Eastern Utah
EMAIL ME AT: mgypsy97 at aol dot com

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Some changes to my blog

I'm tired of the spam comments - probably two for every post - so I'm going to activate the annoying word verification. I'm sorry, because I welcome valid comments and hate to set up obstacles to commenting, and if I still get the spam after a few weeks I will go back to no word verification. Blogger does a good job of catching them before they become visible to readers, but I don't want to enable the idiots who send out this spam. I also changed a setting that allowed my blog to come up on a Google search - I don't remember even selecting that one - but googling won't lead to my blog any more.

I think one of the thinks I dislike most about television is the commercial advertising. Ads are even showing up on public television, and they aren't just the "brought to you in part by the John & Marjorie Doe foundation"; now there are commercials from oil companies, in quiet, pious tones, telling us how they understand that the planet has to be protected and that they are doing their part to be green.

But today I saw the only commercial I don't mind watching on any channel. I think it is for Subaru, and shows four dogs getting into the vehicle which is towing a large boat. They arrive at the lake and three passenger dogs hop out, watching while the driver dog expertly whips that thing around and backs the boat trailer to the ramp. The expression on the driver's face is priceless. It makes me think that if I could have trained Lady to back up my 5th wheel into the camp site, I might still be RVing.

Speaking of Lady, I had to make a run to Petsmart where I dropped $100 on food, wet and dry, and glucosamine tabs. Those tablets cost double what mine cost, so this evening I thought I would see if she would take mine instead. I wrapped some wet food, chicken & duck grill, around it and tried to get her to take it from my hand, which she refused. I put it into the dish with her supper and I think she ate it, at least I hope she didn't hide it behind the dish or elsewhere. Do any of you give your dogs people meds? The joint tablets contain just about the same ingredients, except mine aren't liver flavored. I'll see how it goes.

I painted 4 closet doors today and needed a nap! I notice spending even a short time painting I end up with a backache and knees that hurt. I'm determined to do a little each day to clean up the small touches and things left undone. I'm tired of living in the middle of what looks like a burglary!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My kind of weekend!

This is the way I love to spend the weekend - doing NOTHING! I've been outside four times in the last two days, dog walks twice a day. I'm getting ready to fix supper and still have my pajama top on - I did throw on a pair of jeans for this afternoon's walk. I never thought I would come to this, but the thought of going anywhere and getting into traffic just isn't my idea of fun. I've turned into an old fogey!

I am nearly out of primer so I will have to make a trip to Home Depot tomorrow. I wanted to paint the wall behind the stove before I put up the new range hood - yes I'm still without a range hood, but more importantly, without a good light to cook by. It looks nice even with just a coat of primer, and I think I can use painter's tape around the edges of the range hood if I have to when adding the top coats. I also primered a couple of doors as well as two closet doors. That leaves me four closet doors but I just couldn't get in the mood to finish them this weekend.

There is one thing I have done all my life and have never learned my lesson - that is, I neglect to close overhead cabinet doors. I should have a dollar for every time I've run smack into one, and now because of my limited area of vision (or maybe just because of my limited attention and concentration on my surroundings) I am running into them more often. Ouch, that hurts!

Speaking of painting, I have noticed a worse problem than I thought at my living room window (on the side of the driveway which isn't painted yet). I believe I will have to replace part of the interior wall, and hope I can find some cheap laminate paneling that will blend in. Then I'll have to con one of the young men in the family (or maybe more than one) to rip out the old and put up the new. It shouldn't amount to much, but the paneling is in such bad shape from water damage that I know I have to fix it.

I'm watching two hummers at my bird feeder, one smaller than the other. The little guy was there first when the big one came along, but junior held his ground (or should I say he held his perch) and there was no problem. Maybe the small one was a female and no territorial threat? I should learn more about hummingbird behavior. At any rate, the small one stayed on the perch and the larger one hovered while sipping the nectar. I just love those little birds.

I mentioned my limited vision, and while I am anticipating getting new glasses, I no longer have the blurriness which was driving me crazy. I can basically see fine, although I miss a lot in my peripheral vision. It may sound crazy to most people, but I know and can sense that part of the donors are a part of me now. They will always be with me and I think of them and appreciate them every day. I wonder about others who have had heart or kidney or other transplants, and whether they have the same sensations. It's like I'm never alone now.

I need to get supper cooking, but it's tempting to just eat the fresh bread and to cook the chicken tenderloins tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Visit to eye surgeon

Dr. G. took out two more sutures which reduces the blurriness considerably. A little progress at a time is better than none at all.

We discussed how the insurance is refusing to fill the Rx for eyedrops until a certain number of days, which is set by the accountants or whomever it is at Blue Cross who determines these things. I told him I would like to get my meds from Mexico, and he confided that he gets his from Canada. I've checked the few prescription meds I take, and it would cost me much more to get them from Canada. I have a good insurance plan, although they are getting tighter on refills and how long they determine a prescription should last.

Do any of my readers get their meds from Mexico in the mail? I know you can walk into a pharmacy there and bring back a 6 month supply of meds, but I really can't afford to make a trip to Mexico. Just wondering if anyone has found a source they trust, and if so I'd appreciate an email response.

