Monday, May 29, 2017

Da Boyz Are Two!!

Happy 2nd Birthday to my sweet dudes!!

Two years ago today, Sir Archibald Winston and Sir Poppington Neville were born to a mama cat somewhere...and a few weeks later, they were sealed into a Rubbermaid bin full of winter coats and five additional kittens, and unceremoniously, anonymously dumped on a warm June day at the sanctuary for Animal Friends Connection.

Thing is, they were dumped outside of a rarely-used door. It was pure luck that the seven tiny kittens inside were found. It was traumatic for the people who found them. All seven kittens had fleas, sores, and upper respiratory infections. One, Angel, succumbed to the URI. She had been taken into a foster home with Archie and Popcorn, while the other four went to another foster home.

Archie bottom left, Popcorn bottom right.

Archie (top), Angel, Popcorn

The original find. Angel was buried under the coats
and was found during a double-check later.

Tiny, woebegone Archie.

Tiny, woebegone Popcorn.

Despite this rough beginning, the other kittens survived, thrived and found homes...but alas, these sweet brothers were barely a year into their new life when they were returned. Marian took a chance and sent a picture of them to me just when I was in the market for a bonded pair. I'd been looking for kittens, but something about the two faces staring at me from my phone was irresistible. A week later, I was driving to Lodi to pick them up.

It's been just shy of six months, but I feel like they've always been mine. I adore these boys and their sweet personalities, their kittenish souls, and their rumbling purrs. Every day, they greet me at the front door after a long day at work, and I'm left smiling, a puddle of Meg Goo as I drop all of my stuff on the floor to give priority to cuddling with my boys for a few minutes before the evening chores take over.

Gone are the tiny, weakened kittens that were dumped like garbage, and in their place are two handsome, healthy cats with glossy coats, muscular frames, and bright eyes. They love their Tuna Time, their catnip mice, and the top tier of their cat tree. They love watching the noisy blue jay that keeps coming to yell at us, wrestling with each other, and washing each others' faces. And most of all, they love being near me, whether we're all on the couch together, or sleeping on my bed at night.

Happy Birthday, my dear Doodlebugs. Here's to many, many more.

White legs = Archie. Orange legs = Popcorn, and he's also
slightly bigger. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The First Rule of Lifting

On Tuesday, I stopped by my gym on the way home from work, ready to get my badass on. My list for the day included three sets of landmine dead lifts. The landmine bar is a 45-pound bar that is fastened to a lever on the floor at one end. The other end is for lifting. I placed a 35-pound plate on it. It's not my heaviest dead lift, but it had been a while and I didn't want to hurt myself.

I had just started my first set when an older white guy walked past me and started setting up in the corner. I didn't pay attention to him other than to briefly take notice of someone walking by me. Well, I didn't pay attention to him until he walked up to me, pointed his index and middle fingers at his eyes, and then pointed upward while looking right at me.

One of the most basic rules of gym and lifting etiquette is Thou Shall Not Interrupt The Lifter Mid-Set.

I ignored him.

Everyone I've told this story to gets absolutely incensed that this dude walked right up to me while I was lifting. It's not even that his advice was silly, at best, but that he interrupted me while I was concentrating on my form.

When I finished my set, he tried again. "You should look up when you lift," he started. "You see, when--"

I finally looked at him. "I didn't ask for advice, thank you."

"Well soh-reeee!!"

I ignored him.

I have seen people at my gym do some remarkably weird-looking exercises, and I'm not entirely sure these exercises have any real merit when it comes to muscle-building and/or fat-burning. But here's the thing--we're all there to get our workout in and how people choose to do that is up to them. I would never dream of interrupting someone unless I saw them doing something with form that could seriously injure them--and even then, I'd likely find a trainer and tell them so they can intervene.

But to walk right up to someone mid-lift and try to engage them in conversation? So rude.

