Friday, July 30, 2010

seven months and still growing

We sat out on the deck this morning, sipping our coffee and enjoying the view across the meadow to the Bridger mountains in the distance. A beautiful hawk circled above us. The dogs lazed in the sun. It's good to be here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

from Potatoville to Big Sky Country

From Twin Falls to Pocatello, ID takes you east through rich irrigated farmland where the nation's potatoes grow. Miles and miles of leafy plants with tiny white and purple blossoms with a few thousand acres of corn plants to alter the landscape. From Pocatello we head north to Idaho Falls, and then NE to West Yellowstone. Hang a left toward Big Sky, where big shots with big bucks have big fun on their big spreads under a big sky. On north through the gorgeous Gallatin Gorge along the river. Many fly fishermen and rafters spotted. Frequent signs to be aware of the bears. Businesses like grain and feed stores, fishing outfitters, saddle repair shops. I knew we were getting close. And finally, Bozeman.

Best roadside sights. Old VW bus painted psychodelic colors parked by the side of the road sporting a hand-lettered sign on its roof: "METH? DON'T! EVER!" Further on, business next to a gas station: "BEST EASTERN TROUT INFO AND ICE CREAM".

The drive was fine. I wasn't feeling too hot when we started. It could have had something to do with my breakfast. Take the following hypothetical: Say you are a stomach into which your owner puts two greasy sausages, some cottage cheese, part of a gummy cinnamon roll, strong coffee followed by half a banana. What would you do? That's what I did to myself and myself was not happy. Things settled down after 3 or 4 hours and half a bottle of 7-UP.

The pups are like hyperactive teenagers, bundles of endless energy but very sweet natured and funny. I got hauled around by Zeke this morning on a walk, and he's the less rambunctious of the two. Photos tomorrow.

Gorgeous day; true big sky. Off to town to do errands and take a look around. And to make reservations for dinner at Ted's, Ted Turner's restaurant famous for its bison meat. Mr. C's favorite!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

twin falls, id

Ten hours and 595 miles later we are holed up in our hotel, watching the news, noshing on cheese, crackers and wine before going down the road to an Italian restaurant for dinner. We've been here before, you kn ow. The drive was long, boring, uneventful. We left home at 6:10 AM, hit Reno at morning rush hour, and pressed on into the wilds of Nevada. It's only after you leave the suburban areas of California and Nevada that you have I-80 to yourself. After Wells, NV we turn north toward Twin Falls. The sky was dark and low. The horizon looked like a fresh bruise, dark purple-blue-grey. Flashes of lightening, clouds of rain. We are exhausted, having been up since 4:30 for coffee, a brisk shower, a final tour of the house to be sure everything was in order.

On to Bozeman tomorrow. More from there.

Monday, July 26, 2010

trying again

We will head off to Bozeman tomorrow morning, hoping that this time we really do go. So far so good. Bags packed, laundry done, fridge cleaned out, garden trimmed and watered ~ it has been remarkably mild here for the past few days. This pattern is supposed to hold so we may not have a crispy dead garden when we return ~ papers stopped, library books returned. What have I missed? Have my reading materials at hand: Russ Baker's "Family of Secrets" (about the Bush dynasty), Denise Mina's "Resolution" (mystery set mainly in Glasgow), and "Game Change" (Obama election) by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. I can read right, left or Scottish. Taking two DVD's courtesy of the Flix®: Precious and The Projectionist. Cait always has a few good ones, too. Besides the humans and the dogs, much to entertain me. After five days with Cait and Mike we head to Spokane, then Portland to visit friends, then home.

We celebrated two birthdays in the Villa Splendido this week. On Monday it was Mr. C's. I invited him out to dinner but he was still too germy, with much coughing and hucking. I decided it was not a good idea to take him out in public. So we dined at home and had a bottle of Cava to mark the occasion. Then on Thursday, Dorothy celebrated her first birthday. She hasn't aged a bit. She performed perfectly the day before when we drove up to Chico, zipping past those big bully semis that clog up I-99.

