Thursday, September 29, 2011


All I've ever wanted. My first activity is a much deserved nap.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Real smarts, doggie style

Found my PC hosed when I came back from New Mexico last week, so light blogging for now.

Am currently reading Moving Pictures by Pratchett, and the whip-smart mutt Gaspode reminded me if something I always wonder about the way we quantify intelligence in a dog. There are the Laddie/Lassie types that do tricks and the circus dogs which obviously delight in showing their skills and agility, but I think there are myriad unsung and much smarter dogs all over the place. I think the really smart dogs are the ones who know what you want them to do, but have sussed their person out enough to know they can get away with defiance. I think they understand us more than we understand them. Or ourselves.

What do you think?

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Met with surgeon and orthodontist yesterday

Looks good. Orthodontist said that due to NE religiously wearing my retainers at night, my teeth have remained aligned. He said he'd have no problem with me having the surgery tomorrow, but the surgeon needs bands mounted on my back molars for anchor points, so I'm probably looking at about a month of braces prior to surgery. The only thing I'm waiting on now is approval for the procedure from the insurance company. Still hoping this can be done this year so I can be in school next semester. Fingers crossed.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Somewhere on NM Scenic Highway 14

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This house had a fabulous array of bottles festooning its fence. I took this picture near sunset on the way north and the bottles look interesting and a little kooky as the backdrop for the El Camino. However, on the way back through it was earlier in the afternoon and the bottles-- particularly the blues and greens-- looked absolutely brilliant illuminated from above.

Love this stuff. :) Will try to get a photo in better light and earlier when I go through next time.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday, Puppy Sunday: do u make you horny, baby?

Ok. I couldn't come up with a crap antler pun, so horny will have to do. The puppies are SO besotted with the antlers I got for them at Pet Pangaea in Lis Alamos last week. Good clean fun!

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Tee Hee

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Highland Fresh Atomic Balls

It would seem I said that when I was visiting Greater Nerdlandia last week, I snapped a photo of Stingray at the Valle Caldera and declared "Highland Fresh Atomic Balls." In truth, I think FarmGirl or DM said the "highland fresh" thing first, and then Atomic Balls seemed the obvious chaser. Low-hanging fruit, presumably. :P

I had an absolutely splendid time visiting the Nerds. Stingray rustled up a marvelous goat dish and the company was very fine, indeed. LabRat has a marvelous cooking library which has inspired my next 3 culinary book purchases. I got to cuddle some beautiful little fluffball puppies, and made a little swing through Santa Fe for some jewelry in the Plaza.

I love New Mexico!

I also spent some wonderful time with my girlfriend Lin of If The Creek Don't Rise, and she fed me marvelous Tortiere and French Onion Soup that was superb. She has a lovely home and she has such impeccable style and taste-- it was a delight to see how she put it all together. I fell in love with her fence, too-- I'll show a picture soon. I want one just like it, now. :)

Was a lovely trip, and I look forward to traveling out west to see them all again soon. :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

it's gone all wonky.

Forgive me if timing is a little off of late. My work schedule has changed from 10:00 AM - 7:00 pm to 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM. I like the change, but it's got me all throw'd off.

In the meantime, consider this:

How can something so incredibly sexy be so amazingly cute? I love it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In one of my fantasy other-lives...

...I would open a bar playing only ambient music. Maybe I still will... and this would be on permanent rotation:

Mezzanine by Massive Attack is one of the best albums eVAR. Elizabeth Fraser's ethereal sweetness is a delight of which I never could tire.

So, my ideal ambient bar would be in a converted old church, preferably with stained glass and a massive humidor. It would specialize in brandy and cigars. You may smoke a pipe or a cigar, but never a cigarette indoors, unless it is a Sobranie. (snobbery much? Why yes, make mine a double!)

My bar is called "Holy Smokes"

What's not to like? I'm searching for the perfect former church, and then: look out.

This Old Porch - Robert Earl Keen

It was almost cosmic. Monday on the way home in eastern New Mexico I heard some great radio, but when the last good station faded out, I hit the scan button and it was silent and I completely forgot it was searching for a station for me. I drove along, thinking of the miles and the dear friends I'd left in New Mexico and the sweet little puppies waiting for me at home. Then I ascended the last long sweep up the escarpment of the Llano Estacado, I crested the rim and then the scanner found itself a station and surprised me with this song that welcomed me back to Texas.

