"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Sunday Salon -- California!

Joshua Tree National Park. Clockwise from top left: fan palms thriving in an oasis; Don and Anne in front of one of many interesting/astonishing rock formations; rocks that look like a sleeping giant's foot behind the tree; and a Joshua tree, which isn't really a tree but a member of the yucca plant family.

Weather: Hot and dry! (We're in Southern and Central California.)

Hiatus: We've been on the road or vacationing for over a week and though I've had access to Wifi for most of that time I haven't felt like blogging. I realize now I should have taken an official hiatus so no one was left wondering about my welfare.

Day by day trip highlights:

  1. We left home on Thursday, June 24th. We had hoped to rendezvous with a high school friend, Rita, but had to settle for a zoom meet-up due to COVID. Sigh. But we did meet in the park with another friend for a few hours of yakking on a stop during our drive south. I miss seeing friends and love it when circumstances allow for touch points. That night we stayed at my sister's house in Springfield after a brief dinner and visit with Mom.
  2. Friday we drove a few hours south to Don's brother's home. Jon's wife, Laura, just got out of the hospital but still welcomed us warmly. Our one disappointment we didn't get to meet their two new cats. Too shy!
  3. Saturday and Sunday we drove most of both days, with a stopover midpoint at a hotel near the freeway. We had a nice 40th anniversary dinner and a stroll among the vegetation on the grounds. Lovely. We arrived at our timeshare condo in Indio (near Palm Springs) with enough daylight to allow us take a dip in the pool before we made a trip to the grocery store. The daytime high temperatures are hovering around 110 degrees so we avoid being outside for any sustained periods of time. Note: I can't remember if we did anything on Monday except try to recover from all the driving and trying to stay cool.
  4. Tuesday we made a trip to Joshua Tree National Park, not far from here. We entered the park from the south and often felt like we had the place to ourselves. The park is at the convergence point of two different deserts: the Colorado desert (part of the Sonoran desert) and the Mojave desert to its north. Though similar there were actually some remarkable differences between the two. We were thrilled by the experience and took way too many photos of the vegetation, the rock formations, and the plants living near tiny oases. (See photos above.)
  5. Same shirt, different hat (Anne). Same hat, different shirt (Don).

    Wednesday we took the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up Chino Canyon (2 1/2 miles up, a gain of over 6000 feet in 10 minutes) to an elevation over 8,500 feet for spectacular views of the desert below and access to the Mount San Jacinto California State Park and Wilderness area. We hiked as far as our water supply would allow us. We were gobsmacked by the huge Jeffrey pines (see photo above) and other tall trees at such a high elevation. At home on Mt. Rainier, for contrast, the tree line is between 6500-7500 feet and the trees growing close to the line are small and short. We stayed up on the mountain for hours since the temperatures there were much more moderate than on the desert floor. We enjoyed the descent on the tramway more than the ascent. No talking about information, just music we could all sing along to, like "Sweet Caroline" and "End of the Line!" Such fun being part of a group of strangers who all have something in common -- singing the same songs loud and joyfully.

  6. Thursday Don got up early and golfed nine holes while I slept in and started this blog post. In the evening we attended Village Fest in downtown Palm Springs. It was a little like any street market we've ever attended except the temperature was hovering just above 100 degrees even after 7 PM. We found a fun Mexican restaurant with a live band for dinner rather than eating street food in the heat. Fun.
  7. Don knows me. When we visit new areas I often request that we find a botanical garden to see local plants. We found one in Palm Springs: Moorten's Botanical Garden and Cactarium. Friday we walked the grounds, dunking into shade whenever we could, and gaped at all the different types of cacti there are in the area and the world. See photo for some of the oddly beautiful plants we found. 

  8. Saturday we drove to Lake-of-the-Pines, near Sacramento, for a sibling reunion at my brother's house. It was a long day in the car. We got stuck for a while when the freeway was closed but we made it in time for a delicious dinner and a lovely boat ride on the lake with new family friends. Below is their dog, Remy, on the boat with us.