I like Chico. This is a shot of the recently renovated central park. It's a typical college town with lots of restaurants, shops that cater to the 15,000 students, wide, tree-lined streets with bike paths, bike racks on cars and in front of stores. It was hot and still but not unpleasant. The magnolias and crape myrtle's were in bloom. And, like my own town without the full press of students, quiet and peaceful. I could actually find a parking space and didn't have to be on alert for oblivious bike riders, always a problem here at the beginning of term. I dropped off the oil cloth and Beth and I went to the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company for lunch in the Taproom, the brewery's restaurant.

Good lunch, good to get caught up.

My neighbor is heading to Italy next week. Rome and Florence. Only 8 days to do it all. I went over my notes and gave her some tidbits about Florence, but she has only 3 days there. What can you see in 3 days? Not much. And this is her first trip. I gave the usual list - Uffizi, gelato, coffee, Duomo, Fiesole, Pitti Palace, gelato, a couple of restaurants. That'll be about it. Oh, and don't forget the gelato.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

oil cloth mania

This is not your mother's old fashioned boring oil cloth. I buy it in Mexico (30 pesos per meter). The colors and patterns are gorgeous, as you can see. Makes perfect table coverings and, cut up and sewn together, two-sided place mats with each side a different pattern. The dining chairs at our favorite B&B in Tlaquepaque are covered in oil cloth, each one different.

Daughter Alex and I bought some of this on her recent trip to visit. Some she had bought years ago and now wants a tasteful selection of mats to use at home and give as gifts. I have many at the beach but none here, so I'll have some for myself. I am taking all of it up to Chico today to pass to my friend, Beth, to do the sewing. I'll show you what they look like when finished.

Meanwhile, here in the valley it's been hot and dry, perfect swimming weather. We are making one more attempt to get to Bozeman. Driving trip next week. Perhaps this time it will work.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

no go

It has turned out to be a "no go" for travel today. There were indeed two seats but we were not there to fill them. Yesterday afternoon I noticed that my left leg was slightly swollen, knee to toe. What in the world is this? By the time I turned out the lights at 9 PM, the swelling had increased and the calf and foot were stretched tight. No pain, no fever, no broken skin, no red streaks. Doc' advice: keep your leg elevated and call me in the morning. As a diabetic of many years I am very neurotic about anything out of the ordinary having to do with feet and swelling. As of 8 PM, much better, thanks.

Meanwhile the granddogs are learning to swim and I'm not there to witness this feat. But Cait has sent photos.

Latest plan is for a road trip later this month to Bozeman for 5 days, then home via Spokane, Portland, and I-5. This one will work, I'm sure. No need to worry about how many seats available. No need to empty pockets, remove belt and shoes, and we can travel with as much liquid as we can stuff into the car.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

yes, no, maybe

The Bozeman trip was canceled due to germs. Mr. C came down with one of his Olympic-sized colds starting last Sunday. By late Monday it was clear he could/should not travel, so we called it off. This morning he is feeling much better so it's now on again for tomorrow morning. The only remaining hitch is that the flights out of Sacramento to Salt Lake are, for the most part, full. Since we travel "stand-by" we rely on folks oversleeping or getting caught in traffic in order to get our seats. If we don't get on the 6 AM flight (5 available seats - we're 1 & 2 on the SB list) we'll bag it and wait until August. Big disappointment all around, but the good thing is I hadn't unpacked since the first plans were made. I'll be ready in a jiffy!

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Yesterday afternoon's gathering on the front lawn of Tom and Christine's home in the hills of Orinda was an echo of our past but also a look into the future. There were seven of the first generation of this group (aka the old folks) and two representatives of the second generation, Jackie's sons Tom and Ethan. Unfortunately our two 2nd generation-ers could not be there.

Tommy, with his youngest son Carter. I tried to get the other two, Sam and Brock, to sit still for a photo but was completely unsuccessful.


The third generation that was present is made up of their four children; T & C's three boys and Ethan & Maia's delicious baby girl, Kaia, whose greatest pleasure is eating.

