Saturday, December 31, 2011

Today's Progress and One Last Look

Had a second morning of raking in my neighbor's yard and came home with this huge pile of pine straw and four gigantic bags of leaves shown below. My neighbors are so happy to have their yard raked and we are so happy to come home with natural mulch that is environmentally sound. It's kind of our way to continue recycling while following our mantra: "What do we need; what do we have; what do we do next?" It is our way of minimizing our environmental footprint while not wasting resources.
One last look at the firebush which has grown to over seven feet tall this season. After next week's cold snap, it will be dead-looking but will come back in the spring in glorious profusion.
In the meantime, I have received my seed catalogs and will be ordering vegetable seeds to plant in the spring. "To everything, there is a season..."

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Best Gift So Far

I have been searching for my friend Brenda for an entire year. Brenda lived in Cottage Grove, Oregon but prior to that, we used to work together in Tampa where I was an Assistant Principal and she was my assistant. Brenda was a very important person during a very difficult period of my life. She seemed to have this uncanny ability to feel and sense things before they happened and so she would give me very good advice that I carefully followed.

Brenda and her husband moved to Oregon in 1989 and have lived there ever since. She sends me a card every Christmas and never fails to include all the news of her family. Last year, I did not receive a card from her. I sent her a card anyway and followed up with a very lengthy letter in January. She did not respond and I began to get worried. Was she ill; had she moved; what was wrong?

Knowing that the internet makes it possible to find almost anyone, I began searching on the internet for new addresses for this family. I went to Switchboard.com and to Spokeo.com but had no luck. The most I could find was Brenda's daughter's name and so I searched on Facebook for her. I found someone with the same name and sent her a private message but no one wrote me back so I probably had the wrong person.

I called the phone number associated with Brenda's daughter but found the number to be disconnected. I called Brenda's phone number and found that to be disconnected as well. I did some more research, found a new name for Brenda's daughter, and mailed a letter of inquiry to that address. The letter was returned to me stating that no one by that name lived at that address.

Yesterday, Janet came home from errands and said as she entered the door, "There's a Christmas present for you in my bag." "Really?", I said. And out came a Christmas card from Brenda. Oh my gosh, I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to see that handwriting because I thought at the very least that she was seriously ill or something even worse. I read the message and she said, "I've missed hearing from you." So maybe she had not received my card or my letter. It just didn't make any sense.

So, once again, I went to Spokeo.com and did a reverse phone search. I entered the phone number I had for her, the one that was disconnected. The location that came back from the search was an address in Louisiana. I knew that couldn't be right. I must have had the wrong area code all this time. So I looked up the area code for Cottage Grove, added it to the base number I had for her, and dialed. Well, you know it. Brenda answered the phone. She is fine. The family is fine. She doesn't remember if she received my letter or not but has had a year with some sadness in it which she will elaborate on later in a letter.

I, however, have found my friend and was so happy to be able to talk to her and hear it for myself. So it is definitely the best gift I have received so far this Christmas. The gift of friendship and the gift I have been given that I never give up and never take "no" for an answer. It's a great quality to have although sometimes frustrating for those around me.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Having A Merry Little Christmas



I just read a post from one of my friends in the blog world stating that she and her family were having a "little" Christmas this year. Nothing big and crazy; not a lot of decorations, that kind of thing.

That's what I'm doing and that's actually what I have done for the past few years out here in the country. I shop for the six year old granddaughter, send greenback greetings to the teenagers, and that's about it. Once that box is mailed, I really don't worry about anything else.

I did not put up the Christmas tree this year. Instead, I decorated the piano and tables with ceramic trees from Dept. 56, arranged the stuffed bears and moose (or is that mooses?) around the room, and will complete the scene with fresh cedar and pine that I traditionally cut on Christmas Eve. This year, I splurged on a live wreath for the front gate and last night I cut Nandina berries and arranged them on the porch. The back porch is decorated with a pot of poinsettias and chrysanthemums, a gift from a friend.

I love using natural elements in holiday decorating. I have a yard full of nature which allows me to use what I already have and it is really easy to clean up after the holiday is over. I just gather everything and take it to the compost bin to be used again in my garden beds once it turns into beautiful soil.

My youngest daughter and her friends will come for Christmas dinner and we will have a Cuban dinner to be envied by all. Roast pork, black beans, plantains, Cuban bread and the homemade cookies provided by Janet's superb baking skills. That's as "over the top" as we get but it's pretty awesome. And it's simple. We don't get too tired; we don't overspend; and everybody has a good time, including us. What a concept!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Laughable Memory

I was looking for a receipt today in my large box of receipts. Each time I do this, I run across this note that my father wrote during his declining years. I get such a chuckle out of it each time I see it that I can never throw it away. This note is part of a grocery list that he would keep tucked under his place mat at the kitchen table. He called it his "office" because he conducted all of his financial business from that location. When I cleaned out the house to move him nearer to me, I found this note and did not have the heart to toss it into the trash.

"2 or 3 pks doughnuts with a hole in the middle"
I love the part about the hole in the middle. That is a very specific type of doughnut, don't you think?

I don't know why he has been on my mind so much lately. I would guess it is because Christmas is approaching and that was his favorite holiday. Maybe it's because I bought the Christmas pork. Perhaps because I roasted the nuts. I don't know. I just know that this note will be among my things when my daughters clean out my house. They probably won't be able to throw it away either.

Practicing Shading

I have been practicing shading with my watercolor paints and it's not as easy as it looks. However, I'm pretty proud of this effort even though it took me about an hour to paint. Or maybe more because I had to lay down the light wash and then wait for it to dry before applying the darker colors for shading. I'm happy with it for now. I wish I had more confidence and didn't have to use pencil for my initial drawing but that's ok. I like that the flower looks like the "old fashioned" variety that it is and not something more structured and perfect like some of today's hybrids.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Reminder of the Past and Sketch For the Day

Sketch of the day from one of my favorite gardening books.
The holiday filberts that I roast every year.....a reminder of my dad who roasted filberts each Christmas and shared them with me while sitting at his kitchen table. My children and I carry on the tradition and keep the memory alive.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fun Things For Today

The metal butterfly, my sketch for today.


Yesterday's sketch of the flowers I collected in Hemingway's Garden in Havana last year.
The maple tree in our yard changing color a little at a time. I was fascinated by this when I saw it yesterday.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Holidays Are Quickly Advancing


It's just amazing how fast time flies. There we were just trudging along through the summer and all of a sudden, here it is December. The holidays are like that. They kind of sneak up on you when you aren't looking. It was especially noticeable this year because we were on our trip for two months and didn't return until November. We had barely been back when Thanksgiving appeared. And so it goes.

However, we are busy, busy, busy and not just because of the holidays. We are having the house washed and painted and the crew is coming tomorrow. So we have spent the day moving all of the stuff that has accumulated in clay pots around the house for the past ten years. Now that everything has been cleared away, it will be wonderful to begin anew with just those objects that have importance.

We eagerly await the new paint....I hadn't really noticed how much the house needed tending to. Sometimes it's easy to ignore things like that when one is busy traveling and doing art and riding her bike.

We also hooked up the trailer because it must go to the dealer for some badly needed warranty repairs after such a long trip. Remember, we drove over eight thousand miles. So the little POD also needs tending to and taking it to the dealer right now will get it out of the driveway and out of the way of the painters.

We moved one chair out under the trees and the other out into the Zen Garden (a meditation garden I have out back). We plan to sit in these places and do some daily sketches. This afternoon, while we were outdoors, we saw a gorgeous pair of red-shouldered hawks (it's mating season). Shortly thereafter, we saw three of our neighbors riding their horses down our street. We love to hear the sounds of the horse's hooves on the pavement. We feel so lucky to live in a place where things such as hawks and horses are common everyday occurrences.

