Thursday, October 30, 2008

Day 305: Caged Ghoul and Exploding Pipelines

Unfortunately, these Halloween decorations are really not mine, so I don't get to take credit for them. Somebody seems to be channeling Stephen King!

I wonder what would happen if this little guy got loose!

And about the ongoing saga of my potentially exploding house:

Yesterday, a reporter came to my door, and I found out that actually, it IS 1300 homes! (That could be a lot of debris flying into the air!)

I'm such a push-over, but the reporter was about the age of my kids, and begged me to agree to be interviewed on the air to say what I felt about this.

So I was on TV last night, and I said that I felt not only afraid, but angry that Xcel Energy knew about this since 1999 and has not yet replaced the gas lines. But they're also not willing to tell us specifically which houses could be affected, or what the true level of risk is. I also objected that we were being treated like "collateral damage." They also interviewed the city fire chief. He said we should "just use common sense and not panic. . . and if we smell gas, should call Xcel." Yeah. The family in Fargo that got blown up smelled gas. . . and things didn't exactly turn out well for them!

The reporter told me that they're going to continue to research the details and would get back to us. At least with 1300 rather than 13, there's more potential for people to band together to exert some power.

It was really hard for me to be on TV. I felt the content of what I said was just fine; but I have a neurological condition, abductor spasmodic dysphonia, kind of like Robert F. Kennedy Jr, only his is aductor spasmodic dysphonia. Some of my words have gaps in them. . . like words with h's in them. . . like the word "house." So speaking on this issue in front of a camera. . . was embarassing. Oh well. . . I guess people have all kinds of accents and we figure out a way to deal with this with each other, so what I have to say could be important, even if it's not smooth and polished.

ETA: After much debate, I decided to include the link to this TV interview. If you cut and paste it into your browser, you'll get to see me live, and on my very own front steps. Darn! Wish I'd put pumpkins on the front steps!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Day 304: It's Another Day in the Neighborhood!

ETA: These photos bear no relationship whatsoever to the issue about my neighborhood and exploding houses, discussed yesterday!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Day 303: Angela's Scream,Wella Color 411 & Exploding Houses

Wella Color 411 (medium brown) in my hair, hiding the grey. . .

My husband came into the living room, while I had this in my hair, saw my camera and remote set up, and said, "You're really brave."

But what the heck? It's Halloween!

But now here's a REAL reason for a real scream: I got a phone call today from the local tv station, asking for me by name, asking if I wanted to be interviewed live regarding my living in a house on my street that had the defective gas lines "like the house that exploded in Fargo had."

What??????????????????? I went into survival-mode, plumbed for information, hearing that Excel energy was not telling which houses specifically might explode, the houses on my block that had been built between 1970 and '73 had defective materials in the gas lines which were now corroding, causing gas leaks, that could. . well. . . expode! The caller asked if I wanted to talk about how I felt. I declined, saying that until that very moment, I hadn't known about this, wasn't being kept up at night thinking my house could explode at any minute, and was going to instead get off the phone, call my gas and insurance companies.

The gas company "handled" me, is about all I can say. The guy stumbled about and said that basically he didn't know if MY house would explode (although he hoped none would), but that they were hoping to have all the gas lines replaced by 2010. 2010!!!!

Now THIS is the stuff nightmares are made of!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Day 302: Ghouls Among Us

Just some of my fun-loving neighbors:

Which version do you like better?

OK, and now I'm going to include my husband's REALLY BAD JOKE for the night:
I just killed this little gnat that's been flying around for several days, evading me. But it fell onto my NEW, pink, computer keyboard, and I complained about it. My husband said, "Well, you can send the laptop back to Dell and complain there's a bug in the system. . . "

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Day 301: End of the Beet Campaign

I wanted to get some photos of the beet trucks traveling through town, preferably crossing the bridge, and at sunset. This turned out to be harder than I thought, and it shouldn't have been!

Today was the end of what is known as the "beet campaign"; an army of trucks transport the sugar beets, 24 hours a day, to the processing plant, American Crystal, in East Grand Forks, where these big, ugly, beets are turned into sugar. For days, these trucks take over the roads, sliming them, and I always tried to be wary of the beets that might fly out at my windshield, or one of the very sleep-deprived drivers swerving suddenly. It's a hard-worked way of life in this community and today was the end of it for the season. It generally ends very abruptly, not necessarily because all the beets have been harvested, but because the plants are at capacity, and the temperature has changed. The temperature of harvesting is critical, or that sweetness you'd expect from sugar, won't be there.

