Saturday, July 31, 2010

Upstairs Hallway Project: Week One

More than two years ago, my friend Sharkbutt urged encouraged me to get started on fixing the upstairs hallway.  The stairwell and the hallway were papered in old wallpaper; nothing dreadful (which is why it had lasted so long) but the corners had been tattered by certain cats of my acquaintance.  The Shark knew that drove me crazy.

The project was much more difficult and messy than I expected and I quickly lost my will to finish the job.  In my defense, it wasn't exactly as if I was sitting around eating bon bons while the hallway was resplendent in its shabbiness.  And the unsightly hall was upstairs, so anyone who saw it either lived in the house or was invited upstairs, meaning they were expected to love us enough to overlook our disfigured hallway.  As the photos demonstrate, that was a tall order.

The task is on my Life List (#16) and as the rest of the house has started to look better and better, it was time for me to take on the hallway and mean it.  A wallpaper expert taught me that the removal would be easier if it was accomplished in two stages.  Stage one was to strip off the wallpaper; stage two was to then remove the adhesive underneath, using a wet rag and wielding a putty knife, to scrape it away.  It makes for an easier job, though it still requires patience and perseverance.  I could certainly set aside a couple of days to power through it, but I decided to instead take it slow and easy, devoting 60 minutes a day to the work with the hope that I could finish the project before school starts at the end of August.

One reason to complete the project in chunks is the sheer mess of the job.  Even if I had set aside a few days to just get it done, I'd still have to stop every hour or so and sweep away the mess.  For one thing, the detritus makes the stairs slippery.  For another, the wet wallpaper adhesive remains sticky and will easily adhere itself to the floors.  A drop sheet would help, though a slippery sheet of anything on the stairs seems like a very bad idea.

 This past week, while JT was away, I took on the job in a slow and steady fashion.  The first step is to remove the wallpaper and adhesive.  When that is done, I will patch and sand the plaster walls.  Then I will paint the hallway trim and then the walls.  Finally, I will hang some art up at the stairway landing and add an etsy wall decal in the upstairs hallway.  Laid out like this, the chores begin to look rather daunting.  So I'm just going to stick my head in the sand and methodically repeat "slow and steady wins the race."  Eventually, that will get the job done.  The week's progress is pretty good; I'm more than half way through the wallpaper removal job at this point.

Look for weekly updates as the rest of the summer unfolds.  And if you're in town, be careful before you come over.  You could be drafted to help out.

Friday, July 30, 2010

So Much for the Huddled Masses Yearning to be Free

I've been troubled by U.S. immigration policy for most of my political life.  In 2006, my very first post for this blog was a discussion of immigration in the United States.  The furor surrounding Arizona's new immigration law certainly had me thinking about the subject again.  Then yesterday, on the day Arizona's ridiculous law came into semi-effect,  I read that Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) is considering introduction of a Constitutional amendment that will eliminate birthright citizenship

What have we become?

Though I have nothing but condemnation for the approach Arizona takes in their law, I am sympathetic to the idea that the federal government has let down the states when it comes to immigration.  I am not particularly concerned about enforcement, per se, since I believe that we should return to the open-door immigration policy that made us the land of opportunity.  I will oppose with all my might a Constitutional amendment to eliminate birthright citizenship.   In the meantime, with the exception of Graham's dangerous proposal, Congress has dodged responsibility on this issue.  It's time for us to contact Congress and demand that they lead and address some of the most pressing issues related to immigration. 

For one thing, the current Congressional failure has resulted in a myriad of deeply troubling developments.  Illegals who arrive as children may receive an education but when they graduate high school, no matter how accomplished they are, they may not be able to attend college because they can't qualify for the federal financial aid that is available to their peers.  And they can't get a job for lack of a few documents.  Should they find a way to make it through college, they graduate with skills and a college diploma, at home in a nation that will not treat them like the citizens they clearly are.

Undocumented workers labor in a world of scant regulation of labor practices, unable to complain about any poor treatment they endure for fear that a complaint will result in deportation from the $3 an hour job that keeps their head just above water.  Fear of deportation keeps these same vulnerable people from getting driver's licenses or reporting the crimes committed against them.  A sick illegal resident may receive emergency treatment because by law hospitals cannot turn them away.  But chronic health conditions are unlikely to receive treatment, thus shortening the life-spans of these hardworking people.

