A good evening with the AGSEM gang

A good evening yesterday; Randy had smoked a brisket for 16 hours, made some coleslaw, baked beans and pickles, and invited folks over: the other Workampers Rick, Mark and Patty, Office Manager Ashley and her family - Dan, Lee and Allison - plus cousin Jack and Jackie. It had been really hot during the day but by evening it cooled off to the point where some of us wore light jackets - perfect for sitting outside, talking, eating and drinking. And the guys did a fair bit of drinking! 

Beach life is beautiful

Every so often we need an ocean fix, so today we took the Sprinter Light Rail from Vista to Oceanside. It stops a few blocks from the beach so it was easy to walk there. The water is too cold to swim in but we took off our shoes and waded in. 
Love the beach here; when it's wet, the sand has a golden gleam.
Sometimes the waves make dramatic shapes in the sand. It's not noticeable when looking down the beach,
but when I look straight down, it's beautiful!
Today they had the Rescue ski-doo out. Nobody was in danger so it was either a false alarm or a test.
Then we walked though town, and I realized there are several stores (clothing and barbers) who cater directly to servicemen; with Camp Pendelton so close, this makes sense. 

Good things to Eat

Here's something excellent - Peppermint and White Chocolate Bread Pudding, in little single serving pans.
 Oh, mercy, yes!

Sourdough Sandwich Bread

This time Randy made his Sourdough recipe in a Pullman pan. Standard use of a Pullman pan includes baking with the top on, but I asked him to leave it off so the bread would have a curved top. So now I have delicious bread for sandwiches. I so love this stuff. 

Julienne's health

Last night Julienne had another seizure. Randy held her, I gave her some Rescue Remedy, and when it passed, she spent the night snuggled between us. 

We can't lose her yet. She has finally regained her sunny disposition, shaking off the depression that started in the fall of 2012 when we lost Sugarbaby. She loves to go for walks and chaise rabbits on the Museum grounds. She plays with Shorty and naps with Randy; we need her.

Cat vs Dog: Stand-off

Missy decided to take a nap in the sun when she discovered, just like Baby Bear, that someone was in her bed! Shorty didn't want to move so she just sat there, staring him down and making him too nervous to relax. When he finally decided to move, he realized that she had him cornered. Awkward!
Eventually I distracted them, giving them both an opportunity to jump down. I haven't seen him in her bed since then, but I expect he will be back.

It's mighty dry in Southern California

The rains of spring are less than a memory now. No appreciable rain has fallen since the beginning of March, and the grounds are as dry as dust. 
The only moisture this land has seen is the heavy fog that sometimes shows up in the morning. Today was overcast and we thought it might rain a little, but now it seems to have passed over. Southern California is still a desert!

Tile work

Recently our pretty new bathroom floor developed a blemish. I used an Airwick plugin which leaked, and whatever they put in the formula is strong enough to ruin a vinyl floor. It bubbled up, and when I fiddled with it, the top layer came off.
Even though this was behind the toilet, it had to be fixed. I had glued down each tile, so I knew there was glue under the whole thing. I researched on-line how to remove tiles. After looking at several options, I decided to use a hot iron, with a damp cloth in-between, to loosen the glue, then pry it up gently with a little putty knife. I gathered my tools together and then, before heating the iron, I pushed the tip of the knife in at the edge of the tile. And the whole thing just popped up! 
For a moment I was of two minds; 
  (1) Yeah, that was easy!  
  (2) .... but I did the research, I got the tools, I was ready.

I quickly dropped the second thought and rejoiced that I didn't have to sweat over it. The next step was to cut a new piece. I had saved a few tiles from the original job so I already had tiles to work with. I have never liked the small bit of tile at the end of the floor grate - it didn't hug the wall enough. The wall has a curve in it (flimsy material) and when I did the job the first time I didn't compensate for that. But since I didn't have to do a lot of work to pry the tiles up, I had plenty of time to fix it. The section I didn't like was part that the grate sits on. That particular tile was a total pain to do originally because of the odd curve around the door trim. It took me several tries to get it acceptable and I wasn't going to do that part again, so I just replaced the very end section. I need to pretty up the lines between the tiles, put some paintable caulk along the edge by the wall and paint the caulk blue, but it already looks better.


