~~ "She has so many aliases, you'd think she was a spy!" ~~

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A conversation with my husband

I was making Pad Thai; he was doing dishes.

Ken (out of the blue): You should write a murder mystery…

Me (mentally): Um. Where can this be going?

Ken: …about an actor who looks like he commited suicide with a starter pistol.

Me: Um. Sadly, something like that actually happened…

Ken: Yeah. It was some lame 80s show—

Me: Hey! I liked that show! The female lead was hot. [brief pause] I can’t remember the name of the show, though. Or her name.

[Thirty second later]

Me: But his name was Jon-Erik Hexum.

Ken (fondly): You really are special, aren’t you?

(It was Cover Up, and the female lead was Jennifer O’Neill. But I had to look that up. Honest.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Screw it. I’m tired. I’m going to bed. I don’t care if it’s not even 11 p.m. yet.

Sorry ‘bout those pigs that just flew by your window….

Photos update

For some reason, the photos aren't leading to my Flickr site, so here are the links to the two sets:

Birthday, Part III


Meerkat day! Meerkat day! Squee!

My present that morning was another in the Audubon birds of prey series: a California condor! (Actually, it’s a special edition bird, not part of the birds of prey series. Details…)

Morgana and Brian arrived and we all poured our underslept bodies into the car and headed east into the desert. We had lunch at a Ruby’s Diner because it was close and reasonable, not because of any great desire to eat at a Ruby’s Diner. My bleu cheese burger had some icky bits in it, I’m sad to say, but the fries I stole off Morgana’s plate were yummy. Then we killed a few minutes at Hadley Orchards where, it turns out, Morgana and Brian had their first date. (They had date shakes.)

On the way to the meerkat sanctuary, Morgana and I practiced our inner squees, as we assumed it would bad to vocalize them and startle the meerkats. Essentially, we did some out-loud squees to try and get them out of our system.

And then we were there! We were met by Pam Bennett-Wallberg, Director of Fellow Earthings Wildlife Center, who immediately said I looked like Stockard Channing, which I took as a huge compliment. She proceeded to tell us a funny story about Stockard, who’s the new narrator of Meerkat Manor and who’d come to the sanctuary to meet the meerkats and managed to get her rented Porsche stuck… Heh.

Now, you have to realize, I’d been waiting for this for a year. The deal is, you donate $100 to the center, and as a perk of membership, you and up to three other people get to spend 2 hours with the meerkats. What I didn’t realize when I tried to schedule this for my birthday last year was that there was a 6–12 month waiting list. So I scheduled it for this year’s birthday. I tried not to jitter and show too much impatience as Pam showed us around the facility, made us signed release forms, etc. :-)

There were three enclosures, two with two meerkats and one with three. Meerkats can be very territorial, apparently. To pick them up, all you had to do was offer them food…in the form of live, wriggling mealworms. Thank gods we didn’t have to handle live bugs! Morgana and I wouldn’t have been able to do it.

Pam also praised Morgana and I for not shrieking in high-pitched voices over the meerkats, which means our practice ahead of time had been a wise thing. She also was impressed that Morgana didn’t leap and scream when a couple of the meerkats “fought” for worms in her lap. Morgana laughed and pointed out that she had experience with crazed cats. A couple of little meerkats snarling adorable little meerkat snarls wasn’t going to bother her!

Anyway, Pam thought we were the coolest people ever, which was fun. She wanted to know all about the SCA and costuming and history, and my writing, and the fact that Ken and I had been to Africa, and the other animals we’d made a point of seeing (cheetahs, birds of prey, wolves, etc.), and kept commenting on how interesting we all were. She had us talking so much, we really didn’t get to hear all of her stories about Africa. She did talk about a book she’d written and a documentary she’d considered doing.

The meerkats, though. Head. Asplode. With Cuteness. They were…I’m going to do a crap job of describing it because they were just so freaking adorable. First up were Remi (F) and Suri (M) (no related to TomKat’s daughter). One of them wasn’t much for being held, but the other was. None of them specifically came over to be held or picked up, per se, but most of them were fine with being scooped up while they snorfled your other hand for tasty wriggly mealworms. We sat on low benches with our legs out, and held our hands by our ankles, and the one who liked to come up would run up our legs as we drew our hands up.

Next up was Kendi (F) and Rafiki (M). One of them wanted your hand flat (good for photo ops), whereas for the other, you fisted your hand and he or she would pry at your fingers to get to those yummy wriggling treats you were hiding.

