Thursday, January 31, 2013

At The Queen's Table . . .

Seed snow and even a few sprinkles danced around the Valley Sunday afternoon and evening, but sun hit the tips of the north rim and gradually slid down into the Valley on Monday morning. It didn’t warm up much, however. Mist from Yosemite Falls froze on the cliff face, making it look like a big white Christmas tree, with a puddle of ice at the base.

The first culinary demonstration at the new session of Chefs' Holidays at the Ahwahnee Hotel was due to start at ten on Monday morning. We were afraid of missing the connecting bus from Yosemite Lodge where we were staying to the Ahwahnee, so we took the car instead.

People lined up at both entrances to the Great Room. Sister, Sister-in-Law and Sister’s Friend who was “L” yesterday, but I’m changing it to El today. They were excited at the prospect of the demos. I, on the other hand, who have lost all interest in cooking and who will happily fill my tummy with granola bars and PB&Js, find the thought of watching a food demo sleep-inducing. I sat in the lobby to the Great Room, in front of a toasty fire, reading for a while and eventually snoozing.

Prospective gourmet cooks watch professionals demo in the Ahwahnee Great Room:

I have a list of the cooks scheduled, but some appearances apparently had to be switched to different times, so won’t mention names here, since I wasn’t in the room.

Toasty fire, with decorative art above the mantel:

We bused on over to Yosemite Village for lunch and some shopping, then back to the Ahwahnee for an afternoon demo (and nap). No, actually, I started looking through my photos to choose which to use for the blog.

We had reservations for dinner in the Ahwahnee Dining Room this evening, so we took the bus back to the Lodge to change for dinner, and en route learned the secrets of making the connection to the Ahwahnee with only two buses running on the hour-long circuit, thus avoiding having to allow an hour to get back for dinner. Or subsequent culinary demos.

At last, pine needles, snow, ice and mud are being scraped off the walkways, another use for a Bobcat. (Can’t resist machinery being operated, as you know.)

When we got back to the Dining Room, we were informed that the Queen’s Table was being prepared for us. It’s so-named because Queen Elizabeth once dined at that table. It’s in an alcove with a spectacular view – in the daytime – of Yosemite Falls and the cliffs. As evening falls, we can see remnants of blue sky above the cliffs, and reflections of all the chandeliers in the room, including our own. (El’s back, Sister opposite her, SIL on the left. The couple beyond us was celebrating their 41st Anniversary.

The bread basket:

“Smile, Sister.”

We had two prime rib dinners split among us. Here’s my half serving of prime rib, broccoli and mushrooms, mashed potatoes and Yorkshire pudding.

Then there was the “Three Petite Brulees,” distributed among three of us. I got the Tahitian Vanilla Crème Brulee. It was really very tiny, but plenty of sweetness for me.

We took the car back to the Lodge, with four overstuffed ladies who will not fit their jeans the next day. And El was thrilled with her experience.

See you soon.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Yosemite Bound . . .

Cats have been suspicious of my every move since I began packing up boxes of books from my study umpty-ump days ago, but when I pulled my suitcase and backpack out of the closet, they didn't want to leave my side. Contrary to my usual practice of packing late the night before and getting up early to finish moments before time for departure, I was packed by Saturday afternoon for a Sunday morning departure, and even got the place tidied up for My Gal Friday to clean in my absence. Zowie!

We had been watching weather forecasts in Yosemite for days, concerned about our travel day. Would it snow ahead? Would it be snowing on the day? Would we have to detour in by a lower elevation route? Sister was driving this time for a change. She hadn't driven in snow for years, but her car is well-equipped to handle conditions. Her Friend L was joining us and Sister-in-Law for the first time on one of our Yosemite jaunts.

In another first, three cats who often make themselves scarce for my departure cat-count all gathered at the door as I backed my way out, Chloe and Jean-Luc, the mortal enemies, even milling  around together mournfully.

It had rained within hours of our departure, but the sky was mostly clear when we left, with big clouds that could bode almost anything. We weren't terribly far up the highway before we did find ourselves surrounded by snowy forests.


