Sunday, May 31, 2015

Kitchen Disaster Narrowly Averted!!

The headlines were big and bold yesterday!  You know they were talking about me, since my track record leaves a lot to be desired!!  It started off with good intentions, ending up with the good, the bad and the ugly!!

Previously, while cleaning out our old quonset hut, I discovered this family trunk my mom had saved.  They make great end tables and this one is BIG, so I had the scrap guys help me load it in my truck.  Unfortunately when I got home, I had no one to help me get it OUT.  I did great until the last moment when I drug it to this spot, stepped on the edge of the concrete and dropped it right on my left foot.  OWWWW!!!  That put a quick end to my running, so with nothing else to do, I cruised the pages of my new Cowboy Cookbook, my now black foot propped up on the end table!!
I was pleasantly interrupted by the scrap man once more when he stopped by to pick up the HUGE old riding lawnmower that had been parked in this spot for 5 years.  YAY!!!  The eyesore is gone!!  That put me in an even better frame of mind for cooking .... too bad the good luck ended at the gate.
It happens I had every thing for Cowboy Sloppy Joes, even though the recipe didn't sound like the norm, especially when it came to the brown sugar!!  I have to say however, this recipe was a keeper ... a resounding success!!
Hamburger, rotel tomatoes with chili, bbq sauce ... it was delicious, so much so that I ate every bite on this plate .. which was way too much food for me!!  
With that success, came the bread pudding recipe.  You know the Westerfields and I are on a mission to find the best bread pudding in the U.S. ... and so far, Mile High Cafe in Jerome Arizona is in first place.  In the meantime, whenever I find a recipe, I HAVE to make it to see if it can beat out Mile High.

This is when disaster befell my little kitchen!!  This recipe calls for a small pan, 8 x 11 ... the one you see in the distance below.  Yes, I realized that it wasn't very deep, like the pan in the foreground, but the ingredients didn't even make it half way up the side ... it should be fine.  The failure here came with the word "should"!!  

After 20 minutes in my Breville oven, I decided to take a look.  To my shock and horror, it was overflowing around the outside of the entire pan!!!!  OH MY GOODNESS!!  I grabbed an old potholder, not thick enough to keep the burn off my fingers, grabbed a bigger pan with the other hand and tried to combine the two.  By now I was laughing so hard, when I threw them together, a big chunk landed on the counter, down the front of every drawer to a nice thick sugary pile on the hardwood floor!!

Luckily for me, I caught it just before it smothered the heating element in the oven, so with nothing to clean up there, I shoved in the new bigger pan (at an angle because it was TOO big), as it had another 20 minutes to cook.  It took me all of that time to clean up the mess.  There was no worry about overflowing THIS pan, as it didn't rise even a fraction of an inch after being deflated and recooked.  Now for the taste test!!   It was WONDERFUL!!  Even with the disastrous baking debacle, it was light, fluffy and delicious.  If only I could say the same for the Whiskey sauce, which really needs BROWN sugar, not white as the recipe calls for, and I imagine some whiskey would have helped.  
Here's the amazing part of this recipe ... what kind of bread do you think it called for??  Not raisin bread, not white bread, not croissants ... you'll never guess.  

HAMBURGER BUNS!!  Yup ... works well with the sloppy joes!!  Hopefully I can try this recipe again ... in a bigger pan ... with even better results.  In the end, my kitchen disaster turned out edible .... chalk one up for Nancy's cooking!!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Ranch Life Is Fading Away ......

It was a sad day yesterday, as I continued to clean up the ranch property and put it up for sale.  Every small cattle ranch that I know of in this area has disappeared into the sunset of big corporate farming.  The little guy just doesn't have a chance any more.  Even the backyard farmers have closed up shop!!

I finally located a gentleman and his son who haul off scrap metal for the price he receives from the scrap yard.  This old scraper he is loading spent years behind our little tractor, repairing and leveling roads on the 640 acres of pasture where we ran cattle.
Talk about efficient ... these two had this thing loaded and tied down in about 20 minutes!!
Four loads later we had cleared out most of the old equipment.  There's lots of memories here of us kids playing Cowboys and Indians, racing around the trees on our horses, staying as far away from the Jail (saddle house) as we could so as not to get arrested and thrown in the pokey!!  

I learned to drive here with my dad's 1940-something jeep ... ran it into a tree when I was seven.  Hurt the tree more than the jeep!!  It's sad to see the lifestyle go by the wayside!!  I wish I could live here, but it's just too much upkeep for me alone when surrounded by 200' tall eucalyptus trees on 20 acres.

In an effort to keep at least SOMETHING alive, I got out my dad's old dutch oven so I can start practicing the art of cowboy cooking to the next level.  I've always used cast iron skillets and I have to say, not much of THAT food has ended up in my burial plot!  There's just something "better" about food cooked in iron ... that is if you have seasoned it correctly.

At least once a year, it's a good thing (as Martha says), to season everything cast that you have.  Wash with water ONLY ... soak it in hot water if you have to ... set it on the stove on medium heat to let the pores open a bit, and spread just a little olive oil around with a rag.  No paper towels please, they leave lint which you will eat the next time you cook in it.  Now put it in the oven at 200 degrees for 30 minutes.  Turn the oven off and let it cool on it's own.  Repeat if necessary.  

By the way, don't buy that cheap junky stuff from China that contains pot metal and all kinds of contaminants.  Buy American made cast iron, like Griswold brand.  Even if it's used from an antique store or garage sale, it's better!!
Isn't she purdy????  This big dutch oven put out lots of biscuits in my dad's day.  Hopefully I can do the same with just a little practice.  She's going with me this summer and you're invited to breakfast!! To keep these non-stick (and your food not tasting like teflon from your non-stick pan), wash in hot water after cooking, stick it back on the stove on low heat to dry it really well, then wipe just a smidgen of oil all around with ... you guessed it ... a RAG.  That's it ... done!!  Course cooking a pound or two of bacon will help also!!
Even though the cowboy life is disappearing, except maybe in Texas where I don't want to live due to tornados, hurricanes, flooding and golf-ball-size hail, I will continue to be a cowgirl till the day I die. Just bury me in my new fancy red cowgirl boots!!  Hopefully I can still get them on after dropping that huge old trunk on my left foot yesterday that I not-so-carefully drug out of the back of my truck.
I'm limping just a little, but that's okay ... it just makes me look even MORE like an old cowgirl!!!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Longhorns and Cowboys!!

