Monday, April 29, 2013

Dinner on the Deck

We were so pleased last year to have a Cinco de Mayo party on the deck. This year, we beat that time by a week. We had Michelle's birthday dinner Saturday night on a clean and warm deck. Dinner was chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, lima beans and gravy. Cake and ice cream followed. It was a lovely evening. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What a Day!

Here it is the 21st of April and spring has really and truly come to the mountains. Dean skied. Oso, my neighbor and I hiked to the Point to enjoy this view.

We decided to move chairs onto the deck for lunch. Sandals, my friends! Sandals! 

Dean brought up my camp rocker! 

And a new chair he found on sale the other day.

Fish, asparagus and mushrooms on the grill. Fresh iced tea. And we are on the deck!!

What a lovely, lovely day ~ and a surprise from the weather gods who usually are still sending snow our way this time of year. We are indeed blessed. 


Usually I do not post a blog more than once every couple of days ~ and occasionally something appears that just needs a wider window.'s Newsfeed posted this article today. Good for them!!!

Ordinary Life

Beautiful morning. I had a bit of a "lie in" ~ a British phrase I have adopted as my own to mean staying in bed, enjoying the feel, not rushing, just being there for a bit longer than usual. 

Couple of interesting things. Oso barked about 1 or so last night and as I woke up telling him to be quiet, in the nano-second that I worried I also realized Dean was home and lying beside me and if anything was out there besides the dark, he could help me handle it. 

The other was the morning sounds of having him home: the gurgling of the tea pot, the scrap of the shovel against the fire place as he cleans out the ashes and the crackling of the newly lit fire. All nice familiar sounds that say he is home and we are together again. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What To Say?

What to say about Boston has been floating around in my head for a while. I posted a brief statement on FB mainly so people wouldn’t think I was ignoring the horror that struck that amazing city during one of its most delightful and exciting days. But what to Really say? 

I have read articles, blogs, FB posts and listened to reports and videos. Many are brilliant and impassioned. Can I add to those? Probably not. And here is what I do know. Boston is a place all its own. 

Boston belongs to all of us because it came into being just as this new country was being established. It was in Boston harbor that “Americans” first said NO to British rule and taxation without representation. Boston birthed the Adams family famous not only for the men like John and son John Quincy but also for feisty, outspoken Abigail (“Remember the women, John”). Boston gave this country its first school, library and subway system. 

Boston has a walking tour that is called The Freedom Trail because it takes you to place after place that holds tidbits of the creation of this country ~ the first time in history that a colony had broken with a mother country. 

Boston gave us the Marathon.

Nothing takes away the spirit of Boston. Nothing ~ from the minor irritations of years of work on the Big Dig to the terror of bombs and the death of innocents. And Boston’s spirit is the spirit of this country. We have our faults. We have not always been good and righteous and perfect. But, by golly, we try ~ harder than most. And Boston has always led the way and will continue to do so. Boston always wins. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The 25 Second Solution

Dead cell phone. Dead. Dead. Dead. Decide to go to Carson and see the family and go to the AT&T store. Walk in, hand phone to young man behind counter and say, Dead. He takes phone. 

He says: What did you do?
I say: Nothing. But it has been driving me crazy. 
He says (handing me back my phone): There you go. 

Done. My phone is alive and well. He is a miracle worker. And what did he do? Well, I now know that iPhones occasionally freeze up and when they do, you press on the button (actually an indentation) that wakes them up and on the power button, At The Same Time for 25 seconds and Ta-dah!! An alive and well phone!

I may get in trouble with AT&T and Apple for posting this ~ and it is such a simple solution to what felt like such a complicated problem that iPhone owners need to know about it without having to drive an hour to their nearest store (which is part of my story). And Wow! am I glad I went to Carson today and saw my family and shopped some more instead of waiting until Tuesday and going to Reno with Dean and spending all day in the office for a 25 second solution. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Period Pieces

I love reading period mysteries. If they are really well-written and the author has done his/her homework and research well, they can be almost as educational and enlightening as they are fun. 

And ~ I also love reading Old mysteries. Mysteries that are “period” because of when they were written: Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, Dorothy Sayers to name a few. When these women wrote, there were no cell phones, computers and other conveniences of modern detection. Of course there was also racial and sexual exploitation. Sometimes language offends today’s ears more than murder because the murder is story, the language was real and the way society spoke then. They wrote “modern” stories, ones that fit their time. They don’t fit ours and so in their own way, they have become period pieces, reflective of a very different way of living and thinking. Most interesting.  

Friday, April 12, 2013

Beautiful, Beautiful Grandchildren

~ and handsome, and handsome! He and his buddies dress up on Fridays.

Cake for college sister returning for the weekend. 

Really good soccer player at age 5 ~ she takes after her mom!

Throwing herself onto an ottoman ~ over and over again.

She studies the world very intensely and intently.

They love Grandpa!

Swim lesson

Posing in their new Easter dresses.

How special to have spent almost a week with them!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Love it when He Shops!

