Saturday, September 24, 2016

End of the week catch-up

The week got away from me and although yesterday was blissfully free of anything scheduled, I never managed to sit down and write a blog post!

My big excitement for the day was finding the perfect lamp for my desk in the garret at the Habitat store for $17.50. I stopped by on a whim and there it was. For the past year I've become very sensitive to blue screen light and have to have lamplight of some kind close to the screen to temper it. I'd put a small lamp there but didn't like how it looked so was waiting to find the perfect one in the Habitat store. I've crossed that off my list now.

Otherwise, spent time mucking and noticing the change of season. Leaves are falling and horses and donkeys are crunching on acorns. I kept seeing them gathered under an oak tree and it took me a few minutes to realize they were waiting for acorns to fall so they could eat them! 

Cody's abscess is resolved and he's back on regular turn-out with the herd. 

Keil Bay is now having a pound of pellets added to his Timothy balance cube mix 3x/day. I have been fretting over him looking a tiny bit "gaunt" and kept pondering whether it was time to put him on Eleanor Kellon's complete senior diet, which Salina was on for years before she died. It's a beautiful, balanced meal for seniors but it's fairly labor intensive and I'm not convinced Keil needs it at this point. 

My feed store owner talked me down from the ledge last week and suggested a pellet that has most of the ingredients from the senior mix and is non-GMO and with no corn or soy. I developed a mild headache standing there contemplating trying it but then decided we'd try one bag and see how it went.

Keil loves it. He has put on a little weight, in the right places, and it's very subtle which is exactly what I hoped for. I've been feeling guilty for not doing the complete senior mix for him the way we did for Salina but honestly, he's never needed calories until now and I don't want to do anything that puts a LOT of weight on. For now this is working well.

Later today I'm getting a 90-minute massage as a barter for an office rug I didn't need and then I'm coming home to paint another screen. I'm close enough to finishing the front porch now that I ordered the milk paint for the cat tunnel and the wood guardian for the front steps to prep them for their milk paint and tung oil. And I'll put another coat of tung oil on the front door. Hopefully it covers the scratch marks made by a certain Corgi boy last weekend when I closed him out temporarily while my mom came up the garage steps! 

Which reminds me - we had a very fun sleepover weekend with my daughter, myself, and my mom. I feel lucky to have both of them in my life and look forward to the next one. 

Fall is here (and hopefully today's 91-degree high is the end of that for awhile!) and life is good.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

And a note on flying and Southwest Airlines

I hadn't flown in several years and admittedly was a bit stressed about it with all the new rules one has to follow. The ticketing process was easy online and after a friend recommended I pay extra for the early check-in online that Southwest offers, we ended up boarding in the first group and getting good seats. 

The TSA protocols were easy. I have read nightmare stories and I'm sure they have happened and continue at some level but we had absolutely no problems. Even when I forgot and left a water bottle in my carry-on backpack. Everyone I encountered was helpful, friendly, and made our trip out and mine back very easy.

I enjoyed Southwest. The flights were reasonably priced, two bags flew free, they allowed two carry-on pieces as well, and although the seating is as cramped as it was the last time I flew, fellow passengers were easygoing and friendly with one exception (and thankfully that presented food for observation and not something I had to personally deal with).

We flew into San Francisco International airport and that one was the most challenging, mostly because the rental car line was long and slow and there were issues (which later got resolved when I tweeted about them) with pricing. 

I flew home out of Burbank, which was as easy and delightful as I remember it. Boarding still happens in the open air, which I love, instead of through tunnels that attach to the plane.

I also learned when picking my son up out of our local RDU airport that there's a very easy to navigate route from our house that involves no traffic. The RDU gates were easy and I was allowed to sit parked at the curb while waiting for my son, even when his flight was delayed. Making things easy for both passengers and family/friends who are dropping off or picking up seems more of a priority in the smaller airports.

The trip was wonderful but it was so good to see the lush, green landscape of North Carolina when the plane began its descent. There's no place like home!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Caltech, terrific end to a tour of physics grad programs

We drove into Pasadena on a Friday, mid-day, via some huge freeway that made me recall why I left LA and haven't missed it. But then we took the exit and there was Pasadena, much more intimate a city, friendly, easily navigated. But smoky because of the wildfires near Santa Barbara. 

We quickly found Caltech's campus, which is seamlessly integrated with the city, in a good way.

I had some trouble finding parking but after sending son on his way to his meeting, asked some students and all was well.

I enjoyed the trees and the simple architecture.

Dear son messaged me where he was and I made my way in that direction.

I didn't photograph the lovely approach to the physics building, which had beautiful natural areas out front, but once I got upstairs I got busy with camera. (phone!) The theoretical physics department was quite wonderful!

I found a spot to sit and admittedly had a huge fan girl moment when son brought Sean Carroll out and introduced me. His books on physics make complex ideas available to those of us who are interested but lack the math knowledge to go at it from that angle. In my eyes he's a superstar but he presented as a gracious, humble person who seemed truly happy to hear me rave about his work. (Which I highly recommend!)

Alongside the physics building there is a citrus tree-lined walkway that totally captivated me. We ended up coming back here with coffee and scones the next day to sit and soak in the ambiance once more.

And oh, this made me so happy to capture with my camera:

An old and very dear friend lives with her family in Pasadena, as do homeschooling friends, so if perchance dear son ends up here for grad school, I will be one happy mom.

We spent another night in Pasadena after having lunch with homeschooling friends, dinner with my old friend and her family, and then on Sunday went where all moms of college students go before dropping them off for summer REUs:

A very clean and pleasant laundromat.

I had a hard time delivering son to UCLA later in the day. We drove the long way, via surface streets instead of freeway, and he played a sweet Santa Monica song as we traveled Santa Monica Boulevard. And then as we hit Beverly Hills, the Fresh Prince. It was perfect.

It's sad to finish this little travelogue. It was a privilege and an honor to visit California with my son. I loved every minute and can't wait to see where he ends up going for graduate study. 

Meanwhile, dear daughter has hit her freshman year with a Big Bang and I'm loving that journey too!

Monday, September 19, 2016

cat tunnel toll collector?

This morning I noticed a logjam on the front porch. Cats seemed to be lining up for no apparent reason. I walked all the way out to see what the problem was and found this.

Do you think he's collecting toll fees for tunnel use now? 

Later in the day his sister Pixie was spotted following him around the house smacking him so I think she exacted a little revenge on the Pipkin.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Butterfly Beach, California, travelogue continues

Almost to the end of a busy week and the perfect day to remember a stroll down Butterfly Beach near Santa Barbara, California with my son in June.

I love the stones. Our North Carolina beaches are nothing but sand so this made for interesting perusing and in some places careful stepping.

Butterfly Beach was quiet and sweet, though it was disconcerting to see oil tanker platforms in the distance. There were also chunks of tar from the tar pits offshore, and I ended up with tar on my feet for weeks after this afternoon walk!

The terrain was lovely as was the afternoon light.

The tide swirling around the rocks was mesmerizing.

I took many photographs of the light on the water as it washed over the stone.

And was again left behind by a more adventurous son, who ended up far ahead of me.

This was such a bittersweet image. I recall so clearly his first trip to the ocean when he was only a year and a half old, in bright orange shorts and yellow t-shirt, and his instant connection with the sea. How can it be that 20 years have passed since then? And somehow, miraculously, he is clad in similar colors? 

In those younger years I would be running behind him, calling his name. On this day I just stood and watched him go.

This seemed somehow apropos: