I approached the music maker and put in a request. “Please play Mony Mony — no preference to the artist.”

So, my request was granted.  What?!  Maybe this place isn’t so dull after all!  I exhibited my dance skills, there for all the dining students (and staff) to witness.  But, enough already, I was the only one enjoying myself on the dance floor.  I scanned the other students seated at their tables and laid eyes on a young man whose eyes met mine.  I also included a table of four women in my invitation.  Only one was convinced she needed to move, so, the guy and young lady shared center floor with me while the professor let our motivational force guide us through our dance moves.  That evening served to re-invent my mindset regarding the seemingly dull appearance of our college campus.  I owe it all to Tommy James And The Shondells…or maybe, Billy Idol.







Tiny Things

image.jpegAre cute…tiny things are cute.  Puppies, kittens, hamsters, and Mini Coopers.  I was able to order a Mini Cooper to my specifications and purchase it back in 2004.  Liquid Yellow was the color of choice, complete with the polar opposite roof color, black.  I sat back and counted the months until I could take possession.  Nine months, kinda like awaiting a pregnancy to go to term.  This was my baby, this sweet little ride.

Now, remember that saying that goes “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”.  I don’t know about mice, but I do understand the awry part.  Driving home on the freeway one evening I was struck left-rear by a driver who apparently was in a hurry and unaccustomed with proper decorum.  My car went spinning across three lanes, and the other driver, presumably unaware that the appointment he was late for had contributed to his poor judgment, left the scene.  On my part, I was driving somewhere in the 70-75 mph range.  Obviously, I was traveling way to slow, so the other driver had to make a point and decided that his 80 mph compensated for my sluggish pace.  So, out of his way I went.  Over to the shoulder of the freeway where my death grip on the steering wheel relaxed and my cute, tiny car was no more.

I sold the car (we did not carry collision on a 10 yr old, 229,000 mile cute, tiny thing) to the body shop and bid farewell to the most fun, easy to maneuver, sweet little ride.  Tiny things are way cuter than not tiny things.

Morse Code — Bird Style

DSCN0761In one corner of our dining room Jelly Bean & Starr inhabit space dedicated to all things feathered.  They are my resident parakeets.  Starr is a beautiful green/yellow and Jelly Bean is a, well, sort of strange looking albino.  He/she is the subject of this story.  The bird has not layed eggs in over a year, so I guess the conclusion takes me to male orientation…I think.  This bird is amazing in that it pulls at the “locked” (miniature clothes pins) gate next to its seed cup and manages to disengage the pins, opening the door 1/3 of the way up.  Once, I found two clothes pins broken and on the cage floor.  Houdini lives there.  Another idiosyncrasy this bird is attributed with is the hammering out of some sort of avian morse code.  Pecking on the cage rim with rhythm in keeping with the metronome on our piano.

What a weird, strange set of habits.  I question whether it is really all a cry for help & freedom from her confinement.  My son has said, “Birds are creatures of flight, and then we restrict them to a cage.”  Sigh.



imageCandies.  A pound of See’s chocolates decorated the dining table in the home I grew up in.  Only on an occasional basis.  But boy, what a fantastic exception.  Pastel colored bon bons (I pass, too sweet), cherry cordials, double caramel, dark nougat, and my first love, molasses chips enrobed in dark chocolate.  The See’s suckers are complete with novelty appeal.  In Latte, chocolate flavor, and root beer, to name a few.  In the store you can make use of a nice departure from real cigars (who needs that nastiness?) and purchase the Seegars made entirely of milk chocolate.  This is what was passed around my daughter-in-law’s hospital room after the birth of her son…and they come in pink or blue wrappers.  Too cute!

I belong to a Marsh Mint club.  This delicacy is only trotted out by online order.  It is perfect for St. Patrick’s Day as it is dark chocolate covered marshmallow with a green mint jelly inside.  Very decadent.  I even lay claim to a small, green decorative pin made available to me so that I might proudly display my allegiance.

If you are a consumer of fine candies and haven’t yet found the delight of enjoying See’s, I invite you to join me in the pristine white storefront where you can find framed photographs of 1920s era See’s assembly line and pictures of Mary See, the smart woman who started it all.  Actually, there is quite a story behind the face of the company.  Learn the story online.  But better yet, acquaint yourself with the candy.  Trust me, run-of-the-mill Nestle’s and Hershey’s take a back seat.


imageOf the table variety.  Table Tennis with the typical white balls, although I have recently discovered ping pong balls in a variety of colors, even fluorescent and tie-dye!  When I was growing up our table was in the garage.  I do not think I ever got very good at it, but I did enjoy it.  Non-competitive, for a non-competitive non-athlete.  Me.  I never ventured into athletics while growing up as it seemed to run counter to my athletic prowess, which is to say I had no prowess.  I did not develop upper body strength, nor did I possess speed and agility.  Actually, I tried to offer all the attributes that an athlete has, but it was an exercise in futility.  I especially hated balls coming at me.  And, tether ball?  Forget it.  The rope would wrap around my arm and sting.  What was I trying to prove?  Well, I think I proved it.

Our new ping pong table graces a spot on our backyard patio.  It is partially blocked by a wall so that even when the wind kicks up, the game goes on.  We had to move the patio table and chairs beside the old apricot tree in a corner of the yard so we could free the space for our new fun zone.  When looking to just have fun, we go for highest number attained within the rally.  So far 102 strikes with the paddle non-stop.  My son & his wife come over to visit and they become formidable opponents.  All in good fun.  I try never to take sports endeavors too seriously.  Ruins the atmosphere.  I say, have fun with your table tennis skills.  Assuming that she may not have a table tennis set, I look forward to playing with my soon-to-arrive college student from Japan.  She will be with us for two weeks.  We will shoot for 125 non-stop strikes.



Black Widowed

Prevalent.  We seem to play host to black widow spiders on our property.  HATE arachnids of all types.  But, these are especially nasty.  They are stealth.  Their webs are not ordinary webs, the spider silk of a black widow is tougher than steel or kevlar.  Soooo, sticky.  Their unholy appearance begins at the start of my favorite time of year–summer time.  In all, I have found 7 black widows on our property.  One was INSIDE our bedroom, attached to a clothes tree with MY clothes hanging there.  Now, that may not seem like a dangerous number, not worthy of alarm, but I went immediately to the phone directory to locate an exterminator.  He was good enough to come to the house and give me his assessment.  “That is really not a large enough number for me to tent your house.”  What?  Seven black widows is not enough?!  It’s enough for me Mr. Exterminator!

In the end, he did nothing.  Since that time I have discovered two more black widows in quiet corners of our yard.  Their big, black thorax with the unmistakable red mark, is indication of the interloper in my midst.  It is disturbing as we are all familiar with their venomous bite.  Oh my God, the makings of a horror movie.

I run for the shovel and I squish the pest with glee as I scream in decibel high enough to alarm the neighbors.  One less black widow.  Now, on to the rats that take up residence in our ivy.