Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My fellow street people

It's always nice to come home. We had three days of total relaxation and sightseeing. Now it's time to get back to the business of living. We pulled in the driveway not even three hours ago and Zeus has already left to go teach a class.

In response to a post from bleason over at the Money Walker I am going to relate an experience that Zeus and I had two years ago.

In the mornings when I go out to numismatize one stop on my route is a McDs that is located across the street from the swimming pool. Often Zeus would stop in there to pick up a cup of "senior coffee" and our paths would cross. Whenever that happened I would go inside and chat for a few seconds, sometimes even stealing a second good-morning kiss before resuming my ralk. We were both well known in this fine establishment by most of the employees.

One morning I spied his car there and went in for a quick hello. After I left an obviously new employee went to Zeus, quizzed him about our conversation and wanted to know if I was panhandling (did I mention that I'm a beauty that time of the morning!). She kindly offered to"take care" of the problem if I was bothering him. He laughed and explained it all to her.

bleason, if you are interested I am linking to a few other posts that tell of my past experiences with fellow street people. You can find them here and here and here.

$00.00 (turbulent flight so I couldn't wander the aisles)

(The above image was taken in one of the miles and miles of artichoke fields of California. Norma Jean, aka Marilyn Monroe was the Artichoke Queen of Castroville in 1948. Just a little trivia....)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Just one photo for today. This is the Pigeon Point Lighthouse. It's located on Highway 1, the coastal route that winds up the California coast. We spent six hours today driving the same distance that it took two hours to do on Sunday. The difference, instead of taking the direct, see-nothing freeway we followed the beautiful coastline route that meanders through country rich with agriculture, forests and spectacular views of the Pacific. The skies were blue with a brisk wind, temps in the 50's, a perfect day for a drive. Colorful spring wildflowers were in bloom everywhere.

We also spent a little time at Stanford University. What a lovely campus. Now here we are in Berkeley for the night. A nice long walk was taken after a dinner of Thai food. This place is very different from home. As much as I love the earthiness of the culture here it will be nice to get back tomorrow.

$.11 (and grateful for that paltry amount!)

Monday, April 27, 2009

California dreamin'

Greetings from Monterey! We are enjoying a few days of cool ocean air and food, food and more food. Our hotel is right on Cannery Row with a beautiful ocean view from our room. We go to sleep at night listening to the roar of the waves below us and are entertained in the afternoon watching the sea otters play on their backs in the kelp.

Today we did some sightseeing, starting with the San Juan Bautista Mission and then south to the Carmel Mission. After enjoying the centuries old churches and courtyards we took the 17 Mile Drive up the coast, stopping at Pebble Beach for lunch. Yep, the famous Pebble Beach Golf Clubhouse. Our little rental Toyota Yaris looked a little out of place in that parking lot!

I've been able to take some nice walks down Cannery Row. Lots of little shops with the usual souvenir stuff. The best thing I found was the Nestle Toll House Store. Mmmm. Not only was it filled with all manor of cookies, but the brownies came in many varieties. It was tough but I finally chose the M&Ms.

Parking meters line the streets so coinage is plentiful.

$.74 (includes a 25 cent coin from the Bahamas)
also scored five shower caps

More photos at the Shooting Blog.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

This arrived in my mailbox today.
This is the FOURTH time that it has been mailed back to our home address from the airport security checkpoint.

It's not like Zeus doesn't already give them enough to fret about.

As I have said before, TSA earns their money when he travels.

$.40 and a very heavy trailer hitch

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Warming up

Looks like spring might finally have arrived! The weeds in the field behind us are in full bloom. Yes, those pretty little purple flowers are weeds, about five inches tall and will soon turn to grass and fade away. The wild roses are leafing out and getting ready to bloom.

The yard is undergoing the spring pruning and the yearly blooming season has begun. Those unlucky people who are prone to allergies are really suffering.

Sporting events are in full swing with eight games or meets scheduled in the space of six days this week.

Instead of wearing copious layers of clothing everyone seems to be shedding down to the bare minimum. Sandals and bare feet are everywhere. (The cute toes belong to the Princess.)

New life is everywhere. As I drove home this morning I was charmed by this young foal and mare. Zeus tells me that it is probably no more than a day old. Are those wobbly legs cute enough?

Hurray for spring!

$1.34 and a watch for Littlest

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Mystery of the Bird Feeder

The birds in the back yard have been sparse during the winter and since the episode of the killer hawk. We've missed them.

