Thursday, May 20, 2021

Touring with Tommie

We are on the road again! 


First came Covid - which effectively shut down travel, especially for us "old folks". 

Then we decided to sell our Airstream trailer.. and then "Big Red", the motorhome. 

Then we bought a Class B to safely travel with the dogs from Florida to California.

Then came a host of medical issues for the Mister.

Then we were able to get vaccinations - which required hanging around for another month for the 2nd shot.

And finally the day came when we were clear of medical appointments and obligations... 

and we were off!!

April 21-25: The "Tally Rally" Region 3 Airstream get-together. We stopped at friends' home (Elaine & Art) for lunch, then on to the fair grounds.

We met several folks from our local Airstream group.

MaryAnn, Mike, Rosa & Robert...and Scott!

April 25: We landed in Kiln, Mississippi at McLeod State Park. This is a fairly large park with river-side sites and boating. Lots of people were enjoying the facilities. 

Lost sole at McLeod State Park

April 26: We ventured off of I-10 and turned north to spend the night at the Texas Airstream Harbor park. This Airstream-only park was established in 1972. Lots of friendly folks, and lake side views. 

Sketch of Town Hall in Newton, TX

April 27: We turned west and parked at a Harvest Host location, an olive farm in Elgin, TX. Our host, Frank Majowicz shared his and his wife's story of how they came to be olive oil producers following his 40+ year career leading to his being an executive chef for Hyatt. Sadly, their orchard was severely damaged by a freeze. He is hoping 60% of the trees will regrow from the roots. He already has plans to plant more. We purchased some great olive oil and want to check back to see if his orchard/grove is green next time!

April 28: We had planned to swing down to Lake Medina to camp with Carlos & Donna. Donna inquired if I had been looking at the weather?! They were expecting 2" of rain, which would have turned the canpground into a mud pit. It's a good thing we decided to forego our visit as they had hail and over 4" of rain! We continued our trek west, avoiding all of the bad weather south of us. We stopped in Llano for a brief stint of shopping and admiring the town. We landed for the night in San Angelo.

St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Mason, TX
There were many interesting buildings in Mason. We'll have to stop next time we go through.

April 29: As we came closer to the Texas/New Mexico border I "penned" the following:

The sun has ris’, the sun has set,
and here we are in Texas yet!
The clouds done came; so, too, the rain.
And on we traveled just the same!
We get up early; we travel late,
And still we are in this *$%! state!

Although most of our trip this day was under threatening, but dry skies, as we approached Carlsbad, NM the skies opened up. Into each life some rain must fall, and fall it did! All afternoon and all night. I waded through 2-3" water when walking the dogs, vainly trying to keep them dry with an umbrella. I awoke at 6 AM to the eerie quiet when the rain finally stopped pinging on our roof!

April 30: We ventured down into Carlsbad Caverns in the morning. Having visited Kartchner Caverns and the caves of Sonora, to name a few, this was totally different. I admired the subtle lighting used to highlight different formations in the Big Room, which is almost 4,000 feet long, 625 feet wide, and 255 feet high - the largest in North America. From there we turned north towards Roswell to spend the night. Most of the RV resorts in this area of the country are small, tightly packed "parking lots" with electric and water service. I picked the Trailer Village RV Park in Roswell from images on Google maps which showed it to be all gravel, but still looking orderly. I picked "good"! The park was spotless, gravel roads were freshly scraped. No campers had extraneous stuff stashed in and around their rigs. The managers (?) were welcoming. It was a great experience. 

May 1: We turned west and hopped on to I-40 just east of Albuquerque. After traveling country Texan and New Mexican roads, the interstate seemed over-populated! We arrived in Gallup, NM at another nicely run, well-kept park. 

May 2: After leaving New Mexico, we stopped at the Petrified Forest National Park, and drove a loop through  the park. That night we stayed at the Distant Drums RV resort. Geoffrey and Katharina (my brother and his wife) came down and we had a nice visit while eating at Storytellers, the upscale restaurant at Cliff Castle Casino. It seemed strange to see so many people in the casino - even with masks and social distancing. 

May 3: Our plans to travel beyond Tehachapi went by the boards when we hit the road and became tired of the winds buffeting us. We stopped in Kingman and visited the Rt. 66 Museum. Then, we traveled the twisty section of Rt 66 to Oatman. We strolled through a few shops, then went on our way stopping at the Desert View RV Resort in Needles. It was a delightful, small resort, with tall Oleanders separating each site. 

Wild burros on the streets in Oatman

May 4: As we began our trek we decided to drive extra miles and arrive "home" in the evening. We switched plans from traveling on 99 to using I-5. That was a mistake! Even though I-5 is fewer miles, it seems very congested with trucks. Trucks and anything towing are supposed to have a maximum speed of 55. Thus trucks jam up the road, going significantly slower than cars, with everyone trying to pass everyone else - all on two lanes. It will be interesting to try CA 99 next time and see if it is any different. We made it to 102 Seaview before 6 PM. It was nice to know we didn't have to get up and drive in the morning!

