Friday, April 27, 2007

Doing the Macarena

There was a sound of heavy footsteps thumping up our front stairs and Roger and I whipped our heads in that direction, simultaneously saying “Who could that be?” Fortunately, we’ve yet to become those kind of isolationists who stare at a ringing phone saying “I’m not expecting a call are you” but give us time, we obviously have potential. It was our mailman, but that wasn’t readily apparent. In Topanga, mailmen don’t wear uniforms and they don’t drive mail trucks and they leave your mail at the end of the driveway in a US Postal Service approved mailbox. FedEx and UPS drivers haul themselves up our stairs but this time it was our mailman carrying this large (like 9” square) parchment (paper not calfskin) invitation. Foreign stamps (Spanish) and an elegantly inked address on the front and of such apparent import that we had to sign for it. “Hmmmmm,” we both said. And then, rather than just opening the invitation, we guessed what it was all about. We’re like that sometimes. “Maria Carmen’s getting married,” I guessed. “Bet it’s Macarena,” Roger said. For the record, it’s Macarena, and she’s getting married in Sevilla and Roger has never been busier at work but we both immediately started thinking of ways to make the trip possible. I love that in him. He’s not all about why things won’t work, but how they could work (when it comes to traveling).

Just last week Roger and I were talking about the bride’s father, Paco (Francisco) who’s an old friend of the hubs. I don’t know his age, exactly, but I’ve always thought of him as being a lot older…not quite one foot in the grave but inching in that direction. He’s married to a fabulous woman, easily 20 years his junior. Okay, that probably makes Paco in his 70s. Maybe even mid 70s. Sadly, that doesn't sound as old as it did 10 years ago. Anyway, Paco's English is pretty good but has its limitations and last Christmas when we were retrieving some messages on voicemail, there was one from Paco. I swear this is what it said. "Roger, Linda, Merry Christmas. Maria's dead. Happy New Year. Bye." Needless to say Roger called him immediately and it turns out that Maria is, in fact, quite alive, but her 90-year old father was quite dead. We listened to Paco's message a few times and not once did we hear the word father or papa or dad or daddy. He said Maria's dead. So sometimes he forgets the odd word. The odd key word. Anyway, Roer was chattering about how he'd really like to go and see Paco now rather than for his funeral. I looked at him like I always do when he talks like that and said, "Okay, let's go." We'd made no further plans, though, and when the invitation arrived we both decided why not.

So, after much jiggling and futzing with Virgin Atlantic online I managed to snag a couple of upgraded tickets for 'Miles plus Money' and now all I need to do is let Paco and Maria know we're coming, book a hotel in Sevilla, let my Mum in England know we're coming, let Roger's sister in Wales know we're coming, let Kim and Jenny in Llandewi Velfry (also Wales) know we're headed their way, get some plane tickets from Gatwick to Sevilla, book some rental cars, get some thoughtie gifts and practice my non-existant Spanish on the CDs I bought Roger for his birthday.¡Yay! ¡Vamos el día de fiesta!

Monday, April 23, 2007

My Footprint is Way Too Big

If everyone consumed as much as Americans, how many planets would we need?
. America's rate of consumption is so high that if the whole world consumed like America we would need three planets to sustain us.

What percentage of the world's forests have we lost in the last 300 years?
50%. Experts also believe we've lost 1/2 of our wetlands and grasslands.

What percentage of the world's population lives on less than $2 a day?
50%. A 2001 survey by the world bank showed that 1.1 BILLION people lived on less than $1 a day.

How much of the world's habitable space is owned by religions?
7-8%. I hope they're sharing.

In a 1997 survey, the value of services provided by nature was 30 TRILLION dollars. Is that higher or lower than the GDP of the US?
Higher. The GDP of the US in 2005 was $12.5 trillion. Wow, nature is 2 1/2 times more valuable than a year of productivity. Nature's services include water filtration, water supply, air filtration and pollination.

