Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Desert whore

Saturday morning Blanca showed up right on time, our neighbor Doug dropped us at the airport, and we were off....

T's sister picked us up in Phoenix and we drove off to our weekend accommodations --The Fountainblue, the condo unit in which T's brother owns a place.

But, neither we, nor she, had the key.

No matter, we swung by her house and grabbed them, only to find that they did not work.

Would we ever get into lucky 14?

Looks promising, doesn't it?

At this point, T's sister insisted that she take care of the key situation while we start our very brief get away.

Our first stop? The Valley Ho. Don't you just love the name, and that retro look?

It was love at first sight. And hard to stop saying: Valley Ho, Valley Ho, Valley Ho.

We headed to the bar, of course, and as luck would have it, they had Anchor steam on draft (you can take the girl out of California, but you can't take California out of the girl). The coldest Anchor steam I'd ever had, in fact (gotta love those desert folk).

So we sipped and inquired about a room, because who knew if we'd ever get into lucky 14? Seems we weren't the only ones who fancied the Valley Ho -- not one single room available. And if there was one? $399 a night.

Luckily, with no availability and that crazy price tag, we did get into lucky 14, and just look what was waiting for us.

Yes, I know, it was not quite noon, but who’s keeping track. And here’s to anniversary number 1.

Following the Patron, we did venture out to many, many other Scottsdale galleries and stores and museums and bars and restaurants, but Sunday morning found us back at the Valley Ho.

Did I mention I liked it there?

Great breakfast and easy to crash the pool. And they offer a $5 make-your-own Bloody Mary bar on Sunday mornings.

I never thought I was a sucker for mid-century retro chic, but I am.

I mean, you gotta love when something original like this

is re-vamped and remains hip by turning into this

with a pool like this

sigh. I miss that desert whore.

The Watchtower

I love the fire watchtower. You see them a lot in old national forest- and state park-land, especially down south, and out west.

If you've never read it, do yourself a favor and read Ed Abbey's "Desert Solitaire". Great read. Brilliant. And awesome.

Anyway, the fire watchtower is an iconic symbol, and also a touchstone for the Mistah and me. There's something just so cool and retro about it. And when we were down in the 'Glades, staying with our friend Renee, well, this is the tower right outside of her house; we could see it right from our guestroom bed.

Cool, right?

We stared at it for days, and Mistah did his photography thing upon it, then one sunset we decided we needed to climb it. Why not? It was there. And Renee? She opened the gate for us. She's the boss, afterall.

Mom would have hated it.

Sure, it was a little rickety. But up there? It was an awesome view . . .

. . . of Mistah Schleckah and the Fakahatchee behind him.

And of course we brought beers. Duh.

We could see for miles, in one direction . . .

. . . and in another.

And look! We could even see our Westy!



And then the sun began to set, as the sun always does . . .

A dogged, determined orb, that sun is . . .

. . . and when you're way up on high? In the fire watchtower? . . .

. . . oh yeah.

Monday, March 29, 2010

to china

Ahhhh, spring break. Day after day of relaxation, sunshine, and fun. During this first weekend of the kids' extended time off from school, we hit the beach several times. Each visit was quite the same: find parking, get a good spot, set up chairs, shed clothing, lube up with sunscreen, and commence digging the ditch. Starting out is the worst, when the sand is so dry and unforgiving.

But soon the ditch offers its own sort of ledge for resting one's laurels, and then it's all fun and games.

I don't know what all those labor camp prisoners are complaining about.

When you hit water, you're done.

Set the shovels aside, and let the wild rumpus start!

Because really, a hole is for jumping.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Weekend 3-Way: room with a view

For this weekend's 3-way, post a photo and tell us about what you see when you look out the window of your workplace.


I love my window. I've worked at the same place for exactly forever plus four days, and while the inside of my office is a veritable chunk of dookie, there is quite a lovely world just outside. A few years back, some interior design peeps from up on the hill came in to set me up with new office furnishings. The result was lovely and efficient, but the ginormous custom desk was created in an L shape that left my back to the window. I hated it, and it weighed on me like a ton of bricks. One day I decided that I'd had enough, and I tore that office a new a-hole, finally manhandling my giant desk into a new configuration. (I blogged about it, but I'm currently too addled to elicit the search terms that will lead me to that post). Since that day, I face the front door and just to my left, my thinking gaze leads me to the loveliest of visions:

My window. My tree. And yes, my car. Talk about your feng shui.

Such a braggart, Jacquie, geez! No wonder you've worked their forevah. My view is not so inspiring, not at all.

And the window does not open, not even a little bit -- no fresh air in this workplace. Although I do, like you, look right out at my very own car, and therefore could produce a very good description of anyone trying to rip it off (stop laughing, I'm sure someone would steal a 9-year-old Jeep).

I've also seen some interesting domestic squabbles through that window, taking place down in that apartment building parking lot. But in general the view above remains unpopulated, like the photo displays. The sidewalk out there is little used, and even road is just the exit from the back parking lot to the street.

