Monday, June 15, 2009

I've Been Tagged!

Oh, this is so exciting. I feel like I've been asked to my first prom. (Long overdue, since I didn't go to mine in high school.)

Fellow Avalon author I.J. Parnham has tagged me. I'm new to this -- can we say "long overdue" again? -- but here's how it goes: I answer the questions below, which Ian posted on his blog. Then, I "tag" four more people, asking them to post their answers to the same questions. It's not a big pressure thing -- it's up to them if they'd like to respond, and up to them if they'd like to pass it on.

But I wanna play! So here goes:

Four Movies that I can see over and over.
1. Casablanca
2. Return to Me
3. Frankenstein ... or Young Frankenstein ... or any of the classic monsters of the '30s and '40s
4. Galaxy Quest ("Never Give Up! Never Surrender!!!")

Four Places I have lived.
1. Colorado Springs, Colorado
2. Covina, California
3. Los Angeles (about 2 blocks from Farmer's Market -- sigh!)
4. Victorville, California

Four TV shows that I love to watch.
1. Wonder Years
2. I Love Lucy
3. The Andy Griffith Show
4. Carnivale (one of these things is not like the others....)

Four places where I have gone on vacation.
1. Yosemite
2. Bryce Canyon
3. Mustang, Oklahoma
4. San Francisco

Four favorite foods.
1. Chinese/Mongolian Barbeque
2. Hole-in-the-wall Mexican food
3. Lobster (rarely, but I can dream!)
4. Popcorn

Four websites I visit daily
1. Facebook
2. Yahoo Mail
3. Bank of America
4. The blogs I'll list when I do my tagging!

Four places I would rather be.
1. On a walk with my husband
2. Bodacious Bundts, our cozy local coffeehouse
3. Barnes & Noble
4. The Golden Gate Bridge

Four things that I would like to do before I die.
1. Write a bestseller
2. Take my husband to England -- a visit to Abbey Road is a must!
3. See my children happily married (and maybe grandkids?!)
4. Finish knitting that sweater I started in August '05!

Four novels I wish that I was reading for the first time.
1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Lucifer Cove series by Virginia Coffman
3. The Stand by Stephen King
4. Cold Tea on a Hot Day by Curtiss Ann Matlock

Four people to tag.
1. Stephanie Newton
2. Jennifer Shirk
3. Curtiss Ann Matlock
4. Cathy Pegau

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I Hate When This Happens

That blank TV screen over there is ours. It's been like that for four days now … and not for lack of trying to turn it on.

See, we bought a Toshiba DLP television set in 2004. It has a nasty habit, about once a year, of blowing the light bulb that provides the picture. This time we replaced the bulb, but it still doesn't work. That means the problem may be the "ballast," whatever that is, which we replaced about 2 years ago. (I don't know how much the situation has improved, but if you're shopping for a Toshiba TV, be sure to check out the consumer satisfaction reports.)

The worst part of having a broken TV is realizing how much we depend on it.

I hate that. Because it blows my delusions. We used to say, "We don't watch that much TV." And we don't ... if you're talking about current TV. A little Jeopardy, a little news, the occasional David Letterman or SNL, if there's a guest we're interested in.

What we have found, since we got our problem TV, is that our family of four does watch a lot of "pre-recorded" TV. DVDs of favorite movies, rentals from Netflix, episodes of classic TV shows like The Twilight Zone, the Honeymooners and The Andy Griffith Show. (Yes, we're very retro.)

It's a little alarming to discover how tough it can be to spend a family evening at home without That Box. On the plus side, TV is something we share -- we don't go to separate corners of the house and watch separate sets. But we never realized how much the television acts as a social center for our family. Board games are great, but sometimes they take a little more "oomph" than my husband and I have at the end of the day. And I love to read, but when everyone's together, it feels kind of antisocial. We've yet to try sitting in a circle, all ensconced in our own books.

Instead, the other night we found ourselves in front of the computer, searching YouTube for old TV commercials featuring Muhammad Ali, while I read selections from a book of David Letterman's Top 10 lists. We went to bed early.

The next day my husband and I were out for a walk. I asked him, "What did people do at night back in the '40s?"

"Listened to the radio."

"Okay. What did they do in the '20s?"

"Scrubbed clothes on a washboard. Came home late from the factory. Drank bathtub gin."

Hoo, boy.

The TV repairman is scheduled to come today. If it's not good news ... anybody got a recipe for bathtub gin?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

What Is So Rare As A Day In June?

(with apologies to poet James Russell Lowell)

In the High Desert, a day like this in June is especially rare. While people in other parts of the world look forward to the summer sun, I hug on to cloudy days like this with all my might.

See, we desert denizens know what's comin'. Summer is ruthless here, and it's long. We continue to get some blasting hot days through October, although cool breezes come by and kiss us more often by then.

Rain is even more rare than clouds, but when we get it, it can be pretty dramatic. Like the thunderstorm that hit this afternoon, about twenty minutes after I shot these pictures. (How's that for timing?) We had some huge thunder cracks, about thirty seconds of hale, then some great big drops of rain. Toward the end, it was raining through bright sunshine.

Earlier today, I went for a walk with my husband and discovered this peculiar tree. What the heck is it? A gold star to anyone who can tell me! (For a closer look, just click on the photos.) The fronds look like something from the willow family. The buds of the yellow flowers look like little green peas before they open. And by the way, they smell great.

Whatever the tree is, I doubt very much it's from around here. It's funny how much we've tried to adapt the desert to ourselves, instead of the other way around. (Except for central air. That's a MUST.) But then, I don't think most of us actually planned to live in the Mojave Desert.

I suppose, like my mystery tree, we all find a way to bloom where we're planted!

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Time Sucker, Revisited

About a week ago on this blog, I confessed my Internet addiction and vowed -- publicly! -- to change my ways. I would stay offline between 10 AM and 4 PM, the period when I'm most likely to succumb to temptation. (The rest of the time, my household is pretty active, so there's less chance to get lost in cyberspace.)

Three days later, a kind and attentive friend CAUGHT me when I posted a new blog entry during the forbidden time zone.

Whoa. Talk about accountability.

I learned an important lesson that day. If I'm gonna cheat and go on the Internet, I'd better not post and get caught.

But in all honesty, how have I done?

Well, accountability is a wonderful thing. Knowing that my sharp-eyed friends may notice if I contact them in my "down" hours, I've pretty much avoided any posting or e-mailing during the Forbidden Zone. I won't say I haven't broken the rules at all, but I've discovered it's hard to go online and stay quiet. For me, anyway.

So I plan to stay the course. With more self-discipline, I hope to report lots of productive uses for all those new-found minutes. Today, for starters, I finally put away all those clean clothes that were piled up in the laundry room. Well, almost all. I've got it down to one REALLY scary basket of socks. Tomorrow maybe I'll find out if any of them belong together.