Sunday, May 31, 2009

Random Dumb Stuff

So. There are a few things I have been meaning to share that are utterly random and sort of pointless. I figure I may as well go ahead and lump them all in to one post and just get it over with. The first one is this....

I thought that this lady deserved some exposure and credit for her efforts. She wins the outfit of the day award from me hands down. Or stripes down. Or something.

The next item up for discussion is my keyboard. The very keyboard I type on right now. My laptop is about 4 months old. Let me repeat that FOUR MONTHS old. Not 4 years.... MONTHS. And this is the state of my keyboard...

My letters are turning in to black blob dots. Why? Tell me why Hewlett Packard? It's not like I am greasing my fingers up with a mixture of turpentine and lard before I type. My "E" key is straight up a goner. The reality for me is this... I am not a professional typist. I don't know the keys without looking a bit. So as this progresses I am going to have a harder and harder time saying what I am trying to say without some serious guess work on the old keyboard. I suppose I could just take a Sharpie and scratch on the letter off to the side of the blobs on the keys.... but I really should not have to.... know what I mean? Shame on people for making stuff that costs thousands of dollars and is built for shit. I know I am shouting in to the great void in an utterly pointless way by saying that but still... I say it.

The last topic is Rudy related. Those of you who have pets know the quirky little things that become a part of your everyday life with your dog (or cat or ferret, whatever.) Rudy has three toys that have been favorites for awhile and as I sat gazing at one of them on the foot of our bed the other night it struck me how dumb and funny they are. The first one is no great shakes, it's just a squeaky tennis ball. But to Rudy it is like an intoxicating, addictive habit that he pursues with a maniacal nature. We call it "his precious." The second is "the bunny." The bunny is one of those AKC stuffy toys meant to satiate a canines need to kill and destroy all things cute, fuzzy, small and helpless. In the old days bunny would have lasted all of about 4 minutes before it was ripped to Holy Hell Shreds of Destruction. Nowadays characters like bunny actually make it a few months before they are retired. This bunny was purchased in February and it may be a new record for a small fuzzy in our home. Bunny is seen here with "the precious."

Bunny would be a great candidate for the new surgical procedure of having a face transplant, since his has been sucked and chewed off.

Finally we have Lion. Lion was a gift from friends Dale (human) and Pablo (dog) in Santa Fe. Lion's main role in life is to be humped by Rudy after he eats his supper every night. It's really pretty sad. Lion gets completely ignored at all times except for like ten minutes each evening when Rudy attacks him and really gives it to him good. Lion is missing both of his eyes and has a few serious facial wounds.... other than that he is hangin' tough.

This morning I dropped an almond on the floor and before I could reach down to get it someone had snatched it up. This single, stupid almond became the focus of ridiculous amounts of activity for the next TWO HOURS. Here we see the almond casually tossed in front Rudy's lair... and the look on his face through the screen conveys the message... "Don't touch my almond bitch."

See that? The totally cool posture of the legs hanging casually out the entry... the "go ahead, make my day" look on his face? Nice. Moments later the almond was assaulted on the sofa and eventually devoured.

We are having a totally relaxed day today. Billy made his famous zucchini pancakes for breakfast and is making potato leek soup (remember it is in the 50's here for day time temperature) for dinner later. The soup will include these...

Those are big, fat curly garlic greens from the farmer's market. Aren't they fabulous looking?

Have a great Sunday peeps. Soak up some sun for me out there in the real world that does not live under a constant blanket of fog!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Chocolate Waffles, Fog, Flowers, Farmers and Hidden Junk

Yesterday was a fun day. We went for breakfast at a local B & B called Alegria. They invited the docents from the Ford House to come so we could see what their place is like and how fabulous the breakfast is they offer to the folks who stay at their inn. Eric and Elaine are the owners and they welcomed us in to the little breakfast nook which has the most gorgeous view out over their gardens and down to Big River Beach. We were served local Thanksgiving Day Coffee, fresh pressed apple juice (also from local growers) seasonal fruit salad with edible flowers, handmade chocolate waffles and vegetarian breakfast sausage. For non veggies they have a locally made chicken apple sausage. It was mighty good eatin'. After we stuffed ourselves Eric took us on a tour of the rooms that were unoccupied at the moment so we could see what the accommodations are like. My favorite was the Driftwood which is actually a little a-frame cabin. It has a queen bed up in a loft, a full kitchenette which is sunken down below the platform bedroom, a sitting area and the coolest thing was the Japanese soaking tub in the bathroom. Ooohhhhh man it is so freakin' cool! I wanted to shove everyone out the door, lock it and jump in that tub! So anyway... if you are coming to Mendo any time soon and want really a really gorgeous place to stay look up Alegria and tell Eric and Elaine that I sent ya. They will take super good care of you for sure!

