Wednesday, January 31, 2018


And a hardy good  morning to everyn wjo stayed insid and didn't let ehtr fingrs get froze!!  My typing is suffering a tad this morning since my fingers are almost frozen stiff, making it a little difficult to type.

The moon put on a fabulous show for us early this morning.  The first blue super moon eclipse, or something like that, in 150 years.  Imagine that ... that last people to see one were probably in covered wagons heading for California.  I was up early as usual, grabbed my camera and set up on my front walkway for the best view.

It was dark, as I toe tapped my way down the uneven steps trying not to fall on my face.  I don't care about breaking me, but my CAMERA?  No way!!  Just as I set up, the wind began to blow and the chill set in.  I spent over an hour doing the I-gotta-go dance, not because I needed to, but because I was trying to keep warm.

So here's a teaser ... something you probably won't see again for another 150 years.  It's amazing just how dark it gets when the moon is in the earth's shadow.
I'll get to working on those images just as soon as I drink my screaming hot coffee and warm up a bit.  I might even go back out and take some more pictures.

I'm a glutton for punishment .... I just went back outside.  Now to download all 124 images.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Different Kind Of Beauty

When you look out across the desert near my house, the first thought is UGH ... as in ugly.  This isn't very pretty at all.  Everything is brown and drab looking.  If you take your time however, and look past the mostly colorless vegetation, you will find some gems that will make you smile.

At least that's how it is for me.  This is just plain old cactus until you look closely at the brightly colored reddish brown spines.  These babies produce the best deterrent to critters there is, in an effort to stay alive and flourish.  Can you imagine walking across the desert behind the wagon in your long dress and sun hat trying to keep from getting snagged?
It's the time of year when cactus begins to produce flowers and fruit, like the yellow piece hanging from this one.  There are so many varieties of cactus I can't count them all.  I think this may be a relative to the cholla, the one that jumps out and impales you as you walk by.  Never EVER try to touch any of these babies without gloves.  
Why you might ask (beyond the obvious)?  Because you'll be trying to remove the tiniest tiny pieces of spine from your fingertips, like I've been doing for the past week.  

Even the wild grass is pretty as it blows in the breeze.  You can sure tell the difference between the blue light of shade and the yellow setting sun.
I'm always looking for critters.  Although I've found my share, I've never seen what makes these trails and tunnels across the desert floor.  I imagine it's my nemesis the pack rat and maybe squirrels.    
Much larger, this one appears to be "bunny" related.  Most of the holes are at the base of cactus plants, making for a natural defense against coyotes who roam at night.  Although I've heard them a night or two, I haven't seen any yet.  
Look VERY closely and you'll see some beauties like this.  A very nondescript cactus with beautiful tiny red berries up and down the limbs.  
I took this image as a warning to aspiring photographers everywhere.  WATCH YOUR BACK!  When you kneel down to get that perfect cholla cactus picture with the sun directly behind it, watch where your butt is going.  Mine sat right down on these spines, which just happen to be like steel knives.  OUCH!!!!   
There's lots of prickly pear cactus, the one you see in people's yards full of round fruit at the tips of the pads.  It's supposed to be very healthy for you.  I tried some juice once ... and only once.  I instantly felt a lump in my throat which lasted for three days until I finally took a benadryl.  It appears I'm allergic.  There won't be any prickly pear jelly in my kitchen after all!!

As the sun set, the sky turned red and orange, but not like the spectacular sunsets you see in Quartzsite where the clouds get stuck on the mountain tops.  
Still, it was a beautiful sunset as I watched the last bit fall below the horizon and I'm happy to say my butt survived the swords.  
I also got a nice surprise when I checked my bank account.  Medicare has been nicking me terribly from the sale of the old ranch house.  My $135 health care bill went up to a whopping $450 a month last year, taking a really big bite out of my household budget.  That's $5,400 for ONE year.  Rather maddening when I think I went to the doctor once and my entire year's bill came to $250.

They basically said all of the sale amount was income, although I never saw even half of that, so they surcharged me for the last two years.  Finally that has dropped off and my charge is down to $165 a month.   Wait ... what happened to $135?  At any rate, it was a nice raise in my salary.  I can again afford food!!  YAY!!!

Monday, January 29, 2018

TWANG ... And It's GONE!!

