Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Big Job" Progress #1

Craig spent four or five days working on the repair and painting of the four foot section below the dining room windows. 

He scraped, Bondo'ed, sanded, caulked, primed, and painted while sitting comfortably on the wood ledge below them.  

He gets to the ledge by crawling out one of the end windows. Although the wood of the ledge looks weathered, he says it is sound.

This is the "after" picture on the section he has done, as well at the ledge he has been perched on.

Meanwhile, I've moved my sewing machine down from upstairs to the dining room so I can be available to pass him tools and materials as he works.

Sewing keeps my mind and my hands occupied while he's out there.

The only thing I sew are pajamas for Craig. I usually make him one new pair a year.  Craig likes 100% cotton PJ's, but we find the ones commercially available never fit quite right. He is 5'6" and on most of them the arms and legs are too long.  Rather than buying PJ's and remodeling them, I have modified a pattern that I use over and over.  

When the local fabric store has a  sale we go together and he picks out  fabrics he likes. 

This  time he picked out  four great materials. 

The top one (red, blue, yellow, and black) is really fun!  It reminds me of the dishes Al and Kelly from Bayfield found for their new Southwest winter home.

There will be a fashion show when I'm finished! I told him I'm going to put at least two of them away for when we are full timing.  I really don't want to carry a sewing machine along.  There will be storage!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Introducing another Blogger

I'd like to introduce  another Blogger.

He is not an Rver now, but he would love to  go on the road someday.

His passion is making video's of his adventures.  

He recently took a short trip to Yellowstone from his home in Seattle, and is now working on a series of Episodes about the trip. 

I think they are going to be wonderful.

He goes by the name "Joko" (his real name is Gil).

He is my son.

Stop by  Thirst, and see Yellowstone thru his eyes.

Tell him: "Mom sent you!"  

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Next Big Job

Craig finished replacing and painting the outside wood frame around three of the living room windows. It looks good. It took a little longer because we were busy looking for a toad and doing all of the other things needed to get the Alfa fixed and the tow package ordered.

The next big outdoor job is the repair and painting around the five big windows in the dining room. They are on a cantilevered wall that extends out over a rough hill. The overhang also needs painting.

A year or so after we bought the house we painted most of it ourselves, as we have over the last two years, but we hired someone to do that section.  We found a crazy old painter that did it by nailing a ladder to the narrow ledge below the windows.  There are no crazy old painters like that anymore, and even if there were I'm not sure we would want the risk of being sued if they fell.

So guess who want to do it all himself?  The crazy old man I'm married to!

In the picture to the right, Craig is on a 20' extension ladder repairing and painting the very bottom edge.  

picture taken from the safety of the deck
Here he is sitting on the ledge as he scrapes, sands and caulks the section under the windows. 

Yesterday he managed to gouge his leg with his sander, resulting in his getting five stitches.  

We have been arguing about this job for weeks.  I have begged him, scolded him, and threatened him, all to no avail.  

I want him to put up scaffolding, but he refuses.

The man is accident prone.  I could tell a couple of gory stories involving a chainsaw and a table saws, but I will leave them for another time!

I would rather not be a widow. 

My stand is this: 
 If he falls and gets hurt, I will not take care of him.

If he had a heart attack, I would take care of him.
If he had a stroke, I would take care of him.
If he got cancer or any other illness I would take care of him.

But if he gets hurt because he is being stupid and stubborn.  He's on his own.

What do you do when someone you love won't listen to reason?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

More repairs

The upper drive sure looks empty without the Alfa up there.

 The shop where we are having the upper back corner repaired called today and asked if we wanted to get the front spoiler fixed too.  It was damaged before we bought her, and the dealer's estimate for the fix was outrageous.  This place's estimate was less than half what the dealer wanted, so we said yes.  Our Alfa has decals, and all are in great shape except for the one on the back.  Since they will be repainting the back they will be applying a new back decal as well.

She is going to be so pretty!

At home, the boxes of parts for the tow and braking systems are collecting in the front hall.  We are waiting for one more part and then will make the arrangements for the installation.  The place that is doing the fiberglass is an Airforce One dealer, but doesn't seem to like installing the Blue Ox. Seems they are a Roadmaster Dealer.  The place Craig has found that does Blue Ox said they didn't have any experience with the Airforce One braking system.  Neither place could match our internet price, with no sales tax and free shipping, so we bought the parts ourselves.  

I just hope it all comes together and we don't have any problems.  I figure with two different installers they could easily point the finger at each others work!

Why does everything have to be so complicated.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Annular Eclipse

Just after noon Craig came down to the studio where I was working and asked if I wanted to go up to Redding (250+ miles) with him to see the eclipse.

