Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

February 27, 2008

Three Forty Three

I couldn't believe my eyes. Never thought I'd see the day.

Anyone care to venture a guess?

February 20, 2008

A Public Service Announcement

I just found out about this website: . I've added a link on my blog roll called "Speed Traps & Red Light Cameras".

You can go to that site and find red light cameras and speed traps in your area, all over the USA. They are submitted by the general public. I find this to be VERY helpful b/c I do have a lead foot and I "piggyback" on cars that are going thru yellow/red lights (in the places where I know it takes time for the next light to change & I know I won't get hit or hit anyone). What can I say, I learned to drive in Massachusetts, and MA drivers are notorious for their speed and weaving from lane to lane.

Personally, I'm really, really sick of being watched by cameras everywhere I go. We need to change the Pledge of Allegance to read, "One Nation, Under Surveillance...". Or as the Boomtown Rats would sing, "There's someone lookin' at you.....they're always lookin' at you...."

Washington has no state income tax, so they fill the state coffers with an 8.8% sales tax, very high property taxes and aggressive traffic patrols. There are red light cameras all over the place now that take a picture of your license plate if you run a red, then you get a $121 ticket in the mail with a lovely photo of you breaking the law. My boss got me out of a speeding ticket a couple of summers ago, but I have to be a good girl and I usually am on long trips. But when I drive locally, I get in a wicked twist with the inordinately long and mis-timed lights, slowpokes, cell phone yakkers, make-up appliers, mini-vans, Volvos, Subarus, VWs and ALL semi/tractor trailer trucks. But don't get me started on my "I-hate-18-wheelers-and- they-should-be-banned-from-the-roads-between-6 am-and-8 pm" rant.

BTW, my "not flipping people off" goal lasted all of about 4 days....I just cannot help it when someone does something stoopid, or decides to pace the car next to it and not let anyone get around them. I get apoplectic and start running my mouth. My language would make a longshoreman blush. Although I have made up some interesting dirty & swear word combos that are at least amusing.

I used to have a radar detector when I lived in MA and commuted to Boston every day, and that bad boy more than paid for itself within the first month, as I cruised by the hidden State Troopers along Rte. 3, doing about 57 mph...not too slow to look guilty of anything, but not fast enough for them to justify pulling me over either. Radar detectors are illegal in Connecticut and I did get a speeding ticket in June, 1989 on the way home from my grandmother's funeral in New York. I never paid it b/c we were moving to California, but the worst part was my parents passed me and saw that I'd been pulled over. I even told the officer, "It's not the ticket that bothers me, I knew I was busted, but see that car that just went by? Those were my parents!" The cop actually felt bad about it. And yes, I sure did hear about it from my mom when I got back to the Cape too: "I knew you were speeding. You shouldn't have been speeding. See what happens when you speed? You got caught. By the cops and us." To this day she's paranoid that my license will be revoked b/c I blew off paying the ticket.

So I hope you find helpful for your travels too.

February 16, 2008

Under the weather

The creepin' crud seems to be going around up here big time. My coworker has been really sick for the past 3 weeks with what sounds like bronchitus or pneumonia. Then on Monday, my poor boss barfed all over himself in his car on the way home. No small wonder that by mid-week, I was feeling pretty crappy too. All the good of my "Xmas Holiday Pajama Vacation" is gone because the work-stress is absolutely crushing again. I've also been going through some personal mental and emotional stuff too, so overall, I've been pretty bummed out (with huge thanks to Julie, Liz, Michelle, Bobbie and Sharon for your love and support).

We canceled the trip to Long Beach for this weekend b/c Brian was unable to get away and he has a business trip to Oregon next week that he's not looking forward to. For some reason, they always send him down there on a Thursday so that he's stuck coming thru Portland, Olympia and Tacoma in Friday rush hour traffic. It's just as well. I was really upset at first, but now, being sick, the last place I need to be is on a cold, windy beach.

When Brian got home on Thursday night, he was feeling a bit ganged-up on because he works w/ all women and they gave him a really hard time about the fact that we don't observe Valentines Day. His boss gave him the "stink eye" when she overheard him tell one of the women that he didn't get me anything, nor did I get anything for him. They kept saying to him that a "woman doesn't really mean that she doesn't want anything for V-Day" and he "should have at least gotten me a card". I mean, it was so bad that he actually asked me if I could shoot one of the women an email to assure them of our arrangement!!

