Thursday, November 17, 2005

Olive Oil

It was the perfect excuse for getting up into the Napa Valley in autumn. A trip to the Napa Valley Olive Oil Manufactory on Charter Oak Avenue in St. Helena was a wonderful idea. We went on a San Pablo City Recreation Department Bus, an inexpensive way to go out as a group and have fun.

The day was absolutely gorgeous. I love the Napa Valley in the fall, with the wonderful yellow green of the vineyards, the multi-colored trees against the dark evergreens, and all of this between two ranges of mauve and blue hills or mountains. Add a large sprinkling of impressive wineries, old and new, accent with flowers, and you spend all of your time looking from one side of the road to the other, trying to take it all in.

The Olive Oil Factory is located in a barn, with the sales area in a couple of very cozy (small) rooms. The rooms may be small, but the selection of delicacies is large and quite impressive. We didn’t spend long there, but if we had, I would have spent a lot of money.

I did purchase a half-gallon jug of olive oil, which I used as soon as I returned home, a large bottle of blackberry syrup for my tea, and a jar of Napa Valley Mustard Co. orange and ginger honey mustard. The blackberry syrup is great, but I haven’t tried the mustard yet.

My idea of a good time doesn’t quite match that of the rest of the seniors. They like to shop in a Ben Franklin, plus the obligatory WalMart on the way home, but they don’t seem to show much interest in walking around a wonderful historic downtown area, checking out the shops and cafes and admiring the buildings. I would have much preferred that. At least we drove through town on our way to Freemark Abbey, a winery which is pretty but not all that exciting. There are others that have genuinely interesting products in their stores, and are situated on hills with fabulous views. I have visited some of them in the past, although I am unable to drink the wine. Chris and Becky have taken me to such places.

The day was very warm, the sun dappled autumn leaves above and underfoot reminding me of wonderful fall days in my past. All of your senses feel alive at a time like this. I wish all of my relatives could visit the Napa Valley. It reminds me of “home”, minus the lakes, and I have particular family members in mind that I know would absolutely love to tour this area.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Clam Chowder

“Where do you get your clam chowder?” I asked Jim, the proprietor (owner?) of Home Town Buffet.

“We make it! We make it six or seven times a day.”

“It is so good that I thought maybe you might make it yourselves instead of getting it in a great big can or something,” I indicated with my arms wide as if to go around that can.

He went on “I have been in every restaurant in San Francisco, and no one makes clam chowder as good as ours.”

I reiterated that it is wonderful chowder, and he replied “It is the number one soup in here”.

Now I know – my question has been answered. I had been wondering for a long time if they make the soup themselves.

Feral Cat

Mama cat is feral, even though she has lived in here for several years now. She swats everyone; all cats, and humans. Her claws are lethal. She is not a friendly person, even though she sometimes follows me around to see what I am doing.

For the past few days, she has decided that my spot on the couch is her sleeping place. As all cats do, she picks a place for snuggling up, and that is where she goes until she feels as though she needs a change, then she moves on to a different location. She has been sleeping all curled up on the two pillows that I use for TV watching, to rest my back against the arm of the couch.

Last night I decided that I was ready to view a couple of my favorites, but she was still there. I figured that when I started up the vacuum cleaner to get the cat hair off the couch and pillows, she would leave. Wrong! I vacuumed all around her, right up to the pillows, along the back of the couch, and the arm, plus the love seat, which is at right angles to the couch. I also cleaned off the table that is used for a cup of tea, remote, etc. She didn’t budge – she just watched me. I thought perhaps she would lash out at my hand, but she didn’t. The other cats would have taken off with the cleaner that close, but not good ole Mama.

So, that ploy didn’t work. I couldn’t get her off the couch, and I didn’t really want to chase her off. It is hard enough to get her so she isn’t afraid of people. When the first program came on, I decided to try to sit beside her and see what happened. She remained there, right beside me. Then four cats piled on top of me or on the other side, and she still held her position. She doesn’t like those guys, and usually hisses and growls at them, but not a sound, and eventually she curled up and started snoring. Of course, I am usually protecting her from them, so I guess she figured she was safe with me in the middle.

Craig Practicing

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hot Off the Press

I just took this photo of my pink jasmine. It has grown a lot this year, and this is only one very small part of the plant. It wraps around the roof support and goes to the top, with many branches sticking out all over the place. It has been in bloom a lot of the year and has many buds and blossoms right now.

I love it, and it sure smells up the place.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Boys

Clockwise from top left : SILVER , LAPIS , ONYX , SAPPHIRE , CHIP

Silver, Lapis, Sapphire and Chip are Siamese Mix - Onyx is Black & White Tuxedo. All are brothers, from three litters.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Some of My Poppies

Another Hummer Favorite

The hummingbirds absolutely love this plant. The many sections of Passion Flower Vine climb in the tree, and also on a trellis plus other nearby plants. The birds can sit on the tree branches and drink to their hearts' content. They spend a long time at a single blossom before going on to another.

