Saturday, December 31, 2016

Eagle Cam ......

As a nature photographer, this stuff is the bees knees to me.  I could watch this all day long ... and I DID!!  I can finally see a little light at the end of the tunnel.  The head trauma from beating my head against the wall due to the extreme pressure, should heal in no time.  The cough continues, but is reduced to five times a minute versus the 20 times that didn't allow for breathing in between.

The bad news is I'm healing up enough I'll be able to vacuum the house before I leave next week.  I was really hoping to be able to skip that part.  I may still be able to put it off, after all, I have LOTS of stuff to pack before launch.

Back to the eagles, Mom Harriet spent most of the day on the nest, not wanting to give dad a shot at all.  He kept messing up the ambience, moving sticks the wrong way.  You know how it is when it comes to moving the furniture.
Dad's job was to bring home dinner, which he did.  This should be nice and putrified by the time baby arrives.  Babies live off the yolk for a day or so, then immediately scream for food.  There is no regurgitation in the Eagle family, they eat raw meat right off the bat, even as tiny babies.  Unfortunately, with all of Mom's nest fluffing (which she did a LOT of), the fish got covered up.  
These guys look kind of small, but the nest is 6-7 feet across and Mom Harriet is about three feet long.  The eggs are about the size of a tennis ball.  As it happened, there was a very good camera operator on yesterday, who allowed me to get some great shots.
By the way, if you watch this live feed, pay attention to your gigabyte usage.  On my Verizon WiFi, I only pay for 8 gigs a month.  Streaming video will run that out in two days.  I upped my usage allotment for an additional $20 before realizing ... why do that when I have an unlimited phone account!!  Plus, I can get better pictures with my phone!!

As you can see, one egg pipped.  Usually a 35 day process, it's only been 33 days for these babies to begin hatching.  
This was the money shot for yesterday.  I could actually see the baby's beak and watch him breath.  I sent a high five message to the camera operator!!  
Bright and early this morning we have BABY EAGLET #9.  That is the ninth baby to be born in this nest since the camera operations began.  This is baby's head laying right next to those sharp talons.  The dark spot is his eye, with his beak under Dad's claw.  
Here's another interesting tidbit.  Eaglet #7 who still hangs around the area, got irritated with a crow that was bothering the nest.  Crow is now deceased.   I'm not sure if this is the remains of crow or not, but I did see black feathers going down the hatch.
Mom Harriet didn't want to leave the nest.  She spent a lot of time pulling up the edges around herself making the nest deeper and fluffing it underneath for baby.  We have not been able to see if the second egg has pipped since half of the first egg is now covering part of the second.  
As I cough and hack, I'll be back on the couch, making a trip or two to the motorhome as I can.  My ticket to the New Years Eve Murder Mystery will remain unused.  RATS!!  I was really looking forward to that!  Especially the dessert auction part!  

I'll try to get some better baby pictures today.  They will be much more interesting to look at than my dirty floor.  I'll be on the couch ..... again!!

Friday, December 30, 2016

It's ALIVE ....... just barely!!

Mostly alive yesterday morning, by noon I was again camped out on the couch for the count.  I try very hard not to over-medicate myself.  Bad idea.  Take all those drugs you can so you will feel better.

There IS something to say about being so miserable you can't concentrate on television.  Instead, you can grab a nice hot cup of water (the lemon and honey are long past gone) and try to read.  Unfortunately, the brain was too muddled for that complicated past-time.  I kept reading the same page over and over.

Even my usual companion, an iPhone 6, got tossed on the table.  Sleep would have been nice, but that wasn't to be either.  At long last I picked up my phone again to see an Eagle Cam video.  In five minutes I was hooked.  In ten minutes my battery was dead.  I drug all of my blankets and supplies to the kitchen counter where I plugged in.

If you haven't seen this, it is pretty amazing.  Like watching paint dry at times, but amazing none the less.  Dick Pritchett has a live feed ... just click on his name.   There are four Eagle Cams in Southwest Florida that have been watching since 2012.  This picture is from this morning, just after M15 and Harriet traded places.  This is Dad.
Ozzie and Harriet mated for life, but Ozzie got in a fight with an owl (don't trust me here ... I'm going on the word of Facebook people) and did not survive.  Harriet flirted with many local natives before picking Male 2015 ... or M15 for short.  Now they have a nice little abode and TWO eggs, just about to hatch.  I snapped THIS picture yesterday as Harriet was turning the eggs over, which they seem to do every hour or so.  
Feeling terrible, and with nothing else to do, I sat glued to the phone.  People are monitoring these cameras day and night.  When the eagle moves, they zoom in to see as much as possible.  It was dark in Florida, but they have an infrared cameras (thus the black and white pictures).  

