fledge capable of flying, from Middle English flegge, from Old English -flycge; akin to Old High German flucki capable of flying,
Old English flEogan to fly -- more at FLY
intransitive verb, of a young bird : to acquire the feathers necessary for flight or independent activity

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Imma be a little late

What is this? What this is not is the costume we looked at on Ebay, decided was perfect, was only $50, purchased and arrived on time on Friday. Nope, it's not that. Not at all. Because the costume wasn't quite perfect. Wasn't quite Anna. ("Oh, that's okay, Mommy, I'll wear it...it's fine...really...no big deal..." Dang it, child! Don't look at me with those big brown eyes! I know it's not what we expected. I'm going! I'm going! I still have two days. We'll snip and clip and stitch and glue and improvise something that is totally Anna.)

What this is also not is last year's Halloween costume. This was last year's Halloween costume. Queen Bee with a beehive hairdo with lots of bees buzzing about.

Black fuzzy fur and yellow polyester!

(I'd only heard that Black Eyed Peas song "Imma Be" about three times. At three times, a Black Eyed Peas song is  really catchy, really fun. At five times a Black Eyed Peas song becomes nothing but irritating. "Imma be livin' that good life...Imma be livin' that good, good life..." I'm annoying myself...)

And a honey bear scepter.

Do not look to closely at this thing once it's done. And I better get back to work. How 'bout you?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thinking Peking

It's getting chilly near the shore these days, so we felt like some tea from China with a bit of orange blossom honey from Temecula. This is my "Peking duck," picked up in Peking. The little cheese board and cups are from the thrift store. The cheese board is just perfect for nesting this duck.

Like I've said before, there's no real way to know it this tea pot picked up at a Chinese flea market is a real antique or not. But Chinese flea markets are not the only ones good at a little fang gu. This painting is a "Lee Reynolds" work I picked up on Craigslist. While it is a real "Lee Reynolds" painting, it isn't. Lee Reynolds allowed his signature to be reproduced onto thousands of Vanguard Studios paintings in the 1970s. He painted a few by his own hand, but, well, what are the chances this was one of them? It's not fine art, but it's fine enough for me. Reynolds-schmendolds: This Craigslist treasure brought some fall color into the house.

Flea markets, the thrift store and Craigslist have been good to me!


First off, I kind of love this old bike outfitted with a seat on the back. That younger feller there rode this bike with one of the elderly gentleman on the back to this game of dominoes.

And I kind of love these milk containers. Very popular in China. And the porcelain mugs are recycled. Very efficient.

And "reminisce" is a funny word to me right now...spelled funny and stuff..."reminisce"...

Carry on!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mad Ma'am

Gettin' my groovy on on the back porch. 



I picked up this art at a very eclectic place a lot of artists frequent. Okay, it was the Salvation Army.

And this is true, I can't make this up: When I bought this lamp at the Salvation Army thrift store, the clerk wrapped it up in adult diapers. I guess she figured that anyone who would purchase this lamp would not be embarrassed by walking through the parking lot with a ball of adult diapers swinging on a chain.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This one's easy.

Sign the petition.


I'm looking a little bit beyond my shores today.

This petition is to intended to motivate CNN to report on an orphanage in Haiti, which is allegedly participating in human trafficking and harvesting of human organs from the children in their care. Trafficking of children. Organ harvesting from children. Hell on earth. The allegations come from mission workers, who have visited the orphanage.

Frankly, I do not use this blog to encourage much organized social action, because most times I cannot vouch for the many causes and charities I come across. There is a lot of bad being done in the name of good out there, so I am very cautious.

But this is simple: Children's Hope Chest isn't asking for your money. The organizers just want your signature to motivate CNN to investigate the situation at an orphanage in Port au Prince, Haiti. CNN should be savvy enough to recognize if this is a cruel hoax of some sort. And then CNN can shine their brutal investigative light on the organizers of this petition. In other words, if I were up to something shady, the last people I'd want to contact would be the folks at CNN. On the other hand, CNN would be the first people I'd think of who have the resources and reputation to shine some light on what appears to be a dangerous situation.

