Monday, March 31, 2014

Plans Gone Awry or I'm In The Jello!!!

The best laid plans can change in an instant, so as a true RV'er, I accept the JELLO concept and roll with the punches.

My plan was to show you awesome images of the Game Refuge ... which got changed to the beautiful  gold rush town of Columbia ... which got changed to a yarn shop ... which ended up with a trip to the Vet.  Pretty drastic jello I'm in today!!

The trip to the game refuge and Columbia sort of got waylaid by the discovery of a yarn store in Sonora.  The project I started that has been causing me so much trouble, was begging for a stop at the store to see what the Knitting Doctor's recommendation would be.
I met a lot of wonderful women who were VERY friendly and invited me to join them.  Terry, who was running the shop Sunday, took my mess and began to tink (knit backwards) 8 rows ... getting me back to a place where I could begin again with the correct count and fixing some bad mistakes ... honestly not that that will help ME, but at least she did say I was doing the stitches correctly!!  This used to be the drug store in Sonora and still has all the original shelving in place, along with spindles at the top, all Mortar and Pestles.  LOVE love these old buildings!!
While she worked on that, I stalked the store with a yarn addicts eye and picked out several skeins.  Then she convinced me to head off to Columbia for my photography, which I will post tomorrow, while she finished the undo of the year!!
She worked on it until the shop closed at 4:00 ... except she stayed until 4:30 ... when I convinced her I could finish the "undo" ... and I headed back down the mountain, more yarn and patterns in hand.  Once home, and dinner (such as it was) under my belt, I let the dogs out ... at which time I heard a scratching and Jessie took off in a flash.  Of course calling her was a big waste of time ... once on a cat, or squirrel, or gopher or whatever, there's no returning until the creature screams uncle.

When she did finally return, she was acting funny ... so I knew immediately something was wrong.  I found a one inch gash in her skin on the shoulder.  I'm guessing she tried to climb the fence after the cat and got hooked on a nail.  It wasn't deep enough to get the muscle, thank goodness, and wasn't bleeding much at all ... so I patched her up best I could.
At 9:00 Sunday night, there wasn't a Vet in sight and since I have to take Showby horse in today, she's going with me for stitches.  Believe it or not, those bandaids are STILL stuck on her this morning.  Such a sweet girl, she's sleeping on the couch as we speak.

With WAY too many people in Columbia, I didn't get all the images I wanted, and left early due to the Knit Doctor's schedule ... but I did get enough to know I am thrilled with the camera!!  Stay tuned for tomorrow's pictures.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tripping The Light Fantastic!!

To dance lightly and energetically to music ... not exactly what I was doing yesterday when I left for my morning run, it was more like barely able to life my feet off the pavement ... but my music was certainly energetic enough to keep me going!!


Drop drop

Uh Oh!!!  I started feeling rain drops before I even got to the end of the block.  I didn't even have time to worry about the dog that was running across the field at me or the suspicious car parked on the side of the road.  I ran at a record pace back to the safety of the house but it wasn't fast enough to keep from getting soaked.  Note to self ... next time take a look up at the black clouds before heading out!!

I wish I had some amazing photos to show you, but all I've been able to capture is my TV and the recliner as I test the settings.  The BIG problem is that I can't even see those ... I discovered rather quickly that my program to download the images doesn't exactly know what it's looking at.  Apparently something has changed in the way this camera encodes the information, making my program say WHAT?????  It won't open them at all.  I spent hours on the internet trying to find a solution, but only found the solutions tried, caused even more problems.  The larger picture problem is that Adobe is no longer upgrading their programs.  You've heard of the Cloud???  Not the ones I ran into this morning, but some SPACE out there in Cyberspace with their name on it where all their programs reside.  Us lucky citizens of THIS universe can RENT space there for $9.99 and borrow their programs.  Trouble is that $9.99 space gets used up way too quickly with images from this camera ... and you have to rent even MORE space!!  Good for Adobe of course!!

The good news is that I know I can change the settings on the camera to take images with less information included that CAN be read by my computer.  But really ... what's the use of buying this fantastic new camera if you can't use all the functions???  If I had known this beforehand, I wouldn't have purchased the camera.  I doubt Nikon will care and of course I KNOW Adobe doesn't care because they want your rental money!!

I'll keep you updated ... but in the meantime, I'm heading out to the Game Refuge to see what I can see!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Drought Hits Home But UPS Delivers!!!

Even though we haven't had a lot of rain, my lawn has remained a gorgeous Saint Patrick's Day green up until 48 hours ago.  The downturn was dramatic and faster than the blink of an eye!!  Obviously this has a simple solution ... turn the sprinklers on girl!!!  There's nothing that can take the wind out of my sails faster than flipping the switch on something ..... and nothing happens!!  I had noticed the front landscaping lights, all TWO of them, weren't coming on, but I suspected it was the timer.
I soon discovered the culprit was this electrical box where they both plug in, receiving their dose of current .... or not, as was the case.  It has a GFI outlet ... the kind used in your bathroom so you don't electrocute yourself when you drop your hairdryer in the bathtub!!  Even when I finally got a screwdriver and pushed the reset buttons, nothing happened.  

