Thursday, May 28, 2015

My money would be on Bubba

The man is painting the deck now. From what I can see it will look much as it did before he started – but we will be much poorer.

He moves with the speed of a drunken snail dragging an elephant through a shag-pile carpet covered with molasses.

The lights which Joe put under our big tree work a treat - and I should imagine can seen from space. They go on at dusk and off at dawn. I would not be surprised if we get a ‘cease and desist’ order from NASA.

I am knitting small eye masks for the squirrels so that they can get some sleep at night.

I have ordered my Traeger and have received advice from Lenny about which pellets to use. There are just so many that it is very exciting thinking about the possibilities. I am studying my Myron Mixon book for ideas. He is a world class barbecuist.

Of course they have barbecuing contests here. They have every kind of contest here. On the weekend for the Indy 500 they had a bacon eating contest – which I must admit sounds pretty good.

There are also tractor pulling and hawg rasslin. It would not surprise me if there was a contest to see how far you can drive a squirrel with a Big Bertha. My money would be on Bubba Watson.

Tomorrow we have guests coming for dinner. These are the Australians who live a few blocks away and to whom we are somehow related. This is even too weird for me to come to grips with.

Anyhow I am making Hungarian Goulash soup using paprika I bought in Hungary. I am also making Patates Batasi which is a favorite Turkish dish. These are my go to dishes which are almost impossible to mess up. I said almost.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The woodle get hayut

Yesterday Joe finished installing the fountain. He did this despite intermittent thunderstorms. He had dug channels that did not work- and sort of filled them in – and then channels that did work – and sort of filled them in – so the entire back garden looked like a large pile of gooey mud that had been visited by both Bomber Harris and marauding bands of gophers.

Much of the mud is on the paths – and this is where my handy dandy pressure sprayer will come into its own. I knew I bought it for a reason. Every man should have a pressure sprayer.

The fountain would not turn off and I did not have time to read the instruction manual so I unplugged it. Tomorrow I will set aside a couple of hours to master the fountain whizzer which is the size of an iWatch and has an instruction manual an inch thick.

‘Chapter 176: Using your fountain in zero gravity conditions – WiFi considerations’.

The tree lights are not quite right and Joe will have to come back and fix them. This is inevitable as the instructions are relayed from Cate to me and then me to Joe – and I never really understood them in the first place.

So what I ask for – which seems logical to Joe and I – turns out to be the work of complete mindless cretins when it is executed. And I must admit that when Cate explains to me where Joe and I went wrong it all seems much clearer.

The deck men have been here – off an on – for some time. My initial request was to ‘sand the deck and stain it’ and I accepted their quote for $500.

It seems that in the continental USA there are many meanings for ‘sand’.

My intention was that they sand the deck to remove the existing stain (which I applied so badly) and then stain it with the stuff I am supplying. The sanding also being intended to smooth out the bumps in the deck.

This whole episode has now descended into a Goat Thing of epic proportions worthy of a Harvard Business School study and we may have to sell the house to pay for the deck. 

Men have spent days here pressure spraying the deck with and without chemicals.  I get hourly calls from the supervisor who tells me to whom he has spoken and the very many reasons why what I want to be done cannot be done.

‘Wayell - the woodle get hayut and the stain won’t stick’

(well…the wood will get hot and will lose the efficacy to accept the stain)

Every now and then I go and talk to the pressure sprayer who says things (mournfully) such as ‘slow goin’ ain’t it’.

Yesterday it rained so they did not come to stain. If they do not come tomorrow I am dousing the deck in gasoline and torching it.

Monday, May 25, 2015

See it briefly

We had to drive from Denver to Estes – where the Stanley Hotel is located - so I rang the man at Hertz at 11:00 AM to arrange a pickup to go and collect the car we had booked months earlier.

He said he had none. He said that he was waiting for people to return cars and that ‘we were on the waiting list’ and would probably have a car before they closed.

Before they closed?

It had not occurred to me that if you rented a car it would not be available. Had I thought about it I would have realized that this is a distinct possibility if people do not return their cars. But why don’t they return their cars? Are they having too much fun? Did they forget where they put them?  Was there a massive pileup of rentals on the Interstate?

After much farnarkling we managed to get a car from Avis at double the price – but at least were able to be on our way.

