December 8 Monday
Another morning in Quartzsite dawned with overcast skies and the remains of last night's showers on the coach windows. Clouds are not necessarily a good thing from the solar cell efficiency standpoint, but from the overnight temperature standpoint it is a benefit. Clouds mean higher temperatures and the thermometer showed that it was over 50° when I got up. It had been a long time since the last posting to the Daily Journal and one of the other things the clouds were bringing was the opportunity to work towards the resumption of posting once again.
It would be nice to say that I jumped right in and started writing but that wasn't the case. Having made the decision yesterday (Sunday) to switch from Ubuntu to Kubuntu as the operating system of my computer, I was busy experimenting with a few of the programs I had downloaded yesterday. This was mostly to kill some time until the 10 o'clock hour arrived so I could download the main set of files without getting fapped by HughesNet. There is only so much we can download in any rolling 24 hour period and the 65 MB download would put us over it. We had this happen once before and it wasn't a pretty sight watching everything creep along at the old phone line speed of 24 kbs.
Finally the clock passed the magic hour mark and the fun began. For one thing the KDE desktop was a learning process, something I'm sure which is going to continue into the future. The programs are different and it required muttering a number of times something about going to Berlin to make the experience as enjoyable as it eventually turned out to be. I finally get to use Amarok as my music player, Quanta Plus as my web development environment and Digikam to download and catalog the photos from our cameras, so needless to say all that playing around was a great way to spend the day, but due to the needs of the distaff side of the family the boy's toys eventually had to be temporarily shelved.
Apparently while I had been immersed in the world of Linux, Linda had been boxing and wrapping EBay items for shipment. It was also pointed out to me in no uncertain terms that we would taking the Explorer today and not walking. Just one look was all it took to realize that opening my mouth and uttering anything but "Yes dear," was going to result in the descent of the Linda equivalent of the Sword of Damocles upon my head. Believe me, the blazing look in her eye as she informed me of what we going to do was enough to sever that single horse hair. Besides I couldn't imagine what the fire breathing reply to any other words on my part might have resulted in. Me henpecked? No way. Scalded plucked, singed, and roasted, that's a much more apt description.
We did notice a few changes in the area around the Post Office. When we had arrived just a little over two weeks ago before Thanksgiving it was not a hot bed of activity. Today it was a little different, with vehicles lined up to enter the parking lot.
Linda headed off to the Post Office with a "I won't be long," quip and I checked out the produce at the tent across the street. By the way, I was not one of those people waiting their turn to enter the Post Office parking lot, having parked across the street next to the produce stand. It was almost a reversal of our previous visits, since this time the produce tent was nearly empty while the Post Office was overflowing. After checking looking over all the produce and seeing no Linda, plus since I do do most of the cooking, I picked out what we needed, which turned out to be a basketful, paid my $21.38 and walked over to the Post Office. Linda was still in line, and hadn't even yet gotten out of the lobby. So much for her parting comment. Still on my best behavior, I made no comment about her predicament, merely indicating I would be waiting in the car. Believe me this was not one of those times to head off somewhere and not be readily available when she was finished at the Post Office. When she did arrive at the car the smile on her face let me know I had done good.
We have started one thing which has quickly turned into a ritual since we have been in Quartzsite this time, which is our nightly game of Mastermind. Nevermind that we never played the game before, at least not within my memory, it had become a must do as far as Linda was concerned. I think the fact that she was almost always winning at first had more to do with it than anything else, however with the passage of time my abilities have, shall we say, leveled the playing field. Tonight was just another step down the path to a vertical orientation to that field as I whooped her butt but good, as those Appalachian hill girls say.
As part of this ritual we also have our peanuts and sometimes, like tonight, a nice beverage, tonight's being Kahlua Especial and water over ice. It can be windy during the day, but sometime around the peanut hour or shortly after, the wind dies down and it becomes pleasant to sit outside and enjoy a fire. The combination of wind, smoke and Linda do not go together, so she is the one who calls the time of the game. It usually works out that we finish about dusk, having enjoyed watching the sun set as it paints the surrounding mountains and any overhead clouds in the most vibrant colors imaginable. Just another reason we enjoy this place.
Dinner was leftovers, pork tenderlion, bean salad and sweet potato salad, which we ate while watching one of the many Christmas movies that are shown on either the Hallmark Channel or the ABCFamily Channel during this time of the year. With the clouds out today, the solar system had not been able to charge the batteries as much as needed, so the generator had come on earlier while we were sitting around the fire. We've got it set to come on whenever the batteries reach a certain level of discharge and it is working just as programmed. If it's sunny, it usually only needs to run every other day. If it's a cloudy, rainy day where we sit around watching TV all day, it may run twice. (That's only been the case once since we got here, but it sure makes life nice.)
