Monday, March 31, 2008

New Monday Photo Shoot: Unusual Sights

New Monday Photo Shoot #14: Photograph something so unusual that it's seldom seen, by you or by the rest of us. I'm looking for stuff that provokes the reaction, "Now there's something you don't see every day!"

Here are mine:

This vehicle turned up outside some offices a week or two ago. I don't know exactly what it is, or what it's called, or what it's for. Is it for racing, or just for showing off? It's cool., though.

Helicopters aren't terribly unusual in Tucson, I must admit. We have military ones, police ones, and even half-disassembled ones in the aviation boneyards. But it's rare that I manage to see and photograph a medical transport helicopter in the act of landing on a hospital roof!

Your turn: photograph something that's seldom seen, post it to your blog or jpurnal, and include a link back here. Then leave a link to your entry in the comment here. For best results, please do all this before next Sunday night, when I'll be posting the roundup of results. Better yet, why not work on it now, before you forget?


Monday Photo Shoot Results: The Unrelated

Last week for the Monday Photo Shoot, I asked to see a photo of someone you care about, even though the person is unrelated to you. The results were sparse but interesting:

Laura shows us her daughter's best friend.

Carly pictures Paula Poundstone.

Kiva introduces us to her friend Wendy, Joe's wife.

shows off some of her J-Land friends.

And I'm showing you my friend Eva again. I don't know if you can tell, but this is a different shot from the one I posted last week. She asked me today how many pictures I have of her. I said four or five. And I chickened out on asking to photograph her again.

New MPS topic coming right up! And by the way, for those who wonder, yes, I accept late entries to these things. But more people will probably look at your blog if you post your entry on time!


Sunday, March 30, 2008

In the Dark

Saturdays are nearly always a little discombobulated here at Casa Blocher, the Museum of the Weird. It's my day to sleep in, and if I have no other obligations I don't get up until about 4 PM. Add to that the fact that I accidentally left my "Sleep is good!" Away message on all day and all night in AIM, and it means that even when I was awake, you may not have known about it.

After an hour or two online I ventured out to buy dinner. John's requests involved groceries instead of take-out, so I conceived a bold plan: I'm going to cook this week! Well, okay, like the character in Sibling Rivalry who said "I don't cook; I reheat," I'll mostly be reheating, but still, it means we'll forego the nightly question of where I'm picking up dinner in favor of a nightly question about what I'll be pulling from the fridge.

This is one time when going to the store while hungry was probably a good thing. I actually managed to fill the cart with several kinds of meat (frozen, fresh, and cooked), veggies (fresh and frozen), soups, frozen entrees, pizza and salad and, inevitably for spring in Arizona, numerous beverages. John doesn't like me to cook meat, because the fan over the stove doesn't expel the smoke anywhere. But I bought a London broil for once, and lamb and pork and mesquite-smoke marinade. Now all I have to do is pay attention to what urgently needs to be cooked, and not get lazy about it. So far we've mainly had just the pizza, to which I added freshly sauteed mushrooms.

I needed John's help bringing in all those groceries in a timely manner, so when I got home I tracked him down. He was in the back yard, looking over his accomplishments for the day. Having built this garden row thingy, he planted flowers in it today, from those pots I've been photographing by the firecracker bush out front.

Pepper hangs out by the nearly-complete path.

John is also nearly finished making a concrete and gravel path to the back gate. His next project will be a porch-like enclosure by the back door, similar to the one he built by the front door but wider. He hopes to finish it by the time the monsoon arrives.

Tuffy is wary of the remaining building materials.

This evening was that Earth awareness / hour of darkness / reduce your carbon footprint and show we can make a difference thingy. Oh, all right; it's called Earth Hour. I made a half-hearted attempt to observe it, sitting in the dark while typing away online. But I left the kitchen light on for the sake of John and the dogs and not bumping into things. Eight minutes into the hour I discovered the bedroom light was one, and thirty minutes in John went into his office and turned on the light there, and forty minutes in I discovered a light on in the front room. Not a good performance!

