Coming Soon!

Jiang Li, Warrior Woman of Yueh is the companion novella to My Adventures As Brother Rat. Jiang Li is now available; for a signed copy, please contact me via my website Contact Me button. Price is $7.00 plus s/h of $2.20 for envelope and postage, or $4.90 for Priority Mail (6 copies will fit in a Priority Mail envelope).

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

31 March 2009

NOTE: Photos are at:

It's Library 6, if you can't cut and paste the above.

First off, I need to wish my Mom a Happy Birthday! If still alive, she’d be 91! So, Happy Birthday, Mom!

We arrived in Belen, NM Saturday about noon, and had a really nice visit with my Sister of Choice, Kitty. She and her husband, Jim, moved here from Auburn, WA, a few years ago, and really like it here – I can see why! This is a beautiful part of the world. A lot of wide open spaces, mountains on the horizons, high enough it doesn’t get tooooo hot in the summer, and the cold of winter is dry, so it only goes skin deep, not bone deep ;-)

She told us about the Rail Runner, a fast, and inexpensive way to travel up to Albuquerque and Santa Fe, so we made plans to take the train up the next day. Alas, something came up and Jim and Kitty couldn’t make it, but Kay and I did.

For $7.00 each (Senior Rate) we had a round trip ticket from Belen to Santa Fe, with a two hour layover in ABQ. Kitty told us about the last time they were there, and Jim wanted a Slurpie, and they found one of the 2 or 3 7-11s in New Mexico and got Jim his Slurpie, and Kitty got some nachos. They went outside, and found some little round metal tables with sculpted holes in them, next to the store and were enjoying their treats, when Kitty accidentally spilled some of her nacho cheese sauce. Before she could go back into the store to get some more napkins to clean it up, a very small man, and a very large woman with bright red and permed hair came rushing out a door screaming that Kitty and Jim were just Pigs, how they were Fat American Pigs, and how they (the small man and fat woman) were French and all of France just hates Americans. Kitty tried to explain she would clean the mess, but these people just kept screaming at them. An old derelict wandered by and told them that it was the US who saved their bacon during WW II and they should remember that, and wandered down the street.

So, why am I boring you with this story? Because, in our wanderings Kay and I stumbled upon the 7-11 with the little French restaurant next to it. There is a gate between the 7-11 and their establishment, but it was open, and Kitty and Jim thought it was for decoration, not to separate their little part of France from the rest of the world. Anyhow, I have a photo of La Quiche, the restaurant with the ill-mannered proprietors, and want you all to see it, so when you visit ABQ you won’t give them your money. Unless, of course, you happen to have Francs in your pocket ;-)

After wandering a bit in ABQ (which by the way was very, very cold! But, it was a dry cold, and only skin deep, nevertheless....) we found our way back to the Train Station and relative warmth until the Rail Runner came along to take us to Santa Fe.

The trip to Santa Fe was fun – lots of interesting things to see—like the storm front moving in, snow along the sides of the tracks, tumble weeds flying through the air, and great adobe style architecture. The mountains, those not wearing a hood of cloud, were stark and beautiful.

When we got off the train in Santa Fe, most of the people rushed off to the left. There were no signs telling us where to go, and the train station was closed and locked, so we wandered over to The Station Coffee & Tea Shop to gather some information. They told us where the Tourist Information Bureau was (about 6 blocks away) and gave some great directions. However, I wanted to detour to REI which was just across the tracks where I bought a size SMALL vest, that was on sale for a ridiculously low price and fit perfectly. Suddenly, the skin deep cold didn’t bother me so much! (Santa Fe is at 7,000 feet elevation, and there was snow here and there!)

We walked up to the Tourist place, where the people were absolutely wonderful. We left with all sorts of free booklets and maps and headed off on our own. The first place we found (besides tourist traps we didn’t go into) was San Miguel’s, the oldest Church in the US, and across the street from it is the oldest house (c. 1646 as I recall). From there, we found the town square, and the Art Museum book store. I wanted some history books, and the nice gentleman directed us to a delightful bookstore. (The museum was closed, darn it!) We walked down a couple blocks to The Collected Works Bookstore, where Kay found 3 books for me on the history of Southern New Mexico and Geronimo. From there, we wove our way back down to The Station, where we stopped earlier for information.