Although it is not visible here, as I watched in amazement, one of the eggs pipped.  In approximately 8 hours, there will be a new baby eagle in the world which everyone can watch on this live feed, if you have a couple of hours to waste.  At this particular moment, there are 46,583 people watching.  Crazy, right?  Do you think they are all sick on the couch like me?
It's hard to tell Mom and Dad apart.  If you watch on Facebook, don't pay any attention to the fighting about whether it's Mom or Dad on the nest.  Who cares?  I'm just there to see the babies.  There are also trolls around causing havoc among those who are not the most computer savvy.  Just ignore them, or better yet, go to the Pritchett website and watch there.   The Pritchett site also has sound.  Facebook does not.  

Being the good husband that he is, M15 has brought Harriet lots of food in the last couple of days.  When they switch, they usually take off and hunt.  At this point however, Harriet must be anxious about the pip, as she hasn't been going far away at all.    

They just talked to each other with a few screeches, meaning move your butt, I'm coming in.  Mom Harriett just settled in and is doing a little housecleaning.  I could watch this for days!!!  I'll be on the couch with my computer and extension cord.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

It's Okay ... You Can Laugh!!

Sometimes I think if it weren't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all.  If I couldn't laugh at the things that happen to me, I'd be a wreck for sure!!  Yes, all those things I talked about yesterday, actually happened.  Sad, but oh so true!!

I'm going on day seven of this flu crud, whatever it is and I'm exhausted.  I feel like one of Cooper's toys that had all of it's bones broken before being tossed in a corner.

The wracking cough has subsided somewhat, while the little man with the hammer that lives in my head is pounding away.  I've decided that I'm getting the flu shot next year.  If there is even a 20% chance that I won't have to go through this again, I'm going for it!!  Then I'll just hibernate until time to leave in January.  Or better yet, I'll fool that flu bug and leave the first of December!!

I'm sure you heard on the news there really WAS an earthquake with it's epicenter near Henderson Nevada.  I've been through several since living in the Valley.  The good news is when the BIG one hits, I should have waterfront property, if I'm still here.  In other words, there's no real danger where I live.

Earthquakes come in two varieties ... the swaying, rocking and rolling kind that make you nauseous, like you have lost your equilibrium, and the hard jolting type like night before last.  Ninety nine percent of people in California slept right through it, so it wasn't all that jolting after all.

The only bad one I've felt was when I worked on the top floor of a three story building when the Coalinga quake hit.  Luckily, my building was earthquake proof.  It was built on rollers so it would move with the quake.   All that swaying was a little scary but in the end, there was no damage in this area at all.

It's going to be another exciting day on the couch and I'm hoping Jessie doesn't get sick again.  I did not get the garage door fixed, but at least it can't be opened from the outside.  I have two more days of Lean Cuisine and a dozen eggs for food, so I won't die of starvation.

I'll be on the couch .......

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

It Could Be Worse .....

No one likes to be sick.  Especially me, and especially me at Christmas.  It happens every year however.  I thought I would slip through the Holidays with the skin of my teeth, but apparently I was still too close.  It could be worse I suppose.  That's what my Mom used to say.  It could be worse, you could have a broken leg.  I'd really be in trouble then!!

It could be worse ... I could be sitting on the couch watching television when my dog throws up on me.  That would bring on a level of wrenching never before felt with a throat already on fire.

It could be worse ... you could change your clothes and clean up the mess, only to discover when you sat down on the couch that you didn't get it all ... meaning ANOTHER change of clothes and more throwing up.

It could be worse because now you have two loads of wash to do and an hour of work getting the stains out of the couch.

It could be worse when you walk outside and bring the garbage cans in, only to have the garage door jam in the open position.  Well that's not good!!

It could be worse when you spray everything with WD40, only to accidentally grab the red cord to release the door and get drug along the concrete floor trying to keep it from crashing to the bottom.

