Saturday, January 26, 2013

RAINY, RAINY DAY

It's been raining all day here.  Not hard just fairly steady.  SWMBO heard this morning that Phoenix may get 3 inches out of this storm.  That's about half of its annual rainfall!

Take a look at the sky over Prescott Valley.



Dark.  Wet.  Leaves one with a sense of foreboding

Friday, January 25, 2013

KAT EDMONSON

I love singer/songwriters and I've just found a new one that has captured my heart once again.  Her name is Kat Edmonson and she has a burgeoning career.  Take a listen to her performing one of her own songs - Lucky.





Since her debut album hit the top 20 on Billboard's jazz charts, Kat found herself performing with Willy Nelson and Lyle Lovett.  Here's a great old number with Lyle on the Tonight Show.



Ms. Edmonson is a Houston girl who now makes her home in a town with a great music scene, Austin, Texas.  She has a new album
- "Way Down Low".  If you're an Austin City Limits fan you probably heard her sing the title song during her performance on the show this past Saturday night.

Enjoy and remember the name.  Kat Edmonson.  She's a winner!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

RAIN ON THE ROOF

Rain in my bailiwick today.  With all the packing going on here, that means the new car has to sit outside in the cold and the wet.



I can't tell whether it's crying or snarling.


But I guess we won't be using the sun roof today!

Looks like today's Gratuitous Critter isn't happy about it either.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

CALIFORNIA INFLUENCE?

Hmm, I wonder if that week we spent in California had an influence on SWMBO?  As I have noted, we are moving to Phoenix in the next month or two and yesterday she was out looking at furniture.  So what did she find to replace our small dining table and chairs?


This Mission style table and six chairs.  It also has two leaves which expands its length by another 19 inches.

I love the architecture of its style and the chairs are ultra-comfortable with backs that seem to echo the shape of a human back.


Kinda neat, isn't it?  

The construction sort of resembles the wings in today's Gratuitous Critters picture.  [Just when you thought (hoped) I'd run out of those pictures!]


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ADIOS, CALIFORNIA

Okay, I've bored you all enough.  This will be my final post on California.  For a while, anyway.  We had a great vacation there and marvel at the natural beauty.



We both love the ocean and this time we got our share of days at the coast, even though it was chilly.


Here's a man on the pier (me, actually) taking photos and a person on the beach below doing the same thing.


As Tom noted when we were in Morro Bay it's hard to stop taking pictures of the same scene even when you have 55 of them at home.  

But there's always video nowadays.  Here's a view of the crashing waves on Moonstone Beach.

video

Along with all of those ocean shots, we were also struck by how green the hills were approaching the coast.


Elevating the camera just a bit we can see Morro Rock shrouded in fog far off in the distance and the ocean, always the ocean.


Monday, January 21, 2013

FEASTING WITH FRIENDS

When one goes to California one expects warm, sunny days.  So why did we go in mid-January when the coldest cold wave in years chilled the state?  SWMBO demonstrated one way to warm up.


You've already heard about Lana Cochrun's artistic talent.  But she has another talent:  baking bread.  Here's a fresh loaf of raisin bread just out of the oven.


This night it was a feast among friends at the Cochruns home.


One of the friends is Robert Brosseau, a concert violinist and studio musician in Los Angeles for over 20 years performing the music we hear behind many of our movies.  He's also a gourmet cook.  On this night he had brought a tarte tatin which was accompanied by an apple cheesecake SWMBO had brought from Arizona.


Robert decided to make some whipped cream for the desserts.



The desserts were good as were multiple bottles of wine.  I think the end of the evening is best expressed in this picture of our host, who looks exhausted.


The Professor

Tomorrow, as we wind down our visit to California, I'll show you some last scenic pictures.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

CALIFORNIA WILD (AND TAME) LIFE

I'm always surprised, it seems, by the variety of wildlife in our beautiful lands.  On our recent trip to California I took some photos of what I could.  You probably saw the elephant seals in yesterday's post.  But on a quieter beach, the dominant species seems to be sea gulls.


If they're not scrounging for food along the shore they seem to spend a lot of time perched and just watching.  And who could blame them with a view like this at the W.R. Hearst Memorial State Beach at San Simeon.


"All right Mr. Demille, I'm ready for my close-up."


In this same area a couple of crows were courting.  (They might have been ravens.  I can never seem to tell them apart.)



Away from the coast, SWMBO and I were amazed at the numbers of cows grazing on what seemed to us like very steep hillsides.  We wondered if a strong gust of wind might send them rolling down the slopes.  But they remain unconcerned and sure-footed.




