Monday, July 28, 2008

the new fountain

A couple of years ago I bought a small fountain to go in the corner of the front garden. I wanted to cover up the PGE mechanisms (gas and electric meters) and have the delightful sound of tinkling water. Well, what I bought was just OK; too small and not enough sound but still OK.

Over the 4th of July at a party across the street I noticed that my neighbor (the hostess) had a nifty fountain that she was not longer using. I had noticed this particular piece of garden sculpture when she first bought it and had admired it. Seemed to be just the right size, shape and "noise" quotient for "my" garden but, alas, it belonged to her. When I asked her if we might be able to swap fountains, she said "Sure" and this weekend we did. All the new mechanism needed was a piece of flexible hosing which the Patient bought at the Ace® today.

I decided just where I wanted it, in the corner of the patio by the den slider so it could be heard in the dining room. Gina, her husband, her sister, her husband and the Patient carried it across the street. (You'll notice that I designated myself as the resident engineer, not the carrying crew.) They put the base and basin where I indicated.

We moved it around, inch by inch because it's terribly heavy, and found just the right spot. Today, with all the requisite parts in place, the Patient filled it with water, plugged it in, and le Voilá! The two little frogs under the umbrella couldn't be happier. Me, either.

It makes a lovely gurgling sound. I am utterly charmed by our new garden addition. Now I have to get some pots filled with flowers that will thrive in (a) the intense heat that we get in this particular corner, and (b) plants that like a little spray of water.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

postcards from Bozeman

Here are some sights from the very lovely trip we had to Bozeman last week. Let's start with breakfast on the second day on the road. Again, the Patient's favorite type of place.

He likes to have on-the-road meals with all the truckers who pull into Rest Areas to sleep.

We got to Bozeman on Thursday afternoon. Here is the Mansfield-Davis B&B where we stayed. In the morning early I looked out the window to see their nearest neigh-bors. It's hard to see these two beauties, but they're out there placidly munching the tall grass.

Later in the day we went downtown with Caitlin to pay our annual visit to the Bozeman Public Library, an institution that even the largest city would love to have. A beautiful building, great setting, fabulous holdings. Then we walked down Main Street to check out the action. It was Crazy Daze, like a giant sidewalk sale. All the merchants had hauled stuff out on the sidewalks. That was fine until a fierce rain and hail storm hit, flooding the streets in about 10 minutes.

We took shelter in a store, the owners of which were madly pulling things out of the rain, until it let up enough for us to dash back to the library parking lot where Cait had left her VW, sun room open just enough to let in a good sprinkling of water. By the time we got back home the storm had let up and the sun was out again. Later on the clouds rolled back in and provided us with a gorgeous sunset.

Saturday we went to the Museum of the Rockies to see again the dinosaurs that have been found in Montana, but this time also to see an exhibit of the industrial designer Raymond Loewy. This man designed all sorts of great stuff; logos (Lucky Strike, Shell Oil, US Postal Service), appliances, train cars, airplanes, and a fantastic jukebox that is a true work of art. Saturday night we drove over to Livingston to Cait and Mike's favorite steak house for a birthday dinner for the Patient. One more year under his belt!

On Sunday we took Ike the Wonder Dog up to the reservoir for a swimming lesson. Mike is training Ike to be a hunting dog, to fetch downed birds on land or in the water. This was Ike's second lesson and I must say, for a mere baby (4 months) he is very impressive. He was somewhat hesitant to jump right in to fetch the buoy, but with a bit of encouragement (such as pushing his rear to the water's edge) he finally got the hang of it. Mike tossed the orange floater into the water, called "Fetch it up!" and Ike was after it.

Then, of course, he had to shake off and spend the next 10 minutes sniffing out the picnic area. It was considered a successful lesson by all.

The reservoir is about 12 miles from their house and is a place used by swimmers, boaters and fishermen ~ and dog trainers. The setting is beautiful; wooded and lush with wild flowers. This is the view looking north.

Looking south you can see the snow that remains in the mountains

They will have only another two months before the snow starts again in the high elevations. While we were there we had rain, hail, fog, wind (70 MPH winds shut down the airport on Wednesday night), heat, more rain, an a couple of absolutely perfect days. In fact, it rained almost every day or night. That's why it's still so green and lush.

The rest of the time was spent relaxing, reading (I spent one whole day reading a new John Harvey procedural; I love his books), playing with and walking the dog, watching the weather roll in and blow out, and generally loafing. Tuesday we packed up, and Wednesday we headed home. We drove through the Gallatin canyon this time, along the rushing Gallatin river. It is quite full this year; they had a big snow melt that has kept the river high. Then into Idaho, out of Idaho to Elko, NV. We stopped for the night, then headed home on Thursday morning. We arrived back in the early afternoon.

So there you have it. Here's what I learned about the four states we visited.

