Stories About Stuff

musings, ramblings and some unintelligible mutterings....

Friday, March 31, 2006


Ok guys - this is what I've been helping out with in my spare time. When my neighbor passed away, she left behind many four legged children. Her niece promised to find them good homes and we are all helping out - but the neighbors can only take so many of them. Go check out this new blog of doggie and kitty "Personal Ads" - and if you can't take one home - please pass the word - these kids need homes. All of them were saved from the streets and all are spayed or neutered. I am updating information as I get it - I'll be calling the vet tomorrow to find out as much as I can. All the comment e-mails on that page will come to me and I will pass the information on to Arlene so she can call folks back. Thanks for any help you can give - just passing the word is huge.

Fuzzy-Faces in Need of Warm Hearts

How can you resist mugs like these?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

It's a Must See

Ashes and Snow was amazing. If you are anywhere near the Santa Monica area between now and mid-May - go check it out. The images are incredible as is the film and the music. In fact the entire interior of the Nomadic Museum really sets the scene. I don't know if it was the rainy day combined with the show or what - but I had tears in my eyes - the beauty was incredible. What? You're still here? Go. Now!

A Day Off

I came down to LA for a job over the weekend and heard about this show - Ashes and Snow at The Nomadic Museum. I decided to treat myself and take a day devoted to some enlightenment. Of course, I was planning to go on Monday, but I forgot all the museums are closed on Monday. So, I am here for an extra day - and it's raining - bleh. I wanted to post a photo, but couldn't figure out if I had a legal one (but DO notice that I have learned how to include links! Even if I did destroy half of the last post in doing so)- so check out the site - I've only seen the home page because I don't want to spoil it - but I'm really excited to go because that page alone is incredible. People at work were talking about it this weekend and raving. I'm off to the Santa Monica Pier - I'll let you know what I think.

Now That We've Covered Cheese, Let's Talk About the Most Important Food Group.

I'm not sure I've ever seen a more beautiful sight - those two vats are full. What you are seeing is the entrance to Harrod's "Chocolate Bar". Now, I love a good cup of coffee, but if this were in my neighborhood, I don't think I would give Peet's a backwards glance (just as long as I could get it at the grocery store still - I'm not totally disloyal). Of course, I would probably weigh 400 pounds and be broke (our two cocoa's and a shared piece of cake were 11+ pounds - around $20) - but it might just be worth it.

There was an entire menu of differing types of cocoa drinks, I had the orange equatorial (dark chocolate and orange oil) and SB had the toffee cocoa (good, but he likes things so sweet that your teeth vibrate and this may have done the trick), but there were others - Venetian cocoa, cocoas with milk or water, spicy cocoas, you name it. OH, and the desserts! We opted for a vanilla pound cake with that ooey Devon cream they have there so as not to mask our drinks, but there was a LOT of chocolate in that little space.

Now, look up at he photo on the right...Can you see what she is troweling out of that pitcher? That is one of the bases for one of the cocoa's - I'm not sure which one - and it is the consistency of really thick cake frosting. All that's added to that is a little bit of steamed milk or water. This is truly part of heaven. Or maybe purgatory, given the prices.

After Harrod's, we went on the hunt for a little shop called Rococo. You might think that after Harrod's we'd had enough chocolate for one day. Nope. Rococo is definitely a must stop on the chocoholics trip to London. They had all sorts of goodies, including filled chocolates (I tried the gin and lemon cream - yummy) and the free sample of drinking chocolate that was served up as we entered the store. It worked, I bought the dark chocolate/black pepper version. Then the shopgirl brought out the big guns - samples of all the different flavors of the Organic Artisan Bars - they had everything: Lavendar, Rose, Rosemary, Persian Lime and Basil, Arabic Spices, Cardamon, Chili Pepper, Pink Peppercorn, Earl Grey and one of my favorites, Sea Salt and Milk Chocolate ( a big jump for someone who's been a confirmed dark chocolate lover since childhood - Ok, I was a weird kid) and they come all dressed up in pretty little wrappers. We managed to walk out of the store with only twelve of those. I'm thinking maybe I have a little issue with the chocolate. Oh well, I'll make sure none of it goes to waste - and even share with the Sweet Babboo - if he can find where I've hidden it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Breakin' the Law