These problems are just the tip of the iceberg.  Enough. 

Let's be the nation that the Declaration of Independence promises we will be.  Let's fulfill the pledge of the Statue of Liberty.  Let's demand that Congress take action to arrange an amnesty program for the illegals who are here now.  Let's figure out a way to open our borders and additional citizenship rights for others who come here seeking the historic opportunities our ancestors sought for themselves and passed down to us via birthright citizenship.  Let's discuss this seriously without hyperbole and fear of the other.  Let's understand, respect and embrace the reality that we are a nation of immigrants.  And most importantly, let's quit pretending that this problem will go away on its own.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Caught in the Act

As soon as they start blooming, I pick bouquets of flowers from my garden and bring them in to the house.  Then I spend the next few months trying to keep Tiger from drinking the zinnia-infused water.
It's a losing battle.  In this mugshot, the accused doesn't even bother to look sorry.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Life List #27: Table in the Study

 There is a room located just beyond French doors in the corner of my living room that we call the study because it has bookcases and was originally intended to have a desk with the computer on it.  But JT and I are laptop junkies who prefer a wireless life.  And the room was the only place in the house with space to house the elliptical (and therefore preserve my tenuous sanity).  So instead of being an actual study, where we would sit in a wooden desk chair while reading the great works, it's just the room we call the study.

Last summer, during my August cleaning frenzy, I organized the book shelves.  That has been a most happy development.  But the desk in here was stacked with an old desktop computer and printer, the phone, cable, and computer cords plus a whole bunch of other things which had no natural home.  Each winter, I would rescue a few outdoor plants and wedge them into the room to winter over.  And this unsightly, dusty mess was the view for my daily workout. 

Over the spring, as I looked over the desk and out the windows at my blooming lilac tree, I started to think about putting the desk surface to use as a place for plants to winter over and cats to sun.  A pail for pens, the phone, and the wireless router could stay but the rest of the desk would be a much neater (and nicer) host for actual things that I enjoy looking at.  I thought about this often, but there was no progress toward actually getting the done.  Finally, last week I was inspired to take action.  The job was nearly done before I thought to take any photos so you'll just have to trust me when I say that the table was a slattern's dream.  Because all you get to see is this much-improved view:
I've got a tidy, organized table (with a new wireless router…thanks for the assistance, C).  It's now ready for some happy plants (that would be life list item number 28) and cats to come and hang out.   And this is another job checked off on my life list.  I am a life list cleaning machine, people.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The High Water Mark

For most of my adult life, I have had bathrooms most easily distinguished by their lack of creature comforts.  All of them were functional, though they were invariably small and dark.   A few stand out…and not for good reasons. 

The worst of the bathrooms had to be the one on 1st Street when I lived in Nebraska.  In the middle of my first year in that apartment, the landlord confessed that the apartment had been completely built before they realized it had no bathroom.  So they converted a closet into a bathroom.  It was so confined that you could sit on the toilet and either wash your feet in the shower or rinse your hands in the sink.  Or both, if you were very well-coordinated.  The cave-dark room was functional and easy to clean but that was about all that recommended it.

The bathroom in my first house in Nebraska was also small, though larger than that apartment bath and equipped with a window.  Both helped to rank it as a significant improvement, though the original bar was low.  My next house, in New Jersey, had two bathrooms, an improvement in numbers if not design.  The downstairs bath was a pretty decent size, but it sported 1970s linoleum and tile and the ugliest sink ever.  The only member of the household who liked that room was the dog, who enjoyed resting in the cool tub on a hot day.  The upstairs bath, the one most often used, had a small window but it was narrow, cold in the winter, and hot in the summer. Not exactly welcoming.

Five years ago I moved into my dream house.  It has two bathrooms.  And for the first time, they were truly likable rooms.  The downstairs has a half bath; small, but functional and stylish with updated plumbing and features.   I painted it and replaced the tile floor a few years back.  The upstairs bath is a nice size, a room which measures about 12 x 8 with great natural lighting and a whole lot of potential.

Including 80 year old pipes and the potential for a plumbing disaster. 