Maybe the circuit breaker got kicked off ... but I wasn't to be so lucky today.  Thank God for good friends, because my shopping partner's husband is a very handy guy, who said he would be happy to come check it out.  With meter in hand, we discovered there was power, but the plug was toast.  
I raced to Home Depot for replacement parts ... geez, I could have bought a Steak and Lobster dinner with the $30 it cost for the plug and the cover!!!  While I turned the breakers off in the garage, all the time on the phone waiting for the "YES" when I hit the right one ... Fletch took the old one out, along with three huge spider nurseries ... sorry kids, life's short.  Fletch is my kind of guy ... he patiently explained exactly what he was doing ... and why ... so if this happens again, I can change the plug myself.  
The drought has been postponed ... the sprinklers are working and soon the lawn will return to it's emerald green self.  The good news is "I" don't have to mow it (I have a service), because it will now grow about 6 inches a week!!!
All this time I have NOT so patiently been waiting for my UPS delivery from New York.  I watched a little TV while keeping an eye on the front door, running to the computer every hour to see if there were any updates.  FINALLY .... at the eleventh hour .... 5:00 p.m., I saw the truck drive up.  I was out the door and standing at his step in a flash.   He jumped as he turned around, box in hand!!!  Yup ... I've been counting the seconds!!! 
I scribbled my name and ran inside to unbox my beauty!!  I discover a few changes from the D3 after checking out all the controls, and a few additions, as this camera takes video as well as still images.  I'm not really sure I will use the video, although at a kids birthday party, it would be priceless!!!  I spent the better part of the evening reading the one inch thick handbook, finding the sections where I want to change the programming ... and there are thousands of settings!!!  This machine is customizable to each particular photographer.  I'm guessing it will take me about three nights to get it set up to my taste ... at which time I'll try to find something pretty to point it at so I can post some pics.  
With all the hoopla yesterday, Cooper was pretty exhausted from following me around every step of the way, so he decided to catch a little shuteye ... but perched on the arm of the couch for a fast getaway should he hear something!!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Nope ... Not Yet!!!

By now I'm sure you fully expected to see beautiful images taken with my new Nikon D4s camera.  ME TOO!!!!  But it's not going to happen for another day or two.

It's all USP's fault!!!  In the hopes that I would be lucky enough to receive the camera before my Hawaii trip, I paid $56.00 extra to have it delivered in three days.  Well you can just imagine how that went, since I haven't received it yet.  What a waste of money ... and I intend to apply for a refund.
The shipment was received by UPS on the 19th and went from New York to Oakland California on the 20th.  On Friday the 21st (when I expected to receive it) it didn't move according to their tracking.  Since it went across the U.S. in one day, I don't understand why it would take any longer to go a couple hundred miles.  But alas, there is no camera at my doorstep!!

In the meantime, I finally turned on my sprinkler system ... or at least I tried.  Remember when I was wondering why the sprinkler door was open during my run?  Well it had nothing to do with anything, but I did check it out to find the system dead.  After rummaging around in the box, I found a battery that needed to be replaced and hit the ON button.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  Until I saw something flashing that said NO POWER.

You KNOW I'm not one for messing with electricity ... but it's just an outlet.  I unplugged and replugged ... still nothing.  Finally, I realized this was a GFI box ... like in your bathroom ... it has two buttons, one of which will reset the circuit.  So I pushed and pushed, breaking two fingernails before I grabbed a small stick and tried pushing with that.  Nothing ... no clicks, no little green light, zero.  I thought about getting a screwdriver, but me with a tool near electricity probably isn't the smartest thing to do, so I went to both electrical panels to see if there was a breaker that had tripped.  Still nothing ... breakers looked fine.

As a last resort before calling an electrician, my friends husband has a tester (actually I think I do too ... I just don't know how to use it!!) and will come check it out ... at which time I will probably have to call an electrician.  In the meantime, my lawn is about half dead now, the trees sucking up every drop of water for their survival!!

Hopefully by the end of today I'll have lots of pictures of my dead lawn to show you, assuming I don't get electrocuted trying to get the sprinklers to work!!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Peek Inside The Mind Of A Runner!!

Ever look at those guys running down the side of the road and wonder what they are thinking??  I mean really ... WHAT are you thinking ... running for miles and miles ... you must be crazy!!!

I got started at this hobby about 36 years ago.  I was single and bored to death on what remained of the ranch.  One day, at the urging of an office worker, I headed out to the wild blue yonder.  Later, I met another runner ... the typical 98 pound gorgeous girl who could totally kick my butt ... and we began a training program for marathons.  She of course, went on to 50 and 100 milers while I was lucky to complete a few 26.2 mile marathons in the last 5 years.  When I got discouraged with the marathon organizers who only catered to the "4 minute per mile" group, I quit running for a couple years.  The problem is that once it gets in your blood, you really can't quit ... you are always saying "I should go run" in your head.

So now I'm back at it.

Still not the 98 pound speedy, I'm actually classified as a Clydesdale.  Cute huh???  If I didn't love horses so much, I would definitely be offended!!  Clydesdales are slow runners, always relegated to the back of the starting gates and exceedingly lucky of there is anyone left at the finish line to give you your medal and shirt.

As you run, all kinds of weird stuff goes through your mind ... here's an example of todays run.