The desert sunrises around here are just as beautiful as the sunsets ... even better for me since they are right out my sliding glass door.  In spite of the wind, there were still a few clouds remaining.  I thought the wind was bad yesterday, but TODAY we have 30-40 mph "breezes".  In California, that would definitely be a wind warning.  Here, it's just another day.
My first job was to trim the branches of this monster so they did not rub on the edge of the house roof.  With one inch long thorny spikes, it was definitely going to do some damage.  

Not to worry about a ladder, this tree is on the side of a hill, allowing me access to the lower branches.  I cut a few, but of course couldn't reach the tentacle doing the damage.  My solution was simple.  I have a seven foot long awning hook for my rig.  I'll just hook the branch, pull it down and CUT.  
Although I could have used two more hands, the first two cuts went okay.  On the third and biggest randy branch, it slipped out of the hook and slapped me in the face.  Well you dirty rat!!  I hooked the branch again, pulled with all my might and squeezed the end between my legs while I used both hands and two foot long pruning shears to lop off the end.  Don't laugh!!

EUREKA!  It worked ... that is until I let loose of my hold on the hook.  When the rest of the branch flew back towards the tree, the hook went along for the ride with a loud TWANG!!  Thankful I didn't get slapped in the face again,  I gathered my wits and went looking for the hook, which I was sure was on the ground.  Except I couldn't find it.

Where in the world??  Yes, that's it.  Clear up in the very top of the tree where I couldn't reach it even if I WAS on a ladder.  Oh good grief ... NOW what do I do?  I wandered through the garage looking for something long enough to reach.  AHA ... my trusty RAKE!!

After several tries, jumping up and flailing around like a crazy lady, I finally got the hook loose and safely stowed back in the rig.  That was enough limb trimming for me for the day.  I think I better hire some professionals.
That's when I noticed as I walked, that something was coming along for the ride.  A huge piece of branch was attached to the bottom of my moccasins.  Those crazy spines.  I took it off, only to find I actually could NOT pull it out by hand.  Pliers were required.  

That spine was so long I can't believe it didn't go right into my foot.  It took all my strength to get it out.  Next time I'm wearing BOOTS!!

While in the garage looking for solutions, I remembered some inside garage door panels were missing and some were falling out.  Thirty minutes later I had them all replaced and didn't even need the gorilla tape I bought just for that purpose.  STAY panels .... stay.    

There must be a ghost in the garage with me because there was only one person standing there when I took this picture.  The one on the right looks like she's holding her head, so I'm SURE that one is me.
Okay ... that's enough work for one day.  Time to relax on the patio, maybe do a little sewing and play with the puppies.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

A Short Walkabout ...

It was a beautiful day yesterday and actually got up into the 70's.  I took my camera for a short walkabout around the property to get pictures of my humble abode.  You really can't see it from the street, as I'm tucked back in the bushes on the side of a hill.

That's FedEx's excuse for delivering my computer to another house last year.  This time I made a HUGE sign and posted it by my driveway.  They found me.  Anyway, I scrambled up the slippery slope and made my way through the cactus for this image.

You can barely make out the door outline that houses the hot water heater.  As you can also see, I chopped those bushes back to allow access.  Chopping, versus pruning, is my preferred method.
These are the sort of spines I'm dealing with.  Crazy three inch long knives that will penetrate denim and flesh faster than greased lightning!  It's a good thing I wear tall cowboy boots around here!  Gorgeous color though ... right?
Way off in the distance there are some rooftops visible, but nothing within a mile or so.  This lovely palm tree may not be long for this world.  Those dead pieces hanging down?  They are like pieces of steel to my breadknife.  It makes for a nice desert rat and scorpion condo, not the kind of neighbors I would like to attract.

Even with my biggest pair of sharp shears, I couldn't remove even one piece as I stood atop my ladder.  Time to call the local gardening guru and remove it.  Otherwise, I'll be dealing with it every single year.  Besides, it blocks the view of a magnificent tree just to the left.
What about my chainsaw on a stick, you ask?  Though I tried and tried, there was no way I could fit it in the motorhome without removing it every time I opened the bay doors.  All that Sharps and rally stuff took up too much room ... a small price to pay for friendship.  I'll bring it next time.

