Sunday, May 31, 2009

Falling Man

From Singles 2009

He said, "It still looks like an accident, the first one. Even from this distance, way outside the thing, how many days later, I'm standing here thinking it's an accident."

"Because it has to be."

"It has to be," he said.

"The way the camera sort of shows surprise."

"But only the first one."

"Only the first."

"The second plane, by the time the second plane appears," he said,"we're all a little older and wiser."

Listened to this one on CD. I found the book to be really compelling - though the experience was oddly unemotional. Not what I'd expect from the topic of 9-11. Part of it was the reader. (In reading text from Amazon's "Search Inside" function, I am convinced a large part was the reader.) Part of it was the character of Keith- who was in the World Trade Tower. He is introduced as he is walking away from the site. He's covered in debris with multiple small injuries and in a state of shock. This emotional numbness follows him.

Falling Man focuses on 4 people. Keith - above. Lianne - his wife who is also coping with her mother's failing health, her father's (long past) suicide, and an obsession with Alzheimer's disease. Hammad - one of the terrorists who participated in the attack. And, the "Falling Man" - a performance artist who appears around Manhattan - falling from various buildings and bridges, dressed in business attire, then hanging in the pose of one of the men photographed jumping/falling from the North Tower.

From Singles 2009

They came out onto the street, looking back, both towers burning, and soon they heard a high drumming rumble and saw smoke rolling down from the top of one tower, billowing out and down, methodically, floor to floor, and the tower falling, the south tower diving into the smoke, and they were running again.

The story shifted in focus between characters, between time (pre-9/11, 9/11, post 9/11 - and in consequence, my interest and involvement in the story waxed and waned. While I think it is fair to say this is a story of the effect that 9/11 had on people, I must say that I found the end of the book to be most riveting. It is at the end that DeLillo returns to before the beginning and follows Hammad's experience on the plane and Keith's experience in the tower. I listened to those last chapters 3 or 4 or 5 times.

The pious ancestors had pulled their clothes tightly about them before the battle. They were the ones that named the way. How could any death be better?

Every sin of your life is forgiven in the seconds to come.

There is nothing between you and eternal life in the seconds to come.

You are wishing for death and now here it is in the seconds to come.

Photo attribution - Carolyn's brother.

Airfares cheap - LA to Sydney

I get this message every week from Travelocity, or so it seems. Amazing prices. This is the time.

Just learned about Kaki King this morning. Video shot in Sydney. Are you inspired?

Ya'll come down.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The snails are on notice

From Singles 2009

All the snails. Inside and out.

I have had enough of my brave new seedlings being mowed over. From the 3 six-packs of petunias I purchased last month, only 4 plants remain. The zinnias are likewise decimated. And, those little blue flowers which I can't remember the name of - they are all the way gone to heaven. I stopped at the garden center on Thursday and perused the snail killing section - which to my dismay was very limited and all of it was toxic to Zelda and the marauding cats. I asked about getting copper or diatomacious earth - but was met with quizzical looks. I didn't think I had just hallucinated these options, so I looked for snail info online. They are there - as was a page from California instructing how to take snails from garden to plate.

Of course, I read that.

Then, last night, Kayla was good enough to take me home. It was raining and I had enticed her with the opportunity to gaze upon my sad, sad, sad aquarium. She says she's seen sadder - but then set me up with a plan. She thinks with some plant food that some of the plants will come back. One, in particular, she pointed out had good root structure. (I had to tell her that was the plastic plant.) She rescued my sinking heater and told me how to set the temperature. (I'm not sure why I thought that it was just something you plugged in and then adjusted the twisty-switch until the resulting tank temp was what you wanted. Dementia, maybe.) She taught me how my filter worked. (I bought it with the tank and without any sort of instruction/care guide.) But, first off, I have to buy some stuff to kill the snails in my tank.

They're getting a reprieve today, however. No time for buying snail-be-gone or beer. I'm still at work at 4:30 waiting for my shepherd to wake up after surgery...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Woke up this morning with this

with this playing in my head. Though, technically, it wasn't live.

thanks Tim.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Haven't posted any lately. These all live together near the Cultural Centre.

I only have one word for you...

From Singles 2009

Happy Birthday Dear Mother!

From Mom and Auntie Visit Brisbane!