The renovation began in late April.  Within two weeks, the bathroom was fully functional.  The only remaining task was wallpaper installation.  That job was finished this past week.  I now have new plumbing, a new tub, a new toilet, an amazing tiled shower, and a new tiled floor.   The lower walls have been insulated and replaced with waterproof sheetrock.  Aside from the needed practical improvements, the renovation afforded me the opportunity to paint and wallpaper with colors I have always wanted to use in my bathroom.  I chose crisp white tile for the shower and the floor.  The new walls have a cool blue paint (the color is called rain wash).  There is a line of blue translucent glass tiles in the shower and the wallpaper has a white background with the blue color in both the paper's texture and the blue and green circles.
The new wall between the toilet and the bath houses all-new plumbing and a kick-ass shower head.  JT especially enjoys the new toilet paper stand; he feels it's the height of elegant living.  It's actually a practical choice to prevent a certain young man from yanking the toilet paper holder right out of the wall (and I speak from experience).
The room is large enough to be spacious and the light colors magnify that feature (my dark bathroom days are over!).  There isn't much storage, but what's there is well organized and easily used.  There are some small final additions under consideration.  I'm thinking about adding this storage shelf from Pottery Barn.  I'm considering a print from John W. Golden's etsy shop, though I'm also tempted by some wall decals from Elephannie's etsy shop.  Whatever I decide, those additions are just the frosting on the big improvement that has already been made.
 It's now my perfect bathroom; a well-lit room that is both functional and beautiful.  And it's Life List #28 come true.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

More Adventures in Home Improvement

For some reason, number 32 on my life list was a whole lot of ceiling painting.  The confusion here isn't due the need for ceiling painting (no, that was only too-apparent), but the fact that I had four ceilings in need of paint and yet I made this four-ceiling job just one item on my life list.  But I did.  Checking this one off might take a while.

Both bathroom ceilings have been done and yesterday I tackled the dining room ceiling.  It had incurred damage from a March rainstorm and while the trouble that caused these ceiling cracks and water marks was quickly repaired, I saved the ceiling repair fun for the summer.

It wasn't a strategy entirely driven by my slacker ways.  I wanted to be sure that the leak repair had done the trick.  We've had enough rain storms for me to be confident that the leak is fixed and all that remained was the paint job.  I picked this weekend because JT is away and projects help to make that more bearable.  And my friends C & C were coming for supper on Sunday (a supper delayed since that weekend in the spring when the leak first made itself known).  So the timing was karmically perfect.

This is how the ceiling looked before the painting began. 
The damage was confined to the eastern edge of the room and that section got some spackling and crack-repair in the morning.  Then I taped the trim and set to work with Kilz paint on the water stains. 
After that, it was time for the first coat of ceiling paint.
And four hours later, a second coat of paint was applied.
Come this morning, I pulled the room back together.  The repairs and fresh paint vanquished the water stains and are a noticeable improvement in the room.  I also did some substantial cleaning while the furniture was out of the room, and that helps.  Confidential to Mom: Don't sweat the chairs and the over-flowing basket in the corner.  Both are due to be cleaned out later this morning.
Three quarters of the rooms in need of ceiling paint have been checked off my list.  The kitchen ceiling painting will be done next month, once I have settled on a paint color.  Stay tuned for pictures of that project soon enough.

But right now, I'm a little tired.  And I think I've earned the right to a nap.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Food Friday: Southwestern Cobb Salad

The other day, I persuaded my friend Sharkbutt to join me for supper.  The temperatures around here are just south of the surface temp of Mercury and so the evening's fare needed to be something cool, crisp, and fresh.

I made us a Southwestern Cobb Salad, a recipe from my July 2010 Cooking Light magazine.  I re-arranged the order of the toppings and used my homemade salsa (an adaptation of this recipe from Pioneer Woman) instead of pico de gallo from the market and I also added some chopped tomatoes and green onions.  The Cooking Light vinaigrette was perfect.
Though I say it myself, it was most tasty.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Land Shark!