Y'all know I'm a born and raised cowgirl.  I'd much rather be out on the range sitting on top of a horse taking in the sights and sounds of quiet.  Alas, times change, but I've never lost the love of cattle ... any kind of cattle.  So yesterday when I drove by this field of exotic animals for the hundredth time, I decided to stop and say hello!!  These really aren't longhorns, but they DO have exceedingly long horns.  They are Ankole cattle originally from Africa.
It's a real mishmash here ... this is a Scottish Highland.  The one in back has a new baby that is cute as a button!!  The dark one WAY in the back is a water buffalo.  I guess I better bring my "real" camera out for a visit!!  
The really sad thing to note here is that most are not in very good shape.  This used to be a multi million dollar dairy who began purchasing exotics years ago.  Since the dad passed away, the kids have been keeping them up, although not very well AT ALL!!  Sorry for the dark image, but this buffalo and it's brother are so skinny I don't see how they survive.  I have no idea who to call regarding this situation.  None of these animals seem to be getting care ... they just stand in the field without much to eat at all, not to mention worming, vaccine, hoof care, etc.  I makes me MAD!!
This little guy came up looking for some apples, which people feed them quite often.  He's a Zonkey!!  Half zebra and half donkey.  You can barely see the stripes on his legs and ears.  I just feel bad for them in their current situation.  If you're going to have animals ... TAKE CARE OF THEM!!
I continued on my journey into the little Sierra Mountain town where my quilt was ready for pick up.  This should wake me up in the morning!!!  As soon as I finish the 360 inch binding around the outside edge, it will go on my bed in the rig!!
In an effort to get ready for the next big trip, I did a little Pinterest searching.  That's not something I do much of, but these meals on wheels will be perfect for me, probably lasting well over a month.  Here's the basics ... you cut, chop and hack ingredients into zip lock bags in whatever combination floats your boat, then squash them flat and freeze.
The night before, you move one bag out of the freezer to the fridge.  The next morning, just dump it in a crock pot.  Four to six hours later, you have dinner!!  Just add a little rice or potatoes and I can eat for a week on one bag, assuming of course that it's edible!!  I haven't tried this before, so can't speak to the flavors ... time will tell!!  Just in case though, pay no attention to those little mounds of dirt you might see at the back of the campgrounds.
Since I can use all the help I can get, I found this cookbook on the internet, which was the first "package" test of my new UPS address.  How could I possibly turn down a title like that??  My dad used to cook in an old dutch oven over pine cone coals.   Today everyone uses briquets.  Kent Rollins is a real "cookie" (cowboy cook) who still follows herds of cattle to this day, cooking from his chuck wagon for big ranches around Texas.  Since I have so much cast iron, including skillets and my dad's dutch oven, this is the perfect book for me.  All of his recipes are cowboy and cowgirl tested ... he even beat Bobby Flay when it came to chicken fried steak!!  
I'm taking several of my pans with me this summer and a bag of charcoal ... I'm hoping it won't be a recipe for disaster!!  If you see a fire and smell good food, stop on by for some vittles.  Worst case, I'll heat up a can of chili for you!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hacked AGAIN and Food Food Food!!

What a combination, right??  Course you KNOW I love the food part, as does Cooper begging for a little steak .... it makes the hacking easier to take.   Out of the blue last week at Bingo, I became the proud owner of a package of rice.  Not just ANY rice mind you, but amazingly special rice, grown in upper California.  I'm being pretty vague here, because it's NOT for sale in California, or anywhere else for that matter.  It is grown specifically for the Japanese market, with 100 percent of the product being shipped overseas to Japan.
Interesting, right??  Following terribly specific directions, like rinsing the rice, letting it soak for 20 minutes, boiling, simmering, listening for crackling then high fire for 20 seconds, before resting for 20 minutes and all this time, you never ... NEVER ... lift the lid.  Sounds too complicated, but believe me, the rice was the softest, tastiest pillows of deliciousness ... it stuck together perfectly for use with chopsticks and was the best I've ever eaten in my entire life!!  I should know .. my family grew rice for years!!

No WONDER the Japanese like this stuff.  It's like gold now ... I'm doling it out little by little ... hoping at some point I will be so lucky as to attain another bag!!  Maybe I could order some from Japan!!!

Good news ... my mailbox at the UPS store is working out grandly!!  Trouble is, on my first trip, I received a notice from Blue Cross (my last insurance carrier) that their systems were hacked big time, along with IRS I see, with the thieves taking social security numbers, birthdates and addresses.  I guess they don't need much more than that to wreak havoc on our lives!  To atone for their mishandling of our information, I have been offered a two year FREE subscription to LifeLock.

I went online and signed up yesterday.  It actually gives you a lot of information, like who ran a credit check on you, your entire credit report, what your credit score is ... just tons of information.  Hopefully I won't be one of the "special" people who has their credit ruined.  I am however, now waiting for LifeLock to be hacked!!!

