Friday, September 30, 2005

Lassen National Park

Aspen on the road. Lassen Aspen We went looking for Fall color in Lassen National Park today.  It was a little early this year, but we found some.  The weather has been just a little warm to bring early and spectacular Aspen colors.  The leaves are just now starting to change to bright yellow.

Lake Helen Mt. Lassen We drove from the North entrance toward the South, passing Lake Helen and the Mount Lassen summit (elevation about 8500 Ft).  The weather was perfect today.  I was thinking how nice it is to be retired.  I can pick the days when weather is nice and just go.  If I would have had to wait until Sunday to go it might even have been snowing already!  (Weather forecast is for cool, chance of rain in Chico on Sunday.)

Manzanita Creek Chaos Crags Our favorite picnic spot and easy hike is at Lake Manzanita.  The lake was created a while ago when part of the mountain erupted and created a dam on Manzanita creek.  Picture on the left is Manzanita Creek, and picture on the right is Chaos Crags which is the part of the mountain that created the lake.

Mt. Lassen over Manzanita Lake We saw a beaver in the lake.  That's the first time in my entire long life I have seen a beaver in the wild.  I've seen lots of evidence that beavers live in one place or another, but never have actually seen a beaver.  He (she?) was a cute little thing, not a grown up, and he was carrying a piece of green stuff toward the shore of the lake.  What a treat!  Also, there were huge Rainbow Trout (wild, not planted), and only two fisherman on the water.  It was a good day.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

New Plants and Old

Viola These are the new flowers I planted to fill in around the new shrubs.  The Alyssum (left) is planted along the front walk.  The Viola (right) is planted in the front courtyard.  As you can see they are just little plants waiting to grow and fill in the empty spots.  I planted 12 Viola and 6 Sweet Alyssum plants.

Mexican Sage
Gerbera Daisy
Double Delight Rose

And these are the old established plants.  From left to right they are Mexican Sage, Dahlias, Gerbera Daisy, and Double Delight Rose.  The Mexican Sage, the Gerbera Daisy, and the Rose are new from this Spring.  The Dahlias are volunteers from last Summer.  I know I keep putting pictures of the Rose in the blog, but each bloom is a little different and each one seems more beautiful than the last.

Weather Report:  It is 99F degrees in the front courtyard today, but the weather man has promised a genuine cold spell beginning on Sunday.  Humph.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Ladies in Lavender

Smith & Dench
We went to see "Ladies in Lavender" today.  I give it an A.  Two of my favorite actresses play the leading ladies in lavender - Maggie Smith and Judi Dench.  They are wonderful together.

It's the story of two sisters who find a young man washed up on their Cornish coast.  They nurse him back to health, cluck over him, and become very possessive of him.  I don't want to tell too much of the story, just on the chance that you might go see it... which I recommend you do very soon!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Rendezvous In New York

AAA I listened to Chick Corea's 60th birthday celebration CD all the way through today.  It's called Rendezvous In New York.  Once again, music makes the world right.  I love this 2 CD album!

It's straight-ahead jazz that speaks to my soul.

(Review at

Musicians are: Chick Corea, Gonzalo
Rubalcaba (piano); Terence Blanchard (trumpet); Joshua Redman, Michael
Brecker (tenor saxophone); Steve Wilson (clarinet); Tim Garland (bass
clarinet); Steve Davis (trombone); Gary Burton (vibraphone); Miroslav
Vitous, Christian McBride, John Patitucci, Avishai Cohen, Eddie Gomez
(bass); Roy Haynes, Dave Weckl, Jeff Ballard, Steve Gadd (drums); Bobby
McFerrin (vocals)

Changing a way high light

High Light
Stairs There is a red arrow pointing to a light in the ceiling in both of these pictures.  By the way, both of the pictures have been stitched together from separate pictures so you can get a feeling for the space.  That's why the stairway handle bends, the stairs are wobbly, and the exposure isn't the same all the way up the stairs.  Anyway....

The way high light went out.  I thought it would be an easy thing to put a new bulb in.  But, first Jan and I decided to walk the long way to the hardware store this morning, just for the exercise.  Good for us :-)

I put a regular ladder on the landing at the top of the stairs and used a long handled grabber thing to unscrew the old bulb.  It was wobbly and of course fell out of my grasper.  Fortunately the carpeting is soft and there was no broken bulb to pick up.  While extracting the old bulb I noticed that the light fixture wasn't screwed in.  It just sort of floats up there so when you put pressure against it it moves away from you.  That's why I couldn't use the long handled grabber thing to screw in the new bulb.  I had to get up there and screw it in by hand.

