Friday, December 20, 2019

Hawaii and Home

Our son wanted to have a family "destination" Thanksgiving in Hawaii. He found a lovely home in Waialea Kahala with lots of rooms! The main house had 4 bedrooms, and several nooks and crannies where people could sleep. The detached garage had a small apartment upstairs and a bedroom and bath downstairs. The house had a securely enclosed back yard and was a short walk to the beach. It also had a swimming pool. There were spacious rooms for lounging, including an outdoor lanai and the house even had two complete kitchens; one inside and one out!

On our first day we all decided to climb Diamond Head. It was quite a trek, in a long line of tourists. Morning was the perfect time to make the ascent as most of the trip was in the shade of the wall of the volcano. 

This is where we are going!
 The views were worth the climb:

Diamond Head Lighthouse
We two Grandmas celebrated our hike to the top and back with a Dole Whip!

Having a house with a pool was perfect for the family. The kids enjoyed a lot of time in the pool. 

Besides our family, our son invited a friend and their three children. The kids had a lot of fun together, including down time on electronic devices - a luxury for our grandkids!

It was nice to have house with nicely outfitted kitchens so that we didn't have to eat at restaurants all of the time. This is Izzie, one of the kids from the other family. He had never washed dishes before, or so he stated! I had to take a picture for his mom as evidence that he can do it!

The house had three sitting areas, but only one inside table, so we often ate in shifts, or took our plates to some other area. 

We set out for a hike to Manoa Falls, only to find that they were closed. The Park Service was working on the trail. However, we stumbled upon Lynn Arboretum which had a hike to Alhualama Falls. Sadly, there was very little water... only a trickle. 

We also visited Foster Botanical Gardens. They had an amazing collection of trees, and this cute visor that I found at the gift shop. This should be easy to make!

We often went different directions, and found lunch places wherever we were. We stumbled on Fresh Catch in Kaneohe. The shop had amazing sea food with a fast food atmosphere. Most of the customers were local. It was quite a find!

Our plans for having a house-sitter fell through. We found Babcock Barks practically in our back yard. Kelli, the owner of the company, took our dogs into her home for the three weeks we were gone. Here (from L to R) Tucker, Gypsy, Cap and Ivy wait for dinner.

The dogs had a wonderful vacation. They even watched videos lounging on Kelli's bed!

We stopped at the Dole Plantation and took the train ride tour. They produce only a small amount of pineapples, but their property showcases Hawaiian agriculture. From there we went down the road to a small coffee farm. 

We also visited the Waikiki Aquarium. It was built at the end of the trolley line so riders might be encouraged to ride to the end of the line! It is a small aquarium. I enjoyed watching the octopus. On my first pass he was sleeping, wonderfully camouflaged on the rock coral. 

On my second pass, he had come out and was exploring.

Before we knew it our time was up and we had to fly back to San Francisco. We rode our bikes down to the truck rental company to pick up a 16' Penske truck. We spent a day loading tools and sewing machines, a bit of furniture and some odds and ends.

We took off the next morning, traveling 500 miles or so each of the next 6 days. Below is a picture as we climb the pass on I-5 just north of LA. My friends said this area is called "The Grapevine". It was fun to see many cars pulled over so that kids of all ages could play in the snow - an unusual experience, even for this area.

Sunrise in Palm Desert, CA

Considering that we travelled over 3,000 miles, we were fortunate in having few delays other than heavy traffic, some construction and some disabled vehicles. As we approached the bridge over the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge all traffic stopped. There was an accident a mile beyond the bridge. However, while waiting a car a bit ahead of us overheated and caught on fire. That must have been terrifying for the owner of the car, and for the vehicles around him. A fire truck came up the bridge on the west bound lanes and extinguished the flames.

 We stopped to see Scott's sister and to pick up some furnishings that had belonged to his mother, and then, after 6 long days of driving we were home. We unpacked the truck and returned it the next day. Then, we unpacked most of the boxes, and now we are getting back to getting settled.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

W.E.P. December Challenge: Footprints

And just like that, December is here and it is time for another writing challenge. Click on the image below to find links to all entries.