This time, when we went into The Station, we had something to eat and drink, and got to know the proprietors a bit. Penny and Weldon. When they found out we wanted to go to Chaco, Penny got on her laptop and did some research, and then called the ranger, and told us that the road is bad, but clear of snow, and as long as we have All Wheel Drive, or Four Wheel Drive, and go slow, we should have no problem. Tomorrow, we will leave here for Chaco! Not only were Penny and Weldon good folks to meet, they put out some pretty good food, too! They make the trip to Santa Fe worth taking, all on their own!

We had no layover on the way back, and last night was a quiet night. Dinner was cheese and popcorn in the hotel room where we had an early turn-in.

This morning, we went to the Belen Tourist Bureau, and again collected maps and pamphlets, and then headed up to Tome Hill. Kitty had taken us their the other day, but we wanted to go back and get some pictures. It’s a good thing we waited, this time the sun made a few shadows for us. I managed to get all of the informational signs photographed, and several shots of the sculptures that are at the bottom. We did not feel like hiking to the top of the hill, so let others have that honor.

By this time, we were hungry, and headed to Rutilio’s for breakfast. A great New Mexican restaurant in Belen (right next to McDonald’s, so you can’t miss it!) While waiting for our food, I asked to see the phone book. Kitty had told me of a great fabric store, Carrie’s Sew & Sews, but I couldn’t find it in the book. Anthony, I think he’s one of the owners, asked if he could help, and when I told him what I wanted, he called his wife, Margaret. She’d heard of it, but didn’t know where it was. In the mean time, she asked one of the customers, who had also heard of it, but.... So, I thanked them for their help, and went back to our booth. Pretty soon, here came the customer. She was on her cell phone talking to a friend, and had the address for us, and about then, here came Margaret with the same information—she’d called her friend to get it! Can you imagine someone in Seattle doing that for an out of towner? I can’t.

So, after breakfast, we headed out to Carrie’s Sew & Sew, where I bought some trim, and some fabric. It seems the store is too new to be in the phone book. You quilters who are reading this will enjoy this part—the store is stocked entirely from Carrie’s stash! It’s all retro fabrics she’d bought in the 40s, 50s, 60s, from all around the world. Bolts and bolts of it! When she died her daughter held onto it, and now that she’s retired, she’s hauling it out, washing it, one bolt at a time, ironing it, and putting it up for sale. They also have an eBay store, so if any of you want to go online, go for it! (I’m sorry, the address is in the car, and I’m in the hotel room with my shoes off and my feet up. Carrie’s Sew & Sews is the name of the store.)

On our way back from shopping, we took a dirt road (really more like a car path) down to the Rio Grande where I got some interesting shots of the river, trees, and of course, Flat Stanlietta. The river is running full and swift, and is very brown with mud at the moment. By the time it gets to El Paso, it will be about 6 inches deep and 36 inches across! By summer, there may be no water in the Rio Grande at El Paso!

Tomorrow, we plan on leaving Belen for Chaco, then Bandelier (Pueblos), Taos, Raton, and Oklahoma City. If we leave tomorrow (Wednesday), we hope to be in Oklahoma City Thursday, but it could be Friday.

One of the interesting things about wandering about Santa Fe we discovered—we didn’t really want to wander into any of the tourist traps, and we have a feeling that we’ll feel the same about Taos. Maybe we’ll go to Kit Carson’s house and museum, and some of the old town, and, probably a bookstore or two. Hopefully, the snow storms will give us a couple days to travel. We are keeping our eyes on the Weather Channel and local forecasts.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Through Apache Country


if you have a problem, go to my photo album, and click on Library 5

On Friday, we went with Terri while she ran some errands, and saw quite a bit of Scottsdale I would not have otherwise seen. In the parking lot of a shopping center, as we were leaving the parking lot of a shopping center, Terri suddenly stopped and showed us a great horse statue, made out of old ‘junk’ and I got a few pictures of it.