It could be worse because now you have to fix the door yourself ... up on the ladder, in the cold, coughing all the while.

It could be worse ... you could be awake all night long as you coughed your brains out until the earthquake hit that resulted in a few hackles being raised.  The entire house shook and creaked making me think someone was breaking in.

It could be worse ... you could be stalking around the house with a gun hoping your addled brain was just imagining things.

It could be worse because you have a hair appointment today and the last thing you want to do is go sit there for two hours, but there are no other appointments available.

It could always be worse my friends ...... I'll be on the couch!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

So You Don't Have To .....

Yup ..... still sick.  I knew the second I stepped in to that Doctor's office I was in trouble.  Believe me, it's never going to happen again.  I'm taking my can of lysol with me and spraying a path to the check-in counter.

Honestly, I'm not sure if I have just a bad cold with sore throat and coughing, or if this is the "flu".  In the old days, flu meant upset stomach and kissing the porcelain bowl, along with a fever.  This isn't like that.  What REALLY  irritates me is the Doctor asking if I wanted a flu shot.  When I said no and explained why, he said "okay, I'm telling you right up front that I told you so".  I hate him!!

I would tell you that I might just feel a tad bit better this morning, but I don't want to jinx it.  My throat is still swollen in spite of all the warm lemon honey water I've downed.  So much so that I'm out of honey.  I supposed I'll survive ... at least I have ten days to get better.

Isn't this a pretty picture?  I'm sorry to tell you it is NOT of MY Christmas dinner.  I actually did have plans for dinner, but all that went out the window when I got sick.  Plan B was to make mac 'n cheese and give that turkey cooking another shot.
I want you to know that all this experimental cooking I do is so you don't have to!!  If I try out all these recipes and they bomb, then you are saved the embarrassment when company comes to dinner. 

First up in the test kitchen .... the cheesy egg chili relleno casserole my Mom used to make.  Unfortunately, her recipe called for cream, which I didn't have.  Luckily (or maybe not) I found a recipe using the magic ingredient Bisquick and low fat milk, of which I had 3 cups left after the cinnamon rolls.

Looks pretty tasty, right?  That would be a NO.  The Bisquick sunk to the bottom in a jelly-like mass while the chilis rose to the top, leaving a thick layer of cheese in the middle, with a little bit of egg thrown in.  Obviously, if you have high cholesterol, this is not the dish for you.  Or me, for that matter.  It was awful.  Skip this one.  A really big dish of oatmeal would have been better.
Just before noon I shoved another turkey breast into the oven with the intention of not letting it overcook like last time.  In the meantime, macaroni and cheese sounded wonderful to my sore throat. I gathered all the ingredients.  Wait .... something was missing.  OH NO!!  There's no milk left!!  I used the entire carton for the chili relleno flop!! 

Surely I have SOMETHING I can use.  I scoured the cupboards to find two choices.  Chicken broth or sweetened condensed milk.  I chose the broth.  What could go wrong??  I'm here to tell you EVERYTHING!!  Although my brain said mac 'n cheese, my mouth knew different.  
Totally defeated, I went back to the couch with a handful of crackers .  What about the turkey you ask?  Well .............. I have a sneaking suspicion that my thermometer is off.  In a short two hours it read 180 degrees.  Out came the turkey to sit for 15 minutes.  RAW and TOUGH are the only words to describe it.  I put it back in the oven for another hour.  

The turkey recipe went in the trash.  It's just not working for me.  The good news is I was able to make a small pot of turkey-carrot soup .... because that's all I had, turkey, carrots and one can of broth.  After simmering on the stove for three hours, the turkey was finally tender.  It tasted pretty good ... as good as anything can taste when your taste buds died on the second day of sick.

I'm back on the couch!!  I should be digging a big hole in the back yard, but I'm too tired.

Thank you everyone for the well wishes.  In the depths of my misery, you made me smile!!  I take all of your suggestions literally, including going for a short walk in the brisk air.  I took the garbage cans out to the curb.  I must say I felt better for about 30 minutes.  Today I'll take another walk and bring them back.  Here's hoping I'm over the hump!!

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Creeping Crud

It's not creeping any more, the crud hit me yesterday like a Mack truck.  I spent the better part of the day on the couch watching those boring Christmas movies.  The alternative was to try and cook something to eat, not the best of ideas in my condition.

