on the Orient Express

I’m watching a Masterpiece Theater special: “David Suchet on the Orient Express”. David Suchet plays Agatha Christie’s famous character Poirot. He followed the famous trip as inspiration for playing that character.

It’s actually really interesting to see how popular the train and trip still is. The elegance following in the footsteps of the 1930s. The dressing for sumptuous dinners and the Grand Tour style destinations of Paris, Venice, Munich, Budapest, Istanbul… there are a few different lines to choose from.

There are many stories to go with the many different cars that have graced the name Orient Express. Some of the cars were in use when Agatha Christie traveled. The snowed in train car that inspired Christie’s novel. The train was bombed in the Great War. Hitler had a brothel car on it, for his officers (“a shame” as Suchet said).

The crew and manager all look like they work very hard to act up to the standards of dignified gracefulness that embodies what travel was (and apparently is) on the famous sleeper train.

I can only imagine how spectacular such a trip would be – it seemed like it was a popular honeymoon and anniversary trip – which is to be expected as it is a very romantic setting –  as well as one for the “refined” adventurist.

And although I am most assuredly not someone who enjoys the dressing-up scene (give me sweats any day!), I can think of only a few, clearly-defined trips that I would like to take more than this one.

The mystery Murder on the Orient Express plays on Sunday. And I’ve been wanting to see it.  Can’t wait!


The fireflies in my park are beautiful this summer.

Normally I’m not in the park that late – Aggie prefers her schedule to change as little as possible. But between the heat (pushes to after 7pm) and my evening class (to after 8pm) I get a wonderful view for at least 2 nights a week.

The combo of the growing moon and the fireflies is just beautiful. I can almost imagine that I can’t hear the roads, even from the middle of town. And I can rekindle my fantasy of a cabin in the woods and hearing no “town” sounds, watching fireflies and wildlife drifting through the fields and listening to owls.


The funniest thing happened in the park this morning.

As you may or may not know, it is sopping wet in the midwest. My park is a mudhole.

So this morning, to avoid some of the extreme mud puddles, I had to stay centrally located on the main avenue (that’s the main grassy path that runs right up the middle of the park), instead of taking any of the fun side trails.

Aggie, of course, roamed much further and wetter. She was at the far end of the avenue when I heard a deer coughing and it jumped one way and then another to run from her. She didn’t chase it far; deer are fun, but they are too big to do anything with.

So Aggie came back and was making her way slowly towards me via the tall-grass field on the right – just her tail showing and wagging.

That’s when I saw the deer come out of the trees on the left and stand in the avenue, watching Aggie. Every few moments he (and I don’t know if it was male or not – no antlers right now) would step closer, following her. She made her way across the avenue to the left where a larger opened, grassy field, still sniffing in circles. The deer circled around behind some trees and followed her into the field, slowly moving closer, watching her every move.

Finally, when the deer was about 15 feet from Aggie (about 25 feet from me), she noticed the deer. They both paused, then ran at each other, circling like a bull and matador, before the deer coughed and leaped into the woods.

Aggie didn’t chase long, but backtracked, sniffing in the other direction. And about 5 minutes later the deer was poking his head through the trees again, but didn’t engage Aggie again – just watched.

This absolutely happened, and I wish that I’d had a recorder to prove it – it was hilarious! I have no idea what the deer was thinking.

dog discrimination sucks!

I’m in a newer category of the discriminated-against: the dog person.

I’m not going to claim that I have it worse off than a lot of other people that are discriminated against by race or gender characteristics – that’s just not fair or right.

But dog people are definitely discriminated against. We’re restricted in parks, we’re restricted on beaches, we’re restricted in hotels and by any transportation system, we’re restricted in rentals, we’re restricted in neighborhoods.

I’ve met with more bad people in my life than I’ve ever met bad dogs (and to be honest, I’ve met more dogs total than I have people), but people aren’t restricted nearly as much. Which is ironic because we put “bad dogs” down, but let “bad people” go… I don’t get that! As far as I can see, we need to practice spaying and neutering of humans even MORE than we do of dogs (or cats)! And I’m all for spaying and neutering your pets.

I am currently in a new apartment search – oh joy, so much fun! – which is awful enough, in and of itself. And, no, I really don’t want to buy a house. I’ve looked into that before and decided against the hassle. I still dream of moving away some time (soon, I hope!).

