Monday, May 28, 2007

I'm Back From Camping; Too Tired To Post Much

Luckily Turtle Doug and Miss Kate sent me this photo so I could post something and not have to use my brain. This is a Great Horned Owl and its baby. It's the only animal that regularly eats skunk...yuck. The female is always larger than the male. The skunk they eat is not roadkill...that's for the vultures.

The baby (on the left) is still covered with down and doesn't have the prominent ears yet but is probably ready to leave the nest. It's the largest owl I've ever seen: 18-25 inches high. That's 46-63 cm. for those outside the U.S. We all know how miserably Americans did when faced with using the metric system. That's another story entirely.

It even eats other owls; sort of like a feathered member of the Donner Party (Google it). It can be found all over North America. I've only seen one and that was at Mono Lake on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada in California. A truly majestic bird that probably has really bad breath from eating skunks. I'll rest up and write more tomorrow. Bookgroup tomorrow night. We read "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls. If you think your family was dysfunctional, read about hers; you will think you were raised by Ozzie and Harriet (for those younger folks Google will help with this as well). Well that's all for now.
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It's Time For The Memorial Day Campout

These photos are from our Memorial Day Campout last year. Things don't change much from year to year. The top photo is the outhouse closest to our tent or where I hope our tent will be. The white tent behind the outhouse is where we wash dishes and do food prep. We will be there two nights.

The bottom photo is our tent. The only change is the green car door in the tent picture. That's my Toyota Sequoia (15 mpg) which I turned in last August when the lease was up. My Prius isn't exactly the car for dirt roads so we are taking Kerry's Honda Element.

Generally about 100 folks come for the weekend at Steve and Janet's Yellow Dog Ranch. The yellow dog is their lab Abby. They have 160 acres so it's not like we have to share with anyone else. These are all people who have been coming to their ranch since the late 70s. I joined in 1984 when I joined the company that Steve worked for then, PG&E. If you worked for PG&E and Steve and Janet liked you then you were invited. It just became a wonderful habit. Anyone who asks us to do something on Memorial Day weekend is told that we we are busy. It is so peaceful and the stars are great.

I'm the S'more lady; that means I bring lots of marshmallows, graham crackers and Hershey bars. Every year I bring more and every year the kids seem to get through them. You have to buy early, however, because everyone else is making S'mores this weekend. I've seen stores run out of all the ingredients.

It's communal cooking with everyone bringing stuff to share. This year I'm bringing a cold chili relleno frittata and shrimp ceviche on tostadas as our contribution to the appetizers. One night we cook chicken; the other steak. I never remember which until we get there. Plus we will have baked potatoes and corn on the cob. I'm also making a pasta salad and Top Ramen cole slaw to share at the dinners. There is usually enough food for an army; but then we are an army of 100. Over the course of all these years we have had divorces, weddings, deaths, births and grandchildren. A few years ago Steve and Janet decided dogs were okay as long as they behaved themselves. After all, their dog was there; the rule about no dogs seemed sort of silly. There have been a few dogs who got the evil eye from Steve. You don't ever want Steve's evil eye. I've never experienced it.

It's about a 3-1/2 to 4 hour drive through some beautiful countryside. We stop in Ukiah to get more ice. You can never have enough ice. This year we have added another cooler on wheels and purchased a new air bed to replace the one that went flat last year. We always have two; one is the box spring (sorta) and the other is the mattress. With queen sheets, comforter and lots of pillows it's a pretty cozy existence. It's just getting up in the night to pee that is a challenge. I always give fair warning to any critter outside the tent before I unzip the tent flap. So far I have not seen anyone except other women doing the same thing I'm doing. We just smile at each other. We belong to a very select club.
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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Leftovers...As In Food

Danulai posted a recipe on her blog today for a pot roast and then mentioned that her husband didn't like leftovers so she was taking care of that. I'm in the same boat but found a recipe for leftover pot roast that I've tried and it's great. Hope you like it.

