Wednesday, June 30, 2021

BINGO Never Disappoints!

Woohoo!!!!  BINGO IS BACK!!  Really big sigh!!  I'm exhausted.  I feel like I got thrown off a horse going 30 mph down a fence line working a steer, landing flat on my back ..... WHAP!!!  Yeah, it happened, in front of 35 people signed up for a cutting horse class with one of the premier trainers in the U.S.  I just laid there thinking ..... I'm REALLY tired.  I think I'll just stay here for a few minutes.

Of course everyone came running, but I was just fine.  It definitely feels like the same thing happened last night.

We usually start at 4:00, setting up all things bingo.  I got a call at 3:30 that there was a long line outside in the heat, three of whom were in wheelchairs.  Have you ever been to Disneyland?  If you're in a wheelchair, you get to go to the front of the line, so everyone rents a wheelchair and plays the "I'm Hurt" game.

This is serious business, as they MUST have their special LUCKY SPOT at the table.  I didn't let them in.  Someone else did.  Truly, I can't have people running around my area while I'm counting out the cash or setting up.  I herded them back behind Door #2 like a good cowgirl does.  They were inside, but out of my way.

There was the occasional glitch, like what the heck do we do with these red tickets?  Oh ... I'm supposed to hand them out?  Okay, I remember that.  Luckily the Castle Lawyer showed up and between our two brains, we were finally ready to go.  Or so we thought.

This is the mini-me infernal machine, the ONLY thing we did not check out a few days before.  As you can imagine, everyone uses their debit cards.  Credit is not allowed.  I ran the first card through and it said No Address.  What?  Please don't fail me now with 130 people standing in line.  No phone connection.  I rebooted, hit key after key, unplugged and plugged it in four times.  NOTHING!!

LEN!!!  LEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Everyone had to pay cash.  That meant saving bingo cards (because they are special cards with the exact right numbers in the exact right place on the card) while they ran across the street to the bank.

We kept plugging away, feeling like the gestapo for allowing only two people in our area at a time.  Usually there's something like ten with the accompanying 100 db twelve conversations going on at once so we can't hear a thing.  Oh the fun!!

Amazingly, everyone was in such a good mood to be back throwing their money away, that there were no fights or even shouting at the bingo caller.  THAT was a first!!

The good news is the infernal mini-me never came back to life.  It apparently couldn't find the big wide web in the sky.  It's actually easier on us that way, but rumor has it they will fix it by next Tuesday.  Oh yes, the magic comes about every single Tuesday of the year!!!

At long last, the second set of games began, meaning it was dinner time for us peasants.  The Castle Lawyer put in our order.  Apparently they were so backed up it took 45 minutes to get our lovely indigestion leader of the world hot dog.  It's always a two-Tums night.  Five minutes later, they closed the kitchen, having run out of food.  That's two weeks worth of food.  That means we have nothing for NEXT week.  Not my problem I whispered to myself .... not my problem!!

The really good news is since I spent over an hour raising the prices of food on our menu board and reprogramming THEIR infernal machine, it seems they made money!  WOOT WOOT!!

At long last it was time to close the till.  It took some brain work to remember what the heck to do and when to do it.  If it weren't for the Castle Lawyer, we would be in trouble in Bingo City.  Amazingly we were only four dollars off, accounted for by all the nickels and pennies we get from broken piggy banks that are dropped in a change jar for once a year counting.  No one likes to count and roll change every week.

And so the night ended for us, me feeling like I had a broken back after being perched on that stool for six hours.  Yup, just like cutting cattle.  I found out later I had cracked a vertebra in my back from that fall.  It didn't keep me from getting back on the horse and finishing up that session, just like it won't keep me from heading back to the melee next Tuesday.  

The good news (not for the Castle Lawyer) is I'm leaving after that for the wild blue yonder and a new way to get there.  Won't THAT be exciting ... how to find your way after getting LOST!!

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Doctor Doctor, Help Me Please

 Isn't there a song by that name?  I was not the least bit happy to be taking Cooper, my main man, to the doctor to have his teeth cleaned.  Lucky for him, he has been treated every morning of his life with Dentalife chew sticks.  

It is interesting to note however, that since losing Miss Jessie, he has refused to touch them.  He also refuses to eat the dry dog food.  It's been a task just to get him to eat at all.  I don't think it has to do with him being lonely, but rather now he doesn't HAVE to eat it because she's not standing there waiting to scarf up every morsel he misses.  It was a game they played.