I have been feeling like a limp dishrag lately - I have cramps and pressure in my lower abdomen, right where my bladder is. I don't have any other symptoms, no fever or any symptoms of a kidney or bladder infection, so I don't know what it could be. I find I want to sleep a lot more and have been napping during the day, which I don't like to do. I also do NOT want to visit my doctor until and unless other symptoms appear. As I replied to one reader, the entire Medicare system would move towards bankruptcy with all the tests that would be ordered, "just to rule 'it" out". I don't feel like serving as a guinea pig for all their hi-tech equipment. Medicare has been the best thing that has happened for senior citizens, and it is going to fail because of waste, fraud and abuse by doctors and equipment manufacturers. My opinion - you may not agree.

I stopped at the Apple Store after my doctor's appointment, to see what could be causing a couple of problems I'm having, including not being able to see many of the photos posted on other's blogs. The tech asked me if he could adjust my screen and I agreed, but I hate it. Everything is scrunched to one side of the screen and all the print is greatly reduced in size. I can take care of the print size for some things, but this even affects the tool bar. My vision isn't all that great to begin with, and now it's more difficult for me to see, plus I don't see why I need a 17" screen if everything is condensed into 13" of screen. But I am a technological dinosaur, so what do I know. I may fool with it but then I'll probably screw it up and make it worse.

Finally, on a higher note, I witnessed a very nice thing this morning while walking Lady. A man and woman were approaching on the bike/walking trail, and the woman carried several plastic trash bags. She was picking up trash along the way, including old coffee cups, plastic bags, and who knows what else. I think it is so edifying to see a citizen getting involved in trying to make their area of the world a cleaner place.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Still around

This will be short and just to say I don't feel very well but I'm still among the living. I have a few symptoms that don't seem related at all, and no fever at all. I've slept a lot today and plan to get a good night's sleep tonight.

See ya later.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Thankful for family

I was at Home Depot at 8:30 this morning to buy caulk for the top of the window that leaked yesterday. I stayed up late, having to constantly empty the 4 tumblers I had set across the sill to catch the leaks, and every time I got up to go to the bathroom during the night I checked the glasses again. I wouldn't want many nights like that.

I asked Jeannie if I could borrow their stepladder, so they came by with it this afternoon. I thought I could do it myself, but Donald did the caulking for me, so hopefully the rain forecast for the next two days won't cause me any more trouble. He and Jeannie also took down the old range hood which was unbelievably greasy. I plan to clean and paint that part of the wall soon - I would normally do the ceiling before the walls, but since this one section has cabinets overhead I think I can go ahead and paint. Then we can hang the new range hood. I still need to get the dishwasher and a ceiling light fixture, and then I can paint the entire room. It's going to be tedious with all the hardware that will have to be removed.

I am so thankful for the help I have received from my family in getting this place livable, and feel I am getting there little by little.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Shoes; roof

Yes, I bought two pairs of shoes yesterday (that is, 2 matching pairs). I just wanted to take fewer pictures to show them because I have such trouble adding pictures to my blog. I get the banner that says "Your pictures have been added", but there are no pictures there, so I have to keep trying over and over again. The Heflingers have cork soles, and both they and the Birks are super comfortable to wear with no breaking in period.

The roof fix seems to be working well after a day and night of heavy rain. There are no leaks in the laundry room/porch which is where the big problem has been, due to a botched up job of enclosing the porch to make a room. When I climbed to the top of the ladder to see how it looked I didn't have my camera with me. I need to buy myself an 8 ft stepladder so I can at least wash windows on the outside, and possibly see what's going on on top of the roof. I don't feel comfortable going up ladders at all anymore, especially the extension type ladders. I used to be so agile and nimble as a mountain goat. How did I turn into this old lady who loses her balance once in a while and can't walk straight some of the time? And has lost her peripheral vision and nearly runs into people in the supermarket, and hits the corners of the aisles with the cart when going around the end of the aisles?

Where I am having trouble turns out to be the living room window on the north side. I found a lot of damage to the paneling when I took down the curtain to paint, and now I know water is seeping in on the top of the window frame. I have towels along the windowsill underneath the leaks, plus and big water glass and two cups side by side catching the drips. I have had a significant amount of water coming in, and have emptied the glass and cups several times.

I really don't know what I can do about it because of the continuous rain. I would like to talk to someone (who knows what they are talking about) at Home Depot and maybe get a caulk or tape to put along the top of the window, but I just didn't want to drive out in the rain today and don't know if I can apply anything while it is raining. Then, how do I dry up what is wet between the inner and outer wall?

The cause of water damage on the opposite side of the room seems to have been corrected by the roof fix, as there has been no problem there.

The rain is a welcome event except for the trouble it's causing me with the window. I'm hoping that the Folsom Lake level rises (not sure if that's where our tap water comes from). I noticed the past couple of days that my clothes have a noticeable smell (and yes, that is the clean clothes). It was driving me crazy all day yesterday, so today I did two loads of laundry and took them over to the laundry room dryers with an umbrella to keep the rain off them. I normally can't stand fabric softener, the feel or the smell of it, but I cut a sheet in several strips and hoped the drying clothes would smell more fresh. I don't think it worked although they seem a bit better. I think it must have something to do with low water levels. It's not a terribly objectionable smell, but it's not very nice either. I haven't noticed it until now because I filter water through a Brita pitcher for both me and Lady, and I recently changed the filter. Without the Brita I would normally notice an odor when drinking water from a glass, the same as when you get a strong chlorine smell in some areas that heavily chlorinate their water.

