Monday, August 27, 2012

Little River Trip Recap


Me, Mama Chardonnay, Lady Chardonnay, Auntie V (and the wine)
So I've been back from the coast for a few days but had things to do around the house first. Like laundry which I did on Sunday so now I have today free!

I picked up Lady Chardonnay and her daughter Mimosa at the airport Monday night. They slept at my house and then we drove to the coast on Tuesday afternoon. We were met by Lady C's mom and her aunt who drove up later from Sacramento. All of us (minus Mimosa) had stayed at Little River together several years ago, we think in 2003.

Little River (just south of Mendocino) was nice but oh, how I loathe driving to and from the coast! There is no path to Mendocino that does not involve some large section of twisty-turny roads. On that last trip driving home in 2003 I actually needed to stop and throw up on the side of the road. Twice. This time, I'm very happy to report, I had no trouble at all! It's the little things in life....

Mama C, Auntie V, Lady C and Mimosa
We had some very nice breakfasts and dinners. We had breakfast a couple of times at the hotel dining room, famed for their Olallieberry Cobbler. I only tasted a bite of cobbler (thanks for sharing, Lady C!) and had huevos rancheros the first time and Swedish pancakes the second.

Apparently olallieberries area cross between loganberries and youngberries. Loganberries are a cross of blackberries and raspberries while youngberries are a cross between blackberries and dewberries. (Berries are apparently the sluts of the fruit world.) So olallieberries taste how a blackberry & raspberry cobbler might taste.


On the second morning we went to Fort Bragg to a tiny restaurant called Eggheads. It is decorated with a "Wizard of Oz" theme. I had a crab omelet. Yummy! (This is where we'd had breakfast on the last day on the 2003 trip and therefore, what I barfed up. We decided to go here earlier in the week so I wouldn't risk a repeat performance.)


For dinner on Wednesday we went to Noyo Harbor in Fort Bragg looking for a seafood restaurant that was a "two-story yellow building". Luckily we found it with no trouble; it's called Silver's at the Wharf. Most of us had a crab Louie and Mimosa had some yummy looking pasta dish. Darn it, I forgot to photograph the salad. It was piled high with crab meat and very tasty indeed. We got to see a lovely sunset from the restaurant.

Crab season doesn't start up again around here until November so that will be the earliest we get fresh crab again. I made the best crab cakes last month with the last of our crab meat. I hope to get a lot more into the freezer this coming season. I love having a big freezer!

But back to dinner at the coast. After some discussion about where we should have dinner on our last night, we ended up at another Fort Bragg restaurant called The Restaurant (easy name to remember!) just down the street from Eggheads. I can't remember what everyone else had but I had lemon pepper shrimp and they were really tasty. Lady C's uncle had recommended this place and said the tarter sauce was amazing. I think I was the only one who didn't try it though so I can't vouch for its deliciousness or not.

We also got to spend a couple of hours walking around Mendocino where there are all sorts of little shops. Things can be so expensive though! I bought a little cupcake-shaped bowl. It's red and has a snowman face on the inside bottom. Another example of, "I should have taken a picture" when I bought it and now I'm too lazy to run downstairs and do it!

I also bought a jar of sour cherry jam. The shop had a table with samples for tasting and I LOVED the sour cherry. When I went to pay I asked the lady if she made all the jams herself. She grunted at me and slapped my change of a nickel against the counter. I guess she figures (probably correctly) that she'll never see me again so why waste words. But still, no need to be rude!

Because I had forgotten my jacket I also bought a cute sweat jacket. It's pink with the word "Mendocino" across the front. It was a size XL so either they were mislabeled or I really am starting to get smaller! (I hope it's the latter but I think it's the former. And the jacket may shrink when I wash it.)
Lady Chardonnay and me
For the record, my face will be the very LAST place I lose weight. I have a student ID from San Francisco State picture that I call "Smiling Balloon with Hair" because my face is so round. And I only weighed about 130 pounds then!

