January 1 Thursday
Well so much for at least one of my minor resolutions. Here it is, the new year and already I find myself behind in the Daily Journal. That's not a good situation to be in for someone who promised themselves to return to the habits of long ago when the Daily Journal was the first and most important thing they did every morning. I can recall what my Dad would say if he were here now, "It's for the birds Bobby" is what I would hear. Lost deep in the throes of the Internet this morning, it wasn't any different than if it had been many years ago when i was a boy. Most likely I'd either have been lost in the Saturday morning shows on TV, or more likely curled up with a book. Some things just never change.
You can also tell that I never got away from those birds, but by the looks of this bunch, they definitely have a goal in mind and are pursuing it. The family bird person has identified them as cowbirds and blackbirds. The family non-bird person calls them big, loud birds. Got to hand it to those feathered fiends though, they know what they want and are doing everything in their power to get it. That is a finch feeder they're perched on, and it was fun watching them try to fit a size 10 beak into a size 4 hole and get some size 2 thistle seed.
They are just another instance of what makes this such a neat place, of course the frequent visits by the Hummingbirds contribute mightily, especially when Linda has counted three in the air at the feeder at once. You can bet that causes problems, since there are only two feeding spots. Besides that, Hummers are territorial and it isn't long before there is only one left. Speaking of feeding, breakfast was special, what with the dried cherries in the oatmeal this morning. What a great way to start the new year.
Given the fact Linda was fortified with that great tasting food, plus she was also smiling over the fact that I was as good as my word and was indeed fixing meals again this year, it wasn't long before she was engaged in something that often happens at this time of year, the attack of the cleaning person. I know it is not a resolution on her part, more than likely just a recognition that something didn't get done last year, but whatever it is, she was the incarnation of a whirling dervish.
Just like those dervishes, notice the blur of the woman's hand in the photo. If there was any dirt still remaining after the cleaning solution had done it's job, the shear speed of the hand would have vaporized it. I'll just bid my time and wait to see how long this burst of domesticity lasts, but something tells me, it's half-life is going to be on the order of Nobelium. Speaking of Whirling Dervishes, it is hard to believe that just a few months we will be in Turkey actually seeing them. Another of Life's unexpected joys, that little something you heard about in school many, many years ago actually coming true. Life is indeed grand.
Back on the subject of work, it also goes without saying that if Linda is going to work, she's also going to have Bob working. But since there was no mention of cleaning in any wild New Year's promises on my part, it was up to Linda to find something to keep busy me. That sure didn't take long and before I knew it, I was the designated sprayperson. That table top we were working on yesterday was not yet finished, and in more ways than one. While the appearance of the top after the application of the stain was exquisite, the final touch would be the finish coat. That being Deft spray lacquer finish, lacquer being the finish that was originally used throughout the coach.
It is semi-gloss, and does it ever look nice. We had gone for almost three years without one of these steering wheel table toppers, seeing no need for one. Now that we have it, it's one of those things you look back on and realize that ignorance was bliss, but knowledge is sublime. I have to laugh as I think about the discussions we had in the Home Depot as we debated whether or not to buy something and what to buy.
Of course we did buy the size Linda wanted, it was to small, instead of the one I wanted, but as soon as we got it home, Linda realized the error of her ways and we ended up returning the first one. This one is 24 inches in diameter, while the first was only 18 inches. There was also the question of what material, wood, plastic or something else it should be made of and whether to buy one already pre-cut or cut it ourselves. This one is quite thick, much thicker than what is actually needed, but when all is said and done, it really, really looks nice, and hence was the right choice. All we have to do is put it on the bed when we travel and as soon as we stop it's one of the first things out.
Obviously we weren't the only people with New Year's goals, though at first glance you had to seriously wonder what they had in mind. For example, take this sight that we noticed out the window.
That's one of those head snappers for sure, but on second glance, I realized he wasn't vacuuming the desert, he was vacuuming a mat in front of their RV. Maybe staying out in the desert to long will do strange things to you. I had to admit that the first thing that came to mind was the lyrics from the 1972 hit song by America, especially the lines, The heat was hot and the ground was dry, But the air was full of sound.
Once the work was done, at least to the degree that Linda found acceptable (meaning I had to spray three coats of lacquer on each side of the table top) it was time to relax. That was when the reason why we head south when autumn begins evolving into winter became apparent. On the other hand, where we always lived in the Sacramento area was also a place where the winters weren't winter at all compared to those years we had lived back in Ohio when we were growing up. Of course in just a few weeks we will be heading across the border, traveling even further south in search of even better weather. But for now, daytime highs around 70 and nighttime lows around 50 will just have to do. Sometimes when life is tough we just have to suck it up.
Eventually all good things must come to an end, or in my case, the final coat of lacquer was applied and the time for relaxation was at hand. That was when Linda announced that we needed to get the fire ready, so once again there was no rest for the weary one. I dutifully made the fire, and Linda just as dutifully enjoyed it.
I think that "Fireside chat" is the perfect caption for that photo. Linda sat by the side of the fire and chatted about what I should do. Some things just go on year after year without ever changing. The only problem is that now I hear everything she says. In the past, with my hearing problems I could just tune her out, now with these hearing aids I have to listen to everything she says. Think it's about time that I reread the instruction booklet that came with them and learn how to use the quiet button. Now wouldn't that throw the little lady for a loop. She'd never know whether I had them in the listen mode or the quiet mode. Something tells me that is a step that I probably shouldn't take, especially if I want to enjoy many more happy years of existence.
Later she tore herself away from planning our time in Europe (notice the map spread out on the counter) to help with dinner. There wasn't much to do, just microwave the pork and sauerkraut we had cooked last week, then make the mashed potatoes. For someone who actually got physically ill when they ate cooked cauliflower, I've come a long way these past three and a half years. It's gotten to the point where I actually prefer the South Beach style cauliflower mashed potatoes to the real thing. Call it what you will. I call it delicious, and besides, the calorie difference is also something to crow about.
We had a wonderful candlelight dinner, eating the same food I have had on almost every New Year's day throughout my many decades of existence. It's a small reminder of the tie that binds us to the past, and to those who came before.
