Sunday, June 28, 2009

welcome (gasp!) home

We left Bozeman yesterday morning on the 7:30 flight. It was cool, clear and bright as we lifted out of the lush, green Gallatin valley, over the snow-dusted mountains and into Salt Lake. From there we took an 11:00 flight to Sacramento. Cait had told us that getting seats would be dicey; there had been some slow-downs in Atlanta that then have a ripple effect for all Delta flights. But we did make it onto the plane, along with about 20 service men and women returning from duty in Iraq. The passengers and crew gave them a rousing round of applause, well deserved. Mr. C sat next to their sergeant; they were from a reserve unit and all came home safely. We landed in Sact'o at noon, stepped out of the terminal and were blasted by the heat. Thermometers registered at 103º! I feared for my newly planted garden which, alas, took a beating despite the sprinkler system. Heat is supposed to keep up ~ 106º today ~ for a few days, then cool off. Replanting is ahead.

Back to Bozeman. (Couldn't report in as trusty LapMac didn't like the connection and one day there was no internet at all, so I gave up. Obviously I am not a serious blogger!) We had great weather of all sorts; sunny, warm, cold, chilly, wet, dry. Let's start with the sunny. Faithful followers of this blog may remember this in October, 2008. Now, seven months later!

The meadow was green and lush, trees and shrubs in beautiful bloom. Spring/summer in Montana is not to be missed. Although we didn't get there, the word on the street was that the park ~ that would be Yellowstone ~ was exceptionally beautiful. After two days of warm sunshine, we got two good rain storms, both in the late afternoon. This is the view of the coming storm from the front deck.

These afternoon storms keep everything green and fresh. And speaking of storms, I got the word on Hurricane Andres that was threatening to hit the Colima coast. He didn't come ashore but cause a lot of havoc with water and wind. Here's a photo that I copied from over at the Beach Circus.

Message from Jack said over 3" of rain, heavy gale force winds, high tides that carved out parts of the beach. But no damage to our house. I was afraid that if the winds got too high our palapa might blow off. Looks like we dodged this one.

Friday night we went out to dinner to The Montana Grill. Owned by Ted Turner, it serves mostly bison meat raised on Turner's various ranches. Something I learned: he is the owner of the second largest land holdings in the US. First largest? The federal government. I had bison pot roast; sweet, tender, lean. Mr. C had bison meat loaf; it was a hit.

In fact, the whole trip was a hit. It's always good to know that your children are thriving.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

from beautiful Bozeman

Out of the house at 4:30 AM to make a 6 AM flight. We made it onto a full flight, make the connection in Salt Lake and arrived here about 11. Weather absolutely gorgeous; blue skies, bright sunshine, everything very lush and green. The Ike dog is bigger and better (and funnier) than ever.

The only down side is that the laptop just doesn't like it here and won't work, so I can't upload photos until I get home. I have managed to get onto this PC to check email only to discover that the Colima coast of Mexico is girding up for a hurricane (Andres) due to hit today or tomorrow. I'll be watching the weather service for details. Our house faces the sea one block away, with nothing in between. We could get hit hard, depending on where the storm makes landfall. The watch is out between Lazaro Cardenas in Michoacan and Manzanillo, just 25 miles north of our little village. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, it's lovely and dry here at the mile-high abode of Cait and Mike. Now its off for some sightseeing, and to check the schedule and displays at the fabulous museum just a few blocks away. And, of course, to take more pictures of the delightful Ike.

Monday, June 22, 2009


This gentleman is Alfred E. Smith, also known as Al Smith, the governor of New York and candidate for president in 1928. He was the first Catholic to run for that esteemed office. One of the bricks tossed his way was that, if elected, he would be taking his orders from the Pope. Heaven for fend! When he was defeated by Herbert Hoover, the apocryphal story was that he sent a telegram to the Pope saying, "Unpack!"

