Thursday, June 28, 2012

hail to the chief

Five-to-four will do just fine, thank you very much. I was astonished that it was the Chief, a clear red, who sided with the blues. I read part of the opinion on the SCOTUS blog to see if Justice Kennedy wrote a separate dissenting opinion. He did not; the four dissenters wrote a joint opinion that doesn't let the reader know who the author is, and I am not familiar enough with each member's style to figure it out. The Dynamic Duo, Scalia and Thomas, can be counted on to dissent from almost everything rational or with a social justice impact. Alito is also a pretty strong bet. So the mandate stands, albeit unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause but acceptable as a tax. That one was a surprise although the government "mentioned" the tax slant in its brief, as it had to because it couldn't argue it without previous notation. Now the state-by-state fallout on Medicare will be another show. I think Roberts' agreement with the liberals may be more devious than one might think. He did make a comment to the effect that if you don't like this outcome you can change the make-up of those who brought it to you. Was this a ploy to get the anti-Obamacare troops fired up? Some are calling him the Earl Warren of the Bush appointees. It is rumored that Eisenhower, who appointed Warren as Chief Justice, rued the day he ever did that, thinking Warren was a reliable conservative. We'll see.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

in the garden

I must confess that I am not a very enthusiastic gardener.  My efforts are sporadic at best.  My neighbor, however, has a spectacular garden in which she spends as much time as she possibly can, with astonishing results.  Her charming little house is surrounded by flowers and shrubs and blossoming everything year-around.  She has even volunteered to start things for me and to putter in my garden while I am way.  I have been thusly shamed into doing something a bit more creative and colorful.

In that spirit, yesterday I drove here to begin my garden renewal. I spend a couple of hours wandering through their acres of greenhouses, sniffing and pinching leaves for fragrance and thinking about color and shade and layout. I came home with lots of these,

including red penstemon to plant (finally) in the three big terra cotta pots I brought back from Mexico last year. I am assured that these plants will bush out and be very content in these pots.

Most of what I bought are shade-lovers to fill in here.

and here.

In the back garden around the pool, these  coreopsis have pretty much taken over.

This morning I donned my sun hat, pulled on my garden gloves, and got busy.  First I cleaned up all the  debris from the front shade garden.  Then I dug up two big trash barrels full of coreopsis to make room for some other things I want to plant.

One thing I'm putting in the ground is another of these sweet little rose plants, originally put in my garden by my neighbor. Two more await the preparation of their new homes. I'm ready.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

another musical tour de force

This documentary was made in 1981 so it's a bit dated. But it is loaded with beautiful things to see and hear. The young musicians Stern works with are, like those in Chops, hugely talented.  They are also rigidly self-disciplined.  How they get that way can be a bit disturbing. Stern is full of bonhomie and respect for his audiences and the musicians. A delightful film.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

kids who make music

At the suggestion of daughter Caitlin I watched this movie yesterday. It's the story of a group of kids at a high school in Florida who enter a competition sponsored by Wynton Marsalis for young jazz musicians. The documentary takes you from the musicians' audition to get into the top jazz class at school, through their metamorphosis into a spectacular jazz band. Splendid, feel-good movie.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

anothr Bill Nighy winner

I watched this smart, talky thriller today and liked it very much. Bill Nighy can be depended on to give a fine performance. He wends his tall, lanky, somewhat hesitant and modest persona through the dark and chilling scenes of this story of British MI5 security and secrets. No blood, no outer space, no violence to speak of, except betrayal. The Australian actress Judy Davis also appears and provides the requisite blue language quotient. This was originally a PBS Masterpiece Theater presentation a couple of years ago. I recommend it.

Correction:  Yesterday's   Nighy movie is Wild Target (not Moving Target).  Trust you didn't spend precious minutes looking for it!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

a one-sheet night

It's hot as blazes up here in the valley.  Temperatures yesterday in the triple digits and it didn't really cool off last night; more of the same today.  It is actually too hot to go outside until late in the afternoon and even then it's like walking into the breath of a dragon.  So I've spent the past few days catching up on movies I missed while away:  Season 2 of Downton Abbey; season 3 of In Treatment; season 1 of The Killing; and a really delightful Wild Target, instant-watch on the Flix with my favorite British actor, Bill Nighy.  As for reading, finally finished Matthew Pearl's The Poe Shadow ~ didn't like it near as much as The Dante Club and I see he has a new one just out, The Technologists.  Then there's always the New Yorkers that pile up and I have to devote a couple of days of uninterrupted reading to catch up.  On that subject, don't miss Ryan Lizza's article in the June 18th issue along with a piece by Jane Mayer.  I love that magazine!

