Saturday, March 24, 2012

Smokey Rose's Favorite Places

Time to check in about Smokey Rose again. She's become quite the pin-up cat, having been featured in BOTH the Best Friends magazine and the newsletter for members. The magazine didn't have her story in it, just her picture, but it is a lovely picture.

Now that she has settled in here, she has determined some preferences. One thing she does not like at all is to have to get her medicine. This happens twice a day. I used to bring it to her, where ever she was found. I changed that so now I bring her to the medicine. We do it in the kitchen. She will run away and hide if she sees me coming, but most of the time I can ambush her as she naps someplace. Once I have her swopped up into my arms, she acts pretty good. Maybe she knows by now that the whole thing will take less than a minute.

But that's about it as far as her being unhappy.

Smokey Rose likes to spend time in hiding places. Most days when I come home I find this door open in the kitchen.

This means that she had opened the cupboard door at some time, gone in, checked it all out, and come back out all on her own.

She doesn't like all the closets. She did look over the hallway coat closet soon after arrival, but has spent little time there sine those first few days. She will often go in and look over one section of the clothes closet as well as the pantry if she finds those doors open, but she usually just has a look, finds it not to her satisfaction, and quickly leaves.

She does like the side of the clothes closet with the laundry basket though.

She likes to wrap herself up in the drapery sometimes. I wonder if she thinks that I can't see her because she can't see me.
Her favorite place, however, is the IKEA cupboard. She loves this hiding place and can get in and out all by herself.
And her very favorite place is the box filled with some of my homemade socks. This is one of the very best places to sleep, she thinks, and it probably is.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Salt Lake City does have several neighborhoods with names. I don't seem to live in one of them. I live just south of the Avenues and quite a bit north of Sugarhouse. I don't think I am in University. There are small words on the top of some signs where I live that say this street is in "Central City," but no one I have heard has ever used that name for anything. Sometimes I see signs advertising a meeting of the "East Central" neighborhood association, but no one ever calls where I live "east central" either (although I do think this is the most accurate name for this part of town.) But I have had many people tell me that I live "downtown."

Now I think that "downtown" ends several blocks west of my street. I kind of think that "downtown" ends at 500 East or perhaps all the way to 700 East which is a major street and looks a lot like a borderline. But I will accept that I live downtown if that's where people want to put me. I really like downtown.

The new downtown renovation, City Creek Center,  is due to open up next week, March 22. I can't wait. I am sure there will be things to criticize, but so far I am liking what I can see, and I want to see more. It's not the actual shops and things I'm looking forward to. I don't shop regularly at Nordstrom's, Macy's, Tiffany's etc., and doubt I will take up the habit. What I am looking forward to is having more people downtown. That's where I think the whole design concept got it right. ( I have to give the Church a lot of credit here for wanting this.) The new downtown has places for people to live, work and play. And I think that people will do just that....especially the live part. And having people LIVING there is what makes all the difference in how the place functions.

I spent a lot of time in the heart of downtown now as play. Sundance is all downtown. Taiko drumming is downtown. Our knitting group at the Rose is downtown. Tai Chi is real close to downtown. I go every so often to a concert or play downtown. I like many downtown restaurants.

I can walk to and from downtown if I have to or want to, but most of the time I take either a bus or the TRAX. Four different buses that go downtown are very convenient for me. I have no qualms about my safety walking around downtown no matter what time of day. More than once I have taken the very last TRAX train home. I have walked home late at night on the odd night when I was too late for the TRAX. The whole space between the heart of downtown and where I live is just a neighborhood where people live, nothing to be afraid of.

I have come to really like the new downtown Harmon's grocery store. It was designed from the beginning as a downtown grocery store, meant to meet the lifestyle needs of people who live downtown. It's a bit different from other stores in town. It is planned for people who will walk there and back, so it does not feature many huge super sized products. It has lots of small baskets and trolleys instead of lots of big carts.It has more than usual store prepared fresh food. It has more gourmet and artisan food.  There is a cafe, a cooking school space, a little kitchenware department with very nice things, and a post office that is open SEVEN DAYS A WEEK UNTIL 8 P.M.!!!!!!!!! The store itself is open until 11 P.M. daily.

And guess what? People are going there. I see people walking to and from the store all the time. I see parents with kids in little carts into which they put the purchases. I see people on the bus or waiting at the stop with shopping bags. I see bicyclists shopping there. I go down there on the bus which is amazingly convenient for me. This is my new grocery store.

I say to people all the time that I do not go to the suburbs. There is very little that I need to go to the suburbs for. The city itself has just about everything I need and want.

Just yesterday I was explaining to someone how I think that driving in the city is much easier than driving in the suburbs. In the city proper, no one street is ever packed with cars (except for a few times on a few streets and even then mostly when some kind of obstruction like an accident is involved.) But in the suburbs you are forced to drive on those huge arterial streets all the time which are always just packed and fast moving. The developments where people live aren't too bad, but you don't go into a development unless you are going to a specific home that's inside of just driving through on the way to someplace else. The developments are all just dead ends.

In the city you always have tons of choices about which street to take. If there is an accident or construction or something, you just take one of the parallel streets instead. There aren't that many lanes, and no one can drive real fast in the city. Everything is well lit. Add it all up, and I find the city fairly easy and safe to navigate with a car, even in the heart of downtown.

