I will be the gladdest thing under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one.
~Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Afternoon on a Hill"

Thursday, May 5, 2011

It was a cold and windy day...

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April 28, 2011
We are in Reno, Nevada again.
One week ago the Prospector, myself and our son woke up to a beautiful but very cold Thursday morning. We drove out to Sparks to see a sporting goods store called SHEELS in the Legends outlet shopping center.
Now, mind you, if my sister had been with me, we would not have cruised through a sporting goods store when there were so many other CLOTHING stores to peruse. I was kind of out-numbered. So I caved to the male outdoor/hunting/fishing/camping mentality and decided to just take some pictures and bear with another sport store.
Well, to my surprise, this was an exciting and visually amazing experience.
The store is surrounded with these huge statues of different sports.
 There are 8 of these bronze sculptures.
When you walk into the store, you walk under a 16,000 gallon aquarium filled with fish that would make any fisherman drool.

And then, in the middle of the store.... A 65ft. Ferris Wheel. Can you believe it?
That's our son, in the bottom middle of the picture. . glassy eyed and in awe.
It's quite something to see a Ferris Wheel inside a store.
 We all headed in different directions.  I headed for this part of the store.
Then wandered around, finding other amazing displays that you don't usually find inside a store.
This is kind of like the Disneyland of the Sports world. That's a full sized plane suspended from the upstairs ceiling.
There was one of the best shoe sections for women I have every seen. The prices were high but they were the best brands and the selection was amazing. I didn't have time to buy any shoes or go on the Ferris Wheel. That's my excuse anyway.
I did eventually buy a hat, for myself, and a small 3X5 pole tent for my grandchildren when they go camping this summer. They can play in it and keep their toys in it. It's little. Only one child could sleep in it. But it's cute and easy to set up.
A hour and a half later we met at our prearranged time, paid for a few items and left the store.
As we walked to our car, the wind started picking up and we could see clouds moving in from the west.
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We ate lunch and drove over to the University of Nevada Reno. This is a beautiful campus.
There are a lot of brick buildings and a large park area in the middle.
The wind was getting stronger and the trees were moving shadows on the concrete paths. We walked across the quad to the Mackay Mines Building.
Inside this building is the W.M. Keck Earth Science and Mineral Engineering Museum. This museum holds the most amazing collection of minerals, rocks, fossils and historic mining artifacts that you can imagine. If you like ROCKS you need to see this place.
It's filled with amazing things from the earth. It's a collection of some of the most beautiful specimens I've ever seen. Like quartz..
And copper...
and prehistoric bones.

You have to be a ROCKHOUND to appreciate all of this. It's a geologist's paradise.
We also went downstairs and looked at the Mackay Silver Collection. This was a remarkable set of silver that belonged to Mr. and Mrs. John Mackay, the namesakes of the school. John Mackay (1834-1902) commissioned  Tiffany and Co. of New York to design and produce a silver service for his wife. The result was 1,250 pieces of sterling silver dinner and dessert service for twenty four people.
Can you imagine? Just a little sit down dinner for your friends and relatives.
Staggering!! I guess that when you've got it, you flaunt it.
After being dazzled by all of this, we left the building.
We heard the wind outside. We knew it was getting stronger. Walking back across the "quad" to the car, we kept watching the trees hoping that a big branch wouldn't fall across our path. The students seemed not to notice anything. They were laying on the lawn studying, eating, relaxing and enjoying the sunshine. Maybe strong wind is a common occurrence here.
We drove back to the hotel and rested up for an evening of gambling and a good dinner. I did not have any better luck than the night before. I went to bed early. I'd rather spend my money on pup tents for my grandchildren than give it to the casinos. But just once it would be nice to win something. Oh well.
This is the mentally of the game..... "One of these days I will hit a jackpot on a progressive slot machine and win a million dollars." But, I watched the sad people who walk the streets of Reno looking for a nickle dropped in the gutter.  Over the years I've seen them take the coin into the casino and put it into a slot, hoping for a win. Now that you can't use coins anymore, they probably look for dollar bills blowing in the wind. Or they ask, politely, if you can spare a couple of dollars to help them out. It's sad. the police are always picking up someone for something.
You hear the sirens all night long. I know it's a city, but the siren sound seems sadder here.
I feel the addiction of wanting those "7"s to all come up in a row. I feel the pull of the CASINO. I understand the anger when I walk away from a slot machine or roulette table that just took all my money and gave me nothing in return. I can see how addiction starts.
I believe I'm in little danger of this obsession, but I certainly see the pull that these brightly lit places exert. It's a sad commentary on how money controls our lives and how we believe that money will change our lives for the better. It's a 24/7 chance. It's false hope in a neon, noisy world.
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The next morning we woke up to a light dusting of snow. It changes Reno.... makes it more beautiful. Snow covers the sadness and fills in the seedy parts. Like any big city, the alleys and empty buildings look better covered in white.
The snow disappeared by noon but it remained on the mountains around us.

