Really? No, can’t be. But it is.

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Labor Day. A nice three-day weekend. A day off that signifies the end of summer.

WHY GOD WHY!?!?!?!?!?

I know I can’t regulate the passage of time, (cuz if I could I’d have a lot fewer birthdays I’ll tell you that much…) but COME ON! How did the summer slip away so fast?

Here we are again. September.

Heck, the frappin’ New Mexico State Fair (Oh, excuse me, Expo New Mexico) is just around the corner…like…starting on Friday.

The days are noticeably shortening.

Before you know it, Halloween will arrive with the chill it brings in the evening breeze. (the stores already have Halloween candy on the shelves!)

Pretty soon it will be five freaking thirty in the evening and pitch black outside…while I toil away at work.

Then the time changes.

Gah!

The Good Man spent some time last night explaining to me, again, how September and October are the *best* months in the Bay Area and I should be happy for Indian Summer. I am not.

I need sunlight! I’m a wilting flower in the hazy, cloudy skies!

(she says, whimperingly, while it’s planned to be 90 degrees here today…)

*sigh*

Seasons change. People change.

Basically, if I could go back to the week of my honeymoon in the heart of summer, sitting under an umbrella by the beach, happy hour at sunset…THAT would be great.

Instead I stare mournfully out my window…at work.

Maybe this is less about the seasons on the calendar and more about the seasons of my life, eh?

Spare MY Air please!

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Another Spare the Air day in the hazy, blisteringly hot Bay Area.

Yesterday afternoon, needing a break from the desk and recycled indoor air conditioning. I went outside to take a walk and didn’t last long. The block ahead of me lay in wavering smoky haze and the heat was oppressive.

This morning I walked to the train station and felt a distinct burning in my throat. Given that my dad suffered a terminal lung disease, these sort of burning lung moments do not give me humor.

The local paper is reporting more of the same.

Ugh.

Image via.

Whoa!

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Had a mindblower of a weekend.

In celebration of the birth of The Good Man, we had a (much necessary) weekend away.

Somewhere where cell phones don’t work and television, p-feh…who needs ’em anyway?

We got a little wild. :)

We went to a place called Safari West. It’s located north of the Bay Area, just outside of Santa Rosa.

It’s an over 400-acre ranch that houses exotic animals of all kinds.

The owners have been working this place since the late 1980’s and it’s amazing.

I’m still processing it all…and the over 700 photos I took. (Yes, I said 700).

Highlights of the trip:

On the first night we were there, a baby Giraffe was born. It was a bit of a surprise to the Safari West folks. They knew mama Marla was pregnant, just didn’t know she was ready to go.

Here’s a photo of our as yet unnamed hero. This is about seven hours after his birth. Sssh, he’s sleepin’.

Is a hard thing getting born. Especially for a baby giraffe who plummets some six feet to the ground with a whump then is up on his wobbly pins about an hour later.

Here he is a bit knock kneed but doin’ it.

But that was not the only fascinating new thing…

That same night, Safari West took delivery of 38 flamingos and installed them in their new enclosure. I have always been a HUGE fan of flamingos. The Rio Grande Zoo used to have quite a few. Don’t know if they still do. But as a kid, they made a big impact on me.

These are “greater” Flamingos (their “lesser” and more colorful cousins will be arriving soon).

From there, it’s hard to pin down all the amazing things!

Lemurs.

Cape Buffalo (that’s some scary sh– right there….)

Cheetah

And on and on and on. That’s not even scratching the surface.

OH! And Zebra. I adore Zebra.

And Watusi cattle!

And! And! And!

It was amazing. A photographer’s dream (though tough too. Animals don’t, you know, pose).

We also slept in genuine tent cabins constructed by South African craftsmen and modeled on safari tents, including wood floors and open space. They were actually really nice and quite comfortable, though a bit cold at night.

In the dark we could hear all the animals of the safari calling and howling and, you know, doing what wild animals do.

I can’t even begin to write out how utterly geeked out I still am from the weekend…

We’ll be talking about this for weeks.

Dreams can come true!

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This weekend, I’m happy to announce, a dream of mine came to realization. And I’m still totally geeked out about it.

You’ll have to forgive me while I wax rhapsodic about this. It may mean little to you but it made my whole day, month, year…

As noted, I’m a fan of baseball. Lately I’ve been spending more time at the local minor league ballpark for the San Jose Giants. They are a single A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.