We visited with the kids and grandkids. We enjoyed a weekend camping with them, and then we began to dig into the work of preparing our house for sale. 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

I've Been Shot

 Covid self-isolation has taught me a number of things:

- I am an extroverted introvert. (Or am I and introverted extrovert?!) I am quite content being in my own little space. I don't need to get "out there", but if I am out in a crowd, I am not always a wall-flower - I might surprise myself and others, by standing out in the crowd!

- I can cook amaZing things just by looking through the freezer, cabinets and fridge. I don't always need a recipe, and I'm open to experimenting with alternate ingredients if I don't have one or more ingredients in a recipe. (Many of my friends are struggling because they can't eat out... that was never a problem for either of the Dreamers - we rarely eat out anyway - so we don't miss it.)

- I am not immune to events happening around me. OK, so yes, I know I can be emotional. And, yes, there has been more than one occasion where my mind/emotions rule my body and make my heart race, or don't let me sleep, or give me a sense of ill feeling. But, I didn't realize the extent of the impact outside events could have on the inside of me until the night before the election. Watching the news sent my blood pressure through the roof, and I ended up in the hospital for two nights of observation and tests! It's all better now and I was given a fast-acting, strong prescription to use in case it happens again. 

- I have learned how fortunate I am to live in these times where literally everything is at my fingertips. I can order things online and have them delivered to my door...including my groceries! I am grateful that we have the means to do this, to have a nice home and to pay our bills.

- I discovered how much I miss my family! I want to see my grand kids in person. I want to hug them, and hold them, and see how much they have grown. I miss my boys. We talk. We FaceTime, but it is not the same thing. 

So, today I was shot. I RECEIVED MY FIRST DOSE of the Moderna vaccine! This is THE MOST exciting thing that has happened to me since I earned my National Board Certification as a teacher in 1996!! No joke! 

Florida began offering the vaccine to the 65 and older crowd as 2020 came to a close. The roll out was a wreck! Lee County (where I used to winter) made national news for the audacity of having seniors standing in line overnight for the chance to get the vaccine. Our neighbors were in line beginning at 4 AM - wishing they had brought blankets and chairs! Other vaccination sites had their online reservation sites crash within minutes. We tried calling numerous numbers for counties around us, getting no answers, or out-of-order messages. It was very frustrating. The local news would announce a site where seniors could get vaccinations, and the available reservations would be nabbed within 5 - 10 minutes. I was discouraged. Yesterday, a friend sent me a message saying that the Lee Health system, of which I'm a member, was taking appointment reservations. I called immediately, and unbelievably had an appointment for the Mister and me for this morning. I was "over-the-top" excited! However, I remained skeptical until I walked into the facility and was directed to the clinic administering the shots. Whew! I can breathe again!

Now, we know that we can have our 2nd vaccine (appointment already scheduled) in 4 weeks, and after that, we will be free to head west. We sold "Big Red", our 40' motorhome. Now we have "Tommie" - our mini motor home. This will be our cross-country home on wheels. 

I feel like we have been given a 

Sorry, but no, I will not be selling this card! 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

WIP (Works in Progress)

I began this post a few weeks ago, um well... to be honest - I began this post in October! Yikes!  When I came back to the post, this is what I saw:

I guess one might also consider that this post is a "Work in Progress!!"

I have been juggling projects. Thirty-some years ago, I actually learned how to juggle! But, this is a different sort of juggling... and another blog post!

I have been involved in some home improvement projects:

Most notably, we finally started, and almost finished our fireplace!!

We taped out our first idea on the wall last December:

We weren't sold on it. We came up with another plan.

The mister began to frame the fireplace. If we are struck by an EF5 tornado, the fireplace will stand! We will tear out the fireplace and crawl in the space and we'll be perfectly safe!

We revised our plan. We rethought it. We reimagined it.

I wanted to have a wood-grain fireplace. The mister liked that idea, but wanted a painted area above. We considered different ways to use trim to "marry" a painted top and a wood lower section that stood out by 3/4". Then, after looking at wood flooring, tile flooring and rough-sawn lumber...we found "blue stain pine siding." OMG! This was perfect. The color was just what we liked. The variation was sweet. The price was right, and it serves as a reminder of our time in Colorado!

We began installing wood planks and painted the niche for the TV

Now, we have to install the TV and put in baseboard molding.

So, we have made a lot of progress, but it is still a WIP!
The TV is in... but we want to do some sort of "wash" to tone down the yellow of the wood, but maintain the gray. Yup... still a WIP!