The day has been pretty much of a blah, listening to the constant drip of water into the glass & cups, emptying them, and trying to get my clothes to be fresh smelling. Maybe I can get myself going early tomorrow morning and see what I can find to stop the drips.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Camera found, 2nd post 1/19/2012

I found my camera and in response to a couple of inquiries took a shot of the new shoes. The beautiful socks were handmade by Karen, and you can check her blog to find info on ordering the beautiful products she makes.

Now I need to go someplace I can wear the shoes, although I wouldn't go out wearing them in the rain we are likely to have for a while.

If at first you don't succeed ...

I decided to try again today, and set the GPS to get me to Birkenstock's Midtown. It is in a very lovely area and would be a place to enjoy the best in urban living if I was a younger person. You can bike or walk to just about everything you need in this part of town.

I ended up finding an on-sale pair of Birks, and while I was intending to get black or brown, I bought a pair with olive brushed leather straps. I also found a beautiful dark blue pair of Heflingers (clogs) and snapped them up quickly. I wear a pair of black Heflingers most of the time but have gotten paint on them, so now I have a pair for "good".

I received suggestions from several readers that I buy online. I am one who likes to buy local whenever possible, so it was my preference to keep the profits here in Sacramento. I also like to see and touch the product I am purchasing, trying it on if necessary. It's a good thing I did because I would have bought shoes that were too big. I needed a whole size down from what I've been wearing (largely because I've bought them online), and I can really feel the difference in comfort and ease of walking in the new ones.

Then it was on to the Sacramento Foods Coop, where I took out a membership and did some shopping. In the past I've shopped when one of my sons was working and they accompanied me through the checkout so I used their cards. Joe no longer works there because he's in school fulltime, and Steve has moved to Monterey. I was given some flyers and a copy of the annual report, and when I looked at the report I thought "Hey, that looks like my kid". It was my kid, Steve, who is the President of the Board of Directors!

I'm excited about shopping at the Coop, as it is a way of life for me to want fresh organic foods, sustainably grown, locally where possible. It may not be for everyone, but it is certainly my style.

I wanted to take a picture of my new shoes but can't find my camera. It is no doubt in front of me in plain sight, and I'll only see it after I hit "Publish" on the blog.

I mentioned yesterday that I drove over and then dragged a very large log. I didn't hear any rattles or notice anything different with the steering today, so I guess there was no damage. I will have my mechanic check it out though, the next time I go in for an oil change.

Although it has been overcast all day, I made the trip with no difficulties. I feel pretty happy this afternoon, as only a woman with a pair of new shoes can relate to.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Jello is not only for RV plans

Realizing that this might be the last sunny day for a while, I set out this morning to run some errands. First stop was Costco Pharmacy, where for the 3rd time in 3 weeks I've tried to get a prescription for eye drops that I need. Sadly, the accountants that make the decisions on when they will pay for a refill, and not a day sooner, had decided 10 mg should last me 50 days. I've written previously about this situation, but this morning I was able to get the drops.

So on to the shoe store in Midtown where I hoped to find a good sale on Birkenstocks. For some reason, I have been flat broke since about the 10th of January, and have been really stretching what little I have in my wallet. A couple of years ago I quit carrying my credit card to discourage my using it and living beyond my means, but I decided I would buy the shoes with the card as well as a little shopping at the Sacramento Food Coop. I was on the freeway when I thought I'd better make sure I had the credit card, so I was driving along groping in my purse to find it. To my dismay I realize I must have left it at home, so I got off at the next exit.

As I exited the off ramp onto Watt Avenue, I hit something in the road and thought I may have caused something underneath the vehicle to drag on the ground. It was making a terrible noise, and I got onto the shoulder as soon as I could. I then remembered that I hadn't brought my cell phone with me so I wouldn't be able to call for assistance unless a good samaritan came along and lent me their phone. I partially crawled under the back of the car, thinking it might have been part of the exhaust system even though it didn't sound like anything metallic being dragged. It's dark under the car but I managed to see an object in the front, right next to the tire on the driver's side. That, of course, was the traffic side, but I carefully checked the front to discover I must have hit and dragged a large wooden log which was stuck to some part of the undercarriage. I twisted and pulled, finally getting it loose, and threw it as far as I could across the field next to me.

I guess it just wasn't my day to shop or to run up my credit card, and I guess I should be grateful that I saved some money. I had to be ok with that because there wasn't anything in the world I could do about it, and I certainly wasn't going to go all the way back home to get the card. So I stopped by the library on the way home and found 3 great books, one of which I'm going to read this evening instead of watching TV. My neighborhood library is such a wonderful place - with a lot of tables and places to sit and read, computers to use, even a chessboard set up at a table just waiting for a couple of enthusiasts to sit down for a game. They have many programs for small children as well, and I was thinking how I'd like to bring my granddaughters over for story hour some day, when I realized I won't drive kids anywhere except in a case of real need. I just don't feel right at my age with slower reflexes taking a chance with children in the car.