Robert Earl Keen/Lyle Lovett-- always a good idea, even for bad hair days. :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I got home lAte in the afternoon after a pleasant, uneventful drive. Am in my own bed, languorously dragging my toes through pup fur. Longer post later but for now, it's good to be home with my doggies. :)

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Monday, September 19, 2011

A grand time had by me

Sunday afternoon I sadly departed Nerd Ranch and moseyed over to Santa Fe. I spent a ridiculous time parking, but I sort of have a custom of always buying a certain style of Indian earring when I'm through there, and I did not want to part with tradition. I spoke to several artists and got earrings for myself, my sister and niece, and treated myself to a couple of gorgeous copper bangle bracelets.

Santa Fe is better on a middle weekday morning, but it's a nice place to see, even if only once. There are oodles of arty-farty clothing/jewelry galleries, and I really need to come back wearing some of my glass beads into some of those places and see if I can't generate some interest and get something going there. Maybe next time.

After another nice night at my friend Lin's house, Monday morning I hop onto I-90 and make my way back on the path that parallels the vagrant remnants of the storied Route 66. It's kind of sad to look over from the ultra modern roadway and to see little bits of old pavement with jaunty tufts of grass and weed bursting through here and there. There's signage of Route 66 all over the place, but it's fading into memory. The memory is still a sweet one, though. Some photos to come when I am back home.

The Vibram Five Finger shoes have been wonderful for schlepping around in rocky terrain. Love these. Recommend them highly. :) I also got stopped in Santa Fe by folks wanting to know about them. :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday, Puppy Sunday: homesick/pupsick

Missing my little furballs, but got some proxy furball therapy from Brou, Kodos, Kang and the Wonderpups. Looking forward to being home tomorrow night.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Attitude sickness

Achingly beautiful weather here in the Land of Enchantment. Like 70 degrees and clear-- perfect.

Yesterday I went to Tinkertown with lovely Lin and we had a grand time. Longer post on that when I am home and can upload my Canon Rebel photos. I was buzzed by some hummingbirds and I didn't mind it.

After Tinkertown, I drove myself up National Scenic Byway NM Hwy 14, which certainly merited the description. I had to pull over several times to snap photos. What a gorgeous place. And it rained yesterday morning, so the sage, cedar and piñon all were releasing their oils into the air and it smells so amazing. I told LabRat and Stingray that it smells like God's own urinal cake. So pine-fresh. I want to live here, y'all.

There's just one wee bit of unpleasantness: after a delectable dinner I was feeling fine and all, when suddenly my left eye made me to know it needed to shut. I Suddenly felt enervated and had to make my apologies and head to bed disappointingly early. I think it's very mild, but this does seem to be some degree of altitude sickness. I awoke in the night with a teeny headache and bizarrely felt hot and cold at the same time. At that point, I did what any sane woman would do and painted my nails, after which I was feeling perfectly normal. I then went back to sleep and slept like a little lamb, and awakened refreshed. Looks like today will be another beautiful one! More to follow.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Coolest bog-roll dispenser EVAR!

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

This must be fake, right?

Really, I feel silly for even wondering about these Himalayan Ninja goats, but this being a video from pre-photoshop era seems to lend creedence. OTOH, it seems rather bullshitlian.

What do YOU think? :)

Soundscapes for leaden skies

Whether or not you like art cinema, if you like modern classical and jazz, I cannot recommend Carter Burwell's superb soundtrack to Fur highly enough.

Driving out to New Mexico Wednesday to see my dear friend Lin and {then later to visit Greater Nerdlandia), mercury falling and skies of varying shades of drear, I turned on the Fur soundtrack on my iPhone. Was superb. I drove for hours, mesmerized by the low-hanging clouds dipping to engulf mesas, whilst fragrant sage opened to the moist air, making same redolent of their scent. The sensory overload was nigh intoxicating. This was one of the most beautiful drives of my life.

I kept willing the clouds not to lift, blanching at the thought of blue skies or beams of sunlight. This was poetic, and not gloomy but austere.

Loved it. Loved every moment. Loved every note. This will be in heavy rotation for me this winter. Would be equally suited to a January beach as it is to a cold mountainscape. Great mood/ambient music. I think it was only $6.99 on iTunes, too.

Four thumbs up.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Suggested serving

Making my rounds of errands in the Dallas area Monday, I stopped at Indian restaurant Pasand for lunch on Beltline Road across from Irving Mall. Their buffet had samosas which one rarely sees on a buffet (yum!) and my usual favorites, namely upma and vegetable pakoras. They had a superb vegetable Masala and there's a dish they have called Chicken 65. Dunno what's in it, but it's a fairly hot dish, and will make your mouth zing with a bit of heat for the rest of the meal, but it's not an over-powering, miserable-making heat. I think it sort of adds another dimension to the flavors of the meal.

