Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How To Lower Your Stress Level

Unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea how to accomplish lowering your stress level.  As I may have mentioned before, my Mother was the queen of stress and worry.  That seems to be one of the excellent traits she passed on to me.  In spite of knowing that fact, I STILL can't seem to change it.

This week has been a test of my strength in that area, which of course is nonexistent!  I usually have one or two days of down time, laying on the couch or playing with the puppies.  Alas, it seems every day has something ... mostly around the early hours of the morning after another restless night's sleep worrying about getting it all done before I leave, which is in itself a stress point.

All of this, plus allergies like I've never experienced before, brought about an eye twitch of epic proportions.  No fear however, nothing was going to keep me away from the last session with Teri in Morgan Hill as we worked on stitches to use for the Siren's magnificent tail.

I took my time as my eye twitched to the beat of the Country radio station I picked up, until I suddenly remembered I forgot to call my Insurance Agent about the new house.   My eye twitched faster until I finally arrived in the parking lot and made the phone call to correct that situation.

The other reason my eye was twitching so drastically was I discovered Jessie's previous surgery scar had blown up like a balloon in a matter of three days.  My second phone call was to the Vet for an appointment this morning.  Finally inside with the lovely ladies of needlepoint, they could tell by the look on my face I was stressed.  They sat me down with a cup of hot tea and a little conversation.  How sweet was that?  In no time I realized the twitching had stopped.  It was a miracle!!

On the way home I felt great until I got to within 30 miles of my home.  See that brown stripe at the bottom of the blue sky?  That's dust, dirt and smog that hangs in our lovely valley, causing people major head distress.  I know .... another reason to move to Arizona, although the cholla blooms have the same effect on me.
I decided to give Taco Bell one last chance for redemption since I won't be back by there for several months.  This time the crunch wrap won the coin toss.  It tasted pretty good until I got to the bottom where they had slathered the meat with some kind of sauce resembling cheese, only because it was bright yellow.  That's what tastes so bad ... it's that new queso sauce they put on everything.  I ate all around it and deposited the rest in the bag.  So much for Taco Bell.  Maybe next time I'll try Carls Junior.
Lucky for me, traffic wasn't bad going either way until I started up Pacheco Pass.  A big rig going DOWN the hill either fell asleep or used up all the air for his brakes.  He fell off the side of the highway around a corner, slamming into the trees and landing on his side.  It must have happened just as I passed by going to Morgan Hill.  They had heavy concrete barriers set up already and three big tow trucks trying to pull the rig back up on the road.  

With a big sigh of relief, I arrived back home and crashed on the couch to watch the Giants beat the Cubs.  Slowly but surely, the twitching began again as I went over my schedule.  Vet appointment, Magic Kingdom, car tires installation, College photography class critique, company coming, funeral and possibly another surgery for Jessie.  Yup ... my eye is still twitching to the beat!!

Monday, May 22, 2017

I'm Off Again!!

Boy am I glad THAT'S over with.  The last breakfast I volunteer to cook is over and done with for the summer.  Temperatures are too hot in this neck of the woods.  Just to prove it, it got up to 99 yesterday at my house.  It's not the cooking or the company, it's getting up at 4:30 in the morning!!

Our normal pancake flipper didn't show up until late, but the backup crew did a great job.  They go with the best ... Krusteaz mix.  Of course if you put enough syrup on them like I do, even cardboard  tastes good.
I got there at 6:15, yawning all the way, in time to turn the ovens on high.  Not the newest of ovens, you have to crank the knob up to 500 to get a reasonably good temperature to cook the hash browns.  Slathering them with butter helped a lot.
My favorite, absolutely the greasiest, Farmer John sausage is always a hit.  By the time you leave the buffet line with eggs added to your plate, it's full and running over.  You definitely get your $6.00 worth here.  
When 10:30 rolled around, I was quick to head out the door.  I did finally discover the sprinkler timer was one day off (no ghosty), so with that fixed, I started the rounds, checking all the sprinkler heads.  There must be some reason there are huge brown patches on the lawn.

I replaced four heads that weren't putting out any water at all, and found three large unused ones in the garage while making sure that kid didn't steal anything.  I'll try to replace the ones that don't work with the new ones today.

I also came across Jonathan's cage that will live at the Arizona house.  Trouble was, it was WAY too big to fit in the car or the rig for transport.  After pondering that problem for about an hour, I remembered putting it together when I first purchased it.  That means it should come apart and lay flat.  I was pretty proud of myself on that one ... I actually got it apart (with no cut fingers) and flattened so it fits in the bay.  Jon has a new home for Arizona, it just needs some feed trays.

