Thursday, September 22, 2016

I Have A Friend

I grew up in small town Iowa where everyone knows everyone.   I moved westward (ho) after one year of college.   I always knew I'd leave, never even once considered that I'd live in Iowa for the rest of my life.   I didn't even think about it, really, I just knew I'd leave.   And so with a couple of twists and turns, I ended up in California in 1990.   I feel as though I belong here.   

I have a friend I have known since about age 13 or so.   Her name is Paula and she happens to live about 20 minutes from me, and she also feels that she belongs here in California.   Talking to her, spending time with her, is so familiar.   It's an interesting thing about childhood friends and perhaps it has to do with being from a small town, I'm not sure.   Somehow there is a strong sense of familiar that we don't have with friends we make later in life.   

Paula is trying to help me find a dress for an up coming wedding that we are attending in November.   Nothing is working for me.   When I look online at dresses, I find myself drawn to things for my thirty-something self.   I imagine myself looking really good in some of the dresses, then snap back to reality.   I recently turned 61, I no longer slip into whatever I want to wear, knowing my perfect size will always work.   Far from it.   And so I try on dress after dress, finding nothing that works.   I purchased one that I will probably return as soon as I find the right one.   Paula had one for me to try but it was way too short.   She has another one for me to try.   She is determined not to stop until she helps me find the right one.    

I love Paula.   She is exactly what a friend should be.   With her help, I am sure I will find something I feel comfortable wearing.   But it better be soon.   Even a good friend can't stop the calendar from turning.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Good Things and ???

Not a typical post for me, but there are a few things I have been purchasing at the market this summer that I thought I'd share.   

I recently read about wild blueberries being a very very healthy food, way better than the fresh blueberries you find in little packs.   Wild blueberries are found in the frozen section of Trader Joe's, for those of you who have that in your area.   I'm sure many other markets carry them as well, although I haven't seen them at our local Von's.   I bought them and I love them.   I combine them with something else I like, Fage 0% Yogurt.   It makes for a yummy breakfast and I'm sure it would be excellent in a smoothie as well.   If you like blueberries, give them a try.   As an added bonus, they are very good for your animals, particularly a chicken that's not feeling so great.

Erik and I try not to eat much bread.   We've (actually he) discovered a product called Flat-out Light.

We add lettuce, tomato, and whatever else we like, fold it or roll it, and enjoy it instead of a sandwich made with bread.   It's tasty and filling and I recommend it as an alternative to bread.   They have several other products, even one for making pizza, although we haven't tried any.   Maybe something for a cooler day when I feel like heating up the house with the oven.   A friend used them to make pizzas on the barbecue so that might be a good option too.

Another item I'd call a good thing, although not a food item, is something I tried yesterday to clean my toilet.   We have a lot of calcium in our sort of hard water.   As such, keeping the stain out of our toilets is quite a task.   I've tried products that I thought should work, but I'm never quite satisfied.   Yesterday I bought Lysol Lime and Rust.   It didn't remove everything but it's way way better than before I used it.   If you live in an area where the water is cruel to your toilet bowl, give it a try.   You're Welcome!

None of these companies have compensated me to mention their products.   I just like them.

Now here's a question I have for you.   What the heck is up with the price of shavers?   At my age, I don't shave my legs nearly as much as I used to, so fortunately I don't have to buy new shavers by the dozens.   But still, I am shocked at how expensive they are.   When did that happen, and why????   

And the last thing today has to do with rugs.   I've mentioned it before, but why are rugs so dang expensive?   I like to change mine and always find myself leaving the store without one.   I cannot justify the price.   I need one in the kitchen, one at the doors, and one or two in the hallway.   Also, I would like a new large area rug for the dining room and living room.   The prices????   Seriously???? They aren't even fancy or special wool rugs, not handmade, not thick or lush, not worth the hundreds of dollars in total that I would have to spend.   If I bought all the rugs I'd like to replace, I'd easily spend $1000.   I'd rather spend that on a new chair for the bedroom.   If that was in the budget right now.   

Being inside as much as I've been this past month, I'm redecorating the house in my head.   I'm obsessing over stripes on an accent wall in the bedrooms.   I'm pondering new vanities/sinks for the bathrooms.   Oh let's hope the smoke clears soon and I can start riding my horse again.   Things are getting financially dangerous around here!!!!

This is our Monday sunrise, still greatly enhanced by smoke in the air.   

Have a good Monday and thanks for stopping by.

