October 31, 2004

Scarecrows for Kerry!

Happy Halloween!

(Photo courtesy of Rita...whose porch is occupied by this particular scarecrow!)

October 28, 2004

The flutter-flit of little wings

This past weekend I attended a "butterfly release," which is something I'd never actually heard of, let alone participated in, before. A couple of hundred Monarch butterflies -- raised from eggs at a local butterfly farm (again, something I'd never heard of), numbered, tagged and gently folded into origami envelopes -- were sent on their merry way to the Santa Cruz coast. Once we each made a wish and they could be coaxed to leave their paper launching pads, that is.

This little guy decided to soak up some California sun first, however. It wasn't the warmest day, so we didn't have a huge liftoff in concert once the envelopes were opened, as might have been hoped. But eventually they all took wing, fluttering around us for a while before beginning their migration for the winter.

The tags are purportedly to track them (mine was #386, in case you were wondering), but I really have no idea how they're going to do that. Are there designated rest stops along the way? A check-in tree once they reach Natural Bridges? A guy whose job it is to walk around the grove with binoculars and a notebook? We may never know, since the Web site we were given to get "updates" on their progress has, thus far, been useless.

But I know my young lepidopteran friend has made it to the shore and is huddling in the eucalyptus trees with a couple thousand of his best friends. If you travel out this way between now and February, I highly recommend a stop at their winter resting ground. It's a beautiful and unique site. Tell my butterfly I said hi.

October 27, 2004

Feeling it...and not feeling it

What I'm feeling: Pain in my wrist.

What I'm not feeling: Like pushing said wrist to write very much tonight.

Since I've very happily spent the time before this answering the comments some of you were kind enough to leave (yay commenting people!), I will just leave you with a link a friend sent me.

Let's face it: Everyone, even the people who actually support Bush, know that he's a few arrows short of a quiver in the smarts department. And this little exercise tries to help rectify that situation. So go against the grain and help give Bush a Brain!

October 26, 2004

Not a Ghost of a Chance

At long last, we come to the end of this little trip, which brings us to these pictures from Bodie, CA. It's a ghost town I had heard of but never been to before, and, after bumping and jostling our way down three miles of dusty, unpaved, and rutted road, we paid our fee to the very nice park rangers, bought our handy one-dollar self-guided tour book and ventured into the past. I really enjoyed rambling around, camera in hand, exploring its state of "arrested decay" for a few hours.

The wind had finally shifted by the day we got there so it wasn't smoky, and the first picture shows how beautiful the sky was. The hill in the background leads up to the Standard Mine, where upwards of $15 million in gold and silver were mined during the town's heydey. Of course, that heydey was wicked, violent and filled with lawlessness so it wasn't exactly a paradise.

The second picture was taken from inside one of the abandoned houses that are open to the public -- many aren't because they're unsafe or unstable -- and to the left you can see the Standard Mill. I couldn't figure out what they milled in the mill since, as you can see, trees are not exactly what you could consider abundant in the area, but I guess there are all different kinds of mills and this one processed the ore from the mine. I suppose I should have gone on the mill tour after all.

Lastly we have a remnant of life in Bodie still hanging at the back of the McInnis House, which lies furthest east of all the structures you can poke around in. (Cynically, I figure most of the Irish were kept as far out of town as possible!) It demonstrates how well they've managed to keep the remaining artifacts out of the hands of souvenir hunters. No doubt, that task has been helped along over the years by The Curse of Bodie. The letters mentioned in the link? They actually have a whole book of them in the museum available to look at, and they provide quite the cautionary tale. That being the case, I left with nothing but photos and a day's worth of interesting memories.

October 25, 2004

Mother May I?

This beautiful bit o' nature is Lake May, in Yosemite. The day we went was absolutely gorgeous, just the right temperature (for me - I like it cool), and at a high enough elevation that the smoke didn't affect it. And because it was a weekday, there were very few people there, which is always great.

Though it's only 1.2 miles from the parking lot, it wasn't the easiest hike ever up there for me, although this overview makes it sound as though it should have been. Remember the aforementioned allergies? Well, they can result in allergy-induced asthma and this was one of those days. The fact that we were already at 8,800+ feet and climbing to 9,300+ feet just might have had something to do with it, but I had a helluva time catching my breath. I'm no athlete, but in the past that trail would have been a piece of cake. This time it was walk, walk, stop to catch breath, walk, walk, walk, stop to catch breath, repeat for another mile.

