Friday, December 18, 2015

The Force Was With Us!

Young Son arranged for tickets for opening night of the new Star Wars movie for the L.A. based family.  Unfortunately Young Daughter was unable to make the show, so a friend of YS was more than happy to sub for YD.

The Missus arrived at the theater plex two and a half hours early and much to her delight was allowed into the theater to claim seats after only standing in line for half an hour.  The Grouch joined her by 5:30 and Young Son and friend by 6 p.m.

Anticipation mounted as the theater filled and by the scheduled start time of 7 p.m. the crowd was ready - when the theater lights dimmed a roar broke out from the assembled fans.

I'm not going to spoil the movie for my readers by revealing anything but I will say that it was a fun time and a great movie.  I well remember seeing the first movie in 1977 in Monroeville, Pa. and leaving the theater thinking 'wow'.  I was blown away by the experience.

I hope that some youngster seeing the current Star Wars movie will have the same experience and leave the theater thinking 'wow!'

I will comment that the new movie shows how far society has come in 30 some years.  The first movie had one female character of note and she was royalty.  I can't recall any other humans who weren't Caucasian and male.  Today's movie has main characters who are female and non white male but even more telling, female fighter pilots and even female bad guys -err- bad girls.  Some of the spear carriers in the background are also women and non white.  It's a good thing because our movies should reflect our evolving society.

Try it, you'll like it!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Grouches visit the Nethercutt Collection (at least part of it)

Recently a co-worker mentioned to me that he had tickets to attend an organ concert at the Nethercutt collection.  I had heard that the collection existed not too far from our happy little valley but I had never really looked into visiting it.  

When I expressed interest in the organ concert, my co-worker called the ticket office and got me on the waiting list for tickets and luckily for us, we got four tickets for a Friday show!

The Nethercutt collection is owned by the family behind Merle Norman cosmetics and as we were told the evening of the concert, the family wishes to give back to the country for all of the support their customers have given to them.  The collection is completely free and nothing is roped off. 

It consists of two buildings, one with the automotive collection, the other with more automobiles and a Wurlitzer theater pipe organ and a collection of mechanical musical machines.

The stand alone car collection was closed but we did get the chance to linger over the amazing cars in the music building before and after the concert.

I found the mechanical music machines to be fascinating.  In fact the whole thing was fascinating!  We were so very fortunate to have the chance to hear the organ play and to see the collection.

Many years ago when we lived in Grand Rapids MI a local pizza parlor had an identical Wurlitzer organ that they played in conjunction with silents movie screenings.  We loved attending the shows and hearing the wonderful organ music backing up the movie.

Young Son in front of his all time favorite car

The basement of the Music building

All of the cars in the collection run, and they are periodically taken out for a drive in the neighborhood

Looking down to the first floor from the music level

One of the many mechanical music machines that work and were run for us that evening

This one was the best: the circular device spun and the violins would move forward at the proper time to create the notes.  The circular device is the bow.  The machine is German from 1910 and is completely vacuum operated and works perfectly!

The happy attendees.  The Misus and friend were constantly mistaken for sisters throughout the weekend by various people
The organ controls

Half of the pipes for the organ

The Grouch at the end of an exciting evening.  Let's do it again!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Dog Tired

Young Daughter and her four pooches came to stay with us over Thanksgiving.  On Friday she took her dogs and Molly and Kirby for a romp in the open area behind our house.  Molly was playing like she was a puppy again with lots of running and jumping, not at all acting her age of 12 years.

It caught up with her that evening....

While watching TV with the family, Molly zonked out on the couch

So tired and so comfortable...

Young Son stirred and woke Molly who moved over by her buddy Kirby and promptly fell deep asleep again.  It's a dog's life for sure!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

New posts at Bundu Trek

Our very own garden good luck totem

Our wild and crazy Young Daughter felt that our garden needed some magic and good luck to see it through the upcoming El-Nino rainy deluge (and just when is this predicted storm going to hit?  Any day now would be good...) so she brought us our very own good luck totem.