Since my steaks didn't thaw in time for Memorial Day dinner, I made one of Miss Terry's pizzas ... you know, the one Nick raves about all the time and we wish Miss Terry would cook for us??  Well you too can have an absolutely awesome pizza by getting Miss Terry's cookbook, where she gives you all the recipes and directions.  It's pretty simple, leave the dough in the fridge overnight and the next day you have a delicious crust you can cover with all your favorite stuff.
I just cover it with whatever I have left over in the fridge ... and as you can tell, I didn't leave much behind!!  I like my crust crispy and thin, but you can make it thicker if it floats your boat!!  YUM YUM!!!
When the rib eye steaks finally thawed out, I fried them in my cast iron skillet, following Gordon Ramsey's directions.  Yes, you too can cook with the greats in the food world ... just bring up You Tube and type in "perfect steak".  This way, you don't have to listen to him yell!!  Cooper and Jessie thought it was perfect too!!
The Magic Kingdom was surprisingly nice and quiet last night, with no rude peasants or cranky soldiers ... well maybe one.  I heard the Castle Cook was in a foul mood, but I brought a salad ... with rice and steak!!!  With 142 peasant gamblers in attendance, it's pretty remarkable they were all pleasant!!  If I can just skate through one more session without any bullet holes, I'll be in good shape for a quick trip North.  For now, I'm back to packing ........

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I Got That OLD Feeling!!

Sunday morning I was hijacked into helping cook breakfast at the local Elks Lodge RV Park.  Once a month during the summer, they have a big get together, along with whoever may be staying at the park, serving pancakes, sausage, fresh fruit, eggs and Bloody Marys.  I probably should have been on Bloody Mary duty, since sharp knives and I don't seem to get along very well.

Much as I LOVE a sharp knife, I got that old tingling feeling in my fingers as I helped cut up watermelon, cantaloupe, apples, bananas, strawberries and the dreaded nectarines.  Guys ... when you buy fruit, please make sure it's ripe, because those that are hard as a rock, are hard to cut up, especially with a big pit in the middle.  You know where this is going, right??  It's okay though, I got that piece of finger out of the bowl within the 3 second rule .... I guess I didn't need it anyway!!  At least I give the guys high fives for having the knives sharp enough to cut through steel!!

Back home with a big bandaid, I had my trusty gallon of Home Defense out in preparation for debugging the property before I leave.  I've used this brand for a couple of years now, and it works great, even on the black widow spiders that surround my house.  It can be sprayed inside and out, keeping my garage and living area bug free.
The previous gallon was made to last 6 months.  As you can see from this picture with a million gnats on the floor, it's been MORE than 6 months since I sprayed, so it's time to get with the program.  I have a light set on auto here and it attracts all the gnats in the neighborhood ... a good thing I suppose.  Trouble is, I had no idea they were so bad this year!!  Keeping the gnats company were a few hundred ants!!

YIKES!!  It's time to spray ... and THIS stuff lasts 12 months!!  I went on an ant-spider killing mission!!  It's like the great white hunter in the jungle ... sneaking up on the nests and spraying like crazy!!!   Since you have to keep your pets away until it drys, I just did the outside perimeter of my house and garage.  Today I'll do the inside while the puppies play outdoors!!
Monday is when I REALLY got that O L D feeling!!  I've been trying to get back in running mode, which hasn't been easy when you don't even get one house away before your lungs are burning and you have to stop for air!!  I did lots of walking those first few runs!!  

For those that wonder about that huge red clunky watch I wear ... it's a Garmin GPS computer.  When I set it to running (or biking, skiing, hiking, snowboarding) it hooks up to a satellite and gives me tons of information.  I know how long, how far, changes in elevation, how fast and it even shows a map of where I've been, so if I get lost, I can just follow it home.  It also has a heart rate monitor, but I usually run out of air well before I hit the OH-MY-you-need-to-slow-down alarm.  It even breaks all that information down by mile!!
I'm what's known as a Clydesdale ... an old large slow horse!!  I'm not offended, I LOVE horses!!  We don't run fast but we keep on trucking!  On a long slow run, which is what I did on Monday, fifteen minutes per mile is good.  As I moved on down the road, enjoying the chill in the air and waving to other runners in the neighborhood, I started to get that old feeling ... the one where you feel like you could run forever.  

Once your body and lungs get used to breathing while running, a kind of euphoria kicks in.  You just feel like you could keep this up forever!!  I ran a full three miles without stopping, walking or slowing down!!  At about mile 2.5, my legs began to tire, but I just HAD to make the three mile mark.  Eventually, my legs will catch up with my lungs and I'll be back in shape to run ten or more miles.  

The best part about all this is the calories burned.  My little watch gives me THAT information too, based on all the info you have given it, like your age, weight, height, etc.  Pretty cool in my book!!!  Not that I plan on running ten or more miles much ... it actually can get pretty boring out there, even if there is music blasting in your ear!!
It's Tuesday morning now and I've got that O L D feeling even more, as I hobble around the house with sore legs.  It's a good sore however!!  I'm back to running and can breathe SO much easier going up stairs ... not that there are any in town since everything is single story here!!  You know what I mean though ... it just feels good to exercise!!  Come on people ..... you too can have that O L D feeling, and not from your age ... just get out there and get some fresh air!!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Today Is The Day!!!

We all seem to go about our lives every day, not giving much thought about the fact that we live in freedom ... in a country where you can achieve anything you want and have the right to speak openly.  TODAY however, is the day to remember how we came about being a free country and how we continue to have freedom of choice.  Today, everyone should take a moment or two to thank the service men and women who survived and say a little prayer for those that did not, all of whom made this possible.
Some went voluntarily and some didn't, but ALL fought for the freedoms that you and I take for granted every single day.  So while you are cooking that burger or steak and enjoying the sunshine with your family, lets give a rousing CHEER ... a big THANK YOU and WELCOME HOME to the service men and women of this beautiful country who made all of it possible through their sacrifices!!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Life Goes On .....

I finally made it to the bottom of my address notification list.  It's amazing that none of the telephone answering systems have "address change" as an option.  I found that if I kept hitting "0" that an actual human being would finally answer.  The last four I completed in person at my local banks, so I'm done, that is until I remember two or three more!!