It's been some time since I used those words, but today they seem appropriate. In 2009 may the adventure be with each and every one of us.
January 2 Friday
I must admit that I am trainable. For the last several days I have adopted a new routine for the morning. No, its not the fact that once again I am writing the Daily Journal on a daily basis. It's that I have started putting my hearing aids in as soon as I get up. Everything is so different when I am wearing them. Guess they are just like glasses. You don't think you need them, but when you do get them, they take a while getting used to. Then before you know it, they are the first thing you put on in the morning and the last thing off.
I do admit to neither remembering the part about not knowing you need glasses, nor the time it took to get used to them, but then I was in 6th grade when I got my first pair. That was something I will never forget though, especially the unmerciful teasing from the girls. Maybe that scared me to the point where it took so long before I was willing to accept hearing aids. Oh well, what it was no longer matters, but just think, if we could just see into the future, then what a different world it would be. Speaking of seeing, here's what we see out the front of the coach.
That gives you an idea of the type of terrain where we are parked, it also shows the decorations we now have in our coach. Our Christmas Tree is as pretty as ever, of course it is artificial so it isn't going to drop any needles. It does have one special pine cone on it, a small red glass ornament that hung on my fathers tree, starting back in the 1920's when he was a boy. Those are the connections that I love, and needless to say it is hanging right where I can see it. The amaryllis and caladium are past their prime, the amaryllis down to one bloom and the caladium, a sparse shadow of its former self.
I do have to agree with Linda that the steering wheel table topper we made, or maybe I should say "finished" sure does look nice. Something tells me this is not the last project that we are going to do this year. Maybe the word "project" isn't exactly the right one to use, but it sure is emblematic of the change in ones life when the transition from living in a house to living in an RV has been made. Before a project was something where Linda and I would repaint a room and install new carpet, or if we were really ambitious, completely remodel the kitchen. Now it's "finishing" a table topper. Is it any wonder our health is so good and our outlook on Life so wonderful.
While I was admiring what we had done, Linda was moving on to what needed to be done, and I have to admit that there is a lot of that to be done. The "that" which needs to be done is in relation to what we will doing from the end of March to the middle of July, which is traveling once again in Europe. When it comes to all the little things, those nagging details, I'm out of my league, but it's a league where Linda is an MVP, so we go great together. One of the early things I did was set up a spreadsheet to use as a calender for the trip. She has taken my beginning efforts and made it into a most useful tool, down to having things color coded so she can tell at a glance the what and where of our trip.
Most of the day was spend trying to get caught up on the website, and doing computer housekeeping tasks. One interesting thing was the retieval of a bottle of wine from the depths of the coach. It was one of those back of the closet deals from the house and certainly brought back memories, even to point of both of us recalling the precise place and experience when we bought it. It was a small wine store located behind Chapel Hill Mall in Akron, Ohio and the wine was purchased because Linda didn't drink red wine and I was at that time working in the rubber industry, hence the connection with the label.
A close up of the front of the label. That price of $3.93 was big bucks for us to spend back in those days. As I recall our wine of choice was Sangria in the big jugs. The dark streak is a little spillage on the label. Whether it came from leakage of this bottle or from one of the other bottles from the same cabinet (I had to throw several other bottles out because the corks were decomposing and the contents mostly gone) will have to wait until the wine has been smelled and tasted.
The back label. Now that I read the label, this wine is sure full of firsts. I've also got to believe it's the first bottle of 1975 Johannisberg Riesling from The Firestone Vineyard to be drank in 2009, anywhere on earth.
At last it was time to open the bottle. It was easy to tell this was an old bottle just from the foil, which was lead. It was in the early 90's when they discontinued using lead in favor of materials that were less likely to give you lead poisoning. The second thing I noticed was that there was a small air space in the bottle, the third thing was the aroma.
Wikipedia has an article on this type of wine and one of the comments on aged Riesling is regarding the aroma. "With time, Riesling wines tend to acquire a petrol note (goût petrol in French) which is sometimes described with associations to kerosene, lubricant or rubber." Furthermore "...the petrol note is in fact more likely to develop in top wines than in simpler wines made from high-yielding vineyards, especially those from the New World, where irrigation is common." I had to love the comment about the "rubber" association, especially since that was only reason we had bought it in the first place, The association of Firestone and the rubber industry. The whole wikipedia article is interesting if looking for something to pass a little time, and can be found here.
Now it was time to pour, and low and behold, the rich amber color of an aged wine appeared. Then it was time for the true test, the taste test. Swirl, sniff, sip, slosh, swallow. Both of us pronounced it very good. When it comes to wine we both are no-nothings, but we do know what we like and we both found this to be a very good tasting wine. If I had to describe it I'd say it is deep in taste, somewhat thick and reminds me of a very smooth dessert wine with out any of the overpowering sweetness. As far as the petrol or rubber was concerned, this being a New World wine as they put it, just didn't taste anything like like what a mouthful of gasoline tastes like when you don't get the tube out of your mouth fast enough when siphoning some gasoline. Also, after those early years in the rubber industry, I still remember very vividly what a rubber factory smells like, and there was none of either in this bottle.
Given this experience we decided that we would wait to fix our evening meal and ended up having a wonderful candlelight dinner. It turned out to be one of those days where things weren't as they seemed or perhaps held a bit of the O. Henry, Gift of the Magi story. Yesterday Linda had informed me that today we would be going for a drive right after breakfast, so when I dressed this morning, I put on my hiking boots. Then all day long I waited and waited for her to say she was ready to go. She, on the other hand saw how engrossed I was in the computer and so decided to let me do my thing, figuring if she said anything about going for a drive a I would less than happy after being wrenched away from what I was doing.
It was in the evening when she first noticed I had my hiking boots on, and asked me why. I told her it was because she had so emphatically declared last night that we would be going out today. She then asked "Then why didn't you say something about going today?" My reply was "I figured you'd just tell me when you wanted to go." At this point we both smiled and laughed. Something tells me that we are going for a drive tomorrow. Guess the moral of the tale is to not be afraid to say what is on your mind, you never know what the the reaction will be, but it will probably be better than saying nothing at all and holding it inside you. Now if I can just learn to follow my own advice.
