Monday, August 24, 2015

Sunday in the vines

I went up to Yountville yesterday to have lunch with a pair of delightful sisters who are my daughters' ages.  I've known them since they were just young girls and have watched them grow into beautiful women.  We met at Bistro Jeanty ~ I'm getting in shape for my Paris trip in 40 days!!

We sat out in the enclosed patio in this really quite French spot.  I had a salad of heirloom tomatoes of all sized and colors followed by a warm lamb tongue and potato salad.  It was incredibly delicious.  The other two had the same salad along with French onion soup.  We all agreed the bistro was every bit as good as advertised.  I haven't been in Yountville for ages.  I remember it as just a wide spot on the road where there were a couple of restaurants, a gas station, and not much more.  It has become just too, too trendy, jammed with tourists, eaters, shoppers, etc.  I think I liked it better in the old days.

Alex, Andrew and Emily were here over the weekend.  I had not seen Em since she came to Mexico on her Easter break 18 months ago, and Andrew since last Thanksgiving.  However, after several hours of lounging around the pool and covering all topics,  I feel caught up with them.

 I don't know why or how this movie got on my Flix list but it arrived, I watched it and liked very much.  Very quirky.  I recommend. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

beating the heat

When the temperature looks like this . . .

I am exceedingly grateful that I have this.

Gal pal Jackie was here for the weekend and for even more cooling off we went to a nice air-conditioned theater to see this:

It's good but you can certainly wait until it's available from the Flix.  Ian McKellen is always a treat to see and he is so here.

More hot weather expected tomorrow, then a bit cooler.  Mr. C returns from his Ohio safari on Thursday.  I hope he is refreshed and renewed after a few days down on the farm!

Monday, August 10, 2015

51 days and counting


In only 7 weeks I will be here.

That would be Paris, always a good idea according to Audrey Hepburn.  She knew well whereof she spoke.

Then I'm going here.

That would be Florence.

I am going with daughter Alex to celebrate a sort of anniversary.  Ten years ago we went on a barge trip on the Saône river.  Aside from the fact that the rudder broke loose from the barge and we got stranded and had to finish the trip by bus, it was terrific.  We arrive in Paris on Saturday, October 3, stay in a hotel for 4 nights (Les Marronniers in the 6th - MSMASSF and ECHJ take note!), fly to Florence on the 8th for a week in a smart apartment near Santa Croce, back to Paris (an apartment this time), and home on the 20th. I still am not quite sure how it all happened but reservations have been made, money has changed hands and it appears it's a go.  I can only take one suitcase so it's purge, purge, purge.  Plus I need room for all the scarves I always manage to find in both places, and of course a little something from Dehillerin's.


A few words about the rest of our road trip.  We left Bozeman in a driving rainstorm which didn't let up until we had covered 50 miles.  Then it was on to Coeur d'Alene, a lovely place I would very much like to spend some time in.  Next morning we headed for Walla Walla and Alex's sweet little house.  We spent  a relaxing afternoon sitting out on her deck enjoying the mild weather.  We had a lovely dinner outside, too.

Saturday we took a long walk along Mill Creek, passing by the playing field of WW Community College where 1200 fire fighters from all over the Pacific Northwest were bivouacked, doing battle with a big fire just to the west of town.  Brave folks all.

 Then we did some trendy chores including a trip to the Saturday farmers' market where we loaded up on fruits and veggies.

Next was the Walla Walla Roastery  for coffee, and a couple of bakeries for bread.  The larder was fully stocked!  In the evening we went to Brasserie Four in downtown for a wonderful dinner.  Both Mr. C and I had mussels in a luscious spicy tomato broth ~ I think it had coriander seeds in it and boy was it delicious.   Alex had bouillabaisse in a tasty sauce.  There was no bread and no sauce left over anywhere.

