Saturday, May 31, 2014

Saturday Night in Our Small Town

Lights and music

The early part of the week had been cool, cold even. And as the days got warmer during the week, the nights still were chilly.

The concert would be on Saturday evening, and forecasts ran from way hot to maybe that front coming from the north would bring some showers. The concert would be in the Courtyard at the hotel. We are rooting for balmy.

Friends and neighbors gather, a lot of optimists in shorts. Sister, Sister's Friend, Brother-in-Law and I are toting jackets, wary of the cold dampness that can settle on outdoor events, no matter the season. The instruments are tuned and waiting on the platform.  Tiny seat numbers affixed with zip-ties, the chairs are lined up in tight rows on the courtyard floor, even tighter than sardine-class on an airplane. Tables and bar stools on the terrace surround the courtyard, other seats on the hotel balconies overlook the venue. For the life of us, we look like our grandmas and grandpas.

But we're not here for elevator music. We're here for rock'n'roll. We're that demographic.

They start with a blast of sound, reverberating out over our little town. Feet are tapping, heads are nodding. I'm fascinated with the low rays of the setting sun turning the bassist's hair to golden fire.

It's The Travelin' Band, rocking tunes by John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

The evening starts out just before sunset. We're surrounded by pine trees silhouetted against pale blue skies. The temperature is still 70° at 8:30. The first star visible is now framed by the pine trees. By 10:00, there is a field of stars out there. (Click it. They may enlarge enough to discern.)

I could only catch occasional glimpses of the drummer from where I sat.

Finally, the first dancers can't hold it back any longer. They break the ice. I'd love to, but I'm kind of a dizzy type and my legs tend toward wobbliness and, thus, collapse. Not only that, I'd had a nice dose of anesthetic for a little procedure the day before, and who knows whether there were lingering effects.

The "John Fogerty" guy almost smiles in this one.

A few people sit impassive, as if dragged along by a spouse or friend against their will (none of these people, I might add . . . I didn't focus in on the sourpusses).  I'd be the sourpuss if I were sitting through a genre of music I'm not fond of.

One of the men sweeps our hostess, the proprietor of the hotel, onto the dance floor. She lost her husband this past year, yet carries on with the summer concert series and other events throughout the year. She and other hoteliers took an enormous hit from the massive Rim Fire that came so near to us and interrupted the flow of Yosemite-bound tourists. The federal shutdown that completely closed Yosemite was the coup-de-grace for our local tourist economy which our little town depends on.

Sister keeps giving me the eye. She says she'll hold me up if I want to go out on the dance floor. I know she wants to dance. The women are the most enthusiastic dancers and finally someone beckons her onto the dance floor (sister in blue denim jacket).

At some time along here, as I knew it would, the band strikes up "Proud Mary." I loved dancing with my husband (our first date included dancing), and I always called "Proud Mary" our favorite tune to dance to. To hell with dizzy, wobbly, recuperating. I tell Sister, I'm on. I take my glasses off so that flashing lights through trifocals won't further confuse me visually. She watches me closely, ready to grab if I tilt, but I stand up straight -- instead of the fatal looking-at-the-ground which tips me over -- and rock to the core, eyes misting at times in remembrance. It goes on and on and it's ecstasy.

I focus on feet . . .

And crowds of dancers that feel the end is drawing near.

There's enough of a chill in the air now that I'm glad I brought a wrap.

I'm sitting on something uncomfortable. I pull it out. It's my glasses that I tossed down to dance. They're kinda flat. When I bought them, not that long ago, our local optician demonstrated how they could be tied in a knot and spring back. They're not precisely springing back. But I do enough pushing and pulling to be able to see. I'll take them in later for tweaking.

Sister's Friend and I walk down the alley behind the main street businesses, hearing a band playing in the bar next door. I wonder if The Travelin' Band drowned them out. We're off to the post office to check my mail while Sister and BIL fetch the car. They arrive at the post office just as I've finished collecting my mail and that from the several boxes I'm responsible for.

