Year of the Rabbit

I love any excuse for a celebration, and this was the one for today. In years past I would prepare a feast for the day, but this seems too much like work, so I opted instead to see what was going on in town.

The first decision was, what to wear? I had purchased this good luck charm the last time I went to the big city, and I thought golden toads were the perfect choice for a necklace. This went well with the red tassel on my mask of the day (there were hoards of people tightly packed together for the celebratory event).

The official celebration was held at the vintage city auditorium, and there were vendors and demonstrations of Chinese culture, like martial arts and acrobatics. One could buy tee shirts and various tchotchkes, which I was able to resist (it is hard though). But, there was some young man who had made a bunch of dragons of various sizes on his 3D printer and I had to have one. (Yes, it’s not a rabbit, but I like dragons too.) I thought it made a nice zipper pull on my jacket. They also had food, which smelled delicious, and as there was a long, long line, I decided against this (even though I still had 18 minutes left on my parking meter.)

I popped over to the city museum, and I noticed this vintage wind-up toy in their collection. If I had to guess (and of course I’m guessing, I didn’t bother to read the label) I would estimate that this toy was from the 1920’s. There was certainly a different attitude towards Chinese culture at that time.

I still wanted some food, so I stopped in a nearby Chinese restaurant. The building looks like it was originally built as a diner, it’s on old highway 85, but it was tarted up as an American version of what a Chinese restaurant should look like, probably in the 1970’s. It has a precarious future because the entire area is getting gentrified, but it’s still there for now. So I enjoyed one of the daily specials for the holiday, then it was off home for dumplings at my house.

Just a reminder: the next holiday this month is Burn’s night (January 25th), a celebration of the Scottish poet Robert (Rabby) Burns. This can involve reading a poem about haggis, possibly eating a haggis (this is always very optional in my humble opinion) and of course a wee dram of Scotch whiskey (mandatory). Perhaps this year’s toast will include a salute to rabbits.

Going to a Movie

Back when I was a young and lazy college student I did take a couple of film classes. These were fairly easy classes as it only involved showing up at the student center to watch movies, then going to a lecture where the professor rambled on about the film. As it was very long ago, the professor would come into class and light a cigarette, then he would hold it in one hand while he waved the other hand to make his point. Being a pack of little heathens we would place bets on how long it would be until the ash fell off of his smoke while he blithered on.

Well since that time I have seen a considerable number of movies, and I regularly read reviews to decide if I wish to see a particular film (usually I don’t). But, I had seen a review for a movie that featured many of the things that I like: time travel, sword fights, aliens, Kaiju, comedy and romance. I decided that the best place to see it would be at this film festival because the director would show up, so there I was.

Oh yes, that is was also one of my favorite genres of film, Korean cinema, was a bonus. (Thankfully, it had English sub-titles).

This picture is from the program, I completely forgot to take a photo of the screen while the movie was in progress. I didn’t recognize the main male actors, but I had seen this woman in a couple of things. This movie was quite long, with lots of CG, but the very worst thing about it was that it was only part 1! And as this was the most expensive Korean movie made to date, I don’t know if it will ever have part 2 (but I hope it does, I need to know how it ends).

The screening was at a rather small cinema, just down the street from Buckingham Palace (I had never bothered to stop by this famous tourist attraction before, but I did pop down the street just to say I have seen it). So every seat was filled, (I had bought my ticket well in advance,) and the audience was appreciative. I did get to speak the one thing I knew how to say in Korean to the director, and if there is a part 2 I would definitely go again. It’s a bit far to go just to see a movie, but fortunately there are a few other things to see and do in this city. (As an extra, I also got to speak Russian (which I racked my brain to remember, later that evening.) And I’m a much nicer viewer than I was back in college. 😉

Very Merry

There is something magical about the Christmas tree. No matter how drab the room is to start, it suddenly gets transformed with sparkles of light and color. And it’s temporary, it only happens once a year, otherwise it would not be so special. Back when I was travelling a lot, I would often follow S in her quest for the perfect Christmas ornaments. Now I acquire new ornaments in a random fashion, perhaps it is that they have chosen me.