That night, Mark took us up on Camel Back Mountain to see the lights. We also saw several celebrity homes – including Glen Campbell’s, Alice Cooper’s, Curt Warner’s, and Stevi Nix’s. Of course, we weren’t sure which house belonged to which celebrity, but we can claim to have seen them. (We think the one with 67,000 lights on was Glen Campbell’s, but not sure.)

Mark then took us to a little Italian Deli, they call it Desert Heaven, and bought us cheesecake. So much for diets! Neither Kay nor I could finish ours, and the next morning, Terri asked me if I wanted oatmeal for breakfast, or the last of my cheesecake! Seriously! What kind of a question was that? After all, the cheesecake has protein, and the crust has grains. It surely was good cheesecake!

Flat Stanlietta was introduced to Curly and Lena (their Boston Terriers), but they were more interested in licking and tasting her than in posing nicely for pictures. Needless to say, there are no photos of Flat Stanlietta and the dogs. She did, however, find a small frog, just her size, next to one of Terri’s cactus out by the pool.

Angela, Mark and Terri’s daughter, found some old jewelry and decorated one of my Indian Maid quilt squares, then she and Terri signed the square. Slowly, the squares are being decorated. I hope to have them all decorated and signed by the time I return home.

With mixed emotions, we left Mark and Terri’s Saturday morning. However, being a strong believe in Mark Twain’s admonition that fish and visitors begin to smell after three days (give or take), and with many miles left on our Grand Tour, we bid our ‘goodbye’s’ to Kay’s family, including Curly and Lena. Mark and Terri are wonderful hosts, and staying with them was a relaxing visit.

Heading east, we traveled highway 60 through some of the most scenic mountains and plateaus. Many stops in the Apache Reservations to photograph the Salt River Canyon. Not as huge a hole in the ground as the Grand Canyon, but we thought it every bit as spectacular, possibly more so because it was more accessible and we could get ‘up close and personal’ with it. Be sure to check out the pictures! (I'm really glad we are now more or less friendly with the Apache - because their country is gorgeous and I, for one, truly appreciated driving through it!)

You who ride motorcycles would love that canyon – lots of twists and turns, and few trucks. We decided the Apache were just a trifle conservative on their speed limit – often 35mph – but figured they knew the road better than we did, so followed their advice. Trust me, if you take the trip, drive the speed they tell you to. We stopped at one outlook to look down to the base of the canyon, and spied a newly crashed car – and at the top, where we were, a cross. Mr. Gonzales did not negotiate the curve!

After leaving Show Low AZ, we pretty much stopped with the photo ops, and just drove and enjoyed the scenery. Much of it reminded us of Central Oregon. We did stop to shoot the Very Large Array of Radio Telescopes that are focused on the stars. It was too late in the afternoon to visit the observatory, but Sonja says it’s fantastic.

We arrived in Socorro about 6pm, or 7pm, depending on whether we looked at our watch or their clocks (switched over to Mountain Time at the Arizona-New Mexico border). Called my daughter, Sonja, and she directed us to a very nice restaurant, El Camino, on the main drag of Socorro – a couple steps above Denny’s – with New Mexican food as well as the ‘traditionals’. Sonja met us there and we had a nice dinner and visit. She is meeting us for breakfast this morning, so I need to sign off for now....

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dateline: Scottsdale, 26 Mar 09

Note: All photos are located at: then click on Library 3

We spent a few days at Todd’s, enjoying his new house and the winds that kicked up in Las Vegas – upwards of 50mph. We stayed inside mostly, as it was rainy and just a tad cool in the open. We left the casinos to the tourists and enjoyed good company and good food at Todd’s.

