Tuesday, May 31, 2016

No See-Ums ...

I'm not sure why we call them no see-ums because I saw them just fine at the shooting range Saturday.  As the weather heats up and the grass dries to crunchiness, the little black gnats come out in force.  I know that's how it is ... so I went prepared with sunscreen and OFF.  I didn't use enough of either.   Although I did smell rather peculiar from both, it wasn't enough to keep them away.  Maybe THAT was the attraction.

I've since discovered those familiar itchy bumps on my neck, elbows and knees that will drive you crazy .... or maybe crazier!!  In the old days we had calamine lotion ... now we have Tea Tree Oil.  Works like a charm, as does prednisone if you happen to have a tiny bit left from a prescription.

I spent most of Memorial Day wondering what to do.  In my book, there's nothing worse than just sitting.  I get bored quickly and start texting everyone I know!!  With the temperatures expected to be in the hundreds all week, I decided to turn off and unplug everything I possibly could to allow for my vacuum-like air conditioners, sucking up electricity like the dust bunnies under my bed.  Between that and the sprinklers, just trying to keep the grass alive, my electric bill will be through the roof!!  Thursday ... 105 degrees.

I knew everyone would be barbecuing for the holiday, so I decided to try out the recipe for ribs I got from one of the Chefs at the Elks Lodge.  This one is SO simple.  Season liberally with your favorite spice ... I think they use Pappy's, but I tried some Carolina rub I picked up back East.  After sitting for at least 30 minutes, throw them on the barbecue for ten minutes per side, just to get some smoky flavor and a little brown.

Next up, wrap them in heavy foil and put them in a 200 degree oven for 4-5 hours, until they reach 170 degrees.  Good thing I checked them a little early ... four hours and they were done to perfect tenderness.  I can't believe I didn't eat the whole thing!!  These ribs were even better than those I cooked in the smoker!!
I threw together a large salad to eat first, hoping I wouldn't overindulge in ribs.  It worked!!  I actually have enough for TWO more meals.  YUM YUM!!!!!  Notice I used the good china.
In support of a friend from my old office, I watched the Stanley Cup Finals last night.  That's ice hockey ... another BIG sporting event this weekend.  I immediately remembered why I'm NOT a hockey fan.  The noise alone is so deafening and irritating ... and I had turned the sound down!!  Half the time I couldn't even tell where the puck was.  They kept saying "they missed that shot" ... heck, I couldn't even tell there WAS a shot!!  

All the hullabaloo is about the San Jose Sharks ... this is the first time in franchise history they have MADE it to the finals, so I figured I would hang in there until the finish of the first game.  The second they lost, I changed the channel.  At least I can say I watched!!  Aren't there six more games??

Cooper and I spent the rest of the night watching creature features ... B-grade chiller-thrillers with bad acting and even worse story lines.  You know, the ones where the kids in the forest have a choice between the running car or the cabin with the scary monster ... and they always chose the cabin???
Since I began this blog, I've discovered three more bites ... wrist, knuckle and under my watch??  There're going to love me at the Magic Kingdom of Bingo tonight when they smell my newest fragrance,  tea tree oil!!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Honoring Memorial Day ....

Yesterday was all about car racing ... today is all about remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice ... their lives ... to keep us free, living life any way we choose.  Please remember them today.
I know you're going to ask ..... yes, I watched the Indy 500.  It's not always on my list of must watch sporting events, but yesterday was the 100th running, with something like 350,000 people in attendance.  That's a pretty big car race!!

The usual front runners ran in the front the entire race.  Yes speed is important, but what brings you the win is your pit crew and your strategist.  This race was definitely won in the pits.  There were lots of mistakes.  With no rear view mirrors, many drivers came out of the pits hitting other cars, which got them a one lap penalty.  The other BIGGIE was fuel, which is what won the race yesterday for this rookie driver from Nevada City, California.  Rookie, as in this was his first time EVER being in the Indy 500.

Up against the best in the world, he bided his time, stayed out of trouble, and due to the front runners having to make a pit stop for fuel, he was able to keep going on the last lap, slowing down, hitting the accelerator, then slowing down again, in order to save enough fuel to cross the finish line before the other leaders could get back on the track and pass him.  He ran out on his victory lap and had to be towed to the winners circle.  The announcers were shocked!  Not once did I even hear them mention his name, but he's in the history books now!!  And yes, he drank MILK as he shed a few tears over his victory.  What a great kid and what a GREAT win!!!  Congratulations go to Alexander Rossi!!
I figured I would celebrate with some yummy barbecued chicken.  These thighs are bone-in, so I let them cook maybe longer than I should have ... 15 minutes each side.  I put them on while watching the Giants baseball game against the Rockies in Colorado.  I even set the timer so I wouldn't forget to check them.  Hurray for the Giants, they won!!
I lost.  Apparently my barbecue, even on the lowest setting, is too hot for chicken.  Not that I eat the skin anyway, but I consider this burnt black!!  Once peeled of the charcoal part, they were rather tasty, and perfectly cooked.  I certainly wouldn't want to serve this to company however!!  Maybe I'll just rename it blackened chicken ... you know, like fancy New Orleans blackened fish??
At any rate, I hope you have a safe Memorial Day.  Please say thank you to all those who gave their lives so we can live in this great country.  It's not about the barbecues and family picnics, although that's fun too, it about the people who made all that possible for us.
Have a wonderful Memorial Day .....

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Now THAT Was An Experience!!!

There won't be any pictures today, as they were not allowed at the private shooting range I was at most of the day.

