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Thursday, May 17, 2012

"So to Speak," Laila Lalami

"So to Speak," Laila Lalami

Laila Lalami expresses in "the eloquent English language" points of value to anyone living, working, traveling, trying to understand how colonialism works through language. BRAVO to one of my favorite commentators on politics, society, and life.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

These fossils still lie on location in the Blue Basin of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument's sheep rock section. We marveled at Oregon's contrasts:  wet coastline, snow-capped mountains, lush wine-producing valleys, and towering tuff walls that enclose fossil beds.

This monument holds an amazing treasure trove of information about some fascinating mammal fossils. No dinosaurs here!

Mammals from the Cenozoic and previous eras lived here 15 to 44 million years ago. At that time this arid desert-like region was wet and swampy - thus the turtle shell fossil you see above. Later, volcanoes buried the swamps. Forests, savannahs, and finally deserts supplanted the wet pre-historic landscape. New mammals evolved with each environmental change.

My favorite mammal fossil remains that ruminating swine, the oreodont!
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Wayside Shoe Tree

Just outside Mitchell, OR, we HAD to stop and take a photo of this tree
on our way to the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

We learned that these shoes send "happy trails" messages to travelers in the same way that Tibetan prayer flags send blessings with each waft on a breeze.
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Friday, April 27, 2012

High Desert Museum - near Bend, OR

     Barb and I stopped at the High Desert Museum a few miles south of Bend off Highway 97, on our way to Crater Lake. Founded by Donald Kerr, a young biology student from Portland, it is both an interactive teaching museum and a home for rescued raptors and other high desert animals. 
     We were introduced to this gyrfalcon, who is actually a transplant from a breeding facility in Pennsylvania. She is currently being trained as an aide for educational talks. This curious female pecked and nipped at her handler looking for goodies, but it's her feet not her beak, one must treat warily. The claws are a falcon's most dangerous weapon, so they must be controlled at all times. You'll see that the handler has a very secure grip on those talons!
     This lovely lady-bird remained on a tight leash at our inside presentation, but during the summer she may show off her flying ability. Then, visitors can watch falconry demonstrations in the museum's outside arena.
    As always in a museum, we managed to while away a few hours, meandering through the grounds, visiting other birds of prey, a working scale model of a sawmill (Bend's major industry until logging declined and micro-breweries took over :-), sleeping otters, and the Leapers and Creepers exhibit that included the beautiful sulcata tortoise.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yachats Beach

Nature's art appears beneath my feet.

A pause on our morning walk revealed gorgeous patterns of sand and water alongside a misplaced river rock.

Not long after that brief stop, Barb and I encountered a man wearing a Taos Hockey baseball cap. Turns out Tom Dahaney (?) used to live on Upper Ranchitos Road in Taos, next door to Vanda, a friend with whom I sometimes ski!

Small world, eh?
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 We went to see Crater Lake, but it was (mostly) closed!

Janet, Crater Lake B&B's gracious owner, was very generous with travel suggestions. Following her guidance, we drove up the hill and parked beside a ten-foot high snowbank at the entry to a plowed driveway. A short walk across the snow was all we needed to digi-capture the view. For anything beyond a quick look, we'd have needed lots more time and snowshoes or cross-country skis.

After a good look, we headed west to Union Creek, where Beckie's serves homemade pie and simple supper. I don't usually start off with dessert, but deep study of the menu led me to believe that pecan pie and red wine were my best option. I thoroughly enjoyed practicing the dictum that "Life is short, eat dessert first." Those nuts, sugar, and fermented fruit-sugar were not just best part of the meal - they're the only part I want to remember.

Neither Barb nor I would make a special trip to eat anything from Beckie's menu, and for sure, not the hum-drum apple pie! But we both agreed that Crater Lake could be worth a return visit when rim roads are open and we can take a boat ride across its spectacular blue.
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Bend, OR

Cascades view from Riverwalk
Evoked a moment of envy - an active, lively downtown filled with micro-breweries and smell-good eateries just a block from this walk along the river to Drake Park. It's got everything from reasonably polite geese to Shakespeare: doggone nice - and lots of dogs walking through think so, too!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mill Inn, Bend, OR #2

Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?

