Friday, July 29, 2011

Gems of Wisdom: Quotes Gathered from the Folks at the Bed & Breakfast

For today's blog post I thought I would take a moment to share with you some of the great quotable wisdom I have gleaned from my experience living here in Coulterville, California...a town that up until a few weeks ago Wikipedia apparently had listed as a ghost town.  According to the last census, we here in Coulterville (and it's bedroom community of Greeley Hill) enjoy a population of 210 permanent residents and a steady stream of international tourists passing though on old Highway 49 en route to Yosemite National Park.  So check your facts you giant free encyclopedia!

So without further ado, for your reading enjoyment, I present to you some vignettes from the confluence of cultures here in the high sierras...

Cultural Exchange:

A lovely aristocratic family from Mexico City arrived here at the B&B. Apparently en route they stopped at Lyon's Towing in Greeley Hill to ask for directions and it was here where they encountered Chris our local mechanic/tow-truck driver/resident coverall wearer.  Chris apparently looked them over and said: "You can't be Mexican, yer too white to be Mexican and too tall...but yer ladies sure are pretty." 

     *Well done Chris, spreading international diplomacy and cultural understanding one tourist at a time!  I didn't ask but I do truly hope that Chris punctuated that sentence by spitting out a was of chewing tobacco onto the pavement.

Unusual Requests:

"We want three king sized beds...all in one do this for $100?"
     ~ Man calling from India about a room (clearly a really big room)*
          *Okay, where besides maybe the fantasy suites at the Palms can you find a single room with three king sized beds?  

Spacial Disorientation:

Caller:  "How many people can you put in your smallest room?"

Me:  "Our smallest and cheapest room sleeps two people."

Caller:  "Can we put seven people in that room?  Oh and do you take coupons from your Holiday Inn Express?"

Me:  "Oh look here, we're all booked up for the rest of the year." (This is a bed and breakfast people, not a clown car or steerage class on the Titanic.)

Existential Struggle:

A Chinese man who had recently come to Silicon Valley to work for a major computer company visited the B&B with his family.  He requested that rather than join us at the breakfast table in the morning we place the breakfast on trays in their room the night before so they could get an early start for Yosemite National Park.  We obliged.  I boiled eggs.  I gave them Yoplait.  I squeezed them juice and gave them milk in the bottle.  I also gave them their own baby watermelon and a case of fresh strawberries along with granola bars, cereal and bacon strips they could microwave...but alas...I had forgotten the one thing that all men must have in order to get a jump on the day...BREAD!  I was accosted that evening upon their return.  The conversation went a little like this:

Me:  Welcome back Mr. C., did you have a nice time in the park?

Him:  But we have no BREAD!

Me:  Pardon?

Him:  This morning...there was NO BREAD!

Me:  Oh I am so sorry...I really honestly thought that I had given you enough to eat.  I really do apologize.

Him:  But we have no BREAD!  No BREAD!  (He pauses to take a breath) NO BREAD!

Me:  Yes, I understand the hardship of not having bread

Him:  But NO BREAD!

Me:  I understand, I am so sorry...I really thought that I had met your carbohydrate needs for the day with the cheerios and granola bars and bananas in the juice and such.  I am so sorry.

Him:  But we have NO BREAD!  When you were sleeping I go into your kitchen and look through your things and I find that all of your bread is frozen!  FROZEN BREAD!

Me:  Well yes, I mean we freeze the bread so that we have it for french toast...wait, you were in my freezer in my personal space...while I was sleeping?

Him:  French toast is not BREAD!  I try to find you in bed and wake you for BREAD!

Me:  I am so sorry...I just had no idea how passionate you were about bread.  

Him:  I like WHOLE WHEAT BREAD...for fiber!

Me:  I just didn't know...sometimes in this crazy life we get caught up in the rat race and forget to think about the fiber intake needs of other...clearly I did that.


Me:  Now remind me again exactly how many more days is it that you are staying here?  


