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Monday, June 28, 2010


I was very thankful that my husband encouraged me to learn a deep breathing technique to deal with stress.  Because, the moment on our two week road trip when I needed stress relief the most, the only relief available was deep breathing.

We spent the night at a Casino/Hotel where we got the best deal of our entire trip.  Room:  $24.99, dinner $9.50.  We were ten stories up -  and “up” I was at dawn!  Awake, and taking pictures of the sun lighting up the high desert rocks.

After an equally low-priced (but palatable) breakfast we headed for Hoover Dam, a spectacular view and tour that our good friends encouraged us not to bypass.  So, we beat the traffic jams (road construction and security check-point) and parked in the huge garage of the visitor center, cut out of and built into solid rock.

We quickly passed through a second security check point, much like you do at the airport, but were shocked to find that the  $30.00 Hoover Dam tour was sold out until after noon.  The employee was good at her job and talked us into the $11.00 Power Plant Tour.

“It’s a lot less money and you see everything but the original tunnels,” she explained.  “I promise you won’t be disappointed.”
HA!  Little did she know how her prophecy would be fulfilled!

Our tour began as all other tours – watching the Dam introductory film.  (I know, I know, it’s the Hoover Dam introductory film.)  We learned that there are no bodies buried in the Dam cement.  That is one Dam rumor put to rest.

Next, the approximately 90 people were corralled into two Dam elevators that  only take 70 seconds to drop you 530 feet down “through the rock wall of Black Canyon” and into a Dam tunnel drilled in the 1930s.
So, they said.

Our elevator stopped.

Only moments before, the elevator guide had been joking over the heads of 44 people (all pretty much squished and leaning on my belly) about the elevator only breaking down once.  That is why no one was too concerned when he said that we were stuck.

“You’re joking, aren’t you?” One woman called from the far left.

“I’m sorry.”  He responded with a nervous giggle. “We really are stopped and I can’t open the door.”

There were many times on this trip that I forgot to take pictures but this was not one of them.  I squirmed until I had my camera in my hand and raised it above my head and snapped.  Ta da!

I was shaky and concerned, so you’ll understand why it is blurry.  I remember that little boy down on the left, because he was stuffed between his dad and my husband for the first 10 minutes. 

The lights stayed on.  Thank goodness!  And, an uneasy calm permeated the enclosed space.  A woman two bellies away from me began to perspire profusely and was frightfully pale.  Her husband was murmuring into her ear and there were offers of water from the concerned.  She had not wanted to take the Dam tour because she was claustrophobic in elevators.

Quietly my husband inquired of my status.  I whispered that I was okay.  He knew I was breathing the slow in through the nose, and out through the mouth method of relaxation. 

Soon the people by the door began clapping while shouting that they heard rescuers.

Within 15 minutes of our entrapment, the door was open and people were being helped down and out. 

I could have sworn it was an hour!
IMG_3043 WR was on the ball and took this shot.

Our tour guide and the rest of our group had long vacated their elevator and proceeded to the Dam power plant.  So, the elevator operator became our guide.   He told us that would be the last Dam tour of the day, as they would close the other elevator while one was repaired and both given maintenance review.  

And guess what?  We got the $30 Dam tour because it was the only way out.  In addition to the  Dam diversion tunnel, the Dam intake, and the huge Dam generators, we got to make our way through the Nevada Elevator tunnels.  We were amazed at the skilled craftsmanship that adorns the bowels of this wonder of the world.

IMG_1779 IMG_3060

We had to wait much longer for our return trip to the top, because the Dam elevator built in the 30’s is much smaller.

“You will be happy to know,” the guide told us with a quirky grin, “that this Dam elevator has been running for over 70 years, has the original motor, and has never broken.”

It never occurred to me to ask about the destination of the Nevada elevator.  If you are wondering... it was right here. Dam!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Home !

We've been on a road trip for two weeks.  Last night we drove I-84 over Cabbage Hill (Blue Mountains) and stopped to look at the last 45 minutes of road to home.

It was our welcome quilt.

There is no place like home.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Spring Synopsis

Spring has been cool, windy, and a season of catching up on annual precipitation.  That last bit has been threatening the local cherry crop.   I wonder if that is why the small orchard close to where I walk has been surrendered to the birds.   If the rain splits the cherries they aren’t very marketable.

