Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sunshine of Your Love


I've been waitin' so long
To be where I'm going
In the sunshine of your love.

--Cream

It's all about the sunshine right now, in both hemispheres. Here in the north we are gaining the light that the south is losing. Heck, let's face it, for us Earthlings, it is always about the Sun. If our planet were five degrees closer to that molten, hot orb, we would incinerate. Five degrees further away, and we would be an ice planet.

Today, I'm passing out free rays of sunshine. Stick some in your pocket to brighten your day in a time of darkness or when you need a little boost. Take as much as you want, there's no limit. Jai at Jai Joshi's Tulsi Tree sent some my way and I'm paying the favor forward, outward and upward. Wishing good times and sunny skies to all who enter here. Feel free to copy the above image and spread the light around to your blog visitors.

And now, for your musical pleasure, a little vintage Clapton.

You are all the best. Simply the best.

I feel the Sunshine of Your Love!




Cream: Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce circa 1968

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spring Flu

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Today is just a plain ol' rainy day. We are in this cycle of heavy, swollen rains at the beginning of the week that give birth to a gorgeous, golden-blond weekend. When I woke up, I have to admit, I was a little depressed because I was ready to spring into a day of gardening, yard work and outdoor errands. Maybe head to the arboretum or walk the Sundial Bridge. Mother Nature had a different idea. Instead, I have a dog, terrified of loud rain, thunder, winds and, well, weather of any kind except calm and clear, Velcroed to my side.

I had to jack my attitude around. I decided to enjoy these last few days of cool comfort before we head into the hot hell our summers deliver. To enjoy the luxury of a movie, a good book or time spent writing inside without feeling guilty because I should be doing outside activities.

The rain is a good thing...really. Shasta Lake is only a few feet from the top for the first time in years, which means tourism will be up this summer. The Mallards haven't been on the ponds the last couple of days because the water levels evaporated in the weekend heat. But now that they are full again, I just spotted a pair of ducks soaring side-by-side, wings spread wide, overhead getting ready to land.


It is a lazy day full of the smell of moss and rain and wet grass and chicken rice soup. I have this sense of being able to nuzzle my head in the bosom of winter and hide from all the work outside that cries, like a bawling babe, to be done in the light of spring and summer. The same kind of feeling I used to get when I played hooky from school.

Today I am having fun making a fort with blankets and chairs and stringing a Cheerio necklace . Tomorrow I'll worry about forging my mother's signature on the absence slip.

To Whom It May Concern:

Please excuse Ronda from all that weeding, pruning and planting that needs to be done outside. She had the Pretending it Doesn't Exist Flu.



Signed,
Her mother.

People have been known to reach from the grave to pen such things, haven't they?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ducks on the Pond


Our weather has been full of stormy tantrums, rainy tears and sunny skies. The weeks start out blustery, wet and wild. Then end up breezy, warm and calm. I love this balance of cloudy and bright. Wet and dry. Brisk and the kind of day you just want to soak up the sun as you read a book, ride a bike or sit on the edge of a bank dangling a worm in the water.

Looks like our drought is over. The abundance of rain has filled the low spots in the terrain. Like a mini-Minnesota, there are thousands of little lakes everywhere. These ducks are inhabiting the ponds at the back of our property. There are about four Mallard couples hanging out having a great time floating, eating and doing who knows what else--all day long. The other night, they were on the ponds after 10. I had no idea they played in the dark.


Life is popping out every where as spring deepens toward summer. Doin' a little dance. Makin' a little love. Gettin' down tonight. If I were a female Mallard, I'd go for that gorgeous, green headed guy too!

Get out there and tap into some of that burgeoning, sensual spring energy.

Happy weekend, my friends!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mayberry R.F.D. Interrupted

001


December 1, 1969

****CBS News Special Report****

****CBS News Special Report****

****CBS News Special Report****

****CBS News Special Report****

"Because of the CBS News Report that follows, Mayberry R.F.D. will not be seen tonight but will return next week at its regularly scheduled time. The Draft Lottery: a live report of the picking of the birthdays for the draft, will be aired instead. This is Roger Mudd at the Selective Services Headquarters in Washington. 29 years ago, the first, and most famous, lottery number, 158, was drawn as the U.S. entered World War II. Now, 27 years after that lottery ended, the U.S., has again, started a draft lottery, under a bill signed by President Nixon, for the Viet Nam War.

