A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy Days

Here it is the last day of November and I am done with my Christmas shopping. Not even December and DONE. Just a wonderful feeling. What helped a lot is that a few years back it was mutually decided to not do gifts for everyone. Instead names would be drawn. Slips of paper with names written were placed into a Tupperware bowl and who you drew is who you bought for. The grandkids are not old enough to play this game. Everyone buys something for each kid. Naturally, the boys are fine with this arrangement. So we did it this way for a few years and now this year my wife went high tech on the name drawing. She found a site on the Internet that does the name drawing for you. She entered all the names that were to be placed in the “hat” and once the last person responded to the e-mail sent by the site then automatically all were secretly given a name to buy for. She was able to set it up so one would not receive their spouse’s name. This worked out great and everyone is happy. As for my dilemma about what to get the grandsons, I had a rare moment of brilliance awhile back and solved the issue. Of course I cannot go into that at this time.

Something I learned yesterday was that like Black Friday the big shopping day after Thanksgiving, the following Monday is now known as Cyber Monday. It seems that on that day there are a lot of fabulous online sales and deals to be had. I was in a big name store of a certain commodity (again I cannot go into it anymore than that) and the sales lady was trying to get online to look up a special item within their inventory for me. “It is taking a long time to load as it is Cyber Monday and the system is overwhelmed.” And that is how I learned about Cyber Monday, just another new day I have to be aware of and side-step each year.
Oh happy days.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Christmas Gift for My Grandsons

Thank you to all who commented on my previous post. I've been giving this problem some thought and I always keep coming back to toys things I had and enjoyed as a young lad. One of those was a chemistry set but after seeing the kids in their Halloween get-up for this year I thought maybe a chemistry set wouldn't be such a good idea after all.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gavin Enters Another Dimension

Here is my #2 grandson, number two as in the second one to come along. This was taken about three years ago at the Real Goods store play area in Hopland, CA. I think of the Twilight Zone TV series when viewing this shot, hence the title.  With Christmas coming up, I've got to come up with some sort of Christmas gift  for him and his older brother Miles. You ever see what they have out there for kids these days? Five and 7 year-olds are not content with simple toys. Nowadays it's all about hi-tech electronic gadgetry. When I was a little guy I enjoyed those simple toys either made from wood or better still metal with sharp edges and little parts that came off and you could choke on. Well, when they were the age as Gavin was in this photo they were quite happy with a simple toy. Here is Miles after Christmas when he was two and a half. Of all the fancy made in China plastic toys he got that year, it was the wood airplane Grandpa made for him that he fell asleep with.
Those days are gone and I can't make electronic computerized toys. I've got some serious thinking and searching to do in the next 30 days.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

I learned long ago in picture taking when coming upon a photo opportunity to quickly shoot a picture, especially so when people or animals are in the mix. Once I have one in the bank then I can ask myself questions about composition, exposure and aperture settings, and then shoot some additional shots. Above is a good example of that practice paying off.

I was riding my bicycle along a dirt trail at a nearby lake when I noticed this man flying fishing. "Hey, that is a good picture to be had" I thought. I got off my bike, leaned it against a tree then walked down the slope. Well I should say slip and slid down the damp moldy leaf covered slope so as to get a good clear shot without any tree branches in the way. I quickly grabbed a picture and as soon as I clicked the shutter the guy turned around and sloshed his way back to shore. He was done fishing and anymore pictures to be had were gone. I checked the image I had and was pleased with the result for I figured it would take several attempts to get his brilliant fluorescent green line in just the arc I was hoping for.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Where Pumpkins Go to Die

The scene at a small pumpkin patch near home.
These fellows evidently didn't make the grade to go to a nearby nursery for sale.
Personally I think this is a far better fate than to be disemboweled, craved up and put on public display.
An unlucky few here appear to have been made into pies though.
Now I must ready myself for the carnage of Thanksgiving.
Save the Turkeys!

Friday, November 12, 2010


If you watch or listen to the news (I don't do either but still heard about this) you are aware of the the cruise ship that broke down off the Mexican coast this week. The media made it sound as a near-death experience (one of many reasons I don't follow the news - sensationalism). Food supplies for the 4000 plus on board were dwindling and the coast guard brought in replenishment among which was crab meat and Spam, an odd combination I thought. I imagined the passengers walking the buffet line facing the dilemma  "Hmm...which should I chose, the crab or Spam?" Tough choice. My wife said she would starve before ever eating the Spam, but me, I would go with the Spam. It would be interesting to see how the gourmet chefs on board would prepare the tasty delight. Braised Spam, Roast Spam, Spam fillets poached in aspic, Spam with a Bearnaise sauce, Spam Thermidor, Spam under glass, Spam pate, Spam sauteed with garlic and herbs in a white wine sauce, oh the variations are endless. Who would ever want the cruise to end?