1/2 onion chopped
1/2 green pepper chopped
1 T olive oil
8-10 oz. leftover roast beef or steak
2 cups beef stock (or 1 can beef broth)
1 cup roasted tomatoes (or 1 can diced tomatoes)
1/2 T dried oregano
1/2 T dried basil
1 cup mushrooms, cut in large chunks
1 T chopped fresh basil (or frozen chopped basil, see below)

Cut onion and green pepper into 3/4inch pieces, and roast beef and mushrooms into 1 1/2 inch pieces. In heavy dutch oven type pot, saute onions in olive oil for 3 minutes, add green pepper and saute 3 minutes more. Add beef, stock, tomatoes, oregano, basil, and mushrooms, reduce heat to very low, and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper if desired. Add fresh basil when stew has cook to desired consistency and cook 5-10 minutes more. Serve hot.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A New Member Of The Family

This is a ceramic piece called Bird Girl; so named because her hair is made up of little birds with their wings outstretched. She holds a red bird in her hands, which are behind her back.
Kerry and I bought her at this year's Feats of Clay reception. It's hard to tell from this picture but she's 35 inches tall. We haven't been able to bring her home yet because the exhibit of the 80 winning entries is ongoing. We should have her by the end of the month.
The artist is Nuala Creed. You can see more of her work at

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Not For The Squeamish!

We are back from New York; had a great time, but we are exhausted. The flight back turned into a marathon thanks to a storm front that ran right down the middle of the U.S. We actually went north from New York City and flew in Canadian air space for quite a while (thank you Dykewife for letting us use it). It's weird to go north when your destination is Las Vegas, then San Diego and finally Sacramento and home. Luckily we have nothing to do today.

Cassie got off to her Peace Corps training just fine; Andrew graduated from Columbia; we all celebrated Mother's Day and my brother's 51st birthday. On Monday, my brother and Kerry went to MOMA. His wife, Charlotte, and I are not big fans of modern art so went to the Bodies Exhibition. Here's the link:

It was oddly fascinating. I have a much better appreciation for just how complex the human body is. The photos below are just a few I found on Google Images. The bodies were dissected in China so all are Asian. According to the web site all died of natural causes. My brother refused to go because he said some of them were prisoners who had been executed. Don't know if that is true or not.

The process for preserving and dissecting them is rather long and complicated, but essentially they are first embalmed, then dissected to show whatever you want to show, then placed in acetone to remove all moisture, then they are put in a silicone bath and sealed in a vacuum chamber. Under vacuum the acetone leaves the body in the form of a gas and the silicone replaces it in each cell and body
tissue. The result is some pretty weird looking creatures, but they are us. The bright red one is the circulatory system in our body. The one where the specimen appears to be smiling is designed to show many aspects of the head. The other tells you more about facial muscles and nerves. It was fascinating. It's traveling all around the U.S. and the world. Don't miss it if it comes to your area.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Fabulous Shoes

Go to www.virtualshoemuseum to find more of these incredible shoes. I found this on a blog I don't read regularly I love shoes, the funkier the better. Hope you enjoy the site.
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Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Big Apple Here We Come

Very early Saturday morning (6:30 a.m.) we fly to New York for my nephew's graduation from Columbia University. Lots of family will be there. Andrew, my nephew, is a wonderful young man who has done a great job scholastically; now he's heading out into the world. He's joined Teach for America. They hire recent college graduates to teach for two years in low-income urban and rural schools. He will be teaching in New York City. I don't know at what level yet. Teach for America wants to eliminate educational inequality. That's a big goal but a good one.

We will also be celebrating Cassie's departure. She's my brother's stepdaughter who has joined the Peace Corps. and has been assigned to Panama. Her first stop is Florida for some training and then on to Panama for more training and finally an assignment to a village. Her mother is a bit nervous and has already made plans to visit her there.

Plans for this weekend seem to revolve around food. We eat, we do something else, we eat, we do something else, etc. You get the picture; but then New York is foodie heaven. Hopefully the something else involves lots of walking. Otherwise you will have to roll me onto the plane going home. One of the "something elses" is a play, A Moon for the Misbegotten by Eugene O'Neil. Kevin Spacey plays the male lead.

Saturday night we eat at the Union Square Cafe, Sunday night we dine vegetarian at Candle 79 (Cassie is a vegetarian) and Monday we are at August in the West Village. I just finished reading about all the restaurants; my turkey sandwich for lunch today seems a bit lacking after reading about all the good food. In addition to the restaurants my brother has chosen, Kerry and I want to make sure we get to the Carnegie Deli.

This is our first trip back to New York since we were there on Sept. 11, 2001. That was a very scary time; we ended up renting a car and driving home to Oakland, CA rather than flying. We have decided we don't want to go to Ground Zero. I can still hear the non-stop sirens from that day and remember the layer of ash that was everywhere. I know those ashes were what remained of many loved ones. I'll check in when I get back.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Miss Olivia Is Nesting

Last year at this time I had a few postings about two ducks who seem to hang around our property in the springtime: Dame Olivia (pictured here) and Sir Lawrence (aka Larry). Last year she laid her eggs on our roof. Somehow she got her chicks down from up there and into the irrigation ditch and then the upper pond.

