Sunday, August 31, 2008

Whirlwind of activity--just call us Gustav II

This quote fits me to a tee (tea?): “I love my computer … all my friends (and family) live in there!”

Back in 2005, hurricane Katrina nearly wiped out New Orleans as we knew it and we were advised by RVing friends (who were there to volunteer their services) to cancel our visit to this historic city as even six months later we would just be in the way. Of course, eventually, the elected officials and the business communities of southern Louisiana and Mississippi began to campaign for tourist dollars and consequently Phil and I put it back on the list of places we will go see. Okay, it is now 2009—enter Gustav! I suppose there is a good possibility we may again have to rethink our route this trip. Our hearts go out to those people and we wonder how much more they will be able to endure before that region of the gulf coast becomes a ghost town!

This next story is probably more than you really want to know about Phil and me but I just have to tell you about our recent adventure because you see, we just love black licorice. As a diabetic, it is one of the few indulgences that I allow myself on a very limited basis. Our primary source, Cabela’s (many stores across the country) changed providers and the new product tasted like cardboard! We returned 6 lbs and complained long and loud, then, we panicked! Last summer we found a little licorice store in Montana that had a fair substitute. It is a bit far to travel to pick up a bag or two and truthfully, it wasn’t the same. When we arrived back in Washington after the cardboard incident above, we found a candy kiosk at the Olympia mall that had our Australian Kookaburra Licorice and we were ecstatic. When we returned to buy more, they were sold out and according to an insipid sales clerk, they had no idea when they would receive another shipment. Then, ever vigilant, I found The Vermont Country Store catalog on line and ordered a couple pounds from them through the mail. It was okay but a bit too sticky and we were beginning to think our luck was running out. In passing, we mentioned our dilemma to friends, Sandy and Ray and they sent us to the big grocery outlet called Top Foods in Olympia. This store has a bulk candy section and … guess what? After shelling out $7.49 lb. (total $32.73 with tax), we came home and I vacuum sealed seven bags of our delicious addiction—probably enough to last us a few months! Thanks for the tip you two and since we bought out the store, I hope they restock before you go back to replenish your supply!

It has been a busy, busy but fun week! After updating the blog last Sunday, I spent the day scanning genealogy pictures and documents I had borrowed from my Aunt Beverly. On Monday our dear granddaughter, Sara came back to visit for a few hours and we said our goodbyes since we probably won’t see her again before we leave. We also took a quick trip to Wal*Mart to pick up a couple prescriptions and buy a new 3 in 1 HP Printer for me. It is similar to my old one but has just enough changes that I am now on a learning curve to figure out how to operate it. On Tuesday, Phil went back for a follow-up eye exam and thankfully, the pressure they found has lessened and no further action is necessary. After running a few errands (Lowe’s and Top Foods) we delivered the old printer to Dixie and Phil hooked it up. While visiting we gave her some computer operating tips and plan another tutorial session tomorrow afternoon.

Our friends, Joan and Charlie joined us on Wednesday for a fabulous seafood lunch at our favorite restaurant, the buffet at Little Creek Casino. As usual, it was spectacular and it was great to see our friends again and have a chance to say goodbye before we leave. After lunch, I returned the stack of library books I had read and cancelled all the holds I had. I was still number 18 on the list for the closest one so I figured I didn’t have much chance to get it read before next Wednesday … LOL! We stopped by DMV and Phil renewed his driver’s license three months early for another five years. I tried but the limit to renew early is one year so I got the paper work to send for my renewal next year by mail. On Thursday, we did laundry and I picked up a couple more prescriptions at my favorite store, Wal*Mart.

On Friday we were taken out to lunch by our friends John and Carol. They will head south to their winter home in Maricopa, AZ pretty soon so we will see them again in just a few months. Thanks guys! We had a great visit afterwards at their home here in Shelton and went home with a bag of apples and some leftover wallpaper Carol gave me when I fell in love with it on her kitchen and dinette walls. I don’t know when I’ll get it done but now that I have the paper, the project will go on the “to do” list.

Sister update: Robin has completed three weeks of radiation with few side affects except some slight sunburn. Her spirits seem to be good and she is doing well. Although frustrated to some degree, Dixie is getting around better every day and working hard at learning to walk again.

