Thursday, June 28, 2007

Some Important Programming Notes:

Saturday morning, from 8 to noon, is the Laurel Park tag sale. It's a great excuse for wandering around my funky little village, plus the Park is populated with freaks and artists with too-small houses, so the pickings should be great (or, at the least, interesting).

Saturday at noon, Dandie in the Underworld officially opens for business. It's a crazy and cute shop filled with handcrafted items from the Valley's finest and funkiest. Directions: Go to the building housing Glamourama and Osaka; walk around it to the right; see the big marquee; head inside; be delighted. I have several shrinky-dinks-based necklaces for sale in there. My stuff is tagged "dew," a name I decided upon after little to no study or thought. It's my initials, that's all. I've been inside the shop a couple of times and I love everything for sale there. I plan on buying some of it, even. So exciting!

Monday, June 25, 2007

The memorial service for my grandmother was very nice. I got emotional and was all trembly-voiced when I went up to speak, but other than that it went beautifully.

My grandmother was always an avid church-goer and loved singing hymns in the choir (she was raised Methodist, but ended life as a Congregationalist). At her service, I read the lyrics of this Sacred Harp song:

329 Vain World Adieu

When for eternal worlds we steer,
And seas are calm and skies are clear,
And faith in lively exercise,
And distant hills of Canaan rise,
The soul for joy then claps her wings,
And loud her hallelujah sings,
Vain world, adieu.

With cheerful hope her eyes explore
Each landmark on the distant shore:
The trees of life, the pastures green,
The crystal stream, delightful scene.
Again for joy she claps her wings,
And loud her hallelujah sings,
Vain world, adieu.

The nearer still she draws to land,
More eager all her pow’rs expand;
With steady helm, and freebent sail,
Her anchor drops within the veil.
Again for joy she claps her wings,
And her celestial sonnet sings,
I’m there at last.

I think she would have liked it.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

An addendum to the below: I am so screwed. Or, you know, not. Har har.

Monday, June 18, 2007

An open letter to the guy whose online profile said he was 37, but who admitted in his description he had lied about his age. He contacted me, I asked him how old he was, and he told me he was 47 "but told I look considerably younger."

Dear guy,
You are the fourth man I've come across in the last month who either lied about his age or omitted the information (instead saying the age they "felt like" or "looked like" or something). I'm at a loss as to why. The truth will come out sooner or later, and people who lie about their age, or deny it, are sending two messages: One, that they are ashamed of their age, which is sad to me. Better to say you're 47 and have a woman be pleasantly surprised at how good you look. Two, that they only, exclusively, want to date younger women. Neither of these things are positive messages to be throwing out there.

My longest relationship was with someone who is now about your age, so I would potentially have been a good dating candidate for you. But the age-denying thing is a big red flag for me and, I'd wager, most women.

I know you didn't click on this email expecting a lecture and I'm sorry... you're bearing the brunt of four men's mistakes, and that's not fair. And you probably think I'm crazy. But sometimes I can't help but try to fix easy mistakes like the one I think you're making here. My vote: Tell the truth in your ad.
- Debl

I actually wrote this all out, intending to send it, but my head cooled and I didn't. Dating using computer tools is a lot of work. But I have this crazy dream of not being alone the rest of my life (I know! So crazy!), so here we are.

p.s. He emailed me a photo while I was writing him a considerably shorter, nicer reply than the above, and he does in fact look well-preserved. But it's all ruined now, isn't it? Seriously, do women lie about their age all the time too? The stereotype is that they do, but I'm only seeing the other side.

p.p.s. He wrote me back to my less-hostile email and said he was sorry, I was right, and he edited his profile to show his true age. In a few years I'm going to be all, "Reader, I married him." (Kidding.)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Erin was my grandmother. When we were little we called her Grandmommy, but in the last few years of her life we called her Nean. Like good grandmothers everywhere, she was an excellent baker of cookies and pies, as well as the famous Way Family Granola, and she had the ubiquitous jar of hard candy that had solidified into one big piece. Unlike good grandmothers everywhere, she wasn't particularly warm or effusive with her affection. She was very reserved and liked things to be done the proper way. When we were frustrated with her, we'd secretly call her passive aggressive, but she was really just assertive, even though it came in a "frail old lady" package.

She always seemed slightly sad or disapproving, but that was due to the structure of her face more than anything else. She didn't like talking about herself, and even after we asked, she never told stories about what life was like during the depression and WWII, other than the basic facts of names and dates and who moved to what town after marrying who.

My fondest memories of her have to do with the house in Center Harbor, NH she and my Grandfather bought when we were born -- when we were older, she told me that they bought it so they'd have enough room for us to come for extended stays. The entire second floor of the house was just for guests. It had a huge backyard, a hammock, raspberry bushes and wild blueberries, croquet... and they lived a short drive to the lake's beach. My grandfather would chop wood while my grandmother worked in the kitchen. We visited for at least a couple of weeks every summer, and (I think) every other Christmas. When we grew into pre-teens, they sold the house (breaking our hearts) and bought a boring cookie-cutter one in town, because "you didn't want to visit anymore." Which was probably true, but we wanted the house to always be there just the same.

