Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tangled Up In Blue

If this is Eden, why is Eve disgruntled?

I need to stop mucking around with the Garden so much. Even with the dry grasses and dead flowers and weeds that make my skin blister on contact, it's perfect, anyway. Sometimes I think it's an affront to the Creator to try to change anything.

Instead, I should read a good novel, make something cool and arty and completely impractical. I should sing at the top of my lungs and scare the birds away with my off-key yowl. I should leap in the air and make Tanzer, the silly boy horse, dance. (He does, too! It makes me laugh, and then he'll dance some more.) Better yet, I should just strip off my dusty work clothes and dance. Right now.

Pharmaceuticals have their place, but I think I'll try the naked jungle boogie before I reach for the Prozac.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Meet Jade

Glass Guy and his girlfriend got the sweetest, mellowest black lab from the pound. She was a stray and the family that found her kept her for 3 weeks, hoping someone would turn up to claim her, but alas, they didn't have the room to keep her and had to send her to the pound. Well, Jade doesn't know her name yet, but she has come to a wonderful new home.

Glass Guy has forgotten all about his surfboard shaping hobby, his new pellet gun (thank god!) and blowing up gophers. He is completely and hopelessly obsessed with his new friend. So much so that he left his shop to his brother on the very day they were having a huge anniversary sale/party!

"If you were his brother, you would have gone ballistic," I said to Big Dog who has always been a "business first" kind of guy. Not Glass Guy.

"The first time you bring an animal home, the first day you get it, is THE most important," he quoted from The Dog Whisperer. "It just happened that we had to pick up the dog today. Bad timing, but which is more important?" He thought it was a rhetorical question.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

When the dogs go away...

...the cats come out to play. And do they ever. The dogs' departure has brought deer onto our turf and the cats are laying claim to it, too,

We are pretty sure it's what happened to Pooka, the chihuahua, Pearl, the kitty and many of the wild turkeys. Maybe even the chooks, though the way one of them was pulled through the fence points to some other kind of culprit. And now that Magique and big tubby Kai and skittish Pepper are gone, The Ranch is slowly being taken over by the Big Cats.

We'd been seeing more big cat scat all over the place -- under one of the peach trees, along the main driveway, on our very scruffy lawn -- and then on Sunday...

"It was the biggest bobcat I'd ever seen!" I could hear Glass Guy's girlfriend R., telling Big Dog. "I heard a commotion from the orchard so I looked down and it had one of our chickens in its mouth!"

R. was convinced she saw a bobbed tail, but from the color and size, we all thought it was a mountain lion and R. just didn't see the full tail. Whoever heard of a lab-sized bobcat, anyway? Then, when the howling started, we all knew it was a mountain lion.

"They sound like humans screaming 'no!' or 'oww!' only multiplied by a hundred," said Glass Guy who went up on YouTube to check out animal sounds and discovered that the eerie screaming banshee was a mountain lion in heat. It was coming from near the creek where I spotted a mountain lion last summer. "We're freaked out. Mating will bring more males out here and R. is afraid to go outside the house by herself."

"They'll only eat things smaller than themselves," Ranger Lady told me earlier this week. She and her man, who had moved to the next town, were at the ranch to return keys.
"But you see them attacking giant deer," I said.
"They measure from their nose to their tail. So you and I would be lunch."
Oh. How comforting.

The boys are talking of shotguns and rifles. The patriarch from the next ranch, which also lost a kitten, told Big Dog, "well, if a mountain lion just happens to get shot, no one will mind..." and Glass Guy has already bought a pellet gun. We can hear him practicing every evening. But I like that we have all this wildlife and believe mountain lions have more right to be here than we do. What we need are more dogs, not guns!

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Monday, July 14, 2008

SoCal Scenes

Happy Bastille Day!
It's nice to be back in Paradise, though the roads in Southern California were a Vortex of Entertainment.

Scene 1
We are driving on the 405, through the Sepulveda Pass. We pass a van belonging to a company called "College Hunks Moving Junk." I, of course, check out the driver.

"Hey! He's no hunk!" He looked like every other truck driver in Los Angeles. "And he doesn't look like he's in college, either. This is bad advertising."
"But catchy, huh."
"I'm surprised there isn't a group of men up in arms about the sexism of such a business."
"You know there'd be a group of women who were against something like 'Lingerie Babes to Do Your Dirty Work.'"

Scene 2
We are driving up Pacific Coast Highway which is pretty packed with weekend traffic. It's the perfect beach day and every other car is packed with kids. We pass a car that is blaring downbeat hip hop -- thump-a-thump-a-thump -- then, moments later, a car blasting some bhangra beats. The young and flashy South Asian Couple are thoroughly enjoying themselves, with the woman doing some Bollywoodesque moves in the tiny interior.

"Bhangra!" I squeal.
"It's the same song (as the earlier hiphop) played at 78!" marvels Big Dog.

I had to try it at home. It sort of works! This might become the Next New Thing in Sampling! Or not. Do kids still know what we mean when we say "playing at 78"?

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Do The Limbo

One day in Hell was enough. We had to flee for the coast today. But El Lay ain't no Paradise. Far from it. Coming here from the Antelope Valley was like going from Hell to Purgatory. Which reminds me of a conversation I had with my best friend and a mutual friend from our teen years about how Limbo is worse than Purgatory. You see, I have a lot of Catholic friends from having gone to a Catholic high school, and these two friends were Catholic, too.

"I remember how the nuns used to scare me about Limbo," said S.
"Me, too!" shouted G.
"Why? Why would Limbo be so bad? It certainly isn't Hell. It isn't even Purgatory," I commented.
"Exactly. It was this dark world of NOTHING!" the two friends both shrieked in memory of the horror.
The only thing I could think of that was bad about Limbo was that if Catholic doctrine proved correct, Limbo would be the most densely populated Afterworld of all since all non-Catholics were bound for Limbo.
"Was limbo dancing banned at your school?" I wondered.

LA is not Limbo. It can be a hell of its own. The drivers here are possessed by something, for sure. Some dude gave Big Dog the evil eye when we pulled into a spot at a gas station. He threw his hands up, as if to say "What!? You wanna run me over?" Then, before we were able to pull out, another car come into the space in front of us. Someone else was waiting patiently BEHIND us and the car that pulled in front of us wasn't supposed to be driving up the EXIT ONLY lane in the first place, but when Big Dog mentioned that to him, he got completely defensive and, of all things, angrily grabbed his crotch.

"How weird was THAT?" Big Dog exclaimed. "Did he think he was Michael Jackson?"
"Maybe he had crabs," I laughed
"'Do you have itch AND odor?'" he imitated the announcer in a Vagisil commercial.

"People don't behave like this when they're in line at the supermarket or ticket window or whatever. What makes them turn into such assholes when they're in a car?!" I was amazed.
"Tons of steel make them feel invulnerable."
"Tons of steel make them stupider. But it's like you say: too many people, too many drivers. Stuff like this makes me want to get out of LA as soon as I can. It's giving me a headache."
"It's making me want to get out of the U.S.," Big Dog winced.

Too bad. This week we take a little trip back into our old lives: video production work, a little purgatory of its own. Being so unemployed makes us insecure, so we take the odd jobs that come our way. But like my Catholic friends always said, there IS an end to Purgatory, which is only a mini-hell (or maybe a series of mini-hells) to get you to heaven. And in that sense, it beats the hell out Limbo every time.

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Waaaaay (South)East of Eden

In fact, going from The Ranch to anywhere inland in California right now is like going from Paradise to Hell. And you don't have to go very far inland to start hitting Purgatory.

The drive down from LO (Los Osos) to SLO (San Luis Obispo) is a lovely one, past fields of red and green lettuce, artichoke fields forever (and I always have to sing it to the tune of Strawberry Fields Forever,) soft, curvaceous rolls of hills, black and brown cows and hard bodied cyclists. 101 is not too bad, either, taking you through picture-book farmland, acres and acres of vineyards and strawberry fields that scent the air delicious.