Finally, yesterday on our way home from Tampa we stopped at Fresh Market, a wonderful grocery store specializing in organic and local foods. There, we found the beautiful wreath at the top of this blog post. It is real fir and smells lovely. It will go on the front gate when the painting is done but for now will live on the garden gate out back.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

"Simple Surroundings Create Room For The Mind" from a Chinese Proverb


While visiting with Shannon and Elizabeth in San Francisco, we had occasion to sit in their living room both in the early morning and in the evening after the sun had set. We were struck by the beautiful light, the simplicity of the seating, and the sparseness of the space.
We decided that we, too, wanted to create a living space that would make us feel open, creative, and uncluttered. And so, these photographs are the result of our "clearing out" after we got home. Our living space can tend to get cluttered and unkempt because both Janet and I are voracious readers, have books and magazines everywhere, and indulge in various art projects all at the same time.
But we have found that a cluttered space clutters our brains. That we are not as creative either in thought or in deed when the space does not allow room for it. And so, we took the television and one recliner out of the living room. We also moved the reading material that often consumes us. We then rearranged the furniture and created a coffee table from two separate pieces that we had in the house.
We think we have created a space that fosters creative thought, conversation, and restfulness. We love it in the morning, at mid-day, and in the evening as the sun is setting on the back garden. From this space, we can watch the birds, the flowers, and the cows on the other side of the fence.
When we need a place of solace, we come here. When friends visit, this is where we sit. It is an eclectic blend of many different furnishings and styles but we don't care. It accomplishes for us what we set out to do. And as the title states, "Simple Surroundings Create Room for the Mind". We love it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Things Greater Than We Are

These images are but a few of all that we saw on our trip out west. I have selected these for today because being in the midst of these, I felt my own smallness and insignificance in the world. I think it's really important to realize, on occasion, that we are not in charge of the world; that to believe so is delusional; and that we need constant reminders of this fact.

The photograph above was taken at Yellowstone National Park and is one of many bubbling pools that exist in the park. These pools are a constant reminder that there is life right beneath the surface and that we cannot control it.

This was taken at Patrick's Point on the Pacific Coast in California. This view is hidden but just right beyond the parking area at Agate Beach. Once you walk a ways and turn a corner, this gorgeous site is what you see. Standing on the edge and looking down is an experience to be remembered. How small did I feel that day?
And then there was this guy. While he appears to be standing alone, he was a part of a herd of about 150 bison crossing the road at Yellowstone.
And finally, this is the trunk of an upended redwood tree in the redwood forests of California. It was mammoth --lying on its side gathering lichen.

I really believe that whenever someone gets full of themselves, they need to be taken to see the bison, the bubbling pools, the upended redwoods, and the view at Patrick's Point. Puts everything into perspective.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Just An Ordinary Day in Paradise

I'm of the mind that one shouldn't really complain a lot on a blog. Folks don't really want to hear all about negative stuff. However, I have just had it with Bright House network. Since January, when I decided to go digital, I have had problems with my televisions. The digital boxes have been a pain, having to be re-programmed anytime the power goes off or the tv gets unplugged. I've had to use two different remotes, which is annoying, and this week, when I disconnected the digital box in the living room, the television in the bedroom turned off.

This story could get very long and monotonous. However, cutting to the chase, I had both digital boxes removed. I really don't care that my picture is a little grainy--we can't see that well anyway. The entire world is a little grainy if you ask me. I don't care that I can't get OWN network anymore. I thought I could not live without Oprah but the truth is, I will be just fine, thank you very much.

We made a conscious decision to take the television out of the living room in order to create an area that encourages conversation. We have removed the television cabinet, rearranged the furniture, and are very excited about the way the room looks. We feel a certain sense of freedom no longer having to worry about our digital cable boxes and when they will decide not to work. We are back to only one remote that we understand.

It's been an extremely busy week. We have rearranged the house, made arrangements to have the house painted the week after Thanksgiving, are having new hardware installed on two exterior doors, and are re-thinking our landscaping to make it less labor intensive. We have ordered an additional rug for the living room area and are waiting to have some furniture picked up to consign at a store downtown. Good thing we went on a long trip because we don't know how to relax here at home. On the bright side though, we took the bicycles to the shop today for a tune-up and new tires. Look out! There will soon be two old women on the loose on mountain bikes somewhere in Ocala.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Early Rising

I have always been an early riser. I don't know how one becomes such but I just cannot sleep late. It may be because my mother never let me sleep past seven on weekends or maybe because my body rhythm is wired like that. And so I sit here in the early morn, before light has broken across the sky, catching up on the happenings that occurred while I was sleeping.

My friend Elizabeth wrote a blog about her morning routines and rituals and how they have comforted her no matter where she has lived. I find that I, too, am comforted by my morning rituals and routines as I'm sure we all are. When I was still working, I would allow myself extra time in the morning to take a walk in the garden. When my children were still small and in school, I would wake up at least thirty minutes earlier than anyone in the house. I would make coffee, get myself a cup, and sit by the front window and watch the sun come up. It was "my" time and I treasured it.

I like walking through the house when no one else is awake. I love the smell of coffee as is brews in the pot. I wait for the first sound of the birds as they make their way to the feeders each morning. And I walk in the garden.

Sometimes, I sit on the back steps and just watch everything come to life. Sometimes, I read. But always, always, I take it slowly. I don't like to be hurried in the morning. For me, it is the best time of day.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Some Favorite Places Along the Way

The Basque Market in Boise, Idaho. A place that took us back in time to the Basque settlers that came to Idaho. My family is from northern Spain so the food from the market and history in the museum were wonderful for me.
The olive grove and vineyard in Hopland, California. A beautiful place with awesome wine and olive oil.
The vineyards along the way in wine country.
The Farmer's Market in Portland, Oregon.
The Pacific Ocean seen while driving along the Pacific Highway.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Home

We are home and happy to be back in our little digs. I always say that one of the wonderful things about going away is coming back. It always gives me an appreciation of my home and space and, while modest, seeming luxurious after living for two months in our little trailer. Even Cocoa loves being back in her place. When she realized we were home, she ran to the back door and ran circles around and around in her backyard pen. She is back in her favorite chair and remembers all of the routines that result in treats.

We spent yesterday unpacking all of the food from the trailer. Today, we will probably unpack the laundry and bedding.

The Honda has a dead battery even though we had a friend come and start it two or three times per week. However, the birds were taken care of and the lawn is cut and trimmed so everything looks beautiful. It's hard to believe that while we were driving our eight thousand miles, the weeks were making their way toward Thanksgiving. The holidays are upon us, aren't they? It's really easy to be separated from reality on a long trip. It will take me a few days to ease back in to the routine of "now".

In the meantime, I will be out in the garden with my coffee, talking to the birds and the plants. Later, I will begin the weeding......a mindless task that gives me "think" time. Right now, the sun is coming up, the dog is asleep in her chair, and I'm making my second trip to the coffee pot. It's good to be home.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Our Favorite Emergency Campground




For those of you who are not campers, you may not know that WalMart allows campers to spend one night in their parking lot at no charge. It is not the fact that there is no charge that is important to campers like us. What is important is that sometimes there are no acceptable campgrounds in towns we are passing through. Or we get to a campground and it doesn't feel safe.

That is what happened to us in Salina, Kansas, our fourth day out for this trip. We checked in to a campground that then began to feel very iffy to us. We felt very weird and I have a rule that if I don't feel comfortable walking the dog at night in a campground, it is not the place for us. So in Salina, Kansas, we left the campground and stayed the night at WalMart.


Tonight we had a similar experience. We had planned on a particular campground in Mississippi but when we arrived, there was no way we would stay there. So we sought out the nearest WalMart, spent some money on groceries, and tucked in next to a very large motor home with the same idea. In the morning, we will go back into the store to the McDonald's and have breakfast. Then it's on the road back into Florida to see my daughter and grandchildren.

Whatever you may think of WalMart, we can tell you that the store parking lot is a sight for sore eyes after a long day on the road. Thanks Sam Walton.



