Wednesday, July 10, 2019

California Here I Come

We originally planed to leave our Florida home in May so we could enjoy spring in the Bay Area at our new home in Point Richmond. That didn't happen, as we were delayed by the wait for the truck windshield. Then, the Mister needed his annual blood-letting to determine if the Doctor could safely renew his prescriptions. One of his numbers came back outside of the normal range. His Doc wanted him to see a specialist... another few weeks of waiting... then the specialist wanted an MRI... another week of waiting... then the follow-up appointment... more waiting!
I decided that despite windshield woes and medical stuff going on... I was going to CA - without my guy. I hopped on a plane and enjoyed just over a week with grand kids, kids, friends and family, before returning to Florida... where all the medical results are good and we are finally ready to pack up and head back to CA!

Here's just a bit of what I did on my "vacation"...
  • I visited two different ukelele meet-up jam sessions with the "other grandmother"
  • I played with the kids
  • I went to the zoo with the kids and the other grandmother
  • I played Mahjong with my CA friends
  • I pulled weeds
  • I watched the Richmond fireworks on July 3 from the Red Oak Victory ship
  • I played ping-pong with a group at "Rigger's Loft" - a local winery
  • I enjoyed a few family dinners
  • I completed a quilt on the long arm
  • I watched ships go in and out of the harbor...
Here are a few pictures of my days in CA...

Nonna Holly joins in the Ukelele sing-along with a little help from Kellan
Alexis in imaginative play
Alexis in a contemplative mood
Kellan's first carousel ride at the Oakland Zoo
What a fantastic view of Oakland, SF Bay and San Francisco from the Oakland Zoo  gondola
Alexis chose the eagle on the carousel
Richmond fireworks celebrations from the Red Oak Victory Ship
Fun play in the back yard
Back yard looking east - BEFORE
Back Yard  looking West - BEFORE
Back yard looking East - AFTER weeding
Back yard looking West - AFTER Weeding
Ship coming into Richmond Harbor as viewed from the kitchen

Now it's time to pack up and put away... and get on the road for adventures as we head west.

Friday, June 28, 2019

A Mouse in the....

I have struggled with my laptop for a few months. The space bar, and a few other keys in the same area, have not worked reliably. I figured I had crumbs and dirt under the keys, and they were impeding the motion of the keys so that the whatchamacallit under the spacebar wasn't hitting the whadingy below and sending an electronic message to the whoseywhatsit. Whenever I typed, I had to watch what was registering, so that I could hit the space bar again, and again... however many times it took to "click"! It was very annoying. I tried vacuuming the keyboard. I used the upholstery brush with the vacuum. All to no avail.

Plan B... I'll use my iPad. I opened it, and the start-up screen with the Apple on it appears... and doesn't disappear. Another time it started blinking. I Googled "my iPad opens with the start-up screen but doesn't do anything." I tried some of the fixes I found online and was able to get it up and running a few times, but it kept coming back to the Apple, despite my fixes and my updating software.

I Googled "my MAC book space bar doesn't always work" to see if there was a recommended "fix". (What would I do without Google?!) It turnes out that to keep the slim profile of the MAC machines, a different "spring" was developed to create the same feel as a regular keyboard. This "Butterly" spring has developed a high rate of failure. Ah hah! It wasn't necessarily crumbs impeding the movement.

So, I made an appointment at the closest Apple Store Genious Bar... for my laptop AND my iPad.

The iPad turned out to be a bit more problematic than the MAC book. The technician plugged it into his computer so that it could run diagnostics. It didn't work. He pulled out a different cord, and tried again. It didn't work. He found another computer, and tried again. It didn't work. He borrowed another cord from a coworker... ta daaaaa! It finally ran the diagnostics. However, despite the diagnostics apparently finding the problem, the iPad would not progress past the Apple start-up screen. As my iPad was still under extended warranty (I am so glad that I bought Apple Care) I was given a new, refurbished unit.

Next, the technician tackled my laptop issue. He tried the keys and agreed they did not work correctly. He took the unit into the back to open it up and have a look. When he returned, I asked if the problem I was experiencing was due to the mice. He looked at me with a quizzical expression. I pointed out that with the amount of crumbs that were probably under the keys, there must be a family of mice in there as well. He laughed, and assured me that there were no mice, probably because the snake that had moved in had taken care of the mouse population!

I had to leave my laptop at the store. I received a notification the next morning that it was ready for pick-up. I am now typing on my repaired laptop which has remarkably springy keys and a spacebar that works! Hallelujah! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

La Reunion

Fui a Rochester en un avion una día después de tener una ventana nueva.  (I went to Rochester in a plane one day after we have a new window.... haven't been introduced to "windshield" yet, and verb tenses are still beyond my reach!)