Finding an apartment that’s well-maintained, small and efficient, not too big, but with enough storage, that allows 1 dog and 1 cat (both extremely well-behaved), and 1 person (less well-behaved) and not going to gouge my funds is almost impossible.

And if the owners allow dogs, they often put a weight limit of 35 lbs. Which drives me crazy! If you have a dog smaller than 35 lbs, it’s usually a barker – not always, but very often. It’s as if the smaller dogs have to make up for their size deficiencies. And that makes them BAD neighbors – especially in a complex! You’re better off with a larger dog that is quite and mellow, than a tiny dog with a Napoleon complex.

I moved last summer because of MOLD! The most awful thing to deal with, and I’m still dealing with the repercussions, but not the landlord – as far as I know, Lauren’s still renting that moldy hole in the ground. I actually loved that apartment because of the location, but the mold was SOOOO bad it gave me daily, excruciating headaches. I’m still finding contaminated things and getting rid of them as I find them. By the way, running the fan of the HVAC system just SPREADS mold spores. It does NOT help the situation – which is what Lauren tried to tell me. Mold spores are designed to spread on the air. If you don’t have a dehumidifier and fix the foundation, then the mold is just going to get worse!

I moved to a new place that seemed okay – new management wanted to remake the neighborhood, with responsible renters and comfortable living. But I was “personally guaranteed” quite a few things that never happened. In fact I had a window fall in, in my living room, while I was on the west coast!! And this, after being promised “new windows” last summer.

Thank you, Cory Hake for lying to me!

So, 0 for 2 on my landlords. You would think that bad managers would go out of business, but there is no really good way to let unwary renters know what they are getting into. You can only be so suspicious of people, until you get to know them better. If I assumed that all landlords are lying to me, I’ll never find a better place to live.

I’ve had a really good idea for a small apartment complex in any college town, but I have way to implement it. I’m not going to explain it on my blog, but if I had the funds, I’d be very tempted to look into the possibility of converting a complex to see if it would work. I’d have to find someone who knows the business and run it by them, but part of me just wishes I could show the crappy managers of the world that doing a good job is actually possible.

… on the other hand, I wouldn’t want to be on site all the time, either. So…

… back to topic… discrimination against dogs and dog-people sucks! Each dog and dog owner is different. There are good and bad, just like other people. But it’s almost guaranteed that we’re the ones paying the dues, fees, restrictions.

I need to move to a town that really and truly loves dogs… it may be a myth, like the Shangri-la.

Rescue Ink

I get a weekly newsletter about anything and everything “dogs” called “Dog Times Weekly”.

It’s okay. Some things I agree with, some I don’t. It can be pretty interesting. There are editorials about Cesar Millan, the pros and cons of his training style, and alternative training styles. There was an article about his 16 year old pit bull Daddy, that died in March.

There’s some interesting stuff on an older trainer and behaviorist, who has had less publicity named Ian Dunbar. I admit to finding this stuff very interesting. http://dogtime.com/cesar-millan-and-ian-dunbar.html

This week there was a bit on an episode of Dr. Phil, who apparently had an unrepentant, convicted dog fighter on his show recently. He also brought out some guys from a dog rescue group called RESCUE INK that looks like a Hell’s Angels gang.

I had a lot of fun surfing their site. It just cracked me up! I love that they are so “tough”, with their tattoos, muscle cars and motorcycles, but they love their animals too… it was just a fun website to check out.

Anyway, the bikers were quite a contrast to the dog fighter, in both looks and philosophy. And they almost got into in on stage – does that make Dr. Phil the new Jerry Springer?

Still, I’m all for the guys that want to protect the dogs. I don’t care if some dogs WANT to fight, as this Rob Rogers claims. We don’t let kids fight in school; bar fights get the cops called on them. And if you’re training dogs to fight, you’re using dogs that don’t want to fight as bait at some point – so as far as I’m concerned, he has no argument.

Would you like tea with your sugar?

I found a leftover gift card for McDonald’s this past weekend, so of course I had to run out and use it.It’s been so long since I’ve been to MickyD’s and fries sounded good.

Now, if you know me, you probably know that I don’t like anything in my tea: no lemon, no sugar, no sugar-substitute.

I was asked to pull forward through the drive thru, because something-or-other wasn’t ready, but they gave me my tea.

One sip, and I nearly spit it out the window. It was soooo sweet, I couldn’t taste anything!!

How do people drink that stuff! There was nothing refreshing, or anything redeeming about it!

It’s awful!