As we got over the summit and were heading down into Yosemite Valley, the roads were a bit clearer, more sheltered and at descending elevations.

Bridalveil Falls, from the floor of
Yosemite Valley

El Capitan, on the other side of the Valley

And Yosemite Falls -- A Classic View

Sister had provided some helpful suggestions to the management after our last visit in December and as an upshot to the conversation, our rooms were ready on arrival. I had a room with Sister-in-Law and Sister had a room with Friend L. We joked with Sister about being a VIP now, and SIL called Sister on the room phone in her best I'm-the-management voice, enquiring whether Sister had received the flowers and fruit basket in her room. Lots of yucks.

Sister and Sister-in-Law at lunch in the Food Court

It was pretty darned cold in Yosemite when we arrived, and afternoon clouds looked like snow might not be over.

We headed for the Free Valley Shuttle over to the Ahwahnee Hotel to get information about Chef's Holidays Events which had been going on through January, and to make reservations for dinner at the Ahwahnee one evening, as L had never eaten in the Grand Dining Room. There was a reception for the Chefs that evening, which we ultimately chose to skip, and went to the Ansel Adams Gallery instead. (Let the shopping begin, what with the Ahwahnee Gift and Sweets Shops, Ansel Adams, Visitor Center, Village Store, Lodge Gift Shop, Lodge Store. Let's see. Have I missed any?)

The raven at the shuttle stop at the Lodge, posing for visitors, ever hopeful some tidbit of food might be dropped his way, as we set out on our errands for the afternoon.

Sister-in-Law beside one of the fancy new outdoor heaters at the Ahwahnee entrance. (Truthfully, they don't put out as much heat as the old conventional patio heaters they  previously had.

When we got back to our rooms with the intention of having hors d'oeuvres in Sister and L's room, these awaited them on their table. Ha! VIP indeed. The yuck was on us. (No flowers, however.)

See you soon.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cats and Packing

Saturday - Playing Catch-Up Day by Day

This day consisted largely of sorting and packing, some with purposes beyond merely removing things from the bedroom and the old study. First of all, I had old some boxes in the closet with what I consider travel items  which I’ve gathered before many trips over the years, accumulating little gadgets designed to solve all my travel problems.

In my early days I acquired such things as packets of soap or Woolite, graduating to tubes of soap, all really a bit on the heavy side in aggregation. I got blow-up hangers to hang wet laundry on, until I discovered that hotel-supplied shampoo or body wash cleans clothes just fine, so a stretchy clothesline is all I carry now for laundry. I can’t even list all the things I had which filled a suitcase before I even started to add little things like clothing and shoes. Still, I kept the items stashed in boxes because I don’t throw things away. I or someone else might be able to use them someday!

I need to separate clothing and travel items that I’ll need to keep out from what I can pack away for the duration of construction. There are the items that are trip-specific, such as for an upcoming visit to Yosemite; items for quilt camp which are more extensive than for other travel, such as towels, toiletries, sleeping bag, blankets, and pillows. For Europe, there is my euro-surge-protector, and European plug adapters. There is the possibility of needing clothes for winter, spring and summer seasons, and clothing styles for Provence, to which I might be traveling before the end of the project.

Sorting into separate boxes, including a box for to-be-sorted-later, I emptied 65 hangers of clothing to be donated or dumped. It was a long day doing this project, not to mention laundry for myself and for items to be donated.  Such boring subjects. I took no pictures.

But there are always cats and construction. ;-)

Tiny Kitten sunning itself after that cold foggy night

Long view of the addition from the back

My head in relation to the beam

My head just clears the joists. Whoops!
You see the dermatology work after all.

End view from the front

It was the funniest thing to see the feral cat shinny up a
vertical board and walk expertly along the top.

The cat sits here quite at ease.

Earlier this day, I posted a January Photo A Day of the boys in one nest,
illustrating the word “Together.”  This is "Not Together."

The Affront: Henley with A Paw to the Face of Jean-Luc

The Response: Jean-Luc with a Right to the Knuckle

The Evil Eye and Sparring

Slashing Tails


Peace is made. All's well that ends well.