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Since High School

Since high school, I have loved tiaras. I don't know why. Maybe because I have always wanted to be royalty. I wore a tiara to my junior high school prom and I wore a tiara to my high school prom.

My bridal veil was held in place by a pearl encrusted tiara.

My avatar on Etsy is a tiara.

While in Portland, Oregon, Janet and I visited a fabric and notion store that was over an acre and a half in size. The fabrics were wonderful and the notions were endless. However, when I discovered the tiara department, I was in heaven. There were cases and cases of different styles of tiaras and I could not resist drooling over each and every one.






Finally Some Photos

We are finally at a campground whose internet connection works with my picture transfer software. Just a couple of photos for now.

This was taken in one of the wine caves in the wine country in California. We happened upon this vineyard in Hopland, CA. Not in Sonoma; not in Napa. But in a beautiful section of road as we explored this area.



The same vineyard also had olive trees on the property so we did wine tasting and olive oil tasting.





Driving along the Pacific highway, we stopped at Patrick's Point, a recommendation from my friend, Nancy. Although it was a rainy day, it was gorgeous.




Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Great Southwest

We are sitting outside the camper soaking up the coolness here in Bernalillo, New Mexico. We woke this morning to the sound of church bells and roosters crowing and I thought we were back in San Miguel, Mexico. Almost, but not quite. We decided to go into town for breakfast and on the way, I thought I was back in Cuba because the houses with the gravel and dirt yards are so reminiscent of the houses in the Cuban countryside. I can hardly believe it's been almost a year since I was there.

We are waiting for Yvette for to visit us at the campground. Yvette was a good friend of my children when they all took piano lessons from her mother. Yvette would frequently come home with us after a piano lesson and have dinner with us or spend the night. I haven't seen her in over twenty five years and Janet has never met her so it should be great fun.

I am fascinated by the names of some of the towns here in New Mexico. In particular, I love the name Algodones. That means "cotton" in Spanish and I think maybe the town is named such because of the cottonwood trees. I don't know. Then there is Quemada, "burned". Interesting to know why that name. We plan to stay here for two or three days and visit the town of Corrales, the town Yvette lives in. There are art galleries and other places of interest there. Plus, we saw a thrift shop in Bernalillo that deserves a visit tomorrow.


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Saturday, October 22, 2011

An Eventful Day

Barstow, California.......weird gas station where instead of paying at the pump, you pay at an ATM on the pump island that controls all the pumps. You have to use debit and they charge you 35 cents to do so. What a rip!! Don't buy ARCO gas, a division of BP.

Next gas stop, a slime ball tried to tell us our tires are going bad and will blow out in the next twenty miles. Never mind that he sells tires as well as gas. 300 miles later, we're still going strong. Darren checked them thoroughly before we left Ocala.

The check engine light has been on since Paso Robles, California but Darren, our Ocala mechanic said to ignore it.

Campground shower rip-off: two tokens per customer, six minutes on each token.....not even long enough to get the water hot. We passed on a shower that night.

Road noise sounded like thunder to Cocoa so nobody slept.

The Mojave Desert is ugly and endless. Lots of 3K RPM hills, few gas stops, no rest areas, and glad to leave that part of California. I much prefer the wine country.

Next stop, Williams, Arizona. Beautiful campground, though a bit road noisy. Cold, 32 degrees, 7000 feet, rolling up the electric cord and hose is not fun at that temperature but we were grateful for the coolness and beauty of the location.

Easy grades today and pleasant views in northern Arizona. Still at high altitude but not as many ups and downs. Crossing into New Mexico, gorgeous red rock formations as we push toward Albuquerque.

The Pod is working fine but feeling a little more cramped each day. We have to be very intentional about keeping out of each other's way. As we roll along, we are lusting after fifth wheels with lots of space. Albuquerque will be a two or three day layover to rest and visit with a special friend from years back. Stay tuned.

Posting pictures from the road hasn't worked out. Will put up a bunch when we get back home.




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Thursday, October 20, 2011

We've traveled about three quarters of the length of California and now we've turned the corner toward home leaving behind this landscape of many contrasts. Our last foray in San Francisco was to SCRAP, a warehouse of scrap materials from business, industry, and individuals that are made available to artists and teachers at a very minimal cost. It is a treasure trove of bright colors, shiny objects, unusual materials, and a great place to get ideas for creative projects. That, a fine Mexican lunch and a trip to the dahlia gardens made a great ending to our last day in the city with our girls.

Our journey through the Central Valley made us very aware of the food we put on our plates and the people who provide it. Fertile fields of bright lettuces, rich greens, black soil in newly plowed sections; everything from ready to plant to crops being harvested.

Our meals in California have been superb, fresh, and delicious. We have eaten healthier while on the west coast than we can at home and the taste of heirloom tomatoes has reminded me of the real taste of tomatoes I haven't had in a very long time. What a contrast this has been to the Monsanto controlled fields of Kansas.

We've seen the wineries and vineyards from the Willamette Valley of Oregon to the lower central valley of California and now we head to the desert.




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Monday, October 17, 2011

Moving Right Along

Wow, we have been putting some miles on the old truck and trailer. I think, to date, we have driven over five thousand miles and are still on the move. Who knew we could do this?? We have driven down the Oregon and California coasts on the Pacific highway. Gorgeous stuff with the ocean and cliffs. We stayed in a campground right on the ocean which was awesome. We drove through the redwood forests and although it was raining, we loved it. We are now in San Francisco and have been here for four days. We camped with Shannon and Elizabeth and have learned to drive into the city without losing our minds. Well, that's probably because we have very little minds left, right?

We are at a campground on the Pacific here in California but had to move our spot because being right on the ocean with erosion to our rear is not our idea of a peaceful place to sleep. We have moved to a camp site on the street edge and it is much better except for the noise. Well, you can't have everything. Yesterday, we went to the Pumpkin Festival in Half Moon Bay and had some scrumptious pie. Cocoa is exhausted. She is still sleeping on the trailer couch. She thinks she never ever again wants to go to a Pumpkin Festival. Too much walking and not enough treats. Plus she met a male dog who was a little rude. More details on that later. So now, we're off for another adventure in the city.














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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Eureka, We Reached the Pacific!!

When we finally tuned in to the news in Portland, we found out that the Portland Marathon was taking place on Sunday, the day we planned to hit the road. Because several interstate entrances, exits, and bridges were being closed, we decided to forego the wine country and prepare to leave on Saturday.

After a hairy transit of the city involving interchanges for three different interstates, we were on our way to the coast through rolling farmland and then up into the coastal range and down to the shore road at Cannon Beach. It was at mid-day that we reached Tillamook and played tourist at the cheese factory, ending our tour with a delicious lunch. Cocoa particularly enjoyed the sampling room where she snagged bits and pieces of cheese that had falling to the floor. As always on her public outings she received lots of attention and praise for good behavior. She's getting a very large head.

Onward down the coast to Yachats where we stayed the night on the beach and listened to the pounding surf of the Pacific all night. Sunday dawned misty and dreary but that didn't spoil the magnificent views or surprises around every bend in the road. Amazing rocky headlands, pristine beaches, crashing surf, and gorgeous trees. We made a side stop in the dunes area where Shirley left her footprints in a dune but could not quite make it to the top.

By late afternoon, the rain ended and the sun poked out infrequently. Tonight we are camped in the magnificent redwoods near Crescent City, California.



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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dog Days in Portland

Many of you know that Cocoa is in training to be a Service Dog. That designation gives her entree to many places she could not normally go. Yesterday, she was able to sit at an outdoor cafe while Janet and I visited with a new friend; today, she was able to go into Porque' No?, a Mexican taqueria, while Janet and I had tacos for lunch; she also went shopping in a little doggie boutique where she tried on rain gear so necessary in Portland.

Another stop on the day's rounds was a visit to Hammer and Hand, a Portland business specializing in remodeling and in building ADU's, auxiliary dwelling units. We met with one of the co-owners with whom we had corresponded previously and found him to be as gracious and helpful in person as he had been online. He specializes in building green structures using many reclaimed and repurposed materials. His employees are treated as his most valuable asset and it is evident in the atmosphere of the office.

