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Monday, May 30, 2011

Dead Fred

So, when I answered the door and saw a lady, by herself, with a pick-up truck, I panicked. I wanted to donate some stuff to the Sacramento Animal Control Flea Market, but there was no way one skinny dame and me, were going to shift a humongous treadmill out my front door. As I was just about go all whiny in my dismay, a second pick-up drove up. Hurrah! There was another lady and a guy, both skinny, but up to the job.

I'm clearing out my eensie 10'X 10' bedroom so I can convert it to a serviceable work space. So out the front door went went my underutilized 1/2 freakn' ton treadmill, an old microwave, an older TV and some pet related items. Free space!

When the goods were loaded on one of the pick-ups, I turned my attention to a little present on my driveway. The present, so the pick-up crew and I assumed, was dropped off by one of my neighborhood kitties.

"I could not ASK for a better 'thank you' for donating stuff to the flea market!, I said happily, to the departing gaffaws of the cheery pick-up crew. I took my prize daintily by one of its spade like front paws and a backyard photo session began.

Dead Fred, a Mole posing in a pot

OK! Excitement over: goods picked up, dead mole bagged and stuffed into the freezer, so it's back to my lunch. What? Wash my hands? OK, if you insist.

Looking a little less festive here, but just as fascinating

So...what species of mole is dead Fred? There are three west coast species: Townsend's Mole, Coast Mole and Broad-footed Mole. So, which is Fred? Based on where he was found, and a few other physical traits, I'm 'guessing' he is a Broad-footed Mole. His forefeet are about as broad as they are long. He is a pretty silvery color, but that might be a variation among local moles, as even the last one I saw in Fair Oaks in 1993 was jet black. Also Townsend's moles are found in Washington/Oregon and the Coastal Moles are... well, they're coastal. So, I'm holding onto dead Fred in hopes of getting him properly ID'd and perhaps, stuffed.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Back by Popular Demand

It was maybe a year ago that my local Farmer's Market relocated to a new site, much farther away from my place. Well, apparently, back by popular demand: my local Farmer's Market! AND as if that isn't wonderful enough, it now has something it never had before. There are purveyors of ranch raised chicken, grass fed beef and lamb, and wild caught salmon and other fish. I am beside myself with joy over the new humanely and not stuffed-full-of-chemical crap offerings.

The past year or so I actually quit visiting farmer's markets of any sort, because they were so far away I didn't want to blow any gas on getting to them. A year is a long time to eat strawberries that taste like paper pulp, but now that's over! There are sweet, tasty, tender strawberries now, and only 3 miles from my doorstep. What a total joy it was shopping there this morning. Oooo sweet fruit, non-mushy tomatoes and farm crafted cheeses - heaven.

Quick Shot taken as I headed back to my car

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

State of the Gulag Garden

In idle curiosity I allowed the Gulag Garden, otherwise known as "Chicken Habitat", to grow as it pleases. Now my grass is near up to my waist in height. The dominant yard feature, the hawthorn tree was in full bloom this past week. The hawthorn flowers reeked to high heaven of [Management regrets, what the Gulag Garden smells like just now is unsuitable for family audiences. Really. Totally unsuitable]. The bee activity was fearsome as honey & bumble bees attacked the poofy white balls of Hawthorn blossoms. The past 2 days the blossoms have begun to fade like a bride facing her first sink of filthy dishes. There is still a constant drone of insects. Sitting at my living room window to view the scene is akin to an episode of Animal Planet "When bees run amok". With the flower petals falling, the area underneath look like snow flurries. Next step is the formation of eensie little green berries, that will go orange in September and on to scarlet in October.