We left Monday morning, as soon as we figured ‘rush hour’ traffic would be rushed out of the way, and headed down toward Boulder Dam. The highway still goes across the dam, but they are building a new four-land bridge next to it (see web.mac photos) and, of course, widening the highway for some miles to four lanes to accommodate it. We were stopped by security (everyone is) before crossing the dam, but once stopped, he waved us on. I guess we’re only Thelma and Louise in our minds, not in actuality ;-)

About 20 miles or so down the road, out in the middle of nowhere, we found Rosie’s Den, and stopped for breakfast. If you are ever in the neighborhood, make the stop – great food. Alas, it was too windy to take Flat Stanlietta out, and she said she wasn’t hungry, anyhow.

We got snowed on as we got near Flagstaff and Williams. Again it didn’t stick, but it was cold, and ‘sleety’ rather than flaky snow. We decided we liked the North Rim of the Grand Canyon much better than the South Rim, so just went on toward Sedona.

Six years ago, when Kay and I made the Southwest Tour, as we called it, we really wanted to see Sedona, and it was a three day weekend, and Sedona was so crowded we couldn’t even get into the town, so this time, we came down from the north and drove through it. Beautiful scenery (see web.mac photos) but so crowded, and on a week day, we drove right on through. We thought we’d stop at one of the parks for a picnic but every one we came to was both full and charged – so we went on by. We decided we didn’t want to live there-too much of a hole-in-the-ground type of place.

We did get out and walk a bit by the Huckaby Trail Vista – had to have a shot of the sign for my cousin, Jim, who is the Genealogist for the Huckabee-Hardwick side of the McBrayers (my maternal Grandfather). We were going to picnic here, but as we headed toward the picnic tables, we saw another sign telling us we had to have a Red Rock Park pass displayed in the window if we were parked here – and, of course, no shoulders on the roads. Oh, well.....

We went on to Jerome, and again, it was so crowded we couldn’t find a place to stop. For those of you who have never been down here, Jerome is worth the visit, and if you can find a parking place, worth wandering around. It is an old copper mining town, and when the copper mine went bust, it became a ghost town with something like 23 residents. The artsy folks found it, moved in, and it is again a booming town. In fact, we saw many new homes and buildings. Jerome, by the way, is built on a mountainside – there is up and down. A whole lotta down! a misstep on a midnight walk would not be fun!

From Jerome we went on to Prescott, and stayed in the Prescott Inn and Suites. We stayed there before, and though the name has changed, and the personnel has undoubtedly changed, the hospitality was every bit as good as we remembered. Kerry checked us into the hotel, and was a lot fun, and enjoyed being introduced to Flat Stanlietta (see photo on web page). Kerry had not heard of Flat Stanley, as he went to school K-12 in Lagos, Nigeria. His father was a graduate of Emory Riddle University, so Kerry decided to go to school at Emory Riddle in Florida, and after graduation, moved to Emory Riddle in Prescott for his Master’s. He made our stay a lot of fun. Thanks, Kerry!

In the lobby of the hotel is a life-sized portrait of Tom Mix, who used to own the property across the street. I managed to get Flat Stanlietta in a photo with the portrait, but you really have to look for her (down by his feet). I remember Tom Mix movies from when I was a kid – those of you who don’t remember him, well, Google him.

On our way out of town the next day we stopped at a quilt store where I bought lots of fabric six years ago, this time, I held back and only bought 4 fat quarters (there are a lot of quilt stores yet to visit ;-)

We arrived at Mark and Terri’s in time to put our feets up a bit and then went out to dinner at a highly recommended restaurant, Uncle Sal’s. Mark and Terri have eaten there many times, and we were looking forward to a good dinner. Alas, Kay’s dish of shrimp and pasta was mostly inedible. The shrimp were so over cooked they were too tough to eat, and the waiter was too busy to check back with us. When we did mention it, the head waitress (who is one of the owners) was positively rude to Kay and scolded her for not mentioning it sooner. There are too many good restaurants in the area to go back to that one.

Yesterday, Kay, Terri, Flat Stanlietta, and I went to the Desert Botanical Garden and Butterfly Pavilion – see the photos on the web.mac page!!!! The cactuses were budding out, and many were blooming. It was hard to get Flat Stanlietta in too many shots with the cactuses, but we managed to get her in a few. One is on a sign, explaining about Hotel Saguaro and how the various animals will dig into the cactus for shelter. There was a Saguaro above the sign, with a hole in it, I took a picture of the hole, and when we got home and I uploaded the shots to my computer, realized there was an owl staring back at me from inside the hole!