Yesterday being Friday, I held my breath that my neighbor's didn't have another party.  This is what my neighborhood looks like ... it's not like I'm in the low rent district ... but believe me, a nice big beautiful house doesn't reflect it's occupants at all!!
Originally, these houses sold for almost a million dollars.  Crazy, right???  There are only about ten in this little area, all on mostly 2 acre lots.  It's hard to believe when the property values crashed in California, that these sold for $300,000 after being repossessed by the banks.  After all, who wants to pay $900,000 for YOUR house when the one next door just sold for $300,000, so everyone bailed!!

Unfortunately, the result was that people who really don't care what their house looks like, were able to afford the neighborhood.  Several houses in the area don't keep up their landscape or haul off their garbage, nor are they required to keep the BACK yards in repair either.  The results are disastrous to say the least!!

So many people have told me I'm being too nice, that I'm resolved to report any more alcohol/drug parties to the authorities.  I'll just make a quick call to my insurance agent first and make sure my deductible is as low as possible!!!

Friday was also a sad day, as I attended the funeral of a gentleman from the Magic Kingdom who passed away at the age of 89.  With 17 great grandchildren and 3 great GREAT grandchildren, he led a happy long life surrounded by family.  He was buried in the National Cemetery in Santa Nella, fitting for a war hero on this Memorial Weekend.  I had never been to an Elks Lodge funeral, and I was very impressed, but hope I don't have to go to very many more!!

My diet has suffered, being home so much this last couple of months.  Nutrisystem didn't work for me and the food tastes horrible, so I've decided to try the starvation diet.  It's probably going to be the hardest one yet, since boredom always finds me standing at the refrigerator door wondering what I can eat!!  I'll let you know how it goes!!

So life goes on as I check and recheck my RV list.  Every time friend Nick Russell writes a blog, I find one or two more things I should be checking, like running my hands over my tires to be sure nothing is stuck in the tread, like a nail ... and not believing the transmission dipstick, not to mention replacing every tire if I'm running Goodyears .... which I'm not, thank goodness!!

I'm off on a shopping excursion today, whereupon I'll become totally frustrated that nothing fits!!  Maybe I'll just look for a pair of sandals instead!!  My birthday is coming up, so I'm going to splurge!!!   How did I EVER get THIS old?????     Life goes on ....................

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Dreaded Address Change!!

As you all know, getting your mail when on the road can be a problem.  It can also be a problem if you have nitwits in your area who try to steal your mail because they don't get any!!

I've checked out all the options and actually tried several, but they add up to lots of dollars out of my pocket for junk mail that I shouldn't even have to bother with in the first place!!  I had the post office forward my mail to a friend once a week for $18 a pop, had a friend's son pick it up for $25 a week and even had someone live in my house and check the mail (not a good idea when you hear them talk about parties!!)

Since none of those options have worked out, I finally decided to check into the Escapees Mail Service and whatever else I could find.  I finally decided on the Escapees route since they have had lots of experience in that ballpark.  I was however, VERY nervous to think my mail was going to Texas before it got back to me ... and what about those tax returns, 1099's, W-2's and all that jazz?

It will be okay everyone said ... so I downloaded the paperwork and began to fill out all the pages.  They required photocopies of two forms of I.D. (that's how I lost my drivers license in the copy machine in the rig) and a Notary of my signature.  That's going to be hard to find in my little town!

When I did an internet search (which is slightly faster with my new router) I found that there is a UPS store here and they will notarize anything.  I made a beeline for the store, since I feel like I'm running out of time for my June departure!!  While there, I noticed they have mailboxes.  How does that work you ask?  It's just like the post office, only better!!
The UPS store will rent a personal mail box, throw away all the junk mail and catalogs, and send your mail to you wherever you are, by UPS OR the Post Office.  I found out recently that you must use the US Postal Service for mail, because if you have a package sent to General Delivery at a Post Office any other way, say by UPS, they will charge you for postage, even though you have already PAID for postage.  Nice of the Post Office to do that, right???

Even better, the UPS store here charged me $106 a year for a medium box, versus $115 plus $50 postage deposit, plus $35 cancellation fee and so on for Escapees.  There's no deposit required for postage, they will just charge my credit card as mail is sent ... which they do NOT keep on file.  If my box gets too full, they will send me a text message that it's time to send it SOMEWHERE!!  With the office being only 3 miles from my house, I can get my mail when I'm home, or even have them deliver it by UPS ... pretty cool, right??  Let's DO IT!!

Then came the long list of names to call regarding my change of address.  YIKES!!!  The first bank I called back East, I got a nice lady who recognized my town ... she used to live here.  The next guy told me to have a "magical day" ... right before the next guy hung up on me!!

Here's an interesting one about the Post Office ... they actually charge YOU to change your address on-line!!  Bet you didn't know THAT one!!  You go on the internet, put your change of address in and they ask for a credit card number.  Your old address must be the same as the credit card address when they charge you $1.05.  If that charge goes through, then they accept your address change.  NO, they DO NOT refund the $1.05.  What's up with that????

It's definitely been an interesting activity ... for ten companies, there are ten ways to have your address changed.  Believe it or not, the Social Security Office was one of the easiest and fastest.  While talking to the garbage pickup service, I might just have mentioned my neighbors and their garbage can that has been in front of their house for over a year with no pickup.  The nice lady was able to figure out the address and said she would notify the proper people.

There are still another 20 businesses on my list to contact, even after seven hours of phone calls and emails yesterday.  Maybe by the time I leave, I will finally have notified everyone.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Volkswagon or Masarati?

As I've said in the past, I'm no electrician.  Nor am I a computer whiz ... so when something goes wrong, or appears to go wrong, I'm dead in the water!!  I can only go by what everyone else says and hope for a good outcome.  I try to throw in a little common sense along the way, but sometimes that just isn't enough!!

My computer internet connection has been giving me fits.   I took my MAC to the Apple Mechanic and like any appointment, everything was just fine and it wouldn't do what I said it was doing.  As soon as I connected to their WiFi, I had a screaming fast connection and EVERYTHING worked perfectly.

