Friday, December 26, 2014

We are still here

Sorry for the lapse in blogging, but with all the holiday craziness it seemed people had enough to do without reading the drivel of my life.

There was a period of time where I wrenched my knee and was unable walk without pain and a pronounced limp, much less play pickleball.  But after some TLC, rest, icing and hot tub therapy I'm back on the courts again, but playing more slowly.  This actually seems to have been a good thing for me since I'm placing my shots better to prevent their return since I'm not as keen on running and lunging for the ball.

We are waiting on the arrival of the family from Minneapolis this evening, so to pass the time we went out to lunch.  Any excuse I can come up with folks, I'll use it.  I wanted to try out their pizza since I've not found a good pizza in this area.

We arrived and it looked pretty quiet, but the sign said OPEN, so we found our way in and were soon greeted by the owner of the restaurant, a feisty Italian lady named Maria.

I had just decided which gourmet pizza I wanted when she announced "No pizza oven is full of bread."  Okay.  Then we looked at the lunch menu and she declared that nothing on the lunch menu was available today....that they never offer the lunch menu on Saturdays.  We reminded her that today was Friday and she waved it away with her hand and added "or the day after Christmas".  It was like she was reading my mind and added as she walked away to give us time to decide... "Don't leave!"  Did I mention we were the only ones in the place?

Finally we asked what we could order and she showed us the last couple of pages with the dinner entrees and she said - "anything from here...whatever you want...knock yourselves out".  Well, okay.  So we placed our order and she shuffled off to the kitchen.

We got our salads and some fresh garlic toast and, rolled in on a kitchen cart.  Then our entrees were rolled in later on this cart from circa 1962.  Our meals were prepared fresh to order and served piping hot, except that she chose to stand at the table and tell us about what she watched on TV last night.  I was polite for a while, but the tantalizing aroma was too much and I started to eat.  She could pull up a chair and join us as far as I was concerned, but I couldn't wait any more.

After we finished I could hear the creak and rattle of the cart and she had two loaves of bread on the table.  A Christmas gift for us perhaps?  We were then asked if we wanted to buy a loaf of banana nut bread or zucchini bread....$5.00 each.  Or we could buy both of them for $10.00.  Such a deal.  We went with the banana nut bread to share with the family later.

During the presentation of our bill we listened to her story about the car in front (a 1961 Rolls Royce).  Left Brain asked if it still drove and she said yes, she drives it every day.  I can actually picture this diminutive lady behind the wheel of this huge car, hands gripped tightly with only the top of her head showing over the dashboard.

We enjoyed our time with Maria a lot and heard more stories about her husband (Joseph, a tailor from Rome) and his dream of having a restaurant in what had previously been their clothing store.  Turns out he can't boil water, so she's the one doing all the cooking.  What a fun lady and crazy experience.  I'd come back just to see her again...and the food is amazing.

Then we stopped at Stater Brothers (a grocery store) on the way home and as I'm in line a very large black man pushes in front of me with two items.  I was okay with letting it go, in fact would have probably offered since he had so little to check out, but the lady ahead of me was clearly cruising for a battle.

She pulled all 5 feet of her up tall, stabbed his chest with her finger and said he had to get behind me, that he had cut me off.  Oh Lordy....we're going to have a race riot in the check out aisle.  I could hear the announcement now for "clean up in checkout five" after the blood bath ended.

He stared down at her hard for a second and then all 6 feet or maybe 7, who knows...he was BIG...informed her that he was just getting two other items for his order that was ahead of hers.  Oh well then...alrighty.

After that incident we bonded while we waited our turn and she told me two very funny jokes that I cannot repeat here.  It's amazing what you can hear from total strangers.

When we got home and put things away, it was time to play Nurse Rachet and remove Left Brain's stitches from his hand.  I got out my best applique scissors and a hemostat (yes we have these on hand...don't ask) and after cleaning them with rubbing alcohol, removed all 13 stitches.  It's so soothing to do a little kitchen table surgery at the end of the day.

