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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dangerous Gifts

I bought this cute set of Karate Santa ornaments on eBay to give to Treklet's Taekwondo Master.

On the back of the box there is a warning label:

What the heck??

Inside the box there is list full sheet in tiny font listing the Terms and Conditions of use:

Are you freaking kidding me???

Wow, I sure hope Master Truscott is careful using these dangerous ornaments. Maybe next year we'll get him something a little safer, like a pack of razor blades or a bottle of muriatic acid.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Stingy Jack


I usually carve an elaborate design, but this year I tried something new. It was easy and fast.
OMNOMNOM

The Irish brought the tradition of the Jack O'Lantern to America. But, the original Jack O'Lantern was not a pumpkin.The Jack O'Lantern legend goes back hundreds of years in Irish History. As the story goes, Stingy Jack was a miserable, old drunk who liked to play tricks on everyone: family, friends, his mother and even the Devil himself. One day, he tricked the Devil into climbing up an apple tree. Once the Devil climbed up the apple tree, Stingy Jack hurriedly placed crosses around the trunk of the tree. The Devil was then unable to get down the tree. Stingy Jack made the Devil promise him not to take his soul when he died. Once the devil promised not to take his soul, Stingy Jack removed the crosses and let the Devil down.
Many years later, when Jack finally died, he went to the pearly gates of Heaven and was told by Saint Peter that he was too mean and too cruel, and had led a miserable and worthless life on earth. He was not allowed to enter heaven. He then went down to Hell and the Devil. The Devil kept his promise and would not allow him to enter Hell. Now Jack was scared and had nowhere to go but to wander about forever in the darkness between heaven and hell. He asked the Devil how he could leave as there was no light. The Devil tossed him an ember from the flames of Hell to help him light his way. Jack placed the ember in a hollowed out Turnip, one of his favorite foods which he always carried around with him whenever he could steal one. For that day onward, Stingy Jack roamed the earth without a resting place, lighting his way as he went with his "Jack O'Lantern".
On all Hallow's eve, the Irish hollowed out Turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and beets. They placed a light in them to ward off evil spirits and keep Stingy Jack away. These were the original Jack O'Lanterns. In the 1800's a couple of waves of Irish immigrants came to America. The Irish immigrants quickly discovered that Pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve out. So they used pumpkins for Jack O'Lanterns.

(I did not write this) CREDIT: pumpkinnook.com

Dropbox


I use Dropbox every day. It's very useful, especially when needing to access files between multiple computers/devices. I seriously use it every day. 
Our lesson plans our there--I can access from laptop, desktop, iPad or phone.  Copies of tickets or reservations I bought online? In the Dropbox. Backups of my Quicken files? In the Dropbox. Pictures I want to move to my other computer? In the Dropbox. Pictures of my insurance cards? In the Dropbox. There are a million uses for it. You can even share files with others.
What's the best thing about Dropbox? It's FREE! If you sign up for your free Dropbox, I will get extra storage for FREE, and when your friends sign up from your referral link YOU will get extra FREE storage--up to 8 MB!
My Dropbox is FULL! Oh noes!! I only have a 3 MB dropbox, so won't you give it a try and help me get more storage in the process?

Get your free Dropbox here:


http://db.tt/0KSYMDjE

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Aunt Ruth's Fruit Salad

I wasn't planning on blogging today. I haven't blogged in MONTHS and there is so much I could write about, but several tweeps asked for this recipe, so here is a quickie blog post.


I am homeschooling Treklet now, and we had very little to do this morning and finished very early. We were having a lunch guest, so I added a cooking lesson and had her cut fruit and help measure the ingredients for the sauce in the recipe below.


My Aunt Ruth was my mother's sister. She's been gone several years, after a depressing several years with Alzeimers. My mother and her were both adopted, and were not blood-related. They were opposite it many ways, and bickered  constantly when they were together. I don't mean that in a bad way, they just did, but they were very close. I miss them both!!


