Saturday, May 26, 2018

Dinner Conversation ..... T M I

There should be rules about dinner conversations.  In fact, there should be rules about old people ALL the time.  I'm sure you know one .... those folks who talk about every bodily function imaginable to everyone who will listen, and even those who are walking away.

Why is that?  I've always been rather a quiet, reserved person, not willing to share much about my health issues, but some people will just go on and on and on.  Case in point, I was very reticent when an acquaintance (who shall remain nameless) called to ask me out to dinner.

Not a "date", just a friend who I would rather remain a friend in spite of my needing a handyman.

Unfortunately, I've decided to delete the rest of this post.  It's not nice to talk about other people, especially when they are your friends.  My apologies.  Suffice to say dinner turned out to be a TMI conversation about a recent surgery and everything that accompanied it.  Try as I might, I could not seen to get the conversation going in another direction.
T M I is the name of the game.  TOO MUCH INFORMATION!   Please do NOT bring up all that bodily function conversation unless you've been married for thirty years and are talking to your spouse.  It did have it's funny points, including the next booth neighbors.

The picture above is the latest quilt with binding finally in place.  I think this is my all time favorite, the first one I did not make from a kit.  I actually chose the fabrics.  Having found a sampler quilt challenge on-line, free including all the directions and videos, I'm starting on a new project that I hope will erase all those TMI thoughts and images from my mind.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Some Rain Must Fall

It's time again for Nancy to put on her manly gear ... ranch levis and boots.  There's MAN work to be done around here.  Unfortunately, I'm not like most men who can eat anything they want and not gain an ounce, or just THINK about dieting and have the weight fall off.
Into everyone's life some rain must fall, and I guess it's going to sprinkle on my diet forever.  In spite of all my efforts, I'm gaining back some of the ten pounds I lost.  In an attempt to keep the Doctor happy, I'm running two miles every other day, giving me sore muscles every OTHER day.  

Once I get over the initial shock of gasping for air and feeling like I'm going to collapse in the middle of the road, there is a fifteen minute period of euphoria when I feel like I did something good.  That's when the coughing fits begin that clear my lungs of all the smog I breath here in the Valley.  Sounds like fun, right?

This guy keeps me going however.  No matter how much rain falls in his life, he's on my roof every single morning chirping away as loud as he can.  I'm not sure if he's looking for a lady friend or just designating his territory, but he never fails to show up at 4:30 am.   Rather a bad picture since it was still dark out.
Last night about 2:00 am there was a huge boom that woke up the dogs and I.  I was sure an airplane had crashed next door or maybe a train had blown up.  CRAZY loud!!  Just as I tried to get back to sleep, my totally closed up bedroom lit up like a Christmas tree!  That's when the rains came.

YIKES!!  We never have that kind of lightning storm around here.  Slight chance of thunderstorms they said and yet the rain falls like me dumping out a bad batch of soup in the cemetery.  It's pouring!!!  The good news is that it will help my brown patchy lawn.
Since the gardeners aren't going to repair anything, I decided to do it myself.  I grabbed a shovel and tried to dig up and tear out half of a huge bush that was blocking the sprinklers path.  

My sore muscles didn't help much, but I did make a nice big mess accomplishing half the task.  Maybe when the rains quit, it will be softer digging.  On to the sprinklers.

You probably can't see it here very well, but several of the heads are tilted way to one side, making for brown spots like the above picture.  I don't know how I thought I was going to fix it, but I dug it up just the same.  
Come to find out, they are rather flexible (??), so I straightened it up and filled the dirt back in.  Gee, I seem to be much better at fixing sprinklers than I am cooking!!  I have three more to repair.  
When the mowers and blowers came by yesterday, they saw my hard work and apologized for not fixing it themselves.  Yeah right!  I gave him two sprinkler heads for the front yard, which he installed digging up one and straightening it like I did, before testing for coverage.  I was spying on him out the window the whole time.  I'm hoping they work.