Kaia, with her doting grandmother, Jackie

The rest of the guests were young couples and children, gathered to visit with Ethan and Maia who live in Geneva and only get to the US for a month in the summer. It was a group of very attractive, friendly people, mid-30's to early 40's who went to high school or university together. They're doing interesting things; teaching, technology, lawering, banking, painting, meanwhile raising children and having lives. Some of the children knew one another, but others didn't. Yet within minutes they were all having a fine time together and one can only think that this group of little ones will keep the tradition alive. It put us elders in mind of our salad days when we did the same thing, gathering at one house or another with kids and strollers and bottles and diapers to spend time together to renew amd refresh our friendships. There were, at one time, anywhere between eight and fourteen of us. We didn't turn out so badly nor did our kids. And neither will they.

We ate a lovely dinner made up of "international" cuisine ~ French cheeses and French wine, Greek salad, Mexican salsa and chips, Italian antipasto, Moroccan shrimp and couscous, Hawaiian chicken, German sausages, and for dessert, apple pie and ice cream. Everything was delicious.

It's getting hot here in the valley. We're heading for a week in the 90's. We're leaving for Bozeman on Wednesday to cool off in the high country. And to meet the new dogs. I met another new dog last week. He belongs to Rafa, who takes care of our garden, doing heavy pruning. He came by to pull out some dead shrubbery and brought Wilson with him.

Wilson, a Lab-Cocker Spaniel mix, is tri-lingual; English, Spanish and Dog. A fine specimen.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mexico comes calling

Last evening we had dinner with a couple who live just down the road from us in Cuyutlán. They're here to visit family and friends, do a little smart shopping, and attend to other norte business. I got caught up on the town news ~ the theft of a transformer from an electric pole so the thieves could get their hands on copper wire, the construction of a couple of new casas grandes in the colonia including one by a young couple from Sacramento, the illness (but recovery) of one of my favorite denizens, the report of the repainting of Jack's casa which is, by all accounts, a beautiful change. We had dinner at Aioli, my fav tapas restaurant. I had mejillónes as usual. Delicious. It was a bit strange to see friends from our "other" life here in "this" life, but great fun. We like them a lot.

This afternoon we head down to Orinda for a party with long time friends, their children, their grandchildren. They are all part of our long-time Thanksgiving group. We were together for 35 years. Our children grew up together. And at least three of the grandchildren knew each other before the group broke up in 2002. I have missed them all and look forward to this get together. There is one new baby to meet. For all the years we were together, the first generation did all the work. We have happily passed that torch on to the next set. We are now the honored guests. It took awhile, but almost all of us have made it to that exalted state. Photos tomorrow.

Friday, July 9, 2010

drew barrymore arrives

I watched this very strange film yesterday and came away very impressed by DB's performance. The whole thing is pretty weird but both she, as Edyie Beale and Jessica Lange as her mother, "Big Edie" are superb. It's an HBO movie and came compliments of the Flix®.

Here it is, almost mid-July, and we had a rain storm early this morning. Thunder, lightening, downpour, the whole thing. Didn't last more than about 20 minutes and left everything fresh and clean. And wet. Umbrellas, cushions, chaise covers. But the sun is out and everything will be dry in a jiffy.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

the catch of the day

Daughter Caitlin proudly displays her "biggest of the day" catch on a fishing trip in Bozeman. I remember when she wouldn't dare touch raw hamburger. She's come a long way.

Happy Fourth of July to one and all.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

travel, friends, family, art, more family, more art, moe friends, more travel

Way back when, I was about to leave for La Jolla for the weekend. I went (travel), stopped at the Cathedral to visit sister Vicky (family) ~ she's doing splendidly and looks bright and shiny up there on the wall in that cool, quiet place. While I was there the organist was practicing; I know that makes her happy, all that music and stained glass light. I saw friends (friends), ate great food, and had an all around fine time. Every morning we took her two rambunctious Golden Retrievers for long walks through the lovely streets of her neighborhood ~ the Wind 'n Sea area ~ and down to the beach. Nice brisk workout for women and dogs, while gazing on the zillion dollar "cottages" hugging the shores. The weather was perfect, the jacarandas were in bloom; it's easy to see why folks want to sell everything in Oklahoma and move there.

