Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sunday afternoon on the patio


I live in the suburbs, but there is a lot of undeveloped land in the area.   I was reading out on the patio where I could enjoy the cool autumn air and watch the birds. 

The thrasher was preventing the quail from dining at the bird block.  I had never seen it get aggressive before. It is about half the size of the quail, but the quail yielded to it.  Maybe they were intimidated by that long, curved beak.

Angel lay on the cement, staring at the block wall,  keeping watch for the squirrel. The first time she went to chase it, Peanut waylaid her, blocking her way with a snarl for no apparent reason.  The squirrel got away, as always. 

The hummingbird stopped to feed frequently, wings whirring.  I don't know if it was the 'owner' of the feeder or the intruder.  Periodically, one hummingbird chased another through the acacia tree, past the side of the house, looping and diving.

The squirrel came back, running across the top of the block wall.  Angel and Peanut tore after the squirrel, scaring the thrasher away, briefly, and the quail got a couple nibbles in.

An orange and black butterfly flitted across the yard and into the acacia tree. A gecko sunned itself, clinging to the vertical surface of the wall, escaping into the gaps in the blocks when frightened.  A grasshopper or locust buzzed and hopped across the lawn as a cloud of white flies danced over the grass.

A light breezed swayed the wind chimes, the deep clang of the sun moon chime counterpointed by the light ting of. the pipe chime.  The shirts hanging on the line rocked in the breeze, hangers twisting back and forth.

There is a rustle from under the china berry. A towhee scratches at fallen leaves, looking for sustenance. Its activity attracts the attention of the sparrows. Four or five hop around near the towhee.

The quail alternate standing on the block wall and pecking at the seed block ..It's hard to tell whether everyone is getting a turn at the block.  Sparrows hop in between the quail, pecking quickly at the block, before hopping away again.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I don't understand bullying

I don't understand the psychology of bullying.  Why would someone take pleasure in harming another person physically or mentally?  How do people become so cruel, so young?  (Or at all, actually)

I don't know if bullying has gotten worse or if I just didn't notice it growing up.  I was only the victim of a bully once and I didn't even recognize it for bullying until years later.

I didn't fit in with the typical cliques in high school.  I wasn't into sports and I wasn't popular.  If there was a smart club, I didn't know about it.  Though not a stoner, I hung out with the stoners and the other outsiders.   I used to dress in tattered jeans and an army jacket.  I sat on the floor in the hall during breaks and embroidered designs on jeans.

You would think all that would be fodder for verbal abuse, but people basically left me alone.  

But one day a girl in a group of girls made snide comments about the fringe on my jacket and the fringe on my boots.  I remember being more puzzled than concerned.  I mean, I barely knew her.  Why did she feel the need to comment?  My friends told me to just ignore her.

I ignored her next couple comments, not even acknowledging them.  So she escalated.  She threatened to beat me up.  Now that got my attention.  I had never been in a fight except with my brothers.  And you aren't really trying to harm each other in those. Not really.

My friend stepped in front of me and told her if she started anything it would be with both of us.  The girl turned on her heel and she and her entourage left.  And I was not beaten up, nor was I bothered for the rest of my high school years.

Maybe my good fortune was in having friends to stand with me.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's not just an old car to me.

Tuesday I got caught in a hail storm not more than 2 minutes after I left the underground parking at work.  I've never been out in a hailstorm before and it's one scary experience.

There wasn't anywhere to go to be sheltered.  My one goal was to drive out of the storm.  This was made more difficult by a couple of different idiots that stopped right in the middle of the road.  The experts say not to stop for sand storms and snow storms.  Surely it applies to hail storms as well?  I was able to switch lanes in both cases, although I did fishtail on the hail stones a little.

Every hail stone that hit my poor car made me flinch.  I waited for the windshield to break.  The carnage only lasted a couple minutes before it devolved into rain.  I drove home convincing myself that the damage wasn't bad and I would be able to live with it.

But when I got out of the car and looked at the damage, I was appalled.  There were 60 or 70 small dents on the hood, roof, and trunk. Further examination revealed a broken sidelight and dings in every horizontal surface of my car.

She's not new, my car, not even close.  She's a 1999 Mazda.  But I've taken good care of her through the years.  She is mechanically sound.  She gets 35 miles to the gallon.  And I don't have a car payment. 
People seemed to think I would be thrilled to have a reason to get a new car.  They were surprised that I wanted to keep her.  Why wouldn't I want to replace a 12 year old car?

Have I mentioned the no car payment situation?  I thought so.

At least the insurance adjuster didn't blink.  The damages were more than my car was worth, so they wouldn't fix it.  He cut me a check for a little more than the blue book value and sent me on my way.

Now I am trying home remedies for getting dents out of cars.  (By the way, the compressed air method didn't work for me.)  If none of that works, my choices are: live with it, fix what can be fixed for the insurance money, turn my car into an art project and emphasize the dents.

At this moment, none of the options is to get a new car.  Have I mentioned the no car payment thing?  I thought so.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

City of Mesa - Efficient Hazardous Waste Collection

I was bowled over by the efficiency of the Household Hazardous Waste Collection event held In Mesa today. 

I got a recent reminder of the event, in perfect time to plan to participate.  You know, not too late that you can't gather up your stuff.  But not so early that you forget by the time the day arrives.  And I had really been wanting to clean up my garage.

So I boxed up 10 years worth of leftover cans of paint and spray paint.  Add to that, chemicals like brake fluid, Scotchguard, cleaners, etc.that had been in the garage for years subjected to temperatures guaranteed to break down the formulas.  I filled up my trunk with boxes of the discards. 

I have never participated in an event like this and didn't know what to expect.   The event started at 8, or so the web site said.  I arrived at the location at 7:48 and was dismayed to find 40 or 50 cars ahead of me. 

I was expecting a very, very long wait.

To my surprise, the line was already moving, and cars were already leaving.  The line moved steadily to the drop-off point.  By 8, I was only about 15 cars back.  The lanes were clearly marked.  There were spotters at key points.  And there was a horde of employees emptying vehicles.  The whole process worked with clockwork efficiency.

My trunk was completely empty by 8:10 and I was on my way home, happy and feeling quite smug about disposing of my household waste responsibly.