28 August 2007

oh. my.

Thanks, greatscat. ;o)

27 August 2007

Horrible thought ...

Rove resigns. Gonzales resigns.

Who's next? Well ... Bush. George Dubya resigns. Who takes over for him?

Dick Cheney. And the nefarious plan is complete.

You think I'm kidding.


24 August 2007

Slept in

No walkies today. Decided to sleep in a little and let the ol' muscles (Mr. Wren assures me there are muscles under the fluff, really!) rest. I figure it's OK because I forgot to count last Sunday morning's 2-mile walk in the total I crowed over in the last post. Actually, I've walked 14 miles this week. (Re-cue Rocky theme.)

So I slept in for an hour, got up and caught the cat in an unguarded moment of debauch, then stepped out to the back garden, camera in hand. Here you can see what happens when Mr. Wren is allowed free rein with the Miracle Gro.:the Dreaded Morning Glories have taken over once again and the garden is in a near-wild state. The last shot is of what an artichoke looks like if you don't eat the 'choke, in case you wondered.

Yes, there are far more important things than a lazy cat and an overgrown garden to write about. And writing about trying to replace my fluffy self with a sleek, buffed self is self-indulgent, at best and untrammeled vanity at worst.

So shoot me. I'm proud of myself, the cat cracks me up and to me, the garden is ... awe-inspiringly messy. It's a profusion of life, a deadly struggle for dominance and quite breathtakingly beautiful. As far as I'm concerned, it's all very cool.

23 August 2007

Move over, Stallone

I’ve walked a total of 12 miles so far this week. I’m off the smokes, off the patches, and I’m soloing through the ups and downs of the day without nicotine. (That’s without resorting to scotch, either, I’ll have you know!) I’m sticking to the diet, though I’ve not lost any more weight. This is deeply aggravating, but Mr. Wren assures me it’s because I’m replacing fat with muscle, and muscle weighs more.

[ ... ]

OK, I’ll accept that, but I sure would like to see the muscle rather than the fat, if you know what I mean.

But 12 miles! Hey! Cue up the “Rocky” theme!

The photo is of the weedy oak understory along the walking trail. I just liked the way the early morning sun set the rust-colored ones glowing.

18 August 2007

American stroke

About ten years ago, my Dad (who passed away in 2005) needed to have a heart valve replaced. During the very lengthy surgery, which turned out to be quite a lot more involved than the doctors had anticipated, Dad suffered a minor stroke.

He survived the surgery and the stroke, and after a couple of weeks of scary days in intensive care, he turned the corner. He got better. After the first few days, the stroke didn’t seem to have much effect on him, a development we were all grateful for. He was sent home. He continued to get better and stronger, and before long he’d resumed the active and joyful life he’d been leading before the surgery.

My Dad was always a great guy. You could talk to him about just about anything, and while he might not agree with you, and he’d argue his opinion and make his points, he respected your right to have an opinion that didn’t match up with his. He was a lifelong Republican and I was a born Democrat. We had many discussions over the years that ended with amicable agreements to disagree. It was fun, having these debates and discussions with Dad. He was so smart, so well-read, so gentle. I always learned something new from him, always walked away after discussing the world with him with another angle on things. I hope Dad got the same satisfaction from me.

I always thought he’d have made a fantastic diplomat The foreign service missed out when they didn’t recruit Dad. He knew how to listen. And he knew just when to make a joke and dissolve any tension building up. What was amazing was that he could do that gently, without negating or disrespecting me (or whoever it was he was discussing something controversial with). It was wonderful, a real skill.

But it turned out the stroke did affect him after all. It was subtle. We didn’t notice it for quite a while, and I don’t think Dad was ever aware of it at all. What happened was that he could no longer be diplomatic when it came to his opinions. He couldn’t agree to disagree anymore. After his stroke, which had no other obvious effect on him, I couldn’t have those lengthy debates with him anymore. He’d get upset. He’d get angry with me for not being smart enough to agree with him. He’d shake his head in bafflement, not understanding my opinions, or how I’d come to those conclusions, at all. My opinions were just stupid.

Since our amicable conversations about politics and the issues of the day, which had always fascinated me, were no longer possible, I had to curb my tongue when I was visiting during family get-togethers. I had to avoid bringing up anything that might get Dad going and make him disgusted with me. That meant not talking about the news at all. And I had to be careful not to get angry myself. I had to remind myself that this belligerent, closed-minded Dad couldn’t help being that way. He didn’t even realize it.