The famous first number tonight, September 14th, is the first birthday--now designated 001. Which means that, 19 to 26 year olds born on September 14th, beginning in January, will be inducted into the Army by their local draft boards. Tonight, 366 dates, one for each day of the year plus leap year, will be drawn out of big glass bowl and matched with numbers 1 through 366."

This ceremony, although designed for television, is much less elaborate than those of the 1940's. Then Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, was blindfolded with a swatch of upholstery fabric which had been clipped from one of the chairs used at the signing of the Declaration of Independence."

*********************************************************************************

I was a junior in high school. I sat in front of the television that night, like families through out the country, with a list of the birthdays of loved ones and friends. My heart, alternately, aching and breathing a sigh of relief as the dates were drawn. The scanned document at the top of the page is the Wonder Husband's draft letter. Many of those letters were, like draft cards, burned. The lottery only served to fuel resentment of the war and the draft. After 40 years, it is hard to read, but under where I've blocked out his name and address on the top left portion of the letter, you can faintly see three digits: 3-1-4. His draft number was high and pretty much assured that he would not be inducted.

Mayberry has become synonymous with idyllic small town life and for simple rural existence. Both the television program and life as we knew it in America, was interrupted that night. It has not yet returned to normal.



Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Kool April Nites



In our little corner of California, part of the spring ritual is a tribute to Americana. A tipping of the Fedora to Detroit iron. A curtsy to an era when automobiles were the main mode of transportation. We celebrate by spending a few days waxing our vintage cars to a high gloss shine and remembering the 1950's...a simpler time.



Always held in mid-April, the weather is determined by a spin of the wheel and a roll of the dice on the game board of spring. Some years, like this one, after a week of slammin' storms and thunderous clamor, the clouds acquiesce and the glory of brother sun shines on this golden winner of a weekend.



Others, we lose and the sentinel clouds do not allow brother sun to pass. Even so, the party slogs on, a little damp and less attended, as the heartiest road knights cruise back in time.



Cops turn a blind eye to all but the most flagrant instances of chirping tires, breaking traction and the deep, hot rumble of illegal mufflers.



We listen to unchained melodies recorded by The Righteous Brothers, The Big Bopper, The Diamonds, The Five Satins and The Platters.



Songs spun into the air by the infamous disc jockey, Wolfman Jack. The gravelly voiced broadcaster, who worked for the station with the strongest radio signal in the country, kept drivers company as they traveled from LA to New York.

Cruisn' is a family tradition passed down from generation to generation, year after year.

See ya later, alligator.

video

Kook April Nites 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Miss B


This is a very special story, about a very special lady, who is a very special friend, who is having a very special birthday. These are some of the very special things about her:

She was born on tax day, April 15th.

What day could be more appropriate for the birth of a new, little tax deduction?

Her favorite number is 13.

If you ask her why, you'd better have a long time to listen because the reasons are many.

She doesn't look like a practical joker.

Looks are deceiving because in this photo, she looks nice. I used to be quite a sucker. Innocent. Trusting. No more. She's trained me to prank with the best of 'em. If a little, old, Italian lady every calls you wanting you to do weird stuff, look out.

Her maiden name is the same as her married name.

I'm going to let you think about that one for a while. When she told me, it took a couple of weeks to get up the nerve to ask how it was possible. I mean, she didn't look like she was inbred but, I wasn't going to ask.

She has been my boss. I have been her boss.

There have been days when we've looked at each other and said, "I just want to be the Indian, not the Chief." The other would respond, "Sorry. It's not your turn."

She's made me cry.

While sitting on the pot in the bowling alley bathroom, fully clothed, she told me she was quitting and taking another job. We were in there for a little privacy.

I've made her cry.

While stirring a huge pot of spaghetti sauce in the school kitchen, fully clothed, I told her I was quitting and taking another job. In that kitchen, there was very little privacy.

Her whole life, she'd wanted to find her real father.

For one of her birthdays, I bought her a book I'd heard about on Oprah. It described how to go about finding anyone you wanted. She was so delighted. I was delighted. Her family wasn't. Seems that our innocent, little, sleuthing endeavor was about to bring down a well kept family secret. An incredible secret that, with her permission, I'll one day tell you about.

But until then,

Happy 50-Something, Miss B!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Shotgun!


"I call Shotgun!"


