Sunday, April 29, 2007

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

The visit with Ruth and the Butchers was a good one. Tuesday evening we had a nice dinner at Joe and Molly's with Chris, Daniel and Uncle Buddy. Wednesday we went to Hondo to see Ruth. She's very weak and can barely get enough breath to speak so it was had to have a conversation with her when we were in the common rooms. When we were outside it was better. I played my uke and sang for her. On Wednesday it was just us out there but when we went back on Thursday we ended up with a bigger audience. It was fun and everyone said they enjoyed it. It was hard to leave Ruth. That is probably the last time I will see her.

Wedensday night we had dinner with Bubby, Sarah, Audrey and Sarah's kids. Little Maverick had just gotten over a very serious illness. Poor dude had an infection in his brain stem. Scary stuff. It's left him with double vision but the doctors said he should get over that soon. We had a good time with everyone.

On Friday Dean and I drove to Houston so see an exhibition of paintings by French masters. Hoo boy, it was crowded. Had a great time, though. I spent a lot of time looking at Van Gogh's painting of cypress trees. Seriously, I was moved to tears. Ok, so that's not hard to do but damn, that painting was disturbing and beautiful.

That night we had an awesome sushi dinner and then went to this reeeeally run down bar across the street to see C.J. Chenier and his band. Bon temps roulez! It was a smoky, tiny place that was hoppin' to the rafters! Whenever the dance floor was empty this one guy was out there dancing on roller skates. He was really fun to watch. It was also fun to watch the dancers. Especially the men. (Mothers, make your boys take dance lessons. It's your gift to the women of the world.)

Last night Dean, KC and I had dinner at the Belmont. It's this uber-cool, Rat Pack restaurant in Austin. Very dark inside with booths with green tuck-n-roll upholstery. You almost expect to see Dean Martin come strolling through the door. Then we went back to KC's and watched Bill Mahr. We spent the night there. Now I'm back at Dean's. Greg's going to grill some ribs for us tonight. Tomorrow I'm going to kick around Austin while Dean is at work. Then I'm flying home.

See you all soon!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Blogging from Texas

I made it here just fine. The flight was uneventful and that's a good flight. We had a yummy steak dinner and watched the latest Bond movie. I konked out early. This morning I slept in. Dean had to work so I was here on my own. I spent a lovely, leisurely day hanging out with the dogs and reading. Oh yeah, I also went to a good, long walk. Ah, that warm, muggy Texas air.

Dean came home at around 3:30 to pick me up and go to the movies. We saw Hoax at the Alamo Draft House. I love the Alamo. It's a chain of movie theaters where they took out every other row of seats and installed these long, thin tables. So you can watch a movie and eat pizza and drink beer. Hoax was underwhelming but we still had a good time. Now we're just hanging out.

Tomorrow I'm taking Dean's car to Joe and Molly's. I wonder what they'll think of her liberal, anti-Dubya bumper stickers? I'm spending the night with them and then we're going to see Ruth. So, you might not hear from me for a few days.

I'm gonna meander a bit before I go to the Butcher's. Maybe check out Garden Ridge Pottery and the SAS outlet. Hey, I'm on vacation.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

See y'all in a week!

Yes, that's right. I said "y'all".

I'm going to be at Dean's in Austin from Sunday til Tuesday morning. Then I'm going to Molly and Joe's Tuesday afternoon. They're going to have a little party for my Tuesday night. Then Wednesday we'll see Ruth and then go to the ranch. I'll see Ruth again that afternoon and again on Thursday morning. Then it's back to Austin until Monday when I'll be flying back home.

Ah, the ranch. It's so much better since they built that wrap-around porch. You just want to sit there for hours and hours listening to the birds. This place is way out in the middle of freakin' NOWHERE. Molly and Joe keep the bird feeders well stocked so the birdies stick around. The sound is just amazing.

Dean and I are driving to Houston on Friday to see this. That's gonna be a fun day. Looking forward to it greatly.