Music on ... GPS watch on ... gee it's cold
Don't start out too fast
Coopie's so sweet ... he's howling
Don't get run over
It's Saturday ... Sunday is garbage day ... put the bins out
Keep running, you can do it, only two miles today
Whew that garbage stinks
There's a whiffle ball Cooper would like ... no, that's stealing
Lets speed up a little
No, lets not ... it's a Saturday slow run
Stop sign ... look both ways
Wonder what Miss Chance is doing
It's okay, he's locked up ... but if he gets out, at least I know what to do
That would make a nice picture
Crossing intersection .. look for cars
Lets speed up until you get to that telephone pole
OMG out of breath ... let's not do that again
Man walking looking down ... better move over
Move over far enough so you're out of reach
That's crazy ... you watch too many murder shows
Better run on the dirt here ... road is too narrow
Dirt slows me down
Darn goathead stickers get in my shoes.  I find them later in my carpet
EEEWWWWW dead possum on the road
Keep going ... halfway is just around the corner
Wonder why the sprinkler control box is open
Halfway ... drink and walk through the rest stop
Ugh I'm tired ... but let's go ... keep running
Remember that hill in the Nike Marathon??  Tough one
Hope he can't get out, he's a big one
Newspaper ... I'd sure like to read that.
Keep running, you can do it, it's not that far
Hello hips ... I know you're hurting cuz you haven't run much lately
Hello hips ... you'll quit hurting soon
Rock in shoe
That house has too many cars. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9
Wonder what's going on there?
See hips, I knew you'd quit hurting after a little bit
Another man walking ... move way over
There's a car in that driveway, I could run to that house
You watch too many murder shows
Wonder what my time is ... don't look, it doesn't matter
Last corner ... keep going
Keep going
Keep going
YAY I MADE IT ... another 2.4 miles!!!
Where's the aspirin!!!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I Was Warned!!!! and Good News!!

When I was looking for a new bank to deal with, since Citibank had so many hacking issues, I was warned not to go with Wells Fargo, but I have to say they have more banks all over the U.S. than anyone.  If you ever need one, you can usually find it close by, so I opened an account.  I'm here today to say that I should have listened!!  Many have experienced NO problems, but I am not one.

There have just been too many issues with them signing me up for things I didn't want (or ask for) and changing my accounts without telling me.  The last straw was when I got my statement and was charged 4 times for ATM usage ON BOTH ENDS!!  That was finally enough ... I'm closing the account and transferring everything to my local credit union.  They have finally instituted deposits by iPhone ... just take a picture and send it in ... so I don't need an actual bank anymore.  AND ... they don't charge for ATM use!!  Sorry Wells Fargo ... you didn't cut the mustard.

Another victory in my cooking belt ... although it was a close fought battle!!  The quiche recipe I found sounded wonderful and could be made with ingredients I had on hand.  My new quiche/tart pan would finally be put to the test.  Amazingly, the pie crust came out really well ... it rolled out beautifully without sticking, tearing or generally becoming a big mess.  Good thing I placed the finished product on a cookie sheet to bake though, because the butter that makes it taste sooooo good, melted out the bottom.  What a mess THAT could have been!!!

The battle was over the time it took.  The recipe called for 55 minutes.  When the timer went off, it wasn't even close to being done.  THIS time I used the regular bake setting, at 400 degrees!!  Undaunted I set it for another 10 minutes ... and another 10 ... and another 15 ... and finally after ANOTHER 15 it looked done and smelled wonderful!!!  WOW!!!  Either my oven's temperature is WAY off or the recipe is!!  No matter, it tasted delicious!!!  First time EVER for quiche!!
Again, the best for last!!  I got an email yesterday that shocked and delighted me to no end!!  I even had to sit down on the couch!!  B and H Photo (where I purchase all my photography gear) sent a note that my order had been shipped!!!  I couldn't imagine what it might be, since I wasn't expecting anything for many months.  I immediately jumped up, ran to the computer and looked up the order number.  IT'S HERE!!!!!  My new camera is not only in New York, it was shipped on Wednesday!!!  I will receive it on Friday ... tomorrow ... here .... at my house!!!!  I've got my chair all ready by the door where I will wait with bated breath until it's delivery!!  Just in time for Hawaii!!!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

It's Not ALL Bad!!!

In spite of the cooking disasters that seem to stalk me, from time to time I really do turn out something delicious!!  Lately, it's been because I'm using Miss Terry's Kitchen recipe book.   I checked out the meatloaf recipe and decided to free lance a little bit, which usually doesn't turn out so well.   Having eaten the delicious taco meat for three days, I was craving something different.  Like the recipe suggested, I added a few more spices, lots of garlic, some ground pork, used up some old bread and baked it on a cookie sheet instead of in a pan (not so greasy this way).   As seen on TV, I even layered it with bacon.  Meat not being as sensitive as a carrot cake, I baked it on my convection/bake setting at 325 degrees for 60 minutes.  Perfection!!!
It was yummy!!!  Due to the bacon, I'm sure.  For the first time, I was thrilled to be able to cut slices that stayed intact!!  It should have been accompanied with Mac 'n Cheese ... the real stuff from scratch ... but since the diet is always looming over me somewhere, I just had veges!!  I'm so excited to have meatloaf sandwiches for a few days!  If you haven't ordered Miss Terry's book, you should check it out!!  Miss Terry's Kitchen        

I ran several errands yesterday, including picking up my new sunglasses.  Now I can SEE!!!!  I pay a pretty penny for my glasses because Graham Eye Clinic provides the best service I've known.  There's not much bedside manner there, but once you get to Joyce and Terry for frames, it's a different story.  Unlike many of my friends, I have never returned a pair, or not worn them because something wasn't right.  They get it right every time!!  With these new glasses, I can see up close, I can see and read my GPS screen just past arms length in the RV and I can read street signs before I pass them up!!
I saved the best for last!!  Nikon has just released their new D4s camera.  I sold my old full frame camera that was having issues, but decided the new one was just too much money ... I mean really, if you aren't a professional photographer, this camera is overkill.
THEN I read a review from Moose Peterson, nature photographer, living in Mammoth California.  He shoots places I like a lot ... Bodie, Yosemite, Alaska, Costa Rica ... and he's the best around!!  I've had some dealings with him and his lovely wife lately, and respect his knowledge and artistry a LOT!!