It began in the classroom where it was old home week.  My Bingo buddy was there, along with Bill (we attended high school together) and Frenchy (we went to both grammar school AND high school together).  Just so you get the picture, Frenchy is in the same business as my family was for 20 years ... farming rice (after we went broke in the cattle business).  He has a white beard down to the middle of his chest, drives an old 58 Chevy truck and packs a .45 Smith and Wesson on his hip in an old time gunfighter holster.  Now that's MY kind of guy!!

There were three women in their 20's, along with an assortment of men, mostly I would describe as young.  The two Sheriff Deputies giving the class were excellent instructors.  I learned much more here in four hours than I did at the Arizona CCW class, probably because California has a LOT more rules and regulations.  We saw videos that made me laugh and one that made me close my eyes because I knew what was coming.

When we broke for lunch, I steered everyone over to the Hangar BBQ at the Merced Municipal Airport.  If you're ever going through town and want some great lunch, check them out!  They smoke all their own meat and even make their own brand of chili with smoked tri-tip.  Don't dress up, it's kind of a dive .... but a really good dive!!

It's now 90 degrees out ... perfect shooting weather ... NOT!!  By the time we all got out to the Police Department shooting range, we were roasting nicely.  As we lined up for gun inspection, I quickly noticed that Frenchy and I were the only ones with revolvers.  THAT turned out to be a good thing.  

The way the instructors handled the shooting portion was beyond professional, always stressing safety.  Never once did I feel in danger ... well maybe once, whereupon I said I'm moving ... so we all did.  Although they said this was "practice", it was actually our test ... immediately, right off the bat.

As they gave instructions, we would fire six shots at a target, from varying distances up to about 30 feet, for a total of 30 shots.  This we did four separate times, some people using different guns.  We had to get 20 of those shots inside two small rings, with each gun you "might" carry, to qualify.  Frenchy got 30 out of 30.  I got lucky with 27 out of 30, making us the two best shooters of the day.

With that done, they began to train the six best shooters in tactical shooting.  I had no clue what that was, but I jumped right in.  Shooting much faster at different areas of the target as we moved from side to side, I scored 29 out of 30.  Not bad for an old lady.  It kind of surprised the instructors and it certainly surprised the heck out of ME!!!

So in the end, I passed.  I can't say as much for the other three ladies who all failed the course.  Passing doesn't mean I will carry a gun.  It will take another six months for the application and background clearance and probably another course (they do have a time limit), and even then I'm hesitant.  It's a huge responsibility that totally changes your lifestyle and your life.  After taking the class, I'm not sure I want to go there.  Time will tell.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend.  Fire up that barbecue and relax with friends and family, but always keep in mind why we are celebrating.  Oh ... and turn on the tube for the Indy 500 race.  Lots of interesting tradition here, including the drinking of milk by the winner, who one year drank orange juice instead, causing an uprising!!  It's going to be a fun weekend!!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

They Never Return Your Calls .....

Did I mention I have a recall on my Phaeton for the step that goes in and out when you want to enter?  Apparently they used two different types of steps, mine of course being the one that is recalled to install some kind of bracket.  

Since I'll be in Sacramento in June, I called La Mesa in Davis three weeks ago to get the recall problem fixed.  JR was happy to help me, but it took him two days to verify the recall before checking back with me.  The parts will be ordered ... we'll call you when they come in and confirm your appointment.  No one called.  

I wasn't surprised.  Yesterday I called THEM, got cut off, transferred and cut off again before finally reaching the parts department who confirmed my repair kit was in .... last week.  Nope, no one called.  After a couple more tries, I finally left a message for JR because he wasn't answering his phone, that I wanted my appointment to be on the date we talked about.

Three hours later I finally got a call, with JR saying he thought we already made that appointment.  Funny, neither the Service Department secretary nor the Parts Department could find it.  The appointment was finally made.  It's supposed to be a one hour repair, but he mentioned in passing that I should expect at least a three hour wait.  As an accountant, that doesn't quite compute for me.

Later, when my Bingo buddy Mark called, saying he had talked his lovely wife into shooting for the first time, I was thrilled he asked me along.  He was thrilled his wife was going because "I" was going and I really needed to shoot my new Ruger before today.  We were three happy campers!!
After the first five shots, I was shaking so bad I had to put the gun down.  Every time someone shot, I jumped two inches off the floor.  I'm NOT exaggerating.  Even with ear protection, it was LOUD!!  Finally, I got my nerve up to continue ... this target being 20 rounds later.  I was imagining that piece of paper was JR.  Okay, not really.   I finally calmed down enough to finish off 50 rounds.  I have a feeling I'll be so sore today I won't be able to hit the broad side of a barn.
To relax, I figured to try another round of cupcakes.  Surely they won't be as disastrous as the last batch.  Turns out they were fine ... the most tender, delicate ones I've baked.  Yup, it's a box mix, with butter instead of oil and milk instead of water.  THESE I can deal with.  I did have one thought of throwing them up in the air like Annie Oakley, but it was fleeting at best.
Frosted with more chocolate and sprinkled with mini chips, it was a chocolatey delight that immediately sent my stomach into knots.  I guess they will go to the Bingo crew Tuesday night.
It's a really early morning again ... CCW class time .... wish me luck at the shooting range!!

Friday, May 27, 2016

It's A ZOO!!!

I've been to many zoos in my life, but the two I visited recently were of a different color.  The first was the Bingo Committee meeting with twelve men and little old me.  I picked up pizza for everyone which we scarfed down in a flash.  Honestly, that's the only reason all those men showed up, I think. Feed them, they will come!

