Sunday, October 01, 2006

It's October!

My Favorite Time Of Year

I'm celebrating with a new look to my blog thanks to Newt of Newt's Muse who has been providing a few of us with some of her beautiful designs. Check out Kell's new look at 'Tis Herself and Jay's Llama header at Cynical Bastard to get a flavor of her work. My new leaf design is perfect for the start of Fall. She assumed I knew how to get her banner into my blog header.... A FEW DAYS later I finally managed it!


Some Witch Lore To Start The Season

I was introduced to Liquore Strega when I was seeing a very tall, handsome Sicilian many years ago. He loved to have a sip of this after dinner when we were at his favorite restaurant. The bottle is so pretty I've kept it on display for 10 years and the liquid has lost it's intense yellow color. Strega is Italian for witch. It's made with 70 herbs and barks topped off with saffron to give it the yellow color. Liquore Strega has been made in Benevento, Italy since the 1800's. It's said couples who drink it together will remain united in love forever (unfortunately not in my case - we were both in love with him).

The walnut witches (not kidding here) of Benevento were a very powerful group of women who survived the Inquisition. Legend says they danced around a huge walnut tree that never lost it's leaves and produced walnuts which were used as amulets and talismans.

If you look closely at the label you can see those cute little walnut witches dancing under the magic walnut tree with the crone, her broom and a cat in the moon above.

30 more days till Halloween!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Coming To A PBS Station Near You!

Saz Walking The Dog - My Vlogging Experiment

It's been a week of camera/video/computer/vlogging trouble as I tried to copy (once again) Claude at Blogging In Paris as she has learned to add her elegant voice to slideshows of her travels. Ain't been easy let me tell you. I purchased the wrong card reader for my digital camera then when I got the correct one I spent an entire evening trying to upload the video to Google videos. It was loading and loading and loading for 4 hours before I figured it wasn't going to happen. I knew I was ok with the video size but reading further I found out I needed broadband for Google. So on to YouTube. Loading this short video took about an hour with my dialup connection speed. Once I copied the HTML code from YouTube to put in my post I published and darn it if it didn't look funny...too big and lapping over into my links. Claude sent a quick email with some HTML coding she thought would help but I couldn't get it to work. It probably would have worked if I knew what I was doing with HTML! My last resort was to search for some help on the web about embedding videos on a web page and I found size parameters that worked. I'm sure that was the essence of Claude's helpful email but I was too dumb to figure it out.

And pardon my "breathiness" and the "umms" as I had poop bags, cell phone and leash in one hand and camera in the other at the end of our hot day walk. It's a wonder I could talk at all.

It's been fun to hear Roger sing at There's Always Something and of course I loved hearing Claude's beautiful voice in her last 2 Vlogs. I also copied Peggy walking her dog Polly over at Day to Day Life Of A Lazy Gardener and Dear Lucy in Japan at I'm Trying To Improve My English. Not to mention copying the Diva of I Can't Open It fame - Millie Garfield! It would be a treat to hear Alan sing Yellow Bird at Some Final Thoughts...and as for the rest of you....I would love to see your videos and hear your voices!

So all this vlogging trouble has meant I'm once again behind in reading your blogs.

I tag all of you for a VLOG POST.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Behind In My Blog Reading

I've missed reading all your blogs for the last few days. Blog reading is good for my mind and good for my blood pressure. I'm supposed to be monitoring my blood pressure and guess what - if I take it right after reading your blogs I'm always in the "optimal" zone!

And in other health related news....I had an acupuncture appointment Friday in a last ditch effort to keep my gallbladder. I didn't have much hope it would work but at $85 for the hour it was worth a try.

The night before I checked an acupuncture site and couldn't believe the diagram showing all the places they would put needles. Now I know that diagram was correct!

The first half hour I was on my back with a heat lamp on my feet as she put the needles in. There was no pain and no bad sensations. She started removing them at the end of a half hour and then had me turn over (like a stuck pig) and she started needles on my back - some in the scalp and shoulder area. At the end of the session I rested on the table for about 5 minutes and almost went to sleep I was so relaxed.

