Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Birthday dog
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
And Happy 10th Birthday, Rex!

Though this "holiday" is not very obvious to me today, particularly since I've been sort of hibernating. We didn't do jack o' lanterns this year and I'm limiting my costuming to a tea-tasting party we had at work on Friday afternoon. I wouldn't really call it a costume since it was a perfectly lovely ensemble that someone had worn quite a bit, though it hasn't been fashionable for a good forty years. My false eyelashes were a little outlandish. The one nice thing about Halloween on a Sunday is that there are celebrations throughout the weekend and it's kinda fun seeing people going about their business in scary outfits and makeup and thinking nothing of it. I certainly didn't get much of a reaction when I ran errands on the way home Friday evening. M has proposed we hide from the trick or treaters tonight since Rex despises them and gets upset and we don't really know how Roxy will react.
Roxy seems to be settling in pretty well, but it's not all a bed of cedar chips with Rex. They've gotten into a couple of scraps and she's bitten him and drawn blood. That's been the worst. At best they cede positions at the door or water bowl and sort of ignore each other. We had a dog trainer visit us yesterday. I was a little disappointed that she didn't work more with the dogs--we mostly chatted--but she did observe Roxy giving Rex "the eye" and that's something we hadn't really noticed before. Her overall advice to us is to establish us humans as the idols and taking all decisions away from the dogs, not giving into their requests for food and petting and the like--it all has to happen on our terms and they don't have to figure anything out between them. It's going to take some adjustment--it's been 10 years since we've been in training mode with Rex. Well, that's a part of why we adopted Roxy, to change things up at home. The trainer guesses that she's a mashup of Lab, Shepherd, and maybe Boxer--no Pit Bull as we had thought. She got a clean bill of health from the vet last week as well as her rabies shot, so I sent off her certificate to get her tag from the county.

I took a break from my shrug project to whip up this cowl meant for motorcycling since it's not as bulky as a scarf. But it's not quite right. I think I need to make one that's adjustable somehow. But not bulky. This is a knitting conundrum.
Today is the last day of October, meaning that tomorrow NaNoWriMo begins. I have been a total slacker on that assignment. As night draws nigh, I still don't have any bright ideas for a new novel, so we'll see how it goes.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wilbur and a Welcome

Last weekend was my wonderful visit with Grandma. That semi-annual pilgrimage is one I look forward to so much. It's a comforting ritual. I'm always so glad to reconnect with Grandma, hear how she's doing and what's new with various family members I don't learn about otherwise. She had some new family history and pictures to share this visit, which is always interesting. It's inspiring and humbling for me to visit with her. She has an appreciation and curiosity for people and activities--life in general--that reminds me not to take mine for granted.
It's also pleasant just to get away to Wilbur, which is a little Brigadoon-ish to me--it doesn't change much from visit to visit and I often run into the same characters every time. While I had my annual plain cake doughnut and wandered the cemetery and chatted with the nice cashier at Sandy's as always do, I also tried to mix things up a bit by having lunch at the next town one day. I've never done that before. It was a little awkward being alone there for some reason. I had to resort to gazing at the iPhone for comfort. It was opening weekend for deer season and while there were many camo-clad men in large trucks everywhere, luckily I was spared the sight of any carcasses.

More photos on Flickr.

Two days before the trip to Wilbur, this photo appeared in my mailbox at work:
…with the sad story of how she's worn out her foster home welcome would be going to the pound unless adopted immediately. I forwarded it to M, sure that he would respond with a "what are you thinking?" remark, but instead he said the opposite. He was actually in Sebastopol where Roxy was staying and swung by to see her. His report was that she was large but sweet and he thought she'd do just fine with us. I couldn't believe it. Earlier in the week I'd driven home one evening from work and passed a woman begging on Main Street in Sebastopol, which is just something you don't see, and I thought, "Why doesn't someone help her?" Followed by "Why aren't I someone?" So the idea of being someone, even for a dog, was in my mind. As was our home situation--with M teaching and taking long weekend motorcycle rides, Rex has been home alone a lot lately. I could help a creature that needed it. Maybe it would help with that rut thing too.

So a week ago Friday M picked up Roxy and she's been adjusting since then. I was a little jealous of M being able to bond with her without me, but I think he has a greater affinity for her in general. Frankly, now that the do-gooder glow has worn off, I'm having a little bit of large-dog remorse, particularly now that the rain has arrived and it's becoming clearer just how much more attention and food a bigger dog consumes. And there is some tension between her and Rex, which is to be expected. They got into a brawl over treats a few days ago, which freaked me out--she's at least twice Rex's size. Rex has been teasing her, playing with toys that he hasn't touched in a year and then snapping at her when she tries to take them up. He peed in front of her dog bed, which also happened to be on my new wool rug. They growl at each other when they greet us at the front gate. He hasn't really responded to her attempts to play with him. But the last couple of days have been better. The growls are going away. She seems to be less stressed about her new surroundings and of course is as devoted to M as he is to her. She really is a lovely, loving canine and as long as her relationship to Rex warms up, I'll be glad to have her with us.
In other news:

The burn I suffered on my ankle a couple of weeks ago dismounting from the motorcycle is still icky, but on the mend. I decided I should be prudent and saw the doc about it on Friday. She recommended a 10-day course of antibiotics and a tetanus booster shot. My deltoid is still aching from that stick two days later.

