Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mystery Solved

About a year ago I was visiting DC and spotted a version of this poster on some random telephone pole or sign post around 14th and P Streets, NW.

There was no information, no web site, no words, so I had no idea who or what it was about. I posted it here and hoped someone would see it and tell me what it was. No one did. Until today. Thank you so much D.O. for spotting this article in Smithsonian Magazine and actually remembering my quest! Mystery finally solved.

Artuaré - Steven M. Cummings - on display at the Anacostia Community Museum through April 29.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Please Don't Touch the Dear

Best find at today's visit to the swap meet. So many things to say about this.

Lady, you don't need to worry about me touching it. Touching the "dear." The dear deer.

And you want want for this? $120? Seriously? Yes, it is a deer head, but it was pretty beat up and in bad shape. That poor dead deer (dear) deserved a better showing than shoved into a ratty box with water damage in the back on one of your tables.

I am sure she is a lovely lady, the one who was selling it...but this was bizarre.

Sky Village Swap Meet, Yucca Valley, CA

I went to the Sky Village Swap Meet in Yucca Valley today - for the first time. Finally! I have been dying to go to this since I first started coming out here with my husband, but we never seemed to be able to make it there. A swap meet for those of you who aren't familiar with this term is a flea market. I've only heard this term used out west, but apparently it is used in Australia too. The Yucca Valley swap meet is held every Saturday and Sunday from 6 am to 2 pm at the former Sky Drive-in Theater. What a kooky wonderful place! Those who live around here know about this place as its been running for many, many years. Hippies, artists, hipsters, old timers, desert rats, tourists - all come together for some socializing, people watching and bargain hunting.

Photo: Sky Village Swap Meet
I get the feeling that you can probably find just about anything there if you visit frequently. There is a lot of junk, but you can find some hidden gems.  It was fun to look through the record albums - it was like taking a step back to my early teen years and I spotted many familiar names and faces on the covers. Had I been in a different mood, I might have bought some. Some arts and crafts people set up to sell their work. Check out High Desert Test Sites - a group of local artists. Some of the vendors have been there for a long time and have permanent spaces set up in little shacks and structures - like a little old village. They've just completed a rock and crystal cave that you can check out. You can get food. Someone had puppies for sale that were absolutely adorable. Someone was playing live music. My husband got to see old friends (he used to sell things here many years ago), and I got to meet the sweet, funny owner - Bob Carr (see photo below-I don't know the woman). It was a great day. If you find yourself in the area, check it out. Go for the people watching and to soak in the general vibe of this area. 7028 Theater Road, just off Highway 247, Yucca Valley, CA.

Owner Bob Carr on the right. I do not know who that is on the left. Photo from the swap meet website.

Desert Wildlife

I am in Yucca Valley today where at 7 am its already 55 degrees F and it will get up to the high 60s later today. The weather is often fantastic like this at this time of the year. Clear blue skies, sunny, 60s.

We are in a rental house for the week, down here to work on the home we are building. You can find a lot of houses to rent out this way - they get a lot of tourists in from Europe and LA. Keep that in mind if you plan to visit the Joshua Tree/Mojave Desert area. We stayed in this house over New Years weekend and decided we would stay here again. It is more convenient than a hotel - we have lots of space, a fully equipped kitchen where we can prepare our own food, a great porch. Its a great little house, close to downtown Yucca for a quick errand run, but far enough out to be silent and peaceful. No views of neighbor houses, and surrounded by juniper trees and other desert foliage.

I've been up since 5 am - just couldn't sleep. I watched the sun rise. I watched the huge jack rabbits, tiny antelope squirrels, doves, bluejays, quail and other unknown birds that seem to surround this little house - all very active in the first morning light. The owners of this house put out bird seed that attracts them and these desert creatures are fun and beautiful to watch. The ground squirrels are adorable. The jack rabbits are huge and everywhere.

Mojave Desert Wildlife Photos - I've not been quick enough yet to capture the fast little critters with my own camera.
Huge ears!
And the quail...I just love quail. We have a large group of quail that live between our yard and those of our neighbors back in Salt Lake City. The pack of them migrate from yard to yard at different times of the day. We have a bird feeder and scatter feed in our back yard so they always visit us later in the afternoons. I watch them from my home office window. I've counted 20 sometimes. Have you ever watched quail? They are very silly. They poke around like chickens. They dig out holes and sit in them, I suppose to clean and cool themselves off with the dirt. When frightened they scurry away by foot, rarely taking to the air. The little feathers on their heads always bobbing away. The babies will follow their parents single file in a line, and they are adorable. We've been fortunate to have many baby sitings in our yard.

Not a high res image, but better than the quail photos I've managed to get.