First thing Sunday morning Alex and I took a walk through her neighborhood.  It is filled with big, old, gracious wooden homes, most of which have large verandas, several fireplaces (by the look of the chimneys), rolling lawns and flower gardens.  They've been there since the early 20th century, most having been built by the wheat farmers for their families who preferred to live "in town".  At 11 0'clock we had an appointment for  a "private" tasting of some splendid reds.  The winemaker is a friend of Alex's so we got very personal attention and instruction.  I tasted and bought.  We took Mr. C home and Alex and I headed out to two more of her favorites, Gifford Hirelinger Winery and  Castillo de Feliciana.  At both we tasted and we bought.   We napped in the afternoon, no surprise.

Monday we lounged around the house, packed up, went shopping, made plans for our trip (see above!).  In the evening we had a little dinner party out in the garden under an umbrella.   Good food ~ shrimp and pasta ~ and good conversation.

Then it was time to head off toward Portland and the Oregon coast.  We drove down the Columbia River, past Portland and on to Tillamook, through that sleepy little town ~ except for the cheese factory ~ to Netarts right on the coast.  A lovely little place.  This was our home for the night.

It reminded me of Newport Beach in the 50's.  It was very comfortable, with a view to forever from the rickety porch outside our door.

Next morning it was up and on the road, the Redwood Highway, to Crescent City, CA.  It's a long, slow drive but really gorgeous.  Old redwoods, lots of ferns and forest blooms along the way.  Stayed at the Best Western in CC; another very nice iteration of that chain.  Thursday morning we were up and on our way home on the old US 101, mostly 2-lane and again, absolutely gorgeous.  But slow.  Oh my, is it ever slow.  We were going to turn off at Arcata to cross over to I- 5 but a big flashing sign announced a 1-2 hour delay due to road construction so we blew right on by and finally crossed over to I-80 at Novato.  Slow again, but things picked up after Vallejo and we made it home around 3 PM, 71/2 hours later.  It had been so cool and fresh when we left Crescent City - 52º.  In the valley it was at least 100º .   In fact, big heat wave over several days while we were enjoying delightfully cool days.


So here we are, back home again, still awaiting the landscaping of the garden although a batch of plants arrived yesterday.  Mr. C goes off to Ohio on Tuesday for his annual "greet the family" while I stay here and do whatever it is I do while he's gone which will include watching "Wolf Hall" and any other goodies I can find.  I finished "The Paying Guests" by Sarah Waters (I recommend highly) and have embarked on a Sinclair Lewis  binge; it has been many years since I have read his work and I am enjoying "Arrowsmith" no matter how dated.  Next will be "Elmer Gantry".  It's dry as dirt here in the valley and on my morning walks I watch lovely trees and gardens turn brown and die.  It's very depressing.  I'm paying scant attention to national politics; that's really depressing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

last day in Bozeman

We continued the birthday festivities for Mr. C with a wonderful dinner last night at the Emerson Grill in downtown Bozeman.

This building is the old Emerson Elementary School, now housing the restaurant, galleries, shops and offices.  Great use of the space.  We started with a grilled calamari that did NOT resemble rubber bands, Mr. C stuck with a vegetarian selection, I had Pasta Tutte Marerisotto
k with sausage, arugula, mushrooms  and garlic scapes, and Mike had a pasta carbonara.  Some desserts?  Of course!  A chocolate pot au creme with port wine and some sort of custard-y delight.  It was all washed down with , two bottles of Tangent Sauvignon Blanc.   We returned home full and happy and, for Mr. C, one year older!
Today was a quiet one, with reading out on the deck with the granddogs in attendance.
Zeke posing for his annual portrait.
Huck and his smiling face!

We moved inside when the afternoon rain started.

This next post is a video but I have no idea if it will show.  It's the sight and sound of the rain.  Maybe yes, maybe no ...?"> rain storm
.  Well, I just checked it out and it doesn't work.   I need more tech instruction!
Tomorrow we move on toward Walla Walla and a visit with Alex.  Tomorrow we'll be in Coeur d'Alene, a moste beautiful city.  Look for the next post from there.  Bye bye boys.  See you again soon, I hope.