That small stroke took the Dad I’d grown up with away from me. Since I was the only one in the immediate family who talked politics and the like with him – and disagreed with him – this loss was particularly personal. He looked like the same Dad. He sounded like the same Dad. But he wasn’t. I missed him even as I talked to him about benign things – his golf game, the trip he and Mom just came back from, that sort of thing. In some ways, I lost him years before his actual death, even as I continued to love him dearly.

As I was reading the news of the day and shaking my head over most of it this evening, feeling helpless as I witness the profound political changes taking place in this country, it came to me that America is a lot like my Dad was. The appointment of George W. Bush to the presidency in 2000 by the Supreme Court after he lost the popular vote and suppressed the recount, was like Dad’s heart valve surgery. Sept. 11, 2001 was the stroke that occurred as the surgery was being finished; the Patriot Act was its subtle, unseen damage. America’s attack on Afghanistan was the intensive care intervention; not going after bin Ladin at Tora Bora was the first anomaly; shifting forces and materiel to Iraq was the second, an inexplicable action that was vigorously, even belligerently defended.

Everything that’s happened since ... well, I feel the same way about my country as I did about what happened to my Dad. This is still America. It still looks like America. Most of the time, it still sounds like America. But deep, fundamental changes have taken place since the turn of the century, slow changes that you hardly notice until one day, why, you realize that it’s not the same America you once knew. And the changes are not for the good. You can’t talk to this America. You can’t agree to disagree. You have to be careful because this new, post-stroke America gets angry very easily, and it makes everyone uncomfortable when it does. So you have to tiptoe around and not talk about the big things, the important things, the disagreeable things. You have to pretend they aren’t happening, that America’s latest movie star scandal or TV show is the most important thing there is to talk about.

I miss the America I used to know. And I wonder how I can ever adjust to this new one.

16 August 2007

Cheap buffet of history

Commenter Anne over at The Carpetbagger Report had this to say this morning:

“So…we’ve reached the point where whatever we are being told about the occupation – from death rates to numbers of car bombings – is not to be trusted, and should probably be viewed as little more than propaganda designed to make the average person believe that things are going in the right direction. All of this is in advance of the long-anticipated September report, which now appears will be written by an administration that has already shown that it views information, intelligence and hard facts as equivalent to items on a buffet menu, and they need only choose those bits that make whatever point they are currently trying to sell.

“While I would never suggest that we should ever accept without question everything the government tells us, it is still a sad day when it has reached the point where we cannot believe anything they tell us. We can’t trust the FDA to keep us safe from bad drugs and bad food, we can’t trust the EPA to keep us safe from pollutants in the air, in the water or in the ground, we can’t trust the mine-safety people to actually make sure the mines are safe, we can’t trust road and bridge infrastructure, can’t trust the toys and other goods we import, can’t trust the Department of Justice to be fair in its administration of justice, can’t trust that we won’t be disappeared to a black-site prison to be tortured and never seen again, we have no expectation of privacy in our phone calls and e-mails, and we cannot trust one word these people utter about what is going on in Iraq. Not one.

“Who do we trust? Are our choices soon to be between totalitarianism and anarchy? I’m sorry, but neither of those is my country, and I am angry and frustrated that it has been allowed to get to this point.”

I'm with Anne. Her comment was made in response to the news that in spite of the huge, multiple car bombings in Iraq yesterday that had, at last count, killed 250 people dead and injured some 500 more, “U.S. officials” say that the number of civilian casualties in the Iraqi capitol (they’re only counting Baghdad, it seems) were down by a whopping 50 percent in July. They’re not counting yet this month at all, I guess.

McClatchy Newspapers called the official on their numbers-fudging, pointing out the fact that

“... U.S. officials declined to provide specific numbers, and statistics gathered by McClatchy Newspapers don’t support the claim.

“The number of car bombings in July actually was 5 percent higher than the number recorded last December, according to the McClatchy statistics, and the number of civilians killed in explosions is about the same.”

Along with this lovely news, as Anne notes we now learn that the Great Gen. Petraeus’s report on the success or failure of Bush’s petulant “surge”in the war, which we were told he’d be writing up to present to Americans in September, will actually be written by the Bush administration itself. The general will only provide the data. He won’t even actually present it.

The Bushies will buffet-browse the general’s data and present us with a greasy fried-chicken, mac & cheese and soft-ice-cream-with-sprinkles Super Surge Meal to keep us gorged and quiet. It’ll be tasty but filled with empty calories and cancer-causing chemicals, and most Americans won’t notice until they’re too bloated to move.