Good thing I hadn’t driven off – I had time for a quick replacement!


I went home this weekend to spend time with my friends. And it was a great time with both Peggy and Sonia.

We met a church Friday night and spent a long time afterward talking and catching up, which is always fun.

On Saturday I had a few errands – wrapping gifts and picking up a few things for my mother.

I also had to return a shirt to Kohls, so Peg and I bugged up there quickly before planning to go to see IRON MAN 2 – and that’s where we made our mistake. Because not only was there a huge clearance sale, there was also the Mother’s Day sale going on and discounts were substantial.

I found quite a few new shirts for the summer, which was good, because I do need them and I rarely go shopping for much of anything like that.

I was also looking for a gold cross – I’ve been thinking I wanted one, mostly because my brother and sister-in-law bought me a really nice Sterling and Swarovski crystal one and earrings. I’ve been really trying to wear them because it was so nice of them to think of me.

In the past I’ve been pretty bad about remembering to wear my jewelry. But I needed a gold cross to go with some gold earrings that I have – which of course I rarely wear, but am less likely to wear without a different cross because I can’t wear a silver cross with gold earrings – it bothers my head despite the fact that I’ve never really cared before.

There are many things that I am never aware of when it comes to fashions, however, I have to admit I don’t like to wear dark blue shirts with my dark blue jeans – I just can’t. And apparently I don’t like mixing gold and silver jewelry either.

Lucky for me there was a sale!

So I did, in fact, find my gold cross – a pretty brushed 14 k gold with Black Hills gold accents for about $50. But I also found some new earrings to go with my Sterling cross: Sterling hoops that were on sale, also very inexpensively.

But these had diamond chips. Nothing hugely flashy or spectacular, but still diamond chips.

My first diamonds and I bought them for myself.

I met another friend today at a coffeehouse and she teased me about that, but I find it empowering. I’ll buy my own jewelry, thank you very much!

…but, could someone find me a new jewelry box?


So, today I get to welcome my brand new nephews Samuel and Daniel – I listed Sam first because he is the second born, which means he’ll probably always be listed second after this.

Samuel Ryo was born 16.5 inches long and 2 lbs, 15 ounces – wow! tiny! (Samuel’s on the right in the picture).

Daniel Sho was born 17 inches long and 4 lbs, 3 ounces. (Daniel’s on the left in the picture.)

They were born about 8 weeks early; small, but fully developed and don’t need much help except a Daniel needs a little oxygen to dry his lungs.

Mother and twins are doing great, despite the drama today.

I’m so glad that Risa’s sounding happy and healthy, I hope her recovery is speedy.

I wish that I could go out and see everyone now, but my parents are driving west as I write this.

So congratulations to my brother and sister-in-law for being new parents; and thanks to my Aunt Julie, who has been a rock helping them get to the doctor and understanding what he says and asking the right questions; and welcome to the two newest members of our family!!

loss of a favored website

I very often hop on one of my favorite websites “fantasticfiction” when I’m looking up a new author or book. I love that it is really just lists of books, arranged by author and date published, within a series (if it was part of a series). I like that they are up-to-date on when new books are coming out.

But last week I was looking up a book I was thinking of borrowing from the library and a evil spyware attached itself to my computer (and then a friend’s computer) through this site. It was awful and very sticky. It took the tech guy from my department two days to unglue the stupid thing; and he just went ahead and wiped my whole computer to do it.

I was very disappointed. There are weeks when I’ve gone to that site once a day – sometimes more – just to check something: like the extensive list of works by George MacDonald. I mean, wikipedia has some bibliographic lists, but I haven’t yet found a replacement site that is just that simple.


Wicked Sunday

Sunday in California was a beautiful day.

We (my cousins, aunt, grandma and I) caught BART into the city and the Orpheum Theater for a 2pm show and then rushed back out to enjoy my uncle’s grilled to “perfection” red snapper for dinner.

We had a great time and the show was wonderful. I admit I had my doubts about the story, but that was because I’d mistakenly thought the timeline was years before “The Wizard of Oz”, explain how the Witch of the West became “Wicked”.

In reality, the story runs just before “Wizard” and into it, showing that everything was misconstrued: the wizard and someone else wanted the “witch” as a pawn and then used her as a scapegoat. It was really interesting.

And well sung, danced and acted – though I much preferred the solos and duets, to the big numbers.

Great idea Aunt Julie, and thanks for the treat grandma!