Next up, I called Clearwire, my service provider, who assured me their end was in good shape.  If I just put the modem in the right window of my house, it would work perfectly too.  I'm not sure how two out of five bars on their device means it's working perfectly, so I'm thinking that's a good part of the problem.

The only thing left to check is the wireless router.  The term wireless could be part of the problem ... meaning the only North window in my house is far, far away from my computer sitting on the desk in the other room.  Everyone ELSE agreed that was the problem, so I spent hours trying to access the internet and find a replacement for my Cisco.  This beauty has THREE antennas and can connect up to ten people in my house!!  Woohoo!
I didn't have a clue what to get ... it's like buying a car.  You look at all the models, but it's the engine that counts, and I have no idea how big an engine to look for.  In absolute frustration, I finally searched for wireless router reviews and up popped a list.  It was easy ... I just picked the top one and ordered it!!

It came with an 18" x 22" sheet of instructions, printed on BOTH sides, all in English, so I knew I had my work cut out for me!!  If I can't get this thing up and running, I will REALLY be dead in the water.  Amazingly, in about 10 minutes I had a connection.  YAY!!!
Truth is I don't know if I have a Volkswagon or a Maserati, but as long as it works, I'll be happy.  So far it's working better than the old one.  By the end of the year, Sprint will have taken over Clearwire and I'll have another whole set of problems.  Driving to Starbucks five miles away every morning to write the blog might be my only option.  How did I get so addicted to the internet??

In the meantime, my readers are correct ... my neighbors certainly don't care about anyone but themselves, as evidenced by the garbage piling up along my fence and the beer-drug parties, not to mention the fifteen goats in the back yard!  Being a farm girl, the goats bother me the least!!  This really is an upscale neighborhood, but since the property value crash, the actual people who were able to buy here, aren't nearly as upscale as the area!!

I think my neighbors didn't pay their garbage bill, so their service was discontinued.  Instead of hauling it off once a week as the County requires, they just stack it along the fence.  Since the 17 year old daughter hit high school, the beer parties have been every other Friday night.  I probably should have called in the authorities on both counts, but am a little leery since I'm not always here to keep an eye on my house.  I'll see how it goes in the next couple weeks!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Just A Normal Day .....

It's just been "normal" around here for the last couple of days.  Boring actually, which is why you haven't seen a blog!!

I read yesterday about the tragic death of Dean Potter in Yosemite National Park, an extraordinary rock climber who thought nothing could ever happen to him.  He was one of those "flying squirrel" guys.  They figured if the squirrels could fly with flaps between their arms and bodies that men could too.  Well, that didn't work out so well when the plan was to base jump and fly between the cracks in the mountain.  They didn't get the lift they needed and hit the rock face.  I know this sounds terrible, but I'm just glad he didn't take his dog Whisper on this trip.  The moral??  Never EVER think you are invincible!!

SOOOO ... I set my sprinklers
Brought in the garbage can
Played with the puppies
Took a picture of my neighbor's garbage
Drained the water in my rig holding tank
Added DEF fluid (need to buy more)
Played with the puppies
Organized my junk drawer in the rig

Then I received an email from Tiffin Parts Department.  I've been trying to get a replacement part for this weep hole.  Five emails later, it has ME weeping!!  They insist there are holes in the side in which to place the prongs on the cover.  I cleaned and scraped and even used a magnifying glass.  There are NO holes, which is probably why it came off, held on with just silicone and paint.
I suppose I don't really need the cover .... I could just sand it a little and put on a coat of paint.  It whistles going down the highway, but I'm sure I could find something to stuff in the hole from the inside!!
On to the next project .... Escapees mail handling.  It took some time to get to their website and download the forms.  As you all know, it's frustrating to have a bad internet connection.  It's still up in the air as to the culprit ... Clearwire Modem, Sisco Wireless Router or computer.  Clearwire is going bye-bye in October and I'll be stuck with Sprint, however my sprint MiFi doesn't work at my house, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do!!  It DOES however, work on the road .... except I just got a letter saying they are discontinuing THAT model too.  I'm pretty sure that's because I have unlimited data usage, which won't be available any more without beau coup dollars!!  In the meantime, I ordered a new router .....

Baked a Mexican casserole
Vacuumed the house
Played with the puppies

And filled out the Escapees mail paperwork, whereupon I discovered I need TWO copies.  The problem is that I can't seem to get back on their website.  I don't understand why I can get on other sites in two seconds, but not Escapees and Google sites.

I lost my brand spanking new driver's license ...
Found it again in the copy machine in the rig where I left it making copies for Escapees
Watched the prelim story on Texas Rising ... about Texas Independence
Played with the puppies
And went to bed!!!

Hoping today is a little more exciting ... it's Magic Kingdom day!!!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

It's A Backyard Party ..... OR NOT!!!

Yesterday started out nice enough at 5:00 am when the neighbor started up his vehicle sans muffler.  That's "without" in everyday language.  It's enough to wake the dead, so it certainly wakes ME up, a good thing I suppose.  At least he's always on time and I never have to set my alarm clock!!

The first order of the day was cupcakes!!  Having seen one of those ads on Facebook that I wish would go away, I decided to give it a try ... and I have to say, this one was a resounding success.  Unusual for me, to say the least!!
Here's the secret ... take a regular box of cake mix (Duncan Hines here), exchange the oil for an equal amount of melted butter and exchange the water for milk.  My cupcakes usually come out flat as a pancake ... these actually have rounded tops!!  Amazing!!!  Once frosted with the new chocolate melt-in-your-mouth creamy frosting recipe, they all went in the freezer!!  Out of sight, out of mind, sort of anyway.  Not that they will stay there, but at least I won't be tempted to eat them all at one sitting!!
With one success under my belt, I figured I'd try another ... spaghetti sauce!!  This too shall reside in the freezer section for my upcoming trip.  Another tasty dish ... WOW ... I AM on a roll!!!
After all that, I had to go for a two mile run, which barely worked off one cupcake.  Those peanut butter chips I put in the cake mix were yummy!!!  Later in the evening, I sat with the puppies on the couch, trying to sew the binding on this quilt.  There's not much room for sewing, as these guys fight for snuggling privileges!!
That's when the excitement began!!  Fridays seem to be the day of choice for my neighbor's beer pong parties, and with cars beginning to park all over the street, it looked like tonight was going to be another long one.  I've lived here going on six years and it's always been nice and quiet.  Once the oldest daughter hit high school however, it's been party city!!

