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Dubrovnik back to Budapest

View from Cavtat Harbor toward the Hills The owner of Villa Olav & Jo  say their goodbyes Today we left Dubrovnik, fly...

Friday, June 30, 2006

A Day Off

I took the day off work yesterday. Picked up my long-time friend Anna at the Sacramento Airport. Always love seeing 'Miss Anna'. She lives in Everet Washington now but used to live in Davis when I lived there too. I recall vividly the first time I met & we chatted I thought 'she is going to be one of my lifetime friends.' Danged if I wasn't right about that! We've had lots of adventures over the years. Later todayI might add a picture or two from those adventures at the Renaissance Fair at Black Forest Point, the Dicken's Christmas Fair in Oakland, Disneyland and such. Oh, and movies! Over the years Anna has been my number one movie buddy. She is movie brilliant while am all 'wha...?' I love seeing movies with Anna because afterwards if I have any questions she can 'splain it all to me.

After picking up Anna yesterday we did a grand tour of downtown Sacramento and West Sacramento, both of which have changed since Anna used to live here. Made a quick stop into Ikea where I picked up a few small items. Then we went to Davis in search of a crepe place that Anna used to frequent but that place is no more. We settled on lunch at a Chinese buffet then toured Davis. Gads, can hardly recognize the campus which is adding new buildings left and right in order to make the campus even more amazing and to add the costs for struggling students. Current quarterly fees are a whopping $2,485. YIKES! Compare that to the $125 a quarter when I was a student. Let's see if they taught me any math - that's a 1,988% fee hike. Maybe I got that wrong, though if so perhaps I should apply for my $125 back because they let a nincompoop graduate?

Anna and I did some light shopping in Davis then headed back to my house. Anna had a little nap - she had been up flying since 3 am! In the late afternoon I dropped her off at her sister's near Arco arena.

Always have fun with Anna. Sunday we will take a day trip to San Francisco. Anna was raised there. There will be pictures!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Strange Visitor from Another Land - sort of

This critter was on the picture window this morning. Strangely lovely, quite eensie, being not quite 1/4 inch from pointy nose to stubby butt. Note the curly antenna. Apparently my o-so-curly locks attract like.

That's it. Just the moth. Nothing else to see. Move along now.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Mini-Hen Party in Santa Rosa

Had a v. busy week; took the 3-day rule-making class in downtown Sacramento. As the building the class was held in was only three blocks from Macy's and given that Macy's was having a HUMONGOUS sale, I found the class quite expensive. Ouch.

When the class ended Thursday afternoon I headed dead west for the little town of Santa Rosa where I met up with two buddies of mine, Barbara, who was at my house last weekend, and Diane Knutson, a mutual friend of ours who is down from Yakima Washington.

Diane is my lost & found friend from my senior high days in San Diego. After high school graduation I used my graduation present money to visit with her family who moved to Ukiah not long after we graduated. That was my first ever trip to northern California and it was the beginning of my love affair with Northern California. Diane's mother Eunice was wonderful to me and she drove around giving me my first views of the magnificent redwood forests on the Avenue of the Giants and the quaint towns along the coast where I want to live when I retire. It was on that vacation I saw my first California Quail. Ah! What a great trip that was. Here are some pictures from that trip so long ago; Di on the right, me on the left. Weren't we young? Weren't we innocent? Weren't we smug and chock full of teenage angst?

