Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween Came Early

That last entry got a lot of comments. OK, so Halloween came early -- that's my costume. Any other captions to add?

And when my daughter mentioned that I looked like a grotesque clown, I went back for a look and noted -- boy, my hair is grey. Alan reassured me that while viewing that photo no one else was looking at my hair!!

After many OTC painkillers, homeopathic arnica, and salt water rinses I am recuperated.

Onto more adventures.

What are you all up to?

And to all our snow-laden Northeastern friends.... we do wish you were here!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Anyone You Know?

Dental problems on the road.
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Yes, we knew the way to San Jose, with help from Gypsy -- Gypsy is our navigational system’s nickname, G(y)PS(y) – and found our RV campground which caters to long-timers but they reserved a small space for us.

While on the RV, I went to change my shoes but when I opened my shoe compartment I couldn't’t get a pair in or out. I admit I did buy another pair recently and some of you told me I already had too many shoes – but after emptying the cabinet, I realized it wasn’t the shoes that were a problem, it was all the extra books I had tucked in there. More than I thought, probably ten, so I weeded and parted with six.

The night before Book Group Expo I finished an enjoyable light read on my kindle, A Version of the Truth by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack. I thought I would purchase their other book, Literacy and Longing in L.A. It is also available in a kindle version and just as I was about to push the “Buy Now” button, I thought I’d postpone any book buys until after going to Expo. I was looking for inspiration and ideas of what to read next.

And that is what I got and more. In its third year, Book Group Expo, is a wonderful two day convention which brings readers and authors together. In salons,

<<“In paying tribute to tradition (of 17th century literary salons) and in keeping with the stimulating atmosphere of the modern book group, our authors will not be performing the usual readings, but will discuss specific topics with one another, the moderator, and the audience.”>>

and at author signings and at a literary marketplace – with reading resources from bookstores and publishers. There were also performances: Brian Copeland enacted a piece from his one-man play, Not a Genuine Black Man, two actors read from their book of Reduced Shakespeare, and Sharon Henderson & Friends sang out Sunday morning gospels.

The salons themes included friendships, food, mothers, strong women, making a difference, grief, witches, liars, etc. The pairing of themes with authors and their books were sometimes straightforward and other times, quirky. Like what do a Christian chick lit author, a green economist, and a novelist whose protagonist is a dog have in common?

There were authors and books I recognized and those I didn’t, those I've read and ones I haven’t, brand name and debuts including Julia Glass, Terry McMillan, Irvin Yalom, Masha Hamilton, Garth Stein, Kate Jacobs, and Audre Dubus III.
(Another blogger,, has some author photos on her Oct 25 entry.)

Often what made a panel work or not were the facilitators – a mix of authors and/or
experienced book group leaders. I found the best presenters to be ones who had prepared well (read all the books), asked great questions, and had the ability to contain the more dominating authors, draw out the soft-spoken and to gracefully get out of the way in moments of an authors eloquent insights.

One facilitator, Julie Robinson, of may have been a Shadchen (the Yiddish word for matchmaker) in a former life. A funny, fast-talking NYer turned Californian, and known as the “diva of book groups,” Julie leads upwards of thirty book groups a week and organizes wonderful literary “Beyond the Book” luncheons matching authors, readers, venue, and food. The kind of event I’d love to attend.

As I documented in the previous post, I won the filled gift basket in the raffle. But I also got the regular freebies that all participants received. A totebag with ads and promos, a cuddly lap blanket for curling up with a good book, and two free books. Guess what? Remember that book (above, third paragraph) I ALMOST ORDERED the night before on my kindle? It was one of the print ones in my bag. Really!

And my cleaned out shoe compartment can now just about sqeeze in those extra books from the basket.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Another Passenger?

Be Careful What You Wish For....

Earlier in the day at Book Group Expo, in San Jose, I had joked that they should give a prize to the person who travelled the farthest and since I am from NY...
(I did find a couple of other NYers and heard someone came in from Hawaii), I thought I might win the prize.

And although they didn't give out a distance award, as the second day drew to a close, my name was drawn as the raffle winner of the gift basket.
Looks great there in the conference hall. But it's another thing when brought in to the Trek.
It could sit on the passenger seat or in the space between the two beds.
Filled with five print books and an audio book, cookies, coffee, cheese, a bottle of wine, fudge, a t-shirt, a certificate for a stay at the San Jose Hilton, and more.
Photographed it in its pretty state but then disassembled it. Gave the basket away at the campground and stored the rest to consume and regift!!

More about Book Group Expo and our wonderful times in CA coming soon

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sense of Humor?