Was it only a coincidence that the windshield arrived a day or so after the Mister told the expediter that the lane sense was having trouble reading the lanes due to the crack, and sometimes tried to turn him into a different lane, and perhaps this was unsafe? Hmm....

But anyway, I had my reservations to fly, so fly I did. Sarah and I had planned to stay at the same hotel. She was driving up from New York as she wanted to stop and see some of her friends on the way. I took a Lyft to the hotel, and walked into the lobby at the same time that she walked in from the parking garage! We went off to the first event for the reunion weekend, a reception at the School President's house. It was delightful. There were about 6 folks from my class, and a few from classes ahead or behind my class. I also met Jim Townsend. He is a friend of Lani and Jim Ulrich, good friends who live at RiverBend in the winter. How uncanny that they discovered he was going to a HS reunion... and then, it turned out, we were going to the same HS reunion!

The next morning we had breakfast with my 10th grade sweetie and his family. It was fun to catch up with him, and to meet his daughters. Bethany, his oldest, lives in San Francisco. I would love to visit with her again... and, just maybe, get David in the picture, too! (Can you hear strains of "Matchmaker, matchmaker... make me a match?!)

The most impressive part of our visit was seeing a video about a Harley elective, "Hospice". Students learn how to provide hospice care and volunteer at different facilities in the area. The learning goes so far beyond the care aspects. It sounds like a phenomenal program. The founder of the program, Bob Kane, sent a letter to be read at the event. He sent his apologies about not being able to come to the event, and hoped that we enjoyed the video. He explained that chemo has done all that it can for him, and he is now on hospice. I am thinking that every student he touched with this program would give anything to be his hospice provider, as he enriched their lives in such an unusual way and they have a much different view about the end of life. Wow!

It was a great weekend. Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk.... trying to catch up with some kids... er, old people,  we hadn't seen in decades! I am so glad that I went.

Following the reunion, since I was "in the neighborhood" I flew to Manchester, NH to see my BFF, Marjie. More talk, talk, talk... and we did some quilting on her long-arm machine.

 Some pictures of the weekend:

An obligatory stop at my old home. This tree used to be 6" in diameter, at most!
John, Laura, Rick, Burch, Cindy, Bill, Me, Laurie, Sarah
Jim Townsend and me
Bethany, Jim, Me, Sarah & Katie
Jim and Katie
Yummy dinner! 
F: John Rick, Gary, Laura, Liz, John, Laurie
Me, Sarah, Burch, Bill & Dave
Our project 
Cuteness on the plane. His owner didn't realize he was coming for a visit!
The Caloosahatchee River just a few hundred feet west of RiverBend


Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Best Laid Plans

Traveling by RV has its challenges. It requires a bit of planning if you want to assure that you have a place to park each night. I spent a fair bit of time a month and more ago creating an itinerary for our trip to Rochester, NY. We are heading there for my High School reunion... it's one of the "milestone" reunions!

We don't like driving hour after hour. My guy likes to follow the "Three Thirty" rule: travel 330 miles or be parked by 3:30 in the afternoon, whichever comes first! OK, so places to stop or schedules, and sometimes even the weather, dictates that we bend the rules a bit, but I try to stick close to it. when I make our plans.

So, we were going to leave RiverBend yesterday and travel 362 miles to Ft. Clinch State Park on Amelia Island. We wanted to stay there several days to visit with family. Then, we were going to stop near Bluffton, SC to visit friends, then head to Lake Norman in NC to spend a few nights with friends from RiverBend. From there, a stop in Virginia, a three-day Airstream Rally in PA, and eventually we would land at South Shore RV Park, a campground owned by folks who winter in RiverBend. We had a site overlooking Lake Ontario... with spectacular sunsets. And finally, we were going to move closer to Rochester for the reunion.

Notice, much of this was written in the "we were gonna" tense, because now it looks like we are NOT gonna follow this itinerary. Picture a very sad face! Our new truck has a crack going just over half of the windshield. Right now it only impacts the passenger side... but the crack is traveling, even though we are not! The Mister has been trying to get a new windshield for over a month. Our insurance said to contact Safelight. They could not get the windshield. He contacted the dealer. They could not get the windshield. He contacted Chrysler. They can't get the windshield. The windshield is on national backorder!

So... we wait.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Quiero Aprender Español

Last year, while driving from Florida to California, the Mister and I talked about the value of learning Spanish. We live in a rural, agricultural area in Florida with a huge Hispanic population. In California, we are surrounded by another large Hispanic population. It would be nice to be able to understand them and possibly to hablo con ellos. While we drove (and I had a lot of time to do this, as it is a long, long way from southwest Florida to Northern California) I researched different language learning platforms. Then, I recalled that the Mister had something on his phone, and it was a free app. So, I checked it out. The program is called Duolingo. You can access it from a computer or you can use an app on your iPad or iPhone. I began using the program. I listen to Duolingo podcasts, I read Duolingo stories and almost daily I do at least two DL lessons.

