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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Learn Something New Every Day

Pundits predict the world will end in 2012 because that is when the Mayan Calendar runs out of days. That makes no sense to me. I say the Mayan were only tired of chipping years into the monoliths they carved their calendar onto. Had the Mayans used paper and pen, I say they'd have ventured to write up many more years. I mean really - I'm sure the Mayan stone chippers were all gotten carpal tunnel syndrome or some such, from all the chiseling - or maybe not.

There are also people who think the world is surely ending by 2012, because Obama was elected, and the shite-noggins believe the Prez is the Antichrist; their logic beginning with him being Black. They also seem to think if the world does screech to a halt, THEY WIN! That's because while the agnostics/atheists & non-Christians will race about, while being torn limb from limb by beasts and such, while whoever wins the 'We are the true chosen ones' contest shout, 'We won! Told you so, nanner, nanner, nanner!' and thumbing their ethereal noses at their fellow humans. The ones who were not picked for rescue at the time of THE REVELATION.

And finally there are the New Agers, a group I very nearly belong to, who believe that while life may not end altogether, that in 2012, there shall absolutely be an uplifting of mankind (after all, Obama was elected) to 'the next plane of existence'. Now come on - don't you secretly prefer all of us gaining powers of invisibility or paranormal powers, rather than being ceaselessly tortured for an eternity? Shoot - if there's a vote, on all this, I'm checking the box next to the New Age explanation of 2012. Hey, their scenario is a win-win all the way for everyone. Most democratic I say.

Still, 2012 is not by a long shot, the only point that was marked for the demolition of human kind. Everyone knows there have been loads of times people believed the world was coming to an end, hence the, at last count, 5 b'jillion cartoons about the guy in the sandals with the billboard.

So, wonder anyone patient enough to read this far, 'what prompted this mini-outburst?' Glad you asked! I discovered my father and my nephew are accidental name sakes one doomsdayer type prophet. No lie - read this, which is from Salon.com and was slightly edited by 'moi':

Prophet: William Miller

Date Willie predicted for THE END (ARRRGGGGHHH)!: Between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844

Willie's Second Guesses: April 18, 1844, and Oct. 22, 1844.

What Was Going to Happen?: Christ would return.

What went down: This might be the most touching failed prophecy ever. Millerism (Yes, MILLERISM! Gives you kind of a chill, doesn't it?) was an acutely eschatological strain of Baptism that emerged in upstate New York during the Second Great Awakening (the same time and place that produced Mormonism). Ye old founder, William Miller, believed that, with a close reading of the Bible, he could pinpoint the Second Coming. By beginning his count at 457 B.C. and taking the biblical "days" to mean "years," he settled on some time between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844. When the window closed, with no sign of the savior, he revised to April 18, 1844, then re-revised to Oct. 22. But damn it - we're all still here. Wrote follower Henry Emmons, "I waited all Tuesday, and dear Jesus did not come ... I lay prostrate for 2 days without any pain -- sick with disappointment."

Yes baby, I know... I know...!

Since 1844, Millerism has evolved into Seventh-day Adventism, which tends to be more cautious about getting followers' hopes up.

Obama is the antichrist - what a crock. Anyone with a brain cell knows that I am the antichrist. Prove it? Easily.

I was born in September, the 9th month, turn the 9 upside down you get - 6.

I was born on the 6th day of September - 6.

I was born in 1951, add the 5 + 1, you get - 6.

6 6 6 !

There. You must admit, that makes about as much sense as any other Antichrist claim.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Drive Home - San Juan Bautista Mission

Diane and I were in no hurry to get back up to Sacramento I can tell you. So, on our way up we dropped in for leisurely tour of San Juan Bautista Mission, California's largest mission, just off the coastal HWY 101, and directly on our route from 101 inland. San Juan Bautista is a small town, which Diane recalled visiting decades ago when she grew up in California. She said it really hasn't changed much. The Mission within the town, of course was there a century or two before the town. It was a part of the Missions, which having heard the Native American side of things, wasn't all that wonderful a thing in it's day. Nowadays however, it is one of the oldest of structures in North America and is steeped in history.

San Juan Bautista Corridor

I was surprised - no idea why - that the church is still active after all these centuries. There are four masses every Sunday, and I caught a glimpse of mass. There was a choir practicing at the back. Here - have a listen.

We took a walk through the Mission museum the strolled around the grounds.

When you consider how old the place is, the walls alone were amazing.

Circa 1800 Dining Area

Huge model of the original Mission shaped like
a huge square donut on its side - sort of.

Ancient Vestments (Priests robes) on display

Scary Baby Doll Saint & Skull

El Camino Real

Fray Junipera Serra

The good Father stood near the Mission Cemetery, which I'd guess is full of some fairly pissed off Indians. Wouldn't want to hang out there on Halloween.