As soon as mouths were empty, the arguments began.   What a ZOO that turned out to be!  Three people wanted a new game, three people said it wouldn't work .. "we tried that ten years ago" ... and the rest of us sat quietly watching the war.  There was lots of arm waving and excuses, but in the end ... hey, just give it a shot!!  The meeting was over ... except they forgot to discuss the real problem ... checks and balances of money handling.  Whew ... I was glad to make it out of that zoo alive!!

It was a quieter zoo I visited yesterday.  There were horses, elephants, giraffes, kitties and bunnies.  For those who asked, I've no idea what this is called, but here's how it works.  The pattern is from Fiberworks, but we did not follow the directions in the packet.  We used fusible backed paper you can see through to trace part of the pattern, or around a flower.  Cut it out OUTSIDE the tracing lines and iron on to the BACK of fabric.

Using fabric scissors (they fuse the edges as you cut), cut it out, peel off the paper and lay it on a piece of silicon fusing mat laid over your big pattern.  You overlap the pieces and gently touch them with an iron, sticking them all together, peeling the design off and moving the silicon up until complete.  Peel it off the final time and place on your backing fabric.  Iron again lightly.  Add embellishments as you wish, and voila ... you have the front of a quilt.  Add batting, backing and quilt with a fairly tight pattern to make sure all your pieces stay attached.  I'm not sure this is washable ... I forgot to ask.
I started the giraffe, but ran into a little trouble, since I didn't really want it to be the same color as the bunny.  Nothing is set in stone here, so I may rip it apart and start again.  
Of course it's always a zoo at my house with two dogs and a parrot, not to mention their crazy mom.  Just to up the ante, I'm going shooting today, trying to get in a little practice before spending all day tomorrow in the sun with swarming mosquitos at the gun range.  Doesn't that sound like fun??

Thursday, May 26, 2016

I'm Off To Class!!

There's something not quite right about having to leave the house before 10:00 in the morning.  I'm an early bird, always getting up by 5:30 at the latest, but apparently that has nothing to do with actually going OUTSIDE before the appointed hour.  I feel like I'm a hundred years old, which doesn't bode well for bunny.

The plan is to get my act together and get on the road for the 1-1/2 hour drive in order to finish up this project.  After a late Bingo meeting yesterday, my mind is a little fuzzy.  Add to that two huge pieces of Costco pizza and I'm feeling kinda blimpy, pretty much like a Monday ... please just let me crawl back in bed and sleep all day ... morning!!
At any rate, I'm OFF to class!!  I'll see you when bunny is done!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Everything Hurts!!!

Is it just because one more year has been tacked on to my body?  The mornings are becoming more and more uncomfortable.  The best part is that I've been the same age for two years now ... I miscounted last year, so I'm feeling pretty good about THAT!

The problem is I'm beginning to feel like I was struck by lightning every morning around 4:00.  That's when I wake up because everything hurts.  My hips, my knees, my shoulders, my wrists ... tossing and turning doesn't help, so I finally get up.  Cooper is thrilled, since he gets a lift off the bed to chase down his ball for an hour's playtime.  In the meantime, I'm heading for the advil.  UGH!!

I took this neat lightning picture two years ago yesterday in Tucumcari New Mexico as I sat cowering in my rig, calling the Westerfields every five minutes and praying there wouldn't be a tornado.  I thought maybe we made a wrong turn and were in Kansas!!
It was a nice day yesterday ... I did absolutely nothing to write home about.  Oh wait ... I did get on the rowing machine for 30 minutes.  Maybe that's why I'm so stove up this morning!!  I thought about making cupcakes, but it was a fleeting thought at best.

By noon I figured it was late enough for dessert ... kind of like it's 5:00 somewhere ... so I downed a Nestle's drumstick, savoring every bite!!  There's nothing like ice cream to make a body better!
I finally trotted off to the Magic Kingdom of Elks Bingo for my free birthday drink ... a large coca cola please!!  I get a lot of static about that, but if I had a "real" drink, I wouldn't be able to ring up the cash register.  One of our two new girls showed up and since it was a slow night ... last day of the month and everyone's out of money ... I let her work the infernal machine.  

There were a couple of miskeyed entries when it came to payoffs.  The machine took immediately advantage of that, sucking up $200 into oblivion ... so we didn't balance.  I'm sure it was operator error, but I didn't want to spend three hours figuring it out.  My bed was calling, as it will be again around 3:00 this afternoon!!

A couple of appointments today will end in a Bingo meeting, and since I have to drive right by Costco, I'm stuck with the title of pizza delivery lady.  It's the only way you can get people to come to the meeting ... feed them.  Cake would work better, but that's just my opinion!!

I'm going to go lay on the couch now with a couple of magic pain killer pills ... peanut butter flavor!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Another Year Under My Saddle ....

I admit ... I've been keeping a secret.  May is my TRUE birthday month!  I know it says January on Facebook, but don't believe everything you see on the internet!!  HA!!  The only place I've ever used my REAL birth date is at my Social Security office.  I'm not having cake this year ... there would be too many candles and I would probably burn the house down.  I'm not taking any chances.  Since my epic fail with the cupcakes, I think I'll just buy a box of ice cream cones!!
I took a quick jaunt up to Turlock yesterday for some more flowery material.  It's funny that when you aren't looking, that stuff is everywhere.  Now that I want some, I can't find it.  On the way back, I picked up my mail to find Beyond The Ice Limit ... second in a series written by these two guys Preston & Child.  They have several Pendergast books out ... stories about an eccentric retired FBI agent and his paranoid, schizophrenic, crazy, weird, murderous family members.  I read these in between Nick Russell's books I purchase through Kindle on Amazon  (downloaded to my phone).

