Friday, June 30, 2023

Skills ... I've Got Skills!

 Boy howdy am I ever going to impress you with my photographic skills today!!!  Here I am parked at Orange Grove.  The very close trains stop by at 3:30 am and blow their horns to say hello.  Might as well get up.  After a short semi cool walk, I threw everyone in the truck and we were on the road by six.

I guess this was Tehachapi?  Really, I've no clue.  Lucky for me it was cool enough that the truck didn't overheat.  I even high-fived my truck when we got to the top of the hill without a check engine light!!!

Part of my picture problem is using my phone.  It used to provide decent photos, but it's so old, nothing really works well any more.  I did have fun chasing this train across the desert.  He was going about 65 mph and gaining on me quite a bit.  By the time we got to Boron, he slowed down and I WON!!!!  Yay!!

You know how it is when you're driving through the hot desert with not a single thing to capture your attention but the new-er truck drivers who never turn their turn signals off.  It does keep me awake though ... those flashing red lights.

At last ... Barstow.  This is my favorite easy-to-get-to diesel station.  I always send out good vibes for an empty RV lane, and I was not disappointed.

Probably my best picture.  It takes skill to capture a picture perfectly centered.  I filled up before I left home at $4.69 a gallon.  I said a bad word when I spotted the diesel sign across the street that said $6.09.  It was a nice surprise to see this at Flying J!!

Off we go again, practicing camera holding all along the way.  I've no idea why I took this picture or where it is.  In spite of all the steep hills getting to Needles (I doubt I will go this way again) my silver steed cruised along.  Sometimes it shifts down when I don't want it to, pegging the RPMs, which brings on a frenzy of do I speed up or slow down to make it stop.

I had a little trouble in Needles at the turnoff because my WAZE map program locked up my entire phone.  Nothing would work and it refused to tell me which way to turn.  In desperation I had to pull over and reset everything.  There was a short circuitous route involved, but I was finally on the right road.

In no time ... here's the Colorado River.  I pulled over here to get that big truck off my butt.  I swear he was kissing it all the way down the hill.

I thought I might capture the river with my camera skills, but alas ... no water in the picture.  

From there it was a short trip to Quartzsite where they were waiting for me with a nice large pull through space ... 50 amp.  I immediately turned on both air conditioners for the kids, but left them in the truck until the house cooled down a bit.  It was 102 when I pulled in at 1:00.  Inside it was 89, and after three hours it finally cooled down to 81.  That was as good as it got.

I unhooked this time ... the better to get dinner at Carls Junior and fuel on the way back.  Fuel took up all my time.  I don't know what's wrong with Arco's pumps, but it took 20 minutes to get 20 gallons.  

This morning I get the lovely job of dumping tanks before I take off in the cool 77 degree weather.  It's so refreshing!!  Next stop .... Tucson.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

What A Trip!!!!

Wow ... sometimes driving over the exact same roads over and over again can be SO exciting!!  I finally got packed up and headed out about 11:00.  Naturally I packed all the food for the kids and practically nothing for me.  My plan was to hit up Panda Express, but I ran out of time.  We were OFF with Jonathan seat belted in the back seat and Cooper chained to the headrest.  Safety first!

Here we are on a nice slant going through the big town of Madera.  I'm about 30 miles in and just getting used to the buck and roll of California underpasses.  It's like riding a bronc with nothing to hold on to! 

We made it through Fresno, just in time to get stuck in the same traffic jam that was in this exact same place last January.  I just cruised along, determined not to be in a hurry.  I didn't want to stress out my white steed.

Even MORE excitement ... how can you stand it!!  I know what you're thinking ... you're going to hook up and head right for Highway 99 in California!!  This is Kingsburg on a pretty uneven keel.  I was trying hard not to disturb my map program on my phone, while taking pictures one handed.  Worthy of a photography award, yes??

Wouldn't you know, par for California, they closed all the rest areas along this long stretch of highway.  The stop Cooper usually gets didn't happen, nor did Jonathan get a break.  Last time I looked at him he was laying flat out in his food dish.  

This is wonderful downtown (not quite) Pixley.  At least farming is still in existence here.  It's grain harvesting time and they are working like crazy.