I smile, thinking back on it, and I feel happy.


Monday, May 12, 2014

WARNING: Quilters @ Work, Pt. 2

You might have guessed, when I did the first warning blog about quilters at work, Pt.1, that a Pt. 2 should/would follow. Unfortunately, just because I wish it so, it doesn't always happen. There are several draft blog titles in my portfolio. I had a little jump on this follow up because I split an original selection of 41 photos of April's Quilt Camp in half, because 41 is just too many, but the second half is ready to go.

We're fed well at Quilt Camp at Old Oak Ranch. We have brunch and dinner. This is hamburger night.

Ta dah! This cute applique quilt has reached an important milestone.

Details from this quilt . . .

I'm curious about where the quilter is going with these positive/negative blocks. Hope I get to see the finished product one of these days.

I'm also wondering what these various delicate little triangles are destined for.

Wow! (The little orange things are tags to identify the positions of the blocks.)


It looks like a big quilt but it's small -- a mini? The yellow ruler is 8" long, to provide some scale.

We catch glimpses of beautiful sunsets through the surrounding trees.

Ta dah! A quilt top is completed.

There is interesting texture to this small piece.

Here's its maker. She took the day off to attend a workshop elsewhere to learn these techniques.

The beginnings of the Elvis Quilt there on the sewing machine . . .

The Easter Lily on the food table was given as a gift to one of our ladies who always celebrates her birthday at camp.

A traditional design using untraditional fabrics . . .

A path through the woods outside of camp . . .

Floral designs . . .

The Elvis Quilt is taking shape.

Ta dah! The Elvis Quilt top is complete. The pattern itself was not made for a directional fabric, in
this case, keeping Elvis' name right-side-up, so it was a challenging assembly.

The end, as campers walk up from breakfast to their packed cars to head home.

See you soon.


Thursday, May 1, 2014


Last Weekend

Saturday, 4:25 pm
Sister (on Facebook chat): Do you want to go to Yosemite tomorrow?
Sounds like a good idea and probably better than any other day. : Me

Saturday 7:13 pm
Sister :  Hubby doesn't want to go. Shall we go in time to get blueberry pancakes?
We'd better watch the weather. The forecast is a little iffy. : Me
Sister:  Yes, if it snows we shouldn't go 
.  .  .
Saturday, 11:49pm
Sister:  The weather report varies. Right now they are saying maybe 2 ' snow tonight at 4000 feet. One report says cloudy, high 56 and another says showers. So who knows. . . I will call you in the morning about 7:45 AM.

Sunday, 7:21am
Sister:  CRANE FLAT (the high-point on the highway in) - at 0700 Today: A chance of snow showers before 11am, then a slight chance of rain and snow showers. Cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 46. Calm wind becoming west around 5 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 30%. WEBCAMS show some blue sky. (This is her last chance until Memorial Day weekend.) What do you think about today?

I didn't answer the chat, so she phoned at 7:35. Considering I didn't go to bed until 3:00am, my body is crying "nooooooo." My mind is protesting "not for breakfast." I'm saying I don't want to travel if it's actually snowing at the summit (6,200 feet) . . . it's one thing to do that if you're going to or from a lodging reservation or special event, but another for a casual day trip. I worry that it will be an overcast ugly day. She proposes a 10am departure and I agree.

That's the iffy backdrop to our jaunt.

The route into Yosemite takes us through the Stanislaus National Forest and into Yosemite National Park. A lot of the Forest and some of the Park along that road was burned in the Rim Fire last August. The Forest lands all along the highway, even along our County road are still closed to public access. Our families had driven up to Yosemite at Christmas but between the ban on stopping and the general Christmas merriment in all the cars, we weren't really able to assess the damage.

Rim Fire statistics

Sister drove. I didn't have enough gas in my car, so I took pictures from the moving car, as well as at the permitted stop.