I recently bought a throw rug for the side of my bed, primarily because I know Lady always likes to move around from room to room during the day and at night as well. So far, she is pretty well confined to her bed in the living room since she can't lie for very long on the wood floors. The new rug has a flexible rubberized underside to keep it in place, whereas other floor mats I have are fairly rigid. I discovered she goes into the bedroom and scrunches the rug all up to the point that I don't know how she can lie on it, but for some reason she does it anyway. Dogs!

And finally, I noticed a couple of days ago that my gmail page had gone back to the old style. I don't know how or why, but I'm holding my breath they will just leave it alone. Not sure if they will do that because earlier today I found the small box in the lower right corner with the option to try to new look. As I have mentioned, I acclimated to aol mail very fast and will definitely keep it. Blogger won't allow me to change my primary email however, so I will hang on to gmail. Has anyone else experienced getting the old version back or am I in a time warp?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Roof fix accomplished, and reply to comment

First I would like to thank Alice for her thought-provoking comment to my last blog entry. I didn't know about the MLK Foundation or its award to a Chinese sculptor. I don't think it's a matter of racism on my part to prefer the statue to have been carved here in the United States rather than in China, but is purely a matter of economics. I spent the weekend listening to many speeches from many who were part of Dr. King's circle, as well as a very beautiful and moving talk from his youngest son. In each case the person was asked what he thought Dr. King's focus would be today, and the unanimous answer was "economics". Dr. King would have seen that economic policies that began far earlier than our present Administration, have led to the deterioration in the standard of living of most Americans, and that these policies have resulted in more people of all races living below the poverty level. I don't believe he would have failed to notice that a major cause of this has been the outsourcing of our manufacturing base to China. When we don't manufacture or create anything, there aren't many decent jobs left to fill. I believe that Dr. King would have addressed this problem and searched for a way that, first of all, would help lift the burden of poverty here at home. I also believe he would have wanted to address the problem world wide, but his first focus would have been in the United States.

As far as whether or not he would have been happy that a Chinese worker sculpted his memorial, we will never know for sure. I would respectfully disagree with you on that point, although I'm not saying you are wrong.

I believe it is the workers of the world who will always get the shaft sooner or later, and it will eventually happen to the Chinese workforce. But please don't accuse me of racism because I would like to see men and women in the U.S. find jobs by which they can support their families, educate their children, afford decent medical care, and so on.

Donald was on the roof today and I took a look when he was finished. He did a beautiful job, and the next 4 days promise some much needed rain, so I will be checking for leaks. Meanwhile, the two girls were in the house with me and we had a great day together. They can sure go through a lot of grapes and tangerines, and then they remembered that I keep a supply of snacks (healthy ones) on hand, so they hit me up for a few of those. They colored and drew, I read stories until I thought I would never talk again, and we watched cartoons for a while. They took turns holding the leash when Lady needed her afternoon walk, and waved to Daddy on the roof when we could see my house from the walking trail. Now I'm sitting with a cold one, exhausted.

Tomorrow I'm going to try to find a shoe store in midtown that has a sale on Birkenstocks. I rarely wear shoes that tie anymore, and I'm ready for another pair of Birkies.

Monday, January 16, 2012


I made a decision several years ago to not watch news on television or read it in the newspapers, but every now and then I look at headlines. When I watch TV news it is only the PBS version, which gave me a shock on this evening's program.

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington DC was being featured, and the subject was the fact that one of the quotes carved on the statue was arbitrarily shortened and the context with which to understand it was gone. The announcer on the news show said, "The statue, which was carved in China . . ." I am outraged that we have to have our national memorials carved in China and absolutely do not believe there are no sculptors in the United States that could have done a better job. Maybe a U.S. sculptor might have made the face more recognizable as that of Dr. King.

If Martin Luther King were alive today I'm sure he would have something to say about the outsourcing of all our manufacturing to China, which has led to the great rift in economic status and resulted in a greater division between rich and poor. That applies to both black and white people, and if it isn't reversed in the near future we can just hang up any idea of our recovery to the nation we have prided ourselves on being. We can't be a great nation when people are lucky to get jobs in tourism, fast food, and big box stores.

Tomorrow morning Donald will be here to do the roof fix, so I will be watching the two girls while he's working. I made a quick trip to Bel Air grocery to get some things they might enjoy, but left only with a bunch of bananas. The store recently did a major remodeling, and I can tell you (and have written to them) the store is certainly not senior friendly. I came home and took a nap for a couple of hours.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Roof-over or Band-Aid fix?

I have thought about writing a blog entry all day but something has always come up to prevent it. To all those who warned me about shingles, I appreciate it because I would never have thought shingles could start out that way. I think I just have a plain old sore muscle. The heat pad I used yesterday seemed to have it under control, until this morning when I washed the sheets for my bed and decided to turn the mattress. It is one of those you don't turn completely over, but just reverse it from top to bottom. It is a queen size mattress and heavy besides being awkward to do by myself. So the pain has been off and on again today. I think the heat has taken care of it once again.

I had a representative of a highly recommended roofer come by today. We talked briefly and he found out I have traveled a lot including a couple of years full-time in an RV. I reminded him of his mom who is on her own, loves to travel, is a totally independent woman, and traveled in an RV for many years. In fact, he told me he had bought her motorhome 2 years ago when she couldn't handle it any more.