The problem is that a regular ladder isn't tall enough for me to reach all the way up to the light fixture.  Out with the regular ladder and in with the extension ladder, which leaned against the top of the shade covering the window in the landing.  Now, I'm not very good about heights and so Jan held the ladder and talked me up while I climbed all the way to the ceiling so I could screw in the light bulb by hand.

If I could find the carpenter that installed this light fixture I would make him (it must have been a "him") crawl through the attic and insulation in order to screw down the fixture.  Jerks!

Well, anyway, there's my new light.  Isn't it pretty?


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Moving Plants

Ben Ben, my favorite gardener, came this morning at 7 a.m. to remove some hedges that I didn't want and plant and move some other plants.  Ben works for the company that does the front yard maintenance on our block - the "mow and blow" guys; however, Ben is one of the head guys in charge of landscaping and maintenance.  Whenever I need some heavy lifting Ben is my guy.

He dug up several hedges that looked bad.  Ben is standing between two tea plants that were engulfing a smaller shrub.  Now the smaller shrub is gone and the tea plants can move in a take over... and yes the tea plants will be pruned later this year.

Rhodie Rhodie He also moved a Rhododendron from the front courtyard to the back yard.  It was being burned by too much direct sunlight (picture on the left).  In its new home it will be under the canopy of an Arbutis tree (picture on the right).

He also planted a couple more plants - an Escallonia and a Rose of Sharon (hibiscus family).  The Escallonia is in the empty spot I created along the front walk a couple of weeks ago.  The Rose of Sharon is where the Rhodie used to be.  Pictures to follow another day.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Bride & Prejudice

NY Times Review I saw a bad movie tonight.  I give it a C-.  The movie, "Bride & Prejudice", needs little description.  The NY Times did it justice.  I can't believe it was directed by the same person that directed "Bend It Like Beckham".

It's a musical with bad music, a romantic comedy without much romance or many laughs.

The only thing I liked were the brightly colored costumes in the Indian musical numbers.

This one is so bad it could become a cult movie.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Lunch at Graeagle Mill Works

Dahlia photo We took a trip to the mountains today, but before we left there were chores - there are always chores.  These Dahlias were getting pretty leggy so we cut them.  They look nicer in the vase than they did under the Styrax tree.

Feather River
Feather River We left home about 10:30 and headed up Hwy 70 toward Graeagle.  Hwy 70 follows the Feather River, which is beautiful.  There are several PG&E power plants on the river which create little reservoirs that collect the water and then shoot it through the power generating plant.  These pictures don't show the power plants, just the late summer water.

Also along the way was road work.  If the weather is good, then there will be road work.  There are several bridges built in the 1930's and one or more of them is usually being modernized.  Thank you President Roosevelt for the WPA, who built the bridges on beautiful and remote highways.  Let's see, what has the current President built in this country?

Saving up for the Winter
Fall Berries After lunch at the Graeagle Mill Works (Yum! Go There!) we went up the road to Frazier Falls.  Frazier Falls is at 6000 Ft. elevation.    The leaves aren't turning yet, but signs of Fall are in evidence.  The squirrels are working overtime to collect all the nuts they can find.  They leave empty cones like the one on the left all over the forest.

There are ripe berries on the bushes.  I suppose there are bears up there?

Frazier Creek Frazier Falls drops off just about where you see the water stop in the picture on the left.  Its cascade is 248 feet.  As you might expect it's mostly a trickle this time of year.  The top of the falls is still quite lovely though.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Improved attitude

In Motion Fitness Did you hear the smack on my forehead last night? I was still in a yucky frame of mind -- What, me smile?  The library where I work part time is going through their annual budget pain, which directly effects my pocket.  My investments are in a temporarily(?) downward spiral.  Hurricane Katrina and its devistation is awful.  The war in Iraq is awful.  I'm overweight.  My president and his cronies are awful.  The best quote I heard recently was "God is just an imaginary friend for adults."

Then it occurred to me that I hadn't been for a swim in a couple of weeks - trying to take it easy on my shoulder during its recovery from surgery... doing all the therapy I could but not swimming.  Well, to hell with that!  I went for a swim this morning and it was wonderful.  Swimming under the stars before the sun comes up is unbeatable.  I'm sure a little ice on my shoulder will fix it right up.

Then I did some vacuuming and mopping with Dr. John in the head phones (in honor of New Orleans and its music).  By the end of the cleaning chores I was dancing, singing, and happy again.  "You've got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and don't mess with Mr. In-between."  ... la-la-la.