The first D4s' made are basically given free to those photographers who grace National Geographic and the like, and who will test drive them to the max.  After reading Moose's review, I was sold.  It's the best camera on the market for focusing on moving targets .. animals, birds, baseball players ... right up my alley.  Unfortunately, Nikon makes them one at a time ... and when I placed my order, I was number 251 on the list, behind the first 500 or so that go to the professionals.  So the wait will be a long one and I'll be on the edge of my seat until I get a shipping notice ... which creates another problem ... I will be on the road when it ships and will have to coordinate delivery with a UPS store somewhere in the US.  No matter ... I'm as excited as a little kid with a new toy!!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Cooking Disaster 101 !!!

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!!!  I hope you "got your green on"!!!

Gosh ... just when I was feeling like I could cook, I created another trash can delight yesterday!!  That Mrs. Fields Carrot Cake???  It was a bomb .. and not in the good sense!!  I've been waiting to make it on a day when I would have one slice and pawn the rest off on my friends.  Their teenagers can stand the pounds more than I.  This is a test run since I haven't used this recipe before.

First off, I made a terrible mess of the kitchen.  The recipe should have called for big fat carrots that were easier to grate.  By the time I finished grating an entire bag, there was carrot EVERYWHERE!!  At least I didn't have to clean up the floor ... my dogs LOVE carrots!!
This recipe calls for crushed pineapple ... yummy!! ... and lots of butter!!  In the end, I think this was probably the most expensive cake I've ever made!!  The more I think about the recipe though, the more I'm thinking it was someone's joke.  This one went together like none I've ever seen.  The dry ingredients, including the sugar, were beat together with the butter ... all at once.  That should have been a clue!!!  Obviously, it didn't go so well without much liquid.  My mixer was throwing bits and pieces of dough all over the counter ... at least the part that wasn't glued to the mixing blade like cement!!  By the time I added the carrots, it loosened up a little, kind of like a big wad of playdoh!!
I kept re-reading the recipe thinking I had missed the liquids somewhere.  I even checked off all the ingredients ... no liquids other than eggs.  So into the pans it went with a huge plop!!  I spread it out as best I could (as directed in the instructions) and into the oven it went.  Since discovering that my ovens don't heat evenly at all ... I've been testing the Convection/Bake mode.  

I'm completely baffled by all the information on this mode of cooking ... which probably didn't help the cake at all!!!  Some ovens automatically account for the 25-50 degrees lower setting ... some don't!!  So how do you know???  It looks pretty, right????  The bad news is that this is what it looked like ten minutes after putting it in the oven.  It's supposed to cook for 60 minutes.  Houston, I think we have a problem!!  I lowered the temperature.  In another 15 minutes when it appeared on the verge of burning, I lowered the temperature again.  Unfortunately, it wasn't in time to curtail the disaster ahead!!  At 50 minutes both cakes looked like the cone of a volcano.  There was a deep depression in the middle worthy of a meteor!!
My first thought was to just fill it in with frosting ... after all, I LOVE frosting.  The more the better!! I let the WAY overdone cakes cool on the racks until it was time to unmold.  Now honest, I've done this many many times!!!  Just not in the last ten years.  To be sure they released from the pans (even though greased and floured) I ran a knife around the edge, placed the rack on top and turned it over.  Nothing!!  I tried to lift one edge ... nothing.  A sharp rap on the table resulted  in the cake coming out in three pieces ... except for that part all around the edge that stayed glued like cement to the pan. That's ok I said to myself ... we'll just have a one layer cake.  Unfortunately, the second one didn't fare much better!!  No problem ... lots of things can be covered by frosting!!  Now for the taste test!!!  

I just flipped the lid and dumped it in the trash.  Really, I'm not a wasteful person, but this cake was so overdone ... tough ... dry ... tasteless ... it had no redeemable qualities whatsoever, even if slathered in cream cheese frosting!!

So this morning I'm searching the internet for a new carrot cake recipe!  I'll just have to wait to purchase the ingredients until next month when I get paid.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Tip From Miss Terry!!

First, thank you for letting me vent about the health insurance.  Not everyone that needs or uses Medicare is on welfare ... just in my town!!  I suppose insurance is a good thing, and apparently most people think you can't (or shouldn't) live without it.  I just figured up the cost of all my insurance, including house and vehicles ... and it comes to $500 a month.  That seems like a lot to me, and I'm just ONE person.  Someone somewhere is making a lot of money.  As unhappy as I am about letting this kind of money fly out the window, I'm VERY happy that I don't have to use it!!