After we left Alegria we walked Portuguese Beach off the headlands with Rudy. It was a particularly low tide so we scanned the shoreline looking for beach glass. I wish I had a photo of what I look like while "scanning the shoreline" because what I tend to do is crouch down and sort of crab waddle along. It always results in sore leg muscles the next day. But it is the best method, tried and true. Especially on a foggy day like yesterday. When the sun is shining you can spot beach glass pretty easily but fog makes it tougher to see. This photo is from about 10:30 in the morning and you can see how flippin' dark it is because of the fog!

Don't come to Mendocino if you want to work on your tan. Come if you like your skin lily white, cold and clammy. After Portuguese Beach we walked over to Big River. The walk down the trail to the beach is really pretty. I love the perspective in this shot... is Billy really tiny or are the trees really enormous?

Rudy got impatient waiting for us as we crept the tide line looking for treasures. He planted himself on the sand and just sat there. I think he was pissed that he was not star of the show.

The farmer's market is at noon on Friday in Mendo so we hung out on the beach until it was time to go up and shop. On the way up the trail I nabbed this shot of a flower of which I have no idea what it is. Looks kinda like a poppy... but I am sure it's something entirely different. It's a huge blossom growing on a sort of bush.

The market was already hoppin' when we got up there. It's a small one but there is more and more to choose from every week we get further in to summer.

The Rise Up Farm has a great sign... it's a fist clutching a carrot punching up out of the soil and the sun is a lion on the horizon. The peeps running the stand are super cool. We bought beautiful mixed salad greens laced with edible flowers yesterday. I made my fake chicken salad today and we ate the greens with it topped with sunflower spouts from another local grower.

We bought a bunch of starter plants, mostly herbs and planted them in pots for our deck. I also bought two tomato plants which I have little hope for. If the sun were to ever decide to make an appearance the toms are planted where they would get a good dose of it in our little yard... but seeing as how that happens less and less as we get into summer these little plants may be doomed. Also since they are planted in the ground and not in pots they are subject to DOG. Half and hour after I planted them yesterday I looked up and Ranger (the neighbor dog) was standing on one of them. So yeah... say a little prayer for my tomatoes. They may not last long! If they DO make it one of the varieties I planted is a pineapple tomato which supposedly produces toms that weight up to two pounds a piece! So it's all or nuthin'. I will keep you updated on The Tomato Attempt of 2009.

Today was cleaning day. It was long overdue. I spent all day doing it. Want to see the end result? This is as good as it gets in here.... as organized as we can manage.

If you really take your time in looking around this shot you will discover stupid things like a huge skillet on top of Rudy's house under the table....because that is where we keep it. It's too big to fit in a cupboard. And my Stetson lives on the towel hook because I can't figure out any place else to keep it. If you had x-ray vision and could see in to the cabinets your head would explode. Guaranteed.

Tomorrow I hope to get some work done for my Etsy shop. What are you people up to this weekend out in the world? Anything fun?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

SNARK! Beware the Jabberwock.

Much in the same fashion that The Walrus was Paul, I am currently the Jabberwocky. What does that mean? Perhaps a visual will assist....

Go ahead and imagine the little prince with the sword there as all of humanity. But in my version of the nonsense poem the kid does not slice off my head. In my version I wreak havoc on the world at large and then come home and take a long, well deserved nap. And eat ice cream when I wake up.