Friday, August 19, 2016

I Know That Sound

We seem to be in the flight path of fire fighting aircraft that leaves Paso Robles and heads south.   So it's not unusual to hear them flying past during fire season.   However, hearing a few yesterday, I thought I'd head outside to check.   Of course I took my camera.

Hmmmm....I thought.   Then came the sound.   It was too close to be just cruising by.   These guys are big and loud.   And it was close.   I had seen some smoke just to the west that looked closer than the Chimney Fire.   Yep.   A wildfire had started within a mile of our house.   I watched as the helicopter made at least three drops.

And then they were gone.   I went on Facebook to check fire incidents.   Sure enough, it was reported about 3:25 and by about 4:00 it was out and had burned about 3/4 acre.   Our fire crews are awesome.   Even with everything going on around the state and crews being sent hither and yon, they still have resources available to jump on a wildfire to keep it from spreading and burning homes.   In my neighborhood.   Yikes.   Times like that, I am happy to live in an area of more rolling hills rather than steep terrain, more grasses than forests with poor access.   

This photo is taken from Facebook, captured by someone who calls himself SLOStringer.   He is always there following the fires and reporting to us locals.   Yes, he was standing right under the helicopter!

This morning the sunrise was a big red glow from particulates in the air.   While pretty in color, we'd rather not see it.

I am hoping for a very nice, very pleasant, relatively cool weekend.   I hope it's nice where you are.   Autumn is coming, my friends.   We just have to be patient a while longer.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Writing Thoughts

This is not a happy post, filled with pretty photos.   I'm just feeling thoughtful lately about others' losses and the human spirit.   You probably all know that California is burning with major wildfires from north to south.   Too many of them are created by humans.   The Soberanes Fire in the Big Sur area was caused by a campfire deep in the forest.   It could be ignorant hikers or could be another illegal marijuana farm.   There have been other major fires that were caused by those tending such farms, often they are deep in the forests and "owned/managed" by the Cartel with "hired hands" camping and taking care of the crops.   Other fires, including the devastating Lower Lake fire, were the result of arson.   We have a more local Chimney Fire burning, the cause still being noted as "under investigation."   What that says to me is they are not releasing the information because again, it is likely caused by someone doing something illegal.   Homes and businesses, to say nothing of the lives, are lost.   Total devastation to those in a fire's path.   The photos and videos are shocking.   Imagine such a fire destroying everything.   In other places, floods and tornadoes do the same damage  to people's homes and lives.   

I don't know how the human spirit survives with all the loss we experience in our lives.   I know some people persevere, continue to have hope and keep a positive outlook for the most part.   Others simply collapse into sadness and depression and carry the burden for years.   Why do some move forward and get on with life while others cannot seem to cope?   Is it personality, is it a faith in something, is it family/friend support?   I don't know.

This past week, my sister and I learned that a cousin's granddaughter had committed suicide.   She was only 15 years old.   Photos on Facebook show her smiling and looking like any other teen.   Then one morning her mother found her.   She had taken her life.   Her best friend writes on her FB wall, trying to express her sadness and loss and grief.   How did that young beautiful girl get to the point where she made that decision?   And how does her family, and her best friend, go on to recover from such shock and sadness?   I didn't know her and don't know her mother so I have no ideas as to what may have driven her to this point.   It's just so very sad.   

I've been through my share of loss in life.   I'm sure everyone has, some more than others.   I've survived it all and come through with a positive outlook on life, still intact.   Here's what I think.

Some years back, Oprah had a frequent guest on her show named Gary Zukov who had written a book called "The Seat of the Soul."   It made sense to me and I still think about his writing from time to time.   Why do we think of people as being an old soul or a young soul?   I have certainly known both.   I am not a religious person but I do consider myself a spiritual person.   I find my peace inside myself and with nature and with others who make me think or make me smile.   The idea of souls being reborn and coming here to learn something makes sense to me.   When you've lived 60 years, you can look back on people and experiences and gain some perspective on the human spirit.   Stop and think, once in a while try to separate yourself from your emotional thoughts and look at life in a different way.  

You can probably tell I've been spending a lot of idle time recently, indoors.   The smoke from the fires has settled into our area and created poor air quality.   Very poor air quality.   I have asthma which I keep under control, but I cannot be outside breathing all the smoke and unhealthy particulates.   And so I try to stay occupied, mostly failing at that, and keeping my mind busy with thoughts.   That's what this post is about, trying to put those thoughts down on "paper" so I can be finished with them for now.     With the smoke from the Big Sur fire easing up, I hope to get back to Cambria and this....very soon.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Welcome August

What is it about turning the calendar and seeing a new month begin?   Really, it's just the day after the day before, 24 hours later, but somehow we like to mark it as eventful in some way.   Always marking time, aren't we?   For me, it's one step closer to Autumn which is my favorite time of year.