We used to observe V-Day when we first got married, but eventually, we decided to phase it out because for one thing, he and I go all out with presents for each other's birthdays and Xmas. Cards are ridiculously expensive. We say "I love you" every day, so we don't need a $5 card to say it again. Flowers, which are also expensive, die after a few days. I have a ton of stuffed animals, and I don't need a box of candy in the house to tempt me. We don't observe our anniversary either, other than to say, "Happy Anniversary" and sometimes we'll go out to eat.

What I came to realize a long time ago is that it's the little things during the year that count and mean more than a manufactured holiday that guilt trips men, and women, into spending copious amounts of money to fill the coffers of Hallmark, FTD or the jewelry companies which have resurrected their stupid "He went to Jared" and "give her the gift she REALLY wants: DIAMONDS!!!!" commercials for Valentines Day.

You know what means the world to me? When Brian goes to DQ to get a burger for himself, and brings back an oreo cookie ice cream blizzard treat for me. Or if he goes to the store and brings me back a candy bar. Or if he goes somewhere else and sees something he'd think I'd like & gets it for me. That means he's thinking of me. Or if he's not feeling well or having a tough week and I buy him a DVD or book that he's wanted, or I see something he'd like at the antique show or during my travels. Without being prompted by some stupid guilt-trip commerical or minor holiday. I'm sure there are many women out there who only receive gifts for V-Day. I'm one of the lucky ones. Brian and I give each other little gifts all the time, and that means far more to me than a card and flowers on Valentines Day.

And that leads up to the massive surprise I got from him yesterday. For the past few weeks, I was having a super difficult time and in tears a lot. Some time last week, Brian said, "There are 2 packages coming to the house and I don't want you to look at them. Just leave them on the porch and I'll take care of it. It's an extra-special present for you." I said, "For the holidays or for now?" and he said, "For now." I couldn't imagine what it could be. I wracked my brain for something I might have said but nothing came to mind.

Yesterday, I'd had a dr. appt. and she told me I had a low grade fever and I should go home and rest. I went back to work for an hour and then I came home. While home, I saw the UPS driver stop at the street and haul a very large, but clearly light, box up our driveway and leave it on the porch. To say my curiosity was piqued is an understatement. What in the world......?!! After Brian came home and listened to Damien's BTR show from 5-6, he hauled the box in and let me open it.

Imagine my utter shock to find he'd bought me:

Yes, it's a high quality electronic drum kit. I was not only completely surprised but absolutely delighted at his thoughtfulness!!!

You see, I am a frustrated drummer. When I was in the 3rd grade and my elementary school was recruiting children to start band, I begged my parents to let me get the drum pad and learn drums. My mother said, "Absolutely not. It's not lady-like to play the drums." Throughout the years, I pestered and begged....I knew I would be a great drummer, but always was rebuffed with that same excuse. Yes, because I was already so "ladylike" as it was. I hated wearing dresses, I spent my summers running around in a cowboy hat and cap gun and my winters exploring the woods and building forts. Personally, I think my mom didn't want to listen to the noise and she was afraid that I'd bug the neighbors if they'd put a drum kit in one of the other buildings on their property. By that point, I'd already been drumming along to my Partridge Family records, using coffee cans and other items. I was good at it and I knew if I could just take drum lessons, I'd be really good. It's the one musical instrument I knew I would be able to play. My ethnic background is Italian/Portuguese and I have rhythm in my genes. Anyone who knew my dad, knew what a fantastic entertainer he was: Singing in the chorus and solo's in the annual Sandwich Lions Club Minstrel Show, or playing the organ and singing for my parents' many parties.


In fact, it's gotten to be somewhat of a running sardonic joke between my mom and I, about the drumming. She'll say, "Yes, Yes, I know: You will never forgive me for not letting you take drums". And it's true. Instead of encouraging my interest, she shot me down. I was what, 8? 9? It's not like I dropped the subject; my pestering about learning drums continued on into high school. So I would sit in my dark bedroom at night, air-drumming along with all my records, crushed that I'd never get to try it myself. The drums are always the first thing I pick out in a song. I'll often learn all the drum parts long before I learn the lyrics. Once I got out of college, I just figured that I was too old to learn so I never bothered to take lessons when I went out on my own.