I'll blog from Texas. Probably no e-mail, tho. The guy who could tell me how to get to it from a different computer isn't with us anymore.

Have a great week, everyone! Virginia, keep healing!

Friday, April 20, 2007

I can see!

I picked up my glasses from Costco today. I opened the case, put them on and SPROINNNGGG!!! Everything jumped into clear focus! It was like, ooh, I can read! Wow, look at the weave of my jacket! EEK! Look at the wrinkles on my hands! Ok, I'll go put some gloves on and read a book.

Ah yes, now I really know those drugstore cheaters weren't doing it for me. This is much more comfortable. I also got the non-reflective coating so I'm not staring at my own eyeballs all the time.

Yes, this is much better.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

What is this thing?

Yesterday I started cleaning Jim's stuff out of the storage trailer. Right now I'm only dealing with things that I can easily make decisions about. I made a lot of progress yesterday and ended up with a big box of trash. Today I worked on clearing out a few more boxes. One of them really stumped me.

It was a box of miscellaneous cords, electronics, discs, cassettes and general nerd crap. Some of these things were in special anti-static packaging. There are a couple of mostly featureless plastic boxes that look like you're supposed to plug them into a computer. There are some small labels on them that list some numbers but nothing that says what they actually are. There are boxes of computer chips. There's this one really complicated looking piece of metal that's covered (encrusted more like) with resistors and capacitors and general electronicky crap that's enclosed in a scary-looking, anti-static pouch that frankly I was afraid to open.

And the cords! Holy shit! Mike cords, guitar cords, video cords, widow makers and mystery cables. Some of them are cords he made from scratch. Some are just pieces of wire. All of them are tangled beyond belief. I think they're breeding in there.

As I'm going through this stuff I'm laughing, then crying, then laughing again. I kept saying, "What the hell did you do to me??? You left me with THIS!!!! What the hell IS THIS???"

I set that box aside. At the back of the trailer are boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes and freakin' BOXES of books. And they're not any books that normal people read. Check out these titles. Elements Of Reusable Object-Oriented Software (a real page turner), WIN 32 Programming Using Visual C++(can't put it down), ASP In A Nutshell (there's a snake on the cover but it's not about snakes), and the verrrry sexy Objects, Components and Frameworks With UML, The Catalysis Approach. That's just FOUR of them! (Right now Dan, Brian, Dave and Ray are asking jeez, what's HER problem?)

I'm going to Texas for a week. When I get back I'm going to dive in and get the first wave of stuff figured out. Then I'm having a yard sale at the end of May. The next sale will be in September. Some of the equipment and books will be sold at the yard sales, others will be put on eBay or on Craig's List. I'll be working on finding out that the values are on all this stuff.

Ok, all you nerdy tinkerers out there, be good to your wives. Get rid of your goofy shit NOW!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Ikea with the girls

Michele had never been to Ikea and I've been talking to Virginia about it so hey, let's go! Kind of a spur of the moment kind of thing. I'm glad Virginia got to go. I knew she and Michele would hit it off. We had a great time and we got out of there without spending too much money. It was a very pleasant afternoon.

Came home and had dinner and a couple bottles of wine. We were going to watch a couple of movies but I didn't make it too far. I konked out early. Gee, I wonder why?

Michele's visit has been a lot of fun. She's leaving this evening. Damn. All my bestest girlfriends are scattered around in 4 different states and none of them live in Riverside. But I will say I'm very happy about getting reaquainted with Virginia. She's fun to be with, easy to talk to and we have a lot in common.

One reason I've enjoyed Michele's visit so much is because she knew Jim so well. We have so much shared history. Lots of good times. Last night we listened to some of the music that the three of us made together. I'm sad that there won't be any more but I also am so thankful for what we had, for all that we did together. Damn, it was fun.

In a little over a week I'm going to Texas to see Dean and visit Ruth, probably for the last time. But hey, you never know.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

What a FUN movie!

Grindhouse! I haven't had that much fun seeing a movie in a very long time. What a ride! I'm all churned up.