This weekend marks our first fall storm. I woke up at 5:00 a.m. and now it's 10:00 in the morning and feels like it hasn't really become a day yet it's still so dark outside. I'm glad for the rain so early in the season. M has promised to take me out for the world's strongest cup of coffee (so he claims), which issues forth from the Clover machine at our downtown Starbucks, so maybe that will help to jumpstart the day. Better go wake him.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Photos from NY

There are more in the Flickr set.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

New York Recap

Today is apparently an auspicious date: 10-10-10. OK!

So, the New York visit was wonderful.

The conference turned out very well, which is a relief as always. And it was also very busy, but I was conscientious about being sure to get out and about whenever possible, and though the weather was a bit muggy, the rain held off when I needed it to.

On that Tuesday evening, I took the subway down to the Village and wandered into SoHo, with the goals of finding Purl SoHo and Lupa. Unfortunately, Washington Square Park was still under construction, but maybe that's for the best as it kept me walking. I get very emotional when I'm in that neighborhood still. It's as if the excitement and uncertainty and adventure and promise are intertwined with the streets and structures, not me. So when I return to those neighborhoods where I live through so much, I feel all that energy flooding back. So many what-ifs came welling up too, mainly "what if I'd stayed in NY" and review of all the dumb mistakes I made. I stopped several times to tap some snippets of poetry into my iPhone (gotta dig those out at the next meeting of the Pointy Pals).

And then my wander became a bit more of a forced march. I did not make it to Purl SoHo before it closed unfortunately. And I thought I knew where Lupa was, but somehow I must have missed it on my way down from Washington Square. Walking by the closed shops and tourist-y restaurants, it became clear as my feet and hips began to ache that I'm definitely not in the walking shape I used to be and I was becoming quite hungry, which always makes me grumpy. I headed back toward the subway, feeling a little defeated and unsatisfied. But still I clung to a little hope that the travel magic would come though and reveal the adventure (mostly culinary) I was supposed to have…and sure enough it did! I retraced my steps up what I hoped was the street for Lupa, but on the opposite side and there it was, like a tiny bit of Brigadoon. I had missed it because the name was only printed on the front of the awning, which was not visible on my first pass. It was crowded but I persisted, practicing my being-OK-with-just-being-there chops and waited patiently and without digital device crutches near the hostess station enjoying the view of the street til a seat finally opened up at the bar. And of course it was just the right place for me. Through the packed-in din, I overheard conversations from the Wall Street guys and the bridge-and-tunnel yuppies, always amusing. I also practiced my lone-gal outreach and struck up a conversation with the young man next to me, who was the new boyfriend of the bartender. He turned out to be from Turkey, selling furniture and studying at the New School, hoping to eventually go home to help the gay community there. I also discovered that I can't really read menus in low light anymore. Sigh. The wages of age continue to accumulate.

The following night was dinner chez Caiola Madhu. It was dry enough to walk crosstown to the 6 train uptown. I paused for a bit in the station to hear some good music. The platform was so crowded! And not everyone who wanted to made it on the train when it finally arrived. I perversely enjoyed it, but I know that if I lived there and had to commute through that sea of humanity every day being smushed and jostled, it would be very trying. My evening at Sara and Chandran’s was lovely. It’s amazing how the kids have changed of course. Their new puppy Gus is adorable and an energetic addition to the household. Blacker seems to be getting used to him, and it made me a little sad that my cats never were able to adjust to Rex. It was nice have some four-legged creature interaction, though I think it inspired some bittersweet dreams of Veronica that night. Dinner with family is such a special thing when I’m working and far away from home. It takes my brain completely out of work mode and is therefore extra relaxing in addition to simply joyful family time.

Thursday was my splurge evening. I met up with my dear friend Cathleen at Trattoria dell Arte, which was very close to the hotel. We spent almost four hours lingering over wine and good food, outlasting our original waiter. Though his replacement was lovely, wandering the tables with commercial-sized pans of cookies for patrons to pluck at will. It was a great way to unwind after the conference, though the bad weather was niggling at my brain a little--I didn't want to be delayed in my travels to Rochester the next day. She told me about a friend of hers whose husband is going through a mid-life crisis--he went out and bought a Ducati and apparently pretty much doing things his own way. So she suggested "Think Ducati" should be my new slogan, and so far I'm liking it quite a bit. It's a little like the ring M gave me for my birthday--a reminder to stay out of the rut.