Pam said that because these meerkats don’t have to deal with a lot of the problems live ones do (foraging for food, dodging predators, etc.), they can get bored—so they love having visitors. Plus they were smart, and knew exactly what it meant when we walked towards their enclosures—food! Between eating, they’d run around, scrabble in the dirt (they didn’t go into any full-on burrowing, probably because they knew they might miss out on food if they went too far), sit up on their little comfy chairs and look so cute you couldn’t stand it, scramble across our legs, cuddle with each other…

Our final stop was to meet Jengo (M), Nalo (M), and Bara (F). I swiftly twigged that Bara had clearer markings (not quite spots, but not quite stripes, either) than the other two. Turns out most people don’t even notice that! Go me! She’s from a different part of Africa. So she’s the only one of all of them that I can ID in the pictures. The rest of them have subtle stripes, whereas her colors are more pronounced.

I’m pretty sure it was Nalo who, after he’d eaten his fill, took up residence in the corner of the enclosure next to me. He was sitting up, looking around, checking things out, looking adorable. And I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t have stopped myself if I wanted to. Very, very slowly and carefully, I stuck out my forefinger. And he booped the end of my finger with his dirty little nose. (They all had dirty little noses! Squee!) So I reached out again, very, very slowly and carefully, and just barely brushed against the hairs on his little belly.

He was fine with that, so I did it again, with a little scritching. And again, and again, my brain dissolving into so much mush as I gave a meerkat belly scritches. He also let me scritch under his chin twice. I nearly died from the adorableness of it. I’m getting all squee-y again just typing this!

I managed to get one picture of myself doing this, and Ken got videos. In my picture his nictating membranes are over his eyes, so he looks like a little zombie meerkat. (Zombie meerkats! Squee!)

Eventually we had to go, after petting the dogs and the cat and thanking Pam profusely. What an amazing experience. Totally worth the wait! I’m so glad that I try to do something for my birthday when I can.

We stopped at The Old Spaghetti Factory on the way home, because nothing was going to make my birthday complete better than angel hair pasta with mizithra cheese and browned butter. (Well. There are a couple of other things. But Styx didn’t actually have a show this weekend.)

And then we came home, and slept for a long, long time.


Pretty much all I remember of Monday is finding a copy of Charles de Lint’s Tapping the Dream Tree as my next present. Oh, and when we ordered pizza that night, because it was my actual birthday, I got a stuffed-crust pepperoni-lover’s with onions and extra cheese. Urp.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled journal. At least 'til I get my write-up of the Ren Faire finished...

Birthday, Part II


This morning’s present was a DVD of Grosse Point Blank, one of my favorite movies. I can’t believe I didn’t own it already!

We had a quick breakfast, then did the Queen Mary’s Ghosts and Legends Tour, the tickets for which were part of our package deal. (We also got tickets to the Aquarium of the Pacific, the LA Zoo, the San Diego Wild Animal Park, and an LA Galaxy soccer game, plus a coffee table book about the Queen Mary, a 50% off coupon to a Best Western in San Diego, and a signed photo of a Radio Disney DJ. Sweet deal!) The tour was a production with special effects rather than an actual tour of the haunted areas of the ship, so it was expectedly cheesy, but it was still fun. Since most of it was low-lit and I have abysmal night vision, I probably missed a few things.

At one point, they told us about a crewman who was playing chicken back and forth between an automatic door and got cut in half. I turned to Ken and, sotto voce, asked, “Does that mean he haunts two rooms at the same time?” Hee.

After that, we went across the way to the Aquarium of the Pacific, because, you know, they have otters! They have moon jellies and crystal jellies and weedy sea dragons and leafy sea dragons and otters! We managed to hit the otter feeding time and I just about asploded from the cuteness. (I want to do their behind-the-scenes otter experience next year, which includes feeding the otters.)

Lots and lots of squee, but I also got tired (stupid cold) and had to sit for a bit. The Aquarium of the Pacific has astonishingly uncomfortable benches that don’t seem to have been constructed for human beings. If you try to lean back, you pretty much sliiiiide right off them. Since it was a Saturday, the place was swarming, although we were highly amused by the barely walking toddler wearing an AC/DC t-shirt.

Full of oceanic goodness, we made our way back to Manhattan Beach (with me being geeky and taking pictures of the Goodyear blimp on the way) and met up with a bunch of our Styxfan peeps for a birthday dinner of sorts: Nanci, Lenny, Monk, Cindi, Sheri, Karin, Fran, and Thom. Nanci, Lenny, and Monk brought me presents even though they weren’t supposed to, and others brought cards, and I was just happy to spend time with my friends.

I’d randomly picked a restaurant using the powers of the GPS on my iPhone, and although the deli was small, the portions were big and mouthwatering. I had a roast beef and brie panini (nomnomnom), Ken had a big salad (he let me steal his goat cheese), and we split some seasoned fries with a cajun mayo type dipping sauce. Then the waitress brought me birthday dessert! Some kind of cookie/brownie thing drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauces and topped with whipped cream. I forced everybody to eat some, because I was already stuffed. But it was goooood.

