Friday, January 31, 2014

January Silent Night

As for winter, Northern Colorado is not Oregon, and it is not Maryland. Regular temperatures in the teens or lower at night, with wild swings as much as 40 or 50 degrees greater during the day. Having significant amounts of snow still on the ground when the next storm comes is a new experience as well, but not needing studded tires and a relative lack of lost traction when driving around town is novel as well. When the snow falls at night, there is a silence around us, and the build-up on tree branches, lawns, roads, and houses carries on with the layers of blankets over the landscape.

Picea pungens to the right, Kinkade left
I took a picture last night from our second floor landing looking out our the upper living room windows at the house on the corner across the street where the lit window glows like in a Thomas Kinkade painting. I always look at that window when I head upstairs to bed, and with the beginning of the accumulation of snow on our Colorado Spruce tree in the front yard, I thought about the beginning of the Night Before Christmas poem by Clement Clarke Moore, just that January 30th isn't Christmas Eve.
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads; and mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled our brains for a long winter nap; when out on the law there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon, on the breast of the new-fallen snow, gave a luster of midday to objects below, when, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer, with a little old driver so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his courses they came, and he whistled and shouted and called them by name: "Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen! To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall, now, dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky, so up to the housetop the coursers they flew, with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too. And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my head, and was turning around, down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound. 

He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot; a bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler  just opening his pack. His eyes- how they twinkled! His dimples-- how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry. His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath. He had a broad face and a little round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowlfull of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. He spoke not a word, but went straight t his work, and filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk. Laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose. He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight…

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Linn's Restaurant - Eye Candy

An eye-catching tapestry
My folks' favorite restaurant in Cambria is Linn's. They frequent there so much, that when we showed up on the first Friday of the new year without a reservation, no problem, we were shown right to a table. A tapestry (1) on the wall across from where I was sitting caught my eye the three times in four days we ate at Linn's. The glass work in the cafe area was appealing as well. Check out the menu for Linn's by clicking here.

View of old Cambria
The faux-Spanish images made of cloth seems almost like something you may have seen in Hearst Castle - the mansion of William Randolph Hearst that is just a dozen mile further up California Highway 1 at San Simeon. An old postcard of Cambria looking down the street where my folks' house is now on the left near the bottom of the hill shows what the town looked like earlier in the last century when the Spanish-looking estate was being built. The print below hangs on their wall near the kitchen - a gift from my sister-in-law, a Cambria native.
(1) The tapestry is Lady with A Fan by Austrian born artist Gustav Klimt. I think the price tag at Linn's was for nearly $300. A Google search showed a number of sources for the same tapestry ranging from $57.99 to $209.99 - ah, retail mark-up.

Winter Farmers Market - Cambria

It is remarkable that you can attend a full selection farmers market in January. The Central California Coast affords mild weather, and I was surprised when my folks said they wanted to go to farmers market to get dinner - Linn's Restaurant barbeque. There are additional benefits when vacationing with parents that are averaging 90 years of age - disabled person's parking privileges. As it turned out, we found an available parking spot right at the market entrance, and not have to flex our option. Following are some views of the products at the Cambria Farmers Market - many colors, textures, and you can imagine the scents and sounds - a varying year-round, twelve-month experience.

Onion - Allium cepa
Citrus - Citrus × sinensis
Tomato - Solanum lycopersicum
Date of a Palm - Phoenix dactylifera
Date - close up
Persimmon - Diospyros kaki
Lettuce - Lactuca sativa
Squash - Cucurbita maxima
Table beets - Beta vulgaris
Olive products - Olea europaea
Salsas and tamales - Comer bien
Linn's Meals to Go Bar-B-Que

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Two Stars in the Window

Family Service Flag
It will be eight years this coming July when we had two Blue Stars in our home's front window in Annapolis - a bridge between the continuum of a single blue star for nearly eleven years - we are a military family. Michael, out for more than seven years now, was in his last year of duty at Arlington National Cemetery - Tim was just beginning his military duty at the U.S. Naval Academy, and now has been a Naval Aviator for more than a year. The times then and now stand out when we get to see them together, are special, even when only by text message or in photographs.