It's about as interesting as the neurological article I'm currently copyediting....

This is actually a view looking in, but you can see the reflection of the street, because it was taken by my super-duper photographist husband, Mistah:

Usually there are lots of man-boys on skateboards riding up and down the street, and the most adorable little family hanging outside of their gallery. And the tattoo boys hanging outside their tattoo shop. It's a bucolic lovely little slice of urban heaven. And there's beer inside.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Check-in in

I’ve got my phone set to alert me 5 minutes before 24 hours prior to my plane’s departure tomorrow. And I’ve got my QBX97Q number here in front of me, ready to be typed in at warp speed. Did you get all that?

I bet you did, because I know I’m not the only one who’s anal about printing out airline boarding passes, at the exact minute they’re available. Especially if you’re flying Southwest.

If you forget, and sit down to print them out a few hours later, you end up with “C” boarding passes, and run the risk of getting elbowed by some crazy woman with a giant carry on to get the two remaining seats that are together. It can be brutal.

And though I try not to get worked up and competitive in these situations, I can almost feel my blood pressure rising when someone tries to edge in on the boarding line. Especially if I’m holding a “C” pass. “Be the Buddha, be the Buddha,” I repeat to myself, but, well, it’s just not fair!

What really sucks this time around is that it’s the first time I’ve flown with Southwest Airlines since they instituted their “Earlybird Check-in” where they so kindly offer to check in for you for “Only $10 one way.” Yes, they now offer automatic check-in, “a more convenient way to travel” that will get you on board sooner with better boarding position and earlier acces to overhead bins.


Ten dollars one way, each way, for each ticket? If you’re a family of five, all traveling together, that’s and extra $100 bucks round trip. What a rip!

I’m a Southwest fan, I truly am. I like their low fares and corny humor and cheery colors and first-come-first-serve attitude, but this new check-in option is so, so anti all that. I’m disappointed, but determined NOT to participate. I’m already prepared to get a “B” pass when I check in, even though it will be the very minute check-in is available.

I’ve got 8 minutes to go….

Now 2…

HA! Sweet success. We’re still in the “A” group, position 30 and 31, but still in that coveted A grouping.

I guess I’m not the only one who’s not up for participating in their evil elitist scheme. Apparently I’m just one of many people who are okay with being “customers in the general boarding group.” Yeah for us.

Plus I just saved $20, which works out to be precisely 2 drinks each.

Now we just have to hope that there are no other, pay-for-service surprises.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Swamp

There's a wild, mysterious swamp in Florida called the Fakahatchee.

Specifically, according to the Friends of Fakahatchee:
Winding through the Florida Everglades is a narrow thread of forested swamp approximately 20 miles long and 3 to 5 miles wide called the Fakahatchee Strand. It is the main drainage slough of the southwestern Big Cypress Swamp.

The Fakahatchee is full of bromeliads, ferns, wildlife, and most notably, orchids.

The book The Orchid Thief and the movie Adaptation, based on the book, take place in the Fakahatchee.

Did you ever see the movie Adaptation? My favorite is the part when Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper are talking on the phone, humming a dial tone in harmony.

The Swamp's claim to fame is the rare and elusive Ghost Orchid.

We didn't get to see any of those, though.

But we did get to spend the day in The Swamp -- which is Florida's biggest state park -- and see all sorts of ferns and tree-wrapping orchids and eagles and everyone's favorite, those soil-less plants, bromeliads.

Ferns aren't Ghost Orchids, but they are cool.

Mistah Schleckah, our very own creative and intrepid photographer, took all these photos. As per.

It is green and lush and verdant in there.

But the best thing of all?

. . . is the hardware.

The Swamp People have so many cool rigs . . .

. . . and they love to trot them out.

. . . and we got to ride on them. With wine, of course.

The highlight of the day was our joyride through The Swamp in a swamp buggy.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I loathe the smell of old spice in the morning

My boy continues to take family life in stride. He is more than willing to talk with me about it. In fact, we talk about little else.

We spent some time with the family of one of his classmates over the weekend, and when she heard me chiding my boy about his badonkadonk lessons, she told me that her son doesn't even want to admit to her that he has a badonkadonk.

Apparently some of the kids in his class are having a difficult time with the subject matter, and my boy is very judgemental about their reaction. Does this make him well adjusted, or weird?

One of my greatest fears in this rite of passage was that my boy would come home and tell all the gory details to his little sister, my baby. The innocent one (stop laughing, people who know her). But this has hardly been the case, he will not discuss it with her at all, and takes great pride in refusing to speak with me about matters of family life unless she is out of earshot. She is fine with this, she doesn't want to hear it. She only gets bent out of shape if she thinks we're having fun with the conversation, like when I could not stop laughing over this page in his "your changing body" booklet:

How creepy is that kid's smirk? I positively busted a gut, and my boy sorta kinda got why I found it so funny, so he cracked up as well, and my poor clueless girl became annoyed.