The footsteps faded to emptiness down the long, colorless corridor.

She was shaken awake by the dream. Another strange dream brought on by the hormones coursing through her body. 

The baby was born, to her delight. He smiled up at her from his vantage point between her legs, and he pushed himself backwards to safely climb off the birthing table. He walked down the shadowed hallway, out of the delivery room, leaving nothing but footprints piercing her heart. The fading sound of his steps still echoed in her head, and pulsed through her body. She’d experienced other strange dreams during previous pregnancies. Pregnancies that never sustained themselves beyond eight weeks. 

She immediately knew, from the core of her being. 

She folded the crocheted baby blanket she had just begun and put it in the paperboard box, along with a few other baby items. Tangible reminders of dashed hopes. With heavy steps, she carried it down the hall to put it in the dark recesses of the closet; out of sight, but never out of mind. 

175 words
Full critique welcome

PS: This was my dream many years ago. It was haunting, and it was a portent of things to come. The blanket was finally finished. I went on to bear two sons. However, my heart still holds the memories of the lost ones.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

It's Broken. No, It's Not. Yes, It Is!

I happened to stop by a Goodwill store to look for "art" that I could repurpose, either using the frame or repainting a canvas, or maybe, just maybe, finding "art" that I would want to hang on our immense expanse of wall that we have. (Our ceilings are all 10' high and we have lots of wall space.) I lucked out in that the Goodwill was having a 50% off sale, so I found a number of art pieces and was heading out the door when I spied a large wooden desk.

Hmmm, thought I, that could be a great sewing table. I went over to inspect the desk. It had a few dings and veneer chips... character one might call it! But otherwise, the piece was in good shape, and it was solid. Yup... it wasn't made the way furniture is now. This was all wood, and weighed a ton! And... I wanted it. Of course, the price was an incentive. The original price was listed as $14.99. So, I bought the desk for the kingly sum of $7.50!!!

I went back the next day with the truck. The desk just fit in the truck's bed, with the tailgate down. It took four of us to heft that hunk of wood into the bed of the truck. I got the desk home and took out the drawers to lighten the load, and so I could clean them. We suckered an electrician who was giving us an estimate to help us get the desk off the truck and into the garage. Later, when our furniture arrived, we asked the fellas who had moved those pieces if they might possibly consider installing the desk in my sewing room. They obliged.

As I inspected my new find I discovered a stamp on the bottom of the desktop that indicated that the desk was manufactured in 1956

Based on a label in one of the drawers, the desk probably cost $140 when purchased at Galloways.

With just a smidge of research, I discovered that Ralph Galloway began an upholstery business in 1944 and began to specialize in Danish furniture. He eventually had six furniture stores on the Gulf coast of Florida, as well as one in Orlando. 

So, it was fun to find out a bit about my desk. 

However, that is not the subject of this post. The desk is not broken. But, it is because of the desk that I hurt my toe! 

Earlier I wrote that I had removed the drawers so I could clean them. I took the drawers out to the driveway with a container of soapy water and a scrub brush. I scrubbed each drawer, rinsed it, and positioned it in the sun to dry. At one point I walked into the garage. My feet were wet. The garage has one of those shiny finished floors. The floor was amazingly slippery with wet feet. I started doing an awkward split, with my left foot rapidly moving north, and my right beginning to head south. In some sort of valiant effort to remain standing I guess I twisted and my right foot slammed, toes down, onto the floor. 

Yeouch! It hurt! I hopped around for a bit, spewing a string of expletives, and went about my task. Only a bit later, when it still hurt, I noticed how the end of the toe next to my big toe had turned rather black. And, a bit later, there was additional redness, some blue, and some swelling. I Googled "images of broken toe" and compared my toe to what I saw online. Hmmm... it could be broken! Next I checked with Dr. Google to see if one should see a Doctor about a suspected broken toe. I knew they usually can't do anything about it, but the Internet did say that it should be x-rayed to be certain nothing is out of line. So, off we went, later that afternoon, to a Convenient Care center for an x-ray. 