It's been a tough week (week for me is any chunk of seven days - I work crazy hours, so the term "weekend" meaning Saturday and Sunday off is foreign to me - FYI) and I think it's about time for a lighter post. One about luxury items and smuggling, customs agents and foreign intrigue, beautiful women and...OK, I'm pushing it - I don't look so great after 11 hours on a plane. Behold the objects of my desire below:

On one of my last days in London, while I was picking up Sweet Babboo's fancy new suit (he's a clothes horse, ladies and lucky for me, he buys me nice duds too!) I stopped at a shrine to one of the items I worship most (those items being food). The one and only Neal's Yard Dairy in Covent Garden, mecca to those blessed with lactose tolerance. Of course, I got a bit out of control and while I managed to eat quite a bit of it (notice only three kinds of cheese left of the five purchased) in two days, there was too much creamy goodness to throw away (blasphemy!) and so I smuggled it in my bag. I even distracted the man at the United counter asking if I REALLY had to pack my knitting (oh loyal knitting - you are my friend) in hopes that he would not notice the extremely ripe smell emanating from my bag. Once on land, I smiled nicely at the customs officer and when he asked what kind of food I had brought home I was a good girl and said, "Chocolate," and he said, "That's fine," and I said, "Oh, and a little tea..." and he smiled at me as I sauntered away with my stinky backpack under my arms. There's no way he was getting any of my cheese.

Monday, March 20, 2006

It's A Rainy Day Out

The dog is unusually quiet on her bed and the house is very still. It seems we're both mourning in our own ways.

My friend and neighbor died yesterday morning. I'll miss her, but in a way, I'm glad it happened this way. I couldn't stand seeing her so weak. This stroke had taken way too much out of her and she would have had to go to a nursing home. She lived on her own right up until the end and even at 86, she was still too fierce and independent to live away from her home and her pets.

She was one of those eccentric old ladies, which I suppose will happen to anyone stubborn enough to live alone in an area that has gone through some amazing and dangerous times - but she had one of the biggest hearts of anyone I've ever met. She loved her pets (and there were a lot of them) and she was not afraid to tell anyone what she thought, but she was still a lady who wore a hat to church. She always proper and dressed up whenever we had her over for dinner, wearing her bright pink jacket and her jewelry everytime - but she liked a bit of whiskey now and then too. She was deeply religious, but not so serious that she wouldn't laugh and wink at me when I told her that the priest who visited her in the hospital was pretty cute. She would give me hell if I didn't prune my trees on time, but she'd also call and remind me to move my car on street cleaning days or even to sing "Happy Birthday" to me. And yes, sometimes she drove me crazy as do all the people we love the most, I'm sure I did the same to her. She also loved flowers - one of my orchids is blooming, so this is for her. I'm going to miss her terribly.

Friday, March 17, 2006

This was supposed to be my knitting blog.....

...but sadly, I've not done a lot of knitting lately. Remember that sweater I was going to work on while on the plane? Me neither. The above photos show how much knitting I've accomplished while flying - actually, I got less that that done - I worked on the heel on Wednesday night (and yes, it's the SAME sock). I finally went to knitting night at the LYS as I have been meaning to do for, oh, months, but was either too shy or too busy to go. Surprisingly, no one bit me and I really enjoyed myself (but probably talked too much). There was talk of mugging me on the way to my car for my sweater but that just made my ego swell and besides, I used to live in Detroit - you can't scare me with a little mugging.

So, this is my first adult sock - I had to see what the fuss was all about. While I am enjoying knitting it, I think I may not be a sock person after all. I'll do them from time to time - but I'm a hat person. Hats are what I can do mindlessly - I can make them up out of nothing and finish them quickly - the sock needs attention from me and is more of a project than something that keeps my hands out of trouble.

