*****

Homer, Alaska 2017

Friday, December 28, 2012

Desert Hot Springs

We really lucked out on choosing the Caliente Springs Resort in Desert Hot Springs, CA as our first stop after Christmas, and our first Passport America experience. In fact the 50% discount pays for our first year membership! If we hadn't had PA, we probably would not have stayed there because $50 per day is a bit rich for our budget. But $25 per day is not.

The resort was easy to find, had nice smooth paved roads and large spaces. It's mostly park models, which are simple structures that are common in sunbelt communities. 

We could make a reservation with PA for only two nights.  After January 1st, a one month stay is required because they primarily cater to Snow Birds who stay for the season.

The best feature of the resort is the hot water pools.  They have four smaller pools ranging from warm to very hot. There is also a large warm pool for regular swimming, water aerobics, and what was going on Thursday night, water volleyball.



I am a firm believer in the restorative powers of hot water! In past years I had memberships at 24 Hour Fitness where I went for water aerobics and a hot tub soak at least three times a week for many years. I dropped that membership a few years ago, because the club was over 20 miles from the house, and I had gotten a treadmill at home. I got more exercise and it didn't take as long. But I miss the pool.

On Friday we went on our first desert hike. We went to the Whitewater Preserve and walked a four mile trail along a desert river bed. There were many different colors,  all soft and muted. 



The weather was very nice.  I think it was close to 60 most of the day.  No wind to speak of and brilliant sunshine.  A perfect day for a walk. 



Most of the walk was on the Pacific Crest Trail. Recently I read books about women hiking the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. I was excited to see this sign and realize we were walking the same path as the gal in the book did. 



I didn't remember to take my hiking poles along, but most of the path was quite easy.  We did have to cross the river, but it was easy.




 In the afternoon we went over to Indio to the Shield Date Garden. I had read about it in one of my travel books and then again in Howard and Linda's blog.    






We bought a couple of boxes of dates and a couple of date shakes. They were yummy!

We ended the day with another soak in the hot pools.   Craig thinks it helped the pain in his toe, which I think is arthritis.  It just made me feel good all over!  

Saturday will be an easy drive of about 100 miles up to Barstow. We want to find some kind of optical shop that is open along the way, because Craig's glasses have lost a screw. We also need to get propane in the Alfa.

Our stopping point in Barstow is not exciting.  It is just a place to overnight.  We probably could just boondock somewhere, but we like hook ups.

Our reservation in Death Valley starts on Sunday night. Stay tuned for a post from there...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012 - San Diego

Having arrived at our daughter's home three days before Christmas, we had some time to help her with the holiday preparations and hang out with our grandsons. The boys are into chess just now and they played together, with Craig, and with their mother.  I don't play!



Over the weekend I took several walks along the cliffs that are two blocks from their home. I had a great walking partner, Sandy, their Golden Retriever.  My daughter has a sore foot and was unable to come along.

My daughter and I went grocery shopping together, and I prepared Eggplant stacks for the Christmas Eve meal.  It was also fun to work side-by-side with her to make a wonderful beef Wellington dinner on Christmas Day. My son-in-law made a delicious Pavlova for dessert and the men  did the cleanup and the dishes!  

Christmas morning was dedicated to gift giving and present opening.  The boys were happy with all of their gifts and did not seem to be disappointed with anything. 



Our younger grandson loved his camo-Snuggie, and wore it all morning.  He had also made or collected small gifts for his stuffed animals and unwrapped them for each of the critters.

On Christmas we Skyped with our son in Seattle and with our son-in-law's parents in New Zealand.  Far flung family!



My daughter set up a very complex jigsaw puzzle that we all worked on.  Eventually everyone but Craig drifted away.

Games with complex rules seemed par for the day.  Our older grandson explains the rules to his mother!  (Notice he has the periodic table of Minecraft on his tee shirt!)



The days went by way too fast.  Tomorrow (Thursday) we will be leaving for Desert Hot Springs in the Alfa.


Footnote:

Friday, December 21, 2012

We're Here, and a Hobbit review

11:00 PM Friday night... 

We are parked across from our daughter's home in San Diego and just spending an hour or so reading before turning in for the night.