It's bad enough trying to cook when I feel good, let alone when my brain is foggy and only interested in making me cough.   I fought through it however and ended up with two inedible dishes.  More on that later.  For now, I'm headed back to the couch with the last of my honey drinks.

I didn't think my throat could get more sore ..... it did.  I didn't think I could feel much worse .... I do .... and I didn't think my head was going to explode ..... I'm now sure that is only minutes away.  I'm going to be proactive next year and stock up on those masks you see everyone wearing in China.  At least I'll be recognizable in a crowd!!

Sunday, December 25, 2016


I hope Santa brought you everything your heart desires.  I guess it was a little too difficult to wrap up Sam Elliott and plop a bow on his head, because I didn't find him under my tree this morning.  What Santa DID bring me is my usual cold/flu.  I just don't get it.  What did I ever do to deserve being sick every single Christmas??  I even had a late invite to Christmas dinner that I now have to cancel.  RATS!!!  Actually I said a lot of words much worse than that!!  Thanks Santa!!
I decided yesterday when I still felt reasonably well that I would make a chili relleno casserole for breakfast, but that's out the window now.  This honey and lemon mixture, plus lot of Listerine, will probably be the only thing on my menu today.  My throat is on fire and feels like someone ran a steel brush through it.  

Just to prove how bad my voice is, I asked my phone (I can do that ... ask it questions) how to spell chili relleno six times.  Every time, it said "I didn't quite get that"!!  Aaaarrrrggggg!!
The puppies and I spent all day yesterday snuggling on the couch.  There will be a repeat of that today and probably tomorrow.  I'm hoping and praying that will be the end of the worst part of being sick.  Truthfully, I'm pretty sure I caught this at the Doctor's Office ten days ago.  Sound about right??
Cooper the snuggle bug never lets his toys get far away when he's asleep.  Jessie might steal one.
My big plans for a lunch of roast turkey and mac n cheese have also vanished into thin air, not that I really need to be cooking ... or doing anything around kitchen appliances!!  I'm happy to report I can now make a fist ... the swelling has gone down considerably.  If you need me, I'll be holding the couch down, making sure no one steals it ... kind of like Cooper!!  Merry Christmas to one and all!!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

It Was a KNOCKOUT in Round One

Kitchen appliances and I were not meant to be in the same room.  I'm not sure why that is, but they definitely have something against me!!  Since it was so cold and rainy yesterday, I decided to make those cinnamon rolls my Mom was known for.  It's easy, right?  Although MUCH more time consuming than I ever remember.
So I mixed everything up, paying particular attention to the temperature of the water/yeast mixture, even going so far as to heat up the mixer bowl.  According to the directions, just add the flour and knead for 5 minutes.  Since I have this handy dandy KitchenAid mixer, I figured to make quick work of the kneading part.  What could possibly happen????
You can get your hand crushed ... that's what.  The dough was stuck up at the top of the dough hook, aptly named I might add.  I turned the machine off ... really, I did ... but was dumb enough to keep my left hand on the switch.  As I reached in and pulled the dough from the hook, my left hand accidentally hit the switch before my right hand was out of the bowl.  It was a knockout punch in the first round.  DING DING DING!!

The hook immediately caught my hand between the large round harder-than-steel white disk at the top and the edge of the steel bowl.  I'm pretty sure they heard me scream all the way into town.  I actually had the thought .... I'll just let that dough rest while I immerse my hand in freezing cold ice water ... which I did.  In no time, I couldn't feel a thing as it swelled up like a balloon.