Through the Picture Window

Oh! I never mentioned that last October I collected Hawthorn berries that I steeped for months in 100 proof vodka. The resulting tincture is said to remedy heart aliments. I take a dropper full or two every once in a bit. May not help, but couldn't hurt. Ummm... tastes remarkably sweet & flavorful. *hicough*

Fruit of the Gulag Garden

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Company for Dinner and My Second Hand Visit to NYC

So, as I am retired now, and supposedly have oodles of time, I decided I need to put some work into my so-called social life. Came to the conclusion I need to invite friends for dinner, particularly those who continually invite me to their home. Highest on that list, Rick & Nancy. The last time I had both of them over for din-din, their boys were elementary school tots. These days R&N are neo-empty nesters as their two boys are off at college. Yep, an invite to them was long, long overdue.

For dinner I served the same to Barbara and her Tante Judy, my (really, mine?) Moroccan Chicken Apricot Tanjine with a v. moist Almond Citrus Pound Cake w/vanilla ice cream for dessert. I ought to have experimented more with the menu, but decided I like R&N too much to expose them to any of my dangerous cooking whims.

Rick got to meet 'the girls' and see what a lovely jungle my 'chicken habitat' has become. They brought entertainment for me, being a home movie of their visit to my old home town, New York City earlier this month. By the looks of it, they had a great time. Went to see not one, but three Broadway plays. Top of the elicit Claire's envy list was Billy Elliot, followed closely by How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying. They managed cancellation tickets that got them in row 2, so close they could have reached out and touched Harry Potter... er, no, wait - he's supposedly Daniel Radcliffe now. Pardon me, while I squeal with envy here... SQUEEEE! Oh, & least I forget they also saw Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, staring... sit tight... Robin Williams.

It was nice having Rick and Nancy over and we enjoyed a nice chat. I always enjoy their company, but I guess I'd gotten into not cooking for so long I was afraid to feed anyone by my own hand. Hopefully I'm over that now. All in all, the dinner was fun and I'll have to plot my next victims... I mean, 'invitees'. What did I do with that recipe for steamed sheep's head?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chez Claire Redux

Barbara and Tante Judy pose in the Gulag Garden

I am in the midst of post-house guest blues. Why do guests have to eventually go home? Why oh why! Last weekend buddy Barbara, as planned by us, brought along her Aunt Judy for the weekend. Barbara and I had the idea to take Judy out to see the wildflowers and we looked forward to showing off to her, vast fields of puffy, vibrant wildflowers. Great idea, only Mom Nature didn't exactly coordinate with our plans. Pioneer Park is on the downslide of the season's flower show.

Pioneer Park looking like a living watercolor painting

The flowers were scantily scattered around the vernal pools: Checkerbloom, White Hyacynth, with dottings of Calico flowers (Dowingia) in the low spots. The Mather vernal pools were pretty much plum out of flowers all together. Oh well, it was fun chatting as we drove around.

The wild lillies, Crown Brodea play
peek-a-boo all over the landscape

A value added feature of guests for me was having someone new to feed and try to impress with my WTH cooking methods. Saturday night I plied Barbara and Judy with Morrocan Chicken Apricot Tangine with a v. moist Almond Citrus Pound Cake for dessert. I felt so utterly enthused by their enjoyment of the meal that I invited more company for the oncoming weekend.

GAK! What was I thinking!? What will I serve? *blind panic* I guess that's another story for another day.

Sunday afternoon Barbara drove us all to Napa by way of Lake Berryessa - the ultimate scenic route. The joke of the day was there were far more wildflowers seen driving Judy home, then there was seen at either of the two wildflower sites we took her too. Oh well! We all enjoyed the ride, followed by dinner at a Napa Mexican Restaurant (thanks for the treat Judy!).

Monday, May 09, 2011

Jive Turkey Morning

I was lounging around the Honda dealership this morning. It seems ignoring a little red light on one's dashboard means my car safety bags have been non-operational since last September - oops. Happily, the fix is a freebee so there I sat, working on today's crossword puzzle, & felt the urge to look up.

There he was, a Tom Turkey strutting just
a few feet from me outside the window.

I thought it was hilarious to see the Tom struttin and swaying in the service entrance. I mean, did he need a tune up or maybe an oil and lube?

