Monday, April 24, 2017

Week 10 - The Countdown Begins

We made the decision to sell our lovely home in Colorado while we were in Florida. Mr. Dreamy has COPD and the altitude makes him miserable. There just isn't enough oxygen up here. His breathing troubles are compounded by trips to sea level, so his body never has a chance to build the red blood cells he needs to carry more oxygen.


For weeks before we arrived home I would go to sleep, counting things to do instead of sheep. It didn't lead to a restful sleep. I guess while I've been living a dream, our junk has multiplied. I can't believe how much stuff we need to deal with!

One week ago today we arrived home. We hit the ground running. Within a few hours we unloaded all of the clothes and food and assorted other stuff into the house... the one that is already crammed with too much!  By the end of the next day all of the bus linens (including a blanket and quilt)  and towels had been washed and taken back out. The next day the dog beds and the couch cover were taken care of and our laundry was washed and put away.  Once we had the way clear to begin the process of selling the house, the real work began....

  • We met with two realtors. One came prepared with comps and displays of their color brochures and fancy marketing information. The other walked through the house taking copious notes and will get back to us next week with her presentation. Both realtors gave us some suggestions for things to occupy our time and get the house ready to sell.
  • Mr. Dreamy called 4 driveway guys. The drive needs cracks sealed (a new 1"+ crack that goes across the drive has appeared in our absence, along with other small cracks here and there. Once the cracks are sealed the driveway needs to be coated so it will look all black and beautiful! The driveway guys must be hungry. They all came by to give estimates. Mr. Dreamy went out to look at the job one guy had completed. He wasn't impressed, so will be visiting another job site.
  • We had an estimate to tear out and replace 4 sections of our parking pad (which were cracked), and a patio in the back by a concrete guy. We hired him on the spot and he will do the job next Thursday... maybe! Rain is in the forecast, so we will have to wait and see. 
  • Mr. Dreamy set up visits by a handy-guy to put down baseboard molding in the basement (after carpet is replaced) and to complete other odd jobs around the house.
  • An electrician is coming to bid on creating a chase for the power supply line in the garage. The current situation with bundled wires will not meet code in today's world. The electrician will also fix a 3-way switch we have never been able to figure out and work on the bathroom fan that has been in the process of falling out since we bought the house. 
  • A landscape worker came by to give us an estimate on doing all of the spring yard work I normally do - getting all of the flower beds cleaned up, putting mulch around trees, turning the vegetable garden, adding more rock to beds around the house (where does the rock that used to be there go?) etc. While he was here we had him give us an estimate for cutting down the 20 dead and dying scrub trees and re-sodding the little front lawn that we have.  We have at least one other guy coming to give us an estimate on the yard work and an arborists to give us an estimate for the trees.
  • The furnace will get its annual cleaning and service next week. 
  • We began cleaning up the basement so that carpet can be installed. But, Dreamy realized before we could stash everything in the finished side of the basement into the storage area in the basement, the storage area would need some rearranging and organization. So Christmas decorations were repacked and consolidated (and Christmas decor in the living room was finally taken down after two years!!) and items on the shelves were moved to maximize the space we have. 
  • A few items were put on Craig's list and one (rug hooking frame and bags of wool) has gone out the door.
  • Dreaming called a few estate sale companies. Then we Dreamers visited some estate sales to get a feel for how things might go down here. We weren't impressed with what we saw. So, Dreaming did some more Internet research and made a few online inquiries over the weekend. 
A panorama of the basement

Ten weeks from now we hope to have the house show ready. We have almost 4 weeks of travel that will interrupt our preparations (although contractor work could go on while we are out of town). That will put us in mid-July. Here's hoping!!


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Blowing into Lubbock

Lubbock, TX is all about wind. When we came though last year we were practically blown off the road and landed at a campground 20 miles short of our destination. Mr. Dreamy measured gusts of 50 mph. I am still finding pockets of Texas dust that found its way into the motorhome on that trip.