We spent all day Saturday visiting with family and saying our good byes. I returned the genealogy pics and documents to my Aunt Beverly and we took her and Aunt Elaine out to lunch in Puyallup. Aunt Elaine has had some back problems for about a month and is not feeling very well but she has another doctor appointment on Tuesday for a cat scan. Hopefully, we will find out what the problem is very soon after that. The afternoon and early evening was spent with Phil’s son, Mike and his family. Our adorable granddaughter, Brooke (she will be four in October) has grown like a weed and I have added a slide show so you can see how cute (we are just a bit prejudiced) she is!
Much more efficient new handle (from Lowe's) on the newly built drawer under our new cook top and new paint job on the air vent underneath. Oh yeah ... new red dish towels too! Lookin' good!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

ELEVEN DAYS AND COUNTING ...

Being a bit superstitious (just a tiny little bit … one can’t be too careful) I rarely blog about what we are going to do (aka plans!) but I will make an exception so that anyone who has been hoping for almost three months to drop by and say “Hi” and hasn’t made it yet, will know … it is now or not again for two years. TWO YEARS!!! Did I say “two years?” Yup! That is Joy and Phil’s newest proposal as it has sat on the back burner and coagulated for the past six months. South then east and up through the Midwest; Niagara Falls and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (Mackinac Island and that magnificent Bridge) are calling my name; then, on to the eastern seaboard and south again—slow and steady—stopping and smelling the roses—conserving fuel by inching our way over and back ... up and down; Washington DC (maybe my favorite city in our country) at a crawl and peeking in the nooks and crannies of the USA. My dream trip!

For a very long time I have been covertly creating a notebook in WORD which includes the sights and sounds, tourist traps and ... off the beaten path attractions in every state as I hear or read about them. This little tome will come in very handy now that the powers that be have put this idea into motion. We have seen many of the most famous sights (and will check out some of those again) but this trip we intend to slow way down and finagle our way into the heart of America. We will search out places to park our Penny the Pace by a lake, river or larger body of water where Phil can fish and I can write; where we can drive the back roads and meet the people who are the backbone of this country. Using our “Carmen” (Garmin GPS), we will ferret out local garage sales; check out flea and farmer’s markets, sample food in local eateries often unknown to travelers, meander through county fairs and whoop and holler at any rodeos we come across. My top sources for these locations have been other RVing bloggers who are traveling and sharing their experiences. The magazines we receive from all our membership travel/camping clubs are also filled with ideas and our favorites, the Food and Travel channels takes us vicariously to many wonderful places we might look up as well. Of course, we are looking forward to visiting family and doing a little genealogy digging along the way. Look out folks, here we come!

Again, we have had a busy week. Phil and Les arrived home on Monday after a very successful and enjoyable week of fishing. Lester’s grandson, Sam, (14 years old) was with them and a fine time was had by all three of these fishing fellows. I worked on my picture framing project and we went to Wal*Mart to pick up a prescription and replenish the pantry. Our dear friends, Joan and Charlie dropped by for the afternoon on Tuesday and we have tentatively planned getting together again in the next week for dinner. I cleaned and organized the pantry on Wednesday and dug out the dinette where everything without a permanent home seems to accumulate when we hunker down for any extended length of time and I started the chore of washing the inside of Penny’s windows.

On Thursday I finished my framing project and we drove to Olympia and delivered the new (to her) computer to sister, Dixie. Phil got it set up in her living room and now she will have her grandson, Andy come over and transfer software and programs from the upstairs computer to this one. I gave her my former 17” flat screen (which you may recall was beginning to act up and I replaced not too long ago). We hope it will last a while longer because it takes up so much less room and with Dixie’s vision problems it is much easier to see. Before we leave, I will also give her my four year old but very reliable HP 3 in 1 printer as I have been wanting a new one for some time now. Phil received a phone call from his doctor regarding his blood work up. The statins he has taken over the past couple years have all caused him some muscle discomfort so he had stopped taking them after a week or so. However, as a result, his cholesterol level is too high so medication is a must and he will keep trying until he finds one that he can take without complications.