On to more important things, my Nestle Tollhouse Cookies were a big letdown the last time I baked some, and Miss Terry sent a couple of tips to make them better!!  Here's the link to her new cookbook ... Miss Terry’s Kitchen       

It was pretty simple really ... just use all dark brown sugar, or light brown, whichever suits you, and it worked perfectly!!  
They came out ooey-gooey soft and delicious!!!  This particular batch was even better due to the abundance of chocolate chips.  I tipped the bag up a little too far, too fast, and probably doubled the chip measurement.  Since I really didn't want to try and get those little guys back in the bag, I just stirred them up and continued on ... they were delicious.  Finally ... a GOOD mistake!!!
In the meantime, I've been working on this small knitted afghan I found in Coos Bay Oregon.  Miss Jessie thinks it's her new bed ... all soft and comfy ... so I have to be careful where I set it down, or I come back to find her nestled on top of it!!
Lots of running around to do today trying to set up bank accounts to handle the insurance payments and eventual receipts from Merced County.  I don't mind having MY bank account auto pay someone, but I don't like someone ELSE's bank having my account and automatically drawing out money.  It's too hard to get them to stop if you change your mind.  When you own a home, there are lots of bills that still need to be paid while you are gone.  I've tried to streamline as much as possible by having some automatically charge to a single credit card ... at least that way I only have one bill to pay and I can always challenge a payment if I wish.  I wonder how other RV'rs handle their finances while on the go??

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


I really thought this whole medical insurance--medicare thing couldn't get any worse, but wouldn't you know, I was wrong again, and it DID get worse!!!

I got a letter yesterday from the Social Security Administration saying they were deducting $272.70 from my check for medicare insurance.  I had previously been told that Part A had no cost and Part B would be $90.00.  Well here's the scoop on THAT BIG LIE!!!!!  In 2012 I had an annuity mature and I decided to take it out all at once, bite the bullet and pay the taxes.  The reason was the company kept my money an additional 6 months, saying they did not RECEIVE it for 6 months after I signed the paperwork, even though the bank HAD the money in my account .. which didn't set well with me.

So what Medicare did was go back to the 2012 tax year and include ALL of that as income, putting me in a ridiculous tax bracket like I was a lawyer in New York!!!  From their standpoint, I'm rich ... and I should pay $273.00 for Part B Medicare Insurance EVERY MONTH!!!  I guess they are right ... I SHOULD be penalized for working my butt off, saving every extra dime and investing it wisely for my old age.  If I just said screw it, sat on the porch and drank beer all day, my insurance would be free.  How dumb of me to think I should be smart and not want to be dependent on anyone!!

Needless to say, I'm furious!!  My full coverage health insurance at the County, $398 a month, will now cost me $413 a month with NO prescription coverage.  If I signed up for prescription coverage, it would be costing me an additional $105 per month!!!  Yeah, I guess I really SHOULD be paying health insurance for all those low life derelicts who won't lift a finger to help themselves, who go to the hospital emergency room with a cold, gamble and play bingo on their EBT cards, own Cadillac Escalades, pay NO taxes and have twelve screaming kids that will become just like them!!!

So for the next year, I will pay $4,952 dollars for Part B and Part F Supplemental health insurance I will never use.  I went to the doctor twice two years ago and once five years before that.  So here's my plan to at least get my moneys worth ... I'm going to make a doctor's appointment once a month and go for absolutely nothing.  Every other month, I'll park myself at the Emergency Room for a stomach ache.  At least I'll use up MY part of the money and it won't be spent on some welfare recipient!!!

If I had any idea that something like this would happen when I took that money out, I would have left it there.  By the way, they include capital gains, sale of property, withdrawals from an IRA, conversion from an IRA to a Roth IRA ... ALL as income ... it's tacked back on to your adjusted gross income.  So if you have anything like this at all, be sure you take ALL the money OUT before you turn 63 ... that way it won't show up as income for your medicare insurance.  I'm so mad I can't see straight!!!!!  Guess I better meet with my tax accountant and see what I can do for all the other investment money I have stashed away ... because FOR SURE they are going to try and get their hands on THAT TOO!!!!!

Monday, March 10, 2014


As most of you know, I'm not a gourmet cook.  Occasionally I come upon a good recipe, like ice cream cake, that's so easy to make, you pretty much can't go wrong.  On other occasions, I come across recipes that SOUND really easy, but have disastrous results.  Such was the case this morning!!

