Eastern Utah
EMAIL ME AT: mgypsy97 at aol dot com

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Christmas holidays were pretty good considering how bad I felt a big part of the time.  I still am full of congestion, and the wind is blowing so hard this afternoon I hope it doesn't blow any pollen my way.  

My granddaughter, Ara, is flying back to Philly this evening, and I just went over to Jeannie's for one last visit and to say goodbye for now.  I was there yesterday and left my cell phone, which I didn't discover until this morning.  It's weird not having any way to phone out, and I would like to get a land line again, using a Uniden or Panasonic phone.  I have looked at Ooma, MagicJack, etc., and they have their good and negative points.  I had my last house phone when I was with Verizon, and the service was good for under $25 a month, but it was bundled with my cell phone and MiFi at the time - I doubt I could get it for that cost if it wasn't part of a bundle.  I could use AT&T, my U-Verse and internet provider, but their phone service is much higher than I want to pay.  I'll figure something out because I'm not at all happy with just having a cell phone.

Yesterday we made tamales, sort of on the spur of the moment.  Joe happened to be off work, and he and his family came to Jeannie's, and I made the masa dough and helped cook the meat - pork and chicken - and then did my best to show Jeannie and Joe how to roll the tamales.  It's been so long and I forgot a whole lot!  We didn't have Martha's (Donald's mom) expertise becaue she is in San Antonio for a funeral.  We'll do it again though after she comes back.

I didn't organize the photographing portion of this operation very well, but in the 1st picture I'm mixing the masa mixture into the lard.  The next one shows Jeannie & Joe enjoying an Inka Cola, a Peruvian soft drink we all learned to love when we lived in Northern Virginia.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)

This looks like the pork filling.  We also had a bowl of chicken filling.

Selecting the right corn husk.

The husk, topped by the masa dough, topped by the filling.

The finished and folded tamale ready to go into the steamer.

Sorry that the photos don't do the tamales justice; they were excellent.  Donald made a delicious sauce to add to the meat mixture so it would hold together.    The kids did the taste testing!

I ate one of the three remaining tamales when I went to pick up my phone, and even right out of the fridge it was delicious. 

I've been trying to keep up with reading blogs and commenting, but have fallen way short.   I don't know when I've felt this bad for so long, although it's mainly a sinus type cold.   I guess it couldn't be worse than what I dealt with last year. 

I wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Hangin' in there

This is just a quick post to say that I'm still alive and kicking, although not kicking very strenuously.  Like everyone in my family, I've had a cough, congestion, and sore throat.  I'm probably doing fine compared to the rest, although I am the oldest and should have more to worry about!

My sister Julie, her husband Paul, and their doggie Tallulah had to cut their Christmas travels short and return home because Julie's symptoms went into bronchitis.   That is what scares me the most when I get sick.

Even though I didn't feel all that good I had a very wonderful Christmas with my kids and grandchildren.   I will write more about it when I feel better.   

Happy New Year to all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pumpkin Pie

About a week or so after Thanksgiving I found one organic pie pumpkin at the grocery.  Today I cut it, cooked it, and pureed it, and even toasted the pumpkin seeds.  (I'm not fond of the seeds, but Jeannie toasted quite a few at Thanksgiving and they love them.  I hope I did it right.)

I think I have enough pumpkin for two 9" pies, but my recipe calls for evaporated milk and two eggs, among other things.  I don't have the milk and have only 3 eggs in my fridge.  Jeannie has several cans of milk and I'm sure they have plenty of eggs, and I'm probably going to take the ingredients I have to her house tomorrow and make the pies there.  

I am so tired from cutting the pumpkin today I just can't get the energy to do anything else this evening.   I wounded my arm with the point of the knife, and also cut my thumb, but neither cuts were too bad and I will live.  Those pumpkin shells are the toughest things imaginable, and I'm reminded why I don't often do it.  Jeannie used their electric knife before Thanksgiving and the pumpkin was much easier to cut.

I thought I might beat the traffic this morning and drove to Costco first thing.  I have never gotten out of that store for $10, but today I bought two items at a total cost of just under $10.  Back out on the street I couldn't believe the traffic!  Really awful.

I just watched the weather forecast - foggy tomorrow, and "brilliant sunshine on Christmas Day".  That's something to look forward to.

Note, in answer to Ms. Belinda's comment, when I mention Bel Air I'm referring to my local supermarket - not the Bel Air in Southern CA!

I probably won't blog tomorrow and Christmas, so I'll take this opportunity to wish everyone holiday greetings.

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Day with Liam

I had Liam today - Steve had to drive to a meeting in San Francisco, and Meg had to work.  Steve hasn't been feeling well and Meg went home early because of being sick.  I spoke with Jeannie and she sounds really bad too.  We all have the same thing as I mentioned in yesterday's blog - scratchy  sore throat and head & chest congestion.  

Liam wanted to watch a TV program I had recorded for him previously, "Bigger than T Rex".  I inadvertently erased it so I found it online at NOVA, and we watched it again.   He is fun to be around. 

Tomorrow I have to get out and run some errands - mainly the grocery, and then Joanne's so I can buy some spools of thread and maybe some cotton fabric ends to practice on.  I want to get that sewing machine going now that I've read the instruction booklet.  I'll probably read it again before actually trying it out.  It's been a long time since I've sewed, probably the mid-1990's, so that's about 20 years.

The skies were clear when I went to bed last night and I could actually see stars from my bedroom window.  I was too tired to get the binoculars and this morning the fog was too thick to see anything.  I'm glad the days will now start getting longer.

I forgot to mention that for dessert last Saturday evening, Donald made tiramisu.  That is the most wonderful dessert and I ate two helpings!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Secret Santa Party

I took a few photos last night, but not nearly as many as I should.  The adults gave the kids their Christmas presents, so there was a lot of pandemonium while they opened their gifts.  Then we got down to the business of giving our adult presents.  