Does anyone really think the Bushwhacked report won’t tell us to keep being patient, that progress is being made, and that it will continue to be made as long as we don’t rock the boat?

I think it’s important that we not forget that the “surge” was not being discussed at all prior to the November 2006 elections; in fact, Americans were calling, more and more loudly, for a withdrawal of troops from the catastrophic war BushCo started in Iraq. It was also clear in November 2006 that the American military was strained to its limits and was starting to break down. That was (and still is) a problem so dire in consequences that to ignore it is more than foolish, it’s suicidal. Finally, the war’s cost in American and Iraqi lives, not to mention national treasure, was already astronomically high.

And so, with the election, American voters told the Bush administration and Congress in no uncertain terms that it was high time to remedy the situation. We wanted America out of Iraq. We were disgusted and angry. We were determined to force changes in America’s leadership and our country’s slow spiral down the toilet hole of history. We were successful.

But in response, the Bush administration blew us a great big raspberry, thumbed its nose and announced the “surge.” Instead of starting a drawdown, Bush coldly ordered tens of thousands more soldiers into the battle in Iraq. He told us after the fact.

At the time, I saw it as a kind of punishment from this moronically evil president to the people who’d had the temerity to insult him and attempt to start cleaning up the horrible mess he’d made. I could almost hear him saying, “They want their kids and spouses home safe from the war? Well hell, they’re not the boss of ME! I’ll show ‘em – I’ll just send even more soldiers over there -- and not only that, I’ll make ‘em all stay there even longer, and give ‘em even less time to rest up between deployments! Pansies! And just in case the damned People didn’t get my message, I’ll just keep on underfunding the VA and let the wounded rot once they’re back home. Hah! The people think they can tell me what to do? Screw ‘em all! Suuuuuurge!”

The new Democratically-controlled Congress, on which we’d placed all our hopes, gawped, stuck their thumbs up their butts and did nothing to stop him. They complained that their new majority wasn’t major enough. They couldn’t do a darned thing about the situation. Sorry about that, America.

Since then they’ve made it clear that they can’t or won’t do anything about anything, except wring their hands and whine a lot so we’ll think they’re busy. They make vague threats they don’t follow through with. Naturally, BushCo just sneers at them, and why not? No one’s going to make them accountable. And so now the CW is that if we want to see our soldiers home from Iraq, we’ll just have to wait until Bush’s term in office ends and hope to hell that a Democrat is elected president in his place.

But will having a Democratic president in the White House make a difference? I’m beginning to think it won’t. America is too far gone.

13 August 2007

Turdblossom to spend more time with family

I’m sure you’ve heard the big news: Karl Rove, a.k.a. “Turdblossom,” “Bush's Brain” and “Grimá Wormtongue,” this morning announced his resignation as Codpiece’s Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor, effective at the end of the month. The official reason? He wants to spend more time with his family.

How nice.

Rove’s stench has been getting stronger and stronger since the 2004 elections and reached truly eye-watering proportions after Nov. 2006. Now he joins Powell, Rumsfeld, Bolton, Card, Perl and Wolfowitz on the odiferous rubbish heap that’s growing higher by the day behind the White House. Not one of them has regained anything resembling credibility since leaving the Bush administration – nor should they.

Ah, but wait. Cheney’s been talking up attacking Iran again lately. Maybe they kept Ol’ Stinky around as long as they did to help lay down the spittle-slick spin for the warmongering, fear-filled Iran-plus-terror propaganda campaign now underway. You don’t think they’re doing that again, just like they did in the year before they launched the disaster in Iraq? Note, then, the sudden prevalence of the abrupt rise of that scary “al Qaeda in Iraq” and how Iran is allegedly giving armor-piercing bombs to Iraqi insurgents (the better to blow up our soldiers) along with other forms of support, both moral and financial. Hear those niggly whispers: “Bad Iranians. They support terrorists. They are terrorists. Islamofascists. They want to build nukes. They’d like to blow up Israel and they’d sure like to wipe us out. They call us the Great Satan. Nasty Iranians. Crazy Iranians! Gotta get them before they get us.”

Mmm. That pre-emption thing worked so well in Iraq.