The weather was overcast with fog on the first couple of days but on Thursday afternoon the fog completely cleared away and the fog held off until late Friday morning, when we left. So we had one full day of the most beautiful weather! Here's the view on Thursday afternoon:


The seagulls are always hovering in case some stupid human drops a morsel of food. We named the first one Bob. We called them ALL Bob after that. Bob could have been a Bobette for all we know! We did NOT feed them or we would have had a constant flock of Bobs all around us.

Bob or Bobette?
On Friday I went home by myself as Lady C and Mimosa were still spending a few more days in Chico visiting Mama and Daddy Chardonnay, and Auntie V needed to fly home to Southern California.

I think that's the end of my travels in 2012. Whew!

Monday, August 20, 2012

More Travel

This will be my basic view for the next 4 days while I'm staying at the Little River Inn. I am pretty sure fog will mean less blue ocean and sunshine. But I always love being near the ocean, fog or no fog.

But first I need to pick up my best friend, Lady Chardonnay, and her daughter Mimosa at the airport in Sacramento tonight at 11 p.m. They will sleep here tonight and then we drive up the coast tomorrow. Lady C's mom and aunt will be meeting us there. Should be fun!

I don't need to leave for the airport for another hour so here I am. I have been meaning to post more often but I really like to have some sort of topic or I end up just rambling...like this!

I was thinking of writing about family members, many of who are gone now. Maybe memories of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. And my mom.

One cool thing that my parents and brothers did a couple of years ago was start compiling a family story list. I meant to write it all up and make a booklet out it all but then we lost Mom and I haven't really had the heart to get back into it. But I'm almost ready to start tackling the pile of notes. For example, my brother Everest and I called old-fashioned cars "blim-blims" when we were little. That's the kind of little thing that can get lost as we get older.

I don't know if I will get time to blog or not while I'm away. If not, then I will recap over the weekend.

Mendocino....by way of Sacramento Airport...here I come!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

King vs King

Our new furniture arrived yesterday: bed, mattress and dining room set. And the new blinds were installed on Wednesday. And Hydrex fixed critter entry points and baited the attic and crawl spaces (to take care of any creatures that may have been trapped inside) on Wednesday too.

It was a week of waiting for service people to arrive. Fun, especially in the case of the furniture delivery, when I had a four hour window to deal with! Scheduled to arrive between 12 and 4, the delivery guys arrived at 2. It took about 45 minutes for them to get everything in the house and then put it all together. THEN I got to start putting things back into place.

But we have a KING-SIZED bed! A Queen mattress (our old size) is 80 inches long and 60 inches wide. The King is still 80 inches long but it's 76 inches wide. We just gained another 16 inches!! More room for me and all my pillows! And CPA Boy too I guess.

But it has been a huge pain trying to buy sheets for it. I naively assumed I could go to Target, JC Penney, Kohl's or Costco and I would find all sorts of choices. But no. All you can buy are California King-sized sheets. Apparently an "Eastern King" in an anomaly in California.

Comparing measurements for Eastern King to a California King: Eastern is 80"L by 76"W and CK is 84"L by 72"W. So compared to the Queen the CK is 4 inches longer and only 12 inches wider.

CPA Boy and I are not tall; short people don't need a LONGER mattress.

Is it just California that has a different king mattress size? Or is California King taking over the whole country? Are Californians TALLER on average? (Of course not.)

Our new bed looks like this. It is dark brown wood with a black padded headboard. The bed is available with the storage drawers underneath but we didn't get that model. This picture shows a cream-colored bedskirt. I will need to get a plain black one at some point. And our red, black and white bedclothes are MUCH prettier than this ugly orange and brown monstrosity (sorry, but those are two of my least favorite colors)

I estimate that the top of the mattress is about 36 inches tall. In other words, we can't just sit down on it; you need to jump up and back!

It's so tall! CPA Boy jokes that we will get decapitated by the ceiling fan if we sit up in bed. And we need to climb UP to reach the mattress!

All our old beds were always so low to the ground that this will be a big adjustment. Our old bed now seems so short!