Anyway, with such an army, a photo should have been easy. But not for a novice like me! I sat at the bottom of bridges. . . that were the wrong angles for the sunsets. And I started too late, so the army was no longer an endless processing but a slow trickle of stragglers.

I watched the "whens" of sunset (with my little gadget above the weather pixie), but there surpisingly few sunsets that I could head out. And those crucial moments between the perfect sunset, a truck passing, and adequate lighting, were rarer than I expected.

And I got cold. Just when I'd give up, and go sit in my car, two or three trucks in a row would pass faster than I could jump out and get in position again! So here are a few attempts this year, and I'm forewarned now for next year!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Day 300: A Cemetery in Mexico

Thought I'd be on theme tonight by posting a few photos from a cemetery in Mexico.

Brian, Dianna and I saw these last May when we were there. They don't seem to have the "scariness" (or the gloom) of a US cemetery.

My Perfect Husband

This is my 4th layout for the Type + Writer class. I used the words that Doug said to me a few months ago. The photos are from our recent balloon ride in Napa Valley. Doug has just climbed out of the balloon basket in the top photo, and the bottom left photo is while we are up in the air.

Weeds and Wildflowers Loving You papers; Jessica Sprague Type + Writer template; fonts: Jane Austen, Fertigo Pro, Parma Petit

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Day 297: Halloween is creeping upon us, And a Duh! Moment

Already, just in the two days since I took this photo, the trees have shed all their leaves. It rained and was dreary today. . . the winter is insinuating itself into our lives already! Just look at the numbers my little weather pixie is already registering!

And the pumpkins are gone too! Our church pumpkin patch only has 40 pumpkins left to sell. Doug and I won't be working the pumpkin patch that Saturday, because they'll likely all be gone by then.

And here's my "Duh!" moment! I was wondering why my left hand has been hurting. Scott's been asking me to send him my photos from our trip together and I've been trying to do the editing of them, the changing them from RAW files to jpegs. . . and I finally tried to get a count of how many were left to do. A count of just the first day of the trip! I have 203 photos left to edit from the first day alone! So THAT's why my hand hurts! And no wonder I needed to by more 2 GB cards in the middle of our trip!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Day 296: Pumpkins! And Weird Gourd Things!

It's that time of year! Sugar-crazed children! Gory lawn decor!

But my favorite part is all the weird movies running on TV, especially Stephen King movies.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Day 295: Saying Goodbye

Now came a very hard part of our trip: Saying goodbye to Scott. He had us bringing him to an alley in what is known as the Mission area of San Francisco. A very nice alley, I thought.

Or maybe it's not an alley, but the front? I couldn't figure it out, but there were these really cool sunflowers planted about in small little spaces.

With inspiring signs and quotes. I KNOW Pat will agree with me, but I could swear, even with my limited botanical knowledge, that this is a sunflower and not an apple tree!

And Scott, whom I'm sure loves us dearly, probably felt it was time for us to go, already, (and cease and desist with the photography!) after the wonderful 8 days we got to spend together. We made our way back to Grand Forks, via Minneapolis. Scott made his way to his naval assignment inVirginia Beach, Virginia after a few more days in San Francisco with friends. It's just wonderful, though, having him back in the US, with Verizon connection to us!

Thank you, everyone, for the nice comments on all the photos, and coming along photographically, on this trip with us! I'm going to have to shift my lens now to what's available to me locally. Maybe I'll head out to that buffalo farm and catch a photo of the buffalo with a nice, fall sunset in the background. . . I haven't pestered them in awhile, and they haven't managed to move far away from me!

PS. I just got my November issue of Atlantic Monthly, scanned through it, and noticed an article on blogging. The author says "As you read a log, you have the curious sense of moving backward in time as you move forward in pages--the opposite of a book." And "Logs require a letting-go of narrative because they do not allow for a knowledge of the ending."

Huh. It's true. When I think back to what I wrote here in January, February, I had no clue, other than the broad strokes, of what would come about in my life in the year to come, the things that would sparkle to the surface that I'd want to put on my blog.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Day 294: Last Night of the Seattle/SF Extravaganza Trip

Just outside Ghiradelli were these ships. I thought it looked like a painting! I might have walked closer to get a more tightly framed photo or two, but I was pretty tired of walking, and extremely cold! I was really wishing I'd at least brought a jacket or sweater with me!

