Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Classic Introvert

A while back, Jim mentioned an occasion of attending a friend's BBQ and mostly keeping to himself at the party which bothered him not one bit (but probably made the hostess think otherwise). While I do believe that we humans are social creatures by nature and require a social network in order to be healthy (hello blogging ;-), there is no doubt that some of us are more social than others. Jim suggested that the difference between an introvert and an extrovert was defined more by the source from which we draw our energy than by our actual behavior. I agree. To meet Jim in real life, he is nothing but a friendly, well socialized, compassionate and interesting human being, but as he pointed out, social situations suck the energy right out. While an extrovert thrives on social interaction, an introvert's source of energy is drawn from within.

All that to say I am not excited about the activities that my husband has lined up for us this evening. My husband is the classic extrovert. He makes new friends very easily. He gets on the phone every Sunday and calls all of his family in The Old Country. And he makes plans to meet up with friends and families whenever he can, like this evening.

A while back, I mentioned our first trip to the Irish Pub where we enjoyed listening to a local Irish musician, Bob Reeder. Due to the crowded conditions in the pub and the friendly nature of the Irish, we ended up sitting at a table with two guys that my husband quickly befriended. We have since seen these guys at the pub a couple of times and went to see the Red Elvises with one of them (and his wife).

We also met an engaged couple that same first evening at the pub...he was living in England at the time (and he got up to sing a song when invited by Bob to do so, as a bridge of alliance between the Irish and the was hilarious and fun to watch them singing a John Denver duo together), and she lived not far from us. Since that first meeting, we have attended their wedding (which they held at the pub)...he moved from England for the occasion. It was an odd wedding in that most people at the wedding had never met each other and there were few family members there. As the groom later filled us in, they all "knew" each other via an internet forum for ex-Jehovah's Witnesses. Some had come a long way to be there for the couple, so clearly they felt close. Needless to say, my husband and I didn't have a lot in common with anyone there and frankly, I wasn't much in the mood for forging new friendships when the alternative of sitting by myself and listening to a wonderful little Irish trio presented itself. So that is what I did...I sat by myself (on the dancefloor, no less, because that is where the empty chairs were) and my husband made the rounds talking to people. Eventually, he found a woman whom he thought I would like to meet and brought her to me. I have to confess that in the end, I enjoyed talking to her (she flew all the way from Calif to be at the wedding and was originally from New Zealand...she loved travel and that is what we talked about), but my first thought and what I wanted to say to my husband when I saw him approaching with a new friend for me was "leave me alone...I'm enjoying the music and don't need someone to talk to...I'm fine...really!" I have no problem being alone. I like traveling alone. I don't mind eating at restaurants or going to movies alone. It is not a negative in my book, it is a source of renewable energy.

So tonight? We're taking the new bride and groom to dinner first and then to the pub where we will also meet the two guys (the tattoo artist and carpet salesman) and maybe their wives. Which means I have to put on my happy face and try not to act like I would rather be home alone reading a book. At least the music will be good. And truthfully, these are good people. I just need to relax.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Blogathon 2007

I know I've been sparse around these parts lately, but I do hope that those of you who are still stopping by and who may not have already done so will consider supporting a few very good causes (and a few bloggers in their Wild & Crazy efforts to support those causes) by making a pledge. You can make as many pledges as you like over at, but in particular, please do consider these fine (and did I mention Crazy?!?) people. :-)

Jimmy at Sticky Doorknobs (blogging by his other blog name My West Texas) will not only blog for 24 hours straight but will do so from a 30-foot high bucket in the local grocery store's parking lot!! You gotta admit this meets the definition of Crazy and Jimmy is as nice as they come, so please help him out here.

Updated to post this photo from Jimmy's website...Live From Midland, TX:

Julie at Lone Prairie Blog has been playing it low key but is once again sure to dazzle us with her artistic genius.

Updated to share what I mean by "genius"...go check out Julie's latest in the saga of Bob (every post, each post a new chapter in a short story, is accompanied by her own set creations like this one). Fantastic!

