Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Tall boots require tall socks.  Anything else immediately crashes to the bottom of the boot, ending up UNDER your heal, making for a very uncomfortable ride.  I was down to 1-1/2 pairs.  You get a half pair of socks when the inevitable hole appears making it rather drafty on your big toe.  I actually do have a couple pair in the rig, but in an effort to keep the equilibrium of "two of everything", I decided to hit Boot Barn and pick up some more.  Surely, since it's close to Christmas, they'll have some.

I know those holes are fixable.  I spent many a night in the closet at the ranch, with a lightbulb stuffed in the toe, stitching the holes closed for our entire household.  I don't know why that was MY job, or why I was relegated to the closet, but I DO know there were lots of cotton socks to be mended.  I also don't ever remember them being comfortable to wear with a big wad of repair just over the toe.

Merchandising is everything in the retail business.  If there is anything you want, chances are it's at the very back of the store.  That holds true for groceries, dog food and socks.  As I hit the store, I walked purposely towards the back, not looking either direction.  There's WAY too much fancy stuff with pretty high price tags that I don't want to take home.

Unfortunately, the entire boot section comes before socks.  Kind of like the alphabet ... b before s.  I already have plenty of boots, but TALL boots are very hard to come by.  These started calling my name immediately ... plus ... looky look .... no sharp pointy toes!!  After trying on six pair of boots and dragging two around the store, I finally discovered the socks in the far back corner.  I picked up five pair.

I walked around for another five minutes, just making sure I didn't miss something, before checking out.  The boots followed me home.
Just for giggles, I thought I would show you this pair.  Absolutely gorgeous in my book.  Too bad they don't fit.  I ordered these $300 boots three years ago ... I know, but if you want the pretty TALL ones, they are pricey.  The best pair of boots I ever bought were Tony Lama python skin.  I found them in Nevada almost 40 years ago and paid $350.  Boots were probably $50 back then.  They were like slippers and I still wear them, after all this time and after two sole replacements.  

At any rate, I ordered these boots, but they didn't come in before I left in the RV.  I called to tell them only to discover they had delivered them to my front porch.  I called my girlfriend, who picked them up and kept them six months until my return.  The sad part is I couldn't even get my foot halfway in the shaft.  Of course they wouldn't let me return them, so for three years they have been in the box on my back porch.  I finally had a friend who is a full size smaller, try them on.  She could barely get her foot down in the boot and we had a devil of a time getting it OFF.  Long story long, the girls at Boot Barn said to bring these in for stretching, just to see if it would make them wearable by SOMEONE.  
Now for the BAD news ... that pretty pair that followed me home have a little strap on the top.  See it in the picture?.  It's supposed to snap.  After ten minutes of trying to snap just one side, I took them off and threw them in the corner.  Back they will go today!!  Apparently I didn't need them after all!!  More bad news, I wore the first pair of socks last night and had a hole in the toe by the time I got home.  #%$#&*#@$#%  

The Magic Kingdom was just magical last night ... as much as possible anyway.  It started out really  S  L  O  W   and stayed that way all night.  I finally got smart and didn't have dinner at all so my stomach was happy.  The best news ever ... the infernal machine balanced to the PENNY!!  Everyone went home happy.  THE END.

For anyone wanting to make the Davenport Hotel Soft Peanut Brittle, here's the recipe

2 cups creamy peanut butter (put in double boiler over hot water to melt)

1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups peanuts, raw or roasted
1 teaspoon baking soda (dissolve in water)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir together sugar, corn syrup and water, cook over high heat to 275 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Lower heat to medium and add butter, stirring until melted.

Add peanuts slowly and stir like crazy for five minutes or so until candy starts turning to light brown color and reaches 300 degrees.  Remove from heat and stir in baking soda that has been dissolved in a teaspoon of water.  Add vanilla and stir.

Working quickly, FOLD in the melted peanut butter.  Pour at once onto well greased cookie sheet and spread as thin as you can.  Let cool completely, then break into whatever size pieces you want.  Enjoy!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Jet Puffed!!

Anyone remember this container??  If memory serves me, there were lots of Jet-Puffed things when I was a kid ... not that we got any of them.  Cereal comes to mind first.  On the rare occasion that I was allowed to eat something from a box, it was Jet-Puffed breakfast at someone else's house.  We ate that horrible concoction called MUSH for breakfast.  Cooked oatmeal you could use to glue a chair to the wall.  Now you know where my cooking skills come from.

I don't remember exactly when this came around, but I DO remember getting a piece or two of Fantasy Fudge at Christmas.  There was a couple in town that lived in the Penthouse Suite of Hotel Tioga.  To this day, it amazes me that in this tiny town there was actually a hotel with an elevator.  Anyway, that couple figures in to the ranch story I'll tell you later on.

Mrs. Cooper was her name and she made Christmas Candy.  Boxes and boxes of candy she gave to her favorite families.  We would get all dressed up in our Sunday best, go to the hotel and walk right into the elevator where the Doorman used a key to take us to the top floor.  Once there, we were seated in the living room where we had homemade eggnog.  Mine of course with no booze in it.  An hour later, we left with our box of wonderful candy.  Pretty exciting for a little kid from the back forty.

Mrs. Cooper used marshmallow creme and made Fantasy Fudge.  That was over 60 years ago.  So yesterday, I decided to make a pan and give it away just like Mrs. Cooper.
The recipe is on the jar, but I had printed it out from the internet, just in case.  It's a good thing I did.  The printing on the jar was so terribly tiny I could barely read it.  I placed one cup of sugar in the pan, but that just didn't seem right.  I double checked the other recipe ... just because I know how it can go for me ... and sure enough, it was THREE cups of sugar.  

