Saturday, October 31, 2015

Cat Tails & Birds of Paradise

This morning, I got up before the sunrise to take a photo of a neighbor's Halloween decorations. My hardworking point-and-click no longer takes pictures well at night or very dark settings. Poor guy. Since I was out, I thought I'd wait around for the sun to show itself, so I walked a bit around the neighborhood. But, the sun didn't pop up until I got  home. Oh well. I did see some cool morning sights, including the bird of paradise hiding behind tall grass that look like cat tails.

By the way, if you're interested, click here to see the neighbor's Halloween decorations.

All Hallow's Eve to you, one and all.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Simply Because

Dear Blogging Friends,

This is for you!

Hugs with much love,

Su-sieee! Mac

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Santa Ana Valley

We use the term Xanadu to refer to "an idealized place of great or idyllic magnificence and beauty".  So, today, I'm posting photos of the real paradise where the Husband, the Mama, Molly the Cat, and I live—Hollister, California, our Xanadu.

Nearby Southside Road

Fairview Road

Enterprise Road

Garden at the San Benito County Historical Park

Monterey Street

Sixth Street

nearby Versailles Drive

Today is the letter X on Alphabe Thursday, which is hosted by the awesome Jenny Matlock. Thanks, Jenny! To participate in the meme or to read what other bloggers have written about the letter X, please click here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ten Minutes on the Ladder Today

Rattle, rattle, rattle.

"Sounds like the Mama is playing with the ladders," said the Husband. We were in our office in the front of the house. Fortunately, we can hear the rattle of ladders through the window.

I sighed. Looking away from the computer, I said, "It's time to give her medicine anyway."

* * * * *
The Mama stood holding onto the fruitless persimmon tree, the six-foot ladder propped on the ground next to her feet. She looked both guiltily and defiantly at me.

"What are you doing?"

"I need to prune the persimmon tree," she said.

"Here, take your medicine," I said, handing her a cup of water and the pill box. "Move away. Let me do it."

"I can do it," she said.

"Yes, you can. But, I'm doing it," I said, struggling to put the ladder in the narrow space.

"Just those two branches shooting straight up," she said. "Not the one with the fruit."

Climbing the ladder, I saw that she had already cut a few branches that she was able to reach from the ground or standing on her three-foot ladder. I sighed.

* * * * *
"Don't cut the branch with the persimmon."

"That's an apple," I said.

"That's a persimmon."

"No, it's an apple."



"Are you telling me that the persimmon tree now makes apples?" she asked in her you're-crazy-how-are-you-my-daughter voice.

"It's a branch from the apple tree," I said in my you're-nuts-how-are-you-my-mother voice.

"Show me the apple branch," she demanded from below.

I pulled down the persimmon branch. The apple hung clearly from its branch.

The Mama laughed.  I laughed.

"I thought the persimmon tree finally had fruit," said the Mama.

"Shall I cut off the branch?"

"Go ahead."

Altogether, it took me 10 minutes to prune the fruitless persimmon tree, which would've taken the Mama half an hour. I quite enjoyed it—the sawing, the clipping,  the precarious perch on the ladder, and the following of instructions from the Mama as she sat on her tiny green bench beneath me.

No doubt, the Mama missed that very satisfying feeling of standing on the ladder pruning away.

Monday, October 26, 2015


The last several days have been wonderful for the Husband and me. Yup.  Lots of activity—walking, talking, being with great friends, talking, enjoying relatives, talking, eating yummy food, talking, discovering new places, talking, meeting new people, talking, seeing a high school play, laughing, talking, and much, much more. I'm pooped.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Mama's Vegetable Garden

Here's a treat for you and me—a photo of the Mama's vegetable garden in the late 1990s. I'd say this is probably late February or early March. Are you as surprised as I am how few fruit trees and flower bushes were back there?

The Miracle Tree, by the shed on the right, was spindly. And, the apple tree way in the corner wasn't visible. Only the lemon tree, on the left, was going strong.

The Mama's vegetable garden was much bigger back then.  She was in her mid-70s. A youngster.

Here's how her garden looked this morning.  It's smaller and much of it is not visible. The lemon tree is hidden behind the apple and avocado trees. You still can't see the apple tree in the corner, which is now very tall, because of everything else.

I can hardly wait to show the Mama the photos.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Rock the Kasbah with Bill Murray

I don't care what the movie reviewers say, I like Rock the Kasbah, the latest Bill Murray film. One reviewer, who began his review by saying how much he liked Murray, panned the movie because Murray was in nearly every scene. Hello. Murray was the main character. The story was about his journey. Duh?