What's the problem? Ahhhh.... I dunno. It's cold here... it's no longer quiet and quaint because tourist season has sprung up over night, I need to do laundry (my claws just grew three extra inches there) and I am generally unaccepting of my fate for the next three months. What's my fate? Cold weather (in the summer.) And honk-loads of tourists. As many years as I have under my belt now of living in a place where tourism blasts off like a nuclear rocket pretty much over night I am still quite capable of going through a seriously crabby spell over it. It's stupid too because it basically boils down to me being pissed because I have to wait in line at the coffee shop. Or I have to look for a parking spot. The outrage! (Sarcasm.) Everywhere I go there are.... LOTS OF PEOPLE THERE ALREADY! (More sarcasm.)

In other news... we are waiting to see what the fate of California State Parks are per Ahhhnold's latest shenanigans. In case you have not heard he wants to shut down 80% of ALL the state parks in Cali. He is taking his title of "The Terminator" to a whole new level. I mean... Hello everyone... the guys brain is like the barrel of a freshly loaded shot gun. Why did he ever get in to office in the first place? His budget does not get passed so he goes all Godzilla on us and starts smashing everything in sight. Hey! That kinda sounds like me! Oops!

Clearly the only answer right now is for me to go cook up a big batch of tapioca pudding.

Rudy is down on the floor next to me fighting ferociously against one of these....

It was his prize for having won the pet story contest. He was super pissed off at Larry the Lobster from the minute he clapped eyes on him. It has been constant fighting since Larry's arrival yesterday.

Lastly... say a little prayer for Billy's tooth. He has a zinger in there right now tryin' to take him down. We are using Back Woods meets Japanese Secret style natural medicine on him right now in lieu of going to the dentist. I will let you know if I am a true natural healer or if he ends up giving in to taking a course of antibiotics. Place your bets now....

Monday, May 25, 2009

The SUN!

I have to say I was thrilled to death today that the sun came out. The NWS was predicting a high of 53 degrees, clouds and 24 mph winds for today. I am here to say that I am not currently dealing too well with the reality of the weather here in beautiful seaside Mendocino. Had I known it was going to be this cold here in the Summer I may have just laid down and died before arrival. Before I had a chance to get cold and stay cold. So while yesterday was sheer misery... cold and windy and damp... today turned out to be a perfectly acceptable day. Don't get too excited though, I still wore wool socks and a scarf around my neck to go out for our walk this afternoon.

We went to the teeny little blip on the map called Caspar to walk their headlands. I love Caspar because it is so small and it just has such a good, old school feeling to it. To access the headlands trail you walk past this old building that at first glance looks abandoned, but it's not. Today there was a cool old bus parked out front and when we passed the side of the building we could here a band practicing inside. They sounded awesome. No idea who they are but we lingered for a minute in the field beside the building to hear them.

We walked the trails and soaked up the sunshine. There are still quite a few wildflowers blooming here although things are starting to dry up a bit. Mostly you see lupine, (invasive) gorse and scotch broom with a bunch of wild sweet pea crawling all over everything.

The only bummer about walking through this magic kingdom of fabulous beauty is that not only is everything crawling with delicate sweet pea vines... it is probably crawling with ticks too. So now as I sit here writing out this post I imagine my body is host to a million little bums looking to feast on my life blood and give me a bunch of nasty diseases in the process. No matter how many times Billy checks me over like a gorilla in the mist I still feel shit creeping over my skin. I have a serious phobia. And why shouldn't I? Yuck! Die you little bastards! Die!

OK. On to more cheerful topics. After our walk we drove in to Mendo to see if the madness of the holiday weekend had subsided which indeed it had. We took our kid for an ice cream at Frankie's. Rudy loooooves vanilla ice cream. We got him a kiddie scoop in a cup and we had a waffle cone out on the patio and watched the sea gulls cruise by overhead. Dessert first is a great rule of thumb to follow in my book. Now we are home and Billy is making gnocchi from the Bouchon cookbook. This means that I will be laid up in bed with my book groaning about my too full belly inside of an hour. Good times.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Barbarians Are Coming!

Not really. Actually... as far as I am concerned they have already been here a long time. And there is no gettin' rid of them. Pesky Barbarians! We shall not linger on talk of them...

Let's talk about food. And being lazy. How does that sound? Two of the greatest American pass times! Can you tell I am in a smarmy, smart assy mood today? Three day holiday weekends in a tourist town will do that to a gal.

