Friday, June 30, 2017

Yellow Rat Snake

The large yellow snake curled around the young woman's body. I wondered what kind of snake it was and whether it's bite was poisonous. The woman moved through the crowd that watched and had people touch the long snake. I did not touch it or get near it though I did send my granddaughter to stand by the woman with the snake so I could take a picture.

I looked on the Internet and found out that a python or an anaconda look similar but I am betting my money that the snake around the woman's neck was a Yellow Rat Snake. It gets its name because it eats rats, and sometimes birds, by swallowing them whole. They can grow to be six feet long and can live up to twenty years.

"Even if a snake
is not poisonous
it should pretend
to be venomous."

Queen of the Ocean

In1963 I received the title of Queen of the Waves while I was in Peru. The rough sea toppled me and no matter how hard I tried, I could not stand up. Just as I was getting up, another strong wave would knock me over. Sand and water surrounded me and I had no idea which way was up.  After rolling about for what seemed like hours and the frightening thought that I might drown, I did manage to get out of the raging water. As I struggled, on my hands and knees to the shore, I saw my husband and his brother nearby laughing at my tumble. Evidently, everyone who gets into the ocean in their home town goes through the same thing! They gave me the name of Queen of the Waves or in Spanish, Reina de Las Olas!

In 2017 I have acquired a new name of Queen of the Ocean. As my daughter, my granddaughter and I played in the ocean we laughed as we jumped to greet the waves. The water was tepid and we were having fun.  I stood sideways so that the crashing waves would hit me around the hips. At one point I turned my back to the incoming waves and a huge wave struck me on my back. It felt as if a large and heavy hand had slapped my back. The next thing I knew I was down in the swirling mass. At my age I am not very agile but I tried to stand up yet the soft sand seemed to disappear from underneath me and would not allow me to stand.  Just as I thought I would be able to stand, another wave would hit me and down I would go.  As the wave rushed to the shore, taking me with it, I felt like a torpedo headed for the shore line.

Both my daughter and grandchild were trying to pull me up but my weight, the ocean and our laughter made it difficult. We were laughing so hard it was impossible for me to stand up. Finally, once when I was near the more solid sand at the edge of the ocean, they did manage to pull me up. Then came the embarrassing moment when I had to take the long walk back to our Palapa while many eyes under other Palapas watched me, or so I thought!  My guess is that they had all enjoyed the show. I slowly made my way up to our palapa to dry off and live with my Queen of the Ocean moment!

Before the fall!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Not Mechanically Inclined

My daughter told me once not to say that I was not mechanically inclined. "Every time you say it, you reinforce the idea that you are not." I try not to say it, but I know myself and I know I am not handy in putting things together. I remember when I needed to replace a bulb in my car head lights. In talking to different people, I was told, "Oh, that's easy to do. Just take off the screws holding the light, pop out the bulb and replace the glass, simple!"

If everyone was telling me how easy it was to replace a bulb, I thought I would go ahead and do it. I found a screwdriver and began the process. When my daughter came home from school I was getting ready to add the bumper to the parts I had already taken off, though the glass was still covering the lamp. "What are you doing," she asked. Proudly, I said, "I am going to replace the bulb but there are lots of screws and parts." I remember she shook her head in disbelief as she said, "See these two screws on either side of the light?" I nodded. She proceeded to remove the two screws, pulled out the glass, replaced the bulb and I realized that the two screws I had taken out were holding the whole frame of the light. From there, I just kept unscrewing and was on my way to dismantling my car!

She left me replacing the parts I had taken off my car and I suspect she was still shaking her head in disbelief! Later, as the years went by I did assemble my computer and felt happy and proud that I had been able to connect all the parts by following the different colors. Yet, every few months I would purchase an X-Box.  I purchased it and returned it three different times. I kept thinking I could handle the hooking it up, but every time I got stuck I returned the X-Box. Consequently, I do not own an X-Box.

Yesterday I purchased an office chair. When I got it home and opened it up I noticed there were about eight separate parts in the box. Should I return it or should I give it a try. Placing all the parts -- wheels (called casters), frame, a heavy part, seat, back screws, and Philips screwdriver -- on the table I opened the instruction book. It had pictures of the very parts I had placed on the table. Following
each step was time-consuming but at the end of about an hour I had my office chair completed. So what if the mechanism part to move it up or down doesn't work, I am satisfied with my chair.

