Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Family Visit

My beloved and I got a great Christmas gift, my brother and his family came to visit.  Along with the pleasure of their company, we are exploring with new eyes the wonderful place we live.

On Friday we took a ride to Mt. Diablo, which is only 20 minutes from our house.

This is the Wind Caves in Rock City in Mt. Diablo Park.

Then we headed to San Francisco.  Because I lived there for so many years and have stayed in this area, I forget how beautiful it is, until you hit a day like this.

I have lived in this area for nearly 26 years and finally I made it to Alcatraz!

A sparkling December day.

I stood on this rock looking around and knew that there was nothing worth getting locked up in a place like this.  They had an audio tour and one guy talked about being locked up here and being able to hear the parties going on at the San Francisco Yacht Club when the wind was blowing just right.  Looking out and being able to see all of this would have driven me over the edge.  So, I am giving up my life of crime.

We also went to another place I had never been too.  The National Cemetary at the Presidio.  

Not only is this a spectacular place to pay your respects to veterans, they have great bathrooms.  So, while all those tourist are lining up at the public bathrooms at the Bridge, head over here.  Clean and shiney, just don't tell anyone else.

Then it was across the Golden Gate Bridge, which is always a thrill for me.  There were lots of people walking and biking across, we drove.  I have walked it, don't need to do it again.

Then we went down to Fort Baker, for those of you that don't know where this is - find it.  The views are great.  You will never get a better picture of the bridge.

Then back across the bridge - still driving - and a little tour of the City which ended at the Cliff House, just at sunset!  Always include this in any tour you give.  I will admit I hate the renovations they did to the inside of the Cliff House, I loved those old round settee's and white topped marble tables where you could lounge and watch the sunset.  Now, I would rather stand outside and freeze.  

Finally leaving the City by way of the water front so we could see the light install on the Bay Bridge. 

Long day, but full of fun for all of us.  My beloved, Chief Matron Mare-son, the Colonel, the Mrs., the college boy and the pretty girl all turning in soon after arriving home because it was up at the crack of before dawn for our next adventure.


I don't know why we forget that it is so close.  It is only a little over three hours from our house.  Since we have had very little rain here, which translates into snow in the mountains, I thought maybe we could take a drive.  I called the Ahwahnee and made a lunch reservation and we all got up and left before it was light.

What a fantastic lucky day.  The sun was shining, the light was amazing, the company was fun, the lunch was great!  I could not have asked for anything better.  

I was blessed to be able to share this special place with people I love!  It will be a memory I will cherish and I hope they always remember it.

My beloved and I are so happy you are here to share all these special places and our special day!

More on that later.

wink, wink

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Kanye is stupid.


Kanye West has the balls to compare his profession to a soldier or a cop?

He puts his life on the line when he goes to work?

Rap is really hard work?  

"You're literally going out to do your job every day knowing that something could happen to you."

Seriously - what a fucking idiot!

Yeah, you could sing a wrong note, or maybe you could slip on the stage?  Wow, that sure sounds as dangerous as dodging bullets and IED's.

Stop buying his shit, stop going to see him, stop him from saying any more stupid shit.

Dial 112? Don't.

It is a little early in the moring to start to bitch, but here goes.

I just had a friend on Facebook post a story about a young girl driving alone at night.  She was being followed by what she though was an unmarked police car.  It had a flashing red light and was motioning for her to pull over.

The young girl remembered her parents advising her that if this ever happened to dial 112 on her cell.  She did this and was connected to her local highway patrol, who checked and determined that there were no police in her area.  They sent cars to where she was and they were able to surround the car behind her and arrest the wanted rapist.  Saving the girl.

Whew!  Close call.

What pisses me off about this?

The fact that it is NOT FUCKING TRUE!  Stories like this, while I am sure are meant to help people, they do just the opposite.  They give people mis-information, a false sense of security.

People, check this stuff out before passing it on.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013



I am watching Rachel Maddow and she is talking about an organization called ALEC.  Seems they write up laws that then them shop to states.  One of their great ideas?  The Stand Your Ground Law in Florida.  Yeah team.

Anyway one of the things they are thinking about are laws that will punish homeowners that are putting solar panels on their roofs to try to save some money.  Punish them for????  Well, punish them for not using fossil fuel of course.  What?  What?

Now, we are in the middle of having solar panels put on our home right now.  Why did we do it?  Well, to save some money, of course.  But also to maybe we are concerned about power and where it comes from.

You want to punish me for NOT using fossil fuel?  For trying to use a free source of power?

Did you know that in the Carter White House, solar panels were installed.  Yes, in 1979 Jimmy Carter had solar panels installed, hoping to get American's to be less dependent on fossil fuels.  Well, the guy that came after him (initials RR) had them removed.  Yup, you read right.

Well the White House in in the process right now of having solar put back on the roof.

I am confused.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Scotland - last day

Saturday - our last day in lovely Scotland.  We decided to take another formal tour.  This one was into the western Highlands.  It was a cold and windy day and we got on a bus with a little Scottish girl who was both tour guide and bus driver.  She did a lot of talking and she liked to talk with her hands and she drove really fast.

It was nice to be a passenger.  When I was the driver I really did not look at anything other than the road in front of me. 

We started by doing a drive by of Stirling Castle.  We had been here on Monday, this trip was just a get out in the parking lot and look around.  We got back in the bus and started back down the hill, where Gail met a car coming up.  I think I heard her say seriously??  The car had to back down the hill until we could get by it.

Then off to Doune Castle

Imagine my surprise when I found out that the castle had been closed the prior month due to some filming.  Filming?  Filming?  What??? Some kind of tv show I am told.  Like a tv show based on a time traveling woman and Scottish man?  Like maybe The Outlander book?  I see the woman in the gift shop putting out some books.  Guess what???  Yes, they were using this castle as Castle Leoch, the seat of the Mackenzie.  They built a little village out front.  They will be back.  Then I read it was also used as Winterfell in the pilot for Game of Thrones.  OMG - does life get any better?

Then up thru the Highlands, we saw this:

I don't remember the name of this beauty.

