First full day cat/house-sitting for the neighbors again. With eight jet-black cats it’s a good thing I’m not superstitious (crossing my fingers).
Today my mom and I had an interesting Skype chat with some of our relatives in Hungary. My cousin had his father visiting his family and he thought that my mom (his father’s wife’s sister) would enjoy a brief video chat to say hi and find out how things are going in both countries. While …View full post
I attended the final in a series of six lectures on ethics in science at the Center for Ethics inside the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. This one was a bit more special than the others as my older brother’s ex-wife was one of the three speakers presenting, and I got to …View full post
Took my mom to three different medical appointments this morning, one on each floor of a three floor building up at Thornton Hospital. The first was to see her primary care doctor for a regularly scheduled follow-up. That was on the second floor. Next was to get some blood drawn on the ground floor so …View full post
I finally got welcomed into the new Google Maps a couple of days ago, but I didn’t get a chance to check it out until this evening. First impression: pretty darn cool. The maps are more detailed (even in the simple map view), getting info about stuff just by clicking on a street is amazing, …View full post
Spent about an hour and a half with phase one of trimming a tree of ugly, dead branches in the front yard. The reason for it being only phase one was because I filled up the yard waste bin. And I’ve got the cuts and scrapes to prove it. If only someone could invent some …View full post
Mar 31 2012
Mar 30 2012
Mar 29 2012
Was fortunate enough to attend an evening lecture and book-signing by world-renowned paleontologist Dr. Jack Horner at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park. The event had sold out within a couple of days. The presentation lasted a little over an hour and covered mainly infant and juvenile dinosaurs and the mislabeling of those juveniles as separate species. After the lecture there was a long line for the book signing meet-and-greet. Luckily for me he was signing the same paperback book of which the hardcover version he had already signed for me on his last visit. I waited around to make sure I was last in line so I could speak with him casually and get a photo. As luck would have it, Dr. Michael Hager, the museum’s director and old friend of Horner’s, also came to the table and I was able to congratulate him on his twenty years at the museum.
This turned out to be a pretty outstanding evening.
Mar 29 2012
Made my way down to Old Town to walk around and take some photos before meeting up with my female friends Heather and her daughter, and Lannie and her kids. My photo spree began at the La Casa de Machado y Stewart Museum, built in 1835. It seemed to be especially fascinating to a group of visiting Japanese tourists. From there I met up with Heather and Lauren, neither of whom are particularly Asian, at the dual-masted flagpole in the main plaza. After some necessary awkward hugging, we casually meandered over to the blacksmith who was doing what he does best…talking to visitors. We took only a few shots and then headed over to see Old Town’s two resident donkeys, Donald and Daisy. We then met up with Lannie and her kids back at the flag pole again. Walking and talking,we explored photo ops inside the Fiesta de Reyes shopping area where Heather thoroughly got a kick out of a guy who was letting visitors sample his salty nuts.
We briefly made a sugar-fix stop at Cousin’s Candy Shop next to the main plaza on our way to check out the Adobe Chapel before meeting up with Bryan for our lunch at Café Coyote, where I thoroughly enjoyed the Baja Fresh Fish Tacos washed down with a relaxing bottle of Negra Modelo.
Our so-longs and good riddances came post lunch as we all went along our merry ways, which for me was in the direction of the nearest bathroom to relieve myself of my Negra Modelo rental.
This turned out to be another really good visit with friends to Old Town.
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Mar 28 2012
For the last couple of days there has been a small army of city workers and contractors clearing brush as a fire break from around the canyon down the street from our house. I do believe they may have been all Hispanic for some odd reason. My mother said they all gather in a circle first thing in the morning and do exercises. Some apparently do them more easily than others.
Eventually they are also going to be clearing a fire break along the canyon behind our backyard. Good thing, too. Canyon fires were always a fear for me and with all the rain we’ve had lately I have no doubt this will be an active fire season come Autumn.
Mar 27 2012
Had most of the family over for a belated birthday dinner for my niece, Kimi, who recently lost her teenagenicity and turned twenty. My sister, Beata, started things off by bringing Kimi a dozen beautiful roses. Then the evening took a freak show turn when Kimi showed us how spray from an squeezed orange peel can ignite in a flash when exposed to a flame. The photo looks a lot worse than the actual event. Nobody was burned. After the science demo we sat down for a fantastic dinner of pörkölt (beef) with nokedli (home-made noodles) that my mom had made which was then followed by chocolate birthday cupcakes with single candles for everyone. Topics of discussion, as usual, were all over the map, often at the same time.