I do go to some of the suburbs sometimes, of course. I go to a few businesses in Millcreek Township, Murray or Holladay, just south of SLC proper. I go to the Target at Ft. Union sometimes. (But now we have a city Target store so trips to Ft. Union are not necessary any more. Yeah!) I even go every so often to the IKEA in Draper (it's right on the freeway  so you don't have to go very far at all into Draper when you are there, but you do have to drive down there on the interstate. I plan those trips well. Sunday morning is a good time to go.)

Yesterday I went down to our excellent local cook wear store, Spoons 'n Spice. It's just a straight shot down 900 East. For the first time, though, going both down and back, I had this strange new feeling. I felt I was just too far away from downtown to be comfortable. I couldn't wait to get myself back north, back to where I belong...downtown.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Tiny Vacation

A week ago today I was staying in a nice little hotel room at Laguna Beach, California. This was a true vacation for me, something I don't do that often. I do go away from home reasonably often, but seldom do I vacation. I define "vacation" as going somewhere I want to go to just for its own sake. That usually means staying in a hotel and eating in restaurants and spending my days doing "touristy" things. That's what my 2 days at Laguna Beach were like.

I stayed at the sweet Pacific Edge Hotel, right on the beach. It's an old fashioned hotel that has been nicely refurbished. It's clean, safe, comfortable, affordable and convenient. I would gladly stay there again and have suggested it to my friend who is from So. Cal.

I had no agenda. I had ideas about things to do, but I made decisions at the last minute each day. I walked the main street a lot. The first day I found what I really wanted to find, a local yarn shop, in this case, Strands and Stitches.

I bought some yarn to make my usual souvenir socks and well as some great Noro yarn I had never seen before to make a souvenir shawl. On Monday, I was back in the shop to buy a bit more yarn when it started to rain. The owner suggested I just stay awhile so I did, and I actually began to knit the shawl right in the shop. Now it's nearly finished because I have enjoyed working on it. It's going to be a perfect souvenir of a beach town.

It matches the scene from the hotel restaurant courtyard, I think.

So once the rain had stopped for a little bit, I decided to go to see a movie. I went, finally, to see "The Artist" which had won all those Oscars the night before. Like everyone else, I enjoyed it thoroughly (especially that wonderful little dog!) In the theatre I had a very nice conversation with two women who were retired nurses. One lived in So. Cal and one used to, but had moved back to her hometown, a tiny place on the Kansas border in Nebraska that I had never heard of before. She was back visiting her friends who were still in CA.

Actually I met nice people all over town with whom I had quite pleasant conversation. So. Cal folks are   a delightful bunch.

When the movie was over, the rain storm had really picked up. It was pelting rain. I had not brought my heavy duty LL Bean rain parka, but was ok for the walk back to the hotel with a combination of a down vest, a lightweight parka in my pocket and an umbrella. My idea for  that night had been to go out a Japanese restaurant that was highly recommended to me by a lady, hometown St. Louis, in the restaurant the previous night. But once I was back in the hotel and had had time to warm up and dry off, going out in the storm for a 4 block walk to eat Japanese did not sound like such a good idea anymore. So I just went to the hotel restaurant.

I had a good meal that featured beef. There was just another couple as fellow diners. I found out that the restaurant had been the home of a 1930's movie actor, well known at the time, but someone I did not know. It had been a restaurant for many years. The young woman, the other diner, said it was her dad's favorite restaurant since its opening. Tonight she was there to celebrate her birthday, and she picked that place because of her dad. The storm raged the whole time. It was kind of like being on a boat because the rain came pounding in right off the ocean, and the wind howled and raged as it funneled between the buildings. The awnings were all rolled up, but they flapped none the less. The building creaked. We ate by candlelight. It was a cozy haven in the storm.

I enjoyed looking at the art galleries and shops in town, but they were pretty much out of my league as far as both price and style. I ate at two different European bakeries and a very fine gelato shop. The first night I watched part of the Academy awards at an excellent restaurant Watermarc (which is where I had conversation with the lady from St. Louis.) My timing was great because I got to see Jim Rash, whose mom is a friend of mine, win the award for his screenplay for "The Descendants. " This kind of thing does not happen very often to me....having a personal connection to people who really win Major Awards, I mean.

I found some lovely places in town. For example, the public restrooms with this wonderful mosaic outside.

This chess table is in the city beach park.

Of course I walked the beach each day.
But my most delightful find was the local water department building. It's an historic Spanish style building with a beautiful courtyard that has a water-wise, local plant demonstration garden. I was so pleased to find this little jewel,  I stopped two police officers on foot patrol to tell them that I thought  they were so fortunate to live in a town which had charming public buildings like this one.

And the garden had been yarn bombed!

Meanwhile I found I missed Smokey Rose a lot. I missed her much more than I have ever missed any of my other kitties. But I was happy to find out, once I got home, that she did well with Ms Colleen.

But once I was home, Smokey Rose spent the whole night with me in bed, something she doesn't usually do, and she kind of followed me everywhere I went in the apartment. I think she missed me too.

So, overall, I had a wonderful vacation. I am not sure how long it will be before I decide to take another  total time off trip again. I can't (and don't want to) leave Rosie alone that often, and these kind of things do need to be budgeted for. But I'm sure glad I did get the chance to spend even a few days just relaxing in beautiful Southern California. As the commercial says, the memories ARE priceless.