Finally ... beautiful downtown Bakersfield, smelling of roses and honeysuckle.  I lie.  Even though not many of those oil rigs are still drilling, this town smells of oil and fertilizer.  You can tell it's also discing time since the air is full of sand that makes it a little tough to breath.  You can see it in this picture on the left.  Those are not clouds.

In no time (thank goodness) we were at Orange Grove RV park in 92 degree sunshine.  I'm sure Cooper would love to go out, but the pavement and dirt is too hot for his feeties and I'm too tired to carry him.  Okay, I did carry him over to the shade trees for a quick walk.  

We will be off again early this morning for warmer pastures.  I know you would give just about anything to be here, but I'll enjoy it all for you!!

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

On The Road Again .....

 Oh what a night!!  I'm just full of song titles this morning.  The good news is I got my truck back.  YAY!!

First off ... this was a local shop, run by two guys I've known for years.  I asked around, and no one had a bad word to say about them, including me.  I did NOT know they had moved to this new shop, so I'm glad I was able to hook up with them again.

Here's the diagnosis.  My truck actually had three codes.  The first was the air sensor.  They replaced the air cleaner at my request with a Delco one, just to be sure that wasn't the problem.  After a lot of diagnosis, they also replaced the sensor.  Next up, there was a code saying the temperature wasn't where it should be.  It's a long story, but they had to replace two thermostats, add coolant and fix something else.  

Add to all that the ridiculous $17 an hour they have to pay their employees (thanks to the Federal and State  laws) who do nothing more than go for parts and drive people home if need be.  With that, you have to pay your mechanics really high wages and even more employee taxes.  That's the main reason it costs so much.  

The last code ended up being the EGR valve.  They took it apart and cleaned everything up, but it needs to be replaced.  They can't get the part for a week, so that one will have to wait.  When I get to Arizona, I'll check with my neighbor at his shop and see what his cost might be.  

So there you have it ... my truck is okay for now ... but could probably use a little TLC.

Let's get to BINGO!!  I arrived a little too late.  There was a glass of white zin waiting for me.  It's better to arrive early and get a coke.  Not wanting to offend anyone, I drank it ... WAY too fast.  Since I'm such a lightweight ... I could feel it right away.  The infernal machine knew it too and took advantage at every turn.

We opened ten minutes early to a big crowd of waitees ... who never wait where they are supposed to.  Right off the bat I put in "received" $60.00 and it came up on the machine as 6 cents.  That's not fixable and the Infernal Machine knew it!!  It did it over and over again.  

The Mini Me Infernal Machine followed suit.  I made one debit card transaction and it closed out the night.  What the heck?  You have to hit three buttons to do that ... and I didn't even touch it!!  It made for a lot more accounting at the end of the night.

We sailed right along with little mumbling from the peasants until the second game.  It was won by the same lady who won the first game.  Oh my goodness ... the pitchforks came out in a flash.  They get really mad if you win TWICE ... but THREE TIMES???  I thought they were going to trample her into the carpet when she yelled Bingo on the fourth game.

She knew it too ... she tried to push off the burning torches onto her daughter who was sitting next to her, but the people KNEW.  Sometimes it's good NOT to win Bingo.  The crowd was rowdy all night long after that.  There was some loud name calling and a little pushing and shoving, but no police had to be called.

All I could think about was all the packing I had to do.  In spite of my best efforts, the infernal machine was $200 off.  Ugh ... I'm ready for bed and I had to spend another 30 minutes getting it straightened out.  Operator error ... I told it I paid out that money twice.  

Home sweet home at last ... I celebrated with the rest of the container of ice cream that won't fit in my tiny RV freezer.  It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.  Note to self ... late night ice cream makes for some terrible nightmares.

So I'll be packing up this morning, hitching up and heading out.  Only going about 200 miles so Jonathan can get a little acclimated to his traveling cage.  It's probably going to take me a little longer than usual because I'm not going to push my truck OR my luck!!  I'm on the road again.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Air ... I Need AIR

Other than for breathing, air comes in quite handy.  I knew I needed to check all my tires.  I was pretty surprised to find my truck didn't even need a top off before heading to the repair shop.

As you know, mechanics don't like anyone "suggesting" what might be wrong.  Try as I might with every breath of air I had, I didn't get anywhere except please put in a Delco air filter.  My truck needs air as much as I do.  

