Wednesday, July 31, 2013


We have several cats that wander through our yard. A few can be attributed to neighbors, but some appear to be feral cats, just living off the land. One in particular is a regular visitor, we’ve been seeing it for three or four years now, it likes to come and sit under the bushes near the back door and watch our bird feeder. I would much rather have birds than cats, but one seems to attract the other.

Last year this one had a single kitten, and they were in the yard daily. Eventually they left and we didn’t see them for several months, but a few months ago the older female showed up again. Back in mid-May B was looking out the window and saw this group:

That’s mom lying in the grass with four kittens playing around. We once came home and mom cat ran across the driveway with a big white Siamese, who we assume is the father. A nice assortment of kittens, two the same grey striped as mom, one black and one white like dad. A very good example of how genetics and inheritance works.

The kittens seemed big enough to be eating on their own, and once in a while B put out some food, which they all ate. As expected mom soon started parceling out the kittens, I guess they grow up and have to be pushed away. It ended up that the white one was left in our back yard, a nice safe area where food periodically showed up. So B rose to the challenge and started leaving out food, and moving the food dish closer to our back door.

And what was the end result? Of course, exactly what you expected:

She is a typical Siamese, blue crossed eyes, and she jumps a lot, and for $147 the vet said she is quite healthy. I would much rather have a little dog, which is a lot easier to control. But now she has slowly started turning into a lap cat (on her terms of course) and bats around the toys (and whatever else is around). We’ve got wooden blinds on the back doors, which she really likes using as ladders. Last night she made it up into the bookcases in my office, and eventually will be up to jumping on the kitchen counters. One thing I really don’t like about cats, I’d rather have my food to myself. Oh well, as long as my wife doesn’t turn into the crazy neighborhood cat lady.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A note to Nancy

A note to Nancy (from je n'ai pas votre adresse e-mail et j'espère que vous viendrez ici - pourquoi avez-vous verrouillez votre blog? J'ai adoré les photos de Thaïlande. S'il vous plaît laissez-moi po.

Several of the blogs that I like (over there on the right) are disappearing. I had to pull off two today, usually I wait until there is no new post for three months in the hope that people will come back. I know people have lives, and this is nothing but a short diversion. At times I too don't feel like putting anything up, but here I am anyway. Thank you to those who do continue to write.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

busy weekend

We had a nice weekend. Started out with meeting Rob from Scotland and his family for breakfast at Bouchon’s on Thursday, then walking them around a few casinos, ending up at the Bellagio watching O. The group is traveling from Chicago to LA on old Route 66, hitting Disneyland and then going on up to San Francisco. Sounds like a very nice vacation – wish I could take a month off and do something like that.

On Friday evening they came over to our house and started with a swim in the pool – it was 42c (106f) with water temp of 33c (92f), all temperatures a little above what they are used to. We ended up getting forced out of the pool due to a big thunderstorm that quickly blew through – rain, a lot of lightning, and winds gusting to 70mph. We see storms like that fairly frequently in the summer, but a first for the group from Scotland. We ended up with a big Mexican dinner, and they took off to rest up for a Grand Canyon helicopter trip the next day.

I ended up spending all of Saturday back at the Sands, helping to set up Mr. A’s birthday website. I did the last one for him five years ago, when he turned 80 and flew 300 close friends on the corporate 747 to the new Sands casino on Macau. This year for his 85th he is taking a similar sized group to the new Sands casino in Singapore. The private web site lets them sign up for events, tours and the big birthday banquet. As last time, everyone seems to wait until the last minute to decide a web site was required, and then continue to make changes every day. The event is now just two weeks away, and still management is requesting changes. I wonder what type of notice they got that this would be Mr. A’s birthday party. Surely the hotel had to reserve a block of rooms, and the planes had to be scheduled, and and and. Oh well, more work for me.

On Monday a measurement guy came out to take the final measurements for our kitchen countertops. They’ll be fabricating this week, and come out to install next Monday! Then it’s backsplash tile, trim and flooring. We may have a completed kitchen in a few weeks. Yea!