For the past three years at camp, JT and his buddy D have played a game with the dreaded - but rare - Land Shark.  Land Shark is known to appear in Cape Cod, usually in the bay, and she claims ownership of the oceans for herself.  Most-often sighted in the month of July, she seems quite threatening, though observers of this rare predator suspect she has a soft-spot for little boys.  In 2008, those boys found that she was a fierce opponent.  But perhaps her bark was worse than her bite?
 In 2009, the boys were a little more well-equipped for taking on the Land Shark......though safe money was still on the Land Shark herself.  This is due to her swimming prowess and the fact that taunting, loud boys don't much frighten the Land Shark.
This summer, the boys were ready for the Land Shark and more than equal to the task of splashing her.  Despite the fact that these boys can no longer be described as "little", the Shark can still inspire a healthy dose of fear. 
 Which, of course, is the very purpose of this game.  It's one of the most-beloved traditions of camp, the Land Shark attack.  Thanks, Miss S.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Last year, a big rainstorm tested the limits of our nearly 15 year old tent and we got wet.  That was my signal that it was time for a new tent.  So this year we slept in new digs.  The tent was easy to erect and kept us dry in the rain and so we look forward to many happy camping trips under its cover.
 One of the things that I love about camping is the combination of the familiar (a favorite sleeping bag, a comfy camp chair) and the ease with which I slip into the relaxing at-camp living.  At night, I fall asleep to the sounds of wind in the trees and the sea coming ashore.  As peace descends I am grateful for the opportunity to share my appreciation of the outdoors with JT, just as my parents were able to do for me.  I awaken in the woods each morning and step outside the tent to smell the piney forest.  At camp, the biggest chore on the day's list is the act of unlocking the bicycles for the day's rides.
 And camp life pays off when I get home. A week of sleeping in the humid outdoors makes everything feel a bit damp.  I look forward to the cool, crispness of my bed.  I have a new-found appreciation for indoor plumbing located just a stone's throw from where I sleep.  And I have the satisfaction of knowing that my son has the memory of plenty of camp adventures to spur his imagination in the months ahead.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Real Life Conversations with JT: Big Spender edition

The backstory:  At our campground on Cape Cod, there are coin-operated hot showers.  25 cents will buy you plenty of time to shower (well, if you shower regularly, it will).  JT got so sweaty and dirty while we were camping that I took to joking that he might require a 50 cent shower. He generally demurred on such festivities, taking on the colonial attitude that a once-a-season bath was plenty good enough.

When we arrived in Jersey, we stopped to pick up sandwiches for supper and that afforded me the chance to take a look at his feet, then clad in flip flops instead of his beloved Keens.  Those lines you see are not tan lines……I was horrified.
Mama:  Oh, honey.  Look at your feet.

JT:  What?

Mama:  That's a lot of dirt, son.

JT:  Yup. We might be looking at a 75 cent shower on this one.

'Nuf said.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Life List: Update

Lats summer I posted my life list and I'm making some progress on that list.  I've taken care of number 3, take a cruise, and on that cruise I saw Alaska, so the total number of states I've visited is now 43 (Number 4 on the list).  I've gotten a new quilt for my bed so I can cross off number 5.  I've gotten started with a trailing flower vine (number 13) and I've made a start with throwing parties (number 12).  My sister gave me a black cashmere sweater (number 19).  Numbers 23 and 25 have also been dispatched.

Thanks to the existence of the list in the first place, I am thinking about the future in bigger chunks of time than the next ten minutes.  In my life, this constitutes progress.

On an even more important note, JT and I have talked about the life list project.  As he gets older, I know that he can see how I sometimes struggle to find cause for joy in my life.  Though I don't often feel hopeful myself,  I want to pass on to him a sense of the world as a place of promise.  This life list, which posits a future with hopeful dreams both fantastic and mundane,  helps me to point him in the direction of dream fulfillment as an option in this life.

And I've decided to add some new items to the list.  I offer the following:

26.  Acquire more plants for the back deck and then…..

27.  Clean out the useless computer in the study and turn the desk there into a place to winter over weather-sensitive plants.

28.  Re-model the bathroom……Strictly speaking, this item was on my secret life list, secret because it was just so unlikely that there was no point in even putting it out there.  Enter the dripping pipes, JP the amazing plumber, and the generous help of my parents…….and presto, it moves to the public list.  And to the top of it.

