Monday, August 27, 2012

Duty Calls

Last week was fun.  This week ... Not so much.

I have Jury duty, and have been selected for a jury trial that is expected to last several days.

I hope this is the last time I will have to do this.  

Do full timers with a South Dakota residence get called? What do they do if they are on the other side of the country?

Friday, August 24, 2012

At The Beach

Ah!  Life is tough when you are a Grandmother!

Friends of our daughter have a beach house that they rent out, just a block from Mission Beach in San Diego. This week they were using it themselves and invited us to come on over.

The boys and I spent most of Tuesday and Wednesday enjoying the slightly overcast August weather at the beach. It was neither too hot, nor too cold.

We joined several other families there.  Counting my grandsons there were six kids between ages eight and fourteen in the group.  

They are all friends, and these families get together often.  The older kids look out for the younger ones.

 They played some Beach Volleyball where the teams were made up of one older kid and one younger one.  

The beach is fairly shallow, and the surf was just about right for boogie boarding. 

The water was quite warm for California. 

What is it about being buried in the sand?

I guess it is a good thing to do with your little brother!  

On Wednesday, after a nice day on the beach, the kids all went in to play games and watch TV, while some of the grown-ups made dinner, and some sat outside solving the problems of the world and tending the BBQ.  

Good Friends.  
Good Kids. 
Good Place.

Good Life!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sunset Sailing in San Diego

On Monday afternoon I hopped a plane down to San Diego to spend a week with my daughter and my grandsons.  Her current Au Pair leaves on Wednesday and the new Au Pair arrives on Friday.  Although her husband will be home, my daughter has to go out of town for a few days as well.  Good time for a Grandma visit.  

As an "end of her stay" treat for their Au Pair they chartered a 35' sailboat for a sunset cruise around the bay.

I didn't take a picture of the boat itself, but this is the galley. It 
reminded me of an RV!

This is the last two weeks before school starts.  

I think my grandson needs a haircut soon!

We had a picnic dinner onboard and enjoyed watching the sunset. The weather was absolutely beautiful, and we sailed until after dark. 

My grandsons are growing up so fast, I'm happy to be able to see them from time to time.  I wish we lived in the same city.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Projects Done and a Weight Loss Milepost

Craig has been working hard on the house since we go back from our trip to Crater Lake. These are just two of the projects we have finished up:

It may not look exciting, but we are pleased to have had the wall rebuilt and a new door installed in the smaller garage-storage area in the back of the house.

For years it has been half open and an access point for rodents and bats.  Not a lot of bats, but bats nonetheless!  By closing the door area and several holes in the walls we have successfully shut them out!  

Craig has also finished the LAST of the outdoor painting!  We did hire some professionals to paint the very highest area of the dining room cantilever, but he wanted to do the walkway himself.  It required a bit of rebuilding, sanding, heavy screws, Bondo, sanding, priming, and two coats of paint.  Each step required moving the 20' ladder several times. I am so glad to see it done!  I have to say I really worried about him every hour he was out there.

We will still need to do some rework on several places around the outside of the house, but that is normal maintenance type of work. Next major outdoor job will be to sand and stain the decks.  Like everything else around here, there is a lot of deck to do!

My accomplishment for the month?  My Saturday weigh-in showed I have lost 40 pounds! Almost 20% of my body weight since the end of January!  I had a slowdown in July, but at that time I was really just trying to maintain.  I went back to keeping a food log at the beginning of August, and it has helped me avoid eating pitfalls.  Somehow for me, if I have to write down everything I eat, I do much better than if I jut try to make good choices each meal.

The BMI (Body Mass Index) chart tells me I am still 5 pounds overweight.  But that is a lot better than 45!

My blood sugar has also gone down to a point where I am no longer considered a Type 2 diabetic.  


I'm in San Diego this week visiting my daughter and the grandsons.  They said they almost didn't recognize me standing at the curb at the airport.  But they knew it was me because I had on an animal print shirt and was pulling a leopard suitcase!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Meeting Blogger Friends

It's fun to meet other bloggers.  People who you have read about and who have read about you for several years.

Craig took the picture
Today Craig and I had the pleasure of connecting with John and Sharon. I have followed their blog, On the Road of Retirement  for several years now. 

Because Sharon had an appointment in Berkeley I proposed a lunch connection at the Berkeley Bowl. It was quite close to where she needed to go. 

Not the fanciest place, but as far as we are concerned the best grocery in California. We really enjoyed talking to them.  Time went too fast.  I hope we can connect again someday, somewhere.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

An Answer

In her comment on my last post about the sausage-less sausage, Judy said: "I have wondered for a very long long time why people who don't eat meat want their food to look like meat anyway.  It  puzzles me."

