A Trip to Southern California, First of Two Posts

A Trip to Southern California, First of Two Posts

This week, we went to Southern California for a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar, the subject of which was Politics and Principles.  The venue was a nice Hilton Hotel  near the John Wayne Orange County Airport.  Over two days, we had a President’s Club reception, a nice dinner, with remarks by Dr. Larry Arnn, the President of the college, and an excellent lecture by Andrew Roberts, on The Importance of Churchill for Today.  He brought, and signed, copies of his book on Churchill.  Which weighs about 5 pounds!  I bought one, and from just the first few pages it is going to be a joy to read.

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The second day, there were talks by Peter Schweitzer, who spoke on the corruption of America’s political elite (which we are all familiar with already); Dr. Arnn, who discussed American Principles and Public Policy;

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Christopher Bedford, on Trump and the Media;

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And Dr. Shelby Steele, who discussed the current state of race relations in America.  I know of him through his excellent writing in the Wall Street Journal, and I was excited to hear him speak.

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I was very lucky, because on Saturday as we were just packing to leave, I actually met Dr. Steele in the hotel corridor, so I got a chance to exchange a few words with the man, who is very gracious.

The Hillsdale program ended Thursday at 3:00PM, so we had the rest of the day free.  We headed over to the nearby South Coast Plaza Mall, which is any shopper’s dream.  Inside the main court, we saw their wonderful Chinese New Year display.  They did the Year of the Pig proud!

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That’s a pretty happy pig, sitting on all that gold!  But you really have to look up to get a real feel for the holiday.

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The epitome of Festive!

On Friday, we headed up to Santa Monica, to meet a Ricochet friend of ours.  Ray really wanted to see Venice Beach and its Canals, and our friend offered to take us on a stroll, and then out for lunch.  It was a bit later than we planned, but we had a nice walk.  Just in case you are not familiar, the “canals” of Venice, California, are narrower, and much shallower than the real Venice!  But one of the canals is named The Grand, and people whose houses back up to the canal milk it for all it’s worth.

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That’s their house number on the left!  Very creative painting on their wall.

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Very pretty, but that water is about two feet deep.  No danger of drowning if you fall in.

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We figured that the owner of this yard was a modernist type of artist.  Both the tree with the crows, and the legs above, are in the same big yard.

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When was the last time you saw a dinghy with a figurehead?

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This is definitely Southern California!  Ripe lemons!

Of course, when we were done and back to the car on the main road, what should we see across the street?

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Yep, the homeless encampment.  It was like we’d never left home.

 

 

Snow-Capped

I got out this afternoon with the camera.  There are a lot of plants and structures that are snow-capped.

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That Japanese Maple in the back yard sure looks funny with its tiny asymmetrical cap.

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Our neighborhood has a surfeit of dentists.  The office has some nice landscaping, all capped with snow this week.

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These concrete structures are found at Silver Lake Park.  I have no idea what they are, but they look like raised mausoleums at a cemetery.  Capped with snow.

Snow Birds

I love watching the birds that come to our seed and suet feeders in the back yard.  Especially when it’s snowing.  Here’s who showed up the last couple of days.

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Our Varied Thrush has a bug in her beak!  They are carnivores, like their Robin cousins.

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A pair of Song Sparrows.  They were fighting Juncos and Chickadees for the feeder stations.

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Junco atop the suet feeder, waiting his turn at the seed feeder.

Below are visitors from previous years.

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My very favorite has to be the little masked Townsend’s Warbler. Isn’t he cute?

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Thirteen Common Bushtits on our Suet Feeder, January 2012

I could just watch them all day long.

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This is our back yard last Sunday.

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This is the parking lot at work Monday.

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This is right out my front door about a half-hour ago.  We love standing at our kitchen window and watching the birds at our two feeders (seed and suet).  The cat likes watching them, too.  We will get 4-6 inches this weekend, and I will post more pictures later.  I love snow!

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Kikyo watching out the second-floor bedroom window.

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Our backyard this morning!  The snow is so heavy, it knocked over both of our old Arborvitae that have been here since 2000 when my house was built.

Some of my favorite things

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Tulip Fields near Mount Vernon, WA

The Skagit Valley and its tulip fields is about a 45-minute drive from home.

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A ship’s wake.  I have been on the aft deck of an aircraft carrier, and seen that wake make a 90-degree turn in a very short time.

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My wedding ring, a “Mini Moebius” by Margaret Ostling.

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My beautiful violin, by David VanZandt, New York (now in Seattle), made in 1987.

Kikyo, our aristo-cat

My gorgeous, soft “Aristo-Cat”, the Lady Kikyo.

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Winding Road-Eastern Washington State

The shrub-steppe terrain around the Columbia River Gorge, and around the Yakima Valley in Eastern Washington.

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The view from the Diablo Lake Overlook, on the North Cascades Highway.

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And storm clouds against an achingly blue sky.