With not much else to do while waiting for the next RV adventure, I browse my cookbooks for new recipes, hoping to again come across that "easy" one.  The Pioneer Woman's cookbook was the choice for this morning, with a to-die-for quiche, full of bacon and eggs.  Except for the correct pan and the pie dough, I had everything.  THEN I came upon the eggs benedict recipe.  How hard can THAT be???  It calls for seven eggs, but since I don't want to feed an entire family, I choose to halve everything.  Right off the bat, I've made a big mistake ... BIG!!
The gourmet sauce calls for three egg yolks ... it's pretty hard to cut an egg yoke in half, so I opt for two.  The two lemons, I cut down to one ... but probably should have cut to one half.  This particular lemon was a juicy little guy!!  With that in the blender and the blades running, I poured in a stick of melted butter.  Hmmmmmm ... looks a little thin.  Maybe I should process it more, which didn't help at all.  No problem, if the sauce is a little thin, it's okay with me!!
Instead of canadian bacon, I have regular bacon, which I nuked long enough for crispness akin to potato chips!!  I also had to substitute the english muffin for half a bagel, toasted to perfection.
Now for the poached egg ... I've never done this before, but have watched it on TV LOTS of times.  It really can't be that hard ... except it WAS hard to accomplish.  You are supposed to get the water swirling like a tornado and gently drop the egg in the middle.  The first try sloshed boiling water everywhere.  The second to fifth try, I succeeded in getting the water to move, but as soon as I put the spoon down to crack the egg, the water magically quit moving.  Am I in the wrong hemisphere?? I must be swirling the wrong direction!!  I finally just dumped the egg in, which immediately separated into twelve pieces.  Ok, at least the yolk is still intact!!
Isn't it beautiful???  Yeah, yeah ... I can hear you ... that's the picture from the recipe book.  My egg didn't even resemble an egg by the time it was done, but I stacked the pieces up and poured the rather runny sauce over the top.  I should have taken a picture, but really, it would just kill your appetite!  My first big bite was a major shocker!!!  That little juicy lemon totally took over the sauce, causing my cheeks to suck in with a major grimace!!!  WOW that's sour!!!  I scraped as much off the top as I could and choked down the rest of my divine eggs benedict!!
I'm pretty sure no one will have to partake of this disaster any time soon.  I crossed it off my list of foods I might serve to company some day and frantically began searching the freezer for a leftover cookie to combat the lemon sour sauce.  That was enough to stop my cooking career dead in its tracks!!!  I'm SURE I quality for "Worst Cooks In America"!!!   Hmmmmm .... maybe I'll try that quiche after all!!!

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Don't you just hate it when the time changes??  How come Arizona gets along just fine without changing the time twice a year??  The excuse given in my neighborhood is so the kids don't stand outside to catch the school bus in the dark.  Lets see ... for three of the six months we do this, the kids are NOT in school, which means they are yelling, screaming and running on my front lawn until late in the evening.  YUP ... I vote to stop this nonsense!  It messes with people minds, makes them miss appointments and be late to work.  One of my nurse friends posted last night that the time change totally screws up the night shift nurses at the hospital ... now THAT's a scary thought!!  The real reason for the time change is to save energy.  I never did quite understand that thought either.  Supposedly you use less electricity in the evenings by not turning your lights on ... except we now use MORE electricity in the morning.  I'm thinking it's time to move to Arizona ... or Hawaii (they don't recognize it either)!!

Speaking of Hawaii ... I have a trip to Maui coming up, so be ready for some beautiful sunshine pictures!!  Unfortunately I can't take my doggies with me, so a friend will stay at my house.  I promised myself I wouldn't get so attached to my critters any more, but of course I didn't listen, and will miss them terribly!!  The good news is I have an airline-miles card and this year I charged literally everything I could .. food, fuel, DMV, insurance ... paying it off every month.  The amazing end result is that I get to travel to Maui (and back) in FIRST CLASS for FREE FREE FREE!!!  Finally I get to see how the "other" side lives!!!  I'll give you a blow by blow description on the blog!!

On another subject, I like to pay it forward and help where I can.  In our area we have an organization of local churches called LOVE INC (In the Name of Christ) that works not only to help those in need with food and temporary housing, but to educate those people through job skill training and most importantly, budgeting.  Basically, how they got there and how to get out instead of just looking for a handout!!  Now THAT'S what I'm talking about!!!  So every year when they have their dinner/auction fundraiser, I attend with 10-15 other Elks members.  There's a huge silent auction along with a live auction of high-priced items, including Disneyland tickets!!!  No, I didn't win those ... they went for over $1000.  Last year I purchased a hand-made quilt I keep in the RV.  This year I bid on a deep cast iron skillet with lid!!  AND I WON!!!!!
It's actually two skillets in one ... a real deal for $60.  When I got home however, the hammer fell!  When I turned it over and looked at the bottom, wouldn't you know it was made in CHINA!!!   Aaaaauuuuuggggggg!!!  No wonder they had it wrapped it.  Oh well, the money is going for a good cause.  Hopefully I don't die from lead poisoning.  Guess I need to read up and see if all cast iron is equal!!

Did I mention the dessert auction???  The good part about going with the Elks is they budget $500 to spend every year ... on desserts!!!  Can you imaging paying $150 for a cake??  Well we did, and I have to say it was worth every penny.  I don't know who made it, but this was by far, the best carrot cake I have ever eaten in my life!!!
This of course, spurs my ambition to make one just as good ... which is on the schedule for this week.  I'll let you know how it goes.

So if you have a few extra dollars, please pay it forward ... the feeling you get from helping someone is well worth the loss of that hamburger you were going to have for lunch.  

Thursday, March 6, 2014


I have never made pizza from scratch in my life!!  Having Miss Terry's recipe book and Nick's ravings of how good it is, I put it at the top of the list of things to make!!

It's not hard to do, it just takes a little time.  This is not something you can put together at the last minute, but with a little planning over a couple of days, you'll have one of the freshest, best tasting pizzas ever!!  I made the dough a few days ago and let it sit in the fridge so it would develop a little more flavor.
I followed Terry's recipe to the tee, even making my own fresh sauce, with tomatoes from a can.  Who knew how easy this was and what an amazingly fresh tasting sauce I could actually make with my own two hands.  THIS will be a keeper for pasta as well as pizza!!  I gathered all my ingredients and chopped and hacked until I was ready for the dough.  I've got bacon, fresh tomatoes, pre-cooked onions and mushrooms, olives, provolone and mozzarella.  YUM YUM!!!!  Snacking all the way, I pressed the dough out on a sheet of parchment paper spread out on the "bottom" of my sheet pan.  That way it would slide right on to the pizza stone preheated in the oven.
Jessie wasn't the least bit impressed!!!
I should have taken a few more pictures, but my hands were covered with oil, cornmeal and cheese!!  Once I had everything on the dough, I popped it in the oven.  At this point, things started to go wrong!!  There is an order of things when it comes to pizza ... and my world suddenly became unbalanced!!  First, ALWAYS put the bacon on last so it becomes crisp, and second,  I chose to use fresh mozzarella, which I probably should have shredded first ... it didn't really want to melt.  Third, it's probably not necessary to precook the mushrooms, because they pretty much disappeared completely!