In fact, we were all freezing, so we headed off to a nearby Macy's, prompted no doubt by my whining, and searched for jackets that wouldn't cost a fortune. I really like the jacket Scott ended up getting and Doug and I were mainly focused on "warm" and "cheap." When did basic sweatshirt type jackets start costing $70?

Scott's "list" next directed us to the Gold Dust lounge.

We basically zoned out in our own little worlds; Scott with his Blackberry, me with my camera and eavesdropping on the nearby patrons, and Doug tuned into a sports update.

Wish I'd combed my hair a bit before I let Scott get a photo of bedraggled me.

For the trolley, we stood in a long line about the size of our city before turning blue and giving up. We decided it would be not much more to pay for a taxi than the cost of 3 trolley fares, to get to the downtown area and closer to the BART station. (Especially if you factor in 3 funerals for frozen people.)

And taxi drivers are. . . strange. I say that with all due respect, having been one once when I needed to learn to drive. I can't help but wonder about mental status exams, listening to the drivers, laughing, talking in non-sequitars, and discussing what the other drivers on the road are about to do to them, and the things they've seen over the years. But mostly I was just very happy to be sitting down, not cold, and not driving on the mountain roads (with the taxi driver.)

This is how tired we were: after we got back to the hotel, we realized we'd never eaten dinner. And didn't want to. (Remember Ghiradelli's? That might as well be dinner!)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Day 293: The Chocolate-Lover's Dream Stop

Now was a stop that I could get really excited about!

I really regret, though, not taking a picture of the incredibly chocolatey Sundae that we each ordered! Highly gooey, caloric, most likely extremely bad for us . . . but I rationalized that we were walking off piles of calories, thanks to our Drill-Sergeant Tour-Guide Scott!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Day 291 Fisherman's Wharf

After Alcatraz, we headed to Fisherman's Wharf. What's a visit to San Francisco without seeing Fisherman's Wharf?

And I could have looked at these noisy fellows all day long! They just crack me up!

My family was very much "on the move", so I didn't get a good chance to get the perfect positioning of a cable car, but I liked this one well enough.

Scott was trying to track down an apartment to move into, and was becoming quite familiar with his new Blackberry as we walked along.

We ate at the famous Aliotos . . . overpriced, cranky waiters, not particularly good food . . . . but a great view of the Bay, and we got to sit down!

Scott's guidebook next sent us off to Jack's, some kind of microbrewery with lots of beer, or something like that. I was holding out for the next stop. . . .

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Day 290: Alcatraz & last vacation day

These photos are from Friday, the last day of our vacation. I thought I could post all of the photos from the last day at once. . . . but what was I thinking????!!!! So I'm breaking the photos down into a few sections. . . and not as many sections as there were for Thursday, the Endless Day! (I actually filled three 2 GB cards on this trip!)

We took the ferry to Alcatraz. . . a pretty predictable touristy thing to do. But actually, I was quite impressed with the National Park Service! What a way to capitalize on the National Park Service--take an old prison, call it part of the park system, and charge admission!

I liked Crater Lake's accommodations much better than this!

Here you can see Golden Gate bridge in the background. What a way to add to the misery of prison life. . . glimpses of a beautiful city, but you're trapped on a cold, inhospitable, rock-prison!

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Day 289: And the end of the day, at last!

Oh, Scott was not done with us yet, oh no! Next we passed (and note the emphasis on "passed") this adult bookstore, which, by the way, had a back-to-school discount for teachers.

Then we stopped at this coffee shop, in which the part of the screenplay for "The Godfather" was supposedly drafted.

And we NEEDED that caffeine, because Scott had us climbing and climbing, for blocks, to get to the top of a hill to overlook the Bay. I gave up, got this photo, (and it was beautiful) but wished I had a tripod with me.

Scott SPRINTED the rest of the way to the top of the hill.

And then we realized that we had only 30 minutes to make it back to the BART station, and back to our stop at San Bruno, in order for the shuttle to pick us up at 11:30 pm to bring us back to our hotel. Thank God it was downhill. . . all 20 blocks! We tried to get a cab to pick us up, but no luck. . . Scott finally took pity on us elderly middle-aged, exhausted parents, and apologized the whole 20 blocks for NEARLY KILLING US ON VACATION!!!!!

But my shutter finger was still operative!