The PA read the film and declared that I had, indeed, broken my toe. I had a closed fracture of the last joint of my second toe. I could even see the pie-shaped piece that had broken from the joint. The PA gave me a surgical shoe to wear and told me to follow up with a podiatrist. She also mentioned that a radiologist would read the x-rays and the results would be posted on "My Chart", an online interface for patients to keep track of their medical procedures, tests, appointments, etc. The next day the radiologist reported:

How wonderful to know that my big toe was not broken. However, as I explained in a note to the employee who posted the report, the second toe was the one in question, and perhaps a radiologist should take a look at that one. 

Before the radiologist reported on reading the x-ray a second time I had an appointment for a general checkup with a PA in our new neighborhood medical center. I told her my story. She pulled up the x-rays, and agreed with the original diagnosis. The toe was fractured. 

I have since visited a podiatrist to assure that the fracture remains "closed".  All is well, and the toe hasn't interfered with the enjoyment I find in sewing at my new desk!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Horrible Harvest Yields Rewards

I enjoy a challenge. I find playing with words fascinating. I admire writers who paint amazing pictures and evoke emotion deep in my soul, simply by the way they craft their work. 

How wonderful to be selected as the Runner Up in the October challenge at WEP!

The Judge, Nick Wilford, added this comment:

"Takes a sideways look at a difficult subject and does it in a way that it doesn't lose any of the impact. Really well done."

Gosh, I wish my High School English teacher could see this! He never liked my writing!

Click on the badge above to see other Horrible Harvest entries.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Third Time.... Was Not the Charm

After ordering furniture and having it delivered, we then began to think about lamps. The lamps at the furniture stores were too pricey. I have ordered a few things from Wayfair, and I found a few lamps that I liked, so I placed my order.

Image from Wayfair 

Image from Wayfair
The lamps arrived within a few days. The good news is that the Mister liked the bird lamp, even though he wasn't a fan of it in the online picture. The bad news is that the glass lamp was broken. I went to the Wayfair site to report the damage. I submitted pictures of the broken lamp and within seconds of pushing "enter" I had a message that a replacement lamp was on its way. 

A few days later I received a message from Fed Ex, reporting that a package they were delivering had met with an unfortunate incident and they were notifying the shipper. Shortly after I received a message from Wayfair that a replacement lamp was on its way.

I received a call from Fed Ex a few days later. Uh oh! I immediately asked, "Did you break my lamp again?!" The employee was a bit nonplussed, and explained that he was calling for the driver who was trying to deliver the lamp on a Saturday to our RV resort. The resort's office was already closed, and he wanted to know what the driver should do. Since I was not at the RV resort I asked if it could be redelivered to our new home. No problem!

And of course, when the lamp arrived, it too was broken. Perhaps the driver tossed it down in frustration at not being able to deliver it as it was addressed!

By this time I decided that the lamp was never going to arrive in one piece. I called Wayfair. They offered to have it double packed. I suggested they send a different lamp instead. The employee was most apologetic, and even gave me a discount. A few days later, the replacement of the three broken lamps arrived in one piece! Finally!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Devil Finds Work for Idle Hands


"The Devil made me do it!"

You may recall that we Dreamers were stranded in Florida waiting for a windshield, and then for medical tests and their results. OK, so I did take a brief sojourn to California by myself. But, before that we had a lot of time when almost everyone had left our resort and no activities were scheduled, and it was too darn hot to do much outside. We aren't shoppers (in the usual sense). I'm not much for sun bathing or hanging out at the pool.  I entertain myself with painting, writing and sewing, but after a while, participating in those pastimes is awkward and/or confining on the motorhome. We had cabin fever and needed to get out. So, get out we did. We went to look at model homes here and there. We both knew that at some point in the future we would want to take the wheels away and have a real home some place in Florida. We took this opportunity to see what was out there ,and where. We visited a number of developments, and walked through many homes. A lot of them were lovely. Many of them were well beyond our budget. Some were too far out in the countryside. Many were in congested traffic areas. Some homes were too close to others.