Eventually I went outside to see whether I could tell any difference from a normal evening on Calle Mumble. I couldn't. Tucson as a city didn't participate, so the street lights were on. Many porch lights were on as well, including ours, which has a motion sensor and came on when I stepped outside. I'd wondered whether Tucsonans would make enough of a difference for the stars to shine more brightly, which would be a boon to the astronomers at the many observatories in Southern Arizona. But no, only the brightest stars and planets were visible at all to my eyes.

The most fun part was identifying the dogs in the dark. Here's Tuffy, caught in my camera flash as she scrounges for dropped pizza toppings. Later I recognized Pepper by her longer, thicker fur and the scabby, dandruffy spot on her back.

Speaking of identifications, I had an apparent wrong number tonight from someone called Pete. I pretty much despise text messaging on cell phones, largely because it's clumsy and tedious and I can't find any indication that punctuation is available. Usually I only get texts from my brother, and they're rare enough that I don't mind them at all. But tonight I receive the following:

This is pete, I hear you are out drinking

I wrote back,

I dont know a pete and i dont drink alcohol ever and im home 0 for 3

He replied,


and that was the end of it.

I see from "pete's" text that capitalization and commas are available, at least to some extent. But I don't care enough to try yet again to find such things on my phone.

Hi there!

Two bits of media / celebrity news for the day. First the good news: there is a profile of David Tennant in The Independent, which appears to be one of Britain's more reliable newspapers, in contrast to, for example, The Sun. The article extensively quotes Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies as he heaps well-deserved praise on Tennant for his acting skills and personal niceness. The article also claims that Tennant has agreed in principle to continue his role as the Doctor when the show returns for a full season in 2010 (we get only specials in 2009). Huzzah!

The other news isn't so much bad news as weird news. For quite some time there's been an edit war on Wikipedia over whether someone named Zachary Jaydon was on MMC, the 1990s update of The Mickey Mouse Club that famously launched the careers of Brittany Spears and a few other pop icons. I know, I know. Why should I care, right? It's not as if I ever watched the show in its MMC iteration; the 1970s version was bad enough. But I've done work on the 1950s section of the article, and settled a previous dispute among MMC fans over whether the show ended in 1994 (when it was last made) or 1996 (when the last new show aired), by simply listing cast members by season number instead of by year. At that time I cleaned up the MMC cast list in the article, pulling out vanity and joke additions in favor of the list in a reference book on Disney television.

Since then, Jaydon has been added to and removed from that list numerous times, with a note that he appeared in the show during all seven seasons, something very few of the more established cast members did according to Bill Cotter's book. An article about Jaydon has been written and deleted at least once, possibly twice, and it currently being written again by someone called TragedyStriker, aka Skyler Morgan. But as far as I can tell, virtually all online references to Jaydon being in MMC are in user-editable sources, and may well have been added by Jaydon himself. Ranged on the other side are numerous fans who say they never saw the guy on the show, and one aspiring musician in Florida who claims that Jaydon is a thief and a scammer who worked briefly with some other musician I've never heard of, currently manages some Ohio band or other, and is almost certainly the pseudonymous Skyler Morgan. Myself, I don't really know or care whether she's entirely right, entirely wrong, or somewhere in between. But it would be nice to see the question resolved.


Saturday, March 29, 2008


Perhaps this entry would benefit from a few subject headers, thus:

Tracking Robins

I've spent most of tonight on that database I've mentioned a few times already, tracking who all has participated in the Round Robin Photo Challenges and when, and which blog is the most current or most preferred one for each Robin. Tonight I basically covered all of 2007, compiling a checklist for each of the 26ish Challenges including all new participants and all updates to the blogs being used. From that I got all new Robins from 2007 added to my master list in chronological order. Unless a mistake turned up as I move into 2008, out all-time list of Robins stands at 110 people! Maybe tomorrow I'll compile amusing stats on the most common first names on the list (#1 is the name "Robin," I think), but for tonight I think I've done enough.

Scalzi skimming

The other thing I've done tonight is browse through more of John Scalzi's The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies, and read a few pages of The Sagan Diary. The Rough Guide has its faults - typos and the occasional omission - but it's generally knowledgeable and entertaining, which should surprise no one. I'm especially pleased that Scalzi has put nearly all of my favorites on his list of essential canon, and praised such films as The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension and Lilo & Stitch.