I also checked books out of the library, and bought one that I liked to provide extra practice.  Additionally, I try to write a few sentences daily in an online journal I've created. I have come a long way... and have longer to go! However, I celebrate every word I understand when I hear people talking around me, and when I run into someone who is Hispanic, I at least try to comment, "Buenas días, cómo está?" 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

La Tortuga

 Today, May 23, is World Turtle Day. How appropriate that the pups and I came across a turtle (tortuga) on our morning walk! After sniffing a bit, and a low growl from Gypsy (I have never heard her growl before!) the turtle was given a lift back to the pond from whence he had come. (Judging from the scum on his back.)

A little research tells me our turtle was a Pseudemys Nelson or a Florida Red Bellied Turtle. He appreciated his lift back to the pond, and within moments of my putting him down about a foot from the water, he scooted in and disappeared under the pond scum. He may have been thinking, "Damn, I really wanted to go to the reserve on the other side of the street, not back to the pond! Now I'll have to start all over!"

Coincidently, I have been working on a quilt with turtles on it! Here are four of the 17 turtles I have made for the quilt. It's a pattern I purchased in Hawaii almost three years ago. I've carted fabric for it from here to there and back again, and then when I decided to make the quilt for a color challenge, I discovered the colors were not quite right... and I had to go out and buy more fabric! 

It's time to get back to sewing! 

Post Script: I completed three blocks for the "waves" of the quilt. I'm enjoying the process. The center of the waves are made through traditional piecing. The rest of the block is made using a paper piecing technique. You can see the three color chips on the center block on the bottom. 

Eleven more to go. 
I've already decided that I will call this quilt something like,
"There's always one!"
I plan to have one turtle swimming against the stream, and another turtle climbing onto the quilt. 

Happy World Turtle Day to you!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Seafood Lunch

Things are slowing down at RiverBend Motorcoach Resort as more and more folks crank up their engines and head to cooler climates. We will be here until the end of May, then will head to Rochester, NY for my high school reunion.

I mentioned the seafood lunches in my last post, and said I'd write more about them. The lunches are amazing because of the quality of the food, and the fact that it all happens because of volunteers. The chef and his wife used to own a seafood restaurant in Rhode Island. They began offering lunch every other Friday as a service to our community. He runs the kitchen and she manages the "front of the house" and the orders.

Early in the season I contacted Chef's wife. "I'd like to help," I said. She indicted she had more than enough volunteers already. I was heartbroken. Then, at the last minute, one of her "beverage" gals had sciatica (it's tough getting old), and I was "IN"!! I wandered from table to table, offering glasses of tea or water or more ice. I did this a few times and then they needed help in the kitchen, at double the pay! Both "jobs" are great fun, but in some ways I think I prefer the "behind the scenes" tasks.

For the last seafood lunch of the season I had the opportunity to work in the kitchen, again. My job was to place the uncooked seafood in small plastic bins for the chef. The orders were brought in by the "waitresses" (more volunteers), a post-it note was created listing the dishes needed for each order and I'd take the note and place fish in one bin, scallops in another, shrimp in a third and so forth for each ticket, and stack the bins. Then, I'd stack the bins for each order and place them on a platform above the chef. He'd take the orders and soak the food in batter, then drop it into the large pan of breading.

Chef would stir the food in the crumbs, then turn around and put the items in a fryer basket. (Some of the seafood is also baked in a small oven.) Chef also fries 150 pounds of French fries!

While orders are coming in, and food is being prepared, orders also come in for "Chowdah".  On average, 20 gallons of chowder is served for lunch, or in take-out containers for dinner. My friend who dishes out the chowder also prepares pieces of key lime pie for dessert.

Once fries and seafood are done, they are emptied into stainless pans (on the left in the picture below) and the guy in blue "plates" the food. The gal next to him places paper plates out for him, puts on a small cup of coleslaw and a lemon. Do you see the mountain of stacked paper plates behind her? Usually 275-300 plates are served at each lunch!

Food for each ticket is plated, and handed off to be placed on a server's tray. 
The bus"boys" scramble for each French fry that drops on the tray!
We don't get fed until everyone is served, and the smell of all of that food is almost maddening!

The food is then whisked out the door to the appropriate table. 

I had such a great time working the seafood lunches this season. The guests from the resort love the food. Each year we hope that "chef" and his wife are willing to cook lunches for the resort again!

California Here I Come

We originally planed to leave our Florida home in May so we could enjoy spring in the Bay Area at our new home in Point Richmond. That didn&...