Me, Aunt Ruth and my eldest, Katie
12 years ago. She didn't remember the day we
spent at Navy Pier when we got back home.
Alzheimer's SUCKS


Aunt Ruth and I visited often. As a matter of fact, it was her that I stayed with the night I left my 1st husband the manic-depressive, alcoholic drug addict. :-0.  We smuggled my 80 pound German Shepherd into her 3rd floor (no pets allowed) condominium and I slept on the couch. The next day my sister-in-law drove down from Madison to get me and I lived with my brother for almost a year before moving back to CA. 

After my mom died (1991) my Aunt & I grew very close.My mom's memorial service was at her church. I talked to her at least weekly on the phone. She came to CA and visited once and I went back and stayed with her several times at her condo in suburban Chicago.

WOW!! WHAT A RABBIT TRAIL!!  All that because of fruit salad. 



Aunt Ruth gave me this recipe about 25 years ago. My family loves it. Use any fruit you like, just mix it up! It's good with or without the Cool-Whip. Use SPARINGLY over your fruit because it's very sweet, and frankly, not very healthy with all those marshmallows in it. ;-) 


I serve this over any kind of mixed fruit. Today I combined cut up banana, apple, peach, plum, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries! I did not add the Cool Whip. 


FRUIT SALAD DRESSING
from Aunt Ruth

Ingredients:

2 T. flour
3/4 C. sugar
pinch salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 T. butter                                          
1 C. pineapple juice                
Juice of 1 lemon                                 
18 marshmallows       
Cool Whip (optional) 
           
Directions:

            Mix flour, sugar, salt, eggs, and butter. Add juice and cook slowly, stirring constantly, until it just begins to boil and thicken. Beat in marshmallows while mixture is warm.
            When cool, add Cool Whip, if desired. Keep tightly covered in refrigerator.
            Serve over fresh mixed fruit.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Are you ready for the Khan???


I know, I know...there have been at least a dozen blog-worthy things in my life the last couple of months, but I have FAILED in documenting them.

I had a blast at Phoenix Comic Con with Treklet, took an 18 day TwroadTwrip with her and met up with 7 Tweeps along the way, and made a huge decision--we're homeschooling now! Perhaps I'll get around to writing about some of the details in the near future. Right now I'm struggling with organizing my thousands of photos from the trip!

I'm uber-excited to have TrekJen visit in a couple of weeks during San Diego Comic Con! I've got my w00tstock and Roddenberry Dive Team Mixer tickets, and look forward to seeing more tweeps, old and new.

Soon it will be time for the Big One--the Star Trek Las Vegas Khan!!! Are you going? I know I am, and I'll be dressed for it! Here is the info on this year's customizable Star Trek Tweeps gear:



"You're not ready for Khannnnnn without your Trek Tweep PERSONALIZED gear! T-shirts and more with the Trek Tweep TWOCK on the front and YOUR Twitter handle on the back! Ordering is easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Visit http://www.cafepress.com/kwamsrantshop/7876885 and choose the item you want. Be sure to note it's name and item number.
  2. E-mail kwamster@me.com with the item you want, and your Twitter name.
  3. I'll e-mail you back a link to your personalized item(s), then you can order!
Also: 
  • Discounts- Here are some codes to use:
    1. 15% off (until 7/7) code: JULY15
    2. $15 off $50 or more (until 8/31), code ANN0623
    3. 15% off (Not sure of exp. date), code: LIVELONG"

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ode to Ernie

(sing to the tune of "The Candy Man")

Who can take a drear day
Add a cup joe
Cover it in chocolate
and a Trek reference or two?

The Ernie Man
The Ernie Man can
The Ernie Man can cause he mixes it with Trek and makes the world feel good

Who can take a starship
Set it on the floor
Pose it with a pig
and make a photo I adore?

The Ernie Man?

