Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Cleaning!!

Cleaning is NOT on my list of fun things to do.  Try as my mother might to make me love it, she just succeeded in making me an outdoor girl.  I'd rather clean out horse stalls than my house ... but with not much else going on, it was time.

What actually spurred me into action was a visit to an Open House.  I used to live on a beautiful five acre spread that I sold when my parents passed.  The new owners purchased it, completely gutted the interior, then renovated it into something that should be in a magazine.  My Realtor said to come take a look, since she sold me the house years ago.  WOW is all I could say as I walked around.  I've never seen such an immaculate place.  I thought I was in Martha Stewart's living room!!

Now feeling bad about my dirty house, I got a burst of energy, lots of rags and cleaned from floor to ceiling ... well almost to the ceiling.  Once I get in the cleaning mode, everything's gotta go!!  I loaded up boxes of donations, moved that huge couch out of the living room and called LOVE Inc to come get it all.

I quickly discovered the previous owners had dogs, which they apparently locked in every single room in the house, leaving horrendous scratches on the doors where they showed their displeasure!!  Here's a tip you've probably heard before ... grab a piece of walnut and rub it on the scratches.  It really does work!!  Eight pieces later, most of the scratches disappeared.  That worked so well, I tried it on my kitchen cabinets that were nicked and scratched from wear and tear.  What a difference!!!  They look brand new!!  Not sure how long it will last, hopefully until I clean again next year!!!

In taking stuff out to the garbage can, which was full after the second load, I took WAY too much notice of the dirty patio furniture.  I'm not sure why there's so much dust here, but half an inch thick is pretty bad!!  Six Swiffer dusters later, it was halfway clean as I moved one set out.  When I put the umbrella up, it actually felt like spring!!
Not that I use these pieces much ... I'm not the party girl I used to be.  It's nice however, to go outside in the morning and have coffee and breakfast.  It's really not going to rain ... I took these pictures in the early morning light.  
Sitting at my computer, I felt a nice sunrise coming on, so I opened my shutters to find a broken window in the living room.   Hmmmm wonder which neighborhood kid caused THAT??  The joys of home ownership!!

At any rate, the patio area now looks rather forlorn ... maybe a little gas fire pit like Martha Stewart's house, would warm it up!!!!!  The outdoor kitchen area still needs a cleanup, but the trash can is stuffed to the brim.  The black hole in the cabinet is for a refrigerator, but with no parties going on, it will just remain a black hole!!
More cleaning will go on today.  I really have to learn NOT to purchase momentos of trips I take.   It's just entirely too hard to clean all that stuff!!!   They all hold such great memories that I can't let them go.  Maybe that's why I still have all those boxes of junk in my garage ... I mean treasures!!!

It's Magic Kingdom day, so Cinderella has to get her act in gear and finish cleaning before the Kings Ball tonight!!  Now where did I put those glass slippers???

Monday, March 30, 2015

Art Comes In Many Forms

I've been growing my soul quite a bit for the last year or so making quilts and crafty things.  Some people make jewelry, some people can knit up a storm, some can paint beautiful pictures and some can carve the most wonderful gourds. There's just an unlimited number of things to do that people call ART.  I've never been much of an "art" person ... I think you have to be born with that talent and since we were so far out in the boon tullies when I was a kid, it passed me by!!
In my family, sewing was pretty much mandatory for the women.  My grandmother and mom made all our clothes ... at least all MY clothes anyway.  I never thought of it as art, I just thought my grandmother made me new p.j.'s.   When I asked her to show me how to sew, she sat me down on her machine with some scraps and I went to town.

Here I am 60-something years later, and I still have a pile of scraps I'm sewing, just like I did when I first started.  This pile will become a queen size quilt some time down the road.  I've been sewing these pieces together for a week now and still have a long way to go.  Funny ... I never thought of it as ART.
To me, ART is knowing how to operate this tractor pulling a 24 foot plow across the field.  I ALWAYS wanted to be outside.  Inside didn't impress me at all!!  Finally, when I was maybe 14 years old, my dad showed me how to drive our little D4 Caterpillar, pulling a 12 foot disc across an old hay field.  I left the sewing behind pretty quickly and was in seventh heaven, sitting on that dusty, dirty, greasy tractor all day long, making sure my disc lines were perfectly straight!!
Later on when we were growing rice, I would sit and watch the tractor drivers with envy.  They were operating D9's ... HUGE tractors pulling even bigger plows.  When I got up enough nerve to ask if I could operate one, my dad laughed and said I'd be stuck in the mud in an hour.  I persisted and whined until he finally pulled a driver off, showed me the controls and drove away.