I think the highlight was a trip to a day care center for orchids. I kid you not! My hostess has orchid plants all through her house ~ probably 20 of them. When their blossoms fade and they look a bit peakéd, she bundles them off to this place for a rejuvenation session.

Saturday morning we set off to Leucadia, a little seaside town about 20 miles north of La Jolla. The place, Cal Pacific Orchid Farm takes in your faltering plants, feeds and pampers them until they are about ready to bloom again, then rings you up to tell you your plants are ready to return home. There are three giant greenhouses filled with thousands of recuperating orchids of every description. This is definitely a problem of affluence, I suspect.

I flew home on Sunday, exhausted by all that socializing. Tuesday I took my driving test. The instructor was dubious about folding his considerable bulk into the front seat of Dorothy but, once he did so, was amazed at how comfortable a ride she gave us. Passed, of course. Now I'm legal for another two years. Because of the eye business I can't get a license that's good for any longer. Pain.

Wednesday I went down to San Jose on the train to go to the Wayne Thiebaud Retrospective (art) at the quite beautiful San Jose Museum of Art. Seventy years of work by this remarkable painter who, at one time, was a professor here at UCD. Here's a short part of the interview that's part of the show. I am a big fan of Thiebaud's work and was delighted have a chance to see it. This is a new part of the SJMA and, since I arrived early I was almost alone in the place. The perfect way to see and linger.

Back home to prep for granddaughter Emily's arrival on Friday (more family). What a treat it was to have her here. She's one of those responsive, talkative teenagers, easy to be with, easy to engage. Not a sullen cell in her body. Good job, Alex! Our dance card was full of great things; beauty treatment (her), out to lunch, full day of shopping in Sacramento, then movie on Sunday. We went to see "Toy Story 3." The "franchise" holds up nicely, and the thought that this would be the last adventure for Woody, Buzz, the Potato Heads, Rex et al. made it a three tissue movie instead of only two. Monday morning she flew home to begin volleyball camp at UCLA plus all the other things 16-year olds do in the summer. I've forgotten what those are . . .

Then last week was spent reading and getting caught up on my Flix® holdings. Watched "Winged Migration" which I missed when it was around on the big screen but even so it is quite a remarkable film.

Thursday I was off to (more art) the Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d'Orsay show at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Eye popping! The d'Orsay in Paris is currently undergoing renovation and San Francisco is the only place these works are being shown. If you think the exhibit is coming to your town, and SF is NOT your town, forget it. If there is any way you can get there I encourage you to do so. You have until September 6th. After that part closes, there's a second show, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Beyond from September 26 - January 18. After doing the de Young ~ pretty crowded ~ I went over to the Palace of the Legion of Honor ~ hardly crowded at all ~ for a second helping, Impressionist Paris: City of Light. Posters, etchings, drawings and photographs with a few paintings. Such riches, right down the road.

It's heating up here in the valley. Last weekend it hit 100º and will come close to it this weekend. The heat makes for a fine yield at this morning's Farmers' Market; beautiful squash, eggplant, apricots and nectarines. Still no really good tomatoes but perhaps if the heat continues they will show up next weekend. I finally made it into the pool; 84º and absolutely perfect. We will have a quiet 4th, puttering in the garden and trying to keep things alive through the heat. We are expecting a short visit from friends (more friends) who are year-around-ers in Cuyutlán. They trek up to el Norte annually to visit family and take care of business. We'll dine together on Friday night. Then we pack up and head off to Bozeman (more travel, more family) for a week's visit with Cait and Mike and the twin granddogs, Huck and Zeke.

DVD FIND: In Treatment, an HBO series with Gabriel Byrne about a psychiatrist and his various patients. His own therapist is played by Diane Wiest. As he sees each patient you learn about them and come to "know" them and him. Every now and then you can see where Paul (the therapist) is headed and you want to jump up and yell, "No! Don't go there!" I'm still in Season 1 and loving it.