Perhaps the allegations are exaggerated. Perhaps they are entirely fabricated. But if there is even a one-in-a-million chance that even some of the allegations are true, then a little investigative attention from an international media organization might just help some children. And if CNN doesn't decide to grab their cameras and reporters on this one, perhaps maybe, just maybe, 10, 20, 100 or 10,000 more blog posts and Facebook links on the orphanage in question may motivate the operators of this orphanage to stop whatever abuses they may be condoning or in which they actively participate. If any.

I don't know the organizers personally, but someone I do know knows them personally. Andy Blank runs an IT company in San Diego and is an organizer of a local charitable soccer tournament. A stand-up citizen with a reputation at stake. Here is the email I received:

Good morning – This is Andy and I am writing this email to you as my friend - and I think you can help make a difference. This is not some gimmick or spam email.
I am writing you this quick and slightly impersonal email because there is an urgency to a dire situation that I am involved in.  Over the last 15 months I have been involved in an investigation into corruption at an orphanage in Haiti. The investigation has reached a boiling point and we are at a crossroads where the children lives are in danger. As a coalition of several organizations , we are reaching out to CNN to turn a spotlight on this horrible situation in an attempt to rescue about 75 children from becoming a victim of human/organ trafficking. 
These are kids that I KNOW and have spent time with – this is VERY personal to me.
Besides CNN we are reaching out to US politicians, major media outlets and people who could have influence in helping to free these children. Please let me know about any extremely influential contacts you have – we have prepared a packet of information that can be sent.
Children’s Hope Chest started this petition to get CNN involved with the story at Son of God orphanage to help us out. Please have EVERYONE you know sign this petition. It only takes a minute and I have posted the direct link to it below.

Here is more information and a link to the petition. 

So that's an easy one.

This one's not so easy, but worth a look: What is your slavery footprint? When you buy shoes or toys or clothes or a new cell phone, how are you to know if your purchase is the product of forced or debt-burdened labor?  Here is a Web site to roughly gauge how much slave labor has contributed to your lifestyle. Apparently, 30 slaves have worked for me, mostly in the mining of raw materials and manufacture of all these electronic gadgets. 3.2 slaves per smart phone? Ugh. I've benefitted from the labor of 7 more slaves than average. That can't be good. 

As we ramp up for the holiday season and we do the most amount of shopping we will all year, perhaps we can ask the question: "Say, GAP or Canon or Anthropologie or Pottery Barn, can you please tell me how much forced labor was involved in making this? It's important for me to know." It would be interesting to see if they can answer. Supposedly, there is a slavery footprint cell phone app that will allow the user to photograph an item and send a message to the manufacturer with an inquiry. I wonder if it's that easy.


Monday, October 10, 2011

And there'll be dancin'...dancin' in the streets!

...Dancin' in Chicago
Down in New Orleans
In New York City... 

...Philadelphia P.A., Baltimore and D.C now,
Can't forget the motor city, 
...Way down in L.A. ...
I don't know how Martha and every last Vandella forgot to mention Beijing, because dancing in the streets is something Beijingers know how to do.

I'm not entirely sure what this thing is. But it is magic.


It's comprised of blankets and wires and two wheels and cables and speakers and bungee cords and a car battery. And out of this thing comes music.


Or rather, Chinese pop music, which, face it, is just marginally music. Very catchy marginal music nonetheless. At any rate, this thing is magic because it makes people dance. Complete strangers of every age and every dancing ability walzing and tango-ing with one another. In broad daylight in a public park!





"Happy Friday." See? The writing on her t-shirt? "Happy Friday!"


Playa. That's all that comes to mind: He a playa, y'all.


Cinderella's stepsisters, maybe?


The magic spreads all over the alleé and protects the ladies' handbags, which they hang, unguarded in the surrounding trees.


