Through the Door Week 21

Ruth Bancroft Gardens-Walnut Creek CA

This year’s record rainfall means a stellar year for cacti and succulents. Friday, I visited the Ruth Bancroft Gardens, a private collection of cactus and succulents that is open to the public. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, the photos speak for themselves.

News for Week 13: Plumbing and the Idyllic Life

The toilet auger and a bookshop on a houseboat in Paris.

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Words to Live By

At my age, you would think that I know better than to drop small objects down the toilet.

Sadly, life happens even to folks who do know better. I managed to flip a solid block of plastic into the toilet: it sank out of sight immediately. It was small, only two and a half inches by half an inch. The problem was that it had 3M adhesive on one side. Of course, I couldn’t see it for myself, but it seems the stuff stuck the plastic to an inconvenient spot in the flush system. Voila! Toilet blockage.

Just as I was picking up the phone to call ABS plumber, I remembered that font of all knowledge called YouTube. There is a marvelous DIY channel called “See Jane Drill.” There I discovered the toilet auger.

The toilet auger is to a plunger as Mount Everest is to Boot Hill. I immediately acquired a Rigid brand auger from(you guessed it) Amazon. Although I watched the how-to video three times, it still took me a couple of tries to use this gadget correctly. It’s not hard, but it is awkward. But as they say, third time is the charm, and on the third try, the blockage was cleared and the toilet flushing right and proper.

Now I am primed and ready to clear any toilet at any time. No more waiting around for plumber business hours; no more having to pay premium dollars to a plumber on Christmas Eve. Sometimes my life is so exciting, I can’t stand it!

An Idyllic Life Style

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Idyllic Lifestyle

Do I need to mention that I am reading?

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George is delightful. It’s the story of a bookseller whose combined home and bookshop is a houseboat. He is not an ordinary bookseller: he is an apothecary bookseller.

He prescribes books for his clients; printed medications and tonics that will sustain and sooth during the ups and downs of their lives ranging from embarrassment about the appearance of their toes to loss of a love. Could you imagine anything more idyllic than a houseboat on the Seine, filled with vintage books? I love the idea of prescribing books for headaches, fatigue, heartbreak, or just a Spring tonic to boost the sparkle in life.

My Spring tonic books are “Winter’s Tale” by Mark Helprin, “The Greater Trumps” by Charles Williams, “The Great Divorce” by C. S. Lewis, and “Four Quartets” by T. S. Eliot. What are yours?

The Week that Was

“Monday, Monday, So Good To Me

 

Back in school! Sonoma Regional Junior College is taking a run at OAP (Older Adult Program) curriculum. The library up the road and around the corner from me is providing classroom space for Information Literacy in the Twenty-First Century. Now I have to read something other than who-done-its.

It is not a course about using computers and modern media applications i.e Facebook, and Instagram. It is a “discussion about  the notion of truth specifically in the postmodern society.” It’s an attempt to provide we senior citizens with the tools of basic reasoning so we can sift the real news from the fake news.

When I went to school, I was so smart my teacher was in my class five years.  (Gracie Allen)

Tuesday Afternoon

One of THOSE DAYS when it’s all piddle, piddle, piddle.  The bed stays rumpled with the sheets knotted around two sleeping cats.  Pick something up and put it down again.  Start something and wander off leaving it undone.  Where am I?  Who am I?  What am I doing here? Just like James Morrison’s mother, I was last seen wondering vaguely, quite on [my] own accord.

I was going to do something today, but I didn’t finish doing nothing from yesterday. (Anonymous)

Any Wednesday

The high point of today was a carpet buying trip to Kohl’s. Well, not really a carpet, but a carpet runner. It will save the living room carpet from the wear and tear of leaving the kitchen and crossing the living room to the front door.

Kohl’s was having a sale, and six-foot runners were reduced by 50% percent: too good a bargain to pass up.  It’s not only pretty, but it’s also machine washable: you know how it goes with cats and hairballs.