Okay, that's all for now...

Until next time folks...


Monday, July 25, 2011

Hey, Apple...wanna buy my amateur photography?

Plum Smoke Tree Foliage (also an excellent color palette
for the next time I redecorate my room)

I had thought briefly about entitling this post, "Summer in the Sierras:  A Photographic Retrospective"...but that just sounded pretentious and the kind of post that a bunch of your friends on facebook would "like" and then talk about what an affected pain in the rear you were later when you couldn't hear them.  So I decided to go with a plea to Apple to see if they wanted to buy my amateur snapshots of the property here in the shadow of Yosemite National Park to include in their desktop image folder under "System Preferences".  Somehow I don't think I should wait around for a call.  But...please, dear friends on the internet, feel free to use these pictures for whatever you want...even if just to ridicule me.

This is the same plant featured in the first picture...but depending on
what time of day you photograph it and the intensity of the sun it can
appear to have a completely different palette of hues and tones.
Wow...I sound like Martha Stewart.  But don't worry...
I am not engaging in securities fraud or insider trading.  

Every afternoon the leaves on this tree turn crimson in the sunlight.

Tell me this picture doesn't make you long for
 maple syrup drizzled over a waffle?

This is a wild flower that has been spreading all over the meadow.
If you blow on it the little flower buds blow apart like a dandelion.  

Weeds...albeit gorgeous ones.

More of this unidentified wild flower.

This is the leaf of an as yet unidentified species of weed
that has been popping up all over the foothills of the
 Sierras this summer.  It feels like velvet...
which makes it a classy weed.

The Dorothy Mae

My friend Andie thinks this meadow looks like the one from
 "Twilight".  I keep checking but so far I haven't seen any
vampires that sparkle like diamonds in the sunlight.
 I'll keep you all posted though.

...and here we have the road home.  If you look very closely
in the bottom center of the picture you will see a little red dog.
That's my Ling on patrol.  

Finally, we have Antione and Fiona...the two frogs that hang out
in the pond next to the house sunning themselves all day.
I think they might have the best life of any couple I have
ever met...mammal or amphibian.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bed & Breakfast, Banana Split and Compost: Possibly the Lamest Title Ever

I haven't had a chance to update the blog of late so here goes nothing...this month I am up at my family's Bed & Breakfast outside Yosemite National Park trying to provide "home away from home"-like accommodations to tourists from around the world visiting the crown jewel of the Sierra Nevadas.  And I am happy to report that thanks to one Miss Oprah Winfrey upper middle class white women from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area are flocking in droves to see the majestic granite edifices of Yosemite Valley.  So without further ado, here is a photographic essay of activities around the property.

This is Coulterville...made famous by it's presence as
my place of residence on my driver's license.  According to
the sign at the town's limits the population is 115...but rumor has
it that we have come up in the world...making a
210 person-strong showing in the 2010 census

So here is what the park looks like right's okay I
guess...ya' know if you're into spectacularly beautiful
Despite being so close to this amazing natural wonder, I don't venture into the valley much as we have plenty of work to keep us busy back at the old homestead.  We have important things to do like wage war against gophers, make compost and build more space in which to live (a barn in the next construction project on the list).  I have to brag that I have become quite handy at laying a granite tile floor and I am happy to report that I have made some new friends along the way:

Meet little snake buddy.  
When we need supplies we have to head down from our spread up on Greeley Hill, down through Coulterville and over to the bustling 4,100 person-strong metropolis that is the town of Sonora.  Passing through Coulterville, my adopted hometown is a distinct cultural experience.  I often liken Coulterville to something out of a movie.  It just seems too adorably tiny, quaint and rustic to be real...but I assure is most definitely real.  In fact, people think that when I describe it as having Beverly Hillbillies-like jalopies on the streets that I am exaggerating for comedic effect...I assure you I am not...and here is the proof:

This is probably what I will be driving in five years.