Lately, some weird things are happening. We noticed a few birds trickling in occasionally so I began watching the feeders and partially filling them. One day the feeder on the right was empty. Hooray! The birds are back!!

After filling the feeder all the way to the top it stayed that way for a number of days, barely changing. Then one morning, EMPTY! This has happened three times now. Obviously we are feeding a rodent of some kind. It sneaks in in the middle of the night and fills it's belly, hardly leaving anything behind on the ground for the hungry doves.

Could be a mouse, maybe a squirrel. A birding friend of ours has suggested it might be a raccoon. I'm skeptical of that explanation.

Three days ago I filled it again. This time I sprayed the pole with cooking spray. Whatever is going up to feast on the bird feed will slide back down. I thought about staying up to watch, hoping to catch a few giggles. Instead I went to bed to catch a few zzzzzs.

$2.75 (includes 100 pennies)

This amount was gathered yesterday in a three hour marathon walk. It felt so freaking wonderful to be outside on a sunny spring morning that I just kept on going.

Also, a special note to bleason, the Money Walker: I hit three Jiffy Lubes. The first one, empty, second one 18 cents, third 34 cents. Thanks for the tip!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Passing notes

The photo above shows the view from my kitchen window. It is my neighbor's bedroom window. Now don't panic, it is a high small window so no exciting views. The message is a Thank You for some leftovers that I took to them a few days ago after our family dinner.

I love my neighbors. Signs like these appear often in this bedroom window as well as my kitchen window. It's kind of like passing notes under the desk to your best friend in grade school. Welcome Home greetings, Happy Festivus messages and other holidays are likely to bring out the paper and tape. Two years ago we had daily messages about the World Series. She is a big Diamondbacks fan and we were also following the team that year. Unfortunately, those were not happy messages.

We do have telephones here. But I still like getting notes from the neighbors!

Our subdivision is for adults only so in the winter it is very quiet. With spring finally here, at least for a few days, we are now able to get outside and see each other again. This afternoon many were out pruning, transplanting, cleaning up the winter leftovers and enjoying the warm sunshine. The yard is looking good and the deck is ready for company.

Life is good.

$2.43 Yay for carwashes!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Surrogate

In addition to my five grandchildren I am lucky to have a number of other children that call me Grandma, or Grandma Numi. I love them all. This little guy is my great-grandson. (Our family tree would be difficult to explain so please just take my word for it!)

For two days we are enjoying a visit from Little Man while his mommy and daddy do some painting in their house. For some reason they think it will go easier without an 18 month old around to help. This is his first sleepover with us and we are having a great time.

This little guy is very even tempered. He seems to be content to wander around the house and check things out, just as long as he can see me.

Earlier this afternoon we met the Eris gang at our local McDs for ice cream and some playland fun. I was impressed at how well he handled a spoon. Only one drip landed on his shirt and that was because it was melting faster than he could eat it. He was excited when he saw Littlest Ms. because they have had numerous outings together in the past.

Only one problem so far. The rule for children who visit our house, other than not stepping over the line, is that all dirty diapers must be taken care of before they arrive. Someone forgot to tell Little Man. So far this afternoon, four times. Four times. Yes, I'm counting. But to be fair, I noticed that there is at least one, maybe two huge molars that are breaking through. That has to hurt so I'll cut him some extra slack.

A special note to the grandmas in Denver: No need to worry. As the surrogate grandmother my job is to keep the children warmed up so they are ready for the real ones when the time comes in a few weeks. He is a delight and I'm happy to help out!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rain, and then some

Woke up this morning at 5:45 and the first thing I noticed was the rain pounding hard on the window. My running clothes had been put out last night in anticipation of a good run to work off some of those Cadbury Eggs. Damn. No ralking today.

The next thing I notice is that I have a bad headache, my gut hurts (too many Cadbury Eggs?) and my legs are like noodles. I got dressed in my regular clothing and ate my usual yogurt and shredded wheat while reading the paper (boring news day). My mood worsened.

Ah ha!! Who cares if it's raining outside. Changed into the running clothes and headed out. After ninety minutes of ralking I was soaked through all three layers and my shoes and socks needed wringing out. But the headache was gone, the gut is fine and the legs are ready to go again tomorrow.

Came home and ate a Cadbury Egg. Yes, they are almost gone.