Our mission of having new Koni shocks installed was accomplished without hassle.  Our opinion of the results is still unresolved.  It seems to me that perhaps the ride on smoother highway surfaces is a bit nicer, but the rough surfaces of some of the Interstate highways cannot be "made better."  Bad road is bad road.  We are a bit disappointed.

Although we were welcomed by our grandsons when we arrived, they and their parents had other plans for the evening.  They were going to an "end of the world" party being hosted by one of the boys' friend's parents.

We decided to go to a movie.  We saw the Hobbit and enjoyed it very much.  Craig wanted to see it in 3D, but I have gotten dizzy when I go to 3D's and wanted to see it in a regular 2D format.  I was glad we did because the action was very intense and I'm pretty sure I would not have done well with the 3D format.

Peter Jackson did a wonderful job with the material from the book. It was visually rich in detail.  There was a lot of violence, but no guns!  I think the PG13 is just about right.  Kids younger than that might be overwhelmed and have nightmares because the monsters were so real and never completely vanquished.

The next few days will be family time.  We will eat, drink, and play games. Well, I'll try not to overdo the first two.

Hope you all enjoy this time as well, wherever you are. 

Peace on Earth may be too much to expect, but not too much to wish for.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

On the Road!

3:30 PM. Thursday 
Almost to L.A.
I drove the last 150 miles.

Thought about Margie and Rodger as we past Pismo Beach.  A beautiful place.

California is called the golden state because for most of the year the hills are covered with dry golden grasses.  But in winter, after some good rain, everything is brilliant green.  

That's all for now.



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thursday Departure!

It has been a very busy week here. We both finished our Christmas shopping, Craig got the drywall repair done, and I got the hall painted before he installed the framing and two new pre-hung doors.

Sanding
Checking and wiping after first coat of stain
The color will be darker after a second coat of stain and two coats of Polyurethane
He is replacing several older white doors with new stained birch doors.  All of the other doors in the house are stained wood.  After we get back he will be finish installing the two for a sliding door closet downstairs and then stain some new framing and baseboard wood.  Everything seems to take so long!

Today (Wednesday) Craig did all the pre-trip stuff like checking tire pressure and water in the batteries while I hauled our stuff from the house to the Alfa in our DR Power Wagon. 

 I have been going all out for several days getting everything packed and loaded.   We do not leave much of anything in her between trips, so it is a complete repack each time.  I figure if we need it in the Alfa, we probably need it in the house too and I don't want to start buying duplicate stuff!  

It is now slightly after nine in the evening.  We are relaxing in front of a cozy fire and will probably get to bed fairly early.  There is still lots to do in the morning. After bringing the Alfa down to the front drive we will put in some fresh water (we drained it this afternoon) and load the refrigerator.  I still have some clothes to put in along with all the bathroom stuff.  

In the morning, Craig has to see to the house, turning off the water, draining the irrigation system, setting the furnace thermostat down to 50*, and turning off the automatic back up generator. Because we live in the mountains, a winter storm can knock out our power for days.  If we were here we would run the generator, but that gets expensive. The only thing that needs power when we are gone is the garage refrigerator. We emptied the kitchen fridge, except for the orange juice and things I need to make travel sandwiches.  We will shut it off and prop open the door before we leave. What we are not taking along has been shifted to the garage fridge. I put some ice cubes in a bag in the freezer and will see if they have melted and refroze while we were gone.  If they do I will know that we have had a long power outage and will dump the few things from the freezer. 

[From Craig] As part of cleaning out the refrigerator before leaving, Merikay and I each ate a large bowl of ice cream Wednesday night. I got the Tillamook Marion berry Pie while she had their Caramel Butter Pecan. I must say that MB Pie is among the finest tastes produced by mankind, right up with Floating Island desserts at certain Parisian restaurants.

(From Merikay)  I must have walked up and down the back hill a dozen times today and didn't have any lunch.  I'm sure I burned off the calories from the ice cream in advance!

Some RVers like to pull out very early in the morning when leaving on a long trip.  We like to take our time, get everything in order and miss the morning rush hour traffic. If we are on the road by 10:30 we will be doing fine.  We have a long day of driving ahead of us, but we are both looking forward to it!

See Ya!



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

mental illness

Below is the URL for a blog post everyone should read.

It is not political.

It is not a media twist, or expose for the purpose of getting a story.

