Needles Hotel

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Scarlet Begonias

3/23/23 Happy Palindrome Day!


32323 © Robert Sommers 2023

One from Wicki Van De Veer

Good morning Robert…I just finished this painting of Mt San Jacinto and wanted to share it with you after seeing a photo of that beautiful mountain in your blog.  It is a view from Dorland. Hello to Leslie too….it sure looks like you had a good time on this last trip.  Aloha, Wicki

A couple more birds from yesterday


The bufflehead is one of my favorite ducks.

Some people confuse them with mergansers.

Fast melange

I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer but I don't quite understand the Fed chairman Powell raising interests rates after a week of bank collapses. It seems like he is doing his best to destroy the economy in the name of taming inflation.

A friend smarter than I am believes that he is purposely doing it to harm the Biden administration. In any case or whatever the motivation, the timing is terrible.

Was saddened to hear that two of my favorite candies might be on their way out in California, Skittles and Hot Tamales.

A first-of-its-kind measure, Assembly Bill (AB) 418 would prohibit the manufacture, sale, or distribution of any food product in California containing Red Dye No. 3, Titanium Dioxide, Potassium Bromate, Brominated Vegetable Oil, or Propyl Paraben. Each of these chemicals is currently banned in the European Union (EU) due to scientific studies that have demonstrated significant public health harms, including increased risk of cancerbehavioral issues in childrenharm to the reproductive system, and damage to the immune system.

I am a serious skittles abuser and sort of bummed out by the news. Could it be that what I like is what is worst for me?

Jennifer J. sent this pic over. Looking west from De Luz rd.

Leslie and I have a recent neighbor from I believe Arkansas that likes to drive his big truck really fast and dust all the rest of us out in our driveways. I don't really understand the behavior.

When we were driving to Palm Springs from DHS a big truck with liberty and gun maga stickers and Arizona plates careened through traffic at breakneck speed, ultimately cutting in in front of us. There was a deep river crossing people were carefully plowing through and this nimrod decided to drive on the shoulder and spray everybody patiently waiting in line.

What is it about big trucks and anti social behavior? Is it fashionable in some right wing circles to be a complete asshole?


Rainbow picture from Joel.


We got home from the desert with our new/old Le Creuset dutch oven and immediately made braised short ribs, well, after a three hour slow cook anyway. 

Served them with orecchiette the first night and polenta with last night's reheat.

They were absolutely incredible. 


Speaking of Le Creuset, I stopped by Ron and Lena's place after my bird shoot yesterday. 

They have just returned after a three month plus trip to Asia. 

Lena blogged the trip here.

Anyway, she has been a long time collector and broke out some of her pieces, including her lovely new wok.

Leslie wants me to take some cooking classes, get a better handle on my spices. She was worried about a thyme overload the other night but I think it tasted fine.

But probably not a bad idea.

My niece Rachel thinks I am channeling her father, Buzz, who was a restauranteur and an excellent chef. 

Not sure why I am starting to cook at 65 but I am definitely enjoying it.

We have about sixty orange trees left on the ranch. 

We have not been giving them the best of care the last ten or twenty years, simply can't afford the water.

All this rain is really bringing the oranges back, they look very happy and healthy again and are starting to blossom.

But look at those weeds! 

Going to have to attack them soon...

I have the most beautiful morning and afternoon drive in all of Fallbrook.

The whole Santa Margarita River valley is really greening up.

Finally, I am not a big car sticker guy but a man named Steve created this nifty avocado yin yang and I had to stick it on my car. 

Very nice job!

I was selected to be a new Google Bard trial user. It is their AI machine.

I honestly don't need a machine to help me write but thought I would try it out yesterday.

I asked it to write a blogpost for me. This is what I got:

It is really not that bad. Lake Hodges is not part of Fallbrook but how would a machine know? And where exactly is the Fallbrook Greenbelt? Did Bard make that up? 

I asked for a separate query on birds I might find in my yard in Fallbrook and got this, fairly accurate. Fsiled on the woodpecker species, we get acorns and Nuttals. No Gambel's quail or rock wren, no barn owl and only a very rare western tanager. But close.

I also got this strange extortion attempt this week regarding my gallery website but I am not going to worry about it. I think it is bullshit.


Talkin' Candy Bar Blues

Joel suggested this one this morning. Probably more relevant than ever in this paranoid age.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Eponymous Interlude

I had to check out an estate in Rancho Santa Fe this morning. 