We have Karl to thank for so many things, not least of which is the vicious, successful undermining of our Constitution. As Josh Marshall over at TPM says, “... Rove is connected to pretty much every instance of high-level wrongdoing.” Oh, yeah. And don’t think his decision to resign was just because his wife wants him rattling around the house (the poor woman) helping her with the redecorating. No, I think it’s probably because of all those ongoing investigations. They’re heating up and Karl’s scat is everywhere. Like Tom DeLay, eventually the Law will corner him, but until it does, he can work quietly behind the scenes to smear more kaka on everything he touches.

Karl Rove is toxic. He’s resigning, but I doubt he’ll be out of the game. After all, even if he goes back to Texas to raise hothouse Venus flytraps and pitcher plants in his basement, he’ll only be a phone call away from the Deciderer. His resignation is nothing more than a bait-and-switch, a distraction. Mark my words.

12 August 2007

What, no French fries?

Once again, I’m ... sputtering. Indignant. Embarrassed for my country and my president’s lack of statesmanship, honor or even a sense of decorum.

The brand-new president of France dropped by to visit Dubya at the Bush Family Enclosure in Kennebunkport, Maine yesterday, and all 41 and 43 bothered to rustle up for lunch was a choice of a hamburger or a hot dog.

That’s right. ”Hey Frenchie! Whatcha want, Mickey D’s or Weinerschnitzel?!”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s wife and two children didn’t accompany him to the Bush’s, pleading sore throats. In reality, I think someone leaked the lunch menu to Madame Sarkozy and she instantly recognized the insult. It probably gave her a terrible headache, and would you let your kids get anywhere near Codpiece?

I thought not.

I hope the hot dog was at least a decent-tasting brand. As for the hamburger, well ... let’s just say pre-formed patties suck. Was it Angus beef, George? A top cut? Was the hamburger thoroughly screened, in spite of the expense, for mad cow disease? I sure hope so. Americans aren’t worth the expenditure but Monsieur Sarkozy is sort of an important person.

Also served on soggy paper plates at the Kennebunkport picanick tables were corn-on-the-cob, baked beans and fresh blueberry pie.

What, no apple? What the hell? Yeah, I know blueberries are in season right now. So? I want to know why they weren’t serving All-American apple pie to go with the friggin’ hamburgers and hot dogs at the Bush family mausoleum-by-the-sea. The baking apples in my garden are ripe and ready to go.

The lunch menu was pretty much the same when the new British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, visited for an official “bonding” with Dubya for the first time on July 30. Topping the menu was a hamburger. That meeting, held at Camp David, was hailed by the press as “hamburger diplomacy.”

Imagine the honor. It just makes me all fluttery inside.

It wouldn’t have been hard to serve these world leaders a decent lunch. The military does it at officer’s clubs on the cheap all the time, all over the world. What’s wrong with a nice barbecued tri-tip, a baked potato with butter, sour cream and chives, a side of sliced tomatoes and a glass of California cabernet sauv, ruby red and tannic as hell, if you’re trying for true-blue American cuisine? Even I could have managed that. Dubya didn’t have to serve that distastefully named French bread or anything with it, either. That gawdawful, thick-sliced, doughy white Texas toast is available in grocery stores all over the country, even in Maine.

Does anyone else out there find this latest Bush fiasco as embarrassing as I do? Maybe what heads of state serve each other for lunch doesn’t matter that much, and I’m just overreacting. Still, I’m trying to think of equally tasteless meals that Brown and Sarkozy could serve to that crowing idiot Codpiece next time he visits France or England.

President Sarkozy should serve up a simple choice of badly undercooked garden snails or mushed chicken livers, with a side of cardboard pommes frites fried in canola oil and store-bought crème de brulees in little six-packs. Someone might have to peel the foil off the top of George’s for him, though. He’s not real bright.

Prime Minister Brown, I think you should offer President Bush a longish luncheon of soggy boiled mutton, watery potatoes, three-veg and a nice slice of preserved fruitcake left over from three Christmases back. You know you have a stack of them in the hall closet. We all do. If he won’t eat it, bean him with it and save us all a lot of trouble.

If yesterday’s classy meal weren’t enough, Poppy and Dubya demonstrated their high regard for the new French president by dressing down in shirt sleeves and White House baseball caps. Talk about presidential, ooh-la-la! Sexy Sarkozy did them one better though by showing up in a white, button-down shirt, faded blue jeans and a what looked like a suit jacket. Go figure. No cap of any sort, not even a beret. En garde! Touchez! Vive la Nic!