Then, we found it. The house was Perfect... with a capital "P"! We knew it the minute we walked into it. First, the house had an extended 3-car garage, so there would be plenty of room for the Mister's workshop. Second, one of the bedrooms was 15' X 12'. Wow! My longarm sewing machine will fit, and then some! The house is in Babcock Ranch, the first solar-powered "city". The first homes became available just over a year ago, so the community is still new, and everyone is open to meeting new people and forming new friendships. The developer has grandiose plans for this "city", with shops, meeting places, sports opportunities and even a school. It is beginning to grow quickly.

After much discussion we decided that we liked the idea of this community. All the people we met were very friendly. We like that this isn't limited to 55 years of age and over. Most of the homes on this street are owned by snowbirds. Thus we have similar interests. However, it's fun to see the kids. We like the idea of being in on the ground floor instead of coming into an established community. We might have an opportunity to shape what the community will have to offer. The community is going to be huge, with a 5-year or longer buildout. (Constant construction is a downfall, however) We like that the house is just under a mile from the main entrance. We won't have to drive miles through a community to get to our home. The house is close to a community clubhouse, pool, and a walking trail that leads to a dog play area. After many visits to the sales models and discussions with the builder's representative, and consideration of building the same home on a different lot, we decided to buy the house.

We closed in September, and began moving things into the home when we returned to Florida. Before leaving the area for California we did order some furniture. This season we will participate in events at the RV resort and in our new community, as we can easily go back and forth and spend a night here or there. We will probably sell the motorhome in the spring. We also talked about selling the house in California, as we no longer need something that large. However, we discovered how much we love that location, too. Perhaps we'll revisit that again next year. Who knows. Obviously, we don't! We didn't even know we were going to consider buying a house in Florida this year!

Recently the furniture arrived. We thought we bought a lot. We still need so much more! However, we do have spots for folks to sit, and the empty house echo has gone, so we can take our time and have fun finding the perfect pieces(s)!

Another day dawns... who knows what this day will bring!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

WEP Entry: Alcoholic Annihilation

Writing Challenge for October - WEP + IWSG

Here is my Horrible Harvest:

Golden orbs, a blush of pink on their cheeks, sway and bob from branches of the ancient, gnarled apple trees. The sweet smell of freshly mown grass rises from the earth and the cicada chorus tunes its tymbals to accompany the sun’s descent. Dusk’s deepening colors splash playfully on the fruit, filtered by the leaves of the trees in the orchard. 

The scene is idyllic . The sort that plein air painters capture on their canvases. The day’s end in fall;  the clear blue sky blending to purple, with washes of red and gold; cooling night air a portent of winter to come. The scene is deceptively sweet. Deceitful.

As nightfall advances a curious phenomenon occurs; sugars produced by the sun and stored in the apples combine with naturally produced yeast on the skin of the fruit. Fermentation begins. The fruit exposed to more sunlight during the day, on the upper branches and those on the southern side of the trees, are the first to ripen, and the first to become noticeably tipsy and silly. 

The orchard fills with sounds of mirth, the volume increasing to eclipse the music of the cicadas as evening stars march into their places in the sky. The moon arcs across the sky; the party escalates in cacophonic splendor. Less inebriated fruit duck under leaves within the trees’ branches, fearing the loss of control of their comrades and the resulting consequences. They’ve seen it all before. 

More alcohol is distilled within the most exposed fruit and tempers flare. Nasty comments rent the air. Ugly, harsh voices snarl and screech. Emily Post filters of etiquette and reasonableness fall to the ground, along with the first colored, withered leaves of autumn. 