I went first, and gave Steve his gift of a game called "Brew-opoly", a monopoly-type game but with a beer theme.  Then I brought on a case of one of his favorite craft brews, an IPA from American River Brewery.  I'd say he liked it.

Then he presented his gift to the person whose name he drew, and so on.  This whole process is a lot of fun and the noisy laughing and clapping nearly gets out of hand sometimes, but not quite!  It is a wonderful time, and there are enough of us to really enjoy the process.

Donald had my name and I was stunned when I opened a fairly heavy box and found a sewing machine!  It is a Jenome which is excellent for quilting and crafts, and many of the reviews comment about the fact that it is mechanical rather than computerized.  My kids know how I feel about everything  being computerized and too technical, and I think I'm going to love this machine as it really seems to suit me and my style.

When everyone was arriving, the cooks were busy making dinner.  Donald, of course, and Stephanie who brought her new pasta maker.  She made ravioli from scratch and it was sooooo good.    There were several plates of delicious looking canapes, but I know from experience if I eat them I won't have an appetite left for the main course.    I ate a small portion of everything but haven't been feeling all that hungry lately.  Everyone I meet seems to have the same malady - scratchy throat and congestion - and it is really getting me down.

Julie, Paul, and Lula"  (Click a picture to enlarge)

Jeannie & Arianna:  (Arianna wanted to pet the dog but she didn't want the dog to "attack her".)

Some of us were working, and everyone was socializing:

Some of the presents around the tree - the piles grew as each person arrived:

The kids are ready!

At this point I didn't take any more photos, but helped pick up all the wrapping paper as the kids tore into their gifts.  When it came time for the adults to open their presents, there was too much fun going on and I joined the fun rather than record it!

I think I was the first to leave, and drove home at about 11:00 p.m.  Steve got my car turned around and pointed down the lane so I wouldn't have to back up and turn in the dark.  I seem to remember in years past that back-up lights really illuminated what was behind your vehicle, but for some reason I can't see anything now.  Joe had told me they would be glad to take me home when they left, but thankfully I can still manage for myself, and I'm smart enough to know when I can't and to ask for help.

I'm anxious to open up my new sewing machine and check it out.  Meg (Steve's wife) does quilting and is very crafty with all sorts of materials and projects.  I think I will appreciate her guidance when I finally get started on my new hobby.  So far I have only a vague idea of what I want to do and how I want the finished product to look.   I am certain of one thing - I want something traditional and old-fashioned - and I think that knowing what I want is at least a good start.

I'm going to chill out today - I need a few things from the grocery but not sure if I even want to get in the traffic to drive a mile to Bel Air. 

I just looked over the photos and they seem a little blurry, and the color is "off" as well.  Not sure what to do about it.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Visit from Tallulah

Julie & Paul ran into a lot of problems driving down from Carson City, NV yesterday and arrived several hours later than expected.  We had a great visit though, and when they left they went to Jeannie's house where they will be staying for two nights.  I'll see them again at the Secret Santa Christmas party this evening.

The first two photos below were taken using the memory card I tried  to jam in backwards!  The 3rd was taken with my big camera.  Tallulah (or Lula as my sister sometimes calls her) is only 6 months old and has some growing to do.  

(Click a photo to enlarge.)

She is a really sweet dog, but still a puppy with all the puppy energy and curiosity.  Julie was forever jumping up to get something out of her mouth - she loved the kids' crayons and all their art supplies  I store in the shelves under the coffee table.  I can't imagine what she will try to do with the Christmas tree and presents this evening, although she might be relegated to her crate for a while.

Last night I closed my bedroom door because the dog wanted to explore in the room, and when I tried to open it later on, I couldn't do it.  The door knob doesn't lock and I'm not sure what happened, but Paul took the handle off and I was able to get the door open.  For now I'm leaving it as is, with a round hole in the door where the handle should be.  I may just buy a new door handle rather than fool with the old one.  Interesting things can happen with a dog around!

Friday, December 19, 2014

More Heavy Rain

It is pouring down at mid-day, and I'm not sure if it's going to slow down or stop at all.  My sister and her husband were supposed to be here by lunch, but got a late start.  Then they couldn't get the motor to start, and ended up using a battery from their other vehicle.  Before they were very far along they ran into "Chains Required Ahead" sign, so they had to stop and buy some chains.   I'm not sure when they will arrive, but it won't be for lunch!

Yesterday I took Autie's birthday present to her, a boxed set of 10 Nancy Drew mysteries.  These are the old ones that I read in the early 1950's.  Someone has recently made a Nancy Drew movie, but it is an updated version taking place in modern times, and based on a new book that features Nancy Drew.  Autie commented that the book was more scary than she thought it would be.  I hope that's just the modern way, and that she enjoys the old-fashioned story lines.  I'm sure books written when I was a child were probably not actually scary - maybe suspenseful, but not scary.  She was thrilled with the books, and I'll bet she's read the larger part of the first book by now.

 I also wrapped a couple of activity books for Arianna who is 5, so she would have something to unwrap.  I'm looking forward to taking the Christmas presents to Jeannie's tomorrow, and will try to get some photos.  I can't believe that my pictures of Autie didn't turn out yesterday because I inserted the memory card backwards.  I must have jammed it in pretty hard, because it was hell getting it out of the slot. 

You may remember that last summer I briefly had a dog, "Bear",  who didn't work out in my small house and no yard.   I still have the dog bed and food and water dishes on a stand (so the larger breeds don't have to lean over as far).  J&P have a labradoodle - her father is a registered standard poodle, and her mother is a retriever.  She is expected to get quite large, so I'm donating the bed and dishes/stand to Tallulah!  They have been taking up space among my camping gear, and it's amazing how much better I can get around in that room with just those two items removed.

