Monday, October 9, 2017

a big wind in the valley

While Napa burns, the wind is whipping things up here in the valley, too.  It's been blowing for a couple of days, and while we've missed the close peril of fire, it has made a mess of everything else.  Our pool resembles one seen in Gothic horror movies; dark and covered in rotting leaves and twigs.  Not only is our own birch tree dumping its trash, but our neighbor's huge crepe myrtles are, too.  "Fall" is named that for a good reason.

I finally got around to watched "Fences" a couple of days ago. I couldn't watch it all in one sitting; a whole lot of anger flying off the screen.  I don't know how a cast could summon so much energy night after night for the stage play.  Viola Davis was superb as Rose and her Academy Award was well earned.  The contrast between Troy and his friend Bono was beautifully portrayed.  I guess I liked it, but not to the point of raving.

Today I will wrap up reading James Gould Cozzen's "By Love Possessed."  I read it probably 40 years ago and, after revisiting it now, realize I had no idea what it was about.  Either that or I've just forgotten most everything.  Here's one thing about Cozzens; he knows and uses (correctly) more obscure words than any novelist I've ever read.  This novel is a (long) discourse on love; between families, friends, siblings, colleagues, married couples, youth and age.  He has a lot to say; it's dense and meticulous and I have enjoyed it immensely.  But to read it you have to commit to the long haul (it's 600 pages) and a good dictionary.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

dates from Jordan

These are not Jordanian dates from that Middle  Eastern kingdom.  They are, instead, from the date ranch of Jordan Nelson, one of the four famous J Boys (of Mexican beach fame).  Several years ago he bought land in Northern Mexico ~ I think quite close to the US border near San Diego ~ and planted many, many date palms.  I have watched the progress via his postings on Instagram.  These are from this year's harvest, maybe the first.  They are absolutely delicious.  A diabetic's dream food! I'm hoping he'll bring more down to the beach when he and his family come for their annual Christmas holiday.  If anyone reading this knows Jordan, pass the word!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Las Vegas

if you want wistful

I watched this on the Flix® yesterday afternoon out of curiosity and I'm glad I did.  Two pros do a lovely job with this light, sweet script.  Maybe a tear or two.  Funny, poignant, real.  Believe me, if he was my neighbor I would definitely ring his bell, if only to see his smile.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

a new hero

Aaron Falk is a federal police officer in Melbourne, Australia who travels 500 km back to his
 home town to attend the funeral of an old friend.  The man, Luke, was found shot, along with his wife and 8 year old son  Since Luke was not exactly a choir boy, and had had some troubles in the past, the consensus is that he was responsible.  Aaron and Luke's parents are not so sure.  Thus begins the investigation.  It's taut, smart, with interesting characters.  The past has a way of interfering with the present.  But wait!  There's more . . .

I can only hope that Ms. Harper has more Aaron Falk in mink.

Saturday, September 30, 2017


It's cooler up here in the valley (at last) and time to haul out the long pants and turtlenecks.  Not much color change yet; the Chinese pistache trees are dropping leaves but not because of any cold snap.  They're just tired of hanging on.  Some gardens have shows of chrysanthemums and asters, but most gardens have all been replanted to have mostly drought-tolerant grasses and succulents.  Remember the drought?

So now that I've managed to make small talk that completely ignores the fact that this blog has been silent for too long, let's move on.

Earlier in the month I went up to visit daughter Alex in Walla Walla.  The main reason for going was a big quilt show put on ever year.  It was gorgeous.  The talent and skill on display was amazing.  This was my favorite of the show.

My next favorite was a smaller piece, really for display not for use, except perhaps for an infant.  It was in a silent auction and, on the first day we went, I eyeballed it and decided to think about bidding.  On Sunday, the final day, I put in a bid and thought no more about it.  The staff said that winning bidders would be notified later in the day.  No call.  OK, well, I hoped (grudgingly) that the winning bidder would take good care of it.

I left on Monday and on Tuesday, Alex called me to say I had indeed won the quilt!  Now I have to figure out what to do with it except to gaze at it in wonder!

The theme of this year's show was "Paint the Town Red".  This was the winning piece.