To repay myself for all that hard work, I baked some cookies.  Hmmmmmm, maybe that's what's wrong with my diet.  Anyway, chocolate chip walnut morsels of overcooked deliciousness.  I baked them in the big oven, which obviously doesn't have very even temperature.  More rain in my future when I call the repairman.  
Just a note ... Miss Jessie has been very sick the last few days, but seems to be turning the corner.  That's rain in my bathroom every day that I'm pretty tired of cleaning up.  Cooper also seems to be on the mend.  I keep thinking it's the food.   Much as I'm missing out on an RV Rally up north, I'm glad I made the decision to cancel and stay home with the puppies.  It would have been much worse to be on the road with two sick dogs.

My hand?  It's doing VERY well and I'm back to hand sewing, just not for long sessions like before.  There will be a little sprinkle of rain in YOUR life if you read my blog, because I've got four quilts in the works to show you.  

One is a sampler quilt, something I've never tried before.  One block a week for seven weeks comes to my Facebook page with all the instructions.  It's a free pattern online from National Quilter's Circle.  Now all I need is fabric!  A trip to the fabric store will definitely make the rain go away!!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Critique 101

Way back when, I decided to take a photography class at our local Junior College, just for fun.  I actually had a great Nikon camera, but no clue about how to take good images.  The AUTO button was my friend.

After two classes and many months, I became good friends with the instructor, Jeff.  Pretty soon we were taking road trips all across the country to find new things to photograph.  As time went on, he began inviting a few of us to come critique his current class.  It helps to have another person's opinion because everyone doesn't necessarily like the same things in photographs.

Armed with three bags of candy, three of us from the old fogey group showed up to help the students with their portfolios, a requirement of the Advanced Class.  The Bail Bondsman shoots amazing Hispanic weddings and landscapes, the Prison Guard (who has recently switched from all Nikon gear to the new mirrorless Sony brand) also shoots weddings, and then there is me, the animal/landscape queen.  Two weddings was more than enough for me.  We have a great time encouraging the kids in their work.

Unfortunately, I can't show you any of it because they are all copyright protected.  So here's a few of mine just to show you what we did last night.

Not a bad image, but a little too dark.  Angles in photography are always good ... try to get to a spot where no one else has taken that picture.
This is what we call a pretty harsh transition between a bridge and a deer.  If you shoot wildlife, try to get something other than the deer just standing there, like him licking his back foot.  Remember the rule of thirds ... centered images are okay, but usually look more pleasing to the eye if they are in the right or left third, depending on which way the subject is looking.
Nice reflection.  Definitely something you don't see every day.  WOW ... that blood looks REAL!!  We had one guy who will definitely get a job in the horror movie industry.  Can you pass the Reese's peanut butter cups please?
NO flowers.  Flowers are a no-no.  Everyone has shot tons of flower pictures, which I personally LOVE, but you don't really want them in your portfolio.  Do I show them on my blog all the time?  Of course ... because they are pretty!!!
Your dog, cat or grandchildren are NOT good images to put in your portfolio when you are looking for a job.  It's another harsh transition from the flowers above to the tiger here.  Not a bad image though, since you can see his face.  Those images we looked at of the tiger laying in the grass with his back turned to the camera, looked just like they were taken in the afternoon at the zoo ... which they were.  Show the face up close ... much more interesting.
If you are lucky enough to travel to Bandon Oregon to pet the babies like Tatiana here, spend your time photographing her instead.  Yes the trainer is cute, but cut her out.  It's the tiger we want to see.  Can you pass the M&M's please?
Again, the picture of the lion's butt with no head visible, is a no-no.  No butt pictures please.  Zoom in on the face ... it's those animal eyes you want to see.
There were lots of ocean images ... pretty water and nice waves.  To make it more interesting, always show something in the foreground ... like the beach or rocks, then the water and the horizon.  Feel like you are tilting to the right?  