The Sagan Diary, a novelette that goes with the OMW series, starts with a fun premise: two governmental agencies are having a minor tussle over access to information downloaded from Sagan's BrainPal. The novelette itself basically consists of Sagan's private reminiscences and musings as she prepares to leave the military for a new life (literally) with John Perry. The one government person complains that the Sagan diary download is more love story than military intel.

I'm not deep enough into the book yet to have a clear idea what the diary is and what it's supposed to be. From my perspective it's off to a bit of a slow start, with Sagan thinking largely in metaphor and poetic imagery. I hope the rest of it isn't that.

Countdown to Who

Next weekend, meanwhile, is the end of Torchwood Series 2 and the premiere of Doctor Who Series 4 in the UK. The BBC is starting to ramp up its publicity machine with trailers and teasers, clips and screenings. It all looks great, and as intrigued as I've been with set reports and sly hints from the show's producers, I want to see it now! On the other hand, the episodes I'm most curious about all take place at the end of the season. Best not rush it then!

Of Dogs and Couch Covers

The new couch cover is in our midcentury modern den

The other news du jour is that the couch cover John ordered about a week ago arrived today. Believe it or not, this leopard print was the best match for the decor of the Den of the Museum of the Weird. It's thin and rough and not at all comfortable to sit on, but it's staying on much better than the mismatched throws we had on it before. It looks better, too.

Seems comfortable enough for Pepper.

A meditative lick.

Sometimes she uses the pillow, but not always.

Meanwhile, Tuffy and Pepper struggle to establish who is top dog. They've both barked at each other in moments of stress and jealousy over food or the attention of humans, and both had a tendency to guard the food and water dishes. Whichever bowl we designate as being for Dog A, you can be sure Dog B will take it over at the first opportunity, while A eats B's food from the other dish. The good news is that a) Tuffy is less inclined to run away than before, and b) the competition over food seems to have improved her appetite.

The birds are singing, and I'm going to bed now. Good morning!

The dogs want.

Update: I get overwhelmed by the number of weekly, biweekly, monthly, etc. photo memes that are out there now, some of which people have been kind enough to personally invite me to participate in. But Steven's got one that's very simple in concept. The name of the meme, Feline Friday, tells you why I've never participated. But now he's expanded it, as Feline and Furball Friday, to include dogs. I don't think of Tuffy and Pepper as furballs, exactly, but they're certainly furry, and as it happens I posted all these shots of Pepper on Friday night. So hello, Steven, belatedly. Can Pepper play with Pickle?


Friday, March 28, 2008

Weekend Assignment: Lie to Me

April Fool's Day is coming! Are you all set to trick your friends and relatives with some elegant and elaborate hoax?

Me neither.

Nevertheless, in honor of April 1st, the BBC spaghetti harvest, NPR's exploding maple trees and the whoppers told by certain political candidates and their detractors, let's exercise our capacity to tell each other some original, harmless fiction:

Weekend Assignment #209: Tell us a story about yourself, something that is plausible but definitely, outrageously false, while containing a kernel of truth. Since we don't want to create any work for, begin your tale with the words, "This is not true," and don't say anything defamatory about any companies, products, celebrities or politicians.

I'll start, shall I?

The deadly shore of Onondaga Lake.

This is not true: When I was in tenth grade, my science teacher, Mr. Frisson, took us on a field trip to Onondaga Lake, there to study the effects of pollution. We were told about the history of the lake, how it played a part in the settlement of Syracuse, salt mining, and the Erie Canal. By the time I was there with the class in the early 1970s, it was where a lot of sewage and industrial waste was dumped. The place stank of sulfur and other awfulness, and all the fish were long-since dead. And yet couples still parked along Onondaga Parkway as a sort of Lovers' Lane, at least until the smell drove them away.

Mr. Frisson was a young, hip teacher, with more fervor than sense, especially when it came to teaching students to respect the Earth. What he didn't realize when he took us out there was that even walking on the polluted shore was dangerous. It was hard to breathe due to the clouds of toxic gases that rose from the lake, and the ground had the consistency of movie quicksand. Disoriented by the fumes, I walked closer to the water than I was supposed to, and quickly got into trouble. I fell trying to extract my sneakers and the cuffs of my bellbottom jeans from the muck, and ended up with the scaly, gray, alkaline gunk all over my pants and my hands. Mr. Frisson had to rush me and five other students to a nearby ranger station to wash up. Even after rinsing off my pants as best I could, and sitting on a towel on the bus ride back, I ended up with pustular rashes on my hands and legs, and had to throw away those jeans. The horrible sand had eaten through the denim in numerous places. My lungs had a burning sensation for two days, and I was picking scabs and dead skin off my hands for a week. Mr. Frisson apologized repeatedly, so I forgave him, and got an A on the paper I wrote afterward.