Maybe some reviewers couldn't handle Kate Hudson's character, Merci, a sultry, golden-hearted prostitute, in love with Bill Murray's character, Rich, an older, down-on-his-luck music promoter. Why not? The pairing reminded me of Goldie Hawn and Walter Matthau in Cactus Flower. Matthau's craggy look was quite handsome in my eyes.

Perhaps the reviewers couldn't believe the story taking place in Afghanistan. That it was really quite a stretch to have Murray play someone who was able to persuade an Afghan American Idol-like show to let a young woman from a small remote village sing on national television.

Or, maybe the reviewers felt it was too unbelievable for Murray to play a character that straightforwardly negotiates with everyone who has a gun in his hand. It's a movie. A fantasy. Not real life. Golly, gee.

What do I know? I also liked Bill Murray in The Razor's Edge.

I'm glad I don't pay attention to the critics.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The One-of-a-Kind Windmill in Salinas Valley

My Alphabe Thursday theme: Places I've Been

Back in March, the Husband and I stumbled upon an amazing landmark in Salinas, California, of which I think many people in our area are unaware. Standing on top of a historic mill on the Harden Estate in North Salinas was a Victorian mechanical wonder known as the Challenge Double Header Wind Engine. It's considered the only surviving windmill of its kind.


The Challenge Double Header Wind Engine was built in 1892 by Salinas Valley pioneer grain farmer and dairyman Duncan McKinnon. Back then, many called the machine's design  a "masterpiece in Victorian engineering". The wind engine has two 30-foot wind wheels that rotate in opposite directions. It also has two smaller wheels which rotate the wind engine so that it faces the wind.

McKinnon decided to build the wind engine after seeing an advertisement. The man had vision. He used the wind engine to power his mill, a water pump, blacksmith shop, and carpentry shop. One source says that the wind engine was used until 1906 when electricity became available in the area. Another source says that the mill operation stopped around World War I.

Nobody operated the windmill until 2006 when it was restored by the Harden Foundation, which is based on the Harden Estate (originally McKinnon's property).  The windmill is closed to the public, but people wishing to see it can make arrangements to tour it by contacting the Harden Foundation.  The Husband and I happened to be in luck that Spring afternoon. Joe Grainger, Executive Director of the Harden Foundation, generously gave us a tour of the inside of the mill.

The story of the restoration is amazing as well. In 2004, the wind engine was removed from the top of the mill and traveled across country to Bridgewater, Virginia where the restoration took place. To read about the restoration project, click here

I was astounded when I first looked up at the wind engine. I didn't think it was a windmill. Nope. Not at all. It reminded me of a Ferris Wheel, a clipper ship, and what I imagine Jule Verne's time machine ought to look like.  I wonder what John Steinbeck thought of it. What would you think it is if you didn't know it was a windmill?

A day late is better than not at all. To check out other posts of, or to participate in, Alphabe Thursday, hosted by the lovely Jenny Matlock, click here.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Day 76 with Tilda-Hilda

Tilda-Hilda and I pedaled nearly four miles today, back and forth to downtown to pay a bill. So inconsistent, we are. Not paying bills, but working out. At least, we are getting out there now and then. It feels good when we do.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Red Pallets

Red Pallets Zipping Down the Highway. Sounds like a good title for something, don't you think?

Yesterday morning, I saw a rig loaded with red pallets zipping past us at the traffic light. It was a poem in movement. "There goes a picture," I said to the Husband. "Too bad I didn't have my camera out."


"That truck with the red thingies on them."

"Those are pallets. What makes that a picture?"

"Because they're red. How often do you see fire-red pallets? And, a lot of them piled high on the back of a truck?"

About seven minutes later, the Husband said, "We're coming up to the red pallets."

I fumbled for my purse, hoping the traffic lights up ahead would stay red. I got the camera out. The lights turned green. I rolled down my window. The husband pulled into the left lane to get around the truck.  I focused the camera.

Oh well. I got a little bit of the red pallets, at least.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Painting Olive Branches

Friends Jenn and Moose and the Husband and I took part in a paint party at the San Benito Olive Festival last Saturday. Altogether, there were 18 participants. Hmmm, I think the Husband and Moose were the only guys. What's up with that? Is getting guys to paint the same as getting them out on the dance floor? The Husband and Moose have no problem shaking their booties.  We did a lot of that at the festival, too.

