Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fun with poo

Sing the following to the tune of the original Spider Man theme song:

Spider poo, spider poo,
always cleaning up spider poo,
Round and brown, nasty blotch,
emanates from a spider's crotch,
Who knows,
what's in the spider poo, man,
digested bugs and goo, man,
clean up the spider POOOOOOOO!

Sorry I have no photos of the poo.  I always think, "Duh.  Shoulda grabbed the camera," after I clean it off the table and chairs on the lanai.  As you can see from this photo, Abby is unconcerned with spider poo. 

It's been a big week at the vet.  Monday, the babies all got snipped.  You'd never know it.  The next day, they were running around like maniacs, like it never happened.  Even Winnie.  She's got a tiny incision on her shaved tummy.  Her other stitches are "hidden" as the vet says, and will dissolve.  I do keep an eye on it to make sure she keeps it dry and doesn't start licking it incessantly. So far, all is well.  

And speaking of poo, these kitties do a lot of it.  Probably because they also do a lot of eating.  I spend more time than I expected scooping litter boxes.  They play outside, then come inside to poo.  Am I doing something wrong?

Wednesday was Doc's turn to visit the vet.  I sedated him, then tucked him into a crate in the back of the SUV.  Oddly, the sedative wasn't working very well.  He was agitated.  Then came the smell.  Oh, Doctor Dog!  I guess when you really gotta go, no amount of tranquilizer is going to calm that urge.  He did his best to hold it in, but a few turds snuck out and did their job to stink up the vehicle.  The moment I opened the crate and walked him down the ramp, he lost it all, right there in the parking lot at the vet.  It made taking a stool sample easy.  I sent the tech to the pile outside.  "Right there," I pointed out the window.  Beats sticking a probe up the poor poochie's whatzit.  Had to borrow some paper towels and air freshener from them before we left for home.  Other than that humiliation, all's well with our boy, though he has a few lumps to keep an eye on.  Fatty lipomas.  Harmless.  Oh, and he's still a neurotic basket case.  But we love him.  He's 10 years old now and 83 lbs, so no spring chicken and no petite flower, but healthy.  Today, it's Hoppsy's turn.  We're going to get a firm diagnosis on what I think is arthritis and to have the vet check out a cyst or bump of some kind that's recently sprouted on her eyelid.  Hopps is 13. 
It's time for financial aid.  With the peanuts I make at the winery and a household income that's down by 25%, the three grand per semester is taking a toll.  Not macadamia nuts, mind you, but peanuts.  That's what I make.  Sadly, the University of Alaska won't accept nuts in any form as payment. 

It's shaping up to be a beautiful day, perfect for sitting outside with the laptop and letting the creative juices flow.  The air's been bad lately, so the reprieve yesterday and today from choking sulfur dioxide is welcome.  I just heard the neighbor's cow moo.  That's my cue to skeedaddle.   

A hui hou.  Aloha!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Write on!

You may think it's crazy that someone plunking down three grand per semester to attend a far away creative writing program would need to fork over another $65 for local workshop, but that's what I did today.  I've hit a creative dry patch lately, so needed a quick shot of inspiration. I also wanted to see how such workshops are taught, with thoughts toward one day teaching them. It was great fun and I plan to shamelessly steal some of this material to use one day as an instructor. On both fronts, the day was worth while.  The instructor is a well regarded local writer named Tom Peek.  He's got a very easy, comfortable instructional style, filling the day with worthwhile exercises proven to get the pen moving.  The workshop was entitled, Tapping Your Right Brain and it did just that.  

The class was the last ever to be held in the Old Japanese Schoolhouse, the same place where I took ukulele lessons.  The property is being sold by the Volcano Arts Center.  There are two buildings on the property, one where classes where held and one where the teacher lived. Students were the offspring of Japanese farm workers.  During the war, the teacher was removed and sent to an internment camp on the mainland.  The school was closed.  While most Japanese in Hawaii were not interred (unlike the mainland population of Japanese Americans), those who wielded influence (like teachers and spiritual leaders) were taken.  The Schoolhouse again became a place of education and enlightenment when the Arts Center bought it and began holding classes there.  Sad to see it go.  

I would definitely consider another of Tom's seminars.  I think they're really seminars rather than workshops, despite lots of practice writing.  No real feedback is offered.  We are asked to listen to voluntary readings and rather than comment, instructed to say simply, "Thank you." I got the sense that several of the people with whom I was partnered were hungry for some feedback and if they asked me, I gave it in small, positive doses.  Some people were pretty hung up on "what we were suppose to do" or whether what they were writing was what was expected.   I assured a couple of them who were stewing during our lunch break that the point was not to generate any specific content, but to just do it.  Just write.  It was a process class.  Besides the instructor, I was the only published writer there.  Even so, the unedited, uncensored writing I heard was excellent, most of it coming from deep places where I often have trouble venturing.   Every single person in the room had the capacity and potential to write something worth reading.  That was cool.