I looked at some pictures and descriptions of adoptable dogs online this morning - it's tempting but I think I will pass on it.   As I've said before, I'm too old to learn new tricks!  The only way it would ever happen is if an acceptable stray should walk into my life. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Today my granddaughter Autumn is 8 years old, and one of her presents is that Ara arrived this morning.   Autie won't know that until she gets home from school, which will be the best present she gets.  I'm going to go over soon and say hi to Ara, and take Autie's birthday present.

Tomorrow is when my sister and her husband come for lunch, so I've been trying to do a little cleaning, not my favorite way to spend the time, but necessary if I want to preserve a little of my pride!

About 3 hrs later I'm back from Jeannie's.  I took pictures while I was there but when I tried to get the memory card out of the camera back at home I realize I had inserted it backwards the last time I downloaded my photos.  

I'm glad I came back when I did as I was going with the flow of less traffic.  It was really bad coming towards me.

My doctor forwarded the results of my tests to me and everything looks pretty good.  For the 1st time in the last few years my red blood count is within the desired range, and not way below as it has been.  Cholesterol looks great as is everything else.  Ironically I am taking fewer meds and supplements.  I was sort of surprised by the cholesterol because I have been eating eggs several times a week, and never did give up things like butter, bacon, etc., and I'm soon going to try making pastry with lard.   All in all I'm feeling great and have hopes for more good years.  Here's to the good years, may they last a while longer. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas joy gets worse every day!

I went out late this morning to get a couple more things I need.  Figuring cheap would suffice as well as expensive for what I want, I started off at the Grocery Warehouse, which usually has a good supply of inexpensive kitchen items.  They didn't have what I wanted, however, so I returned the basket to the rack and left.  The most interesting thing in the store was a man walking down the aisle towards me clutching his crotch as though there's no tomorrow.   I didn't make the smart-aleck remark I had in mind, and just passed him by.

Target was just around the corner although I know they aren't cheap any more, even for cheap goods.  I found a couple of glass pie pans, a 12 pack of PBR to go with the hot tamales I'm serving my sister and her husband on Friday, and a couple of other items.  I got carded for the beer, and the guy at the register and I had a good laugh when I had to tell him my birthday.   He said the register automatically demands the d-o-b on any alcoholic purchase, which really benefits the check-out clerk most of all.

There is one lot I drive past just before I get to my street that has been vacant since I've lived here.  Now there is a brand new double wide sitting on the lot, still on the trailers.  I hope the folks who own it will be in by Christmas, although maybe it would be less of a hassle to move their furniture and belongings in after the holiday traffic cools down.  I'd like to see how they put the two halves together but would feel stupid standing in the street gawking.

Does anyone  besides me long for the old days when you could make a phone call and get info, without having to do everything online which requires all sorts of passwords & security crap.

I just tried to check my health insurance to make sure the changes I submitted for 2015 were in effect.  I forgot my userid and password, so for both I had to enter my SSN and then enter it again for confirmation; select and answer two security questions, etc., etc., etc.   It is so ridiculous it could be funny if it wasn't so stupid!   I'm fed up with jumping through hoops to get info that belongs to me in the first place.  Life has gotten so simple in that you can (and have to) do everything on your own, which makes it more complex than ever.  Does anyone else miss human contact and interaction?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Day Mostly in Traffic!

I had an appointment to get my hair trimmed today, so I started out early and drove first to a different Costco, not far from the hairdresser.  The parking lot was so crowded I parked across the street in the REI lot.  Costco was very crowded but the checkout lanes were all open and it seemed they moved pretty fast.  I had two things to look for there (that I can't get at my local Costco) but didn't find what I wanted.

I arrived at the hairdresser's about 20 minutes early, so I went into the Starbucks next door and got a coffee and "Cranberry Delight".  They sure are correct about this dessert being a delight.   I'm not crazy about Starbucks coffee so fortunately I got the smallest size.  Found a lounge chair with a small table next to it, set my things down and went a few steps to pour 1/2 & 1/2 into the coffee, which made the cup pretty full.  I should have known to sip some of the coffee before trying to get it over to the table.

I spilled little bits of coffee on the table, on the floor, and on myself.  I went to grab some napkins and got the last in the dispenser.  Every time I picked up the cup to try to mop up the coffee around it  some more spilled out on the table and splashing down to the floor.  I thought it was getting to be comical, or at least hysterical, but the the woman sitting in the chair on the other side of the small table obviously didn't think so.  She glared at me while I was trying unsuccessfully to clean it up.  No coffee spilled anywhere near her by the way.

I went back to the counter to ask for some help and a guy came and got most of it, although I still had to get some of it with napkins which they brought to fill the dispenser in the meantime.  I sat with my head held high and ate my cranberry delight, and carefully sipped my coffee.  When the delight was finished I carried about half a cup of the coffee back to a bench outside the hairdresser's salon - took a few more sips, dumped the rest of it into the ornamental plants behind me, and tossed the cup into the trash.  I hope I'm never tempted to go into another Starbucks, although their desserts are superb.

On my way home I stopped at AAA and picked up maps for every state across my northern route to NY.   Do you know how happy I am, and how the thought of looking at those maps is causing the excitement to mount?  They are no doubt  exactly the same as the maps I already have, but they will be such a joy to open up one by one.  My old maps are so well worn that they are tearing in the creases.  I have a humdinger of a trip planned, although I always plan a humdinger and then reality and my bank account step in to temper my enthusiasm.   

From there I went to Bel Air and got started on the ingredients needed for the tamales.  I couldn't find everything, but it's a start.

The day has been slightly on the cool side with a chilly wind blowing, but the sunshine has been magnificent!  It's now starting to get cloudy, and we're likely to get a few days of rain.

The hummingbirds are so happy with the two feeders on the porch, and it's a treat for me to have the pleasure of watching them again.

I am worn out completely from the traffic.  I don't remember it being this heavy in past years, but maybe it was and I was more up to driving in it.  I think I'll sit and watch the hummers for a while, maybe even open a locally brewed golden ale!

