Saturday, February 27, 2010

Full Moon Over Georgia

I just peeked out my back window and saw this -- more than a little bit lovely.

I thought this, with the zoom, was also interesting, but perhaps not immediately recognizable as the moon!

Happy full moon, everyone.

I'm Getting There

This is today's work.  I think I was out there for about 3.5 hours, building the beds then spreading pine straw.  It still looks a little like a junk pile because I'm afraid all the pine straw will blow away before it has a chance to settle in, become more compact.  I also still need to put some inside the frames, temporarily, to help block the sun from the grass and weeds underneath until I can get a load of compost to fill 'em up with.  I guess I could have managed it this afternoon, but why kill myself?  This was hard enough for the old body. And....I found a nice little pile of black gold way back in the trees at the rear of the property.

Compost!  My neighbor said he cut the grass and Miz Adair had him pile it all here for compost.  It's kind of rooty and has some grubs in it, but it's black as can be and crumbly and just wonderful.  I'm not sure enough of it to put large quantities in the beds, mostly because of the roots and the grubs, but I'm putting a small layer in each bed under the pine straw, and trust me, a 5-gallon can of this stuff is a haul from here to the garden area! I still don't have a wheelbarrow. So, I only managed one bed today.  Tomorrow I'll finish all this up and it should look halfway decent.  I also got a good start with my worm bin today -- it's almost ready for occupancy.  Now, I just need to find some occupants.  There are a few in the compost pile that'll probably end up in the bin.

Here's a little different view -- from the compost pile looking at the house.  See how big this yard is?  The property line runs from the left of where I'm standing here by a few feet.  On the other side, you can see my car peeking from the right side of the house, and the line goes a few feet to the other side of the car and back. More or less.  The back here is nice and shady, which makes it perfect for chickens, compost, garden shed and all kinds of uses other than growing things that require sunshine.

I solved my transportation problem this morning -- paid my neighbor $10 to pick up 10 bales of pine straw for me.  He said he'd do it for 'a couple of bucks for gas', but it was well worth $10 to me and I know he needs the work right now.

I had a bit of a meltdown last night, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.  All over $$, of course, and the way it's been flying out.  I don't plan to spend much more once I get this garden bed finished, but I worried about every possibility -- emergencies of all kinds -- and basically got myself all in a dither and couldn't go to sleep for a long time.  I ended up trying some of my Buddhist techniques for staying calm and accepting a situation.  It'll all work out, I said. I told myself I'd worry about it tomorrow, because I sure couldn't do anything about it right then.  Finally, I got up and swallowed a big mouthful of brandy, and that did the trick.  Today, I got a check in the mail from my landlords in Brookings for $333, which is about three times what I thought it might be.  Can you spell r-e-l-i-e-f?  That's not a fortune, but it's certainly enough to make me feel much better -- keeps my reserve at a more comfortable level.  As the folks around here would say, Thank you Jesus!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Let's Get it Started!

The bare slate. Complete with garbage can.

My goodness, this is turning into SO much bigger a project than I intended.  Doing the work isn't a problem, but getting all the materials together and getting ready to do the work is a real pain.  I'm still not there, but I was determined to get it started, at least.  I guess I spent maybe two hours out there -- no more, although it certainly felt like more.  And no harm done, other than one fingernail broken to the quick and a bit of stiffness in my back at times.

After the layers of compost and dry molasses.  Yes, in a perfect world the layer of compost would have been a lot thicker, but my world isn't perfect.  I only had the 21 gallon bin full of it, so this will have to do.  As I understand it, the purpose of both layers is merely to stimulate microbial activity, so again, this will have to do.  I think I even have enough compost left for my worm farm.  The blocks on the right are locations for the three blueberry bushes, with the raised beds going on the left.  I used my pine boards for laying it all out.  I thought I had it well inside the property line on the right, but now that it's all done, I'm not so sure.  I guess I need to get out there and really try to mark the line -- I eyeballed it for this. I'm also pretty sure they're not parallel to the house, although it looked OK from out there.  Not so much from inside.  I really should have done this right, as I intended.  But, I can adjust it later.  I'll be sure the raised beds are parallel -- there is lots of room around them for walkways and assurance of weed/grass removal, and those can be adjusted.