It was Friday. This is the day that we visited the Automobile Museum.
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My dad lived here in Reno for about a year in the 1930's. He went to the University and majored in Architecture. He didn't stay and ,later,  joined the Navy . I often wonder how his life would have been different if he had stayed in school and become an Architect. He loved homes and I'm sure that he would have had some great ideas on how to build them. Sadly, he never returned to school. Funny how live is.




 




Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lurking in the Bathroom and other business of life.

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This is a very busy week. The Cal-Am Goat show is on Saturday at the Fairgrounds in Plymouth and I have two "Best In Show" baskets to put together. I drove down to Elk Grove, yesterday, to pick up one of the two gourds that will be part of the wining baskets for the show.
These gourds will be filled with goat related items and wrapped in cellophane with a big, pretty bow.
I want to thank Mary Jane for the beautiful gourd on the right with the faux turquoise inlay and Silvia, for the goat basket gourd. I'm overwhelmed at the generosity of my gourd group and the support  they give to our Goat show every year. Silvia is the President of the California Gourd Association, a talented and involved artist.
Mary Jane is one of the most talented members of our gourd group. She makes instruments, lamps and dolls out of gourds. She does amazing and beautiful work.
Thank you both for the donation of these lovely gourds.
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When I was down in Elk Grove yesterday I had to go to Trader Joe's.
Which happens to be (Oh, my goodness!)  right next to .... HOME GOODS.
What an amazing marketing decision for this shopping center. I didn't know what to do first. Then , I came to my senses and went into Trader Joe's. I bought wine, bread, cashews, a couple of cards, artichokes, and because it was lunchtime.... I hope my sister and my cousin Suzi are reading this.... A SALAD. Yes, without you both telling me to eat more salad, I bought one. All by myself.
I ate all of it. It was actually very good, with its chicken, papaya, cabbage, carrot and a Thai Citrus dressing.
Not bad at all. I may have to buy this salad in bulk.
I topped the salad off with, of course, English Toffee.
After I sat in the shade of a tree in my car, and filled my body with SALAD, I spent a wonderful hour and a half of pure indulgence, in Home Goods. I bought some pillows, a big tin with a lid for the front porch and three planters for the  front yard. I will take some photos next week when I have the time to arrange everything.
I picked up some meds at Kaiser and drove back up to the hills.
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This morning I was groping around in the bathroom. You know how it is. I was getting ready to throw some water on my face so I could go for a walk before it got too hot. It's suppose to reach the high 80's today.
I was ready to wash my face when I saw something move under the felted soap in the tray.
Mind you. The Prospector's gone to town for some hay. The dogs were asleep in the Living room and I'm just standing in front of the sink... WITHOUT MY GLASSES ON.
I see movement under the soap. I got this "hair on the back of your neck" feeling and reached for my glasses. Yes, the warm weather is waking them up. THEY'RE BACK!!
How such a small thing can illicit such fear in me I will never know. I'm not afraid of snakes, mice, rats or wild animals but this little creepy crawler sends me into fits of fear that use to be almost debilitating.
No one was here to help. I could have called my husband to come home and dispatch this "monster" but he would have killed it and laughed at me. I was on my own..... and I couldn't let it crawl away, disappearing into the recesses of my bathroom only to show up in my bed tonight.... COULD  I?
Well,I want you to know that I pulled myself together and did the right thing. I went and got a glass jar. I moved the soap holder and , thank God, it didn't bolt away or JUMP ON TOP OF ME. It just sat there.
I carefully inverted the jar over the spider and it didn't move. It just sat there. Maybe something was wrong. Maybe SHE? was having babies right there under my felted soap. A little nest found... I don't know.... but, I'm sorry. That's just not going to happen in my bathroom.
I moved the jar and she crawled onto the side of it. I was doing well, but shaking a bit. I quickly slid the lid on and flipped the jar over. Now, she was moving. She was not happy.
This is what I call a BIG spider. I categorized spiders into: small, medium and large. This was large. Well, not as in "Tarantula" large, but definitely,"house spider" large.
I took her outside. Laid the jar in a flower pot....
She didn't move so I shook the jar and out she came.... Into the big world of wonderful places to hide and good things to eat.
I told her that she could live in my garden for as long as she liked but she was not to come back into my house. I told her to spread the word.
Goodbye little ( well, not so little...) one. Live long and prosper.
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I still have some places to tell you about on our trip to Reno, Nevada. I don't want to bore you with  a travel log but I do want to talk about the Keck Mining Museum at the University of Nevada, which was a wonderful place to visit.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Where has Farmlady been?

The Prospector and I went on a real vacation.... TOGETHER. We went to the biggest little city in the world: Reno, Nevada. We left last Wednesday morning, entrusting our animals (and our two spoiled Corgis, Carl and Cutter.) to a seasoned house sitter that came highly recommended. The hardest part was leaving the dogs. But... feeling very guilty about it, we did.
Then we drove off into the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
It was cold, clear and beautiful. The photo in the middle, above, is Hope Valley. This is the junction for Luther Pass north into Lake Tahoe. We continued East down into Nevada's Great Basin and the Carson Valley....

