pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out: January 2013

29 January 2013

Untitled because I'm feeling unclever

Merseyside Maritime Museum
Liverpool, England
20 July 2012

And because I'm not going write something like Titanic! AGAIN!

(It was actually quite a nice museum. It's just that everywhere we went in the UK and Ireland last summer, there was something to do with the Titanic. I get enough of that sort of thing here at home.)

Also, worth mentioning that last night's photo is gone, replaced by one of the same series that is not out of focus. That is the peril of posting directly from one's phone when one is too tired to do anything but go to sleep.

(And then dream that one is being chased around the desert by a giant worm. Really what I needed.)

Yesterday, I had a fairly disastrous day (which had the distinction of being a terrific day at the same time...April 2013 will be a titanic month, hopefully without being a titanic disaster. Okay, I'll stop now. Yes, I know... April. But also APRIL. Like April 2008. That kind of April. Which was good.)

Really, stopping now.



Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40. In April 2008, Deb noted that when I say that I'm "shutting up now," I'm most likely to be just getting interesting. Hmm. And OH SPIFF! I put 2012 on the watermark and 2013 on the date I took the photo, which of course is about six months in the future. *HeadDesk*

28 January 2013

Into the sunset

28 January 2013

24 January 2013

First snow

A light dusting of snow
Washington, D.C.
24 January 2013

The son texted me this photo this morning. I've been warning him that January and February would be cold, possibly snowy, and he kept telling me that he didn't know why I made him take a coat to school with him.

Then, two days ago I got a text:

"(Expletive), it's cold."

And he was sad he didn't have THE GLOVES THAT I FORCED ON HIM in his pocket.

Poor child born and raised in southern California. Yes, Mama knows best. She was born a couple of miles from where this photo was taken and periodically wore snowsuits as a child.

(D.C. isn't exactly the Arctic North, but I've certainly seen my share of the white stuff there.)

Anyway, I replied that it would be kind if he supplied the neighbors with some hot chocolate.

We joke about his neighbors a good bit. The son approves of them. They're very quiet, he tells me.

(Yup, that is exactly what it looks like. Far more satisfactory than the athletic field on the other side of the building, the scene of loud football games.)

It's not that he hasn't seen snow. We've dragged him off to ski and snowshoe in the Sierra and in New Mexico. He was there for the unholy storm we saw in Sequoia two years ago. But he's never lived in it.

And it's really supposed to snow tomorrow.

He'll be grateful for that coat. And muffler. And the gloves. And the woolen socks.

Tech stuff: Taken with the son's LG whatever phone. Photo used by permission ("Send it around so everyone can coo." Done and done, kid).

22 January 2013

The shape of things to come

Concourse C
Dallas, Texas
29 March 2012

I spend a phenomenal amount of time in this airport. For any number of reasons: concerts, vacations, college visits. There are other airports that I spend plenty of time in, too, of course. My home airport, Chicago O'Hare (Meet you at the Slip 'n Slide!), Sky Harbor, Washington National, Schiphol (of all places). I may dislike flying, but airports mostly have a flavor of their own.

At least I know I can manage again.


The son went to Inauguration yesterday. I was pleased and surprised that he'd venture into the seething mass of humanity to bear witness. I keep trying to impress upon him that there will never be another time like his college years, a time when he is free to explore, to learn and to stretch his wings. He seems to be listening. He just got himself accepted into the volunteer EMS program at his school. Once he completes basic EMT training, he'll be eligible to continue on. That's something to think about. My kid, an EMT-B at 19. 



The daughter, on the other hand, has gotten the official boot from PE. Because of the surgery, she'll be out of commission until at least mid-March, and so is being reassigned as a TA. This summer, I get to pay for her to take an online (so wish I was kidding) PE course, so she can complete her PE credits for college. Frankly, I can't believe that I have to go to these lengths because she was injured at school. I'm more than a little annoyed. 

Annoyed doesn't begin to cover it, actually.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4. Full disclosure: I'm choosing to pay for an online class to avoid having the kid get behind. She could take another year of PE next year as a part requirement, part elective, but if she's injured again, it will really mess with her other required classes. The whole thing has just been a bit asinine in the way it's played out.