Rarely do I purchase hardcover versions ... most of P & C's are also on my phone, but when they offered up an autographed photo along with the book, I couldn't resist.  These two have used Facebook to increase their sales by leaps and bounds.  They ask questions of their readers about where the story should go, what characters they want to see, what the readers think the "hero" should do ... anything to get them involved in the book.  They send out bits and pieces to read BEFORE the book is published, that hook you into buying, just to find out what happens next.  There's some GREAT advertisement going on here.
While reading on the couch, Miss Jessie became the latest great white hunter.  Warning .... this part is yucky!!  She may look like a couch potato, but this little girl doesn't like flies, which seem to buzz around her head a lot.  I suppose that's because she needs a bath.  With eyes like a hawk and jaws of steel, she snaps at them one after another.  They were gone in a flash!  Thank you Jessie girl!!  You're better than a fly swatter!!
Today I gear up for the Magic Kingdom of Elks, hoping the two girls who showed up to help last week won't bail on us.  That seems to happen a LOT!!  But first, my neighbor's sprinklers have been running for about four hours now, causing an absolute RIVER in front of my house.  I'm trying to decide whether to call or knock on the door.
Next up, my PG&E bill has gone from $69 to $139 to $170, while the weather has stayed the same and all of my heating and cooling units are turned OFF.  How is that possible you ask?  I have no idea.  Seems to me PG&E just does whatever they want, whenever they want, charging and overcharging while we have no recourse but to throw money at them.  I'll be spending a couple of hours with my calculator this morning trying to find out.  An angry cashier probably won't bode well for the Bingo players this afternoon!!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Just When I Think I've Got It!!

It was another O-Dark-Thirty morning yesterday as I got ready for Sunday morning breakfast at the Elk's RV Park.  Every third Sunday of the month, these are held as a fundraiser for the park, to pay for improvements.  It's a VERY nice RV park with electrical hookups, water and a dump station.  If anyone would like to hold a rally here in the quiet countryside, or if you are just traveling through, stop in or contact the Merced Elks Lodge 1240.  They have great facilities available and you can check out Castle Air Museum.  Tell them Nancy sent you!

This breakfast was quite tasty ... obviously NOT cooked by me.  There was yummy sausage, scrambled eggs, light and fluffy Krusteaz pancakes, fresh fruit I cut up myself, along with orange juice and coffee for $6.00.   You can hardly even get coffee nowadays for $6.00!!  Bloody Marys were available for something like $3.00 and next time expect mimosas.
Back at the Kastle, I quickly fell asleep alongside the puppies for a short nap, after which I thought I should make carrot cake cupcakes.  Worst idea I've had in a LONG time!!  Just when I'm on a roll and cooking edible food, there's an EPIC fail!!  

First off, do you know how hard it is to grate carrots?  There were bits and pieces of carrot all over the counter and floor in no time!!  This turned out to be a pretty large recipe ... 4 eggs, 2 cups sugar ... but I had 24 cupcake liners and my handy dandy scooper, so I was sure all would turn out okay.  It didn't.  

I thought the cups were a little full when I slid them in the oven and I was right.  In no time, batter was rising up over the edges and running together.  By the time they were done, it was one large sheet of cake over the entire pan.  Well for heavens sake!!!  I tested for doneness and brought them out of the oven, whereupon they immediately fell, creating a deep cavern in the middle of every one.  My ego deflated exactly the same.
I was SO disappointed!!  These were going to be cactus cupcakes!!  The edges immediately broke off and the papers became permanently glued to the cake.  EPIC FAIL!!  Probably the worst batch I've baked in my life.  I suppose I'll keep a few in the freezer in case I'm dying for something sweet, but believe me, they won't be the first thing I reach for.
Some good news for Jonathan ... or for me actually ... I think I found the perfect travel cage for the rig so I can get my table back.  It's actually about the same size around but only half as tall.  I've got my fingers crossed it will work, since it will probably cost me a fortune to return it!!

In the meantime, GO GIANTS!!!  They beat Chicago 1-0 ... boy, what a game THAT was!!  They fought tooth and nail for that one, winning the series!!  I imagine my neighbors were wondering what all the screaming was about!!  

For those who were asking ... Ugly Steaks come from Dickmans Meat and Deli in Tucson Arizona.  I don't know if they will ship or not.  I bought eight the last time I was there, individually wrapped them in saran wrap, then in a zip-lok bag and kept them in the freezer.  Next time I'm getting a dozen!!  Yes they are pricey, but in my humble opinion, WELL worth it!!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Number 22 And Counting!!

As the moon peaked through the tree branches in the dark, steamy jungle, the great white hunter was on the prowl.  She could hear the birds in the trees, the peacock across the river, the howl of monkeys and what sounded like jackals in the far distance ... or maybe it was wolves.  Stealthily ... ever so slowly ... quiet as a mouse ... she crept up to the big rock ... waiting .... just waiting for the perfect moment in time.      WHACK!!!!!      Three disease carrying winged insects died with one loud swat!!  Nineteen more soon followed suit.  The corners of her mouth turned up into a slight smile .... a knowing smirk ... as a feeling of power coursed through her veins.
I'll sure be happy when all those darn flies die in the next frost!!  After a nice cup of coffee with Gretchen and her tank full of good well water, she was off on her Alaska adventure, guard dog Bella at her feet ... but not until Bella and Cooper played chase in the kitchen.  Try as I might, I wasn't able to steal Bella before they drove away.

I spent a couple of hours working on the rabbit again, trimming here and there and finishing his ears.  With the background sewn, I'm ready for next Thursday's class.  Another hour passed quickly as I rummaged through all my material for flowery stuff.  I soon realized I didn't have any, but I DID have some batiks that will make great Giraffe legs.  Gee whiz, I guess I have to go to another fabric store!!  You guessed it, I'm making the Giraffe next.
The great white hunter came out about dinner time to finish the job.  There were those who thought they were safe on the ceiling.  NOT!!!  Note to self .... don't leave the back door open any more!!