The Stanley was built in the early 1900’s and looks every inch of it. We were located on the 4th floor in a ‘Queen size’ with a spectacular view of the car park. In the Stanley ‘Queen size’ means that you can get into the bathroom without walking over the bed.

The 4th floor is the floor where the ghosts hang out. They have regular ghost tours – which started outside our room where the tour guide spent 10 minutes giving the tourists the low down on the flocks of ghosts that infest the hotel.

There were certainty many noises in the night but I am sure there were no ghosts involved.

We only breakfasted there once – because life is too short. We were served by Griselda – an ancient woman from eastern Europe who looked like she had applied her make up with a broom and had arrived at work by being fired out of a cannon backwards.

She moved with glacial speed – and was matched by the service from the kitchen. The last thing to arrive – with our bill – was the orange and carrot juice we had ordered to start the lengthy repast.

The Stanley is where ‘The Shining’ was filmed and you can buy everything you can imagine with film images plastered all over it. I was thinking of Shining tea towels with matching oven mitts but Cate thought the coloring was wrong for the kitchen so I settled for a Shining snow globe.

The film plays continuously on the in-house TV but the print is so bad it is unwatchable.

It was quite hot and the hotel has no air conditioning. There was a fan but it was positioned at the end of the bed over the TV – which was kept beautifully cool all night. But we did sleep with the window open and we could see part of the Rocky Mountains. 

There were hordes of Elk all over the hotel grounds and they were very friendly – apart from the mother who had just given birth to an Elkette in the bushes outside the Steamer cafĂ©. She was a bit edgy so the hotel had a man stand guard to keep her and the patrons safe.

Apparently the Elk come and go as they migrate and there are special places locally where they are allowed to congregate. This made us feel warm and fuzzy – especially as there is no hunting allowed in the national park.

The Stanley is well worth seeing – but briefly.

Friday, May 22, 2015

As crook as Rookwood

I have just been laid low by a bad cold and have been as crook as Rookwood. Cate got it from one of her staff – and then she gave it to me. She has told him how unhappy I am.  

Yesterday Javier and Joe came to connect the fountain. This required them to dig and get power under the back path. They dug for most of the day and then gave up. There are too many rocks in the garden. They have gone away to think of another solution.

On Tuesday I was mowing the lawn and two men came along the street. One had a notebook and the other had a large camera on his shoulder. The notebook man said he was from a TV station and  started to interview me about high weeds. I said I had many broad leafed weeds – and I showed him some.

But he was only really interested in highs weed and questioned me about their whereabouts and the state of the neighborhood in general. I said I really did not know about high weeds so we left it at that.

Yesterday I saw a man in the back garden talking to Javier and Joe. I asked him who he was and he said he was William Niles Wishard III. Our house is called Wishard Mansion because his grandfather – William Niles Wishard - lived here from 1907-1941.

He lives in Malibu and comes here every year for the Indy 500. He has some photos of his father – William Niles Wishard II - being married in the house and is going to bring them next year.

Next I will tell you about the Stanley Hotel.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Bag block?

Rocky Mountains National Park
A  miracle occurred on our way to Denver. The United flight left on time and arrived early. Things went downhill after that. We waited and waited for our bags and there was eventually an announcement that the bags could not be taken off the plane because there was lighting in the area.

Fair enough – I don’t want a baggage handler to be struck by lightning while he is moving my socks and underwear around.

Finally there was an announcement that the bags were moving so we waited and waited and finally there was an announcement telling us that there was ‘bag block’ and that they were working to fix it.

I am not sure how this is done but it does not seem like it should have taken as long as it did.

Finally the bags started coming out and because ours were tagged ‘priority’ they of course came off last. So we got to the hotel very late and discovered that it was in fact in the Denver railway station.

The hotel lobby was the Denver railway station lobby – and the restaurants were the Denver railway station restaurants. I didn’t have a problem with this apart from the extraordinary amount of money we were paying and of course I have no one to blame but myself because I booked it. It looked good on

But the room was very nice and had a spectacular view of the railway station and environs. The hotel did have an excellent bar and some fine white wines and we gave these some attention.

Next: How we managed to do nothing in Denver. Why booking a rental car does not mean that you get one.