It's not hard to make, but requires lots of beating with a wooden spoon.  How long do you say?  Who knows ... I just kept at it until my arm was about to fall off, then I spread it in a pan and said a little prayer that it would set up and not be spoon fudge.  
In the meantime, I discovered why bakers use off-set spatulas.  They work perfectly to clean out the pan and deposit the leftovers in your mouth.  Boy this stuff is good!!!!
While that cooled on the table, I felt brave enough to try a completely new recipe.  If you've ever been to Washington State, they have a very famous hotel in Spokane called The Davenport.  It was and IS famous for being the epitome of splendor and world class hospitality.  From Charles Lindberg and Amelia Earhart to Carrie Underwood, many famous people have stayed there.   They are also known for their soft peanut brittle.  I tried some last year when I was up North and this stuff is amazing.  If you like peanut butter and keeping your teeth intact, this stuff is for you!!

Not the easiest candy I've made, it required lots of boiling.  Adding things to the boiling mixture resulted in hissing and foaming, giving me a good scare.  You have to work quickly, folding in molten peanut butter in the last step.  I poured it into a greased pan and held my breath.  As I used the spatula to clean the pan, the outcome was not good.  At one point I thought my mouth would be glued shut forever.  RATS!!!  I must have done something wrong.  

I waited for it to cool and tried to break off a piece.  It was solid as a rock.  I tried a knife, but that wouldn't cut it either.  Finally I picked it up and slammed it on the table, where it broke into several pieces.  Time for a taste test before I reach for the shovel.  MY OH MY!!  This stuff was DELICIOUS!!  It was soft yet crunchy, even flakey in texture.  I hit a home run!!!  I was so excited I did a little dance!!
Once in smaller pieces, it broke up rather easily as I packed it into little tins for Christmas thank you gifts.  I'm definitely making this again!!  

Next up divinity.  My grandmother made the best divinity EVER!  I've tried a couple of times, but mine always comes out spoon candy ... so soft, you have to eat it with a spoon.  I DO know you can't make it in damp weather, so I'll have to wait for the rain to leave, then I'm going to give it another shot.  Got your spoon handy just in case??

Monday, November 28, 2016

The High Desert

Back at the ranch under Lake Isabella, this is half of the church congregation, standing on the front lawn.  I'm not positive of the names, but I'll give it a shot.  On the left is Earl, one of my grandmothers four siblings ... the ones she never told us about.  Next is Aunt Grace, wife of my dad's bother.  Next up my dad and mom, then my dad's mother whom I never met and my dad's father who lived with us his entire life.  He's holding my brother.  I really have no idea who is on the far right.  Could possibly be my mom's mother holding me, but really I have no idea.
Our ranch was located in the high desert, full of snakes and critters that could hurt you, which is one reason we were never allowed to go beyond the fence.  We kept lots of chickens inside the yard as well as out, since they are really good snake detectors.  When we heard one cackling, us kids ran inside while the adults ran towards the chicken ... always with the same results.  Snake for dinner.

I know, it sounds horrible, but really, it tastes like chicken.  No joke!!  So this is me in the next picture on the right, dirty as usual, with my red headed cousin Patty on the left.  There was always a question as to where she came from since she had the reddest hair you ever saw!!  

There were actually two ranches ... one owned by my dad and one by his brother.  Although the houses were not close together, it was one big chunk of land cut in half.  Everyone worked on both ranches.  That's how it was back in the day.

If you look in the background, you can see bales of hay.  In about 1950-51, the two ranches (my Uncle Bill and my dad) bought a hay baler that was pulled behind horses.  It took days to bale hay, which I loved because we always took lunch to the men in the field.  It was the perfect place to crawl over the bales and fall on our heads.  
This is one of the few pictures I have of our lovely house.   We had electricity and a telephone that caused more trouble than it was worth.  It was the old antique hang-on-the-wall type you had to turn the handle to ring someone up.  Everyone in the valley was on the same line, and believe me, everyone listened in on everyone else's conversations.  Our ring was two longs and a short.  If you heard anything else, you were not supposed to pick up the phone, but everyone did with the excuse of "oh, I thought it was my ring".

The phone was the only news source in the Valley.  There was no television and no radio.  Sunday morning gossip consisted of what was overheard (and misinterpreted) on the telephone.  The only way to know who stayed out late or who was dating who, was to listen in.

Here's my brother Dennis and me, dressed in our Easter best.  We never got along, us kids.  He didn't want to be bothered with a kid sister when he had Cousin Billy at the other ranch to play with.  Remember I mentioned all the Bills?  It was rare that we were forced to stand side by side for a kodak moment.  I still have the old Kodak film camera my mother used for these pictures.
In those days men's clothing was found at the local gas station/hardware store.  Girls were out of luck, which is why I mostly wore men's clothing.  Whenever we went to church however, I was put in dresses made by my mom with an ancient sewing machine passed down from her mother.  I'm here to tell you nothing ever fit.  My dresses were either too small or too big.  That's how I became a Levi and Boots girl.  I wore all of my brother's hand-me-down clothes until I was in high school and started making my own.

More on the ranch later ..... GUESS WHAT I FOUND??  How weird is this?  One of my friends posted a picture on Facebook.  I sent the guy a message and asked if he made these and where he was located.  Yes ... he makes them ... about two miles from my house.  Can you believe it?  The cool thing is that everything comes off, so it's convertible to any season or design you wish.  
The bad news is he also makes other items out of horseshoes ... including a "not" inexpensive stand for six pairs of boots.  He's making it as I type.  In the meantime, I'm going to try and find someone to teach me welding.  Hobby number 59 coming up!!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

I'm turning into a turkey.  I've eaten turkey for the last three days, breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE turkey, but I'm getting rather tired of it.  I did freeze quite a bit, but made meals in those handy dandy containers from my personal chef.  I now have to eat two more days worth.  I'm trying not to be wasteful, but I'm sick of turkey.  Even a cup of gravy on top isn't helping.