He looked at the roof and sort of suggested I could do a band-aid type of fix, or rather that my son and/or son-in-law could do it. In fact, he will come over and show them what needs to be done and explain how to do it, for free. He also gave me an estimate for a roof-over, which is way more than I want to spend at this time. He thinks I could get 2-4 years without leaks with the "fix". Being in the business of roofing and making a living at it, I get the sense he understands the problems facing an older woman on her own, with limited resources, and I can tell you he went straight up in my estimation, as well as my trust. He also seemed to appreciate the fact that I have family that helps me out when I need it, as I am sure he helps his own mom.

Donald agreed to come over to talk to the guy, and I don't think I will even ask Joe since he needs to concentrate fully on getting settled in school and the program. I have just about decided on the fix solution, so I will call him tomorrow and set up a time convenient for him to come over.

Since I didn't have time to go to Home Depot before the roofer got here, and was too tired after battling with the mattress to go later in the afternoon, I will have to return the left-over pergo tomorrow for sure. I'm tired of it taking up space in my car, and I think I'll go over to the roofing supplies aisle to just sort of check out what is available. Roofing is something I know absolutely nothing about, but I can learn a little about it.

I've been thinking about the roofer all afternoon and evening, and have come to the conclusion that with all the greedy people ready to take whatever they can get, there truly are many generous-spirited, kind, and compassionate people too, and I am so fortunate to have met a few of them.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What a day!

First to Costco and to the library, then over to spend an hour or so with Ara, who will be leaving for PA on Friday evening. Donald got a pasta maker for Christmas, and when he heard me mention that I was going to throw a meal together of hot Italian sausage, pasta, and a few other ingredients, he asked me what kind of pasta, and if I wanted him to make some for me. It doesn't take long at all, so I took him up on the offer and came home with a bag of fresh rigatoni. It is soooo good that I'm not sure I can go back to the boxed, dried out pasta sold in the stores, which also happen to contain a lot of added ingredients. (Pasta is another thing they seem to automatically add folic acid and often add ingredients that can't be pronounced except by a chemist.)

The sausage, mushroom & onion, and a couple of other things were sauteed in a beautiful cast iron skillet I just came into possession of, and then I threw everything together with lots of mozzarella and baked it until the cheese was melted. Mmmmm, that was good.

I've gone all day experiencing a certain twinge off and on, and it is in the general area where I think my right kidney resides. I did a flurry of googling first thing, and decided I didn't have even one other symptom that would indicate a kidney problem. I spent a lot of the afternoon lying on the couch on top of a heating pad which makes me feel a lot better, but the twinge still occurs when I move a certain way. I don't think it's muscular, although I could be wrong.

Although I don't feel like taking it up with the insurance company, I am being shafted by their dumb rules in paying for my eye drops prescribed by my surgeon. I got 10ml on Dec. 5th, and the ins. co says it should last 50 days. I may be looking at it in an entirely different manner, but if I use 4 drops in 1 eye and 1 drop in the other eye every day, that's 5 drops a day. I looked at a number of websites today that seem to agree that 10 ml = 200 drops. That would mean that I should get 40 days use from my 10 ml bottle. I'm not getting that since a drop isn't consistent - sometimes it is more and sometimes less. The lady at the pharmacy is as frustrated as I am.

I don't like being angry so I try not to think about such inconsistencies for very long. I'm fortunate to have insurance that covers prescription drugs as well as it does, although I notice I'm being charged a much larger co-pay.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I rode over to my youngest son's college this morning so I could stay in the car with the girls while he went in to buy the rest of his books, and to pay for his malpratice insurance. He finally was admitted to the Respiratory Care program, after trying for several semesters to get into either the nursing program or respiratory. He has long since finished all his pre-requisites and achieved his AS degree, but unless you pay really high tuition to a private school there aren't many slots to get into the programs. From what I understand it is a lack of teachers, so admittance is on a lottery basis. But after all the waiting and sweating it out, he is ready to begin the next grueling two years.

We then drove to REI to find a suitable backpack that would hold all his books and be sturdy enough to last for a while. He will have to take ALL the books to ALL the classes every day because the courses are all integrated, is how I think he phrased it. Fortunately he doesn't have to take a laptop or the load would be back-breaking.

When I left Springer Mtn, GA on March 2, 1997, my backpack weighed about 55#, way too much for my body weight at that time. I had suggested to Joe that he bring all his books to REI to see how the different packs felt under full load, and when I picked it up at one point I swear it felt as heavy as my 1997 pack! That can't be good for your back. It is a good pack though, and is made so that the a good deal of the weight can be shifted to the hips. I am so happy for him and his family, especially his beautiful wife who has backed him all the way on the decision to go for this program. Early in their marriage they lost twins - one stillborn daughter, and their son, Owen, lived only 7 months and never was able to breathe on his own. I am so proud of Joe for wanting to get into this field.

They came back to my house, after stopping to get Joe's large extension ladder. I was able to climb up to view the roof, although I know my ladder-climbing days are past and I probably won't ever do it again. I have decided to get an estimate for fixing the roof to prevent leaks, as well as an estimate for decent rain gutters. The house has rain gutters the size of a 5th wheel RV, and when the heavy rains come down the water pours over at the lowest point, which is no doubt where the water damage to my house has come from. It's not a good time financially, but my credit union is offering a low cost home improvement load using one's Certificate of Deposit as collateral. That might work for me.