Took many photos of cactus, and many, many of butterflies. Be sure to check them out.

Last night, we met some friends of Kay’s a light dinner and good company. Donna and Bev are from Fargo, and have known Kay since they went to school with her kids. They are a lot of fun, and on their way to visit Todd in Las Vegas before going back to Fargo. We’ll see them again on the tail end of our sojourn when we arrive, and are looking forward to the visit.

“Every problem has a gift for you in its hands.”
--Richard Bach

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dateline: Las Vegas, 22 Mar 09

Please Note: All photos are located at:
if that doesn't work go to: and go to Library 2

After leaving the hotel in Chico, we drove over to see my friend, Ray. Ray and I haven’t seen each other in almost 40 years, but we’ve maintained contact through letters (he doesn’t have a computer for reasons that will become obvious in a bit) and through his cousin, Martha, who is one of my bestest friends.

The obvious: Ray is an artist, and he’s afraid if he has a computer, he’ll spend too much time on the computer with crazy people like me, and not enough time painting! Speaking of his painting, I’ve been trying to get a painting from him for years, and this time he did give me a print of a painting with which I fell in love.

Ray had not heard of Flat Stanley, and became quite smitten with our little Flat Stanlietta, and spent some time in his studio showing her, and Kay and I, his paintings, and giving Flat Stanlietta tips for when she gets home and wants to paint pictures of our trip.

After lunch at Ray’s favorite Mexican restaurant, and more good conversation, Kay and I reluctantly bit farewell to Ray, and drove to Vacaville. Jim, my cousin in Vacaville had given us directions to his house from I-5, so, of course, we came in from a different direction, and after driving around a bit, finally called him for directions from where we were.

Jim and I are cousins – our common ancestor, if I remember correctly, is our Great Great Grandfather. I may be off by one ‘Great’. My Grandfather, Carl “Skipper” McBrayer was the genealogist of the McBrayers, and when he died, his namesake, Carl McBrayer near Oklahoma City took over. Jim is doing the Huckabee side of the family. I am very fortunate they have taken over the begats of our respective families because I’d be terrible at it.

We spent two nights with Jim and Betty, where we met Jim’s sister, Barbara – another cousin, and another quilter – two of their children, Elaine and Oliver, and Elaine’s husband, Matt, and their two children Cooper and Marley. Oh, and Marley’s toad and rabbit.

My friend, Eric, came up and had lunch with us one day, and we had quite a good visit. Eric and I met several years ago, via the internet (we belonged to an online Sangha – not a dating service!), and this was the first time we’ve actually met in person. I am only sorry his wife, Lynne, wasn’t able to come with him. She and I have sort of met – Eric passes messages between us every now and then ;-)

After leaving Vacaville, we drove east on I-80 for a while. Stopped at a little place called Penryn for breakfast-lunch at L’Omlette. A very nice restaurant, and the waitress was a hoot! I needed to find the ladies room, and saw no signs, so started wandering and ended up at the kitchen, just as she came out. She wanted to put me to work, but, instead, told me where to go. When she got to Kay, she told Kay I was busy in the kitchen. Then, just before our order was up, she met Flat Stanlietta, and decided it was time to teach her to properly wait on tables, so here is Martha and Flat Stanliettta. (Flat Stanlietta fell, well, flat on the job, and was summarily fired.)

We stayed on I-80 until we got to 395 and then turned right. Six years ago, we stayed in Bridgeport, but this time drove on to Mono Lake where we got out and walked around and took several pictures of the tufa towers, then headed south.

Drove through some beautiful valleys, and when we got to Bishop stopped for dinner at the Casino (we did not take Flat Stanlietta in with us, as we weren’t sure minors were allowed ;-), and then decided to spend the night there before heading on over to Death Valley. It was a good decision, as there were several motels in Bishop (we stayed at the Vagabond) and we didn’t see too many at Big Pine. It was 74 degrees at 6 pm!