I wasn't overwhelmingly enthusiastic given some of the less than spectacular astronomical experiences we have had in the last few years, but I've been trying to be more spontaneous.

So we hopped into the new Accent and drove 4 1/2 hours.  It was a pleasant and pretty drive.  Traffic was light and the weather was beautiful. 

We arrived at a parking lot along the shore of Whiskeytown Lake near Redding at about 4:30 PM.  All the parking areas were quite full and many cars were just parked along the roads. There were several people with large telescopes and video screens that were willing to let anyone take a look.  We were loaned two pair of viewing glasses by a very nice man.  We tried doing the pin-hole camera thing, but compared to seeing it thru the glasses or telescopes the pin hole just didn't cut it.

The sky was clear, the temperature was in the 70's, and all the people were friendly.  It reminded me of a street full of people waiting for a parade.  As we chatted with the others we discovered there were people there from much farther away than we were.  It seems we had all read the same article that mentioned the park we were at. The eclipse reached complete annularity at about 6:25 PM. This picture is from the web, but it is exactly what we saw.  As Judy would say "cool beans!" 

Before driving back home we stopped for dinner at the Black Bear Diner.  We were not impressed with the food.  It was quite ordinary.  I was proud of myself though.  This is the first restaurant meal I've had since January.  I eyed the big burgers on the menu, but choose to have a Chinese Chicken salad instead.  While we were waiting to be served I found the nutritional information sheet tucked behind the napkin dispenser.  A hamburger and fries was listed as having 1400 calories.  My salad had 910.  Given that I had only had a 300 calorie breakfast and nothing else all day, I was still well under my goal of 1500 calories for the day.  We generally only drink ice water with meals out.  I'm not a soda drinker. My weight loss is at 27 pounds now.  

The Hyundai Accent preformed very well.  We got 40.8 miles per gallon, highway driving, on the way home.  Pretty good for a sub-compact! Now if it just doesn't wear out too fast we'll be happy.

Well it's after midnight now, and I'm off to bed. 
Good night!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fun RV article in New York Times

One of my non RV friends sent me the link to this article in an email today.

In a Rented RV Roaming Western Roads

It reminded us of our trip up to Washington in a Cruise America Class C a few years ago.  We will  be trying to go to the Umpqua Hot springs, mentioned in the article,  after our stay at Crater Lake in July.

Hope you all enjoy it too.

Thank you Irene!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Good-By Prius, Hello "Little White Thing."

Tuesday was both a happy and a sad day.  After a hectic weekend of locating and test driving four sub compact cars from the Motor Coach Magazine dinghy car list, we made our decision and purchased a white, 2012 Hyundai Accent Hatchback.

It was sad to drive our red Prius for the last time. It was a very good, solid ride.  In five years and 84,000 miles, it never gave us any trouble.  If it didn't weigh so much, and could have been towed, we would have kept it for long time.

But if we want to ride together in the Alfa, we need a car we can tow.  

Good-by Prius.

Hello "Little White Thing".  I hope we have many adventures together in the future. We know you can't go charging down wild dirt roads like a Jeep, but you have lots of cargo space for your weight, a decent engine for your class, and a price point we were comfortable with.

Speaking of price, we were both a bit shocked by the cost of a tow package!  We haven't bought one yet, but we're leaning toward a Blue Ox and an Air Force.  We got an estimate on a Roadmaster and an Air Force One from the place that's doing our Alfa body work.

The repair estimate was a shocker too! We usually just pay for such things out of pocket without filing an insurance claim.  But as it turned out there was more damage than just the fiberglass corner.  It seems the back panel separated both along the side edge and the roof edge.  And they will need to repaint the entire back end! The  estimate was over $5000. Big Ouch! 

Too bad Alfateers is way down in Southern California.

Our insurance adjustor has been to take a look, and has authorized the work.  It will take a couple of weeks before she is home again. Meanwhile we have to make a decision on the tow package and get it ordered and installed before the Crater Lake trip.

If you have a class A, what tow package do you have? Do you like it?  Any advice will be appreciated.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bike race

Today we went to see stage 2 of the Tour of California bike race as it passed near our home in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

We walked down to a sharp curve in Calif 35 (Summit Road near Calif 17) that Craig thought would be interesting as the riders encountered it after a mostly-downhill "5 Km sprint".

I was just using my little point and shoot Canon and was only able to get a few quick shots as the pelaton zoomed by.

[From Craig: Merikay's original read "point and shoot Cannon".  Yes, cannons are important to all of us Santa Cruz Mountain people :-)] 

We were on a cliff overlooking highway 17 below.  
You can just barely make out a few of the riders after they crossed the  bridge over CA 17.  