We got much useful information and were treated to a tour of the workshop which I had to drag Janet away from. We will definitely be in touch with him further. It was a refreshing experience which Cocoa enjoyed as well. Even though the weather has been cold and rainy, the people are cheerful and very friendly. The rain experience here is very different from Florida. It is usually a light rain with frequent stops and starts and occasional "sun breaks", as they say here in Oregon.

We re-visited a neighborhood we had thought was unsuitable and found that is had parts that were fine. So we will add it to out list of possibles. Tomorrow we are off to two additional neighborhoods to scout them out and to visit a couple of projects currently being built by Hammer and Hand. If we have time Friday, we may be off to wine country.


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Saturday, October 1, 2011

First Impressions

We are officially in Portland, Oregon now and today we were total tourists. We went to the Portland Farmer's Market, held on the campus of Portland State University, right in the heart of downtown and saw an incredible array of gorgeous and succulent fruits and vegetables. We saw poblano peppers being roasted and saw fresh pastries displayed. We bought some local artisanal blue cheese, a loaf of mulit-grain bread made with a number of grains I'd not even heard of, some locally grown fruit, and half a pizza pie.

Cocoa managed very well in a crowded situation dodging people, carts, wheelchairs, and enjoyed all the wonderful smells. There were fish and beef and other good things for a doggie's nose. She really likes being a city dog.

We learned how to operate the Portland parking system as we made our way through town, stopping at various sites. We then had a snack at a bakery in the Pearl district, visited some fancy stores, and finished up with a cruise through Whole Foods, picking up some specialties for our kitchen.

Portland has nine bridges across the Willamette River and as of today, we have traversed five of them. The city is divided by this river into east and west Portland. We saw lots of cyclists today and almost everyone seems to have a dog. It is a "green" city in so many ways; cool and pleasant temperatures are the best of all. There are recycling bins everywhere, even in the fast food restaurants and bakeries. The city is amazingly clean and there are people with brooms sweeping the streets outside the stores, quite a surprise to see.

On an interesting note: in Whole Foods, there is an entire cold room dedicated to beer. This town has several microbreweries that produce specialty beers and Shirley is on a quest to sample as many as possible while in Portland.

So far, we have found the city to be wonderfully diverse with people who are friendly, open to differences, and accepting of every type of personality, politics, or persuasion. Freedom of expression is apparent just by observing the wildly varied attire
of folks strolling about or biking down the street on their way to and fro. Conformity is non-existent here and like the locals say, "Keep Portland Weird".

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Oldie Goldies

Because of our interest in vintage Airstreams and Shannon's new acquisition of a vintage travel trailer, we are keenly aware as we drive along, of both vintage rv's and the newer very small trailers which have come full circle to meet the needs of today's vehicles. It seems that in every small town we pass through, we see oldie goldie travel trailers being used sometimes for housing but also road-ready and in the campgrounds where we are staying. We think it is a tribute to the people who value a well-made conveyance and are satisfied with something minimal rather than the huge, ponderous motor homes that are excessive. Many nights, we find ourselves sandwiched between two such vehicles that are also hauling more toys behind them.

Perhaps it is a sign of the times, but it is encouraging to see the creativity and resilience of people who are making a home out of an rv and making a living wherever it's parked. Few of the places we have stopped are for wanderers only. Most have some or even many long term residents. One wonders if financial circumstance is the cause. It often seems so.

Like many that we see who are living small, for whatever reason, we feel some pride in traveling small and making our tiny rolling house have as little impact as possible in consuming less as we indulge ourselves in seeing this wonderful country.

One can see that the economy has affected many towns through which we pass. However, the farmers are still harvesting, the people are keeping on, and manufacturing is still happening. We find the people to be hospitable, positive, and upbeat.

As for these two oldie goldies, we are moving on with our compass pointed toward Portland and always open to new possibilities.







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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Frustrations and Disappointments

In travel, as in life, no amount of planning guarantees success. A frequent frustration across the country has been the difficulty getting accurate information about parking so that we can visit historical sites, museums, and other places of interest. We check websites, we call ahead and ask, and very often when we arrive, there is no place to park with the trailer even though we have been assured that there is. Yesterday was no different.

One of the prime spots on our "to see" list proved completely rv and trailer unfriendly. And after going up a 6% grade with a twisting, narrow road, we arrived at the Oregon Trail Center to find signs impossible to read from a safe distance, parking lots tiny and inaccessible, and only one area for rv's which would have required us to climb a hill on foot that was way too much for either of us. And so we left deeply disappointed.

But on a bright note, we had driven into Baker City and on a whim, visited their museum and enjoyed it thoroughly so the day was not a bust. It turns out that Baker City is the home of Wally Byum, Airstream inventor, founder, and intrepid traveler. The city museum had an entire room devoted to the development of Airstream trailers and the worldwide caravans he led over the years. What a way to feed our fantasy!!

We rode around through the town seeing beautiful old homes and historic hotels and city buildings. We really liked Baker City. We continue to follow the Oregon Trail and will stop at historical markers and marvel at the tenacity and strength of the people who made that journey. It is no wonder that the northwest is a different kind of place. On balance, the disappointments and frustrations are far outweighed by the beauty of the land and the serendipitous pleasures around every bend,


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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Idaho Isn't Just Potatoes

I never expected to connect with my heritage in Idaho. But in the heart of Boise, I found a wonderful place called the Basque Block, a collection of restaurants, shops, memorials, and a museum, all celebrating the large Basque population in the area. My home province in Spain is in Santander, right next to the Basque provinces and I find that much of my family culture especially food, is Basque influenced. So in order to honor my heritage, I tried all the food I could. From tapas to croquetas to saloma sandwiches to exquisite rice pudding, I made sure I left with a sampling of all that was available.

I learned in the museum that the berets my grandfathers wore so often are a typical cap worn by the Basques in their daily lives. And so, I purchased a miniature version to decorate my Christmas swan, Pavlova. Just a little holiday ritual we indulge in every year.

With tummies full we ventured out to the Birds of Prey Center in the high desert where we were able to see many unusual birds such as eagles, falcons, and condors. The California Condor exhibit was especially remarkable because they are housed in a cave-like structure much like their normal habitat and spend much time on a large snag. If you stand and watch, you can see them spread their wings which have a nine foot span. Unbelievable! Perhaps the most interesting bird was the African Eagle whose beak and feet change color according to their mood; kind of like a feathered mood ring. I found myself wishing that some people had this feature so I could read them better.

We even had time for a little thrifting in the afternoon, something we miss from home. We really enjoyed Boise. It seems to be a very environmentally conscience city with bike trails, parks, and river walks.

We are also finding different ways to co-exist in our tiny space. It is a challenge because everything single thing has to be put away every single day or there is not enough room to move around. There is not the luxury of waiting until later to finish something up. However, we are finding that living sparsely can give a degree of freedom as long as we have our television and computer. Oh, and the iPhone, of course.

We are now headed out on the Oregon Trail once again and will soon cross into Oregon and gain our last hour.

















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Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's Saturday

Tomorrow, we leave this beautiful place in Idaho. We have decided that Idaho is a "come back" place for us. It is gorgeous, cool, and very inspiring. Thursday, I went out fly fishing with a guide. We went on the Henry's Fork River and spent all day in a drift boat. I love drift boats because they can navigate on any kind of water and the water up here can be very rocky and choppy. My guide was superb, taught me many new things....particularly how to fish with nymphs. I caught thirty rainbow trout by the end of the day and had great fun fighting them while they jumped around in the water. I really didn't want the day to end.

Yesterday, we went to Yellowstone National Park. What a beautiful place. It is utterly amazing to stand in the midst of bubbling geysers whose origins are so close to the surface of the earth. It really brings to mind that the earth is alive and that we definitely are not in charge. While touring the park, we saw a large herd of bison, several elk, mule deer, and Canadian geese.

