Saturday, November 29, 2008

table with a view

This was the view across the bay to the San Diego skyline from our table at the Coronado Il Fornaio. I met my long-time (50 years) friend for lunch today and we got all caught up, even though I saw her at our high school reunion only 6 months ago. I need not reiterate here all that has happened in the world since then. We talked about all of it.

But before that I had to make an assault on commerce to replace missing under-garments. Macy's was almost deserted at 10 AM this morning. I was able to dash in, choose a few tasteful items, and get out without too much trouble. I will now be able to appear fully dressed (and trussed) until my old stand-bys arrive in January.

Now it's time to pack up and get ready to take off early tomorrow morning. The Patient has whipped up a big pot of turkey soup for our dinner tonight and to take with us on the road tomorrow. If we get away early ~ there was dense fog this morning so it may be a bit later ~ we will make it to Tucson by about 3 PM. There may be internet connection at our hotel. If not, it will be next Friday before I can get back to the blog. By that time there will be 45 days left until Inauguration Day. But as of today,

51 days until 1/20/2009: End of an Error

Friday, November 28, 2008

what do you usually forget?

I discovered that I left all my underwear at home, packed in a zip-lock bag, ready to be pcked and safely stowed in my lingerie drawer. What's a girl to do? I now have to go out tomorrow morning and brave the mobs at the local Macy's or Nordie's to replace a few of the forgotten items. The rest will come down with friends who will get to the beach in early January. I guess I'll have to go mostly "Commando" until then.

My sister and I went to lunch today with the woman who had be our father's secretary when he was the rector of Christ Church in Coronado. What a trip down memory lane! She, now 81 years old, has forgotten nothing, knows all the hot scoop on everyone, and brought back to both Vic and me all the great memories of our parents and our lives in that lovely town.

Tonight we will dive into left-overs for dinner, watch Washington Week, and contemplate our pasts.

52 days until 1/20/2009: End of an Error

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to All

This charming little girl was the Elijah of our Thanksgiving dinner. She is the lively Ruby Strane, my sister's granddaughter. She lives in Guilford, CT and was unable to attend this year's festivities. We met her at her very first Thanksgiving in 2005.

What a difference four (almost) years make! We talked to her this evening via Skype. A real personality girl!

We have finished a lovely meal and are now listening to Cecilia Bartoli sing Mozart. Another two thing I am thankful for. After we finish the dishes (not something I am thankful for) we will indulge in some Dulce de Leche for dessert, then call it a night.

Our attention the last two days has been riveted on the catastrophic events in Mumbai. Our sympathies go out to the Indians and foreigners who were victims of this madness.

53 days until 1/20/2009: End of an Error

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

wednesday in san diego

Last night it rained heavily in Long Beach most of the night. It cleaned the air, watered the thirsty lawns, and left everything refreshed. We drove down to San Diego under a bright blue sky with puffy white clouds making it interesting. My brother-in law, a first-class chef, cooked a lovely dinner of poached salmon and stir fried veggies. Tomorrow Vic will go off to dialysis and the Patient and I will get the Thanksgiving feast underway. That means polishing the family silver, setting the table, arranging the various food elements. There will be only four of us so preparations will be modest. Braised turkey, some stuffing, mashed potatoes, steamed pea pods with mushrooms, green salad, cranberry sauce with chopped tangerines and walnuts, and dulce de leche for dessert. Bottle of Spanish cava beforehand and Chardonnay with dinner. The big disappointment is, of course, that Ruby and her parents are not here. Mother Kaley has a new job at Yale University and could not get the time off. Perhaps mom Kaley will send a holiday picture that I can put up. Gosh, she is almost four years old! Meanwhile, we have settled in to this most comfortable home for four days of R & R until we hit the road.

