Wednesday, September 30, 2009

We're sitting at RenoX waiting to board a Southwest flight to LAX and after that we leave for Costa Rica at 1:30 am. It's going to be a long night. There was lots more running though my head earlier but it's gone now. I forgot my (favorite) pink shirt and left my water bottle in my friend's car. It could be worse. Maybe it is but it's too late now. After much deliberation, Buug was elected to accompany us. He's delighted. That little fellow loves to travel. Well, gotta go.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Through the looking glass

Bugsy in the backroom

By the end of the day my bag will be packed. That is my promise to myself. In the meantime, for your entertainment, I posted a few more photos from our recent trip to the Great Basin at flickr ... if you're interested. I'll post more here later, after my bag is packed.

Defunct Currant Cafe
Currant, Nevada

Currant is a ghost town along Nevada's Hwy 6, a road that makes Route 50, the so-called "Loneliest Highway in America", look like a traffic jam. The Currant Cafe and Motel are currently one of Mother Nature's little reclamation projects. It's my kind of place.

Currant Cafe, on Nevada Hwy. 6 

Currant Cafe, a once friendly stop along Nevada Hwy 6, the real "loneliest highway".

Currant Cafe, caught in the looking glass

Currant Cafe, a lost world

Currant Cafe interior

Currant Cafe through the looking glass

Currant Cafe, another dead Nevada roadside attraction

Friday, September 25, 2009

Costa Rica countdown

Five days. I only have five days now to pack. Five days to do all the things I could have done five days ago. Should have done ten days ago. And so it goes. And yesterday, what did I do with yesterday? Burned the whole day ... out ... when I should have been home, preparing flash drives and backup flash drives, sorting through clothes and pencils. Damn.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Looking back

My mother's diary sits on a shelf next to my morning sitting place. It is red and has a little brass lock and key. Had a little brass key. That is long gone. My brother gave me the book a few years ago saying, "Here. See what you can do with this." He gave me her little black diary as well and a couple of faded old, fancy candy boxes full of letters, some written by her and some by other members of the family. A few of the letters are over one hundred years old, written in pencil, and still readable. I get a deliciously strange feeling reading them. He had them for years and could never bring himself to go through everything. I have yet to do it myself but, by chance, I peaked at her September 22nd entry this morning. She was 18. Today was Sunday in 1935, following a very late Saturday night. She wrote. "Speaking of the last roses of summer - I know just how they feel."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Swami and Bugsy

Morning chat at the Currant Motel.

Swami has friends all over the world.

I still don't have time to post photos from the Grant Range trip. I realize that must nearly ruin your day but this one of Swami and Bugsy lounging at the Currant Motel will have to do for now. I am very in the rears on all that but, at the moment, I must finish a newsletter. It's not anything interesting, just a vehicle for minutes and a treasurer's report, but I try to add something extra each time. It's crazy though. I was up past midnight last night looking for the right image that will, at best, get a passing glance. Can't help it. Anyway, we're leaving for Costa Rica on the 30th and I haven't even begun packing. My brother and his wife pack about an hour before they leave for the airport. Experienced travelers, they. Also, where they go, they can count on buying whatever they need. Not always so in Central America. The neighbor over the back fence is blaring Country Western in his yard, which kind of fits the mood of this blue sky September morning. I hope you are making the most of your day. It's what we've got. Today. Nothing more or less.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Nevada resident

We're back from five days in the Grant Range. I'm on the run but will post more photos later. We saw lots of wild life, including this shy fellow who wasn't at all happy about being photographed. I shouldn't have done it. Harassing wildlife is lame and, with rattlesnakes, stupid but I forgot both manners and sense when he came by.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Home away from home

We're in Tonopah for the weekend.


Downtown Tonopah without the
Mizpah, Nevada's most haunted hotel,
as the centerpiece.

This is my 13th assembly here in seven years. On the surface nothing's changed much although, since we were here last, the town has put up a spiffy new official sign on 395. You can see it in the first photo. And, by the way, the Mizpah will be on the auction block September 16th. That's just a few days away! Just think. It could be yours for a song.

The Ramada didn't have our reservation so we're at the Economy Inn for half the price, $35 a night. It's not as bad as it looks from the street plus it has free wi-fi and a great view if you like defunct mining/desert ghost town scenarios. However, the clowns next door carried on until 6 in the morning. Given the volume of their voices and the number of "fuck him, fuck thems and fuck hers" they had to be out of their pea brains on speed and booze.

The sticker on the windshield of the Mustang parked outside their door explains that the car is being moved from Vegas to Portland by a hired driver, so hopefully they are, by this time, gone. Otherwise the manager promised to move them to the front, a place he reserves for Assholes.

Desert elan

Of course, changed or not, I photographed the same old roadside apparitions we pass every time we take 395... Luning, Mina, the Playmate Ranch.

You will be happy to hear they are all doing well, ie they are still inhabited.

Playmate Ranch

White limo at gas station next door to Playmate Ranch

My favorite photos from the trip so far are of the fat, flat, white clouds drifting east although they suggest rain by Sunday, which is exactly when we head out into the Great Basin for a week of camping. Lovely. Well, rain here usually evaporates before hitting the ground but we shall see. We're leaving early tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Toulouse Lautrec

Today is the 108th anniversary of Toulouse Lautrec's death.