Anyway, it was terribly sad when I dropped him off, but nurse Daniel seemed to be really nice and sympathetic.  

I went home and hit the sewing room to keep occupied.  Two more borders top and bottom, and this baby is done.

Finally, after a long two hour wait that felt like 16, Daniel called to say Cooper was doing fine.  Thank you to everyone who said a little prayer.  It worked and I was very relieved.  Here's the thing ... he's eleven years old, not a spring chicken any more, and has breathing troubles ever since he caught kennel cough when I boarded him while I ran off to Hawaii.  Yup I feel real guilty over that one!!

He was so out of it when I picked him up at 2:00, he just walked around in a circle.  Try as I might, I couldn't get him to settle down.  On the other hand, the excellent news is he had not one single extraction. His teeth are in great shape, probably due to his jaws of steel from playing with the ball.

No doubt he was confused and in a little pain, poor baby.  He finally slept for about an hour before deciding he was starving.  No solid food they said, so of course I scrambled an egg and chopped up his favorite treat into teeny tiny bites, like any good doggy mother, right??

I rolled the ball to him once, and he looked at me like ... ARE YOU #!%$#^% CRAZY?  Apparently the fiber on the outside of the toys got in between his teeth.  Maybe I'll try flossing them from now on. Yeah right!!

This is a pre-op picture.  I hope he's back to liking me again soon.

And I hope to soon see this happy face again (also a pre-op picture).  It will be interesting to see if the ball game comes back or if I have to throw away the 20 I bought at the store to keep his stock up.

He did bark at a car that drove by the house this morning, so maybe we are on the road to recovery.

In other exciting news .... BINGO IS BACK! and tonight is the night!!  There's been no bingo for 18 months, and the grapevine has told us to expect over 150 people.  Oh boy!!!  Won't that be fun as all us really old folks try to remember how to work the infernal machine and make payouts!!

Monday, June 28, 2021

Skagway Proper

We're back in Alaska this morning.  In fact, we just crossed the border and decided a sign picture was in order.  At this point I can't believe I drove that rig all this way.  By now I'm feeling pretty smug about navigating the highways and byways.  That lasted until we started down the canyon you see underneath the sign. 

Oh my goodness ... only the words that came out of my mouth sounded a little different.  Dan warned me about this one, but little did I know just how steep ... and long ...  it was going to be.

It was nice driving by the melted snow lakes heading up the narrow two lane road to get over the pass.  The reflections are magnificent.

Along the way you can see evidence of gold mining.  Nice narrow road ...........

The further along we drove towards Skagway, the more spectacular the scenery was.  It became difficult not to yell STOP into the walkie talkie every half mile so I could take a picture.  Most all of these were taken with a small camera while driving.  Don't tell anyone!!

This was the last sight before we dropped over the hill and began the long downhill crawl into Skagway central.

The Corringtons (who Patty and Dan worked for) own several buildings, including one with a small museum in the back.  Back in the day, Mr. Corrington began trade with the natives and has accumulated some amazing things, including trade beads.  If you ever get to town, be sure and check it out.  You can even see the dog sled he used when he raced the Iditarod.

Yes at the very end of Skagway there is a ship docked at the wharf.  That's how close the town is to the ocean.

There was so much to see and do, I was overwhelmed.  Most all of the buildings are original, including this one, completely covered in driftwood.  It's the Arctic Brotherhood hall, built for and by gold miners in the late 1800's.  

Built in 1898 the Red Onion was the finest brothel and restaurant in Skagway.  Apparently Miss Lydia still walks the halls.  There's a great museum inside with lots of things left by the "girls", as well as great food. You can even take a tour of the upstairs if you don't mind a few risqué pictures on the wall.  This is a definite must see.

Everyone dresses up for the occasion and the girls still hang out on the balcony as in the old days, offering their services .... no not that kind ... waitress services.

One day we walked down to see one of the ferries unload.  Yup those are RV's coming out the door.  They make quite the racket.  Though I expected to see someone crash, every one came off without a scratch.

These are the guys lined up to get back ON the ferry heading to Juneau.  You too can ride it if you wish, but we didn't have time.

Can you just imagine what those gold miners would have thought ... seeing all this at the same point where they disembarked from their Seattle ship?  It makes you wonder what it will look like in another hundred years?  

Kind of a short blog this morning, as I'm taking Cooper in to the vet to have his teeth cleaned.  It's scary, probably more for me than him.  Please keep your fingers crossed for him!!  