World Market had a great sale and we had a coupon! And Dean went after work today. We have a new tagene (the Moroccan cooking pot we love having); a bundt pan so I don't have to borrow my neighbor's; 6 burger baskets for summer on the deck; 2 little pans to roast a small amount of veggies or grill fish; and (left out of the picture) a small wok with wooden utensils.

And he found his very own Scottish Three Berry Preserves. At Whole Foods he found our brand of gluten free pasta and the wonderful 7 grain bread we had found at Henry's in Temecula. I do love it when Dean goes shopping! 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Weight Watching

I have mentioned here before that Dean decided to be gluten-free, well, at least 80%. He has done it. It has done wonders for his knees, especially helping him ski. I decided to support him, especially as there are only the two of us and it makes grocery shopping easier. I've done ok, and absolutely no change has taken place in anything about me.

The other day I read an article: 5 Things You Should Know About Gluten. Good article. Number 5 was that gluten-free could cause you to gain weight. The focus of that statement was that when we go gluten-free, we tend to eat all the chips and crackers and other junk foods that some times have increased amounts of sodium and sugar. No problem, I thought. We don't eat a lot of chips and crackers anyway. And then I brought home chicken tenders.

These are thin sliced pieces of chicken breast and are easy to throw on the grill. We were thinking about dinner the other night and suddenly I thought: Fried Chicken! I haven't fried chicken in Ages. These would be so easy to do. And so I did ~ using gluten-free flour of course. I threw some veggies in to roast, popped the chicken in batter and flour and we were going to have fried chicken. Then Dean suggested Gravy! So when the chicken was done, he made gravy ~ using gluten-free flour of course. I should have taken a picture. Our plates were lovely. Chicken, gravy and bright roasted veggies. And how may calories do you think each plate contained??? LOL!!

#5 was right. Gluten-free can cause you to gain weight if you aren't really, really careful. The last of the tenders need to be grilled!

Monday, April 8, 2013

I Scream. You Scream.

We all scream for ice cream. (written the day after arriving in Death Valley) I have had more ice cream in the last week than in the whole year before. It started on Thursday with a stop just before getting on the 15 at a Baskin Robbins ~ where I had a scoop of chocolate chip, having not had that for over a year. The next night Rob brought in Dickey’s bar-b-cue and after dinner he said, “I have ice cream if anybody wants some.” He not only had ice cream - he had Breyers mint chocolate chip. So I had some of course.

Saturday night we went out and had lobster and steak and I had creme brulee for dessert but it came with a little pastry on the side with ice cream. Of course I ate it.
Sunday night we were once again all at Rob’s and he had ribs, baked potatoes and salad ~ followed by (what else?) ice cream!! 

Knowing the mint chocolate chip was there, after a very reasonable meal the next night at Soup Plantation (like Fresh Choice), I had scoop when I got home. That took care of the mint chocolate chip at home so I thought I was safe and done. 

Not to be. Tuesday night after watching Megan’s soccer practice we all went to In and Out Burger ~ there was a Wendy’s right next door and Mandy offered to buy frosties for us ~ and of course I had a chocolate frostie. That got us talking about such things and I mentioned DQ Blizzards and how much I had enjoyed a chocolate chip one. When we talked to Michelle, they had just come from DQ. Coincidence? I don’t think so. 

At lunch on our way to Death Valley, Dean’s lunch came with a scoop of ice cream with chocolate sauce and they brought him melting ice cream. He doesn’t like that so I ate most of the little sundae. But then we stopped for gas at a truck stop ~ and there was a Dairy Queen and Dean wanted ice cream and of course I ended up with a chocolate chip blizzard. Enough already.

We had a lovely prime rib buffet for dinner after setting up camp ~ and it came with dessert. Dean chose the sundae ~ and I just couldn’t do it. For once in my life, I had had Enough ice cream. I’m not sure I even knew that was possible. Isn’t “too much ice cream” an oxymoron? Wow. Ice cream every day for a week. Certainly is a week to remember. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Random Pictures

 You will be glad to know you are about to view the last of the Death Valley pictures. Be grateful. I have only published 65 of the 600 Dean tells me we took.

On the dunes at sunset


Mountain at sunset

This poor little guy. He dies in 5 different ways on this one sign. I'm impressed.

Not sure the top part of the sign is needed given the second sign. 

Without the zoom lens, this hiker looked ant-size.

Beep Beep! Yep, a real live roadrunner. And when running, looks exactly like
the one racing away from Wile E. Coyote. Or the other way around. This is the
first one I have ever seen up close and personal. Had no idea their coloring was
so pretty. He dashed through camp one morning and Dean went after him with
the zoom lens. He was nice enough to pose for a picture or two. 

This was from several years ago ~ our  first trip there.

Close to the swimming pool this year.

~ and finally we leave Death Valley, reaching sea level again and heading down that road
to your right back to altitude. It was a great trip and I have had fun sharing it with you. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Road Less Traveled

Several weeks ago Dean showed me a video of a trip through a canyon that he wanted to drive. The walls were very close to the road and, being mildly claustrophobic, I began to get a little worried about it. We were going to make a lovely day of it, starting with a ghost town, breakfast in Beatty and then the canyon drive. One afternoon we drove through some brush that almost closed in over our heads. I could feel the headache start up my neck. So much for the canyon. 