The Ernie Man!
The Ernie Man can
The Ernie Man can cause he mixes it with Trek and makes the world look good

Ernie_five makes
Every pic he takes
Satisfying and surprising
Talk about the ratings rising
They all become Enterprising

Who can take tomorrow
Dip it in a dream
Defeat Cardassia
And collect up all the Breen?

The Ernie Man

The Ernie Man can

Ernie_five can cause he mixes it with love
And makes the world feel good
And the world feels good cause the Ernie Man thinks it should


Monday, April 25, 2011

36 years ago today

May dad died 36 years ago today. I was 14. It took 5 years for cancer to finally win. Frankly, I mostly remember him as a man we went to visit at the VA Hospital. I remember the phone ringing in the middle of the night. I knew it was the hospital. I knew it meant he died. Then I heard mom cry.

This is a poem I wrote soon after his passing:


NICE GUYS FINISH LAST

My daddy was tough
My daddy was kind
He was the kind of man
You very rarely find

He had such reason
To moan and complain
He never did
Even when in great pain

He always wanted
Me to have the best
He never wanted me
To be like all the rest

He was a proud man
He held his head high
Never put others down
Oh God, Why did he die?

We watched him suffer
Five long, drawn-out years
We sure watched him, all right
Through the saltywet tears

The one time he cried
Was on his dying bed
The last time I saw him
Five days ‘til he was dead

He is gone now
We can’t revive what’s past
Now mommy cries a lot
‘Cause nice guys finish last

I can't say that this any great art, but I was a kid, and I was hurting. I have used poetry at many times of hurting in my life. I've never really shared most of my writings. 

My dad was an orphan; his mother died in childbirth with his youngest brother and his father "died of a broken heart" shortly after that. His mom was German and his dad was Irish. His three sisters were old enough to find work, he and his two younger brothers went to a German Catholic orphanage. The middle brother, Chuck, died when I was a kid. I vaguely remember him as a very obese man that was buried in a double wide casket. The youngest of the brothers, my Uncle John, remained a devout Catholic his whole life. He is a Deacon, and a former National President of St Vincent De Paul Society. He is 84 now, and in frail health. I last saw him eleven years ago. All of the sisters are long gone.

My dad, Robert,  was born August 9, 1918. He died April 25, 1975. He was only 56 years old.  He was a Marine in WWII. He was on a bridge in Okinawa that was blown up by Kamikazes. His pelvis was crushed and he had several discs in his spine fused. He last worked as a tool and dye maker for Boise Cascade. I wish I could tell you more, but that's all I know.

Here's a picture of my dad in the Marines. I think he looked like John Wayne. 






Monday, April 18, 2011

Beginning of Spring Break

Treklet & I started our break Friday night. We had a yummy Groupon dinner at Dominics Italian Restaurant and then saw Classical Academy's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. We enjoyed the show very much!



Saturday we went to a Tweetup at the Safari Park's Butterfly Jungle. We spent about 90 munites there, then we had a Toys R Us adventure.You can view it here:
A Trip to TRU With Treklet

While waiting for my tow hitch to be installed on The Leviathan, we hung out at the library. Treklet got a book and I took advantage of free WiFi for my iPADD.

Sunday was loads of fun. After church we headed for the Sikes Adobe near Lake Hodges. It's a replica of the historical home that burned down in the 2007 Firestorm. We learned a bit about the Sikes family from the docents, Treklet decorated a basket, then hunted for not-so-hidden eggs. I won the Jellybean Contest and got 10 tickets for her to use on pony rides and bouncers. Farmers Market was going on at the same time, so we bought fresh produce, bakery items and I even got a chair massage!






Monday has found us stuck inside. We were going to have a pool day, but the weather is not very nice. It's cloudy and cool, so instead we watched some kid shows, went in the jacuzzi for a bit and made egg-shaped Rice Krispie Treats with M&Ms inside them. What a sticky, gooey mess! It may take hours of soaking to get the marshmallow goop out of my pot.