I'm off again early this morning to Morgan Hill to work on this girl some more.  I hope to get all the necessary stuff to work on her hair.  That should take me all summer long to finish.
Is anyone else being bothered by allergies this year?  I'm going crazy from all the pollen in the air.  Springtime after a wet winter isn't fun around here, especially when the wind comes up every day to swirl even more junk into the air we breathe.  Sneezing has become traumatic, I haven't been able to breath well for two weeks and am getting rummy from lack of sleep.  Hopefully this next week will be better as I finish packing for the trip to Lost Horse Ranch.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Last Breakfast

I'm off again this morning for the Last Breakfast (for me anyway) at the Elks RV Park.  This will be a shorty blog.  They have decided to add hash browns to the mix.  Not only do they require some preparation, but they require a very HOT HOT oven.  Last time they cooked them, the oven finally got hot about the time they needed to serve.  Not that it's any of my business really, but I'm going extra early to crank those ovens up to their highest temperature so we can have reasonably well cooked potatoes!!

While I was making RV and Lost Horse Ranch list after list so I don't forget something, I watched the Preakness Stakes race, the second of the triple crown of horse racing.  Not that I'm all that interested in racing, but my love of horses goes beyond the normal.

Add to that the fact that the VERY expensive needlepoint store in Morgan Hill gives you a discount if you pick the winner, and I'm glued to the television.  Here's my pick ... Always Dreaming.  I had my doubts, since he has won his last four races, including the Kentucky Derby.  You can't win that many in a row and not be too tired to win the next two.  I considered changing my choice, but in the end, it wouldn't have mattered.
AND THEY'RE OFF!!!!  Always Dreaming #4 and Classic Empire #5 (the second choice to win) came out of the gates together and made a run for the rail.  What that means is they were on too fast of a pace to be able to have anything left in the final stretch.
Classic Empire got ahead of Always Dreaming, as he lost his oomph and ended up back in the pack.  Then, out of nowhere came Cloud Computing (I'm sorry, but these are dumb names for horses) who was neck and neck to the end where he nosed out Classic Empire for the win.  You never know who is going to the winners circle ... which horse is tired or which is just having a bad day.  Horses are very much like humans in that respect.  On this day, Cloud Computing won and I lost my discount at the needlepoint store.  RATS!!
I could have used it since I'm going over again tomorrow for my last session until probably September.  

So I'm off to feed the masses again ... fruit, sausage, hash browns, pancakes and eggs.  Not bad for a $6.00 breakfast.  I think that's better than Denny's Grand Slam!!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Now You See It, Now You Don't

One of the things the Elk's Lodge does to raise money is have raffles.  Raffles, raffles, everywhere a raffle.  Do we get kind of tired of them?  Yes we do ... but we all know it's how they separate you from your green stuff in order to collect donations for all the good and worthy projects we support, like Children's Hospital, the Burn Center and our Troops.  In return SOME people win great prizes.

At the Cattlemen's dinner Thursday night, they put on a great raffle, with prizes that couldn't be beat, all donated at no cost to the Elks.  This amazing barbecue was one of them.  Pretty nice, right?  Well the Castle Lawyer wanted the barbecue, said she needed it as her's was old and falling apart.  She bought FIVE tickets (I bought 25) and of course she WON!!!  So did the raffle with $850 collected.

All was well until they rolled it up beside her and she figured out it wasn't gas.  Good Heavens ... I thought it was GAS!!  Nope ... charcoal only.  Not only that, but there was no way she was fitting this in her little car.  I tried to shrink until I was under the table, but it didn't work.  My truck was conscripted to haul the critter to her house on the farthest side of town at 8:00 in the morning.

