Sunday, October 31, 2010

First Day in San Francisco

Technically, it was the first evening, as we didn't arrive until 4pm.
Technically it was Oakland, CA.
Hairsplitting, I know.
Onward and upward.

Before we did anything, we needed to eat.
4pm PST is 6pm CST.
While grateful for the free snacks on Southwest Airlines, we were starving.
The flight attendant was a hoot, by the way. Just in case you ever want an entertaining flight. His name was Josh, or Jake, or Joel or something. Four letters, started with J.
"In the unlikely event that the cabin loses air pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling. Stop screaming, let go of your neighbor's arm and slip the mask over your face and nose."
"Be sure the seatbelt is fastened low and tight over your hips, otherwise you might fall out of the plane."
"The Captain has cleared us for takeoff. Keep hands and feet in the plane at all times."
"Okay, we're here. Get out."

I digress.
Food. Food. Food.

Our main objective was to get some dim sum at a pretty famous place
(I forgot the name of the place, of course.) in Oakland.
Found it.
They only serve dim sum at lunch.
We picked several things and inhaled everything that was brought to us.
Well, except the free dessert. It was peanut soup that had been sweetened.
Interesting, but only for about 2 spoonfuls.

Time to move on to item 2 on our 'list of stuff to do in San Francisco'.

Oak Street Entrance. Photo: Terry Carroll
This picture is not ours. It was dark when we arrived. I snagged it off their website. I'm guessing that's okay, since I'm talking nice about them.
All Pixar Images ©Disney/Pixar.
This is why we went there. This picture is also theirs, as they didn't want us taking pictures in this exhibit.
What is "this" exhibit?
It was in celebration of 25 years of Pixar animation.
The creature you see above, is an early rendition of Sully from Monsters Inc.
There was one part of the exhibit that made me feel joy and delight and 5 years old and there isn't one decent YouTube video available!
We didn't try to film it ourselves, cuz we're rule followers. :)
Here's someone else's video of it.
It's called a zoetrope.
I could spend the rest of the day explaining what a zoetrope is, but I'll just
link it for you.
It was great fun to see how our favorite Pixar movies had begun and how they progressed before we got to enjoy them on the big screen (except Wall*E--didn't like it, fell asleep).

NOTE: Pearl took all these photos.
The rest of the museum was a rush job. We were about out of time and only managed to see a few things. Was it all art? Not in my opinion. There was even a place in the exhibit where you could vote: Art or Not Art.
I voted Not Art for the 15 x 15 foot canvas that was painted mauve.
Mauve is so 80s.

Luckily we had a docent that took a liking to us, and helped discuss and explain pieces that we stopped at. Lee felt like we were being stalked. I talked to the guy. He's a complete stranger after all. I talk to strangers.
This piece, by the way, represents all the electronic stuff thats comes at us every day. The word "Fonger" is a play on the artists name. His last name is Fong. His buddies call him Fonger.

Rocks. Some covered in silver stuff. Others not.
Art or Not Art?
You decide.
It was nicely placed on shelves.
All I could think about was who was dusting them.

Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) art.
Yes, I considered this piece, art.

Very cool piece outdoors. I love iron work that looks like nature.

A rock with a nature scene painted on it, that is also in the shape of a head. I'm sure there's more to the story, but we didn't stay long enough to read the little placard. The stalker docent had wandered off by this point.

Beats me? I wasn't even with Pearl when she took this picture of James and this piece.
I was talking to our stalker about something else.

Iron work in the shape of a chair. You were allowed/encouraged to sit on it.
Art? Not so much, in my opinion. But what do I know.

Cuckoo clocks with antique tools for weights. Cool.
Okay, here's my criteria for 'art'----If I might want one, if even for just one day, it's art.

Well, here we are back at the beginning.

Would I recommend this museum to visitors to Oakland, California?
Yes, very much so! I wish we had been able to see it all, instead of just a fraction of it.
If you go, grab a stalker docent. They make the experience much more meaningful.
Unless you get creeped out by stalker docents.
Then avoid them.

Afterwards, we drove over the Bay Bridge, down to Fisherman's wharf and checked into our hotel. We brushed our teeth, got into our jammies, and fell right to sleep because
11 PST time is 1 CST.
It was waaaaayyy past our bedtime.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

To Horse, or Not to Horse

When I was a little girl, all I ever asked for at every gift giving opportunity was a pony.
Never got one.
Something about living in suburbia made it impossible.
Still, I wanted one.
When you're 10, you imagine that a horse "can too live in the backyard."

I had to be satisfied with riding at my uncle's house in the summers and riding at a local place that rented horses by the hour.
As a young adult, I wrangled horses at a YMCA youth camp. My horse that summer was my dream horse--a white Arabian.
In all situations, the horses were wild as March hares.
When I was younger, all that 'mind-of-their-own' thing was fun for me. Made the ride all that much more enjoyable.