I gather if I set my mind to do something, I can do it. I remember how upset my father would get with me when he tried to show me how to fix something and I would tell him, "I can't do that, my brain does not work like that." He would roll his eyes because he could fix anything. We never called outside help because he did everything himself. I think he would be proud of me to know how I tackled the chair and got it assembled. I know I am proud of me!

"If it's the right chair
it doesn't take too long
to get comfortable in it."
Robert DiNiro

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Cabbage And Boiled Potatoes

Does the title of my blog sound like I might be writing about a recipe? Wrong. I  am writing about the meaning of the word Colcannon. Dictionary explanation: Irish/Scottish dish of cabbage and potatoes boiled and pounded.

This past weekend I attended a concert at the Arvada United Methodist Church featuring The Arvada Chorale with special guests, Colcannon. What wonderful Irish and Scottish music using a flute, small hand held drum, a violin, a guitar/bass, and two stringed instrument that looked like a Ukulele and a mandolin. I have always thought of Irish music as being more jig type but this group, along with reels and jigs, played and sang ballads. The singer was humorous and told us jokes along with a story behind the song. The blurb in the program gave this description of the group: Colcannon plays Irish music with panache, warmth and wit.

As usual, the Chorale can make their voices sound like instruments with their harmonizing and humming.  I could not tell if the voices were blending in with Colcannon or if Colcannon blended in with the Chorale. Which ever, the music was beautiful.

My favorite was Haul Away Joe, a sea shanty. I liked the repetitive sounds. Molly Malone was a sing-a-long with audience participation.  Another Irish favorite, Danny Boy brought tears to some. The rest of the songs I did not recognize, though they were fun to listen to and enjoy.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Karma Is Not Nice

For the past few Sundays when I arrive at mass and take my usual seat, there is a woman who must pour on the perfume. I find the smell offensive because to me it smells like a mosquito repellent or maybe DDT. I find myself thinking I would love to move but I do not want to hurt her feelings. One day, I was sitting in my spot when suddenly I got a whiff of the atrocious smelling perfume. I looked around and she was about six yards away and heading to her spot near me. My thought was: Doesn't she know how bad her perfume smells and the strength of the odor?

Since I am in church I try to not think about how upset the perfumed woman makes me. I try to do what my mother used to tell me, "If something bothers you, offer it up to God."

A year ago a friend gave me a bottle of oil with a pleasant aroma. I placed the six sticks into the oil and for almost a year I would get a whiff of the aroma. It was not over powering but a pleasant smell.
On Saturday I was at a store and happened to find some oils with the sticks and seeing one marked Gardenia, I thought I would purchase it. After all, I used to love the Gardenia smell and used the perfume for years.

When I got home I opened the box, placed the sticks in the oil and was ready to smell Gardenia. It smelled like DDT and instantly I remembered my thoughts about the lady and her perfume. This was surely Karma because every time I walk past my bathroom, I smell the awful smell. Maybe if I had not been so critical of the lady at church, my recently purchased oil would have smelled like Gardenias!

Here is my plan for my recently purchased oil. First I will dump the Gardenia oil, buy a bottle of refillable oil with the name of Lavender (because that is what my gift is labeled) and then maybe I will enjoy a pleasing smell. I am also finding another place to sit when I go to church. I'd say that my Karma problem will be solved!

"A group of scientists wanted to find
the most effective mosquito repellents,
so they tested ten substances
including standbys like DEET,
as well as random choices like
Victoria's Secret perfume Bombshell.
Turns out the perfume is
almost as good as DEET."
Annalee Newitz

Note:  On June 14, 2017, I returned to the store and purchased another bottle with sticks labeled pineapple-coconut and now when I walk past the bathroom I am filled with memories of warm and sunny beaches. What an improvement over that over powering smell of DDT!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Two For The Price Of One

Two Russian stories were presented in Boulder at The Dairy Arts Center on Saturday, June 10, 2017, at 2:00 p.m. I did not know what to expect as we entered the small theater. The first row is flush with the stage and I would think that anyone sitting in the front row would have the feeling of being in the play.

Petrushka was the first story by the talented young dancers. Without the program, and even with the program, the story of three puppets competing for the love of one puppet was difficult to follow. The music by Igor Stravinsky was composed in 1910. It was first seen in Paris on June, 1911 and the famous ballet dancer Nijinsky had the role of Petrushka. (Years ago I read the story about Nijinsky and how he had the highest leap of any other ballet dancers. I remember telling my children that I wanted them to remember the name Nijinsky and if it ever came up in a conversation, they could say that he could jump high. I remember how sad I was when I read that he ended up in a home for the mentally insane.)  In the brochure it is mentioned that the Artistic Director for this ballet had changed the ending so the story is not like the original ballet.