It was not real promising although I did find a few things. 

Afterwards I drove to San Elijo Lagoon for a needed walk and look around.

I saw some cool stuff, buffleheads and pie eyed grebes, a few other things. 

I also saw a nice cattle egret in breeding plumage. 

Will try to process them tomorrow.

I had my easy travel lens with me and took a few shots. 

I don't have time to process everything but I think this blue heron sequence is decent. 

I didn't know he was going to take off and had the shutter speed set woefully low at 800mm but it still did an adequate job that I don't feel the need to apologize for.

I love blue herons, don't you?

The Dils

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Hawks and doves

My friend Paul was funny at coffee the other day. He calls himself a recovering democrat, missed Vietnam on a medical deferment. Paul says, "Hey, I remember when you dems were the peace and love party, now you are just a bunch of warmongers."

It is funny how the labels have changed. And how so many of the GOP are content to let Russia swallow up their neighbor. What was it that Trump said a while back, something on the order of, "Putin loves his country and he just wants to make it bigger."

DeSantis had said that "becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia" was not "vital" to U.S. interests. Of course, seven years ago, he was singing a different tune:

"We in the Congress have been urging the president, I've been, to provide arms to Ukraine. They want to fight their good fight. They're not asking us to fight it for them. And the president has steadfastly refused. And I think that that's a mistake," DeSantis said in a 2015 radio interview with conservative talk radio host Bill Bennett.

In any case, I spend too much time writing about GOP stupidity and ignorance. How about liberal stupidity and ignorance for a change?

© Robert Sommers 2023

Ben Cohen, of Ben and Jerry's fame, is the top contributor to a group dedicated to stopping U.S. aid to Ukraine. 

Cohen has contributed more than $1 million to a group campaigning to turn the U.S. public against President Biden’s military support for Ukraine.

Approached about his role in backing the group, Cohen told The Daily Beast: “I think the U.S. should use its power to negotiate an end to the war, not prolong the death and destruction by supplying more weapons.”

Step away from the bong, Ben. Whether coming from a liberal or a conservative, this sounds like absolute bullshit to me. 

Like, who doesn't want peace? But peace is one thing and getting played in a sinister endgame is something entirely different.

This quaker like passivity plays right into the hands of people like Vladimir Putin.

Putin wants to completely subjugate his neighbor and turn it into a Russian thrall. He has already captured Crimea.

Moldova, Belarus, the sky is the limit in his dreams of resurrecting a greater Kievan Rus, a Russian ancestral empire that has been gone since vanquished by the Mongols way back in 1240 a.d..

The Russians would love to negotiate at this point, because they are not doing very well on the battlefield and want to solidify their holdings. But don't think that they are suddenly feeling shame at their craven attacks on their innocent neighbor, on the kidnapping of Ukrainian children and rape and slaughter of their civilians. 

Negotiation is merely a temporary cessation on their predatory territorial goals and plays into their hands and lies. Bullies don't negotiate from altruism, they negotiate when faced with a bigger stick. It is sad but true. The only thing that will stop Putin at this point is a big fat bloody nose.

The western world can either help Ukraine in this moment of existential terror or we can watch them crumble with blood on our hands, like we allowed the germans to march my family into the ovens and pretend to look the other way for three or four years and until it is too late.

That makes me a hawk, so be it. Fuck Putin, Tucker Carlson, De Santis, Rand Paul, Thomas Massie, Donald Trump and all the rest of the Putin loyalists. We need to stand by our friends and our principals, not parochial sellout deals like many are advocating. I would love to beat swords into plowshares but we're just not there yet.

Because someday it might be we who need help. And if you want to call me a warmonger, have at it. I've been called worse.

Willis Reed (1942-2023)

 A giant of a Knick that will never be forgotten.

Wild and wet weekend

The last few days have been a whirlwind, frankly. Big aztec basketball win against Furman, now on to Alabama! We will shock the world, or at least cover... Leslie went out to a woman's retreat Saturday with a pal and made friends with a cute kid.

We got up early Sunday morning and drove to the flea market in Long Beach. I bought a few really nice Robert Wood paintings that Bill had held for me. This one is large (24 x 36") and unusual, it is titled "Where the wild iris grow." I have seen him paint bluebonnets before but never iris like this. I like it. Very different.

Someone will enjoy this painting I am sure. 

Not sure of the mountain in the background. 


