We landed in Florida, home of Mr. Dreamy's family, and began the last minute scramble to acquire appropriate gifts for all. It's the way of the family. It just makes me stressed and unhappy and squashes any Christmas spirit that remains after driving across the country listening to every version of every Christmas carol ever produced.
Christmas - 1988
I hope that you, and your families, enjoy the gift of the season.
"It came without ribbons. It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.
And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hand't before.
'What if Christmas,' he thought, 'doesn't come from a store?'
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?"
- Dr. Seuss
I hope you discover and enjoy that little bit more!
My parents didn't usually do photo Christmas cards. However, one year my dad befriended an engineer who worked for Kodak. Alex became a family friend and since he was always experimenting with new film for the company, he began using our family as photo fodder.
This was the result of one rather arduous (as I remember it) photo session with Alex. Awwww, don't we look like the typical family from the '60's?! We are our own "Leave it to Beaver" family!
In case you were wondering, I am front and center, wearing a cute, embroidered sweater my grandmother gave me... and I still remember how itchy it was!
Ahhh, the joys of being back on the road and being subjected to Tengo Internet service. Many of the campgrounds use this service - I guess there aren't many companies out there that offer secure connections with individual logins. Some campgrounds provide it for free, others charge anywhere from $1.00 to $4.95.... a day! Talk about highway campground robbery! In my mind.... it's not worth it at any cost. At least, not with this computer. For whatever reason, my computer HATES Tengo. It constantly loses the connection... then starts looking for Networks... then I'm on... then I'm looking for networks again. It drives me crazy!
The diversity in Texas always amazes me.... but then again, when one is traveling through a state that is... well... the size of Texas, it shouldn’t be a surprise! As we drove south from Amarillo we came into a region where cotton is king. There were extensive cotton fields on either side of the road, looking very much like the snowy prairie we had so recently left behind.
Most of the fields had already been picked, and some were dotted with huge bales of cotton, topped with humongous tarps.
This photo shows the bales at the top, an area of the field that has been picked in the middle, and cotton still waiting to be picked. It turns out I was wrong (again)... and learned something new (again)! What looked like 'bales' of cotton is, in actuality called a "module". A module holds 13-15 bales, each of which weighs about 500 pounds. The modules are transported to the gin yard in trucks that slide the entire module into the bed.
No! No! It's not good. You are sitting ducks... or flying ducks... or something like that!
Our stop in Dalhart, Texas was heralded by watching flockgaggle skein* after V-shaped skein of honking geese fly overhead. I have never seen so many geese in one day, let alone in just the 30 minutes we had before dark. It seems we aren't the only snowbirds flying south!
This part of the Texas Panhandle is a huge winter playground for Canada Geese, Snow Geese, Sandhill Cranes, other water fowl, quail and pheasant. It is estimated that 250,000 - 500,000 birds winter here. Wow! That's a lot of foul fowl!
Rita Blanco Lake and large tracts of farm land provide perfect wintering grounds for the birds with plenty of food, water and shelter. Unfortunately for them, the huge population of birds attracts an equally large number of hunters. This area is known to be the 'finest goose hunting in the Texas Panhandle.
I am not a hunter, and would not enjoy killing birds. But, a tasty goose might be interesting to try.
* OK... I learn something new every day (and I forget so much, learning seems to happen more frequently)! A group of geese, while on the ground, is called a gaggle. When they are airborne they may be called a skein... this, according to Wikipedia
I have avoided driving the motorhome. I've driven it in our driveway, and I've parked it at a few campgrounds, but I've not driven it on a highway. The thing is just so big... there is very little road left when you take up so much room. But, today I drove... and it was fun!
(I'm looking a bit tense here!)
We were heading southeast through the upper corner of New Mexico and the top end of Texas. It was a nice day, with an improved road, and almost no traffic.