January 3 Saturday
How often are sunset images placed on websites in comparison to sunrise images. How easy it is to remember those spectacular sunsets and how few and far between the equally spectacular sunrises. I remember many years ago we were tent camping in Zion National Park and every morning, long before sunrise the wind would start howling through the canyon. It sure woke me up, but even if it hadn't the grizzly snoozing next to me certainly would've. After a few days of this I took to arising and taking a hike up the wall of the canyon, sitting there and watching the sun come up. The light slowly filled the sky, the bright light of the sunbeams climbing higher and higher on the opposite wall, making for a spectacular show of natures power. It was a special show not many people saw.
I do admit to being a morning person which certainly helps with the getting up early part of the equation, but this is one of the few times we have had the coach oriented so that the sun was rising out the front window. As I sit in the early morning darkness, looking at the glowing computer screen before me, the first hints of the coming day begin to appear. That's my signal to get up and open the front curtains. Not all the way, just enough so that I can watch the day begin. It's one of the advantages of being a morning person, we get to enjoy both ends of the day, the rising and setting of the sun.
You could also bet your boots I had mine on, my boots that is. I knew what we were going to be doing today and was ready for it. I was also determined to get the Daily Journal written at a more appropriate hour today. That meant breakfast was going to have to slip some, at least timewise. That's where Linda stepped in. First thing I know, she is rummaging around in the bedroom looking for something. Turned out to be the persimmons, which she didn't want to get so ripe they started to ooze out into the box she had them stored in. Next thing I know she wants me to get the little food processor out and she is peeling and processing persimmons.
I may have been in the writing zone, but there are certain things which can penetrate the shell I erect. Linda's voice was not one of them but something she was doing certainly was. I don't know if you noticed it or not but in the bottom left corner of that image is what got my attention.
Not content with perfectly processing persimmons, she was also fixing breakfast. Part of me was grateful, the hungry part, while the want to write part was most definitely leery. I could only think that the pressure on me to finish writing and start driving was going to be ratcheted up in short order. The funny thing was that we both finished at about the same time, she getting to enjoy what I wrote while editing it, while I enjoyed sausage and eggs. Owens sausage that is, which in this part of the country is the best kind, being made by the Bob Evans people, makers of the best sausage on earth.
If you don't believe me, just ask my former co-worker Carl, the man who's goal it is to convince the uninitiated to the wonders of Bob Evan's sausage. He's the man who is single handedly trying to instill the world with a religious fervor for sausage. His motto: Sausage gravy is not food, it's a beverage. By the way, he does his regular paying job with the same fervor, which is one of the main reasons why it is so successful. Now if his boss only knew he'd work for just Bob Evans sausage and golf, but I better not go there lest I get us both in trouble. Him with his boss and me with him. His boss is an ex Army Ranger while Carl is a great big guy so I'm dropping this line right here. Dumb Bob.
At last Linda figured out that I was stalling, edited the post, and told me to get it uploaded to the Internet now, or if not then we'd go and I could upload it after we returned. I found out that I upload the Daily Journal much faster than I had previously thought, and soon after, with a light lunch in hand, off we went. We had decided to explore the back side of the LTVA area today, taking the road away from the area where we had entered the LTVA. Since we were parked near the edge of the permissible camping area, it wasn't long before the landscape had changed from being dotted with RVs to nothing but dirt roads.
This a case of where does the road go, with it supposedly going around the lakes formed by the Imperial Dam. That didn't prove to be case because after several miles of up and down travel, over steep hills and down through dry washes, like the one shown in the above image, we arrived at the end of the road. A solitary white gate blocked the road and signs warned of no trespassing, dam ahead. It was one of those moments when a photo was called for, which in turn could be called: The end of the Dam Road. Of course, it was only after we had driven several miles back the way we had come that I thought about this. Oh well, sometimes you win and sometimes you....
By this time our travels had brought us back near to where we had started, yet there was one other road we could take. A rather innocuous sign showed the way with the words: Ferguson Lake, and so with our appetite for exploration unsatisfied, off we went. This road was similar to the previous one with the exception that it seemed to have no end. We drove, and we drove, but no lake, nor white gate appeared. At last something appeared, something Linda had been wanting to get a photo of since we had arrived.
They blend in fairly well with their surroundings, but those are two wild burros in that photo.
We continued on the road and the terrain became flatter, then suddenly it was going up and down once again. Some of the ups and downs were getting quite steep. So steep that when you were cresting a rise it was impossible to see if anyone was coming up the other side. Since this was the exact opposite of a freeway at rush hour, we had no problems in that regard, only meeting one vehicle on our way in and one our way out. To avoid any remarks by my editor I had better mention the two vehicles that past by the spot where we were stopped for lunch.
When we finally made it all the way to the top, the view was certainly different, with Ferguson Lake spreading out below us and signs of civilization in the distance.
We decided to drive down to the lake and find a spot to eat our lunch, which was when we ran into a small problem. Turning off the road to park it was a case of what can go wrong will go wrong. First it wasn't level, it was an upgrade, second it required a sharp turn, third this sand was not hard packed like the road, it was soft, soft as in very soft, especially where it had been recently graded. Lastly the Explorer was not in 4 wheel drive, and the results were predictable.
My first thought was to tell Linda not to worry, with a little work I'd have us out of here. My second thought was that all this was her fault because she'd agreed with my commmet about this looking like a good spot to pull off the road. My third was to keep my mouth shut for the time being. While we were close to having the frame resting on the ground, there was still a little space, and by digging out a small hole and placing a board in it, I was able to get the jack under the spring shackle and start the process of getting us out.
After jacking it up so I could fit a couple of 2x4's under the tire, then raising the jack the same way, then repeating the process, it wasn't long before everything had returned to ground level.
Now the easy way would have been to put it into 4 wheel drive, something I had tried to do as soon as I realized what a bad spot Linda had gotten us in [Editors comment: Who got us us in this bad spot?]. The problem was I couldn't get it to go into 4 wheel drive. Naturally once we were out and back on the road, it decided that it did want to go into 4 wheel drive.
