Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Doctor

Coming next month - one of my favorite series

Monday, March 28, 2011

Warming up

Last week was a little cold, but it’s finally warming up again. Our normal high for this time of year is around 24c (76f) but last week it was significantly lower, by the weekend it’s supposed to be 28c (82f), with our normal full sunshine. We were out working in the garden this past weekend, getting in some more tomatoes and a dozen more sunflowers. B wants to fill one of the garden beds with dozens of sunflowers, she liked the way the few we had last year looked.

The Springs Preserve had their annual plant sale last Saturday and this year we were able to get up early enough to get there when some plants were left. They carry a few dozen pots each of hard to find desert plants, and even thought the total amount is probably around a thousand plants they still sell out by 10am (opening at 8). We snagged a half dozen gallon pots of some pretty yellow desert daisies and pestemons and some other pretty pink flowering thing. Those were laid out and will get into the ground this week.

The Springs Preserve is a large complex with a big desert botanical garden, playground, exhibits and other activities. If you come to Vegas a lot it’s worth stopping by. The outdoor gardens are free to walk around, and granddaughter E likes to climb on the big snake and play with the train, so we go periodically. Wolfgang Puck runs the cafĂ©, where we grab a lunch salad and coffee.

Around town we are back in the ‘yellow’ season, where most of the plants in bloom have yellow blossoms. We have about a half dozen different things around our yard blooming right now. This one is a succulent, which only has one big bloom per year:

After the flowers dry up the plant carries the feathery seed pods for a while, until the wind takes them away.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday video's - the 80s

Last week was warm, but we’re now back to winter here. It’s not getting down to freezing or close, but for us it’s cold. This morning when we got up it was 7c (45f) and highs around 13c (mid 50’s f). It rained last night, and showers are predicted for most of the week – but at the end we probably will end up with a weeklong total under 1cm (less than a half an inch). I remember a weather announcer a few weeks ago discussing the predicted “torrential downpour, with a half an inch of rain predicted”. Sorry, but the term torrential downpour indicates to me a lot of water falling from the sky, not a half inch total.

Celine Dion is back in Vegas, opening a new show at Caesar’s Palace back in the Colosseum Showroom constructed for her last run. Tickets range from $92 - $500 each, depending on what show and where in the 4,000 seat room that you sit. Her grand opening was last week, and reviews rated the show very highly. There are weeks when she is off, and other big names come in for a day, including Janet Jackson, Ricy Martin and Kylie Minogue. (wow, just looking at Kylie tickets, those run from $105 up to $772 each). If you’re coming to town you can see tickets here.

Form today’s videos we have some music from the 80’s. Can’t link to the Sting one I wanted, Dont stand so close to me with Sting dancing around, but here is the younger version with hair

How about the Talking Heads?

And of course we have to whip it

Friday, March 11, 2011

Showboat songs

Just reading through blogs, and Bill just had one on older singers. One of the references was to Helen Morgan singing Can’t Help Lovin Dat Man, one of my favorite songs from Showboat

The group dancing on the shore reminded me of a scene from Blazing Saddles

But back to Showboat, and the song I remember most, Paul Robeson

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Dog on Wednesday - Buster's bed

Buster is the dog that wanders around our house now. We picked him up at the animal shelter in San Diego back in 1994. The vet we took him to said he looked about four years old, so this would make him 21, seventeen of which he has been with us. He is a Chihuahua mix, soft brown fur, and weighs about nine pounds. Over the years he has gotten a little grey in the face, but he still is fuzzy.

When we first got him he was friendly and a follower. He must have lived with an older woman, because as soon as he got to our house he jumped up on the couch and onto my mother’s lap, a place he really liked. Unfortunately for Buster we picked up another dog from the same shelter just the day before. Max was a toy terrier, less than a year old, and shared the pen at the shelter with Buster and another full Chihuahua. Because of the shelter’s policy on holding small dogs longer than big dogs, in case the owner came back wanting them again, it took over three weeks after we first saw the guys before we could take them home. We were on a waiting list for both of them, as at that time lots of people were looking for little dogs. We had lost Rose, our little dog, a year earlier, and wanted two similar dogs, figuring that they would keep each other company. I first saw the dogs and signed up for them, then took B down to see them. When she got in the pen and knelt down to talk to the guys Buster immediately jumped up on her knee, he was so anxious to get out of there.