We've had glorious rain the last two days and it continues today, so my trip to the Game Refuge was cancelled.  It's pretty far out in the boon tullies and I don't relish getting stuck anywhere my phone won't work.  Yes, I have four-wheel drive, but those levy's are narrow.  Tow trucks are expensive.  Don't ask how I know.

My little Cooper was looking pretty bedraggled, so rather than a bath, I gave him a haircut.  It's not his favorite activity, to be sure, but he stands very still ... like he's scared to death.  Once done, he knows he gets to play the ball game for ten minutes ... outside ... so the pieces land on the lawn and not on my floor.  He'll do anything to play the ball game.
While waiting for the football games, I cruised around the DirectTV menu to see what new shows were coming up.  Have you ever taken a really good look at what's on your dial?  There are lots of old 90's TV shows, but mostly rather interesting paid advertisements ... like "Women Over 40 Make Men Obsess".  Really?  What do I have to do?  The answer was spend a fortune on skin cream.  You'd be better off working on lessening the pull of gravity.

Then there were fascinating things like Real Housewives, which we know wasn't real at all.  It was scripted just like all the other "reality" shows.  Bar Rescue didn't flip my skirt, nor did Bad Grandpa, who takes his grandson on a trip to Las Vegas.  That one is sort of like Bad Santa, which was also on.

There's the best steam mop EVER, the even better SHARK Mop, "Do You Have A Turkey Neck?" (why yes I do, it's in the fridge), "Do You Poop Enough" (I'm not kidding, it was on TV) and at least five shows selling jewelry.  The one about how to make moonshine was interesting ... I'm thinking that might land you in jail ... and the best of the best ............................................wait for it ...........................................
WEEDIQUETTE.  Right there on your television, the etiquette of growing and smoking weed.  I imagine my mother said the same thing, but GOOD GRIEF!!  What is this world coming to????

I did find one thing I would like to recreate.  This is a perfect Christmas tree for my kitchen.  I always wanted to be a welder and make critters out of junk.  Alas, the equipment is rather expensive and I've not a clue how to use it.  I did a little welding with my dad, but that was WAY too long ago.  If anyone knows where I might have this made, let me know.  Or maybe I'll run into someone in Arizona who can teach me how to weld things and not catch my house on fire.
For those that are going to Indio this Winter to the FMCA rally, THE ICE CREAM HAS BEEN ORDERED.  We have a new manager from Wyoming who says he'll be the permanent Boss from now on.  I'll believe it when I see it.  The "Boss" has changed every year I've been doing this!!  I also spoke with Larry, our delivery guy.  I have his personal phone number so I can harass him mercilessly to make sure he gets there on time!!

By the way, it wasn't very nice of me to speak badly of the dead ... meaning the infamous Castro of Cuba.  I should have wished him peace ... instead I will wish him the same kindness he bestowed on his people.  Does anyone know who will be taking his place?

The rain continues, as does the crazy realm of television shows I'll be watching today. You probably know what I'm having for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Maybe I'll make a quick run to McDonalds.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Bag O Turkey

Some people only get to have ONE Thanksgiving Day.  Lucky me, this year I got to have TWO turkey days.  How cool is that?  As with a lot of families, everyone can't get to the appointed destination at the same time, so this family has turkey day on Friday.  They come from as far away as San Francisco and Las Vegas on Thursday so traffic isn't a problem.

This is one of my besties ... Diane on the right and her daughter Shelbi on the left.  Diane and I worked together at the County offices for about eleven years and her daughter Shel lived with me for a couple of years after a divorce.  Later on, I found out Diane's sister and I were friends in High School.  It's a small world.  These two are the best and would give you the shirt off their backs if you needed it.  The feeling is mutual!!
Diane and I have a lot in common when it comes to the kitchen.  She outdid herself this time with the turkey.  She stuffed an 18 pound bruiser into a large plastic cooking bag and came up with a mighty tasty, juicy, bag O turkey.  I had a faint recollection of these from the old days.   I'm buying a box of bags.  It certainly would have made MY turkey more tender and delicious.

I was a little concerned when I saw eight potatoes in the pot to feed ten people (there are two adults sitting at the children's table out of sight in the kitchen).  Even more worried when she boiled them whole.  It was okay though, while waiting, we drank up two bottles of wine they brought from their trip to Germany to visit her son in the military.  

Although she read the box, six cups of water went into the pan for stuffing, the Stovetop variety.  That's when I jumped in with my eyeglasses and reduced it to three.  Next came the gravy.  She had two packets, to be mixed with plain water.  Since she had probably eight cups of juice in the turkey bag, I suggested we use that instead.  That was news to Diane.  

It took a little doing to get the heavy bag lifted up and a hole poked in the end.  Don't worry about all that juice that went on the floor.  Her two poodles will lick that up in a snap!!  I showed her how to stir the mix into cold water, then into the boiling turkey broth, but I doubt she will remember after that third glass of wine.  All I could think of was my watery gravy, so I was extra careful to put enough slurry in to thicken it up.  It came out perfect!  I am redeemed!!
About that time, she remembered the green bean casserole and the rolls in the oven.  Finally, dinner was served and it was DELICIOUS!!  She threw on some cranberry sauce and cans of olives, which little Braden promptly stuffed on all his fingers.  Remember doing that when you were a kid??  In no time WE were stuffed to the gills.  

It was a great day with "family" and I couldn't be more thankful than to have good friends like these.  If you want to make someone's day, invite them to dinner on Thanksgiving and on Christmas and on any day in between.  Especially if that person is single.  There's nothing worse than sitting home by yourself during the holiday season.  