Michele is here and we're having a wonderful visit. Yesterday was spent doing a lot of running around getting stuff together for Lindsay's birthday party, which was today. We also went to Ramona to watch the Winter Drumline's practice. Their last show was today. I'm glad Michele got to see it.

This morning we got up early and went to Jeff's mother's house to help him with their big yard sale. Man, we were hauling stuff out of that house non-stop. We just kept taking things out to the front yard and people just kept buying. Michele and I left around noon. We had to go home and do party food and such. We had fun at the yard sale. (So, Jeff, how much did you rake in?)

Lindsay's party was small, just a few friends. Michele and I set out the food and made cupcakes. After helping with party games she and I left for the movie. Now, I hadn't seen any commercials or the trailer for this movie. All I knew was Kurt Russel is in it. Rory saw it and he's been dying to talk to me about it. I've told him NOT to tell me ANYTHING. I wanted to have absolutely no pre-conceived ideas or expectations about it other than the fact that it's a Quentin Tarantino movie and we all know what a romp those can be. So, I won't ruin it for you. Michele and I really enjoyed it. Like, reeeeeaaaally. I want to see it again while it's still in the theaters.

And now I'm going to bed. I have a feeling I'm going to be seeing fast-moving images whenever I close my eyes. It might be a while before I'm actually calmed down enough to go to sleep. Man, I hope I don't dream about it.

Thinking of kittens and duckies right now. Cool, calm waters. Oh look, a fern covered in early morning dew. Breathe in, breathe out...

Damn, now the kitten has a gun.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Yesterday I had my eyes checked at Costco. I filled out forms before the appointment. Up in the right hand corner of one of the forms were the boxes labled S M W D. I've never paused over those letters before. I just automatically marked the M box. This time I had to stop and think about it. Oh yeah, I'm a W now. Kinda weird how stuff like that comes up. Little things.

And really, for an eye exam I don't see how it's any of their damn business.

My eyes are healthy but old. I like the new machine that blows a puff of air at your eye to test the pressure. No more magic puncture pen. I hate that thing. Boy, my left eye is much worse than the right. No wonder the drug store cheaters don't work so well. I'm looking forward to getting new glasses. I'll be able to read!!!

We went to dinner at BJ's for Lindsay's birthday. Jessica and her friend Lindsay were there! My eyes were still dilated but I could still recognize them from across the room. The other Lindsay came over to our table and requested I sing the Bosom song. I had sung it for them at the Easter party on Sunday. I obliged. It was funny singing that song in BJ's with the pop music playing in the background. Bosom with a beat.

When we got home I went into the bedroom and did a little reading (Harry Potter, The Zone). I was reminded of how uncomfortable it has become. I'll get the glasses in two weeks.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

What a nice day! This morning everyone (including the bunny) met in the living room to check out the baskets. Lo and behold, this time I got one! Thanks, girls! Yes, it made me cry. They gave me a bunch of low-carb candy. They also included a box of See's butterscotch squares (not low-carb!) which are my absolute favorite. They also included some sugar free Peeps. Hmmm. Them things ain't Peeps. They had an almost leathery texture on the outside. But they had high entertainment value as we passed them around and had everyone try them. When I handed it to Paige she LEAPT up from the sofa yelling. That bit of action had nothing to do with the Peep and everything to do with the bunny peeing on the leather sofa and Paige sitting in the puddle. Now THAT was funny!

Then we went out for the egg hunt. Man, the older these kids get the more cut-throat the egg hunt. The two boys added a level of competitiveness not usually experienced at a Smith family egg hunt. We had a good time. Missing Jim, though.

Then we gathered up the foodstuffs and headed for Ken's. That was one awesome feast. Grilled marinated tri-tip and chicken thighs, salad, beans, cheesy bread, chicken salad, grilled green onions and cheesecake for dessert. We were STUFFED. Even now I'm kind of uncomfortable.

