Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Stubborn, stubborn Lucy.

Lyman left for the grocery store this afternoon while I was napping in our bedroom. I woke to hear Lucy repeating "bye" and "bye bye" over and over again, clear as a bell, and with the cheeriest intonation.

She hasn't said it in our presence yet.

When Matt Welch is bragging about his garden, I know that I have work to do.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Lucy went today for a wing clip. It took just a few minutes and wasn't too traumatic.

Sunday, I perched her on my shoulder and took her outside to see the blooming azaleas and the newly planted tomato seedlings. As we were heading toward the cucumber seedlings she lifted off my shoulder and flew about 200 feet down the lot. She landed in the front yard under a live oak. She didn't have a clue where she was. She could have as easily landed in the street or slammed into a passing vehicle. When I reached to pick her up, she was just looking around. Da dum dum dum.

The street was quiet Sunday, but it isn't always so.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Oh, NO!

I posted here about Stuart Buck and his family on June 11 of last year.

LATER: Here is an update from his wife. Impatience seems to be Mr. Buck's biggest problem right now.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

John Ellis posts an interesting side note to the Richard Clarke controversy.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Oh, for goodness' sake. Now we have teenage angst.

When Lucy was a baby, we bought her a short perch and a personal fan heater to dry her after baths. For months now she has jumped down repeatedly during every drying session. I've retrieved her and put her back on the perch, exhorting her to "work" and "stay warm" (paying attention to the temperature so she wasn't overheated).

It was a warm day today, and the house remains warm this evening. Since she was having such an issue with the fan, I just plopped her on a playtree branch to dry.

For half an hour she didn't move. No fluffing, no preening, nothing. So I brought a piece of newspaper and laid it on the counter in the office, as usual, and set up the perch, as usual, and turned the fan to low. Now she's working and preening and doing fine. Hasn't made an effort to jump at all.

I'm with my mother-in-law. It wouldn't have done for me to have a human child.

This post at Possum's leads me to an update on my mother-in-law.

At last writing, she was feeble and incoherent. She underwent a full battery of tests that showed no evidence of a brain tumor or stroke that might account for her condition. Her doctor forbade her to take any more of the sleeping pills that she has used for whatever reason for many past years.

Now she seems to have recovered. We don't have a clue as to what caused such a sharp decline then. She's a little dotty, but from Lyman's reports and my observations that's been true for decades. So our family is off the skids for now.

The window frame-chewing yesterday was of a piece with the strawberry-tossing.

Lyman brought in a half-flat (6 pints) of luscious Louisiana strawberries a couple of days ago. That night I offered Lucy one, and she ate it with gusto. Yesterday I offered her another in the dish of her Parrot Tower. I heard it hit the floor. When I reached up to return it to the dish, she bit my finger and threw it off again.

She didn't do these things as a baby.

Living with a parrot, even if she is the prettiest girl in town, has its drawbacks. Yesterday I turned around to see her chewing on the wooden window frame for the first time. She has lived in the same area for two years and three months without doing that. "No," I said. She took a defensive posture and glared at me, her pupils dilating and retracting, dilating and retracting. She doesn't like to be told "no".

I offered her a popsicle stick as an alternative chew treat. She took it and threw it off the cage, then returned to chewing the window frame. I finally had to move the cage over so she couldn't reach it.

The damage isn't so bad that it can't be handled with a little sandpaper and paint. Lyman gave her a short lecture on not chewing her house down, and we all seem to be on good terms now.

But you should have seen the look in her eye when she heard "No".

I have a strong penchant for Indian food that grew from my stay in New York years ago, where it served as a spicy substitute for the Mexican food I loved in Texas. That yearning has been seldom satisfied since I moved to Vidalia.

So it was a fine treat last night to eat Jordana Adams' recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala. It was rich and richly seasoned, and should lay my grumblings to rest for some while. Thank you, Miss Jordana.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Rough talk from Jack Shafer at Slate about Howell Raines' autobiography:

There's enough self-love in Raines' autobiography to earn it a place in the autoerotica section. By the time Raines stops romancing himself in the public mirror, conjures the last mirage of the glory that could have been, and settles his final grudge, you can only conclude that Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. did readers and Times staffers a service by terminating this vain and cockeyed beast.

(Link via Glenn Reynolds)

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

I am posting this gift again because it went over so well with Debra Johnson in Mandeville. Her visitors want one, too.