It is the words of a Mother with a son who could be the next shooter.

I know it is the Holidays, and we don't want to think about things like this
.
I don't know what can be done, or what we as individuals can do.

All I know is it is time to help parents like this.

anarchistsoccermom.blogspot.com


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hi Ho, Hi Ho! It's On a Trip We Go!

8 days until we hit the road for our Christmas trip!

It is going to be a very open ended adventure. I have  two reservations, but there are a lot of days that I have no idea as to where we will be.


Our first stop will be in the LA area where we will spend a day at M&M, a Freightliner service place where we will be getting new Koni shocks put on the Alfa.  We decided that the shocks will be our mutual Christmas presents. I'm giving Craig the front ones, and he's giving me the backs.

When we were at an FMCA rally last year Craig heard a presentation in which it was said that one of the best improvements you can make to a motorhome is to get new shocks installed.  Our ride is pretty good, but we have had a few screws loosen and there are some rattles that make a bit of noise. We will see if there really is an improvement!  Craig says he's prepared to be disappointed...


We will spend Christmas with our daughter and her family.  

The neighbors were OK with our parking on her street for a few days last year, and I hope it will be OK again this year. At least we don't have last year's electrical problem that made us run the generator longer than we would like. It turned out we had a loose wire!

We will probably sleep in the Alfa, but spend the rest of the time in the house.  

We have a reservation for several days at Death Valley starting on December 30. It's about 350 miles from San Diego to Death Valley. I'm looking at a couple of different routes, and we may take a few days getting there. We will see some different places if we take a longer, less direct route. I think it will depend on the weather forecasts.

After Death Valley, we have three nights at a Passport America park in Las Vegas. I've never been there. I want to see the strip and the casinos. I'm not a gambler, but the bright lights call to me.

Then our plans are open. We might spend a week or so exploring the Lake Havasu area. I've found a Passport America park we could go to in Lake Havasu City. I called and was told we shouldn't make a reservation if we want to use our Passport America, but they generally have plenty of open spots.  

Again, it will depend on the weather.

I am torn. I know we should go right home and get back to work on the house if we want it on the market by summer, but on the other hand, once out of the driveway I want to keep going!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Interesting Winter Salad

Photo from blog " What's cooking good looking "


I made a rather interesting winter salad for dinner tonight.  I got the recipe from a blog I follow called "What's cooking good looking". 

In general I am not a big fan of kale, but I do love roasted vegetables, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Craig really liked it, so I guess it will become part of our repertoire. Below is the recipe and changes I made. 

I think it would also be good with roasted baby golden beets, or any of several other vegetables.


Mustard Marinated Kale with Roasted Winter Vegetables
serves2 people
ingredients
5-6 large dinosaur kale leaves, stems removed and very finely chopped (This didn't seem like nearly enough because the leaves I had were quite small, so I used six small leaves from a bunch of dino-kale, and about the same from a bunch of curly kale.)
4-5 small "rainbow" carrots, tops removed and cleaned (I doubled this because mine looked so good.  I also cut them into thirds.)
3 shallots, sliced into wedges
3-4 Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and thinly sliced
10 or so endive leaves (I used one large endive.)
3-4 sage leaves (I used fresh, but I think dried would be OK.)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves (packed tightly) (I used dried)
1-2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or another high-heat oil)
salt+pepper
for the mustard marinade:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or 1 tablespoon Real Lemon juice concentrate, I used two and we decided it was a bit too lemony)
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grainy mustard 
method
  • Preheat the oven to 400ยบ
  • Place the carrots, shallots, Jerusalem artichokes, endive, sage, and oregano in a medium-large sized  roasting pan and toss with the grapeseed oil and salt and pepper.
  • Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until the vegetables have started to caramelize brown.
  • While the vegetables are roasting, marinate the kale. Whisk together the ingredients for the mustard marinade until they are emulsified. Place the finely chopped kale in a large bowl and pour in ¾ of the marinade. Massage the marinade into the kale using your hands. Set aside until the vegetables are done (the longer the better, this will allow the kale to break down a bit and not be so tough).
  • Allow the vegetables to cool slightly, then arrange them on top of the kale. Use the last ¼ of the dressing to drizzle over the vegetables. Season with extra salt and pepper or olive oil if you like.
I made a Trader Joe's par-baked sourdough bread and served it warm on the side.  It was filling enough that the salad and bread were a complete meal.

