Saturday, May 31, 2008

simplicity, sincerity, serenity

That is the motto of The Bishop's School where I am spending this weekend at my 50th reunion. Right off we decided the first two were easy compared with the last one. So we mutually agreed to abandon all attempts at serenity, concentrate on the first two and have a great time. And we have.

The official celebration started last evening with dinner for our class 9and spouses) with the headmaster. The meal was delicious ~ we never had grilled salmon in the dining room when I was there ~ and it was followed by reminiscences and funny stories from everyone. Our 97-year old Headmistress was there, still in fine fettle. My favorite story is about one of our classmates who smoked her chair. I should explain. We had varnished wicker chairs in our rooms. She systematically broke off pieces of the chair and smoked them. We called them Wicker Weeds. Think there's a market?

This morning two of us went out for a walk down through town to the cliffs overlooking the sea. Lovely cool morning, a bit cloudy, but that all burned off my about 10 PM. Then up to the school for a breakfast out on the patio. This is the view from the corner of the quad, looking west to the chapel. I walked across this quad every day for five school years. From this vantage it looks exactly the same.

It was a traditional challenge to climb up to the top of the tower (El Mirador) on a rickety ladder. I never did it but there were some last night who admitted to having broken that most strict rule. Those who confessed said the view was worth the risk!

After breakfast about a dozen of us sat around talking, getting caught up, touching on all sorts of topics, including a spirited discussion of current politics. Then it was time for chapel which, when we were students, was the heart of the school. We attended chapel every morning, the borders had evensong after dinner and, of course, on Morning Prayer on Sunday. The chaplain at the time, Father Stevens, was truly the spiritual adviser to all of us. He was a dark-browed, forbidding presence with a twinkle in his eye and a ready laugh. The chapel's architecture is the traditional academic style; two rows facing each other with two transepts on either side. The altar is quite plain, but in the back of the chapel is this beautiful rose window.

The floor was well-worn, highly polished Mexican Saltillo tiles which have been replaced by tiles that don't cause ankle sprains. In the tiny baptistery off the altar I found a little brass plaque with daughter Alex's name; she was baptized there by her grandfather.

Then lunch, more talk, and finally I am back at the hotel for a lie-down until dinner. It seems like we are doing nothing but eating and talking. Last night we sat up until almost midnight. Who knows what it will be tonight! It's very much like having a grand family reunion with sisters you truly love.

Friday, May 30, 2008

in the beautiful jewel

This town is so beautiful at this time of year. The jacarandas are out, gardens looking so colorful and exotic, sky rich blue, traffic frightful, prices ditto. But it's good to be here. It reminds me of Santa Barbara or maybe Montecito. I went to lunch today with 3 classmates, two husbands (theirs, not mine) hosted by a bachelor who has been near and dear to all of us for all these many years. It was such fun getting caught up. I left my camera in the car (a snappy red Chevvy 4-door) so didn't get photos. Would Margaret Bourke-White pull such a stunt? I doubt it. I have turned my room into a bar, with snacks, wine in the fridge, glasses at the ready. We'll all meet here before trooping off to the campus for dinner with the headmaster. I understand the woman who was our headmistress, now 97 years old, will also be in attendance. I wonder if she'll remember my mischief. Probably.

Much of what I've seen so far is utterly unfamiliar, but here and there are a few spots that I recognize. Tomorrow morning I'll go on a walk-about and take lots of pictures.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Greetings from San Diego

Southwest makes it so easy to get here before you know it.  Got on the plane at 1 PM, got off a bit after 2 PM.  How easy is that?

Sister and brother-in-law at Lindberg Field to greet me.  Home to their wonderful house up on a bluff in South County, only minutes from the Mexican frontier.  Weather cool but bright.  It looks like a good weekend is in store for all.

auld acquaintance

I'm off to San Diego and La Jolla to (a) visit with my sister whom I haven't seen since Thanksgiving, and (b) to attend the 50th reunion of my high school, The Bishop's School. There were 39 women in my graduating class; the RSVP list says that 26 will attend. Last reunion I attended was the 35th. I am looking forward to seeing everyone. Several of us who were boarders will be staying at the same hotel. We'll do our best to recreate dorm life! There's a lunch with friends on Friday at that grand old Pink Lady of a hotel, the La Valencia, then dinner with the headmaster. Saturday will be festivities on the campus and a class dinner at a local restaurant. Sunday a brunch at a classmate's beautiful home. Then back to San Diego for a frolic and detour with my sister. Home Tuesday. I'm taking the trusty MacLap with me. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 26, 2008

a stitch in time . . .