Service is SLOW this morning! Can't a guy get a check up for his chassie?

Pretty soon loads of customers were laughing our arses off, watching that Tom. Not be be left out,there was a crash against the window, and a little California Towhee crash landed at our feet on the other side of the window. Poor thing was just dazed but flew off pretty quickly. I was in smart-arse birder mode so I said "That was a Towhee."

Another customer said, "A toad? Wow... I thought it was a bird."

Humor and corrective identity ensued.

That Tom turkey killed an hour of my wait time, walzting about looking all jive turkey and important. Then about the fifth time he strutted on into the car ports a mechanic shooed him away, but this time chasing the Tom to the opposite side of the dealership.You gotta love Tom Turkeys, they pop up anywhere any time. I think this one wandered in from the Golf Course next door. Maybe he was waiting for a chance to play on through? What do you mean you've had enough Jive turkey jokes? Harumph!

Turning Tail But Still Struttin'

Sunday, May 01, 2011

It's May!

Google's May Day Doodle celebrating
the 160 Anniversary of the first World's Fair

For no reason whatsoever, May 1st has always been special for me. However, today there are two great reasons to sing "It's May" from the musical Camelot. It's the first day I find myself free as a bird due to the miracle of retirement. Also, I am tickled by Google's Doodle-of-the-day brought to mind a concept dear to my heart - World's Fairs!

I was lucky enough to be a teen during the 1964 - 1965 run of the New York World's Fair. Honestly, that was the best fair Eh-vah! There were loads of Disney engineered rides during which you could sit and watch ole Abe Lincoln himself give his famous Gettysburg address, drive a spanking new Ford car through Jurassic Park, listen to animated dolls sing that classic ear-worm It's a Small World and more. Having not yet visited Disneyland, that was my first up front and personal taste of Disney magic. But that wasn't all there was to enjoy, there were pavilions for 150 countries/companies to promote wonder and amazement.

I still have my, now cover-less, New York Fair's Guide Book. I visited fair 5 times over it's 2 year run. I went with my Mother, Aunt Verona and their friends, and once I went with my creepy Junior High Class. I still remember my Puerto Rican slang spanish speaking chica classmates shrieking with glee as they tried to converse with a proper Castillian Spanish speaking classically dressed guard at the Spanish Pavillion. The other times I went with my parents. Most amazing memory? I remember being gobsmacked by the outrageous price of food at the fair. Those pirates charged $1.00 for a hamburger! Was there gold in those burgers? I think not.

My well loved and over played copy of It's a Small World Record

I can still sing It's a Small World in English and perfect pseudo-Danish.

I also still have a palm leaf origami rattle from the NYC Fair's India pavilion and will never forget the tiny basket from the Greek Pavilion. I filled a tiny basket/sachet with dried lavender buds. Ah! The source of my love affair with lavender began in Greece - or very nearly so.

Check out the Price for the bi-lingual (French/English)
Guide: quite dear at $1 Canadian Dollar

In 1967, my father, himself newly retired and in a generous mood, took us to Montreal Canada's Expo '67. My niece Beatrice came along so I could have a buddy to enjoy it with. Expo '67 was something of a disappointment to me at first, because it didn't have any huge splashy rides like the NYC Fair. It still won my heart though, it had a beautiful little passport.

Expo '67 Passport

The coolest thing was getting one's passport stamped at as many pavilions as could be managed (even when that meant running in & out a pavilion solely for the stamp. Hey - we were teenie-boppers, it's what we did. Ah! The magic of a World's Fair; travel to one country and while you're at it, visit a b'jillion others via pavilions.

Check some of the stamps Beatrice and I collected:
Barbados, India, France, Australia and even Uganda!

Uh oh... BUGGER! It's back and it's going to ♪♫ ♪It's a small world after all! It's a small world after all....♫♪♫ haunt me ♪♫ ♪ It's a small world after all!♪♫♪♫ all day...♪♫It's a small world after all it's a....♫♪♫