There are many things for which I am most thankful:
* Obama is our new president
* McCain and Palin are history . . . for now
* This is Bush and Cheney's last Thanksgiving in power
* The Patient is in full recovery mode
* Children and grandchildren are healthy, happy, productive, smart and funny
* I don't have a 401K that has gone belly-up
• My health is good. No great, but good
* My sister seems to be holding her own; not great, but OK
* I have gotten in touch with some old friends and that has been so rewarding
* I have a lovely hideaway on the edge of paradise where I get to go every year

I have some observations about traveling the length of our beautiful state, but am still mulling it around in my mind. We have had, so far, an easy trip. Much beauty has passed by us. What a remarkable place we live in.

54 days until 1/20/2009: End of an Error

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday night in Long Beach

We are waiting for grandson Andrew to arrive from CMC and his mother to arrive from CSULB so we can pile in the car and go to our favorite restaurant, La Strada, for dinner. Easy and fast drive here; left at 7:05 AM and arrived at 1:55. No traffic, no accidents, no fog, no problem. On to San Diego tomorrow. Ooops! Here's Alex! More tomorrow.

55 days until 1/20/2009: End of an Error

Monday, November 24, 2008

down the list

Believe it or not, these things are actually on my To-Do list, and I think I've got them all done.

Return assorted books to various libraries.
Cancel membership and return unwatched DVE's to the Flix®. I'll put them back on the list next year.
Drop off two stacks of magazines at Kaiser to replenish the 10-year old reading supply.
Wash everything possible.
Stop the newspapers.
Pay all the bills.
Check the weather along the route; maybe rain tomorrow through the valley, cool in San Diego, cold through Arizona and Texas, warm in Cuyutlán.
Pack iPod, books, magazines, CDs for 5-months of amusement. Oh yes, and the trusty Lap Mac, too.
Vacuum TODAY, not at 5:30 AM tomorrow morning.
Clean bathrooms TODAY, not at 5:30 AM tomorrow morning.
Do all laundry TODAY, not at 5:30 AM tomorrow morning.
Get the traveling picnic box ready TODAY, not at 5:30 AM tomorrow morning. Prepare on-the-road snacks: Boil the eggs, slice the apples, cut up the veggies, make the sandwiches. (You can see how busy we usually are at 5:30 AM the morning of departure!)
Change the ink cartridge in the printer.
Have one last mini-massage. It will have to do until I get to the beach and get a hold of Patti, the local masseuse.

I've heard from friends who have already arrived at the beach that it is warm and not too buggy. Good news. But, bugs or not, we're on our way in the morning.

First stop: Long Beach. More from there.

56 days until 1/20/2009: End of an Error

Saturday, November 22, 2008

winter hits the valley . . .

and with it comes the dread fog. Woke up this morning to a wall of it. I couldn't see across the street at 7 AM. It has cleared a bit but still cannot see to the end of our street, 1/2 block away. I hate this stuff, especially since we leave in only three days and this weather pattern is supposed to settle in for several more days. If we get away at 6 AM, we will have nasty driving conditions all the way down to Stockton. You've read about those 200-car pile-ups on fog-bound I-5?

This is what I dread most about driving in this weather. So far we have been very lucky. Let's hope it stays that way.

Meanwhile, preparations for the great escape on Tuesday continue apace. The Patient has taken our prized possessions up to the bank vault. He has started packing the car with the rest of the prized possessions that won't fit in the bank vault. I am moving "to take" piles from one spot to another, dusting and waxing as I go. My "to-do" list is gradually getting shorter. I've abandoned any hope of getting Christmas cards written and ready; you'll just have to have a merry one without any encouragement from me.

58 days until 1/20/2009: End of an Error

Friday, November 21, 2008

the ups and downs of daily life

What's up? My mood, for one thing. Last night I had dinner with two dear friends. We went to the local tapas restaurant where we enjoyed assorted salads ( I had arugula and beets, Ali had a Spanish version of a Niçoise, Babz has something with lots of herbs). Our main tapas plates were mellijones (mussels) poached in milk, ravioli stuffed with mushrooms and cheese, and a cold mushroom dish. Ali brought a luscious Spanish rojas. A couple of hours of great talk solved all the problems facing the new administration and included an animated history lesson of the Spanish Civil War. It was really a dinner to say adios since I will not see them again for 5 months. A thoroughly enjoyable evening, as our dinners together always are.