$.06 additional finds by Zeus
Two car wash tokens

Some of you were already introduced to my lair-mate yesterday. You liked him so much that I decided to let everyone else meet him.
This guy has been living in the window sill right in front of my computer for two days. He is a fast little bugger and I can't catch him to relocate him outside. As long as he doesn't wander across my keyboard I guess he can stay. Maybe he doesn't like the rain.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Want Wii.

I think we might have to get one.

The image is Bubba teaching Zeus how to play a fishing game on a Wii. The sound effects coming from his den was proof enough that he was having a good time!

A big thanks to everyone who joined us in all of the celebrations and for the good dinner that was enjoyed later in the afternoon. Luckily the weather cooperated so some could enjoy the patio and the kids could play outside.

Diversity is a wonderful thing. And we had it all here yesterday. We love it!


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fabulous Grandpa Friday

Sometimes Zeus surprises me with his ideas. He really wanted to take Bubba and Mr. Eris, Jr. out to the ranch for some "guy" time while they were out of school for a few days. Unfortunately, all kinds of church and sports activities got in the way, not to mention the weather that has been totally uncooperative.

Instead of the ranch he came up with the wonderful plan to take the grandkids to a local amusement park, one which I knew nothing about other than the location. This place features go-cart racing, a climbing wall, miniature golf, batting cages, a large arcade and LASER TAG! So this morning we loaded up all five and headed out for a Grandpa Friday.

Bubba was carrying his brand-spanking new drivers license so we went first to the go carts where he could show off his skills. We all knew Little Ms. would love the speed and excitement but I wasn't sure about Littlest Ms. At only 3 1/2 she is still a little (a lot?) unpredictable. Wow, as soon as I strapped her into the seat next to me she was raring to go! I don't think she stopped screaming and laughing for the entire ride.

Next stop was the miniature golf. This one was a bit of a letdown after the high-speed thrill of the go-cart rides but was still fun for the little ones. Littlest wowed us all on the second hole with a Hole in One! Considering that she played with the club backwards and hit the ball from the wrong side that was quite a feat!

Laser tag was up next. Bubba was the only one who had done this before and I was a bit nervous. Bubba, Jubee, Mr. Jr., Little Ms. and I all suited up and learned how to handle the laser guns and the rules of the game. Then we entered the cavern that was lit by black lights. Zeus and Littlest were provided chairs so they could safely watch the insanity! Soon the lights on our vests started flashing, voices were coming out of speakers on my shoulder and laser beams were spraying everywhere! Oh my gosh, I fell in love with this game instantly! So did everyone else, especially Little Ms. After playing an additional game we were hot, sweaty and ready for a break.

Pizza for lunch and some time at the arcade finished of a day of fantastic fun and memories.

Thanks to Zeus and the five kids! It was a blast!


As usual, more photos at the Shooting Blog!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Road Work Ahead

It's taken a few years to get my weekday ralk (run/walk) route down to an exact science. I know which spots have a high yield as opposed to the occasional penny. I am familiar with the schedules and busy times so I know where to hit first. Also, I know which of the morning people will smile and wave as opposed to the ones who snarl (avoided at all costs).

When my well-rehearsed ralk is disturbed for any reason it can cause great distress. My entire routine is thrown into a spin and my mind is likely to go all over the place instead of concentrating on shiny, round objects.

So you can imagine the extraordinary levels of discombobulation that I will be feeling for the next few weeks (months?) as I am forced to maneuver around all of this mess. Not to mention the lack of coinage that will be available for pickup due to decreased business in the area.

Hopefully the post-rain car washes will make up for monetary losses incurred while the necessary road work is being completed.

$1.75 3/4

P.S. Everyone sing a Happy Birthday to Kara!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Axiomatizating the pricks

In the past few months I have heard the phrase "kicking against the pricks" a number of times. The context in which it was used was almost always the same and involved some kind of futile conflict or difference of opinion. This afternoon I decided a little research was in order to clear up the meaning of this colorful axiom. Here's what I found.

Originally found in the Bible, the story is of an ox pulling a loaded cart and being driven by a farmer who carries a large stick tipped by a sharp metal goad. The farmer prods the ox to move along by pricking it in the backside. This irritates the animal, who occasionally will kick it's legs against the pricking, thereby inciting more pricks from the farmer.

Rice paddy, Philippines, 1999

Did that all make sense? If not, then you might want to look here (bad word warning) or here (one biblical version).