Monday, December 15, 2014

New Doctor

This morning was the long-awaited "establish care" meeting with my new doctor.  I really like him, and we are going to get along fine.  I explained how I feel about tests and what they could determine, and told him I don't want tests.  Anything wrong with me I want to treat with exercise and good nutrition, and he is fine with that.

I got a tetanus shot this morning and gave 3 vials of blood, so that is over with and I'm glad I fasted this morning so I don't have to go back for the blood work.   I will have a follow up visit with the Doc just before I leave for my long drive to NY in April.   As for my belly, he told me to avoid abdominal crunches, and said that working out on the elliptical would help my heart.  I don't even know how to get on the damn thing, so I'll have to get Jeannie or Donald to show me how it works.  It looks like work!   I don't like doing cardio so I usually either avoid it or do it in a half-a** manner.

Donald is coming in a few minutes to see if he can start up the furnace.  Meanwhile, I found several recipes for making tamales and printed three copies - for Donald, Joe, and for me.   I'm making a list (and checking it twice) for all the ingredients we will need, and will try to get most of them tomorrow.  The grand cooking spree will take place after Christmas and hopefully before New Year's.   It will seem strange sharing the preparation, cooking and assembly with a whole team - I plan to get the kids involved as well - but I think it will be a fun thing for all.   While I was at it I looked up some recipes for making empanadas as well, but I will do that on my own and later on in January.

I think I have all my gifts wrapped and ready for our Secret Santa party on the 20th.  Hope I didn't leave anyone out!

Donald had it running in about 2 minutes, as he remembered from last year when he lit the furnace for me.  I'm toasty warm now, but will turn it down in a short while - I remember the cost for gas usage nearly bankrupted me!

The rain stopped briefly and I threw a load of clothes into the washer.  Now they are ready for the dryer, but the rain is pretty heavy now and I'm not walking across the street while it's pouring.

Donald and I discussed making tamales as well as going to the gym this evening.  Vera asked for the recipe for the tamales.  I printed several and when we choose which one to use, I'll include it, plus pictures, in the blog.  Donald's mom is going to be enlisted as she is Spanish (raised in San Antonio) and made tamales with her mother for years.  Don said all those years he wasn't interested in cooking and never paid attention to how they did it.  I don't think she makes them herself these days, but I'm counting on her expertise.  I think it's going to be so much fun, and can't wait! 

I'm not sure how many fans of Bluegrass music are out there, but I just heard that Ray Davis, long time announcer extrordinaire, passed away earlier this month.  Ray began his radio career at a station in Del Rio, Texas; he then went back to Maryland where he became a well known announcer and friend of many old Bluegrass groups, which he  recorded in his basement on his own Wango label, such as the Stanley Brothers.

I first heard him on WAMU from Washington, D.C. where he hosted a show during the 3 hour commute every afternoon.  That show saved my life, because the way the traffic was affecting me - speeding, following too close, road rage, and all the rest - would have gotten me killed sooner or later.  I would actually drive slower sometimes as I neared home, so I could hear the rest of a song.  And always, the last 10 or 15 minutes of every hour was "Hymn Time", and you just can't be angry when you are listening to Ralph Stanley sing an old timey hymn!

After several years of being away from the east coast, I picked up his show on the internet when I lived in North Carolina.  When I would email him with a song request or a comment, he would announce that "this song is for Martha from Swannanoa."   I will miss hearing his voice and the stories he told of happenings when he was in Del Rio, or broadcasting from Johnny's Used Cars on a Saturday afternoon.

Sunday relaxin'

I drove over to Jeannie's this morning for coffee and some tasty cookies.  We sat around and worked the NY Times crossword puzzle, and talked about getting an assembly line together to make tamales.  It would be so much easier than one person doing all the work.   I hope we can get it going soon - it will depend on when Joe is off work and can join in the fun.  He will probably eat the most tamales, so he isn't going to get off without the work of making them!

I will make this a short post because I need to get to bed as I have to be at the doctor's office a few minutes before 9 am in the morning.  I'm not used to going anywhere that early - I might get up early but it's a couple of hours at least before I get dressed.  I think I will try to fast so I can just get the blood work out of the way at the same visit.

Donald is going to come over later in the morning to see if he can get my furnace going.  I think he did it the last time and I hope it will all come back to him and it will light up with no problems this year.  I hate to think of the gas bills though.  I remember keeping the thermostat really low in previous years, but it's nice to be able to turn it up when the kids and other company come by.

Of the next five days it looks like only Thursday will be sunny.  I guess I can deal with it, but I have to be out driving - tomorrow to the doctor, Tuesday to the hairdresser for a much-needed trim.   Wednesday I will want to see Ara as she will be coming in for Autumn's birthday and for the holidays.   So many things going on and I hope I can keep up the pace.  There will be time to rest after I die, but in the meantime I'm planning to live and to party hearty!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Gift Wrapping

There was a time when I loved to wrap presents, but not anymore.  I have had a difficult  time getting started but this morning I decided I had to begin somewhere.  I've wrapped two gifts and I'm tired of it.  I'm lucky I don't go really hog wild with buying presents!

They're Back!    I decided to hang both hummingbird feeders from the front porch awning, as it is easy to take them down for cleaning and refilling.  I'd need a ladder if I hung them outside the kitchen window.  The birds have discovered the feeders and are gradually returning to make me smile.

Wouldn't you know it but after the quick shopping trip I made this morning, I'm starting to realize all the little things I forgot to get.   Gift tags, and things like that.  It means another trip, but certainly not for the rest of today as the crowds and traffic can only increase throughout the day.

Last night I watched a program I had recorded of performances by Victor Borge.  From the time he was a young man until he reached old age, he was one of the funniest performers I've ever seen.   The show was seen on public TV, of course, where some of the best programming originates.

I'm looking at a really huge and really dark cloud making it's way over my house.  It's not the first that I've seen today, and I hope it's laden with snow on it's way to the Lake Tahoe ski resorts. 

