Saturday, January 19, 2008

Dr. Virtue and her Prophetic Mythical Creatures

I was in Santa Cruz a couple weeks ago with Debra (more on Monterey adventures soon), and we popped into a earthy spiritual candle-y world goods store for a moment of relief from the pouring rain.

Imagine my shock and awed delight when I stumbled upon these:

I have been feeling a little lost lately; perhaps these unicorns had some answers for me? Or, I found the whole concept of "magical unicorn oracle" cards so fascinating and ridiculous that I could not help but buy them. The cashier, however, was not amused with my amusement.

We rushed to the car and opened the pack. Before learning my destiny, I glanced at the guidebook. From the back:

Unicorns have the purest energy in the elemental kingdom, which consists of magical beings such as fairies, mermaids, and leprechauns. This purity is one reason why children love and trust them. This card deck is written in an easy-to-read language so that those who are young at heart and pure of intention can connect with the magical unicorns' guidance and help. Many of the 44 cards have words and beautiful paintings that were suggested by young Crystal and Indigo Children, making their positive messages even more magical!

Inside, a bit of clarification: All the cards have positive messages that you can trust, because the unicorns want to help you feel happy, safe, and loved. They also want your wishes to come true. (oh, good. these are not evil, menacing unicorn oracles) Unicorns are angelic helpers who want to assist us in living happier and healthier lives. Just think, Unicorns, please help me with this! and they will work with the rest of Heaven to assist and guide you. By working with these cards, your life will become even more magical. The unicorns hope that you enjoy working with them!

and so I thought aloud, Unicorns, help me! and drew this card:
And indeed, a good laugh is what I got. Here are some of my favorites:

These unicorns sure like cats. But I guess dolphins and killer whales are also friendly with these magical beasts - and now that I think of it, I know Lisa Frank would definitely agree.

Thank you, unicorns. Thank you.

If anyone's interested in their own personal reading, let me know.

Monday, January 7, 2008

right coast adventures

I was in New York last week. The whole being-there made me glad. I love that place.

The chronology, in pictures and occasional anecdotes:

27 Dec 007: flew to Buffalo, NY. I'd never been upstate before, and I was looking forward to seeing family not seen in 10+ years, along with feeling bona fide winter weather. Great-aunt Betty and her husband Al picked me up from the airport. We stopped briefly at Uncle Al's sister's house - a not-too-shabby 36-room, 7-bathroom, 4-kitchen, 2-bar, 1-laundry chute joint that took my breath away. Made an excursion up to America's Hat (aka Canada) to see The Niagara Falls. This is a picture of a Giant Wendy Head, with the falls in the background.
We headed east the next day, toward their home in the Finger Lakes district. Along the way, they kindly stopped at a few sites that are of religious significance to me. These included the Hill Cumorah in Palmyra, the printing shop where the Book of Mormon was first published, and a grove near the Smith family farm. Betty and I posed beneath a statue of the angel Moroni (Moroni awkwardly not pictured, but you can see the cat I adopted briefly whilst we were on the hill):
And this is Uncle Al (on the right) with Amy's winter coat warming a cold Wendy (on the left):
The grove in winter - looks, and actually IS, just a nice grove of trees. But what happened there was pretty great.
Betty and Al are very educated and wonderful tour guides. While I was upstate with them, I visited the Women's Rights Museum in Seneca Falls (that's where the first Women's Rights Convention was held in 1848, with Susan B. and Elizabeth Cady and all those ladies who, you know, got things started here in the states). We also visited a number of canal locks on the former Erie Canal, as well as the Canal Museum in Syracuse. This is one lock we saw - sadly, they don't use them in the winter. Freezing water. Go figure.
The Irish neighborhood in Syracuse centers around Tipperary Hill, which boasts the only stoplight in America that has the green light on top (see below). Irish kids kept throwing stones at the red light on top to break it until the city finally gave in and let them have it their way. The Byrne part of me raised my figurative glass of Guinness in celebration of how cool that is.
And then I took off for a couple days in the city. Blessed friend Hyeku was kind enough to let me crash on her floor one night so I wasn't stuck on a wet park bench somewhere. I dropped my bag off at her place early Sunday morning, went to church, then set out adventuring. All the requisite foods were consumed (pizza at my favorite place, hot sausages from the street, Grey's Papaya, Dunkin' Donuts, roasted coconut, meaty Russian pastries and poppyseed delights...I could go on).

And I walked a good...240ish blocks, because that's what I like to do in my favorite pedestrian city on earth. While I was walking down Broadway, I encountered a dancing toilet. She was beckoning me to go inside and use these Amazing Charmin Restrooms Set Up Just For the Holidays! I could not refuse. I marvelled. There were photo op areas. There was a huge line. There were dancing bears (dancing because they had to pee, of course). What were they dancing to? Oh, the Charmin NY Bathroom Theme Song with accompanying music video, naturally. Lyrics referenced 'dancing cheek to cheek'. I was indeed amazed enough that I bought a commemorative shirt.
I walked through Chelsea and Greenwich Village, with the goal of eating an early dinner in Little Italy. After buying 2 cannoli from my favorite bakery Ferrara's, I settled on a place to eat. I walked in at the same time a group of 13 folks was about to be seated, and I wound up joining them. Basically, this was one of the best things that happened in 2007; this Italian clan from New Jersey, comprised primarily of families relating to Toni-Ann & Joe, and Joe's best friend of 30 years Mike, and Mike's fiancée Denise, were ridiculously funny and warm. I had the best meal and the best time and the best pasta sauce recipe that Denise wrote out for me to try upon my return to Cali.
Joe also made friends with the restaurant owner and Sicilian wine distributor, a guy straight outta The Sopranos who tossed off phrases like 'fu-ghed aboudit' and had slicked back hair and a wry sense of humor. He gave us a bottle of wine, then told us we had to go up the street to Caffé Palermo, where his brother Baby John made the best cannoli in the world. So, I went. I bought 4. I ate them as I walked through Chinatown in the rain...
...finally stopping on the Brooklyn Bridge to finish the last one. It was really rainy, so the bridge was empty of people. Wonderful!
The next day, I returned to the Brooklyn Bridge. I decided to climb up one of the cables. No one said anything, except for one fellow who, running by after my descent, said it was 'beautiful to watch'. 'twould not have been so if I'd slipped, but I did not slip.
I went to Brooklyn. That's where Aunt Betty & my grandpa come from. They lived near Coney Island and Brighton Beach. Brighton Beach is all Russian now, and I love visiting it, seeing all the older Russians walk along the boardwalk in their furs.
I also visited the Green Wood cemetery in Brooklyn for the first time. I enjoy wandering around graveyards, and this one proved pretty great, not least because as I was walking on one hill, I realized I could see the Statue of Liberty in the distance:
As it was New Year's Eve, I decided to treat myself to a nice meal. Betty had told me of a steakhouse her father had taken her to often, and I found out it was still open. The Old Homestead is apparently NY's oldest steakhouse, and it suited my needs just fine. I dined on the most expensive self-bought meal of my life, but the rare house signature filet mignon on the bone was Pavarotti was singing to my tastebuds, or something. And Whoopi Goldberg came in for her New Year's Eve meal as well, so you just knew the place was good, right?

When I'd finished there, I went walking to find a diner where I could get dessert: red velvet cake (a Comptron New Year's Eve tradition) and a Brooklyn egg cream soda, which I'm sipping below. I did not wear that hat in the steakhouse.
After midnight celebrations watching fireworks on the Brooklyn Bridge, I made my way back to California.
I heart NY.

celebrations of yesteryear

december was a celebratory month. things i was happy about:

making 17 cardboard christmas monsters with kat,
then climbing telephone poles,
and even light poles (with exceptionally fabulous stranger Chris) in order to gift holiday public art to some of our nearest and dearest amigos.
merry christmas, indeed.
other pseudo-criminal activities involved having friend jrum kidnapped, bound, thrown in a trunk, and dumped off at the century city mall...
where friends engaged him in a variety of tasks in order to receive the 27 gold pieces he needed in order to get a moustached cab ride home.
happy birthday, indeed.
wearing that red dress pictured here a whopping 8 sundays in a row, and having exactly 2 people notice and question the repetition.
learning the wonders of the magic bullet by blending up a sweet potato pie and subsequent protein shakes with mom.
time with papatron and jäger,
captaining a ship with mushy after failed attempts to prove our athletic prowess on the nearby baseball diamond and basketball court,
having same sister remember aisle antics from years before AND give me memorabilia from previous lion-carcass-slaying endeavors,
but mostly, the glee of a comptron family (almost) reunion. look at that happiness. just look!