Maaco is riding Shotgun. He's a classic car buff and this, '67 Buick Skylark GS, is one of his faves. But, he's a fickle pooch and is loyal only to the hottest set of wheels around. He's been spotted cruising in some of the finest American muscle in town. El Caminos. T-Birds. Chevelles. Novas.

He claimed the front passenger seat, the most coveted of all positions, by calling 'Shotgun,' as we walked out to the car. Luckily, I was the driver and didn't get stuck sitting in the rear seat. Everyone knows that there are only two cool positions in a car: Driver and Shotgun. Or do they?

Do other countries invoke the Calling of Shotgun? The term came from the covered wagon days when the driver was too busy holding the reins and driving the horses to watch out for thieves and malcontents. Maaco takes his job very seriously. Of course, to him, a malcontent is most likely a kitty but, he is very alert and always on the look out for trouble.

Here in the Wonderland, we are kicking off Kool April Nites week. Thousands of people are rolling into town to show off their wicked fast, classic and vintage automobiles. Shiny wheels spin memories, thick as golden oldie butter, of the 1950's back into solid form. Spreading the week with gobs of car shows, drag races, sock hops and crooners makes for a really good time.

This is a big week for the Wonder Hubby, too. He is in all his glory when he's looking at, working on and talking about classic cars. In fact, there are times I think he must have been a Chevy in a past life. He channels cars like I channel spirits. And by spirits, I mean ghosties. Not liquor. Although, I have been known, on occasion, to channel that too. But, that's our little secret.

Oops! Gotta go. Maaco wants to chase a foxy, blond, retriever, bitch he just spotted. She's sporting a curly, puppy dog tail, wearing a Poodle skirt and riding shotgun in a Mustang convertible. Apparently, it's 'woof' at first sight. If he was looking for trouble, I think he just found it!
See ya on the cruise!

Other Examples of Shotgun:





Saturday, April 10, 2010

Baby's Got Back...Tax Forms


Friday I stopped by the Internal Revenue Service office to pickup some forms. I've been a regular customer there for many years. In fact, I keep expecting them to send me my Rewards card. No luck yet. My visit is something I do annually just like getting my pap smear and mammogram. Not nearly as pleasant, but for some reason, I look forward to it just the same.

For a moment, I stood outside, with my hand on the door of Suite 300, preparing myself to savor the freshly printed ink on paper smell that I love. Getting ready to fully immerse myself in the experience of Tax Year 2009 in 2010. Each year is unique and, if not special, well...then not special. Wondering what new forms I would find this year. There's always some kind of surprise. A new addition. A deletion. Earned Income Credits for which I never qualify. An unexpected change on Line 42. I know. Don't hate me because I live such an exciting life. The glitz. The glam. You couldn't handle the pace.

It never fails that the forms I need are gone. The IRS agent at the desk by the door has a stock answer when asked if he has any more:

"I think we have some in the back."

Picking up his keys, he waddles to the door, unlocks it, and reappears with the needed forms. He must do this a 100 times a day. Can't figure out why they don't just put the darned things out front. I mean, why would you want a Form 4562-Amortization and Depreciation for the fun it all. But, hey, from what I saw, that was the best part of his job. Who am I to be killjoy.

Then, there were the two agents in the two, semi-unprivate cubicles helping people one-on-one. I only had to go in there once. A long time ago, when we started our first business, we didn't have the money to pay the taxes. We didn't know that, when you're self-employed, you have to pay estimated taxes because you don't have an employer to make your withholdings. Which means, that you have to guess how much money you're going to make and pay them before it is actual income.

If you don't guess high enough, they get to penalize you. If you pay too much, you don't get to penalize them. That's how they roll. It's a little more complicated than that, but that is the general idea. That was when I found out that you can request to get on the IRS payment plan. Hot diggity! A payment plan? Who knew? I like payment plans. They're much better than not filing. The penalties for not filing are a lot higher. A LOT!

But this year, there was something new. I didn't notice it right away. Over in the corner, sitting on a stool, was a security officer. Never, in my nearly 35 years of visiting this office, has there been extra security. I overheard the door agent saying it was a protection the government implemented after the guy flew his plane into an IRS office a few months back. Uh, hello, security might help if someone walks in with a AK-47. But, I don't think this overweight guy is gonna stop someone from flying a kamikaze mission into the building. For crying out loud, he's inside and could never see the plane death spiraling down from the sky.