By the time we got it there, she had decided she always wanted to learn how to cook with charcoal.  Personally I think it will make a nice plant stand.
While I was in town, I decided to stop in at See's Candy and pick up my $20 worth, using the gift card Miss Tammy gave me.  Although most stores on our little Mall open at 9:00, this one does not.  I sat in the parking lot and watched a live presentation of a greater flamingo baby hatching from his shell.  Apparently they take longer than an hour, but he was cute, fluffy and chirped a lot.  At any rate, it passed the time before killing my phone battery.  Finally the store opened.  There will be candy for breakfast!!
I picked out all my favorites including everything peanut butter and maple flavored.  The box was so full she couldn't even get the top to stay on.  Thank you Tammy!!!  I'm in candy heaven.
Now you see it, now you DON'T!!   HA HA!!  GOTCHA!!  I didn't really eat it all.  I would be on the floor writhing in pain if I did.  I put them all in a zip-lock bag in the freezer.  Well maybe not ALL ... a couple may have jumped in my mouth on the way.  Out of sight, out of mind however.  They will last much longer if they are hidden away behind the Lean Cuisines.
I spent the rest of the day between embroidery, needlepoint and playing with the puppies.  This cute little hippo is up to her neck in water, with see-through organza placed over the body and a bunch of little fish swimming around underneath.  Pretty cute.  
Two more to go and the little quilt will be done.  
Not that anyone is going to need a quilt around here any time soon.  The temperatures will be upwards of 90 all week long.  That's okay though, it's conditioning for my trip to Arizona in June.  I'll be able to see just how good that new air conditioning system works in my ranch house.

I can't wait ... I'm going to be living part time in the Arizona Territory ... land of cowboys and Indians, where on this very ground, cattle rustlers and train robbers hid out as the posse rode by in the distance.  I know, I have a crazy imagination, or maybe I'm just a reincarnated bad guy's girlfriend!!  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Stranger Danger!!!

It's not just for kids.  It's for everyone where I live.  Over the years, we have become a town of street gangs and druggies (a good place to stop between LA and Sacramento), not to mention the maximum security prison.  What?  You didn't now there was a prison in my back yard?  You don't hear much about it, but when you do, it's Stranger Danger time!

You don't really expect it in your neighborhood, or in your driveway, or in your GARAGE!!  Yesterday while I was loading up the Jeep, I forgot to shut the garage door for about 30 minutes.  Pretty soon I heard a door shut and the dogs starting barking up a storm.  Thank goodness for puppies. Not seeing anyone out the front window, I went around to the side to find some kid on a skateboard INSIDE my garage.

He's lucky he's alive.  I grabbed my gun and pulled back the window shade where he could clearly see me.  He jumped on his skateboard and made a beeline for the street with me hot on his tail.  Later in the day I spotted a skateboard in the yard of a house four doors down.  It was probably just a nosey neighbor teenager, but I'm willing to bet he won't be trying that again.   I kind of like being the crazy lady with a gun!!

I double and triple checked everything in the garage ... especially making sure all my door openers were still in the vehicles.  Nothing was missing, thanks to the puppies who have super hearing.
The very next morning some guy held up a Valero gas station about three miles away, then hit the Circle K about a mile from my house.  Good grief ... this is getting ridiculous!!  Are you SURE there isn't a full moon??  I keep my doors locked at all times.  

Then there was the prison incident.  Apparently this was never advertised as a maximum security prison, even though it was built that way.  Who would know that information unless you worked there, right?  I actually have a friend who is a guard at that establishment.  He tells me all kinds of stories about the ineptness of the Federal Prison system.  Those stories have always kept me on guard, plus you KNOW I watch all those Cop shows.

It's been there for a long time now with no escapes.  Trouble is, there is always the FIRST.  It happened last week.  Not that I think an escaped prisoner would come to my house, after all, there are hundreds of houses between the prison and me.  I keep my doors locked anyway.  

The BIG problem was that the Prison decided NOT ... I repeat ... NOT to notify anyone of the escape for over four hours, putting all of us in this area at risk.  I don't know the details ... something about there not being a guard in the tower when the guy climbed the fence.  

The County Sheriff wasn't a happy camper when he was asked to help catch the guy, since HE wasn't notified of the escape either.  The good news is that they DID catch him and he was returned to his new digs in the Shoe ... solitary confinement .... bread and water.  
I'm sure that didn't bode well for the Prison Warden.  Somebody got a big red X on his evaluation.  I have no doubt security will be MUCH better ... at least for awhile.

I spent the evening at the Elks Cattlemen's dinner.  Cowboys know how to do it up right.  They had appetizers ... no one ever has appetizers!!  I'm sure some wished there WASN'T any when they heard what they were eating.  Calf fries, rocky mountain oysters ... you know, the parts from making a bull into a steer.  That's something I'm pretty used to, having been raised on a cattle ranch.  They were a tad overcooked, but I think that was an attempt to disguise what they really were. 

Then they served the biggest rib eye steak I've ever seen.  It covered 3/4 of the plate and I brought 3/4 of it home, along with half a baked potato and a passel of green beans.  That will be TWO more meals for me. 