After passing through Coulterville en route to Sonora, along Highway 49, there is this awesome old barn that I just think is so charming.  I couldn't help but stop to take a shot of it.

If I were a musician this would the image on one of my album covers.
Last week I had been having a rough couple of days and had been sort of down in the dumps so to cheer me up my Dad decided that a trip to the old fashioned ice cream parlor in Jamestown for banana splits and malts was in order.  It is amazing how some frozen dairy delights can make all of your troubles feel a million miles away...that is unless of course you are lactose intolerant, in which case this much ice creamy goodness would likely only compound your problems.

On the way back from the ice cream parlor my spirits were also lifted by a new little friend who crossed my path in the driveway of the B&B.  I tried to shake hands and be cordial but apparently Mr. Cottontail had bunny places to go and rabbit people to see and scampered off on his merry little way.  

I didn't get a chance to ask him but I think his name is Keith.
One of my nightly routines is to walk the quarter mile driveway that wraps around the house and pull weeds.  Oh and by the way, it's an awesome workout, if anyone is interested.  Anyway, at the eastern end of the driveway sits one of my five vintage 1956 Flying Cloud...which I am fixing up to live in.  I suppose many people dream of moving from a trailer into a aspirations are totally reversed.  This little gal is my dream home.  I mean think how little time it would take to vacuum!

I call this Airstream the "Thelma Lou".
Another necessary skill I have been cultivating up here on the mountain is gardening.  Don't worry though...I am not going to start wearing ugly gardening clogs and strange printed sweaters and cut my hair into a Dorothy Hamill bowl-cut...but I am totally committing myself to beautifying the property.  Here are a few of my babies:

This is a Japanese Maple I planted.
And these are the leaves of the smoke tree I planted
I have no idea what these are but they sure are pretty.
When I have a fresh batch of primo compost next week I will update the blog with the mutant plant life I will be cultivating.  Of course I can't compost and plant all day...I have to attend to the hummingbirds too.  Every day about a dozen of little ruby-throated hummingbird dive-bomb the porch to greedily drink up the sugar water we put out.  They're adorable but so darn fast I can't seem to get a decent shot of them.  This picture was the best I was able to do:

My little hummingbird friend...I call him Peep.
As I have alluded to already in this post, every day at the B&B I am faced with one of life's greatest challenges...the challenge of what to do with one's compost.  Yes, that's right...compost.  I used to laugh and poke fun at the informercial for this product called the Compost Tumbler, in which an older woman who was a satisfied customer would look into the camera and say, "It just simply gives me more time and more compost when I need it."  At the time I thought, "Who the hell has that strong of an opinion on compost?"  Well I feel that strongly about compost.  When you start planting little trees and nurturing them you start to get really passionate about compost. [Note:  As I write this I am fully aware that I am a total since we have that straightened out go ahead and read on.]  For a while I had just been gathering the leftover food up from breakfast and depositing it at the base of my darling little trees...only to find that the next morning some pesky woodland creature had come along and totally destroyed my neat little pile to steal the bacon strips and watermelon rinds I had set there.  So I started storing my food scraps to protect them from said woodland creatures...but then the house started to smell and flies were attacking my hidden treasure trove of composting materials.  Thus, my wonderful Dad came to rescue with...wait for it...a genuine Compost Tumbler!  

Look at that awesome Dad of mine assembling the
Compost Tumbler!
After assembling the Compost Tumbler we set it up on the hill behind the main house and I deposited all of my liquid compost gold into the plastic drum and shut it up for the night.  Tonight my attempts at composting would not be interrupted by any black and white bandit-faced fur ball.

The next morning I found the evidence of my raccoon nemesis'
nocturnal visit to the Compost Tumbler...back off Raccoon!
So after declaring "Mission Accomplished" in the war on raccoons, fruit flies, and inefficient composting there was really only one way to celebrate...with another trip into town for banana splits and malted milkshakes.

Until next time...