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Remember The Old Days?

I was up early today in the hopes of catching some cool and spreading it throughout my house.  I've been running in the 80's inside, so hitting my fan button and capturing some cool has been a morning habit.  THIS morning however, it's already 75 degrees.  With a projected 104 for the next three days, I'm in conservative mode.

Remember the old days when all you had was a swamp cooler?  It worked pretty good at the ranch, even better if you remembered to turn the water on.  Talk about a breeding ground for mosquitos!!  The only thing that saved us was the eucalyptus trees covering the house and barn areas.  Mosquitos don't like the smell of eucalyptus.  That of course was before they began spraying for mosquitos almost on a daily basis during irrigation season.

We kept an old gunny sack ... another thing that has disappeared over the years ... hanging over the top.  It was my job to run outside and wet it down with the garden hose.

Remember when you had to go to a book store to buy a book?  Now I just pick up my phone and either download to my Kindle App or order it on-line and have it delivered to the house.  That has made most book stores go out of business, so there's no walking around looking for something interesting to read.  Preston and Child are my favorite who-done-it authors.  I think I've read just about every book they have ever written.  

The problem with book reading is I get too fascinated by the story and can't put it down.  I read the entire book in one day.  At least with quilting, I get tired of sewing and can leave it alone for awhile, thus keeping my wallet more intact.  

Same goes for quilting in the old days.  We used to hitch up the horse and wagon ... ok, not really.  We hiked three miles through snow ten feet deep .... ok, that's not true either, but we did go to the Woolworths store to find fabric.  

Nowadays you can just go online with your phone or computer and have it delivered right to your door.  You don't even have to leave your house.  Pretty amazing really.

Remember the old days when you turned the lights out so your PGE bill wouldn't be so high?  My lights barely reflect on the bill since they are all LEDs that last forever.  Pretty soon I won't remember how to change a light bulb.

Remember the old days when you just got the bill and paid it?  No one ever compared you to anyone else, in an attempt to make you feel bad or change out your light bulbs for something that cost ten times more.  Now however, I am compared to everyone else ... 1000 houses to be exact, which I'm sure is half this county.

I've always been GREAT, using 5% less than everyone else.  Look NOW!!  I used 59% MORE than efficient homes.  How could that possibly be?  This is May 15 to June 15 when it wasn't even that hot.  It was also interesting to see that I got a note saying I've used 6% LESS than I did this month last year.  Something tells me there's a rat in the woodpile.  I long for the old days when you were not compared to anyone.

Just as I finished up that last book .... and ordered another .... I decided to tap into my recipe manager, where else but on my phone.  Remember the old days when you purchased recipe books?  I have two 6' wide bookshelves completely stuffed with recipe books, in the hopes they would make me a better cook.  Obviously that didn't work out so well, so I downloaded Paprika to my phone.

It's simple.  Just talk to your phone (I don't remember talking to the telephone in the old days) and voila!  Instant recipes pop up.  Not that it helped my cooking, but I had dozens of my all time favorites right there on my phone, saved by this app called Paprika.  I could pull up a cookie recipe no matter where I was.

Wasn't I shocked yesterday when it told me this app no longer worked with my phone.  WHAT?  Wait ... where are all my favorite recipes?  It wouldn't even open.  I tried downloading the newest version, to no avail.  All of my old recipes are off in la-la land, never to be seen again.  The pitfalls of the new age.

In the old days, they would have still been in the book, even if it took me 30 minutes to find it.  Big sigh!!

In the old days, who would have ever imagined we wouldn't need recipe books, or any paper book for that matter, that we would just be grabbing recipes from the air?  It's sad that some day no one will read my recipe notes or my grandmother's notes on her favorite recipes.  

Do you ever wonder what crazy inventions your grandchildren will see?  Hopefully they will remember the OLD DAYS when we walked five miles to school in the snow and rain or if we were lucky, got to ride our horses.  Phones will probably be tiny devices they stick in their ears while sitting in the car that drives itself.  No longer will they experience the euphoria of finding that perfect recipe or that perfect new purse because they will just think about it and it will appear at their door.

I'm glad I can still remember the old days!!

Saturday, June 26, 2021

A Quick Side Trip With Cooper

It has been surprisingly cool the last couple of days ... as in 90 something.  Rarely do I ever take Cooper out for a drive unless it's to the vet.  Lately however, he's been rather attached to my hip, so I thought a nice drive out to the Wildlife Refuge was in order.  Big mistake on my part.