Let’s finish up with another sky shot. Taken long before the storms came in.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Hot summer days

Rob is visiting the US from Scotland. He is driving down old Route 66 from Chicago to LA, and evidently seeing quite a few things along the way. On his trip he is spending several days in Las Vegas (even though Vegas is several hundred miles off of Rt 66 he still wanted to see the town) and we had the pleasure of meeting him yesterday and showing him around some of the Strip. He is traveling with his wife, son and daughter who all seem to be enjoying the trip so far. From here they move on west down to LA and then up the coast to San Francisco. Sounds like a trip I would like to make.

We were at the Bellagio yesterday afternoon, and waited to see the big water show which takes place hourly. We were there at 3 in the afternoon, and it was 106 f (41c) while we stood on the sidewalk and watched the water boom. The water cannons at times are quite loud – like a series of firecrackers, sometimes much louder than the music. This is what we saw.

The height and amount of water is impressive – it shoots up over 140 meters (460 feet). There was a light wind, sometimes we caught a bit of spray which was refreshing in the heat. They vary the songs, but I think the two played in the above video were the ones we heard, the sun was a little higher but that is basically what we saw. The show at night is also impressive, with colored lighting effects as well. The water show runs on the hour every day, except when it’s windy. During high tourist season it’s every fifteen minutes. The walkway out front can get really packed but July is slow time in Vegas and we had lots of room in the shade of the trees.

I think I walked them a little too much – I have a tendency to just keep going. We ended up the evening by seeing the Cirque show O at the Bellagio. When we walked out of the casino into the parking garage it had cooled off, down to 104 (40c), but it felt like an oven in the big concrete parking garage with no breeze. Reminded me of my early years back in New Jersey, with no air conditioning and no breeze, just lots of humidity (which we don’t have here).

In the city people went up to Tar Beach – to sit on the flat rooftops of apartment buildings in the hope of catching some breeze. For kids they turned on the fire hydrants and we ran through the spray out in the street.

angryparsnip has been writing about hot summer days in Tucson, which is more like my time here. Her stories reminded me of when I was in the Navy stationed up in central California at Lemore Naval Air Station. It was July one year, the heat there is about the same as it is here in Vegas, over 100 every day. This album had just come out, along with Santana’s Abraxas. I remember sitting on the waterbed out in the garage (does anyone have a water bed anymore? I really liked ours) in the heat with the garage doors open onto the little dirt alley listening to those albums, so unlike anything I’d heard before. So this is an easier hot summer day, west coast style:

What are your summer days like, more frantic or laid back?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

more clouds

Another quiet week here for us. Just waiting on a call from the counter people about when they plan on putting in our counters – we selected a new style of DuPont quartz for the top, and are waiting on shipment of the slabs. I thought only granite and natural stone were sold in slabs but it seems man made quartz is too. Oh well, we’ve been living with the kitchen for quite a while, guess a little longer will not hurt much, as long as it’s done by granddaughter E’s annual pool party scheduled for the end of August.

Smoke from the fire on Mt. Charleston has decreased considerably. There were some thunderstorms over the weekend, we got very little rain where we lived but I think there was some water falling up over the burn area which helped the firefighters. Supposedly the fire is now 60% contained, whatever that means. I don’t understand all of this effort – if the fire was started by a lightning strike why don’t they just let it burn? For thousands of years if a fire started there was no fire crew that put it out, isn’t that stuff supposed to burn off once in a while and make space for new growth?

Let’s go back to cloud pictures for a bit, this one over the park near our house. It reminds me of that painter that we used to see on PBS who talked about painting pretty little clouds.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Dining room done!

We moved into our house here in Vegas ten years ago. One reason that we purchased a house instead of renting is that we like to change things. Not sure exactly why, but it is difficult to leave things as is.