I remember getting a 12-inch of "Do They Know It's Christmas" one year, and making Nean listen to it, since the song had been in the news a lot. My grandparents always had the radio playing classical music, so having Nean listen to a "rock" song was a novelty. After the song was over she smiled politely and said something vague like "that was fine."

We also watched E.T. (the movie) on cable with her at our house in Jersey. We all loved it and thought she would too, but after it was over she said she had liked it, but that it was "no Wizard of Oz." I was offended (even though it's true). She liked to catch Jeopardy every night, and loved to watch stuff on PBS that may as well have been broadcast from another planet (as far as I was concerned), like the Kennedy Center Honors.

She wasn't a frivolous, silly person, so when she *would* be silly -- flashing a funny face at the camera, or gamely wearing big green Hulk hands (a photo of this is on my parents' fridge door) -- it was beautiful and surprising, like seeing a unicorn.

When I went up to sort through her things a few weeks ago, after she was transferred from her apartment to a nursing room, I found that she had kept every single card we had ever sent her, plus of course all of the various pieces of "art" we'd given her on holidays. She loved us, and wanted us to visit more, to write more. She was very proud of us and loved showing us off to her friends. I think she never really understood my sister and me when we were kids, who were weird and volatile and moody and sparkly, while she was always calm and in control and had lunch on the table at noon every day because that's when lunch is. But -- once after a fiery outburst with my sister (we were home on a break in college) she found me alone and told me that I was sensitive -- and she meant it as a compliment. It was the first time I had ever remotely considered that being sensitive could be a good thing.

Nean died around 4 a.m. Tuesday morning. She was 90 years old.

Friday, June 15, 2007

So I went to California. It is very sunny there -- at least, it's very sunny after it's very foggy (or smoggy -- hard to distinguish), which it is all morning. Ye Olde Theme Park was as fun as always. I was with a slightly-younger co-worker who had never been to any theme park owned by this particular company, so it was exciting to go on the classics with her. We were there for two nights, and then rented a car and drove to Burbank for two nights. We met with some colleagues I'd previously only known via email and phone calls, and it seemed to go fairly well, except for one meeting in which it became apparent we were two factions of underlings without our leaders, and as such had no real power to make anything happen of any consequence. But still, face-to-face stuff is important. So they tell me.

We saw Mariska Hargitay (with child and a short haircut) at the theme park, and The Rock (so completely gorgeous and perfect... seriously, he's charming and has a good sense of humor, and has gotten more slender and less bulky, and is just... we were drooling) at the studio's restaurant. My co-worker thought she saw Lisa Kudrow, and I know Lisa's not super-thin, but I doubt she'd wear clothing that would give her even a tiny muffin-top. But maybe I'm wrong.

We also went out and socialized in Hollywood: once with a beloved former co-worker, and once with a couple of the new co-workers I'd met that day. The former was at a dinner at an "English pub" called the Cat and Fiddle, which is said to be frequented by Morrissey (he wasn't there). We sat in a gorgeous outside patio and dished about everything. She's the kind of woman who buys a combination map of stars' homes and famous crime scenes, and makes a special drive to see the house where the Manson murders happened. She used to cut my hair in a spare office at work, back when my haircut was as simple as can be. She's a trip, and I miss her. After dinner we went to Hamburger Mary's in West Hollywood, which is essentially a gay theme restaurant. Besides the bright red and pink walls and kitsch hanging everywhere, each single-stall unisex bathroom has its own disco ball and "Dancing Queen" playing on a loop. (On the way back from the bathroom, I overheard one guy saying to his group of male friends, "Oh don't tell the flavored condom story again!") The check is presented in a high-heel pump. The waiters are all hot, skinny men, and they take care of you well. We met up with some of my former co-workers' friends and talked trash about celebrities (we were, as a group, unanimously anti-Angelina and pro-Aniston. My people!).

The latter night, we were invited to join some colleagues' Dining Divas night. They're a group of women (mostly single and in their 20s-early 40s, I'd guess, but mostly in their 30s) who get together every month or so and do something different each time. This night was a wine-and-cheese thing for charity held in the outdoor mall right next to the Kodak Theater. I was concerned the group would be kind of boring or false or overly girly, but they ended up being very funny, warm, smart, talkative, confident... It was very inspiring.

So, to sum up: Flying out there is always a bitch, but I had a great time.

Tuesday morning, while I was getting ready to leave my hotel room, my sister IMed me on my laptop that my grandmother had died. I feel like I haven't processed this information yet. I seem to start mourning a long time after the actual passing-away... Maybe I need time to feel the lack of their presence, and when people I don't see very often die, that can take some time. I want to write a blog post all about her, if it doesn't turn too sad or personal or morbid.

