Saturday, March 27, 2010

Frontier Justice

When Forrest isn't carrying his golden retriever around, he's dealing out justice. A bit of background first. Our family is all about biking. We have 5, no 8, no 10 bikes. Houston just got another bike yesterday. Each one has it's own special purpose (besides getting him from point A to point B). Many of our vacations center around biking. Houston and Garrett biked from Barnesville to the Oregon coast, Forrest and I spent 2 weeks mountain biking through North Carolina and this summer Houston and two friends are biking from Missoula, Montana to Talkeetna, Alaska. So you can imagine how upset we were that both Forrest's and Garrett's bikes were stolen last year within a few months of each other. Garrett's bike was taken in Georgetown, mid-day, by cutting through his bike lock. Forrest's mountain bike was stolen from his yard in Missoula where it was locked up.
Fast forward a few months to last week. Forrest spotted his bike, with a rider on it. He was in a car at the time, jumped out and yelled, "Stop!" The guy looked back and took off fast. Guilty! Forrest hopped back in the car and followed the thief until he discouragingly went up the wrong way up a one-way street. Grrrr! But Forrest recognized the guy, just couldn't place him. Three days later he saw him again, this time walking into the university's gym. What are the chances?! (That's where he'd seen him, at the gym). Forrest called in his posse, Kim, his girlfriend in her bright yellow VW bug, Alex on his skateboard, John on his bike, and Forrest hoofin' it. Awesome! They rendezvoused at the gym, ready to roll. Except the thief had a power workout in the gym of nearly 2 hours. Finally, he came out, hopped on a bike (not Forrest's) and the Fab Four followed him home. Bike Thief went in the house while John looked in the window of the shed near the alley. Whoa! Lots of bikes, including Forrest's! John stood guard while Forrest quickly went in, grabbed his bike and they all took off, and fast! So, Forrest got his bike back and he is one happy guy. But being the safeguarding parents, we advised Forrest to just watch his back and again, report all this to the police. He'll just be using that bike for mountain biking and has since put together a retro bomber bike for skooting around town. Our advice....double locks.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rainy Days

Remember the torrential rains we had just a week ago? Inches in hours, with creeks and rivers raging and flooding beyond the banks. Houston and I were in Cumberland, walking around town and viewing the Potomac River that slides right through the middle of town. This iron sunburst is part of the 'blue bridge' that spans Maryland to West Virginia. Houston said it was put there so kids don't slide down the top of the bridge. Yikes!

This is what the Potomac looked like as it was spilling over the 8'drop under the bridge. It's a churning, frothy, foamy load of water.

So much so, that there were dozens of balls caught in a hydraulic that the water created. All kinds of balls, soccer, basketball, dodge, kick, volley, football, all happily jostling about on the water. This looks like a game of 'Get the Balls in the Tire'. It was mesmerizing to watch them. Houston had walked down to the bridge around noon and spotted all the balls and we saw this around 6:00 with the balls and tire still caught in the hydraulic. Better balls than this....

Yep, this poor cow got caught up in the flood. How sad.

and on a funnier note, we spotted this garage on our walk. Notice the spelling on the hand written 'no parking' sign. All one needed to do was to look up at the commercial sign to see how to spell expense! And I guess not all cars will be towed at owner's exspence.

Monday, March 15, 2010


It's taken me nearly 2 weeks to write about this, I was so upset. When I got back from my trip, I found that all my chickens but one had been kidnapped (and worse!). I was devastated that Miss Crossbeak was not the one who had survived. I miss that little chicken! How can one become so attached to a chicken?!!! She was my special little friend though and I miss her greeting me in the morning, jumping on my shoulder, looking to see what treat I had brought her and just being her cute self.

But one chicken outran the fox and survived. Flopsy must be one fast chicken. I call her Flopsy because she has a huge comb and it flops to one side, jiggling as she runs. A perfect 'comb-over'!

She spends her days hanging with her sheep, then flies way up to the barn loft, safely tucked away behind the doors and windows I have stored up there. I was leaving for the weekend and wanted her to be secured in the chicken coop so I tried to catch her (yep, she's fast!) but had to wait till she settled in for the night in the loft. I got up the ladder, grabbed her, tucked her under my arm and got on the ladder to go down. It's REALLY hard going down a ladder with one just arm and a chicken tucked under the other arm! We made it down safely and I tucked her into her home and I think I heard a little thank you.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Colorful California

While walking around in Davis (our destination on our x-country trip), I couldn't help but find color, color everywhere. The local bike shop had paraded their new line of hot new colored bikes and lined them up for all to drool over. I would like a purple one, a lime green one and of course one with flowers.

As Ann and I were riding our not-so-colorful bikes around town, we stopped to get a looksee at this flashy home. We liked the linear-ness of it (but also liked the Quixote Winery where no straight lines were allowed... guess we're easy to please).

There were many delightful details, like the clay tile house numbers handmade by some clever artist.

One of the many multi-colored buildings.

And one more shot of these candy colored bikes. Can't get enough!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Quixote Territory

While galavanting around Napa Valley, Ann got a heads up about a little known winery off the beaten track. She called and got detailed directions and we turned off the highway, down a narrow lane and finally came to the most unusual winery I've ever been to. Quixote was designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, normally known for his unusual and colorful architecture in very public places. But the owner of the winery begged him to design his winery and Hundertwasser relented because he fell in love with the surroundings and the natural beauty of the environment. Hundertwasser insisted on these rules though:
  • No straight lines
  • Roofs are planted with grass and trees
  • Every building is capped with a golden turret to elevate man’s sense of himself
  • Color is king
Good on all four. But what I really loved about the design was the massive use of richly colored tiles.