As I am going to La Jolla next weekend for my 50th high school reunion, I decided the least I could do for my classmates was to have a facial. While there, Stella asked me, "What's that little thread on your cheek?" What she was referring to was a stitch ~ possibly two ~ that was not removed by the plastic surgeon who took out the sebaceous cyst. Good grief! She tried to pull it out; it's been healed over. Now it appears I will have to have the scar opened up and the rogue stitches pulled out. I thought that particular problem was over, but I guess not. Thus I will be forced to appear before my peers with black strings trailing down my cheek. Well, it's not quite that bad, but I like to go for the dramatic.

Movie report: Barry Lyndon is a secret little masterpiece. Marisa Berensen, who plays Lady Lyndon, has about 6 lines in the entire movie. Instead of speaking she heaves her insubstantial bosom and gazes into the middle distance with her large eyes. Ryan O'Neal is the consummate roué. Stanley Kubrik made a sadly unheralded gem.

I read Trollope's delicious 6-volume epic, The Pallisers, before I left for Italy last fall and am only now getting through the Masterpiece Theater presentation. I am about to start disc 13 of 24 and am loving every minute of it.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

rain? in May?

Yes! I woke up to rain this morning. The patio is slick, the outdoor furniture is wet including all the cushions. The skies are grey and low. Beautiful! Everything is getting a needed soaking.

Here's a little something to enjoy and marvel at on this damp Saturday morning. Done in one take. Amazing.

Today is the birthday of daughter Caitlin. Happy Birthday from us in the wet Valley to you in the snow-capped Mountains.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

pica to the rescue

The "fried egg" flower is actually called Matilija Poppy (Romneya coulteri). Isn't it nice to have garden-literate readers?

The wind has been howling for 24 hours. No morning walk; too sneezy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

sunny side up

On my walk this morning I saw some of these amazing shrubs. The flowers look like fried eggs. The foliage is a very lovely dusty blue-green color, not at all like bacon or sausage.

I don't know what they're called but I do know that they are notoriously difficult to propagate. I've never seen them in a nursery and those that are available at the university arboretum at the annual sale are always scooped up first! A few blocks from my house there is a big show of these plants, usually in bloom around the first of April. These are just about at the end of their bloom.

In the back garden the coreopsis have taken over the planter beds. This round of blooms will start dying off soon.

I'll cut them back and they'll bloom again in August. Meanwhile, they will spread their tiny black seeds all over everything, including in the pool, and a zillion shoots will spring up and have to be weeded out or transplanted. That bed will only hold so much.

Sunday was Opening Day for the swimming pool. It has been very hot so the water temperature was just perfect. Caitlin flew over from Bozeman for a couple of days. Andrew and his sweetie, Anna, came up from Berkeley for a visit on Sunday. We got out the deck furniture, lounged around in the heat, swam, ate dinner outside and had a generally all-around grand visit. Cait flew home yesterday morning, Andrew and Anna came up for dinner last night (Guadalajara Grill for chiles rellenos).

The heat is gone, the north wind is again churning up dust, blowing leaves all over the streets, tearing down tree limbs, and raising fears of wild fires. This sort of weather is what I dislike most about living in the valley. I visited my dentist this morning ~ "Look Ma! No cavities!" ~ and have just finished watching an old Audrey Hepburn-Albert Finney movie, Two for the Road. Beautiful scenery ~ south of France mainly ~ but he's a real nasty character. I hadn't remembered that. Next pix: Pumping Iron with the governor. It's great to be back with the Flix®.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

the heat is on

The valley is sweltering under triple-digit heat this week. It seemed even hotter than the thermometer said because of those dread North winds that stir up the dist, dessicate the new plants, shake all the leaves off the trees. And our house is located such that everything that's falled on lawns and streets to the west of us ends up in our driveway or on our steps. The removal of this mess is, I like to think, good exercise for the Patient.