In 1990 we started off with a waterbed which we had until I was about 4 months pregnant. (Our "waveless" waterbed mattress got messed up during one of our many moves and it was time to leave the 1980s behind!) Then we bought a new mattress and plopped it into the waterbed frame without a boxspring. Then in our first house we had a simple bedframe (no headboard or footboard that I got for free from a friend at work) that held a mattress and boxspring. When we moved to our last house in 1998 we bought a new bedroom set at Scandinavian Designs (all of which we still have) and that bedframe didn't require a boxspring mattress so we got rid of it. When we got the Tempur-pedic it was much thicker than the old spring mattress but still pretty low to the ground in comparison to this new mountain of a bed!

And it's pretty comfortable too. SO glad to be rid of the Tempur-pedic mattress!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Comments

Who decided it was a good idea to have comment sections on almost every Internet article?

I was reading today about the shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and I scrolled down far enough to read the most recent reader comments. And so many of them were so ugly. Or they referred to politics --- like this had anything to do with the moron who murdered people --- and all of a sudden it was a free-for-all of hatred.

Some examples include: "too many mass killing sprees under Obama. im votin (sic) GOP" and "The shooter was a Sara Palin voter". Charming.

And I can't even bring myself to type out the AWFUL comments made about the victims and their religion.

(My son used to have a wonderful doctor who happened to be a Sikh. We were so sad when he moved to another state. He was kind and sensitive to a little boy who was nervous about having a foot issue treated. He used liquid nitrogen to freeze the offending plantar wart and then did a sort of magic trick when he disposed of the excess nitrogen thus bringing a huge smile to The Boy's face. The only thing that was "different" about him was his turban and that was not a big deal. Why would it be?)

This phenomenon is not confined to news or sports articles. Read almost any article about a TV show and invariably the first comment will be something like, "I would never watch this show." And right on cue it will be followed up with someone taking the bait, "Then why did you read this article in the first place?!" And so on ad infinitum.

I have never posted comments myself because a) I'm not stupid and b) what would be the point? There are always people who try to be the voice of reason against the vicious comments but it's a losing battle. The people who write such ugly, vicious words do it the knowledge that they are anonymous and because they think it's funny. One person was typing the same thing over and over every minute presumably so everyone would see it. I guess it's sad to think how pitiful that person's life must be if the only jollies they get are posting and re-posting the same ugly words every time there's a tragedy.

Now there's always been a dark side to various tragedies. Does anyone remember the Helen Keller jokes that kids used to tell (now I bet no one even remembers who Helen Keller was, at least the younger generations)? Or the jokes after the space shuttle Challenger exploded? (I won't re-type them here; hit the Internet for examples if you want.) There are stupid jokes for EVERYTHING on the Internet.

I'm not sure I believe the trope that people who write ugly comments on the Internet wouldn't say them to someone's face. I think many WOULD as people have become much bolder in expressing themselves since the arrival of the Internet. For example, take Kim Kardashian. I bet there's not a day that goes by when that woman is not accosted by people yelling ugly things to her just because they want to get a rise out of her. Or Madonna. Or Kristin Stewart (especially lately). Or baseball players. Or football players. Or...you get the idea.

So today I am taking the pledge: I will no longer read comments on news articles.

Thus endeth today's screed. Comment sections are stupid. I won't read them anymore. Unless they are posted to my blog, of course.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

July 2012 Books

Another month where I read very few books. Part of that was a backed-up magazine pile which will be less of a problem going forward because all our free subscriptions have run out. And I really wanted one of the books to last so I kept putting it down so I wouldn't finish it in one fell swoop (or "one swell foop" as Pops would say).