One of the local quilt shops decided to have a "challenge". We were to make a self portrait out of fabric incorporating a fat quarter we purchased from her shop. This was my completed project. 

Everyone had so much fun she gave us another challenge. This is now one of my WIPs. The challenge is to make a 20" X 20" quilt using the multi-color fabric on the bottom, and at least two others. 

When I saw the fabric it reminded me of sea fans. I can't wait to see other's responses to see if the fabric influenced others to think the same way. I sketched out my idea. (It is on the bulletin board above a bat I made for one of the littles. )

Here is a picture of the project that is almost finished. I am thrilled with all of the different techniques I used. Regardless of how it is judged, I am pleased with how the project pushed me to try new things!

A few months ago I had an email from one of the quilting shops. It was featuring a quilt with a whale on it. I liked the fact, I had purchased some of the fabric to make pillow covers for our great room. I didn't pay much attention to the email. However, I began thinking about our guest bathroom. I was thinking of it as a "seaman's cottage" and realized the colors of the fabric, and the theme of the quilt would make a great shower curtain!! So, I ordered fabric, cut most of it, began sewing some of it...WIP!!

This is the pattern.

This is my "Quilt Wall" with the cut fabrics displayed so I can sew them in the correct sequence!

Finally, perhaps the biggest challenge and WIP involves me! My benefits department sent out notices about a weight lost program* in May or June. They would pay for the program. I had nothing to lose, except a few pounds that had crept up on me over the years. I began the program at the beginning of July. 

Here is a picture of me in Nov. 2019, and another (in the same clothes) at the beginning of Oct, 2020.


I've lost a few pounds since the last picture was taken. I've lost a total of 32 pounds, 
over 20" (bust, waist, hips, thighs) 
I've dropped from size 12 or 14 to size 6 or 8, 
(Oh and a bra size of 36 DD to a 32 C or B!!!). 
Wow! I can't believe it myself!

So... what WIPs do you have???

*The program my Employee Benefits Office paid for is called "Naturally Slim"
I have tried many, many weight loss programs through the years. I have "successfully" completed Weight Watchers (twice!!), the Atkins diet and countless others. Naturally Slim is the first program that I truly believe I can follow for the rest of my life. I don't count calories. I don't have to eat specific foods. I can eat and drink whatever I like.... in moderation. The program has changed the way I think about my hunger and food. It has truly been a life changer... and I hope in years to come, I can still support the program and that I am no longer a WIP!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Rocking at Babcock Ranch

 One of the residents in our community began a "Babcock Ranch Rocks" page on FaceBook. The page is used to post painted rocks that you find throughout our community. Every once in a while, if I am lucky, I find a painted rock. When I do, I post my find on the FaceBook page and relocate the rock. 

This is one of the rocks I have found. 

Way back when, I painted some rocks to look like turtles, but sadly, I can't find my pictures of those. They were painted on rocks I found on the beach in Oregon, which were mottled like a turtle shell, so I added features to bring the inner turtle out! I decided that I could paint some more and hide them in our community. It's a lot of fun to create something...and then set it free!

 This is a butterfly I painted. I also created a turtle, a frog and a dog, a ladybug, and some with random designs in bright colors. 

Then, I experimented with painting apple snail shells. Many of these are exotic, invasive species. The shore birds delight in eating the animal (hooray for eliminating the exotic species) and leave the shells on the shore of our lake so that I can find them... and paint them. This is one of my favorites! It is supposed to look like an echinacea flower. 

It's hard to explain, but finding a special rock makes a special day!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

For the Birds

My obsession was started by my BFF. She attended a workshop by Lynne Tyler, and raved about Lynne's "Liberated Birds".  I checked out Lynne's "Patchwork Menagerie" and I was hooked! I adored her simple bird design. I decided that I wanted to make a quilt with her birds.

This was just the beginning...

---of my flock!

I made a bird here... and there. I discovered that each bird had his/her own personality. They became good friends. They "talked" to me!

I positioned my birds on my flannel wall. I tried them this way... and that! I rearranged one side, and changed birds top and bottom. I swapped this guy for that guy. I worked at varying colors and patterns. I stared at my wall, and swapped one bird for another for days! I tried to balance so many variables: color, direction bird is facing, fabric patterns, size, leg color... it just about drove me crazy!

Then came the challenge of putting it all together. Measure twice, cut once... oops! Try again! It was tedious at best, and involved a lot of muttering to myself!

My quilt began with a "charm pack". A charm pack is an assortment of 42 fabrics from a designer's collection. I purchased the pack years ago, and when I saw the birds, decided it met my needs. However, needs were greater than I anticipated. First I had to order more white, Then I needed more dark blue prints. Then I needed more, more, more. As I neared the completion of my birdies I worked on a pieced backing for my quilt with the leftover fabrics. 