Mission Cemetery

We liked this statue, which I've since discovered is John the Baptist. I had thought he was Jesus in the wilderness. When this statue was dedicated there was a full ceremony and the spot was smudged with white sage, the whole nine yards. The face of the saint is a composite of faces of Native American Mutsen band of Ohlones who inhabited the Mission 200 years ago.

San Juan Bautista AKA John the Baptist
The critters that rest at the Saint's feet were of great interest to me. A bison, mountain lion and Eagle, all decked out with angelic wings. Here is what is said of the unusual animal figures: The base of the statue bears the Native American equivalent of the symbols of the four evangelists. The face of a mountain lion represents Mark, a bison for Luke, a golden eagle for John... Cool.

The Mountain Lion is St. Mark

An Angelic Eagle is St. John

The Bison, represents St. Luke

Stations of the Cross

Close up of a Station

At the end of the lane by the stations, I saw a cute little flock of chickens composed of a hen and her 3/4 grown chicks. Ought to have taken photos!

I think this is the good Father Serra again, in a wood carving
this time: he rather looks like St. Francis of Assisi here

A little side garden, complete with a saint

There are loads of little things to see as you stroll through the Mission; I was tickled by a stone livestock watering trough. And don't get me started on the flowers - there were umpteen rose beds with roses of every description and color and other flowers besides. Here are a select few that caught my eye.

Enormous Cactus Flower

A Peace rose: I have one at home and LOVE it

This is a famous rose I've seen before and must get for the Gulag Garden

I think putting together this segment of the blog probably took as long, or longer than it took to tour the Mission. However, I sincerely think you would enjoy the Mission better.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hen Party Finale

Part of our deal for the Guest Inn was breakfast both mornings. Breakfast ran from 7 AM to 9 AM, so I was understandably worried when I woke and saw it was already a bit past 8AM. We were in danger of, *GASP* missing breakfast. PANIC!
Worry not, we hiked over to Crocker Dining Hall and were quickly seated for a really nice breakfast and loads of fortifying coffee. I rather liked getting in a nice little walk before breakfast. The Crocker Hall routine they take your meal ticket and seat you (& you thought meal tickets was just a linguistic expression!) . Then you're off to pick up breakfast at the chef's window. We never had to deal with a line there, thus the smiles in the photo below.

The early birds gets the best breakfast entree

Asilomar's Crocker Dining Hall
And after breakfast it was a nice cool walk back to the Inn. Loads of deer at Asilomar. When we got back from breakfast we discovered Nancy was off on a hike of her own. Inspired, Robbie and Ingrid went off on a hike too. Myself and Diane opted to hang out and guard the Inn - um... really, somebody had to. Late morning. here is Ingrid, just outside the Inn, where a doe and her 3/4 grown fawns, strolled our front door.

Our Hen Headquarters was temporary, but we were there long enough to have guests. Barbara and her friend Claudette came to for a nice visit.

Barb and Claudette take off

gifted from her flock to our flock

Late that afternoon came a long discussion over a vital issue - were we having dinner in or out? Would we catch a play or sit just around and chat? If we opted for a play, was it going to be 'Oliver!' or Hamlet? Consider that Nancy's sister's daughter 'Claire', was in a local production of 'Oliver!'. Claire was a baby the last time I saw her, and is a tweenie now. On the other hand, Julia was performing in Hamlet, which up till now I've managed to miss. Wait - that didn't come out right. I wasn't avoiding Hamlet, he just hasn't traveled in my circle until now.

So, the final decision, dinner and a play: Hamlet. Well, you can't beat the classics. I was sorry to miss seeing Claire though. Life is always a little better with a Claire in it. Trust me on that one.

The first half of dinner & theater was din-din at the Fishwife, a restaurant I've previously had the pleasure to dine at. The place outdid itself this evening, serving up, for myself and Robbie, a perfectly delish calamari steak. We all totally enjoyed our meal, then we were off to the Theater!

Totally enjoyed seeing my first performance of Hamlet. It was, as Shakespear presented by accomplished performers, awesome. After the play, Julia told us their version excluded all politics, sticking to Hamlet's family's interactions. I felt rather grateful for such when Julia said a full run of the original Hamlet runs 4 hours! I haven't sat through a production that long since Ben Hur. As I recall, my behind fell asleep around the time of the chariot race.
Following the play we all congratulated Julia on her, as usual, on her excellent & v. regal performance. I can't believe I didn't think to take a photo of Julia and the gang. Would have been a perfect ending to a pretty much perfect day.

Friday, September 11, 2009

After the Aquarium, On to Asilomar

Most of the buildings at Asilomar were designed by architect Julia Morgan

On Friday, after the Aquarium, we headed off to Asilomar, which is a California State Park unlike any other, it being as much a convention center as a park - The park has buildings for meetings, loads of dormitories and even a large dining hall that can seat hundreds at every meal. Asilomar is so popular I had to reserve space for our little Hen Party last March. We reserved the Guest Inn; which Diane read was once owned by John Steinbeck's sister. I found myself hoping we might be visited by Steinbeck's sister's ghost - purely a sign I have watched far too much Ghostly Encounters on TV.
We parked in an underground garage - I can tell you, a profoundly weird thing to find in a State Park! A short trip along sandy pathway and we were at our Hen Party Nestquarters. As soon as we arrived, our hen inspection began. Well, we were an easy sell - four bedrooms; three of which had 2 double beds each, the forth smaller room had a twin bed.