•CALIFORNIA ~ full of smoke
•NEVADA ~ full of cactus
•IDAHO ~ full of potatoes
•MONTANA ~ full of mountains.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

back home

We're back from Bozeman after six wonderful days with Cait, Mike and charming Ike. We left yesterday morning, drove to Elko, spent the night and headed home today. I am much too road tired to do the trip justice, so I (and you) will have to wait until tomorrow to read all the details. Suffice it to say it was great to be there and good to be home.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Happy Birthday to the Patient

To celebrate this milestone the Patient and his daughter are out in the front garden pulling weeds. I am perched - literally - on a big beach ball-like "chair" in Cait's office, using her PC (aarg!) as the MacLap can't seem to find a WiFi signal. Ike is dozing at my feet. All is right with the world, or at least here in beautiful Bozeman.

We went downtown yesterday to do chores and got caught in a fierce downpour that also included quite a nice hail storm. I took pictures but can't get them on here. I'll save them for the trusty Mac when it's working again. More rain yesterday afternoon. Low clouds last night made for a splendid sunset. This is a magnificent spot. It gives real meaning to the term "wide open spaces."

After the weeding is done we will make a trip overto the Museum of the Rockies, always a treat. A celebratory dinner tonight to welcome the Patient into another year of continued good health and hijinks.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

O beautiful, for spacious skies

Greetings from Twin Falls, ID. We got on the road at 6:10 AM this morning. Ten hours and 600 miles later we arrived here. Roads are good all the way, speed limits fast. In fact, so fast that the Patient got reminded by one of Idaho's finest who pulled us over for doing 73 in a 65 mile zone. Only the interstates are 75 MPH. No ticket issued; "verbal warning" is what he said.

It is a beautiful drive, with vast open spaces beyond Reno. There was still a dusting of snow at high elevations. But there was also smoke in the air from the California foothills to Winnamucca, NV. Very poor air quality. What strikes me is how empty it is; no houses, no fences, nothing but occasional steers wandering through the brush. Idaho has vast tracts of agricultural land with Rainbirds® keeping everything green.

When we travel, the Patient does take me to the very best spots for lunch. This one did not sport the same warning signs as our usual stop in Arizona. Much more genteel.

After a picnic of egg salad sandwiches, tomato soup, pineapple and pita chips, it was back on the road. We arrived here at what we thought was 4 PM but was actually 5 PM, given the time change.

Tomorrow it's on to Bozeman. We'll drive north to Butte and then east to Bozeman. This route will save us going through the Gallatin gorge; usually very slow traffic. We'll take that beautiful route home. Now it's time to decide what tasty place we'll go for dinner.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

next stop: Bozeman

We are off tomorrow for a week's visit with Cait and Mike (and Ike) in Bozeman. We were going to fly but, as everyone knows by now, flights are v-e-r-y tight, and since we fly stand-by, it didn't look promising. We will drive instead, leaving early in the morning and going as far as Pocatello, ID before calling it a day. On to Bozeman on Thursday, arriving around noon. We try to go every year to celebrate the Patient's birthday out there in the wild west. It's always a beautiful trip, with great hikes, a visit to the Museum of the Rockies, an out-to-dinner or two, and just catching up. Cait has ordered season one of "The Office" for a hilarity break. I'll take along the Maclap and the camera to keep you up on all the doings. I'll also take my trusty reading machine for the drive. I'm now listening to Salman Rushdie's "Shame". I'll take a new John Harvey paperback, loaned by fellow Harvey fan Babz, in case I get bored being a passive "reader".

If you visit this site with any regularity, you know that the Patient's favorite occupation before going on a trip is to vacuum. He's at it right now, and we aren't even leaving until tomorrow. He usually waits until 20 minutes before take-off.

Tonight's the All Star game. Go Nats.

Monday, July 14, 2008

a new generation

While out doing errands this morning I saw some evidence of a change in the ways of parenting pertaining to the Daddy side of things. The first sighting was of two youngish men out for a walk, each carrying a baby in a chest papoose. The Dads were strolling along at a jaunty pace, chatting happily while the little babies peered out at the passing scene. The second was a shirtless Dad pushing a "jogging" stroller, baby on board and leashed dog trotting along by the side. The moms are probably working on a cure for cancer, running a Fortune 500 or at home finishing the re-write to the last chapter of their latest book before sending it off to the publisher.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tony Snow

I don't usually write more than once a day, if that. But I want to get it on the record that I was a huge fan of Tony Snow. Although I did not agree with his politics, I found him to be a man of deep principles, commitment, humor, faith, and insight. I watched him on Fox News Sunday for years. I looked forward to seeing him, even in sound bites, as the Press Secretary. Besides that, he was easy on the eyes. Fifty-three is way too young to die.