We'll check it out they said ... just because that's what the code says, doesn't mean that's what is wrong.  Big sigh ... what could I say?  I'm a girl.  So I saved my air and left my truck.

Back home, trying to forget my morning encounter, I sucked up more air and went to work baking biscuits for Jonathan.  He's become as picky as Cooper when it comes to his food.

Not that I'm blowing hot air about my gardening skills, BUT .....

My plants and flowers are blooming!!  Sort of anyway.  I love this grass, which was supposed to be a mini Lily of the Nile.  Surprise ... the grass thing is growing right out of the middle of the lily.  There was nothing planted here ... I just set that pot in the ground and voila ... it's a Two-Fer!!

While I waited, I checked the truck air bags and the RV tires.  Everything is A-ok.  One more trip around the yard and I found these BIG Lilies of the Nile which have another name, but it escapes me, as it does every time I look at it.  But LOOK ... FLOWERS!

Finally I got the call.  I sat on my wallet, to no avail.  They actually agreed with me after several testing sessions ... it was the mass air sensor.  That should be a cheap fix ... or NOT.  YIKES!!  It's going to be a big $1,000 bill to get her up and running.  I'm guessing that includes all the diagnostic work they did.  As for the Turbocharger code, it needs something that requires gaskets that are not readily available.  That's another Alexander Hamilton, but won't happen until I get back in a couple of months.

I guess I can't complain too much.  My wonderful white steed has never had to have any major work done to it other than new tires.  It's got 130,000 miles on it and is 18 years old.  Not bad I guess.  It should be done this afternoon.

If at all possible, I'll be leaving tomorrow morning.  The temperatures are going up exponentially and I'd like to get through Quartzsite before you can cook an egg on the sidewalk.  It should take the usual three days, since I'm a wimp and hate driving for very long in a day.

AND ... guess what?    IT'S BINGO TIME!!

Monday, June 26, 2023

Truck To The Doctor

 It couldn't be much nicer in sunny California, but that is all going to change VERY soon.  I'm trying to get things done before I hit the road and get out of Dodge.  

Here's my trusty steed that's going to the Doctor this morning, so it's going to be a short blog.  I'm having them check the air filter, then the air mass sensor.  I'm thinking she has low blood pressure that needs to be amped up a bit.  

Knowing I'm leaving in a few short days, I fueled up at the cheapest in town ... $4.69 a gallon.  Keep in mind I have a 50 gallon fuel tank.  It turned into a very expensive day!!  We will be knocking on the Doctor's door at 7:30.

Since the Jeep hasn't been driven ... and also needed a drink ... I took her to the grocery store, then to the same gas station.  I dropped another $55.00 on gas before buying groceries for $65 and getting $100 in cash. You never know when you're going to need a little moolah on the road.  It was a wallet reducing $370 day!!!

Being completely bored in the afternoon, even after I had shut everything down for the duration, I started it all back up again to work on this little wall hanging.  Honest, the colors don't look anything like this in person.  I don't know why my phone mutilates the colors so much since the last two updates.

I even played around trying to get it fixed a bit.  Selfies are not my thing, but at least this one proves I'm still alive and kicking.

That's it ... I'm off to the repair shop.  Hopefully I'll have some information about my truck soon.  If not, I may be making the trip in the Jeep ... the SMALL crowded uncomfortable to drive for any length of time JEEP .... with no fifth wheel attached.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

You're Selling Rice WHERE?

Things are starting to heat up around here.  One week from today it's supposed to be 106 degrees.  Woohoo!  Surprisingly, it going to be 102 in Tucson Arizona.  Maybe not in town, but up in the foothills where I'm located, it shouldn't be as hot as here.  People ask me why I go to the desert in summer.  Because it's cooler!!!

Thank you everyone for the prayers and well wishes for Mr. Cooper, my constant companion.  Here's the before picture.  Other than his loud bark, which I can't fault him for since he's such a good watch pup, he's just the sweetest thing ... especially if you have a ball in your hand.  Stay tuned for the AFTER.

Sitting around the house really isn't my thing.  I guess when you've kept so busy all your life, always working on something on the ranch, or feeding baby parrots every two hours, or working overtime making sure the County property tax documents get sent out correctly, it's hard to just sit.  At least it is for me.  

That's why I decided to get into the business of puzzling.  I admit, I'm not good at it.  Patsy can run circles around me, putting in piece after piece, while I just sit there and stare at it.