Then to a little town called Inveraray, home of the Clan Campbell.  There is a castle here, but it was closed because the head of the clan was in residence.  Cool!!

But we did see this:

Then back in the bus for a quick run to a place along the road called "the rest and be thankful spot".  It was originally along a military road built by the Clan and was at the top of a hill where they would rest on the way to where ever they were going.  Here it is:

It was cold, cold, cold and very blustery.  I got out and took this picture and then got right back on the bus.

Then off to another cute town on the banks of Loch Lomond - our guide told us to to pronounce Loch like we were a cat coughing up a hairball.  The name of the town was Luss, it was getting on towards evening and we came around a corner to find this little kirk:

Then around another corner to this:

I just realized this looks like a Thomas Kinkaid painting, it was an accident.  It was really lovely.

Then back on the bus for the trip back to Edinburgh to pack and get a couple of hours sleep before being picked up for a ride to the airport for our 6:30 am flight.  Who made these arrangements.

This is what you see prior to getting on the plane:

We will be back.  Until next time.           

Monday, December 2, 2013

Scotland - Day Five

Friday we got back on the train going in the opposite direction - back to Edinburgh.  

We started getting some facebook posts from people asking if we were alright?  We did not know why they were asking, until we saw the news.  A helicopter crash landing on the roof of a pub.  While this is a very terrible thing, I did wonder if everyone thought we spent all our time in pubs and then I thought about our last trip to Scotland and how most of the pictures did get taken inside a pub.

Anyway, we got back to Edinburgh and walked up the hill to this:

Yup, Edinburgh Castle.  It sits right up on top of an extinct volcano and overlooks all of Edinburgh.  Get there and see it.

We wandered about for a while and I will tell you that sightseeing in Scotland in November is a lot different than during the height of the tourist season.  We were the only ones in some parts of the castle.  It was great in a lot of ways.

Next we walked a bit down the hill to the Scottish Whiskey Experience, where they say they have the biggest collection of whiskey in the world.  They had a lot of whiskey and they also have lovely restaurant.  We sat down to a wonderful lunch and about half way through the fire alarm went off and they herded everyone out of the place.  We grabbed our coats and bags, but left other stuff sitting there, which was really stupid since what if the place burned to the ground - that would have been just lots of pounds up in smoke.  It would probably smell really good while it was burning, but a lot of t-shirts would have been lost.  So they had everyone wait out side until the OK was given by these guys:

Looking at this truck and knowing the roads in Old Town I just don't know how they do it.  But they did  and they let us all back in after about 15 minutes.  So we go back in and down to the same table we were at and our food is gone.  We are then told they are re-cooking our meal?  We get a brand new meal.  A table of 5 that was a couple of tables over from us don't come back.  The staff chats about how when something like this happens - some people don't come back.  I will admit the thought crossed my mind, but we did have t-shirts in there.  

This place had a menu for whiskey that I wondered if they hired a poet to write the descriptions.  They were that beautiful.  On this menu was Cardhu, the distillery we had been to on our previous trip to Scotland.

We went back down the hill to our apartment and bundled up for another wait in line.  Yup, seeing Texas again on Friday night.  We get down to the venue and yes, there are people waiting already.  People that we know - well, kind of.  We had met most of them the night before.  As we are standing, more that we met come into the line.  It was like old home week.

There were also a group of old ladies sitting in folder chairs, they were waiting for tickets for a Irish tenor, whose tickets were going on sale at 9:00 the next morning.  Yes, they were going to spend the night in the cold to get tickets.  They had chairs, sleeping bags, hats, gloves, themoses and knitting.  They equivilant of the Red Cross would be checking on them during the night.

Anyway, doors opened about 7:00 and in we go.  Yes, we were back on the front line.  One of our new friends saved us a space.  It was on the opposite side of the stage as the night before, so we were able to see the show from two sides.  They sang the same songs, in the same order.  They were the same, but different.  I guess each show is different, based on how the band feels and the feedback from the crowd.   At some point some woman threw herself across me and into the no space next to my beloved, she spoke to her, put her arm around her and gazed at Charlene with love in her eyes.  My beloved confessed that she really had no idea what the woman was saying to her.  

I do wonder if Ms. Spiteri knows that she is an awful lot of lesbians wet dream.

The encore was different, a great rendition of "Jackson".  

All in all, it was worth the trip.

Then there was the walk home.  Went right when we should have gone left.  Walked way out of our way.  Finally grabbed a cab that took us part of the way, when the driver turned right on the Royal Mile instead of left I had to say - hey, I think you are going the wrong way.  He was and he turned around.  The Royal Mile is closed to vehicle traffic at some points, so he could only let us out and we walked the rest of the way.

Think of it, walking around all day, standing in line for two hours, standing in the concert for three hours, would your feet hurt?  

Ours did.  We both layed in bed that night telling each other how much our feet hurt.  I swear my feet would have killed me if they could.  Aleve was our friend.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Scotland - Day Four

I have been remiss in blogging.  Sorry, we have been a little busy.

On Thursday we took the train to Glasgow.  It was so easy, just to the station, buy a ticket and stay on the train until the last stop.  As can sometimes go wrong we went right, instead of left when leaving the train station and had to hunt a little for our hotel, which turned out to be actually attached to the train station.  Well, with a name like the Grand Central Hotel, it does make sense.  The hotel is one of those from the glory days of travel, where people dressed up and had a butler to carry their bags.  Well the butlers are long gone and jeans are more the dress coe of the day now, but the hotel still has some glory.

In truth, the bed in this room was larger than the entire bedroom in the apartment we had rented!

We had lunch in a shopping area in Glasgow and Christmas is in full bloom in Scotland

Well, I'm thinking this is for Christmas, but maybe it is there year round?

My beloved was getting very excited and we headed over to the O2 Academy at about 5:00 pm for a show that started at 8:00.  Truthfully, I thought she was out of her mind, but we were not the first in line.  We go in line behind a group of fans that we came to find out are not just fans, but FANS!!

After a little while they were joined by a couple from Manchester, England that were referred to as the King & Queen of Texas.  It seems that this concert would be their 12th show of this tour.  Yes, the 12th time they had seen the band on this tour.