The 2 and the 4 yr old had a great time exploring Grandma's house for things they can hold and play with. They first went to the kitchen cabinet where I keep the treats for visiting grandchildren! While he was here Joe fixed a couple of items that needed fixing, and loaded the unused pergo and underlayment into my car that I want to return to Home Depot in hopes of getting a credit to go towards the purchase of a new dishwasher. I can look at the dishwashers while I'm there, and I just hope I can unload this stuff out of my car. A box of pergo is a bit more than I can lift, although I'm hoping I can sort of slide it out and onto a cart. I have to get back on track for painting and fixing my house.

Life is so good to me.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Shopping for school books!

I always loved doing that, and I got another chance this morning. My granddaughter (Ara) came by for a while, so with her list we went to two local used bookstores plus a Barnes & Noble. She is taking three literature classes this semester - American Lit covering 1800-1900, a Science Fiction, and another course called "The literature of revenge". Shakespeare will certainly be part of the last one!

We found all the books on the American Lit class, including three at B&N that will be shipped to her house in PA. I got my book fix for today, although I need to go to the library to pick up a book I had ordered. I watch BookTV on weekends and am constantly jotting down authors and titles that I might be interested in. Sometimes I don't read much of a particular book and it goes back to the library next trip. It's ironic that how an author speaks doesn't necessarily reflect on how much you will like their writing.

Today is sunny and feels warm at 60F. I love the sunny days but worry about when we finally get some rain. I hope my roof doesn't leak too badly. I probably should have lived with the grungy interior and had the roof resurfaced, but I live on the inside and not on the roof. I just love the way the interior is coming together, and it is about time for me to get my painter's hat back on.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Korea 1986, Trip to Chejudo Island

One weekend the other woman on the team, plus two of the men, plus a Korean girl who worked at the Engineer compound, a friend of hers who was recently widowed, and I flew to Cheju Island in the South China Sea. We stayed at a Hyatt hotel which was a more plush hotel than any I had ever been in before. We toured the island which was very primitive for the most part, and I'd say their farming practices were probably 75 to 100 years behind those in the US. I absolutely loved it!

We were fortunate to have native Koreans to translate for us when we got away from the hotel. The following pictures are in a little bit different order than I wanted them to be, but it has taken me so long to load them into Blogger that I am leaving well enough alone!

This is a shrine, and it was explained that the roofs curve so that evil spirits can't alight on them without falling off. It must have worked because there wasn't an evil spirit in sight.

The next few pictures were taken on the veranda at the hotel, and at nearby sights.

Taken on the grounds of the hotel, and I believe the reflection photo was taken in the vicinity of the waterfall, and finally a couple of me at the hotel's beach.

Other pictures I took on this trip are somewhere hiding from me. I loved driving through the countryside, where farmers were drying grain on the side of the road, spreading it out on large canvas sheets and letting it dry in the sun. They would rake it once in a while to make sure it all dried evenly. I saw farming being done with a farmer following a plow on foot, and the plow being pulled by a donkey or ox.

I am very careful in third world countries about drinking the water, and drank bottled water except at the Engineer compound where they had water coolers. One of the men from Washington DC drank from a public trough on Cheju, from a commonly used dipper, up in the mountains. He spent the next week in absolute misery. But the joke ended being on me, because on our last day there I saw a Korean coming out of a water closet carrying the jug for the water cooler. Evidently they used water from the sink where they stored the mops and cleaning items. It must have been ok in Seoul because I never had even a twinge of regret.

While I was there I visited a tailor and had five business suits custom made for me, but the rest of the clothes I came back with were purchased in the markets or on the streets where everything is sold. Haggling is the accepted practice, but I got so tired of it by the time we left I just wanted to go shopping somewhere they would tell me the price and I would pay it. I never did like bargaining over the price of something. Of course when buying a house or other major item you make an offer than is usually less than asking price.

There were many casualties of the war on the streets in Seoul - men who had lost both legs and got around on a square piece of wood with wheels attached to the corners. That part was very sad to me, but to tell the truth those with disabilities usually looked as optimistic as everyone else.

As for Korean food, I didn't like the heavy smell of garlic in everything. I mostly ate bulgogi, which is beef cooked over an open fire. Sometimes you could imagine the taste of the fuel that fired the stove, and sometimes you couldn't. Bulgogi is beef, but for all I know there could have been a bit of dog in it. Just kidding. I liked the ramyan noodles and survived mostly on that. At the Hyatt we could get American food in the dining rooms although the entrees were limited to two or three items each evening.

I truly loved being in Korea and never once did I receive anything but a smile. The Korean women were wonderful, although I find in my travels that most women are friendly to other women, especially to strangers. I probably haven't been in enough parts of the world to make a statement like that, but it has been true for me.

Thanks to Phil for his very interesting comments yesterday. Phil, if you were there in 1953, was that just before the truce was reached? It must have been a rough tour for you nonetheless. I wanted to visit Pusan but just didn't have time to get there. And yes, sometimes you see men in Seoul with those huge wooden tripods on their backs, and you just wonder how they can carry such heavy loads without falling over.