The source blog has many interesting recipes that fit into a healthy eating plan. If you like to try new things, take a look.

[From Craig] In case this recipe doesn't fill you up for the whole night, or any time you want a nice snack, try sour cream spinach dip with reduced fat Wheat Thin crackers. I used Trader Joe's spinach dip, but any prepared dip (or your own) should go wonderfully with these crackers, which are the ultimate rarity: a low-fat version that's better than the original.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I'm Keeping the weight off

So far, so good.  

I reached my weight loss goal of getting down to a normal BMI in September. 

I then went on to lose another five pounds in October and have ben flirting with one or two more since the beginning of November.

I am not doing anything "diet like."  I am trying to eat mindfully and think before I put something in my mouth.  I weigh myself every morning.

So far, so good.  

I think I established some better eating parameters over the last ten months, and do not find it difficult to stick with them. 

I am not a vegan, nor a vegetarian.  I avoid beef, most dairy, white flour, alcohol, processed foods, fast food restaurants, most pasta, and dishes with creamy sauces.  

I fry fish but do not eat deep fried fish. 

I have discovered baked sweet potatoes made with olive oil and lots of garlic is much better than french fries.

I have learned to eat  veggies in many low fat ways.

I never leave the table hungry.

So far, so good.

I was extra careful the week before Thanksgiving, and enjoyed all the goodies for three days. (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.)  I  had to be more than careful for the week after to lose the three or four pounds that I took on. I think they were just food in the "system,"  and a bit of bloating from salt, not gained fat.

Hopefully I will be able to enjoy Christmas with the same mindful eating.  Enjoy, but not over do. Smaller portions, not self denial.


I plan to weigh the same on January 9th as I do today. I'll post my progress again then.

... One small cup of Eggnog, not a half gallon!

I will not use the Holidays as an excuse to overindulge.  





Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Three little storage problems solved

As part of my healthy eating plan we eat a lot of fresh vegetables. Although the refrigerator in the Alfa is a double door type, I find it fills up pretty quickly when packed with produce. At the house I store things like onions, sweet potatoes and winter squash either in a basket on the counter or in the fridge. But in the Alfa, I don't want baskets on the counter. And since these foods don't really require refrigeration, I needed to find an alternative place for them.  


A bin in a cabinet seemed the logical place. For our last trip I put several onions, a sweet potato, and a spaghetti squash in an open plastic bin in one of the pantry drawers along with the breadbox and a few other things.
But this was not a good place because when the drawer and the door are closed, there is almost no air circulation.  Because the weather was mild we did not run the air conditioner and apparently it got quite warm in the drawer, and within a couple of days I noticed things were ripening quickly.  

Problem #1. What to do with produce that is not refrigerated.

Problem #2. We plug in our laptop and iPad to charge when we go to bed. Each of the cameras also has a cord for data transfer and charging.


We have been setting them up on the table to charge, but the available outlet is behind the leg of the table and a bit awkward to get at.

I have designated a desk drawer in the bedroom for cord storage, and want to develop the habit of always putting them away after use. But this has not worked well. We tend to leave the cord plugged in and the end loose. Downloading pictures only takes a few seconds, but the cord seems to stay out all of the time.


Problem#3. Cord clutter.

OK, so what do a hard-to-get-at plug, USB cords, and onions have to do with each other?  

My magic magazine rack conversion.

Several months ago I bought a wood magazine rack for $5.00 at a garage sale. I thought I might be able to use it in the Alfa, but up to now I couldn't find a good place, or use for it. Recently I got the idea to make it into a vegetable bin!


I cut a cover for it out of some scrap particle board and used some fleece and hot glue to make a hinge to keep the top in place when we are driving.

When sorting through my drawers, I found  two mesh bags with zippers from Walmart that I had never used.  I will put produce in them, and be able to wash them with the laundry occasionally since they are actually meant for washing "delicates."

The fleece fabric wrap around the dowel sides is to hide the white bags, but still allow air flow.


Before covering the top of the hardboard with scrap fleece, I used cable ties to attach a power strip to it. It is much easier to reach than the one behind the table leg, and the power cord will help keep the magazine rack from moving out from under during travel. 