I found this cowboy/chili pepper mashup at our annual garage sale, it doesn’t really seem like one of my standard obsessions, but. So some years ago I was in San Antonio for a convention. I was walking down the street early in the morning, when I found a Jalapeno lying on the sidewalk. I decided to take that chili on a tour of the city and photograph it was we went around. I even had it with me when S and I went to a proper Christmas store. This ornament is in memory of that long ago art project.

This ornament is another mashup between the classic Blue Willow pottery (like my grandmother had) and a monster attack (we’ve all been there). There is an entire series of these featuring various calamities, but I found this one by chance at a thrift shop, and I love sea monsters which stand in for the fear of the unknown.

I think we all know about my obsession with pterodactyls. It is true that a pterodactyl makes any photo better, but this one isn’t gaudy enough to make the tree better. Oh well.

This ornament certainly qualifies as gaudy, and it is really quite tricky to find a dodo ornament, but I was up to the task.

This one is a rather generic sort of dinosaur, but the hat and smile give it some charm.

Every Christmas tree must have a topper of some sort, and angels are a common theme. This one bears a number of traits: it has a halo and wings like a saint, it has a Santa hat, and it appears to be some sort of Saur. So it’s a St. Santasaurus Rex, which makes it a perfect addition to this years magical tree. It was this year’s featured ornament at the Natural History Museum in London, so I hope that this motif spreads all over the world (really, I hope I’m not the only one who bought this at full price). These ornaments are now all a treasured part of my holiday tradition, so see you next year.

Go Fish

At the local sporting goods store, which features a full-size Ferris Wheel inside the store, there are also giant salt-water fish tanks at the entry. I do enjoy looking at fish, swimming and going about their fishy business as shoppers pass them by without a second glance. (Unless they have small children, then they say “Look, fish”). Well I must also admit that I was not there to see them, I was shopping as part of this crazy before Christmas frenzy. But I did stop for a moment to enjoy their finny antics.

The fish live in three pillars of water that are connected by shallow bridges, so they can choose a favorite place to hang out. I was interested in this one, it sort of looked like a Plecostomus (suckermouth catfish) from the bottom (but really, no Plecostomus would be up that high). In the reflection one can see that this is a much taller fish, so I have no idea what sort of fish this is.

Here another species is hanging about, no doubt waiting for some store employee to come by with the food. (I was pretty hungry myself at this point, but I was on a mission).

And why was I there in the store? Well I had to be in that part of town and I had heard through the girlfriend grapevine that they had some interesting shoes for standing about. The recommended brand was too sincerely ugly to buy, so I ended up with another sort. And it shall join the other many pairs in the closet as I search for the ultimate shoe. So see you again sometime, fishes.

Cars

I love cars, I love car shows. Cars are a part of everyday life here in this spread out city, despite the city planners best efforts to force people to use bicycles and buses (like by limiting the roads and parking in the central area where they are encouraging people to go).

Anyway, there was a tiny car show at one of the oldest houses in town, and as I had never visited it in all these years, I decided to take a peek.

This is a lovingly restored example from the 20’s. It was probably expensive when new (even though it is a Chevrolet) and that it certainly true now, this is a rich person’s toy (probably a man. Like one of guys there who said he had 30 cars in his collection). But it is glorious to look at, all shiny paint and chrome. It shows both the lineage of carriage building, but also the adaptations necessary to this modern form of transportation.

This one looks to be “barn fresh”, it’s a find from somewhere, just waiting for the infusion of cash to turn it into a show car. It’s probably no more than 10 years later than the previous car, but it shows how the styling embraces a streamlined modernity. (And it probably already at least has a working engine as it is parked on the street).

This car from the late 40’s or early 50’s and it’s in the generic car style of post-war period, but it still features a lovely chrome bumper to give it a bit of class. (It’s too bad that chrome is so toxic to the environment.)