Then I grew up.
I had an amazing trail ride weekend in West Texas.
The horses belonged to an outfitter and they were solid as a rock.
They had to be, or you'd tumble off the side of the mountains.
The outfitter couldn't afford to have horses that weren't sound in mind and body.

It was time to get my own horse.
And I did.
I didn't make the mistake of buying because of looks (see horse below).
As they say in the horse world,
"Green riders + Green horses = Black and Blue"
In other words, someone is going to get hurt.
Odds are, it's going to be the human.


I did my research and looked at many, many horses.
I finally decided on one that fit my criteria.
He wasn't green, but boy was he smart.
Luke had my number from day one.

It took a spectacular wreck for me to be terribly afraid of riding him.
A year of weekly training sessions, a year of getting over my fear of repeating the wreck and a few thousand dollars, I was ready to get back on the trails again.

He still had my number and I ended up with a backside full of cactus spines.
I sold him with full disclosure.

So, why this post?
Geez, I'm allergic to the darn critters anyway. I sneeze and break out in hives.

It's just that the weather is cool. Perfect for trail rides.
I hear people at my son's soccer games talking about their trail rides.
I read blogs of people that are in love with their horses.
I remember the rides with my friend, DD and her great horses.

With the exception of DD's horses, all the other horses I've ever met are wacky.
They all suffer from the same problem--they're prey animals.
I just want a nice trail ride again.

Fall makes some people think of fires in the fireplace, soups and stews, warm sweaters, and raking leaves.
It makes me think of horses and trail rides.
It makes me forget my history with horses.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Left My Heart... San Francisco.
Lee has business in San Francisco next week.
We decided to make a short vacation out of it.
We haven't been to SF since James was two months old. Twelve years, it's been. Far too long.
Thursday, four of our five (we'll miss you, Tom!!!) will fly to Oakland, eat a little dim sum and then finish the evening with a visit to the Oakland Museum.
They are open late and exhibiting 25 years of Pixar animation.

Friday will be spent at Muir woods, shopping in Sausalito, and then back into the city.
The rest of the trip is up to our whims and fancies.
We do know that we will be eating at the Cliff House, visiting the Musee Mecanique (antique penny arcade), Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, Ghirardelli's for chocolate, Humphry Slocombe's for ice cream, Fort Point for some history, and the compulsory pictures on Lombard street.
I'm sure we'll do much more, but that's just a wish list.

Pictures will follow next Sunday when Pearl, James and myself return.
Lee stays on that pesky business trip that got us all there in the first place.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Smokie, in Stereo

Pearl's been at work again. Not only did she take this picture, but she did the artwork as well.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Would Have Chiggers....

...if it weren't for Penny and Bernie. I'd probably have ticks and spiders and stink bugs and grasshoppers and leeches, too.
Well, probably not the leeches, since I wasn't in the water----yet.

My pasture is four acres of Little Bluestem.
It can grow during wet years, up to 3.5 feet tall. It did that this year. I usually love to wander in my pasture at least once a week. This year, it had become impossible. It is hip high.
I love the outdoors, but I do not love shoes and socks full of grass seeds, stickers and bugs. What I need is a good pair of boots.

Maybe some boots I can tuck my pants into so nothing gets in.
I wonder where I can get some really cool ones?
Wait! What do we have here??
Maybe I got some cool boots already!
Maybe someone sent me a surprise in the mail?!
Maybe someone used Facebook to contact Pearl to get my shoe size and home address?!
A fabulous, marvelous surprise!
It's just like them to do this, too. :)
The boots were barely out of the box and I was out in my pasture with my camera again.

This grasshopper sat quietly for his photo shoot among the Frost Weed. Some of it is over 7 feet tall this year.

I was so thrilled to find the flowers covered in honey bees. I haven't seen but a handful of them in my garden this year. The closest wild bee colony that I know about, died off over the winter.

My favorite spider had set up housekeeping amongst the Frost Weed and had grown bigger than any I'd ever seen. This particular kind of orb weaving spider goes by many names, but we call them Zipper spiders because the center of her web is always woven in a zig-zag. Banana spider, Argiope, Writing Spider, Corn Spider or Black and Yellow Garden spider, all names for this big beauty.

After a couple hours in the pasture, I sat down with the reason I love these boots so much---my chickens.
They checked them out and went about their business. After all, the sunlight was fading into the west and I had interrupted their dust bath.

I must admit that I have a bit of crush on Penny and Bernie, both.
One, they have so many animals that I'm slightly jealous.
Two, they seem to really love one another.
They're "on the same page" as we in the married world would say.
They work together so well.
Plus, Bernie spoils Penny with the attention he pays her and the things she loves. Only an amazing woman can bring out such qualities in a good man. Head on over and visit them. Don't be surprised if you end up with a bit of a crush on them to.

