Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Flagstones and birds

Nascar is in town. Some supposedly big races up at the Las Vegas Speedway. I’m not a big sports fan, and driving around and around in circles is even less of a draw for me, but NASCAR week in Vegas produces some of the biggest crowds in town, so somebody must like that stuff. When I lived in Memphis I used to go to the dirt track racing on weekends, more for something to do with the guys than of interest.

We went to the Sahara casino a few weeks ago to hear a lounge singer. A young girl from New Orleans, she was OK, but still needs more time on stage. While there I took some pictures of the entertainment area – in Vegas the gambling sections of casinos are not called entertainment areas but gaming areas. Entertainment is where side things go on – lounges with singers, showrooms, game rooms for kids, that kind of stuff. The Sahara pushes NASCAR. Down the north end, on the way to the video arcades are some old racecars and a whole driving simulator.

The driving area is pretty neat – there are rows of cars, NASCAR type as well as formula one, in small open back rooms. In front of each car is a big wrap-around video screen, you can see three projectors on the ceiling above the car, so you can sit in a real car and drive assorted races and compete against a computer or other drivers sitting next to you. There are hydraulics attached to the cars so you actually bounce around while driving. None were in use when we were there, but it looks like something non-gambling that adults can do, probably very heavily attended this week.

As a follow on to yesterday’s post, we worked this weekend to place some flagstones between our concrete patio and steps going up to a higher grass area in the back.

We went from two pallets of stones

Down to this amount

We covered two areas, with a third yet to go. First we had to lower the ground level so that the new stones were the same level as the concrete, then play a jigsaw puzzle type game to find shapes that fit together. Only in this version there was no guarantee that all of the pieces were in the box.

B wanted some spaces between the stones. We did a similar project in our San Diego back yard, but there we planted moss and assorted low green plants between the stones. With the sun and heat here we just went with the surrounding groundcover.

That’s the view while sitting at the dining table we have on the patio, outside our kitchen. We planted low growing rosemary along the short wall, it's all been covered with little blue flowers all winter, and smells nice when brushed. It’s a winter view, with the trees not yet green, and our neighbor’s oleander and pomegranate across the wall trimmed down. I can sit here and drink my coffee and listen to the birds chirping away. When we get fifty or sixty finches and sparrows back here it can get quite deafening. You can also see Eli’s swing, and the bird feeder hanging from the peach tree. Already turning green, so we probably will not get a nice big pink cloud this year.

I don’t have as fancy a camera as Deana, or birds that are as colorful, but there was a crowd waiting their turn at the feeder.

It just looks funny to see the whole row of birds sitting up on the wall, chirping away, each periodically launching himself at the feeder, trying to dislodge somebody else already eating. No colorful birds here, all are dull dirty brown or grey. On the ground underneath are pigeons gathering up the seeds that drop, periodically being chased away by our vicious dogs, when they bother to run up there.

The mockingbirds are singing away, building nests out front in the palm and olive trees. Our hummingbirds are starting to return. And the weather channel shows a cold front coming down from Alaska this weekend. Supposed to have a high today of 67f, but on Saturday a high of 45 and a low of 34, with rain and possible snow predicted. Poor NASCAR, all those people sitting in the stands getting cold and wet. I don’t know if the continue driving in the rain.

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