Modern cars don’t vary much in their styling (sedan, SUV, pickup truck) and it’s often hard to tell one brand from another. But this red convertible manages to stand out, in spite of not having any chrome, by virtue of the driver.

I certainly hope to spot this again someday as I am driving around town (I will probably not be biking or using the bus).

A Day in the Life

So my day started out because of a bit of nagging about an event from M and I was duty-bound to attend. It was a sunny day, but there was that hint in the air that fall is coming. And of course I was getting a later start than I had calculated, oh well, that’s typical. As I prepared to pop onto the freeway to drive across town, this is what I saw.

Why are there Star Wars cosplay persons standing on the street corner? Are they waiting to cross the busy road for some unknown event? Did someone call for a meeting to take place on this street corner? Just what is the evil empire up to now? I have no idea, but I was intrigued as I snapped their picture while I waited for the streetlight to change.

Yes, my actual destination was another pow-wow, and I had brought my summer dance shawl in case the spirit moved me (it wasn’t moving me much that day). This guy was part of a drum group, and he was waiting for his bunch to be called on to sing.

Some young woman was selected to get a title (perhaps for this pow wow, I really was not paying that much attention). And this was a dance in her honor, so I put on my shawl, shook her hand and took a turn around the dance circle. But it is still summer sort of, and it was quite hot, so then I buggered off to go home, when I notice this.

It was a nice breezy day, so the witch had no trouble flying. Thank goodness the residents had boarded up the windows to prevent the skeletons from breaking in (note to self: remember to do this as well).

Also, beware of giant evil pumpkin heads roaming about.

Because the town backs up onto the mountains, there is quite a bit of wildlife that comes into town. It is not uncommon for bears, bobcats and mountain lions to be spotted, but this is the first time that I saw a werewolf in broad daylight (note to self: procure some silver bullets).

So all in all, it was a pretty typical day for me.

Festival

After a two year delay because of Covid, it was on again, the 112th Annual Festival. It was smaller than the past, but I was frankly just glad that it was happening again. Some things never change in this tiny corner of the state, except to get worse. Unlike in the fashionable parts of the state, there are lots of adobe houses here that are melting back into the earth.

And the decay is not limited to houses. Years ago, at a bend in the road, an old, rusted Model T sat half buried in the dust, returning to the elements. And at some point, some years ago, it finally disappeared altogether. But this one continues to uphold the tradition of abandoned cars, really it’s a lot of work to tow them away, and to where? (Also, I love to photograph this scene and hope it never changes).

At my Uncle’s place this water wagon has been sitting there for a long time. And it will probably be unmoved for a considerable time more.

And you may have wondered, where do I derive my surprising knowledge of tractors? Why this is because of my uncle. He just about always has a story or two about tractor engineering to amaze me with. This tractor is something he bought as a toy, and it had often been in the parade for the festival. It’s currently working at becoming part of the landscape.

And what is a festival without the venerable tradition of a parade? This year I drove my uncle in his 1979 Lincoln Town car, which is another one of his toys. I had previously ridden in the parade as stoker on his steam thresher when I was a young woman (and I was pretty quick study on the job of stoker, so it didn’t blow up.)

So I don’t have any pictures of this year’s parade, but we were sitting here waiting for the start time, with the other folks.

Anyone who wants to can be in the parade. There is no charge to participate unless one is a politician. They used to charge $100 per car, but now they have upped it to $150 for them. The same political party has been in charge of the county since 1930, but a couple of people showed up to try and sway the voters to change. Perhaps. Every politician threw out candy for the kids, and then there was the annual free feast in the park to close the festival. This may have been the last time I shall go, but as long as there are a few people left in the village, the celebration will continue. I hope.

Farm

A big river flows through the city to the south, so it is possible to grow things there (unlike here where people only grow lawns). Visiting the farm stands is the other destination when going to the fair. And as it is harvest time, it’s the perfect time to visit.