Photo of the Day

"Ha, ha, ha kids. See 'ya at Bemont!"

Is that a smile on Big Brown's face? I think so. What an animal. What a horse race.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

what's in the box?

Here's the box:

Here's what's in the box:

It is now a sure bet that this blog will be much, much better, now that I have this fancy machine. I quote the opening line of the book I am now reading, "The Book of Air and Shadows" by Michael Gruber: "Tap-tapping the keys and out come the words on this little screen and who will read them I hardly know." Except this is a BIG screen. And by the way, please don't miss this novel. If you like to read, you'll love this very smart book.

The laptop has been retired into the bedroom where it has been taken over by the Patient for his daily trolling of the internet for strange and interesting blogs and sites, mostly political. I will say no more.

And speaking of the Patient, he got yet a second blue ribbon today from the oncologist. His anemia is still alive and well, but everything else is just fine. Again, free of medical messing around for six months.

We don't get many beautiful urban sunsets, or at least we can't see them, living as we do nestled between same-height houses. But last night's sky was particularly beautiful, what little we could see of it. Not like the beach, but stunning nonetheless.

Strange, these photos are all in the same color palate.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

a blue ribbon day

The Patient visited his head and neck surgeon for his 18-month check-up. He poked, peered, stuck his finger down the Patient's throat and finally said, "Good. Very good." The result?

Tomorrow he goes to see the oncologist. We are hoping for another blue ribbon.

It's been a long two years, but he is one of the very lucky ones who has been "cured" of this dreadful disease. He needs to continue with periodic checks; after tomorrow he's good for another 6 months. After that it will be yearly. A small inconvenience to put up with. Meanwhile, his taste is almost back to normal, his stamina has returned, but no weight gain. He still has trouble eating meat or chicken ~ too fibrous and dry ~ but is getting better with salads, crackers, peanuts and other crunchy or crispy foods. The doc today said that it will be about 2 years before the meat thing will be resolved. His return to good health is worth any measly meat sacrifice!

Monday, May 12, 2008

an indoor day

The North wind is raging, leaves and dust are everywhere, I am sneezing and coughing. I did go out for a walk this morning with Gina and the two dogs but it was nasty. It's going to be an indoor day. And there's plenty to do. My cupboards are still a mystery; can't find anything in the kitchen. An indoor day is a good opportunity to haul everything out and start over. Ditto the clothes closets. I stored things in the guest room and haven't had the energy to go in there and root around for a lost T-shirt. But daughter Caitlin is coming next Sunday for a couple of days and I must make room for her extensive travel wardrobe (usually a T-shirt and pair of jeans!) In addition to her, there's a possibility grandson Andrew and his girlfriend Anna will drive up from Berkeley when he is there helping her pack up her possessions from her first year at UCB. Now if I could just manage to get Alex and Em here at the same time life would be perfect.

Another good indoor activity ~ aside from rearranging, reading, napping, or watching a DVD ~ is cooking. The Patient has made a glorious big pot of leek and potato soup from a recipe at Pinch my Salt.

(This photo is by Nicole, the fabulous cook who owns PMS. Give it a visit.)

That will take care of lunch. Then someone is going to have to bust out of here and go to the market to shop for dinner. We'll draw straws.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

a traveler's diary

As I was waiting in the Manzanillo airport for my flight home from Cuyutlán, I noticed these little boys being, well, little boys. Actually, they were very well behaved, weren't acting up or making undo noise. Of course, the 'Zillo airport has very high ceilings, is made of concrete, marble and glass, has tile floors and plastic seats, so the merest peep out of such a one reverberates through the whole place. At first I though they were brothers; a pair of twins and two singlets. Then I decided no, they were cousins. There was also a baby girl, about 6 months old, but she didn't get down on the floor with the boys. After several trips to the loo by all of them, they settled down on the floor with a little DVD player set up by one of the dads (see his knee in the far right of the photo). That did it. They were absolutely silent, totally focused on the movie ~ except for the youngest, on the right, named Hugo. He just couldn't sit still. I was utterly charmed while watching these little kids, obviously on their way home from a vacation that had left two of them tanned and freckled and had bleached out Hugo's curls.