The passion flower has been prolific this year, producing more blossoms than in any previous year. I have truly enjoyed going to my "garden" to check on it everyday. It is another plant in a pot, as are all of my garden gems. I live on asphalt.

Friday, November 04, 2005


Peruvian Nasturtium – plant of Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador – long cultivated on Peruvian Andes for tuberous roots (ysano) yellow and red – cooked and frozen before eaten. Women of LaPaz are very fond of this frozen dish.

So are my hummingbirds, only they receive sustenance from the blossoms, not the tubers. These little guys just love the vine growing on the fence at the back of my mobile home, and this year it has grown like crazy, considering how little space it has to do so. It is on both sides of the fence, and is even sending very long shoots under the trailer behind me. Also, it is growing in a pot, so I find it quite amazing that it puts on the show that it does.

I am always a bit sad when the vine has finished blossoming and it dies back for the winter. I have had this plant for several years. It was purchased when I went with Chris and Becky to a tour and plant sale at the Occidental Art and Garden Center, a wonderfully interesting and beautiful location quite a distance north of here. The flowers that were blooming the day we were there were amazing. The hillsides were a mass of flowers, from huge poppies, to multi-colored iris (my favorites). I can’t begin to remember all of the great plants that I saw. I had never seen some of them before, and I learned a lot that day.

Eye Problems

I have been too busy doing ebay stuff to write much on here. I shouldn’t even be on the computer that much, as I have had a very serious eye problem since last week. I woke up Saturday A.M. with my eye full of blood, and I couldn’t see very well. Of course, I had read until 2:30 A.M., and had been seriously involved on the computer for several days.

My eye bothered me all day Saturday, then Sunday, at the flea market, it was rather driving me crazy. I wore my very dark prescription sunglasses all day, to keep the sun out of my eyes.

Monday, when I woke up, it was a lot worse, and my eye hurt a LOT. I had a horrible headache, so I decided to check into it. I tried to get an appointment with my eye doctor, who is a surgeon. He has been taking care of me for several years, as I have erosion of the corneas. I had just seen him October 11th. I couldn’t get an appointment until December, therefore I went to the ER at Martinez Hospital, as they have access to all of my medical records. That makes the process much less complicated.

The emergency room doctor told me the bleeding was not a problem, but I should see my eye doctor, so he got me an appointment with that doctor on Wednesday, but in Martinez, not Richmond, where I usually see him. The eye doctor is affiliated with the hospital. When I returned on Wednesday, Dr. McDonald agreed that the bleeding was not the real problem, but he didn’t realize that I had been having pain intermittently several times a week.

I have been using eye ointment, as per his advice, but apparently it is not enough to fully take care of the problem. He stated that he may have to scrape the eye again to get the cornea to heal itself. It is not a fun process – not painful at the time, but very painful when he puts in the contact that covers the whole eye and has to leave it there for days while the cornea is sealing itself. Plus, I have to have the drapes closed – I can’t deal with the light. I was totally sick the last time he did this.

Fun and games. I was wondering what it would be like not to be able to use the computer, read, or do all of the other things I do that require me to use my eyes, such as jewelry repair, photography, studying art, etc. and on and on.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Halloween a Bust

At first I bought what I thought was enough candy for the kids who would come to the house, based on the last couple of years. Then, I ate most of it. So --- I bought more candy, and started eating that. No willpower, that's me.

In the meantime, I had decided that what I REALLY wanted to give my kids (yes, they are my kids because I see them all of the time when they come to the door to get change for the laundromat for their mamas, since basically their mamas don't speak English), was a non-edible toy. I walked to Walgreen's and purchased a bag full of novelty plastic Halloween stuff, and even had fun picking it out.

So, you guessed it, no one came. At least, only five kids came, and I was trying to figure out what to do with the rest of the toys. Today, I started giving them to the kids when they came to the door for change, and they were quite excited about that. A bit later, a girl came to the door to tell me that a machine in the laundromat wasn't working and their mama wanted me to call the manager. Then she asked, "Do you have any candy?"

More on Carol

I have received more details about Carol's illness. She spent her first hospital visit in Cuzco, for a month, and doctors have decided that she had a heart attack while she was there. She was sent home, and spent some time lying on the couch, unable to do anything. She was tired all of the time, and had a hard time breathing.

When her condition deteriorated, her father took her to the hospital in Lima. He left to get a hotel room, and when he got back to the hospital, he was informed that she had died. Apparently the doctors have now decided that she always had a heart condition, causing her death. She did have thyroid disease, also.

And, I mistakenly stated that Barbara had said the doctors in Peru are good, but she had in fact told me before that they are not great, at least not like they are here in the US.

Carol had a good job with the Department of Education.