Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturdays at the CIA

Today went a lot smoother than last time we featured Saturdays at the CIA. Today I know what is expected of me, and at what time I am supposed to do whatever it is that I am supposed to do. On the main level of the budilding,The cooking demo featured Corn beef and Potato gratin. Chef Steve does a great demo, he is quite entertaining and good about answering questions from the audience (quite the showman).Sometimes we bat it back and forth during the demo just to keep each other on our game. I run the cameras and help him with the plating of the dishes. I am grateful for the fact that I still have a job and am a valued employee where I work. I still yearn for those long hikes in Bothe State Park however, in spite of the poison oak that I have acquired. My bank account these days is slowly getting whittled down to nothing, and I was not paid for the time I took off. Unfortunately, suspensions don't count as vacations.Bah !

Friday, March 27, 2009

The forecast looks sunny for the next week. We have been having very nice weather here in Calistoga. This morning I put my house plant "Warren" to sleep. His instructions recommend that I cut back his stalk and leaves at the base of the roots. I think that he will be ready to bloom again next fall. Spring here is allergy season and yesterday I mentioned that my eyes will start itching. Well today I have discovered that I have itching on my legs and ankles. Oh no ! It's Poison Oak ! All that hiking I was doing during my time off makes me think that I must have brushed up against some small crop of poison oak. I will go by Smith's Pharmacy to pick up a bottle of Aveeno cream to keep the itching and scratching down to a bare minimun so that it can heal.The picture in this post is Warren after he bloomed. I feel sorta bad that I had to cut him down to the quick. Yah ! Well, that's about it for now folks.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Beginner's Mind

Today is sunny and bright. Spring is in the air and it is also the beginning of Allergy season. Little hints like scratchy red eyes and a little post nasal drip , along with ringing in my ears are tip offs. I take a prescription of Allegra when it really gets out of hand. I am returning to work today with what the Zen masters call "Beginner's Mind". I have an attitude of quiet anticipation of what the day will bring and I withhold judgement whenever I encounter something difficult. I ask my higher Power for guidance and direction, as I am sure it will come. Wish me luck !

Monday, March 23, 2009

Liz to the rescue l

It's only the second day of Spring, so started out fiddling on my computer restructuring my web pages and updating the colors, text, pictures and links. By 10 am I knew I had to make a call to Bob Graham to let him know that I intended to return to work on Wednesday at 9:30am ( too long a story to go into here ).By 2:30pm, I had a light lunch of Mackerel and Broccoli and head out the door to go for a hike up to Coyote Peak. I called Don, but I think he was in jewelry class at the JC today. I just wanted to get out into nature for a little P and M ( Prayer and Meditation ). When I got there, I took my jacket off and then my fleece shell I have for extra warmth off and left it on the front seat of the car. I put my jacket back on and made sure that my IPhone was in my pocket. I closed and locked the door. Two and a half hours later, after a very serene hike, I return to my car and noticed that the engine is running ! OMG!!! I left the keys in the ignition with the car running ( don't laugh this isn't the first time I have done this.) Now Luckily, it was past 5pm and I knew that my neighbor would be home, so I called Andres. He was just about to take a shower but understood my predicament and agreed to come by and pick me up. Just at that moment , my co-worker Liz comes driving up offering to take me home to get my extra set of keys. I call Andres back and thank him, but inform him that it won't be necessary for him to come and rescue me. I had a good talk with Liz and gave her one of my drawings that I thought she would like. Thankfully she did, so it made my day when she let me off to I get back into my car and drive home. Liz is a very spiritual person, and I love her way. I got home and Andres invited me over for some Barilla(?) , a Mexican chicken dish that was fabulous. For dessert we had some fresh Mango with cucumber, broccoli (second time today) drenched in lemon juice and salt. I have not tasted something this fresh and delicious in what seems like a very long time. Today, I feel very hopeful about the future, and the kindness of friends like Andres and Liz. The picture posted here is called "Skybird," and it is the one I gave to Liz.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patty's Day Hike

My friend Don Freeland and I went for our usual jaunt up to Coyote Peak today. It has been quite awhile since we have done this hike at Bothe Park. Don's wife Pat used to hike the Ritchie Creek Trail and be able to identify a great number of the plants there. Today, Don proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he received a vast botanical education from his deceased wife. It certainly opened my eyes to a host of plants I had previously overlooked. I learned about the Trifoil plant, the Stream Orchid and the California Lilac (cera something ). The Stream Orchid was very rare according to Don. He mentioned that Bothe Park was one of the few places,that it may be found. We counted about 20 of them along the trail.It really feels good to make the time to go for these brief hikes ( all in all about 2hours total ).March is a beautiful month, with winter almost over and everything looking so green. The Vernal Equinox is in four days. Today I have a lot of hope for the future in spite of the economic downturn.