On Saturday we joined a group for a train ride up the Walawa River.  Beautiful scenery, benefit for the Blue Mountain Land Trust.

The little engine that pulled us up the mountain.

The confluence of the two rivers, the Wallowa and Grande Rondein Oregon

The length of the train; we were near the end car on the way home.
After a lovely but all-too-short visit, it was back home, out of Seattle, where it's all about water, boats, trees, and coffee.

Next trip:  NEW YORK CITY in late October with daughter Cait.  We'll be seeing g'daughter Emily, niece Kaley (she'll train from New Haven for the day), two plays, a whole lotta other stuff including the 9/11 Memorial, the Statue of Liberty (must go wipe her tears), and Bloomingdale's basement.

Then it's off to the beach.  Gotta fix that ceiling!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

what's for dinner?

I have long been curious about the sous vide method of cooking.  How in the world could boiling food in a plastic bag for hours on end enhance the flavor of anything?  And is cooking something in plastic a good idea, health-wise?  (Actually, this really never occurred to me until my very health-conscious masseuse brought it up!)  But I wanted to try it anyway.  Gourmet Grandson had an "extra"(imagine!!) sous vide cooker gizmo which he gave me, so last night I tried it out.  First experiment a total success!

The dish was pot roast with vegetables (potatoes and carrots).  Instructions were to set the water temperature to 170º and let it simmer for 24 hours!  TWENTY-FOUR HOURS??  But I thought, "OK, that's what the instructions say so let's see what happens."  I put all the ingredients in a zip lock bag, did the immersion seal, clipped the bag to the edge of the pot and settled in for the wait.  (Just before it started I had to put in an emergency call to Andrew for help in setting the timer, an embarrassing question but he told me and I set the clock and it all worked just fine!)

Late yesterday afternoon the timer stopped and the bag came out.  What was so surprising was how strong the color of the carrots still was; I thought it would all turn to grey mush, but it all looked beautiful.  Then with a few finishing flourishes, it was ready.

Everything was so delicious!  The meat, not the most expensive cut in the butcher's shop, was just as tender, juicy, moist as if it was filet mignon.  Carrots perfectly done, a bit al dente just as I like them, the potatoes still firm and sweet.  It was worth the wait.

This sous vide thing is alright!  Next treat; chicken breasts.  AZ insists it's the only way to cook them if you want tender, juicy chicken.  I'll let you know.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

the next chapter

Last Thursday evening we went to a retirement party for our friend, Judy.  She has been working at the Big U for many, many years and finally decided it was time to begin another phase of her life.

The dinner was catered by a local Mexican restaurant, Dos Coyotes, and included all of her favorites (ours, too):  enchiladas, flats, beans, chips, salsa, guacamole, and this wonderful salad.

This was followed up with two spectacular desserts; a chocolate-kailua cake and a very delicious lemon cake.  Everything was so delicious.

Judy is a woman of many interests and her new found freedom will give her plenty of opportunity too pursue them.  Welcome to retirement, Judy!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

an anniversary of sorts

Vicky in 1951
02/03/1947 ~ 08/31/2009

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

back on the grid

A very nice young man (he looked about 15!) was at our front door to fix the pesky air conditioner.  It took him about 15 minutes to figure out what was wrong, fix it, replace the filter and be on his way.  So we now have nice, cool air.  And just in time.  It's going to be 109º here in the lovely Central Valley this weekend.

New reading recommendation:  A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor.  Short, elegantly written, family saga.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

a cool Tuesday

To keep cool during this incredible heat wave we are having here in the valley, we went to see this film today in an air-conditioned theatre.  It's well worth the outrageous cost of two senior tickets.  The scenery is magnificent, the acting superb (Jeremy Renner is a pleasure to watch; his slightest eyelid flutter tells volumes), the rest of the cast is excellent.  There's a lot of mayhem involved; if a REAL FBI agent and a BLM agent engaged in anything close to the shootout we see, they'd be tied up in court for the rest of their lives.  But hey, it's the movies.  We both liked it; we both recommend it.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that the reason we needed a cool spot is our air conditioner went out on Monday.  We did suffer a bit yesterday when it was 108º.  We are now in a cooling trend; it's only going to get up to 98º tomorrow, but up into the triple digits again on Thursday and over the weekend and into next week.  Perfect for a nightly swim, though.  Fortunately the repair guys are coming tomorrow morning so we may get back on the cool side, at least indoors, by tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