Tomorrow is Lindsay's and Jessica's birthday. The cheesecake was for them. We also bashed a pinata in the front yard. And why not? Then Paige, Lindsay and Kyle left and I hung out with Ken, Jessica and Anthony for a while. Amber showed up later with a friend. Ken and I went through some Casual Sunday songs just to see what we can still do without Jim. There are several that will sound just fine with two guitars and a uke. We can still do a show! It was an all around pleasant day and we had a good time.

Ugh! I really need to get this knee looked at. It's getting worse and it's keeping me from exercising. I feel like I've gained a few pounds (depressing!). I'll make an appointment tomorrow. Michele's coming for a visit and Lindsay's birthday party is next weekend. After that, we're all going low carb. That should help the knee a little but I'll bet I'm going to need surgery. I'll see if I can schedule it for when I get back from the Texas trip.

Riding my bike doesn't seem to bother the knee so I'm going to start taking bike rides in the evening. I need to get a better seat and some higher handle bars. Right now my hands go numb after I ride for a while. I need to make the bike more comfy so I can ride longer.

Spring is here and I'm feeling hopeful. I know I'll feel much better once I can really walk again. I miss the Rube.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Ow, my back...

I think I need a new mattress. This one is 9 years old and it's spent its life having Jim and me sleep on it. I do believe it's shot. A king size mattress is pretty expensive. Maybe I should get a queen sized bed now. The king bed takes up a lot of space. I do like this bed, though. Jim and I built it.

I guess I'll just flip the mattress for now and see if that helps.

Last night I went to Ken's. We played a little music but mostly we just got drunk and talked. It was good. He told me some stories about him and Jim when they were little kids that I had never heard. I laughed so hard! Did some crying, too. Actually, a lot of crying. Good, hard, cleansing, drunken crying. And then suddenly Ken would say something that got me laughing so hard I'd practically fall off my chair. I loves me bro!

Tomrrow we're having an Easter party over there. Just us adults. We're going to take the trebuchet Lindsay made and see if it'll launch Easter eggs. Hmmm, we could set them on fire!

So, I need to take a pain killer and get on with the day. Gotta go to Costco.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Easter bunnies

We might be gittin' us a crop of 'em.

Today Paige cleaned out the bunny's cage and found a big wad of fur in her bed. Rabbits pull fur from their chests about 5 days before they give birth. Our bunny may be nesting (we did some Googling this afternoon). Gestation is around 31 days and we've only had her in a cage for about 2 weeks. So, now we're on a birth watch.

I'm going to ride my bike to the store and pick up some stuff for Dad. I'm bored and I need the exercise.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


I don't like it.

Stuff's out there, on the horizon, waiting for me. I'm waiting for it. I'm on the verge.

Some days are weirder than others. Some days are more sane. But the others... There are days where I'm stopped dead in my tracks, staring, wondering, asking, "What the hell happened???" How could he be gone, like, GONE??? The whole thing happened so fast. Stroke, four days, death, a week later, party. It's been two and a half months. Such a short time but so much has happened. So much has changed. More change to come.

This usually comes upon me in the evenings. I'll go out and sit in one of the wooden chairs and look at the view. Tonight I went out there just as the full moon was rising. Then came a wash of heavy sighs and it was hard to catch my breath. I was looking at the big picture. Getting a job, a new place to live. Then I thought about leaving here and it was just too much. I will really, really miss this place. It's shabby but it's awesome and I'm so lucky to have lived here. I was out there in the dark watching the planes come in for a landing. That's what got to me. Those planes are as much a part of this place as the houses, the Christmas trees and the view of Box Springs mountain.

I'm really looking ahead now. What's next? A trip to Texas, a trip to Sonoma County. I want to head north at some point for a visit with Michele and the Powers'. Getting a job, moving. Soon my girls will move away. What will this life look like five years from now?

And all I can do right now is deal with what's right in front of me. I want to give it all a push and say, "Come on! Get on with it!"