After dinner, Linda decided to take advantage of the extra power and got out the sweeper. What followed was the moving of all the chairs and rugs in living area, with the result that the place never looked better.
It was about this time that I decided it was time to write another homepage article, or maybe I should say make some real progress on the couple of sentences I had been working at over he past few weeks. Hey, somethings aren't easy, in a way it is like the small snowball at the top of the hill. Anyway, after a little struggle the words once again just started pouring out and I was unable to keep up with the stream of thoughts that resulted in Desert Dreaming. It was a good feeling. May each of you have had an experience today that left you feeling good. Life's too short for bad feelings.
December 9 Tuesday
The clouds were gone when the sun came up this morning, meaning that colder air had descended into the Quartzsite area. Which also meant starting up our Wave 6 catalytic heater had been my first task when I began my day a little before 5:30 this morning. I find it interesting that when I wasn't writing the Daily Journal I sometimes found myself sleeping in till six or later, but this morning I wanted to get up. Maybe there is something about having both goals and a strong desire to accomplish them that makes you feel happier, healthier and younger.
However, old habits are hard to break and once again I found myself visiting both Yahoo! and Linux Today, rather than doing what the little bird on my shoulder was telling me to do. By the way, the reason I enjoy both of those websites is for the same reason, they are not ends, only beginnings and visiting them opens up a whole world in which to journey. Eventually I did start the process of writing, only to immediately run into several roadblocks.
First off, this new KDE desktop environment is quite different from the Gnome desktop I had been using. Then there were the new programs, a necessity since I wanted to use more of the native KDE programs rather than all the Gnome programs I had been using. Lastly there was the need to relearn the programs I had been using and was going to continue using, but had taken a hiatus from. All of this took up most of the day before I actually produced the Daily Journal. Then came all the tweeking and tinkering to get it looking right, something which is going to be a work in progress for quite some time. Coincidentally as a longer term project I want to give the website a minor facelift with the principle surgery being a complete change in the way the menus are handled. Should look really cool when I get it done, but it is definitely one of those don't hold your breath things.
I don't want to beat this computer thing to death, but I couldn't end without a photo of what the desktop looks like. It is quite a leap for me to finally join the ranks of the people who use a dark theme for their desktop, but as you can see from the menu bar across the top, that's what I've done, though I'm using four desktops but no rotating cube like I had before. Can't put all the eye-candy in at once.
The wallpaper is a photo Linda took on the Fourth of July this year. It was during our trip to Europe and shows me eating a little snack as the Rick Steves tour bus took us through the German countryside between the Rhine River and Rothenburg ob der Tauber. There is something in Rothenburg that is world famous and if you've ever traveled there or seen anything on TV about the town you know it is the Night Watchman. In case you think there is no such thing as a night watchman anymore, just look at this.
Linda would probably title this: Medieval Night Watchman and fair maiden. I on the other hand can think of a more apropos caption: Evil Night Watchman and Devil in Disguise. Speaking of sorry sights for sore eyes, or something to that effect, here we sit in the middle of the desert and I haven't described where in Quartzsite we are. We're in the La Posa North LTVA where we've stayed on all the other occasions we've been in town. The difference is that usually we stay up near the front of the area, on the west side of the first north south wash. This time we moved back to the second wash and are a little further to the north than usual, and on the west side of this wash. We like the view to the west to be open in order to view the mountains and the sunset. It also gives us a great orientation for our solar panels, though to be precise we are parked facing a little north of due west. The big tent will be erected in the direction the coach's shadow is pointing, and the tiny yellow objects it points to are the yellow elephant water tanks at the south edge of the Big Tent parking area.
It was most definitely an inside day and it wasn't just because of the all the work on the computer I was doing. There was a cold wind blowing and it was strong enough to occasionally rock the coach. Also the sun was definitely playing a game of hide and seek, the result of which was we had to run the Wave 6 again for a while in the afternoon to take the chill off. Since we had nothing else to do, we just had fun on our computers, not even taking any time out to read. Of course the chilly wind also ruled out any fire according to the official Because-We-Can Weatherlady, though I think the major drubbing I gave her last night in our Mastermind match had more to do with it than the weather. Maybe she just needed a night to lick her wounds and plan her revenge.
One thing we have finally gotten used to is the time the sun goes down, we had a little problem the first week were here with early sunsets, that was at least until we figured out that all our clocks were on Pacific time and Quartzsite is on Mountain time. As many times as we've been here you'd think we would have figured that out, but then again, those clocks that you see with all the numbers in a pile at the bottom and the words: Who cares, on the face do describe the way we live most of the time.