Today, on the way to Mesa Falls (it was early in the morning), a large elk crossed the road in front of the truck and later, a bear cub. It was very exciting.

We continue to go west, headed for Portland, Oregon. I hope to be able to post photographs when I get a stronger connection that can support the transfer. In the meantime, it's one more night in Idaho.


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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Idaho

No pictures today because this campground's wireless internet is very weak. However, that's the only downside of this place. We are nestled in a caldera, the results of a volcanic eruption here thousands of years ago. That means that we are sitting on the flat surface with mountains surrounding us that are really the rim of the ancient volcano. Idaho is a gorgeous place and tomorrow, I get to fish in the Henry's Fork River, one of the most famous bodies of water around here.

Today, we explored a place called Big Springs, went to the outfitter to poke around, and found a great restaurant where we had a wonderful lunch. Tomorrow morning early, I meet my guide at the fly shop and get on the water for an all day fishing expedition.

On the way to Idaho, we stopped at the Oregon and California Trail Museum. Originally, this trip was to follow the route of the Oregon Trail and we have done pretty well so far. The museum was an incredible place and we actually put our feet on the same soil as the pioneers who traveled the trail. Very awesome.

Hope to blog more tomorrow after my fishing trip but for now, we are in sixty degree weather, the Aspens are blowing outside the trailer, and Cocoa is sleeping soundly on the couch. She thinks that camping is an exhausting activity.


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Sunday, September 18, 2011

What I Cannot Do Without and It's Embarrassing




This is the inside of the trailer and you are looking at our seven inch television. We scoffed at this little TV when we purchased the trailer and said things like, "It doesn't matter that it's so small. We won't use it anyway. We will read or sketch or journal." Well, it's true. When we have a lay-over for more than one night, we actually read or sketch or journal. Sometimes, we even blog.

However, on those days when we drive almost four hundred miles and reach our campsite at almost sundown, we hook up the electric, eat dinner, and collapse. On those days, we long for TV. Television allows us to just veg, sit back and be catatonic, not talk, snooze, and certainly not read, sketch, or journal.

The problem with this TV was that we had never hooked it up to cable. So it never worked. Well, I got desperate, mainly for weather because we were in Nebraska and the campground had a tornado siren. Therefore, I wanted to watch the weather channel. Wal Mart, here I come. I bought a coaxial cable, did a channel scan, and lo and behold, we have cable TV. And a good thing too. A really big storm blew through and we watched the TV to see if we had to go into the shelter. We didn't. I'm an alarmist about things like that. But now we have about thirty or forty channels at whatever campground we frequent.

I'm really embarrassed to admit it, but I need my TV. Seven inches and all.























Friday, September 16, 2011

A Few Tidbits For The Evening

I thought this was the cutest place. It sold antiques and vegetables. Not antique vegetables though. I bought a beautiful tomato there.


Here are the girls on the wet ride through Kansas. Rain, field upon field of corn that, we fear, is genetically engineered, and a wind farm.


And, finally, a beautiful German Shepherd that we met at a rest area. She and her partner are therapy dogs and were off lead the entire time they were at the rest area. Extremely well trained, beautifully built, one of the highlights of our day.



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Going To The Dogs

Please meet Scooter and Lightning, two crocheted snails that Janet bought for the rPod. They serve as a reminder for us to slow down, stay in the moment, look at things from a different perspective, and always be ready for adventure. Because you know, for a snail, three inches is an adventure. And we sometimes even call our Pod escarGOt. We may be slow but we cover a lot of ground.





-Our little rig has a maximum speed of 55mph so we have lots of time to view the passing scene. Sometimes people honk at us along the way. We think they may be saying "howdy" but really, they are telling us to go faster. No way, we say.

Yesterday, Shirley, Janet, Cocoa, Scooter, and Lightning visited the AKC Museum of the Dog.







Scooter and Lightning








Cocoa--No that is not a muzzle. It is a Gentle Leader head collar, a very effective training tool.

The highlight of our day was our visit to the AKC Museum of the Dog, a place we have wanted to visit for a very long time. If you are the least bit interested in dogs, dog art, trophies, and beautiful, adoring faces, this is the place for you. What a wonderful collection of art! Paintings, photographs, bronzes, antique collars, as well as trophies, all in an estate home donated to the county. It was the farm/mansion of a Monsanto executive and includes a lovely park for hiking, biking, horse riding, etc.














St. Louis is a really big city and we found it easy to navigate but we're happy to be back on the road in more rural areas. Right now, it's a drizzly day, the farm fields are beautiful and we enjoy seeing silos and barns much more than monuments and edifices. We have the Pod pointed toward Kansas. Next stop, the National Poultry Museum, just outside Kansas City. Anyone who really knows us, knows that we have a fantasy for raising chickens someday. Yes, it's true.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bright Eyed and Rested

On the road to Paducah, Ky and the American Quilt Museum. Will try to post pictures but I'm having a little trouble with my transfer software from the iphone to the ipad. I'll get it figured out. We had a great night's sleep, primarily because we were at a pristine, wonderful campground with beautiful trees, and immaculately kept grounds. Cocoa slept through the night without re-arranging herself numerous times in my bed so that was a plus for me. Jan and I were even able to take a lovely walk in the cool air before heading out this morning.

Jan got to check out a rack set-up for canoe and bicycles similar to what she has in mind for our truck----a great find.

Greatly enjoyed the rolling terrain of Tennessee and views of foothills and mountains in the distance. Roads are excellent with no construction woes. We are beginning to see signs of fall. Maples are beginning to turn with yellowing and an occasional flash of red. We've seen several flashes of crimson sumac and in the morning fog, we are seeing the first slight yellowing of birches along the roadside.

Later: Just left the quilt museum. It was a spectacular display of creativity and dedication to the art form. Amazing murals on the flood control wall by the Ohio River; beautiful buildings on the downtown square in Paducah (unfortunately closed on Monday). Cocoa enjoyed seeing the quilts and walking through the town. Tomorrow, she gets to go to the AKC Museum of the Dog in St. Louis.

By the way, I love my new short, short, short haircut. (I know you thought it was short before ). I don't even have to comb it and no gel or hairspray. Saves me a lot of time each morning. I highly recommend it.






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Sunday, September 11, 2011

First Day Out

Well, yesterday was our first day out and it was a typical first day. We always have to get accustomed to traveling again since we take such long breaks between trips. As usual, we wondered if we had done everything to leave the house just so, checking each of our voluminous lists for all of the chores that are involved in closing up the house.

Our first day trip was uneventful and we are always reminded how much Cocoa loves the smells at the rest areas since so many doggies visit the same places. The campground in Alabama was not great but the price was right. We actually thought about leaving and finding another place but decided against it since there wasn't much else any better up the road. We are finding, as we camp these days, that there are many people and families making campgrounds their permanent homes. Their rigs are very nice, large and accommodating. But this is not something that used to be as common as it is today. The economy has forced people either to leave their homes or to travel in this manner to find work. I have a friend who lives in a campground in Savannah because her husband travels to find work in the construction business so I know how common it is.

Today, we are on the road to Tennessee and the temperature is in the 50's. We are already cold and wonder how we will manage in Idaho where it is already in the 30's. Not to worry, we have our woolies and a good heater in the trailer. Will post pictures as we go along. We didn't get a lot of sleep last night (typical first night also) so we feel lucky to have brushed our teeth and combed our hair so far this morning. Next stop, McDonald's for coffee.


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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Let's Hear It For Today

* Finally broke down and bought myself a new sport's watch. My old one, purchased when I first started running, is thirty years old and held together with gorilla tape. It was time.
* Great lunch at Cracker Barrel. Love their turkey and dressing, today's special.
* Bought a new little sign for the inside of the trailer that says, "I think, therefore I am overqualified." I think it describes both of us, don't you think?
* Plan to hitch up later on when it's cooler.
* YeeHaw!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Today's Likeable Things

Today's Excitement:

* Took Cocoa on all our chores this morning. She loves that.
* Got the walkie-talkies all ready with new batteries. Made me feel like I was on bus duty again.
* Called and made reservations at campgrounds.
* Had a yummy Subway sandwich for lunch.
* Downloaded new, revised maps for my Garmin.
* Charged up my Kindle.
* Am incredulous at the amount of technology I depend on.