It was the best time EVER!!!  Running that huge piece of equipment across the field, listening to the diesel engine constantly for the lowering of RPM's, which meant you were in wetter soil with the chance of getting stuck.  Using hydraulics, I would lift the disc just enough to hear the RPM's raise back up to normal, letting it down as I passed the muddy area.  Now THAT'S ART in my book!!  I drove that tractor all day and NEVER got stuck.

I was so happy and proud that I didn't want to get off when the sun went down, but all good things must come to an end, as did my tractor driving career.  My dad never did admit that I had a knack for heavy equipment and that I didn't get stuck in the mud.  In those days, women weren't allowed to drive heavy equipment OR big trucks.  So now you know why I'm so happy driving a big rig down the highway ... it's an ART ... just like driving that Caterpillar and sewing that quilt!!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Did You EVER ....... ??

Did you ever get up one morning and find a pulled muscle in your leg that you didn't know you had?  Yesterday was the day for me.  Actually, it's an old running injury from trying to keep up with the pack going up a 45 degree hill.  I'm SURE it was that steep as I limped down the other side.  I guess I aggravated it while working at the ranch, because I could hardly move one leg forward.

Did you ever think you wanted to go somewhere, like maybe a quilt store ... you showered and dressed, fixed your hair and makeup, gathered everything up including your list of material requirements and headed to the truck?  Two blocks away from the house your brain says ... I don't really want to drive an hour out and an hour back ... I just want to go home.  So you turn around and drive home??  Yup ... that was me!!

Did you ever think you wanted to cook shrimp and grits (polenta) because you saw it on TV and it looked SOOOOOOO easy?  Well it wasn't easy at all!!  The frozen raw shrimp from Texas, once cooked, were so iodine tasting and tough that they went in the trash can ... the ENTIRE bag.

Did you ever try to cook polenta??  You shouldn't cook shrimp and grits in the first place unless you are from the south ... and you shouldn't try to cook polenta unless you're Italian.  I'm neither, so disaster followed in Nancy's kitchen, as she turned her head for just a second, to look back and find the entire stove covered with molten lava as it rolled and boiled out of the pot all over the stove!!

Did you ever try to clean up molten polenta from your beautiful gas stove???

Did you ever just leave the back door open for the dogs because you were too tired to get up and let them out?  What happens when you do that is flies come in by the dozens!!

Did you ever spend literally the entire day on the couch because you were achey breakey and just didn't want to move??  It was so hard to sit up and reach for the TV remote that I watched some horrible B-Grade SyFy movies that had me laughing at the acting and movie sets, causing even more pain!!

Did you ever go to bed without making it up first??  I had thrown the sheets in the laundry early in the morning and my foggy achey brain forgot about them.  By 9:00 pm there was no way I could make the bed, so I just threw the comforter on top and rolled up in it like a burrito, snuggled with the puppies and went to sleep ... at least for a little while.

Did you ever dream you were in a vehicle flying through the air about to crash??  It wakes you up REAL quick!!!

Did you ever try to type a blog when you are still achey breakey and your fingers won't hit the right keys so you have to make corrections every other word?  

Did you ever spend TWO days on the couch??  That's were I'm headed right now.  Hopefully sometime today I can get the bed made and kill all those flies!!  Don't worry, I'm done with shrimp and grits!!!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Snaps Can Be Dangerous!!

This is WAY too early for a retired person to be up and on the road!!  Day two of the cleanup began at 0-Dark-Thirty as I drove to the ranch before the sun came up.  I wasn't alone though ... the silage trucks were already on the road as was the local skunk population.
Surprisingly, I moved my shoulders around and discovered I wan't very sore at all.  We are finally in front of the barn and quonset hut, about 50% done.   Cowboy Jaime and I began to tackle the worst part with gusto.  We quickly found out what looked like the ground level was actually two feet deep of leaves, berries, grass and about 30  fence posts.  As soon as I dug up one, I saw part of another ... and another.  Just when I thought I had them all, there were 10 more.  Will this never stop???  We found old saws, pieces of metal chairs, beer cans and harrows (farm equipment).
Today being a new day, there were new people at the County Dump who decided we were no longer dumping wood, but trash.  The trash IS wood, isn't it??  But they weren't having any of it, and each load ran $250+!!  It didn't take long to be over my budget, but what's a girl to do??  It HAS to be cleaned up if the place is to be sold, so I told them to keep on trucking!!
If you're the least bit squeamish, rotten logs buried two feet deep in tree trash won't be your favorite thing to dig up.  There were more bugs than you could shake a stick at ... which I did, many times.  Finally when the truck driver saw me dancing around getting the creepy crawlies off my hands and arms, he brought a pair of gloves for me to wear as he grabbed a BIG bug from my neck!!  See ... there ARE nice guys in the world!!  They're just all married, as was he and my Cowboy Buddy!!!  