It had been an interesting drive, one with a lot of fun, and a little moment of fright. As always the drive back was far shorter than the drive in and it was good to once again see the RVs in the distance.
As you can see, the terrain here is certainly different from the flat lands at La Posa North where we stay up near Quartzsite. I guess we could sum up the day by saying we got off the beaten track today, stuck to what we were doing, and arrived safely at our destination.
January 4 Sunday
Had an interesting thing happen this morning, something which relates to my new reality. I was sitting there in the early morning darkness reading the latest news from LinuxToday.com, when I noticed the hearing aid charger lights were all showing green. I've gotten to the point where those hearing aids are already a necessity, so I put them in without hesitation. That was when I noticed a strange coincidence. It was at the same time that I was putting those two hearing aids in my ears that the weather changed and the wind really started to pick up.
Before long it was blowing and gusting making all kinds of noises that I could readily hear. Later, after Linda had started her day I commented how the wind had suddenly started blowing this morning. "What do you mean, suddenly started blowing?" she asked. I explained to her that around 6:30 the front they had predicted must have come through because the wind started blowing. "But the wind was blowing all night long" she said, adding "And I didn't notice it pick up this morning." That was when my new reality once again dawned on both of us.
Each day brings a new revelation as to the depth of the loss of the world around me that I was experiencing before Dec 17th. As I reflect upon this new reality I'm not sure what has had the bigger impact on my Life; our decision to quit our jobs and live the full time Life or the addition of the sounds around me to my world. I guess I'll be content with the former resulting in lengthening my life, while the latter improves the quality of my Life. Yet somehow, improving quality doesn't say enough because it is more like giving me a whole new Life.
With the wind rocking the coach and the temperatures a good ten degrees colder than yesterday, it was a day to stay indoors. One thing about living in an RV with slides, there are going to be air leaks. Leaks which are magnified when the wind blows, and the stronger and colder the wind, the colder the coach. Today, for the first time this winter, we had to run the Wave 6 Heater for a while during the day.
It was a good day for me to get caught up on the Daily Journal, adding that day I am behind to the finished list. Unfortunately my mind just wasn't in it, so still a day behind. As usual the editor had her turn at it after I was done, but what I ended up with was not a lecture on the number of grammatical errors, but rather a great big congratulatory thank you. Seems like I have turned over a new leaf, going four days now without once having a double word in a sentence.
It occurred to me at the time that I had the perfect answer to Linda's comment, but I decided I'd better not go there. However I can only keep it in so long and it has come time to share it. My take on it was that I couldn't hear myself think before, so I kept repeating myself as I typed. Now I can easily hear the sound of the keys and hence am fully aware of what I am typing, meaning the double words are no more. Something tells me I was smart in not bringing this up with Linda yesterday, but who knows, maybe it is true.
Now it may look like the Editor-in-Chief of this Daily Journal is displaying something akin to a severe case of ADD, but rest assured that is not the case. I can only presume she is resting her eyes after the arduous task of wading through the deep depths of wondrous words that I have daringly displayed for her to effectively edit.
The demeanor displayed by Linda was about how the remainder of the day passed for both of us. A day filled with the occasional clicking of the keyboard, the sounds of our Mexico theme song filling the coach, and all the while, the ever changing rhythms of the wind outside. Speaking of our Mexico theme song, perhaps I should elaborate. When we were in Tucson visiting my cousin Steve and his wonderful wife, Anna, we had the opportunity to attend a performance of a choral group Steve is a member of, The Sons of Orpheus. The performance was part of the annual Holiday Concert fundraiser for the Tucson Community Food Bank, and it was here that we had our first contact with what would end up being the perfect song of our upcoming group expedition to Puerto Penasco.
The Master of Ceremonies, who was also a singer in the Sons of Orpheus, was a gentleman by the name of Jim Hogan. It turned out that besides being a very successful business owner, he was also a songwriter and singer. To help raise additional funds, he donated a number of his CD's which could be purchased with all the proceeds going to the fundraiser. Thanks to Steve, we ended up with one of those CD's.
It took us a few days to crack the plastic wrapper, but once we did we were treated to some great songs. If you want to hear them, clips of them, along with many other songs by the Sons of Orpheus are available on the above website. The one we are going to use for our Mexico trip is: Another Cerveza Would Be Nice, a clip of which can be found on this page.
We find it interesting that our two favorite CD's aren't something from any of the well known singers or groups, but rather from a girl from North Carolina who wrote and recorded her own songs, the late Christine Smith and now, Jim Hogan from Tucson. Isn't that what Life is really all about, enjoying the small unknown pleasures far from the maddening crowd, where it is possible to get caught up in something so simple as the Joy of Living. May this day have brought some Joy to Your Life.
January 5 Monday
It was easy to tell the difference between yesterday morning and this morning even before I got out of bed. All I had to do was poke my nose out to discover it was certainly colder this morning. Once up, a glance at the thermometer told the story, it was 41 degrees outside, about 10 degrees colder than it had been for the past week. Now I wasn't planning on going outside to do anything, but that didn't matter since the difference was just as apparent inside the coach. Needless to say, the Wave 6 Heater was aimed at me this morning and my fingers didn't move quite as fast on the keyboard.
Maybe that's where Linda's brains come into play as she seemed to remain in bed a bit longer than normal. By the time she was up, her coffee made and I had started breakfast, it was already over 60 inside. Not warm by some people's standards, but it was comfortable enough for us.
Breakfast was one of our standbys; onions, Canadian Bacon, garlic and eggs. Now that I've learned to cook and eat my scrambled eggs the way Linda likes hers (a little on the soft side) she seems to enjoy breakfast more than ever. The need for me to eat eggs cooked to the consistency of shoe leather stems from an incident involving the eating of a raw egg when I was a kid. Ever since that day, if you couldn't use the egg to pound in a nail, it wasn't cooked enough for me. Between the soft boiled eggs we ate so often during our trip to Europe this past summer, and the scrambled eggs I'm now cooking it looks like I'm returning to normalcy, at least as far as eating eggs are concerned. Well maybe not quite, because something tells me that neither a sunny side up fried egg, nor a poached one is going to soon be seen on my plate.