the fevered travel agent

I spent almost the entire day yesterday making arrangements for an October trip to New York City with daughter Caitlin.  The last time I was there was with my sister, probably 20+ years ago.  The precipitating reason is to visit g'daughter Emily, now living at a chic address in Harlem, working and going to school.  I have found us a veery interesting looking hotel on Central Park West, gotten us tickets to two musicals ~ Come From Away and Beautiful (Dear Evan Hunter is sold out until sometime in late December, unfortunately) ~ and the rest will be walking, eating, museum-going, a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, a visit to the 9/11 monument and museum.  That will probably take care of the 3+ days, don't you think?

Thursday, August 24, 2017

and then the ceiling fell down . . .

I got a message from our realtor in Mexico that he had taken some prospective buyers to the house for a walk-through.  Lots of oohs and aahs when they walked into the front garden, lots of nods and smiles when they went upstairs and saw the beautiful views, but a gasp when they went into the kitchen.

Yikes!  I don't know when this happened but Fernando did not tell us, if he knew.  It's not as bad as the original message portrayed it; I thought the whole thing had fallen.  But today I talked to the agent and he advised that indeed the entire ceiling may have to be torn out and replaced.  Don't know what has caused this, but most probably water has gotten into the space, the rebar has rusted and contracted, the cement has pulled away, and KABOOM!  Needless to say, the Se Vende sign has come down, the web advert has been pulled, and there's work to be done.  Our agent will get our favorite contractor in to take a look and give us an opinion, a plan, an estimate.  We may have to get a structural engineer in to have a look, too, and see if the entire house needs to be jacked up.  ¡Dios mio!

As a result of this disgusting turn of events we will be leaving for the beach a month early so we can take care of this before the "season" begins.  This was NOT in our plans; it is now.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

it's good to be a hostess

Like all other sentient beings in this great country of ours, I was outside yesterday morning, gazing open-mouthed at the breathtaking magic occurring in the sky.  We had about an 80% eclipse here in the valley.  It was everything every other gazer has said, so I will say no more.  Except, however, that the light seemed to be different for the entire day and that was downright eerie.

But moving on to more mundane things.

Hostess gifts from my guests; bright sunflowers from Bobbie's beautiful  garden and a bottle of my VERY favorite SB by Kim Crawford from Carolyn.  Erin brought beautiful salad; we ate it.  No photo!  Sorry . . .
Last evening I hostessed (sic) a little dinner party poolside.  Four of us who are neighbors sat out in the warm night air and enjoyed a lovely picnic dinner of salad and bread and fruit and cheese.  And a nice Geyser Peak SB, of course.  I so enjoyed the hostess duties; I don't get to do this very often, but when Mr. C is off on his frolic and detour, I take advantage of the opportunity.  And speaking of Mr. C, he returns today, eventually.  Since he flies standby, one never knows.  He didn't get a seat on his connecting flight from Minneapolis (over booked) and has been routed to Salt Lake City.  We'll see what happens there.  I think the airlines are busy bringing eclipse-ties back from wherever they went for a better look. I expect he'll be home late this afternoon or evening.  Or maybe an o'nite in SLC is in his future.