The good news is that 35 years and one Superfund later, what was once the most polluted lake in the United States is making a remarkable recovery. The flow of treated wastewater ended the year after our field trip, and companies, communities, charities and the EPA worked together to clean it up. It will be a few more years before people will be allowed to fish there again, but they expect to allow swimming this summer, for the first time since 1940.


That's it. Can you guess what's true and what isn't? I'll have the answer when I do my roundup of links for this Weekend Assignment, one week from tonight. In the meantime, it's your turn. Tell us your big lie in your blog or journal, with a little truth mixed in, and include a link back here. Then leave a link to your entry in the comments to this one. Got it? Good! I look forward to reading your April Fool's whoppers!


(Photo snagged from

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Weekend Assignment Results: thou answerest them only with spring

Last week I asked you all how you mark the coming of spring. Here are links to the replies:

Laura shows us her kids and a hot tub at Spring Break.

Saqib introduces us to the colorful kites of the spring festival known as Jashan-e-Baharan.

Mike says: "I'd have to say, spring is here when it is nice enough for me to play golf. I don't have to be in shorts, but i don't want to be in a parka either."

Laura has her own signs for each season.

Sarah reveals: "I have unusual preferences, in regards to weather and seasons. I love rain, I love overcast skies, and I think bare trees are really beautiful. I'm sad to see winter go. Admittedly I might feel differently about this if I lived somewhere that actually saw real winters."

Duane marks the beginning of spring with the shouting of two words.

Florinda tells us why she loves spring, even though the season "doesn't really announce itself much" in Southern California.

Kiva writes of Easter and baseball.

I can't really pin down a common theme here, but everyone seems to like the season, for a number of different reasons. What we need is to take our allergy meds, gather at a certain park I know, fly our kites, play a round of golf, check out the baby animals at the zoo, and take in a baseball game. How does that sound?

New Weekend Assignment coming shortly.


Holy Week, Half-Remembered

The further I get from the end of Holy Week, the less I actually had to say about it. Nor can I fill an entry with photos I took of Holy Week this year. I didn't always have my camera with me, and was too busy being part of things to photograph them too. Well, heck, maybe that means I won't be too long-winded in covering the subject. (What are the chances?)

For those of you who weren't raised in a denomination that celebrates it, I should explain that Holy Week is basically the week that leads up to Easter at the end of Lent. The Sunday before Easter is Palm Sunday. Then we've got three days of nothing special, followed by Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and of course Easter Sunday. I'm not here tonight to convince anyone of anything, just to explain what all that involves at the Episcopal Parish of St. Michael & All Angels, and what small part I played in all that this year.

Palm Sunday 2006

Palm Sunday, 2007

Palm Sunday: This commemorates Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, to the acclaim of the crowds. At St. Michael's this service always starts outside in one of the courtyards. The members of clergy celebrating the Mass (priests and subdeacon) wear an oddly shaped hat for some reason, on this day and no other. Palms are blessed and distributed, the Gospel is read, and we all process into the church, singing.

Reading of the Passion (Good Friday 2007 I think)

Once we're inside, it all gets darker. The church is decked out in penitential purple, and a second Gospel is sung, of the Passion (the arrest, trial, and death of Jesus). A member of the choir sings the part of Jesus, another one Pilate, another one Peter, another one the narrator, with the rest of the choir filling in the crowd and bit parts.

This year I was either crucifer (carrying the cross) or torch (carrying one of the candles), I forget which. I kind of think I was crucifer. As you can see from the picture above, the cross gets covered up with a purple cloth at the end of Lent. I'm not quite sure why, but by Good Friday all the icons of the church are covered.

the sacrament that almost made it.
Washing of the Feet, 2006

Maundy Thursday: I can never quite remember what "maundy" means. At St. Ann's in Manlius when I was growing up, it was called Holy Thursday. Either way, it commemorates the Last Supper, which immediately preceded Gethsemane and the arrest, and which is the basis for the sacrament of Holy Eucharist (Communion), the ritual transmogrification of bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus.