I'm not sure what kind of spider made this nest, but it was pretty cool.  My little i-Phone didn't really do it justice, but with so much dust and mold in the air, I didn't want to take my "camera".  When the boss brought out dust masks for us to wear, I stashed mine in the truck for the next trip to Bingoland!!!
I took a couple breaks to rest a little, since it seemed I was wearing out.  That was a big mistake because it was then I found out the time was only 9:30 am and not noon like I thought!!  UGH .... back to raking!!  About that time we were using the chain saw to cut down small branches, which I grabbed, turned and hauled off  to the "new" pile.  Just as I turned, one branch snagged my shirt and before my brain could process what was happening, every single snap on the front ripped apart.  YIKES!!!!  NEVER wear a shirt with snaps when working with tree branches around a bunch of MEN!!  At least I was facing the street, away from the crew, but can you imagine my embarrassment as I frantically tried to reconnect them with gloved hands, while not dropping the tree limb ... acting like nothing had happened??  
This is the BEFORE picture of this area.  By now I was starting to hurt a little.  Those 50 pound pieces of concrete and all that bending over was beginning to get to me.  I headed over to the truck to see if I might have an aspirin or two.  Thank goodness I found a small bottle with five pills, only one of which was recognizable.  I didn't care one bit ... I downed the four remaining with the last of my water and collapsed against the truck.  I don't remember this work being so hard when I was a kid!!!  The truck driver's wife brought a large pizza to the party and I said screw the diet ... I'm eating!!!  It was WONDERFUL!!!!!  Recharged, we were back at it in 15 minutes!!!
Pretty amazing change, right???   There are still many piles left to be hauled off, but we ran out of time and my pocket ran out of money.  What's left is mostly small green limbs that I'm hoping my gardner will haul off.  All the concrete irrigation pipes are gone now and one of the kids that showed up to help us, will haul the metal off ... hopefully today (I won't hold my breath however .. he's a kid after all!!!)

More aspirin last night didn't even touch the sore and achey ... I was awake most of the night.  This morning the sore, achey and tired is all that occupies my mind, knowing that tomorrow will be worse .. it's always worse the second day ... so if you need me, I'll be laid out on the couch!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The BIG Clean!!!

Big  BIG  BIG!!!!!  It was the BIG CLEAN day at the ranch.  Big is putting it mildly.  Cinderella put on her jeans and boots, grabbed her gloves and was out the door by 7:00 am!!!  The tractor and truck met me at the gate, as we tried to squeeze them in to the yard between the eucalyptus trees.
This really big tree is over 200 years old, 4 feet deep in trash at the base.  On the far side, was the "post pile" my dad created over 40 years.  Anything that resembled or "could" resemble a post, was saved in this pile just in case we needed it down the road.
Telephone poles counted as posts too, but also count at the County Dump where most of this trash will end up.  They are like gold to the dump because they charged $459 to leave them there!!!  