One of the bedrooms

There are 2 Jack n' Jill bathrooms; one adjoining two bedrooms, and the second adjoining a bedroom and the dining room. Can't believe it didn't occur to me to photograph the adorable and funky bathrooms, the first with corner fitted the claw foot tub and the second with the amazing "Leaking Wall of Lourdes". There is a huge fireplace in the center of the house and the light fixtures are rather Art Deco - for me at least.

A-1 Focal Point: the Stone Fireplace

The dining room, as the rest of the building has windows, so old they are rippled & uneven in thickness. Maybe there was at time that was considered a bad thing, but these days they're an E ticket.

Loved the windows in the Dining/Meeting Room

And YES, as we all hoped, the building has a full size kitchen with which to stuff too much food for a few women over a couple of days - a hen has to have her feed, dig?

Ensie cute kitchenette

Not long after Diane and I had made ourselves at home, Ingrid arrived, and shortly after her came Robbie and Nancy. We were all bummed as one of the hens, Rhonda couldn't make it because it's the crush time when California grape growers are in dire need of trained plant scientists like Rhonda to tend to grape crop trials and other seasonalities. This is the last time we hold a Hen Party in September during crush! Also, there is the ever in our minds absence of one hen, Fran, and we'll stop missing her. We are lucky to say that this party is the second for this year and we estimated it is our 9th? 10th? Hen Party.

Robbie, Nancy, Diane and Ingrid

Robbie makes with the baguette slicing

Hens eating to keep up their strength during chatting exercises

Yes, loads of chatting, raving about our temporarty roost and big decisions on who was in which room and what we were doing the remainder of the day. Nancy went out on a nice hike and got lost. Robbie and Ingrid tripped off down to the sea for the scenery. Diane and I conserved energy, sitting around and chatting. Hey, it's what I do best!

Yumm... goat cheeses & bagettes...

Later in the early evening, Nancy, Diane and I went to a nearby town center for some not-totally-really-needed, but very-very-much-wanted groceries. Later in the evening we had a nice sit down dinner. It had been a long day, and long drives for all the Hens to arrive at our short get-away. Nothing makes you forget long hours in the car faster than knowing you have friends and a beautiful and cool coast at the end of the road.

Down to Monterey

Diane, a long-time friend from Yakima Washington, flew in yesterday evening. The following morning, Starbucks stoked, we were off to the Monterey coast. It is always a pleasant drive down to Monterey, that I've taken a thousand times since my other friend Barbara moved down that way in the mid 1980s. This morning's drive reminded me of the first time I went there, when the rear of my dear old Honda Civic contained dozens of paper bags. The bags contained a hundred or so parakeets, home reared by Barb's one time husband, Bob. My Honda toodled along, dead quiet, that is until I would stop, and the birds burst out of their silence, wings flapping, paper bags rising up, shrieking their dismay over their forced move. Ah, the good old days!

On our way south, we had a quick stop at Barbara's because she was generous enough to loan us the use of her guest passes for the Monterey Aquarium. Then Diane and I were off for Di's first visit to the world famous Aquarium. We had a great time touring the amazing gigantic tanks with bizarre creatures of watery realms.

Sorry - you see, I took a b'jillion photos and videos you will have to put up with. First up, my oh-so-loved, JELLIES, JELLIES and more JELLIES!

First up, Lion's Mane Jellies - They wiggle, they jiggle & they sting like the dickens!

♪♫ I'm being followed by a moon jelly, moon jelly, moon jelly, leaping and hopping with a moon jelly, moon jelly moon jelly...♪♫

Next up, Purple-stripped Jellies.

And now for some self-lit, neon-sign inspired Lobe-combed Jellies - the original Christmas window lights.

And now for some plain fishies, and loads of bright and amazing anemones.

The stars of the Aquarium these days are exotic Sea Dragons, which are all animal but look all vegetative - Beautiful and Bizarre.

The remaining are still shots, but are every bit as beautiful - little shadow boxes out of the oceans of the world.

Looks as if we were snorkeling, doesn't it?

Lovely little Flat Fish Pretends to be Pebbles

Flaming Anemones are not our Enemies

Dr. Seuss-ish Stalk Anemones

The Kelp Tank

Lemon Tang - not a breakfast drink

A dry glimpse of a Tropical Reef

Gray Whale and Calf sail through the Aquarium Corridors

My Favorite Room - where Shore Birds Live a Life of Ease & birdie graces


Tisk, tisk... this is what happens when fish are bred to Crayola crayons