Celebrating the fun of my mom! I love this photo - it captures the playfulness and glee that I associate with my mother. She is such a good sport. If we were in Ohio and crawling around the claustrophobic, ultra-packed space that is our storage unit, I could show you other photos of her posing as a chicken, or a pumpkin head, or as snoopy, or... She's the inspiration and most of the labor behind our family Halloween costumes.

I love you, Mom. Happy Birthday!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

In Memory of Junior

From Singles 2009

I told him his feet stinked.

"Maybe they really smell sweet," he says. "Think about it."

I told him he was crazy.

"No, no, no. Think about it," he says. "you know the whole existence, the very whole existence exists in our minds and in our minds only. I been thinking about this....Wait a minute," he says. "Listen. I mean all beliefs about everything are in our heads, not out there in the world. Tha's where everything is and always will be unless we take our brains out our heads, so that means that what somebody believes is their whole world. See?"

"No, I don't. What is this Philos'phy? Psycho'gy" Tate gets off on this crap sometimes. But I hadn't seen him this looped in fifteen years. "The difference between me and you, Tate," I said, "is I know stuff, and you know about stuff. Hit on that, you want to talk some philos'phy. Hit on that."

"Shit, Faison. You damn redneck," he says...

I re-read "In Memory of Junior". I read it the first time in about 1992. I was living in Wooster, Ohio teaching at The College of Wooster and I'd been there long enough that I had moved from Claudia's post (and office) to Anne's office - but not her position since she was in education. Anne was still there in Kauke hall - just up on the third floor. That move didn't get in the way of our lunch dates, however. It was about this time that we shared students. I was teaching a child development class (eegads) which was required for education majors. We were very amused by one young woman who called her Dr. G while I was Mrs. D.

At the time that was very funny. Sort of like this book.

Maybe it was because I knew enough of the story that I wasn't surprised enough to be as amused. Maybe my sense of humor has changed. Maybe it doesn't work as well when you read it in 3 page increments over 2 months. Maybe it is all the foul mood I've been in lately.

Anyway, the book starts out with a graphic presentation of the Bales family tree. You need that. There are lots of characters and they are, for the most part, related. Glenn and Laura, his second wife, are both bed-ridden and waiting to die. Whoever dies last will pass the property onto his or her children (Faison and Tate)/child (Faye). There is also the first wife (Evelyn) - who ran off leaving her 6 mo old infant, her brother (Grove) who wants to be buried in NC - now, grandchildren (Morgan and Junior) as well as assorted neighbors and friends. The story is told in first person narrative, though every few pages the identity of the narrator changes.

It isn't really a high action sort of story. It is more like you are listening in on a family reunion with folks gossiping about each other. They do tell some amusing stories and Edgerton has certainly captured their voices well.

That quote above by Tate - that is the sort of things we psychologists think about. But, what I really love is Faison's responding criticism of his brother.
"You won't ever get over going to college, Tate, you know that?"

Damn. It is a curse.

Bee Dogs

From Singles 2009

Several years ago Kevin sent me a link to the Bee Dogs website. Little did he know that Zelda and I had already been indulging in beedog-ness way before. Wayyy before. Anyway, I've always intended to send in one of Z's bee photos - but it was only today that I followed through! (This stimulated by the link on the Pet Photo Booth Project site.) Zelda is no half hearted bee dog, as you see. She embodies doing a little pollinating.

If you've never considered bee dogs, you might want to take a look at the website. Bee dogs are legion.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

We are famous!!

From Singles 2009

or soon to be...

Each week we receive an online newsletter about what's happening in Brisbane. On Friday one of the featured events was the Pet Photo Booth Project. Zelda and I were of one mind.

We had to be there!

Fortunately, they had an opening. Saturday at 4 PM.

Saturday was CONSUMED with preparation for this! Zelda had to get an embarrassing Ann-cut and a bath. Kevin and I debated whether to wear our "Ned Kelly" masks, or black droopy dog ears, or our red and black face masks, or our Australian flag masks or... I must say, the stress got to be a bit much for me. I can be very, very silly.

We ended up just wearing shirts and ties. (I had suggested we wear bridal gowns, but the practicality of finding gowns, especially a gown that would fit Kevin - and then drugging him to the extent I could dress him in it and yet he could stand for a photo shoot...)