So alas, since 1973, I have been a frustrated drummer, playing my steering wheel or my "air drum kit". When I asked Brian what made him get me this b/c it was so out of the blue, he told me that he thought about getting me a drum kit years ago and had looked into it, but never found one he thought would be good. But then the other day, when I was sad, I mentioned forelornly, "Julie takes drum lessons" and that put the idea in his head, that if she's taking lessons, then why shouldn't I? Who says I'm too old to learn? I mean, besides me of venture into banjo lessons in 1996 was a flop b/c I learned the practice piece upside down and backwards......
I love drummers. Always have. Mickey Hart, Billy Kreutzman, Bev Bevan, Gene Krupa, Simon Crowe.....and let's not forget the massive crush I had on Lou Cataldo when I was in high school, drummer for the Cape Cod punk band The FreeZe. Ever hear the entire 7+ minute version of Benny Goodman's "Sing Sing Sing" with Gene Krupa? It's amazing.
The one time I got to play "drums" onstage was back in college, when I was in a lip synch contest. I convinced our friends to do AC/DC's "Shoot to Thrill" and for that one night, I was "drumming" onstage, even though there was no real kit in front of me. Fil stole the show, dressed up as Angus, running around the stage playing air guitar like a maniac....boy did we have fun. It was such a rush.
Even last night when I got the sticks in my hands, I started drumming in my lap and Brian told me that even doing that little bit, he can see that I have the rhythm & skill, I just need to be pointed in the right direction, so maybe I will try to find someone to give me drum lessons.
I just wish that Madi, our other resident drummer besides Julie, could also check in here to see my kit, but alas, she's off to London today to begin the next chapter in her life. I even said that to Brian last night, how I wished Madi could see what he got me!
So a big fat loving THANK YOU to my wonderful hubby for such a thoughtful gift. Wish me luck, guys, cause I'm going for it.

February 12, 2008

Enough is Enough

Photo by Cynthia Burnett of First & Last Chance Espresso, Skykomish, Hwy. 2, Washington. Courtesy KING-5 Weatherpix.

I wish we were getting some of the snow they got in the Cascades over the past 2 weeks. The plow operators have run out of places to pile the snow. Avalanches, or avalance control work, continue to close the passes intermittently every day. At one point last week, all 4 east/west routes thru the mountains were shut down for a few days. People were stuck on either side of the state waiting to cross, or forced to take a 500 mile detour, down into Oregon and along the Columbia River to access either side of the mountains. Personally, I would prefer to be on the road driving then stuck for days, waiting for the roads to open. In a cruel twist of fate, the ski resorts at Snoqualmie and Stevens Passes are having a bumper crop of new snow, but no one can get there. Now all we need is another warm "pineapple express" storm to blow up from Hawai'i, then the snow will melt all at once and we'll have catastrophic flooding. Oh but there's no climate change, not at all.

February 5, 2008

Antique Show Finds

It's official....I need a larger house to accomodate everything I want to buy when I go to the antique show. Ah well. Can't afford a larger house so I guess I just have to browse and not buy...much, anyway.

Got this for our friends Donnie & Mike, who bought their first house in SF together last year. Donnie used to live in Haight Ashbury and we went to the most amazing garden parties behind his building. I'll blog about that someday; his garden was really something to behold. One of the first things I started collecting, besides marbles, was postcards. I'm extremely picky, so although there is a glut of old postcards on the market, I don't buy more than 4-6 at a time because they have to really catch my eye and be unusual.
It's surprising that in all my travels that this is the first time I ever found postcards of what SF looked like after the 1906 quake and 3-day conflagration that followed.

The tiny print on the bottom says:

"The silent sentinal among the ruins. Marie Antoinette apartments on Van Ness Ave., after the fire of April 18, 19, 20 - '06. San Francisco". The postmark is July 10, 1909 and addressed to a woman in Independence, Oregon. I can't decipher the rest of the writing on the front.

This one is postmarked 1916 and addressed to someone in Grass Valley, CA. There is writing on the card, but it doesn't appear to be English. It's possibly an Eastern European language.

"A view of the ruins of the Nob Hill district, looking up California Street, San Francisco, California after the disaster of April 18-20, 1906. Fairmont Hotel at the crest of the hill".

What amazes me is how fast SF rebuilt because there was no red tape like nowadays. 1/3 of the city was utterly destroyed, yet it was back to normal in less than 10 years. After the '89 quake, it took till 1991 before they finally got around to tearing down the raised Embarcadero double deck viaduct that had been closed since 1989.

I think these buildings were on 5th and Market. "Chronicle Mutual Savings and Call Buildings, after the fire, San Francisco, Cal."
It's so hard to get a frame of reference to where I worked at 3rd x Market because of the catastrophic damage. This card has a grocery list written in pencil on the back. Here's the list:

"Meat 25
Cream 2 cans 20
pkg noodles 10
can pepper 10
can corn 15
stamps 1.15

What is missing from this picture? I'll give you a hint: It's graceful, elegant and painted International Orange.....