I am not going to lie, it was cold waiting and waiting and waiting. 

But the company was making it a little warmer.  It seemed this entire group of people were connected via life, facebook, twitter etc. all because of the band Texas.  They knew all about them, had met them, partied with them.  Some might refer to them as groupies, but I don't think that word applies to them.  Ubber fans is what comes to mind for me.  And, I could quickly see my beloved becoming one.  She was just so happy to find her people.  Others like her, that love this music, others that she did not have to explain who they were or how they got their name.  From the movies Paris, Texas in case you wanted to know.  

So we stood and chatted and waited.  And waited.  And waited.

Finally at 7:00 they opened the door and the rush to the stage began.  Our new friends ushered us in and directed us where to go and made sure we got a spot right in the front row.  Yes, after standing for the last two hours outside, we would be standing for the duration of the show.  It was a general admission show and we were right in front.  Between our new friends from Manchester and a couple of cute little lesbians, that were so excited to meet "girls" from San Fransico!

And so it began.

First a band called "A Girl Named Johnny".  The lead singer was a little tiny blond girl in a pink and white ginham shirt and black leather jacket.  Her guitar was bigger than she was!  They were good, but they were not the main act or the reason we were there.

This was:

The lead singer Charlene Spiteri came on like a power house and can she sing a song.

My beloved was so very happy!  It was worth an 11 hour flight to see her so happy.

We were able to walk back to our hotel after the show, it was a brisk walk, a really fast brisk walk.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Scotland - Day three

Well, today was not rainy, but it was still cold.  We started across the street at Deacon Brodie's Cafe for breakfast, then off to the train station to check things out for our little trip to Glasgow tomorrow.  It is farily straight forward, buy your ticket on the day of travel, trains to Glasgow Central station leave every 15 minutes, so should be pretty easy to catch a train.  We did look at the departure board on the way out and the next train to Glasgow had been cancelled, so there is that.  Tomorrow will tell.

Then it was off to the Museum of Scotland where we went thru the Ancient Scotland exhibit and met these little guys:

These are the Lewis Chess pieces, carved in the 12th century by the Norse people that populated Scotland.  I love their little faces.

We went from the beginning of Scotland to present day.  I will admit that I enjoyed the old stuff more than the current stuff.  They did have a loom that had these little cards on it that determine the pattern being woven.  They looked like punch cards from early computers.  If you do not know what that is, please leave my blog now and never come back.

Now you know why we are in Scotland, it is to see the band Texas.  My beloved's favorite band.  We see them Thursday in Glasgow - hence the trip to the train station - we see them on Friday here in Edinburgh and we saw them today at the museum.  They were one of the bands in a exhibit about television.  We were sitting there - for free - and on they come.  For my beloved it made the entire trip to the museum worth it.

On the 7th floor of the museum is a terrace with amazing views of Edinburgh.  Sounds like a great place to get some photo's, until you realize that you checked your coat down stairs so that you would not be too hot while roaming the museum.  It was cold, but man it was worth it:

The castle at dusk.

Again the castle at dusk.

The skyline.

After a quick dinner of pizza take away we went down to Prince's Street Garden where they are having a Christmas Faire.  There were wooden decorations, hot chocolate, a skating rink and a ferris wheel.

The gardens were all lit up

It was actually much warmer tonight that it was all day.  No wind, just lots of stairs.  We did want to push some young girls down the steps that were running up them.  It just seemed like the right thing to do, but we refrained since we don't have anyone here to visit us in prison.  So we climb back to Lady Stair Close and up to our little apartment on the Royal Mile and try to use the washing machine.  We followed all the directions and now we are just looking at it doing nothing.  Well either we will have clean jeans tomorrow or we won't.  I'll let you know.

Where in the world?

Last night as I layed in bed I started thinking about one of my favorite books of all time.  The Outlander series.  As you may or may not know, it takes place in Scotland.  Claire, Jamie, time travel, 18th century Scotland.  I don't know why I could not remember where Claire finds Jamie after returning to Scotland.  So I pulled out my trusty copy of Voyager, the third novel in the series.  After I thanked the computer gods for e-books - since if you know the series the books are close to 1,000 pages each and are difficult to carry around - and started looking it up.

Well, my friends, she finds him in Edinburgh.  A little print shop on Carfax Close.

After a little hunting, I determined there is no Carfax Close today, that does not mean there never was.  I read over a certain section of the book and started putting things together and Carfax Close was on the Royal Mile.  Jamie and Claire leave Carfax Close to go to The Worlds End pub (we had dinner there on Monday night) and the description is that they go down the Royal Mile.  Now I can only assume that this means the go towards Holyrood.  Since Edinburgh Castle is Up the Royal Mile.

They leave the pub and end up at a small close just UP from the Kirk of Canongate about a quarter mile above Holyrood Palace.

So I know the general area of Madame Jeanne's whore house and the location of Jamie's smuggling busines, which is housed in a underground cavern.  Hmm, sounds very familiar to what we saw on our tour last night.

So today, I will pay more attention and look for more things that are familiar to Jamie and Claire.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Scotland - Day two

Today we woke to a cold rain.  To those of you that have had broken bones know that in times of rain, your bones hurt and today was no exception.  Bones hurting be damned, off we go into the rain to Holyrood - the home of the Queen when she is in town.

We stop at St. Giles first - it is a church right across the street from where we are living.  It is a place where a lot of things happen.  We go into to look around and my beloved sees that there is a photography fee of two pounds.  Two pounds to take pictures?  Well, I guess they need the money, so I go up to the desk to pay my pounds and the woman at the desk says,

You can't take pictures during the service.  We have a service starting at noon, are you staying for it?


Well, then I won't sell you a ticket to take pictures since is two minutes of tweleve, and you won't have time to take pictures.  You should come back later.

So, we took a raincheck on St. Giles and started down the Royal Mile to HolyRood.

So back to the Queens place here in Edinburgh -

Holyrood is actually a place you can see people living.  I mean you go to Buckingham Palace or Windsor and they seem too big and impersonal, not Holyrood, I could actually picture people living here.  In fact, the Queens grandaughter, Zara Phillips was married here a couple of years ago.  Can you imagine planning your wedding and calling up your Gran to see if you can use her place in Edinburgh for the wedding?  Cool..