The photographer's first question - whose dog is it? left us a bit confused. Zelda is our dog. Yes, I had her first (before I had Kevin) but Zelda likes Kevin more. Seems they have had issues where the couple photographed with a pet have later broken up and then there has been some sort of unpleasantness about the image uniting them in perpetuity. (What is it with Australians and their breakups? These are the folks who do library damage and photo-pick-up mischief to each other!) As a consequence, they took several photos of the three of us and then more of just Zelda and me. (Later I wondered if the problem arose because Kevin and I sport different last names. If we'd been in wedding gowns, this never would have come up, I'm sure. They'd have been speechless - it would have been that cool.)

In another 4 to 6 weeks we are hoping to receive a copy, a digital copy, of a photo from the shoot. Some of these photos will be collected in a book - and we hope Zelda makes the cut - with both of us.

Our background - cactus in the desert.

Monday, May 18, 2009


From Singles 2009

I think this is an interesting process but each time I go to a group lesson I am frustrated or disappointed. Well, no. The first time was OK - it was just the last two.

For those of you who have never heard of F, this is a school (I guess you'd call it) of movement study with the aim to assist people to learn the most efficient, effective, pain free way to move (and be still) and in doing so reduce pain and improve function. It occurred to me recently that rather than returning time after time to masseuses and acupuncturists and chiropractors (who I haven't actually been to since I hurt my knee in 1994!) for my neck and shoulder stiffness and migraine headaches, it would make more sense to see if I could learn what I am doing to create them. And, in doing so, can this be changed.

So, I have no real beef with F, I think they may have something to help me, it is just these last two lessons were disappointing. First, they instructed me to remove my glasses. Then, they talked to me in Australian. I guess it is because I am such a visual person, I can't understand what I'm hearing as well when I can't see. (Does this happen to anyone else?) Plus, I can't follow visually what you are demonstrating if I can't see you. (I KNOW this would be common.) So, I was very frustrated.

My last class was given by the instructor for "Bones for Life". She was very good (= let me keep on my glasses) although I did find her singing little bone songs to be a bit silly. She was making a very good point about where on your foot you place your weight when walking or lifting up the body (though I cannot distinguish between my 5 toes, or at least the 3 in the middle). Then, she started saying things that as a veterinarian I have to say were just not right. She started talking about hooves. It may be 10 years now since I last saw a hoof or treated a hoof, but I certainly remember the anatomy of horse hooves, cow hooves, and pig hooves - which are not the same - though maybe the latter two are not called hooves. But, anyway, even if we need to restrict ourselves to horses, the hoof is not located between what would be our big toe and the second digit. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Horse hoof = third digit.

Unless they lied to me in school. "What is the chance of that???" she wonders.

(Note- photo from wikipedia:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

"Jesus Out to Sea"

From Singles 2009

I took my mother and auntie to the local library so they could get some materials with which to entertain themselves while I was working. Naturally, I checked what was on the shelf by James Lee Burke. The only item available at Chermside at that time was a collection of short stories.

This was the first time I'd read any of Burke's short stories and I was surprised to find many of the characters I'd met in his novels. Not Dave or Clete or even Bootsie, but some of the "bad guys" - lesser bad guys really or men who knew the lesser bad guys. Even if I didn't know the person, I recognized some familiar names: Guidry, Hollister, Pougue, Sonnier... These names, the familiar Louisiana and Montana locales, the alcoholics and the war vets shouldn't have surprised me. He's just writing about the folks he knows "at home" in his novels. Eventually, I looked at the index and found that some of my recognition stemmed from the stories actually being excerpts from novels! Glad I had already read those novels!

But on our block - and that is all we ever called the place we lived, "our block" - the era was marked not so much by a distant war as it was by the presence of radios in people's windows and on their front porches, the visits to the block of the bookmobile and the Popsicle man, and games of street ball and hide-and-seek on summer evenings that smelled of flowers and water sprayed from garden hoses.

Three of the stories followed boys- 10, 12, 14 years old...something like that - set in New Orleans during WWII. No one is named Dave and none of the family experiences match Dave's, but you can see something of Dave's "stand up" character in the young protagonist, Charlie. The stories are Charlie's stories - and told in first person like all Burke's stories.

Our next-door neighbors were the Dunlops. They had skin like pig hide and heads with the knobbed ridges of coconuts. The oldest of the five boys was executed in Huntsville Pen; one did time on Sugarland Farm.

The patriarch of the family was a security guard at the Southern Pacific train yards. He covered all the exterior surfaces of his house, garage, and toolshed with the yellow paint he stole from his employer. The Dunlops even painted their car with it.