Now in honor of St.Patrick's Day, my brother posted this humorous list via email...

What it means to be Irish ( I have edited a few to my liking ).

1) You will never play professional basketball.

2) You can screen strangers better than a Nazi check point.

3) At least one of your cousins is a
fireman, cop, bar owner, funeral home owner
or holds political office. And you have at least one aunt who is a nun, or uncle
who's a priest.

4) You think you sing very well, and will sing louder to prove it.

5) You have no idea how to make a long story short!

6) There isn't a big difference between you losing your temper or killing

7) Much of your childhood meals were boiled. Instant potatoes were a mortal sin.

8) You have never hit your head on a ceiling, but you are not beyond wearing lifts in your shoes to make you look taller.

9) You spent a good portion of your childhood kneeling in prayer (Catholic guilt

10)"Irish Spring" serves as soap, deodorant and mouthwash after being caught swearing.

11) Raisins were added to a Irish soda bread recipe when they couldn't figure out what else to do with them.

12) You will be punched for no good reason...but all in good fun mind you.

13) Some punches directed at you are from legacies of past generations.

14) Many of your sisters and/or cousins are named Mary, Catherine or Eileen..

15) Someone in your family is very generous. It is more than likely you.

16) You may not know the words, but that doesn't stop you from singing.

17) You can't wait for the other guy to stop talking before you start talking.

18) You're not nearly as funny as you think you are ... but what you lack in
talent, you make up for in frequency.

19) You are, or know someone, named Murph.

20) If you don't know Murph then you know Mac. If you don't know Murph or Mac
then you know Sully.

21) You are genetically incapable of keeping a secret.

22) You have Irish Alzheimer's... you forget everything but the grudges!

23) 'Irish Stew' is a euphemism for 'boiled leftovers.'

24) Your skin's ability to tan.... not so much.

25) At this very moment, you have at least two relatives who are not speaking to
each other (not fighting, mind you, just not speaking to each other)...

26) Childhood remedies for the common cold often included whiskey .

27) There's no leaving a family party without saying goodbye for at least 45



Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Keeping my chin up

Last night was cold.I went to bed around 10 PM and turned off the heat before I jumped under the cover of my down comforter. I awoke around 7:30 AM and noticed frost on the roof of the apartment next door. After taking a shower and getting dressed, I began thinking about the people that care about me and love me. It is important that I maintain my relationships with these people. I have been blessed with a host of friends, but only a handful know me as they may know their car or a house pet. I think more people "know of" me rather than know me. I am okay with this, because I too, try to respect people's privacy and personal space. Yesterday, I had put my plant, "Warren" outside for some sunshine and fresh air. I regret to tell you that I left him outside overnight in the cold. I think the frost almost killed him. I forgot to bring him back in after sunset. This situation has caused me much grief and stress. It seemed to be an apt metaphor for how my life has been going lately. I gave Warren a few eyedrops of plant vitamins and propped him up next to the window as the sun shone through.Eventually, his leaves began to straighten out, as did his long stem and bud. However, he is not out of the woods just yet. As you can see by the picture I put a neck splint on him because his head fell over . All of this has made me hopeful that I can still bring him back to life.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The electric plant

Another day spent drawing. Today I drew a picture of a plant that was given to me by a very sweet person I who happens to be one of my co-workers. She was one of only a handful of people who thought enough to send me well wishes with a plant when I was out during the month of December. The plant is really starting to grow big now. It seems to let me know when it wants to be outside and when it needs a little drink of water. I am going to try to take good care of it, because my history demonstrates otherwise. I have had a cactus die on me. This is not going to happen to Warren. There, I have given the plant a name. The drawing shows a lot of red and purple energy around it because those are the colors that seems to be around me these days.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A New Drawing

I've been off the last couple of days and the weather has been mostly cloudy. It's nice to sit at my drawing table, listen to music and create. The image attached to this blog entry is an interpretation of a Alphonse Mucha drawing that was popular during the Art Nouveau Era.It started out looking mostly like a drawing of a young girl, but as the drawing progressed it took on a more Androgynous look.I like using soft leaded color pencils to draw on a dark textured background. The results have a museum quality feel about them.