Wednesday, August 31, 2011

'tech-ni-color' California..................

Mt. Lassen from the causeway over Lake Almanor

Needless to say, I took photo after photo during my recent northern California visit - here are some I enjoyed 'playing' with. Although Nature is beautiful without enhancement, I just thought that California, known for Technicolor and other film inventions, would be fun shown this way also. 

White Pelicans and other water fowl viewed from the causeway

Pelican in flight over the lake

Low-lying sunny meadow filled with Bog Orchids in Lassen Volcanic National Park................

.......the high road climbing above Lake Almanor, in the distance, to Mt. Lassen's still snowy peak

Lunch at the Plumas Point Resort lakeside restaurant - West shore of Lake Almanor

Mt. Lassen from the West shore

Back at the house and resting my legs after a brisk morning walk.........

............before heading out to play in the water!

Local grocery and coffee shop at Lake Almanor

Isn't this area of the country beautiful in Summertime?  The sun shines every day, cool nights for comfy sleeping, and temperatures in the 80's with low humidity during the day. Perfect.
Talk about California Dreamin'.

Next Summer Jasmin hopes to get a part time job at this market/cafe with a view of the lake.....and the best carrot raisin muffins in the world.  Can't say I blame her - thinking of applying myself, ha! ha!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Best laid plans........................

Couch on the Porch, Cos Cob 1914 
Fredrick Childe Hassam 1859-1935- American Impressionist

Saturday evening, after Irene said goodbye to North Carolina and journeyed north, wreaking havoc along her path, we managed to enjoy a thoroughly hilarious community theatre production of Ruthless, The Musical. Even though Broadway closed down in NYC as they awaited the storm, Raleigh Little Theatre remained open. We then made plans to spend much of Sunday morning cleaning up the storm debris that Irene had scattered about our garden. 

Thankfully we had no hurricane damage.  After playing the adult version of 'pick up sticks' in 92 sultry degrees for a few hours, we had just three large barrels of branches, twigs, bunches of leaves that had fallen from our trees.  Sunday afternoon was to be a relaxing time.  A nice cup of tea on the front porch, perhaps read a few chapters of my current book, The Poisonwood Bible, supper later in the gazebo. 

.....and then it happened, just before I had time to boil the kettle and make a nice pot of Earl Grey.....

A huge thud from outside, and the power shut down.  Funny how quickly the neighbors all run outside when something quietens the house in an instant.  Across the street our neighbor's very big, very old, ivy-covered oak tree, weakened from the storm, had dropped a huge limb across the street........and it took the transformer and all wiring down with it.  We live at the end of a cul-de-sac so of course were prisoners on our own street........until this morning.  Tree removal and power company guys worked through the night, thankfully restoring power and opening up the street by early morning. Oh yes, we did still enjoy supper in the gazebo, with lots of candles of course.

My prayers are with those of you who have experienced Irene's wrath.  I hope you, your families and friends, and your homes are safe.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricanes and garden friends...............

Here it is - Saturday morning and Hurricane Irene is still lashing at and churning along the North Carolina coast headed for NYC and points north.  My thoughts are with everyone on the eastern seaboard. I'm hoping people are safe and damage to property and the delicate coastline is not severe.

These photos were taken on Thursday before the storm, and while it was still a gleam in the media's, always desperate for bad news, eye.  In the steamy heat of the afternoon, one of our large family of resident backyard squirrels decided one hickory nut was not enough for a teatime snack, so had lined up two on the deck rail.  All that was missing was a teapot!

When he/she saw me snapping from the kitchen window, a few minutes were spent suspended while nibbling....................

..............then back to the rail to enjoy the remainder of the feast.

No squirrels about this morning as the storm passes through, however a fox walked past our branch/twig strewn deck, and a sweet Carolina Wren just sat on the arm of a porch chair and peered in through the dining room window.  Don't you wonder where these little creatures go in bad weather?  Flimsy squirrel nests, high in the buffeted tree branches, don't seem safe, and birds just seem to completely disappear into the wet and wild greenery until the all clear sounds.

Staying close to home all day while the trees continue to sway and debris falls around us, but have a theatre date this evening  - hopefully it won't be canceled due to the weather.  Tomorrow back in the steamy nineties and of course a day of garden clean up tops the 'to do' list.  

This year in North Carolina we survived a horrendous tornado in April, felt an earthquake (last week), and are now battling a major hurricane.............why do I feel I should be moving?  Oh well, that's not going to happen any time soon...........perhaps it's practice for my upcoming ocean adventure where, on the other side of the world, roiling seas and the odd rogue iceberg may be my only concerns!

Stay safe dear friends in the path of Irene.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Storms ahead.................

The garden continues its struggle with the elements but roses keep blooming despite high temperatures here.  When I arrived home from California I loved the slightly heat-weary, shabby Peace blooms scattered in front of the porch.........................

...............and even as their petals curl and fade, a Great Green Bush Cricket made this bloom his home for almost the entire day on Wednesday.

Double click to see amazing details of this bright green beauty.

We here in North Carolina now face yet another weather if the recent earthquake didn't scare us enough.  

We wait on pins and needles as Hurricane Irene hurtles toward our already delicate coastline.  The skies are somewhat overcast this morning.  People will of course be descending on grocery stores to stock up on necessities, me included.  Sadly, a huge local annual art and craft street fair is canceled for tomorrow, as are most outdoor happenings.  We watch the news reports and wait.............hoping all will be safe and any damage minimal.  