Jaynee at Cootiehog is not only blogging but also monitoring (and assisting) the other bloggers as a monitor, all the while raising 2 young kids and taking care of her husband.

Did I miss anyone?

I can't seem to find the energy to post but once a week, let alone once every half hour for 24 hours straight, so I will not be participating in the strictest sense. I will however check in on those who are "playing" to give them my support through the night. I hope you will do the same. And making a pledge is easy...go here and sort the list alphabetically to find the blogs you wish to sponsor.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Weekend Randomness

I now own a camera phone. I never intended to, but when replacing our daughter's lost phone, I agreed to give her my old phone and I would take advantage of the free upgrade to whatever phone that might be (the one who loses her phone gets the old crappy phone...that's how the family plan works, right?). I was surprised to learn that the free upgrade was a RAZR camera phone (which our daughter thought was quite cool and tried unsuccessfully begging for it...she even had to show me how to use it). So, armed with a new camera phone and a new set of nails, I took my first snapshot (ahem...blame Eric).

Without a flash, the camera phone is mostly useless, but I'm sure it will come in handy for capturing special blogging fodder. Also, while the phone was completely free, the only way to transfer the photos to my PC was to pay $30 for a special USB cable and driver software. But that seemed more palatable than paying monthly internet access fees for the cell phone. I still haven't bought into all the functionalities offered by the new generation of combination cell phones/MP3s/PDAs.

And in other technology news, I just returned from a trip to the Geek Squad at Best Buy to inquire about the lack of sound (again) on my year-old computer. Last time I lost sound, it turned out to be a faulty mother board. I fully expected to learn that the mother board needed replacing again and that I would be without my computer for a couple weeks. I prepared myself by backing up the entire hard drive and toted my computer off to the Geeks. After a good thorough search of the computer's settings, the Geek felt around the outside of the computer and laid his hands on, what was that? A volume control dial? You mean, like in the old days?!? *cough* *mutter-mumble* Oh, that. Yes, I see. So if I just roll it under my finger like this, the sound goes up and down? Okay, thank you very much. I'm sure glad I paid for the 3 year "service" plan. What a dork. 8-}

And in entertainment news, we once again went to Knuckleheads last night, this time to see the great double-necked-guitarist Junior Brown. The top part of the guitar is a normal 6-string guitar; the lower half is a steel slide guitar, normally played on one's lap. You might recognize his voice as the narrator in the Dukes of Hazzard film, or the soundtrack of Me, Myself & Irene or Spongebob Squarepants. I hadn't heard much about him but the show was sold out and we enjoyed the show. He has a great voice and I can't say I've ever seen anything quite like the "guit-steel." I tried to use my new phone's video capabilities to capture a moment to share, but this is all I got. The sound bites on iTunes or Amazon are much better.

And last but not least, I still don't own any of the Harry Potter books. But I'll be eager to learn whether Harry dies or not. Just because...

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

"Aim at Heaven and You Will Get Earth Thrown In"

From today's GodIssues.Org article comes a great quote from one of my favorite books of all time, by the great C.S. Lewis:

"If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth 'thrown in': aim at earth and you will get neither. It seems a strange rule, but something like it can be seen at work in other matters. Health is a great blessing, but the moment you make health one of your main, direct objects you start becoming a crank and imagining there is something wrong with you. You are likely to get health provided you want other things more--food, games, work, fun, open air. In the same way, we shall never save civilisation as long as civilisation is our main object. We must learn to want something else even more." (Mere Christianity [New York: Macmillan, 1960] 118-9).


Looking Pretty

So I decided to "have my nails done" if I am going to actually wear the beautiful new ring that my husband gave me for my birthday. I'm not a very high maintenance girl ("girl" being a very loose term...just roll with me, please) and my nails are usually the least of my worries. Hair is you can see from the pictures, my solution to hair problems is usually a hat, and/or a ponytail. Works for me. To make a long boring story short, I am now officially disabled. I told the gal they needed to be "short." They may be short by manicurist standards, but they are definitely getting in my way even as I type this short post. I can't zip my pants. I can't open my Diet Coke. I can't put on my charm bracelet without help. And I can't run my 10-key. All I can do now is work as a hand model. So this is the price of looking pretty. That and the $30 it cost to pay off the person who did this to me. Hrmph.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

What's Your State's Dinosaur?