We rose early and headed for the ghost town. It was a wonderful morning and so glad he had found the information to do that. We went into Beatty, filled the truck with gas and found Mel’s diner. Then we headed back to camp. And I knew decision time was just down the road. Dean was encouraging but in no way pushing. He assured me it really didn’t matter - he would like to and if we didn’t it was OK. Knowing I had the energy tools to deal with this ~ and the physical ability to get out of the truck and walk if I needed to, I said let’s do it. As we turned off the road into flat desert, I figured we would drive through that, then through the canyon, then out into the flat again. 

We drove through the flat for a while but then we started up into the mountains.

The one lane, one direction road became twisty and made amazing hairpin turns. I was taking pictures like mad as Dean concentrated on driving.  Once we stopped for a picture of the deep valley and steep road behind us. We came to Leadfield whose story is another blog. We did stop though and walk around, stretch our legs, take pictures, and breathe.

We started down into the canyon. We even passed a little sign that told us we were entering Titus Canyon. I had done my energy work and was grounded, surrounded and safe ~ actually I had made sure we were grounded on those hairpin curves higher up the mountain. At first there was no issue at all. Yes, the hills, cliffs, rocks were high on either side but on at least one side, there would be enough open space that I was fine. I continued to take pictures. 

Then we came to the part that had been in the video. The first thing we saw in one bit wider spot was 5 bikers, helmets off, relaxing, eating their lunch. We all waved and that helped.

As we came around one corner, I took a picture and said to myself, “This one’s for you, Meredith!” in honor of my daughter who has talked me through the Boston airport tunnel several times. 

I kept taking pictures as the walls of rock literally closed in ~ and just about the time I thought, “OK, I need to be out of here”, two things happened: we passed a family of 5 who were hiking in. They stopped to let us pass and we all smiled and waved and ~ there was the plain.

I breathed and we left the canyon and were back on a desert floor. 

I almost cried ~ making me realize how tightly I had held my fear of that drive. My adrenalin rushed away and I almost fell asleep on the way back to camp. The early afternoon was spent in the torpor of the heat. Then we went swimming and the old Aquarian let the water sweep away any issues and allow for memories of an amazing canyon and a delightful day. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Cholesterol, Calories, Gluten, Oh My!

A photography blog had decided our morning’s outing: drive to Rhyolite and take pictures of ghost town lit by the rising sun; into Beatty to fill the car with gas and eat at Mel’s Diner; drive back to camp through Titus Canyon. After taking pictures, we followed the next step ~ finding the least expensive gas since we left Costco in Carson and then driving until we found Mel’s. I had just said to Dean, “I think we are looking for Mel’s but that sounds so TV that it may not be.” And there it was. One not very long room, eight tables, four busy servers and a chef who got it. 

Ordered hot tea -- and were brought good hot water and plain old Lipton. No Earl Grey at Mel’s. I am not an omelet fan so I asked for the veggie omelet but with the eggs scrambled instead. The server had a bit of a problem with that although she seemed to know what a scramble was. The chef evidently had no problem because I received a perfect veggie scramble and two huge pieces of wheat toast. Dean ordered eggs over easy, link sausages, and when asked if he would like toast or biscuits, he threw caution to the wind and had the biscuits. Wow -- three Huge biscuits covered (slathered?) with sausage gravy. I took one look and abandoned the wheat toast. Yum. We ate with gusto and enjoyment, even having more hot water to encourage a second cup from our Lipton Tea bags. 

If you are ever in Death Valley, the trip to Beatty is worth the 30 mile drive to get cheap gas, ice for $2 instead of $5, and breakfast worthy of a camper at Mel’s. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Solid Ghost Town

 I usually think of ghost towns as being towns built of wood which rotted and fell away when the people disappeared and the termites took over. Rhyolite was a town built to last. The buildings were of stone and cement. They stood proud and tall against the mountains. Pictures by the side of the road showed flourishing businesses, a Shriner’s parade, and other scenes of a thriving town.

There was not a complete building in town. The Miners’ Union Hall was gone. All that was left of Overbury’s Bank was broken pillars and enough front wall to show some windows. 

The school’s front wall was all that remained.

And yet, these buildings were built for a future. One large unnamed building was still standing but condemned as unsafe and therefore fenced in. 

Interesting ~ the original building still standing was the brothel. It was on the dirt road named Main St. It was two small rooms built of rock with cement mortar leaving us to speculate how many women worked there, how often, and, given the location, how comfortable the town must have been with the enterprise. 

There was one more house, not destroyed on the outside, made totally of bottles. The bottom of the bottles were surrounded by the cement mortar. It operates as a little museum.

In the yard is a square of cement on which sits the remains of life: horse shoes, nails, spoon, fork, broken pottery, the foot of a statue - and given the painted sandal, probably a religious figure, even more probably, Jesus. Little bits and pieces which people treasured, used, made and then left to the elements until some one in some historical society, made an effort to gather it all together. Fascinating and sad.