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Friday, April 30, 2010

Trip to the Land of Oz

It was a beautiful, sunny CA day today, so I ventured out, in a serious Luther Burbank mood, to one of my favorite places, King's Nursery.  Because it's a family owned small business, it can't compete dollar-wise with Home Depot or Lowe's; but it surely surpasses them when you factor in the beauty element. I like to look at the higher prices as an admission fee to gorgeousness.

From the street, it doesn't appear to be anything special, but once I walk through the front gate, that all changes and I am like Dorothy seeing the Emerald City for the first time. The displays are breath-taking and unusual, so I go there not only to buy but to be inspired and get ideas that I can use in my own yard.

Look at these fabulous tulips!

Hanging baskets help to add to the feeling of being surrounded by color.

 As I happily head back to my car, purchases in hand, I know my next plant shopping excursion will take me to the lower price land of the big box stores, but when I again need a loveliness fix, I'll be back at King's, the Oz of nurseries.

In these price conscious times, it is harder and harder for small businessses to survive while maintaining their quality.  I don't know how King's does it. I surmise there must be plenty of people, like me, who consider it a very special place and visit regularly, wallet in hand. It always helps to have a hefty fan base. Cheers to this local treasure! May it continue to thrive in the face of Goliath.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Have Pugs, Will Travel

With the Lady Pugs comfortably seated on their cushions and the car filled with the cooler (holding their specially prepared dinner and the next day's breakfast), overnight bag, and grandchildren gifts, we hit the interstate to make the 2 hour trek to Lincoln. The stereophonic snoring of snoozing pugs filled the car as I battled pot holes, trucks, and speeders darting from lane to lane like they were in a race to the finish line. What's with that?

We had a wonderful visit with lots of laughter and good food. The new and improved backyard is a child's delight. There's a trampoline for jumping sessions and a just-assembled wooden playset complete with swings, trapeze, slide,

 climbing wall, and even a telescope. The yard's sitting area is now shaded by a huge circular patio umbrella, and I so enjoyed sitting there watching the boys at play, that is when I wasn't part of the play.

 I'm good at pushing swings, but I'm afraid jumping on the trampline is a definite no-no with my tricky back, though Alex kept trying to pull me up there.

 Funny...even with all the fabulous equipment  in the yard, the sprinkler is always a main attraction.

The trip home was uneventful as I once again took on the interstate challenge; but it was early so traffic was fairly light, though the same hot rodders were still running their faux races. I always love the part of the journey where I can exit the many-laned madness to the beauty of Highway 12 through the gorgeous Sonoma Valley. As I admired the paintbrush beauty of the many hued wildflowers, I could feel a sense of peace overtake me.

Home Sweet Home. Mmmmm.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Spring Fever

The pressure washer and I had a serious date today, and the result is a fresh, looking good-as-new deck. What a chore it was, however, but worth it.

Also looking pretty spiffy is the ancient outdoor table, beautifully refinished, and now ready for parties and summer fun. Margarita, anyone?
While shopping at a local nursery, I spotted a baby Julia Child tomato plant, which I have never heard of before, and I just had to have it. I only hope the tomatoes are as fantastic as she was.
 Teensy impatiens are settled into their soil awaiting the spring and summer sun that will send them into a frenzy of pink, red, and orange. I can't wait!
The only trouble with all this newness is that the situation just screams for rearranging and fussing with this and that. My much loved blue and white frog used to reside by the sliding glass door but now finds new digs on the pale green iron table. The table is in a new spot as well.  It is never-ending, or so it seems. Since the floor to ceiling windows that look out onto the deck are now seriously water spotted from all the pressure hosing, my next task will be a window washing adventure...which will most likely lead to some other domestic project. That's fine with me, just so long as it doesn't involve a ladder, can of paint, and a brush.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Whopper Me, Please!

Theme Thursday - Lunch

This is what does it for me.  Add a large order of fries. Oh, yeah, Babe. I think I'm in heaven.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Boxed In or Not?