So ... we are back to the rice ranch story, not to be confused with Rice Ranch in Quartzsite.  Things were going great ... we were producing more rice per acre on our property than anyone in California.  Can you believe it?  Imagine the work that went into the invention of that particular strain of rice, not to mention the work of harvesting so much per acre.

And then it all crashed.  Suddenly the Japanese market dried up.  They wanted nothing other than THEIR rice grown in THEIR fields.  It was something about the texture.  The Mill frantically began looking for new markets and we readied ourselves for failure once again.  Lucky for us, my parents had the ranch paid off and did NOT go out and buy huge lots of equipment to farm the place ourselves.  We continued on with the lease.

Hey .... let's try RUSSIA said the Mill.  I rather imagine if we had any choice in the matter, that would NOT have been who we wanted to deal with.  Beggars can't be choosers however.  We just sold rice to the mill ... it was their decision where the rice went.

It was a tough decision not to go completely into business for ourselves.  After all, I could have been driving those Cats every day.  That's probably why I err on the side of being conservative and CHEAP nowadays.  So for the next few years our rice went to feed Russia while we kept it a secret.  After all, they were the "enemy", right?


Cooper's AFTER picture.  My poor baby now has a crooked smile.  He's wanting to play the take-away game (I pretend to take the toy away).  He still has all four canine teeth, which is a good thing, and seems to be happy to play.  Though he still looks for the ball, we only play with the soft toy.

Back to the rice fields ..... suddenly, out of the blue, the government steps in once again.  That's how we ended up here ... the government declared eminent domain and took our high desert property away from us, paying less than it was worth.  Now they were interfering again and would not allow ANY farming products to be sold to Russia.  I'm sure most people don't even know about that.

As with eminent domain, they had to pay for that decision.  They began to give us a tiny dollar amount NOT to grow anything in "X" number of acres.  It was a crazy idea, but we had no choice but to go along with it.  With no overseas markets for rice, the U.S. became flooded with it, which caused the price to plummet and the Mill to quit farming our property.  Those government payments, which didn't even cover the property tax, ended a few short years later.

NOW WHAT!!!  Lucky for us, although my parents did build a small house on the ranch for themselves, they kept most every dime that they made.  There was never any extravagant spending going on, which is probably where I got my THRIFTY tendencies.  

Intermission again

Here's the "during" picture, where I was actually able to find the pieces I needed.  Here's my secret ... buy a puzzle that has many objects of different colors.  It's easier when all the colors are bundled together.

There's still more to the ranch story, in spite of not being able to produce rice, but that's for tomorrow.  

Yahoo ... I was actually able to finish the puzzle.  I think this is the first one I've every completed in my life!!!  Although at first I felt like I was completely wasting my time, I discovered it certainly is good for the brain.  

I'm going for groceries today in readiness for heading out soon.  I just can't believe how fast the time flies by.  As they say, it waits for no one!!

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Heavy Equipment Operator?

 Yesterday was filled with the mundane.  I actually had to do laundry while trying to figure out what I needed to get packed in the rig.  I don't remember who it was that said to put the tag on the sheets in the bottom right hand corner, but thank you ... THANK YOU!  You have made my bed-making life SO much easier.  No more twisting and turning the bottom sheet, trying to get it on the bed the right way.  

One more thank you to whoever said I should get air fryer liners.  I think it was Mr. Ed that sent a link to me that has changed my air frying forever.  No more cleanup .... except for bacon, I don't think these will work well for bacon, but for everything else, they are GREAT!!

At the same time, I ordered a jigsaw puzzle to mindlessly wile away the hours while Mr. Cooper heals up. I see Patsy doing puzzles on her blog all the time, and we have even shared puzzles in Quartzsite, so I thought I would give it another try.  

So here we are back at the ranch.  There were no cell phones back in the day, so there are no personal pictures.  I just grabbed these off the internet. As I mentioned, once the fields were burned off, the real work began.  Those fields that didn't produce much were ripped again, breaking up the soil so it would soften up enough for the seeds to embed themselves in the mud.

Once the fields cooled off from the burn, we began discing in earnest for the next crop.  I would literally do ANYTHING not to be in the house.  Let the pestering begin.  I had run the smaller cat plowing fields for grain ... please PLEASE let me operate the D9.  