I just learned something new today.

A while back, Eric posted about various State Symbols but what I didn't realize at the time is that my own state of Missouri has more State symbols than any other state. Among them, the official State Dinosaur. And it's not a politician. ;-)

We also have a State Grape, a State Aquatic Animal, and a State Tree Nut. As opposed to just a State Nut.

This is why I claim to be from Kansas (even though I currently reside just across the state line, in Missouri), a much more down-to-earth state (pardon the pun) and home of the Harney Silt Loam (aka the State Dirt).


Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Birthday Celebration

*Warning* Long, boring, self-indulgent travelogue follows...

I don't often celebrate my birthday in a big way, but this year felt special, being 7-7-07 and all. :-) During my last trip to El Un-Del-Del, I turned up a couple of nice liveaboard sailboats. I knew I needed to get MBH out there to see them. So about a week beforehand, we began making "plans" to do double MBH the sailboats and celebrate my birthday in San Diego. He lined up some workers to cover him while he was out of town for 3 days and I went on Priceline to get us a cheap hotel (the Sheraton in downtown San Diego took our lowball offer...but wait...even though we paid for 2 nights at the Sheraton, we never used them...Priceline is great until you start changing your "plans").

What God had planned for me was much more fun than just a couple nights in San Diego. If you let Him, He will show you a good time. Really. Here's how it unfolded...

A call to my mother before we left revealed that she was going to be in the area for a jury selection of National Watercolor Society awards (although San Pedro is 2 hours north of San Diego, it's much closer than the 2,000 miles we live apart from each other, so a detour to San Pedro Friday night for dinner with Mom seemed in order). Dinner with Mom turned into spending the night in San Pedro instead of driving back to San Diego late at night (but we couldn't get a refund of our San Diego the small print on Priceline's policies), so we reserved another room in San Pedro for Friday night.

Spending the night in San Pedro turned into "hey, why don't we take a ferry to Catalina Island on Saturday and return to San Diego after that?" I had never been to Catalina and it sounded like the perfect "exotic" getaway without the hassles of going to Mexico (an idea we had discussed but nixed due to rumors of long lines crossing the border on weekends) for "my special day." So we bought tickets for the 6:15 am departure for the island on Saturday, my birthday.

Our non-stop on-time flight to San Diego arrived early Friday morning and we went to look at the first of two boats we planned to see. On second viewing, it didn't appeal to me nearly as much and we decided we could not live aboard comfortably. We decided to do a bit of sightseeing and then drive up to San Pedro. Weather was sunny, breezy, 75 degrees, perfect. On the drive up, I decided to check my messages at the office because the day before, I had been asked to join an "important" conference call re: a business acquisition. Since I was on a plane at the time of the conference call, I had to decline but told them I would check in later in the day...big mistake. I spent the next hour driving through L.A. traffic with one hand on the wheel and one on my cell phone, negotiating nit-picky details of a contract, while my husband tried to navigate us to the hotel in San Pedro. Have I ever mentioned that I despise the phone? I especially despise cell phones, and I really hate the freeways of Los Angeles, even when I have two hands available. My husband hates city driving even more than I do so I was voted "driver of the day." Nerves rattled and knuckles white, I finally lost my patience and the cell phone went "dead" for the last time. From that point on, we had a marvelous time...

When we hit San Pedro, we headed straight for the pier...

San Pedro Pier

Where we enjoyed...

Snacks (ceviche & baby octopi)!

And later, dinner with Mom accompanied by some live music, including a bluesy jam session with "Chris Morrison" (alleged son of Jim Morrison...given what I have since found on the internet, I am not convinced, but the music was good for the most part, once we moved away from the speakers a bit, and Chris was entertaining anyway...they pulled off a very good version of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida)...