Saturday several gorgeous old T-Birds came to visit us at the Museum. There were some driving through the grounds, but I saw these 3 lovelies parked on display near the office.
On one end was a canary yellow 1956 with a rag top. That top probably wasn't original, but it sure looks fine! The car had unusually beautiful wheels, too, loaded with chrome.
Parked next to it was a bright copper 1957 T-bird, this one with the original top.
Everything about this car is eye-catching. I love this color and it looks excellent with the white top. Even the emblem looks cool.
And on the end, a sky-blue 1956 Thunderbird.
With a spare on the back.
Ah, for the days of T-birds and fuzzy dice!

A quick trip to Mexico

Today we drove to Los Algadones. It was time to stock up on a few meds and although Los Algadones is 190 miles away, it was worth it to get a year's worth of meds. We wouldn't want to do it every day, but it was a fine day-trip today.

We drove south until we reached the outskirts of San Diego, then turned east onto Highway 8. Whenever we get away from development in Southern California, it is amazing how dry, dry, dry the ground is. And rocky, too. The hillsides look like mounds of rubble pilled up.
And yet, people are constantly irrigating this desert to turn it into something else. One stretch of this highway is planted in big flowering bushes, just like the road between LA and Bakersfield. There is no way these will live without constant watering.
California is well into it's fourth year of drought and there are public service announcements everywhere about conserving water. I love these bushes, but I think I would start here. Take these out and plant some nice, desert-loving plants.

Highway 8 continued east, through the rocky desert and into a sandy desert. Just before the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, the road runs pretty close to Mexico, and in the distance the black border fence runs along the horizon. 
The first thing we did when we got into the area near Yuma was stop for gas. And we both remarked on the low, low price of gas in Arizona! Here we found some at $2.29 a gallon, while the lowest price we can find in the Vista area is $2.99.
Then we drove 5 miles back west to the parking lot at the border. The cost of parking has gone up to $6, but it's still a pretty good deal. Passports in hand, we walked across the border into Mexico. First things first - we got the meds we wanted in the Purple Pharmacy. Then we went searching for a great price on scotch. Didn't find one. There are several liquor stores and Mexican alcohol is very modestly priced, but USA alcohol isn't. 
So we just went to get lunch. We usually get fish fish tacos, but decided to go elsewhere this time. We've stopped at this restaurant before in 2012, although I have never learned if it has a name. What is does have a a wide range of meats offered. 
As usual, the tortilla chip appetizer came with a lot of sides: salsa, sauce, cucumbers, thin crema and a very mild avocado sauce.  We ordered tacos, sopes, beans and Mexican Coke/Coke Light. 
During lunch we were serenaded by a young man with a guitar and a set of reed pipes. He was good and we enjoyed the food, but their fish tacos aren't as good at the other one, so we will probably go there next time. 

The guys at the table next to us asked for really hot salsa. The owner took a bowl of salsa off an empty table, added a bunch of seasoning, and presented it to them. I assume it was good - it was made to order!

As usual, people were constantly asking us to buy their wares. Even while we ate, people walked up to our table to try to sell us things. We said 'no' to everything until this young man showed up selling cheap fans...and I couldn't say no. 
After lunch it was time to leave. We had another 190 to get back and wanted to be home before traffic backed up. We ran into a little traffic on 5, but not much, so we made it home in time to let the doggies outside before they had an accident.

Barns in the mist

It's very dry in Southern California but in Vista, where we are just a few miles from the ocean, sometimes there is a heavy fog in the morning. It disappears quickly but if I am up early (which doesn't happen often), it's quite lovely.

Fresh Strawberry Pie

There are several places nearby where we can get fresh fruit. Which leads to things like fresh strawberry pie!

Saying 'no' to a doughnut

We are planning our next adventure, which will be visiting the beautiful canyons of Utah and Yellowstone. I expect there will be a fair amount of hiking involved, which I am not used to. So I have resolved to walk around the Museum grounds daily, in the hopes that I won't collapse on some canyon floor. It makes sense to do a little weight-loss therapy at the same time, like eating healthier. 