Another UP was was getting my body ready to face five months in Mexico. This included a morning massage, a trip to the waxing salon (no explanation needed OR provided), followed by a manicure and pedicure. I am now ready for (almost) everything!

What's down? The stock market, overall. But so is the price of gas. In fact, gas in the US is now cheaper than it is in Mexico. When we left last year, gas at PEMEX was the equivalent of $2.48 a gallon. At the local station it is now $1.99 a gallon. Also down is the ratio of dollar to peso. It now costs us 72¢ to buy a peso instead of 84¢ which it what it was on Monday. The temperature is also down; tonight we are expecting 40º. It's time to get to the warm. The low in Cuyutlán is listed as 71º.

What's up? I am packed and ready to go, almost. I am feeling that the country is in good hands and I can leave with a free heart. I will be watching with great interest as our president-elect gets his cabinet in place; Hillary for State, Holder for AG, Geithner for Treasury (seemed to be a kick-start for Wall Street this afternoon), Napolitano for Homeland Security (let's have a humane but tough policy for immigration, although I'm thinking I'd rather have her stay in Arizona and kick McCain's a** in a race for the Senatein 2010 which she would be sure to win!). I've already contacted a friend at the beach who has a TV. I've requested a front-row seat on January 20th to watch this new era begin. I agreed to bring the beer.

59 days until 1/20/2009: End of an Error

Thursday, November 20, 2008

every move you make . . .

The Good Shepherd was the Tuesday matinee. A dark, brooding, creepy sort of movie. A real switch for Matt Damon. Angelina Jolie and her lips co-starred. A group from which many of the OSS/CIA agents were recruited was Skull and Bones, the ultra-secret club at Yale. You do know who else was a member of S&B, don't you?

60 days until 1/20/2009: End of an Error

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red"

This is Percy Shelley's description of the autumn landscape in Ode to the West Wind, not mine unfortunately. But it perfectly describes what our little town looks like these days. I drove from east to west this morning ~ from massage to teeth-cleaning ~ and the foliage is gorgeous. It isn't New Hampshire, but for a town in the Sierra foothills, it's quite a show.

The GE repair man arrived at 8 AM, was in and out in about 20 minutes, and handed over a bill for $349. But it was well spent. I check on-line for a new stove like the one we have: $1200! And this is just a basic turn-it-on-and-cook sort of thing. No bells, no whistles, nothing fancy. What has happened to the appliance industry while I wasn't looking?

One more proposed cabinet appointment: Eric Holder for AG. If he can get by his (minor) roll in the Mark Rich pardon by Clinton in 2000, he'll get Senate confirmation. I'm happy with this pick. I'm sure my comfort level is important to the new prez.

62 days until 1/20/2009: End of an Error

Monday, November 17, 2008

help is on its way!

The repair man is coming tomorrow to work his magic on the no-light stove. Just in time to bake yet another of our favorite Wolfgang Puck pizzas! (Even though it isn't the washer that's broken, I liked this graphic!) I called the GE hot line this morning and they were only too happy to arrange a house-call: "That will be $99.95 to come and take a look." As the Patient commented, "That's why God invented money." I'm hoping it won't be anything serious.

For all you packing mavens, let me assure you that I DID get the bathroom packed up today. Also got the take-along luggage aired out (it was amazingly stinky) and ready to be stuffed with beach wear tomorrow. Got Christmas box sent off to Bozeman, had a lovely lunch with friend Judy, took a nap, and got my Spanish refreshed when Rapha (who takes care of the garden while we're away and is from Costa Rica) came by late this afternoon to get his maintenance orders from the Patient. He speaks an amazing blend of English and Spanish; a true code-switcher. And on Wednesday, he will become an American citizen after having lived here for 23 years. Congratulations, Rapha! I mentioned that it was too bad he hadn't done it in time to vote. He said no matter; he was very happy with the new president. His wife said she would send a photo of him at the swearing ceremony; I'll post it.