Here's the back side view from down the hill a ways.  The patio is huge and runs almost the entire length of the house, though only partially covered.  Unfortunately, they have planted about six oleanders on the perimeter.  I just chopped one almost to the ground because it's two inch branches were rubbing on the roof when Gale came to visit.

Oleanders are extremely poisonous to kids and pets.  Eating just one leaf could kill either.  I'm pretty sure my dogs won't be partaking, but one less bush will be one less to worry about.  Being way too close to the house, I'm pretty sure it will disappear soon.
One of my favorite pastimes is sitting on the patio and enjoying the morning sun turn the desert beautiful yellow-green.
Okay .... enough procrastination ... it's time to trim that huge tree between the garage and the motorhome.  Unlike most every home here, I have a completely enclosed two car garage that keeps the rats out of my Jeep.  Every time I drive in and shut the door, I'm thankful for my garage.  I know, I'm weird!
Speaking of that big tree ... and it is HUGE (it's actually down an embankment about three feet and it's STILL taller than the motorhome) ... there are several branches that need to be trimmed as they TOO are rubbing on the roof of the house.  That's my project for the day, in spite of Gale having returned with 20 mph winds.  Wish me luck!!

Saturday, January 27, 2018


I'm pretty much an animal person.  Have been all my life.  Growing up on the ranch, I had pet dogs, pet cats, pet horses, pet calves and pet chickens.  I petted everything!!  Since then, I just can't seem to be without animals in my life, which is why I ended up with these two.

I didn't pick them, they picked me.  Miss Jessie here was five when I got her.  If you didn't know, Jack Russells are the weirdest dogs ever.  It took three months before she would sit with me on the couch and she growled at everything, me first and foremost.  It's her way of communicating I guess.  She is also ridiculously possessive of everything from me to her leash to her blanket.

Once she decided she was stuck with me (dropped off by friends who never found her a forever home) she became my best buddy.  Not the least bit rambunctious, she just curls up on the couch most of the time.  That is unless there are kitties around.

Miss Jessie HATES the K word, which I never speak out loud.  Last year on the Oregon Coast, I found this cool k-i-t-t-y (you have to spell it) for Lost Horse Ranch.  It's the perfect kind ... no food is involved.

Cooper was the first to spot it and started growling, something he learned from Jessie.  In no time, both were growling at the glass door.  When I opened it, Jessie made a beeline for the kitty barking and growling with teeth glinting in the sun.  She did a great sliding stop when she realized it wasn't real, bumping into the head.  What a sheepish look she had on her face.
Not to be outdone in the "buddy" department, Mr. Cooper sticks his head under my arm and just sits there making tiny growling noises until I sit back on the couch where he can snuggle up to my leg.  These critters ... they have me so well trained, but are the best company in the world.  Too bad I can't teach them to take out the garbage or vacuum the floors.
I stayed home all day yesterday waiting for the Pest Control guy who never showed up.  Since finding a nice hole in the siding of the house allowing easy access to my "basement", I was sure hoping he would tell me there's nothing to worry about.  

Instead, I worked on the quilt and took a few outside pictures, none of which I have processed yet.  So here's another boring quilt picture.  This is how the block starts out, sewing pieces together to make it "askew" and crazy looking ... like a bad morning after.  

Once ironed, I then cut it down to size.  That's easier said than done.  Sometimes it's not wide enough and I have to figure out how to add more while keeping the integrity of the shapes.  MUCH harder than I thought it was going to be.
Honestly, this is the weirdest quilt I've done in my life.  I'm SO traditional and this is SO modern.  I only have THIRTY more squares to go!!  Woohoo!!
I'm definitely NOT staying home today.  I've got a list a mile long of important things to acquire, including sonic rid-a-rat contraptions that the neighbors swear by, some bird seed for the quail and a small table for my bedroom to cover up the TWO television connection things that I keep stepping on.  OUCH!!

By the way, desert pack rats are notorious for getting into the engine compartments of vehicles and destroying the wiring, not to mention everything else they can get their teeth on.  I have solar lights under the diesel engine on my rig that blink at night.  So far ... knock on wood ... I haven't been bothered.  That doesn't mean they aren't around, so BEWARE!!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Operator Error

I'm sure you have heard of THAT one.  I'm beginning to think Operator Error is my middle name.  I brought my Instant Pot with me because so far I've had such good luck cooking with it.  I suppose there's always a first ... and reluctantly I tell you there was a first burial in the desert.