The Last Supper was basically a Seder, a ritually significant meal in the Jewish celebration of Passover, commemorating the meal of sacrificed lamb and unleavened bread eaten immediately prior to the flight from Egypt. At St. Michael's we have a lamb dinner in the Parish Center, punctuated by prayers and readings. I was a couple minutes late this year because of John's car breaking down at Oracle and Ina, almost a forty minute drive from our house. When I arrived, Father Smith was just starting the service. He waved me over to a table with a few empty seats, which happened to be the table where Kirk Smith, the Bishop of the Diocese of Arizona, was the honored guest. Before we ate and in between prayers and readings. Proscovia called me away to get my alb on (a one piece white robe), because I was going to be crucifer and would not have time later.

Back at the table, Ila suggested that we each give our names and a little-known fact about ourselves. I said that I blog every night, no matter what, which surprised no one. The Bishop also has a blog, it turns out, and mentioned that he's gotten nasty comments on it. When another parishioner mentioned as her fact that she was a fan of Doctor Who(!), the Bishop impressed me by asking, "old series or new series?"

After dinner, the Bishop and Father Smith went around washing the feet of the people who served the dinner at each table, following the example of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples in one of the Gospels. The other Doctor Who fan and I had a good-natured discussion about which of us had the ugliest feet, each of us vying for that distinction but not providing visual evidence. The Bishop gave a little sermon, during which he mentioned having once gone through the motions of washing where a parishioner's feet would have been if he'd had any.

Then I stood outside the Parish Center with Proscovia and the two torchers as everyone else processed past us into the church, singing Shalom, O My Friends. The Mass ended with the stripping of the altar and a haunting musical rendition of Psalm 22. I went back and forth several times between the sanctuary and the sacristy, carrying out cloths and other stuff from the three altars.

the church around midnight.
Waiting up with Jesus: St. Michael's 11:30 PM (2006)

On Thursday night, overnight, the leftover Eucharist resides in a vessel at the Altar of Repose in the back of the church. People come to the church all night long, usually in pairs, to pray and wait up with Jesus, in commemoration of the night at Gethsemane, when Peter, John and James kept falling asleep while Jesus prayed. I had scheduled myself to do this at midnight, but I was blogging and very tired, and I forgot. First year in a long time I've missed doing it.

close encounter
The only icon of Good Friday is a horrific one (2006)

Good Friday. I was crucifer again, carrying the cloth-covered cross. The Passion was sung again, I think from a different Gospel. Then we lined up for the Veneration of the Cross. A five-foot crucifix was held up. First the clergy, and then we acolytes, and then the people came forward, one by one, to kiss the statue's feet, or just touch them; or to bow, or make the sign of the cross, or just pause and move on. After the veneration, the cross was laid on the steps at the edge of the sanctuary, and people lined up again, this time to receive "leftover" Communion. There is no Eucharistic Prayer on Good Friday. As the service ended the acolytes and celebrants "scattered" in disarray, as the apostles did all those years ago. And then I drove a friend home to the south side of town.

Easter Vigil: Saturday night was Easter Vigil. In some churches it's held just before dawn on Easter Sunday, but St. Michael's does it the night before. It began around dusk, with a small fire in front of the church. I was torching, which is a bigger part of the Vigil than other services. The parishioners entered the darkened church, each carrying an unlit candle, or "taper." Father Ireland lit the huge Pascal Candle from the bonfire, and entered the church, where a young acolyte named John and I lit our oil-fed torches off the Pascal Candle. "The Light of Christ," Father Ireland chanted, three times, as he moved up the aisle, to be answered, "Thanks be to God." Between the three of us we provided fire to start the tapers in each pew.

It's a very long service, perhaps the longest of the year, but seemed slightly less so this year. After several readings and chants, little John and I stood by as the Gospel was proclaimed, the story of the empty tomb and Jesus' first post-resurrection appearance. The church was lit and bells were rung, horns played a fanfare and the people sang. I had forgotten my bells, but I noticed later that Father Smith "rang" his jingling keys in the triumphant singing of Jesus Christ is Risen Today. I followed his example, briefly.