Due to the way they came in we ended up taking Max home a day ahead of Buster. I guess that first day at our house alone convinced Max that he was the boss, so the next day when that guy he had been locked up with for three weeks showed up the went ballistic, barking and biting Buster to show him he wasn’t wanted there. Since then Max kept biting Buster on the butt whenever he felt like it, and poor Buster just took it.

Now Buster is the only one left. His hearing started getting poor, and about a year ago he started getting cataracts in his right eye. Fortunately he still could see OK out of the left, but then he got an infection in the left eye. Due to some incompetence by two vets he ended up having that eye taken out, leaving him with the one with cataracts. They have gotten progressively worse, and now he seems to just about make out the difference between light and dark. It’s obvious that he doesn’t see us, as we can walk by him and get no reaction. But when he’s looking for us he knows where we sit and we look down to see him standing by our leg just waiting for whatever it is he wants. He is deaf in the left ear and hears little out of the right; he does jump at loud noises so we know he hears something, but he doesn’t respond when we talk to him or call.

Max was the guard, barking at everything, and Buster would follow along in support, but now he says little. When begging Max used to do a little dance and whine, but Buster would sit up on his hind legs and wave his front paws at you quietly. He doesn’t do that anymore. He used to jump up on the couch and bed to get next to us, but he is moving slower and doesn’t jump any more either.

We got him a soft sided bed so he would have a place of his own to lie in. Most of the time he finds it

And sometimes he props his head on the side.

But sometimes he just misses it

And sometimes he can’t find it at all

He gets around the house fine, knowing his way from his bed to the water dish in the bathroom and out to the kitchen where we keep his food. He’s lost most of his teeth, we used to leave a feeder full of dry food for the guys and they would eat whenever they were hungry, but now we have to give him soft stuff. He has gotten really picky, sometimes refusing the canned stuff we found he liked. We also give him chicken or ham, and he rotates between refusing to eat different things and we then have to go through everything trying to find something he’ll take.

We have little doggie doors that the guys used to get outside by themselves, but a while back he ended up going out and wasn’t able to find his way back in. It was a hot day and he ended up wandering in the sunshine for we don’t know how long. So we closed up the doors to prevent that, and for a while he would wander over to the back door scratching to be let out, but now he just gets out of his bed, walks a few feet, and probably thinks it’s not worth the long walk and just goes wherever he wants to. Supposedly one dog year is equal to seven people years, so that would make him the equivalent of 140 years old, so I figure he deserves to do just about whatever he wants to at that age. I tell our daughter that at 120 I’ll be doing the same thing, and she better be prepared.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

More signs of spring

It was a busy weekend here in Vegas. The Nascar races were held at the speedway last weekend. The town was booked fairly full with people out for the races, there were race drivers pretending to be cab drivers, the motor carriers held a parade down the Strip, and noise was heard everywhere. It was sunny and warm, and in my yard the birds were singing. Our neighborhood has lots of mocking birds – these are a variety of the American Jay birds, but plain grey in color. They know it’s spring, and mating season. The males have claimed their territory in a checkerboard across the valley, each one guarding their little patch, sitting on the high points of telephone poles or tall trees or chimneys and singing away, to tell the other males this is their spot and calling females. Stepping outside in the morning I can hear a dozen of them, scattered around, with one that sits on the power pole just behind our house, filling the yard with his songs.

They are called mockingbirds because it is one thing they do – mock whatever is going on around them. There is one now that sounds exactly like the cell phone chime when a message comes in. A few years ago one learned the bell sound from the school down the street, and we would hear the school bell go off every hour and the bird from a different direction answering back. We also have some hummingbird feeders around the house, and now I have to refill them often, as the weather is warming up and they are more active. Our hummers don’t have a full song like the mockingbirds, but they do sit on the branches close to the feeders guarding them and singing their songs to keep the other guys away. There are also a lot of finches and sparrows around, filling the bushes with their loud chirps.

When I get out of the car coming to work the small trees around our building are filled with sparrows chirping and flying around as well. The sound of a few dozen of them arguing is louder than the sound of my car radio, and can be heard even with the windows up. Started seeing the chipmunks (or small ground squirrels – not sure which) scurrying across the parking lot, a new crop of bunnies should soon appear to eat the grass out front. Finally got to see one of the coyotes that lives in the field behind the office, so that makes the menagerie viewing complete.