Theme Thursday - Box
"What will the neighbors think?"  That's what I often heard from my mom and dad when I was young and impressionable. It seems it was lots about appearances, making sure that our family looked "normal".  And we were normal, meaning we were as dysfunctional as everyone else; but no one was owning up to anything.

Thinking outside the box, only a popular phrase much later on, was a revelation when I experienced it for the first time. In fact, I slipped outside the box before I even knew what that meant. I was 18 and newly arrived as a freshman in Berkeley, away from home for the first time, unless you count my one very homesick adventure at a depressing church camp.

I arrived in all my innocence and was amazed at what I observed. For the few months, I walked around campus decked out in my Sally Sorority denim skirt, madras shirt, and scuffed loafers, wearing the startled facial expression of a deer caught in the proverbial head lights. In fact, I was so engrossed in what was happening around me, I didn't have much energy left over to put into my oops situation that was sadly reflected in my first semester's slumping GPA.

Balance ensued eventually, and I learned to hit the books while sampling the varied experiences that Cal had to offer: toga parties, Nelson Rockefeller, Richard Nixon, keggers, Malcolm X, the Smothers Brothers, Ronald Reagan, the Big Game, a worldly and sophisticated roommate from New York, JFK at Charter Day, Harry Belafonte, and on and on. Then came the Free Speech Movement and, like witnessing  a UFO landing, I was wide-eyed with incredulity. Question authority? Take over the administration building? Holler and picket? Who did these things? Well, a lot of people, apparently. I'd never seen anything like it.

By the time I finished my four year adventure, I was not the same person. The safety and the narrowness of the box in which I was raised will always be a part of me, and there were many useful lessons learned growing up in Santa Rosa; I am not totally knocking it. In fact, I am grateful for it. However, I am so thankful that my parents, as conservative as they were, encouraged and allowed me to try my wings when I was still, as my father always told me, "wet behind the ears". It was a profound and beyond-the-text-book-experience that shaped, in so many ways, who I am today.

Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Bunny Kind of Day

The day was murky and dreary, but Easter spirits were high in spite of Mother Nature's dark disposition. Hiding eggs in the yard was supposed to be the order of the day; but sometimes the best laid plans need to be altered, so the Easter Bunny left treats for six excited young egg-seekers in the comfort of the house.
Since this indoor area is fairly close, the Bunny was challenged; but the mission was deftly accomplished.

Lunch was delicious: green salad, ravioli with a scrumptious marinara sauce (here being comedically stirred by Bill), garlic bread, and coconut creme pie for dessert. Mmmmmmm. No Easter ham on the scene! Other than Bill, that is.

I am not sure what it is about the doesn't matter which one...that turns my "baby" brother into a little boy all over again. Whatever the cause, it makes for abundance of merriment. At least there was no Redi-whip for him to squirt on me this time.

And so another Easter passes into the archives. As our family expands, it is harder and harder to get all of us together to celebrate in one large group. Jane and the boys visited on Tuesday, so we had a pre-Easter bash; and Jodie and fam spent the holiday in LA, with Bill and Sue traveling south this coming weekend for a belated holiday. Though we don't make it all together very often...I think it takes a wedding... we make it work as best as we can.

Friday, April 2, 2010


Talk about boring. Trotting out to my local Home Depot was not my idea of a delicious Friday shopping trip. It's right up there with spending $$$ on a vacuum cleaner or a garbage can. Ho Huge Hum. But this was the order of the day, and I am pleased to say, "Mission accomplished!" Step 1 is behind me: the purchase has been made. Step 2, of course, will be the delivery 5-10 days from now; and the most unpopular part of this whole scenario will be Step 3: taking the damn machine out of the box and doing the actual work. The alternative, of course, is doing nothing and doing a slip-fall on my butt, breaking who knows what. So, here I am...Ms. Clean, deck washer. Yawn.