How much rainforest is the Amazon losing each year?
16,000 square miles or an area about equal to the land mass of Switzerland.

What do scientists predict will be the world's population in 2050?
8 to 10 billion. BILLION. Some experts believe that 500 million is a sustainable population level. You know what a billion is?
$1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00 +1,000,000.00

By weight, which animal is the most abundant on earth?
Krill...these are crustaceans. That's another reason why our oceans are important.

Rainforests contain what percentage of the earth's plants and animals?
50% And the rainforest covers only 3% of the earth's surface. Hmm, I guess the rainforest is very important in the scheme of things.

What will happen if CO2 levels continue to rise?
According to some estimates, in 2050 CO2 levels may be as high as when the earth was 300 feet higher. If sea levels rise along with CO2 concentration, the effect would be devastating. Ten percent of the earth's population lives in coastal areas within 32 feet of sea level.

This was a test on ecology. I only got three right.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Martin Sims Speaks Out. Who? Martin Sims, that's who

I can't settle. I feel jumpy and uncomfortable. Why? Besides the massacre at VA Tech and besides the fact that NBC aired a madman's diatribe when the parents and family of all the slain students and professors were still trying to fathom that their children/sons/daughters/husbands/wives were not coming home for dinner or the summer break, I get a comment like the following. Not that many people read my blog and even fewer comment, so when I do get a comment, from a stranger, you can be damned sure that it's because there has been some sophisticated internet sweep of blogs and once those anti-gun blogs have been identified, then there are many 'Martin Sims' who respond. And guess what...this is what it's like on the Hill. Such reasoned, sane people yammering on with such reasoned, sane words. Bullshit, 'Martin Sims'. You're full of dangerous bullshit.

Martin Sims said...

We could be talking about the need to get tougher on domestic violence, or about how to better identify mental illnesses that could result in the injury or death of innocent people. We could be talking about a general alarm system that could be implemented campus-wide to immediately alert the staff and student body in such emergencies so that the people being directly affected would know to either hunker down and bar themselves in or evacuate the campus. We could be talking about making such large and public institutions prepare a link to any video/audio monitoring equipement so that police can immediately see or hear who, what, where and as a result be better able to respond to intruders exhibiting deadly intent.

Blaming guns will not prevent this type of crime from happening again. Just as blaming the car would not prevent a drunk driver from getting behind the wheel again. We need to have a honest look at practical measures that will allow for rapid alert and effective response on all school campuses in our country.

My reponse to Martin Sims:

Martin Sims. I'd like to be able to respond directly to you, but I can't. Because clicking on martin sims takes me nowhere, furthering my belief that your words have been spoonfed to you by the NRA. They are so 'reasoned' and so 'balanced' in tone, but the's still nuts. You people don't get it, do you? Whoever thought the day would come when you couldn't smoke just about anywhere? It didn't happen overnight. It took decades. Just like it will take decades before it's impossible to stroll into your local Walmart and pick up a Glock handgun. Just like it will take decades before every state in this union is on the same page in understanding there is a direct correlation between HANDGUN sales and wholesale murder. Martin, as reasonable as your words sound, the message is so flawed and so very, very wrong. The NRA has the blood of a lot of innocent Americans on its hands and why this country doesn't strip that organization and all their lobbyists of their tinpot power is beyond me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Gun Control '07

Where did that suicidal murderer purchase that Glock 9 mm pistol and why is it so easy to purchase such a weapon? Let me get one thing straight. I eat meat. I am not opposed to hunting. I am in favor of gun control. Ever since Jim Brady was shot, I have supported the Brady Campaign to Limit Gun Violence. Just a check, just once a year. He was shot in 1981 and the Brady Bill wasn't passed until 1993 when Bill Clinton signed it into law. If you feel so inclined, and I would hope this horrific event at Va. Tech gives you a shove, click on the Jim Brady link and make a donation. And while you're at it, ponder the importance of the NRA in this country and ask yourself, "What the hell is that organization all about?" Click on their website cos I'm sure that pretty soon you can catch their 'spin' on the current horror.