Now we're just catching up on some things and relaxing before our life as we know it ends and the family descends tonight about 8:00 pm.  So if you don't hear from us again for a'll know why.

Long Live the Queen of Kitchen Table Surgery

Sunday, December 21, 2014


The good news is that Left Brain is feeling much better now, after passing his cold off on to me.  He is always so good about sharing.

The bad news is that he felt so good he took off on his usual 15 mile bike ride.  

I was busy playing pickleball, minding my own business, when after our game ended he called me over from where he was sitting on the bench.  I thought he came to see me sweet.

When I approached him he said how well I had been playing and then casually added that we needed to go to Urgent Care....that he might need stitches.

It seems that his front tire hit something funny and down he went, and while trying to break his fall he split his palm open.  It looked nasty and I'll spare you any photos of the actual injury.  I guess the blood on his legs should have been my first clue something was wrong.

We hustled off to Urgent Care, which was located quite close to us, and he received the first stitches in his 68 years, which is really something of a miracle to those who know him well.
The PA that worked on him said he was lucky it wasn't lower because it could have affected several tendons.

After receiving his 13 stitches we went out for lunch since it was noon and we were already out of the house.  He was much calmer about this than I was.

I had been enjoying our new routine of leaving all the dishes for him to wash while I waltzed out the door to go play, but he is unable to submerge his hand right now so he's relegated to being the dryer.

Amazingly he said it really didn't hurt and he was back out there biking again the following day...but with gloves on now.

It's never boring with him around.

Long Live the Queen of Stitches

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Good Fences

It seems every yard here in our California town has a fence, I've never seen quite so many as here.

But this one really caught my eye since it was covered it all these beautiful bright blooms.  It goes down the entire block and it was hard to get it all in.

Long Live the Queen of Fences

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Book Review

So often I read books quickly, just to get the story line and be entertained for an hour or two...and that's okay.  But the last one I read made me stop and say "Whoa...go back and start over and read this one slowly."  I wanted to catch every well crafted word.

That that's exactly how I would describe "The Old Neighborhood" by Avery Corman...well crafted. 

You may recall some of his other works from past movies, Kramer vs Kramer and Oh G-d.

The story takes us on a journey with a man from the Bronx who couldn't wait to get out of his childhood home and make a name for himself in the advertising field, which he did quite successfully. 

Married and with two beautiful daughters, he has it all...and yet life is careening out of control for him and he starts to contemplate whether his life is really such a success or not.

His marriage has gone stale due to all the hours put into the corporate world and he begins to reexamine his life and plan the next step.

I don't want to say much more for fear of ruining the story for you, but the message is timely.  When are we really successful?  What defines success?

There's an old Jewish adage that asks "who is the wealthiest man in the world."  The response is not based on monetary achievements as you might is simply "he who is content with his lot in life."

A life lived with simplicity and purpose can be far more successful than being listed in Fortune 500.

Long Live the Queen of Great Books

Sunday, December 14, 2014

More Clever Creations

Since the two-seater toilet from the last post won't fit in our RV, perhaps this is a better solution for us.

It's's still a two seater...and much more geared to our nomadic lifestyle, being the swingers that we are.

Long Live the Queen of Fine Furniture

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Soggy Saturday

The rains in California continue as does the damage from mudslides.  In San Jacinto (right next to Hemet) the local synagogue was removing Torahs and articles of value to protect from possible damage.  Several people were told to evacuate the area.  So far we are doing well, the only problem being some standing water on the pickleball courts, but that dissipated quickly when the sun returned.  Let's face it, this is not Camelot, even though there is a building complex  here that says otherwise.

Left Brain came down with a sudden cold and has been pretty miserable for the last couple of days, so I did the best I could for him.  I left the RV.  I figured it was a good time to vacate and run errands and just let him sleep.  He's better today and put another 15 miles on his bike this morning.