Later on we are going to participate in a service project with her castmates in Wizard of Oz. They are packing boxes of cereal for the local food banks, then we'll have a pizza party before rehearsal.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Say hello to my little friend!

Well I didn't relax for very long. I did a lot, yet it was actually relaxing. I think it's because I was on MY time, and I didn't have run off anywhere. It's nice to stay home and awesome having a carpool for Treklet.
So what did I do?
Weeded & fertilized my veggie garden
Picked tangelos & limes
Made a garlic tea insect repellent (it's steeping OUTSIDE)
Cleaned an refilled the fountain
Picked up dog poo
Adjusted the spa chemistry
Ran a load of "delicates" through the machine & hung them out to dry
Filled the bird feeders
Watched The Cape (well mostly listened) while I gardened
Unloaded the dishwasher
And made this video!
video

Relaxation! It's actually hard for me.





I woke up with a bit of a stuffy head & sore throat. I'm not really very sick, but since I had nothing pressing on my calendar today (amazing, right?) and it's not my carpool week, I asked The Alien to get Treklet ready for school so I could sleep in. Of course, 20 minutes later I was up anyway. Still, I am taking it easy for the second day in a row! This never happens.

I checked out a show on my Netflix queue, Arrested Development, while I browsed Tumblr. I enjoy the pictures on Tumblr, but it really is just fluff. The show was lame. It is now deleted from my queue.

I'm now sitting in my uber-comfy papasan chair on my balcony soaking up sunshine and reading (and blogging) on my marvelous iPADD. I'm so pleased that we splurged on this wonderful gadget for my birthday last month! I am also amazed at the battery life. Yesterday I streamed Hulu, read comics, tweeted, tumbled, facebooked, browsed, listened to music and cooked (recipe app--its not a kitchen utensil) with my iPADD all day and into the evening with a single charge. No way my iPhone can battery can keep up with me like that!

I just finished reading Volume 1 of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman with my pooch, Tuvok at my side. I can hear our resident House Wren singing his heart out, announcing to the world that this is HIS yard and that gourd holds HIS mate and HIS nest. Lesser Goldfinches are at the Niger feeder and Anna's hummingbirds buzz to and fro sipping nectar from the feeders I replenished on Sunday. All three feeders are nearly empty already. The fountain trickles steadily. The air is heavy with the scents of jasmine and orange blossoms. It's all so calming and peaceful, yet my brain keeps interrupting: better fill those feeders, the fountain looks a bit green--time to clean it, fruit is falling--you should go harvest the tangelos, maybe you should fertilize and weed the veggie garden....

It's 10:30. Have I relaxed enough yet? Can I go DO stuff now?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

vernal nightfall

thick scents of jasmine and orange blossoms
with every breath invading, overtaking
intoxicating, heavy

crepuscular sounds
of eerie nighttime creatures
the darkness is almost
the light is not quite

no breeze
stillness
air heavy with perfume
cobalt turns to midnight blue
beacons begin to penetrate the vault of heaven
finally brighter
than the gloaming


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bats

I like bats. I don't understand people who are afraid of them. Afraid of what? They eat bugs, not people? The bats around here are smaller than the palm of your hand. I mean, it's not like they're SPIDERS!


Treklet & I enjoy sitting on the balcony at dusk looking for "batty bats." The back of our house faces a hill, the lower part of which is covered in native live oaks and the upper part in avocado trees.

Yesterday afternoon I spotted something on the stucco outside my house. It was a little shivering bat! I snapped a couple of pics from a distance of about 3 feet, then the little furball spread its wings and fluttered into the woods.


Today as I was browsing my Google Reader I spied this article on bats: Bats Worth Billions to Agriculture--But They're Dying Fast.  I also spied this article on bees: Honeybees 'entomb' Hives to Protect Against Pesticides. I find lots of dead honeybees on the ground around my house. I often wonder if the avocado grove uses pesticides that are harmful to them.