The Firebird is about a young prince who encounters a red bird in the forest and she gives him one of her red feathers. Koschei is an evil sorcerer who has everyone under his spell. With the help of the red feather, the prince is able to break the spell and life returns to normal.

Costumes were colorful and sparkling in one play while in the second play the only color seemed to be the red bird!

At the entrance before going into the play, there were many items for sale. Beautifully decorated ballerina shoes, Russian nesting dolls, books about Russian fairy tales and one shiny slipper under glass. I was told that bids were being taken for the slipper with the sparkling stones and the bid started at $175.  I wonder if any one purchased any of the neat items?

The ballet toe shoe is one of
the few instruments of torture
to survive intact into our time.
Author unknown

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A Cowboy Wedding

When I received the invitation from a friend to attend her wedding I was thrilled. Her story of how she and her future husband had dated each other in high school, how their lives took different directions and how their fate was to marry other loves was interesting. Children were born, she divorced and he became a widower and as fate would have it, they met again.  They dated and fell in love and now they were getting married.

The invitation came and I began to plan what I would  wear to the wedding. I spoke with the bride-to-be's Mother and she told me, "Get your boots out, because it's going to be a country and western wedding." Now, I really wondered what I would wear. Years past, when I would go country and western dancing, I had three pairs of western boots, long denim skirts and western type shirts. All of my western wear had been given away when I stopped dancing. Should I go buy me something western? I wondered. Did I want to spend money on clothes I might wear for one night? I began looking in my closet. Surely I would find something. And sure enough I did. I had jeans, found a denim shirt, found some turquoise jewelry and a cowboy hat. I was ready!

Arriving at the VFW hall on Colfax I expected to enter a traditional room but instead I walked in to a beautifully decorated area with lots of netting, bows, tiny lights, and chairs covered in white with lavender bows. Wow, I thought. Suddenly, I felt under dressed for such a fancy decorated hall!

 When the ceremony began, the groom in his black and turquoise shirt waited by the tall minister who wore a black hat and would perform the rituals. The bride in a white lacy dress and boots was walked in by her mother and brother.
There were people I knew and strangers who soon became friends. Some of the groom's family came from Texas while most of the bride's family lives in Colorado. The snack bar had vegetables, cheese, chips, crackers, and fruit. When the buffet table opened, we were treated to a green salad, potato salad, pulled pork, beef and wieners in barbecue sauce, buns, macaroni and cheese along with a rolled pork roast. The cake was outstanding and different than any cake I had ever seen!
  The band warmed up and a traditional "La Marcha" took place along with the traditional dance by the wedding group. In the march, couples march along holding hands, they then separate and the men go one way and the women go another. The leaders maneuver  through the crowds, (much like a conga line) until the couples meet up again and form an arch where everybody goes under. It is fun but I noticed that going through the arch was back-breaking! When the bride and groom danced, money was tossed on the floor for them. Mexican, western and modern (for line dancing) music was played and though some couples twirled their partners, it seemed as if it was the little children who enjoyed trying to keep time to the music!

I did not stay for the cutting of the cake but when I left I could see the dance floor full of dancers doing a line dance. This was a great wedding and how nice it must be to marry someone who took you to your high school prom!

"A real cowgirl can do it all by herself....
but a real cowboy won't let her."
Kim Davis

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The End Of My Birthday Celebrations

Nineteen days after my birthday, I was invited to the Strawberry Brunch at the Community Recreation Center on Wadsworth. Two of my friends told me that they had purchased a ticket for me for my birthday. I arrived early to get a spot toward the front of the line because I had been told, "It gets crowded so you need to get there early!"

It was a true statement because the Center became quite crowded right before the doors were opened. It was a happy sounding murmuring as people arrived and friends greeted each other. I heard that there were around one hundred and sixty women at the brunch. As we  entered the large room decorated with white tablecloths, flowers and butterflies, men in suits and ties ushered us in. The lucky women got an escort to take them to a table. My comment was: "It's been a long time since I have seen so many well-dressed men all in one place!"

The men served us a plate with sausage patties, cinnamon cake, and fruit. Later, we went to the buffet line to find more goodies; fruit, vegetables, dips, meatballs in sauce, peanut butter dip with animal crackers, and skewers of olives, cheese, and pepperoni. How nice to have all those men serving us and picking up after us.