Recently I have been "kicking against the pricks". To make the matter worse, I may have been kicking against the wrong pricks. Still trying to figure it all out. But the bottom line is that I simply can't change the situation so the sensible solution is to accept it and keep moving along the road, thereby avoiding that stick and inevitable pokes in my backside. Easy, huh? Maybe not because sensibility has never been my strongest attribute.

farmer and ox, Philippines, 1999

I love this axiom. Not only does it give me some vivid mental imagery to use as a tool when I find myself kicking the hardest, but it is certainly a great sequence of words to say quietly to myself or to shout loudly, whichever the situation calls for.

End of Buddhizing for today.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now, a totally different subject.

It is time to ask for a favor from all of you. Please send some good karma, say a nice little prayer, burn some incense, think good thoughts or whatever else is your chosen method of best wishes to my sister who is facing a tough time in the next little while. Thanks!

Update: Benign. Thanks to those who helped.

$.68 1/2

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Happy Hanamatsuri

Update: To see a newscast video of this celebration you can click HERE.

Today our local Buddhist Temple held the most important celebration of the year, Hanamatsuri, a day set aside to honor the birth of the Buddha.

I had the pleasure of taking photographs of the adorable children who participated in many dances and ceremonies. Here are a few of them.

The longer I attend this temple the more at home I feel there. The philosophies seem to be a good match for how my own feelings have evolved over the past 25 years. The sangha (i.e. ward, congregation, parish,etc.) is now my sangha.

The Jodo Shinshu Buddhists are very casual in their approach to church and maybe that is one reason that it appeals to me. It took a while to get used to being able to wear pants to church and the unusual scheduling of the meetings. I still have to ask Zeus each week about the times. Laughter is heard often and good food is always abundant.

There. I. said. it. Outloud.


To see more photos go to the Shooting Blog.

To read more about Hanamatsuri click here.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Dedicated to all BFFs

This is what best friends do together.

They read together.

They bake cookies together.

They work together.

They lick the bowl together.

After all the playtime they have naps together.

Thanks to Littlest and the Princess for a long-overdue Grandma Thursday!


P.S. And remember, they do this together.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Study in Genetic Predisposition vs. Learned Behaviors

Over the past few months I have become painfully aware that I am responsible for creating a monster. I had suspected this for some time but last Saturday I could no longer ignore the problem.

After the final soccer game as I was driving Eris home she suddenly shouted "PENNY! PENNY" The next thing I know the passenger door was flung nearly off the hinges and she was bounding out into the middle lane of I-15 (okay, it was 7th Street, only two lanes) to retrieve the three copper coins that were shining up at her in the gutter. We both laughed at her finds and I gave her a pat on the back along with a "good job". It wasn't a mile later at the next stop sign when the door was flung open again and she jumped out, this time the bounty was one penny. She generously shared two of them with me.

Just two weeks ago I watched in disbelief as she shrieked and dived under a curtain at a large exposition to claim a coin, only to cry with disappointment when she found it was a Junior Mint.

coins with various levels of TRAXiness

The question: Is this a genetic aberration or simply learned behavior? At this time I am inclined to go with genetic aberration after carefully observing the following and determining the statistical relevance:

1) Eris has three children. Of those three children two of them are compulsive penny-picker-uppers. The other one hides when this behavior is exhibited.

2) Athena does not participate in the sport of coin hunting, although a few weeks ago I suspected she carried the gene when she bragged about a "find" in her parking lot at work. She has two teens who cringe and run the other way when I stop to pick up coinage.

3) My father would never drive past a tool or a golf ball in the road. I have my own toolbox made up of Dad's road treasures that is off-limits to Zeus .

4) Age and education seem to have no bearing on the ability/compulsion to engage in these behaviors. You are either born with the talent or you are not. And yes, it is a talent.

On the flip side of the coin, there is also a case for learned behavior. I have heard from many, including Stefanie, Muriel and others that their children have picked up this talent after spending time with me. Further evidence is the penny that the Princess, who is not yet two, picked up two weeks ago to give me (with her daddy's help).


One of Eris' favorite money spots is the TRAX line in SLC. Apparently people throw coins down into the tracks to see them flattened. Considering her genetic predisposition, what choice does Eris have but to jump right in and retrieve them? I just hope that she doesn't become TRAXified like the coins she picks up.

$.11 (will it ever stop snowing?)

To bleason, my fellow numismatizer in New Orleans, a note concerning the verbiage of numismatising: I believe it was FNKara who coined the wonderful word coinage. Eris gets the credit for TRAXiness. Isn't in fascinating to see a new language develop?