Bats and bees: two amazing species that are very helpful to humans, yet both are so bitterly feared and hated, and both are in very big danger. Think again about the precious bees and bats, won't you?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thanks and More Thanks

Last weekend, over 3,000 volunteers from all over San Diego County gathered in the parking lot of The Church at Rancho Bernardo and packaged 530,000 meals! A shipping container was loaded on-site and is already on its way to Tanzania with the food we packaged! Many thanks to all of the sponsors who made this event possible.

My iPad 2 arrived today! It's my birthday gift from The Alien. I love it! As a matter of fact I am writing this post on it!
I'll be spending the better part of the next few days tweaking it just right, uploading my digital copy DVDs and exploring new apps.

Thanks Alien!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

#NerdAlert!


I've wanted these for a long time! Today I found the deal I was waiting for: 50% off at Cafe Press! If you want cool nerdy stuff for half off go to Friends and Family Circle and buy the $30 for $15 at Cafe Press deal.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lent: Giving Up or Letting Go?

     Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Lent is the 40-day period leading up to Easter, considered by Christians to be a time of sacrifice for Jesus, in preparation of the believer for the annual commemoration of His crucifixion and resurrection.

     Some of the ways that Christians observe Lent are through prayer, penitence, charitable giving, and sacrifice by way of self-denial. These actions are supposed to draw us closer to God, to remove obstacles to our communion with Him. I wanted to look at each of those and how we might effectively implement them in our modern lives.

     Prayer: Instead of praying for our own gain, let's try praying for our enemies. Truthfully, most of our personal enemies are actually just people with different opinions than ours, not true threats. Sometimes, looking into ourselves, we realize we are simply jealous, and that's why we feel threatened. Sometimes our pride was dented. Sometimes we truly were wronged, but we survived. If someone has hurt you, pray for them. If someone has more than you, get over it. If someone is a danger to you, or is abusive to you in any way, please distance yourself and get to a safe place. I’m just pointing out that many of our grudges are petty in the grand scheme of things, and only serve to hold us back from our true potential and from fully worshipping and honoring God.

     Penitence: Wow this is a tough one. We are all sinners. We know when we do wrong, but sometimes we don't care! If it feels good, do it, right? I’ll do it just this once, and then I’ll ask for forgiveness. Maybe we don't think our sins are "that bad." The fact of the matter is that sin is sin, and sin is anything that separates us from God. True penitence means feeling genuine sorrow and remorse for our wrongdoings. This requires much introspection. What have you done to harm others, yourself, or God? I always tell my kids that “sorry” means you feel bad and you don't want to do it again. That is penitence.

     Charitable giving: Face it; you’ve got it pretty good. Sure bad stuff happens to all of us. We get sick, injured, robbed, lose our jobs, go through divorce....all kinds of bad stuff. However, if you are reading this blog, you have got it better than most of the world. Millions of people don't even have electricity. Millions don't have enough food to eat each day. Find a good cause and share your blessings. It’s amazing how helping others helps us. It’s good for our souls. It’s good for our world!

     Self-denial: There's that "giving up" part! Many people "give something up" for Lent. Some put much thought and prayer into this practice, choosing to deprive themselves of something they enjoy or value greatly until Easter as a sacrifice to Christ, and atonement of their sins. Others just flippantly choose something relatively easy, perhaps giving up chocolate, knowing that the Pagan Easter Bunny will provide a chocolaty feast in a basket on Easter morning. It’s not really a sacrifice, it’s just a ritual.

     I personally have a problem with relying too heavily on ritual. Rituals will not get you to Heaven any more than doing good deeds will. The sacrifice one makes must be prayerfully and thoughtfully chosen. It must be done in order to remove that which comes before God one’s life. A sacrifice made for the sake of ritual does not honor God.
1 Samuel 15:22 But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
Psalm 51:17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
Isaiah 1:11  “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
     Basically I interpret these to mean that God doesn’t need the offering (it’s all His anyway), he needs a contrite heart from us. He needs our time, our attention, our worship and prayer from our heart, not rote prayers and mechanical actions. He knows what we offer, and our motives, and does not need us to advertise it to others.