UPDATE:  I'm breathing fire!
I'm having my sister and her husband for lunch on the 19th and having a bit of anxiety over what to serve.  This morning I bought some pork tamales, and just heated one for myself to see if they are tasty.  They are superbly tasty, but the first bite took my breath away.   I love them this way, but wish they were just a tad less hot.  Now I wish I had steamed two for me.  Mmmmm good! 

I used to make my own tamales when I lived in Virginia.  Mine were smaller than these, and they were a pain to make but were delicious.  Once I made 75 tamales and left them in the steamer - I went out for a short time and when I got back, my son Joe and his friend Frank (about 14 yrs old maybe) had eaten most of the tamales.  You can't underestimate the appetite of 14 year old boys!  All that work, and they left me only 4 or 5 of them! 

I think you can buy the masa already prepared here in California, but Northern Virginia was another story, and I had to make everything from scratch.   I also learned to make empanadas from a local Peruvian woman, and I don't know which I liked more - tamales or empanadas.    I sure don't cook like that anymore.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Oh Joy!

I could hear the rain hitting the roof throughout the night, but by this morning it had stopped.  When I went out for some errands at about 10 am, the sun was shining!  Beautiful sunlight!   I have never minded rain although I can't say I like a full day of steady hard pouring rain - but the sun was a welcome sight today and lifted my spirits.

I think I just have two presents yet to buy and I'll be finished.  I got wrapping paper when I was out, and just realized I didn't buy name tags.  It seems I buy a huge package of them every year and no doubt I have tons of them somewhere.

It looks like it's So. Cal's turn to get the rain.  Unfortunately they also will get mudslides.  It happens nearly every year, whether or not a fire has burned the area.  People like to live in canyons and mountains that aren't stable enough to hold in the event of a lot of rain.

So much for the beautiful sunshine.  I just looked out to see wet streets.  I'm going out a bit later to get one of the two remaining presents, and I just hope I don't get into a blinding rain.

I don't have much to blog about so I'll make this a quick Friday post.  Have a great weekend, and anyone in Southern CA or in the path of a storm please take care.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

No trip to Oz for me (yet) (Updated)

I heard gusts of wind throughout the night, but nothing frightening or long lasting.  This morning I wouldn't know it was windy if I didn't see the palm trees, and even the crape myrtle in front of my kitchen window.   The rainfall looks heavy to me, but the KCRA weather commentators assure me we can handle it at the rate it is falling.  This should last all day, and i'm happy to see it.

Yesterday I went out in the morning, and saw guys with leaf blowers everywhere, and including in my neighborhood.  It seems that was the case all over Sacramento - people are trying to keep the storm drains from getting clogged.

Just to be on the safe side I gathered a few things, packed a small pack with a change of clothes, and collected the folders with my vehicle and house information, as well as my passport.  This morning I had to dig through the contents to get my meds and other necessary items to get me going for the day.  Better safe than sorry, and I'm glad I didn't have any problems at home.

At Noon I'm beginning to climb the walls.  I need to go to a few places - Home Depot, for one.  I haven't yet replaced the hummingbird feeder, and now and then a hummer drops by to see if I've put one back up.  

I also need to buy a few holiday greeting cards, one each for my grandsons in NY, and three for friends in Ireland.  I'll send New Year's greetings to Ireland because I don't know how long it will take them to get there.  The cards should arrive in Ireland in a week or less, but the long trek out to the end of beyond will no doubt add another week or so.  Other than those few, I don't send cards.

Should I stay or should I go?  The rain is still pouring down and I'd be crazy to go out in this, wouldn't I?

Update:  There was enough of a slow down in the rain that I headed out, first to Home Depot where I bought two h'bird feeders.  That will be one for the porch, and another one to hang on the awning in front of my kitchen window.  I don't know if the birds will visit that one, but I think some of them might.

I drove on to Costco and picked up two more shirts like the one I bought earlier in the week (and am wearing today).  It's a long sleeve scoop neck tee, wicks moisture, is warm yet very lightweight and silky.  I'm sure they aren't nearly as good as Capilene, but I can buy six of these for the price of one Capilene shirt on sale!  As a base layer and for wearing around a chilly house, they are fine.  I thought about going to Target but the rain got a little heavier and I decided to come on home.  There isn't a whole lot of traffic on the road, but some of the guys out there drive like a bat out of hell, splashing water on people's windshields and generally being a nuisance.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Busy day on Tuesday

Early this morning my son Steve brought Liam over to my house, and his mom Meg picked him up after work.  We had a great time.  Liam turned 4 in August and is interested in paleontology and Teen-aged Mutant Ninja Turtles.

His interest in Paleontology goes back probably two years, and he can name many dinosaurs and the period they came from - Cretaceous, Jurassic, etc.  So when I saw that Nova was airing a program called "Bigger than T Rex" I recorded it, and saved it after watching it.  Well we watched it today, twice!  I gave him mom the link to get it on the computer so he can look at it any time he wants.

He brought jigsaw puzzles and here they are:  (click on picture to enlarge)

And here is Liam:

He also brought a small bike with him and we went out a couple of times during the day.  He rides very fast and I was walking fast to try to keep up with him - I'm sure I walked at least 4 mph.  Finally I jogged down the length of the street but had to go back to a walk.  Running is hard on the bladder for an old gal like me!

We got down on the floor and played with some small race cars that he brought.  Getting down was easy enough, but getting back up more difficult.

Joe came by with the girls in the afternoon, and he put the cover on the swamp cooler for me.  I'm glad to get that done because Thursday is supposed to be a terrible day with high winds (around 6 mph forecasted) and at least two inches of rain.  The forecast is for falling trees, sewers stopped up with debris which can cause some flooding, and it's a generally grim picture.  Both Meg and Jeannie want me to come and stay at their house but I think I will stay home.  I know mobile homes don't do as well in high winds as a sticks & bricks, but I will take what comes.  Since Joe was there to hold the ladder and call the paramedics if I fell, I climbed up and took a quick look at the roof.  Since it was the back of the house I really didn't see much, and to tell the truth I didn't enjoy going up the ladder and even less coming back down.  I think I can say "that's it" for me and ladders.