63 days until 1/20/2009: End of an Error

Sunday, November 16, 2008

home on the (dysfunctional) range

Tonight we had a C.U.B. ~ Complete Utility Breakdown. Well, it did not include the fridge, microwave and washer, but the stove was serious enough. This only happens when you are (a) having a dinner party that you want to be flawless; (b) expecting your mother (or mother-in-law) and you want to show her how competent you are at running a household; or (c) when you are about to leave the country for an extended time and a friend is going to live in your house and she/he will expect everything to work. Alas. Tonight we attempted to turn on the oven to cook dinner and, WHAT? Nothing. No pilot; no "whoosh" as the oven comes on, no nothing. I called the 1-800 number and was told to call back tomorrow. There are only 7 days left during which to effect a repair. I DON"T need this aggravation.

I watched 60 Minutes tonight with great interest. Our President-elect and his First Lady were interviewed by Steve Kroft. They seem like the sort of couple you'd ask down for Sunday supper to watch 60 Minutes.

64 days until 1/20/2009: End of an Error

Saturday, November 15, 2008

a big little celebration

Actually, it's a really big little celebration. The Patient has now been "treatment free" for two years ~ his last radiation was on November 14, 2006 ~ and cancer free, too. In fact, his oncologist canceled last week's appointment based on the glowing results from the head-neck surgeon whom the Patient saw on November 5th. No need to be examined until next Spring. Yea! It's like being let out of prison early for good behavior!

Obama wins and the Patient gets a clean bill of health. What more could one want out of life?

65 days until 1/20/2009: End of an Error

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday in the valley

I'm backing up to last week's trip to Bozeman. This was the view on the tarmac as we waited in line to leave Salt Lake City. The sky was so blue, the mountains dusted with snow ~ some on the ground, too ~ and the air crisp and cold.

By the time I returned three days later the snow had melted except for at the very top ridges of the mountains. Too warm to last. In Bozeman, too.

Then there was Ike, a gigantic 8-month old "puppy" weighing 65 pounds. Full of energy, ready to romp at the jingle of the leash, live entertainment on four legs.

We took him out for long walks every day. There are a couple of open meadows close by; Cait lets him off the leash and he is in dog heaven for an hour, sniffing everything and flushing creatures out of the long grass. He is also a remarkably well-behaved dog, thanks to the training skills of his owners.

We celebrated the election on Thursday evening with friends of Cait's, then she and I went out to dinner on Friday to a great little place, Over the Tapas for a tasty tapas feast. The place is small, warm and friendly, and everyone seemed to be in a good mood. In fact, the entire town was smiling and jolly. That's not particularly strange in Bozeman; it has always seemed to be a very congenial spot. It just seemed more so. Or perhaps that was me; I haven't been in such a good mood for eight years!

Back home on Sunday to start the great clean-up/pack-up for departure in two weeks. So much to do that it seems overwhelming. The more I try to get organized the messier things get. What calms me the most is my morning walk with Gina and her two dogs. Here it is, mid-November and it is 72º out. This morning we walked by this beautiful gingko tree along the greenbelt.

Such a beautiful sight lifts the spirit and affirms my resolve to make some progress today. It wouldn't be so bad if I could just lock the door and get out of Dodge, but someone is coming to live here in our absence so I have to make the house livable for her. Perhaps I'll finish packing up the bathroom. Perhaps not.

66 days until 1/20/2009: End of an Error

Monday, November 10, 2008

can you stand one more photo of Barak?

This is the post-election cover of Rolling Stone magazine. It's one of the best pictures of our president-elect I've seen.

I had a lovely 3-day visit with daughter Caitlin and house dog, Ike (Mike was traveling). News to report later.

71 days until 1/20/2009: End of an Error

Friday, November 07, 2008

30 degrees and dropping

The flight to Salt Lake City was off on time and an hour and 40 minutes we landed on a clear, snowy day. I made the next flight, too; it's always dicey flying standby. We sat on the tarmac awaiting out place in line and I looked out the window at the beautiful snow-covered mountains; even took a picture but can't put it up until I get back to the trusty MacLap. When we were about to take off for Bozeman from Salt Lake City the pilot came on the PA system to announce local time, flight conditions ("It may be a little bumpy"), and the weather in Bozeman: "It's 18 degrees and clear." I didn't even know there was something called "18 degrees." By the time the plane landed, however, it had soared to 27 degrees. It's quit a surprise when you step out of the airport into the cold, sharp air. But the sky was blue, and if you stood still long enough, even a little warm. The only mishap was that my luggage took a side trip to Billings. We were promised it would return to Bozeman last evening and we could pick it up this morning, which we did.