Yesterday Billy made some super cool Syrian style flat bread called zhatar (or zaatar.) It is seasoned with dried thyme, sesame seeds and sumac. Billy threw on some goat cheese just because in our house if it ain't got CHEESE it ain't worth eatin'. Yee haw! We do like our cheese. So this bread was devoured along with homemade baba ganoush (made in our NEW CUISANART! FOOD! PROCESSOR!!!) and cucumber salad. People. It was Gooooooood.

For those of you who are all... "What the Hell are you doing eating sumac? I thought it was like...poisonous?" It is... and it isn't. Don't eat the stuff growing in your back yard. But DO see if you can find the ground berries in the spice rack of your local specialty grocer and use it to flavor Greek or Mediterranean dishes. Here is a link with more info on the spice.

What else? We are laying low since it is a serious nut house down in Mendo this weekend. Too. Many. People. And the weather sucks. It's cold, foggy and windy. So I am working my way through Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales. I am loving it. All I really want is to hear more and more "I shouldn't be alive" type stories from people. Get out there and see what you can do for me... see if you can conjure up a near death wilderness incident or two! But be careful. We only want dramatic stories. No real injuries or fatalities will be accepted. It's best to do like I do... and run from imaginary wild animals. Like the time I ran for my life for over a mile through the deep woods of New Hampshire from a braying donkey who I thought was an angry moose on the attack. Yes.

Ok. I think it may be officially "nap time." Enjoy the rest of your weekend peeps!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Back in the Land of Simple

Yesterday we made the long haul back up to Mendocino via 101 north and 128 through Anderson Valley. It takes between 6 and 7 hours with the trailer in tow from Monterey. I drove the first half of the day and I would like to take this chance to fly a firm and dirty bird at 75% of the drivers between San Jose and San Rafeal. WHO GAVE YOU IDIOTS A LICENSE? Good gravy. I think I suffered about 6 minor heart attacks on that stretch of the drive. Because... HEY! Guess what? Don't change lanes directly in front of a truck towing ten thousand pounds of trailer and then SLAM ON YOUR BRAKES FOR NO APPARENT REASON (other than proving to the world that you are stupid.) Or how about those fine folks who pay NO attention whatever while merging out into a jam packed freeway? They just sort of breeze right in to the side of you and then honk and slam on their brakes as they swerve violently and blindly off to the shoulder of the road. It makes you wonder how so many people actually successfully survive each day! How are so many more of us not getting squashed on the pavements of America or crunched up between the fenders of offending morons? It's a mystery.

Anyway... we switched off when we hit Novato and Billy drove the 128 leg of the trip. This gave me the chance to make myself sick and dizzy shooting blurry pics of mountains and vineyards out the window of the truck as we wheeled through the switchbacks and curves into Anderson Valley. For much of this segment of the drive I have to let Rudy stand on me with his head out the window. This has proven to be the ONLY effective way to keep him from barfing because of the twisty nature of the road.

The vineyards that line the valley are really beautiful this time of the year. Please excuse the blurred edges and random compositions here but I wanted to share a few shots with ya....

The rolling hills dotted with huge gnarly California Oaks are just the best. Once you have made it across the valley you end up driving through a section of redwoods along the Navarro River and it is really cool too.

We landed back in Mendo at our campsite with just enough time for me to zip up in to town and grab a couple of burritos from the Mendocino Bakery before they closed so we would not have to cook last night. I will say one thing for certain about living here. It is uncomplicated. It is easy. There are not many choices to make other than where to go for a walk or which bakery do you want a coffee and scone from? You focus more on being outside and enjoying life and it's simple pleasures.

Tomorrow is our 1st Living History Days field trip at the visitor's center. You should definitely be waiting on pins and needles to see and hear the results of this. If we survive the day of biscuit baking and butter churning with 37 local 2nd graders it should be worthy of a story or two.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Last Beach Day and Goodbye to Stanley

This is gonna be a quickie because I am so tired and we have to drive back up to Mendocino tomorrow. So bedtime comes early tonight. By the way... I have been sleeping fine since the paint out ended and my eyelid stopped twitching also. eyelid twitched for two solid weeks leading into this past weekend. Nuff said.