Jeannie, Donald & I went to the gym this evening, and I went light on the  cardio because of the walking & running I did today with Liam.  But I enjoyed working with the weights and feel terrific right now.

I had to keep an eye on the kids today to make sure they didn't go back into my storage/camping equipment room.  That is where I've stowed the Christmas presents that I need to wrap.  Can't have them spoiling their surprises.   I'm mostly finished except for one more gift, plus the 2 grandsons in NY.  I'm sending them gift cards so I don't have to wrap and mail the boxes.  

I'm really tired now and should go to bed, but I'm keyed up from the exercise.   I need to dig out my ruby slippers for Thursday just in case I get blown away to Oz!   I'll post on Thursday and let y'all know how I make it through the storm!  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

More about comments and google

Thanks to all who helped me test my comment section yesterday.  I heard that Google is going to come up with a different verification process that will just involve checking a box.  I'm not sure if it will matter whether or not the comments are imbedded in the blog, or in a pop-up box.  So we just have to wait and see, and deal with the changes as they occur, piecemeal, on our blogs. 

Google is large enough and rich enough that they don't really have to care whether we like it or not.  And I truly believe that most websites are geared towards younger folks who are likely to appreciate a new look or change more often than most.  Poor dears, it can be so boring to look at the same screen all the time.

It isn't only Google though.  I check weather.com on a daily basis, and look at the 10-day forecast for my zip code.  I liked the way it was - a day at a time down the page, and there was the width of the screen to give plenty of information and details.  Now they have the 10 days scrunched up in little boxes going across the top of the page.   You still have to scroll to see the entire 10 days because only 7 boxes fit on the screen at one time.   That certainly isn't a necessary change - just one to keep the developers busy and possibly easier to look at on a smart phone.

If it wasn't for the fact that I would lose contact with so many  of you wonderful folks who read my blog and whose blogs I read, I'd say "to hell with computers altogether".   I can live without reading the google news headlines, or checking the weather, and even without looking up the hundreds of little things I look up each day.  By the way, I don't "google" anything any more.  I have set "DuckDuckGo.com" to be my search engine.  It works about the same as google and it didn't take me long to get used to the slight differences.  

Duckduckgo doesn't keep any record of your searches, as does Google.   It doesn't show you any ads at all, whereas google can tailor the ads they show you according to what you have searched for in the past.  I don't like that at all, although I'm sure some folks don't mind it and, in fact, think it's great.  It's just a matter of choice and duckduckgo is my choice.

Speaking of weather reports, it looks like our forecast for rain has been set back a day or so, but when it hits it will be heavy with possible flooding in low-lying areas.  I don't know whether to cheer or to cry.   It's good to get the rain, but I'd like it better if I had an asphalt shingle roof!

Monday, December 8, 2014

HELP! (Updated)

I have been told that there is now a "Prove you're not a robot"  requirement on my blog.  I hate those things, for one thing I can't very easily read those numbers, and because I don't have a lot of problems with robots!

I checked my settings and under
Comment modification:  I have checked "Never".

Under "Show word verification", I have "No".

Please be assured that this is not my doing, and I will be glad to remove it if someone can explain to me how to remove it.  

If you want to comment on one of my posts but don't like the verification process, please feel free to email me at the address which appears directly under the header photo.

I am truly sorry for any inconvenience to readers wanting to make a comment.  I can't understand how this has come about.

Thanks for your understanding, and for reading and commenting on my blog. 

I found a tiny box with the word "Complaints" on my blog settings page, in the lower right corner.  I submitted the complaint to blogger, but I'm not sure it will be acted upon.  In reading a bit of forum entries for blogger I came across many similar complaints.  It seems that Google has selected blogs that might be susceptible to spam and have arbitrarily added the word verification option to many blogs.  I am furious that Google sees fit to alter a person's settings without even notifying the person, especially when the effects reach the entire reading population of that blog.  Anyone who wants to leave a comment must tolerate this added step, and I don't like it.

I hope Google will remove this unwanted setting, but I don't know what else to do.   Many folks who commented in the blogger forum say they re-visited their settings entered "NO" to this setting but it still appears in their blog.

I'm shouting a tentative HOORAY - I made a small change from the comment being a pop-up window, to an embedded-in-the-page comment.  I'm not sure of why that makes a difference, but I did a  test and didn't get the verification requirement.  Please comment if you can and let me know if it is truly fixed.  Thanks.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Driving in Circles

What a day this has been.  I made plans to be at Jeannie's house, no more than 15 minutes away, by 9:00 am.  She was making some delicious coffee, and as I've said, it is always better when sharing with another person.

I hit the first roadblock at the last street before crossing the American River, about a mile from my house.  I saw a lot of runners and walkers, and one had a T-shirt that had something about "Children" written on it - I thought it might be a fund raiser to give Christmas presents or dinner to needy children.

I couldn't find any way to get across the bridge and after driving in circles, decided to take the 50 freeway past the area of Jeannie's house, to the Watt Avenue bridge - about 10 miles.  I won't go into all the details, but suffice it to say I drove in more circles, turned this way and that, but I just couldn't get to Fair Oaks Avenue which is where the Run was taking place.  The police weren't letting anyone drive on Fair Oaks, nor were they allowing anyone to cross it.  I ended up driving back east and going an exit further than the turnoff to where I started, and was able to cross the river and drive a long way around to Jeannie's.  All of this turned a 15 minute drive into 2-1/2 hours.  I had called to alert my daughter of what was happening, so she waited until I arrived to brew the coffee.