Needless to say, we all skipped Black Friday.  I'm sure there were enough others out there that we were not missed.  By the way, interestingly enough, Fidel Castro died on Black Friday.  Fitting, don't you think?  At least the BLACK part.  Does anyone else remember huddling around the television waiting for a bomb to hit California?  We had a slight leg up on the situation, as our neighbor's husband was on the ship stationed just off the Cuban coast.  Nevertheless, as a kid, I remember being pretty scared.

I'm off to the store to pick up candy makings for the holiday season.  I found three bags I can use for groceries.  I'm tying one around my neck so I won't forget to take it inside the store.

Happy Thanksgiving number two and remember to count your blessings!

Friday, November 25, 2016


I hope you had the best day ever, eating everything in site and making yourself very uncomfortable in the process.  That's what happens on big holidays and yesterday was no exception.
In spite of the turkey's quest for ham, I cooked a turkey that started off looking something like this.  For the first time ever, I was totally unprepared for this epic project.  If company was coming, I might have had my act together.  With absolutely nothing in the fridge with which to make stuffing, I pretended he was a chicken and filled him up with lemons, and rosemary fresh picked from my garden.  
I did have one veggie in my cart ... butternut squash.  My plan was for squash/apple soup, but the rest of the requirements didn't make it home.  I'll bake the squash instead.  One of the worst ideas I've had in awhile.  It looks yummy, but after an hour was still hard as a rock.  That's when I remembered cutting it into smaller pieces for the soup ... it roasted in 30 minutes.  I pressed on.
In three hours the turkey was looking mighty good.  I stabbed him with the temperature gauge and to my surprise, he was DONE!!  Wrapped in foil, he sat on the counter while I tried to figure out the squash and got the potatoes boiling.  They say a watched pot will never boil, but turn your back for five seconds and it will pour out of the pot like a volcano ... all over your beautiful gas stove.  I'll clean that up later.  With the potatoes whipped up ... some of the best I've ever made ... I went for the gravy.  

I'm good at gravy, most of the time.  There's always that ONCE!!  It looked beautiful in the huge roasting pan.  The color was perfect ... not too pasty white ... and it tasted WONDERFUL!!  In spite of the flour and tablespoon of gravy mix, it didn't want to get thick.  I let it boil while STILL contemplating the squash.  I let it boil some more.    

In an effort to save the only vegetable I had, I cut off the round ends that were edible and left the thick portion on the pan.  Maybe I'll continue to roast it later (you know that isn't happening).  Back to the boiling gravy.  As I finally poured it into the bowl, I instantly knew it was too thin ... something akin to water.  RATS!!!  

I enjoyed my tasty meal of turkey and mashed potatoes with runny gravy.  It being Thanksgiving, I was definitely thankful I didn't have company other than the puppies, who don't care about the gravy.  I finally put it back in a pot, added a little more slurry and thickened it up nicely.  It will be perfect for my hot turkey sandwiches!!  
I decided to skip dessert, after all, I was SO full of turkey I waddled.  Maybe if I go for a walk I'll feel better.  Cooper insisted on going too, so I harnessed him up and we were off.  One mile and many Happy Thanksgivings hollered out to neighbors later, we arrived back at the house.  I need more exercise.  

I scrounged around and found my bike trainer, installed my triathlon bike ... you know, the one with the really tiny seat ... and climbed aboard.  Fifteen minutes later I couldn't feel my hands, but my butt was screaming!!  I got off just in time for the wave of nausea to hit full force.  Maybe I'll just sit on the couch instead.

With all that exercise, dessert didn't sound so bad after all.  I planned a dutch oven apple crisp for last week.  If I don't get it cooked, the ingredients will end up in the trash.  It really could have gone a little better.  I was blinded by my stomach pains.  I grabbed the third cup measure instead of the half for the sugar.  It's okay, I like it to be a little tart.  

Although the directions weren't very explicit, I got it all in a dish and in my small Breville Oven.  Forty minutes later, I could smell the nuts burning, which is why you're not seeing a picture of the entire pan.  I'm eating it anyway.  No dinner .... just apple crisp, smothered in whipped cream.  

The cream is part of an experiment to see how many servings I can get from one can for the often requested ice cream sundaes at the FMCA rally.  No really .... that's why I put so much on.  Plus it cancelled out the over toasty nuts.
I hope everyone had a wonderful day with their families.  We should be thankful every day of our lives, and you should be especially thankful you weren't invited to my house for Thanksgiving dinner.   Now for some hot turkey sandwiches!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!!!

Oops ... did I get that wrong?  I mean really, as soon as dinner is over, the Christmas rush is on!!  In fact, it actually began last night at midnight!  The Friday after Thanksgiving has become the longest day in the history of mankind, lasting close to 48 hours!!

Some people love the hustle and bustle.  I probably would too if I lived close.  It's the 45 minute drive to get there, then fighting for a parking place, that hits my NO WAY button.  If you really have to shop the sales, the internet has just as many deals.  It would be nice however, if everyone shopped their local small businesses ... those Mom and Pop stores struggling to survive.

In my area, that consists of the local liquor store.  Unfortunately the saying "shop small" came too late.  We have Best Buy, Target, Walmart and Kohls.  I guess you could count J. C. Penneys too.  The only Mom and Pop stores are the taco shops, if a dozen taquitos are on your Christmas List.

Having been spoiled with pre-packaged dinners this last week, I'll be back in the kitchen today with a beauty looking just like this.
Although my Personal Chef is offering 20% off on orders, I'm a little hesitant.  Last week I found a long black hair in my Carne Asada.  Now I'm not all THAT squeamish, I took it out and nuked the dish for like five minutes before eating it.  Unfortunately, this week I found another.  This time it went in the trash.

I fired off a message to Matt immediately stating my concerns.  He apologized profusely, but my stomach was already on the outs.  He made a statement about how his crew ALWAYS wears hairnets, but the people who chop the beef for those dishes do NOT.  YIKES!!   I had three of those dinners and two came up with human hair.  Those odds are a little too high for me!!  Aren't I the lucky one!