Funny, the things that set you off. I am reading Anne Tyler's The Amateur Marriage. Early in, she mentions a roll of cotton wrapped in blue paper. The setting for the beginning of the novel is WWII, but I remember a roll of cotton in 1960. It was in a box with a red cross, about the size of a pound of butter. Johnson & Johnson, I think. I have cotton and synthetic balls in my bathroom vanity. Can you buy a roll of cotton now? I'll have to visit Reed's Pharmacy to find out.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Coffee Achiever has a succinct post here about Virgin Atlantic Airways' kibosh on a plan to put "arty" urinals in their lounge at JFK.

Here is a picture of the urinal under consideration.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Dave Barry and the Gores have something in common.

Sorry for not posting. Reassure me here. Brain matter is gray, not green, right?

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Happy anniversary, Peg! 53 years and counting.

Sugar, the red mare, is swiftly becoming a memory. That only took three days -- not so bad, since I'm not nearly as young as Mac Thomason.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

I am, ah, still feeling the horseback ride. When I first stepped onto the ground in the stable yard after dismounting I could not walk. I looked down at the steaming urine and muck on the ground and told myself "Janis, do not fall. It's a long ride back to town. Stand up straight." After a few minutes in place I was able to step gingerly out of the enclosure. Yard work here can wait a day or two.

Like so many travelers, I must have picked some sinus thing or cold up on an airplane.

Monday, March 15, 2004

News from the Iditarod trail.

On Saturday we went horseback riding. I'd like to tell you we have pictures, but I was too busy trying to sit Sugar's saddle.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Sunday. 6:20 am pickup for the airport.

Friday, March 12, 2004

"Hike up."

That's the "go" commmand for a team of sled dogs. "Mush" is for the movies.

Chris at the Grizzle-T let loose seven eight-dog teams yesterday, to follow a 13.5 mile trail through the countryside. Each sled left with a passenger and a driver standing behind. At midpoint on the trail, passengers and drivers could switch places if they wanted. The dogs were paired along a line that drivers were to keep taut with the use of foot brakes of two kinds -- a sort of rubber mat that would create slight drag, and a bar brake that the driver would stand on to create strong drag on steep slopes.

Lyman drove the first half of the trail, and I drove the second.

These sled dogs are much smaller than I thought. Our team averaged about 40 pounds apiece. But even the largest were only 55 pounds. Chris compared them to marathon runners. Sure, the lead dog knows where he is going, but the most interesting to me was the pair of "wheel dogs" linked closest to the sled. They constantly looked back to see how the sled was traveling, then might jump to one side or the other of the line to guide the sled itself along the trail.

Once they are hitched up, these dogs are on "go". We had some stops along the line as drivers had difficulties. It was everything I could do to bring them to a halt. We had no command to make them "heel". It was done strictly with the brakes.

At one point in the trail we got just slightly bogged where the snow at the edge of the trail had melted and the team stopped. Chris had told us to give sled a little nudge onto the track and tell the dogs to "hike up". That's what I did, and they were going in a flash.

At the stops along the trail, the dogs complained loudly. They are bred to run.

Lyman and I both think dog-sledding is the most interesting thing we've ever done. What smart athletes the dogs are. What pristine countryside we went through. Worth the price of the trip. More on the dogs later.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

I received an e-mail yesterday from Craig, headed "The parrot formerly known as Lucy":

Hi Janis,

Tippi is doing great. She eats crawfish and I'm teaching her to say all sorts of vulgarities. Tonight we tried finger foods...she loved the popcorn but the beer made her sneeze. I've attached a couple of photos. Just ignore those circles under her eyes and her beer belly. - Craig

The weather continues to be warm and the snow is getting icier or slushier, take your pick. The avid skiers who can afford it are traveling north. Good skiers say even the upper slopes are becoming hard on the knees. We spent a short time out yesterday. I think I'll just retire my boots this trip. It is miserable and hot out there at 42 degrees. I didn't come this far to be hot. I can do that at home.

But that doesn't mean we'll be doing nothing. Tonight we take the gondola and a sleigh ride to Ragnar's restaurant up the mountain for dinner. Tomorrow we go dog-sledding and tubing. Saturday we have a horseback ride and dinner again up the mountain at Hazie's.

I might just trot down the hill today and watch the children ski. They are so much fun to watch, and some of them are good, fearless little critters that they are. People here start them early. David's baby started at 18 months.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Lyman was fool enough to go up the mountain Monday after 20-25 years without much practice. He had a rough time Monday, though he didn't fall. He wound up in some flat places where he wore himself out poling along. Whatever run he took, it took him four hours to come down. At points he thought about asking the ski patrol to bring him down. David said he would have been welcome to come along with me for a while, but Lyman went out later than I did,and didn't know where to find us.