And by the way he spoke to me, I'm convinced of two things: 1) He believed Little Lady would appreciate Wise Old Man offering his wisdom (she doesn't, and his "wisdom" was unfounded because I was focused on my form already and where my eyes were looking was not going to help or hinder it), and 2) He would never walk up to a male gym-goer he doesn't know and do the same thing. He'd wait.

I watched him a little through the rest of my workout. While I finished two more sets of dead lifts and moved on to a complex that included clean squat thrusts, lunges, and bench presses with a barbell, he stood around adjusting his weight lifting belt and gloves, loudly calling out to people he seemed to know, and then standing around chatting with some guy. In the entire half hour of my workout, I didn't see him do one lift.

At least I know he won't bother me again.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

To Phoenix...and Beyond! Part Four

Okay, I'm finally blogging the last part of my trip to Phoenix...a month ago. What can I say? I'm a busy lady.

My last day in Phoenix was, of course, sunny and warm. I woke up early-ish (about 7:00), but got suck watching a live stream on Facebook of April the Giraffe. I was lucky enough to open up the video just in time to see the baby fall to the ground, and spent the next hour watching until he got up.

By the time I went downstairs, to sheepishly tell Summer and Ben why I was so late getting up (they totally understood), it was warm out, but I was determined to get a run in. I slathered on a ton of SPF 50 and went out for a 5K around the neighborhood.

After the run, I took some more cactus pictures.

The plan had always been to have a leisurely morning after our whirlwind Sedona-Flagstaff-Grand Canyon adventure, so after showers and breakfast, we figured we'd visit the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.


Seriously, the museum is amazing. I asked a docent if they'd mind transplanting it to Sacramento so I can take my students to it.

Just walking into the place, I was like, "HELL YES."

The museum has every possible world instrument you could dream of seeing, sorted by country and continent. There are great videos on loop at each exhibit, showing the instruments in authentic cultural use, as well as traditional dances, costumes, and other costumes. You are given a set of headphones when you pay your entrance fee, and as you approach each video, the sound comes to you...but they don't overlap, so you're not overwhelmed.

I took a ton of pictures to show my students.

The Octobasse was really that much taller than me.

Balofone, from Africa

Mbira (thumb piano). I was so excited to see these
instruments up close and personal.
 In addition to instruments, some displays had traditional costumes and other artifacts.

Turns out the bagpipe isn't just traditional to Ireland and
Scotland. This was from an Asian country.

Puppet Theater

Indian Sitar. I am going to look into the possibility of having
a local Indian musician come to my school next year. 

When I saw the full Balinese Gamelan set-up, I nearly swooned.

Part of the gamelan

Shadow puppets

Pan flutes from Peru.
 I was delighted to see the display of recycled instruments from the Landfillharmonic in Paraguay. It's important to recognize that music is often not made with sophisticated, expensive instruments, but with what is on hand--hence the hollowed reeds that make pan-pipes, or the many world percussion instruments made of dried-out, hollowed gourds.

So many drums.

Little bit o' Scottish pride going on.

I have a lot of students from Romania, Moldova, Russia, and
other Baltic countries.

We could have happily stayed at the museum for a whole day. There's so much to see that we were both overwhelmed--in a good way. Next time I visit Summer, I'm going to insist we go back. I barely touched on the North American and European rooms.

Summer and I have a tradition of having ice cream--good ice cream, and we had found Mary Coyle's on Google and decided to try it out. We were not disappointed. I had Cookies & Cream (a favorite) and Salted Caramel Pecan.

And then it was time to head towards Sky Harbor, where we got briefly lost before finding the drop-off for Southwest Airlines. I had the most expensive cheap dinner ever (something like six bucks for the "snack" below) and went on a long hike in search of a few more post cards for my brother.

Finally, it was time to board.

Sky Harbor has great carpet. 
I took two pictures out the window as we flew away from Phoenix, and two more as we flew in to Sacramento to a lovely California sunset. 

Home again, home again!
It was a great trip--Summer and I have great adventures, but this was definitely one of our best. We saw so many interesting places. I really appreciate the beauty of the Southwest--it's a beauty unlike anything I've experienced in California.