The past 30 days have not been kind to the news industry. Four weeks ago Friday the left lost Tim Russert, although I don't know why the left thinks he belonged to them. Perhaps because he didn't rant and yell. Yesterday the right lost one of it's brightest stars. He didn't rant and yell either. He was just a fine journalist, an elegant writer, and seemed to be an all-around nice guy. Like Russert, he was well beloved by his colleagues. Politics aside, that respect and admiration is something the two men shared.

saturday night at the movies

I'm a "crime and punishment" sort of woman. I learned this about myself while in a "mystery" reading group. I get very annoyed when the perp walks. Last night I watched "The Walker" with Woody Harrelson plus a cast of great women ~ Kristen Scott Thomas, Lily Tomlin, Lauren Bacall, Mary Beth Hurt, plus Ned Beatty as Tomlin's husband. Woody plays a gay Southern interior decorator in Washington, D.C. who is a "walker", a professional escort for socialite women. He gets embroiled in a homicide. Not only is his role a stretch for the movie goer's imagination but the story is, too. It lost me because although the immediate perp is caught, the brains behind it is not. And we know who it is. I was left grumbling. There are also too many things that are left unexplained and that are, in fact, inexplicable. And I must say it was really hard to believe Woody. One star. If that.

Friday, July 11, 2008

a little French diversion

I watched this little pâté douce this afternoon. Not very likable characters (Adam Goldberg and Julie Delpy), but the city was wonderful to behold. Here's how dated it was even though it's from 2007. Jack (Adam Goldberg) goes into a fast food place and gets a big meal for 5 euros. These days you can't even get a cup of coffee for 5 euros!

The valley is blessedly cool although still in a smoky haze. No sun, just a big orange Necco up there in the sky.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

and the winner is . . .

Salman Rushdie won the prize for the best of the Booker Prize winners. It was for, of course, "Midnight's Children." A splendid choice. One of the best books I've ever read. It even holds up well after a second or third read. A "desert island" kind of book. Always something new.

Visibility in the valley was less than 4 miles today. No sun. Yellow sky. Odd smell. A rehearsal for the end times? According to Mayan calculations, it's going to be sometime this month. Don't forgot to take Rushdie's book with you.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

it's too darn hot . . .

Yesterday's heat topped 105º. We sat in the pool until 10 o'clock, trying to cool off. By the way, the new bed was just what the doctor ordered. The back is still sore, but not as bad. Temperature gauge says 108º today. What can a person possibly do in that kind of heat? It's too hot to be outdoors, even in the swimming pool. How about staying indoors with the blinds down, watching movies? Here's what I saw this afternoon.

"Interview" with Steve Buscemi and Sienna Miller. Two not-very-likable characters wreaking havoc on each other in a nifty loft in Manhattan. He's a journalist sent to interview her, a soap-opera actress. Things get a bit out of hand, secrets are told, lies are told. It's messy. I think this film has pretensions to "depth" and "meaning". No depth. Or too deep. Boring.

Now I am settling in to watch "Wings of the Dove" a Merchant/Ivory-like hot fudge sundae based on the novel by Henry James. It is set in Venice in the early 20th century. I have seen it already, but it's so hot here I thought a good dose of the Grand Canal, especially in winter, might cool things off. The sublime Helena Bonham Carter graces this film.

Monday, July 07, 2008

what recession?

I couldn't stand it anymore. I got up this morning determined to buy a new bed. A big, firm, comfy bed. I have been bitching about the bed for three years. Since nobody was paying any attention to my complaints ~ or doing anything about them ~ I decided it was up to me and high time! I popped into the local mattress store, spent an hour lying on a variety of mattresses ~ soft, quilted, Tempur-Pedic®, firm, extra firm, XX firm ~ and finally settled on one. I gave the Patient a ring and asked him if he'd like to come up and give the one I chose a test run. Or test rest. He declined (surprise, surprise!). I gasped at the bill, flashed the plastic and became the owner of a beautiful new Beautyrest® XX Firm Cal King bed. The delivery chaps showed up at the front door about an hour later, set everything up, and even hauled away the old bed. Hooray, hooray! Here's to a better night's sleep. I am hoping this will help relieve my aching back.

The valley is heating up; 102º today, 105º tomorrow. Parts of the garden love this heat; the lavender, the coreopsis, the oleander, the plumbago. This beauty, along the side fence, is the most luscious shade of blue. I have planted several other specimens in the garden, front and back, but none has done as well as this one. The Patient even constructed a trellis to hold it up against the fence

Other parts of the planting just get fried, mostly the annuals, except for the pots of colorful portulaca that seem to thrive, the hotter the better. I also have a couple of hanging baskets of this bright little succulent. Makes a nice "color spot" on the limbs of the birch trees.

It is definitely pool weather here. Yesterday afternoon the sky was dusky from all the fires and you could smell the smoke. A bit better today. And no wind to propel the flames. Good news for all those brave fire fighters.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

fat is good!

This morning the Patient announced that he had finally broken through the 145 lbs. stalemate. He weighed in at 146! His body can now use calories for something other than repair, like storing fat. Big Boy!