OK, so it's not pretty.  It's not supposed to be pretty.  In another perfect world, I'd have constructed the two raised beds and let them help anchor the cardboard, but refer to the above paragraph about perfect worlds.  It's all wet down and I can only hope I have enough stuff on top to hold it in place overnight.  I can build the beds tomorrow, and I guess, bite the bullet and get some mulch delivered.  I really hate doing that!  And I don't have a clue when they might be able to deliver it, naturally.  But....we do what we can do.  I sure hope this works.  From the pile of boxes on my front porch, I thought I had enough to do the entire yard -- what a joke that was!  I barely had enough to do this section. The good news, I guess, is that now the front porch looks neater.

There was a garden hose left by the sellers, but it didn't take long to learn that it's not all that great.  Too many old kinks that are determined to stay. And, one of them is so bad it's wearing through the material.  I guess any thoughts that it might have been good were wishful thinking.  The connection to the faucet wasn't all that great, either.  I think I ended up with as much water in a pool below the faucet as I got on the garden area. I need to go back outside and finish re-winterizing the faucet, once the pool disappears.  It only had thick cloths wrapped around it and instead of just coming out from the foundation a short distance, the pipe extends almost a foot before the faucet starts.  Not knowing this, I bought a foam faucet cover which will clearly not work.  Isn't owning a home fun?  Actually, my sense of humor with all this is just fine -- I laugh at both myself and the situation, constantly, regardless of the 'complaints' I write here.

The body is tired.  Not exhausted, not sore, just a tad tired. Once I got home with all my purchases I had to unload the car.  The pine boards are lightweight, of course, but that 50# bag of dried molasses isn't!  My legs complained as I carried it up the ramp to the back porch, but hey, at least I could carry 50# up the ramp!  My hands feel like sandpaper -- haven't uncovered my leather gloves since moving, and I like to feel the dirt in my hands anyway. So, that's my story and my whines for today.  Stick around.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Busy Day!

And I thought this was going to be a quiet day!

I'll get to the rest of it in a minute, but I had a real treat this afternoon when I got a call from a cousin of mine, wanting to stop by and introduce himself.  Here I am in my sweats and not all that presentable, but wasn't about to tell him no.  I last saw him when he was 6 years old and I was 18, which makes it almost 50 years ago!  His mother was my first cousin, older than me but one of my favorite people in the world.  I've been in email contact with Kenny for a short time -- he actually found me recently on an internet genealogy site of some kind, but I had contacted him several years ago and we'd lost touch.  He is a beautiful 'young' man!  Definitely the best treat I've had since I've been here.  I feel totally welcomed back into the family, although he's about the only close relative I can claim around here.

Now, to the photo.  I had an interesting lesson in the difference between Home Depot and WalMart this morning, after I got the new shelving system (on the right) home and compared it with the one from HD, on the left.  Made by the same company, clearly, although the packaging was different. The new one cost a good bit less, but it's the same design.  It's just a smaller gauge of metal than the HD version, hence the cost savings.  It's sturdy, and they still claim that the shelves each hold 250 pounds, which is way more than I'll ever have on them.  I still need to get some baskets to hold loose stuff, and a toolbox to hold the tools, but this should take care of all my storage needs once I get it organized.

I also bought a little jiffy greenhouse with peat pellets, and some more seed, and planted a few things.  I didn't think fast enough to only wet a few of the pellets, so I planted large quantities of basil and rosemary, along with my San Marzano tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, and parsley.  The rest of the seeds need to be sown directly in the ground.  I've never tried growing rosemary from seed, but I use lots of it and would like to have a little rosemary hedge someplace, so I'll plant whatever comes up and grows.  I have a sunny, south window in the living room, which is also the warmest place in the house, so they should do OK.