So it is with us. I spoke with Caitlin yesterday morning. All flights from Sacramento to Salt Lake City were full. The flights from SLC to Bozeman weren't much better. On her advice we have postponed our trip until Tuesday. Flight availability looks better. I should explain that we fly stand-by since she is a Delta employee and we get "non-rev" status; we don't pay. I firmly believe that every family needs at least four children: the lawyer, the doctor, the priest, and the airline employee.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

I copied this wonderful photograph from over at No More Commas. This dynamic duo are family friends. It captures the essence of Father's Day. Alike as two peas . . . I have been without my own father for 30 years and I miss him deeply. Not a day goes by when I don't think, "Daddy would have LOVED that!" Especially current politics. He was a deeply committed liberal and did not suffer fools gladly.

As for the action in this crib to celebrate the occasion, we are packing to leave early tomorrow for Bozeman to visit Cait and Mike. And Ike, of course. Mr. C hasn't unpacked since we got home from Mexico so for him it's just a matter of adding a turtleneck shirt and a tasteful selection of the new underwear I bought him as an FD gift. As for me, since unpacking is the first thing I do when I land, I have to start all over again. Message from Cait this morning warns of rain and cold for a couple of days, clearing to sunny and warm. Polar fleece and shorts. Or polar fleece shorts.

Welcome to summer.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Lion King

I don't go to live theater very often so when I do it's a big deal. A big emotional deal. Mr. C. is not a fan of such entertainment. This afternoon I treated myself to "The Lion King." I thought I knew what to expect, but was completely overwhelmed when the lights went down, the curtain went up, and the music began. What appeared before me was magic; singing, dancing, costumes, lighting, strange animals, melodious languages (sounded like Xhosa and Swahili). The energy poured off the stage. My seat was transformed into a rocket that took me into another world conceived and brought to life by the fevered imaginations of Tim Rice and Elton John. I went willingly, joyously. I had a great view, made even better by the fact that the two patrons in front didn't show up (it was advertised as "SOLD OUT") so no tall gents (or ladies) with big hats to obscure the action on the stage. I laughed, I cried, I cheered. I left humming and happy.

Next to me was a little girl of perhaps 8 or so. Just as the show got underway she said to her Mom in a worried voice, "This isn't real, right Mom?" Well, yes and no.

Friday, June 19, 2009

cranky old man meets nerdy boy

I watched this splendid film yesterday. Funny, poignant, unbelievably irreverent. Three tissues. Clint Eastwood at 79 plays a lonely old curmudgeon who has every prejudice imaginable, and a word for each one. The story is that of the clash between generations, cultures and the sexes and the possibility of redemption. Don't miss it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

a license and a laugh

I have this eye problem and, as a result, I have to get a new driver's license every two years. Except that in this fair state, licenses are on a five year rotation. This is my one-year license period. That means that before we go back to Mexico I have to do this whole procedure all over again. Doctor's exam, paper work, drive test, all sometime after October 10 but before we leave. And if we should possibly leave earlier, that pushes it back into September. Practically next month! Every time I deal with this issue I remind the DMV that my "condition" has not changed in 20 years, and that up until five years ago I had the usual license period. Not interested. But this time I talked to the test-giver and pled my case again. He saw the logic of the argument but then looked in THE BOOK OF REGULATIONS. Not a chance of change.

To reward myself for putting up with this bureaucratic nonsense I watched one of my all-time favorite movies, "Hopscotch." Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson are a fabulous pair. A very young Sam Waterston shows already his penchant for seeing something slightly ridiculous in the human condition. Every time I see it ~ and I've probably seen it five times ~ I laugh out loud. And I already know when the laughs are coming.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

rewarding hard work

My reward for a morning of this,

aside from aching shoulders and filthy knees,
is this.

I'm moving to Skopelos soon.

Tomorrow I tackle the back garden. That reward is going to be "Grand Torino." I am very good to myself. Movie wise, that is.

Friday, June 12, 2009

but don't drink the water

The latest thing in Venice is the campaign to rid the city of unsightly plastic water bottles by encouraging denizens of that fair city to drink tap water. The ad slogan is loosely, Real Water. If you've ever been to Venice, the idea of drinking the tap water is, well, disgusting. I much prefer this use of the Grand Canal.