Saturday, August 19, 2017


This morning's farmers market had so many beautiful fruits and veggies it was hard to choose.  But since I am here alone ~ Mr. C is on his annual pilgrimage to visit family in Ohio ~ I had to restrain myself.  These are the things I brought home to enjoy; bag of beautiful green beans, six peppers of differing colors and flavors, ripe tomatoes, a big melon , two Fay Alberta peaches, one Babcock peach, one plum (a freebie!), and four multi-colored pattypan squash.  Can't wait to get started!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

better late than never

Today I finished Season 1 of The Crown.  Don't you think it's aboout time, since Season 2 is starting soon?  I don't know what I've been waiting for all these months.  I did look at one episode while at the beach but decided I needed to look at it on something bigger than an iPod!  Great cast, especially John Lithgow as Churchill.  What a performance.  So now it's on to Season  2.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

lunch among the vines

I drove over to St. Helena yesterday to meet two delightful women of long acquaintance for a wonderful lunch at The Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch.  I had heard about this dining citadel first via Check Please Bay Area, the restaurant review program on KQED.  It was every bit as good as was promised.  Most all of what they serve in this big, airy space is grown or raised on the property.  Despite the size of the dining room the noise level is very tolerable, making for easy conversation.  A couple of highlights on the menu are macaroni and cheese (we did not try) and the cheddar biscuits (which we did try).

Go for the biscuits if for nothing else!  They are utterly delicious.

We stayed until about 3 PM after which I battled the parking lot that is I-80; took me 2 1/2 hours to get home.  But it was well worth it.

The Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, 738 Main Street, St. Helena, CA

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Tuesday matinee

I watched this movie yesterday and like most "based on true events"films, it was another example of how truly amazing human beings are and what they are capable of.  The story goes from a sort of wonderland setting to absolute horror and back to some level of sanity.  Set in Warsaw at the outbreak of WWII.  Many people did not behave well.

Monday, August 7, 2017

summer's bounty

Our neighbor planted 6 or 7 tomato plants in three raised beds in her garden ~ big beefsteaks, some Early Girls, Romas, and a variety of grape and cherry varieties, red, yellow and gold.  And, as always happens after a spate of hot weather, they ALL came in at once.  Dozens and dozens of tomatoes just right for the picking.  She sent out an SOS to her neighbors and Mr. C, our resident farm boy, went right over to answer her call.  Above shows about half of what he brought home.  Yesterday he roasted one batch for his delicious tomato soup.  This morning he took care of the rest in the same way.  And there will be many more of these beauties before the summer is done. As soon as we get some cooler weather, we'll eat!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

sweet distraction

It's hot here in the valley, in case you were wondering.  So after all my "indoor" chores were done -- mainly cleaning up my "office" room, decluttering it of all sorts of accumulated stuff -  I treated myself to this sweet little movie, Gifted.  Reminded me of Little Man Tate, Jodie Foster's movie of many years ago which I loved.  The cast ~ Chris Evans, Octavia Spencer, Mckenna Grace ~ is wonderful.  If you want a sweet distraction this will do it.

Friday, August 4, 2017

a short update from cyberspace

Just a short note to let you know that the new computer was NOT killed off by some invading virus called Zeus Virus.  Instead, the virus was sent off into the ether and my beautiful new machine was declared safe.  But really, the Mac operating system (?) is so well protected from enemy invasion that we, the fortunate users of this system, really don't have tip worry about such things as enemy invaders.  Isn't that the reason we bought an Apple in the first place?

I took the machine up to Sacramento to Core Care, the ne plus ultra of Apple service.  They checked it all out, pronounced the virus a total fake, and sent me home.   But they did say that this particular "virus warning" has been cropping up lately.  The solution is to simply shut down the computer, restart, and the threatening warning will be gone  DO NOT call the phone number on the message.  It's totally bogus.

Thursday, August 3, 2017


Brand new computer just fired uo on Tuesday.  Message this morning:  Zeus Virus now in charge of this computer.  If you want to get this computer back, call this number.  NO WAY!! So this little post is being sent via my Mac Air.  New  iMac goes in to hospital tomorrow to have its insides diagnosed.  I am SO pissed!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

my boys and girls

Mr. C and I went on a 2-week road trip in late July.  First stop was Walla Wall, WA for a visit with daughter Alex and my grandcat, Flower, an amazingly furry and fluffy creature.

We had a splendid time; good weather, a bit of wine tasting, a wonderful dinner at one of our favorite spots, Saffrons, and a good visit.   The downtown was festooned with these beautiful flower baskets, hanging from all the lamp posts along Main Street.  Such a lovely addition.  Here in our town in the valley we have crepe myrtle trees that are also a brilliant blaze of color throughout the downtown.,  No matter which it is, such decoration is a wonderful addition.

