Monday, January 31, 2011

That Time of Year

It's rainy today in San Francisco, after a week of beautiful, warm-for-January weather.  Sometimes the little teases of Spring make waiting for Spring that much tougher.

This postcard from Zihuatanejo reminds me of a week I spent on this beach, swimming, snorkeling, fishing, swinging in hamacas (hammocks), and playing sand croquet with some locals we met.  Ahhhhh.  It's been too long since I've had my toes in warm sand and swum in a warm or even warm-ish ocean, and I wouldn't mind going back here, even if it is a lot more developed now than it was 25 years ago. 

 [Note to friends in snowy climates:  I recognize that a Californian complaining about weather is scoffable at best.  Too bad.]

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mount Rushmore

A particularly beautiful view of Mount Rushmore, at Sunset, sent from Duke and Sandy during their second cross country odyssey.  It's a bucket list place for me, and I'm under the impression that the scale is not really imaginable unless you see the monument in person.

From the Wiki:  South Dakota historian Doane Robinson [note the first name - no relation] is credited with conceiving the idea of carving the likenesses of famous people into the Black Hills region of South Dakota in order to promote tourism in the region.  Gutzon Borglum  chose the site and decided the sculpture should have a ... national focus,...choosing the four presidents whose likenesses would be carved into the mountain. After securing federal funding, construction on the memorial began in 1927, and the presidents' faces were completed between 1934 and 1939. ...Though the initial concept called for each president to be depicted from head to waist, lack of funding forced construction to end in October 1941.

The U.S. National Park Service took control of the memorial in 1933, while it was still under construction, and manages the memorial to the present day. It attracts approximately two million people annually.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Word Power

I've been taking a screenwriting class over the last year, starting last January.  I took it once Spring semester and had started again in the Fall.  When I started my new job, I had hoped to keep going even though I'm not sure I've got the time or the energy.

The above cards appeared in the mail last Friday.  I'm pretty sure they are from my screenwriting teacher, although they are not signed.  But I'm not taking any other classes so who else could they be from?  I don't think I've ever mentioned the class here before, and the Mystery Sender wouldn't know about the class.  Also, Mystery Sender sends from LA and these cards are postmarked in San Francisco.

I'm not sure I'll be able to finish this class this semester, but if anything would inspire me to do so, these cards are it.  They made me feel good, made me feel like, even if I'm not going to be a screenwriter someday, I should at least keep learning.  I appreciate the message, and feel a bit guilty about not following through.

Postscript:  I wrote this post in October, and then neglected to post it.  I did stop attending class.  However, it turns out these postcards were sent to  me by an exercise teacher (gyrotonics - similar to Pilate's, but you sit on little stools), not by the screenwriting teacher.  I felt conflicted by my previous assumption - bummed that these weren't from my screenwriting teacher but happy that my gyrotonics teacher had noticed I wasn't there.  I suppose this is a message from the universe.  I can picture a big voice and a stern finger:  "When you've got extra time, spend it exercising instead of taking writing classes." - as close to a new year's resolution as I'm going to get this year!

Monday, January 3, 2011

California Poppies

January in California always amazes me.  Right now in most of the rest of the country, any vegetation is brown or grey.  However, in California, the ground responds almost instantly to rain, and we've had a lot of it this year, which means the hillsides are already a beautiful velvet green.  That also means poppies aren't far behind.

There's actually a state poppy preserve, named (appropriately) the Antelope Valley California Poppy State Reserve.  From February through May, the poppies bloom profusely, although some years are better than others.  It is worth a drive from any reasonable distance to visit this place, if you ever get the chance.  Think the poppy fields in the Wizard of Oz (although those aren't the same kind of poppies), and you have an idea of how vast these fields of poppies (and other wildflowers) can be.  One year, when the flowers were particularly profuse, I went twice in a three day period, driving a couple of hours each way, just to look in amazement.  It's both awe-inspiring and a little depressing to look out over these fields of flowers.  Awe-inspiring because of what nature can do.  Depressing to imagine that this  is what the state of California must have looked like from top to bottom, before it was loved to death by waves of searchers, seeking fame and fortune and freedom by coming west.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Roman Baths in Bath

A cleansing bath for the first Sunday in the New Year, perhaps?  Ed tried to talk his friend into jumping in ("Tried to persuade a friend to jump in by offering to buy him all his drinks the next weekend.  Didn't work.")  Ah, the life of a traveling college student.

The Roman Baths at Bath do look really amazing.  It's ALWAYS tempting to want to jump into baths/pools/fountains at many famous and historical places where you know  it was commonplace to do so in the past.  I think of the fountains at Peterhof Palace outside St. Petersburg, Russia; the Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California; the Jardín del Estanque in the Alcazar in Sevilla, Spain.

Whatever  your cleansing ritual for the New Year, jump to it!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Silver Queen

The Silver Queen hangs in the saloon of the Silver Queen Hotel in Carson City, Nevada.  Carson City is the capitol of the state of Nevada

From the back of the postcard (from 1965):  "Designed by owners Carroll and Ruby Eaton as a tribute to Virginia City's once great Silver Mining Industry - an industry whose production stabilized the Federal treasury during the Civil War and later altered the world's monetary structure.  The Silver Queen's dress contains 3,261 Silver Dollars.  The belt alone contains 28 Twenty Dollar gold pieces.  The picture is fifteen feet high and eight feet wide...."

My grandfather always gave us grandchildren a silver dollar for our birthdays.  He also baked the birthday cake (chocolate angel food) and would put dimes in the batter.  It was terribly exciting to get a piece of cake with a silver dime in it.  I saved those silver dollars, and had a nice collection.  However, at some point they were stolen out of my room when I was away at college.

P.S.  Happy New Year everybody.  Here's to lots of silver in 2011.