It's very hard to shoot perfectly straight images unless you have a level on your camera or tripod.  This one needed to be fixed in post production so the horizon line would be straight across.  Many images last night definitely needed to be tweaked.  I think I have a permanent crook in my neck.
Sunsets pretty much represent the end of the day, so they work really well as the last image in a portfolio.  Without the bird however, this would be a pretty ho hum sunset.  
Hyped up on sugar from all the candy we ate, we swore we would meet up again for a road trip.  There's nothing more fun than a group of crazy photographers looking for something to shoot.  Unfortunately, everyone's schedule is so different, it's hard to come up with a date.  

It was another fun class ... except for the bloody images of shootings and hangings that gave me nightmares ... meaning he did a REALLY good job!!  To each his own.  It always makes me want to get out there and photograph something.  No telling what you will see in the next couple of weeks.  Hopefully it won't be just quilts!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Will Wonders Never Cease

You know what this picture means ..... it was Magic Kingdom of Bingo night.  To make it even more interesting, I drug my friend along to the castle and put her to work in the dungeon.

It was interesting to try and work with one hand.  Being a good girl, I wore the brace.  I have to say it's MUCH better and I'm even going to go back to sewing, just a little at a time.

After our "pump up your courage" glass of coca cola, we headed downstairs to set up ... actually a little ahead of time.  The Castle Lawyer had the same idea and beat us to it.  She was all set up and ready to go with our new infernal mini-me debit card machine plugged in to a new internet cable.  We call it that because we had loads of trouble with the cash register when it was new.  The card machine has been no exception, just smaller.

We were off to the races immediately.  Here we go .... the big TEST!  In less than one second (yes, really) it said remove card and spit out a receipt, faster than lightning.  Will wonders never cease.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  A few more cash transactions went through when another card came up.

Slam bam, thank you ma'am, it went through slick as could be.  You should have seen the smile on my face.  Nancy was a happy camper as card after card went through in seconds instead of minutes.  The line never slowed down and we didn't have ANY mad customers.

In no time, the Evil Sheriff came by to check if it was working.  I gave him a thumbs up, whereupon he patted himself on the back for about ten minutes.  That's when we found out HE didn't do the work alone, one of our Bingo Crew ran all the wires for the direct internet connection.  No matter, it works, after 14 months of us bitching at him to fix it.
We all should have gone upstairs for a celebration drink, but instead the Castle Lawyer and I celebrated with pizza from one of the players.  Fifteen minutes later, after a little snafu with our order for pepsi at the snack bar, we had two cheeseburgers and fries to get rid of.

You have to pick your fights, and telling the Chief Cook she made a mistake is NOT a good idea.  RATS ... this is NOT on my diet!!

We gave one to friend Cyndae, while the Castle Lawyer and I agreed to share one.  Ever try to cut a cheeseburger in half with a fork?  My dull pocket knife wasn't much better, and by the time I was done, it was pretty mangled, with a big hole in the bottom of the plate.  I stabbed my piece and ate around the edges before depositing the rest in the bin.

At the end of the night, mini-me closed out on the very first try.  Amazing ... and such a simple fix.  Too bad it took us getting mad enough to go to the Board to get it done.  The Evil Sheriff came by to gloat some more.  His arm must have been really sore, having spent all night patting himself on the back and telling everyone about what a great job he had done.

You know me, or maybe you don't, but I told him if he had done this many moons ago, he wouldn't have had to listen to me bitch at him.  Sorry, I couldn't help but dig him a little.  It's nice to know there will be no more apologizing on our part for a machine that wasn't working correctly.

Unfortunately, I ended the night with a sick puppy.  Poor Jessie made a really big mess in my bathroom while I was gone and her gurgling stomach kept me up most of the night.  Poor baby ... I'm going to revamp her food AGAIN to see if we can make it better.

For now, I think it's nap time on the couch.  I know it's only 6:00 in the morning, but I'm yawning already and I need sleep before the College Photography Class critique I'm doing tonight.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A Walk On The Wild Side

Every morning when I get up, the first stop is my wild back yard.  Not for me of course, but for the puppies.  As beautiful as it is, it's a constant reminder that I no longer have horses in my life.  To counteract that feeling, I always check out the rose bushes.  Notice the difference in height?