Anyway the place started as an abby

It was a place of sanctuary.  Did you know that having debt or being unable to repay your debt was a crime?  Well, it was and if you were wanted for debt you could take sanctuary here and nobody could arrest you while you were here - or on Sunday when you could go home to your family or wherever, because arresting people on Sunday was illegal.  Weird, but true.

James IV took the simple royal apartment at the abbey and turned it in to Holyrood, he did not get to spend anytime there, because he died a couple of days after it was complete.

So we again hear about Mary Queen of Scots, it was to Holyrood that she returned to after leaving France and coming home to Scotland.  At this time she was married for the second time to Henry Staurt, who depending on who you believe was either a patsy or a very jealous husband.  Seems for whatever reason, Henry lead an armed party into Mary's private chambers where at 6 months pregnant she was having diner with her ladies and her private secretary, David Rizzio.  The secretary was dragged out into the next room and stabbed 56 times and left dead on the floor.  Mary moved very quickly to the castle down the road - Edinburgh where she gave birth to the future James VI.  

I'm sure you can understand she was not very happy with her husband and when he turned up dead, not long after, people were sure she was involved and her quick marriage to her third husband, Lord of Bothwell did not endear her to anyone and she was soon arrested and forced to abdicate.

Like I have said previously being a Princess or Queen is not always a good thing.

Anyway, Holyrood was not always a happy place, but I still like it.

On the way back, we passed this

I assumed it was a newspaper of some sort, but no it is a museum of the people.  It sounds a little commie to me.  We did not go in, maybe another day.

On our way back up the Royal Mile in a close we saw this:

Now, I ask you, who could resist going closer to see what this was.  It was a kilt maker, what else could it be?  So we go in and start looking around and asking questions.  My beloved decided to order something and had to give her address.  They very Scottish guy tells us he used to sell kilts at the Highland Games in Pleasanton.  About this time another man walks in and they tell us they used to live in Hayward and had a shop in San Francisco.  Then they moved to Palm Springs.  This story was just getting gayer and gayer.  Do you know it takes 8 yards of fabric to make a mans kilt?  That real kilts are sewn by hand?  That it takes about a day to make them?  I was amazed, little tiny stitches, all the same, all perfect.  Amazing workmanship.  Did you know that not only clans have a special tarten?  States have them.  The Marine Corps have one.  It was a very interesting place and an art form that needs to be preserved.

I did ask why did the Scots start wearing kilts?  I mean really, it gets cold here.  Then we were told that the people that originally settled Scotland were Celts from the Alps and they wore skirt like things, so it was a small jump from that to a kilt.  And also, sometimes a plaid in the tarten was wrapped like a loin cloth under the kilt, I guess for those chilly Scottish nights.

We ended our day with a ghost tour!  Yes, no vacation would be complete without one.  This one was pretty good.  The guide was named Mark and it was an interactive tour.  I was used in a demonstration of the different hanging techniques used, I was a very good participant.  We went down and around the area around St. Giles - where the last person to be buried in the graveyard next to the church went in about 1560 or so.  Today the churchyard is a parking lot, unfortunately they did not move any of the bodies prior to tarring them over.  

Then we walked over to Advocates Close, where I learned some more information about close's.  They originally had gates at both ends that were locked at night to keep the occupants safe.  Learned that they were also dark and dirty places.  There is one thing that most of us don't think about when we imagine life in a medieval city.  What did they do with their poop?  Well, here in Edinburgh, it was collected in a big pot during the day and when the bells of St. Giles rang at 10:00 pm you could legally throw it out your window into whatever street or close was below you.  Yuck and be careful where you are at 10:00 at night.

Of course, there was the usual sickness, rats and plague.   It think you get the picture.  We should all be really thankful when we flush that toilet not to mention modern vaccinations.

We were taken to the vaults that exist under the South Bridge here in Edinburgh.  The South Bridge was not built over water, but over low lying land and under it vaults were built, the deepest - of which we were in - go down four stories under ground.  They were used for a number of things, workshops, storage, illegal things, etc.  They were emptied out and bricked up in the 1860's and stayed that way for over a hundred years.  I think people forgot about them until a bar owner dropped a keg on the floor and it continued down, down, down into the one that existed under his bar.  

They were then cleaned up and offered to the businesses above them.  Luckily for us, the tour company is in a building above the deepest and so we were able to tour them.  There were the stories of haunting, cold spots, ghosts that just hang out, one that follows people around and yells at them to get out, another that they think was a shoe maker and is confused by velco, and a little boy that likes to hold hands.

We did not come in contact with any of them, but I did take a few pictures:

My beloved says these are candles, I say they are eyes.  What do you think.

So after the tour we made our way back home, wondering all the way if our close - Lady Stair's Close - has any ghosts.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Scotland - Day 1

We arrived in Edinburgh last evening about five in the afternoon. It was dark already and a little cold. We are staying at a place on The Royal Mile - at one end is the fantastic Edinburgh Castle

And the yet to be seen Holyrood.  We are staying in an apartment in Lady Stair Close. A close is an alleyway between buildings leading to a passage way to tenements.  It seems that there are lots of them here and I mean to go down a few of them over the next couple of days. 

We started our first day here early. We took a tour to Stirling Castle - the castle that you had to capture if you wanted to rule Scotland.  

While not terrible impressive from this picture, it was very impressive when you got in and started looking around.  There has been a castle of some sort on this high point since at least 1100. The current castle was created by James V.

We had a tour guide at the castle, who not only looked like my brother but had his love of history and his ability to tell a story. We learned the story of poor Mary Queen of Scots, her father James V died when she was just six days old, she being an only child became queen, crowned at nine months - we were told she cried thru out the ceremony.  Pretty bad start to a pretty bad life.  Being a princess is not all its cracked up to be.