This morning I'm back on sprinkler detail.  It seems the Castle Ghost is still lurking in the shadows.  I made double sure that my sprinklers would NOT run on Friday when the mowers and blowers show up.  Sure enough, they ran this morning anyway.  I'm now thinking it must have the wrong DATE.  I'll check it out, and I'll carry a baseball bat when I do .... you know, just in case.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


Recorded and official, my little slice of heaven awaits my arrival.  I'm not really sure when that will be, but owning a piece of Arizona Territory makes me happy.  I can't wait to get down there so I can show you some pictures.  I'm even going to pick out paint colors today.  Might as well be prepared, although there really isn't that much to paint.  I'll have to show you some before and after pictures.
After falling asleep around 7:00 while watching TV (it's just so exciting around here), I finally caught up and recovered from the Mother's Day marathon.  I picked up more material for the critter quilt and whipped out another panel.  The next one will be the Hippo.  She's standing in deep water that you can see through.  Interesting, right?  '

In between switching back and forth from needlepoint to quilting, I've gathered more stuff for the ranch in Vail ... things like quilts, pillows, a couple of small tables, a lamp ... everything I can think of I will need that I can stuff in the rig and the Jeep.  It will all be so heavy I probably won't get over 50 mph.
I also made a quick run to the grocery store.  It's taken me THREE trips to get all the ingredients for the pie below.  While scouting out easy to prepare frozen lunches, I spotted this.  Fishless filets?  WHAT??  I picked up a couple of boxes of Indian food (love it!) and hit the checkout stand.  Wasn't I surprised when I got home and they were vegetarian!!  AHA!!!  No wonder the fishless fish.  Good grief .... my chicken tikka masala had no meat.  It had that horrible tofu stuff, tough and chewy rubber, with a ton of garbanzo beans.  Not exactly my kind of lunch, but I ate it.  
To make up for the less-than-successful lunch, I put a half frozen pork roast in the Instant Pot along with one small bottle of pepsi cola.  In 50 minutes I had the best pulled pork EVER!!  Unfortunately, this time I cooled the liquid, scraped off the grease and added it back to the meat.  Big mistake.  It's okay if you want a chili verde type dish, but for tacos, it's too juicy.  The bottom fell out of my tortilla depositing all that goodness in my lap.  I know, I should eat at the table like my mother said.
Then I set about whipping up the lemonade cream cheese pie.  Sound delicious, right?  Welllllllll this one just might be headed for the cemetery.  I think I've finally hit the end of my winning streak.  First off, I just KNEW that 2/3 of a cup of butter for the graham cracker crumb crust was too much, but I followed the recipe anyway.  It was WAY too much.   After baking, it was a gooey mess.

When I whipped the lemon pudding mix with only 5 ounces of milk, I thought it was WAY too thick. Pretty much I was right.  The cream cheese and the lemonade came out beautifully, but was no match for the pudding.  Finally somewhat mixed up, I put it in the pie shell, now hard as a rock.  Two hours later it got the taste test.  It really didn't taste too bad until I got to the rock hard crust.  I needed a jackhammer.  

I'm going to try another piece today ... maybe the filling will soak into the crust a little.  Otherwise, it's destined for the shovel!!
On today's schedule is another Elks dinner and meeting.  This time it's sponsored by the Cattlemen, so you KNOW I'm attending, along with a hundred others who are looking for a cheap steak.  The steaks are awesome, the price usually $15.00.  In the meantime, I've got boxes of stuff by the back door to be packed in the rig.  The weather is heating up to over 100 by the end of the week, so I need to get cracking!!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sometimes You Lose - Bingo That Is

First off, thank you everyone for the name suggestions.  I love them!!!  If everything went okay, the Title Company should close today, then it's celebration time!!  Not that I can celebrate much with the puppies ... they are NOT party animals ... but I'll think of something!!  I've still not caught up on my sleep from Morgan Hill, the Elks, the Elks again and now Bingo night.  Try as I might, once I'm awake, I'm awake, so the puppies and I just cuddled on the couch.
As much as I tried to ignore it was Magic Kingdom night, it refused to go away, so off I went with a good heart and a smile, hoping for the best.  I should have known something was up when I arrived at the Sky Lounge for my usual please-keep-me-awake Coke, because by 4:00, I'm always yawning and ready to hit the hay.

There sat Prince Charming and only one other person.  This place is usually hopping!!  It was then that I met Frank.  Frank is a 97 year old World War II veteran who was at Pearl Harbor.  Obviously he survived, but only by the skin of his teeth when he was thrown into an airplane as a tail gunner (his first ride ever) as they flew towards Australia.  Right off the bat, the wing was shot off the airplane and they crashed into shark infested waters.  Two hours later, a PT boat picked them up.