My gardener saw fit to trim the bushes back ... a good thing.  Unfortunately, he has also chosen to do that once every two weeks.  Thus I have a stepping stone variation of rose bushes.  To the left out of the picture, are six more that are taller than the fence which he has not trimmed at all.

There's a reason for that I guess ... since I caught him dumping OTHER people's trimmings in MY trash can (I'm the only one in the area that pays to have a trash can), I put a stop to it.  I put my can in the garage.  Now he has to haul off trimmings on HIS dime, so he doesn't do much at a time, unwilling to fill his trailer to the brim at just my house.  And so on and so on .......
Amazingly, as I walked about the yard yesterday admiring the four things that flower, I spotted a first ever event.  My bottle brush tree that I planted last year, knowing full well it would probably die, has survived.  It is even blooming!!  When I spotted a touch of red at the bottom, I lifted the little branches to find beautiful blooms.  YAY for my black thumb that seems to have turned slightly green.
As I listened to the little bird who sits in the exact same spot on the roof every single morning singing his praises to a sweetheart who has yet to fly by, I glanced over by a bedroom window and saw MORE red!!  It's no surprise that I can't for the life of me remember what these are, but they are blooming like crazy!!
The last thing flowering, which I absolutely LOVE, are the two honeysuckle bushes.  They smell devine when you walk by.  Why the little flying dog?  It's supposed to be for my Mandy girl, a black miniature schnauzer who flew over the rainbow bridge and waits for me to join her.  Best little dog ever.  Yes you are right, the ornament is a scotty dog, not a schnauzer!!  It was a gift, so it's the thought that counts.
That's when I heard the buzzing.  Honeybees flying around the honeysuckle.  Of course!  So I got real close and took a picture with my phone, barely able to tell where it was.
Wasn't I surprised when I made the picture larger and found this guy!  YIKES!!  Yellow jackets around here are MEAN!  If you walk by, they will fly right out and nail you!!!  I can't believe I got within three inches to take this picture and didn't get stung.  It was my lucky day!!
Making it even luckier, my girlfriend from Sacramento came down yesterday afternoon to take me to dinner.  I can't argue with that, so off we went to our claim to fame, Applebees.  Instead of my usual salmon plate, I decided to walk on the wild side and have bourbon chicken and shrimp.  

When they set the plate in front of me, it looked nothing like the picture on the menu.  The shrimp were less than one inch around, all three of them.  It showed loads of mushrooms, but all I could find on the plate were four little pieces along with onions which were not pictured at all.  

Truthfully, it tasted just like regular chicken.  I KNEW I should have stuck with the salmon.  Live and learn .. it was still a very nice dinner with a long time friend.  Tonight I'm dragging her off to the Magic Kingdom of Bingo.  My return treat for her will be a dungeon hot dog.  Won't she be thrilled!!

Monday, May 21, 2018

It Was A Two Bagger

I tried to get to bed really early, since an early morning rising was called for.  The Elks RV Park was holding it's monthly $7 breakfast at the facility not far from my home.  The puppies weren't sure why we were going to bed when it was still light outside, but they complied.  I couldn't wait to wake THEM up in the morning.

As the alarm went off with something that sounded like Deaf Leopard, I hit the button just in time to be tackled with wet puppy kisses.  Yuck!!!  After my normal feeding-them-first duties, I noticed my hand was not too sore, but again swelling up.

It was a one bagger morning as the frozen peas took it down nicely.  Just before heading out the door, I put the brace back on.

What a perfect day for breakfast outside on the patio.  I was greeted by the usual crew already hard at work.  There's nothing like a fun morning cooking with these guys.  Not that I cook.  They pretty much know my skills, so I'm relegated to pouring orange juice and dishing up fresh fruit.

The best job I have is being the taste tester for the sausage.  We have quality control down to a science!!  I was pretty shocked to see two pans of leftover hash browns from Mother's Day, but was assured they had been frozen.  I stuffed them in the oven and sent up a little prayer that when I taste tested them, I didn't get sick.