Speaking of morbid, when I visited the nest after work yesterday, there were no robins sighted anywhere. I fear the neighborhood cats have made short work of the little guys. Sad. Next time I think I'll remove the nest before any laying happens. Near my house, there aren't enough places to hide out of reach of cats. Damnable beasts.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I'm back, got into my house at 9:30 last night. This morning I went out to check the nest -- and it was empty! (except for the lone unhatched egg.) However, the lady or lord robin was on the little tree next tot he house, freaking out at me. If I had actually been outside (and not in the screened porch) he would have been scary. As it was, he was screaming at me and swooping and flapping, and his head and chest feathers were all puffed up. So, I think (I hope) that the baby robins have left the nest but are still nearby, well-hidden. I read someone else's diary of a robin family living on their porch, and this sounds like a similar timeline; unfortunately, they leave the nest when they can still only fly a few feet or so. If I catch sight of any fledgling robins, I shall let you all know!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Just a quick note to show a new photo of the chicks, taken this morning (two days since the photo I last posted):

... and also to say that I have never hated my job so much as I do right now. This particular crisis will pass, but it's going to be as shitty as this for at least another week. Meanwhile, my grandmother is dying, so that's also nice. You know things are miserable when I'm actually looking forward to being stuck in the middle seat on a cross-country flight so I can have some time to play my Gameboy and zone out for a few hours. I'll be in California from Saturday afternoon until Weds. night; posting will be non-existent, but I will be twittering.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I took a pic this morning of the nest situation. Lady robin was extra-pissed at me today for some reason, so I only stuck around for only about 20 seconds.


The chicks are starting to look more like birds (being able to see their beaks helps). I am thinking the third egg is a dud. Unfertilized, maybe? I'm curious to see what happens to it. Robins keep their nests really clean, but how are they going to get a full egg out of it? Just tip it over the side?

I was going to ride my bike to work today. I'm renting a car to go to NYC this afternoon, returning tonight, so I'll drive that car home and return it in the morning. And then I could ride my bike home tomorrow... Except I have a 5:30 "restaurant week" dinner at Circa, and trivia right after. No way am I riding my bike 3.5 miles home at 11:30 at night. Oh, and trivia: Our new and improved team -- we brought on a semi-permanent fifth member, Jose! woo hoo! -- got the fourth-place booby prize last week. We may have broken our losing streak. I don't want to say more and jinx it.

Monday, June 04, 2007

When I came downstairs this morning, the lady robin was feeding two little somethings. The second bird hatched! I took this pic this morning:


They're sort of entwined. But one is way bigger than the other, being one day older.

And did I take another video? Sure did. There's not much bird movement after the first few seconds, but watch the upper right corner for bonus woodland action in the last few seconds. Ok, it's not spectacular, but it's 30 seconds of your life. Come on.

After work I looked outside and the lady was out hunting for food, so I grabbed my camera and went out there to take another photo. Which I did (but didn't post) but then stood there and watched them be all floppy and fuzzy and kind of gross. And then the robin flew right up to the nest, not 6 inches from my face (but separated by a screen), saw me at the last split second and flapped to the tree a few feet away. That's when I felt the guilt and I got the hell inside. (She was back at the nest in a minute.)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Oh it is ON now. Took this pic about an hour ago:


This baby robin is all, "Screw you guys, I'm getting out of this shithole. Who's with me?"

The lady robin doesn't seem too bothered with my constant checking of her nest. I'm not touching anything, since the only place I can get high enough to see is inside the screened porch.

I also took a photo of the pollen situation on Friday, before I put on a dust mask and swept it up:


Pollen was coating everything: every leaf, blade of grass, car... It's currently pouring rain, which will help a lot, though not with my porches. Ah well.

Edited to add: Happy birthday tooo yoooooooooou, Happy birthday toooo yoooooooouu...


When I climbed up on my ladder contraption, the lady robin was on the ground watching me, but she doesn't chirp in alarm anymore when I approach. She has already disposed of the eggshell in a secret location. They do that. (Unfortunately for me.) This little guy was flopping around, unable to lift up its grotesquely-huge head. Did I take a video? Why yes, yes I did.

Friday, June 01, 2007

I stepped outside of my front door yesterday morning and surprised a snake that was basking in the sun on my little wooden walkway. It did quick, crazy diagonal getaway moves to slip into the ground cover. It's the same sort of snake I saw in the Fitzgerald Lake area twice on a walk two weeks ago: probably a common garter snake since it looks nothing like the other slithery beasts on this list.

Very much looking forward to relaxing at home this weekend. I feel ready to laze about on the porch with a magazine, maybe after cooking up some crepes. My robin is still nesting, despite me harrassing her with my presence all the time. I think she's sticking around for the long haul. Once the eggs hatch I'll definitely post pictures. Our homeowners' association just sent around an email requesting our help in counting nesting birds -- except for blue jays and robins, which are so common they don't bother counting them. What a diss!