We went on this tour with a company called Rabbi's Tours.  Small groups - our group was really small - my beloved, myself and two women from Austrailia and our driver and guide Davy boy. Named so because he had four older brothers and his name was David and so he became Davy Boy. Anyway, he was a spectacular guide - talked all the way about stuff we really wanted to hear about.   Mary Queen of Scots, Robert the Bruce, William Wallace, Rob Roy, it was a short lesson in Scots history.  He was one of those people that really loves his job and shares his love of his country with facts , humor and pride. He also told us about his Aunt Mary who believed in the tradition of telling young people their history - he loved to hear her stories and he seemed to have inherited her  love of telling those stories. Thank heavens for the Auntie Mary's of the world. 

After Stirling, we headed to Loch Lomond, the biggest loch in Scotland. It has about 20 - 40 islands in it. Some big, some small, some occupied and some not. Some have names, this one is named The Old Lady's Island

It was a calm cold afternoon walk down to the shores of the loch.  By this time it was getting dark and we were started back to Edinburgh.  Of course we did see some cute friends along the way

We ended the night as a pub called The World's End, so called because it is built on the foundation of the old wall that surrounded Edinburgh in medieval times. A time when most people born here never left the city, never went beyond the wall.

Thankfully, we go beyond our walls now, otherwise how would we see these places and meet these people that share so much of their history with us.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sasha - be well.

Story in the news where I live. 

Young non-binary Sasha was riding a bus on the way home from school. Sasha is 16 and does not identify with any gender.  You and I might not understand this, but that does not matter. Sasha dresses differently, sometimes wearing a skirt. Sasha was wearing one a couple of weeks ago while on the way home. Sasha fell asleep on the bus. Sasha was then set on fire by another passenger on the bus. Yes set on fire.

The person that did it?  Another young person who's mother says "he is a kid. Kids joke around". 


What did he think was going to happen?  

I ask out loud - what the fuck did he think was going to happen?  To me this was not some harmless prank. It was an attack on a sleeping child that had done nothing wrong - other than being different. 

Luckily, Sasha will survive - at least physically.  Hopefully in all other ways as well, which seems possible since Sasha seems to have parents that accept and love him.

They other one?  He also has a mother that seems to love and accept him, but I think he is already damaged beyond repair.

Hip hop hypocrite

Why is it when someone gets caught doing something, they simply say they are going to rehab and think that is an answer?

That freshman congressman - the hip hop congressman - so he calls himself.  He also voted to force people getting food stamps to take drug tests. 

Got caught in a sting and bought coke from an under cover cop. 

He is reporting he has a problem and going rehab?  He is going to take a leave of absence and donating his salary to charity?

Why is that the answer?  The answer is you like to drink and do drugs and you are a fucking hypocrite. 

Is there rehab for being an asshole?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Go back to where you came

Mommy dearest and I were supposed to escape from Rhode Island yesterday.  We drove to the airport, got our bags all checked in, made it to the gate.  Mommy dearest was quite please to learn that she did not have to take off her shoes.  Good to know there is an age limit on would be problem makers.

Then we watched as 8 EMT's helped a flight attendant down the stairs of the plane we were leaving on, onto a stretcher and into an ambulance.

Then we listened as the cancelled our flight.

Yup, no backup flight attendant.

So up to the desk to get re-booked.  Their first option?  Fly to Philly, stay there for 7 hours and then finally get to Wilmington at about midnight.  I looked over at my 84 year old mother and thought "that would so not be a good time" and rebooked on the same flight the following day.

Then back out to baggage claim and picked up our bags and then a waiting game for my sister in law to drive to the airport to pick us up to bring us back to her house to spend another night with the family.

Damn it, I stripped the beds.

Social Studies Past

So I am back on the little island I grew up on.  I should never come back here during good weather, it is really beautiful and I miss it a lot.  I must plan a trip back in February, yeah then I'll remember what it was really like to live here.

Anyway, I was looking at my nieces Social Studies book last night.  I was helping her study, don't laugh, I was.  So I page through the book and it is so current!  In fact did you know our last president was Bill Clinton?  Yup, that is right the book goes all the way up to 1993.

What?  Seriously?  Teaching Social Studies with a book that is 20 years out of date?  When you look at the list of presidents in the back of the book, you can see that Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan are still alive.  Since there is no George Bush II listed, does that mean we never went to war?

I just do not understand how they can even have these books still in existence.  How can you teach children current social studies without a current book?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pink trash

Today's trash on 580

Not one, but two little pink snow pants. You know the kind with the little bib and straps.  They looked like they were for a little girl ok I guess they could be for a boy, whatever someone about six years old has lost their ski pants.

They are going to be very cold when they get to wherever they were going.

Another shooting

Again we are all glued in front of the television watching the results of another slaughter of people that did nothing more than go to work yesterday morning.

I don't have all the answers, but I really feel that if it was not so easy to get a fucking gun in this country some of these tragedies might be avoided.

I have to believe that the people that pull the triggers in these senseless acts are troubled.  I have to believe that they must be, because how else do the people that pull the triggers think this is an answer to whatever they are feeling?

Yes, I do know that there are millions of sane and safe gun owners in this country.  The ones that get their guns legally for whatever purpose, the ones that keep them under lock and key, the ones that are never going to open up that gun safe and take a trip to a school or a law firm or a navel shipyard.

My heart breaks for so many in these situations.  The people who are dead.  The person that does the shooting.  The loved ones left behind.  The people that were there and made it out alive.  All of them.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Car too small or driver too big?

In the past couple of days I have seen something that bothers me.

People that do not fit in their cars.

I know it sounds like a weird thing, but you should watch the cars that pass you pass on the highway.

One of the people that did not fit was a man in a CTS silver coupe.  He was a very large man, his left arm was covering the entire window his head was bent at the neck , like he could not sit up straight.  I wondered why would anyone purchase a car that they don't fit in?

Then there was the man in the Tesla.  His head was so big I really don't know how he got into the car.  Really, I mean it I don't think he could look left or right because there was just not enough room for his big head.


Almost two weeks ago I had a major internet outage at work.  My friends at AT&T informed me that there was a fiber cut in Vallejo.

Vallejo?  What does a fiber cut in Vallejo which is about 40 miles away have to do with my internet access?

Well, they could not tell me that.