As a more convenient place to keep the USB cords and perhaps a pen or two, I attached a lidded plastic box with velcro squares.  I think it was for storing small floppy discs in at one time. 


When my chair is in place you can hardly see this multi purpose, construction, but I think it will solve several problems without taking up much space.  

I'm also pleased that I used things that I might otherwise have tossed out! 

Reuse, recycle, repurpose...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Patience

I really am trying hard to be patient and take every day as it comes. Last week I spent some time sorting and tossing. So much stuff!

After working on art materials and writing a thoughtful post about moving on, I got a couple of orders in Friday's email from customers who are willing to wait the couple of weeks it will take me to make the animals they want.  One is from a lady that has ordered something for her son every Christmas for the last  five years.  He has quite a collection! The other is from the UK, and the customer promptly reconfirmed when I emailed the shipping cost, and production time details.   So I guess I'll be working on sculptures for a bit.

Craig had a cold early this week and so put off starting any new work around the house.  But he felt better by Thursday, and since the weather was dismal, he took my suggestion to do a little drywall repair in the upper hall. 

 We had a leak there before the new roof was put on and there is some water damage. It's a good "putzy" job for a rainy weekend. It will probably take a couple of days for him to do, and then the hall will be ready for me to paint. I'd like to have that done before we leave for Christmas.

Friday, I spent some time going through my closet. 

I pulled out everything that was too big, worn out, or not wanted.  

I have done this several times in the last two years and although I know I still have too many, I  feel I am getting closer to having the right amount of clothes. 

Over the weekend I measured the length of the closet pole in the Alfa and marked off the pole in my closet in the house to be the same size. There is  24 inches of pole on my side of the closet.  I have installed some plastic shelves and a shoe holder on my side that take up the remaining space. Craig gets 32 inches of pole on his side.

Now I can see what is going to fit. It looks like I still need to cut down by about 1/3. It seems that jackets take up a lot of space.  I eliminated two today, but I still have more than I will have space for.  

I also have more Tshirts and sweatshirts than I need.  I tossed at least a dozen Tshirts into the rag bag today. We will be staining some new doors and woodwork soon and they will come in handy.  Since it is winter now I am wearing long sleeve shirts every day.  I know I'll need both long and short sleeved shirts in the future.  I wonder if I can stow some clothes somewhere other than the closet.

Little by little I have also emptied the overhead shelves on my side of our closet. 






I did another pass thru my dresser drawers too, and have tossed just about everything I don't wear.  I found a couple of pair of shorts that I didn't remember that will fit me now, and got rid of several that don't.


I also found this old treasure: A pair of cotton lady's dress gloves.  I've had them since we lived in Wisconsin 35 years ago.  I had a dressy winter coat that had a fur collar and three quarter length sleeves.  I wore these long gloves with it. I wonder where Goodwill will put them.  They are in perfect condition.

Craig doesn't agree with my way of getting rid of things a little at a time.  He says we can just load up the Alfa and whatever doesn't fit we will dump.  I told him his head will explode from the pressure of all the things he will have to think about in the weeks after the house sells!

[From Craig: as Merikay has been talking about this, I'm about ready to go in and throw almost all of my old clothes away. It would be a lot of
fun, and I would avoid having my head explode...]

 We will get through this.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Closing Down a Lifetime of Work

How do you know when it is time to move on or declare you are ready to retire?

For most of us, what we do has been a big part of who we are for most of our adult life.  

I think I'm at a big transition point in my life.

For years, I considered life and its demands secondary to my art work.  Although making money was nice, it was not the driving force behind the many hours I spent creating animal head sculptures. One of my favorite remarks was "I only sell them so the house doesn't fill up!"  Every sale made room for a new creation.  Yes, I'm also a wife and mother, but in my heart I'm an artist, and making the animal heads is my identity.

I'm sure many people struggle with similar feelings when they retire from their professions. Happy because they will now have time and energy for other things, like RVing.  But also a little sad and uncertain about leaving behind a world with which they were quite comfortable.

I've let my business die a slow death over the last several years. I have not done any shows, nor promoted my web site in any way, nor pursued retail opportunities, nor restocked as my inventory of available work has slowly sold.  