I have to say these guys worked their butts off!!  One ran the tractor and the other a shovel.  By the way, Cinderella got a marriage proposal from the Cowboy Shovel Guy, right after he asked me if I owned the property!!  Might not have been a bad deal, since he never, and I mean NEVER quit working ALL day ... not even to take a lunch break!!  That's a pretty good recommendation in my book!!
It seemed like everything was in slow motion and we would never see the light of day.  After four loads, we were still cleaning up from the SAME tree!!
I'm sorry I didn't get a before picture ... but here's the after.  It hasn't been this clean since we bought the place in 1954!!!  (Not my horses by the way!)
Finally we finished maybe a quarter of the job and moved up to the pile of concrete pipe we've been trying to get rid of since the 70's.  That was before anyone even cared about recycling ... now a local business takes all the concrete you can haul to them ... and they DON'T charge for it!!  YAY!!!  Cinderella can just feel that glass slipper, covered in dirt and spiders at this point!!
At the end of the day, one of the Supervisors stopped by to check the progress.  He jumped on the tractor and in a matter of minutes, had another pile of tree trash to load ... then proceeded to load up the truck with the old irrigation pipes.
This area is pretty clean, but the entire right hand side of the property is still covered with dead tree limbs.  I sure hope we can finish up tomorrow.  Actually, we have no choice.  The cost of the truck and tractor, plus two men, is $4,000.  Heart attack time!!!  That's not counting the dump fees, which so far have exceeded $1,000.  I know it's tax deductible, but that doesn't hold much water when you have to write that BIG check!!
The time at the ranch did give me the opportunity to talk to my brother's renter who has four horses, two cows, a sheep, a pig, many dogs and this guy ... Mr. Goat.  That's a lot of poop to get rid of, all of which she's been dumping around the trees.  I'm pretty sure after our little talk that she won't do THAT any more!!  The goat is a cutie patootie, about 24" tall ... and he talked to me all day, probably because I stood there for an hour and scratched his neck!!  
All the while we're cleaning, the harvesters are running in the field, followed by 15 chop trucks hauling the silage to a local dairy.  It was literally a traffic jam on our little road all day!!
Cinderella is tired, filthy dirty, hungry and now needs to go figure out why her sprinklers aren't working.  A Princesses work is never done!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Another Magical Night!!!

How could Bingo possibly get any worse you ask??  Believe me, it can ... last night was another magical night in the Kingdom and a GREAT example of the Boy Scout motto ..... BE PREPARED!!!
It started off as any ordinary night ... the King who holds the golden key to the safe was 15 minutes late.  You wouldn't think that was anything to write home about, until you drug out all your supplies, the ATM machine and the dreaded  C a s h   R e g i s t e r,  with only 15 minutes to count the bank and get ready to sell!!

This poor cash register has been used and abused in the Castle since about 2004, but none of us expected the giant tantrum it threw last night.  As soon as I plugged it in, it said it was out of paper ... which it wasn't.  Before I could stand up and turn around, it went into a fit of rage and locked up.  Nothing ... and I mean NOTHING was going to change it's mind.  Where's a good ax when you need one??

We have a problem Houston .... how can we possibly handle 115 people buying an average of $50 each worth of cards, give out change, cash back and receipts with NO cash register???  Do it by hand???  You've GOT to be kidding!!  I seriously didn't think it could get any worse ... but it ALWAYS can I guess.  Okay, I've learned my lesson ... can I go home now??

The answer was of course NO ... the peasants were already lined up and banging on the Castle door.  So I grabbed my trusty abacus (little hand calculator) and the cash box and opened about 15 minutes late.  That's not a good thing in Bingoland!!  We closed the door, got a door man to stand guard, and allowed one person at a time in to the table.  My cohort Ann counted the cards and called out the games as I frantically added up the prices, got the total and made change.  It's a good thing I have a degree in accounting, or I think we would have been in trouble.  In over 115 purchases, only one didn't add up correctly!!  Not bad Cinderella ... not bad at all!!  I should get the glass slipper and a Prince for this job!!

In the meantime, the King ran over to Costco and purchased a new cash register, which they spent the rest of the night programming for Bingo.  Every so often I would take a break and go check out the new plastic, flimsy piece of beautiful black machinery and see how it was going.  They couldn't seem to get it to zero out completely, so when they ran off to the banquet table, I ran the tape and it worked fine.  The main problem is that we need five divided sections and it only has four.  That means something has to be placed on the table in a box ... a perfect way to do accounting, right??

The good news is that at the end of the night (thirty minutes past the time I turn into a pumpkin), there was no accounting to be done!!  With no balance sheet to match, we just counted the cash and were done.  Hmmmm this might not be such a bad idea after all!!!  Maybe the new register will get sick and die ... accidentally of course ...........

Alas, I went home with no glass slipper and no Prince in tow ... not even a toad to kiss goodnight!!  I keep kissing Cooper, but so far no luck!!  It's always a fun night in the Magic Kingdom!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dump Those Plastic Cutting Mats!!

You know those packs of plastic cutting mats we all use in our rigs because they are so light and easy to carry?  According to the latest info from one of my daily cooking shows, it's time to toss them in the garbage and buy REAL wood boards.  The reason you ask??  Bacteria ... germy grimy little creatures that can make you sick.  Not that I've ever been sick from this that I know of, but I'm all for safety.  