The good news was that I moved my fingers almost immediately, so I assumed nothing was broken, more or less.  I tried to keep it up in the air to lessen the damage, but there was an entire batch of dough in the mixer that needed to be attended to.
Mostly left handed, I was able to get the dough in a bowl to let it rise.  That gave me an hour and a half to keep my other hand elevated where it throbbed nicely, not letting me forget how stupid I was.  After a second rising, I was able to get them rolled up.
Have you ever tried to cut with a sharp knife left handed?  I wasn't giving up, no matter how awful they looked.  Into the pans for another rising and baking.  In the meantime, I sent a picture of my hand to my Nurse Patty for her official opinion.  Yup I crushed it, keep it iced and in the air.  
It's actually much better this morning, in spite of the lovely shades of black and blue.  One knuckle has returned and I can almost make a fist.  The rolls came out great, but I was rather distracted by my hand and didn't get any nice pictures.  You'll just have to come to the RV Rally in Indio California to see them in person.
Not taking any chances at all, I tossed a California Pizza Kitchen pizza in the oven for dinner.  My cooking skills aren't the best when I have TWO hands ... I'm not going to try and cook with only one. What can I say .... it was edible ... although I've never seen a pizza that had toppings laid on ultra thin like this one.  I would have fixed it up, but that would require two hands to grate the cheese.  I'm not going there.
To make things even better, since it's Christmas and all, I woke up with a sore throat.  As you may be aware, it's just normal for me to end up in the Emergency Room on Christmas Day.  I don't have much time to heal up before takeoff, so I'm spending the entire day on the couch with the puppies and a bottle of wine!!  


Friday, December 23, 2016

Birds Of A Feather .....

True to Central California's nature, the temperature dropped from that balmy 39 degrees to 31 in a matter of minutes as fog blanketed my house.  I couldn't even see my neighbor's yard until almost noon.  Totally bored after a couple of those tear-jerker Christmas movies, I finally gathered up all my tax information.  That's pretty bored!!!

When the sun finally came out, I figured it was time to head out to the Merced Wildlife Game Refuge.  Way back in the day my Dad used to work there occasionally, running heavy equipment.  It's sort of like big flooded rice fields without the rice.  Instead, cattails grow in the mud providing cover for the ducks .... LOTS of Mud Hens and Mallards winter there.

So I'll make a deal with you .... if you don't ask what this is, I won't have to tell you I don't know.  There actually is a station just as you enter the sanctuary with boards telling you what everything is.  I was in a hurry to get to the far side before sunset.
Too bad it was just a little late in the year.  Most of the birds I came to see were already gone with the last storm, including the owl family that usually lives in this dead cottonwood tree.  Instead of the squawking of birds, it was unusually quiet with nothing to photograph.
This was my favorite ... reflections get me every time.  
Then I spotted this guy surveying his territory.  I pulled over immediately as a car coming up behind me went screaming by.  Yes, I waved at the nice man.  I figured the hawk was lost to the air, but amazingly, he just sat on the fence post and watched me.  I crawled along the ground in six inches of mud to try and get a better picture.
He wasn't the least bit afraid and just followed me with his head the entire way.  Isn't he (or she) a beauty?  Actually, you are not supposed to get out of your vehicle and walk around, but I couldn't help it.  I sat in the wet and mud for fifteen minutes.  Finally I snuck back to the truck and waved goodbye as I scrounged for a towel to put under my wet butt.
At the far side of the Refuge, I could see this line of white, which I knew were the geese I was looking for.  As I was taking pictures of everything else, swarms of these guys would take off, heading to this spot.  Dinner was about to be served!!
They all looked like they were just standing in one place snacking on the green grass, but when I looked through the camera lens, I could see they were moving in waves, all following a particular path the Head Goose was traveling.  Like swirling water, it was so cool to see.  None of them were actually standing still.
By now I'm looking over my shoulder a lot.  Although I did see one other photographer, the other three cars had some pretty shady looking characters inside.  One was obviously smoking something, and it wasn't cigarettes or cattails!!  

This pond is usually covered with birds, but as you can see, most already left for the dinner table.
In spite of my forays down the roads marked "closed", I never did find the great sandhill cranes.  They had eaten the corn field (planted just for them) to the ground and headed off to greener pastures.  I did find four in a grain field, but with no place to park except in the ditch, I passed them by.  Maybe in the Spring!!
With another big rain storm headed my way today, I'll probably just hang out with the puppies since my Christmas shopping is done.  I might even try making those cinnamon rolls my Mom used to make every Christmas.  They better turn out good because digging in the frozen ground won't be an option.  On the other hand, I COULD watch another Christmas movie where I know every line by heart since I've seen them all twenty times!!  

On the eve of Christmas eve, I hope you all stay warm and snuggly!!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

SALE Does Not Always Mean Cheaper!!

With all the Christmas shopping going on, I really try to stay out of the stores.  I boycott all the big box stores just because finding a parking spot and crowds of unruly people make me crazy ....... okay, crazier!!  This time however, the dogs and Jonathan were out of food and I needed some boot socks ... different than regular socks because they are MUCH taller.

