So much happening, so many decisions to make

When last I sat down my grandson Baby Colton arrived, and a week later my puppy-to-be made an appearance.

Three weeks later and much has happened. My 22-year-old grandson visited us for one week in February.

Sacramento Metropolitan Airport public sculpture. I see my red Samsonite!

I haven’t seen him in two years, and the visit ended with him saying, “Best vacation ever!” Not that he has taken many vacations in his short working life. It seems like for being on his own he is doing well. But there were a few details that needed to be addressed. Haircut, eyeglasses, cell phone upgrade, and work clothes set the stage for a busy week.

One thing I have to say about this guy is that he is a foodie. Straight away he planned to eat his way through Sacramento. Straight from the airport, we head to his favorite Fish and Chips place. Interestingly enough, the owners remember him. I guess he frequented this establishment when he lived close by. For dessert, I visited Icicles. Curled up icecream created right before your eyes.

Delicious. Never knew this existed. I plan to visit again.

After taking care of all those details, we planned a day out of town. At first we wanted to go to San Francisco to meet up wtih my son and family. With everyone having a different schedule this was difficult to arrange, and so we went with plan B. Headed east with Reno being our destination. This is the first February where we didn’t have a drop of rain. Weather is just lovely, but I am starting to hear talk of drought again.

First stop, Donner Summit. Checked out Donner Lake. I tried to imagine the Donner Party stuck here.

It was the end of February and there was no snow around.

My two guys!
Some fishermen getting ready to cast their lines.
Another tourist from the Sacramento area. Love the colorful sari.

Searched for a open restroom. Didn’t know this was a seasonal condition. LOL!

We visited the Donner Memorial State Park Visitor Center with a very nice restroom.

We continue on to Reno and arrived about lunchtime. Headed for miles of food buffet.

Buffet at the El Dorado Casino

My grandson first took a look at the miles of desserts.

Miles of tempting desserts

He then placed his drink order. He has a unique way of ordering his meal items. But he does it with a pleasant demeanor and the servers try to oblige him.

We walked around Circus Circus, but no performances to view. We checked out the arcade. We needed to walk off that meal!

Tried our hand at 25 cent poker machine, and quick when we were ahead. Winner of $0.55. It was nice sitting and talking while we tried to beat the machine.

Argggh!

Thanksgiving in February with all the trimmings, except pumpkin pie. My grandson requested this holiday meal back in November so I kept a turkey in the freezer for this occasion. He remembered that I usually put walnuts in my stuffing. Not this time. Oh well. I liked the fact that I didn’t have to cook for a couple of days afterward.

Been paying close attention to the upcoming presidential race in November. California moved up the primary vote, and Super Tuesday came and went. No further comment here. I just hope, upon hope that our next president will be someone other that our current ____. You fill in the blank. Decisions, decisions, but not the greatest of choices.

My grandson headed back to Knoxville, and we focused on our upcoming trip to New York City. Then the news of coronavirus ramped up. Decisions, pro/con. After much discussion, we decided that New York City will be there, and we would postpone our trip. Booking.com made it easy to cancel the hotel reservation. I had a harder time with AAA air travel. I purchased travel insurance for my Jet Blue tickets. But I would need to file a claim, and there would be a big hassle. I called Jet Blue and they agreed to give me a 1-year credit for the tickets.

So next up, was opening day of baseball. But it was rained out. Luckily, game was called early. Go figure!

Each day from 1 pm until 7 pm I get to watch puppy television, starring Ginger and her litter of 10. And after 4 weeks they are playing and eating gruel. Next weekend the plan is to drive up north and meet the pups in person. Ginger has 10 puppies. Three girls, and seven boys. I am pretty sure that we will be bringing home a little girl pup, but we will see after we meet all of them next week. We wanted a solid colored pup (only a couple of boys fit that description), but all are so cute and personalities are starting to form. That is more important in the decision process. So excited.

So that is it for the moment. Trying to stay healthy. Relaxing and getting ready for my new adventure.

Napa Road Trip minus the wine

My friend’s road would be slurried, she wanted a landscape of a vineyard, and I went along to capture some new images. No formal destination and no time constraints. Armed with ice coffee, plenty of water and music for the road.

Early morning departure means little sleep for me. My sleep cycle has really flipped this summer. Even if I try to get to bed early, I fall asleep around 3:30 am. This also seems to happen if I am going somewhere the next day. Need to start making a switch, and wake up early before the temperature rises.

Silverado Trail is our first stop. Vineyards on both sides of the road, but the fields planted along the mountainsides are not as mature and lush.

Grapes ripening on the vine
My imagination goes wild with the bark of the vine. Peeking animals.

I see a cute sign post with a donkey, and then I spot donkeys. I approach animals carefully, but one donkey was particularly friendly. Almost called her such a good puppy. A natural mistake given my situation.

I first spotted this cute garden art. Then OMG donkeys.
Ready to say hello
Just so sweet. Came right over for some love.
Pregnant donkey (called Jenny). Gestation takes a long time. 11-14 Months! I wonder how long this Jenny has to wait?
Good bye my donkey friend.

Facebook has been reminding me that nine years ago Liberty came into my life. Having her, missing her, and needing another dog is a tribute to my Libby.

We brought my Libby Love home 9 years ago.

David would want to have another English Lab, but I am open to looking at another breed. Looking for a medium sized dog. I would like to be able to lift the dog up, be easily trainable and have a good personality. Thought about a cocker spaniel, or Logatto Romagnolo.

