December 24, 2012 Christmas on Skid Row

Christmas is everywhere, even Downtown Los Angeles Skid Row.  For the last 24 years on Sunday evening the church we attend, Central Community, has gone to Skid Row to feed the homeless and on the Sunday before Christmas they give out backpacks filled with goodies.  Last night was Backpack night.  Over 800 filled backpacks were given out by about 200 volunteers along with oranges, sandwiches, chili and hot tea.  Everyone on Skid Row who showed up walked away with at least one backpack, a belly full of food and at least 100 “Merry Christmas”s.

All these backpacks were filled by members of Central Community or by another local church.  About one month before backpack night Pastor Eric buys as many backpacks as he can as begins distributing them to the church members with the following instructions; “Put in the backpack anything that YOU would like to have if you were homeless”.  With those words people begin filling backpacks and returned them to the church ready for Backpack Night. 

When we arrived at 3rd and Main in Los Angeles there was a line of people at least a block long with a big huddle of people at the start of the line.  The beginning of the line is reserved for the children and the disabled.  It took about 1 ½ hrs to hand out all the backpacks and all the food.   It was great to see the kids carrying their backpacks away with a smile on their face.  Each person who received a backpack was quick to find a place to start going through their backpack.  Everyone seemed happy, even though no one found a $100 bill in their backpack.    

It was a true blessing to be a part of this ministry. The ministries of Central Community still are an amazement to me.   How one church of so few members is able to give so much to the community shows that there is a Loving, Giving God.

December 23, 2012 Christmas pageant

Tonight was the Children's Christmas pageant at the church.  The lady who organized knew she would not be available last week or tonight, so I've been attending the practice sessions and last week I stepped into her shoes, taking over the last practice and tonight's performance.  We had about 15 children, ages 5 to about 10, and about 8 speaking parts.  Three of the speaking parts went to siblings from a family with 7 children.  Those kids are amazing - very well mannered, well spoken, happy, outgoing, friendly - I told the Mom that she could make a million if she could bottle her parenting formula!  But it's really no mystery - both Mom and Dad spend a lot of time with their children, teaching them how to be good people and showing them by example.

I admit, I was sort of worried about how the play would actually work - last week some kids didn't know their lines and some of the older ones didn't want to focus.  But tonight they all came through.  The play was lovely and all the parents, grandparents and friends were well-rewarded for coming out to see them.  A nice start to Christmas week!

2012 December 22 RV remodeling - final phase

Randy has been working to finish our RV remodeling before Christmas.  He's been getting lots of "help" from Shorty, who wants to be in on everything.  This much help could set the whole project back a few months. . . 
But either in spite of Shorty's help or because of it, the kitchen/living room changes are done!  The new refrigerator is set in, with a small broom closet on the side, which I love. It still sets over the furnace.
Next to the fridge is the new stove and sink.  Randy build in a small shelf above the stove and I added the copper backsplash.  The cabinets are stained the same color, they just don't look like it in this picture.
And Randy added a new bookcase to hold (most) of his cookbooks, with space for the DVD player.  This is a real blessing because, as noted earlier, he has a TON of cookbooks.
And this bookcase has a secret - it has a trap door on the top, and with a push of a button the TV slides into view!  Available when we want it, and out of site when we don't.  Very, very cool!
Now our RV looks more like our home.  There are a couple of loose ends but it's all functional and I love the way it looks.

Randy has a few things left on his to-do list, but these were the critical changes for now.  If he wants, he can stop now and enjoy the holidays.  Good thing, because Shorty is getting tired!

December 13, 2012 RV Remodeling Phase 3

The kitchen remodeling is almost done.  Randy installed the cabinets for the sink and a drawer base, followed by the countertop and sink.  We needed something heavy to put on the sink corners to hold it steady while the silicone dried - I've always said Randy has a TON of cookbooks, and they came in handy here.
Then he hung the cabinet doors on.  It's not quite done but I love how it's looking.
On another topic, Shorty has recovered from his surgery and dental work.  Now if only he could learn to relax. . . 

2012 December 2 Remodeling phase 2

Randy got a lot done today.  Right after church he started working on the refrigerator.  He removed the doors and unloaded its contents into a cooler, then Jack helped us move it into position.  Jack had already made a steel frame for it to sit on, which holds it above the furnace and keeps it from slipping forward.  The fridge was a bit of awkward to move, but we got it in and when Randy put the doors back on and plugged it in, it started working just fine.
Next he took the door off the stove and we moved it into its position.  It's not ready to be hooked up yet, but soon!

December 1, 2012 Remodeling Fever hits again

Generally speaking we really like this RV (although we'd trade it for a Prevost if someone offered) . . . it has got a lot of storage space, it runs well, and the new paint job looks great.  But one thing we’ve never really cared for is the kitchen.  It has a stove top but no oven, and the refrigerator is both small and inefficient - it doesn't stay closed.  Replacing all this in an RV can be a pain so we haven't rushed into it,  but this week we bit the bullet and got started.

The kitchen area is along the wall on the passenger side.  The sink is in the middle of the room, followed by the stove top, then the refrigerator.  There is some storage under the sink and stovetop, but we decided it would be a worthwhile trade to give that up for bigger, better appliances.
First to go - the refrigerator, which Randy pulled out piece by piece.   And there are a lot of pieces in an RV refrigerator.  Ours sat on top of the furnace.  Moving the furnace is not a reasonable option, so we won't be able to put in a standard height refrigerator.
Next he got rid of the stovetop and its cabinet.
 Then he dismantled the sink and its cabinet.
So now we have a big space to work with.  
The water pipe has to stay but Randy was able to find an alternative to the furnace duct that lay behind the cabinets, so most of this space is usable.  Next challenge:  putting in the new refrigerator.