I still have some small "travel" pins in several places that are half the size of the others and held in place by tape. They stay on until I see her again this Friday. I was told I might feel very tired for a day or have a burst of energy. Well I'm here to tell you I haven't had so much energy in years! I cleaned and tossed stuff all weekend. When I walked the dog on Saturday I had an incredible sense of well being. There were also immediate changes in physical symptoms. I'm not sure if it's the "placebo" effect and all in my head but I don't think so...


Took this picture of Gwyn on our walk....she's 13+ ....gray around the muzzle like me.


There's a HUGE mansion behind this big gate. They always decorate the entrance for different seasonal stuff. It's in the shade and hard to see but it says "Back To School" then "Nooooooooooo!" I hope I can get a better picture of their Halloween decorations.


And now on to your blogs....the best part of my evening!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Thinker

Job Related Stuff

Chelle P at Fickle and Whim mentioned (a long time ago) how she likes to see pictures of where fellow bloggers live. When she reads their posts she can imagine where they are. So here's a few photos of where I work.

This is the view from the narrow road on the way to my job. It's typical of the dry California meadows and oak trees at the end of summer. We frequently see deer, rabbits, heron, squirrels and quail on this road. Infrequently we have bobcat sightings and once in a great while a warning that there are mountain lions in the area.

This is the entrance to the building which was built in the early 50's. It's a think tank where thinkers come to think. How's that for a description? They're here for an academic year and this last Sunday was our opening reception for the current crop of fellows.

The incredible view from our hill.

Opening reception goodies

More goodies. The rest of my food pics didn't come out well so you'll have to imagine plates and plates of food as well as a "drink" table loaded with bottles of wine, soft drinks and water.

The real reason we work here....Charley the office cat hanging out in my in basket.

I was lucky to find this part time receptionist job after I retired from Pacific Bell. Academics come from all over the world to this special place. I've been star-struck over more than a few of them. I continue to think it's a magical place to hang out for 4 hours a day.

The road home....

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

My Piano Teacher

Laura Ellen Winsor

My mom had great hopes that one of her children would be able to play the piano adequately and I was her last best hope.

You know what happens with the youngest child, you're either too tired or become very crafty about how to get them to do what you want. With me she enticed me by offering either ballet or piano lessons with much more emphasis on the piano. It was all up to me of course. Then she would tell me ballet would benefit me only for so long BUT THE PIANO would be something I would appreciate my entire life. She was right but not necessarily the way she envisioned.

I started lessons when I was about 7 years old and it was apparent to both Mrs. Winsor and me that I wasn't a prodigy nor would I be very good. What I loved about the lessons was listening to her talk about her life in Europe before the war. She attended school in Paris and played concerts there. I couldn't get enough of her stories.

Once a week I would come after school and sit in her dining room until she finished with the pupil before me. Her Steinway grand piano had an embroidered spanish shawl draped over the back of it. It sat in the second story bay window of her house on Randolph Street in San Francisco. Mrs Winsor was always in a formal dress with a rhinestone brooch. She never got up from her chair due to hip trouble and could barely walk but she sat next to the piano bench and looked like a queen. Her hair was red and I'm sure "touched up" and her hands were very large and gnarled. I always loved it when she would demonstrate how to play something. It wasn't easy for her to move herself over to the piano bench but when she played...the piano shook and the house vibrated.

She wrote three books published by her husband and all three books were about death and reincarnation. She was "New Age" before anyone ever heard of the term. And of course this was what I would spend my lesson time talking to her about. She also gave me dandy tips on how to properly cleanse my face and how to use ice cubes to close my pores and make my cheeks rosy.

My mom would come to pick me up and park in front of the house where she could see me at the piano. Most of the time when I got in the car I would get a lecture that went something like "I don't pay $10 an hour for you to sit and talk during your lesson!"