This totem has two faces - one to watch in the day and the other all through the night - in order to watch over us and keep us safe.

Now, we are ready for El-Nino!

Our backyard being watch over by  Kokopelli, our garden totem and our angel.  Nothing can go wrong now!

The Grouch vacation is just about over - Part 12

Our vacation was just about over but the clever Missus had scheduled our return flight such that we had time for a tour of Windsor castle which was on the way back to London.   

Just as with the other royal residences, no photography was permitted within the castle itself.  The castle and its collection was stunning and the history that filled it was so great that it was almost overwhelming.  The display of historic edged and powder weapons that were everywhere in the castle was staggering in the quantity and beauty of them.

We left our luxury bus in a huge lot filled with other buses and proceeded through a former rail station that is the gateway to the castle grounds.  We only had a limited amount of time to see everything so we had to move out smartly.

A rail relic on display in the converted train station, now a shopping and dining venue

Outside of the castle grounds

The Missus and Young Son ready to see the royal sights

Is this the royal family's stealth sedan to evade the paparazzi?

To the victor go the spoils - taken during campaigning in Burma in the 1880s

Another Burma trophy displayed outside of the castle proper

Salvaged from the wreck of the HMS Lutine.  When I was a pre-teen my parents gave me a book about salvaging shipwrecks and this wreck was discussed in the book.  Never would I have expected to actually see salvage from the Lutine!

Pulling guard for the royal family.  Not nearly as glamorous as one might think

This young soldier looked to be all of 18 and hopefully near the end of his tour because he was struggling to stay still

The same soldier doing a circuit of his area.  A Chinese tourist attempted to block his path and take his picture.  The soldier shouted him out of his path and kept moving.  Good for you lad!

Hope his relief was on the way!

These soldiers had just been relieved and were presumably on the way back to barracks

Headed home....

Thank you officers and crew of the Ocean Princess and all of the fine people of England, Gurnsey, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland who showed such gracious hospitality and kindness to us in our brief visit to the green and pleasant British isles.   We hope we get to visit again! 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Mojave Desert Jeep trip

Read about Bundu Trek's latest off road trip here:

The Grouch's take the British Isles by Land and by Sea! Part 11

Our last full day on the ship was spent sunning, reading, and relaxing as we sailed back to Dover from Rosyth.  

We were sad knowing that the amazing fun and excitement that we had experienced was coming to an end...but wait!  Once we docked at Dover we still had a visit to Windsor castle before catching our flight home.  Yay!

The Missus and Young Son on the running/walking track above the pool area on the ship.  Young Son models his kilt and accesories.  The Missus still can't resist a man in a kilt!

Young Daughter and Young Son on the main staircase of the ship.

Docking in Dover, our fun ship time was over.

Thank you Ocean Princess and the fine officers and crew of that happy ship for our wonderful experience.  I loved it from beginning to end!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Grouch's take the British Isles by Land and by Sea! Part 10

After leaving Stirling castle we headed to the site of the battle of Bannockburn, just a stone's throw from Stirling castle.  The area has an interactive electronic 3D recreation of the battle and very beautiful grounds with an impressive memorial to Robert the Bruce and the battle.

The weather continued to be Scottish perfect: sunny, breezy, and mild.

The area around the memorial.  So green and so peaceful.  We really miss green and trees living in  the near desert of SoCal.

The memorial
The Missus was feeling the affect of too much touring by now.

Young Son with Stirling castle behind

The happy tourists

The Missus and I liked this sentiment

Leaving Rosyth and passing under the iconic 1880s railroad bridge that is a UN recognized cultural artifact (or something like that!)

The islands in the Firth of Forth had installations on them from wars past.  It would be interesting to explore them but it was time to head back to Dover

Some of the many oil platforms we saw on our way back to Dover.  The North Sea oil is Scotland's budget bonanza but unfortunately the fields are running dry.