Then it was on to Bozeman via Missoula, MT, home of the University of Montana.  It's a fairly quiet town right now with the college on break for the summer.  We arrived at Cait's on Sunday and, has usual, it was absolutely gorgeous ~ cool and lovely during the day, downright chilly at night.  Everyone was in grand spirits, including the two granddogs.  It is always a pleasure to see them!

Huck, the more shy of the two

Zeke, who thinks he's still a puppy
They are a mix of Blue Heeler and Golden Retriever; Zeke is the more "Golden', with lots of hair and feathery legs and tail.  Huck is more sleek and has the silkiest ears ever.

Again, we did the usual; shop downtown at the BEST card shop I've ever been to, got a copy of this year's Sweet Pea Festival poster, went to Ted's for bison meatloaf sandwich (Mr. C), and out to dinner at the Emerson Grill.  We went to the Museum of the Rockies to see a great exhibit on crocodiles, alligators, other prehistoric survivors.  Big Mike was still watching over the museum!

We've done this for so long we could do it blindfolded.

One more flower baskets, this one outside the vet's office where Huck had to see his doc after having some dental surgery.  But he's all better and back on crunchy food after eating pap for a couple of weeks!

The big announcement is that I now have a great granddog!  I figure since Emily is my and she now has a dog, Toni is my great granddog!  They live in NYC and, if all goes well, Cait and I will be going for a visit mid-October.  Toni is 2 yrs. old, has one brown eye, one blue (maybe some Aussie sheep dog?) and is, by all accounts, a lovely creature.  So welcome to the family!

Then it was time to go.  Next stop was Burley, Idaho, just short of Twin Falls for the night.  Next, Winemucca so we could have dinner at our favorite Basque restaurant, the Hotel Martin.  Lamb shanks!  Enough so that we have plenty for dinner when we get home.

We had a quick visit (way too quick!) from Andrew and Arielle who were on their way back to SF from a weekend on a houseboat on Lake Shasta.  I think they'll be back again in September on their way to or from somewhere!

I am writing this on my new iMac!  Very fancy but I can't make out how to use the photo program.  Gotta do some research because it has taken me much too long to get this together!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August, Yolo County

It has been far too long since I posted here.  To be fair, I willfully ignored you, my faithful readers, for weeks (if not months).  I have been carrying on a mad love affair with Instagram instead.  But a couple of weeks ago I decided it was time to get back to blogging.  BUT when I tried to do this, the blog had disappeared.  I could not access it any place.  I put out a plea for help to other bloggers who made several suggestions, none of which achieved the desired results.  So I waited until this past weekend's visit of g'son Andrew, who was weaned on computer stuff.  I explained to him what wa going wrong.  NO LIE!  It took him 3 minutes to figure it out.  A dozen or so clicks, some classy utterances and I was back in business.

So please check this space for more deathless prose, tasteful suggestions, great photos.  I'll get back into the rhythm of the blog life.

As a start, just finished reading Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (while on vacation to Walla Wall and Bozeman).  HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

Now reading Olivia Manning's The Balkan Trilogy, another superb read.  Some of you may remember this as a BBC Masterpiece Theatre presentation many  years ago, with Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh as Harriet and Guy Pringle in Fortunes of War. The book enlightens the TV series but doesn't overwhelm it.  See/read if you can.

So that's it for tonight.

Monday, February 20, 2017

need crocs?

I saw these cute crocs at the morning tinges.  I have renamed them "crocettes" for itty, bitty feet.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday visitor

Although the rain did not materialize last night the sky is still grey and overcast.  We may get a bit of precip this afternoon.  Meanwhile, we have been watching the kiskadees as they work the aloe blossoms on the plants on the front balcony.  This beautiful yellow-breasted creature took lunch with us.

I know it's hard to see his brilliant yellow breast but it's there! They are so shy and wary that the slightest click of the camera sends them off!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

good night from here

We are expecting a rain storm to start tonight and go through tomorrow and perhaps even to Monday. To announce itself, we got this fantastic sky.

It's worth a little wet.