The Vagabond offered free popcorn, so we had a nice evening snack. For those of you who are into hiking, fishing, hunting, skiing, etc., check out Bishop, and check out the Vagabond – not only to they have a large pool, but they have an area to clean and freeze your fresh-caught fish, as well as to BBQ it.

The next morning, we drove to Big Pine, and turned left onto 168 to Oasis and 268. While on this road, we did some climbing, and near the 7,000 foot elevation, turned left into the Bristlecone Forest, where we climbed to 9,500 +/- and had a spectacular view of the back of Yosemite, Owens Valley (where Bishop is), another little valley the name of which I can’t remember, and then we headed back down some rather steep mountains with hairpin curves.

At highway 95, we turned right and right again when we got to Scotty’s Junction. From there we drove into the north side of Death Valley, and Scotty’s Castle. We did get out and walk around a bit, but we weren’t allowed in the castle unless we paid $$ and took a tour, and the next tour wasn’t for almost two hours, so we decided to check out the ‘free’ stuff, introduce Flat Stanlietta to Park Ranger Mary (who, by the way, was quite familiar with Flat Stanley, and was not only delighted to meet Flat Stanlietta, but was quite impressed with her!)

On a personal note (like this whole blog isn’t a personal note???), I wasn’t too impressed with the northern part of the valley, where Scotty’s Castle is. When we dropped down out of the hills onto the valley floor, I became (again) impressed. I love the openness and flat of the valley, with the gorgeous, barren, rugged, and multi-colored mountains surrounding it.

Kay and I remembered a gas station at Stove Pipe Wells, and Kay was pretty sure she remembered a motel there. After filling up the vehicle, we went across the street, and got the last non-smoking room with two beds! We stopped and hauled our chairs out to the porch and had a light dinner of cheese and crackers, and a bit of wine. Then went shopping. Saw lots of things we liked, but I ended up buying a floppy hat for shade.

We actually got up before the sun, and managed to get a few nice shots of the sunrise, then went into the restaurant for breakfast, loaded up the car and our water bottles, and headed down the valley, stopping every 10 or 15 feet to take pictures. Well, at times it seemed like it.

First stop was to shoot the dunes while we could get them with shadows, then headed down the road to Salt Creek. What a delightful boardwalk the Park Service has built. It is level, wheel chair accessible and a mile and a half round trip. We saw lots of pup fish in the creek – they are tiny, not much more than an inch to an inch-and-a-half long, with a life span of about a year. There are several varieties of then in the park, each having evolved to survive in their own little niche. They are the only fish I know of that must drink water to survive.

The desert is full of wild life, though we didn’t see much beyond the pup fish, lizards, and one lazy coyote curled by the side of the road hoping we’d toss him something to eat. We didn’t. We heard Grackles, but I never saw any, and, of course, the ubiquitous Ravens were around. We did see some smaller birds, what I call ‘house’ birds – the same found in most back yards. We saw no other wild life.

From Salt Creek we went to Golden Canyon – earlier flash floods had washed away some of the trail, and neither of us felt like going all the way in, but we did go in a bit. It looked like it would be a gorgeous hike.

We stopped at the Harmony Borax Mine, and wondered how they found wood to burn in the boiler to process the borax. Signs were up all over the place, but nothing mentioned that tidbit, so we stopped at Furnace Creek to ask the Ranger. She didn’t know, either, and sent us to the museum down the road a bit. There, after asking, we found out they had charcoal kilns 63 miles away, up in the mountains where the forests were, and when they hauled out the borax, they filled the wagons with charcoal to haul back in!

There is a beautiful drive, one way, called Artists Drive, that goes through some of the most beautiful rocks I’ve ever seen. How I wish my friends John and Nancy, both geologists, were with us to explain everything we saw! We stopped for pictures here and there, and I took several at Artists Palette in what I hope will become a panoramic. The rocks were pink, brown, green, white, red – and because we didn’t get there until high-noon, the colors were a bit washed out, and shadows hard to find. Also, the air over the valley was very hazy, which didn’t help.

