Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Killing Bugs!

Ugly things, crawling in places where living creatures shouldn't be able to cling, moving faster than I can with a shoe in my hand! I hate bugs! Have since I was a kid. I'm scared of them too. One of the earliest home movies Dad took was one where my younger sister ferociously killed a bug with a raggedy Andy doll, and then taught me how to do it, with much bashing of the doll on the hapless corpse of the spider unfortunate enough to meet up with her. I think we were 2 and 4 at the time.

Being bigger than the bug doesn't help. When I was a little bit older I was in a downstairs half bath and out from behind the toilet crawls a tarantula. My feet came off the ground. I cried out for Mom to no effect. I was trapped in there until it crawled to the other side of the small room and I was able to leap from my feet upon the toilet seat perch to the step in front of the doorway and escape. I'm sure I then ran to tell mother, but somehow that image fades into vagueness while the crawling of the very large spider along the wall is as vivid today as it was when I experienced it.

Killing bugs is daunting. They seem to want to live really badly and are hardy enough that sometimes you have to kill them more than once. There are several cans of bug spray, of various strengths and for various species, in my cleaning cupboard. In a pinch a can of hair spray will do the trick. But the flying bugs are the worst. They not only avoid the spray with lightning speed, they fly right at you in the process making you run squealing for cover. It usually takes a few moments to gather ones courage when a bug has flown at you nearly ending up, Eek!, in your hair. Shudder! After your nerves are no longer in flight mode and you've gathered your courage together, along with a weapon bigger and nastier than the previous one, you creep out of the adjoining room to try again. No woman in her right mind wants bugs in her home.

So you can imagine my dismay to discover that roaches seem to like my boys' litter box. The youngest is often found in the early morning hours sitting intensely focused in front of it waiting for the roach to reappear. This morning it had escaped Hooboo to make its way into the bathtub. So there I was watching this ugly, medium sized, brown thing with legs I knew all too well from magnified pictures, scuttling around the bottom of my tub. Fortunately it didn't seem to be able to get up the sides. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for me (it didn't get out), Hooboo seemed to not want to get into the tub to chase it. When I tried to put him in there to take care of his bug destruction duties he jumped right back out and snuggled up to my ankle purring. So it was up to me and I didn't feel armed enough with a wad of paper in my hand. I went and got a shoe that 1) I didn't intend to wear today (Eew! Bug slime!), and 2) was way much bigger than the bug! Bam! Bam, bam! It took me two attempts to manage to smash the thing and I made sure the laces were gathered in to give it nothing to suddenly scurry up towards my descending hand. Finally, SPLAT! It was blessedly and thoroughly squashed! I was safe to gather it in some toilet paper and flush it into the sewer system. Whew! Now I just need to disinfect the bathtub and find something with a healthy residual effect to spray around the litter pan. I hate bugs!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Misc. Bits

It's been nice to be busy this past week. Work is interesting and going well. I'm working a field test so details can't be shared but it is Math and the grades I'm on are 5 though 7. Each question is under development so they get created and then given to a sampling of students before they are put into an actual test. It takes a long time for test questions to be developed to the point of test inclusion. This is one of the reasons the education system doesn't have enough money to hire teachers. Tons of it is going to pay for the proof that they are doing their jobs, these high stakes tests.

This past weekend Hooboo managed to get himself into a fight and got his ear chomped through. There is a hole all the way through although it is healing. But over the three days before I realized it needed attention it developed an infection. When I looked at it on Tuesday it was weepy with stuff that turned scabby and was a little bit pink when I washed his ear out with ear cleaner. Uck! Yesterday evening I ran to the store and picked up hydrogen peroxide and some antibiotic ointment. With a treatment yesterday and again this morning it is looking better. The swelling is going down and the heat is gone. Whew! Thank goodness for kittens fast metabolisms.

Life has gotten really busy for me at church. Normally I'd think you couldn't do too much at church, but I may have been wrong. I added in choir as an activity about 3 weeks ago and while I love it I'm having to give up some of my adult education time. I'm already a Lay Minister and on Altar Guild, so the first Sunday I sang I was at both services since I was serving at the early service and singing at the late. This past Sunday I was singing at the late service and had altar guild duties afterward. Did I mention we are having a really good Sunday school class on spirituality and how to return to its center? I hate leaving early to warm up but I can't let the choir down. This Sunday two of those serving areas want me to help out by manning a table during our ministry fair which we are holding to try to increase the number of people contributing time to church service. I'm trying to decide if I want to attend early service to visit with my friend Kathy and keep in touch with what is going on there (because I'm also signed up for verger training and knowing how things are supposed to go is the main responsibility there). So when am I supposed to be at home and calling Mom? She sits by the phone waiting for those calls that I make with love every Sunday! And why did I pick up choir? Because it's fun and I wanted some socializing other than just on Sunday's. And I'm getting that! I get to sit next to Paschal's wife Tina most practices and Sunday's and when Betty comes back from traveling I will get to sit next to her too. Last night Marise, who I know but don't spend much time talking to, offered to sit next to me so that I'd have a strong singer to follow, I'm singing alto and haven't followed sheet music in over 30 years. I was delighted! It made things so much easier! And how nice of her! :)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

An Alice in Wonderland Night

First Fridays in the King Williams historical district of San Antonio are a wonderful mix of glorious architecture, live music, and art galleries open till late. Last night my friends Jean and Wilma took me to this street fair. We had a ball and intend to go again.