Remember those great green beans with bacon and onions I made for the RV Rally?  While cruising the grocery aisle, I spotted some yummy green beans.  I'll take TWO.

Luckily I brought a steamer to use, not that it helped.  To make a long story short, I didn't hear the BEEP of doneness and they sat in the pressurized pot for 17 minutes.  Can you say baby food??  I tried to eat them, honestly I did.  I thought about making a donation to the local rabbit population, but I've been told not to feed the animals.

I buried them with a silent prayer that I not let that happen again.  Instead, I drove off to the nether regions of Tucson (about 40 minutes North) to the Williams Sonoma store.  I have a Christmas gift card to use up.

That store is not for the faint hearted or the light-walleted.  It's expensive with a capital E.  After wandering around for forty five minutes, I couldn't find anything I would pay that much for.  That is until I spotted this Cuisinart Bread Machine on the bottom shelf for $99.  It was even on SALE!

Sale + coupon + gift card = FREE!!  I rushed to a store on the way home for yeast and was soon in the bread making business.  Surely I can't screw THIS up ... you just dump everything in and push the button.  There can't be any operator error!
After maybe an hour, it started beeping.  Uh oh ... what did I do?  "Add In" was displayed on the front.  I guess if you want to add in nuts or something.  Pretty soon that disappeared and PADDLE was displayed while it beeped away.  

OH NO again!!  Is something wrong?  I had one of these many moons ago and I never had all this beeping.  Turns out, you can retrieve the paddle from the bottom of the bread so it doesn't get baked inside the loaf.  Or so I found out after reading the entire instruction manual.
When it finally beeped for the last time, I was sure it would not be easy to remove the loaf from the container. When I tipped it over, it slipped right out and almost fell on the floor.  Let it cool it said ... which I did for all of five minutes before slicing it with a steak knife.  I've since put a bread knife on my list.

This is actually pumperknickel bread ... and YUMMY!!  Probably not as good as Grandma made, but it sure made GREAT toast and a tasty sandwich.  SCORE ONE FOR NANCY!!
Since you can never get out of Sonoma Williams without tasting whatever wonderful smelling concoction they have cooking in a crock pot the size of Texas, I picked up the latest sensation.  French Simmer Sauce.  Cut up a little chicken (I used leftovers), pour in the sauce along with a bunch of sliced mushrooms and there's dinner.  I added rice.  

Turns out I probably wouldn't serve it to guests, but it was edible.  I'm eating every single teaspoon because the sauce cost $10!!  I swear, never again!!
Much as I'd love to make another loaf of bread, I have enough for 30 days at least.  Instead, as the weather during the day has warmed and Gale (Patty's pet name for the wind) has slowed down, I'll be cleaning up the back yard while waiting for the pest control guy.  Seems I've lost a bait trap or two.  But first, I'm going to Walgreens for bandaids because I KNOW I'm going to need them!!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Little Askew!!

With the weather being particularly cold all week, I've spent most of my time either inside or shopping.  Kind of like in the summer where you go from air conditioned vehicle to air conditioned store back to air conditioned home, I try to stay warm by not going far from a heater.

Eventually I'll have a gas fireplace installed that throws heat out the front.  I probably COULD use the fireplace, but the thought of hauling wood in and cleaning the fireplace turns me off, not to mention that wood is at a premium around here.  Why you ask?  Because there IS none.  I guess trees don't grow in the desert!!

So with two long sleeve shirts on, I sat down in my newly put-together chair for a little sewing.  Other than the original 4" wide strips, this was all cut randomly.  Pretty scary when you think about ruining such pretty material.  There's a directions sheet, but it's minimal at best.
Here's what I've got so far.  It's a little askew alright ... more weird than I imagined it would be.  Apparently the idea is to make it as crazy as possible ... harder than it looks.  I'm more of a straight arrow balanced kind of person.  Trying to make them look crooked and "askew" is harder than you can imagine.

I layed (laid???) out the pieces until it looked okay, added in the color, then measured to be sure they met the required 10-1/2" square.  I got that wrong a couple of times and had to rip it all out.  Not surprising for me.  I'm the pro at ripping out things, especially knitting, but that's another story.