Service brothers - Portland 2014
This weekend, Tim's squadron flew a cross-country exercise to Portland - I can imagine what it looked like to him as he approached PDX, but on his own. That provided the opportunity for our daughter, her family, and Mike to drive up and see him. Mike joining the Army had a great influence on Tim - was a significant contributor to his choosing to go to the Naval Academy and be a naval officer. Both have a bond, two of a special band of brothers - a continuation in the line of other family service members. These two continue to have a great influence on us and the rest of the family - pride.

As a side note: Tim gave our grandson Jace a Navy flight suit for his fourth birthday - size appropriate. Normally, this should not be have been all that notable, other than Jace was anxious when he drove with his folks and Tim to the Portland airport to see the E-2 Hawkeye - he thought if he wore the suit, he would have to fly the plane. Nice photograph by Dan Kuttel - lots of other aviation shots for viewing on his Flickr site.

Visions of Spring - Vaccinium corymbosum

Blueberry in four seasons
Our daughter-in-law lives in Southern California, and today bought strawberry plants for the garden. We have snow on ground here in Northern Colorado, but that doesn't have to keep me from thinking about gardening in our new yard. Fortunately, all of the base plantings were already established when we moved into our Fort Collins home in August - this will be the first time we haven't had to make major landscape efforts after getting established. With the lasted issue of Sunset Magazine in hand and the article about planting berries in a small space with an accompanying video that also described suitable varieties (maybe plant now in California, but definitely not in Colorado), I was drawn to the portion of the story about blueberries. With the vision of spring in mind, along with a Colorado Extension blog about ways to successfully grow blueberries on the Front Range, I am ready to be a pioneer gardener - a descendant of eastern U.S. migrants to these contested plains - a merging of the ancient, old, new, and future. I think the future looks like Vaccinium corymbosum var. Bountiful Blue.
The blueberry picture is by Betsy Rogers-Knox, a member of the American Society of Botanical Artists. This image can be accessed by clicking at the Website here. For more information about Rogers-Knox, click here.

Boots on Tired Feed - Cowboy On The Sand

My dad's boot jack
My wife and I attended the National Western Stock Show rodeo a week ago - we had attended the annual Colorado State University breakfast that was held for the first time on the top floor of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown Denver as a part of CSU Day at the Stock Show. We hadn't been to a rodeo since we took our kids to the one at the Benton County (Oregon) Fair more than 15 years ago. My boots have gotten broken in well during the last seven month since moving to Colorado - it was even time to oil them because of the wear of pretty regular use these past month - but very little of that wear had anything to do with horses or cattle.

I remember as a kid helping my dad at the end of the day pull off his boots - he was a real cowboy, not an office worker like me. As a little one, it was quite the production to grab a hold of his boot and give a pull - learning there was a certain successful technique to it that involved pulling down on the toe and almost instantaneously tugging at the heal and giving a pull as it then slid off of his foot. I am sure there was manure caked in the space that rimmed around the boot between the sole and the leather, and can imagine it was a hot and dry summer day in Central California, but not like the drought spell happening there now.

At the end of our visit home to Visalia a couple of weeks ago, my dad gave me his boot jack - he is 91, so too old to bend down and get his cowboy boots on and off of his feet. It was a time-honored and useful gift, especially since my kids are old and out of the house and not available to help me after a long day at work.
Neil Young, Cow Girl in the Sand

Hello cowgirl in the sand
Is this place
At your command
Can I stay here
For a while
Can I see your
Sweet sweet smile
Old enough now
To change your name
When so many love you
Is it the same?
It's the woman in you
That makes you want
To play this game.

Hello ruby in the dust
Has your band
Begun to rust
After all
The sin we've had
I was hopin' that
We'd turn back
Old enough now
To change your name
When so many love you
Is it the same
It's the woman in you
That makes you want
To play this game.