Monday, July 20, 2015

what's new?

Absolutely nothing, you must be thinking, since I haven't posted here in I don't know how long.  But in fact, there has been quite a bit of activity since I went to ~ and returned from ~ La Jolla.  Here is a brief rundown of the past 3 weeks.

LA JOLLA:  Did everything I had hoped to do, saw everyone on my list, took walks, finished book (bio of Audrey Hepburn), got caught up with Phemie, went to a spectacular Evensong and got all the latest from sister Vicky, and had an all-around fine time.  A few photos from my Sunday trip to the local farmers' market.

It is held on the playground of an elementary school so it's big and paved and flat.  Fruits, veggies, plants, flowers, crafts, clothing, and lots of food trucks.  Crowded and bustling.  Festive as all get out.

There is an orchid vendor with the most exotic blooms I've ever seen.  Even Phemie, an orchid grower herself, found these beauties intriguing.

I bought some of these bright, sweet peppers to stir fry for our dinner.  So delicious.

Sunday evening, as I mentioned, we drove into San Diego to go the church at the Cathedral of St. Paul.  The service, usually attended by about 50 people, was absolutely packed.  Seems there was a convention of church organists in town and the service was to be followed by an organ concert. The music was gorgeous, soaring, uplifting.  As I looked around at the congregation, the beautiful cathedral building and its glowing stained glass windows, I thought of the nine worshipers in the church in Charleston who went off to their spiritual studies with glad hearts, and never returned home.   " O Death, thou comest when I had thee least in mind."  Everyman, Anon. 1485.

I think about these things, too, every time I go to an open market.  We come and go, stroll up and down the aisles and never think that someone might burst in to do us harm.  How lucky, so far, we are.

OK, enough of this mournful dirge.  On to other doings of the past weeks.

BACK IN THE VALLEY:  After getting back home it was time to get busy with the garden.  It's hard to keep it going when we are now around for so many months.   I decided to turn it over to our landscaper/gardener Tim, the fine chap who does his best to keep it alive in our absence.  I made a long list of what I need done ~ new plantings, emended soil, repair of the watering system, take out some things, cut down a very messy tree that is buckling the fence, repair of the electrical system, and anything else I can think of along the way.  He came over, made many good suggestions, gave us a date he could start and the rest is waiting.  Meanwhile I got the new succulents potted and positioned outside the front door.

 I put some things in pots, repositioned pots that were getting totally fried in our valley heat, planted hanging baskets and two wall-hung baskets, took a few dips in the pool to cool off, and generally cast a critical eye at how things look (not so hot in some places) and made more plans for the future.

This is the trunk of our very messy volunteer privet tree.  It's along the west side of the house.  Across the walkway are two surviving star jasmine shrubs that get NO sun and will be removed.

No more privet (looking south)!

Cleared bed (looking north), old jasmine gone, watering system repaired, awaiting row of dwarf pittosporumshrubs.  They'll be planted on both sides of the walk and, in spring, will give off a wonderful perfume.
The other beds will be refreshed, repaired and replanted with perennials.  It should be much prettier by next year.

ON THE ROAD:  Then it was time to pack up and head for Montana and Walla Walla to visit Cait and Alex.  First stop was Elko, NV so we could go to dinner at the Star Hotel Restaurant, a famous Basque eatery.

Whipped cream clouds over Elko
 I can't find an on-line photo but suffice it to say it's funky, busy, and not very good.  If you're on the road, want Basque food, head for Winnemucca instead and the Martin Hotel.  Really good!  Next morning it was off to Pocatello, ID for an overnight.   Most uncomfortable motel bed EVER, but it was only for one night.  And so here we are, in beautiful, green, cool Bozeman at the best little inn in town!

