Monday, May 28, 2007

Get ready for Peregrine Falcon season!

It's that time of year again! Get ready for falcon season.

This photo is one that appeared in the New York Times last week, taken from a wildlife "falcon cam" somewhere in New York (I think it was in Albany). Our local Binghamton nest, which is one of only about 50 breeding pairs in all of New York state, doesn't have its own camera (yet, due to inaccessability) but, as you may remember, it's located behind an architectural element on the 9th floor of my law firm's beautiful 1904 office building, so I get to witness firsthand the remnants of their voracious appetites (their "crumbs" = pigeon parts).

Since I can't directly observe what's going on in my very own falcon nest, I live vicariously through the falcon cam that chronicles Rochester pair nesting high in the architectural details of the Kodak headquarters. This website is my "home page" at work, and I gotta say, it is COOL. It is amazing to watch these four little beasts go from freshly-laid eggs to a heap of little cotton balls to something that is finally starting to resemble the insanely efficient raptors they are going to grow up to be in just a month or two.

Spring "flowers" in our neighborhood

Our neighborhood is full of very quaint, early 20th century houses that, if they were located in Los Angeles, would be filled with artists and other creative types. Here, however, the houses are sometimes rundown, have often been stripped of historically interesting architectural details, and are occupied primarily by regular old boring families.

However, we have one neighbor who is the odd duck in the lot, which I should have guessed when I bought his vintage porn collection at last summer's garage sale. Each spring, this gentleman's yard boasts a new crop of "spring flowers." You can see from the photos, however, that these aren't real flowers, but vintage kitchen utensils, painted in fancy colors. There are scores of them, as you can see. The best part, I think, is the fact that, last year, they were painted pink, blue and white. This year, he repainted his posies and opted for orange, red and white, which I think is fabulous and about 100 times more whimsical than anything around.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Wedded Bliss

They said it wouldn't last, but John and I are about to celebrate our second anniversary in a few days. Last week, when the topic of our anniversary came up, John made an unfortunately confusing sentence choice and asked me, "Which one is it?" This, of course, played into every cliched "dumb husband" statement I'd ever seen on TV, and I immediately thought he was asking me how long we'd been married.

My John? Not so dumb, and of course he knew which anniversary it was- he was asking, instead, which anniversary it is, meaning silver, gold, wood, rock, paper, scissors . . . you know what I'm talking about.

So we went online to find the answer about the second anniversary: Cotton it is! The first anniversary was paper, which made sense because obviously we were going to give each other cards, but cotton? Well, John has been wanting a new pair of jeans and he didn't get any for his birthday last week, but still, it seems a weird symbol and not sure how to translate "cotton" into "undying love."

Again we turn to the internet to solve the mystery. Some suggestions we found were "placemats" and a "nifty pair of socks." (Hmmmmm, I've already got some of those.) The biggest stretch was probably the suggestion to "Plan a Cotton Club-themed party." Please.

Turns out, there are a lot of anniversaries with a lot stranger commemorative items than cotton, and a lot stranger traditions. Consider these doozies:

4th anniversary: Modern gift = Appliances; Traditional gift = flowers or fruit.

44th anniversary: Modern gift = Groceries (maybe, by that point in a marriage, a wife would really be truly happy if her husband actually helped with the shopping. Maybe the 45th anniversary should be symbolized by the gift of "putting the toilet seat back down" or "picking up your dirty underwear"?)

48th anniversary: Modern gift = Optical Goods (I guess it's long past giving "lacey" things and onto giving "bifocal" gifts at this point in life. But maybe this could translate into "telescope for watching the neighbors on their first anniversary, if you know what I mean!)

100th anniversary: Modern gift = 10 carat diamond (!!!) Well, I guess it's pretty safe to make up whatever you want to commemorate the 100th anniversary, since I'm guessing there haven't been too many of those in the history of the universe. I mean, why not say 10 carat diamond? I would also offer the alternative suggestions of "Uranium," "Space Shuttle Rides to the Moon," and heck, while we're at it, how about "Lap Dances." I mean, live it up! You're both 120 years old, been together for two lifetimes, and probably need a little spice, right?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

What is with Americans and their Euro-picnics?