     Some of the rituals we may practice do serve a purpose as reminders. The ashes upon the forehead are to remind us that we are from dust and to dust we shall return. Life here is fleeting.  I’m not against such rituals, but only mean to stress that prayer and thanksgiving need to accompany them and they should not be performed by unthinking robots, but by humble and prayerful souls. 

     If you are one of those people participating in a Lenten sacrifice this year, please look inside yourself and ask why you are doing it. Really put some prayer into your decision of what to sacrifice. When you make that sacrifice each day remember why you are doing it and give praise and thanks to the One you are doing it for.
I propose something less materialistic for the Lenten sacrifice this year. I thought of a few ways other than just giving up something we can easily live without.

     What if we all give up those grudges we're holding on to or that unforgiveness that rots our souls or those stinkeye glares that pierce the souls of others? Once we've released them, let's make it permanent, not just for 40 days. Letting go of hatred, grudges, and bitterness glorifies The Lord more than a temporary abstinence of a favorite food or activity. I think that holding grudges and trash-talking others is a favorite activity for some people!

     What if we pray for the success of the guy that got promoted ahead of us? Would that make our company stronger? What if we offer assistance to that lady that cut ahead of us in line? Would her bad mood soften? What if we stopped gossiping and rehashing that rude thing that one person did last year? Could we move forward and maybe even work together again? What if we stopped generalizing about a certain type of people and what kind of beliefs or behaviors “they” have? Maybe we could find something we both have in common and gain a new friend?

     Can you imagine how productive society would be without the grudge matches that are held each and every day in government, business, community groups, and even churches? Is it so important to win the arguments? Do we need to be right all the time? Since when is compromise a dirty word?

     I think that the bottom line is that Jesus came and gave the ultimate sacrifice for PEOPLE. God loves people. Shouldn't we love PEOPLE, too? Isn't that what glorifies God the most?
Mark 12:31 ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 
Does God care more about a ritual or something given from the heart, something that REALLY cost you? 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bojangles

I just watched Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. The closing number with Shirley Temple and "Bojangles" (Bill Robinson) was so wonderful.  Then I got to thinking: That movie was made in 1938. Do you think Bill was allowed to eat with the cast/crew? Did he have a separate dressing room? Was it as nice as Randolph Scotts? Did he have to enter the studio lot through a different entrance? How come his character has such a lame name (Aloysius)?
He was an amazing talent. I don't usually notice color, but when you watch old movies like that you can't help but notice...Black people are always servants. Well, at least they got to be in the movies...Native Americans were played by Caucasians wearing red makeup! Yes, we've come a long way...but there's still a long way to go until skin color doesn't matter. There are still a lot of bigots in this world...bigots of all colors..and that is a pox on humanity.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Quick TrekJen Update

Our pal Jen is settling in at her temporary residence in Missouri. A friend donated this cute summer home for her to stay in for a few months. It looks cozy and quiet! She says looking for a house to buy is frustrating, but  I guess that's true for everyone. I'm sure she'll find something before she needs to move again.


She's back to work and taking some time for herself. She borrowed some hiking/climbing equipment one day and scrambled up Elephant Rocks.


Just a little while ago she contacted me and was very excited to have found a great deal on a new bed. I've got a P O Box address for her now. Email me if you need it.

Remember, if you are going to the Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas in August we are giving Jennifer a Trek Shower! Bring a little something "Trek" for her. You can email me through this blog, or DM me on Twitter with what you might have to shower her with. That way I can keep a list and try to avoid duplicate gifts.

Also, you can still donate good old cash through this link:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Discovery WILL Continue, Even Without Discovery


I am fascinated with the Space Shuttle Discovery. I guess knowing that it’s the last mission of the Shuttle Program has something to do with it. I suppose I took it for granted in the past.