The labyrinth with the baptismal pool.
The labyrinth, with the baptismal pool uncovered.

Easter Vigil at St. Michael's usually includes a baptism in the pool in the middle of the labyrinth. This year we baptized two kids from the parish day school, Paul and Anthony. People again lit their tapers off our torches. As the newly baptized went off to get into dry clothes, Father Smith led us in song. Then we were back inside for the rest of the Mass. And when all that was over, we had a "Break-Fast" of quiche and fruit and blintzes and punch (or champagne) in the Parish Center.

These two rows of chairs are where I sit as an acolyte. 2008.

Many parishioners figure that after celebrating Easter Vigil, which is the first service of Easter itself, they don't need to show up yet again on Easter morning. But as with Thursday, Friday and Saturday, I was scheduled as an acolyte. I torched again. The church was filled with music and light and flowers, and with CEO (Christmas and Easter Only) people. And this time I actually took a picture or two.

Wow, it's late. Good thing I slept for a few hours this evening. But I feel better now, because I'd kind of promised to write about Holy Week again, as I do every year. Good night!


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ain't A That Good News!

The title above is from a spiritual I learned in school(!) many years ago and don't really remember well now, over 40 years later.

Tuffy had her followup appointment with the doggie oncologist today. I was concerned about her week before last, because her appetite seemed to be down a bit and her snoot seemed to be wet a lot of the time. John thought she was probably just drinking more water as the weather got warm. But Dr. K. looked at her tongue, checked her heart and felt her glands. She's fine, at least for now. No sign of infection, or a return of the cancer. Yet. What a relief! I was honestly worried our thousands of dollars' worth of treatments had only bought her six months or so to live. She'll get another recheck in June, but for now everything's copacetic.

Pepper, meanwhile, is starting to warm up to us, and is definitely acting more secure than she was about this being her home. I think that trip to the vet and back without being in a cage or leaving my sight made a difference. Today I even left her home with the door to the laundry room open. She did not dig out under the fence, and happily met me at the door when I returned.

And that's the other dog-related good news. Tuffy is no longer trying to escape Pepper, and Pepper is no longer bullying Tuffy, not that I've seen, anyway. The only bad bit is that she's a trashhound. She's even scratching much less often than she was.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Just a quick update tonight, instead of the other post I've been vaguely planning. I pretty much aggressively blew the evening on Whatever, Twitter and Doctor Who, and there's some news of the day to catch up om.

The good news: I was finally able to photograph this blooming tree at low speed over on Golf Links this morning. The bad news: this was because I was caught in a post-accident traffic jam for 45 minutes. Distance covered in that time: 2 miles.

And for much of that time, this Bounder motorhome was just ahead of me, having cut me off in traffic.
Wilmot to Swan, stop and go with long periods of stop. The air force base is just to the left of this road to the south, so there's no good alternative route. But had I known the accident was alll the way up at Swan, I'd have gotten off somehow, and gone north to 22nd St. My job is south of the base, but least I would have been moving.

This evening I left comments on several fun and/or interesting Scalzi postings on Whatever, which is appropriate because these two books arrived today from Amazon. Thanks for the gift certificate, Howard! Also tonight I added Scalzi to the list of people I follow on Twitter. It didn't work properly until I followed a suggestion by Arachne Jericho. Now I'm following 11 Twitter feeds instead of four. That should make things more interesting!

That legal-looking paper on the upper right of the photo above came from bankruptcy court today. It's almost impossible to decipher the legalese, but I think it's saying that some company or other is getting paid out of First Magnus's remaining assets, presumably ahead of my back pay. I should research what the news is these days about whether I'm likely to get any of that last paycheck.

And Pepper got the first of her medicine doses today to deal with her itching. Oddly, one of her meds is exactly what Tuffy got months ago for a different set of symptoms: Prednisone. Tuffy has her followup with the oncologist tomorrow. Meanwhile, Pepper definitely seems friendlier and more enthusiastic about seeing me. Not more obedient, though!


Monday, March 24, 2008

New Monday Photo Shoot #13: Non-Relatives

Let's move on to a photograph subject I seldom tackle myself: people.