Leaving my inhaler in the car might not have been the brightest move, but I didn't push hard enough to get in distress and the inhaler can make me jittery (which isn't conducive to relaxing in nature, you know?), so in the end it wasn't a problem. I did feel a little silly when a group of septuagenarian ladies passed by me in one of my "catching my breath" moments and looked at me like they were afraid I was going to beat them to the great trail in the sky. (Actually, I think they were more afraid that if I did keel over, they might have to be the ones to cart me back down.)

But I made it up there, snail's pace and all, and it was so lovely that it was worth it. Surprisingly, very little was visible in terms of wildlife. The dense pines made it difficult to see the songbirds I could hear, and the one duck (I think) that I spotted on the water was on the other side of the lake from me. I could hear fish plopping back into the water after coming up to catch bugs, but I never got a good look at one -- they pretty much stick to the deeper waters, and by the time you turn your head in response to the "plop," they're gone. Apart from a chipmunk or two, that was it.

Tomorrow's episode, wrapping up this less-than-whirlwind tour: Not a Ghost of a Chance.

October 22, 2004

Stop Already!

This is the stop sign outside the rangers' booth at the Big Oak Flat entrance gate of Yosemite, which has been inexplicably mangled. The way it has been bent tells me that it has been hit more than once and I find that odd. It's not like you can't tell that the booth is coming up, you have to go slowly, and it's not that narrow a lane. Are people that excited to get in as soon as they fork over their fee?

Maybe I found this really amusing because I had just woken up from a nap. I really like to drive and I used to be the one you could depend on to take on the lion's share of the driving on a road trip. But in the last few years, a little hiccup has developed in that plan. Now I pretty much last an hour to an hour and a half behind the wheel and I start to fall asleep. Put me in the passenger seat and I can hang in there for about a half hour, forty-five minutes tops, and I begin to doze off. This can be highly aggravating, but I do the best I can, then pull over and someone else has to take over.

I have developed a theory that this has to do with allergies, and I'm working on dealing with those now, so there's hope for future trips. For the time being, though, it's drive, STOP, doze for me.

Next episode: Mother May I?

October 21, 2004

When smoke gets in your sun

The place we usually stay when we're in Gold Country has absolutely nothing to do with gold. Copperopolis found its fame and fortune in, you guessed it, copper. It's a small town of a couple thousand people that has become a popular location for second homes of Bay Area residents. They're drawn by the relatively short drive to get there, the reasonable housing costs, and the golf courses.

I don't golf and I don't own one house, let alone two, but I like it there, too. I like it because of its proximity to Yosemite and the other Gold Country towns like Jackson, Columbia and Angels Camp, its lovely landscapes, and a few favorite shops and restaurants. Oh, and the olive oil. The Calaveras Olive Oil Co. is in an old brick building near the highway and it has some killer oils. The people who own it are so nice and they bend over backwards to accomodate you and let you try just about everything in the place. It's not at all like some other gourmet olive oil shops I've been in (in Sonoma, for instance) that don't seem to be interested in you apart from what you're going to spend there.

But I digress. As you may or may not know, this is fire season here in California, and in the last month there have been a lot of fire warnings because of a weather pattern with very low humidity and high winds. Then you add in the whack jobs who start fires and this can be a destructive time of year.

While we were on our trip, there were a number of fires burning in the general vicinity of the Sierras, and the smoke from them was definitely a factor. It scuttled a hike out of Tuolumne Meadow and caused us to close the car windows more than once. The upside of forest fires, apart from naturally occuring fires or prescribed burns that have their own benefit to the balance of Nature, is that the smoke from them can make for very dramatic sunsets.

The picture above was taken in Copperopolis on one of our first nights there. I was surprised because the fires weren't really all that close by, but I was very glad I took my camera along on a trip to town. The photo doesn't begin to capture the radiant and glowing ball of red that was the sun that evening.

Tomorrow's episode: Stop already!