The fruits bob on their stem tethers trying to turn hateful words into hurtful actions. Biting words turn into blows when one fruit manages to reach another. Heavy, wet plops echo throughout the orchard as drunken fruits smash to the ground, pulpy and brown, releasing an odor of apple cider that has turned. The fruit within the inner sanctum cringe at the bawdy behavior, wanting to disassociate themselves from the horrid show of inebriated excess. They sense the coming terror, with anxious tightness in their cores, wondering when they themselves will lose control and plunge to a pulpy end. The raucous noise slowly abates, turning to muttered epithets as sounds soften with the first blush of daylight. Actions slow, and with the exception of an occasional guttural grunt, a somnolent snore and soft mutterings, all is quiet. The sun’s first rays focus on sweating fruit, seemingly from a heavy dew, hanging languidly on the branches. The cloying sweet smell of alcohol rises with the morning mist. Throughout the orchard smashed bodies, oozing sticky wetness and attracting numerous buzzing insects, are mounded in the grass casting long shadows across the ground.  

The sun rises. The light intensifies, beginning the cycle of destruction anew.

Word Count: 486
Feedback is always welcome.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Five Hundred Miles (Times Six) and Then Some

It's our annual migration. You might say we are on a "repositioning cruise"!
We left the San Francisco Bay area and began our trek to SW Florida. The distance is over 3,000 miles. How many miles over is dependent on the exact route we take and how many side trips we manage along the way.

Here are a few highlights of our trip:

Tehachapi, CA (Day 1)
  • Of course, meeting my blog friend, Inger was a huge highlight.
  • Seeing the trains on the Tehachapi Loop was very special.

Seligman, AZ (Day 2)
  • We stopped here, but didn’t have the energy to go into this historic Route 66 town. The campground host implied that there wasn’t much to see. The weather was cold and very windy. 
  • Oh. My. Stars! When I took the dogs out for their evening walk I was treated to the most beautiful evening show of stars. Having lived in an RV resort with street lights, and a neighborhood in California with lights, such that I don’t even need a flashlight at night, I was stunned by the spectacle. It’s been a long time since I lived without light pollution and could see the amazing heavens!

Albuquerque, NM (Day 3)
  • We passed this interesting building near Williams, AZ. This is the Kadampa Buddhist Temple. This is one of five International retreat centers for the study of modern Kadampa Buddhism. In Flagstaff, no less! 

  • We try to get off the road by 3:30, or after 330 miles, especially on this long trip. We hit two construction zones outside of Gallup, NM that slowed us down. We were surprised at how much time they took off our trip as we got into the park in Albuquerque around 4:30. It wasn’t until the next morning that we dumb Dreamers realized we had changed time zones, and all of our time instruments had automatically adjusted when we weren’t paying attention! For all intents and purposes, we did get in at 3:30!!
  • I discovered this black and red blister beetle at our campsite in Albuquerque. The bugs give off a toxin that can create blisters on your skin. In researching the beetle I found an interesting Navajo story. The bug is also called a Navajo Pot Carrier or a Water Carrier. Some of the bugs have rounded abdomens that look like Indian pots and oral traditions have a complex story to tell about the beetle. 

 Shamrock, TX (Day 4)
  • On our drive we saw many, many RV’s. The most unusual, however, was an Airstream painted to look like a duffle bag. It was the Lands’ End trailer on its Heritage Tour. They were heading to the balloon festival in Albuquerque. 
This is the only picture of the trailer I could find on the Internet.
Luckily, we weren't driving in snow!