A man at pickleball was trying to describe when the best time is to make an overhead smash.  He diplomatically stated it was when the ball was about high.  I nodded my acknowledgement and waited for a bit before turning to ask him this question. "Is that where they were before or since migrating with age?"  He was useless the rest of the game.

I love the ingenuity people come up with during the creative process.  I mean, who wouldn't just love having a heart to heart conversation while using this "conversation toilet". 

It reminded me of the double holer outhouses of days gone by, but this is so much more stylish.  Perhaps the two occupants could play poker during their time together, I can certainly imagine one saying "Royal Flush" and then the other person hitting the button.  It might be fun...who knows.

Well, this seems like an appropriate time to finish up today's blog.

Long Live the Queen of the Royal Flush

Thursday, December 11, 2014

On the Cat Walk

Gracie loves going for a walk on her leash.  

Lately she's gotten to the point where if she sees her harness and leash coming off their hook she starts to meow and spin around.  How undignified for Princess Grace to act that way!

It's even gotten to the point where I can't say the word "walk"...we have to spell it or refer to it as a stroll.  She gets so wound up.

I'm not sure who's having more fun here.

She loves walking down here because every now and then she spots a chameleon darting up a tree and sprints after it.  Not wanting to climb the tree myself, I make it a point to stop her at chest height so I can retrieve her again.

George is learning to walk on the leash.  It's going slowly, as most things do for him.  But he's starting to get the hang of it and will prance along with his tail held high for about three to five feet before stopping.  Each time gets a little better.

The road surface here is awful on their paws and they come back from their (whisper)  w-a-l-k pretty dirty.  But with a squirt of waterless shampoo to get them started they are usually cleaned up in no time.

Wait Dad....I think I see something worth chasing here.

Yesterday I tried something new and put them (one at a time) in the bike basket to see how a short bike ride would go.  Didn't work out too bad.  George seems to like that much thought process involved, just the breeze ruffling his fur as we glide through the park.  No photos attempted on this yet.

Long Live the Cat Walking Queen

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A cheap date

We enjoy eating out, mainly because I'm too lazy to cook much and neither of us like doing the dishes.  

Left Brain gets these discount coupons from Restaurant.Com so often it's a surprise when we arrive since we have no knowledge of these places in advance.  Sometimes the surprise is pleasant and other times it's an experience.

I refer to it as an experience rather than being unpleasant, because that is within your control....and we avoid unpleasant and try to see the humor in the situation instead.

Here's how our last date went.  We had a $10 discount coupon for the Office Bar & Grill, our requirement was to spend a minimum of $20.  Not a problem.

We arrived to this rather, shall we say...unattractive establishment and pulled around the back to park.  

Opening the door revealed a dark, cave-like atmosphere with a whiff of nicotine near the entry.  First impressions are so important, but we ventured in anyway....fools that we are.  

After a while our eyes adjusted and a frazzled looking woman approached us to take our order.  We asked for a menu and she reached over to another table and pulled the tiny piece of paper out and handed it to us.  Yup, pretty much bar food...but sometimes that can be tasty so we both opted for the Fish & Chips.

The lady informed us that she would be our cook today, but she was not the regular cook and she'd do her best.  She was waiting on tables, cooking and working the bar....alone.

After a bit she rushed back to our table and announced "Here's how it's going to can have a hamburger or a cheeseburger with fries or onion rings."

Okay, we'll play along.  I ordered a burger and Left Brain opted for the cheeseburger.  Since this was a lower priced item I added on a soda to go with his beer.  Trying to get the total up to $20 is going to be a challenge here.

When our food was presented we both had hamburgers.  She swept back into our area to apologize that she couldn't find the cheese and did the best she could.

The burger was actually pretty good, the onion rings had a distinct fish flavor so I'm guessing it's been a while since the oil has been changed.  But, it's lunch and we managed to devour each bite.

Total bill....$13.00.  No way we were going to come close to the $20 limit.  Luckily, he can go back to the website and exchange this for something else, cause I'm not going back there.  Once is an adventure, twice would just be stupid.