I’ve been checking in regularly with NASA on the web. I watched the launch live on NASA TV. I've checked out the videos of the mission. I've checked out some of the NASA Blogs. . I’ve also been reading up on all of the other current missions, some I had never heard of. I've even downloaded some new NASA apps. I've learned that boiling fluid behaves differently in space than on Earth. I've learned about Robonaut. There is enough stuff at the NASA website to keep a person busy for weeks!

 Don’t worry about our Space Program.  This is the last of the Shuttle launches, and although we are not sending any humans out there for a while, there is still a lot going on out in space.  There is still a lot of science being done and a lot to be learned about our Solar System and beyond.  I don’t pretend to understand half of it, but I am fascinated, and proud of the curious and brilliant minds at NASA and JPL. 


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

You Can't Find a Date in Indio

I used to love the National Date Festival in Indio, CA, but that was when it was a celebrations of the date harvest!

We were there Monday morning when the gates opened. I looked forward to a date shake and armloads of date products to take home. I anticipated entertaining ostrich and camel races.Treklet was excited about the unlimited ride wristbands I purchased online for her and her big sister. Who knows what was going on in Katie's mind? One thing was certain: things were not as we pictured them in our heads.

The first thing that happened was that the parking lot I am familiar with, and the main entrance, was unreachable. There was a parade on the main drag, and we were detoured. We entered through the back gate, near the midway, and there were few people in attendance. Evidently they were all at the parade, which we did not know about. Sweet! No lines for the rides! *Wrong*  Most of the rides that Treklet was wanting to go on could not be operated without a minimum number of riders, for balance. Disappointment and impatience stole my happy little girl.

We decided to go to the grandstand for the camel and ostrich races. I remember them being very entertaining in years gone by. We'd go back later to the midway. We gluttonously purchased a huge block of curly fries and found a seat, which wasn't difficult since the crowds were still at the parade. A lady rode the stars and stripes out onto the track on a lovely paint horse and we stood for the Star Spangled Banner. It went downhill from there.


Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age. Maybe Treklet's sweet love on all things non-human enhanced my discomfort. Maybe what we witnessed was just plain wrong. I'm not sure. The ostrich race seemed cruel. A frightened and disoriented ostrich threw his rider, and spun around in circles for several minutes as wranglers chased and tried to subdue it.

Next up a couple of oversized jockeys rode a couple of zebras around the track. Then the ostriches were hitched to chariots and made to pull the Trojan helmet-wearing wranglers Ben Hur style around the track.

They saved the worst for last. the track was quite muddy, as a major storm came through two nights before. Camel races were up next. I realize that camels have been domesticated and ridden for centuries. I'm OK with that, but this exhibition seemed to be played out by amateurs. They dressed up in turbans and robes and mounted the camels. One camel slipped soon after exiting the starting gate and headed toward the crowd. It dropped to its knees to avoid crashing into the wall that separated the track from the stands. The rider coaxed it up and urged it on. A couple of dozen yards further down the track this poor beast lost its footing in the mud again, its legs splaying every which way, the rider tumbling off of it. I gasped. I wondered if the beast was injured. It got up, and so did the rider. My video failed as a call came in on my iPhone. Too bad, as I would have loved to post it here.

The camels were walked across the track to the wall where people were allowed to pet them. The one that fell was not in a good mood. It pulled away and the man lost his grip on the lead. Poor camel.

We suffered through 3 boys from the audience chasing emus around the track and 3 smaller boys chasing chickens. Finally it was over and I was mildly surprised at my own dismay. Did I once find this entertaining?

I let Treklet ride a camel, since the rest of our family had all done it before, but I told her if there were any elephants there I would never pay for that. I am adamantly opposed to elephants being transported around in the backs of semi trucks for circuses and fairs. I have boycotted "The Greatest Show On Earth" since katie was small when I saw a magnificent bull elephant chained to a post on the hard asphalt outside the venue, rocking back and forth and obviously distraught. Elephants don't belong in the backs of trucks, on concrete, or in shows. ::stepping off soapbox::

We next visited the petting zoo. There were some exotic, yet tame, creatures there, and thankfully all were in pens so that when they tired of little (and big) hands groping them they could back away and lay down. I was thrilled to be able to feed and pet a zebra colt. I wonder if they're going to strap a saddle on that sweet thing someday soon?