Mr. Dreamy is measuring the windspeed in 2016
This year the land was damp and the winds were manageable, and we made it to our destination. We had followed the same trail as last year: Jacksonville to Pensacola. Pensacola to Beaumont. Beaumont to Lake Medina, and from there into Lubbock. We spent two days at Lake Medina visiting with our friends Carlos and Donna. We enjoyed good food and good fellowship. Leaving our friends is always sad, but we were looking forward to a visit with Adventure Caravan friends, Gayle & Wes when we blew into Lubbock.


Gayle and Wes were great tour leaders. They picked us up at the campground and took us out to dinner at Cagle’s Steak House. This historic restaurant on the outskirts of the city serves mesquite grilled ribeye steaks. It is a huge operation and must have a huge following despite its location out in the fields surrounding Lubbock. The fields around the city are most often planted in cotton. In Lubbock cotton is king. In fact, this area boasts the largest contiguous cotton growing region in the world, according to Internet sources! As we came into the city we could see that fields were being readied for planting. Gayle and Wes took us by the huge expanse of cotton warehouses, and the cotton gin plants. The size of the piles of cotton seeds outside the gin was mind numbing.

This pic, from the Internet, shows one of three or four piles of cotton seed!!!
Its funny how things connect. The Elvis tribute at our recent Tiffin Rally included some great music by a Buddy Holly look-alike, who at one time worked in Vegas.


Lubbock is Buddy Holly’s home town. Although we stopped for lunch near the Buddy Holly museum we didn’t go in. We chose, instead, to go to the Silent Wings Museum. This facility, housed in one of Lubbock’s former airports, details the use of gliders in World War II.


I found it fascinating. Perhaps even more so as I will be heading to France soon, and will have an opportunity to visit Normandy, one of the areas where gliders played a pivotal part in the war. Another dot connected!

Our friends thought we might enjoy visiting the American Wind Power Center. We certainly did! The center has over 150 windmills on display. Every shape, every size and every color. There are wood windmills, including a replica of one of he first windmills constructed near Jamestown, VA.



There was also a collection of doll houses that had been donated to the museum by a husband and wife who had made each model over the past 40 years. The collection was awesome, in the true sense of the word.






Saturday, April 15, 2017

Dog Gone

I dumped my dogs at the flea market. Seriously! The campground in Jacksonville has a flea market next to it. I take the dogs over there to walk as they have large expanses of open grass, all surrounded by fencing. On a recent Saturday we had our usual morning jaunt. I walked into the flea market, which was just beginning to come to life, to deposit the little baggy of doggie doo in one of their convenient trash cans. I never fail to garner attention when walking two fairly large hairy beasts. This was no exception. Within moments I had several vendors coming by to pet the dogs and admire them. One vendor asked if they were going to the groomer. The groomer? Says, Dreaming, as she vaguely recalled seeing the groomer’s “shop” at the flea market on a previous trip. The groomer! Thinks Dreaming, with a lightbulb popping up over her head showing that she had a sudden, brilliant idea. I executed an immediate U-turn heading to the groomers. Where again the hairy beasts drew attention. A bath and brush out? Of course. Why not! So, off I went, returning to the motorhome minus two dogs. And, yes, I did go back to the flea market a few hours later to get my dogs out of hock by paying the reasonable fee for washing and brushing said large, hairy beasts. Their nails were trimmed, their hairy paws were clipped and they were clean from their ears to their tails… or to the stub of a tail in Tucker’s case.




Gypsy looks a bit miffed about the whole deal!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Next Stop, Jacksonville

The Tiffin Rally was fun. We Dreamers came up a day early, and boy were we glad that we did. We had the opportunity to sit back and watch as over 150 motorhomes tried to come into the KOA campground on opening day (There were 300 motorhomes in attendance). KOA campgrounds are usually nice. They are clean. They are predictable. They often have narrower roads with more camp sites tucked in here and there that require a bit more maneuverability.

Oops!
This post was wiped out by one of the rally attendees. Apparently he turned too soon and now he'll need some bodywork and painting.  At one point we heard that the motorhomes were backed up on the highway trying to get into the KOA, where they had three lines of motorhomes at the entrance feeding into two roads in the campground. One fellow told me it took him one hour and 20 minutes from the time he entered the park until he was parked at his campsite. On top of that, the area is experiencing above average temperatures. Hot tempers and hot temperatures aren't always a good mix.