20 January 2013

A look beyond

Nuuk, Greenland
30 July 2008

For a long while, I stopped taking photos when I traveled. I carry what I've seen and done in my head, and that's a pretty fine place for it.

(Says she who needs to shred about 20 years of handwritten journals before she unexpectedly drops dead or something. I really could live without my 11-year-old histrionics playing out before a wider audience. I think I'd rest easier dead, as well. What a foolish horror movie that would make: some middle-aged ghost trying to prevent people from reading old, embarrassing journals.)

In any event, I rediscovered the joys of photography as photography and not as taking snapshots. A snapshot is an idea of its own--all that point-and-shoot--but actually photographing something and thinking about light and angles is a bit more fun. I'd just started to revisit the concept on this trip.

I'm still working that whole 2008 thing. This was a really good day.

I really wanted to see both Greenland and Iceland, and this was the trip where that happened.

I really want to go back. Of course, there is a good deal of the rest of the world I want to see, too.

Despite everything, I got back out there in 2012.

Despite everything.

I have to remember that.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40. Yes, yes, yes, there is far too much sea in the photo. I'd not bought a telephoto yet.

16 January 2013

It's all Norwegian to me

Bergen, Norway
21 July 2008

Yes, you might well ask why I'm posting a photo of a sign that is in Norwegian. 

As the year turned over, I tried to imagine what I'd like my life to look like in 2013. I'd like it to look like 2007, I thought, or 2008. Yes, I thought, 2008 was a nice year. 

Well, some of 2008 was a nice year. If you recall (if you were reading Out of the Kitchen in those days), there were many times that I had to bite my tongue really really hard. In part to keep from screaming in frustration, in part because anything I said could easily have been found by parties I wouldn't want reading what I was saying. I try to keep peace. Had this been a private personal blog, I could have easily excoriated all and sundry, but it's not and I couldn't.  So I held my peace, didn't say my piece, and spent lots of time biting my tongue. Or my fingers.

So guess which part of 2008 I've landed in? Yeah, that part. 

For all you know, that sign says "Online bowling at BYU."

And that, my darlings, was my day today.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40. Yes, if you look closely, it is in fact talking about drinking water and what not to do in it. So yeah, that, too.

14 January 2013

Chasing the sun

12 January 2013

My world got a bit overwhelming there for a bit.

It's been quite cold for California these last few days, and Milton has been moving from sun patch to sun patch, trying to warm himself. As I pointed out on Twitter, I tend to keep the heat turned down on the lowish side. He is getting older, and the cold makes him cranky. Sometimes I have to gather him up in my arms to warm him and he both purrs with pleasure and yowls with displeasure. At the same time. Such a cat.

We discovered today that the daughter will require knee surgery. Of course. It won't be the major and complex reconstruction that the son underwent, but surgery, however minor, always carries risks. I wish that it wasn't necessary.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.

09 January 2013

California's a little less gold

Not infrequently, we, along with the spouse's family, celebrate special occasions at the spouse's and his father's alma mater. The school has a lovely private club--we held our wedding reception there--and it usually offers Sunday brunch at the holidays. It's elegant without being overly stuffy, an interesting combination of old Pasadena and old science, and the food is relatively good.

So that was the scene. Christmas brunch, a number of years ago.

I had the son--all of 7 years old--in hand, and he was making a bee line for the large and attractive display at the end of a long row of buffet tables. It was an ice sculpture festooned with enormous shrimp and crab legs,  a seafood delight the boy was not going to pass up. Because I'd rather my children return to the buffet 1,000 times instead of taking 1,000 items and wasting 998, I'd given the son a firm number. He was allowed to take a half dozen shrimp and two crab legs, and once those had been consumed, I'd consider allowing a return visit. So, there he was, resplendent in his boy-sized navy blazer, white dress shirt, tie and khakis, carefully balancing the large plate while he consider the display. I stood a little way off to supervise but not hover.

As the boy began to carefully fill his plate, a tall and handsome man, middle-aged but well-built, resplendent in his navy blazer, dress shirt, tie and khakis, came around from the other side of the buffet. Rather than immediately delve into the food, he stopped to watch the son who was quietly counting out his allotment. And he continued to watch as the son proceeded methodically, careful not to spill. Finally the man couldn't contain himself any longer, and he asked the son in a friendly and amused way, "Are you really going to eat all that shrimp and crab?"