The artist

He died of complications from alcoholism and syphilis at the family estate in Malromé at the age of 36. A couple of years before his death he tried "drying out" but soon returned to hard drinking, despite a series of paralytic fits. According to Wikipedia, his last words were, "Le vieux con!" ("The old fool!") This was his goodbye to his father.


I liked his work the minute I first laid eyes on it back in high school. And I suppose his glamorous depiction of the seamy Parisian nights in Montmartre, its brothels and, in particular, the Moulin Rouge, helped lock in my childhood notion that to be an artist one must be willingly and tragically lost. Certainly the fascination helped him to an early death. At least I avoided that.

Self-portrait at the Moulon Rouge

Salude Toulouse.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Me! That's who wants to know.

Here are a few photos from the last few weeks. Locations range from Portland, Reno, the Mohave, and LA to the lateral universe wherein dwells the Invisible Theatre.

Baby Thea x 2

Glow Boy
Spice Rack, Indian grocery in Reno

Burning Man van

Carson City. NV

Mohave cloud

LA cloud
Station Fire

One last round of Bánh mì sandwiches
for the road from the pigeon friendly
Saigon Bakery in San Gabriel's new China Town

Perfunctory Hollywood sign shot.
See it through the smog way off, up on the hill?

Headed home

Mohave hills

Bad Grammar Sign of the Day Award

Invisible Theatre
Uncle Monkey, Baby T and the Gang

Monday, September 7, 2009

Baby Thea's big adventure

Corn for the critters and an amazing adventure for Baby Thea.

Larger format here.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Home again

The graveyard, the Savannah Memorial Park Pioneer Cemetery, was a bust, by Nevada standards sterile and tame. It got a drive-by. We didn't even bother getting out of the car. Historic? Old graves. Okay. In America anyway but Z-E-R-O character. Now Nevada has graveyards. Desert crazed. Lovely. Lonely. Graveyards. If you are very quite, you can just make out, mixed in with the wind, lingering sighs.

Turns out the motel had coffee in the office after all, plus cold orange juice, danish in cellophane and free copies of USA Today. Makes up for the hair choked shower. We would definitely stay there again. The knock out feature was its incredibly thick walls. I really hate motels with thin walls. I do not want to be hostage to TVs and toilets and late night conversations through the wall. We did not hear a peep at the Rodeway Inn. Now Del Mar Ave. was another matter. Getting past that required ear plugs and Valerian root tablets.

Now we're home until Friday then off to Tonopah for the weekend then we're headed back out to camp in the Great Basin until Thursday.

Friday, September 4, 2009

New Chinatown in a galaxy far far away from somewhere

We're in LA for the weekend. Drove down today, after driving down from Medford yesterday, after driving down from Portland the day before that, where we spent a few days cooing Baby Thea after driving up to Medford to pick up our other granddaughter so that the three of us could drive up to Portland and coo Baby Thea before we drove her back down to Eugene to participate in the U of O's Project Tomato where, she told me yesterday, they picked and transformed a whopping 900 lbs of tomatoes into organic pizza sauce. After making sure she was settled in, Mr. Lee and I drove back up to Portland to coo Baby Thea some more and that gets us back to the beginning. I think. Does that make sense? And all this up and down? Compared to what? Earth is basically round.

Well, we're not exactly in LA. We're in San Gabriel Valley, the new Chinatown, truly a country within a city, staying at a $59 a night motel run by Pakistanis. The room is huge and nice other than little details, like legacy toothpaste splatters on the bathroom mirror and no coffee in the room or office, plus we have a great view of an impressive plume of smoke rising from the current wild fires burning nearby. We had Bánh Mì sandwiches for dinner. They were great but the best part was the pigeon walking around inside the restaurant looking for crumbs under the chairs. He was an old guy with a limp and not moving too fast. The people running the bakery didn't seem to take any notice or care. Eventually he nibbled his way to the door then stepped back out onto the sidewalk. My kind of place. After dinner we followed up with moon, cassava, and mung bean cakes. Much too much but tasty.

And this evening I learned some cool things about the nearby Mt. Wilson Observatory. Given that it was threatened by the fires, LA Weekly republished an article on it by Joshuah Bearman. Did you know that the reflecting element at the bottom of the scope is 9,000 pounds of wine-bottle glass from the Saint Gobain bottle works in France? It was carried up the mountain by tiny burros in 1917 (poor critters) and is still the largest solid plate mirror ever cast.

It was up on Mt. Wilson that Edwin Hubble "first discovered that there are galaxies. Many many many other galaxies in the universe. Then, he discovered from the light of those galaxies that the universe is expanding." Full article here. Amazing, isn't it? Before Hubble's observations on Mt. Wilson, everyone thought the only thing out there was the Milky Way. After his discovery, even Einstein had to rethink things and came up for a visit.

Anyway, it's late. Given that we're in the general neighborhood, we thought we'd drop in and see The Blue Boy tomorrow, but the museum charges $20 a head. We're going to an old, free graveyard instead.