Our teacher-host was Artist/Sculptor Paul Loughridge. His robot and metal sculptures are especially trés cool. Check some of them out at his website.  Okay, back to the paint party. Being that it was at an olive festival, Paul guided us through a painting of olive branches.

Having not painted since grammar school, I was hesitant about whether I could recreate his painting. Several other participants articulated how I felt. He reassured us. We were not to worry. We would be creating our own original paintings. And, so we began. He told us which brush to use, what colors to blend, and so forth and so on.

We were the afternoon session and I'm happy to say we were a handful. We gave him a hard time in a delightful way. We vied for his attention. "Teacher! Teacher!" We glowed when he gave us positive feedback.  And, yes, when it was all done, we each had a unique painting. 

By the way, my olives are in the shape of hearts.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Gift from Sweet Maria

"You have beautiful earrings," I said to the woman in the grey coat walking beside me. I was going with the flow of the crowd checking out the various food booths and trucks at yesterday's San Benito Olive Festival in our county.

"Thank you," the woman replied, stopping to give me a better look at her earrings, so I thought. They were dangling earrings in an intricate delicate design with tiny balls hanging at the top and bottom. They had an East Indian look to them.

As she was telling me how she had a lot of earrings that her relatives gave her she began to take one earring off. I figured for me to look at the lovely design closer. Some women do that—take off an earring to show another woman who is admiring them. I've done it myself. Why do we do that? I don't know.

She handed me both earrings, which startled me. I studied them. "Gorgeous," I said, as I handed them back. She did not take them.

"They're yours," she said, smiling widely.

I'm sure my mouth fell open. I looked at her, the earrings, then back at her.

"I have so many earrings, I could wear one each day, and still not have worn then all. What am I going to do with all of them," she said in a joyful voice. "So, I decided that when anyone says something nice about my earrings, I'm giving them to her."


"Thank you." That's all I recall saying. Friend Jenn had us take a photo together. The woman laughed. "I rarely take photos. I don't take good photos."

We exchanged contact information, so I could send her pictures. The beautiful lady is named Maria and lives in town. I ran into her an hour or so later, but I almost didn't recognize her because she was no longer wearing her grey coat. Nor her beautiful earrings.

I asked to take a photo of her. She laughed. "I don't take photos much. Now, look at me today."

Yes, look at her. Maria, the definition of a beautiful woman, a beautiful soul.

Thank you again, sweet Maria.

Please note that the dialogue was an approximate of what I recall was said. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Poor Tree

The ornamental pear tree in our front yard is totally mixed up. Flowers are blooming on some of its branches. They are definitely pretty, but that's not supposed to happen in October.

Nor, for that matter in December or January. That was going on last year and earlier this year.

Some branches bloomed in mid or late Spring when they are supposed to do their thing.

I don't think it's because of the drought. This tree is said to tolerate drought conditions. I think it's the hot temperatures we've been having the last two months that's causing some flowers to bloom.

We have yet to see flowers bloom on every branch at the same time. If it did, wowza, I imagine it to look like a tree full of snow.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Hollow of Mighty Old Oak Tree

The Husband thought the photo was that of a cave. Nope. It's the hollow of the mighty old oak tree that I shared in last week's The Weekend in Black and White.

And, that's where I am again, today. To participate in this Friday meme hosted by Dragonstar, or to check out black and white photos from bloggers around the world, click here

Thursday, October 15, 2015


My Alphabe Thursday theme: Places I've Been

Vegas as in Las Vegas. The fertile lowlands of a city that's in southern Nevada. Yes, fertile lowlands is the English translation of the Spanish plural las vegas. Hmmm, could that be why you can find quite a lot of golf courses is Vegas?

Some might say that the fertile lowlands refer to something other than terrain. But, I'm not going there.

I've been to Vegas four times. The first time was in 1975 when I went cross-country with a college friend. The Strip wasn't a big deal yet and Downtown Vegas was so-so, but then I was still 20 so what was the use of being there. The second time was another quick stop as the first, late dear Husband and I were driving back from our first big camping trip together. Again, yawwwwn. We had after all spent a week down in a canyon by the Colorado River.

In the late 1990s, the Husband and I spent a few days in Vegas and by then the Strip was a very big surreal deal. The photos are from that trip. We gambled our nickels away at the various casinos and shook our heads at the unbelievable sights, such as the Venice gondolas, the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramid, and the Brooklyn Bridge. The best stuff was off the Strip—the older part of Vegas, the Boulder Dam, and Mt. Charleston. My favorite souvenir was the library card from the Las Vegas Library.