We left the ranch this morning (LO to SLO!), then turned off of 101 and onto 166, just north of Santa Maria ("The Murder Capital of the Central Coast!" I announced as we approached. Big Dog rolled his eyes at me. "Well, it's true, isn't it? I think it has the highest murder rate in the Central Coast..." my eyes stabbed his rollers.) This is the road that leads you East of Eden. At first, it's still gentle hills, grazing land for the happiest cows on earth (I know PETA wants to refute that, but I just KNOW it's a whole lot better than being penned up in some factory farm...and although Indian cows are revered, I can't imagine that life in India is much better for cows even if they don't end up on your dinner table...all life must end sometime, anyway...) but as you keep going east, the land -- and air -- turn hotter and meaner. You can feel a definite change at the turn off to Tepusquet Canyon. Further east, there is no more marine influence and the scorching inland climate takes over.

"Are we stopping at Jolly Kone for a burger?" I asked Big Dog.
"Oh, so now you're a fan, too?"
"Not really, but I know how you enjoy their burgers and I'm getting hungry."

We take 166 when we go from The Ranch to the DogFather's and have taken to stopping at Jolly Kone in Maricopa, a dusty little town the kind you see in every cool road movie. In fact, just stopping in this town is like being in the middle of a cool, off-beat road movie. And when there's a Korean-run burger stand, well, it become some kind of surreal scene in this movie.

Last summer, when we stopped there, Big Dog wanted to use the bathroom that was at the back of the shop. Locked, of course. So he asked the cute lady at the window, "Toilet?"
"El baño?" When you ask in English and they don't answer, try Spanish, right? This IS California, after all.
"I'm Korean," announced the woman.
"Kamsahamnida," Big Dog said in reply. You could hear someone in the darkness of the shop yelling, "Chee-bagga! Chee-bagga! Ya! Wee fies..."

I had to shake my head in disbelief at this surreal conversation.

But isn't it totally apropos for a trip from Paradise to Hell? And Hell is FUN! Extreme weather is extremely entertaining. Even when I am miserable, I am having fun. Because I can tell you how my eyeballs dried up and were ready to crumble, the moisture from all the mucus membranes in my body got sucked out. I was fried, dried and crispy! Like something you can find in a really authentic Chinese restaurant! I couldn't believe everything in sight wasn't spontaneously combusting.

Real Hell, however, exists further east and further south. Real Hell is on the edge of LA County. Real Hell is always made by Man.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008


You may be wondering why I don't update my blog as much when I am at The Ranch. One reason is that I don't have a decent enough internet connection here in the house (I can piggyback on Glass Guy's connection -- he has a security webcam in his shop and he can "spy" on intruders from his home -- but a big oak-covered rock we call Treasure Island blocks the connection when I am inside the house.) The other reason is that there is just too much keeping me away from my laptop.

Last week was Bat Fighting Week, for example. Since we returned to find the bats living in our house again, we've been on a humane (at least I think so...) eviction campaign. We've been trying to make them leave at night to go feeding and then after we think they're gone, we block the entrance again.

"Heeeeey, there's a whole lot of yummy stuff out here.....don't you want to taste any of these juicy bugs?"

It's kind of like enticing unwanted guests out and then locking your door.

Now we've sealed most of the spaces with insulating foam, leaving just a small exit. Seemed easier than P's suggestion of catching a snake and getting it up there. I don't hear the bats anymore, so I think they're all gone.

This week is Getting Oak House Ready for the McC's week. Lots of cleaning, fixing screens, spackling, caulking (yeah!) and painting. And buying some household appliances -- something I loath doing. But it keeps us indoors more and that's a good thing because although the days are gorgeous, the winds have been blowing smoke from the Monterey County fires our direction and it smelled like a campfire all over the ranch yesterday morning.

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