Let's just say I'm not going to jump on to Yelp and prepare a raving revue any time soon.

Long Live the Queen of Greasy Food

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

George's Thundershirt

I wasn't sure this contraption would really work and hated spending the money on it, but it has proven to be a lifesaver.

George tends to be easily frightened and this has been helpful during thunderstorms, traveling and clipping toenails....each of which is equally terrifying to him.

It's a simple concept, like swaddling a baby...or strapping a crazy person in a straitjacket.  The feeling of pressure on his neck and chest provide a soothing sensation and helps to ease his anxiety.  It makes nail clipping a breeze.

I would fight this nail clipping session but I feel so relaxed I just can't bring myself to do it.

I imagine it's like the feeling of the heavy lead pad laid over your chest at the dentist for x-rays.  I usually ask them to leave it on me during the exam as I find the weight of it soothing.  I wonder if they make these in human sizes?

He's fully able to move about and walk, although he seems to just fall over and lay down for the most part.  Even though Gracie is easier to clip, this still makes the job even simpler.

Anything to keep my furbabies happy.  

Keep calm and carry on.

Long Live the Queen of Calm Cats

Sunday, December 7, 2014

It's all a puzzle to me

It doesn't rain much here, but when it does it provides a good opportunity to catch up on some cleaning or chores around the RV.  Or, instead of that....doing jigsaw puzzles.  I picked up a couple to play with a while back and now I finally have time to indulge.  One has a cat theme (of course) and the other has a travel theme.

Gracie just felt she had to assist with the cat themed one.

I was trying to figure a way to manage doing these in a small enclosure when I stumbled upon some foam core board at Wal-mart.  Ah ha!  If I taped two of these together I'd have a lightweight, flat, easy to store puzzle holder.  It worked perfectly.

I knew that Green Bay Packer duct tape would come in handy someday.

When I have it open inside the RV I can slide the right hand portion under the countertop to get it out of the way.  At night I fold the top over it for cat-proofing and slide it under the countertop again to secure it.

Those pesky cats are always trying to help me, whether it's making the bed or working on these puzzles.

I don't mind Gracie's efforts to assist, but she keeps wanting to smack the pieces on the floor.  George prefers trying to eat them....but he is fixated on food.  

I picked up a trick along the way at another park that I enjoy.  When dismantling the puzzle, the edge pieces are put into a small ziplock bag.  It makes it easier to search out the beginning of the puzzle that way.  So, it's all done and ready for the next assembly.

Long Live the Puzzled Queen

Thursday, December 4, 2014

It never rains in southern California....

But man, it pours!

We've had a couple of wet rainy days complete with thunder and downpours.  This never bothered me much before, but it takes on a whole new meaning in this part of the country.

Granted, California needs the rain badly, but the soil is such that when it comes down hard like this it just washes over the top, taking a lot of mud and debris with it.

The photos you see here are about eight hours after it stopped and there's still a lot of clean up to be done.

In the area just north of us they had to rescue people from their cars as the mud just washed up and trapped them.

I was never a big fan of snow, but at least it stays put when you remove it and melts to boot.  This is just a heavy sloggy mess that is disgusting.

Here is some footage from the local Hemet news today.


Long Live the Queen of Slime

Good Fences Thursday

We saw this woven fence at the same zoo that had the cattle with the huge cattle.  I think I ran that one last time, but will repeat it here just in case.

Long Live the Queen

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

It was a so-so day, with threats of rain predicted; so we did what others in this area do on these kind of days...we headed into Palm Springs.  It was time to check out the Tramway as a possible adventure for the family over the holidays.

This is one of the retired tram cars

We were cruising along the Sonny Bono Memorial Highway when Left Brain made some reference to a blimp.  I hadn't been paying attention and at first thought he was making disparaging remarks about my weight, but was really a blimp.

Along this stretch of interstate there are more windmills than you can count.  I've never seen so many in one area before, but this certainly is the perfect place for it.   It's nice to see alternate sources of power being used.  I also noticed that many of the schools have huge banks of solar panels and they use the shade created by these panels for parking their cars.  Very clever, these Californians.