29.  Take a new set of photos of JT to join the two black and white trios that hang in the stairway.

30.  Acquire a new sofa and chair for the living room.

31.  And while I'm at it, finding new comfortable chairs for the dining room would also come in most handy.

32.  All ceiling, all the time!  There are a lot of ceilings in my house in need of paint: the new bathroom, the powder room, the dining room, and the kitchen.  I kept thinking of this as one hell of a weekend job, then I realized it would be much more manageable if I took it on in the summer and split the jobs in two.  So that's what I decided to do.   Phase 1: paint the bathroom ceilings  (that's completed).  Phase 2: dining room and kitchen.

As the rest of the summer unfolds, I plan to tackle some of the list, and write about other life list projects I've fulfilled.  Pictures and progress updates will be posted as warranted.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Putting it Into Words

Back when I had a partner, I used to idly engage in an internal debate in which I considered which state of life was more difficult: being in a relationship or being single.  It was a purely rhetorical debate; I wasn't contemplating a change.  But I could remember life as a singleton and I was intrigued by the differences.

Little did I know.

Now without a partner, I can contemplate life on my own and compare it to life in a partnership.  But whereas I could once consider the question with the emotional detachment of what I thought was a secure relationship, these days the issue isn't one of idle reflection.  In fact, given the choice, I just don't go there. 

But sometimes the choice is stripped from me, and I find myself right in the middle of some pretty thorny territory.  It happened the other day when I woke up in the middle of my bed.  In that hazy moment when I was slipping out of sleep, I moved back to my side and then reached over to the other side of the bed, only to come up empty-handed.  And now fully awake and awash in the familiar realization that while I now have the run of the bed, I also bear all that entails. 

In my weaker moments, I'm afraid about my future.  I don't mean the day to day; that I mostly handle.  I mean that moment in the distance when I send the boy away to college and sit down to the supper table on my own.  I worry about aging and illness.  If I get under the weather now, it's a challenge for me to keep family life on an even keel.  But if I got really sick, what would happen to me?  How would I cope?  Would I even want to cope?

So for every small relief I experience from being on my own (there are some; for example, it's much easier to compose a grocery list), there are compensating anxieties (both large and small).  Mostly, I take it day to day and attempt to shelve my fears.  There's really nothing I can do about them.  And worrying doesn't get the laundry done.

But there's still a lot about life in a partnership that I miss.  I miss the inside jokes.  I miss the easy affection.  I miss having someone to talk over the things big and small that one shares in the easy feel of intimacy.  I miss a walk through the garden together.  I miss the sense of an uncertain future to be shared, thus removing fear from the uncertainty equation.  But most of all, I miss being able to reach across the dark of the room to touch a hand; to feel a heartbeat and know that I'm not alone.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Real Life Conversations with KO: Why Bother? edition

The backstory:  My sister and I were on the phone, catching up in advance of the next week's activities. 

KO:  So, have fun camping.  Toast a marshmallow for me.

Me:  Well, there's no campfires allowed so….

KO:  Wait.  Did you just say NO CAMPFIRES?

Me:  Yup.  No campfires.

KO:  Well, ummm, ahhh

My sister has been struck speechless by the apostasy that is camping without a campfire. I can tell that she's thinking "why bother to camp if you can't have a campfire?" since that was my first sentiment when I discovered this insane rule.  But she's aiming for something more diplomatic than WTF and so I step into the gap….

Me:  I'll have an extra peanut M&M for you.

KO (in dubious tone):  Okay. 

I can tell it's not quite enough, but she'll make do. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Climbing Vines

For as long as I can remember, I have been entranced by climbing vines.  There were so many of them at Butchart Gardens in Victoria that I snapped picture after picture as I idly wondered how I could have features like this in my garden.  I even consented to having my own picture made in front of the rosebush trellis.
This year, after years of admiring trained flowers in other people's gardens, I planted a clematis of my own and installed a trellis for it to climb.  Early progress was impressive and I've enjoyed a first bloom.  I've got a few years before I reach Butchart status (!), but I'm looking forward to watching it grow over the years.
Inspired by my trip to the Butchart Garden, I've since spent hours daydreaming about the ways in which I can train more climbing vines for my house.  I have plenty of ivy in my back yard and I've begun to train some of it to grow.  I'd love to have a climbing rose.   Eventually, Sassafras House will be covered in vines and it will just be me and the cats peaking through the last windows left to the sunlight when a grown-up JT comes to visit his crazy mama.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Butchart Gardens