We worked on cleaning and polishing Penny’s cab area and dashboard on Friday. We also washed the inside of the windshield and the side windows and he has replaced her water line filter and gas line filter and marked those chores off his list. Then Phil cleaned out the bed of The Lone Ranger in preparation for loading. Yesterday, our sweet granddaughter, Sara finally came by and spent the afternoon and we took her out to dinner with us. We had a great visit and she has promised to come back again before we leave. It seems like yesterday when she was born and she will be 21 years old in just a couple days! Whew! That was our week and here are few pictures …

Will wonders never cease? I baked a pie! This is a picture of my homemade, sugar free pumpkin pie baked in our convection oven. It was delicious!

I read about this idea on another blog. Unfortunately, I cannot remember where to give them credit as it was quite a while ago. These are the inexpensive plastic stand up frames-turned upside down and slid into the crease where the top of the slide meets the ceiling. Easily taken down when the slide comes in and what fun to display favorite photos!

The new mirror (removable to allow the slide to come in) and my newly framed picture wall. Some day when I get real brave I am going to replace the wood grain photo paper on the wall behind the pictures but for now, there is less of it showing.
The "In Memory Of" brick purchased by our mutual friends, John and Carol at the clock tower in downtown Shelton. Even though she had not lived here for many years before her death, Shelton was always our dear friend, Ardella's home town. Rest in Peace dear lady.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

CHORES AND CHASING AROUND!

Shelton weather: At 8 a.m. it was 64 degrees. There are no clouds in the pretty blue sky and summer has been teasing us these past five days. However, starting Monday RAIN is forecast for the next week. I knew there was no reason to get excited ;-)

Are you a reader? I cannot imagine my world without books. Of course, there is no room for a library on board our Penny the Pace. So, since we have been in Shelton, I have been taking advantage of my Timberline Library card (that I have had for many years) and reading every book mentioned in a magazine, on TV, on line or talked about by others that has some importance to me, with a special interest right now in anything historical or biographical. Our library allows it’s patrons to browse their catalog online, order the books they want on line and we are notified online when our books are ready for pick up. Then, we can go in, pick them up from a special shelf and check ourselves out electronically as we go out the door. It is a very convenient system that is extremely user-friendly. Sometimes I will be reading four books at a time and it will be a sad thing for me to lose that convenience when we start traveling again. Then I will go back to finding and using “Used Book Stores” wherever we are parked as most of them will give you credit on your next purchase when you return books. Of course, I have a new MP3 player (loaded with books thanks to my brother-in-law, Walt) that I still have to learn how to use but just have not taken the time since we have been in Shelton this summer. That will be top priority once we are on the road again.

This past week has flown by … probably because I have been checking off a formidable “to do” list written by me, just for me. Some of these things have been on the list for a long time. So, while my sweetie and his best pal, Lester have been camped out and lolling about in a small boat on a lake in the wilds near Randle, WA these past six days having the time of their life, I’ve been gettin’ ‘r done! They are expected home some time today, most likely tanned, tired and full of fish stories.

My chores included a pile of mending and ironing, cleaning the refrigerator, reorganizing the pantry, doing some redecorating and framing a stack of pictures I have wanted to put up in Penny for several years. Embellishments to Penny’s d├ęcor have been sorely lacking but finally after all this time it dawned on me that Penny is my home and it was past time for some TLC. Getting a pedicure and a manicure was on my list and I also made some promises that needed to be kept. I marked off an important one when I drove north and spent some quality time with my Aunt Beverly in Seattle. Several times before I have said I would come and spend the day with her and sort through her genealogy pictures and paperwork—but it never happened. So, at long last that “to do” was accomplished and she has shared some really good stuff with me (I knew she has some grand goodies) which I will scan and copy then return to her before we head south. We got so involved, it was too late to drive home so I ended up sleeping in her guest room and came home the next morning.

Aunt Bev’s guest bed was very comfortable and I slept well but for some reason, I woke up with terrible back pain and was in a lot of distress very quickly. Taking two aspirin did nothing. I barely made it back to Olympia where I stopped at my sister, Dixie’s house. She gave me a potent pain killer (she has quite the assortment after five surgeries and many sessions of rehab. Finally after several long hours, I got some relief. However, I was wiped out by the time I got home and went to bed early. This morning my back was fine—who knows what that was all about—I have never had a one-day back ache in my life!