This morning my walk took me to the area where the Gem and Mineral Show is set up, where I found several of our guys manning a food booth. And they had doughnuts. Because Randy was volunteering, I could probably have one doughnut for free. And they had the doughnuts that I (really) like - not the full-bodied cake-style, but lighter yeast doughnuts. And covered with chocolate...not the pale, anemic chocolate you find on grocery store doughnuts, but a rich, dark chocolate. And it was early in the morning so they were very fresh...And probably free. It was surprisingly hard to do, but I decided to say 'no' to the doughnut, just to see what it feels like. 

So far, it feels like I missed out on a great doughnut.

Gem and Mineral Show finds

The Gem and Mineral Show is at the Museum this weekend. I have all the rocks I need but I still had to go look at the beautiful things on display. I wasn't going to buy anything, but then I found these rocks shaped exactly like bars of soap, and for some reason I just had to have one.
Shortly thereafter I was talking to someone about creme brûlée, and a few stalls over I saw these little  citrine minerals that sort of look like creme brûlée. Suddenly I had to have a mineral that sort of looks like creme brûlée.
Once I got in that frame of mind, it was a short jump to getting a little dolomite crystal, just the size of a petit four, with pink "sugar" crystals on top.
And some small orange calcite, looking so much like crystalized ginger. 
And a shark tooth, looking nothing at all like food, but just so cool!

Perks of the job - April 9

There is some work to be done in one of the display barns, so the antique automobiles stored there have to be moved to somewhere else. And, well, somebody has to do the job! 
So Randy and Dan get to drive several beautiful old cars. This 1926 Buick Sedan is so old that the wheel spokes are made of wood.
The car has a plate on its front that says "Repeal the 18th Amendment". Appropriately, they drove this beauty to town to have lunch at a place called "Prohibition". The restaurant owner wanted to buy the car; it would look awesome at his restaurant, but it wasn't for sale!

Cat vs Dog; now the score is tied

Shorty has found another way to mess with the cat. We keep a cat bed for Missy in the middle of the dashboard, so she can sleep in the sun or watch the birds. Shorty has discovered that he can jump up on the driver's chair, hop up to the dashboard, and curl up in Missy's day bed. He's pretty smug about it.

Cat vs Dog; Missy = 1, Shorty = 0

Shorty still likes to jump on the cat when she walks by, but Missy has her ways of getting even. For example, Shorty likes to hoard his toys on the couch, and sometimes when he leaves them to get a drink or snack, when he returns he finds Missy in his spot. He's brave, but Missy has an invisible force field when she's actually sitting on the couch. Neither Shorty or Julienne will mess with her there; maybe they think she has better leverage to hit them from here. 
She doesn't play with his toys, of course...she just makes it difficult for him to play with them. And that makes her happy.

Easter blackberry pie

Ashley invited us to share Easter dinner with her family on Sunday. Randy decided to bring a couple of pies for dessert so he made a sweet cream pie and a blackberry pie. He tossed the blackberries with a few ingredients and put them into an unbaked pastry shell.
Then he rolled and cut strips for a lattice top,
and wove them across the pie, leaving plenty of spaces for the berries to show through.
Then the pie went into the convection oven and a just short while later it was golden brown, bubbling and smelling incredibly good.
And it tasted AWESOME!

And - bonus! - whenever Randy makes a pie, there is a little bit of dough left over for sugar-and-cinamon rollups!

Unwinding at the beach

Today was a rough day. We had to get out for awhile so we drove to Oceanside, where we waded into the ocean. The water was, of course, way too cold to swim in, but it's always relaxing to watch the ocean. When we couldn't feel our toes anymore, we changed tack and walked along the road, listening to the happy, summer sounds of families at the beach.
Eventually we went back to the car; on the way we saw this, which looks like an over-grown black-and-white Bird of Paradise. 
And it is a Bird of Paradise - it's a giant White Bird of Paradise called Strelitza Nicolai, and it's twice as big as the common orange and blue one. Nice to learn something new, even on a tough day like today. 

The value of Facebook

Randy's brother Lonnie passed away last evening. He is halfway across the country, but the distance doesn't make any difference. It feels like the world we woke up to has a hole in it; it is strangely off-balance, and we must struggle to function normally. That hole in world will never heal - we will just learn how to deal with it. 