Visit with the eye surgeon

I am having so many problems with focus so I was looking forward to seeing the surgeon this morning. He told me he had put 5 sutures in the eye and would take 2 of them out today, and then a couple more when I see him in 3 weeks. I can notice a big difference already. I asked why I needed the sutures in the first place, and was told that when an incision is made they suture it to keep the wound closed and to keep the eye free from leaking. I'm not sure if I understand it completely, but I'm satisfied that he wants me to have the best vision possible and will do anything he can to get me there. I can notice a big improvement already, and I also can notice a slight bit of pain every now and then in that eye. It happened a couple of times this afternoon when I blinked. I am SO fortunate to have been referred to this surgeon, not only for his surgical skills, but also for his chairside manner.

I stopped by to check on Ara when I returned from the eye doctor. She had also had a doctor's appointment this morning, and has to go back for some tests tomorrow. We arranged that she would drive my car.

My little 2-1/2 yr old granddaughter (Arianna) is starting ballet and tap dance lessons this evening. She has wanted to be in a class for a long time - the whole family goes to Autumn's class every Thursday evening, and Arianna was told she could be in a class as soon as she was potty trained. Well, that did the trick! I have a difficult time sitting there for an hour as the lights and noise bother me, but maybe I'll go next week.

Needless to say I haven't done any more scanning today, but maybe I'll run a few photos through the scanner this evening and post them tomorrow. I would love to hear from anyone who has been to Korea, and any of you vets who were stationed there. My husband served a 2 yr tour of duty in Korea in the early 1960's and was dead set against the idea of my going there in the 1980's. That of course, insured that I would go. He didn't realize how far the country had risen above the post war status.

I noticed a spirit of enthusiasm among the Koreans, and how hard they worked for a better life. You can see that national character here in the US as well, in Korean immigrants and their children. They seem to be happiest when they are working. I arrived in the hotel lobby one morning to wait for the rest of the team and noticed a woman who looked regal as a queen. She was tall and held herself erect, head high, a slight smile on her face, as she pushed a big broom back and forth across the marble floors of the lobby. Such dignity and pride in work!

Our team was riding a bus on a weekend sightseeing trip to somewhere, and when we got off the bus my boss told me, "Marty, when you aren't looking the Korean woman look at your eyes". I replied "That's good, because when they aren't looking I watch their eyes". It's too bad we were too polite and shy to just stand face to face and take it all in.

We were in Seoul when Korea was preparing for the upcoming Olympic games to be held in that city. One of the things they tried to do so as to accommodate the influx of visitors was to convince restaurants to remove dog from the menu. Knowing the resourcefulness of the Korean people, I'm sure they found a way to include it anyway. I sometimes saw dogs in small cages behind a house as we rode by, and I'm sure they weren't family pets. It is awful for an American to think of it, but people in parts of the world no doubt feel the same about our eating the sacred cow, or the unclean pork. Anyway, I really didn't care for most of the Korean cuisine so I hope I didn't eat dog by mistake.

There are many more stories to relate, and I sincerely hope anyone who has been there will chime in and add their own stories. Korea is a beautiful country, and the Korean people are beautiful as well.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

And on to Korea

We left Tokyo after about three days of getting accustomed to the drastic time change and jet lag, and traveled to Seoul, Korea. We arrived after dark so couldn't see as much on the way into the city from Kimpo Airport, but the odors were overwhelming especially when we crossed the Han River. I would say that one's first visit to Korea is marked by the smells - from kimchee, which is heavy on the garlic, to the human waste that is used for fertilizer. I am speaking of 1986 and things may be different today. If any of the readers served time in the Army in Korea years ago, you will probably understand what I mean.

Here is our team on the first day of work. I am in the group on the left and was from Sacramento, as were the two men on the right. The tall man in the center was my boss. The other three - were from Washington, DC.

The very Korean looking structure behind me is Dongdemun, and the suffix "mun" indicates a gate. Dongdemun is either the east gate or the west gate to the city. I got them confused when I was in Seoul, and I am still confused.

Here in the distance behind me is Namdemun, which of course, is either the east gate or the west gate.

We stayed at a Hyatt hotel which was very comfortable and deluxe. There were always security guards at the doors, and their main job seemed to be turning away the prostitutes who tried to enter the hotel. Nearby was Itaewon, the premier fun and shopping district - not premium merchandise, but typical Korean knock-offs. I spent a lot of time in Itaewon. Also nearby was the large Army post of Yong San. Our work was done at the Army Corps of Engineers Compound. We happened to be there for Organization Day, and while I have many photos I can't find them. I have this one of me when I took part in a walk for charity. I wish I had that weight now, about 20# more than what I am today. I felt terrific then.

Here is the only picture I took of the Compound other than at Organization Day, and I wanted to show how the women carry their babies on their backs.

The team did a lot of sightseeing on weekends, sometimes together and sometimes in smaller groups. One weekend I went to Panmunjom and I think I was the only one of the team, although I am in several pictures and don't know who would have taken them.

Panmunjom, as you know, is on the 38th parallel at which was created the DMZ after the truce between North and South Korea. It has been a shaky truce all these years, as the following photo shows. It is a jeep in which a soldier watches the "Bridge of No Return". The jeep is kept running (imagine the waste of fuel) and his purpose is to drive over to block the bridge from onrushing North Korean forces should they decide to invade. (The North spent and probably still spends a lot effort tunneling over to the South, and one of the jobs of the Engineers is to detect and destroy these tunnels.