Today marked our last day in Carmel for awhile.... until we can get back down here in the fall. It was cold and foggy but we still went to the beach to enjoy it one more time. Billy indulged Rudy in his crackhead obsession with tennis ball chasing for as long as any of us could stand it. This first pic is my favorite because it is like some kind of bizarre catalog image.... but for what catalog?

Rudy strolled the beach with some hot bitches and sniffed a lot of uhhh... canine junk. Life is good.

We mailed Flat Stanley back to my friends Andrea and Art's kids second grade class today. But not before he and Rudy had a chance to enjoy each others company on the sofa one last time.

And we went to the Pacific Grove farmer's market to stock up on good local produce. We had a huge skillet full of roasted veggies tonight for dinner. There was purple kale, radishes, beets, broccolini, carrots, garlic, onions and cherry tomatoes in the mix. It was good stuff.

Ooohhhh how I dread the drive tomorrow. I wish we could stop off in San Fran for about 5 days. And I also wish I would hurry up and find a big box of money to spend in San Fran for 5 days on things like macarons and a tattoo of Rudy's face on my bicep. Oh well.

The thing you people have to look forward to now is this... Later this week I am pretty sure I have to wear a pioneer woman dress and churn butter and bake biscuits with field trip groups of children. If that does not produce some entertaining results I don't know what will. Stay tuned....

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Well.... THAT Happened.

Well shucks people. I wish I had a really big exciting tale to weave for ya about the painting competition today but as it turns out it all went a little flat for us in a way. I had high hopes that the paintings would be judged on individual merit (and not solely on the name tag hanging above them) but it would seem that the same people are destined to win each and every year. Billy submitted two awesome pieces and got stiffed. No awards. So that part of the day was pretty deflating and disappointing. HOWEVER..... there were 60 artists in this competition and today was the silent auction which ran from 10 til 6. I would say that close to half of the pieces entered did not even get a single bid. Several of the pieces that received awards did not sell or get any bids. On the other hand Billy sold both pieces and for a pretty darned good price in comparison to the other works that were selling, most for lesser prices. So we are letting the bidders speak for the quality of his submissions and to heck with the stinky old politically influenced judges.

We met some great people... a few folks who already own a piece or two of Billy's work came out to meet us which was super cool. We really appreciate your support! And we are thrilled to have found new the patrons that purchased his two pieces that hung in the auction today. Over all it was a good show and interesting experience. Clearly each artist has to "make his bones" over several years before they are awarded any recognition in the scene here.

We are both pretty tuckered out. It was a looong past couple of days! I will post again tomorrow. For now I am headed for a big ass bowl of coffee ice cream and then bed!

Here is a pic of my favorite of the two pieces Billy painted for the show... this is the one we got up at 4:45 to catch the first light of day on down on Carmel Beach. I think he nailed it... it's really a fabulous painting. Click through on it to see it bigger. Good night y'all. Thanks to anyone who was rooting for Billy this past week. We love ya!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

No Sleep til Brooklyn and Does a Deer Make You Poop in the Woods? Wha?

The paint out is ON baby! We got rolling last night! All the artists gather downtown to get their canvases stamped starting at 5 pm on Wednesday night. Once you are stamped you can run to your first painting spot and let her rip. I need you all to see what a bad ass Billy was in line for canvas stamping....

He was like The Paint Out Terminator in his shades with the set jaw and serious stance. Once he waded through the line we raced straight down to Big Sur so he could stand against a howling wind and glaring sun (coming off the ocean) to start his first piece. It was COLD out there! Big Sur at sundown is maybe not the most plein air friendly location.... but it sure was beautiful to be there again!

Billy worked for a few hours until the very last light of day was gone.

We got home around 9 and could not believe how tired we were. We ate the shittiest dinner ever of frozen pizza and Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream. Nothing like it to set you up for disaster the next day.