We had planned on driving around the other side of the Imperial Dam LTVA today, and that was what Linda was going to make sure we did. It turned out to be not much of an adventure, and the LTVA, at least the areas that were flat enough to park an RV on, was not nearly as large as we had thought it was. As we had driven up here on the way in, there were boondocking areas that we could see off either side of Senator Wash road. What we didn't know was that except for one small exception, what we were seeing from the road was pretty much all the available space, so Quartzsite it is not.
One thing that really makes it different from Quartzsite is the water, and so once we were done driving around the boondocking area, we headed over toward the dam area.
Those white dots in the distance are RVs parked up on the mesa area where we are staying. Below the dam or levee was a large asphalt parking area that had RVs parked on it. It turned out to be a camping area, though there were actually very few people parked there. Parked is the correct term since that all it was, a parking area with no hookups. Since it was next to the boat ramp it was convenient if you were a boater. It didn't look to be part of the LTVA and we didn't see any of the red LTVA stickers on any of the RVs.
The white area along the shoreline in the distance is a beach we visited several days ago. It was on the first road we took that day, one took before driving to Ferguson Lake. The LTVA does not appear to extend down to the Lake, though there was a small area over by that beach that had restrooms and you could tell that people definitely camp there. There were also signs posted all over the place telling you that it was a fee area. Today it is still a mystery to us, tomorrow, who knows what we will know. Now that's a profound statement for this early hour of the day.
The rest of the day was spent inside the coach except for a brief time in the late afternoon when the wind died down and the pyro-bug bit the pyro-mom. First I noticed she is gone from the coach, and I must have been lost deep in thought for her to slip out unnoticed. Later I was shelling some peanuts when I discovered the box I always throw the hulls in was gone. Peeking out the window solved the problem, and I soon joined her.
She certainly looked like she was enjoying herself, reading about the sites in Barcelona and burning all our paper trash. Thinking I would do something nice, I got her a small glass of wine. She looked at it, asked me if that was the last of it and when I replied in the affirmative, she told me to back inside and bring the box out so she could burn it. Looks like I'm back being part of the servant/slave class once again.
Maybe I should rebel, after all this isn't a one way street, or is it? I've been after her for months now to fix my slave bracelet, but she always has some kind of excuse why she can't. I hope she hasn't taken on some of my traits. Maybe I should just lead a one man rebellion and refuse to do these things. How about proclaiming: no bracelet, no bondage. Something tells me that would only get me into deeper dodo, but then again.
The great thing about writing HTML is that you have to put in the tags when you start a new paragraph, something that takes time and yields an opportunity to reflect upon what has just been written. That little break gave we time to think, and the thought that popped into mind was something I once read: Go ahead and take a risk, it gives the rest of the world something to laugh at. I don't think I'll be approaching Linda about the bracelet, better to just let sleeping grizzlies snore away. May we all have something to laugh at today, something that gives a lift to our spirits without bringing harm to anyone else.
January 6 Tuesday
Important day today. Not for what is going to happen, but for what once happened. It was 42 years ago tonight that I went on a blind date with a skinny girl who had the most fantastic smile I'd ever seen in my life. Needless to say that meeting changed both her and my life, and 42 years later I've still never seen a prettier smile on anyones face. As far as the skinny part girl part, let me just say that she is still one very attractive woman.
This also turned out to be a day very much like yesterday, a day spent indoors. I was working mightily to get caught up on the Daily Journal, something I managed to do by completing two posts by the end of the day. If you've read yesterday's Journal, you might recall the part about me being once again enslaved, but there were thoughts of rebellion fomenting in my gray matter, and how the lack of desire on her part of repairing my bracelet was playing a major factor in this potentially egregious act on my part.
Once the Journal was written, I had to pry her away from a Yahoo! Messenger conversation with her sister Katherine so Linda could work her editorial magic. I will say that whenever I finish with my writing she is always willing to immediately preform her editorial chores, which I think has more to do with reading what I've written than feeling the same sense of ergency to get it up on the Internet that I do. She was sitting there reading away and making the occasional correction, when she jumped up and went over to her computer.
Next thing I know she is dragging me over beside her, saying, "Look at this, look at this." I look and notice that in amongst all the smiley and frowny faces, along with a bunch of other symbols I couldn't make sense of, there were some words. That's what she is pointing and jabbering about. I did have my hearing aids in, wouldn't be caught without them, but the words were coming so fast and furious that it was difficult to make any sense of them. (I can guarantee you this behavior was most certainly not on display during that blind date.) Looking at the words I can see references to a bracelet, and finally it all comes together, she had been texting to Katherine about fixing my bracelet.
I think she noticed a look of skepticism on my face, because the next thing I know she's talking about how you can see the time stamp showing when the message was entered. Soon it was on the screen and she pointed out she typed this message over 45 minutes ago and thus was already planning to fix the bracelet today. And true to her word, once she was finished bragging about how smart she was, out came the needle, thread, tweezers, high intensity lamp, and magnifying glass.
As she worked, it was becoming more and more apparent that something wasn't going to plan. The problem being too many repair jobs on the past. There were so many threads through those tiny beads that it was proving impossible for her to take it apart so she could fix it. Probably the smart thing to have done was to not have said a word and just let her get mad and quit. Not me though, I had to say something. which lead not to a confrontation but rather to me being the one who figured out a way to remove those tiny beads. You'd almost think I actually wanted that bracelet fixed so I could wear it again.
Before long the beads were once again going in the right direction, onto the bracelet instead of off of it, then came the fittings to adjust it to the correct size. Originally she had made it a little big and it was its tendency to slip so much on my wrist that contributed to the fraying problem. That wasn't going to be case now, though for a second I was wondering if it was going to be too tight, with the result being that my hand would someday drop off from lack of blood flow. Fortunately the last adjustment got the size "just right", and all was well.
That of course is only half of the story, showing the name of the goddess who rules over me. The other part was what my position is in the goddess's life.