Laura Bush wore a lumpy white pants-suit and her all-purpose, paste-on Stepford-wife smile. Wonder what she’s thinking? Don’t worry – she’s not. There’s no one home upstairs. Babs wore old-lady clothes, as usual. I couldn’t tell if she was wearing her trademark pearls or not, but it’s wise to remember that beneath the scented talcum powder, fluffy white curls and waxy lipstick there are shark's teeth continually growing in pop-up rows.

GB Senior showed he still had it by taking everyone on a 30-minute bounce over the ocean waves in his way cool speedboat. Woo-hoo. He’s got that trick down, and when it’s over, he takes a nap like a good, medicated Father of the Emperor.

Still, I bet Brown is jealous – all he got was a ride in Golf Cart One around Camp David with the Dummy-in-Chief behind the wheel. Talk about fear. He’ll have nightmares for years to come. And President Vladi Putin of Russia, that smirking little weasel, he got the class treatment too, meeting Dubya in Kennebunkport on July 3 and eating lobster while letting Gee-dub gaze into his eyes and take another deep look at his heart. The media called it the “lobster summit.”

I wish, just once, that one of these powerful men would call Bush on his uncouth, idiotic behavior and refuse to show up unless he cleans up his act.

I mean, really. What's the world coming to?

10 August 2007

What I did this summer #3

This is the last installment of boring summer doldrums photos, I promise. If you're really into it, though, there are more in the two previous posts. Start with "What I did this summer #1" and work your way up.

Photo 11: Mr. Wren hits the long curve on the homeward stretch. At this point we'd walked about 21/2 miles -- not far for you athletic folks who walk or jog frequently and go for distance, but quite a handy jaunt for both of us gimpy types. I figure as we regain strength, muscle and endurance, we'll add distance naturally. Already we're walking far more and for greater distances than I'd have believed two months ago.

Some years back, when Mr. Wren was still backpacking way up into the high country, he asked for walking sticks, as he'd heard they were great for stability. I got him some for his birthday. They didn't get much use, unfortunately, as he was disabled not long after.

But now, those fancy sticks are making themselves worth the initial outlay of cash. Mr. Wren normally uses a cane to assist his walking. But when we're out walking for all the good things it brings, he uses those walking sticks. And man, can he move out. When he's warmed up and feeling good, it's just like old times -- I have to trot to keep up. To help me with that, he bought me my own set of sticks a couple of weeks ago. Mine are about a foot shorter than his.

Since my rheumatoid arthritis isn't actively flaring these days -- I deal mainly with morning stiffness and, oddly, sore feet whether I've been walking or not -- the fine walking sticks still feel a bit awkward to me. They do provide extra balance, however, and the rhythm of walking with them, arms working in tandem with my legs, feels good. I like 'em. I figure I'm conditioning for cross-country skiing, come winter (and assuming actual snow falls this year). Or maybe snowshoeing. Perhaps that's a bit ambitious, considering a three-mile walk on a nice, gently sloped trail wears me out. But I like to be optimistic.

Photo 12: Isn't this a nice thistle-head? There was a patch of these by the trail -- about waist high, touched by sunlight in an otherwise shadowy green copse, looking to me like big, gaudy stars. I had to snap a pic because that whimsical, dry thistle made me smile.

Photo 13: The woods to either side of the trail are composed mainly of a variety of oak trees and shrubs, Ponderosa and sugar pines. A little higher up, the oaks peter out and tall, rustling cedar trees and the Steller's jays that live in them join the pines. The understoryby the trail is composed mainly of crispy, dry grass, toyon, broom, manzanita and poison oak. Where there is water, there's blackberry bramble.

Oh, and there are rattlesnakes. I'm hoping that one morning soon, we'll see one sunning itself on the trail and I can take a photo. From a distance, of course. A longggg distance. I have zoom.

Note the dark mass high up in the pine tree on the left in Photo 13. Photo 14 shows it close up. It looks like a huge nest. Mr. Wren thinks it might be a squirrel nest -- there are gray squirrels everywhere -- but it seems to me that if it is, then we'd see a lot more honkin' big nests in the trees. But this is the only one we've seen, here or anywhere else. Any naturalists out there who might know what sort of creature builds a huge nest like this? It looks like it has a hole in one side as an entrance and exit, it's made of sticks and ... green pine needles? Or maybe the shaggy look is from horsetails? (see installment #2, below) And it's attached to some crossing branches. It's very cool.

Maybe tree elves live in it. Heheh.