I have to say that this will go with absolutely nothing I have or ever will have.  I'm a traditional quilt girl.  Maybe I'll hang it in my quilt room just to remind me of my crazy side, like when I turned 21 and drank a bottle of champagne while sitting in the middle of an intersection in Denver Colorado.  What was I thinking?????
In the meantime, the puppies and I lounged on the couch.  It's a familiar picture, I know.  The second I sit down, they both have to cuddle up.  Sometimes it becomes a difficult situation because each thinks they own me.  There are always lots of ugly faces back and forth.
In the meantime, Bustacheater has contacted me several times offering their services to me for practically nothing.  Too bad they are a little late.  I probably could have used their services 17 years ago when my husband left.   

On the other hand, it doesn't matter since I'll be in Federal Prison according to the last six phone calls I received giving me fair warning they were on their way to my house with a warrant for my arrest for non-payment of taxes.  Once I collect the $2,000,000 inheritance I just received from my relative in Istanbul, I'll just pay the taxes and everything will be okie dokie.  Good grief ... will these guys ever give up??

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Put-Togethers ... AGGGGHHH!!

It seems there is always something you have to Put Together.  I try to put together meals, which don't always work out so well.  I can put together a quilt pretty handily, but when it comes to furniture, my put-together either falls apart or I have to take it apart due to operator error.

At least I've had some beautiful morning sunrises to view out my big sliding glass window.  Although I would prefer the view were to the West for amazing sunsets, MY West view is of a hill topped with a couple houses.
I just love it when the sun rises over the desert and mountains.  Pictures just don't do it justice at all.
Once calm and relaxed like after taking a Yoga class, I began the task at hand.  Another Put-Together.  Who would have thought I needed Furniture Making 101 classes.  These bungee chairs from the Container Store are the BOMB!!   Except that is, for the one day I got my thumbs stuck when I got up.  No, I've no idea why my thumbs were in between the cords.  Remove hands before rising.

Luckily the first one I purchased was already put together.  This one came in a box.  RATS!!  The hardest part was trying to figure out which way the cylinder went.  Directions on that point were a little skimpy.  
With it finally together ... the base, the cylinder, the seat and finally the back ... I gingerly sat down.  It didn't fall apart, so I hit the lever underneath to raise it up and VOILA!!  I have a sewing chair!!   
That's when I discovered there's part of my machine missing.  There's a put-together piece that snaps on giving you a wide sewing area.  As it is, my sewing area is about two inches wide.  Not so good.  Alas, there's nothing I can do for the time being.  

Here's my ASKEW quilt ... another Put-Together.  I was pretty leery cutting up all this beautiful fabric into crazy shapes with no pattern whatsoever.  
I tried laying one out to see if this was really going to work, or if I just wasted $80 worth of material. Sure enough, I think I have a winner.  Once I sew this and cut it down to a 10" square, I'll have my block.  Only 47 more to go!!  I know, it's a weird one.
The weather has warmed up to 38 degrees, but the Vail Gale has come again in earnest.  I have a large beautiful tree with the biggest spikes on it I've ever seen that needs to be trimmed.  It's hitting the corner of the house, enough to wake me up at 3:30.  By 4:30 I got up.  There's no use trying to go back to sleep just to have horrible nightmares (it never fails).  When the wind stops, the tree limbs are HISTORY!!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Money, Money, Money

It's only money, right??  I can always make more if I absolutely HAD to.  In the meantime, it's pretty fun spending some on my new Sewing Room.  With three bedrooms and no family close by, I'm taking advantage of the extra space and setting up a room just for sewing quilts.  Cooper is helping!

Yes, I know this looks a little weird, but it's how I spend money judiciously.  That $36 hollow core door Dan Chance helped me acquire (in his really big truck) works perfectly as a table.  In the past, I've added two small filing cabinets on each end.  This table will suffice for the time being.  I'll sew on one end, cut on the other.
Needing SOME cabinetry, I stopped in at Lowes again for some put-together-yourself shelves.  As you already know, I'm not too good at this sort of thing, but after disassembling it twice, I finally got it right, only because I finally read the directions.
Not bad ... not bad at all.  I would get some more, but the cost is prohibitive.  These things were $20 each MORE expensive than in California.  What's up with that?  The big white wall to the left is covered in quilt batting.  I scored big with a king-sized bag originally $40, 50% off and had a 20% off coupon on top of that.  