More tomorrow, I'm sure.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Good Sunday

Today's Good Things:

* Lovely zinnias on the bathtub ledge.
* Chile and lime pistachios. Yum!
* Soon to be Happy Hour here on the farm.
* Great morning on the back steps drinking coffee and watching the birds.
* Almost nothing else left to do on the travel list.
* Was able to tolerate the heat and pull a few weeds this afternoon.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Is This Saturday?

Tiny Blessings

* Packed up a lot of food for the freezer after a week of cooking.
* Noticed that there is a little "fall-ish" breeze outside today. Hmmmmm.
* Went to the garden very early to check on my newly transplanted basil and all four plants are standing tall and loving their new home.
* Hummingbirds are in an eating frenzy preparing for flight to their winter home.
* Received Ashley and Gavin's wedding invitation today. The invitations are beautiful, simple, perfect.
* Helped air up the tires on the truck and travel trailer. Can departure be that far behind?

Hope you have a great holiday weekend.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Trip To St. Pete

Great Visiting Day

*Spent several hours with Don and Lynne in St. Petersburg. We picked up sandwiches at Publix along with a large salad and had a feast. And nobody had to cook!
* Drove down and back on the Suncoast Parkway. Love that road!!
* Gazed lovingly at Tampa Bay as we drove on the Howard Frankland Bridge. Love looking at water!
* Brought home several basil plants from Lynn's "volunteer" group and I already planted them in the garden.
* Just washed the dog crate and almost ready to pack it in the truck.
* Watching the weather system that will pour tons of rain in several states. Hope it doesn't effect our route.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Normal Day

* Thanks to my friend Lisa for her advice about our proposed route to Yellowstone. Have changed the route to avoid possible snow closures and harrowing road conditions.
* Trip to orthopedist today and did not warrant another shot. Yay.
* One Etsy sale
* Saw a brilliant ten year old boy on CNN today who is an inventor. His quote, "The best way to know what the future holds is to create it yourself." Yes, I said ten years old and he is a big fan of environmental responsibility and sustainability. Gives me hope.
* The leaves on the sycamore trees are beginning to turn. Everyone else follows slowly behind.
* Kendall Jackson Chardonnay on the screened porch, watching the birds play in the sprinkler.

Such small pleasures.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Busy Day

* Decided that I'm very happy with my camouflage iPhone case since a new one costs $30 and I only paid $5 for this one. True, it doesn't fit my professional image but it fits my frugal, cheap image. Very "in" these days.
* The light is changing; the sun is in a different place; fall is whispering our name.
* Yellowstone National Park reports 30's in the evening. I'm there. (with a sweater, of course)
* Am incredulous that Nancy Grace will be dancing on Dancing With The Stars. Don't know why that seems so improbable but it does. Will definitely be watching though. Have to see Carson Cresley. He kills me!!
* Bought
The Art of Racing in the Rain for the Kindle. It's a highly recommended story about a dog who is a philosopher. Am having trouble waiting to read all of my wonderful Kindle books. Don't want to start until the trip. Such restraint!!
* Have a crop of newly-hatched butterflies out in the garden. Beautiful!
* Made a huge batch of picadillo (a Cuban dish) to put in the freezer.


Hope your day was as productive as mine.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Lot of Gratitude Today

Not Bad For A Tuesday

*Happy to get through a bad rainstorm on the interstate. I couldn't see in front of me. Glad it didn't last long.
* Dinner out with Cynthia at Gator Dockside. My first time there. Wings and a shared pitcher of beer. Can't get much better than that!
* Three hours of work in Gainesville today.
* Checked the weather in Kansas and Nebraska, two of our early stops. The lows are already in the 50's.
* Janet found a campground in Dubois, Wyoming with a fly shop on site and fly fishing a few steps from the campsites. Gotta stay there a day or two.

* Just watched an interview with Arriana Huffington, the owner of The Huffington Post. What a fascinating woman.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Things I Like About Today

Today in a nutshell:

* The main thing I liked about today was my visit with Stacy and her family. Stacy is one of my former coaches and is now an assistant principal. Her children are wonderfully curious and wanted a tour of all of the gardens and interesting things in the yard, particularly the Zen Garden. MacKenzie asked if I would bring her some dirt from the Grand Canyon. I love curious children!
* Crossed some additional chores off my list in preparation for our trip. The list is getting shorter and shorter. Yay.
* Had another frozen strawberry lemonade from McDonald's. Am I keeping them in business, or what?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Musings For Today

Happy, happy for today:

*Enjoying a superb glass of wine.
*Celebrating my friends' new baby girl. Congratulations Bob and Frank.
* Organized six bags of bird seed today in the garden shed.
* Grass fed pork for dinner. Yay and Yum!
* Connected with a blogger in Portland who we are planning to meet for coffee when we are there.
* Janet is constructing a chain-link leash for Cocoa.
* Keeping positive thoughts about an Etsy sale today.

Hope you have a great work week.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturday On The Farm

Farm Chores:

* Filled the bird feeders and water trays. Wow, is it hot!!
* Trip to WalMart for trip supplies and dinner at Beef O'Brady's
* A visit with Michelle, my Belle, my former clerk from work who I rarely get to see anymore.
* Email dialogue with my friend in New Mexico. Making plans to meet up with her in October.
* Not a whole lot of anything else but my goal for the next two weeks is to rest as much as possible. So far, I'm making my goal.

Hope your Saturday was terrific!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Today Is All We Have

So For Today:

* Was up before seven this morning and had the travel trailer washed by eight
* Loaf of Harvest Grain bread fresh out of the oven
* Got a wonderful massage
* Continue to be impressed by Eva Longoria who is not just a Desperate Housewife. She is working on her Master's Degree in Hispanic studies and is a very outspoken activist for Hispanic women. She has a very interesting Facebook page
* Have a very happy dog in my lap.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thanks On Thursday

Grateful For:

*The tenure and tenacity of Steve Jobs in his role as CEO of Apple. Thanks to him and his employees, we have the wonderful technology that is Apple Computer.
* Three Etsy sales today.
* Free package of pistachios at Publix because they were marked the wrong price. Yes, I'm channeling the spirit of my father.
* Got my Vitamin B12 shot today and I'm FULL of energy.
* Having afternoon tea with my friend Ashley.
* Love this quote from a Facebook friend: "The secret to having it all is knowing you already do."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Today's Little TidBits

A Smattering:

* Spent the morning at my part-time job interviewing candidates for manager positions.
* Tried a tasty new thing at Wendy's: Chicken Ranch Wrap. 99 cents and very filling.
* Reviewed the list of Portland neighborhoods that I want to visit while on our trip.
* Checked the fishing weather in Last Chance, Idaho: 49 degrees was the low today.
* No rain today and Janet got the entire property mowed. Looks beautiful.
* The hurricane will not be an issue in Florida. So grateful!
* Jeb Bush actually said today that Republicans need to do more than criticize President Obama. They need an action plan. What a concept!! I wonder if anyone is listening.


Have a great evening.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rainy, Rainy Day

Happy Thoughts Today:

* Had a really powerful thunderstorm today and the truck bed stayed dry!!
* Lunch with my friend Pam at BD Beans. Spinach and feta quiche with side salad. Yum. Pam said that even though she seldom sees me, I am in her head giving her advice and guiding her along her way. So sweet!
* Found out today that the new Oxford English Dictionary is eliminating the phrase
"cassette tape" in order to include words such as "sexting" and "whoot". What is this world coming to?
* Took a nap
* Ate some wonderful lemon cake, baked by Janet. (There's that food fetish again.)
* Actually encouraged the dog to "go potty" before it rains again. This, my friends, is a virtual miracle.
* My "Liddle Griddle" arrived today and it is just as wonderful as I thought it would be. Let the trailer cooking begin!
* And not to be outdone by any of you in the food department, I am going now to eat dinner: garlic chicken, also made by Janet. Let's hear it for Janet!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

What A Day!