Maybe you noticed the bedboards on the fence behind the Statue of Liberty in Barb's photo....if not, here's your chance to get a closer look. Yep, when you don't know how to give some pizzazz to a parking lot fence, just add a headboard or two or half a dozen. 
The Mill Inn offers visual delight in every corner, wall, fence, and cranny. In fact, at one point, I looked up to find an artificial owl perched overhead. My favorite room was the second floor front right - the ski room with an old-fashioned toboggan on the wall serving as a coat or towel rack. (You get to choose.)
I slept in the golf room - adorned with antique golf clubs, golf photos, golf mementos; if it had to do with golf, you'd find it somewhere in room 5.
Mom - you'd have felt right at home here :-)
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Mill Inn, Bend, OR

Lady Liberty Transplanted?

The Mill Inn, a landmark B&B in Bend, OR, reflects the Brooklyn upbringing of its late owner. Whenever you ask about this statue, the locals in Bend have learned the appropriate response:,"Fuh-gett-about-it!!!" Though the building is owned by an educational institution, its gracious and cheerful manager, Dave, provided a breakfast to die for - starting with bowls of coffee, fresh fruit and drop scones, oj in a frozen carafe, Belgian waffles with cinnamon-dusted bananas — and it didn't end there. Quiche with avocados atop AND he insisted on sending us on the road with more scones. Dave is Bend-born and proud of it:  speaking readily on its behalf in a Seattle Times article about the many breweries on its Ale TrailPosted by Picasa

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Filoli Daffodil Daydreams

Sunday visit to Filoli: Mom's smile beams out of the fuzzy image - guess I was more focused on the bloomin' trees in the background!

Daffodils strewn under fruit trees add gaiety to an orchard not yet in full bloom. Look closely in the background and you'll see the unusual U-shaped chimneys - three of them!  Not as imposing as Downton Abbey (aka Highclere), but not half shabby for the country estate of a successful '49-er-gold-miner. Want to know more about Filoli, check out impressions from a pro, who like me, isn't overly fond of formal gardens.

Neither Mom nor I knew for sure what this sweet plant might be, but  sure enough, stand long enough and passersby will share their knowledge: "What a lovely flowering quince!" As if to confirm these casual observations, a close look under the lowest branches reveals golden leavings from last year's yield. 

Quince — not an easy fruit to convert into dessert or preserves but lovely in a floral arrangement. In fact, the following day, Mom and I immediately identified this very plant in an artful arrangement standing outside an apartment at the Forum

Mom's favorite daffodil - a gift idea for next fall!?! Look closely to see the  tiny orange cup in the center of bright yellow petals. 
From a volunteer of the American Daffodil Society, we learned about how the twelve categories of daffodils are assigned, among a myriad of other daffo-facts I never knew I wanted to know. My favorite group is Division twelve. The Daffodil Society may call them "miscellaneous," but to me they are the bulb-world's most interesting misfit-oddballs. 

Daffodils planted in rolling drifts attracted Mom's attention. 

An amazing tulip variety - it was way too cold for tulips in the ground, but those forced in pots were absolutely gorgeous, especially when the pots encircled a tree in the walled garden.

A longer-than-essential stop in the garden gift shop gave us a chance to warm up after being out in unseasonably chilly air. A volunteer docent admitted that she was a solid block of ice after spending four hours on "practice duty" near the unheated swimming pool. We allowed that she could be a practice docent if we could be practice visitors. The pool was lovely to look at, but on this February afternoon, neither docent nor visitor expressed any desire to sneak an unauthorized dip.

Outside the gift shop's south door, these gorgeous blooms forced us to stop. How could we not admire such unusual blossoms. I'd never seen a daffodil of such delicate color and extraordinary petal configuration. This stunning pot of blooms well-deserved its special location.

A garden tag in the pot indicated the variety — uncertain about its true nature, growers allow it to bear two names: narcissus AND daffodil. Narcissus replete, struck me as understatement, given its astonishing color and double petal arrangement.

Altogether lovely afternoon, despite cold and grey. 
Filoli gets my vote for regular return visits as changing weather brings new blooms
 to color the house and fill garden plots.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

a very good year.
Here it is, wrapped up in some meaningful quotes, comments, events
Clockwise photos: Amelia, Jeb (Sweden), Amelia (Sweden), Jean (8 Hours in Bratislava), Jeb, Alan (Lama woodcutting)

January ~ "I'm the boss. My wife said I could be." 
Relationships deepened as Alan and Amelia became more important in the Admires' lives.

February ~ "The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof." Richard Bach, Illusions 

Good fun: Dede and Chris, longtime friends from southern VA, ski Taos and visit Santa Fe with me. 