Tack it on the wall and VOILA!!  A huge design wall where you stick your squares while rearranging them to the perfect pattern.  That perfect part doesn't happen with me very often, but it's fun trying.
Monday's are quilting day at the house just above me.  Yesterday there were six ladies cutting, sewing and generally just having a great time.  The best part ... Shirley is a master quilter and helps everyone with their projects, not to mention quilting many of them on her huge machine.  I'd love to have one, but that's too much money, money, money for me!!!

I started on a really weird quilt yesterday ... one I'll show you at a later date.  It's very ASKEW, just like me.  Someone in the group always provides lunch.  We had Shirley's amazing chicken soup with homemade pumpernickel bread.  DELICIOUS!!  

When I saw this picture on Ray and Cindy's blog, I just HAD to steal it.  This is SO ME!!  Even though I've sewn five quilts in the last few months, I'm pretty sure I still have fabric for 38 more.  I really can't remember where it all came from!!
My plan today is to spend even MORE money ... I can't sew very well standing up.  A chair is required, and I know EXACTLY where to find a comfortable beauty!  Unfortunately, it's almost an hour's drive North to the Tucson Mall.  Ooooooooh a MALL!!!  I better leave my credit cards at home.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Down and Dirty!!

When did poker become so complicated?  I've never been a gambler, not even slot machines.  I would much rather say "look at that chair I bought" than "look at all that money I threw away", even if I had a good time doing it.

Last night's friendly neighborhood poker night wasn't like that at all.  For $5 you get a bundle of chips to blow on the craziest games I've ever heard.  Elevator, Woolworths, Baseball, Seven Seven and I think Cinderella were some of the weird ones.  Who knew there were so many ways to lose money?

Miss Shirley kicked butt so many times we thought maybe we should play musical chairs so someone could pick up on her luck.  That's when we broke for dinner.  Good heavens, I already ate an entire cow's worth of appetizers and now there's dinner?

They said luck changes after dinner, and change it did.  I won an amazing 80 cents by the end of the game.  So just when do we do this again???  I'm in .... last card down and dirty!!

Finally, this is the last of the Indio Rally ... the model Railroad Open House.  These amaze me for the amount of work involved (what a great hobby if you have room), and if you don't, you can come here and work on this one.
The first thing you immediately notice is the thunder clouds, the rain and the lightning.  Yup ... they have lightning!  Crazy, right?  Talk about imagination!!
As I walked around the entire layout, maybe 30 by 75 feet, the detail I saw was spectacular.  Many of the signs flashed, as did this Greyhound Bus terminal sign.
Here's a ship unloading container cars along with a tugboat keeping him straight.  There are so many vehicles, people and critters roaming about I couldn't count them all.
Another first ... a house afire with the Fire Department coming to the rescue.  I just can't imagine the hours it took to make up these scenes.
They even had fall foliage and hot air balloons.  Bet you never thought of THAT one!!
I just can't imagine where they find all the things shown ... coke machines, luggage, train station trolleys ... it's incredible, not to mention someone made most of the buildings.
Even down to the oil refinery, the detail just boggles the mind.  Inside the tracks is a walkway where the members walk around with their controllers operating their personal train along the tracks.  As the train moves around, the member moves his controller to the next station.  
Here's the final down and dirty ... you can't have an authentic train line without someone mooning the train ... and HERE IT IS!!!  You really have to look to spot them.  I just caught a glimpse as a fast moving train went by.  Where do they find this stuff?????
Between mooning, waterfalls, hot air balloons and the oil refinery, I was certainly impressed with this setup.  If you ever get to the fairgrounds in Indio, check it out ... Building 7.

My cheapy thermometer outside says it's 20 degrees.  I'm sure that's wrong, but it certainly feels like it.  My REAL one says 29 this morning.  YIKES that's cold!!  I DID want to be at 3200 feet during the summer to escape some of the heat ... I just forgot about the winter time cold!!  

Hopefully it warms up quickly today ... I've got lots of pruning to do in the back yard.