Ah, the wonder of it all.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Crying in Ikea

Today was a really good day. I took Rory to Santa Ana to be trained for his new job at EZ Lube. He had to be there at 8:45 this morning. Traffic was TERRIBLE! But we made it on time. Man, that place was hard to find. It was at the corporate offices. After I dropped Rory off I headed down Harbor blvd. to find a coffee shop so I could get some breakfast. I ended up at a Baker's Suqare just 2 blocks from Disneyland. Crappy breakfast. I decided not to go to Disneyland and go to Ikea instead. I figured it would be cheaper than Disneyland. Heh, heh! WRONG! I spent too much money but I took care of some birthdays and a wedding gift so I'm ok with it.

When I was browsing through the lighting department Paige called. She said she just wanted to tell me that she loved me. I had been thinking about her a lot this morning and I guess she was thinking about me too. She said she really felt like she needed to tell me. So there I am, crying my eyes out in Ikea talking to my sweet girl. Things haven't been so great with us lately. Sometimes we go on thinking everything is ok when it isn't. I was really glad to be able to talk to her about it. It was hard, though. I can't talk and cry at the same time.

Woo hoo, got lots of fun stuff! They have their summer things in. Lots of fun lighting. I did resist the urge to buy this cool patio chair for $89. It's rocker with a circular frame that's strung with bungee cord. When you sit in it it's all bouncy and verrrry comfortable. I didn't like the color, tho. So, instead I got some light strings that look kind of like clear lolly pops, light strings with cool, cute flowers, a new comforter cover (PURPLE!), a hammock, magazine organizers for Kyle, some psychedelic lights for the girls and some other stuff that I can't write about because they're for upcoming birthdays.

After I was finished there I still had about 4 hours to kill. I decided to try to find a movie theater and see Blades Of Glory. Turns out there's a mall with a theater just down the street from Ikea. They had a Nordstrom's closeout store. I found four pairs of silk trousers that were majorly marked down, one of them is a Citron (my favorite label). Squeee! I love wearing silk. The colors aren't quite right but silk dyes easily and they were so cheap I can afford to experiment a little.

Then I had lunch (fish tacos) at this great Mexican restaurant. Then I went to the movie. Yes, Dean, I laughed my ass off! It wasn't a screamer like Borat but at least it was a whole lot easier to watch. I got out at around 4:00, just in time to go pick up Rory. Traffic on the way home was a bitch but we knew that was going to happen. Ah... A day of shopping therapy with a good meal and a fun movie. Time for The Daily Show, jammies and a glass of wine.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Ukuleles in the basement, pizza and pie.

Today was the second meeting of the Riverside Ukulele Liberation Front. Almost everyone brought a song or two for everyone to learn. Cool stuff! We spent more time tuning this time so the sound was much better. Cousins Steve and Debbie showed up and listened for a while. They're going to tell Janet about the group and see if she wants to join.

I rode my bike there today. Not a bad ride but it was kind of hot. Still, it was good to get the exercise. I think I might do that every time. It reminded me of riding my bike to banjo lessons when I was in highschool. Except that my banjo case was not travel friendly.

After the uke meeting Bill and Virginia invited me out for dinner with the family. They were celebrating both Jeff's and Bill's birthdays. I rode my bike to their house and hung out for a while with them and the kids. Fun scene. We dinked around a bit on ukes and guitars and listened to some music. Liam has nice friends. Then we went to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner. Jeff brought Jean, their mom. She's wheelchair bound so it can take a long time to transport her. We had a nice dinner with lively conversation (exploring the intricacies of the pie-ness of pie). Afterward we went to Borders. This is a typical Sunday evening for the Odiens. I had a good time.

Tomorrow I'm taking Rory to Santa Ana for training for his new job. I haven't had time to get the iffy tire on the van changed so we're taking the truck. Rory isn't comfortable driving such a long distance on the freeway. I'm happy to drive him. It's going to be a long day but I'm sure I'll find something interesting to do in Santa Ana. Once he's trained he can start working right away. He's been out of work for a while and I know it's made him unhappy.

Hey, I could go to Disneyland! Seriously, I just might do that.