Sunday, September 28, 2014

Smoke Or Not

That was the question as friend Joyce and I headed out last Tuesday for Hope Valley, a little south of Tahoe on the back side of the Sierra. Burned trees could be seen on both sides of Highway 50 but we encountered little smoke, even in Pollock Pines, which was clearly suffering physically and emotionally from the King fire. At Sorenson's resort (my fifth trip there in 14 years) the air was crystal clear and in the seventies until the last morning, when rain slid in. The hot summer and warm fall produced little color in the aspen. The peak is probably two weeks away. Disappointing, but still beautiful.
One day we explored Markleyville and another we wound our way up to Lower Blue Lake.
I had forgotten how lovely cold mountain water tastes. We cooked all our meals in our neat housekeeping cabin, only indulging once in Sorensons's famous berry cobbler.
It was nostalgic for me; three times I had been there with Lee, and always before with Kodi, for he loved to wade in the West fork of the Carson River.
Even though my cardiologist said I would not be bothered by the altitude, I found my energy level
depleted. I think I'll try the seashore for my next vacation.  Meanwhile, I hope I got some photos for inspiration for painting.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Up in The Air

The photo at left is from fourteen years ago. Fall is late in coming to the mountains this year.

My long planned trip to Hope Valley Next Tues. through Friday for photos of the quaking Aspen is still up in the air---literally. To date the King fire above Sacramento is only 10% contained and last night football games in Reno were cancelled because of the smoke. Meanwhile there is plenty on my plate to distract me.
Sessions on the Great War in my Osher Lifelong Learning class the past week have coincided with the Ken Burns story on the Roosevelts. I can't help but recall the day FDR drove by my public grade school in Seattle which his granddaughters attended. It was a spring day and he was sitting in the back of his convertible, slowly waving his cigarette and holder at the assembled student body. From my place on the steps I was about six feet away and I'll never forget it. We had practiced vocal tributes for months. We didn't understand why he wouldn't come in and greet us.
Several years ago at a conference in Atlanta, Lee and I took a tour to Warm Springs. FDR's actual crutches were on display in his tiny bedroom there. I gasped when I saw them. They were monstrous and so heavy and ugly. I couldn't hold back my tears.
Is this Ken Burns documentary the best ever, or is it just that I am old enough to have lived through much of the Roosevelt dynasty?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Little Girls and Little Kids

My household was overflowing with excitement last week as Lee's great nephew and four and a half year old daughter honored us with a visit from far away rural New Hampshire where they lead a very different life than in busy California. How lucky am I. Charlotte is fascinated with water, like most kids her age, and never wanted to leave the Santa Rosa Children's museum where they have many water features including a child sized pond with plastic fish and little nets.

 She liked my back yard water fountain too. The only thing that troubled her was the Golden Gate bridge. Her Daddy promised she could close her eyes when they went back over it. 
Beth ( left, below) arrived shortly after they departed to join our photo group for a tour of the Two Rock Valley Goat farm in Petaluma. 

A delightful older lady also named Bonnie enthralled us with the story of getting two nubian goats for her kids, a pastime which has grown into over 200 goats, each of which seem to be her babies, mostly raised by hand. 

These babies are taken away from their moms at two or three days old and fed cow's milk, far less precious than the goat milk, which is preserved for the cheese making. In my excitement with the goats I hardly took any photos. If you haven't held a two week old baby goat in your arms you haven't lived! They are like puppies wanting nothing more than to be held and cuddled. I was ready to sell my home and buy a 

goat ranch.  Fortunately my delirium didn't last, but I don't think I will ever forget the ecstasy. 
Most of our small tour group bought goat cheese made right there by a true Swiss farmer. I passed on the goat cheese. I just wanted to take a little kid home. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Out and About in Sonoma County

My prices have gone down. My learned advice is to get out and about in Sonoma County right now. The weather has cooled off to make for a delightful early fall. The Valley of the Moon has so much to  offer. My friend Jan (visiting from Oakland) and I had a delightful visit to the Charles Schultz museum. What a feast for the eyes and mind! Definitely more for adults than children. 
Midweek my photo group trekked to the QuarryHill Botanical Garden in Glen Ellen, only about fifteen minutes from here. This vast garden preserves endangered species from Asia and has rotating exhibits, currently of gigantic wooden sculptures. I got to do a test run with my new camera, as well. 
The local veggie markets are still overflowing with heirloom tomatoes, but I wonder how long that will last.  Some vineyards are already crushing. 
Today and tomorrow I will host Lee's four and a half year old great niece, Charlotte, and her Daddy from New Hampshire.  We hope to stretch our toes and minds at the local Children's museum. My calendar is bulging with meetings and trips, mostly new adventures. How is yours? Come see me.