Saturday, May 23

The Blog Beckons

Even when there is little to blog about.

I shot a 97 at golf the other day. Now that’s blog-worthy. I used to score in the high 90s from time to time, not often, but as I get older double-digit scores are rarer and rarer.

I don’t know if it’s because I got my clubs regripped—which I honestly can’t fathom but hey you never know—or if it’s because I played with 3 men. I can drive the ball pretty good for my age and gender, but you play better when you play with better players. Now, you should know I play from the gold (senior) tees at this course…because they have them, and because I qualify and my handicap index says I can.

I usually play with another woman my age and she takes about 130+ strokes, so maybe it was the company. Whatever. I was stoked. And I beat my male partner by two strokes. But he was having a bad day. He’s usually better.

We had an oil spill up the coast near Santa Barbara. That’s really sad. And ugly. It will take months to clean up and a lot of marine life will die.
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Around home, J has been dealing with some unpleasant gallbladder issues. Gallstones is the suspected diagnosis but we won’t get the results of his tests until next week. Meanwhile he’s hanging in there. I still eat low carb high protein and now J’s eating high carb low fat. Makes for some interesting dinners.

While on the subject of health, one of our book club members had a heart attack…AT the meeting! She’ll be fine and she’s already home from the hospital, but that really throws some reality in your face. She is about my age and not what *I* would call overweight.

There has been a lot of hockey and basketball on the TV lately. The Ducks, who used to be a joke, are in the Stanley Cup finals this year and that’s exciting stuff.
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The Lakers, not so much.

We got the rest of our patio furniture. I insisted on a round table so we could play cards there, and a metal table because I have had everything else and metal wins, hands down. I doubted we needed seating for six.

We assembled it ourselves. I did most of it because J was feeling poorly and I was pretty achy the next day. I hope it’s safe to sit on.
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Weather continues to be cold and blustery. We’re wearing our fuzzy slippers and sweatshirts around the house. It’s too cold to sit outside for sure. We still need some accoutrements like lanterns and rug to pull it together.
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The succulents are happy with the intermittent rain we’ve been getting. 1-IMG_2277

Well, that’s all the news. Have a happy and safe Memorial Day.
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Friday, May 15

The Thrill is Gone

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One of the last great blues legends has left this world. Rest in peace, BB.

The big news around here is IT’S RAINING! We need rain so badly. The plants are happy, happy.
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With the drought situation it’s just WRONG to complain about rain so I won’t, but we got our new patio furniture just before the first drops fell and I want so badly to sit outside but it’s really cold and blustery.
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Love, love, LOVE this!

Mothers Day was nice, and the weather broke to make a beautiful day. Sorry the picture is so small—if I make it bigger it loses clarity. It wasn’t so long ago I was taller than Michelle.
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My Mothers Day prezzie. It is telling me to get off my ass and move. It has a little smiley face in the display and right now it is sticking its digital tongue out at me.
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I finally got my golf clubs re-gripped, about four years late. I shouldn’t show this photo, it’s from two years ago before I lost a bunch of weight, but it’s the best golf photo I could find. I have since gotten rid of that blouse because it’s two sizes too big now.1-DSCF1171

I’ve been spending a whole lot of time planning excursions for our trip this fall. It’s a lot of work, but a little pre-planning makes for a much richer experience. We are going with friends who have never been on a cruise or to the Mediterranean so I’m doing the legwork because I have the know-how.
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Before we left on the last trip I found a better hiding place for the little pouch of jewelry and cash that I keep around. Now I can’t find it. Grrrr.

Tuesday, May 12

Return to Reality

There is always so much to do when you return to your regular routine after a trip. We cleaned the house before we left because we had some people come water our one plant and we didn’t want them to think we were slobs, but we needed to do it again when we returned. What’s up with that?

That stinkin bird returned to claim his sleeping spot. He must have seen us leave. This foil treatment foiled him before, hope it works again. IMG_2263

And another bird (no relation to the first one) made a nest in our light fixture. I felt bad about the nest, but… Lacking bird tape, I’m hoping the masking tape will be enough to keep it away. So far, so good, but birds are persistent.IMG_2264

The hills returned to their usual color of gold. I’m too old to climb into the planter to take the bars out of the scene. IMG_2265

It has been chilly and blustery this week, and it even rained, which we need so desperately. Good golf weather! Cool cloudy weather trumps hot sun every time. My back feels good so I am hitting the ball really well. Sadly, my score didn’t reflect that. No matter—I enjoy my weekly golf game so much anyway. It’s just a bunch of us geezer-hackers in the neighborhood, but it’s great camaraderie and it just makes me happy.