Sorry, didn't mean to gross you out.  At any rate, today I tackle my little 12 pound Butterball.  I should have him in the oven just in time for some football.  I'm a little short on groceries for Thanksgiving Dinner.  The whole no-bag thing threw me off my game and I forgot the veggies.   The puppies and I are having turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy.  That's the best part anyway!!

If you see lots of smoke and hear fire engine sirens, pay it no mind.  It will just be my turkey cooking.  Well done is always better than RAW!!

Jonathan, Jessie, Cooper and I wish you


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Am I Awake Yet??

Every Wednesday I have a morning after hangover from visiting the Magic Kingdom of Bingo.  I'm pretty sure I'm up, as in out of bed, but I'm questioning whether I'm awake or not!!  It was a long night.

I remember enjoying myself at the upstairs Sky Lounge with a very large glass of popcorn.  They were short on clean popcorn cups.  Best fresh made popcorn in town.  Four of the Bingo Crew and I were gearing up for the night's festivities when we spotted something new .... a Nacho Machine.  Lala Palooza!!!

Who knew popcorn, fresh roasted peanuts and nachos don't really go together well, especially when you top it off with a glass of coke.    What a way to start the night!!
The usual fare was NOT being prepared in the kitchen.  The Temporary Soda Jerk came to our table and demanded to know where the Cooks were.  I was instantly rendered mute by her purple hair.  If someone didn't find them, she was closing up shop and going home ... in no uncertain terms.  YIKES!!  The kitchen is off limits to us, so we told her to hold her horses while we searched the castle far and wide for someone to wield a spatula.  If there's no food in the castle, the peasants will RIOT!!

Finally we located the Castle Secretary who at least knew how to turn the stove on.  After my early appetizers, a stomach grumbling hotdog cooked by a less than novice chef wasn't going to be on my menu.  I complained until someone stuck $40 in my hand and said GO GET PIZZA!!  You don't have to tell me twice!!

Prince Charming and I headed off to the Castle root cellar, better known as Costco, while someone called in the order.  Someone forgot to tell me what they ordered and whose name it was under.  As usual, I got in the wrong line ... you pay first from the line with 25 people in it ... then you stand in the "pick it up line" for 30 minutes while they try to find your order, only to discover it's not been made yet.

Eventually, I ended up with TWO boxes of pizza which were to feed 20 workers.  I'm sure you can imagine how THAT went, especially when the Court Jester took FOUR pieces.  Two when I walked in the door, and another two when they were laid on the table.  Good grief ... isn't it Thanksgiving??  Did no one teach you manners???  He's older than I, so I just kept my mouth shut like a good little Castle Accountant.

It was a long night.  One of our new Callers thinks she's special and should get VERY special treatment.  Spouses of workers get to play for free.  She received special dispensation and her mother-in-law now plays for free.  If that weren't enough, she THINKS she shouldn't even have to write a check.  Here's the deal .... buy whatever you want, write a check.  If you win, you get the payoff AND your check, minus the cost of the bingo cards.  

Everyone plays by the rules except her.  She didn't want to be bothered with writing a check.   (Very LOUDLY) "What, you don't think I'm good for it?"  No ...... no I don't.  I've seen you in action in the past and MY cash register isn't going to be short.  PAY UP!!  She went straight to the King, who gave her a BIG HUG because she was so distraught.  I stood with my hands on my hips.  She wrote the check.  

By the end of the night, I was exhausted, was feeling nauseous from all the Crappy (with a capital C) food I'd eaten and I wasn't in any mood to be tested.   Thankfully the till balanced and we left to the peasants cheering HAPPY THANKSGIVING.  

This morning as I mull over in my head all the bad food I ate and contemplate my aching body, I figure I'll share the love and remind everyone that Christmas is coming!!  It's time to shop until your wallet is empty or your credit card full.
Personally, I don't go out on Black Friday, but I DO have a short on-line shopping list that requires attention.  Maybe I'll get to it after my third cup of coffee.  It's going to take that much to wake me up!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Who knew there was so much controversy around whether you wanted paper or plastic bags to bring home your groceries ... or whatever else you bought at the store.  This is pretty crazy!!

I understand the problem with plastic.  There are just entirely too many bags floating around the country.  I blame a LOT of that on the grocery stores.  For years now, the store baggers have been putting two or three items in each bag.  I was forever telling them to FILL THEM UP!!  Why are you using so many bags?  A trip to the grocery store always resulted in ten or twelve bags by the time I got home.  Course I only go once a month.

Mostly, that worked for me because I reused them as wastebasket liners.  What am I going to use now?  I guess I'll have to buy the heavier, more expensive variety in the store, STILL making for more plastic in the local dump.  Most of the time I ask for paper because they make good cage liners for Jonathan's little abode.  I don't have a problem paying for them, but many people can't afford that little extra cost.

I also understand they are a problem for wildlife, but can someone tell me how thousands of bags get into the ocean?  I'm thinking most of those bags end up in the trash.  Why aren't we holding the trash companies responsible for everything that flies out of their trucks?  Just take a drive by our local dump and you will see the evidence plastered against the fence for miles!!!  How about recycling those bags?  This entire County does NOT recycle.  They say it's just too expensive.  The only thing we are allowed to recycle is cardboard boxes.
Having an invite to Thanksgiving Dinner from my friend, I volunteered to bring the rolls, since everything else had been taken care of.  That meant another trip to the store.  I scrounged around in my truck and finally found a filthy, worn out reusable bag to take with me.  