This is an observation tower we climbed to look across to the North. We were warned that we were under constant observation by the other side, and not to point or raise our arms in any threatening way. The drama of this place is nearly unbelievable, and I often thought it was done for show and suspense. Supposedly visitors have been shot and killed for such pointing and threatening, but major repercussions have been avoided.

This is looking across the border from the tower. The building on the right is where the truce was signed after weeks of argument over the shape of the table - should it be rectangular, should it be round, or what. I sort of remember that issue although I would have been pretty young when it happened. Maybe I just read about it.

This is down on the ground in front of the border, which is a line that goes across the ground in the exact center of the building where the truce was signed. American and S. Korean soldiers are everywhere on our side, and on the other side the N. Korean guards tend to stay out of sight and sort of sneak around the corners. The large building straight across was built strictly for show - there are no offices in it nor does it have any purpose except for intimidation. We were told that there were people everywhere watching every move we made.

I am so upset that I can't find the rest of my photos taken in Korea, as I have one taken inside the truce building. We were permitted to go inside, and at one point we were able to walk around the table, which means I've actually been on North Korean soil. This has stood me well for a long time since I'm in a contest with my oldest son as to who has been in the most states, and who has been in the most countries. I have several countries in the Far East, including North Korea, although he is beating me in the Middle East.

My final picture taken in Panmunjom shows some of the poster art which hangs on all the barracks. Very macho, although I don't know if you can see it very clearly.

I'll write more about my visit to Korea another time, but will spare you for now.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Trip to the Far East, Tokyo

In 1986 I traveled with a team of 5 other persons to Korea. We met in Seattle, 3 of us coming from Sacramento and 3 from Washington, DC. Our flight to Tokyo was delayed but after several hours we finally were on our way. The flight took more hours than I can remember, and most of it was in the dark. I can't believe I stayed awake almost all night, periodically looking out the window and down to the dark sea, occasionally spotting the lights from a boat. There was a large group of Japanese businessmen on the plane, and they were having a great time, becoming more drunk as time went on. They were too funny to get mad at them, but if I had any sense I would have just gone to sleep.

We arrived at Narita airport which is about 60 miles or so away from Tokyo. A long bus trip was endured, and then we transferred to a taxi when we reached Tokyo. The taxi driver wasn't sure where our hotel was, and it was in a no-vehicle zone at any rate, so we got out of the taxi at a location that was probably a mile or so away from our hotel and walked, carrying our luggage. We were to spend 5 weeks in Seoul, so you can imagine the amount of luggage we had to carry. The following photo shows us stopped to rest, which we had to do often just to set our bags down and rest our arms. (Since nearly everything is written in Japanese you can't read street signs or anything else.)

The hotel we stayed at was one that predominantly catered to Japanese businessmen, and it was very comfortable although not fancy at all. The price was more to our liking, for sure. The businessmen obviously like female company in the evening, and a walk down the hall to the ice machine allows a person to hear moans and groans coming from several of the rooms. You'd think from the sounds that Japanese men are extremely great lovers, although I don't know that for a fact!

The next day was devoted to sightseeing in Tokyo, and our first stop was the Imperial Palace Gardens.

This picture was taken in a shopping district known as "The Ginza". The street is closed to motorized vehicles on Sunday, at which time probably millions of people are out. We arrived early when it wasn't crowded yet, but at one point I looked up and saw what looked to be a huge wall approaching. It was a wall of people! I believe the population of Tokyo at that time was about 13 Million people (but I could be wrong about that), so you are in crowded conditions wherever you go. People jostle one another on the sidewalks and just go on. It was like that in Seoul as well, and I finally learned to quit saying "Excuse me" every time it happened. It's an accepted thing to not excuse yourself there because it is virtually impossible to not bump into people.

This was taken from the Tokyo Tower. There are many levels at which you can photograph the city, and I took pictures at every level! It is HUGE and SPRAWLING! I selected this photo because it shows how buildings are wrapped while being constructed or demolished, and this keeps the dust and debris from polluting everything around it. The buildings wrapped in blue are a case in point.

On one level of the Tokyo tower was a small Buddhist shrine, and these are two tiny children dressed in the kindergarten uniform paying their respects. All school children dress in neat uniforms. The thing most apparent to me about Tokyo was the absolute personal safety. We saw kindergarteners on subway trains at complete ease, and I am sure everyone in the train cars watch out for them.

I will try to scan some of the pictures from Korea and continue the account of this trip. I have had troubles with the old Epson scanner, so today I was in a Staples and bought a Canon flat bed scanner - very plain, no bells and whistles. I was set to install the software but the CD seemed to be warped and I couldn't use it. So I drove the mile down to Staples and took my computer with me - the tech was able to download all the necessary software and transfer it to my MAC. When I got home I still had problems with it and loaded everything back into the box thinking I would return it tomorrow. Somehow a light bulb went off in my head and I realized what I had to do to get it to work - voila!

After I publish a blog entry I always read it over to look for errors, and to see if the pictures enlarge when clicked. Blogger evidently has a new feature by which when you click on a picture you can view all pictures in the blog from that one click. It worked, but it took a long time for the pictures to appear on that screen. I find that everything is taking an interminable amount of time to accomplish today - on the computer that is. Everything is slow to load, so I hope my pictures can be viewed by all who want to enlarge them.