So, my prescription for curing the blues is to get moving first thing in the morning and feed your body with endorphins and your soul with music.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Trois Couleurs: Blanc (White)

NY Times Review We saw the second in the French trilogy -  Blue, White, Red (Netflix DVD).  I'd give this one a B+.  I think the NY Times agrees.

The white in the movie is all the Polish snow.  It's about a Polish sad sack hairdresser who marries a beautiful French woman.  They love each other, but he is not a good lover.  She throws him out without a cent and he slips home to Poland.  He works hard, gets rich, and finally gets revenge, but never stops loving her.  It's described as a dark comedy?

The reason it doesn't get really top marks is that the lead character is not believable as a man who can become a knowledgeable business man, nor is he believable as a man who would be good at getting revenge.  ... and, oops, they screwed up his haircut so he had long hair, then short hair in one scene and long hair in the next.

Friday, September 9, 2005

Fort Bragg, CA

Ranch/Quary on Hwy 20 I decided I needed a mental therapy day so I took a drive to the ocean.  This time of year is when we are as dry as we are going to get in California, so the fields on the ranches on Highway 20 are all dry.  This field full of yellow flowers is the only one in bloom on the entire trip.  I pulled over to take this picture and a local in his big red pickup stopped and rolled down his window.  He said something I didn't hear because of the road noise and because I think I'm going deaf.  He gave up and drove on.  I wonder what he was trying to say, "It's my ranch, go on in and have it all to yourself.", or "Watch out the fence is electrified."?  The part of California heading East/West on Hwy 20 is ranching country so I saw lots of horses, some cattle, a few sheep, a couple of llamas, and one dog.

There is a huge resort area at Clear Lake.  Every time I wanted to stop and take a picture there was no pullout.  Every time there was a pullout there were trees blocking the view.  Oh, well.

The beach in Cleone, CA 200 miles and 4 hours after leaving home I arrived in Fort Bragg on the coast in Northern California.  I went to a couple of places that I remembered had bird supplies.  I wanted some thistle seed and a new feeder.  One of the places was out of business and the other one didn't carry bird supplies.  I guess my memory is going in addition to my hearing.

I gave up on the bird things and went to the beach to read and feel the salty air for awhile.  Very nice.

Historical Marker Looking toward Bloody Island On the way home I stopped at one of those historical markers of which we have so many on California roads.  They are all brass plaques attached to boulders or brick columns.  In Europe there are tour guides to explain their history.  For example, in Germany they might say, "And France burned down this cathedral in the 1600's.  It took several hundred years of peon labor to rebuild, etc., etc."  We have historical markers to help us remember when our brave military massacred women and children.  The view on the right is the direction one would look to see the area where the massacre took place.

Not far away there is another of the ubiquitous indian casinos.  This one is at Robinson Rancheria, belonging to the Pomo Tribe.  I hope they make a bundle of money!

I guess my mental therapy day didn't help much.  I wonder what my attitude would have been if I'd stayed home?

Thursday, September 8, 2005


Today was the first day I was moved to tears watching TV news coverage.  It was a story about volunteer policemen from another state who were patrolling in a boat looking for people to save.  These volunteers weren't invited.  They just came. 

They found a woman who had been standing waste deep in water for days with nothing to eat and drinking the water she was standing in.  The water is full of disease and unspeakable things.

The TV program showed her being saved.  There must be many stories like that and many stories of people who died waiting to be saved.


Sunday, September 4, 2005

The Constant Gardener

Constant Gardener Poster Image Here's an A+ film based on an A+ novel by John le Carr.  John le Carr is one of my most favorite authors.  The Constant Gardener is one of the more current ones about a British diplomat married to a woman who is an outspoken champion of victimized people.  In this case the victims are Africans who are used as test subjects in a drug trial.  The drug isn't perfected yet, so some people die and she tries to expose the corporations who are hell bent on falsifying the drug test report so they can be the first to go to market with a TB wonder drug.  It's a sad commentary on corporate greed, and governments who support them.  It's also a love story.  People want to make the diplomat, played by Ralph Fiennes, believe his wife, played by Rachel Weisz, was having affairs with other men.  By the end of the movie we all know for sure that it was true love.

The acting is superb and several reviewers are saying this is one of the best movies of the year, including the NY Times.

Either way you do it (read the book or see the movie), this is a great story.

Tempus Fugit on the Front Walk

Photo: Front walk in May Photo: Front walk in June Photo: Front walk in September

These are photos of the front walk over time (May, June, and September 2005).  It looked a lot better in May than it does in September!  Since my shoulder felt pretty good this morning I decided to dig up the dead sage-like plant and the damn Bermuda grass.  That's what the bare spot is.  Also, I cut the pretty pink flower (bottom of picture) way back.  Of course, the geranium (right side of picture) is having its warm weather hibernation time.  I'm going to let the bare spot stay bare, I think, while I continue to try and get rid of the Bermuda grass that is still growing under ground.  Later in the Fall I'll put some bulbs in and maybe some nice Winter flowers.