Our friends saw some deer out back of this house when we were here in December. I've yet to see them around here. You can hear coyotes a lot at night - yet I've yet to hear them because I usually sleep too soundly. The owner tells us a mountain lion and bobcat have both been spotted in the area - they've found footprints in the yard. I so want to see them - from a safe distance.
I like that we will have all of this kind of wildlife surrounding our house when we move out here. I am a little freaked out about scorpions and tarantulas although people tell me they rarely see them. I know they like to hide under rocks and in their burrows so they really aren't interested in messing around with people. I just don't want to find one in my bed one day. Or in the shower. Or a closet floor. Or a dresser drawer. Or in between the couch cushions. Or my shoe. We will be building things very securely to risk this kind of situation. Yesterday I was reading that the most likely time to see tarantulas is in September and October when the males migrate to find mates. Rarely, but it can happen, they will migrate in large groups. Can you imagine seeing hundreds or thousands of them crawling along? I am intrigued by this and kind of want to see that at some point in my life. However preferably not in my yard.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Latest from the Scipio Gas Station Petting Zoo

The last few trips to the desert we didn't stop at one of my favorite Byway sweet spots - the Scipio gas station petting zoo. If you follow my blog you've heard me rave about this place before and you've seen the photos. A lot of people want to know about it - many people come to my blog looking for information about the place. We first discovered this gem in September 2010. Every time we would make the drive from SLC south on Route 15 towards St. George - every few months - we would stop here to check out the animals. The last time we visited was in September last year and we were happy to see the new baby zebra.

Today we finally stopped, and as usual, the place delivered. We got a beautiful site - the gang all together grazing in the afternoon coolness. This place always makes me happy. Be sure to make this a Scenic Byway stop over if you are passing through. Happy travels.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dentists and Fish Tanks

If you live in the Salt Lake City/Park City, Utah area, I have a fabulous dentist recommendation - Dr. Paul Innis. The staff are great, they play classic rock on satellite radio, and he has a sweet fish tank in the office. :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Loss of a Friend

It has been a hell of a month and I've been on a blogging hiatus. I was sick for a week, then I had an insanely busy week of work in DC, then hours after arriving home I had to make the terrible, tough decision to euthanize my 17-year old cat. That was a week ago yesterday. I spent the first few days after in a cloud - depressed, crying, unable to do much of anything. Then the work week started and it was again an insanely busy week, forcing me out of my funk, at least to focus on work. That was probably a good thing as it took my mind off of my loss. I lost my motivation for awhile to write or talk about anything personal, only having the energy to work and then crash on the couch to watch mindless television. Apologies to my friends who haven't heard from me. I am slowly crawling out of my shell and am looking forward to reconnecting.

To those of you who have lost pets - I share your pain. I always have, but now I have this first hand experience...and wow. Nothing prepares you. I've watched my parents and friends lose pets and you see how hard it is and you feel it, but nothing prepares you for it finally happening to you. My Mr. Kitty was my first pet as an adult. He wasn't a family pet, he was completely my responsibility. I found him as an adorable fuzzy kitten from a shelter in Ithaca, New York during graduate school and I took care of him until last week - for 17 years. 17 years! That cat was with me through so many moves, jobs, homes, house mates, boyfriends/husbands and life changes and experiences. He helped me survive those life changes, tough times and heartaches including disease, divorce, death and so on. That cat kept me going. He came into my life in my 20s and has left in my 40s. No one has coexisted with me in my day to day life as long as him. 17 years. I have always felt a connection with animals and the pets in my life, but I had a special bond with him. It will never be replaced.

One of the last photos taken of my little friend.
He suffered from diabetes for the past 5+ years. We had several near death experiences, but he survived. Almost a year ago he was on death's doorstep, but he had a miraculous turn around which was amazing. I am so grateful I got that extra year. The problem is you start to forget that it won't last forever. It feels like his decline came so quickly. Just weeks ago things seemed normal. But when I think about it I realize that his decline had been happening for quite some time. We sometimes don't notice the changes because they are subtle and we are surrounded by them every day. He was in decline. He wasn't in pain or suffering, but his organs were shutting down. He was old and he was living with diabetes for many years. I swore that I would never abandon him and I would be with him until the end. Which is why I was there when we took him to the vet, holding him as the doctor put him to sleep. The second after it happened, I was in shock and just about slipping over that dark edge into hysteria, feeling like I might simultaneously pass out and throw up. Not only are you losing your pet - this member of your family- but you are playing God and choosing to end that creature's life. When that shot goes in, they die in seconds. And there you sit holding the lifeless body of this being that you love. The motives are good of course - to keep him from a painful death, but it is still brutal. It was horrible. I don't know that I would advise it for others to be there. But I had to be there with him, holding him and giving him whatever comfort I could through it all. Because I had made that commitment.