So here's the thing ... when your knife cuts the plastic, germs from lets say raw chicken, get in the grooves, which is near impossible to get out.  Even if you wash with soap and water, they can still linger in the grooves.  Wood on the other hand, actually heals itself after being cut and washed, to some extent anyway.  So they recommend you throw the plastic away and buy wood.  They didn't say what kind of wood ... but this bamboo board came from TJ Maxx for $3.99 and is very lightweight.  If truth be known, my cutting boards are fifteen years old or more, so scarred I can't even GET them clean ... so in the trash they went!!
To get out of the house (I know, I just got home, right??) I went with a friend yesterday to an out-of-town store for some makeup and hair supplies.  I hate people who steal.  Yes, hate is a strong word ... but what makes people think they deserve to steal from other hard working folks just trying to make a living??  The line I use had at least 30 samples glued to the front of the display.  There were 7 still in place.  Someone had ripped off the other 23 samples, so no one else can try the color and see if it's what they want.  They have done the same with the actual boxes of product for sale.  While there should have been a hundred or more, there was about 20.  To make it even worse, the store doesn't seem to care in the least.  When we brought it up, the salesgirl said "Oh yeah, people steal all the time so we never replace the display".  GRRRRR  

On a brighter note, it's time to pay the bills and balance the checkbook!!  That should take all of five minutes, since there's not much there to worry about!!  All of my County retired friends were thrilled that the association is giving us a 3-1/2% COLA (cost of living allowance) increase this year.  What they don't know is that the oldest retirees get the 3-1/2 ... by the time they get to those of us who have retired in the last 5 years, it's 1-1/2%.  I'll take it though .... it's better than none at all!!!

Time to refill my DEF tank on the motorhome.  Every time I use a box, I put it on my Walmart list so I always have 4 boxes in the rig.  Walmart has the cheapest DEF-in-a-box.  I purchased a nice 5 gallon container so I could buy DEF at the pumps, but found out I couldn't lift it when full.  It's much more expensive in the boxes, so I'm paying extra for the convenience.  It's better than incurring the wrath of truck drivers when you pull through the pumps the wrong direction, making them back up so you can get out!

My favorite so far ... it just needs backing and to be quilted.  Nuff said!!!
It's Tuesday ...  Germ City Bingo night.  I'm not sure I want to venture there, but since very few people volunteer for this assignment, I hate to bow out.  The people who DO show up to help have become good friends who (whom?) I don't want to disappoint ... or make work harder because I'm not there.  Now where did I put that hospital mask????

Monday, March 23, 2015

An Easy Drive Home ....

With a short two hour drive home yesterday, I took my time hooking up and packing away my treasures.  It's funny, because as soon as I start putting things away, the dogs KNOW it's moving time.  Jessie runs and hides in the bedroom and Cooper gets hyperactive!!  It's been a great three days here at Cal Expo and I'll definitely do it again!!

This is the second canvas I found at the Needlepoint Store in Auburn.  I thought the cow was appropriate!!  The thread and stitches the nice lady picked out for this project are fuzzy and sparkly!! In the "old" days, we just made sure every hole was filled with the same thread.  It's time to be a little more creative, as all the suggestions came from the First Placer winner at the California State Fair!!   Yikes!!!  I'm glad she won't see the finished project ... I'd hate to disappoint her!!!
Leaving on Sunday was a good idea.  Traffic was very light as I pulled out around 10:00.  Amazingly, there was little to no road construction, just some barriers by the underpasses ... the entire trip!!!  I read an article the other day about how the California Governor Brown had taken all the highway gas taxes designated for new roads and used it for other purposes, so for the last umpteen years, there have been no infrastructure improvements ... obviously!!!  Finally, the roads are in such bad condition, they have no choice but to fix them, since flooded areas have caused accidents and lawsuits.  All I can say is it's ABOUT TIME!!!

More slow internet here at home, so I finally called my provider, Clearwire ... or CLEAR as they like to call themselves.  I found out they were recently bought out by Sprint, and I imagine that's one of the reasons my signal is bad, since the timing seems to coincide.  The girl was no help whatsoever, and I could tell she was typing in questions and reading responses.  When I called her on it, she sputtered something about she wasn't doing that.

We unplugged the modem for the hundredth time, resulting in no change.  Then she wanted me to plug my computer directly in to the modem so she could do some tests.  Sorry, but I'm NOT giving you a direct connection to my computer!!  I asked for a REAL tech or a Supervisor, but she wouldn't give me either, so I suggested I would just have to look for another carrier.  Wireless is my only choice.  Even though I'm in Central California and you would think there would be good internet service, I'm apparently in no-mans-land!!!