Dinner (& Music) With Mom

My birthday started after only a few hours of sleep at 4:15 am. I am not a morning person! At the front desk, we asked for directions to the ferry landing and also a map. The desk clerk told us, in broken Indian-English, that we didn't need no map, his verbal directions were very seemple and all that we would need. I pressed him for a map (I love maps), but was not successful..."no map for you!" We tried to remember all of the turns and bridges and landmarks he had given us and managed to feel our way to the ferry landing in time to board our boat at 6:00 am, grumbling all the while that we should have reserved the 8:30 boat instead. But on board the boat, we "accidentally" entered the Commodore Lounge and were treated to free cocktails (at 6:30 in the morning...gak). We ordered Mimosas. What the heck? It was MY BIRTHDAY! Heh. I was going to milk this for all it was worth. When we arrived on Catalina an hour later, it was overcast and still a bit dusky (and quiet)...

Catalina Island (early morning)

And there was no line yet for Joe's, which is where we went straight away for the world's best breakfast. Joe's is a classic diner where we sat on swivel stools at the bar and ordered corned beef hash and eggs and hash browns and a side of bacon and Portuguese sausage and coffee, lots of coffee, and english muffins. What a great way to start MY BIRTHDAY!

The Line at Joes

After breakfast, we walked around town and out on the pier (where I noticed a kiosk with internet access for rent...I toyed with the idea of posting a special blog entry from the pier but instead, kept on walking...a decision that will no doubt haunt me forever) and wandered into a few stores that were open (where my husband bought me a silver bracelet with 7 charms representing Catalina Island, for my birthday)...

And laughed at all the golf carts tooling about the island...

By late morning, we were at this little snack bar on the beach at the far end of town, for ceviche and a margarita (what?! yes, well, it is my birthday afterall)...

Catalina (late morning)

After more strolling about, we put our clothes in a locker, changed into our bathing suits, rented snorkeling equipment and headed for the beach (only not this beach...the other beach, where the snorkeling is better...there will be no pictures of us in our swim suits or snorkeling gear ;-)...

Catalina Island (late afternoon)

After snorkeling, we found a community shower near these birds of prey and cleaned up for dinner...

Which One is Not Like the Others?

Throughout the day, we witnessed 5 weddings in various stages of progress (there were 12 scheduled on the island that day)...

One of Many 7/7/07 Weddings on Catalina

All dressed up for dinner...

Avalon Promenade (& Casino)

And then, accompanied by a bottle of Pinot Grigio, mmm...

Birthday Dinner

Shortly after dinner, we boarded the ferry back to the mainland and the sun was just beginning to set. Also, the fog was returning and Catalina was once again enshrouded in hazy, grey skies...

Leaving Catalina

And this concluded what will always be remembered as one of the happiest days of my life. It was completely relaxing and free of any thoughts related to work or responsibilities. It was full of indulgences and quality time spent with my husband. Quite simply, we had a blast. It was just Enough.

We landed back in San Pedro at about 8:30 pm and drove the 2 hours back to San Diego. We went straight to the Sheraton where we had paid for two nights, and checked in. Only, they had re-sold our room! Yep. Since we never picked up our keys the day before (although we DID check in because we wanted to prevent exactly this sort of thing from happening...they just didn't have a room ready yet). After much bickering with the desk clerk who tried unsuccessfully to explain how it is that they could re-sell a room we paid for, her manager agreed to put us up in a "partner" hotel down the street. They drove us over to a quaint bed and breakfast where we enjoyed a very restful and romantic evening, ignoring the slight hiccup at the end of my near perfect birthday.

We woke up early Sunday morning, wandered around a small farmer's market going on outside of the hotel, enjoyed the most fantabulous savory crepes (filled with eggs, bacon, cheese, tomatoes, guacamole, and spinach), and then went to look at the 2nd boat, which turned out to be a perfect fit for both of us. We haven't committed to an offer yet, but are working on the logistics surrounding the reality of pulling this off (i.e. pulling up roots and moving onto a boat in the Pacific husband has grown out his beard so as to look more the part of Sailor). After the viewing, we drove over to Coronado for lunch at a sushi bar I had spotted on my earlier trip. We took a stroll through the grounds of The Del (most of the construction mess has now been cleared) and asked some innocent bystander to take our picture...