Thursday, November 11, 2010


The days are getting nicer (warmer) and it should be a fine weekend coming with a predicted 72 and 75 degrees. Sorry to you folks in the snow. Nevertheless I continue to think about the nice days of spring and taking another desert wildflower trip. Above is a pretty little desert flower with the not-so-pretty name of Bladderpod.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


It is cold today. I won't say what the temperature is. You'll just laugh. I look at other blogs and see snow pictures. This makes me think about being even colder. So I sit here looking at pictures I have taken of springtime flowers but that's not helping much. Weather reports show a prospect for some improvement this weekend. Oh well, maybe I'll just go have another cup of tea.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fishing for Steelhead

It is that time of the year when the Steelhead Trout return from the Pacific Ocean to spawn in the Russian River near my home. Unlike Salmon who will die after their romantic affair, Steelhead return year after year. They wait offshore for the first big rain which swells creeks and rivers with enough water to make their passage to their spawning ground.

When we moved up to northern California nearly 40 years ago now, I was all excited about this new adventure in outdoor sports. I talked with the locals, learned what special gear I would need, bought the pole, reel and all the specific Steelhead tackle and waited for the rains. What I didn't take into account was how cold it would be standing knee-deep in fridged river water protected by only a pair of leaky rubber waders. I wore several layers of sweat pants underneath along with all the thermal and wool socks I could put on and still be able to stuff my foot into each boot. The top half of my body was layered with a thermal undershirt, flannel shirt, sweat shirt, down vest, and an old foul weather army coat. I was still cold with my nose running, ears burning, feet and fingertips numb. Where was all the fun in this misery I wondered.

On New Years Day 1975 I was trying my luck yet again thoroughly not enjoying myself getting hung up, losing tackle and freezing just like all the other times. I was reeling in from one of many casts and felt like I was dragging in a piece of driftwood or an old shoe. It wasn't till it got close to the shore did I see I had a fish on. No struggle, no fight like I had been told to expect. I was done. I went home and proudly showed my fish to the family and never went Steelhead fishing again.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Day at the Zoo

I am not a big fan of Zoos. Long long ago as a teen I fancied the idea of a career working at a zoo since I love animals so. But I soon realized that I felt bad for the animals being confined to small areas or even worse, caged up. Later when I had children of my own we took the kids to the zoo a few times and then I never went again until the other day. I had this wild idea of getting some great photos of animals. Well I soon found out otherwise for the most part. Taking pictures through chain link, wire mesh or in the case of the large cats (my favorite) interwoven cable left over from the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, this wasn't going to be as I imagined. If it wasn't this feature between you and the animals, it was one inch thick bulletproof graffiti-etched plexiglass. Many of the enclosures were also encircled with wire pulsating with x amount of volts. None of this is how I remember zoos when I was a young lad. My conclusion for all this reinforcement is not to keep the animals in, but to keep people out. Stupid zoo visitors who toss things like sticks, rocks, food, young children, themselves at the wild beasts have ruined the zoo experience for all. That was another thing, those wild beasts who were in a clear unobstructed view chose to lie down and sleep far off in the distance against the back wall. I can't blame them. It must be difficult to get any rest with a bunch of humans making funny noises, silly antics and then are those loud obnoxious screaming kids..."I'll just hang out back here in the corner for the day".

So I took pictures of plants.

I will include this one photo of the Mountain Gorilla. This poor chap sits all day long in this one spot. Or at least he was there in the morning when we went by and still there in the afternoon as we swung by on our way out. He displayed his boredom and contempt for the zoo visitor more than any other creature in the zoo. You could see it in his eyes and naturally being closely related to us, it was easy to identify. He would look at you, then look away with complete indignation. Then he would look again and see you still standing there pointing cameras at him, making funny faces and stupid monkey sounds. Finally having had enough he would turn his back to you and look the other way hoping you would leave. And people usually did at this point except for me. I hung in there waiting for this one moment, caught it, thanked the poor fellow and left him to his misery.