The sleepless saga continues. Last night we went to bed at 11:30 with the alarm set for 4:45 a.m. My insides churn just having to type that out.... 4:45 a.m. Anyway, Billy fell asleep pretty easily and I of course just laid there. Aaaaand laid there. No sleep. Finally after what felt like two hours or so I got up to pee and I decided to be really daring and take a peek at the clock to see what time it was. The clock read 4:26. Oh. My. God. So I had been laying there for 5 hours. Awake. And now I had to get dressed and head out on the big paint out of 2009 in twenty minutes! For Billy's sake I did it. I am a real puss about sleep... as you MAY have guessed by my whiny last few posts here. I got dressed and we peeled off into the dark of night on our way to his second painting locale. It was pretty darned rewarding when we got there.

The moon was just setting and the whole scene looked like it had been drenched in magic blue marshmallow fluff. By that I mean it was way foggy... and as you can see oh so very bluuuueeee! Gorgeous! We set up to paint and it was like heaven compared to the night before out on Big Sur. It was calm, quiet and pretty warm considering what time it was.

We literally had the whole scene to ourselves. There was no one else around for at least 40 minutes or so and then the morning walkers started to trickle in. But we did not see a single other painter! Since I had the tripod with I made Billy pose next to my puffy morning face for a portrait.

We packed up at 7 to head over to Point Lobos. They won't let you in the park until 8 a.m. so we had planned to go over there a few minutes early to make sure we were first in line to get in. We stopped off at Carmel Roasters to get a big coffee and a bear claw donut (mistake.) Upon arrival at Point Lobos there was a documentary film crew before us in line but no other painters. We beat 'em again! We headed in to the spot Billy had picked out and as he set up to start painting I wandered around and shot photos. Point Lobos is one of the best places for a photographer to shoot til they go blind on the face of this planet. There are twenty images waiting to be snapped every which way you look.

It was long about this time that the pizza, ice cream, coffee, donuts, no sleep and morning madness took a firm grip on me. I suddenly thought to myself... "Uh Oh." And I know you all know what I mean.. Yeah... where is the nearest bathroom? Listen up internet. I know this is a delicate subject and one that some of you would probably really rather not hear about... so stop reading now and click off the page if you can't hang with poop talk. I made my way back around to Billy and told him that I was off to find "the potty." It was only about a 4 minute walk down the trail to where we had parked the truck but I then realized I did not have four minutes to spare. I started to kind of run and panic. Then suddenly there were people coming down the trail and I remember saying out loud... "I am not gonna make it." I passed the people and at that moment I spotted a deer path through the woods. In my moment of knowing that I was not going to make it I ran crashing into the woods in the hopes of finding a suitable place to ummmm... yeah. Then with all the sudden grandiose glory of a true miracle I saw the roof of an outhouse through the trees down on the hill below me. I made for it... still pretty sure I was not gonna make it. I sprang from the bushes right into the face of a gigantic buck who immediately jumped about 12 feet straight up in to the air. I nearly puked, pooped and passed out from shock. It was absolutely surreal. He was gone in a flash and I God Bless America made it into the bathroom without disaster. Let me repeat that. I made it. I could go on in detail about how at that moment a tour bus full of Asian people arrived in the parking lot and I had to share the outhouse with them for the next half an hour which was also an experience worthy of being labeled surreal. But I think I will leave it at that. Let this be a lesson to you all... and the lesson is.... uhhh, don't do anything I do. Ever. There will be consequences and they could be really dirty.

In parting let me say a word about my new banner. That there is a California Red Garter Snake and I almost stepped on him this afternoon while walking Rudy here in the RV park. He would have made the second snake I stepped on this month. I can't remember if I mentioned the one at Russian Gulch a week or so ago...but I stepped right on a little dude on the road in the park. I am really starting to rack up some serious serpent squishing numbers. I am counting the near misses (because HEY.... straddling a 5 foot King Snake between your feet counts) so a rough tally is around 8 snakes in the past 5 years. Lifetime total is closer to a dozen. It's beyond bizarre. I have some kind of snake voodoo. I never see them until it is too late or until Billy yells "Look Out! SNAAAKKE!" I would like to issue a sincere apology to the snakes I have stomped. I did not mean it and I feel awful about it. I hope they can forgive me...

I will try to keep you updated on Billy's progress in the paint out. Saturday is the big day! We turn in the finished paintings tomorrow night and the judging takes place Saturday morning. Again.. if anyone wants to sign up to bid or see the paintings as the go on the auction block go to the Carmel Plein Air Festival website for details!