He has stories you can't believe.  An interesting coincidence, he knows the area around Tucson and Benson well since he was born and raised there.  More stories include his brother who was one of the original men who carried the flag to the top of the hill in Iwo Jima ... one of the men who didn't get credit for it when it was staged later for the photo and monument.  

I immediately mentioned getting these stories on tape ... I'll bring the recorder.  Frank said yes.  He likes the girls, even if they are MY age.  Hopefully I can capture some of these amazing true life stories.  He has a lifetime of them.  

Eventually I headed off downstairs to work, still with a smile on my face.  Frank was funny!!  He has a great sense of humor, especially since he professes to be Apache Indian.  Good I said ... we'll be cowboy(girl) and Indian!!

I should have known it wouldn't go well when no one showed up to work the Bingo room.  We normally have four or five guys floating around selling pull tabs and Bonanza tickets (one of our games).  We depend on the men to keep us safe and sane.  Too bad it doesn't rub off on the peasants, as they immediately got into a big argument at our table, with pushing and shoving trying to get the PERFECT Bingo card ... the WINNER!!  That never happens, the winning part, but they fight over them anyway.  Is it a full moon or something?

Here's the main problem ... if you win, you have to yell LOUDLY.  I know I've mentioned this before. We not only mention it, we state it LOUDLY at the beginning of the game.  Bingo machines make noise.  If you don't yell, the caller can't hear and calls the next number.  That means you lose and that means there's a screaming mad peasant on the loose.  We have a duck and run policy for that.

It didn't help that there were only TWO men on the floor, who also can't hear well.  Face it, we're old and the first thing that went south was our hearing.  So when the lady didn't get her payoff, she got so mad she cleared the table of all the food, drinks and bingo cards she had, making a huge mess on the carpeted floor.  The King jumped on her immediately, escorted her to the door and told her to never return.  That bodes badly for those of us who have to walk to our vehicles where she may be hiding!!!  No, I'm not kidding.  We required an escort.

But that wasn't the only reason ... our little upstairs bartender, blond, covered with tattoos and a sweetheart who never wears enough clothes to keep her warm, was accosted in the parking lot as she stepped out for a smoke.  Instead of running, she froze like a deer in the headlights.  Lucky for her, one of our guys went out for a smoke too and chased him off.  Good grief ... it MUST be a full moon!!
At long last the night was over, but we closed up a tad too soon and change was required, sending everyone into a tizzy ... an angry tizzy.  I dipped into the "tip" box quickly for change.  I can't blame them ... it was a rough night with no help to corral the angry peasants.  Probably one of the worst nights we've had.  With an armed escort ... yes, really ... we walked to our cars, locked the doors and got out of Dodge.  Thank goodness THAT'S over with!!

While downloading some stuff yesterday,  I discovered one picture I forgot to post of Tammy and I having lunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite.  This was before the drenching mist from the falls!!
Although it's cool and beautiful this morning, a lovely 54 degrees outside, it's supposed to be 97 by Saturday, so I'll be gearing up for warmer weather.  Mostly I'll be packing the rig with everything I can think of that will fit.    It's not official yet, but we're close ...... very close .... to closing on my Arizona house!!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Over The Hill

I'm already WAY over the hill, but I went there again ... to Morgan Hill ... to get a little more instruction on my siren.  We tried a few different treads and stitches, all of which I bombed at.  The thread was too thin and too dark to see the pattern, which I never got right.  It took lots of exchanging until we finally came up with something that would work.

About that time, I ran out of the thread I needed for the body.  It was set for delivery, about three hours after I left, as was the lighted magnifying glass I need for the RV.   These have become my go-to craft for traveling.  They take up very little space, plus I can use the glass to read things I can't see with my glasses ... like maps and prescription bottle instructions.  It's a win-win!!
Still thinking about that taco, I stopped at Taco Bell on the way home for the second time.  I made double sure the tacos were in the bag before leaving the window.  Yup ... they were there, but I should have gone with the burrito.  What has happened to Taco Bell?  They didn't even BEGIN to taste like the tacos of old.  The shell was thicker and harder, so with every bite, the meat fell out on to the paper that luckily I still had in my lap.  