Our last stop on the cruiseship was in Victoria, Canada.  We weren't there for long, just 4 hours on a Friday night, but my sister had scheduled a visit to Butchart Gardens and I tagged along.  The gardens are about 30 miles north of the port city, and the drive out of town was an interesting tour of the city and its suburbs.  And the gardens themselves?  They were simply amazing.
Started in 1905, and added to in the subsequent years, the gardens began as a family project.  They remain family-owned and operated and are open 365 days a year.  If I lived in Victoria, I'd have a yearly pass to enjoy the beauty.  As it is, I was there for two hours and I've since spent hours daydreaming about plants that I'd like to add to my garden. 

Some delphiniums are certainly in order, for both the vibrant colors and the heady scent.
And I could do with a bed of double begonias that look like these.
It's unlikely that I have a hole large enough for this sort of sunken garden. 
Or a fountain.
But I could certainly make some space for a few more rose bushes.
I'd love to have a hedge capable of doing this….around which my childhood princess fantasies could once again flourish.
But I'll settle for an arbor.
In short, this garden walk, and the dozens of pictures I made, will feed my garden imagination for months and months to come.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Real Life Conversations with Ahmed: Blasphemy edition

The backstory:  JT and I were in a cab with my parents (aka, the Homey Gs, a nickname courtesy of my nephew S), headed from the Seattle port to the Sea-Tac airport.  We struck up a conversation with our taxi driver, Ahmed, and, as these conversations often do, we turned to the topic of weather.

Ahmed the Cabbie:  Where are you headed?

Homey G'pa:  To central California.  It will be hot when we get home.

Ahmed:  How hot?

Homey G'pa:  Well, probably in the 100s, maybe up to 105 by the end of the week.

Ahmed:  105?  Jesus Christ!

And at that, we all burst into laughter.  Really, what else is there to say about 105 degrees?

Monday, July 05, 2010

Ketchikan Gardens

 The town of Ketchikan gets abundant rains and that, combined with the long summer days this far north, creates a rich and lush growing season.  As we walked through the streets of the town, it was apparent that the locals love to garden.
 These informal gardens are lush and somewhat untidy ----- but what they lack in order they make up in charm.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Unclear on the Concept

I am a fan of both cuisines but somehow I feel that a dining establishment unable to select one area of expertise might not be the place to enjoy either of the cuisines in question.

Sorry, Ketchikan.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Real Life Conversations with the Cousins, Hammer Edition

The backstory:  I was coming back from the on-ship gym, headed for a shower, when I ran into JT and his cousins, C and S.  They were hot, sweaty, and indignant.

Me:  What's up?

JT:  We were playing basketball and some teenagers took our rebounds.  When they had all the balls, they kicked us off the court.

Me:  Bummer.  Where are you headed now?

All Boys:  We're going to get our dad.

And they stomped off in a huff, ready to dispense justice to the rotten teenagers.  It is a tribute to Uncle M that he is a hero to both his boys and my own.  Well-played, Uncle M.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Ice, Ice Baby

On Wednesday, our ship sailed into Glacier Bay.  The bay is a national park and an amazing array of wilderness abounds.  We saw miles and miles of forest, seals and whales and beautiful birds, soaring overhead and alongside the ship.  The main event, of course, is the glaciers.  This one, Margerie Glacier, calved several times as we watched.  There is most remarkable sound when a glacier calves.  You hear a crashing thunder followed by an enormous splash into the icy water below.  It's made all the more remarkable by the silence which proceeds and follows the event.
The blue color in the crevices of the ice is really quite lovely; the ocean around these glaciers was still and looked almost thick.  That's a result of the fact that the bay is a thousand feet deep and the water is heavier and a grayish green, the color and texture the result of glacial silt.
For most of my life, I've taken for granted the splendor of the western mountains of my childhood camping trips.  This trip has reminded me again just how rare and beautiful such wilderness is.  As our ship sailed out of the bay, we caught sight of kayakers camped on the the side of the bay and I was filled with envy.  How splendid it would be to wake up to these sights for a few mornings in a row.