Heading off to the big city of Turlock looking for a blood pressure cuff today.  The doc said mine is higher than it should be and I need to start keeping track.  RATS!!!  To top it off, those two pieces of candy nixed my diet for the last four days.  I gained half a pound back.  I'll be back on track for a couple weeks now, so we'll see how it goes.  If I didn't feel so much better at a lower weight, I'd give up all this nonsense and just enjoy the ice cream!!!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

White Knuckles .........

The plans for yesterday included a visit with my friend who lives in Dixon and maybe lunch at Jaime's Broadway Grille, since two bodies are better than one should we be required to fight off any muggers.   As usual with RV'ers however, our jello plans got sloshed around and I ended up alone for the day.  C'est la vie!!!

Since Auburn California is a nice place to visit, and conveniently has a quilt shop AND a needlepoint store, I loaded up and headed out just before lunch.  It's Saturday, so I was sure there would be no commuter traffic (terrible in this part of the country), making for a nice relaxing drive.  Yup ... I was kidding myself BIG TIME!!  I barely hit the freeway heading East to Reno on Hwy 80 when traffic came to a screeching halt for a paint truck.  Finally past that obstacle, it cleared out a little as the 80 mph people raced ahead of us law abiders, only to stop traffic again in the Roseville corridor where Highway Patrol set up a sting operation.  There are five lanes going through here ... maybe six ... and we are packed in like sardines going 65!!  My knuckles started turning white several miles back, and by now I'm trying to unglue them from the steering wheel as my offramp gets closer.  I think I left LOTS of DNA behind as I pried them loose and got the feeling back, as well as lowering my shoulders about six inches!!

I turned off in Auburn and breathed a sigh of relief.  No wonder people hate to drive around here!!  Now starving, I stopped in at The Daily Egg, simply because it had a parking space in front and offered lunch.  When they recommended the pork carnitas eggs benedict, I'm sure I made an ugly face, but decided to try something new!!  Why not ... try something different ... you might be surprised!!
Not too appetizing, right??  It was carnitas on an english muffin with a perfectly cooked egg, smothered in tomatillo sauce, with avocado, and it was excellent!!  A little too much tomatillo sauce for me, but it was the best sauce ... not tart or bitter, not sweet ... just really good with the egg and carnitas!!   Check it out if you are in Auburn ... it's in the 800 block of Lincoln Street.
Making lunch even better, the needlepoint shop was directly across the street.  Needlepoint is a dying art and finding stores that sell canvases and thread requires lots of dedication to the internet.  Here is one for the books ... it isn't even her store, and this VERY nice lady spent over an hour with me picking threads and explaining how to do varied stitches to make this little guy a masterpiece.  She even wrote down every single direction and thread type.  Unfortunately for me, the sales person forgot to put that sheet in the bag.  I called as soon as I discovered the missing "map", but they were closed for the weekend.  I'm hoping it's still in the store by Monday and they can mail it to me!!  The little kitty in the top left corner is magnetic and keeps your needles from getting lost.
On the way home, I threaded my way through several neighborhoods to find this little store in Fair Oaks.  It's funny how different each quilt store can be, as owners pick different fabrics to sell.  This one LOVES big bright bold patterns ... not my style ... but this yellow and grey quilt caught my eye.  Surprise!!!  I didn't buy the kit ... only the pattern!!
Finally home and after downing a couple of advil for the achey-breaky fingers, and of course playing with the puppies for an hour, we finally relaxed on the couch.  Today I'm headed back home.  I've always only thought about L O N G trips in the RV ... but this short three day escape was well worth the time and effort.  I never really thought about a home-away-from-home for shopping sprees, but this has worked out VERY nicely!!  
There MUST be more quilt shows in California I could attend and since I'm gaining more confidence in being on the road alone and navigating parking lots, the Monterey Elks Lodge has been on my radar.  As for the needlepoint stores, that's NOT a cheap hobby, so I'll have to wait until these two are complete (isn't it weird how TWO canvases got in my bag?)!!   If any of you know of needlepoint stores around the country however, I'd love to hear about them!!  It's a perfect take-along hobby!!

On the road again ................

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Old Sacramento ... How You Have Changed!!

