Monday, December 16, 2013

Take 31 - San Jose - Blossom Valley - Getting to know my neighbourhood

Before getting to know my neighbourhood, I had to get to know my house. In the rental home where we lived previously, the appliances were run-of-the-mill machines in-so-far as being very basic appliances without bells and whistles. Nothing beeped nor dinged nor chimed. Where we are now, it is very different. Each appliance has its own sound and musical note, to let you know it requires your attention. For example, the dishwasher has the beep (6 times) at the end of its cycle and it repeats the same 6 beeps a total of three times until you give up and stop whatever you are doing and open the door of the appliance to shut it up. Our fridge has this very practical beep so that if you do not shut either door properly, after a few minutes it will let you know by beeping continually until you realize your mistake. The microwave also has its beep, which is a single long sorrowful one. As though it's sorry to see you take out the food you have placed in there to heat.
Not wanting to be left out, the oven also does its part by beeping and dinging depending on what you require of it. And then there are the washer and dryer. Since 2009, Samsung has been my choice for washer and dryer and I have had that brand in three out of four of my past homes including this one.  I believe someone at Samsung must have a real sense of humour. At the end of its cycle it has this little instrumental number about 15 seconds long that is endearing and child-like. Both the dryer and the washer have this piece so if both machines happen to end their cycle almost at the same time, they both give you their performance almost simultaneously which can be an incredible source of cacophony. However, this synchronization of time is rare and yes, I could make it play at a lower volume but I really don't mind it. I also had had to change the ringer on my phone because it shared the same notes as our front door bell. One day I ran downstairs thinking there was someone at the door when actually my phone was ringing. It's enough to drive you bonkers ! :--))

Needless to say we also have a list of little projects that require regular visits to Lowe's or Orchard's. During one of those visits, I noticed a sign on the road that showed you the way to Hayes Mansion. Of course, my curiosity got the better of me and I gave in to the temptation. I soon found out that Hayes Mansion is a Mediterranean Villa designed by architect George Page that used to be the home of the Hayes family until they sold it in the 1950s. The villa remained empty and fell into disrepair until 1994 when it was successfully renovated and it is now a conference center. Do go have a look at their website It is simply a magnificent building. You can go there for brunch too. Although quite pricey, I hear it is one of the best and David and I plan on going there one day for a special occasion.

Across the street from Hayes Mansion is a park who also used to have a different vocation. It used to be Frontier Village Amusement Park, a western style theme park which opened in 1961 and closed in 1980. Nothing remains of that theme park except the trees on 49 acres of beautiful grounds. The paths meander through the park and at its edge there are tennis courts and a children play area.  There seems to be an unofficial rule with dogs running freely off-leash and enjoying the open area. As well, there is a beautiful tree shaded picnic area with tables and bbq pits, which can be reserved for special occasions by calling 408-794-PARK a division of the City of San Jose.

Here is a quick recipe for a spice mix to enhance your popcorn:

Southwest Spice Mix
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground New Mexico chile
Toss ingredients together. Use 1 tablespoon of the mix for every quart of fresh popcorn and toss together. Store the leftover mix in an airtight jar.