The first night of the rally we had folks over for Happy Hour. I discovered that there were 7 other couples from RiverBend coming to the rally. I gave them each an invitation to our site on opening day. In addition, we Dreamers met some folks in RedBay on our way to Florida before Christmas. I sent them an email. I knew of a couple from Colorado who were also attending, and sent them an email. What fun!


Throughout the days of the rally we often bumped into each other. It was nice to see some familiar faces in the crowd.

Gay, Jerry, Jim, Lani, Greg, Vikki, Donna, Dreaming, Judy, Bill & Mr. Dreamy
In addition to the three items that Tiffin offered to fix there were other vendors who had service folks for their components. So, while we were here we also had maintenance performed on our tow bars and AquaHot system, and received a free radio system update and a check on some component of the A/Cs. How pleasant to have technicians come to us!

The rally had a buffet dinner each evening followed by entertainment. The first night's dinner was a fiasco. I am thinking that Golden Corral, the provider, had never dealt with 600+ hot, hungry people. Each evening improvements were evident and the process of acquiring our food became faster. We were entertained by a country music group, and a blind singer and piano player - Sarah Getto. Look her up, she is amazing!


And Elvis came back for an evening, as Dwight Icenhower wowed the crowd.


And of course, there were new motorhomes to drool over. We Dreamers hopped on and off the coaches several times. We saw a few changes we would enjoy having, but not enough to want to buy a new motorhome. We were intrigued by Tiffin's new Class C 24' motorhome, the Wayfarer. It was quite roomy inside and the use of space was well thought out. Perhaps some day we will buy something like that. We could leave our big guy in Florida and travel back and forth in something a bit easier to maneuver, and something that has far better gas mileage. Who knows. Could be. Some day....

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Fix It

We are heading home. Finally! Well, to be honest, we are heading home with a number of stops along the way. It will be a while before we are seriously on our way!
First, we are leaving our new piece of paradise at RiverBend to attend a Tiffin RV Rally at Lake Okeechobee, FL. One nice thing about the Tiffin rallies is that they bring a service crew in to fix  three minor things on each motorhome. So, a few weeks before the rally Mr. Dreamy and I looked around to find three things.

Amazing!! 
We had to look... 
and think about it!

After the experience we had with our previous motorhome, this is a novel experience.

OK, we have a blind that isn't working. That's one.

Hmmmm..... Think. Think. Think!

Do you think the LED light strip over the door awning is sagging a bit?

Think. Think. Think!

We are missing a screw cover in the closet.

And, so it went. We couldn't find much to be fixed at all.

I guess our motorhome understands our thinking and our conversations.

Suddenly, the water and tank gauges stopped reading levels accurately.

Then, an edge of the counter simply fell over.

Next a light cover fell off, in the wee hours of the morning when nothing was touching it.

Then something else went awry. Something that is really worthy of being fixed by the Tiffin crew. But... do you think either of us can remember what that thing is?! No!

Do you suppose they can fix my brain?!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Prest-O Change-O

This winter I participated in a mystery quilt while staying at RiverBend RV Resort. The instructor gave us fabric requirements a few weeks before the start of her 4-week class. I had fun shopping online and settled on some fun fabrics from Bear Creek Quilting and from the Missouri Star Quilt Company.

Each week the instructor gave us the instructions for one row of the quilt, and told us to use a light, a dark and medium fabric choices. These are images I found online of the first three rows presented to us.




I used various combinations of the lights, darks and mediums I had purchased and created the first 3 rows. The 4th row was completed when I was not at the resort. Although the instructor gave me the pattern, I wasn't thrilled with it. The fourth row had triangles and I liked that the other rows were all squares and rectangles. So I made a decision not to include row 4 in my finished quilt. 

Then, I looked at my rows, and made another decision. I didn't particularly care for the light fabric I had used in one of the rows. That's OK I said to myself. I'm accomplished enough to use my seam ripper and carefully remove, and then replace the squares I didn't care for. 

Here is the row in progress of the change:


And, Prest-O, Change-O
Here is the revised row.
Ta-daaaa!