We also have a sapsucker that comes through our yard and hammers on the peach tree. It’s a type of woodpecker but instead of looking for bugs under the bark it punctures the bark then comes back a while later to eat the sap that has leaked out. Last year we had a big one, this year the one coming around is a lot smaller, probably a juvenile:

These are those chartreuse flowers I talked about, on a succulent that grows quite well around here.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Driving in

Despite all of the traffic and the idiot drivers I enjoy my morning drive into work. Driving early this time of year really makes evident the transition of the season and the extending of daylight hours. This morning sunrise was at 6:13, and the temperature was right at freezing at my house.

My drive from home to work is 26 miles, and it usually takes about 35 minutes. I try to leave the house at about 6:20, because if I wait just a few minutes then the number of cars on the road seems to double. A few turns from my house, now the sun is right in my eyes at the corner making it hard to see, then due south on Rainbow. One stoplight down (I say stoplight because it always seems to be a red stop when I get to it) to an intersection with shops on each corner. There is a big center with a Super WalMart and Sam’s Club, across is Target, next is a strip mall with a supermarket that was open when we first moved in but then was vacant for five years and is now a ‘Korean Marketplace’. The last corner was a K-Mart that was closed when we moved here and is still boarded up nine years later. The dozen smaller shops next to it are mostly closed as well, with a cheap Chinese all you can eat buffet hanging on (no, haven’t had the nerve to hit it ourselves). I continue on for another four miles or so, with the sun peeping out between the houses and shops to my left. It’s three lanes in each direction, with a speed limit of 45, meaning we’re all doing about 55 (it is Vegas). Along the way we pass the Spanish Trails community, they have a lot of trees and a big golf course, in the summer when I have the windows down you can feel how much cooler it is right here, along with providing a lot of moisture to the air.

I then turn left onto the 215 loop looking directly into the rising sun. This road is four lanes in each direction with a speed limit of 65, which most people keep to. The big hotel towers on the Strip are off to my left, reflecting the few clouds and slowly lightening mountains behind me. In a few miles we pass underneath I-15, the major north-south road that comes up from LA and continues on to Salt Lake City and eventually Canada. There is some construction here where additional lanes are being added to 15, the off ramp to that freeway is always backed up cutting through traffic to two lanes. Add to this the sun directly ahead and those *$& drivers that zip up in the left lane then have to cut over to the off ramp at the last minute, which is bumper to bumper stopped causing the left lanes now to stop while the idiots who waited ‘til the last minute can’t get over. Traffic speeds up from there, the freeway expands to six lanes in my direction as the 15 traffic merges in and then a lot of them leave at the airport exit.

The road continues on, with slight turns moving the sun from straight ahead to either side. Off to the far left the Wynn towers along with some closer office buildings reflect the bright sun. As I drive further east I get closer to the eastern mountain range, and the sun drops down between the peaks, showing up between them now and then. Passing the Green Valley Ranch casino traffic picks up. Two or three days a week there are two patrol cars and three Highway Patrol motorcycles along this stretch, pulling over speeders. Both sides of the center divider go from three up to five lanes as on and off ramps come and go. Eventually I turn right onto the 95, which curves east with the sun right in my eyes again before crossing the dam and moving into Arizona. I get off at the last exit in Henderson, going to a building sitting all by itself out in the open desert. It was built about six years ago, when some developer purchased cheap land way out here with dreams of a large industrial park, ending up with a single two story brick sitting by itself.

I really like looking at the different angles of the sun, the way it’s so low that it reflects in lots of windows. Usually there are very few clouds, and I can see the early planes flying out of LA towards the east, leaving those stripes in the sky we always see. Looking to the west when I leave the house I can see the mountains over Red Rock canyon, with the early sun really making the red stripes very evident in the rock faces.

Even though it’s been around freezing each morning the afternoons have been bright and sunny with temps up close to 16c (60f). Plants are pretending its spring, getting out their growth and flowers before the summer heat sets in. Around town the purple plum trees are in bloom, used as a street tree in some areas, driving west on DI last night one section was just lined with the pink blossoms. Our backyard peach tree has a few blooms out; hopefully we’ll get a big pink blush this year. Some of the almond trees are filled with white flowers, but ours is just starting to bud. Daffodils and paperwhites are showing off all over our yard, and some of the sedums are covered in their yellow-green (chartreuse?) flowers. I bought some peat pots and have started our vegetable garden seeds, so we can get them in the ground when it warms up and we can get veggies before the heat stops them. Cherry tomatoes keep producing all summer, but the lettuce bolts and other things slow down.

On a completely unrelated note, came across this photo of our fat cat Mokie sitting on a pole over our canyon in San Diego. I didn’t remember how many flowers we had back there, sure a lot more than we do here.