All these things bring me pleasure, and tranquility in an increasingly stressful world.

It’s Been A Year

It’s Been A Year

2018 has been quite a year in the RB49 Universe.  We survived just fine, but not without some bumps and bruises.  Well, whose life doesn’t have some bumps?

On January 2, we got a new Grand-Niece, when my nephew became a Dad.  She’s a cutie, and I’m going to her first birthday party tomorrow.

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Also in January, I received a promotion and a raise in salary at my job as a Buyer at an aerospace company.  Later in the year, I received another raise in salary.  But along with that promotion came lots of new responsibilities connected to the re-organization of our department, and I have to admit I have felt overwhelmed at times.  When I left for the year on December 21, I had over 800 emails in my inbox that I simply did not have time to get to.  And when I logged in today, I found that, even though my contacts are aware that the company is closed, they are still sending me email and expecting responses!  So I know that when I return I will have a full docket.  Sigh…it’s a burden being indispensable! Oh, and I almost forgot.  On January 2 I celebrated my tenth anniversary at my company, which is big for me, since it’s the longest I’ve ever stayed at any one job.

In the “bumps and bruises” department, for the first time since I have been married (2003), I spent so much time in various dentist’s chairs, I maxed out both dental insurance policies!  I lost a bridge that had been in my mouth since age 11, when one of the two anchor teeth turned out to be rotten, and I lost a molar for the same reason.  So in 2019, one of my first items of business will be to get an implant where the bridge was. Well, when you get to be age 69, stuff tends to start falling apart.  I come from a family with bad teeth, so it’s not unexpected.

In April, we did a whirlwind Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Colorado Springs, where we met up with our Ricochet friends and attended some very interesting lectures.

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In May, another of our Ricochet friends happened to be in Seattle for a conference, so we went downtown and had a nice dinner.  In June, yet another of our Ricochet friends came to town, and a bunch of us did some sightseeing, and a tour of the Boeing factory, and had another nice dinner, a bit closer to home.

On a sadder note, also in May, my brother-in-law succumbed to liver disease, and my sister was left a widow.  We are closer now that we were before, and I have come to understand better, how much she has always done for our family.  I surely appreciate her more.

Throughout the year, Hubby and I took our normal amount of day trips, to the Diablo Lake Overlook in the North Cascades, and to LaConner in Skagit County.  In July/August, we went on the Hillsdale College Cruise to Hawaii and back, and my readers will have enjoyed my essays on the subject.  Well, it’s December, so here’s a little reminder.

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At the end of August, Hubby had a total knee replacement operation, and he was out of work for the entire month of September.  I got a lot of exercise, going up and down the stairs bringing him stuff in our bedroom.  He has bounced back, and recovered nicely, and has resumed playing easy squash at his athletic club.

In November, we went to Victoria, BC for an accordion function with Hubby’s band, and had a nice time reacquainting ourselves with the town.  So here we are now, in the last week of the year 2018, and all in all it’s been pretty good.  We are both healthy, safe, and gainfully employed.  2019 will be a bit unsettled, as my company was sold in the fall, and the sale will close in the third quarter.  We have no idea what our fate will be, but we expect some big changes, and some job cuts.  Normally, the company who bought my company, has a reputation for “slash-and-burn” tactics when it buys another company, but this time may be different as we are about equal in size.  Who knows, I may be required to retire next year, even though I sure don’t want to.

Just two days ago, I again got in my car, and drove to Seattle to participate in the University Unitarian Church full-length Messiah Sing/Play-along.  My stand partner was there again, and we had a great time playing the awe-inspiring music of Handel, and listening to the big choir sing the inspiring words, all taken from the Bible.  It just makes my heart sing, and brings a smile every time.

One thing I do know is that this blog will continue in the New Year.  I heartily wish all my followers and readers a Happy New Year, and very best wishes for a healthy, prosperous 2019.

 

Winter is here. Local winters in past years.

Living in the Pacific Northwest (AKA Pacific North-Wet), means mostly rain and not much snow.  However, the Cascade and Olympic Mountains are within a 2-hour drive from most places.  Here are some pictures of the area where I live, from previous years.junco-sparrow

My own back yard bird feeder, with a junco and song sparrow.

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This is the parking lot where I work.  January of 2011, where the snow started around 7PM the previous night, but people were distracted much of the day, admiring the snow-covered trees.

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The ski area at Stevens Pass, along Highway 2 in the Cascade Mountains, about an hour from our house.

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Snow “sculpture” in my back yard.

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Downtown Leavenworth in winter, looking west down Front Street

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This has got to be my favorite winter bird picture. He’s a Townsend’s Warbler, and he comes back every year, even when it doesn’t snow, like here in 2012.  He looks like a little bandit, with his black mask.

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Bryce Canyon, from Rainbow Point

This one’s a ringer!  That picture of Bryce was taken in October, and certainly not local!

Anyway, here’s to Winter, bringer of Cold, but Beautiful!