Everything is supposed to be on sale, right?  50-75% off!!  Well not exactly folks.  In a FB conversation with an employee who shall remain nameless for obvious reasons, I learned that Penneys and Kohls in particular, double and even triple the price of their merchandise, then offer you 50% off.  That means at Christmas, you're paying more than the going rate for that item.  I'm thinking we should all shop a LOT earlier in the year!!

I actually tried that once before.  It meant returning things that the people went out and bought for themselves BEFORE Christmas.  How rude of them!!
At any rate, I trotted off to Boot Barn to look for socks.  Boot socks are one of those things you buy that you either LOVE or HATE!!  There's no middle ground.  I have two pair that are not tall enough. You know the ones, they fall down and get under your heel.  I might as well toss them in the donation bin, but they are still in my drawer in case of an emergency.

The ones on the right are my favorites.  I found them at Boot Barn about six months ago.  I went straight for the same rack, to find only two pair.  One was marked down to $4.95 on SALE (regularly $15).  No one said boot socks were cheap.  That's the word that tricks me into buying every time.  

I was happy as a clam until this morning when I went to put them on.  See the small difference in color?  That denotes the ones on the left are YOUTH socks.  What's the difference you ask?  The foot part fits fine, but I can't get them over my calf.  Not only too small, but WAY too small.  

Stung again by the old ON SALE ruse!!  And not returnable!!  Doesn't that just frost you??  I have from now until next Christmas to find a YOUTH to give them to, all wrapped up nicely as a Christmas present.  
Next up was Petco.  It's the only place in town I can find Jonathan's bird food.  Naturally, all the FOOD in the store was not on sale.  I'm telling you, these animals eat better than I do.  Their 25 pound bag of food cost me $35.  Jonathan's two pound bag ran $17.99.  With his specialty diet, I spend a small fortune on apples and bananas, not to mention the ingredients for bird biscuits.  I guess his diet works, since he's over the 40 year mark.  

ALWAYS on the way to the check stand, there are dog toys for sale.  About five years ago, I found two squeaky dog bones that the puppies loved ... and one is still going strong.  Ever since, I've tried to
find a couple more.  

As I walked up to pay, what to my wondering eyes should appear but TWO dog bones ON SALE for the babies.  They were thrilled when I got home.  I had to laugh at this picture of Jessie with her new bone and the word Wicked in the background.  It depicts her perfectly.
Jessie never got to associate with other dogs, so she's kind of mental.  Her entire demeanor is to KILL the prey, which is what Jack Russell's do.  Just try and take her bone away and this is what happens!!  Kind of blurry, she moves so fast.  Really, it looks like she will rip my arm off, but even though I have pushed her several times, she has never tried to bite.  This is just how she plays ... a little demented .... but playing none the less.  I admit I'm a bad mom ... I push her buttons all the time.  She LOVES it!!
Cooper on the other hand, is a sweetie.  He likes the tug of war game.  Give him a toy with a squeaker and he'll squeak it until you are so annoyed you sit on the floor and play.  This little kid is very good at manipulation!!  He has me very well trained.
If you ignore him, this is what happens ten minutes later!!  So much for the ON SALE toy!!  Now I have to buy another one, which makes this "sale" not cheap at all!!
The temperatures here have come up a little ... all the way to 39 so the fog can come in and keep us wet and cold.  My electric bill is going to be through the roof this month.  I've had the fire going most every day.

Which reminds me ... I have a question for those Class A drivers out there.  Do you drive down the road with your GAS heater on or do you run the generator and ELEC heat?  It's going to be way too cold for Jonathan the parrot when I head off for the Indio rally in January.    My dash heater barely keeps my hands thawed enough to drive.  

I hope everyone is ready for Christmas ... it's just a few days away!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Isle of WHO??

Most people aren't familiar with this little island off the coast of England in the Irish Sea.  People have been living there since 6500 BC.  That's quite a long time ago.  Originally part of Norway(??), it was ruled by Scotland and occasionally England.  Today, it is an internally self-governing Crown dependency.  One of these days I should visit.