He was checking people out, though. He even checked me out. At first, it kind of made me wonder if I was, some how, suspicious looking. But then I thought, oh, he's just zoomin' my boo-tay. Girl, all those Pilates classes are paying off, I think to myself. Damn, I love going to the IRS office! Until next year, Mr. Security Man. (wink)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy


There are days when I am happy. There are days when I am sad. I try not to dwell in Sad Land, though. It is not my nature and, well, quite frankly, it's too diddly darn depressing. Just as it is not my nature to be sad, I can see how, for others, the opposite is true. It is probably as hard for them to skip along, sunny side up, as it is for me to get stuck in that sucky, syrupy, dark side bog.

My sister calls me the Energizer Bunny because I just keep hoppin' along. That is how I approach life...one bunny hop at a time. I get all wound up and bounce around hiding little happiness eggs for everyone to find.

If I could have my soul's desire, I'd load my eggs with whatever the finder believes would fulfill their dreams. For some, it would be a magic egg crammed with gobs and gobs of money. For others, the magic egg would stop affliction and addiction. Still others would find the gift of great accomplishment. For the world leaders, I'd stash eggs chock full of peace, food and medical care in the four corners of their countries. At the same time, if I found unhappiness eggs filled with weapons of destruction, mass and otherwise, I'd steal and destroy them.

But, most of all, I want to hand out great big LOVE eggs. It seems to me that if we get all filled up on that stuff, we'll be ridin' so high, we won't need all those other eggs. What is it they say? Don't treat the symptoms, treat the problem. We are all running around crazy. Doing crazy stuff. Wanting crazy stuff. Buying crazy stuff. Waring for crazy stuff. Why, why why?.

Not enough love, is what I think. Call me simplistic. Call me a Pollyanna. Call me deluded...I don't care because, right now, I'm sucking all the rainbow colored jelly love-beans out of my eggs, putting on my rose colored, John Lennon glasses and hopping down the bunny trail to the Love Shack.

Deanna Schrayer at The Other Side of Deanna presented me with this Happy Award. I was supposed to list ten things that make me happy but the truth is, it's just the way I'm built. Instead of choosing five recipients for the award, I will invite any one who wishes to write a blog on happiness to link back to me. I would love to read your post. Yes, I think that would make me very happy.

Ta-ta, I must hop along now. Would you like one of my extra special, super-duper, happiness eggs before I go?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sometimes


Somtimes, things don't go like you plan.

At the last minute, my nephew and his wife invited us over for Easter brunch on Sunday. Their son, Aiden, is a year and a half old. Last year, he just wasn't quite old enough to catch the drift. But this year, he celebrated in grand style. He got on to the baskets and hidden eggs. The Peeps and the jelly beans. The talking trucks and sunglasses. He had plenty of people to snatch him up and hold him and squeeze him.

Somtimes, you just have to go with the flow.

And so it was with my Easter smoker. I could have been attached to my vision of how the day should have gone but, I let go and followed the path of least resistance. And you know? Things worked out perfectly...just as the universe intended. A huge storm settled in and kicked up her wicked heels in a wild Fandango. Side ways, sleeting rain, thick and fat, hurtled down from the heavens like Weight Watcher devotees sliding off the wagon. Winds, 30-40 miles per hour, bobbed the trees and bushes aft and fore, pushing the cold along with its blasts. Not the perfect barbecue day that I had planned.

Sometimes, I would've gone ahead and tried to circumvent Mother Nature.

I would have pulled the Weber grill under the eaves of the house, fired up the charcoal, put on my slicker and asserted my will over the fates. But not that day. That day I practiced a surrender that is not among my natural instincts.

Sometimes, my friends have a faith in me that I don't have in myself.

Miss B sent me this e-mail on my last post, Call Her Macaroni:


"Wonderful Easter story. And I know it will carry on with another
paragraph
about...how her lovely daughter continued the barbecue tradition,
even with
horrid rain and wind with temps in the 50's. For, she is the girl who
plants
her flowers, weeds her garden and barbecues in the rain.


Sometimes even I have to wait to do what I want.

To plant my flowers, weed my garden and barbecue, rain or shine, often I have to exercise patience. But I will wait only one day. After that, I will take matters into my own hands. Yesterday I fired up that charcoal kettle. Even if I'd had to put on my hip waders, the Easter barbecue tradition was going to happen.