Our neighborhood supermarket (Pavilion’s) was taken over by Haggen, who gobbled up a bunch of markets in the southland. Haggen touts itself as Whole Foods meets Safeway, but we didn’t see it. We were unimpressed. On top of that they had no customer service person on the floor and they were rude when we asked where something was. Who needs that. Too many markets in the sea and there is a real Whole Foods across the freeway.
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Congratulations! I’m celebrating one year of grain free living! I had a cookie on the ship and I have tasted a corn chip now and then so I can only claim 99.9% grain free, but it’s an important milestone to me. I have never been healthier or felt better in my life! There was a virus going around on the ship and a lot of people got sick, but I didn’t! That’s big news. Usually I’m the first to catch what’s going around. Now that I think about it, I haven’t been sick since I gave up grains.

In a tiny nutshell, grains, but especially wheat, cause inflammation and if your immune system is busy (and worn out) fighting inflammation, it can’t protect you from what’s going around. Makes sense?

Saturday, May 2

Trip Report #5 Bonus Material

Everyone was exhausted from climbing all over Machu Picchu the day before, but Percy got us up and moving despite our protests. We visited another archeological site in Cuzco, Sacsayhuaman, pronounced a little like “sexy woman”.

Turns out there are several archeological sites in the area, but how can anything possibly best Machu Picchu? Well, it did. This was a fortress built out of incredibly huge granite boulders. Blew my mind!

It sits on a mountain above the city of Cuzco. At 12,000 feet, we gasped for air like fish out of water as we dragged our feet.
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For one thing, it’s massive.
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Look at how precisely these giant rocks fit together. And note how the walls lean inward. Remarkable engineering.
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Below is our group…to give you a sense of the size of these stones. It’s an amazing mystery, one that has yet to be explained. How did they get these boulders up to this site to begin with? Giants? Ancient Aliens?
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Cue the llamas and alpacas!
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Look at how these stones are cut so precisely in a parallelogram shape to make the doors and windows trapezoidal. How did they get them so smooth? Remember, they had no tools. And how could they know that slanting the walls inward would make the structure earthquake proof?

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It’s hard to imagine how the Incas did this with no tools.
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For a 1 Sole coin (~33 cents) you can take your picture with these ladies.1-1-IMG_2241

That’s the trip! I hope you enjoyed it.

Friday, May 1

Trip Report #4 Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu (MP) is a difficult and complicated place to get to. Yikes, we had to take a ship, a plane, a train and a bus to get there! And without a guide, you’d be lost. There is no printed information to tell you what you’re looking at.

Once you get down into the Sacred Valley of the Incas (by train), you are at the place where you can catch the bus to MP, which is up on a mountain. The buses are the only vehicles allowed on the Hiram Bingham Highway, and for good reason. Just take a look:
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That’s the road on the left. Buses shuttle back and forth all day long. Hiram Bingham, by the way, was the guy who gets the credit for discovering MP in 1911, although others had already been there. They are building a museum in Cuzco to house the artifacts that were found here and which have recently been returned.

After you go in the gates and make your way through the throngs of people, you are greeted by this iconic vista. We had beautiful weather, I was so grateful.
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Must pause for a photo op.
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Percy is saying, “Lez go family, stay close to the wall on the left and don’t fall!”
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Irrigation channels on the terraces. 1-IMG_2151

Don’t fall! There’s no net!1-IMG_2145

Looking down at the Urubamba River below. How did they ever find this place! Actually I know the answer to that, the local people knew it was here all along. One had only to ask.
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Here’s a zoom-in of the iconic peak, Wayna Picchu. You can pay extra to climb up there, but they only allow a limited number of people to go each day because it’s very treacherous. Only experienced trekkers need apply.
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This is a view from the peak looking down at the site. I stole this photo from the internet to show you because it’s not a view you often see. Obviously I did not climb up here. Dizzying, isn’t it. Why all the terraces? Two reasons: To grow food and to keep everything from sliding down the mountain.
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Here’s the history in a nutshell: Pachacuti (below) built a vast Incan Empire around 1450. MP was his retreat. His royal estate.
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So what happened to the people? MP was abandoned; it was not conquered by the Spanish. Some say it was a plague, but no one knows for sure.

This is the Temple of the Sun, and an engineering marvel. All the walls slant in, and the windows and doors are trapezoidal in shape. This site has withstood earthquakes of 8 and above and is still standing. Wow.
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Just look at how these rocks were hewn to fit together. They used no tools and no mortar whatsoever, and you cannot even insert a business card between the rocks. On the morning of the summer solstice, the sun shines through this window and illuminates a sacred rock.
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I had just said to JJ, “hey where are the llamas,” and then there they were.
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We are both exceedingly grateful we had the foresight to bring trekking poles. The steps were high, and going down (and up) was tricky and downright scary—it ain’t for sissies. If you fall, it’s a long way down.
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After a delicious buffet lunch at the MP lodge, we took the bus down the mountain and boarded the train back to Cuzco. It was a great day.
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And if that wasn’t enough, there was a show. Of course.
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Next time we’ll visit Sacsaywaman and see some more incredible stonework.