March ~ The dream of my life
is to lie down by a slow river
And stare at the light in the trees —
To learn something by being nothing
A little while but the rich
Lens of attention. Mary Oliver, "Entering the Kingdom"

Quiet month in Taos included a week of silent meditation retreat. You could say that for a short time I was a lens of attention. Rich? Not sure about that!  Jeb meets Alan and me in Moab, UT, for a weekend of hiking, slickrock biking, and fine dining at our rental house. Then Alan and I camp/hike at the Needles section of Canyonlands National Park. FUN! 

April ~ "Do at least one thing that scares you every day." Eleanor Roosevelt

Alan house sat in Taos and renovated east wall of dining area with new window and door. Meanwhile I travelled through Eastern Europe with best girlfriend, Barbara. We started in Vienna, moved on to Czech Republic, Berlin, Estonia, Berlin, Denver, a ski day at A-Basin close to Breckenridge(CO), and home. WHEW! Check earlier blog posts if you'd like to see a few photos from that trip :-)

Leaving a contractor to tear out and replace windows when you're a continent away - now that's scary!! Hope you'll visit Taos to see Alan's magnificent craftsmanship.

May ~ "There were four million people in the colonies and we had Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, Monroe, Washington. Now we have over 350 million and several top noisemakers are Hillary, Bernanke, Bachman, Petraeus. What can you draw from this? Darwin was wrong!"
Mort Sahl

Jeb and Amelia visit her family in Sweden. I'm happy to be home, listening to water run in the acequia (irrigation ditch) and admiring Taos Mountain view through new dining room window.

June ~ "Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul upon another." George Eliot 

Busy month in Taos ~ lots of gardening, reading, writing, hiking, and commitment to landscaping improvements: patio, redwood deck, raised beds, gravel walkways, and the best-ever birdbath. 

July ~ "You learn the rules. You learn the discipline. And then you break the rules to find your freedom." Marco de Luca, mosaics master quoted by Terry Tempest Williams

Steve Aldrich, friend from early Taos days, stops by Taos on visit from Denver. Now here's a man who's followed Marco de Luca's maxim: master magician. accomplished dancer. skeptic supreme. Steve can always evoke a laugh and/or inspire deep thought. 

August ~ Birthdays galore: me, Julia Child& E.E.Admire (both gone but not forgotten), and lots of Ertels (that's Barb's family). Great Walling campout at Jackass Meadows. Jeb shows two-year old cousin Elyssa how to juggle.  Amelia plays cribbage and teaches me to make a g&t with campari....yum-yum!

September ~ "On dit que les bons amis peuvent passer de longues périodes sans de parler et sans se voir, sans jamais mettre en doute leur amitié. Quand ils se voient, ils se mettent á jour comme s"ils s'étaient vus la veille, sans considérer le temps passé et combien ils ont été éloignés." 

Absolutely true insight about friendship sent by former colleague at Rabat American School. You can translate it here

Michael Storey arrives for three weeks from Wokingham, England - highlights include hot air balloon ride with Barbara (quick overlap visit), Florrisant Fossil Beds in Colorado, lunch on the Rio Grande RR drive through Royal Gorge, dawn photo-ops at Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. Guess it's time to past-post blog entries from this wonderful reunion.

October ~ "What do we wish? — To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather what we are separated from." Terry Tempest Williams, one of my favorite Utah-based writers

On retreat (silent, meditation, reconnecting withred rock) at Professor Valley Field Institute

November ~ "If the United Nations had a house band in 1962, then hopefully we'd be that band." Thomas Lauderdale

Sister Sue visits - great outings to Georgia O'Keefe land in/around Abiquiu and memorable concert at the Lensic Theatre in Santa Fe. Spent the night at charming B&B before returning Sue to airport in ABQ.

December ~ "Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching." C.S.Lewis

Quick trip to Mom's in Sunnyvale in early December. Highlights: Alamo Square walking tour with Mom and cousin Phyllis and Maharaja Exhibit at Asian Art Museum + grand small-world-story. When I returned to Taos, my front pasture had been plowed: beautiful black earth awaits spring planting. 

Jeb and Amelia spend a white Christmas in Taos: lots of lamb dinners and great skiing along with stockings, presents, games, bonfires at Taos Pueblo. WONDERFUL!

Wishing each of you 
all the great beginnings of a new year.

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