Our temperatures dropped 15-20 degrees and the wind shifted, so the horrible smoke in our air blew out of here over the weekend.   Yesterday was cool and clear enough for me to ride Beau after not riding for a week.   Afterward I had a massage, stopped at Trader Joe's, and spent the rest of the afternoon at home.   I know we're not out of the woods just yet as they say the winds are likely to shift, bringing the smoke from the  Soberanes fire back down.   But to have a couple nice days...we'll take it.   

I wanted to share a few more photos from Cambria.   When I am there, always with my camera, I look for things that I want to photograph.   Having been there many many times, it's not always the vista facing west.   Cambria has a lot of wildflowers.   In the Spring there are large patches of them growing on the sides of the bluffs.   As the season changes, much of the plant life turns brown and looks dead.   However, if you look among the dried out grasses and brush, there are small flowers still adding pops of color.   I love those little flowers.   They are determined to show their pretty faces.   

Little pops of color....they make such a difference in the day.   I hope August treats you all well.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Always There For Me

I took a drive to Cambria the other day to escape the heat and smoke filled skies that are locked in here.   Smoke continues to drift down from the big fire near Big Sur and 100 degree temperatures keep it very oppressive.   I crossed my fingers that my place of calm (and fresh air) would be as welcoming as always.

There were tourists around, but not a lot.  Kids were crawling and bopping around like they do, getting out that energy that kids carry around with them.   I watched one girl, probably around 8 years old,  practicing her little hip hop dances on her own while her mom took cell phone photos.   The girl would do something funky, talk to herself and smile.   In her own little world.   As was I.

Cambria never disappoints.   It's always there for me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


If you think about Summer as June-July-August, we are halfway through.   Summer activities, festivals, fairs, family vacations are all in full swing.   In our area, the California Mid-State Fair kicks off this week.   It's always had a small town feel with some long time traditions that people look forward to.   The fair always kicked off with a cattle drive through town.   I believe last year was the first year ever that it won't take place.   I don't remember the reason but I think it had to do with the gathering point becoming unavailable because the land had been sold.   Sad that another symbol of this being ranch country has gone away.   

Another thing that has changed this year for our fair is that they will now be conducting metal detecting scans.   *sigh*   We all know what they're looking for.   Weapons.   We are a county of small communities that have seen the growth of gang related activities.   I'm sure in light of all the violence and attacks on policemen, there is a concern about that as well.   

I hope everything goes smoothly at the fair, that everyone enjoys the great concerts that hit the stage, and the food.   Oh yes, the fair food.   I didn't go to the fair last year but will probably walk through the exhibits this year.   And yes, even though I've been eating more healthy recently, I must have something that is absolutely sinful and decadent.   The cinnamon rolls are unreal.   That will probably be my indulgence.   If they ever take the cinnamon rolls away from the fair, there will be hell to pay.   The lines are long, the rolls are fresh from the oven, and they send you instantly into a sugar coma.   But who cares?   It's the fair.

We had a few things on our list that we wanted/needed to complete early in June.   They didn't happen in as timely a way as we'd hoped, but the third of three should be completed this week.   We'v been going through a refinance and it has dragged into the most ridiculous process you can imagine.   After the past 3 weeks of sorting through the delays and lack of communication, it is supposed to finalize very very soon.   As we suspected, there was an incompetent employee in the middle of it all, and we were informed yesterday that she was let go for not doing her job.   

And so it's halftime.   I haven't been out with my camera much.   I have been riding a lot and that's a good thing.   Erik has been trying to keep our trees alive in spite of a county-wide gopher invasion this year.   We have lost nearly all of our fruit trees and they are now trying to kill our Pony Plums.   Over the weekend our 20 Fuji apples on a young tree completely disappeared....overnight.   There are pieces of branches on the ground and we suspect a deer came through for a snack.   I feel sometimes that we're out on the prairie and fighting against the elements at every turn.   Crazy.   We'd like to have a nicely manicured property but it's expensive and frustrating.   But we persevere.   And cross our fingers.

So life is always a mixed bag, isn't it?   All the horrific things going on in our world, yet people just trying to enjoy life and experience the Summer fun for themselves and their families.   My wish is that things quiet down and the second half is more peaceful than the first.