The part I really look forward to, though, is the gulab jamun at the end of the meal with a nice cup of chai tea. I love skimming the layer of spices and cream that form on the top of the tea. The gulab jamun (yes, they are served in pairs like this) is like a sweet hushpuppy in a honey-based syrup. All that sweetness is brilliant paired with the strong flavor of the tea.

The traffic is a bear in the whole area, but it's nice to get back occasionally and visit some of the restaurants. For now, though, I'll stick my traffic jams out here which consist of 2 cars ahead of me at a stop sign.

By the way, if you are flying into DFW around lunch time, you can be over to Pasand within about 5 minutes from the airport. If you're working in Dallas in the high-tech corridor up in Richardson/Plano area, the location at Coit/Campbell is very convenient, too. The Coit location has been a favorite of mine for about 15 years. Always a delight to go there. :) And though it's horrible to admit same, I always feel there's something so right about getting curry stains on whatever book I'm currently reading. Right now, it's Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett.

Good times! :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

And now, for shoe-thing completely different...

Vibram 5 Fingers Bikila LS

Just going to start wearing them a little here and there gradually around the house to get my arches and calves acclimated to the different way of walking. I'm really excited. :)

and now I wait.

Went to see the surgeon this morning. I've decided to keep a log of this, and I'll try not to belabor the grisly points, but I do want to keep a running history of this for myself here.

I have an open bite which means that only my back molars on each side touch, and no amount of braces or other actions can physically make my teeth meet. I have for several years misunderstood that I would have the lower mandible sliced and repositioned, when in fact, it will apparently be the upper mandible. Gross, right?

This is a necessary evil-- I'm going to start losing my back teeth if I don't do this, and the way my jaw has to move around to chew has caused osteo-arthritis on both sides, but pretty severely on the right. Sometimes I have stabbing pains right into my jaw.

Wednesday morning I have to be back in Dallas to see the orthodontist, and he should be able to tell me then roughly how long I'll have to be in braces before they can perform the surgery. I'm hoping it can still be done this year. I should have gotten this consultation rolling earlier, but I just had to wait for some things to pan out so I could be sure I'd be able to afford all this. I'm crossing my fingers, hoping for a 4 or 6 weeks of orthodontics first, at the most. I'll be crestfallen if I have to miss Spring semester because of this (that's why I didn't go this Fall). But, I'll deal with it.

More news Wednesday

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday, Puppy Sunday: life is sweet, life is precious.

No picture just yet.

I woke up Saturday and let the pups out, then I went back to sleep on the sofa. I had a dream I was shopping and I had my little boy with me. He was cranky and I picked him up and he laid his little head against my shoulder, my arm holding him to me and he fell asleep. I woke up with Chuy asleep on top of me, my arm around his little bottom, his head on my shoulder, his warm breath against my neck, and all was well.

13,000 and holding, swallowed in the purring of her engines...

Ten years ago this date, I was sleeping late, and the phone rang. I answered, knew it was bad when my sister told me "turn on the television, any channel." I turned on a channel and there it was, my eyes bleared with sleep, a smoking tower in New York, World Trade Center, impossible amounts of smoke, the tower standing, and I'm thinking "weren't there two of them?" Roused from the oblivion of sleep not two minutes prior, I couldn't really process it. What is happening?

Thousands of regular folks went to work that beautiful Fall morning, doing their decent best with no intent of ill to another living soul, and to be met with this.

I cried watching this video. I don't know much more than I knew 10 years ago, but I know now as I knew then that such brutal ugliness should never be met with pacifism. Heaps of coals on the head of anyone responsible for such acts of ignorant barbarism.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Friday, September 09, 2011

Thursday I finally did it.

I set my appointment with the surgeon in Dallas who will perform my orthognathic surgery, hopefully sometime in the next 2 months. I go to see him for a consultation first thing Monday morning, and immediately thereafter I'll make the appointment with my orthodontist for having my braces back on, etc.

The entire prospect of this procedure is grisly and ghastly, but the thought of losing my teeth or having them break due to uneven pressure is worse than the thought of going through this. I've searched online and there are loads of videos and blogs of people in the pre- and post-op state having this procedure, but they all seem to skew at about 25 years of age and under. Here I'm 46 in a month, and I'm wondering why there is a deafening silence amongst my age group online-- maybe people my age don't feel like bothering with it? Or maybe they've not had a great experience with this stuff?