This photo is but a small area - this view went on for what seemed like miles and miles.
Before we knew it, we had arrived.  The Tramway was built in 1962 and is the second highest tramway in the world.   It features the world's largest rotating tram cars that make two complete revolutions during the ascent and descent, providing an incredible view from every angle.  The floor moves, so you need to keep grasping a different part of the hand rails that are secured to the outside since they are moving.  Also, when you go past the towers there is a bit of a sway, a gentle rocking of the tram high up over the rocks that would cause a certain death should we plummet to the ground....okay...don't go there....must keep breathing.

The Aerial Tramway starts out at the Valley Station at 2,643 feet and climbs up to 8,516 10 minutes over a 2 1/2 mile trip.  They liken it to going from the Mexican Sonoran Desert to an Alpine Wilderness as you pass through five unique life zones.  Did I mention that I don't care for heights?  And yet this was my idea...go figure.

At the top is Mt San Jacinto State Park, 14,000 acres of pristine wilderness with 51 miles of hiking trails, primitive campgrounds and an adventure center for winter activities during snow season. 

I don't think I could hike up this high. I got winded just in the parking lot and overlook areas.

There were several patches of snow like this one.....and that's enough for me.

There is a movie presentation that shows how it was constructed and we learned that those yellow pads were where the helicopter dropped off people and supplies during the construction.  That would not have been a job for me!

The scenery was stunning from this height and you could see the many desert towns down below, as well as the sea. 

Of course, this is the kind of thing that catches my eye...the pine cones and windswept trees.

My favorite part was dining at the Peaks Restaurant which offers fine Californian cuisine with views that literally take your breath away.  Seriously.  I could hardly get in a deep breath while walking around up here the air is so thin.  They also have a nice cafe with great views.  The music playing is all Rat Pack era - lots of Sinatra and the I grew up hearing in our home.

After a couple of hours enjoying the food and the view it was time to head back down.  While at the departure station I admired this fabulous faux painting.  I had to walk right up to it to convince myself the shelf and all its contents were only painted on the wall.

Yikes.... that looks like a long ways down.

Yup, I think this place is a winner and we'll have to bring the family to experience it while they're here.

Long Live the Queen of the Tram

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Bicycle Lessons From Hemet, CA

Left Brain here. 

I actually accomplished a full bike ride today. This week that has been quite an accomplishment. Up until earlier this week I had put over 900 miles on my Electra Townie bike with no problems. However, at about 9  miles on Monday I noticed the front tire going soft. I managed to get home before it totally went flat. Now I did notice an unusual amount odd glass, metal and other debris on the highway shoulders so I wasn’t too surprised.

I took the tire off and inspected it inside and out and promptly found the offending small piece of wood. I removed it and inserted the spare tube I carry as well as patched the old tube to use as a spare.

The next day I wasn’t as lucky as I was only seven miles out when the back tire went flat completely. I did manage to get home by pumping it up several times. After a trip to Wal-Mart to purchase a new tube and another patch kit I attacked the tire. This time I found multiple offending pieces of wood like material which I removed, replaced the tube and inflated.

The following day I didn’t get very far at all when first one tire than the other went flat. However, I did discover the cause. Under trees with shiny leaves I discovered a pine cone looking thing covered with thorns that were very strong but detached from the stem easily. The street was covered with these thorns that had been run over by cars but were still strong.

Luckily THE Queen was able to find a Townie dealer only 7 miles away. I walked in and told the man I needed two tires and two tubes. He asked “thorns?”.  I answered “thorns”.  He said welcome to Hemet. 

He told me how to beat them by using tubes that are shown on the box as “Thorne Resistant”. They are three times as thick as usual tubes. AND, for a price, he filled the tubes with sealant! He also said not to try to remove thorns from the outer tire because you will only force them in more. They are supposed to come out themselves. All I know is I made 14 miles today without a flat. 

Welcome to Hemet!!!