Pretty soon it was time to go through security. I could not contain my curiosity any longer and asked the mother of Hugo if the boys were related, and who belonged to whom. I had thought that one of the dads looked like the other mom, so decided it was one big family off on a frolic together. Wrong. These two families, both from Calgary, had never seen each other before. They came to a resort for a week's holiday. The three oldest boys fell in with one another at dinner the first evening. They were inseparable for the entire trip, keeping each other amused and out of their parents' hair. They reluctantly agreed to let Hugo tag along most of the time. The parents struck up a fast friendship and every body had a great time. Including me!

Nice remembrance for Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

awash in blooms

The first morning I was home ~ almost three weeks ago ~ this is what greeted me in the back garden. Even though it had been neglected for almost 7 months, I still reaped this beautiful reward.

I don't know what I did to deserve such a lovely show. Just coming back, I suppose. By now the poppies have about had it, although these things reseed themselves so fast that the blooms last for more than a month. The lavender, in the background, is alive with bees ~ always a good sign. (That's one of the problems we have propagating flowers at the beach; no bees. We have to hand pollinate things like tomatoes and squash. Bother!)

This morning the Patient made his first trip up to his beloved Farmers' Market. He came home with beets with their beautiful greens attached, asparagus, turnips, fabulous big leeks, apple juice, and these gorgeous flowers.

These are double petal peonies in a pale, pale pink. I put them in a clear vase and have them in the bedroom. V. classy.

Since it is Mother's Day on Sunday, this is the weekend for the Whole Earth Festival held on the quad at the Big U. This year celebrates the 39th anniversary of this 3-day event devoted to recalling the hey days of tie dye, macrame, roach clips and finger cymbals. Get the picture? So come on down and get your face painted, eat some vegetarian samosas and relive your distant (or recent) past. It's a great people-watching experience!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

i like Ike

For those of a certain age, this statement will seem familiar.

For those of a different age, here's the newest (and cutest) Ike.

He arrived at Cait's house as a surprise from Mike. He's a chocolate lab mix, 8 weeks old and, according to Caitlin, well mannered. "Slept all night in his crate, no whining, no accidents." Sounds like the ideal housemate. He is joining a household that bid a loving farewell to the delightful Riley last October.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

a fun-filled 24 hours

Yesterday brought all sorts of treats. First was the Farmers' Market, full of beautiful food, lovely flowers, all sorts of good things to eat. At 10:30 PDT the Met broadcast "Abduction from the Seraglio", one of Mozart's most popular operas. At 1 PM the Patient got home safely. Then the Derby, with triumph ~ rocket horse Big Brown ran away with the roses ~ and grief ~ the filly Eight Belles, who finished second, broke both her ankles and had to be destroyed on the spot. For dinner we fired up the grill and enjoyed the first sweet corn of the season and a bottle of Chilean wine the Patient had carted all the way home. (At the border, they confiscated two oranges; no fruits allowed!)

Today seems almost calm by comparison. I unpacked the suitcase I took to Italy and, lo and behold! there was the jewelry pouch I though was lost. Opened Christmas gifts from daughter Alex. Photos to follow when I get the battery charged! The Patient is out inspecting the acreage, broom in hand. This afternoon we are going up to the Apple Store to buy a new iMac desktop computer. 20" screen. I had a test drive on one and decided on the spot that I really don't need to buy a new car. Instead, a new computer ~ the laptop will travel ~ and a new bed. It might help my back. The bed, I mean.

If your Sunday is too calm, take a look at this amazing web site. Crank up the sound on your computer and enjoy!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

it's 1 PM and . . .

the Patient just walked through the door. Tired, thirsty ("Where's the beer?") and happy to be home. Later.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

in San Diego

This workhorse computer is acting up so I will just post that the Patient has arrived safely in San Diego. He'll stay overnight tonight with Vic and Tom, my beloved sister and her absolutely swell hubby. Tomorrow it will be up to Long Beach to stay with daughter Alex and her absolutely swell hubby Pete. Then home on Saturday. As for photos of the garden or anything else (I have some great stuff to put up), not until the Ferrari Mac arrives home. This Chevy doesn't do that sort of thing. Hasta mañana.