Later we did a bit of shopping and then went to the Kaiser (hospital) where she was to have a stress test.  I told her to not worry - that girl can walk much faster and further than I can, she can run, and works out much more strenuously than I do.  She said the technicians only took her up to where her heart reached a certain rate, and then had her stop.  They also raved about what good shape she's in.  The first stress test I ever had they had me on the treadmill and then left the room.  I should have stopped, but I was in pretty good shape then and wanted to prove it.  By the time I stopped I could hardly get my breath and I couldn't move.  The techs said only one man had gone further on it than I had - 26 minutes.  I remember it kept going faster and upwards every few minutes or so, and I thought I might have killed myself.  The last time I had that test the techs stopped me when my heart reached the optimum rate.  I have called a moratorium on medical tests of any kind, except for a blood test now and then.

I did take a Tums in the middle of all the traffic and trying to find a way to my daughter's house, but other than that I've been just fine.  I think I will only need one every now and then.  I've just had a bowl of soup, and I'll see how it goes.

I am really enjoying Ed Abbey's "Desert Solitaire".  It brings back the eagerness to see the desert southwest that I had when I read it the first time.

It's ridiculous how early I've been going to bed at night.  I'm drowsy now and could take a nap, but then I'd be up all night.  It's just after 6 pm!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

It's Saturday (and I don't have a date tonight!)

I just got back from my Sat. morning trip to the farmers' mkt.  I had about $14 in cash plus some quarters - I kept my purchases to about $10 and got onions, potatoes, chard, celery, and carrots.  Not bad.  I thawed some chicken breasts and plan to make a chicken vegetable soup today.

I heard a bit of rain during the night and the streets are wet this morning, but nothing falling right now.  I was shocked to hear a weather report last night that it has been determined this is the worst long term drought in California for the past 1200 years!  That is almost unbelievable, and puts the need for more heavy rains in perspective.   

I have been plagued lately with indigestion or heartburn - not sure I know the difference.  All I can say is that it is nearly constant and worse after I eat or drink anything, even water.  I bought a bottle of ginger ale yesterday and will see if a sip now and then helps.  I looked up various OTC remedies but they all have their warnings and drawbacks, so I will wait until I see my new doctor on the 15th.  Ranitidine (Xantac) doesn't help in the least so I've quit taking it for the time being.

Other than the indigestion I'm still on a high resulting from my gym workout Thursday evening.  It's strange - sometimes I get that wonderful high, and sometimes I don't.   It keeps me going to the gym though, searching for nirvana.

I have my chicken simmering with a few herbs and seasonings, the vegetables selected and washed, and I'm hoping I can eat what I cook.  I plan to go out in a little while and buy some Tums.  I hope they work because I'm miserable.  I've never used them before, and I thought (silly me) that I would buy "just Tums".  A quick look on the internet shows many different strengths and a variety of   flavors.  Hell, I don't want to have to make a decision so I'll just look for something peppermint-y.  I may update later. 

UPDATE:  The soup was great although I made way too much.  Some is already in the freezer and I may put another couple of servings in to freeze.

I drove in horrendous traffic to get some Tums; I took one on the way out of the parking lot, and one more since eating the soup.  I think it is working pretty well and hope I get some relief at least until my doctor's appointment.  I will not have extensive tests though, as I read that it would likely consist of an endoscopy, and I will never have another camera stuck down my throat.  I don't think I can ever be back to normal after the two procedures done a year ago.    

Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday rolls around again

My life is just going by too fast these days.  Did they remove one or two days out of each week?

After a gorgeous day yesterday I heard the rain during the night, but not heavy enough to keep me awake.  (Heartburn was the cause of that.)

This mobile home park is about the noisiest place I've ever been - machinery type noise.  Right now the maintenance crew is blowing the leaves around, a chore they seem to be doing just about every day.  The noise is deafening, especially the days when the landscape service comes to cut the grass, trim around the bushes, trees, and street, followed of course by the blowers to get every single blade of grass or leaf particle from defiling the street.  But every day there is some reason to use the blowers and it drives me crazy.  You can imagine summertime when the windows are open!  I remember it being bad when I lived in an apartment, but it was just one day, a Monday, and then on Tuesday the same thing would happen in the apartment complex next to ours.  Two days a week I would have my hearing affected.  Don't they know that excessive noise is bad for the hearing?  Naturally the ones using the machinery have earplugs so what do they care.

As to the comments about all the emails advertising holiday specials, this is the first year there have been so many.  I usually get one email a week at most from Costco, but they are sending one a day for "special" buys.  I don't want to stop getting the weekly emails so I really don't want to unsubscribe.  The same goes for REI and LLBean.  Even Sky & Telescope Magazine (which I subscribe to) is sending daily notices.  It isn't a chore to just delete them, but the great number of them says something about the way retailing is changing.  As I've mentioned many times, I like to go to a local store to shop, and rarely buy products online (unless there is no choice).

Yesterday I decided to try out my old online music favorite, Pandora Radio.  I selected Bluegrass music, and before Ralph Stanley had sung two old bluegrass gospel tunes I was asked to sign in or register.  I would have done that except they wanted a lot of info about me, including my year of birth.  Their explanation is that the site is financed by ads and the ads needed to be directed to the proper locale, age group, etc.   They can throw ads on the screen if they want, but I'm not giving them personal info to do it.   Do you notice that more and more companies are trying to get your most personal info?   I'm not buying it!   

I also checked out SiriusXM and wouldn't mind paying $10 a month for 80+ channels except for the fact that almost all the channels are for music that I don't listen to.  I couldn't see Bluegrass in the listing, so I might have to buy a more expensive package.  For those who suggested I listen online, I sometimes do that except the volume on my laptop doesn't reach far.  I can't hear anything on it if I'm in the next room.  My iMac, in contrast, reaches a very loud volume but the screen is so big I rarely bring it into the living room.   I'm going to make a trip to Best Buy soon and see what they carry in the way of small AM/FM radios.  I'll do that AFTER I finish the Christmas shopping and see how much I can spend on myself!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A break in the action

It looks like we might have a short break in all the rain today.  Yesterday was the worst!   Traffic was slowed almost to a standstill during the evening commute hours due to flooded freeways.  I-80, which probably has 5 or 6 lanes in each direction, was flooded because the pumps that normally clear the water off the roadway were jammed up with so much water and debris.