The columns are constructed with large ceramic pieces that are made in Germany because lead is used to get the rich colors and we cannot use lead here in the U.S.

to quote their website: "The Hundertwasser design of our winery says it all; we’re here to give pleasure. With Cervantes’ Don Quixote as our muse, let us all explore the difference between appearances and reality and engage in the noble pursuits of a knight errant. " Isn't that enough to make you want to check it out?!

The front door is playful and whimsical and I felt like I was stepping in to a fun house of delights.

Here's the turret that elevates man's sense of himself. It didn't make me have more sense.

Even the sidewalks were wavy and topsy turvy.

I felt like taking a shower in this most wonderful of showers but thought it would be a bit much to ask of a winery tour.

It was too rainy to linger on the side patio but I could imagine sipping wine here on a nice sunny California day, looking out over the mountainside.

The landscaping was dotty and seemed to have the same amusing quality as the buildings.

Inside the wine making room it was all business...

But when peeking into the storage area where the wine is aged, I saw that the barrels were wrapped in colorful bands to mimic the colorful columns. We never did get to sample the wines, but what we really came for was the color and we were not disappointed.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

All About California

Driving through Arizona, then eastern California, was dry and a desert. But when we came over a mountain pass and it turned into full blown spring, I realized that spring has sprung. Shockingly green, colorful wildflowers and a big smile from me.

The almond trees were in full bloom too. Miles and miles and miles of almond trees.

and 'trees' of another sort. Miles of wind turbines.

I know there is controversy over wind turbines but I think we really do need alternative sources and why not use what we already have? I grew up with so much wind that I really hate it. But I still live with wind and if we had a small wind turbine in our back field, I think I wouldn't mind the wind so much.

When I sent out my last newsletter explaining that I would be closed for a couple weeks as I was traveling to California with a friend and her dog, I got an e-mail back from a customer of mine, JJ. She offered to take us to lunch at Harris Ranch. Well it was right on our way, so I took her up on it. We were too late for lunch so she treated us to yummy berry cobbler with home made ice cream. I had never met JJ, the only correspondence prior to this was to send her yarn. But when we met, we gave each other a hug then posed for a picture and another good bye hug. I told Ann that I couldn't see men doing this!

After a good night's sleep at Ann's home away from home in Davis, we wasted no time and on our first full day there we drove (yeah, didn't get enough miles in at 3200!) over the mountain to Napa Valley to sample wines.

We stopped at Paradux first, an offshoot (pun intended) of Duckhorn Vineyards.

It was pouring down rain so we hustled into the relative warmth and light of the tasting room.

Our wine server helped us 'stage' our samplings with their beautiful descriptive cards. Did I mention I LOVE wine!?

We visited Duckhorn Vineyard where Ann's daughter, Abi, works. It has beautiful grounds and the tasting rooms are housed in a lovely building with a very wide porch that takes in the lovely plantings.

Here's Abi, giving us the thumbs up at how great their wines are. She served us sample after sample of various wines and some delicious cheeses and crackers. I could have stayed for hours!

After visiting the wineries, we took in a bit of St. Helena, where Abi lives. Great shops, especially this one that was filled with whacky art, sculptures and adornments.

I couldn't resist taking a pic of this adorable bike. I called this bike Sherbet. (sure bet I could ride this bike around with a smile on my face!) Yeah, spring is in the air! At least in California it was.

We met Ann's husband, Ed at the Palms, an old theater in Winters, near Davis. The Trailerpark Troubadours entertained us for a few hours.

Their raucous rockabilly type music was funny and the lyrics were very amusing, very trailerparky.

Next day, off to Berkeley, to do a little window shopping and visit friends. This amazing 'bouquet' is in Anthropology, a hanging extravaganza of cut plastic bottles to form flowers and suspended from the ceiling. They have the most creative people doing their displays.

I got to see some old friends from the DC area. Jon, Finn and Jen, lovely as always. They live in a great neighborhood that I would have loved to just bike around and look at the architecture of the houses. I really like the fact that people there live in a much smaller home that is so totally charming. I love the Spanish style and the colors and the landscaping and everything!

I thought this was so clever too.

From there I took Bart to my brother and sister-in-laws place in Los Altos. I hadn't seen them in about 5 years so it was good to catch up. These are Jim and Pam's 2 dogs, Jeeves and Opal, who are the most well behaved dogs I've met. When we went walking in a large park on the Stanford campus, they were off leash the entire time, bounding through the tall grass and totally enjoying themselves. But with just a slight whistle, they were at Jim and Pam's sides, sitting at the curb watching traffic whiz by. A command of "Walk with me" got them walking across the busy street right in stride with us, not too fast, not too slow. Pam said with just a few month's training as puppies, you have an entire life of obedient dogs.

We walked through an extensive cactus garden, enjoying the variety of succulents, even when the paths had huge puddles of rain water. It needs to dry out a bit more for these arid loving plants to survive.

I especially liked this one, although I'm not sure what type it is. It has the most remarkable offset patterning on the backside of the leaves or petals or whatever they are.