When I pressed the dough into a circle, it went perfectly and STAYED where I put it!!!  I got this, I said to myself, except I really hadn't "got this" and left the dough a tad too thick.  I baked it in my oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Not done.  I baked it at 450 for another 10 minutes.  Not done.  I cranked it up to 500 for ANOTHER 10 minutes and it finally started to brown nicely ... on one end.  I quickly discovered that my oven is MUCH hotter in the back, so I attempted to turn the pizza around for even cooking.  Well you can imagine the disaster that became!!!  After cleaning up cheese and sauce that spilled on the open door, I set the timer for another 5 minutes ... and VOILA!!!  PIZZA!!!  I sprinkled it with a little basil and let it sit for a few minutes.  Looks pretty good, huh???  IT WAS AWESOME!!!
I don't think you can mess up using this recipe and setting your oven to the highest possible temperature at the start!!!  The crust was crispy, crunchy and tasty ... just like I want pizza to be, and the sauce the best ever!!!  All thanks to this beautiful lady who is sharing her recipes for fantastic food (available at the Kindle store in Amazon).  I would let it sit a little longer though .... I burned the roof of my mouth on the first bite ... but it was well worth it!!!
Next up ..... Mrs Fields (as in the cookies) Carrot Cake, followed by Miss Terry's shredded beef!!!  I can't wait!!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mmm Mmm GOOD!!!!

There's nothing better than good food (and the preparation of same) to get your mind off the stupid government we now have in office!!!  It was time to get the smoker out and try something new ... Baby Back Ribs!!!

So far, everything I have cooked in the smoker has come out delicious!!  There are as many ways to smoke different cuts of meat as there are people owning smokers, but if you read through the recipes and tips, you'll find one that sounds good to you.  For ribs, I found the 3-2-1 method which seemed to fit the bill, including the fact that for the smaller baby backs, it's 2-2-1, making that delicious meat available for eating an hour earlier!!!

First off, baby backs are NOT for the faint of wallet!!  In this welfare town, they are hard to come by ... so when I made a trip to Turlock a couple days ago, I stopped in at Safeway!  Not the cheapest store by a long shot ... but at least they HAD the ribs I wanted.

Now for the mustard rub.  Just like the pork shoulder, I rubbed the ribs with plain old yellow mustard, merely as an easy way to adhere the spice mixture.  Don't worry, once smoked, there is absolutely NO mustard flavor.
I quickly found that there are as many spice rub recipes as there are people who smoke meat!!  Guess I'll just have to keep trying different ones until I find the "perfect" one!!  THIS time, I tried Kansas City BBQ ... a mixture of brown sugar, paprika, garlic, onion, salt and pepper.  For the big pieces of meat, I leave it in the fridge overnight.  For these ribs, I rubbed it on and let it sit on the counter for an hour while the smoker heated up.  It's always better to let the meat come to room temperature before smoking ... or so I have been told!!
Then it was off to the racks!!!  The 3-2-1 method goes something like this.  Smoke the ribs for 3 hours, turn the smoke off and wrap the ribs in foil.  Put them back in the smoker for 2 hours, then unwrap and return them to the smoker for the last hour.  For baby backs, since they are much smaller, change that to 2-2-1.  This won't win you any barbecue contests because the meat just falls off the bone.  In a REAL contest, the meat should stick to the bone slightly ... but I really like that fall-off-the-bone tenderness!!!
While the ribs were smoking away nicely, I started the first of Miss Terry's recipes ... Nick's favorite pizza!!!  With King Arthur flour in hand, I whipped up this nice ball of dough.  After this picture, the kneading began!  For ten minutes I pretended it was Obama's head and pounded it senseless!!!  Then I used my sharpest knife and whacked it in half!!!  It's presently in the fridge blowing itself back up again with lots of hot air!!!  I'll finish THIS story in a couple of days!!
Finally the moment of truth ... the ribs are done!!!  As you can see, it didn't take me long to scarf down several mouth watering, Mmmm Mmmm good pieces of tender delicious pork!!  They were wonderful if I do say so myself!!!  Adding a little Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce only made it better.  I wrapped up one rack and dropped it off to my girlfriend at the local radio station.  The guys went wild!!!  This might just turn into a nice side business!!!
I spent the rest of the night at the local Elks Bingo, where I volunteer as a cashier.  It was nice to be reminded again of our local welfare state, where people actually count out pennies so they can gamble and lose ... to the tune of $6000!!  But that's okay ... I was just remembering those wonderful ribs and the pizza that was on my menu for this weekend!!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


You read it right ... and it's our lovely government that's behind it.  If you're a liberal, you probably don't want to read any further.