Quite a descent and sharp turns!

For those who care about such things, Slovakia's Peter Sagan won the stage, as he had won stage 1 yesterday.  In the course of the race, he overcame his second flat tire in as many days, a crash into a pile of wrecked riders, and nearly being side-swiped by his own team car.  (The next Lance Armstong?)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Answers in the night ...

Sometimes I get the best ideas when I am at the edge of sleep, either just as I'm falling asleep or just waking up.  I once read that you should have a pad of paper on the nightstand and jot things down so you don't lose them. I don't do that, but it wouldn't hurt.  One thing I have noticed about "middle of the night ideas" is that they are often not as good as they seemed when reexamined the next day.

One problem that I often mull over is what to do about  when we go full time.  What to take, where to store it all, where to work, etc., etc.  Sales have been so up and down this last two years I often think it would be best to just close it down.  Then I get a couple of orders, and I see that a few sales each month would make a nice dent in our campground fees. 

My mind was very productive last night.  The following ideas may fail in the light of day, but I think I came up with a couple of solutions for problems that have been nagging me.  

First, there are times when I need to hang a sculpture on a "wall" while working on it.  Such as when I'm shaping the antlers or checking the overall piece from a little distance.  
 Last night I came up with the idea that I could attach a piece of peg board to the back ladder, and hang work there.  With a few cable ties, it could go up and down quickly.  A small piece of peg board would not take up much room and be easy to store when not in use. 

Another problem is storage of "in process" paper mache sculptures.  They sometimes need to dry for 24-48 hours.  I can leave them outside on my work table next to the rig during the day, but need to protect them from wind, dew, or rain overnight. 

   We will be living inside the Alfa and there just is no place to put them.  

When I did art and craft fairs  I had a custom fitted table cloth that that covered my table to the ground. I used the space under it to keep bags and boxes. 

I am going to make a fitted, water proof cover for my folding table.  With a plastic sheet on the ground under it, it should be OK as an overnight storage place. 

It might not be great in a downpour, and I would have to keep track of weather forecasts! I can use water bottles for weights so it doesn't blow over in the wind.

I know it can be very important to keep you space neat and clean out of consideration for other campers.  What is OK to one person, can be an eyesore to someone else!

Things would be so much simpler if I made miniatures!

When do you do your best thinking? 

We looked at a Toyota Yaris  and at a Scion yesterday, and are probably going to see a Hyundai Accent today.... 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Not Whining

Gosh, its been three whole days since I whined about anything. 

 I wonder why that is.

Maybe because the sun has finally started to shine.

Maybe because we took a quick two day round trip in the Alfa. OK, the ouch wasn't a good thing, but we will deal with that next week.

Maybe because we have been talking about toads again, and actually went to test drive a 2012 Fit today, and are going to look at a new Yaris and a new Scion tomorrow. We also want to see if we can find an Accent to test drive.  It is a bit harder finding ones with the manual transmission!  We both liked the Fit, but we won't buy it without some comparisons.  

Maybe because even with all of that, Craig has still found some time to work on the window trim.

Maybe because my hand is healing wonderfully, is very flexible, and only hurts a little.

Maybe because even though I have not been as strict with my diet, I have lost a little more.

Maybe because my lady customer received her Tiger today via FedEx and was so pleased she called and ordered three more pieces.  I'm always happy when a customer loves my work enough to order more.

Maybe because our Crater Lake trip is less than two months away.

Whatever the reasons, I am coming out of a very dark place.  Craig has been so very patient with me.  

I hope this better mood will last.  
I hate being such a B!%$CH. 

May the sun shine bright in your lives as well, for whatever the reasons!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Exercise can hurt the Alfa too!

Since we cancelled our April trip, on Wednesday  we decided we needed to take a short "exercise" run for the good of the diesel engine.  Craig said that just pulling out and driving around for 30+ miles seemed "silly", so we located an RV park just north of San Francisco that we could drive to, stay over, and return the next day.  Just exercise.

If you followed this blog last fall, you know our home parking location is a bit of a challenge to get in and out of.  Craig drove out of the upper drive, down the road, and into the lower drive with ease.  We refilled our fresh water, loaded a few things and were good to go.

A fellow blogger, Mary, once reminded me to watch out for all eight corners of the rig! 

 As Craig was backing up out of the lower drive, I was watching the side were there is a threatening stone wall, the front corners, the  back, and the lower back corners, but forgot to watch out for the top back corners. 