Not that it mattered really, because the meat didn't taste all that good anyway.  Somebody changed the recipe.  I guess that's a good thing for me, since I won't be blowing my diet on these tacos any more.  It wasn't a double decker taco so I'm not sure why they used this paper.
Here's a crazy piece of news for you.  My friend Cyndae came and hijacked another one of my quilts for the show just outside of Sacramento.  I won SECOND place this time, a step up from third place last year.  How in the world can that be?  I'm truly NOT the best quilter around.  I don't even know what class it's in, but it must be AMATEUR.  I mean really, click on this picture and enlarge to see the one behind mine.  Now THAT'S an amazing quilt!!!
Feeling bad about blowing my low-carb diet with all that breakfast food I had Sunday, not to mention the Costco cake, of which I've now had TWO more pieces, I thawed out some chicken cacciatore and heated it up over zoodles.  I'm telling you folks, these zoodles are magic!!    I also threw away the last two pieces of cake.  I can only take so much greasy frosting.
Now for the best news of all.  After four hours of driving around yesterday and 25 miles chalked up on my truck, I was finally able to finish the paperwork for the Arizona House ... which needs a name. Any suggestions??   Stagecoach House ... Outlaw Manor ... Wyatt Earp Lived Here ... something exciting.

It took me three trips to the UPS store to get the papers notarized, all of which resulted in a big ZERO.  It seems she needed to run some errands.  I decided to drive into Merced to take care of the wire transfer first.  That took over an hour to fill out the paperwork.  Still looking for that elusive notary (there's not one at my credit union), it dawned on me the Title Company is right next door.  

In a short fifteen minutes, all the papers were signed and I was on my way BACK to the UPS store to send them overnight by FEDEX.  Being skeptical is a good thing sometimes.  I thought maybe, just MAYBE, the UPS store won't send anything FedEx, so I called first.  Sure enough, I would have made another 10 mile trip out of my way for nothing.   Right around the corner from my house however, is a Postal Connection that took the envelope with a smile.  Now THAT'S service!!

Assuming they receive both the mail and the transfer, it should close tomorrow.  YAY!!!  In the meantime, I've been packing more stuff to take with me.  Too bad I don't have room for furniture.  On the other hand, it will be a blast searching around Tucson for Old West vibe furnishings.  I can't wait!!  

Monday, May 15, 2017

I Smell Like Waffles!!

While everyone slept, I was up and at 'em by 4:30 in order to get ready for the onslaught of people to the Elks Mother's Day Buffet.  Try as I might to go to bed early, one of my neighbors in the new subdivision held their house warming with a for real band that sounded like they were on MY patio.   At least it was country music!!

I moved to the back bedroom ... not that it helped.  Luckily they quit about 9:30 and I got some rest before working my butt off in the kitchen.  Not a bad thing ... I could use a little less butt!!  I know, I need a purple shirt, but purple really isn't my color!!
There's a lot to get ready, since the menu has expanded so much.  There's Mexican Egg Casserole to make up (6 turkey roaster sized pans) and hash browns to season and pan up for the oven.  We spent Saturday morning panning the sausage, biscuits and waffles ready for baking.  The Dirty Thirty were hard at work.   Along with the waffles there was butter, syrup, strawberries, whipped cream, chocolate sauce and powdered sugar to get ready ... they leave nothing out!!  Not to mention the sausage gravy and scrambled eggs made by the other side of the kitchen.
It all becomes a dance with the clock, since the casseroles take 45 minutes at one temperature while everything else requires another.  The biscuits and waffles are pre-baked, so they just require a good warming before going in the crisper.  I think I baked 8 pans of these (that's 384 biscuits), 8 pans of waffles and 6 pans of sausage, plus the five pans of ham.  Whew!!!
TEN pans of hash browns went in the oven, all coming out crispy and brown after a few stirs.  Yup ... every pan had to be stirred at least three times, including the egg casseroles.
Here's my ovens ... boy do I wish I had these at home!!  There are two more warming ovens on the right just out of view to keep things warm after baking, so this was my workstation for the entire morning.  I only had one minor mishap (okay, maybe two) ... are you amazed?  I certainly am, but the first one wasn't my fault.  Someone came along and upped the temperature to 400 ... thinking they were doing a good deed ... and burned the first batch of waffles I had in.   Not burned black, but way too brown for my taste!!  I switched the dial back and refused to let anyone come near.