I called my Service Rep asking to have my ticket escalated to get it fixed.

Sure, let me see what I can find out.  I'll call you right back.

An hour later I called him back, still no information.

I'll call you back.  You guessed it, no call back.  So I called him back, still no information.  But call the 800 number after hours to get updates on the status of this problem.

I called every hour being told a different story every time I called.  I called until I went to bed.  Then I was back at it at 5:00 am to get a status report.  And was told another tale.  Into work by 7:00 and still no internet.

Called my service rep, no answer.  Called his boss and left a message.  Called my Account Rep, who said I'll get back to you.  The service reps boss called me back to say I'll look into it and call you back.  Never heard from her.

The next time I spoke to my service rep, they still had no answer and he was no longer on the case, it had been given to another rep, who had been emailing me about the case.

I said seriously, seriously - she has been emailing me?  I have NO FUCKING internet connection, how do you think I am going to get email updates?  Really?  Does she have a phone number?

So I called her and she was able to get another person on the call that could actually tell me what was going on and that the cut - someplace in Oakland (where by the way, ATT will not send repair crews to after dark) would be fixed in an hour and we should be good.

He was right, in just about and hour I had internet access.  A 23 hour internet outage was over.

Needless to say there really was a lot more to this story, like the fact they went someone out to my site to check for internal problems when they told me that the cut was 40 miles away or the fact that it seemed nobody I spoke to at ATT cared.

So you can understand that whey I speak of ATT I always do a spitting thing.

ATT spit to the side.  I hate them.

Let's get ready to blog.

I have been informed that I have not blogged in a while.  I started wondering why.  At first I thought that it was because I really didn't have anything nice to say.  But then I realized that my blog is not about nice or not, my blog is about .

My blog is my take on the world, it is not nice or not not nice.

So I am going to just keep blogging in my own special way.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Wow, just another example of fine Christian values!

Carie Charlesworth has been a teacher at Holy Trinity School in San Diego for the past 14 years. She is also a victim of domestic violence.

Her ex-husband is currently in jail following a January altercation with her. The police were called and he was hauled away. He was let out the next day and showed up at her place of employment.

Carie had gone to her superiors to let them know that her ex-husband might show up and cause a problem. So when he did they were prepared. The school went on lock down, the police were called again and the ex-husband was again taken to jail.

And Carie? She and her four children (they are students at this wonderful school) were sent home on indefinite leave from which they have not been allowed to return from. And the latest blow, Holy Trinity has fired Carie. Why? Because her husband is an asshole.

I really do understand the fact that parents and the school are concerned for all the other students. But what about Carie and her family? How is she supposed to feed and house those kids. Well I guess that is not the Christian community of The Holy Trinity's problem.

It just amazes me. Christian? Really? Christ preached taking care of people, not kicking them to the curb when things got difficult.

And to answer my question WWJD? I sure don't think he'd kick Carie to the curb along with her children to fend for themselves. He would take her in and comfort her and protect her from he ex-husband.

Shame on you Holy Trinity School and every parent there that allowed this to happen.

Friday, May 31, 2013

California nights

It is almost nine o'clock on Friday night.

My beloved cooked us dinner, grilled veggies & fish and some forbidden black rice.

Now we are sitting outside on the first truly warm night of the season.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Oh dear a deer

A hiking trail almost anywhere early in the morning is a beautiful place. Quiet, reflective and sometimes stunning.

This past Sunday I hit a trail at about 8:00 in the morning and it was so tranquil. When you are the only one on trail and quiet you see lots of things.

This hike was full of bunnies - they were everywhere hopping from one side of the trail to the other. Stopping to take a quick peek at me and then jumping into the underbrush.

I glanced to my left at some point and this is what I saw:

I thought to myself - this is what a quiet hiker experiences.

Then on my way back down the path the bikers had arrived. The loud, rude, don't know trail ettiquette fucking bikers. They talk so loud I am sure every deer within 10 miles was running from them.

So to my many readers that may ride a bike on a trail once in a while - shut up except when you are screaming down the hill in back of me, call out to let me know you are coming.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Gas please

I was talking to a friend of mine on the phone on the way home from work. We were both driving. I was doing 10 miles and hour and she was doing 75. Just love my commute.

She started to laugh and said you are not going to believe what I just passed.

A blond was standing next to her car on the two lane road with a cardboard sign that said GAS.

So Bead Girl says what an idiot. Can you believe it?

I said, think about this. She has a sign already made. I would say this was not the first time she had had to use it.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Another idiot

OK, what are the chances.  Two murder for hire idiots in two days!  

So Lesley Dorsett's daughter was married to a man named Moore.  She had a child with this man.  Their marriage fell apart.  Her family hated him.  One day as the daughter was in the house changing the babies diaper, she heard a scream.  She did not worry, she knew it was her father killing her estranged husband.  He had waited in the back yard and hit the guy in the head with a chain.  Once the daughter was done with the baby she went out and helped her dad put her husband's body in the trunk of a car, which he paid someone to torch the next day.

Lesley Dorsett said she took an envelope with Moore's mother's name on it, stuffed it with cash and handed it over at a department store to someone she believed was a hit man. But the supposed hit man was actually an undercover cop.  Imagine that!

So the entire family is in jail.  Except for the baby.  She is in the care of Moore's mother and the Dorsett's are not happy about that.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hiring a Killer

So how many idiots have to get arrested before the rest of them realize that trying to find a killer for hire, rarely works out.

The most recent dope?  Tim Lambesis of the Christian metal group As I Lay Dying.

Yes friends, you read that correctly.  The Christian metal group.

Yes, I also find that a hard to imagine combination, but there you have it.

He wanted to hire someone to murder his estranged wife.

Now, I am thinking that might be not just against the law but also something Jesus might frown on.

I just don't get it.  Just divorce the spouse you no longer want.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Shake a hand and buy a card

Last week I went into CVS to get a birthday card for my nephew, who is 21 today. How can that be?

So a man was at the cards and said to me that he was buying a birthday card for is wife, who was turning ....

I said be careful, it is very important to get this right.

Well, she will be 65 and the bathing suits on this card remind of suits she might wear a long time ago. You would not remember you are too young, you are about my daughters age.