I sent the girls to the midway while I went looking for dates. I looked long and hard! I finally found ONE date vendor! This is the National Date Festival in the heart of the Coachella Valley, home to many date farms! Where dozens of date farm booths once stood, selling at least a dozen varieties of dates and assorted date products, were now dozens of Mexican vendors selling sombreros, ponchos, Mexican candy and leather goods.
I bought a bag of Medjools and a bag of McGill Black dates after sampling, and a giftbox of walnut stuffed Medjools for my dogsitter. I ordered a date shake and went to join my girls. 


Along the way I caught a glimpse here and there of various shows and performances. I zipped through the vender hall and decided I'd seen it all before. then I spied the fat guy with the little capuchin monkey. The monkey had a collar around it's neck and wore a pocketed apron. The man directed the monkey, via a leash, to outstretched arms with dollar bills at the ends of them. The monkey took the dollars, one at a time, stuffed them in her pocket, shook the benefactor's hand, then moved on to the next dollar. I could only think to myself, "That fat guy is gonna take all the monkey's dollars."

When I caught up with the girls the lines for the rides were quite long. All those parade-watchers were now seeking thrills in the midway. Poor Treklet just couldn't win. After a few rides we took a lunch break and wandered through the Art and Photography exhibit and the Gem and Mineral Hall. We were too late to the Monster Truck show, and couldn't get in.
We eventually found our way back to the rides again.



Sunday, February 20, 2011

PS I Love You

I'm in Palm Springs. I used to come here often, but it's been four years since my last visit!

My girls and I drove out early this morning. A big storm hit SoCal last night and it was a cold one! At our fuel stop in Beaumont it was 38 degrees. Brrr. I was amazed at how low the snowline was--right done to the lower reaches of the foothills. It was beautiful. Mt. San Gorgonio and Mt. San Jacinto were not only crowned with a full cap of white powder, but also dusted right down to their ankles.

Once we were through the pass the temperature rose a bit. The foothills to the east of the pass were brown and red and the snow on the eastern flank of Mt. San Jacinto was limited to elevations above about 5000 feet. The day ended up in the 60s with clear blue skies and the desert cities were lush with green palm trees lining the streets.

We had an awesome (and huge) breakfast at Elmers, a restaurant we never fail to visit when in PS. The first time I dined there was on my honeymoon, over 20 years ago! What made our visit there extra-special this time was sharing it with Clay and John who were here on a little vacation of their own from Seattle. Clay is one of my oldest and dearest Tweeps.

After a two-hour visit, filled with lively discussions about Star Trek and Harry  Potter we said our goodbyes. The guys went back to their rental home & the gals headed for Palm Desert. OOPS! I forgot to take pics! I called Clay & told Jim I was making a U-Turn and heading back!  A few snaps of the camera, a few more hugs, and we headed out again.

 


We only made it a few miles when the girls spotted Boomers amusement park. They opted for go karts and mini golf instead of The Living Desert zoo.

We spent almost five hours at Boomers. The girls had a blast and I even found a Galaga game to play. Squee! Katie spotted a sign with a text deal on it so we signed up and each got a text coupon for free popcorn. Way to work that Ferengi Rule #141!




As the sun disappeared behind the towering mountain we checked into our motel. Katie says it ells like "old cat lady" but I think it's OK. We've got free WiFi, a hot shower, coffee maker & comfy beds. I'm satisfied.

Dinner at Ruby's Diner was the girls' choice, and very tasty. Now we're chillin' and looking forward to a fun day at the Date Festival tomorrow. I love this desert in winter!