I thank the universe for the brave and skilled veterinarians and staff at animal hospitals who take this on. I can't imagine having to regularly do what we went through. We had a fabulous animal hospital (AVC) and a fabulous vet who had been helping us with his health problems and emergencies since we arrived. We had a fabulous vet who performed the euthanasia. I am so grateful to them.

I am so grateful for the 17 years I was given with this creature. It wasn't always easy (chewed computer cords, endless litter box cleaning, ruined furniture and carpets, aggressive behavior towards guests, teary drives to the emergency room, lots of $ for medical care and cat sitting to name a few), but overall he made my life more fun and full of love. I have so many good memories and beautiful photos. I take some comfort in the fact that I can pull up in my memory everything about him - his face, his eyes, his expressions, every inch of that body that I bathed and petted, his purr, his antics, his routines. He was a beautiful, unique creature and he was my baby. He will always be with me. Here are just a few photos and memories...

He loved to roll around outside in the sun.
He loved to hang out on the edge of the bathtub when I would bathe. He loved to drink water from the faucet and hang out in the shower. I bathed him, much to other's amusement. If you start them as a kitten, they get used to it.
He would keep me company in my home office during work days, lounging on my papers and folders, often in his classic belly rubbing pose. 
Later in life he developed an obsession with ice water. Every time we would run the ice machine in the fridge, he would come running and demand that we give him ice water. He wouldn't drink water without it. 
This is how I remember him most from the past years living here in SLC - always sitting in the middle of the kitchen. This memory makes it hard to be in my kitchen now without him there. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Washington DC - In and Out

I wrote this in the morning but didn't have time to post it until now...

My Scenic Byway...back in Washington, DC. Sigh. I do miss this place. Oh there are plenty of things I do not miss (the traffic for one), and I love being out in Salt Lake City, but this place is so familiar - it was home for 20 years. Even though I've been gone coming up on 2 years, it doesn't feel that way. I am sitting in friends' home in Woodley Park looking out the windows and - I miss the buildings and the types of houses, the way the streets look, the vegetation...everyone hustling about. I still miss getting and reading the Washington Post in the mornings. Reading the news on line is just not the same. I miss my friends and the wide web of people I was connected with here, most of whom I won't even be able to see during this trip as I am here for work, with one of those very DC, very insane, overbooked schedules of meetings all day long every day followed by business dinners. Having arrived last night I have a brief respite here before the insanity begins.

When I lived here I often felt like I was at the center of the Universe. Many people do here. Washington has a way of doing that to you. The bubble effect. Life here is such a way that you start to forget that its different in other parts of the country. Of course you know it is, but you don't really know it until you leave. Knowing it while you live here and then knowing it when you've left and live somewhere else - its different. 

Now I am this outsider - a former resident looking back in, and it does feel different. But these streets! I know these streets. Twenty years spent walking and driving and learning the ways. Its all burned into my being. And memories flood here, there and everywhere as I drove to my destination last night driving along the patch I would walk between home and work, and spotting the places I used to work and shop and eat and hang. All the memories I have on these streets, matched by similar yet unique ones from thousands of others before and after me. Such a vibrant, passionate, intense city full of young, bright people seeking themselves and their dreams. I was one of them once. It gives me a warm feeling when I look out on this place.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Amazing Utah

I've been going through my photo library to find some compelling images to post on my tumblr page which is a companion to My Scenic Byway, but photos only. I have so many photos and they are very disorganized. I need about a week to clean up my library and I have no idea if I will ever get to it. In the meantime my collection just keeps growing. I can't fit it on my computer any more. Anyway, I found some images from drives around southern Utah that I think are beautiful and I thought I would share them. The sky/cloud play out here is just insane! Perhaps they will inspire you to come and visit our beautiful state. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Whoa Partner!

Found this hanging in the bathroom at the Armagosa Opera House/Hotel in Death Valley Junction. We visited it in December on our way to Death Valley. It is probably the creepiest hotel I've ever been in. I can't believe its operating and people actually stay there. It was used in David Lynch's movie Lost Highway. My husband lived in Death Valley Junction for awhile back in the early 90s when the hotel wasn't operating. The owner used to let him shower there and he would have to walk through the long, dark hallway avoiding the scorpions. I've got a post coming up soon about this very weird place...

The Squirrel and the Monkey

I call this one "I am Trapped Inside and Life's Not Fair."

This is my little cat Monkey being tormented by a squirrel that likes to leap from the edge of our house onto our bird feeder. Stupid squirrel. Happy Wednesday!