At least these guys are respectful of a woman's taste and smell ... when the fumes of gas came wafting on the breeze, I asked them to check the ovens, one of which needed to be relit.  Amazingly, the potatoes came out fine.  Not that I ate any, I passed on those babies.  It was the Krusteaz pancakes I was after.

Definitely not on my diet, but boy howdy they are mighty tasty swimming in syrup.  Maybe it's the syrup, but tasty just the same.
After a big cleanup five hours later (making sure they threw out any remaining potatoes and the butter that was outdated by four months), I was home with a throbbing hand.  I got out a second bag of peas, making it a two bagger day, but what helped the most was this beauty ... caramel and pretzels .... be still my heart!!  I ate the whole thing and completely forgot about my hand!  
When dinner time came around, I wasn't in the least bit hungry.  Those pancakes stuck around for a long time.  The head of cauliflower in the fridge would not last long however, so I chopped it up to try out a new recipe.  

I mixed up panko bread crumbs with parmesan cheese and some spices to lay underneath the pieces, then baked it for 20 minutes. The picture in the recipe didn't look anything like this.  In spite of the oil spread all over the paper, the cheese stuck to everything except the cauliflower.  

It might have tasted okay with a half cup of salt and pepper.  It hasn't hit the cemetery YET, but it's VERY close.  Don't try this one ... it's awful!
I spent the rest of the night on the couch watching baseball with my hand perched on the back of the couch.  Nurse Patty said I need to keep it above my heart.  Apparently it worked, because this morning it doesn't hurt and I can actually type!!  I really need it to heal up so I can install my new mailbox.

With my friend coming from Sacramento tonight, I really need to vacuum and clean house.  I DO however, have the perfect excuse ... my poor hand is in a brace.  I knew it would come in handy!!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

If It's Not Broken, Don't Fix It .....

A little rain must fall into everyone's life.  Thankfully what's fallen into my life hasn't been TOO traumatic!  The other saying, if it's not broken don't fix it, doesn't quite apply.  Lucky for me, it's not broken according to the x-rays.

I really do try to be careful, knowing I can be a klutz now and again.  A couple days ago I was playing with Cooper on the floor when out of the blue, I whacked the back of my hand on the sharpest corner of the coffee table.  OUCH!!!

It put me flat on the floor for quite some time before the pain subsided enough to sit up.  I gingerly moved my fingers.  It must be okay since they wiggled nicely.  Unfortunately, the more I wiggled them, the worse it got until two days later it was swelled up and painful all day long.

My magic bag of frozen peas worked for awhile, but the pain kept returning, especially when I was sewing the binding on the quilt.  Maybe I DID break something.  In the end, it's just badly bruised at the same spot full of arthritis from when the horse bucked me off.

This lovely splint will keep me from moving it most of the day, which will give it time to heal up.  So much for hand sewing for awhile, which is okay, since the binding for the next two quilts has disappeared.
This does not bode well for my AA personality that has to be moving and doing all the time.  Maybe I can still cook.  I put a plastic bag on my hand and poked my fingers through.  Perfect!!  I picked up these spare ribs the other day (only because they were out of baby backs) to test in my Instant Pot.
Several people have tried this recipe and say it's wonderful.  So here goes!  Seasoned up, they go into the pot in one big piece with a cup of beef broth in the bottom.  Twenty five minutes later, they were done, although I did a slow release of pressure for ten minutes before opening the pot.
They were fall off the bone tender.  Cut in half and placed on foil to keep cleanup to a minimum, I smothered them in sauce and broiled for ten minutes more.  They came out amazing, or at least they LOOKED amazing.

As I picked up a piece, the meat just feel off the bone.  I would love to say they were delicious.  The spice rub I used was not my own, so the flavor wasn't up to par.  I slathered on more sauce.  Not bad, but nothing like ribs smoked outside, or even barbecued outside on a grill.  Although good in a pinch, this recipe probably won't be repeated unless I find some baby back ribs.
So ..... now that I know the way around my brace is a plastic bag, I'm off to the Elks RV Park to help cook breakfast ... pancakes, sausage, eggs, fruit and whatever else they come up with.  Maybe I can bring something home so I don't have to cook again this weekend.