"The Del" Redux, w/MBH

We left San Diego late Sunday evening after a full day in San Diego. On Monday, after I thought it was over, a special delivery arrived at my office (which I brought home to share)...


And last but certainly not least, my birthday was extra special even before receiving any presents, but this year, my husband outdid himself in the present department (we typically don't exchange birthday gifts between us), completely surprising me with this (no, not the coffee cup...that's from my mom), pulling it out of his pocket at dinner on Catalina Island (how he managed not to lose it with all the schlepping of our stuff in and out of lockers, snorkeling, etc. is beyond me)...


I've tried to find the words to express the happiness that I experienced during this very special weekend and while the circumstances certainly made for a pleasurable weekend, the true Joy came from a peace within that only God can provide. Sometimes it takes the vulnerability of travel to an exotic (or at least unfamiliar) place to fully experience this wonderful sensation. As C.S. Lewis wrote, "there is a kind of happiness and wonder that makes you serious. It is too good to waste on jokes." And so I'm left speechless. :-)

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

I'm Baaack!

Film at 11.

Okay, seriously, since we last met, I've been very busy, extremely busy, and by the end of my days, have been without internet or completely exhausted, hence the lack of "material" lately.

Since last week, I have...

Been to the ends of the earth and back,

Enjoyed the best birthday of my life on 07-07-07 (or one of the best anyway...the luau in Kauai for my 40th might tie for "best")...more later (and pictures!),

Visited my Mom in San Pedro where she was performing her duties as Vice President of the National Watercolor Society (an honor bestowed on her that was a long time in the making...I am very proud of her!),

Eaten baby octopi, lots of ceviche, savory crepes, ciopino, rack of lamb, tiramisu, and the Cocoa D'Arriba Mango-Chili dark chocolate bar (mmmm),

Met someone (and listened to him perform) who claimed to be Jim Morrison's son Christopher (interesting side story...I took French in high school with a guy who went on the class field trip to Paris...I could not afford to go on that trip but have gone on to live a fulfilling life nevertheless); his big dream was to visit the cemetery where Jim Morrison is allegedly buried; he had trouble finding it and by the time he did it was too late to get out of the cemetery, so he spent the night on Jim Morrison's grave...true story),

Found the sailboat of our dreams (it's the first boat we have both agreed on),

And last but not least, worked my tail off teaching students and helping clients.

And now, I must go and write another presentation.

God is good.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

"Not Mountain Climber Chic"

I sometimes think I live an odd life. I'm sure we all do at times. But some people really do seem to live a life meant for story telling. To see what I mean, go here and read Hank's (aka The County Clerk) latest episode of Truth is Stranger Than Fiction. And then there's this little gem. And then there are his travel tales...learn the true meaning of Variats here and what it's like to have dinner at The Castle with Nobel Prize academy members here. Be sure to read the footnotes. Hank excels at footnotes so set aside a few extra minutes to enjoy Hank's antics; I find his sense of humor addictive.


The Big Hisbiscus is Back!

This is more like it! :-)


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Contest! Contest! Contest!

In the previous post are some very ugly pictures of some very ugly 'shrooms (and really, they are shrooms even though they look like something the dogs left behind after doing their "business"). I am wondering what kind of 'shrooms these are because I'd hate to think that I am posting pictures of illegal narcotics on my blog or something stupid like that. So please, if anyone out there has particular expertise in, well, 'shrooms, perhaps you could win a valuable prize (maybe I could ship these to your house)! I promise not to turn you into the authorities unless it turns out you know a little too much about the subject matter here. ;-)


In The Garden

Eric has 'em. Jim has 'em. Janie has 'em. Brian has 'em too. Alas, I no longer have the Big Honkin' Hibiscus, at least none in bloom at the moment, but just wait (not that mine are ever as big as what Eric and Janie are bragging know how those folks in Texas are, but still...). Here is what I have:

Some Big Honkin' Shrooms

And Some Clovers

So what's in your garden?