What if everything is an illusion, and nothing exists? In that case I definitely paid too much for the carpet. (Woody Allen)

Sweet Thursday

The vineyards that fill Sonoma Valley are stirring into life.  The rows between the vines are filled with mustard that has grown waist high.  Somebody, somewhere (probably one of the professors of viticulture at the University of California, Davis) has determined that growing mustard in the vineyards after harvest is a good thing.

Last year, small tractors trundled between the vines mowing down the mustard.  This year it is sheep.  Thursday, I watched a flock of sheep, at least 400 strong flow into the Baringer vineyard across the road.  The next morning the sheep had vanished, and about forty acres had been “mowed” as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

You can’t have five wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for dinner. – (Larry Flynt)

Hallelujah It’s Friday

Shopped for groceries.  It’s fun wandering through the aisles looking at all the stuff on the shelves.  There are all the old stand-byes, and then the new stuff reflecting the newest diet craze.  It’s getting hard to find milk among all the nut milk on the shelf: coconut, almond, cashew, and soy.  Then there are all the strange flours for the gluten intolerant.  The latest products all support varieties of the keto diet: ghee, avocados, grass-fed beef burgers, and organic eggs.  By the way, I read the ingredients on a bag of cat-food that has been created for the overweight cat.  It was about fifty percent cellulose which is a nice sounding name for pulverized wood chips.  Go figure: you pay a premium price for old ground up wood.

“The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one.” (Erma Brombeck)

 

 

 

Bird on a Rail

Breeders’ Challenge

As Summer morphs into Autumn, the Sonoma County calendar fills with events; most of which revolve around the wine industry. However, October 27th. belongs to the Breeders’ Challenge when after months of training, the racing pigeons come home to roost.

Pigeon Training

Somewhere in the rolling hills of Sonoma County is a long, low building known as “the loft” where pigeons are training to compete in the year’s longest race.

Since mid-July, breeders have mailed their birds to “the loft” for training. Like marathon runners,  racing pigeons must gain the strength and endurance to fly 350 miles without stopping. While gaining strength, the bird brains build  the latitude and longitude their built in  GPS will use for navigating back to the loft.

The Challenge Race

The evening of October 26, the birds, each in their special crate, will be loaded on a truck then driven across the California border to a location 350 miles from home. They will chow down on a carb-loaded dinner and wait for dawn.  As the sun rises on October 27, the birds will be released.

Immediately, they will head for home. The digital bar code on their leg band records each bird’s time of departure. The pigeons rise high to clear mountain passes then drop following the valleys. For approximately ten hours they will be in the air, battling wind and weather.  Some will fall prey to hawks patrolling the air currents above them. A few will lose their bearing, wandering of course.  As each bird arrives home, the bar code records the minute and second of its arrival. A computer program calculates each bird’s flight speed.  The fasted bird wins the challenge, and a $150,000 prize.

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Bird on a Rail

Bird on a Rail

I learned about this because I opened the back door to find a beautiful pigeon sitting on the porch railing. Instead of flying away, she merely cocked her head and sidled off a step. Its feet were banded: a green band on the right, a pink one on the left. She was obviously used to being around people.

After spending time with google, I found a contact for the Sonoma County Racing Pigeon Club. Mike (the contact) told me that pigeons don’t fly at night. If the bird was still perched on my porch railing when it grew dark, I could catch it simply by shining a flashlight in its eye. The bright light would paralyze the flight response long enough for me to catch the bird and zip it safely into a cat carrier.

Mike arrived early the following morning with a bird box and his laptop. From the green band on the right foot, he identified the owner, and was able to return the bird to it’s home in Sebastapol.  A bird story that ended well

Through the Front Door Week of June 24

An appreciation of poets William Blake, and T. S. E.iot

My Post (2)

From Jelly Beans to William Blake

My last post began with a quotation from William Blake. Week of June 17

Chances are, you don’t know anything about him. In a nutshell, he is a dead poet with a metaphysical point of view that breathed of scandal during his lifetime. I might consider him the father of free sex. Scholars consider him the most unread poet with the greatest impact on English poetry.