Finally the piecing was finished; top and bottom! Hooray - celebration #1!

Next, I very carefully loaded the backing (I needed to keep it straight) and the top on my long arm quilting machine. I quilted some of the birdie wings with swirls or feathers, or added details to their chests. The white fabric was quilted with a meandering leaf design. 

I pulled my quilt off of the long arm machine. Celebration #2: not only was it finished but the backing was perfectly square! Woohoo! The quilt was bound, and sent off to my brother and his wife. He previously shared pictures of their new "cabin" in Idaho. They had tiles with birds on their backsplash. I think this quilt belongs to them! But, to be honest... I am going to miss my little birdies!

Friday, August 14, 2020

Yum! Sandwiches!

Well, you won't find these taste very yummy, but I think the colors are yummy!

I learned about an online free motion quilting class by Lori Kennedy. The class follows her new book, 25 Days to Better Machine Quilting: Hands-On Learning to Improve Your  Skills. Lori is expanding on the book by offering 25 weeks to better quilting on posts on her Web site. 

The first thing Lori suggested is that we make a number of quilt "sandwiches", putting batting between two layers of cotton, one of which should be a plain color to better see our quilting work. I hastened to the store and selected a number of yummy colors that would match or complement a quilt I made for our bed. That way, I could practice quilting and then make something practical out of the sandwiches: pillows!

This is my first sandwich. The color is much prettier in person.
Trust me!

Lori also encourages us to doodle on paper. So, I made oodles of doodles, and I began to feel twinges of my old nemesis, tennis elbow. So, not to be outdone, I began doodling with my left hand!

Lori incorporates writing in many of her quilts, and says she always signs her quilts. I love it!

Here are my first two pillows.

...and my pillows are multiplying. 

I have a few more sandwiches that I have quilted, or have yet to quilt, that will become the last 2 or 3 pillows on the bed.

So, then what?
a table runner or two
wall hangings
who knows? Maybe the dogs will get their very own quilted dog bed!

Gypsy wants one like this!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

You are not welcome here!!

We have run across two unwelcome amphibious critters who have made their way to Florida.  Geesh! Everyone is coming to Florida!

The first is the cane toad. These toads secrete a toxin through their skin that can kill dogs. Luckily, neither Gypsy, nor Tucker, find any fascination in investigating any toads or frogs they happen upon. Many times, after rain storms, we come upon a variety of toads and frogs on the road. They are totally ignored by my dogs. Unlike this snail, who gets a thorough going-over by the guys!

The other invader is the Cuban tree frog. We recently became aware of their existence from an article in the newspaper. This guy is a bad dude! He eats indigenous tree frogs and lizards. 

We have lived with tree frogs for years. First, in SC (34 years) and now here. I kinda like the guys, except when they jump on me. Their icky-sticky feet, and the cold, clammy feel, are kinda creepy! I have discovered one who lives in the doggie poop bag dispenser down the road from us. Twice,  I stood in front of the dispenser to get a bag, only to have him/her jump on me! Yikes! Yeech! I now stand to one side, wiggle the bag a bit to give him a chance to move to the side, before extracting a bag san frog!! 

We moved a free-standing umbrella from our lot at the RV resort to the "cage" around our pool. When we opened the umbrella, three tree frogs jumped out. I caught two, and threw them outside where they would have more luck catching bugs. Number three eluded capture. We didn't see him/her for quite some time. Then, one day, I noticed the frog hunkered down in a channel in the frame of our sliding door. Ah hah! Now the smudges on our sliding door made sense! Those were his footprints where he foraged on bugs attracted to the lights inside our home! He became my pal. I began to watch for him, and enjoyed it when he stopped by every few days. 

However, after reading a newspaper article about the invasive Cuban tree frogs we became suspicious. Our pal seemed to fit the description they provided. In part because he was the largest tree frog we had ever seen; he was easily 2 1/2" in length, and because of his coloration; he was almost white! Of course, after reading the article he disappeared from his hiding spot in the channel of the sliding door frame. He heard us talking about his fate. But, I had become used to his comings and goings, and was confident he would return. 

This is a picture of the Cuban tree frog from the University of Florida. Yup. This was our pal. They are large; usually over 2" in length. Check. They have small bumps on their back. Check. They have large toe pads. Check. 

The University requests that Cuban tree frogs be humanely euthanized and disposed of. I really don't care to see animals die, especially a healthy animal. However, the information made it clear that these cute little guys, if left to their own devices, will destroy the native species and expand their territory. Our little guy was dispatched. He was sprayed with benzocaine spray and within moments he succumbed. His information, size, sex (undetermined), picture and location of capture will be sent to the citizen frog project at the University.  


Touring with Tommie

We are on the road again!  Finally!  First came Covid - which effectively shut down travel, especially for us "old folks".  Then w...