New Monday Photo Shoot #13: Photograph someone you're not related to, who nevertheless matters to you.

The topic comes from a photo I took earlier today:

This is Eva. She is 102 years old. If she makes it to mid-May, she'll be 103. I met her on her birthday about four years ago. It was the day she turned 98 or 99. I forget which. She turned up at St. Michael's, having taken the bus there. Several people volunteered to pick her up and take her home after that, but I was the one who ended up with this pleasant duty, whenever she was up to it and not busy doing anything else.

Eva is a retired nurse. She's lived in a number of places, including Seattle and Alaska. She once traveled hundreds of miles by dogsled, while pregnant. Just today, she told me about a time while she was studying nursing, when she told off a Mother Superior for snooping in her dresser drawer. Eva won the encounter.

I hadn't seen Eva in several months, and had only gotten one call from her since we last met. Last weekend, Proscovia, the Master of Acolytes to whom I report when I serve as crucifer or torch, mentioned having visited her. Today after Easter Mass, I had an idea that it would be good to take Easter communion to Eva. As I was waiting to ask Father Smith for supplies with which to do this, my cell phone rang.

"Hello? Karen?"

I recognized Eva's voice immediately. Unfortunately, she couldn't hear my voice in reply. My Sprint phone has terrible reception at St. Michael's, and was in dire need of recharging. I tried repeatedly to call Eva back, but only got a busy signal.

So I went back into the Parish Center, waited for the tiniest of breaks in conversation between Father Smith and two parishioners, and said, "I need to take Easter communion to Eva--right now."

Bless him, he excused himself almost instantly from the conversation, and we went into the church for the communion supplies. He mentioned that he'd also visited her recently, but wasn't supposed to resume visiting the sick until he was well himself. (He's had the flu.) It wasn't until he mentioned Eva's room number that I found out she's in a nursing home at the moment. This is a woman who lived alone in an apartment until last year, and with her elderly, wheelchair-bound daughter since then.

So I went to see Eva, and she was glad to see me. Turns out she fell backwards, backing up too far. She's not walking at the moment, but they think she will walk again soon. Her eyesight is failing, her appetite's lousy and she pretty much feels that her useful life is over. And yet she's more on the ball than my mom was at 75, and still a joy to be around.

Your turn: take a picture or two of that special non-relative in your life, post it to your journal or blog, and tell us briefly who the person is. Then leave a link back here in your entry, and a link to your entry in the comments here. I'll be back in a week to introduce all these important folks!


P.S. I intended to write about Holy Week tonight, but two entries for tonight is enough! I'll get to it, probably tomorrow night.

Monday Photo Shoot Results: Seein' Green

Last week for the Monday Photo Shoot, I asked to see something green in honor of spring and St. Patrick's Day, even if (or especially if) the hue was entirely faked. Let's see what's been wearin' the green in our blogs this week:

Julie comes up with some four-leafed clovers! Surprisingly, they're mostly not green.

Jama Hameed baked some pandan kaya muffins!

Greg shows us how green Blue Ridge Parkway really is.

Carly finds a Green Ice rose

Meandering Martha takes her cue from Dr. Seuss! And Sam-I-Am, of course!

Laura comes up with a cabbage and pets that weren't green to start with, and other things that were and are.

Kiva shows us what it took to redress her dining room in green.

Thanks, all! New MPS coming right up!


Sunday, March 23, 2008

RR: Spring at the Side of the Road

Turns out that it's much easier to find flowers growing outside, in March, in Tucson, when one has a car and can drive all the way across town in broad daylight, than it is after midnight or when one is sitting inside a building all day while the car is someplace else. Here are the pictures I could not begin to get on Friday or Friday night:

Today was a busy day. We took the Newdog to the vet, all the way across town. Before we left, John agreed to give her the new name we've been playing with for a few days: Pepper. Sara, who suggested this name, wins...well, something cool, when I think of it.

She really, really did not want to go in the car, but was much calmer on the trip home, having seen other dogs without being caged or deserted. The surprise of the day: on the basis of her teeth, Dr. Lloyd says Pepper is closer to four years old than the two years SAFE estimated. This caused us to speculate on her unknown early life, probably as an outside dog who escaped long enough to get pregnant. (She dug her way out of the yard again yesterday.) I said something about her gypsy wanderings, and she pricked up her ears at the word gypsy. Too, late for that name, doggo! You're Pepper now!