October 20, 2004

Hauling my ax around town

This is Firewood in Murphys, which is where we enjoyed the beer and pizza I mentioned yesterday and is a must-stop for lunch whenever I'm in the area. This time was a little different, however, because the upstairs hadn't been opened before and it was neat to get to see the unique loft railing from that perspective.

There is a great little bookstore right next to the restaurant -- just beyond the actual stacks of firewood that line the outside wall -- that is watched over by a likeable but rather uninterested-in-people dog. I'm not certain whether he will sound an alarm (or tear a hand off) if someone walks out with something they haven't paid for, but I wasn't about to test the theory.

The one less-than-bright spot on my visit was learning that my absolute favorite store in town, a lovely little floral shop, is no longer there. I have killed every single plant that I bought there, but I enjoyed the hell out of them while they were alive, and I really liked the lady who owned it. I came home and killed a plant in memorium. Which wasn't easy, by the way, since it has hardly stopped raining here since I returned.

Tomorrow's episode: When smoke gets in your sun.

P.S. I would be including links to the places I'm writing about, but none of them have one. California or not, this place is small-town America.

October 19, 2004

A Toast to Time Off

Alas, I am back from the mountains. But I did have a terrific, relaxing time and I used my digital camera constantly. So I thought that I would post some pictures from the trip and tell you about it, instead of bugging Peri to blog for now.

However, because I am deficient in many areas of Web-related knowledge, I cannot put more than one picture up at a time here. (I think I know why I can't do it, I just don't have enough interest in trying to resolve it at this time.)

So I've picked my favorite ones and I'll put 'em up each day until I run out, I get tired of it, or you get tired of it.

Because after the first post-vacation day back at work (ick) I could really use one right about now, this shot is of the best, most refreshing beer I had the whole time:

It's a Snowshoe Weizen that I had in Murphys, CA. Murphys is a wonderful little town near Angels Camp, which you may recognize as the home of Twain's famous jumping frog of Calaveras County. I highly recommend the area for vacationing, should you be visiting Gold Country anytime soon.

I usually go for darker beers, but this went perfectly with the oh-so-California pizza we were having on a warm day. It was a good start to a great long weekend. Sláinte!

October 13, 2004

Pingless Pro Tem

After what feels like about a year of working with no time off (but which, in reality, has only been three months), I will be hitting the road after work today and I won't be back until Monday. I've decided to leave the laptop behind and really take a break, for me and my overworked wrist.

Because it warms the cockles of my heart to imagine that someone would actually miss my posts while I'm gone, I present to you a Top Ten list so you can imagine it as though you were right there.

Top Ten Things I Will Be Doing On My Days Off

10. Not thinking about work -- at all.
9. Breathing in deeply of the fresh, pine-laden air of the Sierra Nevada.
8. Stopping at every other historical or point of interest marker on the drive.
7. Listening to copious amounts of surf music, my traveling companion's road music of choice.
6. Wondering from time to time what kinds of havoc the Incomparable Male Trio might be wreaking while I'm gone.
6a. Briefly debate at one point whether I should have asked one of them to guest blog for me, lest the blog world abandon me and this site in the space of six days.
6b. Fall down laughing maniacally over that thought and how that could potentially redefine the phrase "wreaking havoc," pick self up off of trail, and hike on while catching breath. (See #9)
5. Continue not thinking about work, periodically relishing the sense of freedom that accords me.
4. Hiking parts of Yosemite hitherto unexplored...by me.
3. Impetuously eating all sorts of delectable and carbolicious foods with microbrew chasers.
2. Taking many, many pictures of the aforementioned Sierra.
1. Chilling the fuck out, in all its myriad forms.

A far more relaxed me will be back next week.

October 12, 2004

Peri's Pet Parlor

Maura and I made a deal -- I'll do this today and she'll let me go another week before she clips my nails. Works for me. I only got ticked last week because she woke me up from a nap.

So this is Kitty-san, doing my favorite thing in the whole world, keeping watch out the window for the invaders. They are sure to come, so we've got to be ready. Aside from chasing bugs inside the house, it's my only job, so I like to give it my all.

Kitty-san has that "I've got you in my sights" look that I know so well. My guess is that it's a fluffy-tail and not a flappy thing, but since she lives really far away from here, it could be some sort of thing I've never seen.

Catch ya next week...unless I'm needed at the window.