And there is the best part of this time of year, sacks and sacks of freshly picked green chili. One can take home a sack of these to be roasted at home, or, one can enjoy the delicious aroma as they are roasted on the spot (as a lazy person, I think it is better for them to do the work).

They do grow lots of other things as well, so here is field of pumpkins, stretching out as far as the eye can see (without my glasses). I think these are mainly fated to be carved up as Halloween decorations, but the deer do enjoy coming by for a bit of a nibble as they sit on one’s porch.

I’m sure that this vehicle was somehow involved in the fair even though it does not look like a tractor (and I am fairly positive about this).

Besides purchasing freshly picked produce, they also sell jams, jellies and items like this. I was bitterly disappointed that this jar does not actually contain homegrown spicy dinosaur teeth. 🙁

This particular farm stand is decorated with a lot of chili related memorabilia which shows the devotion people have for this delicious veggie.

I grew up in the Midwest and really did not know anything about green chili, but once I got accustomed to it, I fell in love. And I guess that now I too am a collector of chili related items. 😉

Fair

Probably ever since there was agriculture, there have been agricultural fairs. The State Fair is many things, but at it’s core it’s a celebration of agriculture and the harvest. It only lasts for ten days, so me and my friend rushed off to see this year’s version.

I think I have mentioned that I know way too much about tractors for a city person. So I was able to give my friend a short introduction to the finer points of engine technology (which I’m sure was fascinating). And we made the old farmer manning the booth happy by being interested and asking questions.

One of my favorite things about the fair is the sand sculpture, held together with just compaction and a spray of water. After not being here for the past 8 years, these artists returned with this whimsical piece. The amazing part is that they start with a rough idea and create it on the fly!

This is the newest fashion in showing sheep, they look so adorable with their little furry legs. I did not include the owner, who had won the mullet contest the day before.

Every year there is some sort of free event, the past has had a tiger show, pig racing (not at the same time), etc. So this year it was some trained rescue dogs. For this trick the dog had leapt over a 7′ bar, using the young girl as a stepping stone. It was the best moment.

So why did we really go to the fair? (hint: it wasn’t to see the tractors). Why we were there to see the Fine Art exhibit. Because even though I did not get a ribbon this year, I was juried in, and that was good enough for me.

This show had a controversy that actually made the New York Times. Someone submitted a painting that was entirely done with AI (those darn robots want to take all of our jobs). It was so spectacular that I don’t remember seeing it, and I certainly didn’t take a picture of it. Oh well, I’m sure robots won’t be able to enter next year, and no robot can perfectly shear a sheep, so we are all safe for now (except from Skynet).

Opa!

I do love to attend church festivals, it’s a left-over tradition from my youth (which was a very long time ago). So on this rare rainy cool Saturday I was off. First, a stop at my sometimes church to pick up a box of tree-ripened peaches from the western part of the state. Imagine if you will, peaches that smell like peaches, and are soft and yielding to the touch. And they taste like a peach should, rather than what passes for a peach at the local market. I might give a few to my friends and then eat peaches until I tire of them (if that’s possible).

So the nearby Greek Orthodox church was having their annual fund-raiser festival that day as well. Who can resist such an event? Well certainly not me.

Any church festival is greatly improved by the selling of booze, so “step up ” was a good invitation. They featured Ouzo, local beer and regular Greek wines (no Retsina, that stuff is vile).

They always have these tents set up to eat in, usually it’s to protect one from too much heat and sun. Today it was protecting against a light sprinkling of rain. I was enjoying a freshly made gyros (quite delicious!).

There is typically folk dancing going on, but there was that bit of rain which discouraged this for now. The other necessity for a festival is something to buy, (I did mention that this is a fund-raiser for the tiny church). There were t-shirts, souvenirs, icons, belly dancing scarves (the scarves don’t dance, they are to wear while one belly dances) and Greek food items for sale. So I picked up an expensive jar of olives and called it a day. And next year I shall do it again exactly the same (ain’t tradition wonderful?).

random bits of life