If Chinese pop is not your thing, you are welcome to sing classical Chinese songs along to this gentleman's fiddle playing.


And this is the Catholic basilica in Beijing, the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception. The present building dates to 1904, but the foundations go back to the 1600s. It is the seat of the Bishop of China, chosen by the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church and approved by the Vatican. Usually, the Vatican prefers to choose their own bishops, but, well, you know, it's China, so, well, yeah, ulletenus (that's Latin for "whatever"). One immaculate concept that this particular church has is nightly line dancing. Again, the old, the young and anyone in between line dancing. I think it is a blessed thing indeed.

And this photo doesn't fit in, but well, I like it and it was taken the same night.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Thank you, Mr. Jobs.

Your vision for technology has improved my life and made many things possible for me.

You will be missed.

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

Yes, it is Great.

One highlight of our time in China was a bike ride and hike to the Great Wall (or "Long Wall" as the folks in China know it).

This wall is long, estimated to be about 5,000 miles/8,800 km long, including all the bits of trenches and piles of stones along the way (5,000 miles is the equivalent of driving from Los Angeles to Myrtle Beach and back). And it is not one wall, but a series of walls and other fortifications intended to keep out different nomadic raiders. We didn't run into any nomadic raiders, so I'd say the Great Wall works.

Since this wall is 5,000 miles long, there are about 5,000 places to visit this wall. We went to spot called "Gold Soup". I think it is the Jinshanling section mentioned in Lonely Planet. Very thankfully, it was rather lonely indeed that day. Except for one Singapore business man and two Dutch backpackers, we basically had these miles of the Great Wall completely to ourselves.

This bit of the Great Wall is very near a river with lots of fresh trout.

This family has a little house next to the river with their own trout pond. They supply fish to the little restaurants on the road. That was the very best meal of our whole trip: Trout pulled from the stream and cooked up with mushrooms, pepper leaves and whatever else. I have no idea. But very delicious.

Here, is one curious local saying hello to Anna.

Now this is different: This is a window at a little inn. The little door is a place in the wall directly beneath the bed. The innkeeper will place a warm coal in this little door to warm the bed on cold nights.

I have no idea what this says. But about ten feet away, sitting underneath a bush is an ancient little old mountain lady wielding a wicked-looking farm tool. We paid her ten kaui, just a few cents really, to pass. Maybe she keeps the raiding Mongols out. She's done a good job, so she is certainly due her money.


A beaten path off the beaten path.

Perhaps part of the reason this part of the Great Wall is lonely, is that you need to cross this bridge.

Fire crackers to scare away the evil spirits! The Chinese invented gun powder, so their fire crackers are pretty potent. And we didn't encounter any ill-willed spirits, so all's good!

Great Wall grafitti. And I'm still thinking about, too...

Jack's "The One" (think Matrix).

Great mystery: They sky in Beijing and the environs is ... well ... different. Upon approach to the Beijing airport, I looked out the window and couldn't see Beijing through the cloud (?) cover. As we descended, I kept waiting to see an outline of, well, anything. I was completely taken by surprise by the sudden thud of terra firma under the gear. And I was still waiting to see something, anything, my first "thing" in China. Aha! There: some kind of tower structure. And the airport itself? Maybe we are on some really distant runway. No? Oh, it's right there. Okay, so it's fog? No, not fog: It was about 85 degrees out. Is it smog? I live in Los Angeles: I know smog. Smog is a grey, grimey layer that hovers over downtown. There is a top to it and sort of even a bottom. You can get above the smog. This milky white hazy stuff is not like that. Our entire time we were there, almost a month, except in the morning as it rose, we never saw the sun. It was sunny, but there was no sun. It was hot, but shade was not present. Fog? Smog? Haze? What is this stuff? Pollution? Really? In gloppy clouds that you can photograph miles out into the countryside? (I know what you're thinking--"Nancy, clean your stupid lens"--but the lens is clean (or clean enough). Some new kind of sky, I suppose.


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