October 11, 2004

This fills me with dread

I can't tell you what a revelation this explanation was to me. I had a real "WTF? moment" -- as I saw it described elsewhere -- when I heard Bush mention the Dred Scott case during the last debate in his non-answer to who he'd appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court if the chance arose. (I know I pleaded for no more debates, but I'm surrounded by people who insist on watching them, so sometimes there's no escape.)

I am committedly pro-choice, but I will admit that I do not follow any current discussions about the abortion debate because the rhetoric, shouting, obloquy, religious diatribes and general passionate discourse about it leave me unmoved in any direction other than frustration. So, clearly, the meaning behind Bush's scripted example of jurisprudence not to be emulated by his would-be nominees flew right over my head.

If you are a staunch supporter of Bush and you subscribe to his position that a woman does not have the right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term, no matter the circumstances, well, then you probably stopped reading about a paragraph earlier and I'm okay with that.

But if you support Bush because of other issues, like letting a "War President" follow through on his military campaign, or his tax cuts that are intended to create jobs, or being against "Big Government," but you do support a woman's right to choose, or can at least acknowledge that there are instances in which it is acceptable, then I beg you to look at the bigger picture.

I believe that the appointment of U.S. Supreme Court justices is the single biggest power accorded to a U.S. president. The ramifications are far-reaching and long-lasting, more than any fiscal matters, foreign policies, military actions, or government programs I can think of. I don't think it can be overemphasized how important the next appointment to the Court is, and there is almost no doubt that the next president will have the opportunity to make that appointment. Think about how that appointment could affect the decisions the Court makes over the next few generations. Then think about whether tax cuts are really worth it in the grand scheme of things.

(I was pointed to the Paperwight post by gbibb. He goes into more detail about the meaning behind the reference, so I suggest going there, too.)

October 07, 2004

200 Things...

This isn't the kind of thing I normally do here, but I was intrigued enough to give it a try. And it fit the recent theme.

All the bolded items are things I have done. Some of the non-bolded items are on the “Things Yet to Do in Life” list. Most are not. (Comments appear where I deem them necessary!)

1. Bought everyone in the pub a drink
2. Swam with wild dolphins
3. Climbed a mountain
4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive (This is on the “Yeah, you wish” list.)
5. Been inside the Great Pyramid
6. Held a tarantula
7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
8. Said "I love you" and meant it
9. Hugged a tree
10. Done a striptease
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (Why just at sea?)
14. Stayed up all night long, and watched the sun rise
15. Seen the Northern Lights (This is a must, for me.)
16. Gone to a huge sports game
17. Walked the stairs to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa
18. Grown and eaten my own vegetables
19. Touched an iceberg (I cavorted on a glacier. Close enough?)
20. Slept under the stars
21. Changed a baby's diaper
22. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon (Another must.)
23. Watched a meteor shower
24. Gotten drunk on champagne
25. Given more than you can afford to charity
26. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
27. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
28. Had a food fight
29. Bet on a winning horse (Another “Yeah, you wish” lister.)
30. Taken a sick day when you're not ill
31. Asked out a stranger
32. Had a snowball fight
33. Photocopied your bottom on the office photocopier
34. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can (About a week ago. In the car. At lunchtime.)
35. Held a lamb
36. Enacted a favorite fantasy (They’d arrest me at the See’s factory if I did.)
37. Taken a midnight skinny dip
38. Taken an ice cold bath
39. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar
40. Seen a total eclipse
41. Rode on a roller coaster
42. Hit a home run
43. Fit three weeks miraculously into three days
44. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
45. Adopted an accent for an entire day
46. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (Another must.)
47. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment (See #3 above.)
48. Had two hard drives for your computer
49. Visited all 50 states
50. Loved your job for all accounts
51. Taken care of someone who was shit faced
52. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
53. Had amazing friends (Still do.)
54. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
55. Watched wild whales
56. Stolen a sign
57. Backpacked in Europe
58. Taken a road-trip
59. Rock climbing (I’m more a rock scrambler.)
60. Lied to foreign government's official in that country to avoid notice
61. Midnight walk on the beach (Close, but not quite midnight.)
62. Sky diving (On the to-do list, for sure.)
63. Visited Ireland (See #46 above.)
64. Been heartbroken longer then you were actually in love
65. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
66. Visited Japan
67. Benchpressed your own weight
68. Milked a cow
69. Alphabetized your records
70. Pretended to be a superhero
71. Sung karaoke (I figure I owe it to the world not to.)
72. Lounged around in bed all day (It was college. That’s required, isn’t it?)
73. Posed nude in front of strangers
74. Scuba diving (On the must list.)
75. Got it on to “Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye
76. Kissed in the rain
77. Played in the mud
78. Played in the rain
79. Gone to a drive-in theater
80. Done something you should regret, but don't regret it
81. Visited the Great Wall of China
82. Discovered that someone who's not supposed to have known about your blog has discovered your blog
83. Dropped Windows in favor of something better
84. Started a business
85. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
86. Toured ancient sites
87. Taken a martial arts class
88. Swordfought for the honor of a woman (This is about as highly unlikely as almost anything on this list.)
89. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
90. Gotten married
91. Been in a movie
92. Crashed a party
93. Loved someone you shouldn't have
94. Kissed someone so passionately it made them dizzy (Not that they’ve ever said!)
95. Gotten divorced
96. Had sex at the office
97. Gone without food for 5 days
98. Made cookies from scratch
99. Won first prize in a costume contest
100. Rode a gondola in Venice
101. Gotten a tattoo
102. Found that the texture of some materials can turn you on
103. Rafted the Snake River
104. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
105. Got flowers for no reason
106. Masturbated in a public place
107. Got so drunk you don't remember anything
108. Been addicted to some form of illegal drug
109. Performed on stage
110. Been to Las Vegas
111. Recorded music
112. Eaten shark
113. Had a one-night stand
114. Gone to Thailand
115. Seen Siouxsie live
116. Bought a house
117. Been in a combat zone (Does high school count?)
118. Buried one/both of your parents
119. Shaved or waxed your pubic hair off
120. Been on a cruise ship
121. Spoken more than one language fluently
122. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone
123. Bounced a check (See #72 above.)
124. Performed in Rocky Horror
125. Read - and understood - your credit report
126. Raised children
127. Recently bought and played with a favorite childhood toy
128. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
129. Created and named your own constellation of stars
130. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
131. Found out something significant that your ancestors did
132. Called or written your Congress person
133. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
134. ...more than once? - More than thrice?
135. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge (On the to-do list, for sure.)
136. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
137. Had an abortion or your female partner did
138. Had plastic surgery
139. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived
140. Wrote articles for a large publication
141. Lost over 100 pounds
142. Held someone while they were having a flashback
143. Piloted an airplane
144. Petted a stingray (Bat ray, yes. Stingray, no.)
145. Broken someone's heart
146. Helped an animal give birth
147. Been fired or laid off from a job
148. Won money on a T.V. game show
149. Broken a bone
150. Killed a human being
151. Gone on an African photo safari
152. Rode on a motorcycle
153. Driven any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100 mph
154. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
155. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol (Actually on the to-do list.)
156. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
157. Rode a horse
158. Had major surgery
159. Had sex on a moving train (On the...uh..."intriguing idea" list.)
160. Had a snake as a pet (Over my mom's dead body!)
161. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (On the must-do list.)
162. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing
163. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
164. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
165. Visited all 7 continents
166. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
167. Eaten kangaroo meat
168. Fallen in love at an ancient Mayan burial ground
169. Been a sperm or egg donor
170. Eaten sushi (Weekly, at a minimum!)
171. Had your picture in the newspaper
172. Had 2 (or more) healthy romantic relationships for over a year in your lifetime
173. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
174. Gotten someone fired for their actions
175. Gone back to school
176. Parasailed
177. Changed your name
178. Petted a cockroach
179. Eaten fried green tomatoes
180. Read The Iliad
181. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school, and read
182. Dined in a restaurant and stolen silverware, plates, cups because your apartment needed them
183. ...and gotten 86'ed from the restaurant because you did it so many times, they figured out it was you
184. Taught yourself an art from scratch
185. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
186. Apologized to someone years after inflicting the hurt
187. Skipped all your school reunions (And will continue to do so.)
188. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
189. Been elected to public office
190. Written your own computer language
191. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
192. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
193. Built your own PC from parts
194. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
195. Had a booth at a street fair
196. Dyed your hair
197. Been a DJ
198. Found out someone was going to dump you via Blogger
199. Written your own role playing game
200. Been arrested

(Via (Via (Via))) Can you tell I finally had some free time to surf? I'd be interested to know if any of you put your list on your site.