This is when I learned the true value of Facebook. Unlike me, Randy is a good Facebook corespondent  And now, over and over, messages of support and encouragement are coming in. Voices from past schools, congregations, jobs and travel are here. They are saying the same things we always say when we don't know what to say: "I'm sorry for your loss", "you are in our prayers", "we are thinking of you"....and now I realize how those words help heal and comfort. They are the right thing to say because they are the only thing that can be said. It's the presence, in person or on-line, of people who care what has happened, that makes the difference. Thank you.

A quiet day, with funny videos

A quiet day; Randy is volunteering at the Flower Fields, driving a tractor that pulls a wagon of tourists, while I am at home with the critters, watering roses, doing laundry, and finishing odd assorted tasks. Also watching some of a BBC show called "New Tricks". LOVE this show! I had to join Hulu Plus to get it, but it was worth it.

But right now I'm watching one of the funniest things I've seen in awhile - Jeanne Robertson, doing "Don't go to Vegas without a Baptist"!

Camping World trip - April 2

Last night we drove to Home Depot and parked the RV at the edge of their parking lot, as the Manager suggested. Just a couple buildings away was a Slater's 50/50 restaurant. The first time we went to one of these back in 2012, I decided they served the best burger I had ever had. So it was natural to walk over there for dinner. I ordered the 50/50 burger again - a burger made from 50% beef and 50% bacon, topped with avocado, chipolte sauce and an over-easy egg. I don't like chipolte and I almost never eat over-easy eggs, but this was a great combination. However....I wouldn't classify it as the best. I think that the thing that makes it so good is the egg; I'd never had that before and I was sort of swept away. It's a great burger, but not necessarily the best. So maybe I'll order an egg on my next gourmet burger, no matter where I get it!

It was OK spending the night in Home Depot's lot. They kept the lot lights on and the noise from the street wasn't enough to keep us awake. In the morning Randy got up early and walked over to McDonald's to get coffee. When I took the dogs out a few minutes later, I discovered that were several guys standing around; I forgot that this is a common practice in Southern California. They were waiting to see if someone would hire them for the day. Around here it's normal for contractors to pick up supplies and hire a few guys at the same place. As usual, they were all Hispanic and they were all well behaved; one guy even offered to wash our RV. But we didn't need it washed, we needed it fixed, so we crossed the street to Camping World. Camping World lots seldom have good RV parking and this one was no exception, but when Randy found a spot, the guy parked ahead of us moved his RV a bit so we could more easily fit in. Then Randy went to get us some breakfast biscuits to enjoy while we waited for the office to open. When they did open, Randy went inside to set things up. There was an awkward bit where they wanted to pump up the bill because the slides have awnings, but fortunately Randy was able to work things out. So we left them our key and drove to the Flower Fields, where Randy asked Teresa and Jack if we could use their RV for the day. They said yes, so we went back to the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum to spend a quiet day in our cousin's RV. I couldn't be sure our pets wouldn't have a bathroom mistake and I knew they would shed all over, so I put Missy the cat in the bathroom with a box of litter, while the dogs spent the time in their kennels. Randy bought lunchmeat for us all and we watched TV until around 1:30, when we returned to pick the RV up and drive home again. 

Backing into our spot at the Museum was tricky - there are RVs parked close on both sides, plus our own stuff (table, chairs, BBQ) was still there. Ever since Randy worked at Hilton Head Island Motorcoach Resort helping RVers park in those luxury sites, we have adopted a different parking technique. He stands outside and I get behind the wheel. I don't drive the RV, but during parking all I have to do is watch Randy. He guides me in. I suck at giving directions and honestly I'm not that great at following them, but in this situation the responsibility makes me behave. And due to Randy's excellent directions, we made it in the very first try, with all wheels up on the wood blocks. That is an excellent  job of guiding, and a not-too-shabby job of listening!

5 years ago: Awesome Yosemite

Camping World tomorrow

It's time to get the seals replaced around our slide-outs. Randy bought the seals while we were in Riverside, but we are going to let Camping World folks install them. Since we don't know how long it will take, we asked for the 1st appointment of the day. Since this particular Camping World doesn't have any overnight parking, we have made arrangements to park overnight at the Home Depot, which is directly across the street from Camping World. We are on our way there now: overnight we will not have hookups for electricity, water or sewer. Fortunately we will do very all on our own. I am praying the job goes well tomorrow!