Since we moved in we made major changes to the yard, the biggest was removing about 20,000 square feet (1900 square meters) of grass and converting the area to desert type landscaping, with low water requirement trees, shrubs and ground cover. Since the major change we’ve swapped some trees and bushes and put in more things. Many plants don’t do well here because of the poor alkaline soil, and others don’t like the below freezing winters. Most plants can take our heat as long as they get enough water. A number of smaller plants get frozen out each winter and are replaced with hardier ones. One really cold winter caused a few young trees to die.

Inside we have also done a lot of changes. Our house was built in the late 60’s and some things have worn out, other things required updating. We’ve replaced a number of the single pane windows with dual pane energy efficient ones, replaced the big tank water heater with a tankless, installed gas (the house used to be all electric) to drive the water heater and cooktop.

Most recently we’ve been working on the kitchen, moving a wall, replacing cabinets and appliances and lighting and flooring. There used to be a door from the kitchen directly into the dining room in addition to an opening from the kitchen to the family room. We closed in the door to the dining room which resulted in more wall space for cabinets as well as a longer end wall in the dining room. This allowed us to install some nice cabinets on the dining room wall, resulting in this:

The dining area isn't a separate room, it's the end of our front room. The mirror, lights, cabinet and table are all from Ikea. B did the big painting. We still have to get a new rug for under the table, can’t find exactly what fits somebody’s image. I installed the small spot lights on the wall, tiny fluorescents. Over to the right is the family room, future step is to pull up the carpet and install the wood flooring like the front room.

Waiting on the countertops for the kitchen (ordered but slabs not here yet), we finally picked out the flooring (a natural cork floating floor). After the counters go in we have some backsplash tile to put up, then the flooring goes down, trim put in and we’re done! I’ve been using the new ovens, and so nice to have a big gas cooktop. Photos of that to come when we’re done.

Friday, July 05, 2013


It’s a little smokey outside right now, there is a big brush fire on Mt. Charleston about 60km north of the city. Not much of a wind, but the smoke has come to the valley and is obscuring the mountains and early morning sun. Not as bad as the fire in Arizona, but it has been burning for a day and is being challenging for the firefighters. Brush fires are a problem out west, with the hot dry summer days contributing to things. This one was started by lightning on the mountain, not accidentally (or on purpose) by people.

A few weeks ago, before it got too hot, I caught some clouds in the sky during one of our evening walks. This is what I like about Vegas, the blue sky and wispy clouds.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Route 66

On a trip over to the US from Scotland is Rob , who for some reason is travelling the whole length of old Route 66 from Chicago to LA. I don’t know if he will post many photos of the trip (I hope he does). But I found this video of someone’s travels. Wow, some portions o fthat road look rather exciting. A lot of freeways have paved over the old road, but it looks like there are still a lot of miles of back streets and small towns.

Nice trip, I think I’d like to do that someday as well.

Living in New Jersey I first heard about this road from reruns of the old TV show from 1960.

Monday, July 01, 2013

yes, it's hot even for us

OK, just to keep talking about it. Yesterday in June, when our hottest time is usually the last two weeks in July, hit a new record for me (47c+):

And yes, yes we do keep it warm inside (have to balance what we want with the price of electricity to run the air conditioners, we have a big house). I wear shorts and a t shirt and am very comfortable at that. Last week I kept the pool covered for four days without uncovering it, and the water temp got up to 98f (37c). I rolled the cover back and left it open for two days. With evaporation we lost a half inch of water but it dropped back to my favorite 92f (33c) and we’ve been floating around every evening. In the summer it’s a balancing act between keeping the cover off to cool it with covering it during the day which means it heats up.

If you are coming to Vegas over the next two months be sure to bring your swimsuits and buy and use plenty of sunscreen, the highest SPF you can get – 80 recommended. We go down to the Strip and see red tourists every day. And drink plenty of water, with our 2% humidity you can evaporate over a gallon a day, and quickly be overcome by heat stroke and dehydration.

In anticipation of three days at that temperature our local garden expert suggested that we take all of the almost ripe tomatoes off of the vines and bring them inside before they cook. We ended up with over ten pounds worth and (5kg) and have been eating them like crazy. Yea summer!