Thanks Penny and Bernie!! I love my boots and they fit perfectly!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Busy and Blogger Block

No pictures, few words.
I've been busy.
I have, however, been reading your blogs.
Sometimes I comment, sometimes I don't. It only has to do with the moments I snatch on the computer, not your content.
Be back soon, when things quiet down and ideas for blogs come back.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Ice Queen Vs The Stag Prince

The Ice Queen, Jadis, of Narnia was beautiful and evil, all at the same time.
I feel the same applies to my Agave.
My goodness, how I love this plant. In all of my garden beds, she is the most striking.
My favorite to be sure.
Deep greens, light greens, and purples.
Each leaf is edged with razor sharp spines, and tipped by 3 inch thorns.
She can and will seriously wound you, if you aren't very careful around her.
At present, she stands well over 4 ft tall and approximately 6 feet wide at her base. This plant is often misrepresented with the name Century Plant. It makes folks think they live 100 years. Oh, how I wish it were true.
She is nearly 10 years old. Once she flowers, she will wither and die.
Thankfully, she puts off "pups"---several each year. I will have another one ready to take her place on the throne.

Her only nemesis is this handsome boy. All the others are afraid to approach the Ice Queen. He chooses to do battle with her every year.
This year, he has marred her beauty beyond repair.
What is particularly ironic about that, is he did it for his own vain reasons.
He rubs the velvet off his antlers every year in readiness for his season with the does, and battles with rival bucks.

He has left the Queen battered and broken.
She will survive, just as she does every year.
He, however, is none the worse for wear.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Autumn Pork with Apple Cider-Dijon Reduction

Sounds fancy huh?
Way fancier than "pork chops with apples and onions in the crock pot", huh?
My favorite words in the sentence above are "Crock Pot".
It's French for "Makes dinner while you're at work and all you have to do is set the table when you get home--almost."

Here's the ingredient list, so get out a piece of paper and a pen.
Better yet, just cut and paste and print.

4 Pork Loin Chops-thick cut
4 cups sliced Braeburn Apples
4 cups sliced Yellow Onion
2 cups Chicken Broth
1 cup Apple Cider
1 T. Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup cold water
2 T. corn starch
Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder to taste

Note: There's this great stuff that has salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, onion and garlic in it, called Montreal Seasoning by McCormick. I use it on everything!
Season the chops with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Brown on both sides and then set aside.

Cut, core and slice your apples. Leave the peeling on. Trust me, it's yummier this way.

Slice the onions. Don't cut your finger tip like I did.

Two cups of your favorite chicken broth.
I don't make my own.
Only Martha Stewart makes her own.
Come to think of it, Ms. Stewart probably has people that make her broth for her.

Once the chops are out of the pan, add onions, apples and broth. Cook for about 10 minutes. Make sure all the pork yumminess is scraped off the bottom of the pan.
Technically, this is called 'deglazing'.
There'll be a test at the end.

Once finished, use a slotted spoon to put half the apples and onions in the bottom of the Crock Pot.

Place all four chops on top of the apples and onions.

Again with a slotted spoon--top the chops with the rest of the apples and onions.
Turn Crock Pot on low and walk away for 6-8 hours.

"But what about all that broth left in the frying pan?" you ask.

That's where the "Apple Cider-Dijon Reduction" comes in. This part is purely up to you and your time schedule. It's much, much easier than it looks on paper.

To the broth, add one cup good Apple Cider and one tablespoon of dijon mustard.
Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
While waiting for the boil (don't watch, or it won't ever happen), add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to 1/2 cup of cold water. Stir until mixed.
Add cornstarch mixture to boiling broth/cider mixture.
Turn heat down to low and stir until it thickens.
The End.

Time to eat.

Okay, I'll admit, there was certainly a lot more involved here than tossing a couple chicken breasts, some rice and some condensed soup into the crock pot. I love chicken and rice as much as the next girl; especially if we can add some cheese to it. I just wanted something a little less fattening and a little prettier. Plus, it just really feels like it fits the weather around here.
The alternate recipe title would be called "Ode to Fall".

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Attention Chicken Lovers

Gardener's Wellies
I wonder if folks would look at me funny if I wore these to the grocery store, or to pick up the kids from school, or to the doctor's office, or out to get the paper, or down to pick up Tom from college, or out on a walk in the neighborhood, or into Walgreens to pick up a prescription, or out to lunch with my sister and girlfriends, or to church..............
when it's not raining?

This is in no way an advertisement. Gardener's Supply Company has no idea this blog exists.
I know some of you out there have husbands (Penny) who are already fretting about what to get you for Christmas. These just might relieve some of their worries.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Monster Killing Dog

Some dogs are herders.
Some dogs assist folks with disabilities.
Some dogs are companions to humans. Some dogs guard livestock.
Some dogs sniff for criminals, bombs, drugs, illegal fruit and veggies, and even dead bodies.
Some dogs pull sleds. Some dogs guard house and home.
Some dogs kill scary, blue shower scrubby monsters.

Every dog has a job. Their primary job seems to love us unconditionally. I simply cannot imagine a life without one or two or more.