The second was a problem ... one lone sausage jumped off the tray.  The sausages expand when you cook them, so if you fill the pans too full, some try to escape.  One did ... all the way in the very back of the oven, on the bottom.  Smoke started to roll out when I opened the door.  RATS!!  I had to remove one rack and brave the screaming hot sides in order to drag it out with the longest spoon I could find.  Success!!
It wasn't all bad however ... when the young kitchen crew came in to do all the cleanup, we got some nice views to recharge our batteries.  You cannot imagine how much work these guys do ... for one, they washed 25 big pans and 28 sheet pans that I dirtied, not to mention all the plates, utensils and that huge meat slicer!!
The quiet before the storm ... we fed almost 500 people.  I finally had one biscuit with gravy, followed up by one small piece of waffle with strawberries, followed up with the biggest piece of Costco cake I think I've ever eaten.  I was miserable, but that's what I get for going off the diet.
The weirdest thing happened when I finally got home ... I kept smelling waffles.  Every time I moved around the house ... there's that sweet smell of toasted goodness wafting on the breeze.  I guess it was that blast of heat every time I opened the oven door.

Today I'm heading off to get my closing documents notarized, as well as send off my hard earned money and close the deal for the Arizona House.  I hope they don't mind that I still smell a little like waffles!!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day To All Moms

I hope everyone has a wonderful chore-less Mother's Day.  Take Mom out to lunch or dinner and show her how special she is!!

Back to Yosemite, with me in the picture, you get a little more perspective of the Merced River water level.  We were only about 15 feet from the road.  Truly, it couldn't have been a nicer day with temperatures in the 70's and bright sunshine.
Here's a flower for all the Mother's ... dogwood blossoms.  Me, I'll be cooking by the time you read this.  The Elks put on one of the best brunches around for Mother's of Members ... for FREE.  We got everything set up yesterday morning, and by 6:30 am I'll be baking biscuits and egg casserole.
Majestic El Capitan is the rock to climb, if you're into that kind of thing.  My rock climbing career thankfully ended before anyone suggested this behemoth!!  On any sunshiny day, you can stop in the meadow and watch the diehards climb the cracks.  In case you were wondering, it takes a good three days to reach the top.  Of course there are those that can do it in record time, but the rest spend a couple of nights in hammocks hung from the tiniest of carabiners.  Not my idea of fun since I'm a restless sleeper.  
These two were about a quarter of the way up near the front point.  There are many "trails" up, some easier than others.  All are too hard for me.  
These two were about half way up the rock, getting ready to lock in for the night.  Directly below them and to the left were four climbers, two being the smart ones who were staked out on a tiny ledge.
Just to give you a little perspective, here's the same climbers as the above picture, next to the little dark spot you can see in a previous picture.  I don't think so .... absolutely not. 
As we made our way around the construction to one of my favorite places to take photographs, the river was wider than ever.  The nice slow moving smooth as glass creek that makes for great reflection images, was twice as wide as normal and running like a freight train.  Still, I was able to capture El Capitan on the left and Bridle Vail Falls on the right.
The mountains to the far right still had a little snow, with more rain clouds coming in.  It's always a great day in Yosemite, in spite of the traffic and crazy amount of people on a THURSDAY!!
I got a big surprise after lunch ... Tammy got me a birthday card and a gift card ... for Sees Candy no less!!  Good heavens ... my first "second" birthday present!!  Thank you Tammy ... you're a sweetheart.  
I hope everyone has a great day while I'm slaving away in the kitchen!!  It's okay, it's worth it to see 400 happy people eat breakfast at the Elks.  Maybe I can even swipe a small piece of ham for MY kids, Cooper ......
and Jessie and of course don't forget Jonathan.  Maybe a donut for him ... or her as the case may be.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Treasure In The Mountains

You have all probably heard of Yosemite National Park, just a short 90 minute drive from my house.  I should go more often.  This trip was to celebrate Mothers Day with my friends and my second birthday of the year.  As it turned out, only Tammy and I were able to make it, getting a late start.  That meant TRAFFIC ... LOTS of it!!  Parking was definitely at a premium.

Along the way, we stopped in at El Portal to check out the Merced River.  That's the hotel on the edge way in the distance.  Many years ago the river was half this wide, but with the big flood of 1997, it expanded it's boundaries.  Usually not much more than a trickle at this point, it was a raging river the day we were there, looking like a pot of boiling potatoes.  Everyone is on flood watch due to melting snow.
Water, water ... everywhere!!  I had to drive through several flooded sections of road in the park where water was sheeting off the mountains.  These two white stripes down the granite in back of the Ahwahnee Hotel are waterfalls.  Since I used to live in the park, several brand new waterfalls have appeared, flowing off the cliffs and into the valley due to erosion and river course changes.  
With all the flooding, half the valley was shut off to traffic, making very narrow single lanes going every which direction ... against the normal grain of traffic.  We barely made it in time for our lunch reservation, even with using Valet Parking.  By the way, you can't call for reservations any more ... although Tammy was finally able to find a phone number ... if they choose to answer.  