With nothing for dinner, I settled on a tuna sandwich and some homemade peanut butter cookies.  As soon as that mayo hit bottom, the great white hunter was sick as a dog.  That's where the cookies came in .... powerful little stomach soothing pills.
It's a short blog today, as it's VERY early.  I'm cooking again at the outdoor breakfast at Elks Park.  Actually, I'm probably just cutting up fruit and serving pancakes, but that's okay.  It's a free breakfast and my puppies will think I smell nice ..... mmmmmmm pancakes!!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Not Your Grandma's Quilt!!

I'm one of those people who can't sit still.  I'm good at a happy hour for about ten minutes, then I'm ready to head off and DO something.  I'm so bad, that I even learned how to do Hawaiian Quilting on one of my trips, just so I had something to do while waiting in the Airport Terminal and while flying.  This is all hand stitched and needle turned, taught to me by an older Hawaiian lady.
Even while on the road in my rig, since I got so tired of ripping out my knitting (I'm a terrible knitter), I weave ... although this had taken a back seat to Jonathan.  His current cage takes up WAY too much space, so my Baby Wolf has to stay home.
While in Alaska, thanks to Miss Patty Chance, I picked up a tiny sewing machine so I could quilt on the road.  My table is plenty large enough to cut and sew on, but again, that all has changed since Jonathan has become a permanent passenger.  I'm still looking for a smaller cage and am hoping Elite RV Renovations in Harrisburg Oregon can make a spot for him so I get my space back.
In the meantime, I tried knitting again ... haven't gotten very far on THIS project!!
And THEN, I came across THIS!!    It's definitely not your Grandma's quilt!  It's a lot more fun and requires no stitching, at least up to this point.  I spent all day yesterday in Fresno at the quilt store, learning this fun technique.  

Kind of like appliqué, you iron stuff on the back of the fabric, cut out what you want and press it together on that special tan paper.  Eventually, it will be pressed onto a background and then the entire project quilted.  I still have bunny ears to complete and a few adjustments to make, but this is the perfect motorhome project!!
It was a long day and an even longer drive home.  On the way however, I remembered I had ugly steaks in the fridge for dinner.  Yup ... I figured to try and cook dinner for Gretchen and I, a shaky proposition at best.  These steaks are pretty foolproof however, and came out delicious!!  With Gretchen's salad, we had an actual edible dinner in about 20 minutes.  On my next trip to Tucson, I'm buying a dozen steaks for the freezer.  It's my GO TO company meal from now on!!
I was sorry to see the Giants lose to Chicago last night, but with Jake Peavy pitching, we never had a chance.  I mean really, he was so bad they took him out in the second inning!!  He's ALWAYS that bad, so why don't they just can his butt?   At any rate, the next two games should be a little better, not that I expect the Giants to win ..... Chicago is really good!!  At blog reader Robert's advice, I'm having Chicago dogs for dinner!!  Plug your ears Robert ..... I'm putting ketchup on my dogs!!!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner!!

Kissack Kastle RV Park is now FULL!   I received a message from RV friend Gretchen Mattison this morning that she was passing through town and wanted to stop at the Castle AFB Museum.  She asked about the best accommodations ... Castle RV Park or the Elks Park.  My response was MY HOUSE!!  It has personal service, a built-in alarm clock that barks like a dog and free shuttle service to the nearest restaurant.

She backed in like a pro on the first try and hooked up to my 50 amp service.  Seems she's heading North to Alaska.  Lucky for her, the winds came up last night and blew most of the bad smell further south.
Of course you KNOW who got all the attention.  Meet Bella ... a beauty of a standard poodle.  This girl has the best attitude ... what a sweetheart.  I makes me wonder what happened to Cooper.  Don't answer that question, I know it's probably ME.
Since you are familiar with my cooking reputation, you also know I wasn't going to chance cooking for company, and really (yes really) I had just cleaned out my fridge of everything but water, butter and ketchup.  Alright, I could have offered peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but I saved that for breakfast!!

Instead, we went to the recently opened Applebees, featuring their new wood fired grills.  They have actually set up grills inside over wood burning stoves, making the place smell delicious.  I can't say as much for the food however.
Gretchen ordered salmon with a side of grilled veggies and mashed sweet potatoes.  I ordered mac 'n cheese with chicken tenders.  Since her veggies and potatoes had that just-out-of-the-fridge feel, she asked they be reheated at least enough to remove the icicles.  Five minutes later the waitress came back with the same plate and the same cold sides.  By then, I had tried my entree.  The chicken was hot and delicious ... the pasta cold as ice.  

The salmon sides went to the kitchen for a SECOND time, coming back a little warmer, the veggies cooked a little more, but the sweet potatoes barely lukewarm.  I realize this is a newly opened restaurant, but Applebees should have their act together, don't you think?
In the end, the waitress was as nice as could be, as was the Manager when she joined us at our table.  She offered something to go or maybe free desserts, but we declined.  Honestly, I think my peanut butter and jelly would have tasted better!!  The Manager left and returned with two gift certificates for $10 each and a big thank you for letting her know exactly what was wrong.  Now she can put in the fix ... or at least I hope she does.   I gave mine to Gretchen since she was gracious enough to buy dinner!!  I certainly hope the next one she stops at serves something a little more appetizing.