With five guys in the garage looking suspicious, I decided to snap a few photos.  What's that funny glass pipe they're lighting up???  Just kidding ... I know EXACTLY what that pipe is and what they are doing all bent over the table!!  I guess they REALLY plan on partying tonight and not just with beer!!  I can't believe the parents let this go on!!

After taking several pictures, I think I was discovered!!  The backlight on my camera must have given me away, because all of a sudden they all stood up, shut off the garage light and literally RAN for their cars, screeching tires as they left in a BIG rush!!  Uh oh .... I may be in trouble here!!  I'm really not sure what the reason was for their quick departure, but I AM glad they left.

I sent a text message to my Cop Friend just in case they decided to come back in the middle of the night.  At least he would know where to find the evidence in my camera!!  His recommendation sounded pretty good to me ... if they come back or have another big party, set off my house alarm and have the Sheriff show up, saying someone must have tried to get in the garage.  Excellent idea!!!

In the meantime, I set my house alarm and went to bed in peace and quiet!!  I guess the party got cancelled!!

Friday, May 15, 2015

50 Ways .....

It seems I need to hit Home Depot for some supplies and enlarge my soapbox on our medical system. Thank you for all the comments!  Even some of my local friends contacted me to thank me for posting that I stood up to the Doctor's request for unnecessary (in my view) tests.  We seem to put them on a pedestal,  after all, they ARE doctors.   Sometimes however, common sense should prevail.

Since that encounter raised my blood pressure so high, I needed something to relax me.  What better than sugar??   This little recipe book came in the Food Network magazine I picked up at the store.  50 .... count them ... 50 CUPCAKES!!  There are three basic recipes with 50 ways to change them up to make delicious morsels of sweetness!  I think I'll start with number one and make them all!!!
Here's a lovely I found in my garden yesterday.  There aren't many in my neighborhood, as the birds seem to take care of them quite quickly.  Isn't he a cutie???  I know, I'm weird.  Just to show you HOW weird (what I won't do for a photograph), I discovered a spider yesterday just inside my door.  I thought it would be cool to get a picture of a spider capturing a fly ... so when I whacked one, I threw it in his web.  He went bananas!!!  I snapped away with my camera!!  Sometimes ideas don't quite jell however ... I couldn't get close enough with the camera to get a good picture.  When I tried, he grabbed his prize and ran under a piece of furniture!!
After lunch with friends, I stopped by my quilter to pick up my dog blanket.  This one wasn't my favorite at all and was terribly hard to sew with the chenille fabric.  Turns out when I saw it quilted, I liked it much better.  This one will go on the back of the couch in the rig, me thinks.
It was sunny in the morning until the clouds started to come in.  By 2:00 it was pouring, flooding the streets of town.  Course it doesn't take much to do that .... these streets flood at the slightly drizzle of rain and have for 40 years!!  They've fixed that problem twice that I know of, with no difference whatsoever.  It's supposed to keep this up all week .... YAY for California!!  We're getting some moisture!!
With all my research, I've decided to go with the Escapees Mail Service.  At a first year cost of $165 plus postage versus Americas Mail at $189,  $13.75 a month is much better than $80 the post office charges to forward my mail to a friend.  I won't have to deal with junk mail any more either, which is a big plus.  When home, I can have mail delivered by UPS to my house.  I'm hoping the postage to forward mail once a month won't amount to as much as the post office charges.  It makes me kind of nervous to change my address, but we'll see how it goes.

One last thing .... what service do you use to access the internet while traveling??  I have been using Sprint MiFi for years, but like my home Clearwire, they have figured out how to cut off all the unlimited services and charge LOTS more for much less service!!  Since Sprint bought out Clearwire, they are discontinuing my home service at $40 a month ... new equipment they say ... and now charging over $80 a month!!  

Yesterday, I received a letter from SPRINT saying they are discontinuing my mobile MiFi ... more new equipment ... and I have to buy their latest and greatest ... no price yet, but you can bet your britches it will be more than the $60 I pay now!!  Maybe if I cancel my garbage service like my neighbor did (stacking it all on my driveway) I will be able to afford my new internet service!!

I need another cupcake!!!!!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The "NEW" Medicine

I've had a couple of soapbox topics in the back of my mind for a while and it's time to step up on the box for a short rant!!  I'm sure I'm not alone in this problem ... or maybe I HOPE I'm not alone in these thoughts!!

Years ago I got migraines, for which the Doctor prescribed atenolol, a blood pressure medicine.  With no migraines in years, I tried to stop taking it.  That didn't work out so well since my heart decided it would skip a beat if it didn't have it, so the heart doctor said I should keep taking it forever!!

No problem, I'll have health insurance from the County to pay for it.  Little did I realize back then that my co-pay was $10.00 and the prescription only cost $4.00.  Something's wrong there!!  After I retired, the County decided to drop the additional coverage above Medicare (including prescriptions) as a budget cutting remedy.  That's how I found out the pills only cost $4.00.

With additional prescription coverage costing around $250.00 a month and my pills only $4.00, I chose to leave the prescription coverage in the dust!!  That was irritating enough, but now I have another problem.  I never can get in to see my Doctor to get the prescription filled.  Every time I call, it's a three month wait.