Once my position in the coach's pecking order was once again established by the placing of that black and gold band on my wrist, I wasn't sure what would happen. Maybe she's mellowed out, or maybe she's just satisfied with where things are, but whatever it was, she let me off easy for the rest of the day. That didn't mean I was excused from my regular duties, like cooking dinner, but at least she didn't have me washing out the black tank or something like that.
Since it was a special day, I had decided to cook a special meal, fillet mignon, broccoli and salad topped with her favorite dressing and crowned with lots of blue cheese. There's that goddess thing slipping in again, "crowned". We'd been carrying those fillets around for close to three months and it was high time to eat them. The only problem was they were about one third the thickness of a regular fillet, which would require a little adjustment in the grilling time. The only problem was that instead of grilling for two thirds less time, I grilled them for one third less time, or twice as long as I should have. The results were predictable, steaks that looked great and tasted good, but had a texture that left something to be desired. Guess I'm about worth what she pays me.
If you have a day to remember something special, why not have a few things to remember it by. We didn't give anything to each other on that first date except a small spark that was fanned into 41 years of marriage, but now that the smoke has cleared, we do the gift thing. Here Linda is with her new top I picked out for our trip to Europe this summer. Last year I kept losing her because she would wear a different color every day, this year it's going to be different. She looks great in red and red is going to be her color, at least that is until she wears something different.
Life is good, though none of us know what the next moment will bring. I thank all the stars in the sky for bringing that skinny Appalachian hill girl into my life those many years ago. I wonder what would have happened if I'd have replied differently when my college room mate had asked me to drive he and his date somewhere that night. What if I'd have said, "No, I've got to study for a test", instead of saying "Only if you get me a date too." Maybe the fellow who said: "We make our on luck", had it right.
January 7 Wednesday
This was going to be one of those honey do days, the type that come after the wife gets something new for the house. The day it either has to get put together or installed. Since there wasn't any putting together to be done, it was shaping up as a installation day. Of course the first order of business was to have the desire to do the job. Linda was going to see to it that my nose was put to the grindstone. The second was to have the energy to do the job, and the onion scrambled eggs that I fixed took care of that.
It wasn't that I didn't want to start, it was just that I get easily distracted in these situations. First there was the need to do some web surfing, then there was the view out the window where we were treated to a strange sight. I wouldn't say that we are located at the ocean, but what appeared outside the window made it difficult to believe otherwise.
I'm not sure exactly what that gull was finding here in the middle of the desert, maybe he was flying over and saw a mirage. Maybe it was Jonathon Livingston or Fletcher Gull come to give me a lesson in Life. What with the the amount of procrastinating I was doing, maybe I needed one of their lessons on what could be accomplished. Conceive - Believe - Achieve. Whatever the reason for its appearance, it didn't take long before it was joined by several friends.
Linda was just as fascinated by the gulls as I was, but soon enough she was pointing out there were other things to do today beside watch birds. With that admonishment I got out my tools and went to work. Today's project was removal and installation and the focus was her computer. For the longest time she has had to put up with what could be charitably called: a second rate setup. Oh, we had certainly made some improvements, the LCD monitor, the added memory, and the DVD-RW, but there were still two nagging things that hadn't been fixed. That was until yesterday.
Her presents had included a new wireless mouse and a thin, spill proof keyboard. Her old mouse was a constant problem because the cable was always in the way. As for the keyboard, the cord was too short and she had a storage issue. The new wireless mouse would solve one of the problems, while her new keyboard would take care of the other. One problem she has repeatedly had was the fact that any USB plug in the front of the CPU was subject to being kicked and broken, something which had done in several accessories, the lastest being her previous wireless adapter.
Those problems were about to disappear, but first came the task of removing the existing peripherals. Normally that would be easy, but because of how we had threaded the cables through the cabinet, there was some major disassembling in the offing.
Soon the CPU, printer and scanner were removed from the base cabinet and the monitor from the upper. Then it was time to attack the various cables that had been threaded between them. The only way to get at them was to remove the panel lining the inside of the cabinet.
The biggest problem was the small space that I had to work in, though by keeping in mind that it was a good exercise, it was more tolerable. The good part was that I had done this once before, with the exception that it was installation rather than removal, but at least I had an idea of what to do. Of course things are never as easy as they seem, and before long the facing on the TV had been removed, along with the set to gain access to one of those, "it wouldn't come out" situations.
Since I had access to the TV, it seemed like a good time to see if we could use it as a large screen second monitor. A little jury rigging of the cables and it was test time.
It worked like a charm, so now we have to buy another cable when we are down in Yuma on Friday. That meant it couldn't be reassembled for several days, and that being the case, why not tear some more of the cabinet apart. When they had constructed the base cabinet they had not supported the floor very well, and over the past three years a very noticeable sag had developed in it. It was time to fix that, so out came the floor. The solution was to put several braces in the provide better support. Working with what we had, we discovered several pieces of the firewood we had brought were the perfect size to do the job.
Since one support would do an OK job, why not use two to do a better job. That was when we ran into a question of where to put the screws to secure the floor to those pieces of wood. I did some measuring and asked Linda to remember the numbers. She had a better idea, write them down, which she did.
Looks like she learned how the contractors do it working those years in the construction industry. Eventually we got things put back together to the point where she could work on her computer, even if the house was still a little torn up.
It was amazing that when it came to eat dinner neither of us was particularly hungry, and Linda surprised me by offering to cook. As you can see it was more a case of "open" than "cook", but from the cheese slices, through the peanut butter and jelly on crackers to the hot dogs, it sure was good.
I'm not sure whether that photo should be captioned: You didn't take my picture did you?, or Great end to a great day. Regardless, we had accomplished a great deal more than we set out to at the beginning of the day. I guess some days are like that, which is the wonderful thing about living our Life. May most of your days also be great ones.
January 8 Thursday
So why exactly is that girl with the gorgeous smile covering her head like that. To see the answer you needed to be there, because no sooner I snapped the picture than her hairstylist genes took over. She may have just used her hands and fingers, but it made a dramatic difference her appearance. The best I can do is say that her hair was something that a mother could certainly use to frighten a child such that they would do anything they were asked.