Part of what makes minor league baseball so engaging is that the organization tries *really* hard to make it fun for the fans. For the first seven innings of the game, they provide entertainment in the form of contests and games that involve selected fans from the crowd.

They do things like “Putt For Cash” where the contestant tries to putt a golf ball into a kiddie pool. Another where a kid tries to whack a plastic hockey puck into a net that is guarded by an adult in full hockey goalie gear (Shark’s gear, naturally). There’s a rousing game of musical chairs, little kids doing “Dance for your Dinner” (the one that gets the crowd’s approval for their moves get a hot dog and a soda), and racing the mascot, Gigante.

But by far my favorite of all the games is called “Smash for Cash”. A big, old, belching panel truck is brought out onto the field. It sometimes rolls reluctantly. At one game it stalled twice before reaching its destination. Once arrived near the dugout, a blanket is laid under the front. Three San Jose players are recruited to pair with a fan. The player is handed two baseballs that he then hurls at the van in an attempt to smash out the headlights. If he succeeds, he gets $100 (no small change for a guy who makes maybe $6,000 a year) and the fan gets a gift certificate for dinner.

I *love* this game. LOVE IT. Love it most when you hear the distinctive sound of breaking glass, the headlight goes dark and the crowd goes wild.

In order to be chosen as one of the fans to participate, you have to have a scorecard with a printed number. If your number is chosen, you’re in.

I’ve been going to San Jose Giants games for ten years. Every time I go I long to be the one called to my favorite game. I clutch my number close to my chest and hope.

On Sunday, three numbers were put up on the scoreboard for Smash for Cash. None of the three were mine. Ah well, just another day at the yard.

If they don’t get quick response to the numbers, they choose new ones. So a couple innings later, two more numbers were on the scoreboard. This time, one of them was mine.

W00t!

I leapt from my seat, got a kiss from my man, and literally ran to the press box to claim my rightful place in the Smash for Cash contest.

The guy in the press box was announcing the game, scoring the game, and running all the promotions. A very busy, but quite nice guy.

He got my name and then asked, “We’re having trouble getting a third. Do you know anyone else who might want to play?”

Why yes I do, his name is The Good Man.

“Ok, you both are in.”

“Go right now!” I was told.

I vaulted back to the seats, waved over TGM. He followed with a puzzled look and I explained on the run that he was player number three.

We signed waivers (of course we did), were handed two baseballs and quickly enough were led onto the field at the middle of the sixth inning.

My player was Pablo Sandoval, catcher for the SJ team.

As I handed him two baseballs, I told him, “I wanna hear some breaking glass!” He laughed and said, “Aw, don’t tease me.”

This stout catcher can bomb down a runner at second, but he only needs to be “in the vicinity” to get ‘er done. So owing to that, mostly, he was unable to knock out a headlight.

TGM got Juan Ciriaco, shortstop. Juan has a hell of an arm, but not enough precision to smash a headlight.

As soon as it began, it was all over. There were no winners that day.

But there was ONE happy girl bouncing around, thrilled to have finally fulfilled the dream of getting the call to participate in Smash for Cash.

Later in the game, “my guy” Pablo Sandoval took one hell of a hit at the plate while trying to keep a run from scoring. So whatever grumpy feelings I had about not winning a dinner were long gone as he lay on the ground seeing stars. He won me back to his side in a big way.

I’m sure after that hit, he can’t even remember his name, much less the crazy girl with a grin on her face.

Thus is the way of baseball.

Here are a couple really amazing photos from this Flickr stream and this one too. This is a “right in there” view of the agony and ecstasy that is Smash for Cash. Enjoy. Check out the rest of both Flickr streams for views from Muni Stadium.

Windex, please

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Today is a nice day. I mean a *really* nice day. Yesterday was a NICE day. Sunny. Clear. Warm.

What am I?

A *grownup*

What does that mean?

I have to *work*

I can’t run around outside being silly and leaping after butterflies.

No, I have to be all *responsible*

Ugh.

It’s not fair.

I’m in my office with my nose pressed against the window. The sun is *out there*! I can see it! I need to have that! Why do I have to sit here and read contracts while there is FUN outside!

*sigh*

rattin’ smattin’ employment……