I think I had to play in two of Mrs. Winsor's recitals before I figured out how to get out of them. The recitals were always in June so I would take a break from lessons starting in May and go back in the Fall. For some reason my mom never questioned this. She was just so glad I wanted to try the piano she put up with my excuses.

What I learned from those lessons was classical music makes my heart sing. I learned that elder women have fascinating stories to tell and much wisdom to share. I learned that death may not be the end.

The last time I saw her was probably 42 years ago. I don't know when she died or what her life was like as she grew old. I only know that she had a powerful impact on me and I still think about her with gratitude for all the gifts she gave me.

Sorry the scanned picture is so poor. It came from one of her books and my scanner isn't that great...or is it me? I'm about as talented with the scanner as I am at the piano.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Meet Smokey

My African Grey Smarty Pants

I was out with a small group of friends the other night telling stories about Smokey and realized "Smokey" stories tend to be good ice breakers at parties. People are always charmed by and interested in talking parrots. Then I thought not only are the stories great for awkward social moments but are a rich source of blogging material!

Like all the pets I have now, Smokey came to me from other owners. I already had a cocker spaniel, amazon parrot and a cockatiel when a friend found out he was allergic to Smokey. He got him from an ad in the paper. A family with kids needed to find a home for him since the kids terrified the bird and he was pulling out his feathers. He was almost completely bald when Dennis saved him from that situation. It was 3 months later when Dennis sadly had to give him up and I just couldn't stand seeing him go to a pet store. I've lost track of how long I've had him but it's well over 10 years.

The first week I had him I woke in the middle of the night to a deep man's voice in the livingroom saying "hello - hello" then a sound which I choose to think is a burp but other people think it's another even less sociable sound. I flew out of bed thinking someone had broken in then realized the voice and sound were coming from the covered cage.

That same week he watched me give meds to the cocker and by the end of the week when I picked up the bottle he said in my voice "come here - c'mon". As the dog swallowed the drops Smokey said "good girl" exactly like me! I honestly couldn't believe what I heard but from that moment on he never failed to say it when he saw the medicine bottle come out.

I've lost track of everything he says. The words I try to get him to say he never will pick up but he'll always try out what he hears me say to the other animals.

When I'm home I do have a favorite swear word I'm sure would shock people who look at my white hair and think it's not possible I use it. It's the "F" word and I say it with great gusto when I'm alone and watching the political news on TV. One day I heard Smoke trying to form a new word and couldn't figure out what it was but it was becoming clearer as he kept practicing. It finally dawned on me it was THAT word. Thank god he stopped trying when I stopped using it - I had visions of guests listening to the "burp" sound followed by the "F" word.

Smokey has a built in earthquake meter. If he falls off his perch and starts fluttering at the bottom of the cage I know he's felt an earthquake somewhere in California. The first time it happened it was the exact moment of the Northridge quake in southern California and we're up here in the north. Since then I always note the time and after he's calmed down I look up the US Geological Survey site to see where there was an earthquake. He's tracked with an earthquake every single time...if only he could give me a clue BEFORE the quake hits!

At night when I feed the birds before bedtime he will finish his meal first and start quietly saying "good night" because he wants to be covered and have the lights out. When I don't react "good night" gets progressively louder until he finally lets out a blood curdling scream to get my attention. There are moments I know he's smarter than I am......

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Weather Update For Milt of Milt's Muse

San Francisco Bay Area Weather Report

And A Perfect Yellow Rose For Milt

Milt - We miss the weather report from Idaho so I'm following Ronni's, Claude's , Peggy's , Joy's, Joared's, Terri's, Gerbera Daisy Duke's (in Terri's comments), Millie's, J-Funk's and Mop's lead by giving you the weather report from the lovely San Francisco Bay area.

It's clear and sunny here after a cool night. I can feel a little Fall in the air but it looks like it will be a perfect day.

Since I can't leave comments on your blog I decided I would post my good wishes for you on my blog and tell you how much we miss that darn weather report from Idaho!

Hopefully your fans in Blogdom will post their weather reports for you too.

Thinking good thoughts for you Milt..........