I started puzzling about how to put the three rows together. I looked at them this way and that way. I tried them with sashing between the rows and without sashing. I then had a big "Ah Hah"! I decided to cut two of the smaller rows and piece them together, so the top of one would have the bottom of the other, and the top of the other would have the bottom of the first. Confusing?? Not really. I pulled the larger row apart and inserted a butterfly from the backing, and put butterflies in on the sides. 


I'm not totally a fan of how the quilt "balances", but it was fun to try something so totally different. I finished by quilting it on Bette, my 1955 222K. While in the process, she developed a terrible squeak with each stitch she made.


I stopped sewing and pulled out the oil. The squeak was coming from the head. I oiled everything. The squeak remained, whether I ran the machine or rocked the hand wheel manually. I just couldn't find it. The next morning the squeak was worse. I was seriously worried as Bette has always purred along quietly. I was concerned that I had done irreparable damage by making her work for hours as I quilted. I brought out the engine stethoscope Mr. Dreamy has, hoping to isolate the location of the squeak, and took off the embroidery foot for better access. The squeak was GONE! Doh! Bette is just fine (and well oiled) and now that the embroidery foot has had a smidge of oil, it has stopped squeaking!

I took my finished masterpiece that I named "Constructed. Deconstructed. Reconstructed." down to hang it on the fence in order to get a shot of it with a pretty background. The Percheron's came up to inspect it.

B: What is it?
D: Not sure. It has orange in it.
B: Yeah, but it doesn't smell like carrots.
D: It's made out of fabric.
B: Could it be a saddle blanket?
D: Not sure, but maybe we ought to leave, just in case!
B: Yeah, I don't want to do any work today!



Monday, March 13, 2017

Fuzzy Wuzzy

Grand Oaks has another sort of equine in one of their pastures. They have two donkeys. Cute, fuzzy donkeys. It turns out that they are rare Poitou donkey that originated in the Poitou region of France. The Poitou were originally used to breed with horses. The offspring of a male donkey bred with a female horse is a mule. The offspring of a male horse and a female donkey is a Hinny. Generally the offspring, whichever way they are bred,  are sterile. The Poitou are rather large, by donkey standards, and the mules they fathered were prized for their size and strength. With the advent of gasoline engines the market for mules declined and the population of the Poitou plummeted. In the 1970's there were less than 100 world wide.


The donkeys are very friendly and promptly come up to the fence for loving....



and carrots!



It was a challenge to get a picture of either donkey. 
Don't you just love those ears?!
(The donkeys are fuzzy year-round. In cooler regions their 
coats will form dreadlocks that can grow to the ground!)


There will soon be three Poitou donkeys at Grand Oaks.


Everyone has been anxiously awaiting the birth. 
I walk by their pasture every morning... just hoping I'll see three sets of ears.

Nothing yet.




Friday, March 10, 2017

The Itsy Bitsy...

I haven't decided if this is really cool, or really creepy. The Science teacher in me says it is really cool.
But....
Last week I took the dogs down to the dog park for their evening potty break. I grabbed the miner's light flashlight and stuck it on my head instead of trying to wrestle leashes, doggy poop bags and flashlight as I usually do. As the dogs began their evening ritual of sniffing everywhere other dogs had been I noticed a sparkle from the dirt, oak leaves and the few sprigs of grass that have withstood being trampled by puppies. I walked closer. Oh God. No! It was a big brown spider. Bleech! I backed up and the light caught another sparkle. Another spider. There were sparkles all over. Dozens of them. Even more. (And there I stood in my sandals-shudder!) I grabbed the dogs and left the park, and of course had to look it up on the Internet. It seems that if you hold a flashlight up by your eyes, or as in my case, wear one strapped to your forehead, spider eyes will reflect the light directly back to your eyes. 
I told Mr. Dreamy about it and he gave me one of those looks. You know, the "I don't believe you" sort of look. The "don't make such a big deal about nothing" look. So a few nights later (since I was still talking about the spiders in the park) he took the dogs out. He agreed that he saw the sparkles, and he confirmed they were from spiders, but he disagreed on the "dozens". He admitted to having seen "a few". 
Tonight I took the dogs back to the park (having put on my sneakers first). The spiders were there, not in the numbers I saw before, but there none the less. Some of the spiders, upon closer inspection, had pea sized bodies, and were about 1 1/4" in length including their legs. Others were itsy bitsy, with a total length of less than 3/8". Their eyes, however, reflected the same amount of light. 
Taking pictures didn't work all that well. Here is one attempt:



You'll have to try it yourself. If you don't have a "miner's light" hold a flashlight on your forehead, just above the bridge of your nose. Do you see what I saw?
After leaving the dog park I kept checking the surroundings. On this particular evening, I discovered there were more spiders in the grass than I had seen in the dog park. Oh. No. They're everywhere! 