While on the one way drive, which was very narrow and filled with hairpin turns (no vehicles over 25 feet in length permitted) we came around a blind curve and found a car parked right in the middle of the road! Turnouts are everywhere, but this joker, in his brand new, black, and unlicensed Jeep, stopped right in the middle of the road, and didn’t seem in too much of a hurry to move, and seemed to resent the fact we entered his space. He did, however, move on and pull over. (There really wasn’t anything all that spectacular where they stopped anyhow!)

Just down from the Artists Drive is the Devil’s Golf Course, which, of course, we had to visit. I doubt the road (dirt) to the golf course was more than a half mile, but what an interesting geography! It’s out on the floor, where the water and salts have played havoc on the ground. People are allowed to walk out there, but it didn’t look like anything I wanted to try – very rough. I doubt wagons, let alone mules or people, could have traversed it.

From the golf course (with no 19th hole, by the way!) we went to Badwater, the lowest place in the US, at 282 feet below sea level. We ate lunch there, and then began our journey of exit from the south end of the park on highway 178 to Pahrumps, NV, then took 160 into Las Vegas, where Kay’s son, Todd, lives. We are here for a few days for Rest and Recuperation, laundry, and visiting, not for time on the Strip. Well, we’ll have to go someplace to find a Starbucks so I can get this blog, and the photos uploaded ;-)

"Do, or do not. There is no 'try.' " -
 Jedi Master Yoda

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Flat Stanly(etta) Rides Again!

I had planned on driving from home (Kennewick WA) to Kay’s (Albany OR) on Saturday, with a stop-over for lunch in Portland with old friends. Well, as The Bard once said, “The best laid plans....”

I woke earlier than usual, and left home at 7 instead of 8, arriving in Portland, OR, an hour earlier than planned, but, nonetheless, had a delightful lunch with Jim and Shawn at our favorite hamburger place (McMeniman’s), and drove south to Kay’s with a moderately full, and very happy tummy.

It rained.

I arrived at Kay’s about 2.30pm, and she greeted me with the wonderful news that a huge storm was due to dump gobs of snow on the Siskiyou Mountain on Sunday (our planned day of leaving), which would last 3 days or so. We were both pretty well bummed out, and then decided to get a head start on the trip, and by 3.05 her stuff was loaded into the car, and we were on our way.

In the rain!

We stopped for dinner in Grant’s Pass, and decided to keep going. In the ever present and ubiquitous rain (It was Oregon, after all). Stopped for gas in Ashland, and debated whether or not to stop for the night, but decided, if it was going to dump over night, when predicted.... Well, we stayed over in Redding, and are now in Chico, where we’ll stay tonight, before heading in to Vacaville tomorrow afternoon.

The last time Kay and I did a really long road trip, we had two Flat Stanley’s and a Flat Camel that we took with us. I was feeling a little sad that we had no Flat Stanley to go along on our trip this time, and mentioned it to my sister of choice, Marjorie, who mentioned it to her grand daughter, Eliana, and the next thing I knew, a Flat Stanlietta had arrived in the mail to join us.

It was just to wet and nasty to take her out yesterday, but she rides well in her window ‘seat’ right behind the driver, where she can look out at all the scenery. Alas, she can see out much better than I can see in to photograph her, so I’m including a portrait taken with the scanner as well as a shot of her in the car.

Because of all the rain, which we didn’t get out of until we reached Red Bluff, we haven’t stopped to take any pictures, so there will be only these for this posting.

However, after we left Ashland last night, we did drive through rain, and wind, and snow. The snow was pretty thick, but wasn’t sticking, and after we got out of that, and back into the rain, we were quite glad we decided to leave yesterday afternoon instead of waiting until today to cross the mountains.

This is Flat Stanlietta with Wendy at the Motel 6 we stayed at in Redding. Very nice people, and a nice room.