My grandfather and his relatives came from the Eastern side and lived in Ramsey, Maughold and Ballaugh towards the West coast.  As you can tell, my interpretation of the spelling from my book was not totally correct.  I rather like the "Calf of Man" at the very Southern tip and of course Chicken Rock.
My relatives (whoever they were) that researched this project could only go back as far as John Steffen or maybe it's Stephen to the early 1700's.  His wife's name is not listed in any of the parish records.   His first born son John, lived in Ballaugh and married Catherine Craine.  John, Catherine and their baby son John (see? there are three Johns there) died within two months of each other.  Cholera is my guess.  Their only other child, a daughter also named Catherine, then just five years old, inherited everything.

Unfortunately, the guardian appointed to handle the estate for the five year old, sold it all and ran off with the money.  Ten years later, he was arrested, taken to court and ordered to make good any losses to the Estate, which of course never happened.  I guess there have been scoundrels since forever.

This is the Isle of Man flag ... weird, right?  I've always known of the three legged running man ... it was embroidered on every handkerchief in our house.  There was no such thing as Kleenex, you used a hankie!!  A "pressed" hankie that I ran through the mangle iron.
The crest shows the crown of England and birds of the countryside.  Their motto ... and I have no idea where THIS came from ...    is "whichever way you throw it, it stands".  
There were many children along the way who died in infancy.  I guess that's why they all had so many.  The late 1700's were known for sickness and disease.  Cholera, scarlet fever, distemper, chin cough and stitch (whatever that was).  I have found two children who died in accidents on the beach, I assume of drowning.  How sad.

My great great grandparent's brother Bill Crellin died in Ceylon while in the Army and his brother Thomas died in a shooting accident on the farm.  Occupations are listed from Landowner to Ag Laborer, with a servant or two thrown in for good measure.  In those families that had success in life, all of their children were listed as Scholars in the census.  

There were a couple of wine merchants, contractors, a tailor or two and even a grocer.  Later on, the War took it's toll on many family members.  All of the able men fought in both Wars, many never to return.   

One of my more interesting collections, salvaged literally from the garbage can where they had been discarded, is a packet of letters sent during the war, between family members and their sons, with sections blacked out.  I'm going to pull those out and see whose name is on them.

I never had any idea just how much information was out there on the internet.  All, or at least most of those parish records from the churches and census records from the late 1700's are all available on-line, unlike in the old days when my relations traveled to the Isle and went through the records page by page.  You just have to be careful with names and pay particular attention to dates.  In my family, there are probably 20 Isabellas, Johns and Janes, with many having the same last name.  

I took a big load off my shoulders yesterday by completing all that accounting work in one fell swoop.  Six solid hours of sitting at a computer inputting information.  It wouldn't have taken quite so long, but she had upgraded everything on her computer ... making it difficult for me to figure out the new programs, not to mention the missing bank statements.

At any rate, I'm done for the year (except for MY accounting).  Like the mechanic who never works on his own car, I have a hard time doing MY year end work.   For now, it's time to sit back and enjoy Christmas week with my puppies.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


I admit it ... I was a big bump on my couch all day yesterday.  I'm truly not all that thrilled with this cold weather.  It seems to freeze my butt to the space in front of the fireplace.  It's another lovely 30 degrees here in Central California and my heating system is working hard to keep the house at 64 degrees.  In fact, it kept me awake all night long as the Midnight Express ran right through my bedroom time after time.

I have to say the weather does make for some lovely sunrise pictures but I'd much rather this was overlooking a nice warm ocean somewhere.
I finally spent a little time on My Grandmothers book.  It's so hard to decipher, I almost gave up.  I really can't tell the difference between the numbers 4 and 7 and names like Maugold and Ballaugh throw me for a loop.  Who knows if I have interpreted the writing correctly.  Suddenly however, I found something very interesting.  

It all starts with Isabella Steffen, born in 1757, marrying John Callister in 1780.  They had ten children.  YIKES!!  Everyone seems to have named at least two of their children after themselves and several after other family members.  That makes it extremely difficult to determine who is who.  

Isabella Steffen's sister Jane, married Thomas Corlette, a wine merchant from Sicily.  It appears Thomas did a little midnight business of his own, smuggling wine in and out of the Isle of Man.  Unfortunately, he got caught.

