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Oh, Helianthus

Tuesday, 03 May 2016, 22:23 UTC

Waiting for Pizza

Tuesday, 03 May 2016, 21:51 UTC

We both ordered ten inch pizzas. Hers had mushrooms and onions, mine mushrooms and sausage. That was it. Just two small pizzas. No drinks. Nothing else.

The fair and industrious Trudy handled the finances and evidently tipped generously, because we got a ring of the cow bell and several whoop!s from the staff behind the glass tossing pizzas into the air.

As we were seating ourselves outside in the setting sunlight, a group of runners was doing the same. They had clearly just returned from a run, decked in running gear as they were, some with sweaty caps on their heads. And they had salads. There were eight of them, men an woman in their sixties — and every one of them came out onto the patio with nothing but a salad.

Now, I ate well at lunch today, so I was feeling proud, but holy cow, these folks had just finished a workout and each one of them was eating nothing but a salad. As we were anticipating our carbs, they were foraging on greens and carrots.

“Look,” I whispered to Trudy and nodded in their direction. I no longer felt quite so proud of my lunchtime achievement.

And then… yes then… a waitress came thru the doors carrying a plate stacked with at least 20 pepperoni rolls. She put them squarely in the middle of the runners’ table so they all could easily reach.

It was a huge relief.

Good With A Shovel

Sunday, 01 May 2016, 22:16 UTC

“I’m pretty good with a shovel,” I told Gilbert. “I’ll dig the hole.”

We are replacing our main circuit breaker panel, and we have to put in a new grounding system in order to be code compliant. Gilbert’s attempts to drive two 8-foot grounding rods had (unsurprisingly) failed, since there’s solid limestone four or five feet down. I was offering to do the digging for the city’s alternative grounding scheme: a 3 foot x 3 foot steel plate buried three feet down.

On Friday, Gilbert said we could do two smaller plates rather than one big one.

“I’ll dig the holes,” I told him.

I started today at 2:00. The sun had just passed behind the eves of the roof, so I was in the shade. 

There was gravel below the loamy garden topsoil, which was not a surprise. And then I hit black clay that made me set my shovel aside. I started using a post-hole digger (a hard way to dig two 1 foot x 2 foot holes). 

3:00 came and went. Then 4:00 came. And 5:00.

After 18 inches of black clay, there was another 18 inches of reddish clay. It was grueling work. The clay didn’t fall off of the post-hole digger, but the fair and industrious Trudy came to the rescue, scraping the gunk off the blades so that I wouldn’t have to bend over after each load.

6:00 came and went.

I hit solid rock and bent the blade of my grandfather’s post-hole digger. This is bulky-trash weekend in our neighborhood, and the salvaging/scavanging/recycling trucks have been driving up and down the streets for two days. I was mighty tempted to set the bent post-hole digger out by the curb, but Trudy would have nothing to do with it.

“You can’t get rid of your grandfather’s post-hole digger,” she said.

Ok, but I couldn’t use it, either. So I went begging: first to Ron who has a long rock-bar which sadly is in a shed 30 miles away, and then to Bill who loaned me a rock bar and his heavy-duty post-hole digger.

By the time 8:30 rolled around, the deed was finally done. I could barely speak.

Let’s just say that I might be good with a shovel, but with a post-hole digger in gunk — not so much.

Your Primrose

Saturday, 30 Apr 2016, 23:54 UTC

You know that salvia you brought back from the wildflower center years ago? The one that made me grumble because it wasn’t salvia? (I’ve spoken of it before.) You remember how I’ve told you in the ensuing years that it’s some kind of wild-ish primrose? How it has happily crept over the years in the shade of the Monterey Oak? How in the spring it pops up reliably with long lanky steps and pale pink blossoms with yellow centers and yellow pollen dust?

Yeah. That one.

For something that made me grumble, it sure has made me happy.

The Bunting that the Rains Brought In

Saturday, 30 Apr 2016, 11:10 UTC

We sat on the bench enjoying the soft ground and the cool fresh air that last night’s storm brought — and look what else.

Eat a Peach

Wednesday, 27 Apr 2016, 20:23 UTC

We went out with the dogs, she and I, just as evening spread out against the sky, as the heat of the day lifted, leaving a cool breeze behind.

We walked across the soccer field and around the track and back. And when we got home, as she stood in the kitchen reading her phone, the fair and industrious Trudy asked me, “Wanna eat a peach?” 