He was so excited to get going, I could hardly put the leash on.  He's all about tracking everything that ever stepped foot in his front yard.  When we headed for the garage, he put on the brakes pretty quickly.

Nevertheless, I stuffed him in the truck and off we drove.  He cowered in the seat before snuggling up with the seatbelt right next to me.  Once out in the country, I pulled him over to my lap so he could look out.  That worked for about 30 seconds until his face turned green.  Hmmmmm maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all.

With irrigation season in full swing, I thought the refuge would be flooded, meaning there would be birds hanging out ... SOMETHING anyway.  Nothing ... there was nothing.  No water, no critters.  We cruised along very slowly so Cooper could stick his head out the window.

We found not a bird singing or even a rat swimming in a mud puddle.  It might have been nice if Cooper could have gotten out and smelled the smells .. marking every single foot of the road, but the foxtails, puncher vines (goat heads) and other nasty stickers were abundant.  This was definitely a bad idea.

Oh ... and the electric fence that skirted the entire road.  Not such a good place for the kid to play.  I had also spotted residue that I knew would make for some yummy smells as Cooper rolled in them.  No dog can resist cow pies.  

At last, we came to the reason for the electric fence ... to keep these guys from wandering off across the hundreds of acres.  Why do cattle group up like this?  Because of the flies.  Millions of heel flies bite and suck blood.  Yeah, they are nasty.  If there is any water or mud around, these guys will stand in it during the afternoons to keep the flies at bay.  In this case, it was just mud.

On the very last leg, I finally spotted a critter.  Jackrabbits used to be very prolific out here.  We had hundreds of them on the ranch.  Sadly, since the Hmong people were re-homed here many years ago, the jacks have mostly disappeared, along with every bull frog, catfish and crawfish.  Someone forgot to tell them there was food to buy at the store instead of eating every wild thing they could find.

I was happy to see this guy sauntering along the trail.  Just as I was taking his picture, a car came along and scared him away, thus you only see a bunny butt.  

That was it ... the only critter we saw all day.  I'm sure Cooper would have barked and chased him had he been able to see over the dashboard of the truck.

Lucky for me, just as we arrived home, I spotted this big boy on my farthest back fence.  I saw more in my back yard than on the game refuge!!  Looking a little rough he is.  

Exhausted after his big adventure, Cooper crashed next to me on the couch for the duration.  I guess we will stick to hiking the front yard for smells.

What he doesn't know is there will be another truck ride on Monday morning.  To the vet to get his teeth cleaned.  I think it's scarier for me than him!!!

Friday, June 25, 2021


I've returned from my long trip to the Elks Lodge.  The idea was to be sure all the bingo equipment still worked like it was supposed to.  There's no way we wanted to wait until 5 minutes before we were to begin, only to find out the board didn't work correctly.  We would all be strung up from the nearest pole.

Bingo-ers are serious about their craft and their superstitions.  You better not let one tiny thing interfere with their throwing money away, or maybe winning a few hundred dollars.  

Surprisingly, after a few jiggles of the wiring and reprogramming two of the five televisions, we were back in business.  I checked out both cash registers and they seemed fine.  That's when it all went downhill. 

We decided to change up the prices of the food.  It took 30 minutes of looking to find the boxes of little push-in letters.  It took an hour to figure out what to charge for each item, but we finally got it done.  As I was walking out the door, someone said those terrible words ... "what about changing the cash register?" Oh, you mean the evil conniving dastardly infernal machine that throws us for a loop almost every week?

Big sigh as I went back, carried it to the bar and began the hour long test to figure out HOW to change the prices.  It seems THIS machine is not the same as MY machine.  An hour later we finally had it programmed.  BINGO!!!  Only time will tell if it's correct.  Believe me, those Bingo players will let us know immediately!!

So before we visit downtown Skagway, let's take a trip over the hill to Dyea, where most of the ships landed, depositing gold miners and their property on solid ground.  You can see the cruise ships come in along the way.

Imagine docks out in the water ... a LONG way out since the water level here is very low depending on the tides.

It looked something like this.  Once you landed, since there was no housing available, you unloaded and stacked up your supplies

Then you put up your tent.  If you had goods to sell to the miners, a great way to make your fortune, you could sell out of your tent house.  Notice the ladies to the right.  Think about it ... where did they get food?  A change of clothes?  A bath?  Although I'm sure there were accommodations eventually, can you imagine what they cost?