We've got medicine to treat her skin condition, starting tomorrow. But she may need her thyroid checked.

The Brake Masters garden

After the vet, we drove all the way to Ina and Oracle to pick up John's car. There I found all these flowering shrubs, and a palo verde tree just beginning to bloom. However, for all I know, these bushes could have been blooming a month ago, helped along by wasting precious water on non-desert plants.

I think that I shall never see
Mount L. enhanced by Mickey D.
And blooming shrubs just block my view;
Oh, what's a mountain fan to do?

This was behind a McDonald's (different one) - or possibly behind the Walgreen's next to that McDonalds.

There were several stretches of this flowering agave or aloe or whatever it is on median strips on and near Craycroft Rd. I don't like 'em much, but at least they're real desert plants.

This garden in front of a car dealership could almost as easily be my mom's old garden in Manlius. Again, there's no guarantee that this is particularly a spring phenomenon. The harsh truth is that I don't like flowers, not even a little bit. I therefore tend to ignore them.

Okay, these flowers in a neighbor's yard are a genuine sign of spring. They probably came up on their own.

Our own yard has the hummingbird firecracker bush, which blooms all year, plus the "dead" bougainvillea and some potted plants John bought, last fall and this spring. Most of the purchases are not currently in bloom. The one new plant I actually care about is a tangerine tree.

All, in all, I have to admit that I was mistaken last night. Tucson does have a spring. It's a short one, and artificially aided by the watering of non-native plants; but it does exist.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Round Robin: Signing for Spring

As I mentioned last night, the Round Robin Photo Challenge for this week is "First Signs of Spring," as suggested by Nan of Life is Like a Lunchbox. Although Tucson barely has a spring, I knew what I wanted to photograph for this. Pretty much all that seems to be blooming around here at the moment is bushes and trees on the median strips of divided roads. It's tricky to shoot such things at 50 mph, but I planned to take some time after work on Friday to track down a likely median strip and find a way to photograph it, by daylight and from a stationary position.

That was before John's car broke down, and I had no car at all on Friday. So tonight I checked my March folder to see what I'd managed to come up with so far.

Ah, yes. Nothing says spring like snow on the Santa Catalinas. This was taken on Monday: St. Patrick's Day.

This commemorates my first major allergy attack of the season, the one that kept me up until 4 AM several nights ago. I assume it was caused by spring pollen.

For me a major sign that spring is coming is my own birthday on the tenth. The March birthday cake at the office was finally served on Thursday, but not before the whiteboard fell over, pushing the Coke bottle into the icing.

Those three shots just aren't going to cut it. Neither does the underexposed shot of the dry river bed, or the selection of nice but unspringlike photos I took of the Catalinas from Orange Grove Road Thursday night.

So tonight, following a longstanding pre-holiday tradition, I drove over to a 24-hour Walgreen's. Maybe they would have advertising about "Spring Savings," or some other spring-oriented display. They might even have a flowering bush outside. Besides, I needed to get John a birthday card. But no, there were no spring promotions, and the bushes weren't flowering.

I think there were at least buds on the tree outside Walgreens, but by moonlight and camera flash, it mostly just looked ghostly.

In desperation, I drove on to Hi Corbett Field. Nothing says "Spring" like "Spring Training," right? But it was dark and deserted, except for a cop car in the parking lot. I didn't want the cop to think I was drunk or a terrorist or something, so I took just a few pictures from the safety of my car, and headed home.

At home I checked on the status of a plant that as of this time last year seemed totally dead. Ditto tonight. But it will turn green and then bloom in a month or two.

Pathetic. I told you Tucson wasn't a great place to look for signs of spring. So I made my own signs:

John's birthday: March 22, just as spring begins, more or less. Which reminds me, I forgot Sara's birthday on the 21st!

Easter is definitely part of the spring celebration, especially this year.

And never mind the poinsettia; here's the most concrete sign of spring you'll see today.

Now go see how everyone else fared at finding signs of spring!


Linking List

Life is Like A Lunchbox

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