My knitting was buried someplace - I'm not sure where. I had played all of my friends on "Words With Friends" and they weren't responding. There were only 5 radio stations to select from, so scrolling up and down the air waves wasn't very exciting. I purposely didn't buy potato chips, so there was nothing to snack on. So.... what's a girl to do?
Mr. Dreamy has often said that he wants me to drive so that I could take over if he wasn't feeling well. I knew that I could do it.... if I had to. But, he was right in suggesting that if I drove enough to be comfortable with it, then it wouldn't be a big deal.
and at the next wide shoulder he pulled over.
The first few miles were a bit tense.
But once I got the hang of knowing
where I was on the road,
it wasn't that bad...
At least not without traffic, and large trucks going by, and lane shifts at 65 mph, and traffic cones or worse, concrete barriers, and uneven road surfaces, and rain, or worse, snow....
I guess I stick with the empty road, nice weather and little traffic driving for a while!
My first bit of panic is around our leaving home, and heading on the road for four months. I love life on the road, but I need to pack. I need warm weather clothes. I need cold weather clothes. I need to bring some cooking utensils, and spices, and food. I need everything for the dogs. I must remember to put in those Christmas gifts I have purchased, and wrapping paper for those I have yet to get. I need my medications... and the dog's Heartgard.
The house needs to be clean. We will have a 'sometimes' house sitter and I will be flying back in January and will have house guests.
Mr. Dreamy injured his foot. It's one of those mysterious things that just happens... and hurts. I forbade him to clear the snow. We only had about 5 inches, with only a bit of drifting, but the weather isn't supposed to warm up too much in the next week and we need to have the drive clear. I did allow him to start the snowblower for me! Check out his choice of footwear!
So after clearing part of the drive with a shovel,
I wrestled with the snowblower.
Oh, in addition to the snowblower...
I used the leaf blower!
I had to clear the snow off the gravel drive for the motorhome,
We will be heading to the Honda dealer in just a bit to bring our new car home. One would think the Dreamers would be very excited. We are not! In fact, we are a bit angry and poor Mr. Dreamy is very tired of wrangling on the phone and dealing with minutiae with insurance folks, car salesmen, and venders for towing equipment. For Mr. Dreamy, this whole experience has been a pain in the neck....
Mr. Dreamy was on his way home just before Thanksgiving, yeah, only last week. The roads were clear. There were few cars out and it was a gorgeous day. A buck was out, enjoying the sunshine, too, and decided to stroll across the road. Mr. Dreamy slowed and stopped, waiting for the deer, when suddenly, WHAM! A young lady plowed into him, pushing him 20 feet uphill and crumpling the rear end of our car.
(Although I am sure stronger words were thought, if not uttered.)
Mr. Dreamy was shaken and his neck hurt, but otherwise he was OK. The young lady was in similar shape. Given the conditions, all we can figure is that she wasn't paying attention, looked up and saw Mr. Dreamy stopped on the road and and at the last minute tried to steer clear. Her efforts obviously didn't work.
For the next several days Mr. Dreamy had lots of conversations with the lady's insurance company.
We had lots of conversations and some hand wringing. What were we going to do? We were planning to leave in the motorhome in a week or two. This was our tow car. It didn't seem possible that the car could be fixed in that time. Our other car cannot be towed. Could the insurance company arrange for rental cars in the areas we were staying for more than a day or two? How could we get our car when the body shop completed the work? The body shop insisted that the car had to be picked up within 24 hours of completion. We'd be hard pressed to fly back to town to pick it up. There were so many unknowns putting lots of kinks in our plans.
Recently the smoke began clearing in the crystal ball. The body shop totaled our car! Really?! OMG!
Mr. Dreamy had stopped at the body shop to pick up the garage door opener... which they found in the back seat, having been thrown there by the force of the impact. The adjuster suggested he clean everything out and take the license plates... she was quite sure that the amount of the damage would be too high. Apparently there was a lot more damage than what was visible.