I hate to entertain any doubts, but I also want to feel I'm going into this with my eyes wide open. This is my choice. I know there are risks, but I also feel confident of the surgeon.

I also know that after a childhood of my Mom riding me like a duck on a June bug about taking care of my teeth, I've gone through 46 years of no cavities and good general dental health. Nonetheless, my back molars are starting to crack from the pressure of taking the full force of a bite which should be evenly distributed amongst my teeth.

I pretty much hate pizza. Most pizza bread makes my jaws exhausted. The work and discomfort outweighs the pleasure. I detest having lettuce on a burger because with my teeth not touching and doing the scissor-like effect on the front, I can't bite anything off-- the entire sheet of lettuce has flopped out on my chin when eating a burger more than once. No lettuce, TYVM. Hard candies are unpleasant. Anything with an excess of chewing is unpleasant. I need food soft enough to be torn, because I can't bite anything in two.

The first time I saw this surgeon, he said "you poor thing. I don't know how you eat." [I manage well enough] I went through all the pre-operative procedures. There were MRIs, loads of xrays, a sleep study, all kinds of crap, all to get the predetermination that would help my insurance company decide in favor of me having this procedure. My then-husband was against it. The pred was sent in to the insurance company, and their response was that although I am clearly "deformed" they would not cover the surgery. Even though I will eventually lose the back set of teeth on each side because they bear undue pressure, they would not cover the surgery. It looks like the company I work for now provides a policy which will cover this surgery, but fingers still crossed on that score.

The sad thing about all this is I wish to goodness I didn't need this surgery. This should not really impact how my face looks. My face is fleshy enough that you can't really tell by looking that I have an open bite, so there is definitely no question of a cosmetic motivation for the surgery. I wish I could take the oodles of cash I'll outlay for this and take a fabulous vacation or put a new roof on my house, or somesuch, but I have to believe that, ultimately, going through with this is the right thing to do.

Just when I start feeling terrified, though, I remember the steely determination of Mom when she called me about 9 months ago to tell me she had the go-ahead from her surgeon and was going to get both knees replaced at the same time. I was terrified of something going wrong, of her heart not being up to the surgery, of any of myriad things that could have gone wrong. I was hasty to think that, though. Her surgery on each knee went very well, and she's getting around better than she has this century. Her heart was apparently the last thing I should have doubted. She bucked up and went through it, and was such a tough little hen that anyone would have been proud to call such a woman their Mother. Yeah, I have reservations and I admit I'm scared, but I'm remembering the example she set. I'm going to trade a little discomfort in the present to try to have a better quality of life when I'm (hopefully!) a little old lady.


Thursday, September 08, 2011

Dear Frankie,

I hope your birthday is a blast.

Love, Auntie

seen in chat:

JayG Hey, that was a great post on the USPS, FYI
phlegmmy aw, ya think?
JayG yep
phlegmmy I appreciate you said so
JayG my MIL worked for them for 20 years
phlegmmy i could have said more, and it could have been said better, but I just wrote my opinion
JayG *INSANE* amounts of money for people willing to work overtime.
phlegmmy it's a system that will eat a good person alive, but a shitty person can exploit to the hilt
JayG and holy shit, the union mentality on FULL display
JayG you said it GREAT, Rita
JayG and yes
phlegmmy it's welfare for a bunch of people, while a handful of good workers did ALL the work
JayG anyone with any sense of human decency or work ethic will get jaded in about three weeks
phlegmmy it took me longer than 3 weeks, because I believed in the spirit the institution should represent. I thought what we were dealing with was precious cargo
JayG you're so cute when you're idealistic!
JayG You should totally go to work on the clacks BTW...
JayG :)
phlegmmy Is Terry PRatchett hiring?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Postal: going.

“Sometimes the truth is arrived at by adding all the little lies together and deducting them from the totality of what is known.”
~Terry Pratchett, Going Postal

I have to say that the thought of the possible demise of the United States Postal Service saddens me. For all its flaws, there is something profound about the ability to send a card or a letter to a dear one anywhere in the country for less than a couple of quarters. Some emails may fill people with excitement, but I have a hard time mustering the affection for a pixelated missive to compare to that heartwarming spark in the nervous system that comes on holding a paper written to you by a loved one. It really is a precious thing.

I wonder if people even recognize their own parents'/children's handwriting any more?