My Dad was hesitant since none of this equipment was ours.  It was all owned by the rice mill.  It was transported all over the county to fields they had leased to provide enough rice to fill the overseas contracts.  

Lucky for me, one day the driver didn't show up.  I can do it .... PLEASE let me drive the cat!!  And so began my heavy equipment career.  SO MANY LEVERS!!  Your hands and feet never stop moving the entire time.  There were two clutches for tranis, two brake pedals (one for each side), a hand operated throttle and the biggest lever ... that actually put it in gear to go forward or reverse.  You definitely had to think on your feet.

Add to that the levers behind you that controlled the plow.  One hand had to be on those the entire time.  We made one trip down the field to the end, where everything went into warp speed to make the turn.  You couldn't turn right without first turning left and getting the tractor far enough over that when you turn BACK, you are in the exact right spot next to the last row.  I was in Heaven!!

This picture is just to show you how big these rigs are.  When we got back to the start of the next row, my Dad got off.  "I've got work to do ... I'll come back when you get stuck in the mud".  As you know, I do love a challenge, especially when it comes to operating equipment.

I spent the entire day on that Cat, going through muddy section after muddy section.  The trick is to use your ears.  It's the same with any piece of equipment with an engine.  You listen to the engine noise every second.  It will tell you when it's hit a muddy spot because it lugs down a bit ... meaning you better lift the plow quickly or you will be buried.  As soon as the engine's normal sound returns, you lower the plow back down.  

Boy was my Dad ever surprised when he came out much later in the day and not only did I not get stuck, but the field was done.  Sadly the main operator came back, but I had many more chances to run this baby around the fields over the next few years.  There's just nothing like the feeling of making this huge piece of equipment do exactly what you want it to do and NOT be a stick in the mud.

We grew rice for several years, making enough money to pay off the ranch.  I never did get the cat stuck!  
We all kept our outside jobs just in case.  You never know when it's all going to go south.  And go south it did ... but that's tomorrow's story!!

Friday, June 23, 2023

So You Want To Grow Rice?

 I think I'm still recovering from all that pan tossing in the big kitchen ovens.  I was a little sore yesterday ... or maybe it's just too much couch sitting.  At Cooper's insistence, we went for a long walk-jog around the neighborhood.  I swear, he can outrun me every time!!

Now that I was limber enough to crawl under the rig to open the dump valve on the water tank, I got to work sanitizing the tank.  Seriously ... why would they put the handle completely behind the wheel and right over the axle.  I can just see them now ... laughing hilariously at everyone who is going to get wet trying to open that valve. 

Sanitizing means bleach, which has it's down side.  Never EVER wear your best go-to-town shirt while doing this task.  Oh yeah ... bleach all over me from top to bottom.  Once it was done, I was off to town while giving it a couple of hours to work.

Believe it or not, THIS is Target's parking lot.  Wow!!  I really didn't think all that discourse would cause much of a ripple here, but this lot is EMPTY!  You usually have to fight for a place to park.  I admit, I smiled.  Their choices are sure hitting them in their bank account.

Back to the ranch ... so you want to grow rice, huh??  Well after leasing the place for cattle, we leased it for farming.  They grew sweet potatoes and tomatoes.  It's interesting that you can't grow some of these products two years in a row.  Apparently they suck all the nutrients out of the soil and your second crop will fail.  

But before you can grow ANYTHING, you have to rip that hard packed hardpan as deep as possible.  That's what this rig is for.  Talk about earth shaking ... it takes a lot of power to get those shanks through the first time.

Sometimes it even takes TWO cats to make it happen, one pulling the other to add extra power.  Once the fields were ripped, they were disced over and over again to break up the big chunks before being leveled and the contours made.  It was hit or miss back then ... but now they have GPS and a computer that tells them exactly how much soil to move and where to put it.  Pretty cool.

Way WAY back in the day, we used this tractor and plow for that purpose.  It mostly just scraped the topsoil so we could plant oats for hay.

Now you use something more like this.  It's the only picture I could find, because the tractor and plow we used was twice this big.  You've probably seen them around the country here and there.  Massive pieces of equipment they are.