See you soon.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Major Progress . . . and Panicsville

Friday, things were happening fast and furious (no political commentary intended) on the room addition. Craig and Tom hit the slab running at 8 a.m., sawing and pounding. Ever alert to changes in the sounds and rhythms of the construction crew, I heard vehicle doors slamming at 8:30.

Woo hoo! The heating guys.

When I'd had a new furnace installed, quite a few years ago, instead of using the original chase up through the roof to vent it, the installer had run pipes out through the side of the house, pipes I had to duck under to walk around in the basement. Don't think of this as "basement" in the way all those HGTV house programs use it: A "finished basement" -- one which has wall coverings of some sort or may even be a man cave or office or bedroom, or not finished, a space where the washer and dryer and odd junk is tossed into a "spooky place."

My basement is just the area under the house where my husband threw up some shelves to store old paint cans and boxes of stuff, but is really just a dirt slope ranging from standing-room to can't-get-there-even-if-slithering-on-belly.

The pipes went right across the standing-up area. Annoying to knock one's head on or carry stuff in a ducking position. And exiting the wall right where the new joists would butt into the house.

The heating guy nicely rerouted the vent pipe across the "short" area of the basement and out a different wall. It used to come across over my right shoulder, with me looking at it from here, straight out this way from where the white pipe connects.

Men at work:

I take a lot of photos through the window next to these frisky critters. They're asleep, not fighting. (Fight photos available at a later date.)

While the men were on their lunch break, I went for an inspection of what had been done so far for the day. And what a gorgeous day it was, with spectacular puffy clouds.

What's done by lunch break:

The guys at work, Henley's tail is the black vertical bar, as he wanted to cuddle my camera. All this packing stuff has the kitties clingy and nervous.

Sometime around 3:30 I looked out that kitchen window that you see in the first photo, around the corner from the construction, and saw billows of smoke streaming from around that side of the house. Four p.m. makes the end of the work day for the guys and it seemed a little late to start a construction burn. Naturally I had to go take a peek. The billows were everywhere, no sign of a fire. Craig and Tom had donned jackets and sweatshirts. Fog. Damp, wet fog. What a change in weather. They were working furiously, I supposed to finish up the joists on one end of the construction. I'm not sure that they did, depending on whether there'll be one or two more next to the house.

View from the window
Enveloped in fog:

You thought by Panicsville I meant the smoke?  That would not be correct.

More terrifying still, when I returned to my computer, the screen was black. No big deal at first. It goes to sleep like that after a few minutes of idle time, to be awakened by a couple of taps on the space bar or a wiggle of the mouse. Only that didn't work. Tried harder and the black screen remained, Now Panicsville began to set in.

I forced a shutdown, then tried a restart. The bright Microsoft icon came on with "Windows is loading . . . ," spun the little circle for a moment, then returned to black. Uh-oh.

I tried again, to the same effect. Rats!  Brother-in law, to whom I would turn for mysteries like this, was in the Little City down the Hill with Sister for business and shopping.

My Computer Guru? An option of last resort.  I usually get out of these things on my own, but I was at a loss where to start. The computer, a Sony All-In-One, was generating a lot of heat and the fans were roaring, which happens when my photo app is open and poised to access thousands of photos.

I would let it cool down, then try again. This time it got to a screen in safe mode, with a choice between continuing to start Windows normally, or to do something that I hadn't a clue about. The "continuing with Windows" choice was highlighted by default, so it was a non scary choice to make. I also said yes, it could run checkdisk, another highlighted choice.

Checkdisk cranked on and on. I took this picture midway through the process. (I only noticed the reflection when I looked at it full sized. It describes deleting an error with type code 128 in a number of attribute files.)

The process appeared to stall at 67%, inducing another mild panic, so I walked away for awhile. I returned as the process was winding up and the results page zipped by at lightning speed and disappeared into a normal boot up.

Somewhere out there knows where I can look for the checkdisk log report. This was the usual "I fixed it but I haven't a clue how."

Enough excitement for one day!

See you soon.