Meet the Newbie! – Saturday 6/30/2007

He’s tiny!!

We knew he was little, but he’s about half the size of Rocky. He’s just three months old. That’s why his eyes are still completely black and he has little black bars almost all the way to his beak.

Hydra and I have been thinking about adding another budgie to the flock for a few months now. We flirted with a Timneh African Grey last weekend, but that’s a whole ‘nother magnitude of commitment. We feel/hope that Rocky will be happy to have a friend to help him herd lattice balls.

We just picked the Newbie up today and haven’t named him yet. We’ve always had flight-related names for our budgies. Rocky’s named for Rocket J. Squirrel. Lindy was for Charles A. Lindbergh. Ridley was for test pilot Jack Ridley (Chuck Jaeger’s wingman). And our first bird, Bogie, who was an incredible joy and got us hooked on birds, was named for a combination of things including an unidentified aircraft (which should have been spelled bogey).

We have it narrowed down to a couple of aviation/spaceflight related names. We’re thinking either Gus, after astronaut and Indiana native Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom (I’m from Indiana) or Boomer after the Australian flying hunting tool and Australian fighter plane the Boomergang (budgerigars/parakeets are originally from Australia).

Comments? Other suggestions?

Rocky, aka the Oldbie. We are trying to remember exactly how old he is. Time to check through my pre-blog journals. He’s a playful little sweetie.

Short and Sweet – Friday 6/29/2007

I realize that my posts have been getting longer and longer lately. Maybe I got into the habit when writing up the France trip. Anyway, I’m going to try to keep them shorter for the most part. Don’t want to overtax you or get you in trouble with your boss.

Sprinklers arcing across the lawn outside the window. I’m on a one-day a week lay-off at work. I could get used to this.

Cool thing: peanut butter and ginger. I would recommend that you try this only when you are down to the last heel of bread, or you might do serious and longlasting damage to your waistline. Smear a thin veneer of Trader Joe’s Ginger sauce on a small piece of bread. Spread peanut butter over it. Eat.

Watch out for any marauding parrots who might try to get in on the act. Trust me, you’re going to want all of this for yourself.

Those of you who do not live within range of a Trader Joe’s have my deepest sympathies.

Fruit Happens- Thursday 6/28/2007

Fruit. It’s happening all over Southern California right now. The bananas, admittedly, are imports, but the fabulous plums are from Momalisa’s back yard. She brought in a bowlful. I snagged all the ones that hadn’t been eaten yet. Two never made it out of the car. She said she’d bring in more today, for those who are slower to beg for backyard fruit.

Speaking of fruit, here’s an email my cousin Bells sent me and graciously allowed me to share with you. (Bells, because of the earrings with tiers of tiny red bells on them that you wore to Thanksgiving dinner when you came home from New York City for the holidays, thus securing my cousinly adoration of you for all time.)

“I really enjoy the pictures and your comments, but I have to laugh at how different we are. You take the time to take the perfect photo of plums, or a pretty plant or tree. I, on the other hand have nowhere near your patience. When we first moved into our house we had a lemon tree and a grapefruit tree which I subsequently chopped down. The grapefruit tree had just too many grapefruit. Indiana has zucchini and FL has grapefruit. I picked them, ate them, squeezed them, froze them, tried to give them away. But every day for six months of the year I would have to come home and pick up grapefruit off the ground to avoid a big squishy mess – and also fruit rats that loved them. So, down it came.

“The lemon tree was evil. It tried to kill me several times. I hated that tree and it hated me. It would poke me with its branches and get tangled and stuck in my hair, it would prick me with it’s thorns and trip me with it’s roots. “Off with its head!” said the Queen, and down it came. Long after it was down I would occasionally trip over a root that had popped up or step on a leftover thorn. Dang tree!

“We must get it from our Mothers. I can remember your Mom and Grandma walking all around Grandma’s house looking at each plant. My Mother sat on the stoop, completely uninterested, and waited for them to finish.

“Which is not to say I hate all trees. I loved Spike – really loved him. He was a big, beautiful Seagrape tree in my yard. Your mother drew his portrait for me. Anyway, a few years ago he had him “trimmed”. When I got home the guy had cut practically all the branches off. He looked like – a spike. I cried and cried. I put my arms around him and begged him to grow. My neighbors called and told me to stop hugging my tree because it was scaring people at the park. Finally I promised Spike that he grew I would put all the Christmas lights on him – none on any other tree or any of the house. Sure enough by December he was almost back to his old self and I put hundreds of lights on him. He was beautiful. I used to lean against and listen to him talk.

“Two years ago during Hurricane Katrina I was in the kitchen and heard a kind of whooshing sound. As I looked up Spike slowly and gently bent and fell. Actually he kind of wrapped himself around my house – he was huge. Some branches touched my windows and when I stepped out of my kitchen door he had formed a little tiny room with his branches. I considered it a final hug. For three days I put a chair on my front stoop and sat in what had been the tip-top of Spike. K crawled under him and rescued two baby birds. My cats played in the branches. Then people came and cut him up.

“G, M’s wife [Bells’ brother], makes walking sticks for her friends. She goes into the woods, finds just the right stick then rubs them and treats them and decorates them according to who she is giving it to. Sometimes she carves it, or paints it, or glues fake jewels onto it. Anyway, I picked a piece of Spike to be my walking stick when I need it. When G comes I will give it to her to work on.”

Isn’t that just beautiful? Aren’t I lucky to be in this family?

Crunch – Wednesday 6/27/2007


I was backing out of the parking lot at work and I didn’t feel a thing, but I heard a sickening crunch. You know that sound: your vehicle just contacted something. Vehicles aren’t meant to contact anything, ever. Except maybe a nice cuddley chemis.

Couldn’t see anything in the side mirror or the rearview, so I got out. Ah. Crumbs.

There lay a pretty silver scooter on it’s side. I glanced around to see if the owner was sitting at one of the outside tables at the coffee house below my office. No. In fact, there was no one, absolutely nobody in sight.

If you’ve ever hung out at Priscilla’s you will understand what a bizarre thing this is. Besides the coffee house, there’s a dry cleaners across the street, and the sidewalk and parking areas are usually abuzz with activity.

I’d be lying if I said that just getting in my car and leaving didn’t flit through my mind. I’d like to say that, but if I realized that there were absolutely no witnesses to my crime, I must have at least acknowledged the possibility.

But you know, if you do something rotten that no one else knows about, it’s you who has to live with the disappointment you’ve created in the world. You and your victim, and whomever they need to share with.

I went into Priscilla’s and asked if anyone there drove a silver Kawasaki—who knows why I said Kawasaki, because my brother owned one a billion and seven years ago?—but there were no takers. I went around the shady side of the building and asked the people at the outside tables. Nope.

I was about to go back into Priscilla’s to leave my information, figuring the person would go there to find out if anyone had said anything, and almost ran into a man coming out. It was his bike. It wasn’t a Kawasaki. It was a Yamaha scooter.

Here’s where it gets really good. He goes and sets up the bike, all the time saying, “It’s probably not a problem. It’s been knocked over before, it’ll be knocked over again.”

There’s me, pointing out the scrapes and scratches. There’s him, saying it doesn’t matter.

“Take my information anyway,” I said, “You’re going to feel terrible if you find something wrong and you feel like you were just too nice about it. I’ve done that.”

He shrugged, “Okay. You’re probably right.”

I tore a sheet from the back of that pretty little notebook I showed you a few days ago and started writing on the trunk of my car. I could hear Dodger crooning, “Oh… oh,” from the front seat. (He’d come to work with me for the day.)

“Thanks so much for looking for me,” my victim said, “That was really decent of you.”

“Hey, I work here. I hang out here. This is like my yard.” You know.  The place you don’t defecate in.

He asked about the vacancy sign in the window, and I told him it’s always there. But there might be something available. It’s not a good place if you have very many clients coming and going because the parking is nearly impossible. I told him that the place I work does script research and it’s almost entirely done through e-mail, so not many people have to visit.

“Oh, like clearances and that sort of thing?”

“Yes!” I’m astonished. No one knows about this. 98% of people working on shows don’t know this. “You must be in the industry.”

“I’m a screenwriter.”

He has a couple of projects going all the time. He gets that we are only helping him and the production company not get sued. He doesn’t feel terrible when he has to change a name because there’s only one guy by that name in that town.

I give him all the important numbers: phones, driver’s license, insurance, plates. I apologize again.

“Hey, if I minded it getting scuffed up, I wouldn’t park it in the city.”

“That’s a great attitude.”

“Someone let me off the hook once when I scraped his car. It was such a relief. I figure I can do the same.”