Sometimes, my friends and family are just the best.

No...make that always!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Call Her Macaroni




My mother left me with an indelible legacy. During the last, semi-rational, years of her life, she abandoned all desire for her traditional Easter dinner celebration. I don't know why. Maybe her Alzheimer's, plaque-filled brain could no longer remember or prepare her original menus. Instead, she opted to commemorate Jesus's day with a smoker.

You all know that His resurrection is best commemorated by having the first barbecue of the year, don't you? No? Maybe it was just our family. She would call at least a month in advance to make sure we would all be there for the ritual. She made sure we new that this was a heap big deal. As her kids, we rolled our eyes and humored her child-like excitement.

But know, when Easter rolls around, like Pavlov's dog, my mouth starts watering for a grillin'. I'm getting all of my Peeps in a row for Sunday. The grill is washed and wire brushed. A big, brand new bag of briquettes stands at ready. No gas barbecue for this girl. I've got all of my Ingredient Soldiers gathered on the Field of Preparation.

I can hardly wait for Macaroni's tender little elbows to make their first appearance of the year. Potato, naked, awaits being dressed. Sweet Pickle is drawn, quartered and ready to be tossed into those two salads. Olive has found the most worthy child's fingers to adorn.

I can smell the dark, thick molasses and taste the sweet, brown sugared memories of my mother's dalliance with Baked Beans. Lettuce's leaves snap out a crisp fan dance as she entices Burger to lay down on her ruffled bed. Plump and rosy Tomato yearns for a menage-a-trois with Burger and Lettuce. Bun exposes her white, sesame seed, dimpled bottom to the sun. Egg's devilish behavior encourages Wiener to misbehave. You know how his, plumps-when-you-cook-'em, body begs to be slathered in mustard.

Soon, my spring time friends, we'll be reunited again! It's been a long, cold winter and I've missed you so. And mom, I finally get your excitement.

Happy birthday, mom. This Bun's for you...and Jesus.

Happy Easter, all and blessed be.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Christina's Long and Winding Road

This graphic was created by Christina. She's very talented.

Cancer.

A word none of us ever want to hear in connection with our name or those we love. Everyone I know thinks that the nebulous "they" should have found a cure for it by now. But who are they and how is that cure going to come about? Many of us, including myself, just spout letters and words and shake our clenched fists in frustration. But, there are an elite few who actually try to grab those grubby, aberrant cells and wrestle them into submission.

One of those people is blogger Christina Bruning. You may recognize her from her blog, Christina's Outlet and, more recently, Christina's Ride to Conquer Cancer. She's committed herself to riding from Vancouver to Seattle, Washington, a two-day cycling event, as part of a fund raiser for the BC Cancer Foundation.

She was prepared for the Herculean task of training for the event. She was prepared for the grueling journey through Canada's Pacific region. What she wasn't prepared for was that, unless she raises at least $2500, she won't be allowed to ride with the other cyclists. Oh, the foundation will accept her funds, but not her wheelin'. I guess they have their reasons but, I don't understand why you would want to alienate enthusastic volunteers.

And this girl wants to ride. "It will be a challenge in a number of ways, but with my bike, my helmet, and your generosity, a real impact will be made!," says Christina. So, if you can donate even $1, it will get her just that much closer to her goal. The ride is in early June so she still has time to make her goal.

What difference will $1 make, you ask?

Well, many years ago, I managed a bowling center. I worked many, many hours. I worked very, very hard. No matter how hard I worked, I never seemed to be able to meet everyone's expectations. Or so I thought.


On the last minute of my last night, New Year's Eve, 1992, in front of a packed house of party bowlers, I was presented a coffee can stuffed full of money. ONE THOUSAND ONE DOLLAR BILLS collected $1 at a time from my employees, friends and customers. They wanted me to know how much they appreciated what I did for them. They wanted me to know that they noticed. They wanted me to take a well deserved vacation, which I did. I will never forget those people. EVER!

Times are tough.
I know.
Money is tight.
I know.
The economy is bad.
I know.

$1 CAN make a difference.
I know.

Help Christina realize her dream by recognizing her hard work with a donation, a side bar or blog post or sending out e-mails. If she succeeds, we all succeed.

Donate Now!

(Click "Donate Now" link above to contribute to Christina)


Pretty please?