Here's one of those ships being unloaded.  Can you see the cattle?  

I'm a hardy explorer, but I think this might have caused me to turn around and cruise on back to San Francisco.

Tough people back then!!  As you look across the water, you will see these gorgeous mountains.  I doubt that made up for the conditions.

This is Face Mountain, although I rather imagine they did not care.

Just up the beach is the beginning of their major trial ... the Chilkoot Trail over the mountains.  Not much remains here, but there are a few pieces of buildings and remnants of equipment.  I even found a piece of the old dock buried in the mud.  

If you enjoy swimming in the ocean, Dyea beach is the place to go.  It's quiet with no boat traffic.  A little too cold for my taste however!!

Back in Skagway proper, this is their dock and boat launch.  Basically the only way to get supplies to Skagway is by supply boats.  They show up once a week.  You'll know when they come in by the load of cars at the grocery store.  Word gets around fast.  If you get there early enough, you can snag vegetables.

I think I paid $7.00 for two apples and $5 for a head of broccoli.  If that sounds like gold rush prices, you would be correct.  

Also docking here are the cruise ships that give Skagway it's main income.  It's not as bad as it sounds.  When the ships come in, the stores open up until the ship leaves.  This was the Disney cruise line.

The locals know the schedule by heart.  It's really not that bad when town is inundated unless you want lunch at one of the restaurants.   In no time, with all their purchases in hand, they wander back to the ships and disappear around the corner.

Aren't you glad you didn't live back then?  I guess I shouldn't complain about my PGE bill.  Comparing ships, it's amazing just how far we have come in 200 years.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Going For The Gold

While still waiting for the solar contractor to call me back (I'm not holding my breath) we'll take a train ride to the gold fields of the Yukon Territory.

 Back in the day of amazingly tough men and women looking to strike it rich on gold (including Wyatt Earp), they rode horses until they couldn't climb anymore, then went on foot.  Lucky for us, in 1898 a railroad was built on the cliffs of these mountains to haul people and supplies to the interior of the Yukon, bypassing the Chilkoot Trail.  That's the one I'm sure you have seen pictures of with people climbing the ice steps.

This one, to be exact.  

Here's the beginning of the trail.  The miners of course didn't come here to Skagway in the springtime like us, so this would have been covered with snow.  

In several places this train just hangs on to the mountainside by it's fingernails.  This trestle looks safe, right?

The landscape is fabulous this time of year.  There's just enough snow to keep the mosquitos at bay.

Back in the day, Soapy Smith was the resident crime boss, ruling the roost.  The railroad construction company had a more difficult time dealing with him than actually building the railroad.  The railroad company president gathered a vigilante committee to rid Skagway of the scalawag.  In an altercation, Soapy was killed and the railroad flourished.

Many gravesites are visible along the way, and Skagway has more than one cemetery to accommodate all those who never made it over the pass.

Enough cannot be said about the beauty of this country.  

As the miners crossed over into Canada, many did not survive.  The Canadian government finally set up a post at the top of the Chilkoot Pass, with restrictions on who and what would cross over and continue on to Dawson City.

Every person was required to have one ton (I think I said two previously) of supplies to sustain them until reaching the next town.   Several trips had to be taken over these mountains on foot, without down jackets or snow boots.  I just cannot imagine.

The train follows the old trail for the most part.

Obviously I hung out in between cars and over the side the entire trip.  Here's a better look at that WOOD trestle. 

They used something like 450 TONS of dynamite to build this railroad on the side of the mountains.

At last we arrived at the top of the White Pass.  The history of this railroad is long and varied.  In 2018 it was purchased by the Carnival Cruise Line, whose ships dock in Skagway all summer long.  

If you get to this fabulous town of Skagway by ship or by RV, be sure and make a reservation to ride the train to Carcross and back.  You will see some of the most beautiful scenery possible.  You might also see a train wreck or two down the side of the mountain.

Pay no attention .... it's all safe, or so they told me.  

There's more to Skagway .... so much more!!  You could spent two weeks here and not see it all.  We'll head down the main street next time.

Today ... I know you're on the edge of your seats .... I'm going to the lodge to test all the Bingo equipment.  Better to be safe that it all works, than sorry and have to listen to all that screaming because something didn't go right!!  Bingo-ers can be pretty fanatic!!