You have to go online to Open Table and make your reservation.  They do take walk-ins, but the wait was upwards of 60 minutes.  The place was packed!  If you ever visit, head around the corner to the right and up the stairs to the balcony.  It's a great place to get an idea of the grandeur of the hotel.  
We were finally seated in the main dining room.  It's such a spectacular venue, it's hard to concentrate on the menu.  Bring your biggest credit card and plan to stay awhile.
There is however, no use coming to such a grand location and being the cheapskate I usually am.  I splurged on the florentine crab appetizer at $17.  I know ... I almost choked on it too, but it was made with fresh spinach and was out of this world, so I figure it was worth it.
Next up ... rainbow trout.  Chef Patty would be proud of me for picking one of her favorite dishes.  I have to admit it was fabulous, along with the saluted onions, squash and green beans, with rice under the fish.  The plate is HUGE and enough for two people.  We found out too late that if you want bread, you have to ask for it.  They still bake it themselves and it is available at no charge, but if you do not ask, you do not get!!
After Tammy expounded on the virtues of the lemon meringue pie, she had a few months ago, I couldn't resist.  We both had a piece.   I could have eaten THREE pieces.  
Remember the trip to Maine with the Westerfields where we scouted out the best bread pudding?  The Golden Spike Train group was here a couple weeks ago, and they said the bread pudding was top of the line.  What the heck ... I ordered one to go.   Maybe it's because no one can beat Jerome Arizona's bread pudding, or maybe it was because it sat in my truck (in a to-go box) for four hours, but it didn't get a passing grade this time around.  

Lunch for two came to $111.05, probably the highest I've ever paid.  If you stick with the fish and only one dessert, it will run you about $30 each.  But what's the fun in THAT!!

Full to the brim, we wandered through the gift shop, non-existent when I was here.   Again, bring your BIG credit card.  The small red purse I looked at was $325 ... yup you read that right.  That was a little more than my $20 budget, so I passed.
Out front the dogwoods were blooming like crazy in every single tree around.  Unfortunately, try as we might to find some redbud, there was only one to behold.  I'm guessing the hot-no-water weather has killed most of it.  Maybe there's some at the higher elevations.
It was a trip down memory lane, except nothing matched up with my memories.  Degnans Restaurant where we caroused around the piano as Doug played the latest hits (after hours of course), was closed and half the grocery store is now another gift shop.  There's a new-to-me sandwich shop out front, where these guys get their fill.  I certainly hope they sterilize those trays before they serve food on them.  
Back in the truck, we headed through the employee section so I could show Tammy the dorm rooms. Right under my window was an old fashioned telephone booth.  Remember those with the sliding door?  One night a young bear got inside the booth and closed the door on himself when he turned around.  You should have heard the racket.  We all hung out the windows, but no one had enough nerve to go downstairs and open the door.  

We called the rangers, but they were slow to arrive.  We finally grabbed a broom and tried to push the door in far enough so he could get out.  He squalled every time it hit him in the butt.  At long last, he turned the right direction and escaped.  We never saw him again.  Don't you think he had tales to tell his mama!!!

Finally back at the Yosemite Lodge, I really thought we were out of luck in the way of a parking spot, but on the first round, I spotted a car backing out.  Tammy jumped out and stopped all the traffic (mainly so they wouldn't steal our spot) and I whipped the truck in backwards in a flash.  

With all the snow melt, the falls were pretty spectacular.  This is Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls.  The roar was deafening, even from the parking lot.  
As we got closer, we could feel a very light mist on the breeze.  In no time we were at the bridge and soaking wet.  
As we rounded the last corner, you could see how much mist there was at the bottom of Lower Falls.  The wind produced by the falling water was throwing the mist sideways, soaking everyone to the skin.  I stayed back trying to keep my camera dry.

Tammy went right up close into the eye of the storm.   We're still a long way from the actual base of the falls, but close enough to get drenched.
I've got more pictures I'll show you tomorrow.   It was getting late, so we loaded up in the truck and headed back home.  To my surprise, Tammy brought Smokehouse Almonds and pretzels to snack on.  This girl knows how to travel!!!  By the way, I really tried to drive nice.  I think I only scared her once!

With another trip to Morgan Hill in the books yesterday, I was exhausted and hit the sack early.  This morning is Mothers Day Brunch prep at the Elks, then it's nap time for Nancy.  Cooking for the brunch starts at 6:30 am on Sunday ..... won't THAT be fun!!