At the check-in booth at Skyline Park and Campground, Napa, CA.
And the person there was nice and helpful.

Only other noteworthy item -- first and only campground that we found a snake in the shower room.

And -- look at second photo -- who's going to COMPLAIN?

No Big Deal for me, anyway. Many years ago, in a bathroom in a fancy Costa Rican hotel, I admirably handled a skirmish with a tarantula. Sadly, the encounter ended badly for the big hairy spider. After not responding to my various not-so-subtle actions for it to scoot,
we ended up with one Birkenstock squished mini-monster.
Sorry -- no photos -- of the snake or the tarantula!

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Where Are They Now??

Quick update. We loved and stayed in Yosemite for almost two weeks. Computer availability and service were spotty. I LOST a number of emails -- mostly outgoing. So, if you are waiting for a missive from me, wait a bit more -- but you can REMIND me.

A few of you asked about the rockslides that you had heard about. They occurred in the next "village" to ours in Yosemite. We were in Yosemite Village and the slide happened in Curry village. We heard about the Tuesday slide and then Wednesday morning we were awakened by the sound of the second one. News was that there were a few people with minor injuries.

From Yosemite, we went to visit Alan's cousins in Lafayette, CA -- lovely family, lovely home, in a beautiful area of the country with enviable climate and great community/neighborhood resources including paved bike path, local reservoir (also with a walking path), and those CA eateries.

Also had a serendipitous haircut appointment -- just looking around, remembered that most salons are closed on Monday after trying to get into one that was closed, found a second salon with one stylist there who just had a cancellation and so after my Canadian cut in August, I now have a california cut.

The Undesirables:
There are only four houses on the street that Alan's cousins live. They each have their own private driveways and acreage behind the houses -- but there is limited on-street parking. A little way up the hill there is a round-about where visitors can park. We planted our vehicle there while we stayed in the house. The first night, a neighbor called -- Just want you to know...there is a suspicious looking van on your street and there may be undesirables sleeping there!!
We all got a good laugh over that...and come to think of it...our neighbors would probably (hopefully) mention if an unknown vehicle was hanging around our block for awhile.

When we left Lafayette on Monday afternoon, we knew we were/are planning to be in San Jose this coming weekend. I am going to Book Club Expo and I have a dental appointment there too.... but had no plans for a few days.

Decided that morning to drive to Napa, and stopped at the Alexis Baking Company ( )owned by Rebecca's friend Andrew's was closing up for the day...but we reached them and shared a great foodie dinner at Pearl ( with Andrew, his mom Alexis, and his friend Dave ((hi, all!)).

Today we got a personal tour and tasting at Bouchaine winery ( where Andrew is the lab director.
Learned a lot and tasted more than my usual one glass that I drink in a month or three ...loved the special treatment and the facts and myths about winemaking.

So much more to show-and-tell...but I am sitting in the local public library and it is time to meet Alan to go to our campground.

Diners, Dumps, & Dives

I don't know if this place was ever featured on Diners, Dumps, and Dives -- but it would be one of my choices if I hosted! Named the Happy Burger Diner, they have a full diner menu with numerous burger combos.

Happy Burger is being featured because of its decor -- old album covers all over the walls and ceilings; and the song choices are available on the jukebox.
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Painting in Yosemite

I went back a second time to the Plein Art with Watercolor workshop. The Yosemite Art and Education Center offers classes, Mon - Sat, 10 am to 2 pm. All through the season (from May - Nov), they bring in different artist/teachers. You can attend one, or all week, or for the four hours, or whatever fits your schedule. Classes draw beginners and experienced painters. And did I mention - they are free?

Seated is the wonderful, energetic and encouraging painter, Jean Bradshaw. Notice that she is wearing -- purple pants and a purple visor -- how could I not love her? Standing behind her is one of her daughters -- who came to help and also to take a course with her mom for the first time.

The two bottom photos are of participants in the class. They brought their own easels and supplies and I liked their set-ups.

If we agree that plein art painting is a meditation and a possible spiritual experience, I rated high on success and satisfaction. But if the products are for next weekend's art show -- let's just say, ahem, I lost my painting.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

A Walk in The Park

Not every walk in the park is "A Walk in The Park."
The phrase , "walk in the park " generally connotes : an easy or pleasurable experience, or a stroll.
But the Wednesday walk that we choose in Yosemite Park just was not easy nor totally pleasurable.

I have shared with you our exhilaration after completing some challenging hikes. Now it's time to let you know that some of them do me in!!

