Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jeopardy, Part 2

I'm heading home to watch tonight's Jeopardy with another group of friends. Wherever you are, I hope you'll tune in to see what happens on my second appearance.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jeopardy Promo

Here's the link to Jeopardy's "Home Town Howdees" with me making funny faces. Tune in and tell me what you think!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What Is Monday Night?

The answer is its the night when Christine Valada make an appearance on Jeopardy! I'll be a contestant on Monday, October 26. As soon as the Jeopardy! website puts up the "Hometown Howdees," I'll put up a link. Check your local listings for time and channel.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Family Reunion

Growing up, there were always cousins around. My father's immediate family lived 60 miles away and most of my mother's family lived on Long Island but always found reasons to visit the Catskills. There were 21 first cousins on my Dad's side (he was the middle of 5 children) and 19 on my mother's side (she was the oldest of 6 children.) On my mother's side it was actually the full second cousins who were closer to my age, and they came up a lot because my mother was very close to a number of her first cousins who looked to my grandfather as the patriarch of his part of the family. We all did a lot of traveling by car for weekends on "the Island" or day trips to Daddy's brothers and sisters.

I think we were closest to Dad's brother Jack's family. They're the ones I recall spending a lot of time with in the summer, when Jack's two daughters would spend part of the summer with us, or we'd go to Binghamton for picnics and trips to the small amusement parks there.

This weekend, I went to Arizona for the wedding of one of Uncle Jack's grand children. Jason is the son of my cousin Tony, and we met for the first time as I was walking down the resort steps to find the place where the ceremony had taken place. Jason found me on-line when he first moved out to Phoenix around 7 or 8 years ago. We've kept in sporadic touch since, and a few months ago he wrote to let me know he was getting married and wanted me to come to the wedding.

It was the first time I had seen Tony or his older brother Jimmy in more years than I care to contemplate. I know they were both at Tony's wedding, which took place when I was still in high school, and they probably were also at their sister Marie's wedding, but I can't remember if either of them attended my first wedding or those of my sister or brothers. When you're young, that 5-8 year age difference is a lot bigger than it is when you have children of your own.

Tony sounds just like his dad and our uncle Tony. My dad's inflections were a bit different. Jason has a nose that reminds me of his grandfather and his aunt. I also got to meet Tony's beautiful daughter Stefany, her husband, and their three kids. Stefany looks a lot like her mother, who passed away from cancer 10 years ago (which I didn't know until recently.) I also spent time at the wedding with two of Tony's brothers-in-law, who were also kids at Tony and Ceil's wedding so many years ago. I guess we must have met or at least seen each other at that party.

The wedding took place at the Wild Horse Pass Spa and Resort in Chandler, Arizona, somewhere to the west of Phoenix. It was lovely. It's on the Pima-Maricopa reservation, has that unmistakable south-west adobe architecture, and I'd definitely consider going back again for a weekend.

Although it was a small wedding, there was a definite family feel to it. Gracie the flower-girl, Stefany's younger daughter, fell asleep at the reception and cushions were found so she could sleep while the party continued. It reminded me of Uncle Tony's wedding and pushing chairs together so my brother Bert could sleep while the festivities continued.

Tony and Jimmy reminisced about my father taking them deer hunting. I remember watching Yankee games and Bobby Kennedy's funeral at their house. The Yankees game on Saturday night was a big deal to the Valada family--Stefany's husband had his Blackberry out to follow things throughout the reception. The Yanks are a family religion in which my cousin Jimmy refused to participate. He's a Giants fan. Heresy.

I also met one of Jason's cousins from his mother's side of the family. He works for the Phoenix Suns. We exchanged information, so I expect we'll meet up when the Suns play out here. He used to play pro ball himself in Europe, so we discussed the beauty and food of Italy. Nice young man named Stefan.

Tony retired from teaching social studies and lives near Stafany in Florida. I hope that I'll see more of him if he decides to visit Jason in Phoenix. It was an easy flight of just over an hour, and definitely worth the trouble to go see such nice relatives. Eventually, I hope to actually meet Stacy, the bride. There was no reception line, so I never actually met her. I did meet her mother, but not her father. Funny how those things can get lost with all of the excitement.

Jason did let me know that Crate & Barrel had delivered my present, so even if they are as bad as I was about thank-you notes, I know the gift arrived. Or at least one of the two items did, and they were supposed to be shipped together.

My legs still hurt from dancing a little bit on Saturday night. Wearing heels is pretty uncomfortable when your usual foot wear is Nike or Ariat.

My relatives all left the hotel very early on Sunday morning. Jason and Stacy were flying to Cancun for their honeymoon and Tony flew back to Florida with Stefany and her family. I didn't get to see them again after I left the reception on Saturday night, unfortunately. I did spend some more time talking with Tony's brothers and sisters-in-law on Sunday morning as I waited for my ride to the equestrian center on the grounds and they had coffee before heading out to a day trip to Sedona and the Grand Canyon. I hope they had a wonderful time.

My shuttle to the horses was a bit late because it also returned the riders from the 7 a.m. ride to the hotel. The driver was Roger, a Pima tribe member, who would also be my trail-ride guide. It turned out I was the only rider for what I thought was a group ride. I guess no one else wanted to be up that early or risk being out in the heat--it hit around 100 on Saturday.

The reservation is huge, and we rode for 90 minutes. I was on a pinto named Desperado. I did express doubt about a horse with that name, but he was fine after he did the usual thing of trying to tell me that he was going to go home right when we got started. We got over that right away and he was a good horse the rest of the trip.

Roger rode a dark brown mustangy looking horse named Jack. Jack was a bit skittish--caution due to the fact he'd been bitten by a rattle snake in the past. This was a good thing, because half-way through the ride, Jack spun when he saw/heard a rattlesnake on the path. Roger called for me to get my horse out of there as well. I never actually saw the snake, but I sure heard it. Desperado never panicked when Jack spun in front of us or otherwise acted nervously. He also just handled breaking through the dirt around gopher holes like it was nothing at all. Good horse, that Desperado.

We saw some lizards and heard the snake, but we didn't see any of the 1500 head of wild horses that live out there. Roger told me about hitting a mountain lion with his car recently, and gave me lots of stories about the Pima and Maricopa tribes. He's Pima, because his mother is Pima, but he's also learned much about his father's tribe, the Maricopa. He's a tribal singer, which is why he says he's almost 48 and not married. It takes a lot of effort to learn the songs. Just fascinating.

I had a mid-afternoon pick-up to go back to the airport, so after I got back to the hotel, I had breakfast, cleaned up, packed up, checked out and hung around the lobby relaxing. It was too hot to sit outside by the pool, as far as I was concerned.

The drive back to Phoenix and the airport went quickly. I did see a great blue heron in the small river on our way off the reservation. But no wild horses. Next time, maybe. I went to the Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa and the only wild horses I saw were on the tee shirt I bought.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Autumn Arrives

I seem to have found a few days of respite. I finished a blog that will be posted elsewhere (and I'll do a link when it finally gets put up), provided the accountant with information for our taxes (which we'll file after Len adds money to his retirement fund later today), and I'm ready to take an overnight trip to Phoenix to the wedding of my first-cousin-once-removed (whom I look forward to meeting.) I hear the weather will be warmer than it is here in L.A. right now.

The rain started on Monday night as I drove home from talking about copyright to the Women's Artistic Network in Camarillo. It came down much harder yesterday and I had trouble sleeping because of the noise on the plastic awning outside our bedroom window. I hope that the roofers covered things at our house, because I would hate to lose to the rain the rest of the comic books in the garage that the thieves didn't get.

There will be no riding today. Gayle said she's cutting trenches and Ace is irritated that she's not feeding him every time she walks in and out of the gate. I hear that the Santa Cruz area got 10" of rain, scary for the areas where there was fire earlier this year. My friend Erin can't get to her horses again because of mud-slide fears in the L.A. burn areas. Roads have been closed, but we haven't had quite the levels of rain the north has, at least not yet.

We do need the rain. I hope it brings the roses at my house back from near dead. I went into my garden and looked at dead grape vines and tomato plants and herbs and wanted to cry. I had finished planting the garden, putting several hundred dollars into it, the night before the fire. What a shame.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dodging a Bullet

Tamiflu seems to have taken care of whatever was bothering me on Friday. I managed to get out to the flea market on Sunday and found a lovely tri-cornered Nambe bowl for a good price. My friends, whose first visit to the flea market it was, found books and character jelly glasses. We went to tea at the Scarlet Tea Room for lunch. They had mojitos, I was the designated driver.

Len had a good trip to Columbus and met my girlfriend's grand-daughter. He's in New York with my sister where they've caught two musicals so far, but don't ask me what they were. One captured a bunch of Tony awards last time out and the other was in previews. Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig will be Thursday night. Not in a musical, unless you count the singing of someone's cell phone as captured in the very illegal video up on YouTube.

Ace was pronounced in excellent shape by the vet when he came out to do fall shots on Saturday. I showed Dr. Perdue the packet of material I got from Cornell University, which is doing a study of horses. It came with a 10' tape-measure, detailed instructions about what measurements to take, a form for the measurements, and a sheet to attach mane and tail hairs to collect hair-bulbs for DNA analysis. I'll be happy to post the contact information if anyone else would like to have their horses included in the study.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Where's the Chicken Soup When You Need It?

I think I may be coming down with the flu. I woke up with a punk stomach and I was chilled and then I got warm. I've got aching in my skull and joints, itchy eyes, and a funny taste in my mouth. I have broken down and taken the Tamiflu we've been hording. I needed to be at work today to check out something that has turned into a bit of a mess. The correction has been made, but there was a timed release of an e-mail which I cannot reverse myself. I'm hoping the boss can recall it and send out the corrected e-mail with the proper link without too much trouble when he finally comes back later today. I've left him voice mail and I may go home if I don't feel better real soon. Fortunately, I am not coughing or sneezing--yet. I worry about spreading anything.

Len's off to Columbus, New York, and Baltimore. Two conventions book-ending meetings at DC Comics, and, most importantly, a night at the theatre with my sister as the guest of the lovely Hugh Jackman. I wish I could jump in a plane to be in New York on Thursday night, but I've got tickets to see August: Osage County here on Friday night and the city-wide King Trivia tournament finals on Saturday afternoon. Much as I would like to see Hugh and meet Daniel Craig (yes, they are invited back stage), I'm delighted my sister gets to meet them in my place. I've got my fingers crossed that she's going to earn her waivers today to finally get her SAG card, and it would be a great way for her to celebrate.

Assuming I'm not coming down with the cooties, I'm planning to treat the Sunday Super Supper Club to an recipe from Marcella Hazen that I love, but Len wouldn't like (he's very limited in the kinds of fish he will try.) Fortunately, it really doesn't take all that long to prepare, because I'm planning on going to the Pasadena City College Swap Meet with Susan and Kathryn on Sunday morning. I figure if I do my shopping and prep of Saturday, I'll be fine.

The Arabian Prince hasn't seen much of me lately. Between the heat and my week, I finally got a chance to stop by yesterday. He's having a great time jumping. As long as he doesn't do it with me, that's fine. I've got the premium for the big Arab show at the Equestrian Center over Thanksgiving weekend, and we're trying to figure out which classes he'll enjoy doing. I'm willing to let Ashley jump him if she wants to. I'd like to get my Schlesse adjusted for him ahead of time, because it's a beautiful and under-used saddle. Unfortunately, there hasn't been a Schlesse clinic near by for quite a while, and I haven't been able to ferry him to one.