Although I am a "meat eater" I think I have somewhat of an answer to the puzzle. 

For the same reason dog treats are shaped to look like bones: marketing. 

Vegans and vegetarians would probably buy the product just as readily, perhaps even more so, if it was shaped in cubes and called "Italian Seasoned Soy." 

By calling it "sausage-less sausage" and shaping it like sausages, it catches the eye of people who are looking for something different and possibly thinking about reducing their meat consumption.

For me it is the taste, shape and texture.  I really like Italian sausage, be it pork, chicken, or sausage-less! For the sake of my cholesterol levels and my arthritis, I am trying to eat less meat.  I will enjoy these on a bun or cut up along side a couple of eggs. 

I will never be a vegetarian, but I'm intrigued by a recipe I saw recently that was for Baked Shiitake Mushrooms that end up looking like and tasting like bacon bits.  BLTs may be back on my menu.

Now if they could just come up with a substitution for a good baked potato with butter and sour cream I'd be all set!

Any added thoughts?

From Craig: one of these sausage-lesses showed up in our evening meal tonight, and it was very good!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sausage-less - Sausage

I am not a vegan.

I am not a vegetarian.

I love sausage.  

I have just discovered one of the best sausages I have tasted for a long time.

Trader Joe's Italian Sausage-less sausages!

I have tried several foods that are substitutes for meat products. Most were so-so. If I had seen these in a regular store, I probably would have passed them up in favor of a pork Italian sausage.  But I trust Trader Joe's enough to give them a try and was "wowed" by how good they were.

I plan to start using them wherever I would have used meat sausages in the past.  On pizza, in spaghetti sauce, or just by itself for a tasty lunch or snack.

I'm sure my friends over at The Good Luck Duck know all about them, but it seems to me there are more and more of my blogger friends who are trying out plant-based diets, and I wanted to share this discovery with them.  

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Tillamook Marionberry Pie

From Craig:

This is going to be hard to explain to non-ice-cream-lovers.

When we went on an RV adventure to the Pacific Northwest several years ago, after we crossed into Oregon along the Pacific coast we saw many signs advertising Marionberries. The only thing these brought to my mind was that many years ago, Washington DC had a mayor named Marion Barry who was convicted of being a crook.

Then we stopped at the Tillamook plant in central Oregon. Tillamook is one of the top cheese companies in the US, but at their plant we learned that they also make ice cream. In fact we bought two kinds of their ice cream at the plant, Caramel Butter Pecan and Marionberry Pie. Both were among the best ice cream I've ever had.

When we got home to the SF/Monterey Bay areas, I looked into buying their ice cream here. It seemed that the furthest south that Tillamook ice cream was delivered, was to a Tower Foods store in San Francisco, about 60 miles north. I called Tillamook and several of their distributors, but it seemed that this distribution pattern was written in stone!

I tried writing to several grocery chains with stores in our area, but never got any response. So it was with special anticipation that I looked forward to our trip up to Oregon, last June and July. Marionberry Pie was every bit as wonderful as I remembered.

Again we returned home with ice-cream-envy for people in Oregon. I've returned to working on the house while dreaming of road trips.  Recently we made a regular stop at our local Safeway store in Los Gatos. Without much enthusiasm I went through the frozen food aisle.

Guess what I found? A good selection of Tillamook ice cream, including Marionberry Pie! Of course I bought some, and it was even better than ever, probably because of the heat wave we've been having.

Which just goes to show you, if you want something, keep on promoting it. Maybe my email(s?) to Safeway helped this wonderful product appear at our local store.

From Merikay: I agree with Craig that Tillamook is great ice cream.  However my new eating protocol does not include ice cream!  It was one of the hardest thing to give up, and now that there is Tillamook in the freezer it is even harder.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Beach Walk on a hot afternoon

Today was a busy day.  Craig had a dentist appointment this morning and then came home and did some work on an outdoor project. We've been having some beautiful weather, but this afternoon the temperatures were heading toward the 90's and the project was out in the direct sun. Shortly after noon he came in and suggested a trip to the beach.

Although I had already done four miles on my treadmill in the morning, I was up for walking another couple of miles on the New Brighton-Seacliff  beach, which is about four miles south of Santa Cruz, California, and less than twenty miles from our home.

The weather at the beach was perfect.  Sunny and warm with a sweet ocean breeze. There were a lot of families enjoying the sand and surf on a Wednesday afternoon.  