Then he started talking about Alameda and its hey day as a Navy base and when I said I did not know that time, he asked where I was from.

Ah another East coaster. I am from Buffalo. My best friend joined the Marines and I went into the Navy. I really wish I had gone into the Marines.

I commented on the Colonel and the Colonel's son being Marines, my dad in the Navy and how I agreed that there was not much better to look at than a Marine in his full dress.

He showed me a picture of his son (Henry who works at Beverly's in South Shore) and his wife and himself at the Marine Birthday Ball at that Marines Memorial Club in San Francisco.

I told him one of my dearest friends was the general manager there.

He told me that his youngest son drowned at 10 and the Marines at the base gave him a full honor guard at his funeral and that he was buried not far from where we were.

When he noticed the tattoo on my forearm he told me about his and to never get one on my chest cause it hurts like a son of a gun.

He also told me of his youngest son who is fantastic artist and had tattooed his sister and how it took his daughter a long time to show him her brother's work on her back.

He asked my name and shook my hand. He told me that he volunteers at the Alameda Naval Museum and how it was started by a Wave that died last year at 93 years old. How she had raised a million dollars in war bonds during WWII. And that he and another guy were the only ones on the board of the museum that had served and those that have not just do not understand.

He is an 85 year old veteran and he was a great guy to talk to.

He made me wonder how many more years until there are no more WWII vets around. Korean vets? Vietnam vets are in their 60's now. There will always be veterans I know that. But how long until they are in the minority. When the people running the museum's dedicated to our armed forces have never served their country.

How many members of our government have never served? How can they possibly understand what it means to put your life on the line for your country.

I do believe that military service should be mandatory. That everyone - male and female should serve a four year military tour. Perhaps it is easy for me to say this because I have no children. Perhaps it is easy for me to say this because I come from a family that served and continues to serve.

I think a trip to the Alameda Museum might just be in order soon.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wedding Bells in Rhode Island & Paris

I find it ironic that the state I grew up in just passed a gay marriage bill and the progressive state I moved to as an adult is still fighting that battle.

Well, I guess that a state that was established by a guy that thought the puritans were a little to puritanical.  Roger Williams sought religious freedom, leaving England and arriving in the new world, Boston to be exact in 1631.  He ended up actually purchasing the land that is now The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations from the native indians.  Imagine that.  Jews, quakers, and any other persecuted for their religious beliefs ended up here.  I can't be sure but I think a guy that believed in complete religious toleration, separation of church and state, and political democracy might just believe in equal rights for all.

So Rhode Island hats off to you and to all my friends still there - get married.  Show the world that your marriage does not affect anybody but you.

Then there is France!  In spite of very small but vocal opposition they have also passed a law allowing gay marriage and making it legal for gay people to adopt children.  Imagine that.  Some crazy people want to adopt children and give them a home and love them  How crazy is that?

Well California what the fuck is wrong with you?  The rest of America I ask the same question.  Supreme Court don't wimp out and make no decision.  Make a decision that gives people that love each other the opportunity to get married and end up divorced like over 50% of the straight people that get married in this country.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hands free

Today I drove to work and cursed my entire way. I do not understand traffic flow. I don't understand the guy driving the big truck who got a blow out and looked like he was going to walk out into the middle lane to pick up the pieces of that big tire.

Another thing I don't understand is the guy in the $130 thousand dollar car that can't be hands free when using his cell phone. I don't get it. A Maserati and they don't have hands free? Come on really? Even the little 20K ford I'm thinking about has hands free technology. Maybe that guy made the wrong choice in automobiles.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I Heart Boston

I am in shock about the bombing in Boston. A part of me does not want to believe it is true. I am not sure what upsets me most. The murders? The assaults? The hurt?

I feel like some sort of innocence has been ripped from our very hearts.

Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I have memories of the Boston marathon. I have been in Boston on Patriots Day and watched thousands run by me.

Perhaps it is because I knew people there. A woman I grew up with ran with a time of 3:52 and crossed that line just minutes prior to the bombs going off?

Perhaps it is the thought of Katie and Kim and their families there watching their uncle cross the finish line, being so close.

I feel different than on 9/11 or maybe it is just that time has passed and I have forgotten what I actually felt that day.

I think that is a bad thing. I think we all need to remember how we feel on these days. I think we need to remember it all the time, not just when something else bad happens.

In my head I am a runner. I run marathons. I run really fast. I run and I run and I run. Perhaps it is time I run for real. Perhaps it is time for all of us to run. Go out in public, run a marathon because if we stop running or stop going to see other people run, they win and I don't want that. I say we all run the Boston Marathon next year or at least be at the finish line to cheer those that really run and not let the bad guys win.

Fuck you cowardly bomber. I wish that the tv people would stop talking about it. Not because I want anyone to forget or not care. But because for some reason I think whoever did this is getting off on the coverage. Sitting at home jerking off and feeling so smug.

My heart goes out to everyone in Boston yesterday and my heart aches that some cowardly act has changed our world forever.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Flowers for Jolie

Every year at this time I call The Secret Garden in Jamestown, Rhode Island. I call to have flowers delivered to a grave. The first year that I did this was nine years ago and it was a strange thing to do. The people at The Secret Garden were very nice. They really must get this type of request often because it did not seem to phase them.

I can say that it phased me that first time and it phases me now. I still have a very difficult time making this phone call, but I do it. Every year, I call and ask what kind of spring flowers they have. Sometimes I do cut flowers and sometimes a plant. This year I selected a basket of bulbs in bloom. Whoever I speak to at the Secret Garden is always helpful and never comments at what I put on card.

I know what they look like, because every year I get a picture of them sent to my phone. I don't live close enough to go see for myself, a brother that grieves takes a photo and sends it to me.

I believe that death is not the end of anything, yet that still does not make my heart hurt less on April 11th.

Happy Birthday, my friend. I miss you and hope you are somewhere grand.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Into this world

On Friday afternoon our friend Hairdresser Girl went into labor with her first child.

We have all been awaiting the arrival of this little baby for months, well, nine months to be exact.