"Yes, thank you," said the son solemnly. "It's my favorite."

"You must really like seafood!" the man exclaimed.

"He would eat his weight in shrimp if allowed," I told him while the son nodded vigorously.

And Huell Howser, the man in question, laughed out loud.


Huell Howser certainly seemed to be one of the good guys. Monday night, hours after we learned of his passing, tributes to him poured in, and many, many of the people who wrote about him wrote that they felt like they'd lost a member of their family.

If you don't live in Southern California, and if you never watched KCET or one of the other So Cal PBS affiliates, you probably have no idea who I'm talking about. In our family, Huell was affectionately known as "the mudpot man." And we called him that because the mudpot episode of his television show California's Gold happened to be the first one that we saw. We watched him talk about the mudpots out in the desert. He was thrilled and excited. We were charmed. Watching his shows became habit.

You can read about Huell in the LA Times or any of the other local papers, so there's not much point in duplicating what's already been said. Some people thought he was corny, that his unbridled (and unrelenting) enthusiasm was an act; frankly, we thought he was hilarious in the best way possible, and his endless (and unrelenting) curiosity mirrored our own, so his shows were always a pleasure to watch. And we knew from experience that his pleasant personality and interest in everything--including how much shrimp a small boy could consume if a small boy were to consume shrimp--were quite genuine.

I do, in fact, have a photo from that day, though I was not the person who took it.

04 January 2013

Mathew Street

Mathew Street
Liverpool, United Kingdom
20 July 2012

The wizened little man grabbed my elbow with tremendous enthusiasm.

"You must know the Beatles," he said in a raspy voice barely above a whisper, old eyes twinkling.

"Um, they were a bit before my time," I told him, trying to be polite and not entirely sure what he was getting at.

"But you know who they are. You know their music?" he would not be deterred.

I laughed.

"Everyone knows their music," I told him. "My daughter sings Beatles songs in a band at her school."

The daughter smiled and nodded.

"Well, you must go to Mathew Street," he told me. "It's the home of the Beatles."

"The Cavern Club," I said.

"Yes!" he crowed. "The Cavern Club!"

And he proceeded, very sweetly, to give me directions.

I wouldn't classify myself as a Beatles fan. I've never owned a Beatles album, though I certainly know a substantial number of their songs. Even though they were largely defunct as a group by the time I hit primary school, they were still omnipresent. And I'm certainly aware of their contribution not just to a genre, but to an era.

And there we were in Liverpool. And the daughter had promised her friend, who is a huge Beatles fan, a souvenir from Liverpool.

(And the daughter does sing in a Beatles tribute band at her school. She was dragged into the club by the friend who is a fan and by her Algebra III teacher, who is the advisor. I think, despite the dragging, she enjoys it.)

So the kids and I tromped around Liverpool. It was a gorgeous day, one of the first sunny ones we'd seen on the trip, and Liverpool was actually rather charming. Eventually, we found our way to Mathew Street. It wasn't too busy, but there were people ducking into the doorway of the Cavern Club, somewhat surreptitiously, to have their photos taken. When the coast was clear, I directed the daughter to take her turn.

"Mommy!" she said, mortified.

"But you have to send the photo to CH," I explained, so she complied and I took several shots with my iPhone so she could have the almost instant gratification of texting it to CH far away in California.

Then we stopped in one of the shops on the corner so the daughter could buy some trinkets for the girls back home. The son grumped a bit, but the daughter rather gleefully purchased a t-shirt for herself that she could wear to club meetings. She and I had fun picking out gifts as well.

And I mentally blessed the elderly man who'd directed us there with such enthusiasm and pleasure because it had turned out to be a good excursion. It was only later that I realized he was probably of an age with the surviving band members, and might well have seen them himself in their heyday.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

02 January 2013

Welcome to California. Now go home.

Newport Pier
Newport Beach, California
31 December 2012

The spouse and I said it at exactly the same moment. And just to be contrary, I jumped a few times.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4. "No jumping." Really? REALLY? They already specified "No diving," which pretty much covers no jumping off the pier...

01 January 2013

As I mean to go on

Newport Pier
Newport Beach, California
31 December 2012

Which also means that I must go to sleep. Now.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4 and the God-knows-what combo from Hipstamatic.