Friday, September 30, 2016

A Room With A View

Modena, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. As in: parmigiano, basalmico, pasta to die for, prociutto, pancetta, and glorious wines.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Montana Fun

On one of the days of sunny weather, we went to an antique agricultural equipment fair. There was a John Deere tractor manufactured in 1932, plus a few more (all in immaculate condition) of newer vintage (1940's and 50's), as well as some steam-powered machinery.

This steam tractor was being used to run a large mill-sized saw blade about 20 yards/meters away. Naturally, the operator had to blast the steam whistle and startle all the attendees.

My favorite machine (aside from an old Ford pickup truck almost identical to the 1930's green truck my grandfather drove) was this pre-electric wooden wringer washer. Please do click on the thumbnail to see the full-size image, and note the manufacturer name imprinted above the wringer.

Everywhere we went, we were accompanied by my brother's dog, Rosie, a sweet-natured Golden Retriever. She came to the antique machinery fair, and nearly bolted when the steam whistle went off. Poor thing, she's never heard a sound like that - she was skittish and shivering for 5 minutes afterward!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Memories of Montana

We had a wonderfully relaxing 10 days (plus 4 days travel time) at the cabin in Montana. After a few days of fair weather, it rained for most of the rest of the time. A good excuse to read, knit, rest, and relax! Also, the rain means that the fire season in that region is over for the season. As usual, the first snow on the mountains appeared while we were there.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Just Me and the Loon

We're at the cabin in Montana, hoping to get away from the constant smoke at home. The loons are so accustomed to the lake residents, they just ignore us as they go about their fishing. Earlier, I saw a single chick, and one of the parents. This adult loon must have left the kid at the nest while it looked for dinner. Such a serene sight!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wildfire Season

It's here. Inevitably, after so many years of drought. What with the fire near Big Sur (about 150 miles northwest of us) and the fire between Hearst Castle and Lake Naciemento (the lake is about 40 miles northwest) the smoke is incredibly thick and the air is shockingly brown-tinged. The closer fire has been burning uncontrolled for 13 days, the farther one much longer than that.

Normally, there is a second range of hills visible beyond the ones you can see over the roof of our across-the-street neighbor. Today, nada.

I mean, really, nothing.

Earlier today, before the afternoon breeze came up, I couldn't see the hills to the east less than 10 miles away, nor could I see the mountain range that is about 6 miles to the west, between here and Morro Bay. Just plain invisible.

Too bad eye drops don't come in multi-gallon containers. Everyone here has itching, burning eyes, and will have them for the duration of these fires. Air quality varies with wind direction, which has been unpredictable.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Remember This?

Well, I'm still inching my way along.

Yesterday's effort got me to about the 75% mark.

Meanwhile, after almost 20 years of steady use, the dobby loom is showing its age, and the solenoids are beginning to misbehave. I'm waiting for some spares from AVL. Perhaps the progress on the table mats will improve...

Monday, August 15, 2016

Canine Companions for Independence

Long-time friends of ours have been participating in the CCI program for a number of years. Their role is puppy raiser. They take a puppy into their home for over a year, give it love and basic training, socialize it, and then return it to CCI for its advanced training to become a service dog for the disabled or the deaf (unlike Guide Dogs for the Blind, CCI dogs are not trained as seeing-eye dogs).

This past weekend, the fourth puppy raised by our friends "graduated" from advanced training, and after a couple of weeks in "team training," he was paired with Maria, an attorney who suffered a stroke and has limited motor control and uses a specialized wheelchair. Our friends are as proud as if the dog was their own offspring graduating from university.

DH and I went with them to the regional CCI headquarters in Santa Rosa, CA, last Saturday, where two events were being celebrated. About 50 puppies were being returned for advanced training and evaluation to be sure they would be good service dogs, and about 20 trained dogs were turned over to their new "teammates." The ceremony, at which several hundred humans and at least one hundred dogs were present, is held in an indoor, carpeted auditorium. (This venue has hosted CCI many times, so they are confident there will be no doggie accidents; in fact, not only no accidents, but also not one single bark!)

Part of the reason the dogs were so calm during the ceremony is that beforehand, most of the dogs were turned loose in the CCI playground to wear themselves out so they would be too tired to be excitable. DH and I spent an hour or so in the playground, and I must say I have never been around so many dogs that are so friendly and so well trained. It seemed as if every dog greeted every human at some point - a wag of the tail, a sniff, a snuggle for a pat or two. The only time I heard yelps or barks was when our friends' current puppy, who is only 4 months old but totally fearless, snatched a ball away from another dog. Charm (the puppy closest to the camera in the photo below) usually ended up at the bottom of a heap of larger, older dogs, no worse for wear. After being scolded, she would start the game all over again.

At one point, a number of dogs were given a "down!" command, and I was able to get one photo before the "release!" command was given.

All CCI dogs are either Laborador Retriever (dark or blond) or Golden Retriever, or a cross of the two. Both types of retriever have calm, loving temperaments and are very trainable.

Anyway, fun was had by all, and that's my plug for a very worthy organization.