Along the outer rim of the room were the sponsors of the event. Home Care representatives (St. Elizabeth, Covenant, Visiting Angels, Western Hills, etc.) from different places were there to give out information and to give small gifts. I ended up with a butterfly on a stick, a small flashlight, a bag, pens, tablets, a letter opener, lip gloss, and sanitizing spray.  We then enjoyed a fashion show of Christopher and Banks clothing. The models were all from the Center and looked to range in ages from 60 to 90! Some lucky attendees won beautiful flower arrangements, Bundt cakes, or hanging baskets full of lush looking flowers.

A harpist by the name of Kathleen, entertained at the brunch. There were people I knew from Young At Heart and it was fun seeing them in a different venue instead of at church. The women from the Red Hat Society were scattered around the room.

 All I can say is "thank you so much" to my two friends who invited me to the fun affair.  Also,  thanks for sending me this pictures of my table via your telephone because it amazes me that, as if by magic, pictures can be transported over the air waves!

For dessert we were served a large chocolate covered strawberry with strawberry ice cream topped with sliced strawberries. Is that why it is called a Strawberry Brunch?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

An Adventure Between Brighton and Ft. Lupton

A friend of mine was born in Wattenberg, Colorado and when I heard that a group of women from Spirit of Christ Catholic Community were going to visit the church in the tiny town, I decided to drive and take her to her home town. After a few wrong turns on county line roads and nothing but farms and fields, we located  Our  Lady of Grace Church.

Fourteen persons visited the church this morning and Henrietta, a third or fourth generation Hispanic who has lived her whole life in Wattenberg gave us a tour of the church. She explained the beginnings of the church from 1909. The Stations of the Cross are breath taking because of their size. Each weighs around eight hundred pounds and when St. Leo's Church on Colfax closed in 1965, the Stations were given to the church.

Henrietta explained that as churches closed or were re-done throughout Colorado, the church was able to get statues, pews and fixtures. As we enter the church, a huge angel holds a large shell with holy water and it came from a church in Colorado Springs. The pews came from Regis College, the altar from St. Benedict's Monastery in Snowmass, stained glass windows from St. Augustine in Brighton and most of the statues were donated to the church.

 Originally the building was a pea factory that had closed and the owners of the factory donated the building and land to the town of Wattenberg. She mentioned that during the war many of the young men went into the armed services. "My family had five siblings in the war at the same time." she told me. A wooden plaque has all the names of service men carved into the wood.

My friend remembered a Morada (home to Penitentes) next door to where she lived and how she would attend mass there. We drove around trying to find her house and the Morada but there is nothing in the area that she recognized. I told her that in eighty years a lot of things change!

After our visit to Our Lady of Grace we drove to Brighton for lunch at Pinocchio's Italian Eatery and enjoyed the delicious food served in large, decorative Italian looking plates.

What a fun and interesting adventure!

A Pinochle Lesson

Six women met at a friend's house to eat, drink and lessons! Two do not like card games, one wanted to learn, one didn't care one way or another, one teacher and one wanting to teach! As we arrived our hostess made a light, refreshing drink that at first sip reminded me of being on a hot, sandy beach. Then I tasted something I do not like. Ginger. I ended up with a glass of water with lemon while others drank wine. We snacked on nuts, dip, crackers, and chips while we talked and laughed about what has been happening in our lives.

Lunch of salad, cabbage rolls, mashed potatoes, mixed veggies, beets, and bread was placed on a beautiful white tablecloth. When we commented on the floral cut out table cloth, we were told it had been purchased in Mexico. We continued talking and enjoying the meal. Once dessert of lemon cake and frozen bananas dipped in dark chocolate were consumed, the table was cleared for a lesson on how to play Pinochle.

Pinochle: a popular two player game with the object is to win tricks.  Twelve cards were dealt to the four players. Two of us were just watching. I heard the words tricks, meld, trump, marriage, run, points, that's higher, no don't put that card down, we won that round, and a typed sheet had to be looked at every once in awhile. On the sheet, I saw a combination of numbers. The usual order of A, K, Q, J is not followed in Pinochle. To me, it seemed like a confusing game but I am sure it is like anything else; once learned it's easy.

Rick Riordan
“You do know how to play pinochle?" Mr. D eyed me suspiciously.
"I'm afraid not," I said.
"I'm afraid not, sir," he said.
"Well," he told me, "it is, along with gladiator fighting and Pac-Man, one of the greatest games ever invented by humans. I would expect all civilized young men to know the rules.”
Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief