Saturday, December 31, 2011

The bird with the green feet

A few days ago we were hanging out by a park with a lake.  The lake had a lots of ducks that were delighted to come out of the water and snack on some saltine crackers that another mom with a kid had brought.  As these ducks were walking around us with no fear, I noticed a non-duck, but I couldn't really tell what this bird was.  He sure swam like a duck, and had he not come out, I would have not noticed his non-duckness.  He had the weirdest feet, suited for swimming for sure with the skin flaps in between his bird toes.  But this bird had green feet, and I tried to capture these strange green feet of his/hers because they were almost fluorescent green.
What is he/her?  Do you know?

This is the closest I could get to this bird without scaring him, so I know it's not the best photo here, but come on your bird watchers out there, help me identify this sneaky bird.
Apart from bird watching, I also was trying to watch these two from falling into the lake.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Black and white

I probably will never be as good a photographer as my husband, but thanks to advanced technology I can be a good fake.  My cell phone has a pretty good camera that I can add different effects to it, and occasionally I like to mess with the black and white stuff. 

I don't often dream in black and white, but these couple of pictures I took of my children remind me of something I would see in my dreams.

And then here I was trying to be Ansel Adams.  You can laugh, it's ok.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Grass Angels

It's hard to think that my kids have never seen snow falling.  It should not be so surprising to me, we live in the desert after all.  This week I went to my son's school to help out in the classroom and they were playing with fake snow.  It was strange, it felt like styrofoam, but it was wet and it wasn't melting at the normal rate that real snow would melt.  I am not sure how I feel about it all.  Growing up winter was one of the funnest seasons.  I remember building forts, having snow ball fights and all the usual snow games kids play.  I also love skiing.  I love a lot of things about winter, except the shoveling snow part and the really really cold days.  So I do feel lucky that I don't live in a place that I'd have to see the real face of winter.  But my poor kids....
Here they are making grass angels, instead of snow angels.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Pima Park

One of my favorite parks in Phoenix east valley area is Pima park.  Although I don't go there very often anymore.  It's in Mesa and it was close and convenient when we first moved here and lived in an apartment complex.  I used to take my dog Mulder there.

I think it used to be David's favorite too.  The park is really a field walled out from Hwy 60 on one side.  The other side borders a neighborhood.  The only way to access it is by taking a dead end street that meets an alley way. Unless you knew where you are going, you won't even find it.  It's always pretty quiet.  That's probably what attracts me to it.  It's quiet, although you can see the highway traffic zooming by.  It gives you this feel that you are inside a snowglobe, shielded and protected from the rest of the world, but you can still see the busy world going about its business.

And today we went there.  The last time I remember visiting this park was in the midst of summer about 2 years ago.  At the end of that visit, my car battery was dead, and I had not taken my cell phone.  I was stuck with Patrick and Maggie.  If it wasn't for some couple in love, who decided to come by and have their lunch in the park, who knows how long I would have been there.  I used their cell phone to call a tow truck.

But today it was ok, no dead battery.  Just us, and at some point a guy with his two dogs, then a loose dog, and then at the end two more loose dogs.  I tried to take some action shots of my babies.

And also pictures of some cactus.  I think this is prickly pear cactus.  It's supposedly edible, although I have no clue how to prepare it. 

And the sky was epic.  With a cloud here and there.

There was some wrestling going on as well.

But also some loving and hugging.

And more running.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

You've been married how long?

Well, 10 years, that's right.  I can say 'wow, where did the time go?'.  So here is where it went:
I met David when I lived in Omaha.  I happened to visit a gallery one night where one of my friends had her work displayed.  David had his work there too and he also happened to be there that night.  He casually mentioned something to the mutual friend about me.  It took some time after this for us to actually meet.  When I finally got introduced to David it was at a bar/restaurant in Dundee area.  I had just gotten off work from my library job at the college and was invited to stop by at this bar.  David was sitting on top of a speaker when I met him and he's been drinking because he was nervous to meet me.  He said to me that he would like to take photos of me.  This was quite new to me and perhaps a bit unusual, so I said: that's fine, but I don't do nudes.
At first I wasn't really interested in dating David, or anyone for that matter.  It was too much work, too much drama, too much heartbreak.  But for some reason he wouldn't give up.  I decided that this much determination deserves a chance, so.........we dated.
About a year later we went on a road trip to the southwest.  Our final destination was Las Vegas, where we were going to meet my uncle Pavel.  It was around Thanksgiving and we were in Tempe, AZ when David asked me if I would like to share my life with him.  We got married the day after Christmas.  It was the only slot the courthouse had opened before the end of the year.  And there is something about getting a tax break as a married couple for the entire year.  I am glad you agree with us.  And really there was no point to wait.  I still don't understand couples who are engaged forever.  What's the big deal?  He asked, you said yes, take a trip to the courthouse.  I guess I understand a little bit, because wedding time is supposed to be the one time in a woman's life when she does actually feel like a princess.  It's every woman's dream, come on, admit it.  But all the fuss and glitz over this one day, it's not my cup of tea.  Sure I want to feel like princess, but I did enjoy the minimal stress of my farmhouse wedding. 

Shortly after we got married we moved to Arizona.  This is where David had gone to college some years earlier and really loved the desert and wanted to move.  I must admit it was very very hard to leave my family.  And it was hard on my family too, especially my mom.  But here we are, still in Arizona almost 10 years later.

 And still married.  And marriage is a lot of hard work, and sometimes drama, and an occasional heartbreak, but then so is life.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reading Your Fortune

Today I received a set of cups with saucers for Turkish coffee from Terri.  This in turn reminded me of one of the favorite past times in my native country: reading your fortune on coffee grounds.  I am sure you are immediately thinking of gypsies.  Although there is a large gypsy, Roma, population in my country, this reading fortune business is not exclusive to them.  It's in every household.  Sometimes three times a day.  Excessive?  Well, at this point you probably should not trust my observations, because I have not been or lived in Macedonia in the last 16 years.  But I still occasionally engage in reading my fortune simply out of boredom.
The set from Terri.

Menagerie of cups I own for Turkish Coffe.
I am not exactly sure of the moment I started drinking coffee, but it was probably in my teens when I started having 'crushes' on boys.  My fortune had to be read, don't you get it, just to make sure that all is well with my 'crush'.
I never believed in the fortune lies I was told, but it was fun to do.  I don't even think that anything I was ever told came true even by a mere chance.  But then there were no professionals reading my fortune, just my girlfriends.  Some of them were known to be very good fortune readers.  I tried to learn, but I really wasn't good at it.  Probably because I am a terrible liar.  At my bachelorette party over 10 years ago someone even gave me a book on fortune reading, specifically on coffee grounds.

When I was young I was not allowed to drink coffee (but I could drink beer, and I got drunk at age 4.  More about this in a different post).  There was actually a myth to scare off young kids from drinking coffee.  It was said that a young person who drinks coffee or tastes the coffee grounds left on the bottom of the cup after the liquid is gone (Turkish coffee is not filtered) will grow a tail.  Yes, precisely, a tail on your butt.  On days where I'd sneak a sip or a taste of the grounds, I'd go to bed at night feeling my behind for any tail growth.  It was such a relief when I wouldn't feel any traces of a tail growing.

Monday, December 12, 2011

This Season

Mend a qarrel
Seek out a forgotten friend
Write a love letter.  Share some treasure.  Give a
soft answer.  Encourage youth.
Keep a promise.  Find the time.
Forgive an enemy.  Listen.
Apologize if you were wrong.
Think first of someone else.
Be kind and gentle.
Laugh a little.  Laugh a little more.
Express your gratitude.  Gladden
the heart of a child.  Take pleasure
in the beauty and wonder of the earth.
Speak your love.  Speak it again.
Speak it still once again.

My Uncle Pavel

The first time I met my uncle Pavel I was about 13 and lived in Macedonia.  My uncle Pavel was one of those mysterious relatives that we all knew existed, but no one has seen him for ages.  He lived in the USA and at that time when I first met him, he hasn't been to his homeland in over 20 years.
Now if you ask my uncle Pavel about his homeland, he won't say it's Macedonia.  He'd say it's Czech Republic.  That's where he was born.  But if you ask him if he is Czech, he'd tell you that he is Greek.  I told you he was mysterious.  With a last name of Lavdakopulos, he can pass for a Greek, although he can hardly speak Greek.  He has been mistaken for being a Cuban, yeah...a Cuban.

Whenever I visit my uncle Pavel, there isn't a dull moment.  At age 60, he has a 7 year old daughter, still does Iron Man races and always has a funny story to tell you that makes you laugh so hard, your stomach hurts and your eyes are in tears.  All the while he is serious telling you his crazy story.  He is a mad, mad Greek.
I haven't seen my uncle Pavel in almost 2 years, even though he lives in southern California, only about 6 hour drive from me.
Here is a picture of him and I from about 5 years ago.