FICTION
  • New York by Edward Rutherfurd
    • I have read all of his other books and loved each one, especially Sarum and the 2 books about Ireland (The Rebels of Ireland and The Princes of Ireland)
    • This one covers the history of Manhattan from the 1600's when the Dutch settled it as New Amsterdam through the events of September 11, 2001.
    • Like in his other books, he introduces various families whose stories we follow through succeeding generations. We get to learn a lot about Manhattan and how it developed over the centuries. The characters interact with real people and live through some of New York City's greatest events.
    • I was only disappointed in one small thing: at the start one of the Dutch characters has fathered a Native American daughter and she presents him with a wampum belt that then gets passed down through the men of the family. He meanwhile presents her with a Dutch coin which apparently gets passed down through her family. 
      • I was really hoping to find out more about the Native American daughter's family but since the Indians were pushed out of Manhattan so they are out of the story. You get some sort of resolution about the belt but none about the coin. A small matter but I was disappointed about it.
    • I really enjoyed it but I wouldn't rank it as high as Sarum, one of my all-time faves.
    • If you like historical fiction, you will like this book.
    • Grade: B+
  • Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
    • This is a sequel to Shanghai Girls, wherein the two main characters, sisters Pearl and May escape from China in 1937 and settle in Los Angeles. 
      • May was pregnant (by the artist both sisters loved) when they left China. Once the daughter, Joy, is born May gives her to Pearl to raise as her own while May pursues a Hollywood career.
      • Joy finds out once she grows up and this sets the sequel in motion.
    • Joy has finished one year of college where she joined a student group who support the communist revolution in China.
      • Joy is angry at her mother and aunt once she finds out that they are actually her aunt and mother and takes off for Red China to find her birth father.
    • She finds her father relatively quickly and quickly becomes enamored of the new China.
      • Her mother (actually her aunt) Pearl follows her to bring her back home. May stays in Los Angeles to run their restaurant business and send money and supplies to Pearl in China.
    • The two women are in China for several years, with Joy embracing communism then realizing how naive she is. But then the huge famine instigated by Mao's foolish agricultural and industrial ideas sets in.
      • One of China's goals was to increase the output of steel so that they could beat Britain and the United States. There were backyard furnaces where all metal implements (including farming tools) were melted down to create an inferior steel. By the time this policy was abandoned all the farm implements were gone (policy expected the peasant farmers to use their hands for everything, including digging trenches).
      • The government advocated something called "close planting" where seeds were planted close together in order to create higher crop yields. The flaw is that the seeds then competed for the same resources and the crops turned out to be inferior in all ways.
        • Commune leaders were still expected to send the larger amounts of crops to the government who then exported them, leaving the peasants to starve. Which they did in the millions.
    • Joy is pretty much an idealist idiot, which she eventually realizes, so she redeems herself somewhat. Her mother Pearl, even though she didn't give birth to her daughter, does everything she can to save her from starvation and she is the much more admirable character. She does what she can to fit into Communist China all the while secretly plotting to leave the country.
    • A fascinating light on a part of China's history I knew very little about.
    • B+
  • Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
    • This was my reread of the classic novel about Becky Sharp.
    • Becky starts out as a poor girl who moves up in society while her friend Amelia moves from rich to poor.
      • Becky is almost a sociopath in her behavior but she is an interesting character. Amelia is sweet and kind but overall an idiot who wastes her love on the wrong man. 
    • I read this on the Kindle, downloaded free from the Internet because it's in the public domain.
    • I like the Reese Witherspoon movie from 2004 but I haven't seen the Miriam Hopkins version from 1935. I'll need to catch it next time it's on TCM.
    • B+
  • A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
    • Part one of a three-part series (don't get me started on book series --- see below!) about a witch named Diana, a vampire named Matthew, their forbidden love and a mysterious, bewitched manuscript.
    • I really liked it but it's not really a complete story as it really only sets things up for Books 2 and 3.
    • I haven't personally read the Twilight books so I can't make any sort of comparison to those. I read a few book reviews and people bring those books up. One reviewer referred to the book as a "very solid mix of Harry Potter and Twilight" which I can see but this is a more mature story. The Harry Potter portion refers to the alchemy, witchcraft and ancient manuscript and the Twilight to the forbidden love of the vampire and the woman he stalks.
      • The characters are in their 30's rather than teenagers (and yes, the vampires are actually older than dirt, but their physical bodies look similar in age to their respective paramours)
      • Diana can be an idiot but she's strong and certainly tries to maintain her independence from Matthew and doesn't always expect him to rescue her.
      • There's a certain "romance novel" feel to portions of the book but there are no dumb sex scenes to get in the way (if you've ever read the Ayla books by Jean Auel then you know that she and her one twue wuv, Jondalar, have Cro-Magnon sex every few pages and it really adds nothing to the story).
      • Lots of descriptions of the wines they drink, what everyone and everything smells like, the clothes they wear and the food everyone eats (the author is an expert on wine so I think she just likes writing about wine). I suppose I can agree that some of these things could be trimmed but I'm not sure how ruthless editors are about this sort of thing.
    • I loved all the supporting characters and how some of the cliches were somewhat swept aside. For example, in this book's reality, witches, vampires and demons are all supposed to hate each other on principal yet Matthew's mother (also a vampire), after a short period of adjustment, accepts the witch Diana into her home as a member of her family. Refreshing.
    • I have the second book in the series ready to read but the final book in the trilogy won't be out until 2013 or 2014. 
    • Confidential to Mrs. Everest (my dear sis-in-law in Southern California): I think you would like this book!
    • B+
Hmm, all the books this month are B+ grades. Anyway, that's all I read over 4 weeks. Pitiful

