Friday, August 29, 2008

i missed the big one

We were out to dinner last night and I missed Obama's speech. By all reports, however, he hit it out of the park. Even the tightie righties thought so. Our evening with niece Erin and her husband Wes was absolutely delightful. I can replay the speech but the evening was a once-only event!

Another cool day here in Columbus. It appears that we will not be going down to the farm on this trip; not enough time. We're off to Pittsburgh early tomorrow morning, back on Monday, pack-up on Tuesday and fly home on Wednesday.

But no visit to Columbus would be complete without a trip to the local Thrift Store. This is the best place ever! I scored big; five shirts, two skirts for me, pair of pants for the Patient. Total tab - $24. This includes a dynamite linen tunic shirt that has Mexico in its future.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

99 shades of green

Welcome to Ohio!

It rained in the night so everything is lush, green, fragrant this morning. Gorgeous flowers everywhere. Lawns, fields, parks all velvety green. A nice change from the heat and brown of the Sacramento valley. Flight was good as far as Atlanta. Then a gate mix-up meant I missed my connecter to Columbus. I made the next flight and arrived at 7 PM. After a quick dinner I collapsed and slept until 8 AM. We are now at the Westerville library hitting on their WiFi. Tonight will be dinner with the Patient's niece and her spouse at their lovely home. Saturday morning we take off for Pittsburgh for the weekend with more family. Watched Bill deliver his usual magic last night; it's the speech HRC should have given. Couldn't stay awake long enough to hear Biden; I'll read about it instead.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

the week that was

The Patient has been in Ohio for a week now (see last post). I have been content to be alone with my thoughts, my books, my movies. I've been swimming, dozing under the birch trees, eating late, sleeping late . . . indulging in all my favorite failings. And my activities. These included a trip to San Francisco to see the Women Impressionists show at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in Golden Gate Park.

It was a typical San Francisco summer day; cool, damp, foggy. The show was breathtaking. Try to get there if at all possible.

Then it was across the Golden Gate to Sausalito to a restaurant on the north end of town called Fish. Here across the bay the sun was out, the bay sparkling, the fog nowhere in sight.

Sensational Portuguese Red Clam Chowder accompanied by a sensational view.

Friday night was dinner with friends at my house. I do a bit of the Pearl Mesta thing when the Patient is not here. We sat by the pool until the mosquitoes drove us inside, talking, talking, talking. Sunday I went to San Anselmo for a brunch party. Gorgeous home, bright sunshine, cool breeze. Perfect day.

I watched Hillary give her speech tonight. If I hadn't known better I would have said it was an acceptance speech. Perhaps it was. Acceptance of defeat. But she sure looked and sounded presidential to me. I'm a sore loser.

Tomorrow I fly off to Columbus to join the Patient for a week's visit. A day or two in the city, a day or two down on the farm, a day or two in Pittsburgh. Then home. But the MacLap is in Ohio so I may have time to stay in touch. Meanwhile, I have to finish packing then get to bed early for a 4 AM wake-up call.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

the 6:30 to Columbus

The Patient left this morning for his annual trek to Columbus, Ohio. Family, family, family. I'll follow on the 27th. Meanwhile, I'm in charge!

Monday, August 18, 2008

the Long Beach scene

Back to the recent trip to So Cal to visit Alex and family. And to the Bowers Museum.

This beautiful building was once a family hacienda located in what were then the outskirts of Anaheim. It is designed with graceful arched portales on two sides ~ probably all four sides originally but it has been remodeled to incorporate a new wing. Beyond this lovely entry is a central courtyard with trees, flowers, a fountain and places to sit and enjoy the scene.

The other entrance to the museum is quite a contrast. Sleek and modern, but still welcoming. That's a glimpse of Alex on the right.

It, too, has a small courtyard with benches, some sculpture, and a series of fountains along the inner wall. The falling water makes a lovely soothing sound.

On Thursday night we went to dinner with Andrew and Em. I must apologize for the photographer's mishandling of such a photo op, but there they are anyway. These are two of the most civilized young people I have ever met; polite, funny, loving, smart. Even if they're mine. In the world but not of it.