Each morning we joke about turning on the heater on in the bedroom, even though we don't have a heater, at least in the traditional sense. Yes, we do have a furnace that is just for the back of the coach, and yes we do have a heat pump back there. The other option is the Wave 6 Catalytic heater, which has a hose long enough to reach to the back, however none of those are is I am referring to.
That's what I was referring to, which is the window shade. We are parked in such a way the sun shines in through the bedroom window most of the day and the little woman has discovered that by opening the shade the sun will make the room quite comfortable by the end of the day. You have to understand that in the three years we have lived in the coach those shades have always remained closed. You learn something new everyday.
Between styling her tresses and engaging in some house warming, she discovered she was in the work mode, so that is what she did. One project she wanted to tackle today was taking down of the Christmas decorations. With the tree it is pretty easy since the lights and most of the ornaments remain on it and then it is stuffed in a plastic bag and stored rear overhead compartments, while all the other things go in a single small box. When Linda gets to working, brother can she ever go at it, just look at those fingers fly.
Of course there is a price to pay when the lower classes make fun of the upper crust, and crusty is exactly what Linda became once she saw what I was doing. "Don't you think today would be a good day to install the CB radio?" were the words I heard in short order. She followed it up with some words of wisdom concerning the fact that if we needed anything else to finish the installation we could get it in Yuma tomorrow. I took that as the strongest of hints and was soon groveling at her feet.
I'm willing to concede that groveling may not be entirely correct, but most subservient would certainly be appropriate. This is the great hunt for the antenna cable which was well hidden but eventually located after what proved to be a larger undertaking than anticipated. You might also note the glasses laying on the seat, one of the prices of attaining the status of senior citizen. It was a case of I can't see with them on, but neither can I see with them off. Off was determined to be the lesser of the two evils, so off with them it was.
This gives an idea of what I was looking up into trying to find that elusive wire. Eventually I decided that bolder measures were needed and a partial disassembly of the coach was in order. After my experience with the computer cabinet this was becoming second nature to me and Linda's comment, "I think you like taking things apart", was probably closer to the truth than I'd care to admit.
I was sure I had found the right wire, the only problem was it was only about three inches long, and try as I might, I couldn't get any more wire to pull out. The mass of wires in the A pillar had one labeled Firestik, which had to be the one I wanted. Unfortunately it just wouldn't pull out any further. I was proposing further disassembly of the coaches interior when Linda decided to stop playing photographer and see if she could help.
That meant I could now play photographer, though our reversal of roles was fleeting as she made no more progress than I had. Finally we removed the lower trim panel, exposing the problem. They had wrapped the bundle of wires with duct tape at several places along the pillar, most likely to keep them in place while the trim panel was installed. I didn't take long to pull the extra wire down once the problem was uncovered.
Here is the object of all this work finally exposed and ready for the installation to take place.
Once the antenna wire was accessible, it was a matter of mounting the radio, connecting the power and it was done. Of course there was also the reassembly of the trim pieces, but once I discovered the wrong way to reinstall them, the right was apparent and it didn't take long.
The remainder of the day was rather anticlimactic, with Linda having a fire for the first time in several days. For some reason the sky decided to put on an entirely different show at sunset, but it was all the more special because it was so different than usual. It was like our day, we had started on what we thought was a simple project, found out it was more difficult than anticipated, yet it turned out to be both a fun job and a successful one. Maybe that was the thought for the day, succeed, but have fun while doing it.
January 9 Friday
There are days and then there are days, this one proved to be one of the latter. The plan was simple enough, get up early, drive down to Yuma, which is about 25 miles to the south, get our mail, do a little shopping and spend the rest of the day relaxing in the coach. Sounds simple enough and it was a good plan, it just didn't go entirely according to that plan. Nothing bad happened, it just took a little longer than we had anticipated.
We sure got off to a good start, Linda getting up a couple of hours earlier than usual, a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs, and we were out of the coach and on the way before 9 am. It had all the makings of a good day, but then we stopped at the Post Office for our mail and things took a turn. Linda had used the Yuma branch closest to us, but when we arrived, we discovered that all general delivery mail is handled by the main post office.
We got the address which proved to be in the middle of where we planning to do most of the remainder of our shopping so it wasn't any great loss other than the extra miles it took to drive there and the time it would take to find it. Our next stop was JoAnn Fabrics. Actually we weren't planning on going to JoAnn Fabrics at all, but since it was next to our next stop, a Target Store, I had to open my mouth and ask Linda if she wanted to stop. About 45 minutes later we made our way to the checkout counter with our merchandise, five glittery red hearts to decorate the coach.
Next it was a walk next door to Target, the purpose of this stop being to check on the various digital cameras they carried. I know we already have three of them, but Linda didn't want to take her Casio along to Europe again this year. Her complaint is that is too bulky, and so she wants something slimmer and lighter. It was on the tip of my tongue but I refrained from saying, "In that case, it sounds like a pencil and piece of paper would be perfect. Just think how light and thin that would be, plus you wouldn't have to worry about batteries and it would cost less." Sometimes I do think before opening my mouth, and it seems the longer I wear my hearing aids, the better I get at not opening my mouth at the wrong times. Maybe speaking and hearing really are connected.
They did have some cool looking camera's in the price range she was considering, but without doing some research on the Internet and looking at the reviews, we were just treading water. Of course the fact that she hadn't brought along pen and paper to write anything down wasn't brought up by yours truly. And when she mentioned it, I just smiled and said nothing. Good Bob. From there we headed over to Sam's Club, where we checked out the camera's once again, but their selection was rather pathetic in the type she was looking for. Apparently our needs don't fit the profile of the typical Sam's Club shopper, in the camera department that is. In the food department we stocked up and then some.
The back of the Explorer loaded with necessities, it was time to pick up the mail. Linda's directions were superb, I did a masterful job of negotiating the streets of 'downtown' Yuma and soon she had her mail. The next destination was Barnes and Nobles, where we bought the Rick Steves books on France and Germany, and the Lonely Planet book on Spain in preparation for our return this spring to Europe. There was also something special for a boy who is going to be having a birthday next month while we are in Mexico.