When I got to the store, I promptly forgot and left it in the truck.  It would have been embarrassed to have anyone put stuff in it anyway.  I found quite a few other things I needed for the upcoming Rally in Indio, so I filled my basket.  It wasn't until I got to the checkout counter that I realized they had no bags whatsoever!!  None, zero ... zip!!
Actually, there were these tiny reusable ones ... it would have taken seven to get my stuff home.  That would be another $7.00.  I turned around and wandered down the aisles in the liquor section until I found an almost empty box.  I snagged that puppy and found one more they had just unloaded in the picnic supply aisle.  Take THAT baggers!!!

As I came down the aisle to checkout, I heard someone say RATS ... forgot my bags.  I pointed to the stack of half empty boxes in the booze section and smiled.  She got the hint.  I did have a fleeting thought as I entered the check stand they might not let me TAKE their boxes, but the nice man said no problem.  I'm pretty sure paper bags (if they had them) would have cost less than the boxes I absconded with, but at least I didn't have to unload everything into my truck, to have it roll all over until I got home, whereupon I would use my plastic bags to get it in the house.  

On my way to the truck, I DID see a little old lady unloading a bunch of canned goods into her car, with NO bags.  I imagine when she gets home, she will have to make twelve trips to get her car unloaded.  What about these people who can't afford the reusable bags?  

PAPER or PLASTIC is now a thing of the past.  It takes oil to make plastic and trees to make paper.  I guess we decided trees are more expendable!!

On a happier note, I've been doing needlework most of my life, always holding the frame in my hands.  I have a little clip-on lamp/magnifying glass that has fallen off on Cooper's head so many times, he refuses to sit on the couch with me if I pick up the frame.  At long last, I found the perfect holder.  It's got a HUGE magnifying glass, more light than I could ever use and it just sits on the floor.  Cooper is a happy camper!!
It being the night of Magic Kingdom, I decided to whip up a little treat for the peasants ... cracker candy.  You may have heard of it ... maybe not.  It's an old Southern recipe, or so I was told, made from saltine crackers.  Weird, right?  But you know me, I'll try anything once!  It's similar to English Toffee, but much easier to make and quite tasty!!  I'm hoping to soothe the savage peasants.
I'm off to look for grocery bags.  I think I remember getting a couple of bags at quilt stores that will work, if I can find them.  I know I have a couple in the Jeep, but if I can't remember to take them in to the store, I will NEVER remember to switch them from the truck BACK to the Jeep.  Or maybe I'll just take my stack of plastic bags and let the baggers reuse those.  Won't they just enjoy that!!!

Monday, November 21, 2016

California's Going Green - Sort Of

It was a nice lazy, rainy Sunday yesterday.  My plan was to stay home and not have a plan.  After watching television and doing a little boring house cleaning, I spent some time snuggling with the puppies, THEIR favorite pastime.  That's when it dawned on me I didn't have all the ingredients for my turkey dinner.  I need to make a grocery run.
But first ..... I saw a recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip moon pies.  YUCK!  That really did NOT sound good at all, but I happen to have one last can of pure pumpkin in the cupboard.  Maybe I'll just try them.  They were a real quick fix and an even quicker bake.  Ten minutes later I got to try the first one.  Not bad .. not bad at all!!  Well darn ... now I'm one cookie short of a pie.
What a shame .. I'll have to eat another to make them come out even.  HOWEVER, lets make sure that one has frosting on it!!  I whipped up the cream cheese filling and grabbed my pastry tip.  I guess I need new glasses because I had a slight miscalculation, ending up with the tip stuck to my knuckle.  Yes, those little points are sharper than puppies teeth.  Now a bloody mess, I spent ten minutes trying to staunch the flow and bandage my finger.  Never a dull moment!!

I frosted the one remaining cookie and scarfed it down.  MY OH MY that was delicious!!  I packaged them up in Christmas tins for a run in the freezer.  Oops!!  I forgot about all those meals I have stashed and there was no room.  I called my girlfriend who happens to live on the way to the grocery store and she agreed to let her family be guinea pigs.  She got the largest can of goodies.  Now ... off to the store!!
Apparently there's even MORE fallout from the election than I thought.  California voters determined by a minimum vote of 52% to remove single-use plastic bags from the planet, at least California's portion of the planet.  Who knew?  I never saw any signs, nor any advertisements that it had even passed.  When I got to the counter and was asked the usual question ... paper or plastic ... I said paper.  
Paper bags work better for me.  They stand upright and don't let everything roll out on the floor.  "That will be 10 cents each".   Really?  Ok then, how about plastic?  "That will be 15 cents each".  Are you kidding me?  "No ... ever since that stupid election, you have to pay for grocery bags."  Yikes!!  So I guess I better stock up on big reusable bags and carry them around in my vehicles.  Trouble is, I never remember to put them BACK in my vehicles!!

I understand it will be nice not to see plastic bags all over the highways and byways of California, but honestly, most of them are due to the garbage company trucks driving 60 mph down the road without covers on their loads.  

You would think they would just go to recyclable paper bags.  I'm sure it all sounded wonderful when people voted, they just didn't expect it to really impact THEM, nor did they realize how many people they just put out of work.  Those bag manufacturing plants are now closing.  I wonder who gets the money for those grocery bags?  It looks like just one more special tax!!

Wouldn't you know ... each store keeps the money for themselves, to offset the cost of those overly expensive paper bags, keeping that industry alive and well.  Once again, Californians got the wool pulled over their eyes.  They voted for something that sounded wonderful without looking into who it would impact.   

As I walked out the door, I heard comment after comment about what a rip-off this was.  Yes ... yes it is.  Did you vote for it??  Maybe when you secede from the Union, you can write entirely new laws and get your plastic bags back.  In the meantime, they sell the big reusable bags for $1.00 each.

Sunday, November 20, 2016


Modern day dirty jobs are quite different from days of old.  My grandfather came from the Isle of Man, an island just off the English coast.  He and some of his 11 siblings immigrated to the West Coast of Canada.  I have no idea why and back in those days no one spoke of where they came from.  It was like you needed to keep it a secret.