So now that the water has been drained and the rice harvested, there was a break in the action.  It was time to repair any and all broken equipment and get ready for the next planting.  All the rice chaff is left on the fields from the harvesting machines.  It's hardy stuff to say the least, and will NOT decompose if plowed under.  

So what do you do with it?  You burn it off.  We would go out very early in the mornings with big spouted cans of gasoline and a lighter.  Which side you started on first, depended on the direction of the wind.  We poured liquid fire out of those cans by hand.  

Twice I got myself in a pickle and had to run like crazy to get out of the path of the fire.  You learn that part very quickly when your hair gets singed.  You also carried a shovel because on occasion the fire would go where you didn't want it to go, or even jump the ditches.  We would shovel like mad to put it out.  The chaff would go up in a big flash of flames, but once it burned the dry stuff, it would back off a bit and be more controllable.  

We did that for years, as did every other farmer in California until they decided we were polluting the air.  A law went into affect saying we could not burn any more.  So what do you do with all that chaff?  It's not edible by any creature on earth and cannot be plowed into the soil since it won't decompose.  

Come to find out, it makes good straw for leach lines and septic systems.  We started baling it into huge bales and selling it to contractors.  We didn't even get enough to pay for the baling, but we had no choice but to lose money every year.

Once that was all cleared off, it was time to hit the D9 Cats again and plow the ashes under.  That's where I learned how to run a D9 and how I fell in love with heavy equipment.

More on that story tomorrow .......

In the meantime, since I was driving right by Habit Burger ... and it screamed my name ... I folded and picked up a BBQ Bacon Burger and onion rings.  Don't ask me what was in the white container ... it was runny like water and I threw it away.  

I complain about the prices of these things, but it makes two complete meals for me ... so that makes it much more palatable ... and mighty tasty!!!

Thursday, June 22, 2023

From Rancher To Farmer

 Yet another gorgeous day in sunny California.  Not too hot, not too cold, but just baby bear perfect.  I was pretty wiped out from Bingo's late night, so Cooper and I snoozed on the couch longer than necessary.  I have to say he loves sleeping next to his Mom, so I stayed extra long while catching up on a little Reno Rodeo on TV.  

Then I was off to the repair shop.  This is weird ... I think I know these guys.  I had a kind of deja vu when I walked inside.  I talked to the nice young guy for a bit, telling him what the problem was, and he actually listened.  That's unusual when talking to mechanics since I'm a gal.  Yes, they really do treat you differently ... usually discounting everything you say.  

He said they would check it all out, trying the air cleaner suggestion first, then possibly replacing the air sensor.  Maybe their diagnostic tools can provide more information, I don't know.  The problem is me ... I should have done this two months ago.  Once the light goes out, which it does after a few days, I forget all about it.  They can't get me in until Monday.  That doesn't leave me much time, so I'll just have to wing it.  Worst case, my diesel RV towing buddy said to slow down going uphill.

Back home, spending WAY too much time thinking about the truck, I finished sewing these pieces together.  YAY ...  no more piles of little pieces on my table.  I admit, I was distracted with the truck and Cooper when I discovered I sewed not one, but TWO rows on upside down.  RATS!!

There's nothing like spending another hour taking rows apart and resewing them.  Big sigh!!  It's done for now and in a to-go box that will be going to Tucson.  I'll add borders and finish it up there.

So let's get back to ranching.  There's a difference you know ... ranching involves livestock.  Farming involves growing things.  It's the old fight between the cattlemen and the farmers from back East putting up fences and taking away the land the cattlemen used for grazing.  We ended up on both sides of the fence.

Once the approval was given, the heavy equipment arrived in full force.  All the neighbors worked us into their schedule of discing and making contours so the water would meander across the fields.  Once that was done, we opened the big check valves and flooded the entire ranch for several days before letting it out the far end.

That's when the real fun began ... planting.  It was done by airplane, dropping the seed into the wet muddy soil.  You've seen those crop dusters skim the top of the fenceposts?  It was always so fascinating to watch.  Not so fun getting all that seed out of your hair though.  

In later years they used helicopters that would land on a platform on top of a one ton truck.  Once planted, we let the water back onto the fields and kept it there the entire time.

I didn't get to help out with any of that ... sniff sniff, but you KNOW I was out watching them every day I wasn't at work in town.  It takes about 5 months to grow a crop, depending on what type of rice you grew.  Since we were producing for a specific guy who had his own markets in Japan, we grew the rice he actually invented.  No kidding, he had his very own variety of rice.