Then it was back down the street for another night at Pancho’s, where we met Louis and Angela. Tyla and her mom and brother showed up for a short time as did Tani and Johnny, and Maria joined us, too. Ken and I split up and sat at different tables for different views, which confused Taylor (who ended up sitting at Ken’s table). Between the second and third sets, Ken brought in ginormous cupcakes from Costco, which I attempted to foist off on all my friends, and then on any drunk person I could make eye contact with. When they asked what the occasion was and I said my birthday, many strangers felt it was then appropriate to wish me a happy birthday and hug me. I’d had several glasses of wine, so I had no problem with that.

(Sheri got a great photo of me and cupcakes, but I can't figure out how to link to it on her Facebook page. Grr.)

The band once again rocked, and Taylor’s guest vocals on two songs were gorgeous, and Jimmy, the lead singer, announced it was my and another patron’s birthday, although almost nobody heard him. Ken got his timpani mallets signed, which was very cool.

At one point late in the evening, I’d turned to say something to Nanci, and suddenly there was a Todd drumstick wedged in the crook of my elbow. Apparently it had slipped out of his hand, because others saw him turn and look at Koko and laugh. All I knew was that I’d gotten a birthday drumstick! Whee!

We headed home after that, arriving at 3 a.m., and got about four hours’ sleep because we had to get up bright and early the next day for…

Birthday, Part I

So, my birthday weekend. A quick note before I start: Click on any of the pictures in these entries and you’ll be taken to the full set on my Flickr site.

Now, on to the festivities!


Since we were spreading my birthday over several days, Ken spread my presents over several days. Friday morning I awoke to a promo photo of Lawrence circa 1985 (Strange Animal era)—rock that mullet!

We went down the coast (gorgeous, with the sun sparkling on the water, but no dolphins—did they not get the memo that it was my birthday weekend?) to Santa Monica. I’d had a light tea at The Tudor House before, and I’m happy to say that their full afternoon tea was also excellent: finger sandwiches (natch), salad, scones with proper Devon cream (heaven!) and jam, and petit fours. We opted for a Yorkshire tea blend that was just lovely.

We took a picture in front of the British mailbox in the store, but you can’t see it…

We also browsed in the store, but didn’t buy anything—I like to patronize our local British shop in Ventura whenever I can.

After that, we strolled around Santa Monica hand-in-hand in the sunshine. We needed new cover screens for our iPhones, so we went to the Apple store, where the Most! Enthusiastic! Employee! Ever! checked us out. (He high-fived me when I said it was my birthday weekend.)

We hit some traffic heading further south, but got to the Queen Mary with no problem. I’d been on her once before, about four and a half years ago, for a cocktail party, so I hadn’t really seen much of her. Our room was surprisingly spacious, and they did a great job upgrading while keeping most of the Art Deco d├ęcor. Can’t say I was impressed by the obviously modern bedspread and curtains, though—not only were they completely and utterly wrong, they clashed with each other.

For example, they kept the original bathtub knobs, which include options for hot and cold sea water. Sadly, they no longer work. Why would someone want to bathe in hot sea water? Wouldn’t one just then be sticky?

After a shower and fluff-and-buff, we were back on the road to Pancho’s, where Styx’s drummer Todd Sucherman would be playing with local band Day After Daze. We met up with Sheri, Karin, Nanci, Lenny, Monk (Nanci and Lenny’s child, a little stuffed monkey), Cindi, Todd, and Angie, and later Fran and Thom. (I’m terrified that I’m forgetting someone…) We ate yummy Mexican food in the bar (I had a shrimp and crab quesadilla) while waiting (and waiting, and waiting…) for the band. (We got there early to get tables up front, but the band didn’t go on ‘til 10 p.m.)

Between sets I had the chance to say hello to Taylor Mills, Todd’s wife, and get her CD signed. Alas, although I took a picture of her and Sheri with Sheri’s camera, I didn’t get a picture of Taylor and myself! Next time…. She’s a sweetheart and we had a great time chatting.

Amusingly, when I popped on to Facebook to update my status, I saw that my newest “friend” was The Fabulous Koko Powell, Day After Daze’s bassist! I told him that later and he high-fived me. (It was a high-five kind of weekend.)

The band finished up around 2 a.m. and we scooted back to the Queen Mary and crashed hard, because we had a busy day ahead of us…

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Renaissance Faire 2009

The pin on my shoulder is my birthday present from Morgana and Brian.  :-)

Heh. Oops.

I really was loopy on Friday, because I posted my good/bad entry w/o finishing it, and my Spells jar paragraph made no sense because I have one! I’ve updated the entry, so you can read the whole thing now…

Later I will update about Ren Faire (some fun pictures, too!) and the Forever Vinyl show, but that should happen after I finish my birthday update, which should happen after I get some work done today. So. Off with me.