I sold an item to a client who had agreed to meet me there and Warmboe gave me some stuff that the pottery restorer had finished. 

Returned a painting to Waterbury. 

The market serves many vital functions and it has for millennia. The Southern California souk.

I love the flea markets. You can buy, sell, gossip and people watch. Place was jammed.

I brought my camera but never broke it out all weekend, depending on my cell phone. 

Whoever told you they worked as well as cameras doesn't know how to use a camera...

My hip and knee have been sore, probably arthritis, I didn't walk the whole flea, was hard enough wheeling paintings through the gauntlet of the crowd.

Leslie bought a few kimonos. Our next destination was intended to be Desert Hot Springs. I had an appointment to meet clients in the Palm Springs area Monday and we decided to stay over together and get a dip in the pools for a shvitz. Take the waters, as they say.

On the way there we decided to stop at our favorite spot for brunch in the city of Orange, Citrus City Grille. The place is rather expensive at forty nine dollars a head but it is an incredible feed, I don't know anything else like it in this day and age. We started the late morning with bloody marys. Great meal.

Walking back to our car we stopped off at an old antique comrade's shop, Woody. The king of Heywood Wakefield is retiring after 45 years. 

His mother has dementia and he says it is time to sail into the sunset. We wish him well.

We drove back towards our desert destination and made one more stop at Cabazon, the Morongo Outlet Mall.

We poked around a few shops, mainly the Le Creuset store where they were showing off some new additions including their purple line and this nifty bread baker.

I was good and bought nothing but wanted to check out what they had.

We finally made it to the hotel, found out that we were two hours early for check in so drove in to Palm Springs to buy a sandwich to eat later at dinner.

We learned long ago to not trust the food in Desert Hot Springs!

Leslie knew a cool sandwich shop and we hung out. Stopped and bought some dates at a little market we like.

We stayed at Miracle Springs Resort this time. We have stayed there before. 

It seems to be a favorite of the Russians and Eastern Europeans but it lacks some of the scuzzier patrons found next door at the Desert Hot Springs resort, the old warhorse.

It claims that it is the only spa around with both a cold springs and a hot springs.

The water is really nice there as is the background view.

We can't afford Two Bunch Palms anymore and this seems like the next best thing for our needs. Lots of pools, clean and fairly well kept.

We have stayed at the big places and at the boutiques, this one manages to hit most of our marks.

I get a free night after every ten stays on Hotels.Com and redeemed my free night so the whole thing cost me about $29. 

Will do this again and soon. Or as soon as I get another free night anyway.

Leslie loves to soak and so do I.

The snow capped peaks of San Jacinto loomed spectacularly in the background.

After our morning soak we met Warmboe for breakfast at Sherman's. We were meeting afterwards with Bill's clients.

We had a nice visit and bought some things from the downsizing couple.

I don't know exactly what possessed me but I asked them if they had any french cookware for sale?

Lo and behold, they opened up a cabinet with about six or seven pieces of Le Creuset.

I'm like, you don't really need two dutch ovens do you? Long story short, they gave me a ridiculously good buy on a 7 quart vintage dutch oven in green.

I don't look too happy, do I?

You see, I cooked a poule au pot in our old elysees yellow three and a half quart dutch oven on Saturday night and the 5.9 lb. chicken was simply too big for the pot. 

I couldn't even get the lid properly on and it peeled off the skin on top.

I couldn't even fit a spatula in, let alone vegetables which I had to prepare instead on the skillet.

Now my problem is solved!

Tonight is braised short ribs!

Bon appetit!

Wait, back to the trip. We decided to go back over the hill, towards Anza. Much prettier and maybe some snow. Didn't see any but it was certainly beautiful and less hectic.

It was a long but fun weekend. Thanks to one and all.

Saturday, March 18, 2023



The Carpet Crawlers

A couple from you


Allan Seymour sends a lovely picture of San Onofre Creek.

Terry Dewald offers some sweet wildflower captures from the Phoneline trail in Sabino.

Nice to see the desert in bloom.

And we also get a shot of his pretty peach blossoms.

Kip offers a shot from the Ranchos de ChimayĆ³ restaurant.

Newly found cousin Linda Forman sends a chiaroscuro shot from the cold Berkshires.

My wife was out in Havasu for a couple days with girlfriends. She sends this video clip of the stormy sky the other night.

Late entry from Harwood - Weeds of Fallbrook