His name was William ... Bill for short ... and apparently he didn't like Canada.  Instead, he came all the way down towards Southern California, then headed to the high desert where land was cheap.  There he set up shop raising cattle.  After a couple years, he sent for his wife Jessie to join him.  They had two boys, William (Bill for short) (remember this because there are going to be a lot of Bills for short) on the left and James (Jimmy) my dad.  Yup, that's my dad.  Back in the old days, English men wore dresses and tights until they were five years old.
Unlike today, there was no place to buy feed for the herd.  You had to make your own without the help of big tractors to make quick work of plowing up the ground.  They used horses instead.  It took days to get through just one field and was a really dirty job.  That's my grandfather on the right.  This is where I was heading when I unceremoniously got stuck in the gate.
Once the soil was sufficiently softened, the Moline Seeder was attached to the horses.  Round and round they would go, dropping oat seeds into the soil.  There was no irrigation like you see today.  This was dry farming.  You did all that work, then prayed for rain.  LOTS of rain.  Church was an integral part of the week.  We all piled into the very small front seat of a 1950 Chevy pickup and drove to the tiny church, with room to seat about 20 people.  We did a little rain dance at the end of every service.  
If we were lucky and the rain fell, there were oats to cut and harvest to feed the cattle, that is if the locusts didn't get to it first.  Locust scared me.  When I heard they would eat everything, I thought that included me.  There were no big hay balers in those days where you drove along in an air conditioned cab and listened to Bon Jovi.  After the stalks were cut with a horse-drawn sickle, it was back breaking work to pitchfork the hay onto the horse drawn wagon, then pitch it again into the barn.      
There were no breaks or lunch hours, but there WAS a really big breakfast early in the morning before daylight, then another feeding at dinner .... steak and tea always being on the menu.  Remember, my grandfather was English.  Sometimes there was butter for the bread my mother made, depending on whether or not I had found a way onto the kitchen table.  

Not that we killed a cow, that never happened.  What DID happen is every time one died, for whatever reason, all work came to an immediate halt while it was cut and wrapped, then tossed in the freezer.  If by some chance they didn't catch it soon enough, it was left to the surrounding predators.  I never did find out what "soon enough" was, but I'm still alive, so I suppose they had good judgement.  

As you can tell, I was a go-getter.  There was no keeping me down on a blanket in the front yard.  Being an escape artist however, was hard work and sometimes got me in hot water.  Actually, MANY times got me in hot water!!
It's a beautiful Sunday morning, so I'm heading out to the Game Refuge to see what's up in the air and on the ground.  There should be lots of Sandhill Cranes and Geese flying around for my photographic endeavors.  

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Turkey Revenge

Speaking of turkeys, yesterday about ten Elks got revenge on those turkeys that chased us kids around the yard by cooking eight of them for a challenged children's Thanksgiving lunch.

I think this is the first time in years I've been up, ready to go and out the door by 8:00 am.  It's NOT a good feeling.  It was cold.  Temperatures went from 65 every morning to a chilly 37.  Brrrrrr ... I actually had to start a fire.  My days of the $100 PGE bill seem to be over as I set my thermostats to HEAT.
When I got to the Lodge, the men had already put the turkeys in the oven and were having breakfast. These guys know how to do it up right ... they had omelets and bacon all around.  DARN!  I already ate.  We spent the next hour putting out tablecloths, folding cloth napkins and searching out silverware.

Now .... time to cook!!  Well, not exactly, but MY kind of cooking for sure.  We boiled five pots of water, dumped a pound of butter into each pot and let her roll!!  I whipped up six gallons of green bean casserole, with mushroom soup and crispy onion topping.  I'm beginning to think I was only meant to cook in bulk!!

In the meantime, our County Sheriff Pistol-Packing Vern brought out his personal cutlery and went to work on the turkeys.  Let me tell you, besides being the best Sheriff this County has ever seen, he can COOK!!  Those turkeys came out perfectly done with just the right amount of seasoning and JUICY to boot!!

Just a note about our Sheriff ... he's straight out of the Old West ... definitely MY kind of guy.  He's a no-nonsense Sheriff who believes in the old values.  You will rarely ever find him in his office .. he's either out in his truck (not car ... truck) looking for the bad guys, or out with his horses on search and rescue, or cooking for some organization, always providing the food at no charge.  He's one of the good guys!!  
The Taste Tester on the left above is Fireman Mark, also in charge of Bingo.  Not to be left out, below is Bingo Bob.  He calls most of our Bingo games.  It's nice to be a part of the Dirty Thirty.  That's the group that does everything around here, no matter what the event!!  As with most groups, there's over a thousand members, with only 30 doing all the work.  
Back to cooking, I call it mixology, we dumped the boiling water over the stuffing mix and stirred.  Easy peasy.  The next step didn't work out so well.  We should have poured the box of instant (but rather tasty) mashed potatoes into the pot of water.  Instead, they poured the water into the serving pan, then added the potatoes.  Water and dried potatoes went everywhere.  I thought this only happened at MY house.  Then there really wasn't enough water, because it boiled away while on the stove for over an hour.  WATER ..... we need more water!!!

Next up, the gravy, which was MY job.  Sheriff Vern put a rather small pot on the stove with the water for the gravy mix.  My directions said to add two quarts of cold water and stir, then add to the hot water.  I KNOW how things tend to work out for me and I did NOT want to try and clean up two quarts of gravy that boiled over onto the huge gas stove, over which I would be mercilessly teased.  Vern finally relented and found a larger pot, for which I was mercilessly teased.  It was a lose-lose situation for me.