I've spent my life trying to BE and REMAIN healthy.  I quit smoking six months after I started, I never smoked or used any kind of illegal drugs, rarely drank alcohol and I've exercised much more than I ever wanted to, just so I would remain healthy as long as possible.  For all this hard work, I'm now being penalized by our government, who thinks they should have their big fat nose in my business, controlling every aspect of my life, while their hand is in my pocket stealing my hard-earned money and giving it to people who won't lift a finger to help themselves, DEMANDING we pay their way in life!!!   Here's the story.

Once dumped off the County's insurance rolls on to Medicare, and finding out they are now cutting THEIR share of the supplemental insurance to $100 a month (previously around $300), I was told to contact AARP United Health Care.  By the way, United Health Care is a private insurance company that PAYS AARP for the use of their name.  As it was explained to me, I have to pay UHC the full amount on the first of the month for my supplemental insurance.  The County will pay their $100 share to UHC at the END of the month, at which time I have to send in a coupon in order to get that $100 back in my bank account the following month.  Pretty stupid if you ask me and an accounting nightmare, for which they get to charge more.  Why don't I just pay UHC the difference????  I guess that would just be too easy.

Next, since none of the insurance up to this point pays for prescriptions, I have to pay for Part D coverage.  UHC sent this booklet, at which time I called their office for some explanations.  That's when I learned of the extortion!!
At this point, because of my good health, my prescriptions come to about $56 per year.  That's the cost if you have no insurance at all.  The PLAN charges are $55 per MONTH ... that's $660 a year, when my meds are $56.  I asked if they had any other options ... Oh yes she said ... $26 a month, and YOU pay the first $310.  That's $622 a year ... and that's your big Super Savings Plan?????  I said a polite "you can kiss my foot" and declined the offer.

BUT WAIT!!!!   Here comes the extortion part ... she said if I decided NOT to purchase coverage now, and down the road I got sick and NEEDED the prescription coverage, the government would penalize me 33 cents a month, for every month I DID NOT SIGN UP and it would be added to the monthly coverage cost, EVERY MONTH.  Well you can imagine the words that came out of MY mouth!!!  You've got to be kidding ... so the government and United Health Care are sleeping together I see!!  "Oh my she said ... this is being recorded you know!!!"  Hell if I care ... just WHO gets the penalty?  "Well the government of course!"  After many more words I won't put in writing, she asks me what would I do if I got really sick and needed very expensive medication??  I'd go to Mexico I said, where the drug companies aren't making billions ... or possibly Canada.  Worst case, I'd just kill myself ... I've lived a nice long life already!!  Well THAT set her off big time!!  "THIS IS BEING RECORDED!!!"  Doesn't change anything I said ... United Health Care and the government are ripping people off, trying to force me to pay for insurance that provides NO benefit to me AT ALL for an indeterminable time.

The final result is I declined Part D coverage and will be subject to the penalties if I sign up at a later date.  Why would I pay a minimum of $368.00 a year for meds that cost $56??  Talk about making millions ... the insurance companies are cleaning up here!!!  Even if I get sick and need coverage, the penalty is cheaper.  My MAIN bitch however, is just who the hell is the government, telling me if I don't buy this insurance now, I will be penalized later!!!  Like Obama's healthcare ... you're penalizing people who can't afford the insurance just to put money in YOUR pocket that I'm sure down the road will be used for other purposes, like salary increases!!!  I don't want to offend anyone, but 90% of the costs from our local hospital are for people on welfare.  Here's an original thought ... don't provide those services for free!!  Deduct it from their welfare check!!!  If the government wants to throw money away, throw it in the direction of the Veterans who fought to keep this country FREE!!!  I hope I'm dead and gone before much more of this kind of government extortion takes place!!

Thanks for letting me rant!!  It won't change anything, I know ... but maybe if enough people complain, the baby boomers can vote out the guys giving away free money!!

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Since the huge downpour of rain that was supposed to hit central California didn't materialize, I decided to take my knitting problems to a new store, just opened in Modesto at Roseburg Square shopping center.  Here's a picture of the new store.

You guessed it ... there was no store.  A few months ago, there WAS a yarn store called Urban Sheep at that location. When I heard they were closing, I was very sad, as there are no other yarn stores in my area.  So later, when I got a message via the grapevine that a local friend of a friend was opening a yarn store in that shopping center, I assumed it was the Urban Sheep.  I was soooo excited, I set off yesterday to check it out.  I guess I should have called first ... because the above picture was exactly what I found!!  Even after driving around the parking lot three times, the yarn store did not magically materialize!!

As I sat in the parking lot, I pulled out my iPhone and googled Yarn Stores.  Wouldn't you know, I found a great one in Sonora, where I just was last week!!!  I'll be moseying up that direction soon!!

For those that haven't heard about it yet, Miss Terry Russell of Nick and Terry Russell Gypsy Journal RV fame, has at long last published a cookbook of her tastiest recipes, all suitable for preparing in your RV kitchen.  I spent the first day reading every single recipe and making my shopping list.  Today I hope to begin a marathon cooking experiment and make every single one ... but not in one day of course!!!  You can get your copy by clicking on this link Miss Terry's Kitchen.  It's a Kindle Book ... but I imagine they will have it available in other versions soon.  I stole this image from Nick's Blog site ... just so you know!!!  So it's a big YES-GO TO AMAZON and purchase her book.  If enough people buy, maybe she will share more recipes in Version II .......