On the way home, I showed her how to get to the museum, since I have a quilting class in Fresno all day today.  I think I'll get the last of my Ugly steaks out of the freezer to cook for dinner and I'm sure I have a box of rice around here somewhere.  Even my bad cooking can't be as bad as what Gretchen had at Applebees ... and that's the best restaurant in town!!  

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Hold Your Nose .......

Someone turned the thermostat up in Central California.  At least the mornings are still cool enough I can open all the doors and let the breeze cool down the house.  Once closed up again, the temperature inside stays in the 70's until about 4:00 ... good for my PG&E bill.

Yesterday however, the flame on the burner reached a high of 85 degrees by 10:00 in the morning.  That's when I went trucking off to town to find the bandanas to make this wreath.  Right off the bat, the still present odor of chicken manure permeated every corner of my garage, but once inside the truck, sweet oranges from the car wash wafted on the a.c., for awhile anyway.

Soon I was zooming through Foster Farms Land.  You can tell when you get there because of the distinct smell of dog food.  How could that be you ask?  Foster Farms uses everything but the squawk of the chickens, as bones, feathers and whatever are cooked at their Livingston Plant into a slurry of magnificent stink that they sell to dog food manufacturers.  Once sprayed on the dry food, it becomes doggy delicious ... otherwise, your canine critters wouldn't touch it.

You can't miss it .... but you'll wonder what it is, since it mixes nicely with the greasy french fry odors from across the street at Mickey D's!!!

If that weren't bad enough, made even worse by the morning heat and lack of air flow, Darling Delaware is on the road.  Believe me, they are NOT Darling and as you know, this is NOT Delaware. If you're driving through California and you smell something that makes you hold your nose, it's probably Darling in that big truck ahead of you, carrying all kinds of carrion to their processing plant.

What?  You never wondered where all those dead animals went?  At this point, you need to SLOW DOWN to a snails pace of 50 mph so those lovely waterfall drips coming out of the trailer don't cover you in stink forever.  It's VERY hard to get off your vehicle.  Eventually, they will exit the freeway and you can continue happily on your journey.

A little further along, wafting on the highway came a scent I'm familiar with and don't mind in the least.  Cattle.  I have to admit however, dairy cows are a little harder to take than the beef cows we raised.  What comes out of the south end of a beef cow fed on grass, is nothing compared to a dairy cow fed alfalfa and grain.  Just hold your nose on this one.

Lucky for me, I learned many many eons ago on the ranch to breathe through my mouth.  Easy for me, since my tetherball-smashd nose doesn't work all that well in the first place.  If you can do that, then your trip down California in the heat will be a lot more pleasant.
Back to the wreath, I finally made it to the store and found NO bandanas, at least the red, white and blue I was looking for.  Yes, this wreath is made with bandanas but in half and tied on a wire frame.  How simple is that??  

The main problem with finding the RED ones, in case you weren't aware, is they are a gang symbol around here.  Hang this out of your pocket and walk downtown .... it will probably be the last walk you ever take.  In the olden days, my Grandpa carried these to blow his nose.  Nowadays they come in a huge assortment of colors, including camouflage, in case you need to disappear.

At the third store, I finally found and purchased six of each color (although I was short on the white ones) and a 16" frame.  Cut them in half and tie on the frame, squishing them close together.  I've hit three more stores since and can't find enough white.  I suppose I'll end up ordering them online.  It might not be a bad idea to order a couple of extra, but don't let your husband hang any unused ones out of his back pocket ... that is unless you really want to get RID of your husband.
Here's the reason I wanted to make this wreath.  Everyone hangs flags on their rigs, whether it's the fourth of July or not.  I never could find anything that was easy to hang or that would stay put.  This is perfect ... or at least it will be when it's finished.  The hole is plenty wide enough to pass over my mirror and the cloth protects the chrome arm.  If it's raining, I'll hang it inside in the window.  If you want a smaller version, I'm sure you could get a small wire frame and use ribbon.  It's a great kids project too.
I've got two more stores to check out for the elusive remaining two white bandanas I need to complete this project.  I may even buy enough to make one more for my front door!!

Until it cools off again in the Fall, if you're traveling through California, be sure to hold your nose!!  I promise you'll thank me!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Magic Kingdom Surprises!!

Did you ever notice how hard it is to remember what you did yesterday, not to mention what you ate?  Especially if it wasn't all that exciting in the first place?  Mostly I answered phone calls from telemarketers.  Solar sales seem to be the flavor of the day.  

I saw a cute answer for them on the internet, and I have to say it's working well.  Any time my phone says the call is from out of state, I now answer with ..... "HELLO!!  This is KBNX .... You're ON THE AIR!!  What's your SEX problem today??"  So far I'm batting 1,000 with six hang-ups and six belly laughs from me!!  This is going to be FUN!!!

Around noon my friend showed up, returning my quilt from the Dixon May Fair.  It seems there are many more categories, with everyone entering at least TWO, so she wants more for next year.  That's funny .... I thought the reason I was entering at all was because no one else was!!  

The rest of the afternoon was spent getting ready for the MAGIC KINGDOM of Elks Bingo night.  I discovered if you arrive 20 minutes early, you can saunter upstairs to the Sky Lounge for a drink, keeping the bogeymen away for the balance of the night.  SKY LOUNGE?  In MERCED?  It's an interesting name for a room that just happens to be on the second floor of our 100 year old building.   I think it would be much more appropriate if you could at least see outside, which you can't because there aren't any windows!!

I had a large COKE.  Don't let anyone tell you different.  There's no way I could run a cash register after a glass of wine, or anything alcoholic!!  The best part is it contains enough caffeine to keep me awake until 9:30!!
Once set up, we were shocked and surprised to see a younger-than-us lady come in and say she was a new member and here to volunteer.  Really??  The men quickly ushered her into the pull tab section.  I looked at the Castle Lawyer, she looked at me and we literally RAN into the other room and kidnapped her.