Mar 27 2012
After accidentally scaring away the mother Mourning Dove from her nest outside my bathroom window, I ran for my camera to get a few photos of her chicks before she came back. This shot was the only one that worked, but at least I got one. The chicks were much bigger than I was expecting and haven’t heard a peep out of either of them. The dutiful Mom did return pretty quickly.
Mar 26 2012
Mar 25 2012
Mar 24 2012
Stepped on this long-ago deceased mouse’s lower jaw in my bathroom this morning. No idea how it got there. Didn’t even know what it was at first. It was so small I thought it was a claw. (That’s a square of toilet paper it’s resting on.)
To paraphrase Messrs. Cleese and Palin, it is an ex-mouse. It is no more. It has ceased to be. It is bereft of life. It is pining for the fjords.
Mar 23 2012
This afternoon, while I was outside weeding around the milkweeds again, my mom called for me (see what I did there?) from inside the house to let me know there was another alligator lizard, this time in the kitchen. It had scurried under the stove/oven. I moved the appliance away from the wall but we couldn’t find it. After checking inside the oven and lower drawer I finally located it along one of the drawer channels. I was able to coax into a small, empty, plastic trash can and then took it outside to let it run free into the plants along the side of the house. It seemed grateful. Judging from a large bulge in her middle, I believe she was pregnant.
Mar 23 2012
We had to first stop by the Whaley House Museum Shop to ask a docent to escort us down and unlock the gate and door for us. Unfortunately, they didn’t have an available docent right then and asked us to come back a little later. So, we walked ourselves down to the chapel to have a look around the exterior. Came across a mean looking guard dog that turned out to be very friendly. Unfortunately it wasn’t kept in a very clean pen. We also found some displays just across the street that gave a bit more history of the area with photographs. It was a nice touch for anyone who might walk by but the exhibited displays didn’t seem to be kept up very well. After that it was time to walk back to the Whaley House to meet our escort. Our docent, Pat, was very friendly and knowledgeable about not only the Adobe Chapel, but about a lot of Old Town’s history. The chapel was originally built as a home in 1850 and then bought and converted into a chapel in 1858 by Don José Antonio Aguirre, a wealthy and charitable local rancher.
Pat, who was dressed in Victorian period garb, unlocked the chained outside gate and then led us inside. She talked to us the entire time about the chapel’s history while I got busy taking pictures and asking questions. Luckily I studied up on the chapel before heading down there so I didn’t miss anything new she might have said. She even let me go up to the choir loft to get better overall views of the interior of the chapel.
The chapel fell into terrible disrepair during the late 1880s and was for a time covered with wooden slats to hide the deteriorating outside plaster walls. When the streets of Old Town were realigned in the 1930s the chapel was regretfully bulldozed. It was rebuilt in 1937 to its original state, retaining the original tabernacle, pews, doors, windows and other woodwork. José Aguirre’s tombstone can be found laid into the floor in one of the side vestibules where the confessionals are now located.
After we finished at the chapel, my mom and I spent a short time in the Casa de Aguirre Store and Museum to learn a bit more about José Aguirre’s family life. From there we stopped to have a fantastic lunch at Casa de Reyes in the middle of the Fiesta de Reyes. I had my usual, amazingly good two beef taco plate with beans and rice. Washed those down with a relaxing Negra Modelo.
It was a great visit to Old Town spent seeing and learning something new with my mom and enjoying a terrific meal.
( c h a p e l p i c s )
Mar 22 2012
Mar 21 2012
Met three of my girly friends, Sylvia, Mary and Stephanie, at Phil’s BBQ by the Sports Arena for a fantastic-as-always barbecue lunch and gossip kvetch. A wide variety of topics were discussed, including a lack of bathrooms on road trips, lack of bathrooms on airplanes, a lack of bathrooms in the desert, and a lack of bathrooms on hikes. We also talked briefly about movies, children and turbulence.
My meal of choice was the El Toro sandwich: one thousand pounds of char-grilled, deli-sliced tri-tip beef with BBQ sauce served on a really fresh and thick bun. It was easily enough for two meals. There was no way I could finish it. Actually, I don’t think any of us finished our meals. There was also a plate of amazing onion rings to be shared.
It was a fun lunch, just as I was expecting it to be.
Mar 21 2012
After she drove down from Los Angeles just this morning, I walked around Old Town with Stephanie, my friend from New Mexico who was at the end of her whirlwind visit of California. Took her to see the Seeley Stables museum, the restored original Casa de Estudillo adobe, took her inside the Church of the Immaculate Conception, passed the haunted Whaley House and finally down to the El Campo Santo Cemetery where I showed her Yankee Jim Robinson‘s grave as well as the grave markers on the street outside the cemetery walls. Finishing off our brief excursion we also got to see a donkey being led around by a park ranger. Not bad for a forty-five minute tour of Old Town.