What else made the day so busy?  I cooked some of the beans I bought in St. Helena.  Assembled the shelving.  Planted the seeds. Called Medicare to get my supplemental insurance changed to a local provider. The dryer repairman came (Yay!), then Kenny called.  Doesn't sound like much, but I have 6664 footsteps on my pedometer so far, with no long walks or any intentional exercise of any kind, so I've been moving around doing something.  I put the odometer on this morning after reading that NYT article, to see just how many steps I would get on an average day, without working at it.  This is a lot more than I would ever have done in Brookings, without at least one long intentional walk during the day.  About the only walking I did today was in WalMart.

Off to Rome tomorrow.  Hopefully, I'll come back with a fully assembled bicycle if they have time to do it.

Health Matters

You may know, or have realized, that I am fascinated by the general subject of good health and nutrition. I've been a proponent of nutrition, including diet as well as vitamins and supplements, since the late 1960s and love reading and learning on the subject.

I learned a lot more during my recent health scare.  I picked up my blood test results yesterday from my doc, and when they told me my white blood count was 'almost back to normal', they weren't kidding.  The number is, in fact, higher than it's been since I've been keeping track, which goes back to 2003.  The other numbers are better, too, but not to this degree.  Now, you may remember that I wrote about some things I wanted to try nutritionally to elevate this number.  Garlic and Shiitake mushrooms headed the list and I inundated my body with fresh garlic and fresh shiitake for awhile back in Oregon. That went by the wayside with the move, since I haven't been really cooking, but along with the food intake I have been taking garlic oil capsules and powdered shiitake mushroom capsules regularly.  It seems that they have worked, and it's always good to see results.  I did other things as well, but to a lesser extent and not so regularly.  I'm sure it all helped.

You may also have read as I railed about weight gain since I retired, despite the exercise and hiking and walking beaches and such back in Brookings.  In the back of my mind I've always considered the difference in my total activity before and after retirement.  Yes, I probably walked and exercised as much after retirement as before, but that didn't include the amount of exercise at the office, where I was constantly up and about, as opposed to sitting on my butt.  I also took the stairs to the 3rd floor, rather than the elevators.  All of that seemed to matter.  This morning, an article in the New York Times confirms that suspicion.  It DOES make a difference if you sit all day, or a large portion of the day, even if you exercise regularly. Even standing takes energy.  Sitting is the worst thing you can do, and in Brookings, I certainly did sit a lot for lack of much else to do -- even during the time periods when I was wearing a pedometer and getting in my 10,000 steps per day.  I don't sit nearly as much here, and once I start on actual projects such as the garden, or painting, I'll sit even less.  Hopefully, some of the fat will disappear.

I'm still debating the garden issue -- specifically, the composition of the raised beds.  Last night I was thinking of going to cheap pine boards, which will last a few years.  But, once I ran the numbers I found that it costs almost as much to use pine as it does to use one layer of concrete blocks, if you stay with the same height of 8".  I could go to 6", but am not sure I want to do that.  I'm also thinking of getting my soil tested, because at first glance it looks to be pretty good soil, rather than Georgia red clay.  It's not red, at any rate -- more dark and loamy looking.  In that case, 6" might work. My original plan, once cedar was out of the question, was two layers of the blocks for a level of 16".  I'm willing to start with 8" and build on that.  It'll be cheaper to fill, too.  I'm still going to run exact numbers, before I decide whether to use pine or concrete.  The pine would certainly look better -- I hate the look of concrete blocks.

Our weather is taking a turn towards cold again, which is not amusing, but at least it seems to be dry.  There's a lot to be said for that.  Guess that's about it for today.  It's going to be a quiet one, I think, but tomorrow will be just the opposite.  LOTS to do then, in Rome.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

This and That

Ah, the joys of homeownership!  Wouldn't you know that the dryer's problem was serious?  The heating element is toast -- really toast.  When he took it out, the coils were so brittle some of them just crumbled into pieces.  Of course, it has to be ordered, and of course, it's not cheap.  But, since the rest of the dryer is in good shape, it's still a lot cheaper than buying a new one and a tad safer than buying another used one, so unless I want to haunt the laundromat down the street, there's not a lot of choice here. 