Not being able to pay the bail/fine, his brother John put up the money ... 1200 something.  Pounds was the currency, but that seems like a HUGE amount for just smuggling wine.   Not long after he was released from jail, Thomas died, leaving John holding the bag.  Not able to pay HIS debts, poor penniless John was sent to debtors prison where he died of cholera. 

Believe it or not, this book has every single one of Isabella's ten children listed, with all THEIR children and so on, down to the 1980's.  Here's where it gets interesting and my detective brain kicked in.  One of John and Isabella's daughters, also named Isabella, married Daniel Rogers.  They had five children.  At that point, poor Daniel drops off the face of the earth.  He completely disappears from all records.  

Isabella with her five children, then went on to hang out with John Corlette (great nephew by marriage of the wine smuggler's brother) and with no mention of marriage, had one child, Jane born in 1826.  Makes you wonder, right?  Do you think Daniel left her because she was having an affair??  Or maybe poor Daniel is buried in the back pasture.  I think a little sleuthing is in order.   

It's pretty amazing to read the stories in this book.  Isabella and John Corlette's daughter Jane married well you might say ... to Henry Crellin, a landowner.  If you owned property back in the day, you were RICH!!  I suppose that's why they had 11 children.  This is where the family spread out ... at the great-great grandparent line.  

Tired as I am this morning, I have to actually go to work and get some year-end bookkeeping done for my only remaining client.  

Just a reminder for those last minute shoppers ... you only have FIVE days left!!!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Let It Go ... Let It Go!!

For those of you with grandkids, you will probably be singing that song all day now.  The Disney movie FROZEN played on television yesterday and today I feel like she came to the Central Valley.  At 27 degrees the last two nights, I am definitely FROZEN.  This is my white frost encrusted horse corral ... giving me a sense of what it's like to live back East.

My house wasn't much better at 62 degrees when I got up.  Who the heck set the heater THAT low??
Having wrapped the presents for the Elks kids, yesterday was S-Day.  Santa Claus was coming to town and we needed to get ready.  First up ... get the soldiers to stand at attention.  This is just the cutest decoration I've seen.  I may have to find one of these for my house.  At this party, the Grinch is Santa's helper, but unfortunately, he wasn't any better at pronouncing the kids names than Santa was.
We set up plates and plates of cookies and got the ice cream out of the freezer.  After six tries, looking in every drawer in the kitchen, I finally found ice cream scoops the size of Montana.  That created a slight problem when our little plastic cups were no more than Manhattan.  

For some reason, I keep getting stuck with the project that requires lots of calculations, like figure out how much water it takes to make hot cocoa with 78 ounces of mix.  There I was, boiling water on the stove again!!
Once Santa got a good start, we brought out the food and the cocoa.  I have to say that was the best cocoa I've ever had!!  Seems like no one ever sits down with a cup of hot chocolate any more.  I even topped everyone's cup with a shot of ......... whipped cream.  It was suggested I use peppermint schnapps, but this was a kids party!!
When all was said and done, there were 85 happy kids running around like crazy, stoked up on sugar enough to last at least a couple of days.  Honestly, I think this party was more for the Grandparents than the kids.  They all had a blast taking pictures, wiping cookie crumbs off their laps and cleaning up hot cocoa from the floor on their hands and knees.  Fun, right??
It is an interesting phenomena that when it comes to serving the food, there are ten volunteers who show up at the last minute.  When the line dwindles down to nothing, they magically disappear.  It's the same three of us who bus all the tables, pick up all the trash and wash everything down.  

In the end, there were only two of us to clean all those 125 ice cream dishes.  I didn't mind at all because he's the best looking guy around in my opinion.  I know what you're thinking because I thought the same thing, but alas, he's married.  

What a mess ... and ice cream is not the easiest thing to clean.  Yes, we had a dishwasher, but it's old and tired, forcing the "wash before you wash" element into our routine.  Two hours later I was finally out the door.  My puppies were thrilled to see me, but being gone so long required an hour on the floor playing the ball game.  

I want to thank everyone who mentioned statins for lowering your cholesterol may not be all they are made out to be.  I'll keep aware of any symptoms and head back to the doctor if need be.  

I've waded through some of My Grandmothers information.  It's definitely difficult to follow when there are eleven children each having five children and so on down the line.  For now, I'm going to go stand in front of my fireplace and warm up.   I'm FROZEN!!!  Let it go, let it go, let it go ............