What is wrong and has been wrong with the USPS is something I saw as a crushing weight within mere months of my employment there starting in 1985. I was grateful for a well-paying job, and in my 20s with no debts and no responsibilities, I lived quite well for the 9 years I worked there. However, I found disgusting the way the labor unions had effectively hobbled the entire system. Shitty employees rarely got fired, and good workers without the wisdom to suck up to the appropriate parties would sometimes lose their jobs over non-issues. It was a brutal system and I quickly learned to despise unions and their tactics.

So it has come to this: the USPS with its excessive benefits/compensation structures has reached a point of unsustainability and is most likely not long for this world. If I still worked there, this would be my 26th year. If I had stayed, it would only have been for the security, and today I'd be in the same position I now find myself: going to school to start another career.

Thank goodness I left 17 years ago, rather than riding it out because it was sensible-- I'd be very bitter now, because when I left after 9 years, at the ripe old age of 28-- I was already feeling quite burned.

And still, I believe in the romance and the institution of the post. I believe in being able to write heartfelt sentiments and know that they will be in the hands of a loved one far away in the mere space of a few days. Who will deliver our Christmas cards and our birthday greetings and missives of condolence when there is no more USPS? For all its flaws, I wish we could break the union chokehold and save the good core of the system, and let it move forward on a more sensible business model with benefits and compensation to employees commensurate with current market values, but that ain't gonna happen. I'm sad that sending letter is going to be a quaint, far-distant memory for a lot of us soon, and for a good chunk of the population, it will be a never-was.

Pity, that.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

I'm not near the big fires now...

...but sometimes lately I can smell them. Thanks for the well wishes to Texans you other folks have been sending. The parched landscape here is as good as kindling. I hope we get some proper rain soon, but for now, at least, it's cooled off a bit.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Am I blue?

Love this Russian wiener dog. I can't decide if he's singing along, or playing the role of critic.

If I'm blue about anything, it's that this 3 day weekend is 4 days too short!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Sunday, Puppy Sunday: sleeping habits and pack behaviour

Because of Chuy's wiener dog heritage and their predisposal to spinal problems, I tend to try to prevent him from big leaps and jumps as much as I am able. He can jump up onto my high bed, but I prefer he not. I have little prospect of preventing him from jumping off at all hours, but at least I can minimize some wear and tear on his body by lifting him onto the bed whenever possible. This means that every night he has settled into the fussy pampering routine of me lifting him onto the bed.

Well, Miss Praline-- who has springs in her feet-- has decided that she also wants a little pampering, and now she has in the last month or so made me to understand that she expects to be ferried up to the bed in Mommy's loving arms, as well. I find the whole ritual to be adorable and heartwarming. The little habitual behaviours we have with our darling pets are among the most affirming and uplifting known to humans. I'm thankful for these little daily non-events that tell me I'm their person and how much they treasure me, as I treasure them.

All that said, dear friends lost a beloved pet this week, and I think they don't want attention and prefer to grieve in private. I respect that but want to say my heart aches for their loss.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

more hummingbird fu

This one is a Ruby-Throat or Broadtail. I'm not sure which. The color on the throat looks almost black on this one, and there are others that look more crimson.

Friday, September 02, 2011

If you like harmonica...

You really should acquire Hector Villa-Lobos' exquisite Harmonica Concerto. I've been wanting to post it here for years, but only just found a nice rendition I'd care to display. This is but one movement of the entire concerto, but you get a definite taste of the elegance and refinement of the piece. This is, in my opinion, one of the finest 20th century classical compositions.

I first heard this music driving across desert in Arizona. I was in a rental car, going from Blythe, California, driving by myself. My sister and I had gone out to see our Grandma in hospital. Sister rode from Blythe to Phoenix with her in the ambulance on her final earthly journey. Destination was Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix. This was stirring and beautifully contemplative accompaniment as I drove, thinking about her and her life and how very much she means to me.

Life is always like a song. Just sometimes it plucks the more somber tones of the heart strings, but therein lies much sweetness, too. I hope you'll like this and check out the full work-- it certainly merits adding to the collection of anyone with a fondness for harmonica. Sometimes the brutal contrasts make the good parts all the sweeter. Bittersweet.

Here this movement is beautifully performed by José Staneck with orquestra SInfonica Juvenil de Caracas

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Skin it. Skin that smokewagon and see what happens.

I love Tombstone.

I bought the DVD recently, and I keep going back and watching this scene.

Love it!