So, off we went to begin the process of buying another car... barely one year after we bought this one. We will have to get the hitches installed for towing it and for carrying our bicycle rack. We'll have to get the wiring installed for towing... we'll have to pay the difference between the value of our car and the new car... but then we will be ready to hit the road, only a bit delayed.
I think the stars and planets must be aligned in our favor!
I recently followed a link on Facebook to a story about a woman who participated in a 100-day video challenge to learn how to walk again. From there, I watched video clips of other people who were practicing something for 100 days. I loved the premise of this challenge, after-all, practice makes perfect. But what goal, I wondered, did I want to pursue that I could log progress over a significant period of time? My first thought was that I could finally learn how to ride a unicycle!
That was a dream of mine for many years, but sadly, Santa never brought me a unicycle. However, I began to envision road rash on my knees, bruises in places that haven't seen black and blue for a long time, and trips to the ER with sprained wrists. I am thinking that perhaps learning to ride a unicycle at my age this point in time is inadvisable.
Then, as I responded to a comment on my recent post about my art lessons, I realized I had my challenge! I will adapt the 100-Day Challenge to become a 100-painting challenge, which may take considerably longer (especially with our travel schedule) than 100 days. So as not to subject everyone with my challenge, and have that take over this blog, I will record my progress on another blog I have created: 100 Day Challenge. (Wasn't I just saying something about blogging taking up too much time... and now I have another blog?!!) Yeah, I guess I am a bit whacko!
I ran into Michael's a few weeks ago and was stopped by one of the sales clerks. She explained that they were having a "two for the price of one" sale for art classes. Hmmm, I thought.... I've often considered taking a painting class. Maybe this was my opportunity! So, Dreaming signed up for her two classes.
In class, the instructor showed us a few 8" X 10" floral images and said to pick one. By the time the pile got around to me, I had slim pickings. I selected a columbine. She showed us how to use carbon paper (remember that stuff?!) to transfer the outlines to the canvas board and then, more or less said, "Paint it!"
I am not sure what I expected, but I didn't feel like I received much instruction and I was very frustrated. I'm thinking there was more real instruction in this video!
Isn't it cute?!
After two hours I walked out of class with my not-yet-finished piece. Later in the week I worked on completing it, but I didn't enjoy the process and I wasn't pleased with my efforts. I grew frustrated with the task and just slapped some paint on the board and said the Hell with it.
(Hmmmm.... it looks better in this picture than it does in person!)
I decided to try again. I found a picture I had taken of sunflowers in my garden. I enlarged it and transferred it to the board.
I began mixing the paint and took a bit more time scrutinizing slight variations of color brought about by shadow. I found myself enjoying the process a bit more. Perhaps it was the realization that I didn't have to complete the work in two hours - I could just enjoy playing with the colors. The color is off. I blame that partially on the lousy light in my 'studio', aka the kitchen table, and partially on the fact that my instructor never said anything about acrylic paints drying a bit darker - I had to learn that (and lots more) from watching instructive videos on YouTube. But, all in all, I was quite pleased with my second effort.
Picasso, I'm not.
But, I think I could have some fun with this!
This year I decided to shift away from the traditional pumpkin pie. Many years ago I had enjoyed a pumpkin cheesecake with a carrot cake crust, so I decided to try to replicate that. It seemed to work quite well.
I prepared a 10" springform pan and preheated the oven. I put foil around the pan as I planned to bake the cake in water. The last time I tried this the water leaked into the crust and made it very gooey. (However I decided not to use the water bath as I decided that if the cake was browned, or cracked, it wouldn't bother anyone in my household!)
I mixed the dry ingredients for the carrot cake in one bowl, and the liquids in another.
The stand mixer was used to beat the cream cheese and sugar. I removed some to leave plain, and added the pumpkin and extra sugar to the remainder.
The wet and dry ingredients of the carrot cake were mixed together and the batter was poured into the pan and smoothed.
Half of the pumpkin cheesecake mix was carefully put on top and smoothed.