Hello woman of my dreams
This is not
The way it seems
Purple words
On a grey background
To be a woman
And to be turned down
Old enough now
To change your name
When so many love you
Is it the same
It's the woman in you
That makes you want
To play this game.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Happy Birthday - Retro 1984 Mac

It's been 30 years since the 1984 Superbowl - an Orwellian throw-back. I don't have a clue the two teams that played that year, but I do
remember the first Macintosh computer - a classic. Computers haven't been the same since. Dark Castle computer game - hours of play time late into the night, a slow Apple ImageWriter dot matrix printer, great design, and Jan figured out how to turn it on before I did. A tiny screen, but that didn't matter - a beautiful piece of design in beige that helped me do a lot of work that paid the bills using statistics, word processing, data plotting, and graphics packages. Lots of notables laud the Mac - lowly folks like me, too.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Fish Tacos and Brews - Brewers Blackbird

Fish tacos and a Clausthaler
Our favorite Cambria restaurant is the Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill. They make the best cippino I have ever tasted - being that I have otherwise only ordered chippino at the Severn Inn and Carrol's Creek restaurant in Annapolis, Maryland - these three are among our favorite restaurants to regularly frequent. All three have their distinct views of water - Pacific Ocean, Spa Creek and the Annapolis City Marina, and the Severn River with the U.S. Naval Academy across the way, respectively.

Brewers Blackbird
We typically have at least one lunch at the Moonstone Grill, and this year I ordered my second-favorite dish - fish tacos, along with a Clausthaler non-alcoholic beer. A side order with each meal that is free-of-charge are guests that arrive uninvited are Brewers Blackbirds, another kind of brew. Signs ask the patrons to not feed the birds, but the birds ignore them and wait for every chance window-in-time between when the guests leave a table, and the staff show up to clear the plates and crumbs.

Chambers Gallery item
The sketch at the left shown in the Chambers Gallery reminded me of the photograph above with the Brewers Blackbird looking up at me from the ground while I was served my fish tacos at the Moonstone Bar & Grill a few weeks ago. The colors are not true, but the perspective is the same - the bird looking up, me looking down. I didn't write down the artist's name, but in some ways the style looks a little bit like something Ellie Bogardus would have done. Without finer details, it is hard to tell whether the subject could be a Brewers, Tricolored, or Red-winged blackbird, and not to forget the other species at the table, a Clausthaler brew.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Ellie Bogardus - I believe my husband and I have...

An ellipsis [ ] proves to be a handy device when you're quoting material and you want to omit some words. The ellipsis consists of three evenly spaced dots (periods) with spaces between the ellipsis and surrounding letters or other marks.

It is always fun to receive a message out of the blue that someone has an Ellie Bogardus painting to share. When I checked my email Friday evening, a note was waiting: I believe my husband and I have an Ellie Bogardus painting. Do you have an email address that I can contact you at?
Now my little pet...

Today [Saturday] the image arrived, along with a photograph of the title penciled on the back of the canvas: Now my little pet, who got yours pregnant this time. 

...who got yours pregnant this time

Since there were none, I made up titles for the treasure trove of paintings I received in November 2011 - those recovered from a vacation home in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Based on the style of the artist's actual title on this recent painting, my fictitious ones were validated - perhaps from the invented Cottage Next Door series.

In a follow-up correspondence, I found out that my new contact had "... recently moved in with my father in law and came across the painting while cleaning out the garage." and that, "The painting, along with a number of other items belonging to my late mother in law, were crammed up in the rafters." She continued, "We don't know how long it has been there or how she originally acquired it. And unfortunately, no, we do not have a connection to Cambria. We do love to visit whenever we can get a weekend away from our twins. That place is heaven on earth. 😃" (1)

To me, these discoveries are like narratives between ellipses - series of dots between story strings in time that stitch together additional images and information about Ellie Bogardus' art.
An inventory of earlier Ellie Bogardus blogs:

Ellie Bogardus - Institutionally Sanctioned, Art Defacement
Ellie Bogardus - Sign of Better Things to Come
Cambria Time Capsule - Sculptor in Residence
Free Association - French Art At A Play
A Plainfield Sibbling - Another Ellie Bogardus
Ellie Bogardus - The Commercial Side
Titled Drawing - Another Ellie Bogardus
Letters From France - More About Artist Ellie Bogardus
Ellie Bogardus - The Lost Generation
Ellie Bogardus' Midnight in Paris
Manholes to Murals - Ellie Bogardus Wall Landscape Cover
The Artist's House - Ellie Bogardus
Ellie Bogardus - Hotel California
Ellie Bogardus - French Connection
Ellie Bogardus - Exterior/Interior Art
Manhole Covers - Ellie Bogardus Street Art

(1) Background on the Happy Face 😃.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Surf and Turf - Winter Birding on the California Central Coast

Pacific coastline off Nottingham Drive
Surf and turf or surf 'n' turf is a main course in American cuisine which combines seafood and meat. It is particularly common in British/Irish-style pubs in North America and North American steakhouses. The "surf" part can refer to lobster, prawns, or shrimp, which may be grilled or breaded and fried. The "turf" part usually refers to a steak

Park Hill from Fiscalini Ranch Preserve
The California coastline north of Los Angeles changes from a heavily developed area to relatively greater open areas when traveling from the north end of the south coast in Ventura County to the central coast in San Luis Obispo County. Not only do the opportunities to view the coast increase northbound, but there can be rapid changes in geography over shorts distance from tidal zone to grasslands to upland woodlands as you move inland. It can be foggy along the water, but clear skies less than half of a mile away to the east. I found this zone where the surf and the turf meet to be rich in winter bird diversity. I hadn't done any birding in Ventura County before, and had the advantage of doing a quick hour jaunt on Naval Base Ventura County at Point Mugu, and had only birded in Cambria in San Luis County during the summer.

At Point Mugu, I was able to view birds in ocean inlets, wetlands, riparian areas of small rivers, suburban settings, and industrial park-like areas surrounding restricted runways. In Cambria, there were shore, cliff and beach areas on the Pacific Ocean, secluded wetland areas chaparral and grasslands in Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, and developed housing areas. The photographs are marked with PM and CM to indicate Point Mugu and Cambria, respectively. 

Each of my searches were very short - no more than an hour or so at Point Mugu for the aquatic birds. Listings of the menu choices are shown below, arranged by whether the birds were seen in close proximity to water, or in upland environs. There are many more that could have been teased out if I had more time to devote to the birds. 

The Surf Choices on today's menu:

Brown Pelican - CM
Double-crested and Brant's Comorants - CM
Herring Gull - CM
Ring-billed Gull - CM
California Gull - CM
Snowy Egret - PM
Great Egret - CM
Great Blue Heron - PM
Bufflehead Duck, female - PM
American Wigeon, male - PM
Mallard Ducks among gulls - CM
Western Grebe - PM
Whimbrel - PM
Marbled Godwit - PM
Long-billed Curlew - CM
Common Sandpiper - CM
Killdeer - CM

The Turf Choices on today's menu:

Turkey Vulture - CM
American Kestrel - CM
Red-tailed Hawk - PM
Starlings - PM
Brewer's Blackbird - CM
Western Scrub Jay - CM
Black Phoebe - CM
Yellow-rumped Warbler - CM
Townsend's Warbler - CM
Western Meadow Lark - CM
American Pipit - PM
White-throated Sparrow - CM
White-crowned Sparrow - CM
Anna's Hummingbird - CM
Black-chinned Hummingbird - CM
___________________ turned out being a nice tool to help me identify Townsend's and Yellow-rumped Warblers. I found this search engine better than the way I have used the trusty Cornell Lab of Ornithology Website in the past, but noticed the What Bird Is That feature that I don't recall in the past, so will have to check that out. I see that the iPhone mobile application from Cornell is free, while the app costs $19.99.