Friday, July 27, 2007

Spider Pig, Spider Pig, does whatever a Spider Pig does

Okay, I can't be the only one that is excited about the new Simpsons movie can I....can I??? Well, I am. My niece told me months ago that she couldn't think of anyone she'd rather see the movie with than her Aunt Possumlady. I'm so proud!

Sorry for the lack of posts, but Harry Potter has me in a death-eaters grip to finish the book, hopefully this weekend.

Until then, in the immortal words of Nelson Muntz

"Smell ya later"

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Home from Puerto Rico

Hi all, well I'm back from Puerto Rico and am SOOOO happy the board meeting is done and over with. Got back late Wednesday night but am still tired and wanted to do nothing for a few days. Am up to posting a few photos today though. Puerto Rico was as expected, hot and humid, with rain and storms most every night. It was a tropical paradise though and the people were incredibly warm and gracious. Tropical islands are just not my thing (yes, I am weird), but I'd go back to Puerto Rico in the winter. The flights are not expensive and even though you are technically in the U.S., you do feel like you are in a foreign country (except for being able to eat the fruits and veggies and drink their water, a big plus!!). I also became addicted to their local coconut yogurt! I had it every morning and I added crushed pecans and a half a banana to it. I'm sending Dannon and Yoplait an email plea for them to make coconut yogurt.

Let me show you the view from my room





This is the San Geronimo fort, photo taken from my balcony



Another photo taken from my balcony of the coastline

Last Sunday I arranged a reception for around 70 people. This included our governing board and staff and the folks from our Puerto Rico affiliate, along with some dignitaries from the Dept. of Education in Puerto Rico. Our affiliate had two surprises for us at the reception. One was a small band playing local music--

Then, they had a local folk dance troupe consisting of high school kids to dance for us. They were absolutely amazing. The professionalism and showmanship of these dancers was just topnotch. First, they danced their spanish heritage



After about 20 minutes of dancing (in 95 degree heat with 95 percent humidity), they left. They came back after about 5 minutes now dressed and dancing their african heritage






Then, after almost an hour of non-stop dancing, the troupe left and the band kept playing. The head of our PR affiliate dragged my boss up to dance. Now, my boss is a tall runner, in pretty decent shape. I never thought of him as a dancer though. My hunch was right ;-)



That's all for now. Tomorrow a few more photos of our last dinner together. (What happens in Puerto Rico, stays in Puerto Rico--at least that is what some of the folks told me as I was snapping pictures saying they were going in my blog. I told them not to worry as I only use first names!!)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

8 Things about Me!

I was tagged by Nina at Natureremains for the 8 things about me meme. You are then supposed to write 8 things about yourself and then tag 8 other bloggers. Problem is, I don't know 8 other bloggers that read my blog!! The few that do have already been tagged so I will just tag the newest blogger, Cat59. Tag, you're it! Or, actually, you're next!

8 Things about Possumlady....

1. I moved out to DC from Minnesota in 1982 to work for my senator from Minnesota. Coming from a fairly conservative family, I thought of myself as a moderate to liberal Republican. Being my first ever time away from home, after I had worked on the Hill for a few months I realized that all the things that I felt strongly about were “gasp” democratic issues. So, then I thought I was a conservative to moderate Democrat. Now, I’m a bleeding heart liberal. Though, in my neighborhood, I think I still would be considered conservative!

2. Two friends, who do not know one another, at different times, have mentioned that if reincarnation exists, they would want to come back as one of my pets!

3. I like to sing. I was in a women’s choir (Triple Trio) in high school that won a number of awards. I also played Lady Thiang, the head wife in The King and I in high school where I had two solos (if you know the musical, one solo was Something Wonderful).

4. Keeping the theme of music, you have heard of someone with a photographic memory? I have always felt I had a “stereophonic” memory. I can hear a song once and it’s embedded in my brain forever. For example, a couple of years ago I was watching a program on TV. A commercial came on and the background music sounded so familiar. By the end of the commercial I knew it was from the movie Midnight Cowboy (and no, it wasn’t the popular Everybodies Talkin). I had seen the movie once in a high school religion class. I then checked Amazon.com and started playing the sample tracks of the soundtrack and found it! My mom said I was tapping out commercial tunes on our piano when I was 3 years old.

5. I had two lifetime dream vacations and I have taken them both! The first was a safari to eastern Africa in 1996 spending two weeks in Tanzania visiting the Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge (where the bones of Lucy were found), Lake Manyara, Tarangire, and of course the Serengeti. Then, I spent 4 days in Kenya, on the other side of the Serengeti--the Masai Mara. I remember fondly reading West with the Night in bed at night with an oil lamp in my tent listening to the soft rain and the not so soft pitter patter of monkeys on the tent roof. My second dream vacation was a trip to Churchill in northern Manitoba Canada in October of 2005 to see the annual polar bear migration to the Hudson Bay.