Politics: Just because we're on the road doesn't mean we aren't paying attention to what is happening in the world. In fact, Don and I listened to Sirius radio and the January 6th insurrection Committee hearing on the first leg of our trip. The supreme court's decision to destroy Roe and the troubling allowance of church and state issues are much in my mind. The following political cartoon, illustrations, memes, links, and tweets summarize my feelings.

1. The Myth at the Heart of the Praying Bremerton Teacher (Seattle Times) about the Supreme  Court case allowing prayer in schools. This op-ed is very enlightening about the real issue. 


3. About the Supreme Court decision to gut Roe v. Wade. Let's take a minute or two to mourn and then roll up our sleeves and get to work making sure the voters do something about it.


4. Time for a palette cleanser: "Bohemian Rhapsody" performed by Simply Three and William Joseph. Wow. Just wow. (Come on. Have a listen. You deserve it!)

5. The surprise fifth hearing of the Jan. 6th Committee had many revelations which were quite shocking. Will this be enough to finally bring Trump down? Not sure. But Mick Mulvaney, Trump's former Chief of Staff, thinks it might be. When Republicans turn, you know it is bad.


6. I've been thinking a lot about this quote from Dan Rather. I've seen some polling that suggests that the dial is actually moving and people are waking up to the need to vote for Democrats in November since the hearings have started. I have also seen polling that the anti-Roe (anti-women) decision will also be a needle mover. I hope.

Here is a screen shot of the polls taken since the Supreme Court announcement about abortion last week. The poll is for a generic ballot, meaning the question doesn't have any candidate names or district specific races, just "Are you more likely to vote for a Democrat or a Republican if the election were today?"

The biggest news for Dem fundraising this month (May ’22) is that May [2022] eclipsed May 2018 by a gigantic margin in contribution numbers, total dollars raised, and unique donor numbers. Since 2018 was a midterm election year, the comparison is important. In addition, dollars raised in May ’22 even topped May ’20 - a general election year!!!

Most important, of course, is why donor activity rose meteorically in May. First is the preliminary decision of the Supreme Court to gut Roe v. Wade.  The early release of a preliminary decision- now verified by the disastrous Dobbs ruling- created a firestorm of public anger & dissent.

Second and perhaps equally important, gun safety groups were propelled into action (DKos)…


LA Times

We have our first Black Female Supreme Court Justice: Ketanji Brown Jackson! (NYT)

Books: I've been reading a bit but not as much as I thought since I pictured myself reading poolside. It is too hot for that for sure. We have finished a few audiobooks so far.

  • Print:
    • Stranger Planet by Nathan W. Pyle. A new favorite I enjoy the illustrations and twists on the English language and our traditions. Complete.
    • Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. This is my Classics Club spin selection and my One-Book of the year. Progress: 9%.
    • The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom. I am a fan of this author but not a fan of this book. Complete.
    • Beach Read by Emily Henry. I hope to make more progress on this book now that I am someplace that actually has a beach. Progress: 4%.
  • Audio:
    • The Sentence by Louise Erdrich. A bookstore employee is haunted by a former customer. The book is funny and yet quite revealing about Indigenous culture and issues. I loved this book. So did Don. Complete.
    • Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel. My second book by the author. Both this book and the one above were written/published after the COVID pandemic had begun, so the pandemic is a theme of both books. Sea of Tranquility is confusing and would probably be less so if read rather than listened to since we couldn't couldn't look back when we were trying to draw together all the pieces. Complete.
    • The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. Historical fiction about the enigma project in England during WWII. Before we landed on this one, Don and I tried two others that just didn't seem to work as audiobooks, especially when dealing with road noise. Progress: 62%.
    • Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. When Don isn't around I am attempting to listen to this book club selection on my own. Progress: 9%.

Meet Skimbleshanks and Sasha: Our daughter picked up her new kittens last week and we haven't even met them yet. Now both daughters have two ginger cats.

Skimbleshanks (male) and Sasha (female) are siblings. I don't know who is who in this photo.

Here is Skimble getting some screen time.


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