I decided to go with an Australian Labradoodle. The DNA includes Labrador retriever, Poodle, and Cocker Spaniel. This is multigenerational hybrid that was essentially developed to provide canine assistance to those who are allergic to dog hair. Since poodles improve the chances for this characteristic, and the Labrador retriever has a proven track record for training the hope is for the best of both. The Labradoodle comes in three sizes, and so this satisfies my need for a more portable dog. Having less hair to sweep up is a bonus! Though I will need to become informed about the grooming. My Libby was a wash & wear dog.

My I have gotten off track. Back to my road trip. Remembering past trips our destination was the CIA – Culinary Institue of America. First stop was the CIA at Copia. I was pleasantly surprised to come across a photographic homage to Julia Child by her husband Paul. Such a wonderful collection of black & white photographs. Well worth taking time out to visit if you are interested in photography!

A Toast!

The space at the CIA was amazing. The light, design, and architecture captured my imagination.

I will certainly schedule another visit and spend time exploring the outside when the temperature is below 100 degrees.

Interesting staircase. Another place to explore next time.
Beautiful glass sculpture
Love the lighting here
Replica of sculpture that rests on top of building.
Serene setting.
These real spices fill the space with wonderful aromas. Makes you hungry!
Grand space

I didn’t spend too much time outside but the outside had much to see.

Outside seating under a pergola. Live music venue at Grove

Fork sculpture made out of forks. But where is the spoon it ran away with?

Went next door to the Oxbow Public Market. Another place I need to come back to for some great people watching with my Fuji x100f. Put myself in a street photography mind set. Ate an interesting gourmet oven baked Mushroom pizza with ricotta cheese sauce. No pictures, just good food!

Last place on our road trip was the Greystone Cellers. This is home to the CIA School. Interesting history. The building was impressive, but the view overlooking the vineyard was difficult to capture. Trees blocked the view. How rude! And then there is the parking lot to contend with. Not to mention the heat.

Massive doorway leads into Greystone Cellers
Impressive main entrance.

Cakes decorated by the students attending the CIA at Greystone. Reminds me of when my daughter decorated cakes in high school in ROP Bakery Academy. Being the good mom I sampled each creation. Made with lard and not buttercream the taste did not match up with the beautiful design.

Among the many collections I was drawn to this clown bottle opener.
Ironic that this truck advertising Vodka was parked next to the vineyard.
Not sure what kind of flower this is. Pretty in Pink.

So ends a day in Napa Valley. No wine was consumed. Any blurriness in the photographs are due to photographer error and not the vino!

Time out for Puppies

My friend’s Golden retriever is a CCI breeder dog. At six weeks Okeara’s pups need socializing. This morning I met her 7 puppies. I am very puppy deprived, and I enjoyed my time with these pups. Playing and taking photographs brought me to my happy place.

Lab/Golden boy fell fast asleep
Reddest pup looks worried. I wonder what is on his mind. Probably just his next meal!
Played hard, tuckered out.

I brought over my Fuji xt2 and started with my 18-55mm kit lens. After a little while I pulled out my newest lens to see what it could do when it wasn’t getting closer in macro mode. This may end up being a favorite portrait lens also.

Kendra takes care of Okeara for about two weeks before the pups are due. Then she takes on the job of caring for the pups until they are released to their puppy raiser at 8 weeks of age. “Canine Companions puppies are raised by volunteers who take them to puppy classes to teach them basic obedience and house manners. When the puppies are old enough to enter our professional training program, Canine Companions dogs come to one of our six regional training centers, located in Northern California, Southern California, Texas, Ohio, New York and Florida.” Information provided by CCI website.

Puppy Love

Wanda raised Okeara, and will now be raising Okeara’s puppy Ragu.

Ragu being cradled by Wanda
An upside down cradle to calm Ragu down
Such a big bundle of joy for a 6 week old
Lots of love coming her way!

Canine Companions for Independence is a worthwhile organization that does such good for everyone it touches! Over the years I have met some puppy raisers, photographed their pups and learned training tips from this organization. Thanks CCI for letting me in!

Getting Closer

Macro photography done well, takes patience. I usually think of myself as a patient person. To get a good image it should be clear. That means I need to stop motion. A small breeze on a summer’s day appears like a gale force wind when seen close up. I stepped away from using past macro lenses because each time I placed the lens on the camera the winds would start up.

I recently converted a concrete birdbath into a succulent garden. Last year I cleaned, filled, and refilled the birdbath. I bought a water stirrer gadget to encourage birds to visit, and keep mosquitoes away. With all my effort I only saw an occasional bird stop by. Word did not get around my neighborhood. So this year after holes were drilled in the concrete I filled it with many different succulents. The up-side is that these plants are not subject to the wind. 

So armed with my new macro lens I ventured out to my backyard. My first attempt to use the Fujifilm xf 80mm lens with my Fuji xt2 camera.

Captured this Red Pagoda Succulent
This dragonfly appeared at just the right time.
Watched me and let me get closer!

Camera Totin’ Days outing to Green Acres Nursery fit right into my macro practice.

Cornflower
I think this is a Chrysanthemum, but I could be wrong.

I like the way this lens handles the sharp and soft parts of the image. This is called depth of field.

Using the focal length of 80mm I think this lens did a great job of capturing this portrait.

A customer at Green Acres captured
With a bit of imagination you can see the kid jumping for joy!
I spied a carpenter bee hovering around.

This lens passed the test! I have a new focus! Yes!