Two Bits About Blake

Literary boffins consider “Songs of Innocence” his masterwork. Nobody but boffins reads Blake these days, but those of us born before 1957 (in other words, those of us required to read in school) probably encountered “Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright” during a high school English class.

Anyway while I was looking for the quotation that I used in last week’s post, I discovered treasure after treasure of William Blake quotations. They have inspired me to sit down and read some Blake-finally.

Two Bits About Poetry in General

When I was struggling through an English degree at UCLA, poetry was an obstacle to climb over in order to get a grade.  It required considerable more exertion of mind than prose. Over the decades, however, it is the poetry that has stayed with me.  Lines and phrases bounce inside my head.

Two Bits About T. S. Eliot

T. S. Eliot whose work showed up in every single class except Medieval Lit., was the bane of my existence.  Finishing a term paper assigned to his “Four Quartets” and it’s relation to Bergson’s theory of time  was two weeks in purgatory. Funny, it was the “Four Quartets” to which I turned to find words for my mother’s memorial: “in the end is our beginning.”  If I could go back in time, I’d do a better job on that term paper.

A Blake Quotation or Three

Returning to the original subject of Blake, I’ve listed some of the quotes that caught my attention.

“In the Universe there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between there are the doors.”

“What is now proved, was once only imagined.”

“We are not meant to resolve all contradictions, but to live with them and rise above them.”

That old chestnut “Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright” has something going for it.  It’s out there on the ‘net.’ Take a look at it for yourself.

 

 

Through the Front Door for the Week of June 17

Graphic with jelly beans
I adore jelly beans

Joy of jelly Beans

William Blake wrote “you never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough.”

So it is thus with jelly beans!

Discovery! Amazon is selling five pounds of Brach’s jelly beans for about the same price as one pound of same in the local market-on the rare occasions you can find them at all.

I adore jelly beans. I rhapsodize jelly beans. A jelly bean dream would be one of the dreams of a lifetime. Forget about those high-end gourmet jelly beans manufactured in Fairfield, California! It’s Brach’s jelly beans for me: all sugar and water and gelatin, and colorful edible food dyes.

For reasons that passeth understanding, the local markets only carry Brach’s jelly beans at Easter and Halloween. Between times, the shelves are bare. Surely you can imagine my delight that Amazon, emporium to the world, carries them.

Five pounds of jelly beans arrived in a bright blue cardboard carton, with the Brach’s label emblazoned across the top. The jelly beans inside were all the colors of the rainbow and they were so fresh it was if they had been manufactured the day before.

I ordered the jelly beans at the beginning of June, and they are gone, gone, gone before the end of June. Don’t tell anyone, it’s my secret: I am going to order another five pounds next month. Because I still don’t’ know what is more than enough!

What Came Through the Door Fourth Week of January

Cornerstone Sonoma

For a year, I’ve passed by a place called “Cornerstone” idly wondering what it was.  Last Saturday, I finally went on a fact finding expedition.  Basically, it is a tourist destination: a restaurant, four wine tasting rooms, and two high end gift stores.

It’s the gardens that make Cornerstone a worthwhile place to spend an afternoon. There are twenty plots; each the size of a triple office cubicle. Every plot contains a garden designed by famous landscape architects from the United States, Europe, and Asia. Naturally, I didn’t have my pocket Nikon Coolpix with me.  I had to make do with the camera on my cell phone.

Graphic Cornerstone, Sonoma
Daisy Windmill Farm

Graphic of Cornerstone Garden Mini Vinyard
Cornerstone Garden: Mini Vineyard

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Circular Garden featuring rosemary and century plants

Graphic of Cornerstone Garden
Cornerstone: Century Plant Forest

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Cornerstone Garden Tunnel Walk