I am two hours inland from the coast and should be OK. If you live anywhere along the eastern seaboard my thoughts and prayers will be with you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Blue skies smilin' at me..............

While visiting in northern California..........

............the snowy peak of Mt. Lassen in the distance was always a perfect view through clear skies on the hot, lazy days of August.

Every day the cloudless blue sky of Summer beckoned to us........until this one morning when, for a couple of hours, clouds painted the sky in such a beautiful way.

Irving Berlin could have been sitting right here in 1926........on the shore of Lake Almanor........when he composed "Blue Skies" for the Rodgers & Hart musical "Betsy".  The show only ran for 39 performances but the song was a huge hit.  
On the opening night, star Belle Baker forgot the lyrics after 24 encores, so Berlin, who was was sitting in the front row, sang them for her!

Blue skies smilin' at me
Nothin' but blue skies do I see
Bluebirds singin' a song
Nothin' but bluebirds all day long

Never saw the sun shinin' so bright
Never saw things going so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you're in love my how they fly

Blue days, all of them gone
Nothin' but blue skies from now on
Blue skies smilin' at me
Nothin' but blue skies do I see

Awesome cloud patterns made sitting and staring upward most pleasant.  The temperature was warm, the sun still sparkled on the lake, and people were enjoying water sports.

A perfect day even with clouds in the blue skies.
Talk about heaven.............

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Give a gal a camera and a turquoise Summer.....................

My granddaughter Jasmin took these photos at Lake Almanor.  She used my camera when we were walking back from our early morning visit to the little coffee shop - where she would like to work next Summer if she can - near Paula's lake house.  Jasmin has a fancy SLR camera and takes great photographs - have to admit she does OK using my less fancy digital point and shoot also.

As an almost 15 year old heading to high school this coming week, cars and driver's education seem to be subjects in recent conversations with Jasmin - and that is very scary.  Of course she won't be driving for a long time - at age 32 if granddad has his say!!!  Meanwhile, instead of coveting one of several Porsche convertibles in the parking lot of the coffee shop, she fell in love with this old faded turquoise truck parked in the small garden center next door. Nice photo op - especially with the beautiful purple flowers softening the metal of the vehicle.

More flowers in the pots and flower beds around the coffee shop.

The northern California sunshine certainly brings out Nature's colors and Jasmin's pics are fabulous.

I think I love this truck too!  Perhaps because it almost looks 'girly' and I could see taking a road trip in it.

One of my favorite shots I took of Jasmin at the lake - coming in from a wave runner ride.  She's definitely in a turquoise mode with that life jacket.  Now wants to paint her bedroom this color!

Summer turquoise!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Boating, birds, and the rescue........................

The day we went out early to enjoy breakfast on the water, we broke down! While awaiting the Plumas County Sheriff, who towed our ailing boat back to a safe harbor on the lake, I managed to photograph several Ospreys in the trees, and this Grebe on the water.  Looking for more info. here I was delighted to learn more about these diving water birds.

The 'good guys' coming to our rescue in a powerful little boat......................

............Paula and Jasmin enjoying just another day on beautiful Lake Almanor.  The tow took almost an hour as we were waaaaay on the other side of the lake - the thermostat had broken on Paula's boat. We actually enjoyed taking the slow route home.  It gave us more time to really look at the scenery and chat, despite having to wear the life jackets and all move to the back of the boat per the sheriff's request.........
...............even Bob relaxed and started working on his tan!  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Moonlight on the lake...........

At the end of each full and busy day, watching the sun set over Lake Almanor was the time to wind down and relax. As the moon became fuller each evening, we'd settle around the fire pit after dinner with coffee, children making S'mores, watching the last boats make for safe harbor, and late paddle boarders head for home past the deck.

One special evening the moon appeared suddenly and silently between the hills, peering at us from what seemed like a secret hiding place, surprising us as it seemed to roll along the ridge line, floating higher by the moment - I ran for my camera to capture the beauty...........

................and, as the darkness set in turning the hills to shadows, the moon's amazing light and brightness exploded on the water in a silver pathway to our door.

I'm home again, missing beautiful northern California, its scenery, and its perfect summer weather. Another fabulous stay on the lake .......................more pictures coming when the laundry's done, the garden trimmed and weeded, and life returns to ordinary!  I hope to catch up with everyone soon.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Flights of fancy...........part II

Yesterday, we took the sightseeing flight over Mt. second time as I did it last year, Bob's first and his birthday gift from Paula.

Meeting up with Dan, our pilot, for the wonderful flight in his in the bag ready for snapping non-stop!

Before heading for the mountain, Dan flew us over Paula's home - the middle house with the blue awning covered dock.

Here you can see some of the lakes in the Lassen Volcanic Park  still have surface ice - it was a severe Winter here with unusually heavy snowfalls......................

...............the solidified volcanic ash on the lower right flowed into Juniper Lake following the 1915 eruption of Mt. hasn't erupted since...............

..............the cinder cone has a trail to the top, there were a few hikers visible near the bottom as we flew over.

More pictures another time from the air, also from a fabulous road trip through fabulous uncrowded Lassen Volcanic Park. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

California country scenes........

A country drive - abandoned farm tractors.................

........minuscule country bakery where we munched on the best cranberry muffins ever.........

..............and inside some fabulous vintage baking treasures. 

You didn't think my stay in beautiful northern California would be without some "treasure hunting" did you?

Mailboxes country style.