Like the Robicheaux novels, Burke matches a beautiful city (and these stories are set in Dave's "golden age") with the stain of evil: the loss of innocence, gangs, bullies and child molesters. In these short pieces Burke still takes time to color his bad guys and in doing so elevate them from comic book villains. Vernon Dunlop is a bully - but Vernon is an abused kid, too. Benny "Bugsy" Siegel is struggling to learn the yo-yo from Charlie and Nick. When Vernon Dunlop's dad chases off the Cherrio yo-yo man and busts the favorite nun for drinking, it is Benny Siegel who comes to Charlie's aid. Charlie's "love-interest" is a girl from a New Orlean's mob family - and it's this family that removes the molester from the park.

Two stories feature a former professor, widower, living an isolated life of his choosing on a property abutting a national forest in Montana. (Interestinly, these are not told in the first person voice.) You'd think it was the same guy...but his name changes between stories. Well, he is the same guy. He has an almost indistinguishably different back story, he lives in the same place, and he has a history of his involvement in situations turning, lets say, dark.

Albert starts to tell Joe Bim all of it - the attempt he made on the biker's life, the deed the sheriff's deputy had done to him when he was eighteen, the accidental death of his father, the incipient rage that has lived in his breast all his adult life- but the words break apart in his throat before he can speak them. In the silence he can hear the wind coursing through the trees and grass, just like the sound of rushing water, and he wonders if it is blowing through the canyon where he lives or through his own soul. He wonders if his reticence with Joe Bim is not indeed the moment of absolution that has always eluded him. He waits for Joe Bim to speak again but realizes his friend's crooked smile is one of puzzlement, not omniscience, that the puckered skin on the side of his face is a reminder that the good people of the world each carry their own burden.

Two stories come from people associated with Katrina: "Mist" and "Jesus Out to Sea". In "Mist", Burke's protagonist is an alcoholic, drug abusing woman. In "Jesus Out to Sea" he follows one of his mob guys brothers, Tony aka "Johnny Wadd" from "A Morning for Flamingos", as he and his buddy wait in the rising waters of New Orleans. Wait for rescue.

The color of the water is chocolate-brown, with a greenish-blue shine on the surface like gasoline, escept it's not gasoline. All the stuff from the broken sewage mains has settled on the bottom. When people try to walk in it, dark clouds swell up around their chests and arms. I've never smelled anything like it.

The sun is a yellow flame on the brown water. It must be more than ninety-five degrees now. At dawn, I saw a black woman on the next street, one that's lower than mine, standing on the top of a car roof. She was huge, with rolls of fat on her like a stack of inner tubes. She was wearing a purple dress that had floated up over her waist and she was waving at the sky for help. Miles rowed a boat from the bar he owns on the corner, and the two of us went over to where the car roof was maybe six feet underwater by the time we got there. The black lady was gone. I keep telling myself a United States Coast Guard chopper lifted her off. Those Coast Guard guys are brave. Except I haven't heard any choppers in the last hour.

...This is the Ninth Ward of Orleans Parish. Only two streets away I can see the tops of palm trees sticking out of the water. I can also see houses that are completely covered. Last night I heard people beating the roofs from inside the attics in those houses. I have a feeling the sounds of those people will never leave my sleep...

I was in the US at the time Katrina struck New Orleans and I heard many stories - mostly on the radio, cause I'm mostly a radio (NPR) news person. But, it wasn't until I read this story that I actually felt the horror of the situation. (The same thing is happening now as I listen to Don Delillo's "The Falling Man" about 9-11.) I'm not sure why that is. Is it the personal involvement of the imagination that comes with reading? Is a "story" able to creep around emotional boundaries we (I) erect to protect us from the ugliness of life? Am I aberrant? Maybe it is just the magic that Burke can wield with his words...

You know what death smells like? Fish blood that someone has buried in a garden of night-blooming flowers. Or a field mortuary during the monsoon season in a tropical country right after the power generators have failed. Or the bucket that the sugar-worker whores used to pour into the rain ditches behind their cribs on Sunday morning. If that odor comes to you on the wind or in your sleep, you tend do take special notice of your next sunrise.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Quick! Lets finish April!