We were both so tired that we took Tuesday off and went into town. It's a pretty little place. Clean as a whistle. And I know it's a service town where people make money by being friendly, but doesn't anyone ever have a bad day? And the guests are courteous. Everyone who got off the buses yesterday thanked the drivers.

One of the places we visited was the Tread of Pioneers Museum. There were lots of interesting things to look at there, but I was most interested in the part devoted to the history of skiing. The fellow who started this place's ski industry was a Norwegian named Carl Howelsen, also known as "The Flying Norwegian". He built the first ski jump here. You should see the early skis he wore, much like a two-by-four with the front end planed upward with a single leather binding laced over the instep. He must have been some kind of skier.

We also went to a funky little second-hand bookstore that occupied three rooms up a steep flight of stairs. Lyman and I found a couple of novels and a book of lullabyes for Lucy. The store was a great little place, but I can't imagine that it makes much money.

An interesting thing about the crossing lights in town -- they display a countdown of the seconds available when pedestrians cross the street, which I found helpful as we eased our sore selves through town.

It's time to put some of that expensive instruction to use. How I dread putting those boots on. Later.

David told me a charming story Monday. He and his wife delayed having children until he was 35 and she was 36. They had an active life together, and didn't want the responsibility of a child. "We were selfish," he said. Finally, they decided that they'd best not wait any longer. Thus the little girl. He adores her.

He said that a few days ago she came into their bedroom and woke him up. He opened his eyes to see a little face staring at him. "Daddy," she said, "would you like to come up to my room and play with me for a while?" David said to me, "And I really did want to. And I did."

Monday, March 08, 2004

David Moon was everything I could have wanted in a teacher: cordial, handsome (my, was he handsome), patient, smart, kind, and able. Able. He skied backwards a lot today. He is a married man and proud father of a three-year-old baby girl.

I am not a natural at this sport. I'm not sure that I'll get off the baby slopes this trip. I need balance and relaxation on skis. Both will take practice.

The snow is yucky. It's warm enough in the afternoon to melt the top layer into slush, which freezes overnight to make ice. The place is slick as glass and no place for a beginner like me. I was burning up in my clothes today.

The people here are warm and friendly. Everyone is concerned that visitors to the town have a good time. Genuine smiles everywhere.

Many, many children come here, and the little buggers are keen on the slopes. When I was holding on to David, little boys and girls were confidently bypassing me on every side, and I mean six-year-olds.

Tonight I am whipped. Maybe Nate can tell me how much the boots and skis for a 116 pound woman weigh. I'm guessing about a third of my weight. Believe me, wearing that stuff around all day is tiring. I should have stood for two morning lessons separated by a day or two. I was out from 9 until three, and that was a bit much for this Louisiana girl.

Lucy seems to be doing well with Debra and Craig Johnson at J-Birds. Craig will post when he can.

Hey, from beautiful Colorado. We have a proper computer terminal in our room, so I can post from here. We arrived at about 4 o'clock yesterday, what with transferring planes in Houston and taking a shuttle to the hotel.

I check in for ski instruction at 9 am. This will be a day to remember, whatever happens.

Last night we spent time talking to the waiters in the restaurant. They are all skiers. One chipper and handsome young man with a dislocated shoulder, a teacher himself, recommended that I relax, obey my instructor, and have fun. He fell on a set of stairs, not the slopes, to cause his injury.

My, oh my, I have a lot to learn this week.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Today we leave. Off to Mandeville and New Orleans, flying out of New Orleans tomorrow morning. Best to you.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Funny, these birds. We work with Lucy day-in, day-out on saying names of things: corn, pepper, nut, apple, kiwi, pear. We work on phrases like "pretty girl" and "good girl". We work on greetings-- "Hey, Big Daddy" or "Hey, Girl" -- and bye-byes. She has picked up "apple" out of those words, but few of the others.

So tell me why, when Lucy interjected a sound into a conversation last night, and I replied "Absolutely right, Lucy", she repeated that immediately. It wasn't perfectly clear, but the number of syllables, rhythm and intonation were absolutely right.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Now that was frightening.

I accompanied Lyman on his first trip to an optometrist. He has been complaining for a few months of not being able to see as well as he once did. Fair enough, we're all getting older.

When the assistant asked him to identify the characters on the projected chart, he could not identify a thing smaller than the huge "E" lying on its back. He sees worse than I do.

I have been riding with this guy.