On our visit to Venice, we were struck by a couple of signs that were in English-only and therefore appeared to be speaking to American tourists. The funny thing was that they were both about the same thing: picnics! The first one, found on the glass-blowing island of Murano, simply read "No Pic Nic." The cranky guy, in his Guido-black-leather coat on a warm day, only sealed the visual.
The best one, though, was found near a gondola landing that apparently also attracts unwanted tourists. It read, classicly: "Please - No Pic Nic, No Dirty, No Sit - Thank you!" Really, how dirty are we picnicking, sitting tourists?

Rome meets Cabo, or NOT!

Our Italy trip was really fabulous, in part because it was relatively tourist-free in March. We did not feel we were being bombarded by salespeople, or targeted as being tourists. Which is why this restaurant/bar placard, in a very touristy section of Rome, really struck me. Where was I, Cabo? This was so out-of-place, it transported me to cheezy, tropical climes . . .

Just take a good read of this ad showing the place's "drink specials." Is it really a "CRAZY NIGHT, EVERY NIGHT, ALL NIGHT LONG"? Because if it is, boy, I wanna party with YOU guys. Where else can I get some "Tequila Bum Bum" for only 2 euros (no, I have no clue what "Tequila Bum Bum" is), or "Every Kind of Shoy"? Thank God they are open until 4:00 a.m. because I can't get me enough of that "bum bum."

When I die, I hope somebody finds a decent photo of me!

So I finally got John to upload our Italy photos (they are really amazing- if anyone wants to see all of them, just email me and I'll "share" them online) and now can blog about my thoughts on some of the stuff we saw there in March.

We both like things a little off-the-beaten-path, and after a couple of days wandering around Venice we were ready to branch out and get away from the tourists. Ever wonder where you go when you die in Venice? A city built on hundreds of islands and with no place to bury you? Well, I read about a "cemetery island" called San Michele, which (cool google map link here!) sits in the lagoon, right near the glass-blowing island of Murano.
We took a boat out there for and found an incredible gem: literally an island of solitude and tranquility amidst the craziness that is Venice. The thing that first struck me about all the tombstones is that virtually all of them have photos of the deceased on them. But the really funny thing is how freaking AWFUL the photos are. Check out the photo (above) of our dearly departed friend Elena D'Este.
Now, I don't speak Italian, but I'm pretty darn certain that this moustachioed person is a WOMAN, but who could tell from the photo? She looks pretty pissed off, in general, and I can see why- her descendants must have been pretty bad if this was the photo they chose for her to be remembered by.
Good God. Please, when I die, somebody track down one of my wedding photos or something from when I was young and relatively beautiful- not the photo from my 84th birthday when I'm about to take my dirt nap.

Friday, May 04, 2007


Eleven months of stressing about it, four months of studying for it, and three months of waiting for the bar results paid off- I found out this morning that I passed the New York bar exam!!!
I got a call last night from a woman from Australia, who I met through this blog, actually, who told me the results would be posted online at 10 am. This horrible NY Bar website hasn't changed in months, it seemed, but now it was going to spit out my results in the next 24 hours?? Unbelievable. Exciting! and TERRIFYING.
I'm not exactly celebrating, just breathing a sigh of relief that I avoided failing, one more time. It is pretty amazing to have passed both California and New York, by far the two hardest states, on the first try- that feels very good.
I can't really explain it, except to analogize as follows:
It's like being on trial for a murder you didn't commit. You know you are innocent, and everyone tells you you'll be acquitted, but you still have to go through the horrible process and then wait for what seems like ages while the jury is out, deliberating your fate. You try not to obsess, because you know you can't do anything more at that point.
Then, when the jury come back and reads the "not guilty" verdict, you breathe a huge sigh of relief, and everyone tells you that justice was done, that they knew you'd be found not guilty all along, etc. But still, you protest, "I could have gone to JAIL! And innocent people are found guilty all the time!" And, if you had been found "guilty," guess how many friends you'd have? None. And everyone would talk about your guilt behind your back. Awful, I tell you.
OK, maybe that's an overstatement, but my point is clear: yes, I'm smart enough to pass, yes, I put in my study time diligently, and of course I passed. But still, strange things happen and there is always that chance . . . so I'm just sooooo relieved that I will not be saddled with that life-long scar, something like having a bankruptcy or a criminal record in your personal history, that would have always lived with me . . . "Anne Williams: Bar Failer." NOPE, not ME!
p.s. the photo is of the very thoughtful and beautiful orchids that arrived at my office, just a few hours after I got the results, from "my family." I'm not positive who that is, but they are gorgeous and I can't believe you (you know who you are) were able to track down orchids around these parts!