Or, maybe the farmer wasn’t prepared for the birds.  (Insert a little Alfred Hitchcock mood music here.)  The past week provided the valley with an unusual migration population of Western Tanagers.  Like I’ve never seen.  Thus, the orchard was full of Tanagers chowing down on the partially ripe fruit.  They were accompanied by a fair number of Cedar Waxwings, Robins, Finch, Starlings, and probably more.  There was no saving that crop.

IMG_0775 waxwingcherry
IMG_0821 WR captured the Tanager
with the cherry in its mouth. 
I snapped the gorging
Waxwing and Robin.

I’ve not walked the creek as often in the past few weeks because of a cougar sighting.  The cat was spotted in various places in town before disappearing up the creek.

* * * * * *
I was chit-chatting with Auntie Fern this week, discussing all things in general and our upcoming vacation in particular.  She was reminiscing about her favorite moment,  standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon.

“I could stand there for hours,” she sighed, then added.  “Now they’ve built some kind of platform that you can walk out over nothing.  But, you’d have to chloroform me to get me out there!”
* * * * * *

Here’s a question for those of you who recycle.    Does anyone else wash out their items before putting in the bin?

Several months ago I think the city decided to fire the recycling provider.  For several weeks men picked up the full bin and stacked them on one flatbed truck, and replaced them with empty ones removed from another.  The one that was left on my sidewalk was moldy and stinky and about enough to gag a maggot.    When I called the city to complain about having to deal with someone else’s dirt, they offered to bring me out a new one.  But, I’d already disinfected it.  
Several weeks later the new recycle company delivered a full sized container on wheels.  With a lid!  I still keep the small bin in my garage for convenience.  And I still rinse everything before tossing.

* *  * * * *
Two weeks ago the Caboose turned two!  Smurf-ella turned one this week!  Goober Evalina will be eight next week.  And in a little more than two weeks, Curly Mop will be six.   The last two were 4 years old and 2 years old when I started blogging!
They all have a present sitting on the coffee table.  But, they probably won’t know about it until they grow up.  In the meantime they got fun kids things for their special days.

IMG_1574   The green book  - The Dust Will Wait, 2006 – is sitting on the coffee table!

I’m currently working on 2007.  Taking my time.  It isn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

Lots of edits are required, especially on photo placement.

* * * * * *

One of my brothers sent me an Email the other day in which he mentioned the oil spill in the gulf.  “Who needs terrorists,” he said, “when we have BP”

There has been a lot of finger pointing.  In fact, I think we’ve run out of fingers.
Truly, it has been a disaster beyond imagination.  I encourage people who pray – to do so -  for the people of the Gulf region (especially those whose livelihoods have been destroyed)  and for the birds, and the sea life.   The rest of you, do whatever you do!

* * * * * *
After leaving my water colors locked up for a year, I hauled them out and headed for a class on Friday afternoons.  We did three paintings:  Aspen trees , a Yellow-headed black bird on cattails, and a cat.  The trees and the bird will end up in the trash.  I was really excited while working on my cat  -- as it was coming along quite nicely.  Then the quarter ended before it was completed.  I painted the background at home and it is awful. And I know what I did wrong.  I don’t want you to try and console me in the comments, as this is not why I’m mentioning it.  There is just some kind of catharsis in admitting failure, and knowing why.  I won’t make the same mistake again.  I’ll throw away a lot of paintings in the future, but not for the same reason.
Here they are sitting on a chair on the patio.

* * * * * *

I’m still in my pajamas this morning, as it is the first day in weeks that I haven’t had a prior commitment.  And I’m posting something!!
Feels good.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Duets and Duos. Freaky Froggy.

Frog duet from pamela on Vimeo.

The week before last I recorded a froggy duet coming from our fish pond.  Yes -- the pond is covered with a net to protect our little fishy from the hungry Great Blue Heron and his side kick, the Kingfisher.

Conjoined Frog from pamela on Vimeo.

This morning I was cleaning the filter when I spotted what I thought were two frogs mating.  We've had so much wind lately - and the pond has been a magnet for all the flying debris.

Part two of Freaky frgo from pamela on Vimeo.

The second part of my video shows what appears to truly be a conjoined frog.  I think there are two sets of eyes, two sets of back legs.  Two backs.  But the front set of legs on the top half appear to be atrophied and do not move.
UPDATE:   Two frogs.  I put on a different pair of glasses and I can see  the little guy hanging on for the ride of his life.  Naughty boy.