Just a normal day with the following happy notes:

* Had a load of clothes on the line before 7am
* Gathered in some yard objects in case Hurricane Irene makes her way through Ocala
* Found the Mother Lode of little jewelry boxes at the Thrift; I ship my vintage jewelry in these.
* Treated myself to another McDonald's Frozen Strawberry Lemonade.
* Am incredulous that the baby granddaughter started first grade today; the oldest granddaughter started high school today; and the grandson started eleventh grade. Am I really that old? Nah, it's their mother who's old!!
* Had ID tags printed for Cocoa to attach to her collar when she's "on the road"
* Decided after following the blog from Yellowstone Park that I'm really glad I bought Bear Spray!
* Managed to set off the LP detector in the travel trailer tonight and had to wait outside at least fifteen minutes for it to turn itself off.

Just another normal day in Paradise!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

It's Sunday

Wow, we've worked hard today. No lazy Sunday for us:

*Sanitized the water tank in the trailer
* Took a load of brush to the Green Boxes and almost fell in the bin because my garbage can was heavier than I thought. Pretty funny. Good thing Janet was there. LOL
* Defrosted the big upright freezer and cleaned out the little freezer. A big project but it only needs to be done about twice a year.
* Tried to rescue two baby birds that fell out of the nesting box. Gently picked them up and put them back and less than thirty seconds later, one of them climbed back out. As I tried the second rescue, I was dive-bombed by the parents. There are some folks you just can't do a favor for.
* Cut a bouquet of zinnias today and they are now on the edge of my garden tub.
* Have bell peppers and onions cooking on the stove as an accompaniment to my chicken. Love that!
* Sold another large tool on Etsy!

Hope all of you have a good week and happy school to all the kiddos who start back tomorrow.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

What's A Saturday For?

Great Things For Today:

* Started working outdoors early today and spent three hours weeding, trimming, and directing my two guys who were here helping.
* Dug up two bamboo plants that were taking over the garden. Yay!
* Sold a large tool on Etsy that has been taking up way too much space in the closet.
* Started packing the trailer. Getting very excited.
* Baked sweet potatoes and grass-fed beef for dinner.
* Trimmed the dog's toenails and packed her little suitcase for travel.
* Took a little nap.


All in all, a great day. Most of the time, it's just the little things that make a difference.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What About Today?

Very Happy About:

* Slept really well and dreamed about fishing
* Had lunch with a good friend at a new Thai restaurant. Beef and broccoli in peanut sauce with Jasmine rice.
* Slight breeze outside this morning with a decent temperature. Could fall be far behind?
* Had my coffee on the porch in the aviary that is my backyard.
* Took photos and listed eight new items on Etsy
* Started reading a new book: Walking Tours of Portland, Oregon
* Went to my favorite consignment shop and, although I didn't find anything, had fun trying stuff on.
* Trying to decide if I really want to keep working on a part-time basis given the tax implications.
* It's the weekend although everyday is the weekend now!!


Have a good one.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It's A Wonderful World

The Best of the Day:

* A trip to the post office to straighten out a debit billing issue was met with a very understanding Postmaster who took care of the problem
* Cassidy (the granddaughter) was assigned the first grade teacher we wanted for her. This is especially critical because she is a special needs child.
* We are going out to dinner to celebrate the birthday of Donnie who we consider our adopted son. It's a surprise for him so should be fun.
* Got a great haircut today after missing my appointment last week because my brain went on vacation.
* Took a little nap today during a brief rain shower
* Enjoying some TLC Pita Chips and Gold Peak iced tea
* Someone addressed me today as Dr. Gonzalez-Day. Wish I had the income to go along with it. LOL

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

So What Is There About Today?

Since last evening:

*Noticed late yesterday evening, before it got dark, that it was actually a micrometer cooler outside.....enough to do a lot of yard work without collapsing
* Made my 210th sale on Etsy
* Engaged in a long coaching session with some of my proteges and was paid for it
* Stopped by McDonald's for a free frozen strawberry lemonade, my favorite and I had a coupon
* No cooking for me tonight because Janet brought home a roasted chicken from Sam's
* Currently having a thunderstorm. Can you hear it?
* Just ate some awesome pistachio nuts (I think a lot of my life is centered around food)
* Am stunned that Rick Perry does not think global warming exists. Wow!

Hope your day is a happy one.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday Musings

Busy day (Well, busy for these days. A day like this would have been a laid back day two years ago!)

* Dog and I went for a walk.
* Worked half a day at my consulting gig
* Bought some goodies at the store (pistachio nuts, favorite peanut butter cookies, beer)
* Made an Etsy sale
* Calculated my income taxes and realized I wasn't having enough withheld
* Changed my withholding amount (Grrrrrrr....)
* Learned about Dubois, Wyoming and all the fun stuff to do there. We'll be partaking, thank you!
* Found out it was 42 degrees in Nebraska this morning. We'll be swinging through there, you can be sure!

Another work day tomorrow with a little fun thrown in!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Just For Today

I can't help but admire those stalwarts of the garden who survive this heat and sometimes, unending rain. Yet, here they stand in all their glory. The Beauty Berry whose berries are already turning purple, a sign that fall will actually come someday.
The fire bush that dies to the ground every winter and comes back in a splendid display each summer.
And one of the volunteer zinnias, showing her little face to the sun.

On this beautiful Monday, these additional goodies:

* Three Etsy sales so far today
* Delicious macaroni and meat sauce for lunch
* A Smooth Fox Terrier dog on my lap
* A great morning photographing and listing new items on my Etsy site
* Finally walked on the treadmill, after much procrastination
* Did tons of yard work in spite of the heat
* Found a Favorite New Quote:
Do not break your shin on a stool that is not in your way.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

For Sunday

Today has been a very laid back day.....perfect for a Sunday. Cool happenings are:

* Found a magazine called The Urban Farmer and in it, a recipe for Kefir. I will start making my own when I get back from my trip.
* Stayed in my pajamas until 10:30.
* Took a trip to WalMart and got out just in the nick of time before the crowds descended for the tax-free weekend.
* Am trying to understand why our state would declare a tax-free weekend when the new governor slashed all kinds of programs to save the state money, including education.
* Decided that I don't understand anything our new governor does.
* Am deliriously happy that I don't start school with all the teachers tomorrow.
* Am enjoying a See's Caramel Lollipop.
* Won't have to cook dinner because I have leftover salmon patties in the refrigerator.
* Ordered a "Liddle Griddle" from Amazon to take in the trailer for frying up fish and meat. I can plug it in outdoors and keep the smells outside.

Hope you are having as wonderful a day as I am. Happy Sunday.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

On This Day

Happy Things:

*Another Etsy sale...this time to someone in Ocala
* Trip to the Farmer's Market in Wildwood
* Found my favorite farmers, Nels and Torm (yes, they're Swedish), and bought some grass fed beef and pork
* Also found some wonderful veggies at great prices
* Went antiquing on the way home
* Dusted everything on the screened porch because it was covered in dirt from the blowing rain yesterday
* Downloaded three new books on the Kindle preparing for my trip
* Am inspired by "Onward", the story of Starbucks Coffee, told by it's CEO (or that would be ceo because all of the titles of the people in charge are in lower case letters on purpose)
* Reconnected on Facebook with Mrs. Doctor Principal (my kids will know who this is)....someone from my distant past.