I'll be knitting at the hospital today. My neighbor is 86 and had a stroke while I was in London. I felt horrible because her niece was calling me at home as I was the informal emergency contact, and she couldn't reach me. I realize I am allowed to go on vacation - I mean I've only been here for 6 years, my neighbor's been here for 50 or so and she managed before I came along - but I feel badly all the same. So, I sit by her bed and can't think of anything to say because it used to be that I couldn't get her to stop talking. It's so quiet. I'd forgotten what this is like, the waiting for someone to die. Don't get me wrong, I want her to come home - it's not the same without the routine sounds that would make up my morning of her letting the dogs out and cleaning the yard and talking to them - she never had kids and they are her babies. But I am also trying to be realistic about her condition. What's so uncanny about the whole thing is that, in the past week, I've been told of three impending births - two on the block (one is a not sure yet) and my new niece or nephew to be. I guess it's all about the balance. There's sadness, but also a lot of joy.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Glad I'm Not A Smoker...

I have no idea why there are so many smokers in England. The warning labels on the cigarette packs are huge and scary and not really ambiguous at all. I mean, when the label says, "Warning: this product will make you ugly and then kill you, give your child a clubfoot and curse your soul to eternal hellfire and damnation", really, what is the attraction? Is this a type of gambling addiction as well - as in, let's see if I can beat the odds and not go to hell?

Or is it just that people have so many other things to worry about that clubfoot really seems small in comparison to the rest of their troubles? I don't know, but I would half expect someone's mother's voice to pop out when you open the pack and smack you on the back of your head while saying, "Did you even READ the warning? What the hell is the matter with you?" Either that or there would be nothing inside because, who would want to smoke after reading the warning on the box?

Friday, March 10, 2006

What I Did On My Vacation, Part Two

I know you are all (that's all 3 and 1/2 of you who read my blog) thinking, "No that's part three" - but you're wrong, I CAN do math and it's really part two because what looks like part two is really a continuation of part one if you just leave out the second paragraph of part one and add part two so it's really just all part one and this is part two. Got that?

OK, so first off, my friend Heather's ( I haven't figured out how to do that link thing on the words on the body of the post, so just go to the damn sidebar and click on her there - it's not that much extra work and besides, Heather is one third of my readership, so you "all" know how to get there anyway. And no, Heather, I am not saying you are one and 1/6 of a person - see I can do the math! - you're just one fabulous person) birthday - she didn't warn me, so there are no British birthday presents for her. See, you should have told me Heather because I have a little secret - the chocolate in England is soooooo !@#$!@^%& good! What were you thinking? Tell me next time - OK? And hey - Happy Birthday! But, you are younger than me, so I kind of hate you (but just for a second - OK?), 'cause you're not that much younger than me. Only 11 months and 2 days - see if I care. Spring chicky.

OK, on to the vacation. Now, I realized that I am writing about my vacation and posting photos and it's kind of the equivalent of, "Hi, come to dinner and see our slides....all 40,284 of them" (especially with Geoff and me - we're a little trigger happy with the cameras), but then I realized something else: it's my blog and I can do what I want - don't like my art? Bored? Hate London? Great! Go read something else then.

As my quest for softer toilet tissue continued, we widened our search to outlying areas of the countryside. We took the train to Bath and although our search turned up some more decorative paper with feathers sort of jaquarded (I know, it's not a verb - but maybe it should be) into the squares, it was not, alas, any softer than the London variety of bum wipes (don't ask me what the feathers were all about, aren't feathers SOFT????). While we were there, we decided to go visit the ancient roman Baths as well. Pretty cool, definitely touristy - but worth seeing at least once. Too bad we couldn't actually use them - they were warm (built around a natural hotspring). It was pretty interesting to see all of the Roman influences so far north - after the sight seeing in London, they seemed really out of place. I have to say though, there is something amazing about being able to touch a piece of tilework or a statue and realize that is it thousands of years old. Thousands. Whoa.

Here is my photo of the Great Bath in the bathing house. Please note the absence of tourists - this was not easy - I crouched in a slightly uncomfortable position for what seemed like hours waiting for them all to move out of the area. Two gabby people would step out and another would come in. None of them seeming to realize what an inconvenience they were being. Sheesh. People. Anyway, I felt like a National Geographic photographer, except instead of waiting for my subject to come into view, I was waiting for those people to move out. In the end I succeeded though. Who says I have no patience?