6. Speaking of dreams, I have celebrity dating dreams! Although I’m sad to say I haven’t had one in quite a while. I’ve “dated” William Holden, Mick Jagger, Mikail Barishnikov, Gregory Peck (he had a diamond in his front tooth!). Then, I’m embarrassed to say I also dream-dated former DC mayor Marion Barry and ex-Senator Jesse Helms!! (Any analysts out there?)

7. I’m double-jointed in my fingers, wrists and knees. I haven’t checked out my toes yet! (Okay, it looks like I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel here. I just need one more……

8. Oh, I’m a very passionate person. As two friends of mine say pretty regularly, you are just so PASSIONATE about so many different issues! I think my number one issue though is animal welfare. I feel so strongly that we humans need to treat other species humanely and with respect. I’ll close with a poem called The Animals Savior. The original was written by Jim Willis but I’ve added a bit for more meaning for myself.

“I watch all the emaciated strays in my neighborhood darting nervously between the houses in search of food, a safe place to sleep, or a kind word. I look at all the caged animals at the shelter…..all the cast-offs of human society. I see in their eyes love and hope, fear and dread, sadness and betrayal, and I was overwhelmed with sadness. “God,” I said, “this is terrible! Why don’t you do something?” God was silent for a moment and then spoke softly, “But, I have done something…I created you.””

Monday, July 9, 2007

A Mexican Standoff and visits from friends

According to Wikipedia,

A Mexican standoff is a stalemate or impasse, a confrontation that neither side can seemingly win.

We have been blessed with some wonderful weather this summer. Unfortunately, we are paying for it right now with highs near 100 until Wednesday. But, when the weather is nice all the windows get opened. Even though there are more windows open then cats that can lay in them, two of my cats--Sweet Pea and Woody always seem to vie for the same window. I see it time and time again. They both jump up to the window at the same time, then they sit there heads down, butting each other. Usually without sound but sometimes with a growl here and there until someone gives and jumps down. It happened last week when it dawned on me to get my camera. But, by the time I had it turned on and focused, they got interested in what I was doing, hence the photo below:



Apu, sittng below them can't be bothered with those types of shenanigans and does his best to ignore them. Do you want to see who won?



SWEET PEA! With Apu continuing to ignore it all.


Now, onto my visitors. One of my "baby" jays came by to visit yesterday. Actually he was trying to steal some dry cat kibble on the porch:

href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_tjoewjPzC08/RpK9we3EVhI/AAAAAAAAAPY/irvQmEdxsGE/s1600-h/100_0538.JPG">

Oh, and does anyone know what this little guy is? I tried photographing it from many angles and from inside and outside the storm door but this is the best photo I got. It is tiny, just about an inch wide from wing tip to wing tip with the body curved up like a banana. It stayed all day and flew away late at night:



Then, I was getting ready to lock up for the night when I started hearing all these trills and chirps



After that little guy got down there was a lot of rustling in the bushes. I started chirping and then said "okay, who is all here, come show yourselves" and they did



I don't know if you can tell but there are FOUR of them! The one on the right on the stairs is the mother as she stood up after I took this photo and I could tell she was still nursing! I love the little one on the left. Look at those jazz hands!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Oh God, please give him back, I shall keep asking...

If any of you recognize the above quote, yes it is from A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving. One of my most favorite books.

I've debated whether I should blog about this subject as it was the most personal and painful of times for me. But, in the end, I want people to know that sometimes these awful events don't just happen to "other" people, they can happen to you. And, if they do happen to you, you can survive (albeit with LOTS of help from friends, family and even total strangers).

Five years ago, The Washington Post printed my letter to the editor regarding my friend Paul Cano. I was shocked and amazed that they did, seeing it had nothing to do with the events of the day nor was it a reply to a story they wrote. On this upcoming 15th anniversary I will reprint the letter here. It is in its original form as the editorial editors took out most of the personal things, which I guess was best. The anniversary is coming at the end of the week, but since I will be dealing with traveling to Puerto Rico, I decided to post this on another anniversary. The 8th of July, 1992 was the last day I ever saw Paul Cano.

**********************************

Fifteen years ago on July 15, I received a phone call that my closest friend Paul Cano had not shown up for work. Two weeks of media attention and desperate searching ensued, ending with the discovery of his body by children playing in a heavily wooded park near Bolling Air Force Base. He had been shot in the head.