Phil marked off one of his big-time “to do’s” from his list before he left. He removed the old four burner w/oven gas range and installed a brand spanking new three burner range top. It is a beauty. We have a wonderful, gently-used Microwave/Convection appliance and have NEVER used the oven in the range for anything but storage. So, we hired a carpenter and had a lovely, deep drawer built to fill in the space and I love it! It is amazing how much stuff can hide out in there, be out of sight and safe to travel. We also purchased and Phil installed new roll-up blinds for four of Penny’s windows. Her old ones were pretty worn out. My picture project has some tweaking left to do so I will wait to share the pictures next week when it is completed.



Our new three burner stove top and the new drawer below.


Perfect fit! I will have Phil change the knob because it is undersized for the weight and bulk of the drawer. My arthritic fingers have a bit of a hard time getting leverage to pull it out.


Look at all that room! Such a prized commodity in a motorhome.


Phil and his "adopted mother" ... our wonderful Aunt Elaine.

Two of the dozens of hanging baskets that Shelton puts up every spring. They are gorgeous!

While going to garage sales last weekend, we found these pretty flower boxes in Shelton.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Apache Trail Arizona

This video is about five minutes long.

Same-O … Same-O! Easy going week ...


Quick note: If you have a slow Internet connection, it may take a few minutes to load the slide show albums. Hopefully, it will not take too long because even though it is a little extra work, I sure enjoy showing you more of the pictures we take and I hope you like it too.

Shelton weather report: At 8:30 am it was 60 degrees outside my window. I could see patchy blue sky with an excess of low fluffy white clouds. There have been a few warm days, mostly cool nights and too much rain so if you ask me how I’m enjoying summer in Washington State, I would have to say, “What summer?” In my opinion, summer should equate to hot weather … day and night and sunshine that warms you to the bone. When and if that happens in this part of the country everyone starts worrying about water rationing so most locals are very happy about this weather. Personally, since we retired I have learned to love the heat—I miss it and I am antsy to travel south where it lives. I want to get back into my shorts and sandals and put these long pants, socks and jackets where they belong—in storage!

Sister report: Well, she must be doing well and keeping busy as I have not heard one word from Dixie except through mutual friends so I am going to assume that “No news is good news.” Robin called to tell me she has pretty much decided to go ahead with follow-up radiation treatment and also that she had a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack … if you want to know more, Google: TIA stroke) about three weeks ago. All the usual tests were done and her doctors found if anything at all, there was only minor muscle tissue damage. I experienced one in January of 2002 and did not suffer any long-term damage either unless you count the anxiety I have lived with since learning it is considered “a warning of future stroke.” Robin’s doctor increased her daily aspirin intake from 81 mg to a full size aspirin which is what I take as well. We truly believe the aspirin is what saved us from “the big one” (as Red Fox used to say) since stroke is prevalent in our family history. Question: Are you taking your aspirin?

Last Sunday was our great granddaughter Carly’s big celebration of her ninth birthday (actually on the fifth) and a great time was had by all. Along with her many friends, we met at Chucky Cheese in the mall in Olympia and watched as the group of nine-year-olds went berserk on the many machines before and after settling down for a few minutes while ice cream cake was consumed and presents were opened. Phil manned the camera and took over 150 photos working hard to catch Carly at a standstill but she was so busy, it was difficult to get a good shot. I have saved you from that barrage and only picked a few for a small side show here.

We have been working on our “to do” list a bit at a time but because we are both pretty laid back … it is coming along slowly. Oh yes, quick note on the computer saga. Phil finally got through on the phone number we had for the seller and he agreed to reimburse the cost of fixing the computer (we are getting an estimate now) within reason. I’ll keep you posted.



Happy Birthday Carly!

Twin fawns in the neighborhood

We were so happy to see the 2008 babies!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Learning something new!

I have learned how to make a video of our still albums with Photo Story 3, a free download from Microsoft. If I had a microphone for our computer I could even narrate the pictures. I couldn't wait to share the moonscape type landscape around Phil's fishing hole with you. It is less than two minutes long and I don't think it can be enlarged or if it can, I haven't learned how to do it yet. This is going to be fun because I have lots of pictures I have never shared because there were too many over the past four years. Stay tuned for more adventures of Phil and Joy!