Vehicles were limited to a single lane, and some trucks and high profile vehicles tried the second lane from the middle, but many cars stalled out, especially when they tried to get off on an exit.  I can't imagine the panic I would experience in a situation like this.

I took these photos off the TV so I know they aren't the best, (click on a photo to enlarge it), but if you can imagine many lanes of freeway that would normally be bumper to bumper traffic, you can see how traffic everywhere was affected.  I emailed Jeannie, trying to warn her but she didn't read it as she left work early to go to Autumn's soccer game.  She got stuck in terrible traffic on a major street that crosses over I-80, and missed the soccer game entirely.  It took her several hours to get home.

This morning I washed and refilled my hummingbird feeder.  Last time I did that I lost the metal hook that holds it, so I devised a temporary fix using a big fat red rubber band.  The windy conditions have made the feeder swing back and forth and I guess the rubber band weakened and frayed.  I still couldn't find the hook so I filled and rehung the feeder using the rubber band and of course it didn't take 15 minutes to snap, sending the feeder into the rocks and gravel on the side of the porch.  I will get a new one this morning as I've had a lot of birds using it lately.  (Note:  I couldn't find one at Target, and will have to go to Home Depot one of these days.)

I would love to find a suitable radio, you know, the AM/FM kind, preferably with dials, not digital.  Sounds sort of like a transistor radio, doesn't it.  (I'd love to find one of those, assuming they still work.)  About a year or so ago I bought a replica of the old Crosley radio, and it would have been perfect if I could have gotten a signal.  It seems you have to wire up something to be able to tune into a station, and I'm past the stage where I am willing to figure it out.  It seems that anything you buy in the electronics department does multiple things - and I don't want a multi-purpose device, other than my computer.    I have a TV, computer, phone, and I just want a radio although it seems like I'll never be able to find one.  (Note:  I also don't want to pay to listen to a radio, which leaves out satellite radio as a choice.)

I have a final gripe for today, and that is about the emails in my inbox trying to sell me stuff.  These are from companies  and charities I sometimes do business with, but I sure am tired of deleting all those "shop online" emails - sometimes more than 1 or 2 a day from the same advertiser.    Consumerism is killing our society, our nation, and our way of life!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Should I stay in or should I go out?

After horrendous pounding on my roof most of the night, the rain has abated for a bit.  It will be back though and there is no end in sight.  I feel sorry for those who are already experiencing the mud slides that are inevitable after the fires last summer.  There are too many people on the planet, and they build in locales that aren't stable enough to hold a big population.  I would love to live in the mountains, but not in forested mountains in dry country.

I checked out Edward Abbey's "Desert Solitaire" at the library yesterday and look forward to reading it again, after re-reading it several times over the years.  It was the first of Ed Abbey's books that I enjoyed, and I believe I've read all of them.

When I first encountered Desert Solitaire I had never been in the west, nor had I actually seen a desert.  Of course it sounded romantic and beautiful, and I can tell from reading blogs of those who love it that it is romantic and beautiful to them.  Driving through it was interesting to me, but spending several days in the Arizona desert a few years ago made me realize that I don't like desert and I don't like anything about it, including all the thorny plants that grow in it.  I'm anxious to see how I read Abbey's words now that I've experienced some of the places he wrote about.

I also plan to re-read Monkey Wrench Gang and Heyduke Lives.  MWG is one of the funniest books I've ever read, as well as thought provoking.

I was planning to go out to do a bit of shopping, but looking out my front door I see tall palm trees bending in the wind, leaves scattering down the street, and no sunshine at all.  I would rather stay indoors than to be blown away trying to get from my car and into one of the stores.

(Click on a photo to enlarge.)

I think it's definitely a stay-indoors day!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Rain, and more rain

I don't remember how many straight days of rain we've had, but it looks like it will continue for at least the next 10 days!  I can't complain, though, as the rain should greatly ease the worst of the drought conditions.  The best part is that the Sierra will be getting lots of snow, so those who love to ski and snowboard can enjoy the snow in the mountains.  Then we get the benefit in the spring of the snowmelt.  This is what we've been praying for, so I am happy even though I've grown to detest the sound of rain on a metal roof!

I'm not happy with my email programs - gmail and/or aol.  My computer comes with Mail but I never really cared much for it, but last night decided to try it.  I can write and read emails in the program, and I set it to pick up my aol mail as I'm totally disgusted with that email service.  For some reason I lost everything in my aol inbox, but while in Mail I noticed it was picking up every single piece of mail in every aol folder.  I'm not sure what is happening, and maybe I should just go back to what I know.  I'm calling a moratorium on computer usage today until I can figure what I want - stay with a program I know or switch to something that is easy to use but pretty much an uknown to me.

I shopped at Costco yesterday and managed to bypass the danish rolls.  It's difficult to get most of the sugar and carbs out of my diet, but  I weighed in at the gym last night and am holding onto 130#.

I'm off to the library this morning to return a stack of books and to pick up another stack!  I also want to access Ancestry.com on the library's computer and do a little genealogical research.  Then I'm headed to Bel Air and some grocery shopping.  I read somewhere that you can buy bags of fresh cranberries while they are available and store them in the freezer for use throughout the year.  I had half a bag of cranberries left and made a small amount of sauce yesterday - WOW!  I found my cinnamon and that with fresh grated nutmeg really added to the flavor.  I went light on the spices though, so they wouldn't overpower the cranberry sauce.  I had some with pork chops for dinner last night, and found the sauce is every bit as good with pork as it is with turkey!

I hate to drive in the rain, but I won't accomplish much if I stay home, so I'm off!