I got kind of testy with them last week, and finally got in to see her after three years.  It should have been a simple blood pressure, weight and once-over to get a prescription.  It wasn't!!  She started going on and on about all these tests she needed to do ... blood tests, chest x-rays, mammogram, bone density, etc. etc. .......

I asked a simple question .... why??  Oh gee she says .... we have had so many breast cancers with people your age .... thyroid cancer, lung cancer .... she named several more.  I thought I was pretty healthy, with nothing more than a cold.  Why in the world would I want to go through the expense of all these tests EVERY YEAR?  I understand preventative medicine, but this is crazy.  SOMEONE has pay for all that!!  "Oh don't worry, Medicare will pay" she says.  This is the NEW MEDICINE age.

I'm sorry, but doing lots of expensive tests for no reason isn't my idea of a good thing.  Don't you think Medicare might run out of money one day??  Besides, now they are saying that all those yearly x-rays aren't good for you.  It was then that it dawned on me ..... she's telling everyone ELSE to do all these tests too, which is one reason I'm paying through the nose for Medicare.  Yes ... my Medicare isn't free.  I have to pay $200+ a month for Medicare and another $150 a month for the Supplemental coverage and I have NO medication coverage.

If MY doctor is doing this, how many OTHER doctors are requiring a multitude of tests due to the NEW medicine??  Do you think most people just do whatever their doctor says, going through test after test when no symptoms exist?  I fully realize there are family histories involved here ... luckily for me my family was pretty healthy.  Maybe I'm in the 1% in that respect, but since my doctor is aware of that fact, I wouldn't think she would require all these tests!!

That's when it happened ... she slipped up during our conversation when she mentioned the House of Mammograms was trying to increase their patient load .... WAIT ..... did I just hear that right???

Needless to say, I'm NOT doing any more tests.  She can get the blood tests I had done at the Urgent Care facility I went to because I couldn't get in to see her, which will hopefully result in one more prescription refill.

I only have one solution to this problem ... from now on I'll be joining the masses in Mexico, filling my prescription myself!  I bet it's even cheaper than $4.00!!!  

Stepping down now .....................

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Daisy's Jail Sentence!!!

You just never know when you will be asked for help and whether you want to or not, it's just something you HAVE to do.  Three days ago, my dogs went crazy barking.  These two are the best watch pups ever ... they see absolutely everything and everyone that comes around the corner by my house including visiting canines.
Saturday, the visitors happened to be a large Australian Shepherd, with a smaller white dog in tow.  From my position by the window, I couldn't see any tags, not that they gave me a chance.  They were off down the street before I could get the door open.  Unfortunately, I live near a busy country road, and I worried about them all night.

On Sunday morning at 5:00 am, they were again running around the neighborhood.  This time, before I rushed off to the Elks Breakfast encounter, I hit the door running with a hand full of treats.  I just hate to see doggies running loose ... it usually comes to a bad end.  They were having none of it, and took off across the field ... the little white one still following as fast as she could on stubby legs.

Monday morning, I didn't see them, but I was preoccupied with a Safelite appointment to fix a big zap on my RV windshield.  While watching the technician, I noticed THREE hits on my truck!!  I reported it to the Safelite office to see if they would fix it NOW.   Amazingly ... someone at Safelite has read the Book Of Service ... they said yes.  The service guy did a great job in record time, all of which will result in NO cost to me.

With that done, I turned around to see the little white dog at my feet.  Hi there!!  What's your name?? She jumped up like she knew me, as I looked for tags, but there were none to be found.  What I did find was a WAY too tight flea collar that I immediately took off.  YOU need to come with me little girl!  She walked stoically to the dog kennel in my back yard ... JAIL!!!  Here I try to be friendly to this lady and she sticks me in JAIL!!

We have something here called Paw Patrol on Facebook.  Anyone losing or finding dogs, posts pictures, hopefully resulting in lots of Happy Endings.  I took her mug shot and posted it immediately.  Nothing!!  In the meantime, she was relaxing in her cell with dog food, clean cold water and a bone to chew on.  Three hours later with no Facebook hits, I took her to my Vet to check for a chip ... not really expecting to find anything ... and lo and behold ... DING DING!!

A CHIP!!!!!  The Vet called AVID where the chip originated, but they wouldn't give out any information.  In five minutes they called back with bad news ... all the phone numbers had been disconnected and her name is Daisy!!  After pleading her case like a lawyer, they told me the owner used to live in Waterford (45 miles away) and used a Vet in Modesto.  At least they gave me the Vet's phone number, who I called immediately.  They couldn't give me any information either, so again I pleaded with them to either contact Daisy's family or call me back.

Daisy isn't happy about Jail, even with a chew bone and some of Coop's toys, as evidenced by her now constant howling!!  Finally, after another hour, Daisy's Mom called!!!  YAY!!!  She was out on bail by 6:30 pm.  It seems she's a real escape artist, getting out the back gate from about four blocks over.  Her mom SWEARS the husband will fix the gate so she can't go wandering any more!!

My good deed for the day ... Daisy's jail term only lasted about seven hours.  By the way, they also own the Australian Shepherd who had returned home on his own.

Please folks ... if you have pets that are chipped, be sure you have current phone numbers on file so your babies can find their way home.  I suppose Jail is better than dead on the road, but neither is good in my book, especially when you have to explain to the kids what happened to their pet.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!!! YOU'RE LATE!!!

For all the moms out there in internet land, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY Sunday!!  My friends say I'm a Puppy Mom and that counts, but not really!!  So my plan for the day was to help out the men at the Elks Lodge who were cooking breakfast/brunch for any mom who wanted to attend.
Unfortunately, I was so busy on Saturday with a photo shoot and RV repairs, I totally forgot about it!  BAD Nancy!!  It didn't take me long to remember however, when the phone call from an unknown number rang at 7:00 a.m.  All I heard was WHERE ARE YOU???   Yikes .. I'm late ... I'm late ... for a very important date!!