Neither Kay nor I being big on early breakfast, we drove to Chico for breakfast, at 11.00. Not being at all familiar with Chico, we found another Motel 6, and then drove a bit, and saw The Cozy Diner. It was on the ‘right’ side of the street, on a corner with a light, so a left back out would be easy (very busy street), so we went in for a wonderful breakfast. Our very bad manners, we hadn’t asked Flat Stanlietta if she was hungry, and, obviously, she was – this is what Lauren, our waitress brought her – coffee with cream, toast, scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausage, and a pulled pork sandwich with fries. Kay and I each got a bite.

After our brunch, we drove around a bit, found where my friend, Ray, lives. We’ll go see him tomorrow – then will drive down to Vacaville to see my cousin, Jim and his wife, Betty.

This is Tanya, the very friendly gal who helped us at the Chico Motel 6. Again, a clean and relatively quiet room, a working tv, ice machine down the way, and a bed each. For what more could we want?

For those of you not familiar with Flat Stanley, go to your favorite search engine and type in: Flat Stanley.

Since the weather is still pretty punk, and the lighting is flat as all get out, we’ll probably spend the rest in our room watching tv, napping, and reading or writing, or perhaps I’ll work on my quilt.

Kay just had the news on, and they said the storm we outran was seriously bad stuff, as serious as it can get, on the border between OR and CA in the Siskiyous, that it has been bad all day, and is scheduled to get worse before it gets better. We made the right decision in coming south last night instead of waiting like we’d originally planned.

We are on our way, and hope to see y'all soon!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pruning of the Trees

For more photos:
Click on Library. Today’s posting is “Pruning of the Trees.”

Yesterday was a more or less typical March day. To begin with, it was cold, and windy. When the sun was allowed to shine through the clouds, and the wind stopped blowing, it was almost pleasant, but that only happened at the end of the day. In the meantime, it was cold. And windy. And, of course, yesterday was the day the crew came out to prune two of my trees, and to string cable in one in order to save it (in my ignorance, I allowed it to get too big without pruning, and its weight was pulling itself apart).

Naturally, I had to be outside ‘supervising’ with camera in hand most of the day. I was bundled up like Nanuk of the North, and still got cold, clear to the bone. I don’t know how those guys were able to make their hands work, even with gloves, to climb trees, handle power tools while suspended in the top branches – but, then, I don’t think I’d want to climb trees anyhow. Especially carrying power tools!

However, my trees are now considerably lighter, and when they leaf out, they will be gorgeous. The Ash in my front had gotten so over-grown, the weight of the branches pulled the trunk apart in three places. Once the weight was trimmed, one section closed on it’s own, the other two splits were cleaned, and cable strung between some opposing branches above. The team leader told me that those splits will close, just not for a while. I think I'll have slightly less shade this year, sigh, but a much happier trees. Only lost one squirrel nest. I hope it wasn't being used, or, if it was, that the two families others will share their nest until the recently homeless can build a new one. I know they can build a new one, but there aren't too many leaves from which to build right now. I’m pretty sure the guys thought I was crazy asking them, if possible, not to remove the squirrel nests. There were three in the Ash, and they managed to save two. Maybe the newly homeless can go on a trip and visit friends and relatives in the back yard?

The walnut tree really got a hair cut, too, but it will be much happier. Alas, there won't be the great shade canopy from either tree, this year, I fear. But, what do I know? Maybe they'll be so happy to have all that extraneous wood taken out that they will go bonkers with joy and canopy all over the place? I just hope it doesn’t delete the nut crop. I don’t get any as it is, but the squirrels love them. Pugzilla loved them, too, when she lived here.

It was an all day job, that's for sure. And a cold day's job. But they managed to work, and keep smiling the whole time!

The only pleasant part of the day, weather wise was when the sun came out, after the hail storm. The wind apparently blew itself out, and it was calm, and if one stood in the sun, one could almost get warm. Sure wish it had been like that the rest of the day! Am I ever grateful for rapid recovery hot water heaters and showers!

Today is Tuesday, and the Mother of All Road Trips begins this Sunday. Stay tuned for more ramblings and photos. And, believe me, After yesterday's hail storm, I'm more than ready for sun and warm and blue skies.

Quote for this time:

"Happiness, like unhappiness, is a proactive choice."
-Stephen Covey