Phil's fishing trip to Yuma Canals Jan 2007

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Rhetoric, NPRA Rodeo, County Fair, goats, and Carly fix!


Look out dear readers. I am feeling a bit philosophical this morning. Not totally clear about the definition of that word, I just looked it up. Re Wikipedia: “Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, truth, justice, beauty, validity, mind and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing these questions (such as mysticism or mythology) by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on reasoned argument.” I know this is a travel blog but it is also a personal “shout box” for the writer who just happens to be me. So if you are not interested … stop reading now and come back next week. Possibly, I will be over my introspective compulsions by then but I will make no promises.

The other day one of my friends and fellow blogger, George (a link to his blog is on my blog) wrote the following: “Yesterday I watched the movie, "A River Runs Through It." This is a wonderful story about a family living their life in Montana in the early 1900s. The father is a minister, and in one of his final sermons he says, "And so it is that those who live with us and should know us, elude us. However, we can love them completely, without understanding! When I hear these words, I am a bit sad. Because I want to know those that I love completely. And I want them to know me. But the minister is right! That knowing is soooooo elusive!”

In my opinion, this line from the movie that George is quoting, although written as dialog for the character who happens to be a minister is not about believing in a higher power and all I could think once I read it was, “how true, how true!” It is a reflection of humans and the way they live their lives and fortunately for many—those who stay hidden within themselves—completely knowing someone is not a prerequisite for loving them. In fact, I believe in some cases, if we knew another person totally it might prevent those feelings from coming to fruition. I know I have always said my life is an “open book” but I also harbor subterranean and sinister secrets that when known could possibly for some, render Julie Joy totally unlovable.

Is my clandestine motivation for writing my mother’s biography and when finished with her story, writing my own … a way of testing our family? If so, the key question of the test would be: Will you still love us when you really know us? So, is that the true reason these tomes are unfinished to date? Is it the honest cause for my lack of time spent at the keyboard? But, then again, I sometimes wonder if you are appalled and uncomfortable will I care? `I’m not sure how I feel about that one but I am convinced, my mother held on to a lifetime of memorabilia (much of it especially telling of her seamy side) so that her story would be written. In fact, I have positively concluded she was planning on writing it herself but the effort was sidetracked by her alcoholism and untimely death from lung cancer.

Okay … so much for that exploratory rhetoric! Again, we had a busy week. Last Sunday we spent the afternoon at the Mason County Fair and enjoyed the NPRA Dodge Rodeo with our great granddaughter, Carly. So full of energy, she ran this old Nana “to ground” but Papa held up pretty good. Of course, he IS younger than me you know. My cousin, Buster who is formerly from Pt. Townsend, WA and now lives in Nevada came north for some medical tests with his doctors. We met on Tuesday at Little Creek Casino for lunch then came home to Penny the Pace for another hour or so of visiting. It is always good to see him and get caught up on all the news.

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I have been working with my genealogy trunks, (Gloria and Les have loaned me space to work in their basement) sorting and repacking what will head down the road with us when we start moving south again. Phil and Les went out on Thursday for a day of fishing on Phillips Lake and that day I went to the hospital for a chest x-ray. As an ex-smoker I like to get one every couple years. The next day I went back for my yearly mammogram and will hope for good news regarding both from my doctor in the near future. On Saturday, we went garage saling and found a very nice bicycle at a reasonable price for daughter, Bobbie to give to her granddaughter, Carly for her birthday. We are celebrating her ninth a couple days early at Chucky Cheese’s Pizza parlor today at three o’clock. I think I’ll take earplugs along just in case. Next week I will have pictures of the birthday party today,

Sister update: Both doing well. Robin has pretty much totally recovered and is debating any further action considering quite possibly “the so-called after surgery (which was 100% successful in removing the cancer cells) treatment could well be worse than the disease.” Dixie is working on learning to walk again which is an uphill struggle but she is determined.

Here are some images of happenings during our past week.

Rode to Olympia with Gloria and Lester to run errands. Here are a few pictures we took that day.
These goats (must have been over 100 of them) were hired to clear out the brush and blackberrys on this piece of land along WA hiway 3 right in town. In just a few days they did a pretty good job. The goat keeper (herder?) was parked nearby with his 18 wheeler-sleeper and big goat hauling trailer the whole time they did their work.