About 8 years ago,  the Husband and I stopped overnight on our way to New Mexico. Nothing much to talk about other than we stayed at a hotel that catered to locals. I liked it because it was low-key and not so flashy. The hotel casino gobbled up my nickels just as well as the ones on the Strip had.

Next time, if there's a next time, I'll have to choose whether to play the slot machines or try out the fancy restaurants with my saved up nickles. All in all, I think it's fun to, as Elvis Presley sings, Viva, Viva, Las Vegas.

It's the letter V on Alphabe Thursday, a weekly meme hosted by the wonderful Jenny Matlock. To participate or to read other V posts, click here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Day 75 with Tilda-Hilda and The Guys

The Husband and his Sun Flame rode with Tilda-Hilda and me today. Hurrah! That's always fun. We pedaled nearly six miles on as flat of a route as we could find. There were a couple of hairy spots with inattentive drivers. Silly people.

The lighting was strange this morning because of a fire about 20 miles away to the south of town. It's very dry out there; unfortunately, the fire has spread over 300 acres, the last I heard. Hopefully, the firefighters can contain it today. Talk about being brave. Those men and women are the best examples of courage.

See you tomorrow with Jane Austen, Action Doll.

Update: The fire has now spread to 600 acres, eating up hillsides and mountainsides. More than 200 fire fire fighters, including firefighting pilots, are working on the blaze. According to afternoon news reports, only 10 percent of the fire was contained by mid-afternoon.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Day 74 with Tilda-Hilda

Yesterday, Tilda and I pedaled more than 2 blocks. The last time before that was 2 weeks ago. I contracted that silly bug that lingers in your throat and chest, which causes you to cough and cough.  Fortunately, I didn't have a horrible bout of it and, best of all, neither the Mama nor the Husband caught it.

Even though I can still feel something in me, I decided to go for a bike ride that meant putting on shoes rather than sandals today. Tilda-Hilda and I pedaled 4.6 miles in 24 minutes. We are stronger than I thought. Hurrah! Who knows, we may be able to pedal longer miles by the end of the month. We shall see.

Our Sweet Molly

I wonder if Molly the Cat knows that she's a cat. Does she think we are different-looking cats? Or, maybe she thinks she's a human. Does she ever wonder why we're in charge of food, and, why we can't always get right what food she truly likes.

The Husband wondered about the time she was stalking a mouse and whether she thought she was shopping for food. Did she wish she had a shopping cart?

Molly is sleeping at the top of the stairs as I'm writing. She has a new routine of coming upstairs in the evening. Earlier this week, she was having tummy problems, and it was cold downstairs, so I brought her upstairs to sleep with us, if she liked. She did and does. She generally waits until we're both asleep before she jumps onto the bed. In the early morning, I've waken up to find her squeezed between us or settled into the back of my knees when I'm on my side.

Sweet Molly the Cat.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Your Grandparents' Music

"And that's how our generation does it!" exclaimed one of the rocking band members, who was in his early to mid-60s.

"Whoooo-hoooo!" shouted the Husband and I, clapping wildly on the dance floor. We'd been dancing our hearts, souls, and bodies out for the past three hours to soul, funk, and good old rock 'n roll. That last dance—Johhny B. Goode. Whooo-hooo!

Most of the evening, we shared the dance floor with a few other old fogeys and one younger couple who had sweet technical dance moves. During the last hour, young men and women of the reunion Class of 2005 streamed into the lounge. But, it was not until the last two songs that they had enough liquid courage to get out on the dance floor, and finally get into the music of their grandparents generation. 

What a fun night! The band even dedicated a song to me—Cinnamon Girl. First time, ever. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Last Name Game

The fronds kind of form the letter E.

Roger Green of Ramblin with Roger did this fun game for his post on ABC Wednesday some weeks back. When I read the post, I thought I'd like to do the game one day. You're in luck, this is the day.

Directions of The Last Name Game: Use the first letter of your last name to answer each of the following questions. They have to be real places, names, things, nothing made up.

1. Last name?  Echaore-McDavid.  Yup. That's my legal surname. Some people file me under E, while others file me under M.

2. An animal? Ewok. Okay, that's made up. Or, is it?  Emu, then.

3. A boy’s name: Evan, the coffee guy at Vertigo Coffee who can make amazing designs on coffee drinks.

4. A girl’s name: Edith, as in Edith Bunker and Jenn's sister.

5. An occupation? Event Coordinator is a real job, which I think would be fun to do. My first thought though was an Eagle Tamer, which is probably not a real thing.