I stood outside the rig yesterday morning and watched the trotters warm up on the track next door.  It looked like a fun ride to me, but try as I might, I couldn't figure out how to get over there!!  As I sipped my coffee, I was surprised to hear my neighbor start his diesel engine.
Since his rig was plugged in to everything and his car wasn't hooked up, I couldn't figure out what the problem was.  Thirty minutes later, I was becoming just a might annoyed by the fumes.  I'm not kidding ... at the thirty minute mark, they finally began to disconnect the rig, put everything away, hook up the car and take the dog for a nice long walk, all while the engine was STILL running.  They must have more diesel money than I do.  SIXTY-FIVE minutes later, they pulled out.  I think he's been parked in too many truck stops!!

I forgot Mr. My-Rig-Needs-An-Hour-To-Warm-Up when I made my first stop at what else ... a quilt shop.  The owner was an RV'er with a fifth wheel, so we had a great talk as I checked out every shelf.   I think I've discovered a new motorhome use in the down times ... Quilt Shop Hops!!  If you go to all 15 stores, they give you free fabric, then enter you in a drawing for $1500 MORE!!!  Just what I need ..... more fabric!!!  At any rate, I finally decided to purchase this quilt kit and headed off for lunch to soothe my grumbling stomach.
It's fun to check out new and interesting places to eat ... and Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives is a good place to pick up some new destinations.  I was SO set on a Garlic Steak Sandwich made with fillet mignon ... but when I pulled up to the location, I sat in the car (with my doors locked) and cried!!  Yup this is the place, the door being under the little green awning on the right.  There is no sign ... but this is Jaime's Broadway Grill.  It was packed by the number of cars out front.  I'm not exactly a scaredy cat, but this day it got the best of me.  This is not in a great neighborhood, so after much consternation, I headed off to Old Sacramento.
Joe's Crab Shack won the coin toss, and I tried to be good by ordering Mahi Tacos.  Highly overrated, the fish (which you can barely see, the pieces were so small) was so overcooked it was tough.  The chips however, were GREAT!!  My self control didn't last long once I saw the S'mores dessert ... chocolate cake covered with graham crackers, Hershey's chocolate pieces and roasted marshmallows!!  Fate was against me however, because the waitress was so slow, my parking meter was about to expire.  Trust me, you DON'T want a parking ticket here.  
My table view was pretty nice, even with a drab cloudy sky.  See that big rusted pipe sticking up on the left??  The docks slide up and down those pipes as the tide comes in and out.  The wharf part of Old Sacramento hasn't changed much over the years.  
When I turn around to look the other direction, this is what I saw.  Mrs. Goose had a nest inside the top of this pipe.  Every once in awhile she would peek out to see what was going on.  We played peekaboo for about an hour!!
Beyond the goose is the Sacramento Bridge .. a beauty painted to match the gold found here at the beginning of the gold rush!!  It's a gorgeous bridge ... if your boat is a little too tall, just honk your horn and they will raise the middle section.
Once out on the streets, I found this little park at the original street level.  This was a candy store before it was destroyed, with many of the pillars still standing.  The building next door was raised up on timbers to the current street level.  On the other side, they just built another floor on top and used the bottom floor as a basement.   I suppose they raised the street and buildings to stay above the water level in wet years.
This view shows just how high the streets and buildings were raised.  There are still many original buildings in Old Town, but unfortunately, most of them are empty.  I guess you can only sell so many T-shirts.  Quite a few homeless have moved in, shaking cups for change and laying on the street corners.  That's certainly a tourist deterrent!!
Looking towards the train museum, these buildings still remain as part of the museum exhibits.
Since all the buildings have basements, as you walk along, you can look down the stairs into the darkness to find Speakeasys, hookah shops, vapor lounges and tattoo parlors.  Vapor lounges???  Yup ... pull up a chair at the bar and breathe in whatever makes you happy.  Mostly oxygen I hope!!
In fact, there were more tattoo parlors than anything else.  It's a sign of the times I suppose but hookah lounges and tattoo parlors don't draw tourists with money to spend in order to keep the town afloat.   Empty store fronts everywhere were definitely a sign of a bad economy!!  That and the drunks stumbling down the wooden sidewalks were a turn-off for the tourists.  Restaurants seem to be doing okay, but I remember when you couldn't walk into any of them without a reservation.  Every one I saw only had a few customers, including Joe's Crab Shack.
A quick shot of the excursion train before it left the station.  
Since I missed the S'mores dessert, I stopped in at Rock Mountain Chocolate Factory to find these bird nests of yummy goodness.  Ahem ... there were two at one point.  One WAS delicious peanut butter covered marshmallows with rice krispies and chocolate chips.  This one is CHOCOLATE covered marshmallows and rice krispies!!  It's a breakfast bar and good for you!!!
It was getting late and I knew traffic would be a bear ... it always is in a three mile section on the Capital City Freeway, usually due to two or three fender benders.  I made it home just in time for a lovely NutriSystem dinner and two cups of veggies.   I'm getting a little tired of the salads day after day after day ......... but since I now have to make up for two huge chunks of candy, I'll have to suffer!!  