I flew back to Australia with my mother and my auntie in tow. Our flight from Dayton was delayed which caused us to miss our connection from Atlanta to LA. Fortunately, my dear husband had put the fear of missed connections in my mind, and so I had booked us an outrageously early flight from Dayton - which allowed us to catch a later flight from Atlanta and still have way too much time to lounge around LAX. Our flight back was great. The plane was under-consumed which meant that we all had 3 seats to ourselves to spread out on. Unfortunately, this was a flight in "The Twilight Zone" and the opportunity to watch movies was predicated on paying $14 AU. (This wasn't true for Kevin when he came home. In fact, the staff on his flight didn't understand why he thought that anyone would ever have to pay. Perhaps, he should have mentioned something about William Shatner seeing something on a wing...)

My guests had a pretty modest list of things they wanted to do. Sit on the couch (which they bought for themselves) with Zelda and visit the Brisbane sites they'd seen last time: Alma Park Zoo, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Australia Zoo. I added a visit to Ikea, the clock tower in Brisbane City Hall, Mt. Coot-tha, the Glasshouse Mountains and the GOMA. I hated having to work so much while they were here, but it was great to come home to people - especially people who have fixed supper.

My mother's neighbor and friend, Dixie, had sent along a small, toy bunny with the instruction that we were to take him everywhere. And, photograph him. We did. You'll see.


I received in the mail this week an invitation to my 30th High School Class Reunion. Wow. Totally amazing- though I guess it does seem like a lifetime ago that I was in high school.

I've only gone to 1 class reunion. I missed the 5th year reunion picnic in the park. I missed the 15th or was it 20th year - bowling and karaoke! I missed the 25th that sounds so important. I made it only to the 10th year. At that time I was unemployed and homeless...well, living back at home with my parents. I have to tell you, that makes an almost 30 year old feel grown up!

I don't think I'll make this one, either. Something about traveling internationally for a standard Versailles event dinner - fried chicken, beef and noodles, green beans, mashed potatoes - and going alone. Something about listening to everyone talk about grown children and grandchildren. (Of course, our first grandparent was such at the 15 year reunion. I think this is what you can an overachiever.) I just don't feel like I'm in sync with this - though, I suppose I never felt much in sync with my high school class. Still, there is supposed to be dancing. ("Is $1500 too much to spend for an evening of dancing?" she wonders. Then, she thinks, "But, what sort of music would they play?")

I did have some really good friends and some really good times. And, so, to honor the class of 1979...a slide show from senior year. (That would be year 12 for you Australians.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I am not a Queenslander

From Singles 2009

This fact was re-established yesterday at work.

A client coming into the exam room made one of those innocuous statements about the weather....and I totally blew it.

"My, it is getting cooler." She said.

"Yes. Isn't that wonderful!" I replied.


Note- misspelling is intentional. It is a vet thing.

Myron Hunt

From Singles 2009

My grandparents both came from large families. My grandmother had 8 siblings and my grandfather had 9. Very large and long lived. My grandfather's brother Myron just died, my mother told me. He was 97.

I'm feeling positively youthful.

"The Amateur Marriage" by Anne Tyler

From Singles 2009

She also said that when she first heard they’d found Joe’s body, she felt a bolt of something she would almost have to call anger. They made it sound as if he’d just been thoughtlessly mislaid, she said. Like somebody’s cast-off toy. When she herself had been so careful, all these years, to keep him safe and healthy.

In "The Amateur Marriage" we watch the courtship, marriage, and divorce of Michael and Pauline Anton. Michael is very controlled in his emotions and his reactions. Pauline is impetuous and talkative and reactive. They are not a match made in heaven. They are, rather, a match made in Baltimore - in a little neighborhood grocery on the afternoon of a big local sign up for service march at the beginning of WWII. Michael had no plan for enlisting until he was swept away by this exciting new girl in her red coat. He was and he did.

His time in the army was relatively brief being shot in the hip by his bunk mate during training (sorry, there I go giving away the plot! You weren't planning on reading this anyway.) His time with Pauline much longer though ultimately almost as painful.

I've enjoyed Anne Tyler in the past. Odd, quirky, everyday people. Books where my father would say "not much happens." (He never could figure why I liked those kinds of stories.) In the case of "The Amateur Marriage", however, I didn't find the characters to be pleasant - let alone charming. Yes, I understand that they loved each other on some level and were trying their best - that they were hopelessly mismatched - that life is messy and difficult and disappointing. I just didn't enjoy this experience. I read recently that it was a sign of immaturity to think that the characters must be likable.

Alas. I get older but no more mature.