I guess Columbine wasn't enough.

Monday, April 16, 2007


We flew home from JFK yesterday evening after a super, long weekend son fix. New York and much of the eastern seaboard was experiencing a nor'easter. Apparently, JFK was a mess and over 500 flights were grounded. Our flight was delayed only a couple of hours while we waited for our cabin crew to get in from Chicago. I thought I'd be posting some scarily exciting (with a happy ending) flight details but fortunately our JetBlue flight to Long Beach, while initially pretty bumpy, was uneventful. The car journey from Brooklyn to JFK was pretty thrilling, though, what with all the water-filled potholes and malfunctioning traffic lights, hydroplaning and general lack of visibility and pissedoffedness of the other motorists (we took Atlantic not the freeways) but our driver got us there more quickly than ever before...door to door in 45 minutes. No idea how. Not complaining.

My New York story will follow, but it basically involves overeating of excellent food, walking so much and so fast (just to keep up with son) that shinsplits are sure to follow and hours of good conversation. After climbing in and our of multiple subway stations, I deserve no weight gain. I haven't stepped on the scale quite yet.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Topanga, Easter '07

A cool weekend, thick marine layer burning off in late afternoon to sunshine and a few minutes of warmth before chill evening air. Perfection.

Easter eggs were hunted, bocci balls thrown, swings swung and too much eaten on Easter's Eve. Little Charlie and Bridget and Clark joined Jane, Matt, Lottie, Sophie and us here in the Canyon for a day of excess. The evening ended with the menfolk and little ones gathered around the chiminea roasting marshmellows to keep warm and further up their day's sugar consumption

Some pix.


Monday, April 02, 2007


My mother is 83 years old; a young 83. She rides her bike to the shops each day, volunteers to help the 'old dears' who enjoy playing whist (as she does) but can no longer see or hear that well and has the energy of a woman 30 years younger (and I am not even slightly exagerating). Here she is last autumn in her backyard in Eastbourne, England. She speaks beautifully and I only wish her hearing was half as good as it was when I was in my teens and trying to sneak in the house well past curfew. In the last year she and her husband, Lloyd, bought a computer. And then they were online. And then, I was getting emails from her. She has never typed in her life so every keystroke is painstakingly searched and pecked and her emails are true train of thoughts. She seems unaware of where full stops or commas are on the keyboard and just sends.

Yesterday she sent me this email (copied and pasted):

Hi Just phoned harold no answer no doubt he has taken Margaret for a ride the ewather is beautiful today I never ask about Yvonne Ido know Noel visits them he is such a kind person Bettie mae is a great person helps emeryone despite her handicap I like her her stepsons love her her first husband committed suicide she did not have an easy childhood look forward to pictures of the children Sally Rodneys wife is alovely person I know you would like her Cathy is so worried about her brother she cares about everyone all for now love to all Land L

Every person mentioned is a relative of mine. Some in England, some in North Carolina (my Dad was from NC and my Mum is English). After reading her emails I generally just sit and stare at the monitor for a few minutes and try and remember each person she's mentioned and how they fit into the family tree. Then, filled with questions, I fire back an email. Here's mine to her:

Hey Mum, Your typing is getting better and better. It was lovely hearing from Bettie Mae and I will be sure to keep up a correspondence with her. I so enjoyed her company when we were in NC (she is the one with the artificial leg, right?). Sometimes in my mind I get her confused with Shirley, but I remember that Shirley is the one who is raising her adopted son's children due to his addictions, right? Bettie Mae was Claiborn's daughter, right? But he didn't have much to do with her after he left her mother for that [very] young woman? Yvonne just annoys the hell out of me. Thank god Harold and Margaret have Noel in their lives. Have they come to terms with his sexual orientation yet? Just curious.

Love you loads and see you soon, L xoxoxo