Instead of life being an interruption of the flow of my art work production, lately new orders have become an interruption to my life.  Instead of being excited about a new creative opportunity, I feel like I've "been there, done that" when asked to make one of the animals on my web site.

After forty-some years, I'm ready to close the door for good.

In the last few weeks I've gotten rid of all of the fabrics I have used to make dragons.  Many were scraps or remnants. I have made several hundred dragons, large and small over the years, and so the fabrics were paid for many times over.  I have culled my fur fabrics and will hang onto them until the house sells.  But I won't be buying any more.

Today I cleared out a large cabinet in the studio where I had many bags and boxes of "pretty shiny things": decorative gold and silver buttons, acrylic gem stones, glass marbles and beads, plus bags of old or broken jewelry that had either been given to me or that I had bought at Goodwill. I used such jewelry to make bases for my "Hoard Dragons" to roost on.  

I am waiting for a return call from the local elementary school to see if I can drop them off for art projects. I figure this close to Christmas, some teacher might be able to use them. Our school no longer has an art teacher :-(  I would like to see the stuff be used rather than tossed.

As I sat here today on a rainy Wednesday afternoon, wrestling with my feelings about slowly closing down my studio, the telephone rang.  It was a New York decorator who wants to know more about me.  Seems he had just found my web site and "loved" my work.  He said he is doing a Manhattan hotel and my work would be perfect for one of the areas.  He asked what I had that could go out immediately because the project was almost done and he had a deadline. I told him what I tell anyone who inquires.  I am still making animal heads, but on a custom order basis only.  No inventory, and  that it takes several weeks from order to ship. This was too long for him, but he did say he would keep me in mind in the future. I told him I could do some things for him if he gave me advance notice and we left it there.

Why today?

If he had called several weeks ago I would have been able to do the job.  Except for a couple of international orders, I have not had any business for weeks. In  years when I did shows, this would have been a very busy time with Christmas sales. Not this year.

The truth is I will be somewhat glad to have it end. I was not at all unhappy about not being able to take his order. I got more satisfaction out of making that blanket for the Alfa than I would have gotten from making yet another $500 moose.

I may be able to take some aspect of my work forward, or perhaps I will come up with another wonderful line that will be compatible with full time RVing.  

To quote an old expression: "When one door closes, another opens."  

I just have to have the creative courage to pass thru.

I think I'm ready.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bedspread for the Alfa

After having good results making the reading pillow and the chair vibrator pad cover out of fleece, I decided to look into making a duvet cover or quilt for the bed in the Alfa. Over the years I seem to have collected a half dozen comforters, and I thought a removable duvet cover would be better than a new quilt.

I was intrigued by the wide variety of fleece fabrics I have seen. However even though there are many available at the several large fabric stores in town, none were quite what I wanted.

I decided to look online and found the Hancock Fabric Site was having a huge sale.  I had paid $12.99 for the one yard of fleece I used for the pillow and seat cover. Hancock has over 900 prints! One of them was the same as the one I had bought locally, so I knew what the quality was. Many of the prints were on a closeout sale for $3.99 per yard.   

Knowing a good deal when I saw it, I looked at all 900+ designs and picked two. I wasn't sure exactly what I was going to make or how. To be on the safe side I ordered six yards of each. One is a Native American design, and the other is a rustic cabin print.  They don't really go together, but that's OK because you don't see them both at the same time.

I've been itching to get started on it, but with railings to sand, animal heads to make, and Thanksgiving to enjoy, I had to leave the fabric alone for a while.

Which was probably a good thing, because by the time I was able to get to work I had nixed the duvet cover as too much trouble to take on and off the comforter, and a quilt as possibly being too warm for summer nights.

Instead I decided on making a reversible fleece  bedspread that could be used as a lighter blanket in warmer weather.




First I cut each six yard piece in half.  I used one 60' x 108' piece as a center panel and cut two 22' x 108' side panels from the second half.  I did this with each of the designs creating identical front and back pieces.

Sewing the individual sides was not too hard.  I had moved my sewing machine to the dining room table because I knew I couldn't manage this work on the small sewing cabinet I normally use.


Getting old is a bummer.  I never had so much trouble getting a bobbin started or threading the machine needle as I do now.



By the time the two sides were put together, handling the twelve yards of fabric was a challenge.