Everyone has their favorite, and the Japanese people are VERY particular about their rice.  If you don't grow the right rice with the properties they love, they won't buy it.  Everything went along fine until in the 1970's, thousands of Hmong people were dumped off in our area with no acclimation and no instruction in how to get along in the U.S.  

They are farmers ... they live off the land ... and where they were from, no one owed the land except the government.  They thought they should be able to do the same here ... just go harvest whatever they wanted.  Time and time again, we would find them in our fields, chopping down the rice.  They even set up their kitchen and cooked it right in our fields.  It was a problem we had to deal with for years.

It is why there are no longer jackrabbits, crawfish, bullfrogs, coyotes or catfish left in this area.  None ... zero.  They literally ate them into oblivion.  It's too sad.  I used to love walking along the ditch banks with a flashlight, catching frogs for dinner.

Finally at harvest time, the big guns came out.  The harvester on the left would cut the tops off and "sift" out the chaff, then feed it through the extension to fill the bankout wagon (on the right).  The water had been drained out of the fields, but they were still really muddy.  Even with those huge tires, the bankout wagons would get stuck.  

When full, the next wagon would come up behind and slide under the extension so there was no stopping. The full wagon would drive to the nearest hard road where trucks were parked, waiting to be filled up.  The trucks hauled the rice to the hulling plant where it was processed, bagged and shipped out to Japan.  

As soon as the chaff dried out enough, we began the process of getting ready for next year's crop.  That's where my love of heavy equipment began, but in the interest of keeping this short-er, I'll relate that part tomorrow!!

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

And Here's Your RED Ticket!!

 First off, thank you all so much for the Code comments.  My other trailer-pulling diesel buddy said basically the same thing ... except for the air filter part, which I'm going to check on today. 

Good Morning California!!  That sounds a lot more enthusiastic than I actually am this morning.  Late Bingo nights always get me.  To add to my uncomfortableness (is that a word?) it was cold all last night, making my hip feel like I got kicked by a mule ... which basically happened.

I was a little too wild trying to carry three big containers of fabric into the rig, when my hip bone caught on the stair handrail.  OUCH that hurt!!!  It ached just enough to wake me up at 2:00 am, followed by shivering.  I can't believe it's the end of June and it's so cold at night, I need to put a quilt back on my bed once again.  I'm not complaining about the weather though ... I love the cool air!!

Surprise surprise ..... it's Bingo time yet again.  The only night of the week when I grit my teeth while smiling ... sometimes with raised eyebrows.  The good news however, is that Mr. Cooper is finally getting back to normal.  This is the first happy face I have seen in over a month.  

Yes, Mom caved.  She went to the pet store and bought the softest toy she could find, then she cut out the squeaker (because it's too hard to bite) and sewed it back up.  We played the keep away game for all of five minutes.  He was in Heaven!!  It made my heart smile too.

I was kind of sad to have to run off to the Elks Lodge, but run I did.  It's interesting to note that at least half our clientele are new.  I don't know what happened to the old ones, but very few of the regulars still attend.  The new crowds are much younger.  I'm guessing the average age is 35-45.  

Sometimes that requires dark sunglasses.  Have I ever mentioned the wigs?  Oh my goodness ... you have never seen hair color (or styles) the likes of Bingo players.  It usually matches their two inch long fingernails, enhanced with shiny jewels the likes of which I've never seen before.  It makes it difficult to get money out of their purses.  Picking up flimsy bingo cards is even harder.  I'm very careful not to get stabbed.

New players always requires lot of explanations about how to play and what our rules are.  Of course no one likes the rules!!  Especially when it comes to that little red ticket that might just win you 25 cents!!  You would think it was worth $200,000.  

On this night one of the much older regulars lost her ticket.  Yup she walked right up and actually screamed at me ... YOU DIDN'T GIVE ME RED TICKET!!  Oh my gosh ... she was SO angry!  No doubt she dropped it on the floor because every single transaction ends with ... "and here's your RED ticket.  Good Luck!"  I was just about to call the King over when she slammed her hand on the desk and walked off saying something in Chinese ... or maybe it was Portuguese.  