Both Mr. C and I have had our share of medical visits; A+ all the way.  Took Dorothy for her yearly spa day; A+ again.   Hired some house cleaners for the first time in years, the same ones I had while I was working.  Eva and her sisters and I think some cousins (there were 6 of them in all) arrived at 1 PM, mops and brooms and pails at the ready.  Three hours later they packed up and drove away, leaving behind a house that hasn't been this clean in years.  I have gotten very spoiled having Chuy come to our house at the beach twice a week for a pittance.  I can afford Eva once a month but it's worth it.  She'll be back in four weeks.  I haven't yet received the estimate from the painter or the drape maker, but those two projects will get underway soon.  It's a busy summer so far, and I haven't even made my plans for an art day in San Francisco or a reunion trip to La Jolla.

Tonight we're having dinner with our friend Lou whose wife is currently in Cairo with her ailing sister.  We expect good insights.  I'm hoping it will be cool enough so we can eat outside by the pool.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

how they do it at Thacher

From the Senior Banquet to the post-commencement luncheon served to all guests, graduation at Thacher is a joyous occasion during which each senior is individually acknowledged and fĂȘted. Here are a few more shots of the Friday night banquet.

Alex, Emily and Andrew
Emily and her proud brother
Emily and her Rat Pack.  On her left, her roomie next year at USC
On Saturday morning we all gathered again under the tent for the graduation. The seniors gather up on the road above the playing field and, two by two, come down the steps to be piped across the lawn by a group of bagpipers, fitted out in their full regalia.

Em and Chris Yih

Each student is called to the stage to receive personal accolades from the head of school. He reads a mini-bio that highlights the talents, achievements and pranks of the graduate, to the delight of classmates and families.   We heard wonderful stories about 62 quite remarkable young women and men.

Emily's turn

After that of course, it was complete chaos!  Hugs and squeals and the pop of camera flashes for the next hour. 

First, her parents.

Then Aunt Cait and Mike.

Then some other folk. 

And finally, her extended family plus friends of the graduate gathered to give our Emily three cheers!

L to R:  Mac, Andrew, Em, Peter
Here's a short family history of the Jordan's and Thacher. Three generations have attended this school. Em's grandfather, Mac Jordan, graduated in 1938. Em's father, Peter, graduated in 1969, brother Andrew in 2007.  Quite a legacy.

Friday, June 1, 2012

the cum laude cutie

We took Emily out to lunch today to Azu , a delicious little tapas (and other things) place in charming downtown Ojai. Yes, the whole town looks like a 1950's movie set for "Leave it to Beaver" or "Ozzie and Harriet" but I love going there. My father's first parish was in Oxnard and many in his congregation were from Ojai so a visit there was not uncommon. In fact, I learned to horseback ride on the Newman's citrus ranch when I was about five. Long history with the place. But I digress.

While chatting about her Thacher years, she casually dropped the news that she had been elected to the Cum Laude Society, the high school equivalent of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. It is a fine honor in recognition of her academic achievement during her three years there.  She was one of 6 members of her class of 62 and we are duly proud of her. She decided not to tell her parents until it was announced at the graduation banquet Friday night. I wish you could have seen her mother's face when Em's name was announced and she rose to be acknowledged with the other inductees. Priceless.

Her brother was also in attendance to record the festivities. 

 He, in fact, took a load of really good photos which he has said he will send on to me. ANDREW: if you're reading this, don't forget to do this.  I want to post some of your pix here!  Yours are much better than mine.

The banquet was held out on the playing field under a big white tent.  Each graduating senior is allotted tickets for family only and the place was packed with joyous mothers and fathers (and grandparents), happy at their childrens' accomplishments and thrilled to be out from under the steep cost of this very worthy enterprise.  Seeing these kids, watching and listening to them, it gives one hope for the future.  I know it's only 62 of them, but it's a start.   And there will be another crop just as stellar next year.

We left after dinner, award announcements and a speech or two, and returned to our hotel.  Tomorrow is an early morning.  Graduation is at 9 AM.  Caitlin and Mike will be here at 7:45 and we'll go together.  Seems amazing that we did all of this only 5 years ago for Andrew.