Speaking of Mexico, looking at the calendar, between Mexico and Europe we will be close to spending more than half our time this year out of the country, something I never would have dreamed we would be doing just four years ago when we were living our previous working life. Having stocked up on travel guides, it was time do some banking, when Linda saw an Albertson's. One of the things on her shopping list was buying several pounds of Owens sausage, and as luck would have it, they not only had it, they had it on sale. While pawing through the packages we discovered three of them were marked: Managers Special, $2 off. It turned they had an expiration date of the 10th, and since we were going to freeze them anyway, it was a perfect match. I must say it certainly made Linda happy.
We still weren't finished with our shopping as we still needed to get a few groceries at Walmart, but the main reason to stop was so Linda could get her prescription for skin cream filled. It turned out to be a true SuperCenter, but when she dropped the prescription off, she was informed the wait would be two hours. Since by now it was already 3:30, this was not good news. She asked me whether I wanted to wait, and of course I said yes. She needed the ointment, and besides after 40 plus years of living with her, I know what is important to her.
The potential result of this was twofold, a dramatic increase in the amount of things we bought and the prospect of driving back to the LTVA in the dark, both of which came true. Maybe we did make a few impulse purchases, or at least I talked her into things she wanted but didn't necessarily want to buy, but isn't that what life is all about. Expect the unexpected, and if reality doesn't meet expectations, change expectations. We even enjoyed the drive back in the dark, primarily because we had no trouble finding the coach. Anyone who has been to Quartzsite and driven back to their RV in one of the boondocking area on a dark night knows what I mean. Of course we were cheating, going not long after the sunset, plus there was a full moon in only two days, so it was unnaturally light.
Back at the coach we unloaded our purchases, and had bean soup with PBJ on crackers for dinner. That was the same bean soup we had frozen several months ago. That killed two birds with one stone, using up something that had been in the freezer for a while and also freeing up some much needed freezer space.
Tomorrow is going to be a busy day once again as I need to finish up with Linda's computer, and also install the S-cable that will hook up the TV as a monitor. Meaning we can show our thousands of European trip photos on the big screen to anyone unfortunate enough to ask about our trip. It had been ten hours from the time we left this morning until we returned to the coach, the majority of them spent on our feet. Needless to say, we were tired and as we headed off to get some shut eye, Linda quipped, "Just think of it as getting in shape for all those months we will be in Europe." I'm sure there was a smile on my face when my eyes closed and sleep instantly overtook me. May your day also have ended with a smile on your face.
January 10 Saturday
Guess you could call this the day after, or the day not to do much. Linda got her extra 40 winks, I got up early and once again I didn't write the Daily Journal, meaning that tomorrow morning I will be four days behind, an intolerable situation, but even thinking about that wasn't getting me motivated. The heck of is that I want to write, it's just that it isn't happening. Guess there's always tomorrow. The really odd part is that I never made it a New Years Resolution to write everyday, it's just something I miss when I don't do it.
One thing that did get done, was a fabulous breakfast, courtesy of yours truly. Those four portabella mushrooms we had bought at Sam's Club for some ridiculously low price were going to waste setting in the refrigerator. After all they had been in there all of fourteen hours without being used and I could tell Linda was beginning to worry that they might rot before we could eat them. Take a half of a mushroom, slice thin and saute in olive oil, beat well two eggs with a couple of tablespoons of FF half and half. When the mushrooms are the way you like them (Linda likes hers firm) add the egg mixture. Grind some black pepper to taste, we like lots, me more so than her, but I'm the cook so she gets them my way, and top with blue cheese, which is where she gets her way, with lots of blue cheese being added. When it's done, watch whoever is eating it, if they like mushrooms and blue cheese, their eyes will positively light up.
We also got a real deal on blue cheese at Sam's Club, 24 ounces for less than $7, now that alone almost makes it worthwhile driving to Sam's. After breakfast Linda started to open the mail, while I worked on her computer. We had bought her a set of speakers, and so I was doing my best imitation of a contortionist getting them plugged into the back of the CPU. All done, it was a surprise to both of us when they actually worked.
At least they worked when playing music off the hard drive. Next it was time to test the DVD burner and see it it worked. First I tried a CD and wonder of wonders, music came from those speakers. Now it was time for the acid test, playing a DVD. Before the DVD would play but with no sound, maybe the problem was something as simple as a lack of speakers. Bummer, great picture, but no sound. Rick Steves mouth was busy moving, telling us all kinds of great things to do in Europe, but we weren't hearing any of it.
It was time to do some searching on the Internet. It took a little time but I finally figured out that there was a conflict between the codecs for Windows Media player and Nero, the result being no sound when playing DVD's. It helped that after using Ubuntu I was familiar with what this was, so in short order I had downloaded Media Player Classic, set it up and the DVD's were playing just as they should. I'll tell you that one earned me a serious atta boy from Linda.
All the while Linda was opening the mail, including our Christmas cards. As she continued to open the mail, and then start in on the other packages I managed to catch her showing a very non Linda expression as she opened one from her sister, Katherine.
Then there was the bracelet she got from our daughter. Jenny and the girls had been shopping at a local artists fair near where they live and just couldn't pass up this beautiful silver bracelet. I had to tease Linda that for years she never let more than an inch of skin show, and the only jewelery she wore was her wedding ring. Plus if she did wear any other jewelry it had to be either gold, or gold colored. Now she has more bracelets on her arms at any one time than she used to own, which come all definitely more than just gold. And as for the show of skin, well anyone who reads the Daily Journal knows she shows lots more than she did in the past.
I think the majority of the day was spent in eating, because it was after eight when we finally got around to having dinner. It was cod loin in a leek sauce, one of our favorite recipes and something I once again positively nailed, at least as far as Linda was concerned. Sometimes the thought creeps into my mind that her praise has more to with the simple fact that I do the cooking, rather than the taste of the food, but then I reflect on my own feelings about how good it tastes and decide that it really is that good. How in the world did Linda ever get so lucky as to find a guy like me. Guess it was just blind luck, as in lucky blind date. May your life be filled with as much 'luck' as ours.
Parting note, tonight's moon was the fullest and brightest full one of the year. This is the view from where we are.