I added dollops of the basic cheesecake, then the rest of the pumpkin and carefully used a knife to 'cut' the pumpkin/basic cheese mixture to swirl it.
I baked the cake at 325 for an hour and an additional 15 minutes, until the cheese mixture was setting. I turned the oven off and let the cake sit in the oven another 20 minutes just to be sure.
The end result was quite yummy, as you can see from the first picture!
A few things I will do differently next year:
I reduced the recipes to two thirds of the original ingredients. This was fine for the carrot cake, but I would have preferred more cheesecake on top. (What was I thinking?!! Oh, wait... I was thinking that I didn't have enough cream cheese.... Ha - next year I will buy enough!) Having more cheesecake batter to work with might have let the swirl work. It looks swirled in the pan, but on the plate, it looked like layers. I figured since I had two recipes of cake, reducing the amount would still fill a 10" pan. Not so! Next year I'll use the 9" pan, 2/3 of the carrot cake recipe and the entire cheesecake recipe. The finished cake did not crack and was not overly dark, so I will choose not to mess with the aluminum foil or the water bath.
I haven't had a moment to chat with Patrice and her friends for quite a while. Today she reports that it is very cold, so we will be chatting in the kitchen. It sounds like fun! If you care to join us, respond to Patrice's questions either in a comment on my site or her's, or respond on your blog and link to Patrice's blog, following the link at the end of my post.
This week Patrice's questions are on the topic of Thanksgiving. I will be preparing the meal. It will be very simple this year, with only my younger son, my Dad and his fiancé coming. Yes, you read that correctly.... Dad is getting married. He is 92 and his sweetie is 75 (or is it 74?) She is a wonderful lady and loves my Dad, even as his mental state slows down. Despite Dad's dementia, he is very sweet and happy.
If you are celebrating Thanksgiving, what are you looking most forward to on Thursday?
My favorite Thanksgiving dish is_________________.
Do you ever go through periods of time when you get hooked on a specific food?
What's the best stuffing for a turkey?
When you were a child, were you ever in a Thanksgiving play, pageant, mock pilgrim dinner, or anything different to celebrate?
I enjoy the morning of Thanksgiving day. The Macy's parade is on TV in the background and the kitchen smells wonderful as I begin the stuffing for the turkey.
I like sweet potatoes - in almost any form.
I laughed at this question because Mr. Dreamy is definitely like this. He will go months and months eating the same thing for lunch or breakfast, then one day.... he's done with that and moves to something else.
I like to add pecans and dried cherries to my stuffing. I would love to add cornbread but Mr. Dreamy doesn't care for it.
I don't recall that I ever had the opportunity to participate in anything like this, but my younger son dressed as an Indian in preschool and I had a kids' Thanksgiving a few days later. (Do you see our dog, hoping she can get whatever is going to be on the table?)
I have to run. The sun is out and I'm heading to play pickleball.... after I make Mr. Dreamy's breakfast; one egg over easy and a piece of toast. This has been his breakfast since some time around February... I can get it on the plate in a jiffy!
I spent hours making a beautiful card for Thanksgiving, quilling leaves in warm fall colors and quilling a cornucopia spilling with pumpkins, squash, carrots, apples, grapes and corn... all made of strips of paper. I whirled and twirled the paper, and used sticky glue that made the papers stick to my fingers, and then placed all of the itty-bitty pieces on the card. Did I think to take a picture? No... darn it! But the leaves I made looked very similar to these.... and I clustered them together along the top and one side of the card. The cornucopia was in the opposite corner, with its contents spilling along the bottom of the card.
I ventured to the post office to mail the card to my brother and his wife. Since I had stupidly made the card too large for a normal envelope, I used a padded envelope I had on hand. When I arrived at the counter, I asked the PO employee if she had a "Do Not Bend" stamp (realizing I hadn't written it on the envelope in red ink). She picked up the envelope, and bent it... both ways... (yeah, lady, it does bend!) before saying that she didn't have a stamp and even if she did, it wouldn't guarantee that the envelope wouldn't be bent. Inside a voice was shouting..."don't bend it - you idiot!" On the outside I kept my cool.