Lunch was finally served .. turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, green bean casserole, gravy, rolls, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.  WHAT A FEAST!!  The kids were so hungry they came back for seconds and cleaned up everything but the turkey.  
As with most meals like this, there were giveaway bags, only this time it was food.  The delivery truck came rather late and it was a mad rush to get it together, but each one got dinner for a family of four, including a huge ham, potatoes, green beans, stuffing and pumpkin pie mix.  The kids were thrilled!!

I spent the next hour bussing tables and cleaning plates ... boy is that a yucky job!!  In no time we had everything cleaned up and put away.  As I headed out to the parking lot, I spotted Vern who was hiding out in his truck answering emails.  I was parked right in front of him.  Using all my mirror skills, I backed my truck out being EXTRA careful not to get close to his.  Just as I was hitting the brakes, he set off the siren scaring the you-know-what out of me.  I have a feeling that teasing will be never ending!!  It's okay though, he's a GOOD GUY!!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Turkeys Can Be Turkeys

If you ever felt kind of sorry for all those Thanksgiving turkeys, you don't have to.  I can tell you from experience, they know how to be "turkeys" really well.  I'm sure that's where the old saying "he's just a turkey" came from.

One thing we always had at the ranch was a freezer.  It was huge, heavy and so noisy when running, it was kept out in the storeroom where it became the last resting place of our problems.  Turkeys are mean, mean, mean!!  They will peck at you with their beaks, slash at you with their claws and chase you around the yard.

Lucky for me, I was too small to have the job of feeding.  It involved carrying a large bucket full of grain from the silo.  That bucket was VERY heavy for a seven year old.  Then you had to open the gate to the pens while a hundred turkeys raced to smash you against the fence looking for dinner.  You had to be really fast not to let any out.

My brother wasn't fast enough.  Not that they ran away, the turkeys who escaped usually stayed around, waiting for the next round of grain.  Unfortunately, they became the gauntlet you had to run through every time you left the front yard.  That's why I spent LOTS of time in the front yard, never having the nerve to face the mean old turkeys.

One day my brother was told to get in the truck.  He knew the turkey was out there, so he armed himself with a small rock.  Sure enough, just as he went through the gate, here came the turkey on the run!  He threw the rock like Giants baseball pitcher Bumgarner on a Saturday afternoon.  Who would have ever thought it would hit it's mark.  My brother should have become a pitcher.

Instantly, the turkey was dead as the rock clocked him right in the head.  UH OH ... you're in trouble BIG TIME buddy ... you killed a turkey meant for market.  He told me to shut up and tried to hide it behind the sagebrush in the yard.  It's pretty hard to drag a 20 pound dead turkey.  CAUGHT!!  That resulted in a spanking of epic proportions.  We lived on the sale of those turkeys.  They bought parts for the plows which provided feed for everything from turkeys to horses to cattle.  I ran and hid behind the house just to be sure I was far away from any fallout.

To supplement OUR dinner table ... I only remember having turkey that one time ... my parents would go pheasant hunting every season.  In those days there were so many birds you could get your limit in no time.   Nowadays there's not a pheasant in sight.
There was always meat in the freezer ... in fact, sometimes that's ALL we had for dinner.  If something died, accidentally or otherwise, it went into cold storage.  It's called living off the land, which I remember we did quite nicely.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Wild West

I suppose it's not really the WILD West any more, but many times I certainly wish it was.  I would gladly drop all the trappings of present day to return to the early 1900's when life seemed a little simpler.  I ran across some old pictures doing my twice-yearly house cleaning and decided to post them.  Life in the Old West was kind of hard, but not knowing any better, we always had fun.

I was born in Miss Friese's Maternity Home late one afternoon and was taken home to the ranch at the bottom of a little valley.  I remember going to town in a rusty old pickup ... an exciting trip, to say the least ... over washboard dirt roads.

This is the town of Onyx (pronounced Ah-nix) where I spent many hours growing up.  This is it ... the entire town.  Located out in the middle of nowhere, the Onyx Store still exists over 100 years after it was built.  Pretty amazing, right??  Hardware, gas and oil were their main sellers back then. Today they no longer sell gas.
What about food you say?  There were no grocery stores back then.  We raised beef cattle for sale, keeping one or two for the freezer.  We also raised chickens and turkeys which we sold to the neighbors along with the eggs they produced and had a milk cow or two for milk and cream.  What few veggies we ate came from a tiny garden in the back yard. 

Today you see Tiny Houses as new modern structures.  We had tiny houses WAY back ... the entire house would fit in my living room today.  There was a kitchen/dining room/living room combo (the original open floor plan concept), a pantry and two very small bedrooms.  All of that was surrounded by a little brown picket fence because we couldn't afford white paint.  In no time, I figured out how to escape.

As I got a little older ... like three ... my job was to make cream into butter with an old churn that was as big as me!  Child labor was alive and well.  The milk was left in the ice box overnight, then the cream skimmed off the top and placed into the churn.  I sat on top of the kitchen table and churned until I thought my arms would fall off.  

Once done, we dug it out with spoons and plopped the white goo into glass containers.  Butter really isn't yellow ... it's almost completely white unless you add dye which we did not have.  

In the "old" days, you left the butter out on the table because in the ice box, it became hard as a rock.  I loved butter so much that I would climb up on the table and eat it by the handful.  What a disgusting little kid!!  For that, I got several whacks on the butt, which I remember to this day!!  Eventually I learned how NOT to get caught!

From the very beginning, I was an outdoor girl.  At 3-1/2 I escaped the yard and wandered off across the ditch to the field where the horses were.  Too bad I got caught - literally.  I immediately got stuck in a board gate when I tried to crawl through.  It was late in the day, so I just hung out and took a nap.  Someone finally discovered I was missing and broke me out of jail by unhooking my shirt caught on a nail.  For that little adventure, I got another swat on the butt!!

Maybe a few butt swats would have resulted in less rioting in recent history.  There were always consequences to our actions, which I have to admit pretty much kept us alive.  I'll have more stories on down the road.