We took a different route this time.  Instead of going through the Galatine Canyon we headed for West Yellowstone and drove along the Madison River.  It was crowded with trout fishermen (and women, I presume) and floaters, even though the day was cool and overcast (Mike says that's the best fishing weather).  We stopped in Ennis, MT at this little spot, an inlet of the Madison.   Nice picnic area under the trees.

Next stop was Bozeman, Cait and Mike and the granddogs.  Everyone is well.

Saturday night sunset

Sunday morning, 6:30 AM, looking across the meadow
I took Mr. C to his favorite restaurant ~ Ted's Grill ~ for a birthday luncheon on Sunday.  Bison meatloaf sandwich and IPA suds.  This coaster is his memento from the occasion.

I don't have much to report on the "culture" front in the way of reading or watching.  Currently reading Sarah Waters' "The Paying Guests" read by the wonderful Juliette Stevenson.  Next up will be "The Art Forger" set partially in the Isabel Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.  Watching "The Crimson Field" on Masterpiece Theater and loving it.  Took my friend MAS's advice and watched "Red Dog" on the Flix instant watch; she didn't warn me about how much Kleenex® I would need.  Wonderful tale.  I'll have "Wolf Hall" waiting for me when we return; loved both it and vol. 2, "Bring up the Bodies."  Wish she'd finish up vol. 3!

That about does it from here except to add that I had a tiny little accident with Dorothy, the Smartie.  I turned into a parking lot too sharply and creamed her right front tire.  Have to get new tire and have the alignment worked on.  I hope I didn't do any further damage.  But there she sits in the garage, listing to the right, looking so pitiful.  And then I left town . . .

Saturday, June 27, 2015

La Jolla interlude

I am in La Jolla visiting old friends for a few days.    Fled the HOT valley yesterday for the cool, overcast, foggy southland.  I have photos to post later; I'm using a PC and have no idea how to do anything on it except type!  Tomorrow is the big farmers' market in the morning (after beach walks with dogs).  In the evening we'll drive into San Diego to attend Evensong at the Cathedral where I can visit my sister in her cozy little niche.   Monday is a coffee date with Vic's brother-in-law who is the interim rector at the Episcopal church in La Jolla, followed by lunch with yet another boarding school classmate, followed by a Shakespeare Film Festival at the Old Globe theater in Balboa Park (Lawrence Olivier's Henry V).  Tuesday is back home, exhausted but very happy to have been here.  I have always loved La Jolla and will move here when my ship comes in.  If ever.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

our local tianguis

This being Saturday it's Farmers Market day, so I roused myself early and went up to see what's good.  Needless to say, everything looked so beautiful, fresh and inviting.  This was my morning's haul.

This vendor had two big stacks of these beautiful carrots, some with the stems, some without.  What would you make with carrot stems?  Put them in a vegetable broth?

This stall also had gigantic yellow patty pans and green and yellow zucchini.  This is my favorite squash, steamed and slathered with butter and sprinkled with fresh rosemary.  Along with a lamb chop, of course.

L to r:  kale, leeks, onions.  I thought this last item might be a shallot but the grower said, "Not really."  What does that mean?  Yes or no?

Beautiful nectarines with a smell as good as they look!  Didn't buy any this week; they're still quite hard and small so I'll wait a week.

It's high season for cherries in the valley and several vendors had great piles of these glistening gems.

But these Ranier are my favorite and we came home with two boxes.  They'll probably be gone in a day or two.  So sweet and juicy!

Lots and lots of strawberries giving off their intoxicating perfume.  Hard to resist.

Or if you'd rather, you can always grow your own.  Plants available at several stands.

Many flower vendors, too, and I can never resist!

These  little (gluten-free) cakes are for dessert.  Looks like a layout for a Wayne Thiebaud paining.

And finally, something to put it  all into carry home.  Such a colorful collection of market baskets.

So that was my Saturday trip to the market.  Along with musicians,  the hustle and bustle of the vendors as they set up their stalls and the busy shoppers it made for a delightful start to the weekend.  Hope yours is as fun and (potentially) delicious.