This booklet was sponsored by none other than Old Spice , and included alongside this gem was my boy's first and very own wee red cannister of that vile concoction.

You would think it was liquid gold the way he covets that shit.

The first night he had it, it was burning a hole in his armpits. He kept sniffing the air around himself and asking "What stinks?!"

Me: It is YOU who stinks
He: Should I put on some deoderant?
Me: You might consider taking a shower.

Yes, of course he stinks! He stinks of boy and sweat and dirt and skateboard and hair. He only bathes when coerced!

But after his shower, he gleefully fulfilled his manhood dream of applying the Old Spice. He asked if I wanted to watch. He giggled the whole time.

At the end of the first week of Family Life (how much more can there be??) he said that he had watched a very long film about how babies are born, and although it was interesting to see the baby change and grow, he was disappointed because just when it was about to be born, the day ended and they had to go home.

Me: You wanted to see the baby being born?
He: Yeah!
Me: You know where they come out?
He: Yes, mahhhhm.

On Monday, they got to watch the birth.

He: That looks like it really hurts.
Me: ................... crickets ..................
He: Did it hurt when I was born?
Me: I had surgery when you and your sister were born, remember?
He: Did it hurt?
Me: Well, they gave me a shot in my spine so it didn't hurt, I just felt the tugging when they pulled you out. It was kind of weird but it didn't hurt.
He: The lady in the movie should have gotten a shot.
Me: ................crickets...............

A few minutes later, little sister chimed in:

She: (A boy at school) has two dads, how did that work?
He: Adoption. duh. Men can't have babies.
She: So why is the Dad even involved?
Me: ......................crickets.......................
She: Oh I know, to love the mom and help her. Right?
He and Me: ...............crickets....................

He: Where do they get the adopted babies?
Me: If a woman is pregnant but can't or doesn't want to have a baby, she can look for another family to be its parents.
He: Did anyone ever try to give you a baby?
Me: Well, no - we never tried to adopt a baby, people who really want to adopt babies have to fill out applications and prove that they have a good home and stuff.
He: Do you get the baby for free?
Me: Ummmm, no... you have to pay the lawyers and the woman's doctors and..... I don't know.

He: Mom?
Me: (cringing) yeah?
He: Why would a man and woman do “all that” if they don’t even want a baby?


I came across this photo by chance the other day. It's timely for the season, but it's also the face I imagine when I visualize him in Family Life:

Monday, March 22, 2010


This weekend in my neighborhood there was a whole different vibe than during Ellie's bucolic New London St. Patrick’s day parade.

The crowd here was also entertaining, but not in a wholesome, family friendly kind-of way.

It was Floatopia 2010, this year's (first?) organized event to skirt San Diego's relatively recent beach booze ban. See, it used to be that you could drink alcohol on San Diego's city beaches, but in 2008 a trial beach booze ban was voted into permanency. No more beers on the beach.

However, the law does not forbid the consumption of alcohol in the water, as long as your feet are not touching the sand, so it didn't take long for partiers to jump through that loophole with pumped-up floaties full of beercans.

Each year the event has grown. This year it was so big that we actually felt it.

At 10:30 am, T leaves to check out scene. This is all there is:

plus a new-fandangled, mobile police/lifeguard station at the ready:

2:16 pm, we arrive home from the pool to find NO street parking available.

3:09 pm, T leaves to re-check out scene with two neighbors.

3:24 pm, I start to get annoyed by helicopters overhead.

3:35 pm, T returns to say there are a lot of people

a lot of very drunk people

4:40 pm, T brings Anneke home and tells her to stay inside, because, I kid you not, some guy is starting to pull down his pants to defecate on our neighbor's lawn. (He thinks better of it when his less drunk friend tells him there are kids and a group of guys across the street watching him.)

Although more than 9,000 people rsvp'd to the event on Facebook, the final count put the crowd at somewhere between 5,000 - 6,000. And although there weren't major problems, there were, of course, some. A news story I read said lifeguards reported that 12 people had to be rescued and 2 were taken to the hospital. Police issued 30 citations and 2 people were taken to jail for public intoxication. (If they were on our street they probably could have made a few more arrests for DUI, public urination, and the like.)

The event stimulated a lot of, um, discussion on our street. Me, I'm more of a 'whatever floats your boat" kind of gal, and I also think that if you live at the beach, you're going to have to deal sometimes. And, really, whatchagonnado? It's public parking, we don't own the street.
But not all my neighbors feel this way.

It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Will the council member who spearheaded the beach booze ban take any responsibility for the new party scene the ban's created? One that's more organized and more dangerous? (I mean really, don't let people get drunk on the sand, where they can pass out and perhaps get a wicked, ouch, sun burn....let them get drunk in the water, where they can fall of their rafts and drown.)

I say it's just one more reason to repeal the beach booze ban.

And if you're not going to do so, get the floatapalookas some porta-potties, would ya?