A hui hou.  Aloha!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack Rocks!

It was hard to be in a bad mood today.  New president.  New direction for the country.  History was made and hope restored.  It's exciting!

Yesterday, I read a column by Thomas Friedman imploring us to refocus our energies in education toward science and math in our schools.  Today, our new president touched on that same theme in his speech.  I couldn't agree more.  Add a finance piece to the math equation, so that the average American can understand loan documents, grasp the concept of accrued interest and the time value of money and get the fact that you really can't spend more than you make indefinitely.  That said, why stop at math and science? Without language arts, all our presidents in the future will speak more like George W. Bush than Barack Obama.  Strategery. Nucular.  I rest my case.  It is his study and love of words that enables Obama to communicate so effectively and so eloquently.  He does not speak to us in bits and bytes, nor does he invoke the Pythagorean Theorem or the Theory of Relativity as inspiration.  Words, not alone, but strung together in such a way that we are moved and inspired.  Literature and the study of humanities gives us insight into the human condition. It is through this insight that we better understand ourselves, creating a more enlightened populace.  Knowledge of history is also crucial, for we must know where we've been and acknowledge our mistakes in order to move our society progressively forward.  Obama mentioned our forefathers more that once, those who sacrificed to create and protect this country, who fought to abolish slavery and injustice and to preserve or restore freedom for allies around the world.  We need to know who these people were and why they were willing to fight and die for the American ideal.  Bring back civics, too, to teach our children how their democracy works and impress upon every American that our system of government and the freedoms we enjoy will cease to exist without full participation by an educated citizenry.  We should teach kids the importance of being good citizens, responsible for ourselves and for each other.  And finally art and music, to enhance life and allow us not only to express how we see our world and feel about our experiences as human beings on planet earth, but to see the world through others' eyes, thus gaining a deeper understanding of our common humanity.  So math and science?   Sure. Absolutely.  By all means.  But why not pie in the sky?  Why not a full and well rounded education for our kids.  And our adults, too.

Wax on, wax off.

Here's to the next four years.  A hui hou.  Aloha!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Critter encounters and an otherwise mundane life

I heard a great joke the other day.  I'm Norwegian, of Norwegian descent anyway, a.k.a. Norwegian-American, so I feel I am, if not totally qualified, at least absolved of all guilt in telling this joke:

Why do Norwegians cook with so much milk?

To add color and spice to their food.

If you ever ate my grandmother's cooking, you would be howling with laughter at that one.  

The pooches and I encountered a most curious creature on our walk the other day.  At first glance, it looked like a stick.  A burnt stick, curved like a piece of charred drift wood, right there on road.  The dogs completely ignored it, while I stooped to take a closer look.  It wasn't wood at all, but a chameleon, turned almost completely black to blend in with the asphalt.  Now, I'm sure this method of defense works well in the rainforest.  It certainly worked with my dogs.  The little critter had no color (or is black considered all color?) and no smell.  But I knew that wouldn't protect him from the next 2000 pound mass of steel and rubber rolling his way.  So I picked him up.  He was not happy about this and opened his mouth in protest, but no sound came out.  Apparently, chameleons in Hawaii don't have the same gift of gab as Budweiser iguanas and Geico Geckos. Gingerly, I placed him at the edge of the forest lining that stretch of road. (Picture me dressed in the flowing red robes of a Buddhist monk, head shaved and a placid half grin on my face.  All life is sacred, right? "Run along, little chameleon.  Be safe!") 

Chameleons aren't native, of course.  Other than a few beautiful, endangered birds, some insects and sea life (which ironically we almost never see), nothing is from here, including most of the people.  The chameleons are native in the sense that they were born here.  They've got that over me. 

Lately our weather is either rain or vog.  Today is sunny, so it's vog.  I really can't complain, however, since much of the Midwest has been flash frozen to super-sub zero.  It's 82 degrees in L.A. today, which is perfect of course, except for the fact that it is L.A.    

I've been farting around the past couple of days (literally and figuratively, but the literal is an issue with broccoli with details that you probably don't want to hear, so we'll just dwell on the figurative), yes, where was I?  Oh yeah, farting around, lazily ignoring my keyboard. Today, it's back to the writing grind.  Once I get started, I don't mind being there, parked in the chair, staring at the words and struggling to add more.  It's just those first few lines that stick me, like stepping into mud and sinking up to my shins.