What have his family and friends learned about his murder over the past 15 years? Absolutely nothing. I realized long ago that I would have to go through life never knowing who killed Paul, why he was killed, and what his last moments of life were like.

I can now look back at the weeks, months and years following his death and realize how much I was in shock. People were calling and offering their support—telling me how well I was holding up. They didn’t know that Paul’s death had not yet become real to me. At that time, the only reality I knew and thought about were those two weeks of searching for Paul. During that time, I saw a side of Washington that in my now 25 years of living here, I never thought I would experience.

The news media were always giving us advice on what to do and waiting to help in any way that they could without being intrusive. Paul’s co-workers at the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists and his friends who helped take charge of the situation by immediately setting up crisis counseling sessions and making their offices available at any time for meetings of search volunteers and for generating the thousands of flyers that were distributed across the city. The countless people dropping off food, and Paul’s Capitol Hill neighbors offering up their cars and homes whenever we might need them. The priests at Holy Comforter Catholic Church consoled Paul’s family and friends and prayed for his safe return. When we thought Paul was alive but injured somewhere in Arlington—the homeless people who promised to look out for him. The Boy Scouts who searched for Paul in the Arlington parks. The Metro police officer who took the time to talk to me at 1:30 in the morning at my neighborhood 7-11 and, just getting off duty, telling me he would drive around the local parks and look for Paul before going home for the night. The cab drivers on that same morning who stood in line waiting for me to hand out flyers about Paul so they could give them to passengers, then driving away waving and saying “God bless you and your friend.” That was my reality. It deeply angered and saddened me to know that, along with Paul, so many good people and good deeds in the Washington, DC area could be wiped out by a single person with a gun.

Fifteen years later I no longer have to remind myself that Paul is dead. To quote a line from a poem by Margaret Flanagan: “Now, his absence is my constant companion.” I have learned that Paul’s violent and senseless death is something I will never “get over.” But through hard work, love and support from friends, family and remembering the good people of the Washington, DC area, I have learned to live with this loss and have built a new life without Paul’s constant companionship, humor, and love.

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I miss the everyday companionship of Paul. He made the most mundane things fun. He gave me the nickname "possumlady"



Lighting sparklers on top of a friend's office roof to watch the fireworks one 4th of July in DC

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

HAPPY 4th OF JULY!!!

Hope you all are enjoying this day whether by sleeping late, eating, spending time with families and/or friends. I just returned from the Takoma Park 4th of July parade with my neighbors/friends, Stephanie and Steve. Actually, after the parade I went back to their house for an impromptu lunch/snack of pina coladas, nuts, hummus, crackers and pickles!! Very tasty! Thanks Steve and Stephanie.

I'm just going to post some photos from the parade without comment. This is a truly non-partisan day. One to celebrate one of the greatest things about this country--its rich diversity.



























I don't know who this lady on the horse is, but she and her horse are at every 4th of July parade




The last few photos coming up. Well, it just wouldn't be the Takoma Park 4th of July parade without them:









Like the sign said, that's all for now. Whew, I think those pina coladas are starting to kick in. I think I'll take a nap.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

A Keeper and some random Sunday shots

Last weekend I made a surprise dinner for my oldest sister and brother-in-law, who both turned 60 in June. My niece and I coordinated it. They would go to 5:30 mass on Saturday, I would go over and get in the house and have dinner almost prepared when they returned. I was thinking of going with a tried and true dinner but I saw Food TV's contest last year on building a better burger and I have always wanted to make the burger that was voted "Best Alternative Burger." It's called Grilled Pork Burgers Indochine and they are a keeper! So good they were, I decided to make them again tonight just for myself. Look at the ingredients that go into the ground pork:



Time to fire up the grill:




Oh, and there is a dressing you make for the buns. Actually, the recipe calls for mini french loaves. The dressing is basic mayonnaise with lime juice, green onions, cilantro, and basil. In roughly 9-10 minutes the burgers are done and the french loaf has been grilled/toasted:



Quite delish!! I must say there is one ingredient that was called for that I did NOT put in. It calls for a quarter cup of vietnamese fish sauce. I just couldn't do it. Maybe I'm missing a key flavor but I felt it was worth the risk.

Now onto the random photos for the day. Instead of picking up my room and vacuuming, I decided to try to hone my bird photo-taking. As you can tell, I haven't made much progress. See the cute little nuthatch? Wow, he just wouldn't stand still:




Sometimes it pays to not clean up under the feeders!



Last shot. A photo of one of my jay "babies"



Okay, I need to get back to laundry. Have a good evening. Not to rub it in, but we had another spectacular weekend with low temps and low humidity. I just know we will pay for it later.