I did six lines of stitching from top to bottom, and a line all around the edge to stabilize the two layers. For each line I had to roll and bundle the spread so I could sew the line.


I made it spread size so that I could bring it up over the pillows when the bed is made.  I find the regular Queen size comforters are a bit short for that.



I also made it to drape over the sides and end of the bed.  



This is the more rustic side.  

One spread, two decors. Which do you like better?  Which seasons do you think each matches up with?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

And Life Goes On

We had a pleasant family Thanksgiving.  We do not have family living near us, so only our daughter, her husband and our two grandsons were here.  Their German au pair, Anka, also came.  It is always interesting to share the holiday with an au pair because they tell us about traditions in their countries. This was the first time she had tasted turkey.  She said it was good.

Our son was not able to come this year and that made me a bit sad.

On Friday we took them to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park to see our closest redwood grove.  It is not the most impressive, but this might be the Anka's only opportunity to see the big trees.  

There are none down near San Diego, and I don't think she will get to the northern part of the state during her year.



We also went for lunch and walkabout in downtown Los Gatos.  Some of the street trees are finally at their peak of color.


Each of our grandsons has his own special interest.

The twelve-year-old has always loved math, and has now found some internet sites that are helping him learn about math that's quite ahead of his grade.


Here he is not doing homework, he's just having fun.

The nine-year-old loves all things having to do with food and cooking.  The high point of the weekend for him was a trip to a local specialty shop for oil and balsamic vinegar tasting.  


It is now Saturday afternoon.  They just left for their long drive home to San Diego. We will see them again when we go there for Christmas.

I just wish these two holidays were further apart, or they lived a little closer to us.  

Maybe when we are full-timers we can spend the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas down there.  

Something to look forward to.  But now we will have to get back to work on the house for a few weeks.  We finished the stairwell deck railings.  The only ones left are on the upper deck, and we have decided to let them be until spring.  We will also do the stairs then.

Craig is eager to get started finishing four new doors and a bunch of baseboards and door trim wood that he bought last spring.  When the weather started to get nice in May he shifted to outdoor painting work.  Now it is time to shift back to concentrating on indoor projects.

I also want him to do a little patch work on some of the drywall up in my sewing loft.  It was damaged before we had the new roof put on two years ago, and has to be fixed so I can paint the loft and small bedroom up there.

My goal for between now and Christmas is to help Craig and to clear more stuff out of the studio.  Someday it will have to become a bedroom again. 

So, as the title of this post says, "Life Goes On."

What will you be doing between now and December 25th?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Deadline

As work goes on and new projects are considered, I feel as if there is no end in sight.  

I have set a deadline.  
August 1, 2013.  
The house WILL BE ON THE MARKET.  

No one can predict when it will sell, but in my heart, if there is still work to be done, it will be done while the house is for sale, or not done at all!

Craig says we can do it.  

If it is not on the market by then ...

I will ...

I will ...

Stomp my feet and cry. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

In our Yard


First off, the pictures in this post are all pretty bad because they were taken at dusk from some distance.  I don't have a telephoto lens on my point and shoot.

Behind our home there is a rather steep, dry hillside.  We don't water the trees, but there is one stunted apple tree that produces a few fruit each year.  I generally collect them the week before Thanksgiving, add some purchased ones and make a pie.  

Last week I noticed a doe and two yearlings trying to get the apples with no success. I wondered if it was time to pick them.


Yesterday at dusk, I noticed two bucks eyeing the tree.

The one on the right was larger, and at one point he clacked antlers with the smaller buck to let him know whose apples these were! But the smaller buck hung around and watched anyway.  

"If I stare at it long enough, maybe it will just fall down."

"Who needs a longer neck?"

Determination!

Jump!

He made about a half dozen tries and did manage to snag two apples before giving up.  His younger friend managed to get a few leaves when the big guy wasn't looking, but pretty much stayed out of the way.

We don't "garden" because between the deer, gophers and dry summers it is a hopeless venture.  I enjoy watching this sort of thing too much to want to have deer fences around the place.

This afternoon a large group of does were in the yard. 

That buck will be after them soon, and a new crop of fawns will be learning about apples next year.  I can buy as many as I need at Safeway!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Work Around the House

It is only Wednesday, but I think we have already done a good week's work around here! 