Life is so exciting here.  Ron and I put the awning back up over our driveway yesterday so the car and tractor will stay dry.  Dry, that is, relative to how they would be exposed to the daily deluge, though not dry relative to a vehicle parked in Las Vegas.  Shoots, brah.  Stuff rusts indoors here. You should see my two-year-old toaster and the door to my refrigerator.  We had taken it down to allow for a backhoe guy to get his rig through several weeks ago.  But the rain wouldn't let up and the guy's now gone (he was just a fellow Ron met down the road), so no hoe.  I bought another litter pan for the kitties.  With three babies plus Abby preferring the indoor clay to the outdoor dirt (Lucy and Mr. Sox always go outside), we needed another.  They're cute little poopers, but poop they do, in spades.  Make that spade-loads.  After purchasing said pan, toothpaste, dog food, chewies, biscuits and a few random, boring groceries, we're out of cash 'til I get paid.  Whomever coined the phrase "Money can't buy happiness" was an idiot.  Life is much more fun (and therefore happier) when you can buy whatever you want.  Seriously.  Money can't buy happiness.  What a maroon.

A hui hou.  Aloha!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Sulfur daze and sore gams

(Sing this to the tune of Purple Haze)

Crater haze, all in my yard,
Lately fumes, we're suckin' hard,
Either vog, or rain galore,
'Scuse me, while I choke some more....

(Insert raging ukulele interlude here)

I've decide to change Pippie's name to Alvin.  I think.  He is always in trouble, with a propensity for climbing up my legs, whether or not I'm wearing long pants.  So Alvin seems to suit him better, even though he's not a chipmunk.  Al-vin!

Work sucks.  Yesterday we were actually very busy, but we are so short staffed that it was just two of us scrambling all afternoon without a moment to breath.  My co-worker tells me that on Tuesday we had three small tour groups descend upon the place within a half hour's time and again, with only two people working, it was impossible.  So other carloads of people who were unlucky enough to come at the same time simply left.  She said six people walked out.  We once prided ourselves on our presentations - shows really - and gave people full explanations of how the wine was made.  Now, we are so short staffed we don't have time, so it's quick and dirty.  The owner will not allow us to hire.  He is rumored to have said, "If they walk out, they walk out."  It's one thing to work your tail off  and feel good about the day.  It's quite another to do it knowing that customers are being short changed and you will get nothing in reward for your efforts other than the privilege of coming back tomorrow to exhaust yourself again.  I suspect the winery will survive this recession and will go on to do some fun, interesting things.  But I also suspect it will take longer than I have the patience to wait and longer than my tired feet and legs can hold out.  So, I'm actively combing the want ads for a part time desk job.  The veins in my legs are telling me it's time. 

I thought it was only Mr. Sox who had escalated his spraying since the babies arrived.  Then yesterday, my angelic Abby, who has until now seemed mostly unperturbed by their presence, backed up against a tarp (outside, luckily) and let out a stream that would alleviate any drought in the southwest.  Who knew cats could pee horizontally?  It's really quite something, the way it defies gravity.  I immediately did my best to clean off the tarp.  It's time for drastic action, but I don't know what that should be.  I've heard that a product called Feliway works by emitting calming, pleasurable pheromones that make cats feel peaceful and content and want to take up macrame.  I'll report back on that.

Gotta go to work.  Another day, another dollar.  Literally.

A hui hou.  Aloha! 

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Plume spectacular

A belated Happy 2009 to you all!

We escaped the rain for a couple of hours today, trekking to Kalapana to see where the lava is currently entering the ocean.  It's pretty cool, though you can't see orange until after nightfall.  The plume is impressive and the 3/4 mile hike over rock is only a little tricky.  It's all pahoehoe lava there, looking like solidified black cake batter.  Other flows aren't so easy to navigate, namely a'a lava, which is rough and clumpy.  It's name is easy to remember,  because you can imagine walking over it with bare feet and screaming "A'a!"  There was a little sun down Kalapana way, with whispy clouds and soft trade winds keeping the hike very cool and comfy indeed.  It was the first sun we've seen in a couple of weeks and I could feel the vitamin D being sucked up by my bones, like a dry sponge dropped into a swimming pool.  
There was a keiki noni plant poking right out of the fresh lava, so I shot its picture.  Noni is a canoe plant, brought to Hawaii by the original settlers  from the south pacific.  It was used as an emergency food (though it tastes pretty nasty) and medicinally.  As it turns out, Noni is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants and is now sold as a super potion in health food stores.  You can see a single, knobby fruit on this one.
After our adventure, we dropped by Pahoa Town for some Thai food.  Our new favorite spot, Ning's, was closed, so we tried the second Thai restaurant in Pahoa, called SokuThai.  The food was very good, though the atmosphere and presentation was not so impressive as Ning's.  Still, we walked away stuffed and happy. 
When we got home, Doc greeted us, running down the driveway.  That's not good.  He was suppose to be inside.  We leave the back door open and the area in back where he goes shi-shi when we're gone is fenced.  He must have worked at it for quite awhile and eventually breeched the enclosure.  We'll be adding reinforcements tomorrow.  It's not that he has ever gone anywhere when he's gotten out.  It's just that he could and if anyone were to wander onto the property while we're away, I fear they might be toast in the jaws of the Doctor Dog.  He looks sweet, but he's a big boy and can be a little protective of his turf.

New episode of Desperate Housewives tonight. 

A hui hou.  Aloha!