We head out the county road to the highway.
The fire came up to the left side, so it is posted.
It crossed over the roadway just ahead.

The scenic lookout, Rim of the World, is open now to look out
at the fire damage from the highway and down to the
Tuolumne River and up the other side.

Singed trees just ahead of us; denuded hills across the river
are greening up with spring grasses.

A bit farther to the right, blackened 

Major power towers running east and west roughly parallel to
Highway 120, which provides access to Yosemite Valley and
also to the Eastern side of the Sierra once the snow is cleared
over the higher elevations.

I think we're seeing the junction of South and Middle Forks
of the Tuolumne River, still from the scenic lookout.

We're inside Yosemite National Park now, where the scenic lookouts
are mostly open. We make the obligatory stop for a photo of
Half Dome, declining to fight for the spot to have us in the foreground.

We thought we were at a stop with a view of one falls or another,
but we're not seeing it, just nice green meadows and trees.

Sister and I stop for lunch at the Ahwahnee Bar. We split a
Chicken Waldorf sandwich -- is that on a croissant? I
forget -- and cups of chicken soup, tasting of curry.

Yes, we'll have some dessert. We split a slice of boysenberry pie
 with whipped cream.

Looking down over the Great Lounge at the Ahwahnee from the mezzanine.

Fresh orchids in the Mural Room

Dogwood blossoms, growing off a cedar tree  ;-)

Ahwahnee Hotel, looking toward the Solarium, from the lawn where weddings are held.

Sister and I try to do a selfie in front of dogwood trees.

Dogwood tree not obscured by two crazy ladies

The Ahwahnee

Cute little lawn decorations

I think the mail box has been spruced up. It looks more
official. Used to make me nervous to deposit a letter there.
(Back in the day when we had letters.)

I never intend to shop in Yosemite, but I'll certainly be supportive of Sister if she wants to shop. The Ahwahnee has both a Sweet Shop and a Gift Shop where shopping is possible. I did buy a small wispy scarf in the Sweet Shop that will go perfectly with a purplish summer dress I got for a trip to Provence in the summer. (I know. Imagine me in a dress. But it could happen.)

Then we went to the gift shop. I love the clothes they sell in there (among other things), and this time a found an irresistible black jacket. I've had a couple of perfect ones that I've worn out, and I keep trying.

Sister buys two Ahwahnee wine glasses on each trip there as she builds up a set of the glasses.

We moved on to Yosemite Village where we browsed the Village Store, then the Sport Shop. I found a fuzzy pale pale pink vest, possibly usable with the purplish dress that I was sure would fit. I find it won't quite zip, so I'm stuck with deciding whether to take it back or just wear it open.

Before her trip to New Zealand, Sister had got a back pack that folds into a small packet that she found extremely handy, so we went up to Habitat Yosemite (with things made of recyclable, reclaimable and organic product) next to Degnan's deli to get one for me.

Then we were off to Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. We always love perusing the Nature Shop, with lovely gifts, nice clothes and some sensational, colorful bags from Nepal which were hard to resist. (But we did resist.) By the time we got to the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls Gift Shop, our appetites for a Haagen Dazs ice cream bar had returned, so we sat in the soft chairs in the lobby of the Lodge eating them amongst the several million people who were trying to check in. After that, it was time for the obligatory photo of Yosemite Falls. I've lived here for 25 years now and visited Yosemite quite a bit before moving here, so you can imagine how many pictures I have of Yosemite Falls.

How can you go wrong with a photo of Upper Yosemite Fall?

We pass areas in the Park nearer the entrance where
the fire came right up to and across the highway.

And we'd been worried about the weather? Even these dark clouds didn't
sprinkle on us, and the clouds and shadows lent drama to the landscape.

The afternoon sun gives a whole different view from the scenic lookout.

Then back onto the County road that leads to home.

I'd been reluctant to wake up and get in the car and go Sunday morning. They'd given us such threatening forecasts for that weekend. But it was beautiful. We were both glad we did it.