He was staying further to the left to avoid the wall. 

slowly back,

Then when he had come far enough,  I crossed my arms to signal STOP.  He says the hand gesture didn't register, and he kept coming. 

Just as I yelled STOP, the driver's side upper rear corner crunched into a large tree slanting into the road. We share the blame.  

We knew the tree was there, but neither of us really saw that it leaned over the road at the 12' height.

A big ouch! 

This is the top back corner of our poor Big White Box. 


The tree is fine.

The drive up to San Francisco was nice.  I guess we are learning to take these things in stride and not waste our time being angry about them.

The night before I had expressed some reluctance to drive the Alfa thru the streets of San Francisco. Several years ago we went thru the city in a rented 26' Cruse America and it was a harrowing experience. The main differences were that it was rush hour, we were new to the rig, the passenger-side mirror kept moving, and we took the wrong route.  

"Trust me" he says. 

So after a good nights sleep, I decide to do just that.  It turned out the drive down 19th avenue and onto the Golden Gate Bridge was smooth as can be.  The traffic was light and the Alfa is really much easier to drive than that Class C was.

I'm not real comfortable going thru curved top tunnels in the Alfa!

We pulled into the Marin RV park just after noon.  It's not fancy, but it is close to a ferry if you wanted to go into San Francisco without having to pay bridge tolls and parking fees, and easy to get to from the highway.  The full hook up spaces were close, gravel-covered pads.   Off season price was $45 per night minus 10% for Good Sam discount, plus 10% tax.  In California, that's mid to low price.  

The biggest negative was the lousy WiFi connection.  It was OK in the morning, but you couldn't do anything in the evening when all of the other people were also using it.

The cable connection was good, so Craig got to watch a baseball game.  (We have only Apple TV at home.)

We took a nice walk along a level path in the salt marsh area next to the park.

We saw these large metal structures that neither of us could guess what they were.  Each was about ten feet tall, evenly spaced, and quite rusted.  Any ideas?

We also saw these birds which we think are egrets.  There were two like the taller one, and three like the shorter one.  They were "together."  Craig thought they were a family, but I'm pretty sure they were two different types.  

Help me Judy. 
What are they?

We had a nice sleep, a leisurely morning drive back, and the Alfa is once again tucked into her forest home.  I'll be looking into RV fiberglass repair places next week.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

hands up

first, my post and my comments on other blogs will be without caps because i've been typing with only my right hand.  caps take two hands.

the surgery went well.  it was more like a minor procedure, but it was on my hand so i was a bit uneasy.

i had a little discomfort last night, but am quite ok today.  a major inconvenience is that i was told to keep it elevated above the level of my heart for 48 hours.  a bother, but not hard.

craig continues to work on his latest project. replacing the wood around some of the large windows.  he decided they were too deteriorated to just patch and paint.  progress is slow.  what looks like it should take a few days, takes a few weeks. 

 when craig does something he is a perfectionist.  it is usually far better than a professional builder would do, but also takes much longer to finish.

he is also replacing some interior doors and many of the baseboards inside.  he bought all of the wood, (for several thousand dollars) but staining and installation will probably not be done soon because he has outside work to do.  

we do not always agree on what really needs to be done. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Nice Week

Last Friday I had a blood draw and  eagerly waited for the results on Monday morning.  They were very good.  My total cholesterol dropped by 10%!

Everything else went down as well, and I am now have "normal" ranges.  

The doctor encourages me to "keep up the good work."  

We  had a pleasant few days with out-of-town guests, (for one night I allowed myself to drink wine and got totally snockered.)  Then for the rest of the week Craig settled down to getting a little done on the house, and I finished the Tiger that had been ordered. 

This coming Monday I am having surgery on my left hand.  I am left handed!  I have had reoccurring bouts of trigger finger for the past few years.  It was treated with cortisone twice, but the hand specialists says a third injection could cause damage.  

I have been indecisive all week.  The hand doesn't hurt very much now, because there is only a little inflammation, but for that same reason, it is a good time to do the procedure. 

 It has been about six weeks since all of this has started, and it will be weeks before It is healed completely.  

If we ever do get to be full-timers, I would not want to be tied down to an area for that long for something like this.  

On the other hand, this is my glue gun, animalhead making hand. 

 What if there are complications? 

A little scary.  But, I'm sure all will go well.

Keep me in your thoughts next week. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Comment Changes

I don't understand ...  A couple of the blogs I follow have changed their comment forms.  They now have what looks like a second copy of their post in a smaller window at the bottom of their blog.  I cannot find the comment link.  I see comments, but I'm not sure how to enter mine.

Any helpful information?
One of them is Harry and Jessica's Blog.  I don't see an email either.