Cait provided me with several layers of fleece and we took Ike, now a strapping 8-months old, for a bracing walk through fields covered with patchy snow and tall winter grasses. It looks very different at this time of year. In the summer it's a thousand shades of green; now it's a thousand shades of brown and white. Last evening some of Cait's neighbors came by for an election celebratory toast; Gallatin County went solidly blue this election, and the governor of Montana, also a Democrat, won reelection by a wide margin even though the state went red for McCain.

Last night's light snowfall turned into rain so it's wet and cold this morning. We went for another long walk, this time under grey skies. Tonight we are going to dinner at a local tapas restaurant for yet more election celebration. I am really glad it's all over though. I can't take much more of this celebration stuff and can once again sleep through the night without waking at 2 AM obsessing about "what if he loses?"
73 days until 1/20/2009: End of an Error

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

the best of America

I like this picture of our president-elect and his VP. I wish them the wisdom and guts it's going to take to do what has to be done.

This evening I went to Aioli (again) for a cava party with six women friends, all Democrats, to toast our new administration. For one of the group it was her first election since becoming a citizen. What a momentous occasion it was for her. Well, for all of us.

I am taking off for a few days in Bozeman to visit Cait. We will go out on Friday night for a post-election celebration, even though Obama didn't carry Montana. She thought he had a chance, but it didn't pan out. It has been snowing but the weather map says "mild" weather during my stay; daytime temperatures in the low 50's, nighttime in the mid-20's. I must be nuts.

75 days until 1/20/2009: End of an Error

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

76 Days until 1/20/2009: End of an Error

Monday, November 03, 2008

the fire is so delightful

Another cool, wet day. Another cheery fire that I can see as I prop myself up in bed, sip some herb tea and finish off The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. You'd think I didn't have a care in the world. Not so. I am consumed with anxiety over tomorrow's election. I have done what I could to make this miracle happen. The rest is up to the other good voters of the nation. Now all we can do is wait and watch and keep our fingers crossed. My hope is that the margin of victory will be wide enough that we, as a country, will not have to live through days of law suits and hanging chads. Again.

My sympathy and prayers go out to Obama and his family at the death of his grandmother today. She raised a fine grandson, president-elect or not.

Tomorrow is the election. Don't forget to vote, early and often!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

the benevolent gift of rain

We have had both steady and intermittent rain here in the valley for the past three days. It started Friday evening, rained all night and most of Saturday, and then off and on today. Lovely. Filled up the fountain basin, watered all the plants, washed off the car. Everything smells so fresh, the leaves ~ what's left of them ~ are clean of the accumulated autumn dust. Shrubs and lawns are green and shiny again, for another few weeks before the cold sets it. We had a fire in the bedroom fireplace this afternoon. It doesn't give off much heat but it looks beautiful. Today dawned bright and clear but then clouded over and has been dark and damp since 2 o'clock.

Today's rainy afternoon matinee was Michael Clayton with George Clooney. It may also have been the last movie Sydney Pollack made. I think he was a fine actor and a good director. Tilda Swinton won an Academy Award for her portrayal of an uptight ethically corrupt lawyer. Clooney finds sweet redemption at her expense.

Rainy afternoon reading is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson. It's one of those can't-put-it-down reads. The author wrote a trilogy of mysteries; this is the first. The second will be published in the US next year. I marvel at good translators of foreign language books. This is a particularly good example.

One more day until the election. Don't forget to vote, early and often!

Saturday, November 01, 2008


No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon -
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! -

Thomas Hood ~ 1884

Two more days until the election. Don't forget to vote, early and often!