"Alms for the Poor" - on the Mendicino Coast

The cause for Diane coming down from Yakima to Santa Rosa was sad, her brother is ill and she and her sisters had to scramble to set things to rights for not only her brother James, but for her mother whose caretaker was James! How is that for a double whammie? Things seem to be settling down a bit now and there were a few good things that came out of it all, the best of which was finding a place for Eunice that knows what benefits she has coming to her because she is a veteran. No great harm without some small good - oh, and that Barb & I got in a visit with Diane was another bonus.
We had a good time Thursday night. We took a short walk to a Swiss/French restaurant for our evening meal and I don't recall what Barb had, but Diane had salmon and I had to be smart; deciding to try something entirely new & - wait for it - sweetbreads. Um... it was ok. Not bad at all, but the sweetbreads had no flavor of their own so it was lucky they were drowning in a French cream sauce with loads of tasty mushrooms. We washed all that down with a bottle of Gewürztraminer and chased it all with desserts; a flan for Barb, crème brulette for Di and a marvelously decadent chocolate bomb for moi!
Need I say that the entirety of the evening was a story swapping chat fest? I was finally persuaded to stfu around 2 am. Ahem.

Friday morning we had a last walk, over to a nice omelet shop and then it was time to leave. We dropped Diane off at the transit hub & she was off for a ferry ride and to meet with her cousin Eric. Barbara and I caravanned to Napa where I was able to enjoy a short visit with Barb's parents, Hans and Irmgard and then my mini-break was over and it was time to head back to Fair Oaks.

Barb, Diane and I had a wonderful mini-break and it will not be our last! Come August Barb and I will be driving north to Crescent City to visit friends. Diane will fly down to Eureka where her sister Aveeda lives. There, on our way north, Barb & I will pick Diane up, whisking her away with us to Crescent City where we will have a room on the beach for a few days. Something for us all to look forward to - hurrah!

"Whimsy" Diane and her sister Heidi on the Mendicino Coast

Monday, June 12, 2006

Our Hen Party in Grass Valley

My weekend was like a fine wine; full bodied, elegant color, and fragrant bouquet but with a rough finish for me, which I'll get to explain for you later this week.

Saturday morning Barb & I were up & at 'em at the crack of mid-morning, racing around in slow motion, sipping tea & coffee, and nibbling fruits & cheeses for our breakfast. Eventually we made it out of the house & off toGrass Valley a little before noon - not the fast paced start we'd hoped for but on the other hand what was the hurry? The drive up to Fran's is just an hour. There we found Fran bustling around her back yard rinsing off the lawn chairs. Ingrid made it up on Friday and was off at the grocers. Fran and Mark's back yard is beautiful and spacious & I sunk immediately into an Adirondack Chair and stayed put for a long time, listening to Barbara & Fran happily talking teacher - they teach kindergarten & first grade respectively. After a bit Ingrid returned and shortly thereafter more hens; Lady Welling of Berkeley (Robbie), Lady Smith of Windor (Rhonda) and Seniorita Nancita del la Sacramento (Mommy Nancy) arrived. Earlier in the day they had rendezvous'd at Nancy's . As it turned out we really did have a Hen Party because Mark decided to stay away all weekend and use the time for his advantage to get in some golfing - a wise move no doubt - too many chicks for most gentlemen to easily contend with.
So the seven little hens were all together again for some prime fluffing and preening. I guess we have known each other for the better part of 25 years, since we were students at UC Davis. Our group of friends had gathered annually for most of the 1980s and into the 1990s for three day weekend camp-outs over Labor Day weekends. Eventually camping got kind of old for us all so these days it is only the 'hens' that get together once a year, leaving hubbies and kids behind and we gather at each other's homes. Somehow there is always a missing hen or two but if we don't see them at one hen party, we get them at the next.

There was a lot to catch up on & here is a teeny scratch on what's up with the hens I see the least. Robbie, Bill and daughter Julia are going to spend about a year in Shanghais China. Julia will get an interesting year of schooling, Robbie will learn some Mandarin, Bill will manage other computer programmers and I might get to visit them in China! Ingrid's jet-setting daughters have spent time now studying at university in South Africa and vacationing in Spain. One of them, whom I know we are all proud of, is a budding activist who took part in a modern freedom rider bus journey to support the rights of gay student rights at several fuckwit college campuses like Bob Jones University and Brigham Young University.
There was far more news to share than the eensy bit above but that is all I care to write up just now and you know I'll feck up the facts anyway so let me just say there was loads of news and happenings so Saturday was all chat, chew & chuckle into the wee hours.