I did enjoy reading Ms. Tyler's words, however. The quote at the beginning from Joe's mother, for example. Very nice.

And, Joe from the quote? He was a neighborhood boy killed in WWII. He didn't have much of a story here...which is just as well. I probably wouldn't have liked him much.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cadillac Juke Box

From Singles 2009

Morgues deny all the colors the mind wishes to associate with death. The surfaces are cool to the touch, made of aluminum and stainless steel, made even more sterile in appearance by the dull reflection of the fluorescent lighting overhead. The trough and the drains where an autopsy was just conducted are spotless; the water that wells across and cleans the trough's bottom could have issued from a spring.

But somehow, in the mind, you hear sounds behind all those gleaming lockers, like fluids dripping, a tendon constricting, a lip that tightens into a sneer across the teeth.

I've gotten pretty far behind here and writing this entry is made more difficult by the disjointed way I read the book. I started it in Brisbane before we left for the US, but I didn't finish it. I couldn't renew it long enough, so I returned it. Fortunately, Steve works for the Columbus library system and I was able to borrow a copy while I was in Ohio. Let's see. That means I finished the book about April 8. And,today is May 15.

Here goes.

Cadillac Jukebox.

Dave is entangled in the case of Aaron Crown, a man who is accused of shooting a civil rights leader 30 years ago. So, that means that Dave is caught in the middle between Aaron, Aaron's daughter, the soon to be Governor and his wife (who is an old lover of Dave's.) We've got Mexican drug dealers, the mob, an enormous, psychotic hit man, the daughter of the New Orleans mob boss and her pimp husband, and an old schoolmate of Dave's who is living on the edge between legal and illegal activity. Clete, Dave's new partner (whose name I can't remember) and Bootsy.

The governor was largely responsible for getting Aaron convicted. Aaron wants Dave to investigate his case. The governor doesn't. The mob doesn't. Aaron escapes from the penitentiary with the intent of finding the governor and assassinating him. The governor's lovely wife is intent on sleeping with Dave or, failing to do that, at least accuse him of inappropriate sexual advances. I found the mob and the Mexican drug stories to be harder to follow. This might have something to do with the multi-week gap in the middle of my reading!

Unfortunately, since I don't have a copy of the book, I cannot share many of Burke's lovely words with you. (You can pick up your own copy used from Amazon for 1c! That is 1/100 of a dollar for you Australians. I guess in your terms it would be free! Why not pick up several?) So, I'll leave you with two lines that were short enough that I wrote them down in their entirety while I was reading.

...and got back to the office with a headache feeling I had devoted most of the day snipping hangnails in a season of plaque.

Haven't we all had days like this?

And, finally, just a reminder that Dave is not consumed with violence and evil and work - but has an appreciation of beauty, nature, and god.

Catfish fillet with etouffee' on top. This is food you expect only in the afterlife.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Spring in Ohio (April 2009)

Before I left for my trip, Shay asked me what the weather would be like. "Rain," I told her. "And, sunshine. Warm days and cold days. Maybe snow."

She's always lived in Brisbane. She thought I was joking. Here we have sweeping weather changes from "Fine" to "Mostly fine"...all in the same week! OK. I exaggerate. Some days it does rain.

Anyway, in the course of the two weeks I spent in Ohio in April the weather was gloomy, sunny, rainy...and it did snow. I wore a hat and gloves. I sat in shirt sleeves with my mother on her deck basking on a warm spring morning. The usual.

What I didn't accurately convey to Shay, however, was how beautiful and soul expanding it was to be in Ohio in spring. The greens are fresh. The flowers earnest. The breeze smells like hope.

Kevin thinks it is paradise here. Granted, the days are mostly sunny and warm. But, unless you've huddled under the grey and cold of winter, I just don't think you can ever feel the same joy in spring.

"But I think I've learned not to grieve on the world's ways, at least not when spring is at hand." Dave Robicheaux from James Lee Burke's "Cadillac Jukebox"

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Visiting friends

From Singles 2009
I didn't get to see everyone.

My original plan was to attend the continuing education meeting in Athens at the University of Georgia and to see Lisa and Susette in the process. The logistics of doing this, however, were untenable involving a whole lot waiting in airports followed immediately by a hurried drive from Fayetteville, NC to Athens with little time for stopping in Charlotte.