I'm leaving in about a month and the Lawyer could REALLY use some efficient help, as we escorted her to our table.  Seems she's the manager type who works at Lowe's.  SCORE for our team!!  In no time at all we had her counting cards and calling out everything to me in a loud clear voice.  DOUBLE SCORE!!  The Lawyer and I have big smiles on our faces by now!!!

We'll call her the Newby Contractor!!  She did amazingly well, and in no time at all will be on the cash register.  In the meantime, her friend showed up to help also.  EUREKA!!  TWO newbys!!  Unfortunately, meek mild Milk Toast didn't do as well, but she can definitely count, making it YOU'RE HIRED in our book.  What a nice surprise!!!

There's no telling how long they will last, as extra help often leaves after a month or so of being trashed by the peasants.  I'm hoping they stay at least until my return, whereupon we'll scrounge up another victim ... I mean volunteer!!

I'm going to try real hard to get my butt up off the couch today and run some errands.  They've been piling up while I lounge around.  I also have a Fourth of July project you may want to try ... that is if I can find all the supplies!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

What's That Smell???

My chuckle for the day ... this should be posted outside every city!!  Honestly, I'm not sure if this is a "real" sign or not that I picked up off the internet.  Too bad more people don't READ the sign!!
I started off with a BANG yesterday, jumping out of bed at 5:00, flinging the doors and windows open to get some cool fresh air into the house.  As I was picking things up here and there, I noticed a slight smell.  Hmmmm ..... must be the trash, so I took it outside to the bin.

After feeding everyone, including myself, I could STILL smell something bad.  I instantly put on my detective hat and began circulating through the house, room by room.  I just couldn't quite put my finger on it.  Finally I gave up and headed out to the motorhome, geared up for cleaning.

That's when it hit me ... right smack dab between the eyes!!  If you've never lived in Central California, almond orchard capital of the world, you've never been subjected to the most horrible smell of spring there could ever be.  It permeates every nook and cranny.  CHICKEN MANURE!!

It's the rage ... every single orchard takes all that chicken manure from Foster Farms chicken growing operations and spreads it lovingly over hundreds and thousands of acres all around us.  To make it even better, it's HOT and there's NO breeze!!  And now my house smells JUST like a chicken coop!!

After closing all the doors and windows while using an entire can of Lysol and another of Fabreeze, I spent the next three hours dusting and cleaning the motorhome.  What a mess!!  I unloaded quite a bit of stuff I won't need during the summer, filling the empty spaces with propane bottles and making room for the barbecue.

I stripped the bed, washed everything, including all eight of the rugs I seem to get dirty all at once.  I'm pretty sure I killed six spiders ... I actually saw eight, but two escaped.  Today I'll start the engine and let it run while I clean out the fridge and scrub the sinks.

The good news is while watching absolutely nothing on television last night, I finished my schedule for this summer ... 18 stops in all.  I now have reservations at 11 of those stops, including my outlaw sister-in-law's house (my brother's ex-wife) in Boise.  Seems she lives on the fringes of the city, with a dead-end street motorhome parking spot next to her garage.  PERFECT!!  I may only have a 110 plug in, but the price is right!!

To top off an otherwise ho-hum day, I lit the barbecue again and cooked more chicken.  Appropriate I thought ... if my house is going to smell like chicken, I might as well EAT chicken!!  Practice makes perfect, but not this time.  I threw in a couple of breasts to chop up for salad, and they came out tough as nails.  Even the dogs had a hard time chewing on them (small pieces that is)!!

I have company coming for lunch, as well as CRAZY Elks Bingo tonight and I've got one more can of spray to use in order to mitigate the smell.   Maybe I'll just pass out nose plugs at the door for my company!!

Monday, May 16, 2016

It's A Long Road .....

So you want to get a California license to Carry a Concealed Weapon, or CCW for short.  It's a long road to travel, depending on where you live, in many cases ending in NO OUTLET or DEAD END.  The biggest hurdle is explaining WHY you want one.  Being a single female traveling all over California with expensive photography gear, I'd feel much safer with a little protection.

As it is, I never go out very early in the morning or at night, which is the best time for photographs.  There are even lots of places I would LOVE to go, like down to beach areas, but the remoteness usually deters my creative effort.  There are SO many hiking trails I would loved to have taken, especially in Sedona, but previous events have kept me locked in my vehicle, even during the day.

California is probably the hardest State to get a license, except for New York, New Jersey and a couple more, who absolutely won't issue one at all.  It depends on WHERE in California you live.  If you reside in the City, you go to the City Police Department, where the Police Chief makes the decisions, many of whom refuse to issue any permits.  If you reside in the COUNTY like me, it's up to the County Sheriff.

Lucky for me, we just elected a new "old time cowboy" Sheriff who believes in personal protection.  Still, it's a long drawn out process, fraught with pitfalls all along the way.

First, you download an application and fill it out.  Next, call the Sheriff's Department and make an appointment, or rather leave a message on the answering machine.  They will call back in a few days for that appointment, which includes presenting the application and giving up your fingerprints.

I just got the call back and my appointment is for October 4.  That's right, OCTOBER!!  I could have snuck in at the end of August, but I'll be in Oregon.  After your prints are acquired, it takes another four months for the background check to be completed.  Once that's done, you can sign up for a CCW class, given by a certified instructor, in order to become qualified.  You must know all the regulations and shoot over 200 rounds of ammo, passing the shooting test.