All in all, a great day and it's only 3:15.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Daily Gratitude

I follow the blog of a young woman who always posts the things that made her happy for the day. Today, I decided to do that also. Today, I am so happy because:

* The house air conditioner is working extremely well.
* My new fishing waders arrived AND they fit me perfectly.....a rare event.
* I made a handsome sum of money selling gold today.
* I have had three Etsy sales in the last two days.
* I had a yummy eggplant sandwich for lunch.
* I got a glimpse of Heidi, the gopher tortoise, as she emerged from her hole for her daily food walk.
* The hummingbirds are using the new feeder LeeAnn brought me.
* The birds are playing in the sprinkler and you know how much I love that.

Hope your day was filled with happy things.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It's Happy Hour

It's Happy Hour here on the farm and I am drinking an ice cold beer. An ice cold beer is nice anytime but especially nice on a one hundred degree day, a common occurrence these days. My daughter tells me I am never satisfied with the weather and I guess that's probably true. In the summer, I am too hot; in the winter, I am too cold; in the early spring, I am pretty happy but I am waiting for the hummingbirds; and in the fall...well, the fall may just about be my favorite time.

I read the other day that the month of July is like a weed. This was on a gardening blog that I read frequently. July is like a weed because it's one of those things you can't wait to be rid of and annoys you like the dickens when it's around. I think August is kind of like that too. But if I'm not careful, I'll while away all of the months without really enjoying any of them and that is not a good idea for me. So. for today, what can I like about August?

For today, there are at least ten volunteer blooming zinnias in my garden. They planted themselves from last year's crop. They are beautiful and I had nothing directly to do with it.

For today, the grass is very, very green because we have had rain every day and that's a blessing. For today, the birds are playing in the sprinkler and in the fountain and I love watching them.

For today, I am making chicken palliard for dinner and the chicken breasts are already pounded and in the refrigerator.

For today, I had lunch with my friend Cynthia and her daughter Brooke. Actually, Cynthia is my fourth adopted daughter because she lost her own mother when she was only sixteen.

For today, I had the battery replaced in my favorite watch.

For today, I found out that my favorite jewelry store is buying gold and tomorrow, I will be there with my ziploc bag to see what I can scare up in terms of spare cash.

So August, here we are together. You are not so bad. It's my attitude that needs to remain in check so that I can continue to live in the moment and love the day for what it is.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Is It My Age?

Yesterday was my birthday and so, I set out on a very small adventure to a near-by town. My goal was to visit the Talbot's store there to see if perhaps I could find a little tailored shell or two to wear on those days when I have a consulting job. I can usually find just what I want at Talbot's but if that fails, I can ALWAYS find what I want at the Chico's next door. Wow, was I mistaken!

I don't know what's happened to the Talbot's line of clothing but I couldn't find anything tailored in the entire store. Well, that's not exactly true. I found a few tailored blouses but I just can't seem to pay $88 for one shirt or top. And then there were the tops and blouses with ruffles. Who in their right mind wears ruffles at my age? I stayed in the store just long enough to realize that I was NOT going to find anything in Talbot's and ventured over to Chico's. Wow, what a shock.

I found sequins and see-through fabric, crazy belts, and very short little skirts. Not for me, thank you. Usually, at least, Chico's has a 50% off sale in July so if I am a bit hesitant about a garment, I can try it for much less money. But no luck for me in that department. New duds were not my karma for the day.

So I decided that I had better take good care of my current clothing and have it all gathered up to take to the dry cleaners today. And on the way home, I will stop at my favorite consignment shop to see it perhaps one or two little Talbot's tops from yesteryear are hanging on the racks waiting for me to purchase them. I know it may be my age; I know I am cheap. But I refuse to pay $88 for a garment the size of a napkin.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Gift For Me

I have a birthday this month and so, last week, I bought myself a present. I don't usually buy myself gifts because I am a very thrifty saver and don't buy something unless it's very practical. At least most of the time. To give you an idea of how practical I am, I need to tell you a story that took place when I was fifteen.

My father's cousin Louis came to visit us from South America and I had never met him before. He spent the entire Sunday afternoon with us, enchanting us with stories of his country and mesmerizing us with his sparkling personality. When he was going out the door to leave, he pressed something into the palm of my hand. After he had left, I realized that he had given me a one hundred dollar bill. Now at fifteen, I did not use the money to buy clothes and I did not use the money to buy shoes. I used the money to buy myself a sewing machine.When Louis found out how practical I was and how sensibly I had spent my money, he gave me another hundred just to blow on anything frivolous I could think of.

But I digress. The birthday gift I bought for myself is a Kindle. Now, mind you, I don't "need" a Kindle. I can certainly carry a book around and read from a book and turn the pages of a book. But the Kindle just fascinates me to pieces. Just think, it can hold 3500 books, magazines, and newspapers. I can't carry all of that around with me. And I can adjust the font to accommodate my aging eyes. What could be better than that? And it is the size of a paperback book and weighs almost nothing. So I bought Kindle and a very cute little lime green leather case to protect it. And I have already purchased three of the latest books and downloaded several free ones.

I know I will love having the Kindle with me as I travel in our tiny little travel trailer. There is very little space for books in there. And I can have the latest books with me on the road and not have to wait in the virtual queue until it's my turn at the library. I will be 68 years old this month. I think it's time to be a little frivolous.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

From Lao Tzu

I found this today and felt compelled to share it.

Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.

- Lao Tzu

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I'm A Big Girl Now

I did something yesterday that I have been terrified of doing for over ten years. I got a cortisone shot in my hip. I have heard horror stories of cortisone shots. That the needle is ten inches long; that it is really painful; blah, blah, blah. I am a big baby; I don't like pain. I am a terrible patient.

Ten years ago, I fell from a scooter while on a crazy ride in Italy. About one month later, I was seized with hip pain so intense that I could not sit . I could only stand and I could lie down. So I would be driven to work while lying down in the back seat and I would stand all day at work. I suffered this pain because I was terrified to get a cortisone shot. How much sense does that make? After about six weeks, the pain went away. Whew, saved!!

So fast forward ten years. Last fall, while in Cuba with my daughter, I began to have discomfort again in my hip. After walking for a while, I found it necessary to sit and rest. I was becoming an old woman. I don't like that image of myself. My daughter commented that I was not quite a spry as I had been in Mexico three years earlier. Ouch!

In April, while at EPCOT with one of my other daughters, the same thing happened. I had to stop and rest much more than normal. My daughter offered to rent an electric power chair for me. "No thank you", I said, " It's not that I don't want to grow old. It's just that I don't want to grow old, JUST YET. "

Well, the old hip hasn't gotten any better. In fact, it's gotten worse. I am having trouble working in the garden; I have pain all the time; it is wearing me down. After sitting in the car for only thirty or forty minutes, I have to get out and stretch. I am taking a cross-country trip in the fall. Can you imagine how long that trip will take if I have to get out and stretch every thirty minutes?

So last week, I went to see an Orthopedist. He took x-rays of my hip and identified an inflamed bursa, the sac on the outside of the hip that connects to all the other muscles and ligaments in the leg. He suggested one of two things: either a cortisone shot or medication such as Celebrex. Well, the other thing I'm terrified of is medication with insane side-effects.....like Celebrex. So, guess what? I made the decision to put on my big girl pants and get the shot.

My appointment was scheduled for yesterday. Now, I have worried about the shot all week. I have awakened in the middle of the night worrying about the shot. I have researched the shot, the side effects of the shot, the needle size for the shot, ad infinitum.

So this is how it went:
1. I positioned myself on the table, lying on my side.
2. Mr. Doctor Miracle came in, swabbed my "bursa" spot
3. Mr. Doctor Miracle sprayed something on the spot
4. Mr. Doctor says, "Are you alright?"
5. I say, "Of course I'm all right; you haven't put the needle in yet".
6. Mr. Doctor the Magnificent says, "Yes, I have, we're finished."
7. I become effusive and have to control myself not to kiss Mr. Doctor

I can't believe I have put off comfort because of my irrational fear of a cortisone shot. Today, the hip area is sore but in about three days, Mr. Doctor said my pain will be only a memory. I should be fine to travel across the country without having to stop every thirty minutes. I'm a Big Girl now!!