Unfortunately in about three days all had been eaten by various critters including the bass in the pond. She laid a second batch on the roof which were cooked by the 120 degree heat we had in July. So this year she landed on the roof once, I yelled at her and she came down. Now she's built her nest on the pile of mulch in our driveway. We can always tell it's her because she is so light colored for a female mallard. I can get within three or four feet of her and she doesn't move. Turtle Doug took these pictures.

It's a good think that mallards are not endangered or threatened, because it's a rare duckling that makes it to maturity. She and Larry meet up each evening just before sunset for a swim in the ditch. He does not participate in the nesting activity.
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Sunday, May 06, 2007

What I'm Reading....

In my post yesterday I mentioned that I was heading for the library to pick up a book I had put on hold. Rhonda ( asked about the book I was getting. It's an other book by Debbie Macomber although I'm listening to this one on CDs. I'm usually reading one book and listening to two; one in my car and one on the treadmill. Ever since we came back from Costa Rica I just can't read enough.

None of these are mind-taxing but all are about good people and the stories hold your attention. I started reading Macomber when I found she had written some fiction about knitting and the joy that women get from getting together and doing just that. I belong to a ladies knitting group.

Another author I love right now is Lois Battle. She writes several types of books. I just finished "Storyville" which is about the red light district of New Orleans at the turn of the last century. I just got "War Brides" but haven't begun reading it yet. I also read one called "Bed and Breakfast".

I also love Diane Mott Davidson. Her main character is Goldy who owns a catering business. In real life the author lives in Evergreen, Colorado, which is where my brother and his wife live. In the books, however, she calls the town Aspen Meadows. She's now married to a cop named Tom and has a son, Arch. Her books are about solving mysteries in which she always gets involved, often as a witness or suspect. At the same time she's cooking and catering. She includes recipes for the things she cooks in the book. If you are trying to limit your butter and sugar intake, these are not recipes for you. In my mind, the mystery part is just as good as the recipes. In fact we are having French toast for breakfast today because in the two chapters of "Dark Tort" that I read this morning, she is fixing French toast. I like to soak the bread until it practically falls apart. So does Goldy.

The next author I love to read is Janet Evanovich. Again, these are mysteries plus she has written some other books that are just plain fun to read and funny. The main character in her mysteries is Stephanie Plum who becomes a bounty hunter when she loses her job as a buyer for a cheap line of lingerie. Evanovich's books are laugh-out-loud funny. I'm listening to the first book in her series, "One For The Money". You don't have to read them in order to enjoy them. I'm also listening to another one that isn't a mystery; it's called "Smitten."

So there you have it. What I read for my bookgroup is more serious so this is what I read when I've finished that book.
By the way, we are reading "The Glass Castle" for May. A page turner but not a book for the feint of heart. But if you came from a dysfunctional family like mine, this book will make you think you were raised by Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. It's dark.

I'll post new authors as I find them. I'm always interested in what you folks are reading.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Costa Rican Footwear

I've been away on business; actually had to stay overnight in a hotel. I'm hoping it's the last time I do that for business. More on that in another post. I'm not feeling particularly talkative; I think I'm getting a cold. Just took two Tylenol. I have errands to run and we are meeting some friends for dinner in a nearby town.

The top shoe is one that I love. I wore them here long before we went to Costa Rica. When I got there I discovered how quickly they filled with sand, which was really uncomfortable, so bought the pink ones at the local grocery store in Montezuma. I have very wide feet; I mean really, really wide. My feet are more like rectangles than anything else. Consequently I always have trouble finding shoes. The pink ones were incredibly wide so I bought them. Susan bought a pair just like them only in red. They were comfortable and did a better job of keeping the sand out.

Once the clothes come out of the dryer, I'm off to the library to pick up a book that I placed on hold. I'm still reading at a ferocious rate. Then it's nap time.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Turtle Is Back

Doug and Miss Kate arrived late yesterday afternoon. The Turtle is parked in its usual spot with its power cord running to an outlet in our garage. Miss Kate dashed toward me and immediately rolled over on her back so I could scratch her belly. Doug took this photo of Miss Kate in Big Sur, which is one of the prettiest spots along the California coast.

Doug is here to see his doctor have some blood work done to see if his clean living has helped. Once he gets that done the Turtle is rumbling down the driveway again and heading for Alaska. He wants to be there for the summer solstice and then he's got a special permit to go into an area to photograph grizzly bears or brown bears; one of those bears. Miss Kate will not accompany him on that photo shoot. She'd made a perfect meal for a bear.

We had barbecued steak and steamed asparagus last night. Tonight it's tuna casserole.
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