When we started the hike to Upper Yosemite Falls we knew we might not make it to the top. Although ONLY 3.4 MILES TO THE TOP, it is a rugged difficult path that rises 2,700 feet in elevation and is marked "strenuous".
But I thought...we've hiked some hairy trails and made it. We (probably) can do this.

We reached the first viewpoint, stopped and chatted with other hikers, took in the scene, and praised ourselves for the strong ascent. But as we started back on the path, I saw that the walkway surfaces were changing. Some were like old cobblestone streets -- that seemed as if they were severely buckled by frost and then, oddly, polished shiny -- and therefore slippery, with a jeweler's cloth. Other parts were just rock jumbles, and some sandy.

I tried to stop quantifying -- to take the pressure off myself to complete a certain number of miles --but initially translated that I should hike for another hour or so.

The sights were gorgeous and the trail relatively quiet -- a route few other hikers were attempting that day. Moments of sweet solitude and awed by the grandeur of granite peaks.

But it is hard to "Be Here Now" when you will also have to be -- there then. What I mean is sometimes difficult to decide when to turn around. I think my decision came when I saw a pile of fresh bear scat on the trail.

How to determine how much energy I have left for the return trip. In this case, the downhill was tougher than uphill. Grueling, even with hiking poles. And to add insult to injury, it was the only long hike that I was really bugged by gnats.

These are some of Alan's photos of the trip. He said we did about 2/3 of the trail. The funny part was -- when we got down, we had planned to reward ourselves by eating at our favorite sandwich place in the park. But since the hike was so hard and slow, we got out later than we had anticipated. We only had twenty minutes before they closed and it was over a mile -- so we hoofed it to Degnan's.
It was funny; we made it and enjoyed our meal; and the striding on a flat path helped loosen us up.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Photo Walk

No Ansel competition here -- but another satisfying morning...outdoors, observing and appreciating.

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Another Yosemite Activity

Also enjoying watching the climbers.

In addition to seeing these folks up close, Alan and I got to look through a very strong scope used by a photographer of climbers high on the rocks from a distance. Interesting to see - including them raising their gear and lounging in their hammocks -- hanging from high above.

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Yo, Yo, Yo, Yosemite

Having a wonderful time in Yosemite.
Took a couple of challenging hikes -- second photo down we were just a quarter of the way in on one and still smiling.
The next photo down shows part of the steep path in and up further along the trail.
On Yom Kippur we hiked the Mist Trail up to Vernal Falls and then onto Neptune Falls. Elevation gain of over 2000 feet; tomorrow we will go higher.
Taking advantage of this park's many wonders and offerings. Great bicycling on the paths, twenty of us on a morning walk accompanied by a photographer from the Ansel Adams Gallery, and completed our first paintings in a Plein Air with Watercolor class from the Art Education Center here. Jean Bradshaw, our instructor, is a real character and very helpful, fun, and encouraging. No surprise that our paintings are quite primitive -- but we both found it very satisfying (maybe we'll show you the results).

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Response to Economic Crisis

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Where Are The Adventurers Now?

Where are the adventurers? The Aviatrix (?!) and The Captain, having postponed horseback riding and surfing, and who left their MacGregor sailboat in upstate NY, decided to borrow a explore Lake Serenity, the River of Desires, and the Sea of Indulgence.

Lee Vining, CA on way to Yosemite.
Challenging hikes, leisurely bike rides, rock slides, watching climbers, the prez debates on our computers, sunny days and cold mornings.
Spent 5 days there and soon to show and tell more about it.
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Sunday, October 5, 2008



-- and to all of you October babes.

inc. Barbara R

Susan M

Karen F

Joy P

Kathy G

little Ariela

and, also, to Nate R

Mono Lake, CA & Oct news

Drove from Truckee to Lee Vining yesterday, on Alan's birthday.We are outside Yosemite and Fall Has Found Us! Woke to 37 degrees this morning. And before we try to drive through the park later today we have to check if the route is open -- some roads were closed last night due to snow.

We can see Mono Lake from our campground. The top photo which I like the best was taken by Alan; the middle one of similar view I took. Both have been "enhanced" via Picasa. The bottom one is untouched. Sometimes we can get very good photos from our small digital cameras. Other times I pine for larger, more sophisticated models with bigger lenses...but I know I would not want to carry one of those around.

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Friday, October 3, 2008

More Lassen Views

I just loaded Alan's photos into Picasa and so I share a few of the views he shot.

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Second Lassen Hike

Beautiful in a different way. More challenging three-plus-mile hike through rocky paths to serene water scenes, streams and waterfalls, and seclusion and silence.

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