October 06, 2004

Things I learned today

Tiger Woods is much smarter than I would have given him credit for being before reading about his wedding: "Woods' precautions appeared to include hiring the only helicopter charter company on the island, which said it was booked solid Tuesday — a move that prevented journalists and photographers from flying over the event."

Howard Stern is, shockingly, smarter than I will ever give him credit for being.

Never -- never, never, never, never -- ever click on "Print all linked documents" when printing stuff out from a Web site using IE 5.5 when you have no idea what that will cause to happen.

Now that I have a car with a sunroof, I am far more tempted to stick my hand out through it and flip the bird at people on the road who do stupid things. (I resisted the impulse.)

Lost is, without question, my favorite new show of the fall season.

Apparently, October is a month in which I am willing to buy the first Christmas present of the season.

October 05, 2004

Things on my mind today

Goodbye, Rodney. However, St. Peter probably won't give you no respect, either.

SMiLE is here at last. I almost bought it tonight, but decided to check out a few reviews first. The ones I've seen have been pretty damned positive.

Please, please don't make me watch anymore debates. Life is too short.

Speaking of the election, the endless polls surrounding it make me miss Calvin and Hobbes very, very much. Dad performance poll, anyone?

This article (Reg.), which I actually read in the actual newspaper...the one made out of paper, startled the crap out of me because I spent hours walking a small coyote-bait-sized dog in this very neighborhood over the last few years. Thank you to the Russells for no longer living there, though I do miss Roxie.

This is bad news. The flu season could really suck this year if it hits hard.

"Magma" is such a great word to say. But apparently the idea of it makes people goofy.

October 04, 2004

Catbloggus interuptus

Peri wasn't in an what you could call an amiable mood tonight. She threw a kitty fit and refused to post. Norman, I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you are not behind her little protest.

Hopefully she'll be more herself next week, because if she isn't I will either cut her off from her treats for a day, or sit on her and cut her nails (that sounds worse than it really is, honest), which she hates. The cutting the nails part, not the sitting on her part. Oh, nevermind, you'd have to see how that works to understand and trying to explain will only dig me deeper into this pointless hole!

In the meantime, I'd like to point you to an article that makes me quite happy. Not only do I like the implication of what it could mean for the shape of the upcoming election, but how often do you find yourself reading an article from a newspaper in Alaska? Unless, of course, you...um...live in Alaska. But since, as far as I know, none of you do, I'm still going with the "hey, isn't this neat" aspect because it's time for bed and I'm too tired to come up with something better.

October 01, 2004

A cactus by any other name

I will admit to the rather silly habit of naming my plants. Not all of them, mind you, just the ones that I really like. This one was given the terrifically original name of "Spike" when it first came along. Hey, it's not like I planned on telling anyone the name when I started calling it that!

Spike had an absolutely beautiful flower on it when I brought it to work (should have gotten a picture of that) and once that was gone it grew up, up, up, but never any wider. I figured that eventually it would begin to fill out a little, but no. A few months ago I started thinking of it as "Pike" instead, especially when I envisioned using it in a way befitting the name on the posterior of someone who ticked me off. Anyway...

Today I took a look at it and couldn't believe how tall the pike had gotten when I wasn't paying attention. So, out of curiosity, I grabbed the ruler. Then, because I was bored, I broke out the digicam. Okay, not really bored, more like I was afraid that there was something wrong with Spike and that it might go south and die, and maybe someone could tell me what it needs. My best guess is that it might need a bigger pot. I hope not, though, because transplanting a cactus is not my idea of a fun project. Those needles near the bottom are big, sharp, and they hurt.

But the photo session ended on a positive note. When I pulled the pot closer to see if it needed any water, I also turned it around to see if the pike was crooked. And I discovered that, hiding in the back, was a little nubbin of new growth sprouting from the base of the pike. Or, as I like to think of it, we've got a baby!

I think I would have preferred another flower, but at least it will be growing in a new direction.