In a record 15 minutes, I was dressed, with full makeup and hair fixed (45 minutes is the norm)!!  I'm talking a WORLD RECORD!!  In 15 minutes more (luckily there was no one on the road that early) I pulled in to the Elks parking lot.  They threw an apron at me and it was ON!!!

You know those big pans ... like 18" by 30", 6" deep??  We cooked 4 pans of ham, 5 even bigger cookie sheets of sausage, 8 cookie sheets of biscuits, 5 pans of Mexican Casserole, 14 ... yes 14 pans of hash browns, 14 pans of scrambled eggs and the biggest pot of gravy I've ever seen.  Don't forget the 8 cookie sheets of waffles, two of the biggest buckets ever of fruit cocktail, two huge buckets of frozen strawberries and 5 cans of whipped cream!!  To top it off, there were two very large Costco sheet cakes!!  What a spread!!!

We worked our butts off from 7:30 to 12:30, when we finally served the last of the food we cooked.  Yup ... we actually ran out of food after serving over 400 people.  There were only 300 expected!!  While all that was going on, two guys washed dishes and silverware from 9-12, with a huge pile still to go.  I hope everyone enjoyed their meal .... we got lots of "great food" kudos!  Boy, if they only knew what it took to cook all that deliciousness!!  I snuck in a couple of taste tests and it was MUCH better than what I can cook!!

Here's the really weird part of the story however ... a real shocker for me!!  The hash browns were dehydrated in a box.  Fill it with hot water, rehydrate them, mix in salt, pepper and butter and bake in a 500 degree oven for 15 minutes ... stir well and bake again.  They were awesome!!  Who knew??  Even the biscuits came from freezer boxes .... and they were really tasty!!  Not that I need a box of 10 dozen biscuits at a time, but what a great idea for big groups of people!!  You just need an oven that's three feet square!! I suppose that's not practical in an RV!!

Here's an interesting idea ... chocolate cake smothered in thawed frozen strawberries!!!  It was the BEST!!!  Not that I ate the whole thing ... well actually I did ........ TWICE!!  BAD Nancy!!!  I had to do something .... I missed breakfast and I was starving!!

I guess I shouldn't have done quite such a good job, as I've now been conscripted to cook at the Sunday morning pancake breakfasts at the RV park.  At least it's only 5 minutes from my house in case of another memory lapse!!


Sunday, May 10, 2015

It's Definitely Mens Work!!!

There's just some things that need to be left to the men, no matter what.  I've said it before and I'll say it again ... ladies ... let your guys go tinker in the garage and on your rig.  It's what they do .. and they are much better at it than we are!!  And don't worry about those three trips to the store ... it's not to see the cute gal at the counter (well maybe a little) ... but mostly it's to buy more parts!!!

The first thing on my list at Home Depot was a set of drill bits.  I have maybe three, all of which are the wrong size.  I thought the hole needed to be drilled a little larger to accommodate a bigger screw that wouldn't shear off.  Time will tell if I'm just dreaming on that point!!
The second thing was the actual screws.  Do you have any idea how many kinds of screws there are??    
Worse yet, do you know how many different sizes there are of each kind??  For some unknown reason, they aren't sold by 1/8 inch or 3/16 inch sizes, they have numbers like #6 and #8.  What does that mean in English please??  After talking to one of the "in-the-know" guys, I ended up with a box of 150!!  Really?  I only need ONE!!
While there I tried to find a few 1-3/4 inch screws to finish with the drawer handles in the rig.  The nice gentleman recommended these.  Once you figure out how long they need to be, you just break off a section at a time until it's just right.  Sounds simple enough ... but when I screwed this into the drawer handle in the rig, I went a little too far trying to make sure it was tight, and twisted it off in the middle.  RATS!!!  The next two I tightened just enough and finally, that job is complete.  YAY!!
Next I got out my Mikita drill.  This baby has come in SOOO handy so many times, I don't think I could live without it.  Let the men have their toys!  A drill or two should be worth many trips to the yarn store ... or the fabric store ... or even dinner and a chick flick!!
Of course drills need power, so I sat around for an hour while the battery charged!!
Finally I headed out with my set of drill bits to enlarge the hole.  The first bit was too small.  The second bit was too big.  The third bit was JUST RIGHT ... I thought.  Unfortunately, the one of 150 screws wouldn't go in the hole.  The fourth bit was just right too ... but just a tiny bit TOO BIG for the screws I had!!  OMG!!!!  
The nice man at the store said I should put Loctite on the screw so it wouldn't vibrate out ... which I did, getting this lovely blue stuff all over everything!   It's okay, I didn't need that kitchen towel anyway!!  Since the screw was now too small, I wiped it off and stuck it back in the box to be returned!!  Back to the store I go, even though I have no clue what size to buy now!!
Since there was no man in sight at the store, I did the next best thing ... I called Tom Westerfield (shop teacher extraordinaire) for advice on the EXACT screw I needed.  He said to get the self-drilling screws and not listen to the salesmen.  Thankfully there weren't many of the self-drilling kind, and I finally settled on a #10 1-1/2" Pan Head Phillips - TWO to a package.  I don't know about you, but that means NOTHING to me!!  I just hope it works!!  I bought three packages so I'd have extras just in case, which cost almost as much as the box of 150.

By now I had no confidence whatsoever that this was going to have a happy ending.  I grabbed a screwdriver ... forget the loctite ... and proceeded to screw away!!!  Amazingly, it worked perfectly!!!  Out with the old screw, in with the new!!  The panel is now nice and tight to the frame.  I can't believe I did it!!!
I don't recommend this as a female do-it-yourself project.  I'm pretty sure it was $30 in fuel going back and forth to the store, not to mention the frustration!!  Definitely keep your man happy with lots of trips to Harbor Freight so he can make these kinds of repairs ... it's worth it ladies!!!  

About the time I learn how to do all this stuff, I'll pass on to the RV park in the sky.   The good news is that whoever buys my rig will have a few extra screws and drill bits in the toolbox to tinker with!!