This snazzy little car was invented by a Venetian who got tired of waiting for water taxis and decided to solve the traffic problem himself. No word on the success of this venture. But it's mighty cute.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

bringing the burial mound to life

In the interior courtyard here there is a garden element I refer to as "the burial mound." Before we remodeled the house in 1988 it was covered with some sort of ice plant that looked horrid in the winter but pretty in the summer, plus a couple of Hawthorne bushes and some other shrub. then we took out all the lawn, put up a fence, tiled the front area and made it much more livable. But the burial mound was a problem. It has always been difficult to get anything to grow; hard soil, insufficient watering, boiling hot in the summer. But a few years ago I planted a Japanese maple and two birch trees that have grown to give lovely dappled shade to the mound. Then the problem was too much shade and no water, except what I would remember to sprinkle around. Now Rafa has provided a new watering system. Nothing will do but that I must rush out and buy shade-loving plants and try to make that spot in the garden look cared for and inviting. It was off to Loew's where I always find the best plants, even better than one of our local indie nurseries.

I came home with quite a nice selection of perennial shade lovers and a flat of impatiens. I could almost see them shy away from me as I strolled through the flowers; I've killed many impatiens in my day. I bought hostas, New Zealand tree ferns, Aucubas, and two Japanese Aralias ~ 10 plants in all. I'll plant the flowers in and around the other plants for a break from so much green. Let's see what makes it through the valley heat this summer.

I have two other shady spots up against the house that desperately need planting but again, the soil here is so bad even weeds don't grow. Enrichment, I know. That's next and then I'll try the New Zealand fern; it's very pretty, graceful and hardy. I really need hardy. I'll keep you posted on the survival of this effort. Next will be the planters in the back. The weather has been so cool and mild but it won't last for long, so things have to get in and established pronto.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

wednesday weeper

It was cool and rather blustery today. A good day for a movie. I watched "Under the Same Moon." Mostly in Spanish; have to keep my ear tuned. A ten tissue tale. Great acting from a little boy named Adrian Alonso.

the C's do Woodland

Since we didn't go to Bozeman we might as well stay home and spend money, right? Yesterday it was a grand sweep through Woodland, the seat of this fair county. First to look for pants for Mr. C, now that he has shrunk two sizes and it doesn't appear he will ever "fill out", as my mother would say. No luck. Then to La Superior, a great Mexican supermarket to get all the ingredients for tonight's enchiladas con pollo. Next to Home Depot to look for the outdoor lighting, in-ground and in-tree. Found the one but not the other. The plants were nothing to bring home, either. Basically it was a bust, but Woodland is a delightful little city. It has an abundance of old wooden Victorian houses on shady streets, a terrific library, a very funky Main Street (now, sadly, with many closed shops.) We'll make the trek down to Vacaville tomorrow to continue our various searches.

I am always on the lookout for items I need at the beach house. Yesterday I found this handy little gizmo.

My stove there does not have a very low setting. When I try to turn it waaaay down it goes out. I needed something called a heat diffuser. I remember my mother had one. It was about 8" in diameter and sat on the burner to regulate heat. The drawback was that it was probably made of asbestos, currently a big no-no. I found this today while trolling the aisles of Ace Hardware.

The idea is that you set it on the burner and Presto! Instant simmer. We'll see.

About yesterday's cryptic remark about the "don't ask, don't tell" court decision. Here's a bit more about it from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"The case, Pietrangelo v. Gates, was filed by James Pietrangelo, a former Army captain who was discharged for being gay. He was originally part of a group of 12 plaintiffs who were dismissed under the policy because of their orientation. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston rejected their suit last year. He appealed to the high court on his own; most other plaintiffs asked the court not to step in, preferring to let the administration deal with the issue. Their position was supported by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a nonprofit group that helps military personnel affected by "don't ask, don't tell." The network said another case that reached the Court of Appeals, for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, was a better vehicle to take the issue before the high court.

"In the Ninth Circuit case, former Air Force Maj. Margaret Witt, a decorated flight nurse, was allowed to pursue her lawsuit over her dismissal. The appeals court did not declare the "don't ask, don't tell" policy unconstitutional but said the Air Force must prove that discharging her advanced its goals of troop readiness and unit cohesion.

"I think this decision is an absolute travesty of justice and I think every judge on this court should be ashamed of themselves," said Pietrangelo, who served six years in the Army, seven years in the Vermont National Guard, and fought in Iraq in 1991.

"We'll see what the administration does about this one. I agree that it is a better case so perhaps they were waiting for a suit with more teeth."