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Tortoise and the Hair


Gypsy and Tucker found something new to intrigue them at Grand Oaks. Nope, not the horses. They wanted to meet that hard shelled critter that came out to eat grass behind our motorhome each afternoon. We shared the immediate area with two gopher tortoises each about 15" long, and there was evidence of more throughout the property. The tortoise is a threatened species in  parts of the southeast as loss of this tortoise could threaten the future of over 300 other animals that shelter in the tortoise burrows.

Image from the Internet
The Internet tells me that tortoise burrows are extensive, sometimes running over 100 feet in length at a depth of up to 10 feet. When we walk we see fresh piles of dirt up to 2' in diameter. They remind me of the sand piles we see in Colorado from pocket gophers. I am thinking the piles we see are from similar burrowing animals that are creating their own entrance/exit to the tortoise's burrow. We drove by this pasture with dirt piles in line. Care to bet that the dirt piles trace the line of the tortoise burrows?!



I'm not certain what Tucker and Gypsy might have done had they gotten up close to the creature....


I'm not certain what the creature may have done if he came nose to nose with them.


Although he seems very placid, I wasn't willing to let it happen!


Monday, March 6, 2017

Showtime

This weekend Grand Oaks had a Hunter/Jumper show. It was great fun to look out from the motorhome and see horses jumping in the arena just down the hill from where we are parked. But of course, being the horse lover that I am I wandered around and took in all of the beautiful horses.

A sweet little red roan heads into one of the arenas.

I loved watching the progression in size of jumps and the abilities of the riders.

There were four arenas, each with different styles of obstacles. 

I got tickled listening to the coaches providing pointers to their young charges.
I wondered if it influenced the judge in the hunter or equitation divisions.

I would catch myself "riding" with the horse in the arena.
I took almost every jump with every rider I watched.

When I showed I almost always did hunters and equitation. I found them
boring to watch. Even though the jumper division didn't go higher than 3' 3"
it was much more exciting.

This guy enjoyed some Gatorade after his jumping round.
This beribboned young rider (as in hair ribbons)
heads back to the stabling area after her round.
Riders don't get their ribbons after their performance.
Winners are announced and they collect their ribbons
at the event office later.
I didn't like that as I couldn't connect names and numbers
to what I had seen in the show ring.
I enjoy wandering through the stabling areas to see the preparation and care
after competing. There were quite a few little obstacles for kids to play with.
  
Ribbons are proudly displayed on stable banners.

This sweet gray looks totally unphased by the hubbub around him.
I think he is wishing he was out running free in a pasture.
When I awoke this morning, the show was like a dream. The jumps in the arena had all been removed. The horses have all gone back to their own stables. All that is left are my pictures and memories!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Four-in-Hand Friday

Everyday we see horses pulling carriages around the grounds of the Grand Oaks RV Resort, where we are currently staying. On Friday's they all parade through the grounds together, featuring the four-in-hand teams, but including others as well. Tuesday is Tandem Tuesday and tandem rigs, as well as all others make up the parade.

This is the view from in front of our friend's RV.


Hamstring

If you are one of my blog followers, you may want to skip this post. It chronicles "old lady" issues I have been experiencing and is basically pretty boring. However, I wanted to put things down in writing because the other "old lady" issue I experience is that things get a big foggy when it comes to details. I figure by writing this down it will give me some baseline data that I may need to reference in the future!