Here was my first mistake .... I signed up for the class with a friend (Ret. Sheriff Deputy) for the end of May.  Yes, the Retired Deputy has to take the class too.  The class is only good for a couple of months, meaning I'll have to take it AGAIN when my background check comes through around January, when of course I'll be gone!!  Timing is everything and I haven't got it!!

I'm not giving up however.  We think the extended dates are to discourage you.  If you make it to the end, it's because you REALLY want that protection.  In the meantime, I'm good in 36 other states that have reciprocity with Arizona.  California and Florida are NOT included.

Until then, I'm spending lots of time at the local shooting range.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sunrise .... Sunset .... BAD DOG!!!

I think there's a song like that ..... Anyway, while letting the puppies out yesterday morning, the sun put on a spectacular show with clouds making circles in the sky.  Pretty cool I thought!!
Laid out on the couch with the puppies, it was pretty hard to get in gear.  I would have been happy just vegging out all day!
When I finally got my act together, the first stop was to get rid of the old TV.  Just a few signs strategically placed around the area, caused cars to line up clear out to the street.  It bothered me that they required some form of I.D., including your address and phone number.  I imagine that list will be sold over and over again.  They had pallets of electronic items, from computers to stereos to TV's.  I wonder what they do with all that junk??
Next up, it's bath time for the Jeep.  It hadn't been washed since arriving home in March.  Remind me never to go on a Saturday again, even if I DO have a 50% off coupon.  There were nine cars in front of me and eight behind.  Kudos to Prime Shine because they ran cars through like crazy.  I had to wait about ten minutes before entering the facility, which does a great job of car washing!!  A couple swipes with a towel and I was done!!
That was it ..... boring day #65!!  Since I took the Jeep, I didn't veer off to the Antique Store.  The most exciting part of the day occurred when Miss Patty mentioned they found a scorpion INSIDE their house.  That after having discovered a gila monster in the front yard.  I'm rethinking my desert home location!!

It was a beautiful sunset that I almost missed as I watched the Giants WIN over the D-Backs!!  While that was going on, I tried to spend a little more time working on my summer travel schedule.  I'm not much of a planner, but if I don't at least try, the stress level rises too high to control.  
It's a new route, heading up through Reno and Winnemucca (a tourist destination, don't you know), through Jordan Valley and on to Idaho.  I'm hoping there aren't any roads too steep, that fuel is available and RV parks plentiful!  Wishful thinking!!  Does anyone know of a park around Truckee I could stay?  Or maybe just West of Reno?  I think I remember something near a casino, or WAS it a casino?  With that info, my planning will be complete ... a load off my shoulders, to be sure!!

About that time, I walked back outside and got the scare of my life.  This silly solar blue dog BARKS!!  Funny how he waited until my back was turned.  Apparently it has a motion detector. BAD DOG!!!!  Jumping two feet off the ground was my exercise for the day!!
For anyone interested in getting their CCW in California, I'm working on it.  Honestly, I think they draw the process out a ridiculously long time so you will just give up.  I'll give you the specifics tomorrow!!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Uh Oh ... 7 Years Bad Luck?

Of all the days to break a huge piece of glass, I get Friday the 13th!!  Do you only get 7 years bad luck for breaking a mirror??  I'm hoping that's the case after smashing my beautiful glass octopus yesterday.  He was sitting in a basket on top of a large glass bowl.  When I lifted the basket, everything fell out the bottom onto my hardwood floor with a CRASH!!  

I'm not sure quite how it happened, but my cut finger made a bloody mess of everything.  My first thought was ... oh no ... I'm barefoot and the second, lock up the puppies!!  Twenty minutes later my finger was wrapped and my Octopus in the trash.  )-:  I should have kept that rabbit's foot in my pocket!!  
Now that I was wide awake, I figured to give a good old college try at getting this huge TV into the back of my truck.  It took a little problem solving to get it out of the cabinet, as it's WAY too heavy to lift, or so I thought!!  I put a couple of boards across my horse corral wheelbarrow and maneuvered it out of the cabinet with a bang.  

Amazed that it didn't fall on the floor, I wheeled it out to the garage.  I quickly discovered there was no way I was going to lift it twelve inches into the back of my truck.  Maybe the Jeep is lower.  Honestly I don't know what came over me.  I had it all lined up .... and I just hefted it in.  WOW!!  Where did all THAT strength come from??  I totally surprised myself!!  I was so excited that I didn't have to call anyone to help!!  This morning I'll drop it off at the High School recycling center.
Since I was sort of on a roll, I've been wanting to try some barbecued chicken.  Everyone around here cooks bone-in thighs and they're delicious!!  Yes, they do look a little over done!!  I marinated them in something akin to Italian salad dressing, so I was pretty sure they wouldn't stick.  After lighting the grill, I turned it to low and threw them on.  YIKES!!  Call the Fire Department!!  They exploded into flames!!  This endeavor sure is harder than it looks!!  I ran for a water bottle and doused the flames, made sure it was on low and set the timer for 15 minutes.  PLEASE don't burn the house down!!

It's okay ... all that dark stuff just adds flavor!!  15 minutes later I scraped them off the grill and let them rest for a few minutes.  BOY were they DELICIOUS!!  I can't believe I did it!!  Perfectly cooked, tender and tasty!!  This is going to be a staple on my summer trip, hopefully minus a little of that blackness.
I passed up the antique show yesterday since most of what they sell are things I use every day, and to be honest, I can't fit any more furniture in my house.  Since closing down the apartment in Monterey and selling the ranch, my house is wall to wall "stuff".  Hopefully when I pass by there today on my way to the yarn shop in Modesto, my truck won't take a detour!!