"Sunset at the Golden Gate, San Francisco Bay, California"

I bought this card because I love the dreamy, ethereal quality. It's not of anything specific, it's just a pretty postcard. I was thinking about using it in a craft project, but then I read the message on the back and I think it needs to be preserved as is. Usually the sentiments on the back don't mean that much to me b/c it's usually very formal, short and of no particular interest. I'll transcribe an interesting message and put it alongside the card in my scrapbook.
This one, however, surprised me and I found it very sad. I'm transcribing it as it is written, spelling and grammar mistakes intact:

"Dear sister & all. Cant see any change in Papa only another weak. Bill seen that Dr in Grand Island & he said he could not do any thing for him. That this time was short. The rest are all well hope you are the same. good by from Maggie"

It's addressed to Mrs. Ervy Reid, Fullerton Nebraska and is postmarked "Sep. 24 1915 6 am" from a town in Nebraska too, but that part didn't stamp completely and I can't read it. It could be Acadia, or something that begins and ends in "A". (Tess? Any ideas?)

Anyways, this is the first time I've found a card with a message like that. I guess Maggie was summoned home to see her and Mrs. Reid's father who was dying. I'm guessing that, in 1915, telephones hadn't reached all the rural parts of Nebraska just yet. It's even possible that by the time Mrs. Reid received this card, her father had passed.

This is actually a tiny little license plate, about 4" x 2". It was really cheap and I wanted it for my license plate collection. It doesn't matter to me if this is really from the 50's or not, but I did ask the dealer if it was, and he said that one of the breakfast cereals put these little plates in the boxes as premiums in the 1950's and that's what this was. I was curious about the plate, however, because Alaska wasn't even a state until 1959. However, I did a little bit of online research and found other Alaska cereal premium license plates from 1953, so apparently this is the real deal.

I am a sucker for anything velvet, with beads and peacocks. I've been coveting this scarf for the past few antique shows, but never had enough $$ left over to buy it. It's not an antique, but I don't care. I don't even know what I'm going to do with it, but I had to have it.
I think the pictures will get bigger if you click on them so that you can see the gorgeous details.
I was told that this tie dyed velvet table runner dates from the 1920's. I find it hard to believe that something so 60's looking could have been done in the 20's, but again, I don't care about it's true vintage, I had to have it.
I wish this had come out better. It's a vintage beaded reticule purse from the 1920's, in midnight blue. The cobalt and turquoise glass "jewels" are contemporary. Thought they were purty.

February 4, 2008

Pet Peeve #1: Men - The Unnecessary Accessory

Ladies: When you want to go to an antique show, craft show, shopping mall, whatever, LEAVE THE MEN AT HOME!

Germs: When your wife bugs you to go with her to an antique show, craft show, shopping mall, whatever, STAY HOME!

I consider myself a seasoned veteran of these kinds of shows. I've been to antique shows, Victorian Country Christmas, Tibet Day, craft fairs, Native American pow wows, gem & jewelry shows, bead festivals, and every time it's the same damn thing. Some man, standing in the middle of the fucking aisle, looking around cluelessly, then, more often than not, turning around only to crash into the people who are trying to go around the guy. They have no spacial awareness. Then they're all, "Oh excuse me, dear, I'm so sorry". Or they stand next to their wives in tiny, narrow booths, taking up room. They stand there, chit chatting with the guy selling the antique fishin' poles, "O'yuh, O'yuh, Ah 'member back'n 'Ought-Six, we'd a-go to the fishin' hole down by t'ol rock quarry, an' use a pole juss lahke this'n." Either buy the fucking pole grampa, or move outta the fucking way.

Men: Where is your self respect? Isn't there some kind of game on TV you could be at home watching? Skiing? Hockey Night in Canada? Professional Bowling, maybe? Are you that cowed that you have to go with your wives? And if you want to go just because you like to, can you please learn spacial awareness and to not stand there like a friggin speed bump staring into space when people are trying to get around you?

Women: Why oh why do you insist on "sharing the shopping joy" with your significant others? I have only known a handful of men who actually enjoy this past-time. Most of them would much rather be home in their recliners with a beer in one hand and a remote in the other. In fact, I'm willing to bet that most of them would rather be anywhere, than shopping with you for antiques tschotkes or beads.