I have been struggling for over 6 months with a hamstring injury. Last spring I began to notice an ache, some pain, along the back of my right leg when I played pickleball. I thought it was simply a matter of being out of shape and it would correct itself with more exercise. By July, as the pain increased, I came to the realization that it was not the case. I gave up playing. (If I'm not playing pickleball, things must be pretty bad!) I stopped walking. I babied my leg. I used ice. I had some chiropractic visits that included suggestions for exercises to perform at home. I did the exercises. I began walking, increasing the time on the trail slowly. It was beginning to feel a bit better. I was beginning to feel a bit stronger. I volunteered to help at a Beginning Pickleball Clinic around Halloween. The first day went well. It was great to be "back on the court" even though I wasn't really playing, but was merely demonstrating and watching others play. On day two a fourth person was needed to play. I didn't even think about it, and went out on the court. Things went well until a ball was headed out of bounds. I lunged for the ball. The muscle said, "Hell, no!" and I was down. And so began another round of RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation. I limped along and finally got a prescription for physical therapy after Thanksgiving. The therapists were wonderful. Knowing that I was heading out of town on an extended trip they fast tracked the program, providing practice and printouts of exercises to conduct on the road. My goal was to be "Pickleball Ready" when we arrived at the RiverBend RV Resort in mid January. As we traveled across country I did exercises while I sat in the navigator's seat. I did exercises as I prepared dinner. I did exercises after dinner. I stretched every morning. The ice bag was used liberally. The pain was slowly receding and I could feel that I was getting stronger. When we arrived at RiverBend I slowly incorporated pickleball in my daily activities. I used a compression brace around my thigh. Whether it truly helps is debatable, but I figured it might remind me to take it easy. The first week I played one game each day. The second week I added another game. The third week I played 2 or 3 games depending on how I felt. Along with pickleball, I participated in a PiYo (pilates/yoga) class. It was too demanding, so I concentrated on portions of the class that didn't tax the hamstring. I enjoyed line dancing classes. I walked the dogs, and I began to add a slow jog, 20 - 30 steps at a time, with walking breaks in between. I felt great. The hamstring ached now and then, but there were no sharp pains. When I jogged I noticed an ache along the top of my right hip. It felt like a muscle was a bit sore, but it wasn't debilitating. It made me think I was doing the right thing, getting exercise, even though things were a bit sore. Then, one night I jogged a bit further. I felt great until.... pop! I felt a sharp, searing pain along my hip - just a few inches below the top of the hip and toward the back. And so began the RICE routine...again! A few days later we moved to Lady Lake, FL where we had reservations for a month. Our RV site is up on a hill overlooking horse arenas. Walking down the hill was alright. It hurt, but not terribly. Walking up the hill was torture. Every step with my right leg brought a lot of pain. Walking up steps with my right leg was next to impossible. For a while I adopted a double step approach: step up with the left leg. Bring the right leg up to that step. Repeat. I decided to seek help immediately so that maybe I could get back into gear sooner. A friend in the campground recommended a health center with chiropractors, DO's, physical therapy and PA's. On my first visit we determined that I had injured the gluteus medius, a band of muscle  that runs from the head of the femur up to the top of the hip.


Despite the fact that I opted to go to a health center that focuses on chiropractic and bone stuff, I need to go on record as being a "chiroskeptic". I have often thought that Chiropractors are right up there with witch doctors and palm readers. However, I have been pleasantly surprised. Dr. K has spent more time focusing on my muscles than on the alignment of my bones. He could immediately tell that my hamstring has a lot of scar tissue, and thus is shortened and weaker. Because of this, my leg hasn't moved the way it should, and stress has been put on other muscles, which caused the G. Medius to squawk. Dr. K also knows exactly where the trigger points are where the muscle is in spasm. Holy cow... how does he know to press... right... there... where it almost makes me cry?! The pain when he presses stabs me at those points is almost more than I can tolerate. It seems that the Gluteus Medius has probably had issues for quite a while, it isn't a new injury. Today it was recommended that I have TPI, trigger point injections. They inject lidocaine directly into the muscle in spasm to help it relax. The injections hurt far less than trying to massage the knotted muscle. I will have to go back to have some repeated injections, but it is hoped that after several rounds the muscle will relax and the pain will go away. Here's hoping!
So, now I am back to ice packs and exercises. It is tough getting old!


Another thought, are the two injuries related? Does a connection exist between the plantar fasciitis I experienced in 2016 and the hamstring?