I headed home feeling so good. And just think what misery I could have caused. It would have been so awful if he’d come out and found his scooter lying on its side. He would have felt bad about it for days, maybe longer. Because he’d have been denied the opportunity to be nice about it.

That happened to me once years and years ago, when I parked my beat up Honda Civic in Hydra’s employee parking space outside the Fort Wayne Performing Arts Center. Some one scraped it and didn’t come inside to say anything about it. I remember thinking that I wouldn’t have asked for any money or even been angry about it, but I wasn’t offered the opportunity to be a nice person, and that still feels like a gyp.

And guess what? The guy even called me a couple of hours later.

“I’ve been driving all over for the last couple of hours. Just thought I’d let you know, there’s no problem. Didn’t want you to worry about it.”

I told him I would have worried a little for at least three days and thanked him. Astonishing.

Of course, there are times when a person really can’t let you off because the stakes are too high or they just aren’t able to deal with a nasty surprise. But it still pays off inside your head if you can do the right thing.

And thank you for bearing with me on this long story.


Oops! I Did It Again! – Tuesday 6/26/2007

More diner infidelity. Actually, I don’t know if I have anything to confess. Big Boy and I are a little–how should I say it?–estranged.

There was no anger, no recriminations. I think it’s a case of How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm Once They’ve Seen Paris? That and the fact that I can’t seem to stop the Monday-Wednesday waiter from spooning up oatmeal the moment he sees me hit the parking lot. I had to turn it away twice. It’s hard to un-train this guy.

Looking for other pastures. The Coral Cafe, which you may recall from even before the bon voyage, is a little pricy. So I tried another all-night diner in Burbank, Harry’s Family Restaurant on San Fernando Road.

I liked it. I liked the little stylized Ses on the cups. I liked the clean aqua upholstery. I spent the entire hour there writing about the decor, the feel, the layout, the regulars.

This is what I call a grand, grand way to start the day. Couple that with talking with my Mom on the phone–yes, handsfree–on the drive in, and it was about as close to perfect as a workday morning can get.

Stopped by Porto’s Bakery to pick up bolitos and croissants to go with the peach freezer jam, and had to also pick up some guava strudel (you MUST try these) and potato balls. A small gesture of thanks for all the work people did around the office Friday while I was nursing my back and they were prepping for the new carpet. OneL rallied Weens and Lunista to paint our office lavendar and off-white. It’s so clean and light!

Oh, yeah. Update on the back thing. Remember the fall in Paris? Here’s the scoop. Doc says that the radiologist says that he can’t tell if the wonky bone in my spine is due to a little arthritis creeping in or due to a small fracture, but given that it didn’t hurt before the fall and it did hurt afterward, I probably have a fractured spine.

Hey, if I broke my flipping back, I want credit for it. There’s nothing do do, I guess. [shrugs] It’s not debilitating.

Art House – Monday 6/25/2007

Today I finally hung the painting Braveheart gave me a couple of weeks ago. I love that she suggested I might want to hang it outside. I think it looks very cool by the front door.

It’s under the porch roof, out of the sun and rain. It makes me happy to see it there.

Cool Thing: Or maybe creepy thing. Checkout Melissadata’s People Finder. I am not advocating that you pay for any of these records. I think a lot of them are duplicates and some are just wrong, based on looking myself up here.

Juleps Anyone? – Sunday 6/24/2007

After I made another batch of peach freezer jam and put another couple of bags of peaches in the freezer, I squeezed the juice from the skins and added it to the juice I’d collected a couple of days ago.

What to do with it? While I pondered this, I got online and found a recipe for mint syrup. (I liked this one because it didn’t call for Karo syrup. I used about 21 8-inch long stems of mint to pack the cup.) Went out and gathered mint from the slope behind the house, and made up a batch.
Still wondering what the heck to do with it.

Eureka! You can stir a couple of tablespoons into the fresh peach juice. Wow. Damn. That is some good stuff. Can hardly wait for next year when I can hopefully do that again.
Guess I need to figure out a julep recipe for the rest of the syrup, most of which I froze. Any recipes for said juleps would be much appreciated. Also, any further suggestions for using the syrup would be most welcome.

And I ask you, what is a person to do when the neighbors plums flirt with her so shamelessly? There’s a whole plum-laden branch bending languidly over the fence at the top of our slope.

I think it winked at me!