Friday it was off to Glen Ivy Spa and Resort, about an hour east of Long Beach, out toward Riverside. Miles of nothing punctuated by large housing developments alongside the freeway, the only way to get anywhere. I looked for services such as grocery stores, schools, gas stations. Pretty scarce. These folks are going to have to go a long way to get their daily bread. But suddenly, in this most unlikely spot, was the spa spread over several acres of lush, irrigated grounds. We checked in, browsed through the gift shop ~ I finally found a hat I like and that fits to replace my old straw job that's being held together with Elmer's Glue-All®. We strolled through the gardens checking out all the various pools ~ salt, sulphur, lap, mud ~ and then went for our massages. On a scale of 1-10, I would give mine a 5+. I am spoiled rotten by the massage therapist I have here. The "technician" was built like a linebacker but her touch was too tentative for me. No matter; it was lovely, relaxing and better than no massage at all. By the time we got out of our massages the attendance had swelled amazingly. This place is not only a day spa but a resort, too. You can pay a fee to spend the day swimming, sunning, eating, without taking any treatments. And from the looks of it that is a very popular thing to do. I gazed around at acres of unbridled flesh ~ much of which should have been under better control ~ and at gallons of silicone strategically located for personal enhancement. Mercy! We moved on into the café for a lovely lunch, and more people watching. I was due for an Express Facial at 1:30. That was really lovely. We lounged around for another hour or so then packed up and headed home. It has been 50 years since I have spent any time around barely clothed women ~ boarding school, I guess. The varieties of nature are astounding. The American diet as consumed by most women does not do them any favors. I'm afraid I stared.

Back home for dinner, early night. Up at 6 to get to the airport by 7:45 for an 8:45 JetBlue flight home. There is another great show ~ The Story of Photography ~ at the LACMA opening October 5; Alex and I may do this all over again if we're lucky!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

American pie

I watched "Waitress" this afternoon. Several Kleenex® were used. It deals with the issues of love, awakening, gifts and talents, and the decisions we make about our lives. The poignancy of this charming little story is felt not only because the story is so sweet but because the actress/writer/director Andrienne Shelly, who plays Dawn, a sort of ditzy woman with a heart of gold, was murdered on the eve of this charming film's debut. What a terrible loss. I recommend it whole heartedly.

More on recent travels later, including pictures.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

endless corridors

Last night Alex and I stayed at the Hilton Hotel in Anaheim. Our room was on the 8th floor amid a maze of 200 rooms that look exactly like it. We got off the elevator into far-reaching, dimly-lit corridors that stretched away on either side and in front and behind us. It was very unsettling. We walked and walked, kept checking the directional arrows, and finally arrived. I didn't want to go out again or fear of getting lost. Until this morning we never saw or heard another person on the floor; in fact, there was someone right next door but it was so quiet we didn't know. Now I remember why I don't like those gigantic places.

We checked out this morning and took off for the Bower's Museum. Unfortunately the museum police wouldn't allow me to take any photos indoors but I did take some of the setting. It's a lovely old hacienda that was given to the city of Anaheim for a museum in 1937. It has been added on to, of course, and the two wings are in complete contrast to one another. The old wing is gracious Spanish architecture; the new wing is sleek and clean. But somehow the two work nicely together. I do have photos that I will put up; don't have my MacLap with me.

The Chinese Terra Cotta Warriors show is really sensational. The museum hands out audio programs ~ free ~ that are very well done. My only complaint is that it was so crowded it was difficult to move from one exhibit to another. It was a blue-haired crowd ~ 11 AM on a Wednesday ~ which added to the molasses quality of viewer movement. For me, however, it was well worth the crush and the pace. What a remarkable find it was, back in 1974.

We went to lunch, came home, took naps, and are now getting ready to go out to dinner at my favorite spot, Cafe La Strada on 2nd Street. Best Shrimp Scampi anywhere. Tomorrow it's off to Glen Ivy (not Glen Eden as previously noted), for major indulgences.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

off to Long Beach

I am flying to Long Beach this morning to spend four days with Alex and family. She and I will go down to Anaheim to the Bowers Museum to see the Chinese Terra Cotta Warriors show. Tonight in a smart hotel, out to dinner, show tomorrow. Friday she is treating me to a day at a spa. Just what this tired body needs after a mad round of entertaining. Home on Saturday. Will get to visit with grandchildren ~ always a treat. I'm taking camera. When I return I'll tell you (and show you) about how Dale Chihuly has come to Davis!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

summer entrepreneurial spirit

This lemonade stand was set up a block from my house. For the expenditure of 50¢ I got two yummy chocolate cookies and a little cup of lemonade. While I was fiddling with my camera, two more thirsty patrons stopped and bought some lovely refreshments. The setting was shady and nice, the staff was charming, and the experience priceless.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


It has NOT been a quiet week here at mi casa in the lovely Sacramento Valley. My sister and brother-in-law have been visiting since last Sunday so there has been much going on. By that I mean good eats, good drink, three good movies, much very good talk, a visit from one of her high school classmates, more good eats, drink, etc. The weather was absolutely perfect; warnm and bright but not hot. We ate dinner outdoors every night. As I have said before in these pages, the social ramble ain't restful. They left this morning to drive back to San Diego. Now I must red up the place for the arrival this afternoon of old and dear friend from Baltimore. She'll be here until Wednesday morning when she will take me to the airport to catch the JetBlue® to Long Beach to visit Alex et al. All of this is by way of explaining why these pages have been blank for the past few days.