One can't just fix dinner under the circumstances we had faced today, so we eased into it with slices of Tilamook garlic pepper flake cheese, tofu smothered in peanut sauce and a glass of wine. Unfortunately for me I had to actually fix something for dinner so it wasn't as relaxing for me as it was for Linda, though my second glass of wine went a long way towards evening things up. Having defrosted a couple of links of lowfat kielbasi earlier, I set out to make something with them. Olive oil, thin slices of yam and kielbasi in the skillet, chopped white onions and fresh mushrooms, some wine and creme de cassis, a little Splenda, a few shakes of hot pepper flakes, and some corn starch in water to thicken resulted in something that tasted really good and I probably could never make the same again.
Add a lettuce salad with creamy lemon dressing, winter squash and what you had was the perfect meal for a colder than usual evening at Quartzsite. Of course the fact that we ate in the glow of our candles was the perfect accompaniment.
Sure that's a pretty photo and somewhat conveys the what it was like, but it has come time to focus in on something I've been neglecting for far to long.
Got to say that really felt good, a photo of food in the Daily Journal, though you have to believe it tasted far, far better than it looked. We finished out the evening once again watching a Christmas movie, of course we had seen it before, and we also know exactly how all of these Christmas movies end, but what can I say, we can't help it, we really enjoy watching them. May your day have also included something that you really enjoyed.
December 10 Wednesday
It was 5:20 when I was suddenly awakened this morning, only to find that Linda was already awake. Seeing a red glow coming from the control panel in the hall I muttered something about the generator was about to start, to which Linda replied, "I don't think so." Obviously she must have still had her head buried under the covers, as anyone could tell from the red glow what the situation was. Assuming an air of superiority based on the obvious fact that I knew what I was talking about, I was again repeated what I had just said. Knowing her intense dislike for me repeating myself, I would have been on thin ice had it not been for the fact that I was so sure of my self.
Slowly rolling over over to face me, she asked, "Are you sure?" Maybe I should have reflected on the crisp, hard edged delivery of those words before answering, but not me as I blurted out, "Yes." To which she simply said, "Well, you're wrong." Holding back my sense of outrage at being question on a matter that I was absolutely sure of, I asked, "And what makes you so sure, Miss Know It All." Her quiet, "Because the generator has been running for the last 15 minutes," shut me up but good. Not a great start to the day, at least it was going to have to get better since it couldn't get any worse.
Given all this early hour turmoil, was it any wonder that I couldn't get back to sleep, and so a few minutes later got up. Linda on the other hand spent another three hours snuggled up in bed, commenting when she finally emerged, "It sure was cozy in bed, especially since the electric blanket came on when the generator started." My first thought was that maybe it could get worse afterall. Thankfully it didn't, but for a moment it was nip and tuck.
I did reclaim a little of my self esteem by fixing an outstanding breakfast. Not one to brag, but for some reason my scrambled eggs have by turning out just right the past week. Maybe it's the fact that every couple of days I fix oatmeal (which has also been dead on lately), or maybe it is just the naturally superior cooking ability that all males possess coming out. Whatever it is, it sure got me an atta boy from Linda.
This was also a day in which sloth was the byword, at least when it came to the exercise department. There were some other things that happen though, one of which was the redecorating of the hallway. Now maybe the hallway is only 18 inches long, or 28 inches if you add in the 10 inches of the pantry, but it is our hallway. The last time we were watching our two grandaughters they drew several pictures for us. We had been looking for the right spot to put them and today it occurred to us that the hallway was the perfect place.
Sometimes things just happen and that is what this photo is about. We were outside getting ready to light the fire and start our Mastermind match, when I needed to return to the coach for something. The sunlight was striking the mirror behind the chair where I normally sit and was being reflected to the drawer beside where Linda normally sits. What was different was it was striking the very edge of the mirror which was acting like a prism. This was the result.
Of course the highlight of the evening was our Mastermind match, and as you can see Linda had gotten over her embarrassment of the drubbing I had given her the last time we played and was rally into reclaiming her top position.
Of course I just couldn't let the opportunity pass without adding my two cents, which in Linda's mind quickly escalated into a million dollars. After a number of rather terse comments about how I was trying to distract her, she took the board and left for a while. That didn't do her much good either as it opened her up to charges of blatant cheating. Why else would she take the board off by herself other than to look at where the pegs were? That of course was the wrong thing for me to imply, but eventually everything returned to normal, I quite singing, humming, laughing and clapping my hands, the common things a person can do, but the things she called distracting, while she stopped cheating and returned to her chair.
While we were playing I started noticing movement behind Linda. It was something small and it was moving very fast. It took a few tries, I think she thought I was just trying to distract her, but eventually Linda also saw it. That meant we had to get a picture so we could identify it. By this time there was hardly any light, but the superior abilities of my wife's husband resulted in a photo. It turned out to be a kangaroo rat, or at least that's exactly what it looks like.
It was one of those days that takes on a life of it's own, but thanks to our guide, Sara N. Dippity, we had a great time.