My taste is coming back, but nothing’s quite right yet, although it must be said that it’s much better than it has been. And so, I thought I might take her dare and eat that peach. 

And I can just tell you this: that peach let loose the most wondrous sensation in my mouth that I have ever in my life experienced.


Wednesday, 27 Apr 2016, 20:09 UTC

Vyas and I had just finished testing our software. It was an end-to-end test of some automated data flows: moving data about, transforming it, passing it on to other systems and finally modifying the output of a web application. The two of us had worked closely for a couple weeks, and we were in a mood to congratulate ourselves.

“Did you ever watch Fractured Fairytales?” I Skyped him. I knew the answer, but I asked anyway.

“Ha ha. No. Why?” he replied. 

“There used to be this two-headed dragon,” I explained. “It (or they) would get into all kinds of trouble, wreaking havoc and so on. And when their pillaging was thru, they would look at each other and say (in unison)… Teamwork! Teamwork! That’s what counts! And as they shook hands, they would say (again in unison), Yeaaaaaaah!”

“Lol,” Vyas wrote. “Yeah!”

Blossom and Bird and Berries and Bird

Monday, 25 Apr 2016, 09:48 UTC

And just in case you don’t quite understand the aforesaid fascination of blossoms and bees and berries and birds, I submit the following for your consideration.

Cast Party

Monday, 25 Apr 2016, 01:47 UTC

As Trudy and Izzy celebrated the last show of Legally Blonde, I sat in the front yard watching the afternoon sun light up the orange and pink blossoms of the Coneflowers. I was feeling guilty, having participated not one iota in Miss Izzy’s stage debut, leaving the training and logistics to the fair and industrious Trudy.

I sat in guilt-ridden silence watching the bees on the Coneflowers, enjoying the cool breeze and the smell of BBQ blowing over from the neighbors’ backyard. The show had long been over. The day was coming to an end. And in the silence of my self-imposed solitary confinement, it occurred to me that perhaps Trudy and Izzy had gone to the cast party.

Then, as I was huddling over a blossom watching a bee, a Mockingbird flew by and landed in the Agarita. I looked over to see it gulping down the red berries that had ripened overnight. I watched the bird. The bird watched me and then flew around to the Lantana beside the mailbox where a week ago there were pink and yellow and white blossoms but now there were… ripe berries.

What would you rather be doing on a Sunday late afternoon: celebrating at a cast party or contemplating bees, birds and berries? Wait — don’t answer that.

Ruler of The Queen’s Navy

Thursday, 21 Apr 2016, 17:36 UTC

We used to play a game in our family in which one of us would sing the first word of a song, and the others would guess what song it was. I know it doesn’t sound as if it would work, but it did. If no one got it at first, we’d go around again with two words. Then three. And then four. Eventually someone would guess correctly; it was just a matter of time.

The challenge was that if you were singing, you had to remember the lyrics, you had to remember the melody and you had to sing loudly. Or not. Which was of course what made it so entertaining. There was inevitably much gut-wrenching laughter, and much poking fun.

I remember, however, only one particular song and the singer who sang it.

It was my grandmother. When it was Nani’s turn this one evening, she thought only briefly and then, with a wicked smile on her face, sang out a single syllable “King!” in an ambiguous tone that gave us little hint of the melody.

We were, of course, stumped. All of us… except the three Sisty Uglers, who knew their mother and were able, thru some incredible act of time travel and musical extrapolation, to deduce the specific song: Gilbert and Sullivan’s The First Lord’s Song, the first verse of which is

When I was a lad I served a term
As office boy to an attorney’s firm.
I cleaned the windows and I swept the floor,
And I polished up the handle of the big front door.

He polished up the handle of the big front door.

I polished up that handle so carefully
That now I am the Ruler of the Queen’s Navy.

He polished up that handle so carefully
That now he is the Ruler of the Queen’s Navy.

Now, you will notice that the word king appears nowhere, as it indeed appears nowhere in the song. And even if you allow for the substitution of queen for king, you will see that the royal title does not occur as the first word. Yet in spite of that, her daughters guessed the song. They guessed the song from the wrong word sung in the wrong place to virtually no tune at all!

We laughed so hard, our sides did ache. And my grandmother won the game!

Happy Birthday, Nani.