Today I need to find the recycling center that's somewhere between here and Rome.  I have more than one carload, so I'll fill it up today (cardboard and newspaper, mostly, plus some glass and metals and such left by the sellers) then take whatever is left when I go to Rome on Thursday.  I'll be glad to get this stuff off my front porch.

I keep forgetting to mention that somebody in this neighborhood has some chickens, because I clearly heard a rooster as I walked down the street Saturday morning.  I guess that's not surprising, as it's a highly Mexican neighborhood and in Mexico, chickens and roosters are everywhere and part of life.  I guess what this tells me is that maybe I can pretend I don't know the city rules and just get myself some chickens, since there is some precedence here and the rules are not exactly being followed anyway.  That idea has now worked its way up much higher on my list of things 'to do'.  I'll ask my neighbors what they think, but I can't imagine they would mind.  The lot is so deep that if I put them at the very back, there shouldn't be any noise or smell to bother anybody.

I'm ready to get the garden started, as in building the beds, putting down the cardboard to kill the grass, but need to find a source of compost OR find a way to bring some home from the nursery in Rome.  Anybody have a big pickup?  I am SO tempted to sell this Toyota and get a pickup, but so far am too lazy to think seriously about the process.  I need a pickup, however, or a decent sized utility trailer which doesn't particularly appeal to me because I'm not sure I could back it down my driveway. Maybe I can just rent one from U-Haul.  But I'd still have to back it down the driveway.

As you can see, there's not much exciting going on right now, just necessary stuff and errands.  Lots of it, however. Keeping me busy!

Monday, February 22, 2010

More Progress

As good as my intentions were, I guess it really was too much to expect that I'd actually take the day 'off' yesterday when there was so much to be done.  Most of the boxes are unpacked, the 'trash' is on the porch awaiting recycling, and almost everything has a home of some sort.  Still lots to be done everywhere, including the office, but I'm dancing as fast as I can, folks.  This bookcase needs organizing, as does the one in the living room. The desk, big as it is, was not designed with two computers in mind.  But -- at least the room is warm.

I actually did take a few hours 'off' and drive.  This time, I went east towards Atlanta, in search of a flea market and an organic nursery, both near the city of Dallas.  That's only about 40 miles from here, but it's another world when you get to the east of that town.  Suburbia!  Bedroom communities with McMansions, SUVs and mini-vans.  And traffic.  No thank you!

I did find the flea market, which was mostly a waste of time.  The two that I've attended so far remind me of the tianguis, or weekly market, that  happens in even the smallest towns in Mexico.  The biggest difference is that these are indoors and the ones I saw in Mexico were outdoors.  These also don't have food vendors with lovely Mexican food cooked on-site.  But, a large number of the vendors and customers were clearly of Hispanic origins, so perhaps there is an influence here.  Lots of fresh veggies and fruit at the one yesterday, which is definitely typical of the Mexican markets.  This one had a few antique and junktique dealers, but not worth the drive.  I never did find the organic nursery, but since it was Sunday they would probably have been closed anyway.

The bath is much nicer, even usable.  Lots more to do, but it's good for now.

I think most of the $$ outlay for the near future (until I get the homebuyer's credit, which will take awhile) will have to be for getting the garden started, not for toys inside the house.  I could spend more, but I want to keep a nice cushiony emergency fund.

Maybe I'll take the day off today.  I have an appointment this morning, then need to copy the amended tax return and docs for the homebuyer's credit so I can mail that off.  The dryer repairman will be by this afternoon.  And I didn't sleep worth a damn last night.

That could be because the phone range just before 10pm and woke me from a sound sleep.  I have no idea who it was, most likely a wrong number.  I just couldn't go back to sleep afterwards.