We walked about a mile from where we were parked to the pier that goes out to an old cement ship which is now a bird sanctuary.  

There were several people fishing in the surf and off the side of the pier.

This boy was amazed by the size of his fish. 

Craig enjoyed a moment in the sun.

Retirement is good!

Putting my shoes back on after walking in the sand.  

Craig says he can see a lion face in this big hunk of drift wood.  

I will never tire of seeing the shaggy Eucalyptus trees at this time of the year.  They have such an interesting texture and distinctive aroma.

There were several of these big old trees shading the parking area.

We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful area.  We just have to remember to take the time to enjoy it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Craig calls me his favorite mouser

For my non-RVing friends: mice and rats love RVs.  In addition to being dirty and disgusting, they can do a great deal of damage by chewing through wires or nesting in walls, ceilings, or possessions in the bays. They can get in when the RV is parked, or come aboard at a park or resort. 

Because we park our Alfa under trees in a forested area, I have to be extra vigilant about rodent control.  I have traps in every bay and several in the coach.  No rodent has lasted very long.  I check the traps almost every other day and from time to time catch a mouse.

I have also caught one rat.

My favorite trap has been the Victor Electronic Rat Trap that I bought at Home Depot last fall when I was after one very difficult little guy.  He had escaped from a sticky trap and on several consecutive nights licked all of my snap traps clean. The Electronic Trap got him. 

I wanted to get a couple more, but at $40 plus tax they are a bit pricey. Last week I was browsing the Web and found that the Victor company site sold them directly at three for $99, with free shipping and no tax.  I ordered some.

They came today.  After installing four C batteries each,  I baited them with Skippy.

I put one in the large pass-thru bay. I put it on a sheet of white paper so I can see if anyone visits without actually entering the trap. I know that if a mouse or rat goes in, he WILL be zapped!

I also put one in the bay with the Weber grill, and one each in the power bay and sewer bay. I figure they have holes for cords and hoses that might be likely entry points.

So far, rodents have not really been a big problem.  I just want to keep it that way!

Oh, we bought a replacement pocket camera for my little Canon that died on our Crater Lake trip.  Craig took these pictures with it.  I will review it next week after we've taken it out for a real test at the Big Basin State Park (our local redwoods).

It is a Sony RX100.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Day in Muir Woods

For the last few days of our Crater Lake trip we had planned on coming down the California coast, staying in Bodega Bay and visiting the Muir Woods National Monument.  But the hair raising drive from 101 to the coast had so completely shaken me, that we decided it was best to just drive on home.

On Friday we decided to drive from home to Muir Woods by car. It's just north of San Francisco, about two hours from us, but we have never been there. 

Muir Woods is the place where people who are visiting the city from other parts of the country go to see the redwoods. 

There are other places, Redwood National Park (up north) and Yosemite National Park are two others.  Each is a very special place.  Muir  has some very beautiful old growth groves.

I was surprised by how many people were there on a non-holiday Friday.  The parking lots were full, and we ended up parking along the road over a mile away from the visitor's entrance center.

Most of the people seemed to stay in an area near the entrance. There is a nice "civilized" two mile loop trail with boardwalks, wide level paths, and informative signs.  The guide that was given to us at the entrance didn't have much information about other trails, but I had done a little research and printed a trail map that included a larger area before we went.  Based on it, we were able to find our way to a much-less-traveled loop of trails.  Including the walk back to the car, my pedometer measured our hike at 7.4 miles.

The first trail we took was called "Ocean View" but we decided it should have been called the "Root Trail".

From Craig (sign of the day from the visitor center at Muir Woods National Monument): "Due to fire prevention, the Ocean View Trail no longer has a view of the ocean."

Part of our route took us along the edge of a fairly busy road because the linking trails within the park were closed. (No photos. Imagine walking the white line at the edge of a curvy highway with very narrow shoulders.)
Once back into the forest we were delighted by its beauty. After crossing many bridges, Craig said we should have been counting them because there were so many. Some were new, and some had been there for a long, long time.

One thing I like about the trails in National Parks/Monuments is the little helping elements here and there.  Such as these stairs in the middle of the forest!
Many of the large trees had hollowed out centers from past fires.

Craig enjoyed exploring them.  I had to laugh at him because before he went into a tree, he poked a stick in and asked: "Is anyone in there?"  I guess they looked like good places for bears or sleeping raccoons.

Muir Woods National Monument is a good place for hiking, once you get away from the crowded central area.  The trees may be more impressive at Redwoods National Park, but it's so much farther away from civilization that the two sites come out about even.