So Friday afternoon the water broke and it was off to the hospital later that evening.

We - me, my beloved and Chief Matron Mare-son got on the road to the hospital to sit in the waiting room and give our moral support.

We went into see Hairdresser Girl she had just been given an epidural and things were moving along quite well. She went from being dilated to 6 cm to 10 in the blink of an eye.

My beloved suggested that I go and stay with the happy couple (Hairdresser girl and her husband). I was not sure I should go, but she said go and he said go. So I went.

I hung out at the top of the bed, holding her back during contractions and telling her to push and what a great job she was doing. I was told I should look at what was going on, I declined a couple of times and then took a stroll down to the end of the bed.

I saw a little tiny head trying to get out and quickly went back to the top of the bed.

The mom pushed for a couple of hours and as to be expected she got really tired.

Finally a final round started and the mom was ready to get that baby out.

One more push and out popped a little tiny bundle of joy. There were a couple of tense moments before he started to breathe. He had to be taken into the NIC unit for a little bit to clear out his lungs, but soon he was right as rain.

I gotta say that I do not understand how any woman actually chooses to have more than one child. The first one she probably does not really know what she is getting into, but to do it again? That is just crazy talk.

It was an amazing time and I am so overwhelmed to have been a part of it.

And for those that don't think I have a heart, I actually did tear up. Of course it was when the nurse asked if I was the grandmother, but there were a couple of tears.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Who knew there is a Swedish Language Council?  Not me.  But there is and like our own dictionary words get added each year.  Who selects our words?  Is there an English Language Council?  I don't know.  I don't remember having a vote on the new words for our dictionary so i guess somebody somewhere picks the words.

Anyway, I digress.  Let's get back to the Swedes, they added a new word to their language and that word is ogooglebar which means ungoogleable.

Seems google did not like this and had those tall people remove ogooglebar from their word list.  How much power does google have anyway?  And who at google even speaks Swedish?

They can take pictures anywhere in the world.

They can make cars that drive themselves.

They are gods for petes sake and they don't like a word so now an entire country can't use it.

I am going to use it just to piss them off.  What are they going to do?  Take me off google maps?  Take my house off of google street view?  Not let me use chrome?

Well, go ahead google.  Maybe I'll just go back Explorer and use Bing.

Ah who am I kidding, I promise I will never use ogooglebar again.

Travel Chick & me

This is Travel Chick and I in Thailand a few years ago.  I don't like a lot of pictures with me in them, but I do like this one.

Commute Karma

It is a well known fact that if my morning commute is good then my afternoon commute will suck.

If my morning commute sucks, my afternoon commute will suck even more.

However, if my morning commute does not suck and my afternoon commute does not suck what does that mean.

I am afraid of what this means.

Am I going to be stuck in commute hell for the next two days?

Will it take me hours to get to work and then hours to get home.

Commute Karma it is real and I am going to get it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Out of office, leave a message

Where I work part of my job is sending out a newsletter once a week to lots of people, don't worry they have all subscribed to this so I am not spamming them.

Anyway some people use their out of office message, sometimes it is informative:

I am out of the office until next Thursday, I will respond them.

Some people rub in the fact they are on vacation:

I am out of the country on vacation and will not have access to email, please call my assistant in my absence or else I will read your mail when I return. (this one sounds remarkably similar to my own favorite out of office message).

Some people just think they are so important that you need to know where they are every minute:

I have left for two hours, please excuse my delay in responding to you. Please contact Bill at XXXXXXX for this issue. Please contact Sally at XXXXXX for that issue. Please contact ... you get my point.

But then there are the pretentious ones:

Please know that I am out of the office for the Executive Leadership Program at Harvard Business School with limited ability to access email or phone until March 25, 2013. Should you need immediate assistance during my time in Boston please contact ...

OK, I am sure your mother is proud of you.

Walking thoughts

Walking at lunch always gives me things to think about.

The turtle that lurked right under the water with his little nose sticking out until I pulled out my camera and then he disappeared. Shy?

Then the sign on the bus stop that said:

For information call 511 ask for this line and hear predictions.

Predictions? To me that makes me think of some gypsy sitting in a room somewhere with a turban on saying things like:

Well, this bus might show up sometime today.

This line is having a difficult time with mercury in retrograde, so don't count on it.

Predictions? Really. When I want to know if the bus is going to be on time I want facts not predictions.

Then another thing I wondered

Do ducks go on vacation?

Because while I am not an expert on ducks, these two look remarkably similar to two I wondered about while in Paris last month.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Just a suggestion

I am just curious. Are red lights just a suggestion to stop?

Tonight I went out for about 20 minutes, during that time a big ole cadillac with a handicap plate slowed down at one point and then went right thru a red light.

This is not the first time in the last few days I have seen this. On my way to work last week, I got off the highway at my usual spot and a person got off at the same time. They pulled up next to me at the light and then when they went forward they seemed unsure where they should go. They ended up in front of me still rather confused.

Now, the street I get off on has four lights. The one right at the top of the exit and then three more before I go left.

So, this person is in front of me, hesitates at the second light, slowing just enough that the light goes yellow, still slowing, then the light goes red, still slowing right thru the intersection and they keep going. I think what the hell, you slow down and still go thru the red light.

So I watch them go thru the 3rd light and the 4th light, all going red as the pass under them.

By this time I am coming up on the 3rd light and see them pull into a parking lot or something way down the street. I think great, at least they are off the road.

Wrong. I see they have turned around. I am stopped at the 3rd light at this time watching as they start coming back up towards the 4th light, the one they just went thru.

And they continue thru the light towards me. Towards me! It is a one way street and they are coming at me, in my lane going the wrong way. People are beeping their horns and they just keep coming.

I did not know what to do? Do I just sit here and let them plow into me? Do I lay on the horn and hope for the best? Do I try to get out of the way some how?

Well, they in the blue Toyota realize they are going the wrong way on a one way street and pull over to the curb. I am able to drive by them. The driver is staring straight ahead, both hands on the wheel, not looking at anyone as we drive by. The passenger, from what I could see was petrified. I went on my way and wondered all day if they got to their destination or if they died.