I did get to see Tim and Flavio, Nan, Sandra, Christine and Nina, Sharon, Barb. Plus, I had time in Cleveland for gaming with (Kevin and) The Games Project including old friends Greg, Erin, Officer Mike. Big THANK YOU to Greg and Steve and Georgia for putting us up in Cleveland and Columbus!

For Kevin in particular our Ohio visit featured the "Gathering of Friends". Games. Games. Games. For 10 days. It was great to see Ken and Gail, Ken, and Erin.


From Phoenix - March 2009
Sounds like I'm surprised, doesn't it?

American Animal Hospital Association.

National meeting in Phoenix.

I was there, at the Convention Center (gee, its nice to not have that "e" dangling on the edge of the word) by 9 AM. I registered, attended an introductory meeting, then walked back to the hotel and took a nap.

The meeting ran from Thursday through Sunday -sometimes starting with a breakfast meeting at 7 or 8 AM and ending with a two hour evening session at 6 PM. I went the distance. It was very good. (Why is it that the first days lectures always seem to be the best? Is it a function of novelty? or fatigue? Hmmmm.)

My hotel was a little more than a mile from the Convention Center which is a very nice walk in the morning sunshine. (It is a bit long and chill in the evening. Twice I elected to take the train, instead.) The walk took me past the oldest church in Phoenix - St. Mary's Basilica, along the Arizona Center (very nice garden and good places to eat), and through ASU (which in my jet lagged state I thought was pretty cool to see was USA backwards.) Beautiful sunny days. Beautiful blue sky. Spring.

Once upon a time we thought we'd live in Phoenix. I even studied up and passed the state veterinary exam. I interviewed in several clinics, but ultimately decided that I'd be happier being nearer my family. (This was when my father was in the middle of his battle with colon cancer.) We moved, instead, to Cleveland. Anyway, I look at Phoenix now like a short-lived romance and wonder where we'd be had we chosen differently. Probably not Brisbane.

My most embarrassing moment occurred while eating out at "My Big Fat Greek Restaurant" the first evening. Sitting outside. Beautiful evening. The waitress is asking me what I'd like when I hear this WHOOSH!!! behind me and I scream a little and lunge forward throwing myself on the table. In my mind there was a tidal wave about to wipe over me. In reality, a waiter had lit some sort of flaming dish. I laughed all evening. I'm guessing the employees there laughed even longer.

Time to begin to catch up - Leaving on a Jet Plane

From photo a day

Let's see.

We left Australia March 25 - boarding V Australia in the late afternoon. Odd. We've always flown from Australia in the late morning. The difference meant two things practically. First, I could work for half a day. (Sometimes I do make crazy decisions.) Second, we arrived in LA much later (4:30 PM rather than about 7 AM). This ultimately determined where I decided to go to get my continuing education hours (Phoenix rather than Athens, GA.)

This was our first flight on V Australia. Bright, shiny new planes with bright shiny new employees. Everyone was very friendly and helpful...especially in the middle of the night when I determined that my glasses had fallen off my lap while I was sleeping. They came with their little pen lights and scanned the floor. Ultimately, determining that my glasses must have slid "quite some distance" and "maybe they would turn up when the lights came back on".

It was UNDOUBTEDLY this turn of events which led to me watching only one film. And, somehow, despite working repeatedly through the fantasy of how I was going to navigate for the next 2 days without any distance vision and find an optometrist in Phoenix, I managed to get a reasonable amount of sleep.

At breakfast I was served not only a warm meal but my specs. Yay! I was very pleased ...right up there with the relief I felt when we'd finished hiking through the Olgas (and Cradle Mountain) without falling down and breaking all the teeth in my head.

Kevin was generous and waited with me for several hours in LA before going home with his friend, Don. We ate and played Mystery Rummy and for the first time I skunked him.

I also called Phoenix to confirm my hotel reservation where I learned that the hotel was oversold and that when I arrived at 1 AM I was very likely going to have to jump back into a cab and find another "home". While inconvenient, it wasn't going to be AWFUL. They had already identified a "sister inn" that could take the overflow.

Once again I was lucky. When I arrived the receptionist was flummoxed having just been abused by the last car load of guests who learned they had no room at the inn. I had worked through this issue hours earlier and so was pleasant and accommodating. In the midst of our conversation she remembered that there was an available room. But, it was a "handicap suite"...which meant that it might be a little bigger. Well, damn. I guess that is OK.

I trundled off to my room, took a bath, and laid awake watching "Tough Love" on VH-1 until 4 AM.