  • We stopped at the Texas Route 66 RV Park, a small campground along the highway. The owners are delightful. They bought the campground a year ago and are working hard to make improvements. I like finding places like this, and returning to see how things change over time. I wish the new owners well in their venture.
  • Texas has stickers and tarantulas! The grass at the Shamrock campground was recently mowed, but it still had all kinds of stickers that found their way into Tucker’s and Gypsy’s coats. I began taking the brush on walks with me to save my fingers from getting poked! While I was out walking the dogs, the Mister spied two tarantulas; a he and a she! They had a quick affair, she returned to her home in a small tunnel in the grass, and he ventured on.
  • The rain in Texas was all our fault. We washed the accumulated dirt and grime from the storage yard off of the trailer in Albuquerque. So, of course that would bring rain.  We enjoyed the drumming of rain on our roof, and in the morning there was only a narrow band of rain right over us. As we began our morning trek to the east, we quickly left the rain behind. Thank goodness!
Historic landmark: Tower Service Station and U-Drop Inn
Alma, AR (Day 5 & 6)
  • We always struggle to find a nice campground in this area. I found an interesting campground in Arkansas “Wine Country”, amidst several wineries. It was basically a dirt parking lot with hookups. The Mister didn’t want to drive that far to sit in a dirt parking lot (It was another 40 miles beyond Alma). So, I fell back on one we’ve used in the past. Last year we had a terrible experience. The campground encourages the guests to write reviews on various Internet sites, and even provides directions about how to do so. Instead of leaving a bad review, I sent an email, suggesting they wouldn’t want to see what I’d write. I informed them of some of the problems we had. So, fast forward to this year. I called to make a reservation. When I gave my name the woman evidently looked me up and their was some sort of “flag” on my name. She said she needed to so some research and would get back to me. I was fearful that they would refuse to allow us to come this year. A bit later she called and apologized for the problems we had last year and said they’d like to give us a discount for our visit this year. What a surprise. We still aren’t enamored with the campground, but it was kind of them.
  • More sparkles in the night! The only flashlight in the trailer that works is a headlamp. So, after dinner I donned my “miner’s lamp” and took the dogs out for their evening walk. Oh, my! I had forgotten about the reflections one sees from spiders in the grass. Ugh! Then, I almost walked into a spider dangling from a tree. No stars here, but plenty of sparkles.
  • We decided to spend an extra day and get some much needed R & R. We ventured into Fort Smith and visited the Fort Smith Museum of History, located in the 1906 Atkinson-Williams Warehouse, which once operated as a hardware store, soda fountain and pharmacy. We also visited the Fort Smith National Historic Site, which had another excellent museum. From there we stopped by the Ft. Smith Trolley Museum. The “Mister” enjoyed chatting with the docents as he used to volunteer at the Denver trolley. So even though we didn’t do a whole lot of resting, we did enjoy a nice change of pace, and an excellent lunch at the Bricktown Brewery. I had to try the sweet potato fries with caramel, sea salt and bacon. Oh. My! 

This was one of my favorite exhibits. These are life-size leaves that were carved out of the wood of that sort of tree. 
These are 5 tree samples from the Jesup Wood Collection that included 455 specimens
and was unveiled at the Museum of Natural History in New York in 1880.

My lunch!
Ft Smith

A replica of the gallows, where 86 people were hanged from 1873 to 1896  in this town on the border of the frontier.

Tupelo, MS (Day 7)

  • We are in the south, after all. I guess temperatures above 90 are to be expected. We were all feeling sluggish from the heat.
Chattahoochee, FL (Day 8)
  • We made it to our home state. Hooray! We stayed at a clean, no frills, family run campground. Over 300 trees were lost because of Hurricane Michael. The owner of the campground also owns a heavy-equipment company, so cleanup was quick and thorough. 
North Fort Myers, FL (Day 9)
  • We broke our 330 rule (driving 330 miles or stopping by 3:30 PM, whichever comes first), by continuing on to North Ft Myers. We drove 426 miles, but due to an early start, actually made it in well before 3:30... so I guess we didn't break our rule after all! 
  • We spent one last night in the Airstream, then the next day, got everything settled with the motorhome, unloaded the Airstream and put it up for a rest in our storage unit.
Now our winter adventures begin!

What is Four?

Have you ever thought of the meaning of "four"?  Four is the number of: seasons in a year. corners and sides to a square. virtues....