Since my friend from this area can't meet with me today, I'm again on my own.  I'm thinking a quick trip to Auburn might be a good start to my last day in the Sacramento area!!

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Spoils Of War!!!

FINALLY!!!  I'm on the road again with no ill effects whatsoever.  I have no idea what that was all about, but I'm feeling great!  How weird is that???  Before leaving yesterday, I tried out my new wide angle lens ... a Nikon 2.8 14-24mm beauty meant to take in the WHOLE scene.  It's pretty nice, even capturing the tiny crescent of the new moon.  I can't wait to take it to Oregon this summer!!
I arrived in Sacramento just after noon and headed straight to the Cal Expo RV Park off Highway 80.  I didn't even know this was here until I looked up the quilt show.  What a great place!  At $40 a night, I have a full 50 amp hookup, lots of room to breathe and I can't hear my neighbors!!  A real plus for me!!  They put me in the high rent district, and of course mine is the dirtiest, but oh well.  Nice level spots too with 24 hr security!!
I completely forgot about eating lunch and rushed off to the Quilt Show!!  Parking was double the cost of entry.  At $10.00 a day, I won't be going all three days.  The show was a madhouse!!  Never get between an old lady and the fabric she has her eye on ... I saw lots of wars going on, which I tried to tiptoe around.  
This wasn't the largest show I've been too, but many of the fabrics are brand new, just out of the factory.  I love the bundles of fat quarters.  They stuff a basket full and hang it up, making it easy to take down when they hit the road to the next show.  I heard the first day was always the busiest, but I had no idea what I was in for!!
Aren't these colors beautiful??  The batiks are always my favorites .... I just wanted one of everything!!  This dealer knows his business though ... instead of selling fat quarters, they only sell one yard pieces ... for $10.00 each.  This being the first day, women were fighting over these like you wouldn't believe.  I tried to stand back until most had left the booth, but this was THE most popular due to his cheaper prices and they just kept coming.   Skirmishes were happening all over, even as the sales lady tried to dig out more from her stash to make everyone happy!!
I would love to show more of the quilts, but this wasn't a quilt "show" ... it was a fabric show ... and most were $13.00 a yard and up!!  Yikes!!  Not only that, but since the patterns were also for sale, there were NO PHOTO signs everywhere.  What's a girl to do but sneak a few with my cell phone.  It's not like I'm going to steal their pattern!!
The colors were magnificent, making the entire room look like a gorgeous flower garden.  Besides fabric, there were lots of craft things going on ... hand sewing, weaving products and three big displays of long arm quilting and embroidery machines.  Embroidery seems to be the big thing now, but with machines starting at $6,000, I won't be picking one up any time soon!!
Luckily, I found everything I needed to complete three of my projects, one being this salmon that came back from Alaska with me a couple summers ago.  It has taken me that long to find the exact material I wanted for the border and backing!
Here's the spoils I came home with ... a new Hawaiian quilting pillow design (all done by hand with a needle and thread), several jelly rolls so I can make a quilt big enough for my rig's queen bed, several new batiks in shades of blue and green, along with some extra pieces for borders.  I can't wait to get started!!
Today I'm headed to Old Sacramento, one quilt shop and Jaime's Broadway Grille for a Garlic Steak Sandwich made with fillet mignon!!  That's not exactly on my diet, but I've been good ... well pretty good ... for three weeks, so I'm treating myself.  I want to see if Guy Fieri's taste buds are the same as mine, since he recommended the place.

On another note ... I'd like to thank Barbara and Tom Westerfield for introducing me to Dakin Farms Vermont Maple Syrup.  If you haven't tried it, pick up a bottle the next time you're in Vermont ... or order it online.  There are several different categories ... this is the sweetest, most refined ... and is WONDERFUL on my NutriSystem oatmeal ... or any oatmeal for that matter!!  
And so I'm off .... it's SOOOO nice to feel better and be back on the road!!!