Photo 15: End of the trail. Just another 50 yards from where I shot this photo of the orchard-covered hill up ahead is the parking lot for the trailhead. When we get to the Celica, both of us groan all the way down into it (it's sadistically low-slung) and then we head off for the reward -- a nice cup of chai and sometimes, a breakfast out. Walking most mornings has been a real spirit lifter for both of us. We're losing weight, we're waking up, we're moving. For Mr. Wren, this is almost like a miracle, as he has barely been able to walk from one end of the house to the other for that last couple of years. Now, with a little more than 40 pounds off his frame (and he's still losing) he can walk three miles. And he wants to. That's the icing.

As for me, I'm still not smoking, I'm still on the patch and I'm still dieting. I'm losing weight much more slowly than Mr. Wren (the curse of a female physique, I'm told) but I am slimming down. Even when the pounds seem to stick, I've noticed changes in their distribution since we started walking. My "always fit" jeans are getting loose. The cat has a lot more room on my lap. It's all good.

09 August 2007

What I did this summer #2

OK, more photos.

Photo 6: About a mile up the trail from Smith Flat, where we started this morning, the nice, neat, paved portion of the El Dorado Trail ends and turns to dirt. The surrounding countryside quickly gets up close and personal. Walking this part of the trial makes me think of the many, many hikes Mr. Wren, me and the kids took back when we were all younger and full of vinegar. We never hiked groomed trails, just dirt roads and, sometimes, no roads at all, and we usually hiked carrying day-packs and fishing gear, because Mr. Wren's philosophy was "What's a hike without fishing?" We were always on our way to a good fishing hole. Of course, "good" was relative. More often than not, we didn't catch much. Fishing was an excuse to be out there, watching the great blue herons, getting poison oak and being far, far away from the civilized world.

Photo 7: This is a view to the south from the unimproved trail. What's south? Jackson, Sutter Creek, Angel's Camp (the fabled setting for Mark Twain's great story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County), and eventually, Calaveras Big Trees and Yosemite. I'll save that hike for another time, I think.

Photo 8: The trail gets wilder and narrower, with horsetails and blackberry brambles closing in on both sides. The horsetails (the bushy, feathery greenery at shin-level) were a surprise. I've seen them growing much higher up in the Sierras, but had never encountered them so close to home. The blackberries are ripe but mostly picked over by the birds and other small animals. They're hard to pick without gauntlet gloves. The thorns are unforgiving.

Photo 9: Did I say drier? Wilder? Depends on where you're standing on the trail, it seems. Here, perhaps a half-mile from the start of the dirt trail, are cattails growing on swampy ground and, a pretty picture fit for a postcard, a nice red barn glowing in the morning sun.

Photo 10: This solemn fellow popped his head up from just beyond the brambles and regarded us calmly as we walked by. He was overseeing a small herd of Barbados sheep, three times their size and quite kingly. Llamas are fairly common around the county. Some people keep them for pets, others for their utility as pack animals. Seeing them, so odd and out-of-place, always makes me smile.

More to come ...

What I did this summer #1

Here's what I've been up to lately.

Photo 1: Been goofin'. Me at 2 a.m., playing with the camera instead of sleeping. Who needs sleep?

Photo 2:
Been cookin'. In the wok are yellow squash from the garden, mushrooms, bits of sweet red pepper, garlic, and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and cracked black pepper. 'Twas a big hit with grilled chicken breasts and a cool green salad.

Photo 3: Been paintin'. Walls in the main room are now a nice blueish-green which shifts with the light to a sort of sagey green in the afternoon and evening. It's the first time in 10 years the Wren's Nest has been given a fresh coat of paint, and I'm happy with the result. We painted the living room and the kitchen, too. Not white. Not cream. Robin's egg blue in the living room and bright yellow and dark blue in the kitchen. I love color. It took us the best part of a week to do; my Mom came up and helped us. She was appalled by my color choices, particularly in the kitchen, but decided she liked them after they were up on the walls. "You're braver than I am," she said. Mr. Wren likes it all.

Photo 4: Been walkin'. We trekked higher up the El Dorado Trail over the last couple of days, following it up past Placerville toward the Wren's Nest, which is still several miles further up the mountain from where these shots were taken. The terrain on this part of the trail is grassier, more open in places, a little wilder and a whole lot drier than the Placerville portion.

Photo 5: We've been trying to figure out what these yellow wildflowers are. They're everywhere along the trail, adding brightness to the sun-bleached grasses.

Blogger, the booger, won't let me download more than five photos at one time. So check the next installment for more, which will be above this one... you'll have to read from the bottom up. Or something.