Later I had someone give her another ticket because I felt bad that she lost it.  No, she didn't win anything.  There's one thing that stands out about Bingo ... most of them will do anything to win.  Now if it was a $1.00 ticket ... like last night ... you have a chance of winning $245.  

BINGO!!  Just like that, one new gal came up and asked what her pull tab card said.  My dear it says you won $245 on that one dollar tab.  As you can imagine, she was ecstatic!!  That's a rare occurrence, since only one in 500 cards is a winner.

And THEN ... the worst thing happened.  The caller got his numbers mixed up and the crowd went WILD!!!  I've never heard such yelling before!  It not only delayed the game, but he had to reset the entire console.  It was pitchforks, shovels, spears, knives and flaming torches for about ten minutes until he got it reset.  I hid in the other room.  No use letting some of that rub off on me!!

Sadly, the corn dogs are no more, so I ate my big hotdog with relish ... not the pickle stuff, but with enthusiasm, which instantly made my stomach hurt.  It's hard to keep reminding yourself that bread is a no-no.  I followed it up with a few M&M's just for good measure.  It was just enough to keep me awake on the way home!!

Thanks to the Knights, I've learned of a new mechanics shop in town that seems to have a good reputation.  I'm taking my truck down this morning to see what they say.  Luckily I'm armed with information so they don't pull any wool over my eyes and say I need a new turbocharger.  I'll let you know what happens!!

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Reading The Codes

 I creaked and crackled as I walked across the bedroom floor this morning, followed by two big yawns and six sneezes.  Even though I tried to rest up, things had to be done.  Just for kicks, I got online to a Western Wear site and found this too cute outfit!!  It's perfect cowgirl wear, right?  I don't know who came up with this, but they need to go back to fashion school.  Maybe Daisy Mae could wear it.

I did take note that even though I scrolled through website after website, there are no clothes for us crazy old ladies.  If you're 17-25, you've got it made.  For the rest of us, we are completely out of luck.  Now I know where all those sweatpants come from that I see at Bingo.  There just isn't anything else to BUY!!

On with our day.  This pretty much sums it up.  I don't know how long this stuff takes to heal up, but Cooper's mouth is still pretty sore, though he's eating well.  He's scratching at it now and again, which is good and bad.  It must be healing up (you can't see because he won't open his mouth), but scratching may do some damage.  Gosh ... I really don't want another trip to the vet.

When I sew, he sits quietly on the floor next to me, so that's what we did.  Although still not completely sewn together, it's getting there.  It will have to go in a box for now, since my time is getting short and there's packing to be done.

Here's my latest GUY purchase.  It's a BlueDriver code reader for my truck.  The check engine light has been giving me fits when towing.  It's scary to have it come on when you're towing a big rig uphill in the middle of the desert.  

You download the app to your phone, start the truck up and plug this in.  The thing reads the codes and gives you not only the problem, but it tells you what people have done to fix the problem.  No kidding ... this is a pretty cool piece of technology.  It will even tell you if you will pass the smog test.  It checks everything!!

One thing I also learned is when the check engine light is yellow ... it's not the end of the world.  If it's RED, you better pull over.  Who knew?

Here's what I got yesterday on the first code.  It's a common problem apparently and can be fixed for anywhere from $100 to $300 by replacing the mass air flow sensor, whatever that is.  Gosh ... now I feel like I need to go to mechanics school!!

This one .... this one is a little more heart racing.  Replacing the turbocharger will run a whopping $3-4,000.  OUCH!!  

So here's my big question.  Do any of you guys out there have any experience with this?  Is it a big thing? Am I going to get stuck on the side of the road?  Is my engine going to blow up???  This inquiring mind needs to know if I'm going to make it to Tucson next week.  Oh ... and the code only seems to happen when towing uphill.  Maybe I need to go slower??????

It was fun playing with it yesterday, but now I have just enough information to be even MORE scared!!  I don't have time to get anything fixed or checked since I have to be in Tucson by July 4.  The quilting store is coming to pick up my quilting machine for maintenance and repair, an appointment I've waited 3 months for.  

More weird weather here.  Although it's usually consistently in the 100's this time of year, we are hanging in the 70's and 80's.  Weird.  With a very nice sunset to boot.

I'm sure you all know what day of the week it is.  It's BINGO time yet again!!  Gosh the days are FLYING by!!