We decided to skip the large stair area and finish the rest of the railings on the lower deck fist.  It was a good stretch of over 80 uprights, and took most of Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

A rainstorm is predicted for tomorrow, so we put away the sanders for a few days and Craig has been working most of today (Wednesday) cleaning up leaves.  About 1/3 of the trees around our house are big maples and drop their leaves in autumn.  The rest are either redwoods, Douglas fir, pine, live oak, or bay laurel which do not.

We seem to be cleaning up leaves almost all year round, since some of the trees mentioned above drop their leaves gradually over the year, and the evergreens are always dropping needles!

Craig started up on the roof. 

Then did the back court area. 

And the upper drive where the Alfa is parked.

I didn't start working on sanding another of the railings today because I had to work on a new order for a couple of animal head sculptures. Business has been dreadfully slow this year, but I still get some work from time to time.  Just enough to keep the  studio room renovation for one of our last projects!

I also just have to tell you about a new sandwich that Craig tried this week.  He read about it in the New York Times.


Peanut Butter and Pickle sandwiches! 

He tried both sliced sweet pickles, and some pickle relish.  It was strangely delicious and may become a new favorite. The bread he used was my home made whole wheat bread. The reason it looks like someone took a small bite out of the face slice was because I didn't take the paddle out of the bread machine before it baked.

What is your favorite unusual food?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Medium

When I started to change my eating habits at the end of January I was tired of being fat and tired. 

When I started my BMI (body mass index) was 30, which is in the obese category.

At 5'7" I weighed 204 pounds on a good day, more on a bad. 

"This time" I was determined to lose weight in a healthy sustainable way.  

"This time" I knew I had to make changes that I could stick to for the rest of my life.  

My goal was to lose 45 pounds and get down to the normal range BMI of 25.  I reached that goal in September. It took eight months, but except for having to give up a few things, it really wasn't all that hard.

Once I reached my goal, I knew I had to continue eating in the same way I had been, and continue to do daily exercise.  The only real change I have made since reaching my goal, was to stop recording and analyzing every bit of food I consumed in a food journal.  

I weigh myself ever day, and if I start to gain, I will go back to the journaling.


I am determined to keep it off this time! 

In the month since I reached my goal I have lost an additional five pounds. An amazing total loss of 50 pounds! 

I weighed in at 154 pounds this morning.

My BMI is now 24.1 (Normal is 18 - 25)

I have lost 23% of my body weight, and feel great.

In this picture I am wearing a T-shirt my grandson tie-dyed for me as a Christmas gift two years ago. Although I liked it very much, it stayed in the closet because it was too small. I felt like my arms were stuffed into sausage skins. It fits now and is very comfortable.

I am not big on fashion. For years I have worn the same brand of black pants. I buy them at K-Mart. I had some from this time last year that were almost impossible to keep up. They were Extra Large. I bought some Large ones in spring, and they too have become very loose.  

Last week I ordered several pair from K-Mart online, and bravely selected Medium size. After ordering them I told Craig I wondered if they would fit. I expected to have to return them.

They arrived yesterday, and fit beautifully! For the fist time in years I am a Medium! I feel so good about it.

But, I remind myself of and old expression my mother used to say when any of us became too prideful.


"Don't hurt your arm patting yourself on the back."

I know that maintaining this weight loss is going to be a new challenge for me.  






Last week as I was going thru a stack of papers in the studio I came across a calendar from 2008. I had kept it because it had nice animal pictures, but it also serves as a reminder of how vulnerable I am. It is the record of one of my past weight loss efforts. Over a period of five months I recorded my weight each day.  I lost 30 pounds. As I recall it took less than five months to regain it!


Do any of you remember Oprah's weight loss in 1988? Remember how she pulled a little red wagon containing 67 pounds of fat onto the stage? 

Then over the next year or so we watched her balloon back up. It was so discouraging. If she couldn't keep it off, how could I?

I'm hoping that by blogging about it I will be adding one more incentive to succeed. I want to be able to post that I have kept the weight off from time to time.  

But I won't hurt my arm.

For me, the hardest thing will be to continue  saying "no" to a glass or two of wine in the evening. But I know that would be like drinking poison for me. I know "once in a while" would slip into "just on weekends", would slide back to "everyday".  

Wish me luck. And keep posting good low calorie recipes. I love to experiment.