Photo: Courtyard in September Photo: Gardenia The front courtyard (left), where the peony (bottom right of picture) lives is showing signs of having lived through the summer.  The peony is finished so the leaves are starting to look bad.  The rhododendron (way in the back by the fence) is looking burned.  The hedges look like The Hedges That Ate Chico.  Thank goodness the gardenias in the front and back of the house (picture right) are still making beautiful flowers!

Thursday, September 1, 2005

Knitter's, Fall 2005

Knitter's Cover The Fall, 2005, Knitter's magazine reached my mailbox this week.  My subscription is about to lapse.  This issue won't make me resubscribe.  The next one better be a blockbuster!

Starting from the front...

  • "From The Editor" doesn't explain the thought processes that went into creating this issue.  It's more of a blog entry on any given day instead of something to help one understand why this issue exists.

  • "In This Issue" explains there will be slip (mosaic) stitch patterns, bright color in panels and stripes.

  • "Fashion 101", by Susan Lazear, includes a fashion glossary, some color forecasts, and explains some fashion cycles and time lines.  She says ... fashion is fun, it's exhilarating, intoxicating and it pulls you in, whether you intend it to or not.  Have we become slaves to it?  Most likely.  What's this "we" stuff?  Sorry, I'm a shorts and t-shirts person in the summer and jeans and long sleeved t-shirt person in the winter.  Fashion slave?  I think not.  Maybe this magazine isn't for me?

  • "Knitter's To Knitters" talks about great new products to enhance your knitting life.  Those great new products include bamboo needles with funny beads on the ends and "sassy" knitting bags and needle cases.  Ho hum.  If you know a knitter who does jigsaw puzzles, then has a knitting jigsaw puzzle that's kind of cute.  Lily Chin has a new line of yarn out - I don't care.

  • "Linda Cyr Reviews" are not objective.  She finds something nice to say about every item she reviews.  I don't read her book reviews any more.

  • "The Knitting Universe", by Alexis Xenakis, has a nice interview with Susan Lazear, talking about her visit to Greece and her design process.  The pictures of her sweaters are fun.  Not for me, but fun.

  • I don't read Perri Klass' articles, so no comment there.

  • Linda Pratt talks about selling her yarn store, and says goodbye.  Don't know her, not that interested.

  • "Double Pick-Ups", by Maureen Mason-Jamieson, is a good technique article.  Double picking-up is the process of picking up from both the wrong side and the right side of a piece in order to avoid seems and have a "clean finish".

  • "Techniques" talks about Filet Knitting, an interesting lace technique that looks just like filet crochet.

  • "Online Tips", by Anne Claxon, contains tips on color this month, all gleaned from various online knitting lists and list archives - mostly KnitU.

  • Now the Patterns.  The first group is mosaic stitch patterns from Katharine Hunt, Kay Dahlquist, Uschi Nolte,  Rick Mondragon and the Knitter's Design Team. 

    I liked the "Asian Mystery jacket from Katharine Hunt.  Was neutral about the Mosaic Mice vest; wasn't fond of the Fuzzy Screen or Wide Screen, nor Nightlines, nor Bachelor #1.

  • The second group is panels, cables, color from Natalie Wilson, Kathy Cheifetz, Kathy Zimmerman, Elane Eskesen, and Robin Melanson. 

    I kind of liked Channels  Ribs from Kathy Cheifetz; didn't care for Cable Sport, Panelist, Handyman, nor Murphy.

  • The third group is accessories from Debra M. Lee, Lois Young, Knitter's Design Team, Colleeen Smitherman, Kathy Zimmerman, and Kay dahlquist. 

    The Screenplay stole from Lois Young would be interesting for the filet knitting technique. There are some brightly colored kids sweaters which some might like.  Never mind the rest.

  • The fourth group is sweaters with color strips, texture, and more from Nazanin Ford, Diane Zangle, Dana Hurt, Jean Frost, and Uschi Nolte.  No thanks.

  • "Knitter's School" as usual is a nice and quick tutorial on various techniques - 3 and 1/2 pages full.

"Next in Knitter's" is Luxury & Class.  Uh Oh, it's not looking like the blockbuster required for me to resubscribe.

PS: You can call 1-800-232-5648 to get corrections for all previous issues of Knitter's magazine.