The weather did indeed worsen overnight. A colleague and I had agreed to travel to the airport together--she also happened to be traveling to Rochester on the same flight--so we left the hotel earlier than originally planned.Which means I didn't have time to do anything that last morning in Manhattan other than sleep in and check email one last time--though that was something I really needed to do to start my vacation with peace of mind. While the cab ride to JFK was uneventful, we had a two-hour delay for the flight. It was nice having a traveling companion. We had lunch together and it was nice getting to know her a little better outside of the office.

But all's well that ends well. The flight landed in time for Kalyani to whisk me away to Brockport for a quick dinner and then on to the high school for the Homecoming football game. Ashwani and Hannah had saved us some great seats and Jo and Susi piped and drummed the Blue Devils to an unexpected victory. The rest of my visit was chilly and damp, but the rain held off til night, so we were able to enjoy activities during the day.

On Saturday I met Aunt Janice's chickens, then we went apple picking followed by a quick trip to the lake house, lunch, and a visit to a very busy Brown's Farm for ice cream and further enjoyment of the delights of rural living. Ashwani whipped up a fabulous spicy dinner then Kalyani, Hannah, and I headed to downtown for a performance by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. It was so wonderful--a full house in a beautiful hall. Listening to live classical music is not something I do often enough and I feel like I could use more music education to appreciate it more fully. But seeing it live helped me hear it better. I could focus on trying to pick out particular instruments. I really liked being in a part of such a large group of fans--they helped me hear it too. After the concert we had dessert with friends of Kalyani's which really gilded the lily.

Sunday featured a very retro adventure: a trip to the Genesee Country Museum, a collection of historical homes and businesses making up a little village, peopled by very enthusiastic docents. Added bonus--the local ag society was there, filling tents with sheep and goats, horses in all sizes, slender upright runner ducks, ruffly Sebastopol geese, wildly feathered chickens, and two technicolor varieties of pheasants I'd never seen before. Two sets of long horned oxen wandered with their humans, and huge black Percherons in spectacular harness pulled a wagon through town. We chatted with the kitchen lady making butter, potato soup, and cheese, the man making beer (or perhaps it was whiskey), and the Shaker lady who informed us that Shakers not only invented the flat broom but also that, inspired by her spinning wheel, a Shaker woman invented the circular saw. I also got a close-up look at a cobblestone house, a beautiful architectural style concentrated in the Brockport area. When we got home, Aunt Janice, Uncle Madhu, and Noah had arrived from their Shakespearean sojourn to Stratford. After an afternoon of visiting and catching up, it was a lovely pie-focused dinner at the Madhu Chhibbers.

Monday was school and work for most of the clan, so Aunt Janice and I had the day together. We took a short stroll around their property before the rain started up again (the overgrown riot of green was such a welcome change from dry golden California!), then decamped for lunch in the charming village of Brockport. We did some bookstore (she introduced me to A. Ghosh's "Sea of Poppies" which I'll start tonight) and giftshop shopping. Hannah and Noah had headed back to their respective colleges, so it was a smaller but no less delightful gathering for my last upstate dinner.

The trip home was a little eventful, but in a pleasant way--while I was waiting for the bus to Santa Rosa at SFO, I was chatted up by a somewhat older gentleman dressed in a stage-worthy style with guitar in tow. He introduced himself as Jack and definitely had some professional patter but seemed very nice; I let him use my cell phone and offered a cough drop left over from my visit to the RPO. As he debarked in Petaluma, he mentioned he performed under the name of Ramblin' Jack Elliott, a name I'm familiar with, but M and most folks at work weren't. He definitely seems to live up to his name. I heard a review of the film his daughter made of him and I think it implied he rambled with the ladies as well as his music.

More happiness when I arrived home, in the form of a happy wiggly dog and! my letter to the parking ticket office worked! They accepted my reasoning that (stupidly, I'll admit) putting money in the meter was good enough effort, despite it being the wrong meter. So my driving record continues to be spotless and that's $30 dollars I'll be hanging on to.

In other news:

With Pointy Pals Rebecca and Julia, I will once again be participating in NaNoWriMo. How many words will I write this time? When we all decided to do it about a month ago, I felt very relaxed. But now it's just a couple of weeks away and I have no idea what I'll write about. Time to really read "No Plot No Problem."

Finally, M and I took a very pleasant motorcycle ride to Calistoga yesterday. We had lunch and I suffered my first bit of motorcycle snobbery--two couples next to us in the parking space were "admiring" our beat up saddlebags as they mounted their loud, shiny, and be-Garmined bikes in full leather Harley branded attire. Whatever, people. All that was forgotten as we took the long way home, cruising up to the top of heartbreakingly scenic Alexander Valley and back down to Santa Rosa by way of equally gorgeous Westside Road. As we were putting the bike away, I didn't hop off properly and I'm now dealing with a good sized burn on my ankle from the exhaust pipe. That'll learn me.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

More Coming Soon

In the lamp
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
I'm working hard on a new post and adding new pix to Flickr. But! I left my power cord at work, so it's going to be a little spotty getting it all online for you this weekend. Thanks for your patience.