After our long day of walking and sight seeing and drinking warm spring water (oh yes I did, it came with the tour and it tasted funky - but I was thirsty) we were HUNGRY. We found a not too smoky pub and settled in for some fish and chips and steak and ale pie. Yum. While waiting for dinner I took some photos of my Sweet Babboo - I think they turned out rather nice.

I also found a present for John in Bath. There was an antique book dealer and once we stopped looking at the beautiful books - old copies of classics like Peter Pan and the like - that we couldn't afford (SB found an edition of Treasure Island for 1420 SP (sterling pounds - no symbol on my keyboard) - that's like $2500 - the look on his face was pretty funny when he saw the price), we went downstairs to the "bargain basement" (trust me, in Britain, there is no such thing). I found this really great volume on natural history from 1897. I was pretty excited to give it to John as he loves the outdoors and creatures of all kinds and it turned out my instinct was good - he started reading it to me when he opened it. I love it when I've found the perfect gift for someone and they are excited when they see it. What a great feeling.

We close our day with a lovely evening photo of some chuch spire in Bath that we saw as we were walking to catch the train back to London. Don't remember which one - just enjoy the way the last light catches the very tip of the spire, OK?

The Lost Post

Our flights were fine, no issues at all - and I even managed to sleep a few hours. It seems that the only place I CAN'T pass out is on an airplane for the most part. I'm going to give credit to my fabulous new friend, the travel pillow. Blow it up, it cushions your head, let out and it folds flat - the wonders of modern conveniences! Speaking of which.....have the Brits not yet figured out how to make a softer toilet paper? I'm not sure but this stuff feels like 100 grit sandpaper. Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, it's really more like 150. Of course, they don't eat so much of their "veg" here - so maybe they aren't able to poop enough to realize that softer is better when it comes to ones bum. I tried to get a salad tonight - it was listed as a King Prawn and Mango Salad at the Coventry Grill. If you're a spoiled Californian like me, you might imagine a bed of greens with some large grilled shrimp and slices of mango in a citrusy vinaigrette dressing, maybe some other veggies in there too. But you too would be incorrect. Don't get me wrong, the salad wasn't all that bad - my system is just needing some green if you know what I mean - and what I got was a bed of greens with some small shrimp and mango chunks (also small) coated in a mayonnaise dressing ala "Louie" style. Not the light dinner I had planned. Oh well, our server was charming and we got to sit down. Power shopping is hard. Nice tangent, eh?

No, I am not Canadian, but I lived there for a while.

We've done a lot of trekking and sight seeing - Big Ben (this one's for you Heather).....

...the Tower of London (which was great - if you ever go, take the "Yeoman Ward" led tour (better known as a Beef Eater) - they give you lots of insight and help you to decide where to go next through the tour - and it's free once you're in the gates. Which is good, because your American dollars aren't worth much more than the tough guy toilet paper here. Hmmmm, wonder if they're softer......), the Tate Modern Art Gallery, the London Eye (go at night - we did), Dali Universe (skip it - major tourist trap), the Gardening History Museum (bland but free - and warm and relaxing - in a cute little church too), and a bunch of galleries, shops, etc. Today was Harrod's and Paul Smith (for Geoff) and a little bit of Ted Baker (for me!). We needed a break from the cameras, our backs were killing us - so shopping it was. Harrods' was incredible, but more on that and our friendly hotel ghost another day.

It's about time to turn it - we're off to Bath tomorrow and I'm pooped. So, I'll leave you with this.....

Nighty, night.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

London Calling

Here we are upon meeting in Heathrow......

....our very first vacation photo together ever. Let's see if we can manage not to kill each other on the trip. (So far, so good.)

This is part of an earlier post - Blogger is not wanting to accept my full entry so I am breaking it down into pieces - this means the post is going to be a bit outdated (oh well) and in tiny bits. Damn Blogger.