The postal employee did her magic with the scale and the computer and declared, "That will be $2.10." The read-out I could see declared my piece to be a "parcel".... not a letter. I asked her when a letter became a parcel. Whereupon she picked my envelope up, bent it one way, then the other... and said, "it all depends on the size."
At this point, it is a good thing that I don't have any hormones left in my body, or I would have been screaming at the lady, "WHAT DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND ABOUT DO NOT BEND?!!!" I might have been reduced to a sobbing blob on the post office floor, or other patrons may have had to restrain me as I clawed my way over the counter to throttle the postal employee. Instead, I shut my mouth, fumed inside, and marched out of the Post Office.
I mean, really, is it so hard to understand "Do NOT bend"?!
While I was out in the yard I became aware of the sound of an engine close by. We are on the approach to a small airport, and the planes often fly overhead. However, I realized this sound was a bit louder than usual, and when I turned, I saw a plane flying especially low. As I watched, the plane went over my head. I felt like I could reach out and touch it. The plane flew beyond me, and it seemed that it was flying too low to clear the trees on the hillside opposite my house. My heart came up into my throat.
At the last minute the pilot pulled up, barely brushing the tips of the trees. He climbed and made a sharp turn, coming back in my direction, but his altitude was decreasing to the point he was once again just brushing the tops of trees. His plane was lost to my sight behind our big barn.
I ran in that direction to try to keep the plane in sight. As I rounded the barn, the plane's nose came up and it stalled, flopping down on its belly and plowing a furrow in the pasture beyond our barn. It looked something like a whale smacking the water after it jumps. The plane bounced once or twice, and settled amidst the dust and debris. The air was suddenly quiet, such a sharp contrast to the previous din of straining engine and rending metal. The only sounds for the moment were the creaking and pinging of the plane as it shifted and settled into the prairie grasses. I wasn't sure whether to run to the plane, or stay away in case it caught fire. As I stood in indecision, the door opened and the passengers and crew, 12 people in all, came out onto my pasture. They were shook, but unharmed, and wandered toward me in a daze.
I ran up to the small group to see how I might help. In the back of my mind I was thinking that this was going to make a great blog post, and wished I had my camera.
The dream played itself out, but when I awoke, I shook my head in disbelief... how amazing that even in my dreams I think about blogging! And that, dear readers, is the plane truth!
I stopped by a sports store and purchased some racquetball protective glasses. Luckily I can see well enough to play pickleball without my prescription glasses, so I'm thinking these should keep me safe in the future. Let's play ball.....
Oh, and the better news? My glasses are still covered under a 90-day warrantee. Phew! The frames just need to be ordered, and I'll be back in business, wearing glasses that don't tilt at funny angles that cause the bifocal to go out of focus.
So, here is where I begin continue to fail with my photo essay...
I forgot to take yummy pictures of our lunch!
I made my way to therapeutic riding.
This is Grace.
My favorite Shire/Thoroughbred cross.
(Shhh... don't tell her that she is the only S/T cross at the barn.)
Photo essay failure...
Grace's student cancelled, so I didn't get to show her in action.
But, I did get to take her boyfriend, Toby, for a walk.
Toby rules the paddock and keeps all of the other
geldings away from Grace.
They make quite a pair!
Toby needs to be exercised to keep his hind legs supple.
Here a visitor admires Harley...
I tacked Harley up and led him for the next class.
Photo essay failure...
I didn't take any pictures of Harley decked out in his surcingle...
nor pictures during the class...
or on the trail...
or pictures of the student having a melt down...
that would have been really cute!
Failure begets failure....
I neglected to take any more pictures...
None of the dogs going in and out...
None of their lovely dinner...
No pictures of my lovely dinner...
It is really hard to create a photo essay.
I guess I'm not up to it!
I don't seem to have the "stick-to-itiveness"!