My father was one of the few men who enjoyed going to gift shops w/ my mom and me. Despite our telling him to be careful and not touch anything, inevitably, we'd hear a "bang" or a "crash", then the mea culpa being delivered in his distinctive West Indian accent. He'd either knocked someone over or backed into a shelf full of knick knacks. It got to be a running joke. Mom and I would find him in the store and he'd be looking at us with his silly smile. And it's not like he was a large man and could use the "I didn't see it" excuse.....he was only 5'6".

Early in our marriage, Brian agreed to go to a Native American jewelry show in San Francisco with me once. Once. He sweetly promised to buy me a pair of earrings. Well, that took a lot of thought, you know? There were tons of earrings for sale!! First, I needed to make a pass through whole the show to see what they had, and eliminate stuff I didn't like. Then I had to narrow it down to 5 or 6 pairs I really liked. Then I had to make the big decision. He finally snaps, "JUST PICK ONE FOR CRISSAKE!" and I'm like, "FINE! I'LL TAKE THESE!" From then on, it was quietly understood that I'd be going to future shows solo, so that I could take my sweet time, do things on my timetable, and he could sit home, in said recliner, with said beer and remote. It's worked out much better that way. He looks forward to seeing my purchases when I get back, I don't feel rushed because he's giving off "waves of annoyance" and everyone is much happier.

And while I'm on the subject of people taking up inordinate amounts of room, do we really need those ginormous double wide baby carriages? Who makes these things, the same people that brought you Hummers and Escalades? Could you possibly leave your youngsters at home to watch cartoons and load up on sugary cereals? Because the little kids I saw were very "I wanna go hooooooome!" and bored beyond belief.

I am thinking about going into business for myself. I will be a "Husband Event Consultant". I will teach the producers of these shows to have a whole separate room where husbands can go wait for their wives. A "Hubby Day Care", if you will. A room with a giant, flat screen TV, tuned to some kind of sporting event. Comfy recliners and couches. Male-themed decorations like sports penants, posters of Danica Patrick, and Pink Floyd. Magazines would include "GQ", "Maxim", "Sports Illustrated", "Rolling Stone", "Field & Stream", etc. There'd be Cabela's catalogs (sporting goods) and LL Bean catalogs. There would be refreshments - if the establishment is licensed to sell alcohol, then there would be beer. If not, then soft drinks & coffee drinks. Hot pretzels, hot dogs, french fries, burgers, etc. Wi-Fi would be available too. Maybe a licensed masseuse could come in and set up a chair to do free 15 minutes massages. Just something, anything to keep the men OUTTA THE GODDAMN WAY!!!

Oh the cruel, cruel irony

I'm a jewelry addict, obviously, since I make copious quantities of jewelry. But I do like to buy jewelry too. I'm particularly fond of those gorgeous stretchy-type crystal bracelets that are sometimes sold in sets of 3, or individually. I have them in many colours.

Sometime last year, I noticed that my wrists were getting really itchy, which I chalked up to dry skin. Around the same time, I noticed that I could no longer wear earrings for more than an hour w/o both ears becoming unbearably itchy, red and swollen. The last time I wore earrings was my first day in Victoria last summer, because I couldn't take the discomfort. I stopped wearing a watch and bracelets too.

Since last summer, all I've worn are necklaces. My beautiful earrings and bracelets have been collecting dust for 7 months.

On Saturday at the antique show, I bought a cobalt blue crystal, double-strand, stretch bracelet. I had to have it. I love cobalt blue. It's so sparkly and pretty!! Today, I put the bracelet on before I left work at 6:30. By 8:00, I had to take it off. What's left in it's place is a huge rash on the top part of my wrist, below my thumb, and all down the underside of my arm, about halfway to my elbow. I've slathered lotion and hydrocortisone on my arm and it's still very red with itchy welts.

It's official. I'm allergic to metal, and it's probably nickle. Even though my earwires are all "hypoallergenic" surgical steel, I found out that surgical steel contains nickle. I've always had a problem with studs, which is why I am unable to wear them. I have to wear hooks to allow the earhole to breathe. I've bought some sterling silver earwires and hopefully, if I change out the earwires on all my earrings, I'll be able to wear them again. I feel nekkid w/o my jewelry!!! Brian thinks maybe my system is overloaded on nickle from the years and years of dripping myself with jewelry every day, so I can't even wear bracelets or earrings for any amount of time. The only reason I get away w/ the necklaces is that the only metal part near my skin is the clasp....the rest of the necklaces are all beads.

But how cruel is this? An allergy to metal making it impossible for me, The Jewelry Whore, to wear jewelry? It's so very unfair.