...down into sagebrush country. I love the east side of the Sierras. It's so different than the west side. No foothills... well, none to speak of. The high mountains of the Sierras just drop right into the high desert. It's dramatic and beautiful. With the late winter weather this spring, there was a lot of snow on the mountains and made the views even more lovely.
We drove into Minden, where we had lunch and then got onto a bypass that took us into Carson City.
The new freeway has these wonderful metal renditions of  cowboys, sagebrush and pack mules travelling across the overpasses. What a great "out west" idea!
We drove on into Reno and went straight to the train station.
Our oldest son, "M", decided to join us for the weekend. He also decided to take the Amtrak train from Oakland because he had never been on a train before and wanted to have the experience going over the Sierras on the train.
The train arrive a little late but what excitement. Never having met a train, in person before, I was overwhelmed by it all. I remember, a long time ago, when I was a little girl, my parents would take us up to Reno. The tracks were street level then and we would run across quite a few tracks to reach the other side before a train came. Now, they have tunneled the train below the streets.
The Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR) started laying tracks in January of 1863. This was part of the track from Sacramento that ended in Promontory, Utah and formed the first transcontinental railroad. For more history on the railroad and the town of Reno, go to Wikipedia here. The Reno arch photo is courtesy of Wikipedia too. I didn't get a good picture of the arch so I borrowed one from Wiki'.
Then the train pulled into the station.
It was very noisy and exciting. The train came to a stop.
and the platform filled with people waiting for passengers and others coming on and off the train.
We found "M", gave him a hug, grabbed his small bag and went back into the station. He loved the trip and we decided, right then and there, that we would take a trip on the train soon. Our son highly recommended it.
This is the inside of the station. They retained the old building and some of the fountains and light posts of it's past splendor. The whole place was really quite beautiful.
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We drove to our hotel, The Plaza Resort, across town near the Truckee River. This was our first view from the room. The weather was cold and clear.
This is the 18th floor.... through the window.... you can't go out on the small balcony.... They have the sliding door bolted.... That was OK! None of us wanted to walk out there anyway. That's the Truckee River park area at Keystone Ave. down there.
"M" had a room right next door to us with a door in between. This worked out well. We were able to have our privacy at night but could eat together, make plans and visit with each other easily. This is a timeshare that belongs to my mother-in-law. It has a small kitchen area so we brought food for breakfast and lunch.
We all took a nap and later went to our favorite casino, the Cal Neva.  It's old vintage Reno. You see the real cowboys and ranchers in this casino and the odds seem better. Yea, hope springs eternal.
We have "history" here. I saved my mother in law's life in the Top Deck Restaurant here a few years back. She choked on a piece of steak and I was able to give her the Heimlich method to dislodge the piece of meat from her throat. I had just finished a lifesaving course at the school where I was working. The casino big wigs were impressed with my skill. I was just glad that I remembered what to do. So was my grateful MIL.
The story is told every time we have dinner there.
We had dinner and did a little gambling. I ALWAYS leave a "donation" on the roulette table. If I ever won a lot of money the shock would probably kill me before I could enjoy winning.. But, we have fun and there are always the slots. They even have 1 cent machines now. You don't use coins anymore though. The machines only takes bills now and gives you a voucher when you "cash out". It's easier to play. You don't have to pull the handle anymore on most of the slots but you loose your money faster. Also, and I'm sure you who have sat in front of a slot machine for hours on end, will remember how dirty your hands got from the coins. The fingers would be black by the end of the night. They are still addictive machines but you don't get black fingers anymore.The drinks are still free and you can still buy a snow globe with the Reno arch inside.

This is an amazing place and of course doesn't hold a candle to Las Vegas casinos, but I still love to come here once in a while. It's prettier than Vegas and smaller. It's very easy to get around town and has a lot of things to do besides gamble.
The next morning I took my camera down to the river and snapped some shots of the area around our hotel.
This is the view looking south from our room....
This is our room from the river...
Yep, that a long way up there, but it's kind of a tradition with my husband's family to get the same room when we come up here.
We are in good company here. That's the Methodist Church, one of the old originals in town. The Catholic Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, is just around the corner on Second St.
I love these old churches. The Methodist Church is beautiful and has birds nesting in the vines on the side of the building....
...Hundreds of bird that you can see coming and going inside this huge vine. The sound is wonderful! It's Spring after all. There were happy birds.
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The Truckee River walk is a happening place. The river walk is a great place to walk, jog, ride bikes, walk your dog and meet friends. It's so beautiful. The river splits into two right at Keystone Drive, where the Kayakers practice in the water on one side and some other people have picnics in the park area.  
The river is very high and swift right now but in the summer you can swim here. Every block has a road or walking bridge over the river, making both sides of town very accessible.
This is truly a beautiful river. I still have a problem with seeing a river run to the east instead of west. That always takes getting use to.
Looking East, from the walking bridge.
Tomorrow we will visit the University of Nevada and the McCay Museum of Mining.... and Scheels Sporting Goods Store.... unlike any sport store you can imagine.
I've got to break this up so I don't put you all to sleep.
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AND......
God bless all of those poor people in the south that got hit by the tornadoes. I cannot believe the destruction. It's hard to believe that these twisters can do that much damage. A prayer for all of you.