Dinner was at the Mad Hatter's Tearoom which, as it's name implies, is straight out of "Alice in Wonderland". The food is eclectic, very good, and reasonably priced. My choice was half a turkey sandwich with spinach, tomatoes, chipotle cream cheese, and pickled onion, accompanied by a cup of chicken florentine soup. Once seated I started looking around and brought out the camera. I asked my friends if people in the area were okay with people taking pictures all the time and upon being reassured started taking pictures of everything that caught my eye. And I could have taken more. This is just the bare bones of this fantastic place.

This picture, taken from the inside, shows the window sign and happy hour banner. There are fresh flowers on all the tables and you can tell from the cars parked outside that things are starting to get lively. Finding parking on this night is hard to do, but we were lucky to find one right in front of an old house where the driveway had been moved. I guess the lack of a curb had fooled some folk. Not our Wilma.

This is the hallway to their secondary room. I liked the way this row of windows provides light and a good view of everyone who was walking by outside. Before we finished eating there was a steady stream of folk walking past.

On the front left you see an amplifier being set up for live music later in the evening. The performers were coming in one by one while we dined. Our evening of wandering took in the main street and then came back for refreshments and to sit and listen to the group. The dessert Wilma and I shared was decadent. It looked like some kind of layered cheese cake concoction. There was creamy coconut filling at the top, a lovely cake like chocolate crust and when you bit into the cheese, ohmygosh, it was filled with those dark liqueur like cherries that made you think of cherry cordial candies.

Remember how in Wonderland, every cup at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party was different? And you picked your place to sit at by the type of cup you wanted? The same held true here. Some of these cups are quite nice. It had me wondering how long it took them to collect all these different ones. There was a very large selection of teas to choose from too. Trying some of them will be one of my goals the next time we visit.

Jean pointed out the sign for take out shown here. "I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date!" the rabbit cried. He kept looking at his pocket watch and running down the trail till he jumped down a rabbit hole. And Alice followed him down the hole. Not here...she got take out and left to wander the streets.

Jean also pointed out these shelves and this very large economy sized cup up at the cash register. She's got a great eye for detail. She is the one who took this picture, and I think she did a good job of it. My view was obstructed by flowers and the place was so crowded that handing her the camera was a better choice than getting up and moving around.

This is the performance area where the quartet was setting up. The pictures on the wall caught my eye and made for an interesting background when they were performing later. There were no for sale signs, so I think these belonged to the restaurant.

Stopping to wash our hands on the way out we encountered the waiting lounge, and the feelings of gracious comfort were extended there as well. The seating room was fitted with several chairs, a table or two, and lots of whimsy. Waiting my turn, I couldn't resist taking pictures of all the bits and pieces that make up the flavor of this place. It's absolutely amazing how much detail went into this lovely little restaurant.

Here's the Mad Hatter himself. I loved the way he's dressed and it is a very child attractive doll, as you can tell from the missing fingers on his left hand and the bandage on his foot. Because it has porcelain hands, I'm guessing this is an antique and hope it wasn't damaged beyond keeping its value.

There was a built in curio cabinet with some fragile items enclosed in wooden cubbyholes and protected by glass. These two cats are shaped teapots.

Above a set of bookshelves I saw this fantastic sight. That cup has to be bigger than my upper torso. "Will you have one lump or two," asked the Hatter?

"Two please," said Alice.

Here's what the well read tea lover would have in their library. Notice the title of the book on the right? All of us chuckled over that one. I'm delighted with the way this picture turned out. You can clearly read every title on the spines and I was thrilled to notice that a Harry Potter book was among the selections.

This other cup was above the curio cabinet in the corner. And there was another one just like it in the opposite corner.

As we were getting ready to head out the door this painting caught my eye. Thanks to some details of her work, which San graciously shared with me, my attention to detail in art has improved and I noticed that this was in 3D. My curiosity peaked I got closer. The colors are varied, dappled, and intense. I like the way the location of the eyes are defined by the the white surrounding the iris.

Trying to get a better defined image showing the three dimensional nature of this painting I took this angled shot. I'm don't think it caught the bas-relief effect of the facial features as I'd hoped, but it does show the window which opens your view to the next room, see that small chair top in the lower corner of the window, and from there out the window behind it into the outdoors. While the front of the restaurant looks business enough like, the layout seems to be more like a Victorian style house with lots of windows looking every which way and into different rooms.

Learning from San, I took a couple of details hoping to show you the amount of work and creativity that went into this painting. Here's the eye because that iris defined by a single curve of white struck me as a very creative way to do them.

And here is the mouth. From a distance the lips look pursed to me, but close up they look puckered. While the overall expression of the face doesn't make me think of romance, more a pensive, sly kind of look, the lips in close up give the image of a mouth getting ready for a kiss.

Then we left. And while I had my camera in my pocket, with every intent of taking tons of pictures, I was just too nervous about dropping it and we were doing almost non stop walking and looking in the middle of a crowd. So I didn't take any more photos. My plan is to try to do better the next time we go, because I fully intend to go back again!