What we saw
Three movies were on the entertainment menu:

Paris, Je t'aime
I am the first to admit that I am a complete Francophile. I never tire of reading about, looking at or, mostly, visiting this wonderful place. Paris especially. I haven't been since 2005 and am NOT happy about that. But it's just too expensive to travel in Europe these days. Anyway, I love this movie; bite-sized stories about the real (and imagined) Paris. This is my second viewing. I'll probably go for a third.

The Great Debaters
A feel-good movie with a couple of feel-bad scenes. A group of true grit students from a nowhere college take on the Eastern establishment Ivy League (aka Harvard) in a debate. Set in 1936. Denzel Washington is, as always, a pleasure to watch. Forrest Whitaker ditto. And Forrest's son, also named Denzel, in a wonderful performance as a 15 year old whiz who has all the aches and longings of adolescence writ large in his eyes and smile. Only one Kleenex@ needed.

First let me say that this made-for-TV movie requires an entire box of Kleenex®. But it's worth every sniffle and sob. Emma Thompson, whom I first saw as Harriet Pringle in Fortunes of War, the 1987 BBC Masterpiece Theater mini-series, is brilliant as the dying Vivian Bearing. If this Broadway play had been made into a commercial movie instead of one for TV she would have ~ should have ~ walked off with every award possible.

Drink Discovery

While in Bozeman a few weeks ago Mike and Cait served a luscious Zinfandel for dinner. Its label reads "7 Deadly Zins". I scoured the local wine shelves but couldn't find it. Bless him, the Patient located a bottle and brought it home as a treat. And it was. As it says on the label, "Seven of Lodi's Best Growers gave their souls to produce this one-of-a-kind sinful blend of seven old vine deadly zins." If you like reds and can find it, give it a sampling. And don't neglect to read the wonderful poem on the back, written by Kevin Phillips, perhaps the father or brother of the two vintners, Michael and David Phillips. Or just fine a bottle somewhere and enjoy the poem.

Beds have been made, towels washed, roses clipped from neighbor's yard to decorate the guest room. I think all is in readiness for next visitor. Until she arrives I'll collapse poolside, finish up my Barbara Vine and begin my next reading project "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich", an homage to Solzhenitsyn. I skipped most of today's talk shows because I don't want to hear one more word about John Edward's peccadilloes. I didn't like him in 2004 and I don't like him now.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

saying Kadish
I have never attended the saying of Kadish, the Jewish funeral ritual. Our friend Larry Peterman, a much beloved professor of political science at UCD, died last week. Tuesday was his service, simple, beautiful and moving. The Rabbi, a tall, elegant man with deep, soulful eyes, chanted the the opening words of the mourning prayer. The congregation sang along softly. Prayers were offered. The 23rd Psalm was read. Colleagues spoke of Larry's scholarly achievements and told funny stories. His two children, who had buried their mother only last April, also spoke. And then it was over. Guests moved on to the family home for a reception where more stories were told, photos looked at, tears shed. Since I was raised in the Anglican church, I have no way of judging "high" or "low" temple. Therefore I don't know if this simple, quiet service was typical. But wherever it was on the worship scale, it was memorable.

It has been a busy week at our house. Much effort is being expended getting the place in shape for the visit of my sister and brother-in-law. They arrive tomorrow, driving up from San Diego to spend a week lolling by the pool, visiting friends, including one of Vic's classmates who lives in Novato. The last time they visited here they drove to Pt. Reyes and brought back a couple dozen oysters which we did on the b-b-q. I'm counting on the same treat this year.

One movie this week ~ "Diarios de Motocicleta". Tough for me to read the sub-titles but my Spanish is now almost good enough so I can actually watch the movie and understand what's going on. Thumbnail review: not long enough, or perhaps deep enough to convince me of Ché's conversion from an educated upper class doctor-to-be to a radical revolutionary. I'm not doubting that it happened but this movie doesn't show me. What I learned from this movie: my next travel destination is Valparaiso, Chile. Looks like a sensational city.