I like the image of a three-piece sharkskin pinstripe just waiting to take a big bite out of . . .

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

your inner fish

I am not a biologist, paleontologist, or any other kind of "ologist." But I loved this book. It is a fabulous guided tour through "the 3.5-billion-year history of the human body." The author, Neil Shubin, writes in readable, understandable, non-technical language. It's funny, quirky, and utterly fascinating.

On the political front, the President has seen fit not to challenge the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the military. One of his campaign themes was his "fierce advocacy" of the rights of gays to serve their country. What happened here, Mr. President?

Monday, June 8, 2009

the war is over

To all the medical eyes who have been watching these past three years, the Patient is considered a recovery statistic. Therefore, I am laying down the arms of the Tonsil War and taking up everyday life again. Welcome to this new site where, God willing, normalcy (!) will prevai
l. I have been holding off writing anything, anywhere until I could unilaterally declare that this family has moved out of the war status and back to a place where the threat of dire disease does not pervade our thoughts. No more "How's he doing?" Let me just say that he's doing fine and with a few thousand calories more per day he'll be doing even better. I hope to write about things more interesting than illness.

The trip to La Jolla (remember that?) was great fun. Spent time with friends, went to the campus for various events; cocktail party Thursday night, beach gathering Friday that was sort of a bust since only a handful of people showed up.
Friday night my hostess had a dinner party for classmates and one of our teachers. There we were, these old broads sitting around the table laughing at our teen-age antics. Terrific evening. Saturday morning chapel service (always moving and lovely) followed by an al fresco luncheon. Spent some time with the woman who had been headmistress during my years there. She's 98 1/2 years young. Remembers everyone's name. Saturday night big blow-out Hollywood-style over-the-top party to celebrate the 100th birthday of the school. Flew home Sunday. Good weekend. A dozen of us are meeting again in Dallas in October. I guess we don't get enough of this re-hash stuff.

My classmate Sandy, with whom I stayed, lives in Mission Hills, a lovely old section of San Diego that boasts, among other things, lots of canyons. She shares her house with this adorable creature.

His name is Divot and he talks. I'm not kidding. Yes, he barks, but he also chatters. He also smiles. Very amusing.

Sandy bought an old house, completely gutted it and restored it to its original Craftsman-style glory. It perches right on the edge of a canyon that is covered in eucalyptus trees, masses of wild nasturtiums, some sort of vining wild rose and various other shrubs. Her neighbor transformed a rather ratty garden into something Monet would envy. The flowers spill over her fence and trail down the canyon. We sat out on the deck on Friday morning gazing at all this lush loveliness.

When I visit San Diego I am always amazed by the variety of plants ~ trees, flowers, shrubs ~ that grow there. The climate supports everything, unlike the hot valley where those delicate blooms would fry in an instant. But when I got home I discovered that summer had shown up while I was gone and the back looked quite beautiful.

It's still too cold to swim but perfect weather for gardening. In fact, we had quite a nice rainstorm, complete with thunder and lightening on Wednesday evening. Very refreshing. Rafa finished installing our new low volume sprinkler system. Next will be some up-lighting for the Japanese maple and birch trees. Then I think the House and Garden chores for the season will be done.

My sister is still in the rehab facility in CT. She may be home by July. Andrew is thriving in Shanghai. He found the government shut-down on June 4th to be quite amazing. Em is about finished with her freshman year. Alex will soon be busy getting her ready to head off to Thacher in August. Spouse and I were planning to fly up to Bozeman tomorrow but Cait reported this morning that it was 30º and snowing. Since Mr. C's thermostat was fried by radiation and he is always cold we have decided to wait until somewhat warmer weather.

During the last two weeks also saw my doc ~ A+. I visited my new car; I should get it in about a month. I've read a couple of books ~ John Banville's "The Book of Evidence" and C.J. Samson's "Dissolution." Recommend both. I have also watched several movies, including "Starting out in the Evening" (Frank Langella) which I loved, "Changeling" (Angelina Jolie and her lips; boring), "Flash of Genius" (Greg Kinnear) and yesterday "Doubt." A tour de force on everyone's part. Meryl Streep and Philip Seymore Hoffman are so good, so compelling. A shocking end. See it.