And now, my screed about book series: Okay, you hear about a book about witches (it's right in the title!) and a mysterious manuscript, you put it on your Paperback Swap wish list and it arrives after you've waited for months. THEN you find out it's part one of three. Guh.

And not in a "Star Wars" kind of way. If you see "Star Wars" and never see "The Empire Strikes Back" or "Return of the Jedi", well, at least you got a complete story in one movie. (I took a friend to see "The Empire Strikes Back" in the Summer of 1980 --- in return I had to go see "Urban Cowboy" with her --- and she hadn't seen "Star Wars" so "Empire" made no sense to her!)

A Discovery of Witches was interesting but nothing FINISHES; it's all set-up. That doesn't make it bad, just disappointing as a reader because you just don't know when the rest of the story will finish. In this case I have Book 2 so I foresee more disappointment because the next book won't be out for another year or two.

I have several books on my to-be-read shelf that are Book 1 of a series. Several of them are unfinished series (or at least not-yet-published). I am already in the middle of a handful of series:
  • Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. Seven books and counting though maybe #8 is the last one? Probably not. Her books come out every 3-4 years.
  • George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones series. Five books and counting with 2 more left. Or maybe not? He publishes a new book infrequently, maybe every 5-6 years.
  • Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series. Six books so far, with at least two more to come.
  • Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey. Only one book so far but at least two more to come but the publishers only release one Fforde book per year so it could be quite a while before the next book appears.
    • By the way, NO relation to the (mom-porno) series Fifty Shades of Grey which I have no interest in reading since they are based on Twilight fan fiction and I have no interest in reading the Twilight series either. 
Here's the list of the series where I only have Book One:
  • The Passage by Justin Cronin
  • My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  • Tempest by Julie Cross
  • Old Filth by Jane Gardam
  • Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
  • Angel Time by Anne Rice
    • I actually got rid of this one. I'll just reread the first three "Vampire Chronicles" again for an Anne Rice fix since I already love those.
I realize that book series come out all the time. It's the business model for mysteries, for example. So in many cases I am just waiting until all the books are published before starting them. It took Jean Auel 31 years to finish the Earth's Children series (featuring horny Ayla and Jondalar; see above). I am getting too old to wait!

On the other hand, many of us suffered through waiting for the next Harry Potter books!

I am pretty sure I have written about all this before. Oh well.

And one last book-related thing: one of my favorite authors (who knew how to write complete stories in novels even when the characters might later appear in another book) just died. Maeve Binchy wrote many wonderful books, tales mostly based in Ireland. I highly recommend them, especially my favorites Circle of Friends, Evening Class and Scarlet Feather. RIP Ms. Binchy. Many readers are sadder today knowing you are gone.