Whenever something out of the ordinary occurs, the cows stop and stare . . as when a tourist photographer pauses to take pictures.  These cows graze just across a small road separating them from tennis courts where Tom and his friends play in the mornings.  Tom says the cattle make up the audience.

Now how could a cat lover like myself go anywhere without bringing back a photo of cats.  These are two of Tom and Lana's trio, Hemingway on the left, Luke on the right.  Hemingway is so named because like Ernest Hemingway's cats he has six toes on each foot.  Such an animal is known as a "polydactyl".


And finally there's the third cat.  I caught this picture of her staring inside the house but too early for feeding time.  What a face!  Her name is Joy though she doesn't look too joyful at the moment.


There's still more to our California tour but we'll continue with that tomorrow.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

THE GREAT ELEPHANT SEAL SAGA

As you know from yesterday's post (if you read it), SWMBO and I have just returned from a visit with our friends, the Cochruns, on the central California coast.  While there they took us to view the birthing area of the elephant seals.


This may look like the seals' graveyard but I can assure you it is not. There are upwards of a thousand males, females and newborn babies along this sandy beach nearly directly across the highway from the Hearst Castle.


When the pups are born they first identify with their mothers by sounds.  You can hear them yelping in their high pitched voices, which I assume means they want more milk from their mothers.  And they get it.



There is considerable territoriality among the seals.  Occasionally a couple of females will get into a roaring session.


The male, having found a secluded spot, naps and naps and naps.  After all he's fathered as many as 40 pups in his harem.  By the way, the males can weigh as much as 5,000 pounds!


The pups are weaned after about four weeks as the mother abruptly leaves them, mates and heads out to sea once more.  The males swim north along the coast as far as the furthest Aleutian Islands.  The females have been tracked two-thirds of the way to Japan.

It is important that the pups gain up to 300 pounds by the time they become "weaners", as they are called then because it takes 8 to 10 weeks for it to learn to swim well enough to head north looking for food.

I was surprised, with their huge weight, how fast the animals can move.  Take a look at this female moving across the beach.

video

And one more video.  This one shows a male driving a competitor away.  Amazingly he backs right over a young pup but he seems not the worse for wear.

video

The area is protected by a volunteer non-profit organization, Friends of the Elephant Seal.  There is a wooden walkway with railings along a lengthy section of the beach for visitors from all over the world.  You can learn more and view a LiveCam of the activity on the beach by visiting their website at Friends of the Elephant Seal.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

BACK FROM CALIFORNIA

SWMBO and I returned yesterday from a week-long trip to central California to visit our friends, Tom and Lana Cochrun.  If you read Tom's blog, Light Breezes, regularly you're probably already aware of that.  We went, in January . . . in the midst of a cold wave that produced much laughter about the Golden California Weather . . . because Lana was opening a new show of her art at the Windward Vineyard just outside of Paso Robles.  Along with us, it drew a crowd that delighted the artist.



This show was a new venture for Lana as she added abstract art to her ouevre.


Previously she was known for her plein air art, which we found hanging at another winery, Stolo near Cambria.



But wait!  There's more!  But you'll have to wait a bit for that.

At the abstract show, I linked up with a pal from "the good old days", Mike Griffin, on the right here with Tom.


Tom and Mike and I all worked for a couple of radio stations in Indianapolis, Indiana, back in 1969 - 1972.  Mike branched out, got into racing and is now one of the owners of Panther Racing which placed second at the Indianapolis 500 four years in a row.  We all think it's about time to find him in Victory Circle.

While in Cambria, we stayed at the legendary Cambria Pines Lodge and ate a couple of meals there.  


It's a wonderful, funky old place.  But we didn't explore the many gardens on the property or follow any of the trails.  We were too busy with our friends.

When you visit friends who live at the ocean, you must see the ocean.  I've always been drawn to it and we spent as much time as we could there.






This last picture is the view from the rear deck of a house owned by a friend of Tom's.  Not bad.

One day we drove just down the coast to Morro Bay.  We had to stop for a picture of the Morro Rock framed by fishing boats.


That day we were on our way to San Luis Obispo where Lana's third show was hanging at Alegria Wine and Ware.  And this was yet another example of the artiste's talent and range.


She calls these her divas and since glasses or bottles of wine are featured and because they are framed with wine corks, they seemed perfect for a modern wine store.



You may notice that the eyes are obscured in most of the paintings.  That's something Lana decided on when she first began doing the divas back in the 1960's.  

I have to admit, though I am proud to own one of Lana's plein air paintings, I think I like the divas the best of all her styles.  I call them whimsical and she agrees, though she thinks this may be the last of them.

But, y'know, every day in California brings a beautiful sunet.


And the next day . . there's another one.

That's enough for this day.  Tomorrow, the saga of the elephant seals.