6. A color? Ecru.  Is that a kind of beige or green?

7. Something you wear? Eyeglasses. Coming up with answers is getting difficult. Maybe I should've gone with the letter M.

8. A beverage? Evil water. Yuckiest—vodka and orange juice, which was the first drink I got horribly drunk on.  Okay, okay. Evil water is not real. Earl Grey Tea is real. I can never remember if its Earl Grey or English Breakfast that I don't like. There, another one—English Breakfast.

Why didn't I think of elephant for something?

9. A food? Eggplant. We had that for dinner last night. I like it with lots of cheese, but I don't cook it that way because the Husband and I don't need to eat a lot of cheese and the Mama doesn't care for a lot of cheese. The Husband and I could be rather svelte if we ate like the Mama.

10. Something found in bathroom? Empty toilet roll.

11. A place? East Palo Alto. East Oakland. Easter Island.

12. A reason you’re late? Error. Meaning I, or the Husband, or both, made a bad (again) estimation of how long it would take me or us to get there.

13. Something you shout? Ewwwww!

14. Something you hate? Someone who has an overblown ego.

15. A band? Everly Brothers.
 A song that I most associate with the group: "Unchained Melody"

That was fun. Until tomorrow.  Ciao.  Hmmm. Do Italian Canadians say, "Ciao, Eh!"

Friday, October 9, 2015

In the Shade of the Mighty Old Oak Tree

It's Friday and means the Weekend in Black and White hosted by Dragonstar. To participate or check out other B&W photos, please click here.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Up in the Sky

My Alphabe Thursday theme: Places I've Been

Look up in the sky. Is it a plane? Is it a bird? No. It's Su-sieee! Mac.

Nine years ago, I fell through the sky with my fellow Jumping Beans Jeanette, Jennifer, and Charlie. That was our big thing to mark being in our 50s.

Yes, yes, I know. I've mentioned my jump before in other posts.  But, I haven't ever described being up in the sky, free-falling, and then floating downward. It only took nine years to write about it.

Jennifer, Jeanette, Su-sieee! Mac, and Charlie
photo courtesy of Lisa Q.

We, jumping beans, waited four hours one Sunday afternoon to board a small plane, get attached to a professional skydiver, be dropped off at a certain point in the sky, and fall, then float, within minutes to the drop zone. Interestingly, none of our significant others wanted to experience it all with us.

Charlie and I opted to fall from the highest altitude—18,000 feet.  Gulp. I just came back from figuring how high that is—about 3.4 miles. Wowza (said in a little voice).

What do I still remember about being up there?

I was grinning like a crazy person on the plane ride. We reached a certain altitude and out came the oxygen masks. I felt fine without it, but still put it on. The view of the top of the Diablo Range was spectacular. I wondered if I was looking into a caldera at one point.

I sat on my instructor's (aka the professional skydiver) lap in order for him to attach him to me. I outweighed him by at least 30 pounds. I felt bad that I may have been crushing him. When it was time to jump, he and I inched our way to the door, me in front of him. The videographer jumped first. I hesitated at the door. The instructor pushed me, and voila I was yelling and "flying" away from the plane.

Supposedly I arched my back, and my legs bent back between the instructor's legs. He stretched my arms out in, I guess, a standard position. He motioned for me to yell, which I still don't understand why. The videographer flew up to us and motioned for me to look up at him and the camera.  I was more interested in looking around. I could see all the way to the Monterey Bay.

Think of all the superlatives you can and that's what it was like to be up in the sky.

It was very noisy up there. I suppose it was the sound of our bodies, clothing, and skin flapping about. I can almost approximate the sound when I lean my head out the car window when the Husband is driving at a good clip.

The deployment of the parachute was kind of jarring. It opened and we jerked up in the air. Then, we began a smooth, quiet descent. The instructor zig-zagged us downward over the golden hills of San Benito County. I became a chatterbox. The Husband said he could hear me from way below.

The drop zone was the field across from the small church where I was baptized as a baby. As we approached the drop zone, I held my legs straight out. Bump! I was down on the ground. And, then came the hardest part—getting up.

Soon after that day, I fantasized about being a very old lady shuffling to the plane every morning for my daily jump.

You never know.

It's the letter U (as in Up) at Alphabe Thursday, hosted by the delightful Jenny Matlock. To participate or check out other U posts, please click here.