Not to dwell on food (fooood!) but we ate well. Fran prepared what I consider the best salmon I've ever tasted and that is saying something - baked salmon with a crust of Dijon mustard, breadcrumbs and herbs. Robbie baked a rich chocolate cake made with almost no flour but loads of bittersweet chocolate, folded into beaten egg whites - to die for! Ingrid smuggled exotic citrus fruits to us and in addition to all there there were several varieties of crusty breads & local cheeses. There was loads of wine on hand, but what whimps we were; between the seven of us we only finished one bottle of red wine and we daintily sipped on a wee bottle of sweet ice wine from Niagra New York.

By Saturday morning we were hard at it, swapping tales, enjoying competitive family confessions as comparisons were made on whose family was the most uh.... challenging to grow up in. That discussion was followed by lively demonstrations of towel folding from those who grew up in the lap of luxury and O.C.D.

Two days and still the weekend ended way too fast. Early Sunday afternoon we had our final photo op in the great room and after hugs and reassurance, everyone headed back to their lives - ok, except for Barbara and myself. Some guests are just plain hard to get rid of! We lingered then eventually trooped off with Fran for a little drive and some wine tasting at the Nevada City Winery.Rhonda, Robbie, Nancy, Ingrid, Barbara and Fran It seemed strange being there without winemaker Mark there to spoil us with a personal tour. But we made do - sampling and purchasing some lovely dessert wine and an Alpen Glow for presents.
Eventually we returned to Fran's house and sat around enjoying the cool of the afternoon. Soon enough though, all good things must come to an end and Barb & I reluctantly headed down highway 49 back to my place in Fair Oaks.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

OMG! Rocky Makes a Statement


Woke to a surprise that I ought to not be at all surprised about. I had the porch door open last night so poor Rum-kitty could be sure to get his fill of food because I'm going to be out of town tomorrow night and though I will leave food for him outside the chances of him getting any of it are 50/50. Now this morning I realize the odds of Rum getting his food are zero. Eeep.

I had the door to my room open and Rum pranced up and down the hallway singing to me in his very amusing squeekity voice, with an urgent air to it. Around midnight I'd had enough and I shut him outside for the remainder of the night which means...

Rocky must have come in while I was still awake. This morning I was stunned. No damage, just clear signs of raccoon happiness - the cat water dish which was clean and full when I went to bed was filthy. The Cat food hopper had migrated away from it's usual spot, emptied AND with an inch of mucky water on the bottom. I think a very tidy, food washing raccoon had come for supper.

Wow. This was the first time it was evident a raccoon nicks in for midnight snacks. I'm sure it must be a different raccoon than I usually get because normally the food is gone but there is no sign of raccoon like there was this time, i.e., the water bowl made foul with fur & dirt & dissolved cat food from Rocky washing his chow. Oh well. I'm lucky he/she didn't climb up the cabinet to explore or eat the bananas or trot up the hallway to invade my room and dance on my face! 'Take that human - where do you keep the cookies?!'

In other news, friend Barbara drove up last night. Today we're headed up to Grass Valley for a 5th annual weekend Hen Party at Fran & Mark's in Grass Valley. This morning I'm all puffy & I'm sure Barb will be discombobulated a bit too but I'm sure we'll enjoy ourselves once we get up there. It takes about an hour to get to there.

When Barb arrived last night I was all tickled to finally get to give the grand tour of all the stuff that has changed around here - the new doors, the newly constructed Ikea furniture. Barbara had been pre-warned she would have to help me get the HUMONGOUS new full mattress onto the Ikea bed frame I bought for the newly revamped guest room. It came to my attention I had put the headboard frame on backwards! So out came the tools and I took apart & with Barb's assistance (here! hold this mattress up in the air for me a sec...) I got it set to rights. So Princess Barb got to be the first one to experience the new guest room amenities.

I am so sorry there have been no pictures but I have no way of accessing the pictures on the digital flash card. My STUPID & very new HP printer suddenly started flashing a 'this is not the correct ink cartridge' message & it will not listen to reason. The cartridges are the same ones that have worked for months and there have been no computer virus so go figure. And the fire wire doesn't seem to have any place to plug into the camera so the printer remains the only way for me to download pictures but the damn thing won't do a thing but flash it's incorrect ink cartridge message. So, no pictures of my orchid which is finally blooming after two years of silent protest.

Ok, time to fix some coffee, get a shower in and head up to Grass Valley!

Orchid Photo Update: Hurrah, pictures of my orchid after all.

Orchid Buds

Orchid blossoms - Hurrah - I did it! I got the damned thing to bloom!

An OMG sort of day

Woke yesterday with fat face & fat feet - a new one from the endless collection of maladies of Earth Mother, whose sense of humour is awesome. I suspect the swelling was because I slept with the window open and had allergens blowing over myself all night long. Lovely.

Anyway, what the hell! I took the day off, using up a holiday credit. Mostly I felt like crap but I worked on constructing the second entertainment center tower.

Barbara drove up from Castroville and was exhausted when she got here. From her house to Gilroy (the garlic capital of the known Universe) takes a half hour - yesterday afternoon it took an hour and a half - a bit of traffic. So her drive up was hellacious and she isn't like me, she doesn't really enjoy driving to begin with.

Later this morning when we're up & dressed we head up to Grass Valley, the liberal-hippy-backwoods-survivalist center of California for our 6th Annual Hen Party at Fran & Mark's house. Sitting here pre-coffee I'm just not all that thrilled about it but I guess I'll be more in the spirit of the thing later. There will perhaps be pictures IF I can manage to get them out of my camera (long story there).

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Honored Elders Day

I realized today that I was attending my 7th Honored Elders Day at the State Indian Museum. The turnout was humongous today and for the first time ever in my experience, the Earth Mother kinda forgot to send in the cool breezes! There was some air moving but overall it was hot and muggy, the temperature in the 90s! And I started the day in misery, with my hip actually hurting - it NEVER hurts! And I felt like crap - really sluggish. So I started off the day helping set up the outdoor grass area - helped set up a tent, put out table clothes and that sort of stuff. I still felt like crap so I decided hell, I'm taking it easy today. Decided to help out in with the Bake Sale, held to benefit kids on Rancherias (Reservations).

So, around 10 o'clock I was still so knackered I was thinking they could just get along without me all together - embarrassing, as I was sitting with an 80 year old volunteer with more spunk than I have. But then something happened - some of the little boys that were helping out offered us cold ice tea. First I declined - then I thought, 'right... let's just sit here and melt!' So I took a glass. As that cold liquid and more importantly, as that CAFFEINE flowed through my system I felt the life coming back into me. HOLY CRAP! I am addicted to caffeine! I can't live without it! Honestly, didn't I figure that out when the stuff had me hot wired last weekend? Sheesh. Anyway, I felt great the remainder of the day.

Note to self: DRINK CAFFEINE.

Amazing how the worst weather managed to bring about the best Honored Elders Day ever. The day is for celebrating the elder of the local Indian tribes; Miwok, Maidu, Patawin, Nisenan and others so they can enjoy some comradry, a nice lunch and some dances. The dance groups today were terrific. Miwok, Maidu, Pomo, Aztec and children from Shingle Springs who dance non-traditional Hula - yes, you read that right - the Hawaiian Hula! Their tribe learned the Hula from Hawaiians that long ago came to California with Captain Sutter.

The lunch served up today is the standby favourite - Indian tacos, which is Indian fry break served up like a tostada with beans, ground beef, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and salsa. There was watermelon and fresh strawberries too and a huge sugar-free cake for dessert.

It was one long day today but it was fun.