Or, and I hate to say this because it's sacrilegious, could it be that this wonderful mattress of mine just isn't what I need in order to sleep well?  Remembering the best nights sleep I've had on various occasions in recent years, all of them have been on softer surfaces.  One was an air mattress similar to the one I have, and I must say I slept like a baby right here in this house on that mattress of mine for almost two weeks. I don't think it was because I was so tired, because I'm even more tired now, if that's possible. Another was on a mattress with a cushy Tempur-pedic topper. Even years ago in between other moves I slept on a cheap camping air mattress that needed to be reinflated daily, but I slept well and it was during a time of high stress.  Air isn't the long term answer for me, comfy as it is, because it doesn't breathe and therefore the body overheats and gets all damp. This mattress of mine was the main reason I had all this stuff shipped across country -- I could have let go of the rest of it.  It's pure and organic and totally natural and I'd hate to defile it with something so un-natural and un-organic and chemical-laden as a Tempur-pedic topper, but I just may have to consider that.

So -- lots to think about and not a lot that I'm going to do, physically, today.  And realistically, I've accomplished quite a lot in the two weeks I've been here.  It seems sooooooo much longer, but that's all it's been.  I've cleaned this place, and cleaned it out.  I've gotten my driver's license and car tags.  Unpacked.  Taken down all the lacy window treatments.  And much more.  So maybe I deserve a day off.  Smiles.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


One of the biggest issues in this house is lack of storage,  particularly in the kitchen.  I love this pantry right off the kitchen, and it's a perfect place to store things.  Yesterday at HD I bit the bullet and bought this chrome rack I've been eying.  It's a good fit for the space -- a tad too deep, but not terribly so.  I put all the kitchen stuff I don't use too often on it, and while I love the look and have always wanted something like this, I now find that I still don't have storage for other things.  Alas.

I have room in the lower kitchen cabinets for almost all of this stuff, but this is so much more convenient.  I'm getting too old to reach down into a low cabinet and get the appliances, in particular.  Although, with the mixer on the bottom shelf here, I'm not sure how different it is!  I just like it better.

So my decision today is whether I put all this, or some of it, under the cabinets, or whether I spring for more $$ and buy another, perhaps taller (and deeper) one for the other side of the wall.  There's plenty of room for it, and that would certainly solve all my incidental storage needs.

This thing was a bear to assemble.  The instructions were rather lacking in detail, but did suggest two adults for the process.  Once I figured out the process, it went fairly easily and wasn't much of a problem, other than to my poor back.  By the time I stopped unpacking and assembling, around 5pm, my poor body felt like it'd been put through the proverbial wringer. 

The meeting yesterday was great.  I'm already into helping one of the members go through, scan and compile the records of one of the local funeral homes.  That may sound boring, but I love that kind of research.  I'll also help in various actual cemeteries, photographing headstones, etc.  The group wants to eventually have every cemetery in the county on-line with names, headstone photos, and even obituaries of the deceased.  These things are SO vital to a genealogist.  Fun.

There was a guest who was rather intriguing.  She and her husband have volunteered to survey and photograph cemeteries because they are into paranormal activities (ghosts!) and have just gotten their EVP equipment.  She and the kids were telling about someplace the were visiting the day before.  I don't think it was a cemetery, but it may have been.  There was a road and bridge that was out, I know that.  I don't remember why they were sitting in this spot (I really was only half paying attention), but she said her husband smelled gunpowder, and so did she and her son.  So they whipped out the EVP (which I believe stands for electronic voice phenomenon) and turned it on and started asking questions.  When they got home, they played it back and heard clear answers to their questions about the gunpowder and bridge.  They were also at a cemetery recently and photographed a ghost, a civil war soldier in full uniform standing beside a grave.  They were attending some kind of event celebrating civil war soldiers in this cemetery.  I've heard people like this on the radio, talking about EVP and photographing ghosts, but this is the first time I've actually talked to real people who have done it.  I guess I'm still half skeptical, but certainly open to the possibility.

Looking around my house, it doesn't seem as if I've unpacked much, but there's a pile of flattened cardboard boxes on the porch to prove otherwise.  There is so much I don't know where to put!  Still, I'm making progress.  The bath is now usable, thanks to some of my existing items.  Still needs work, but it's ok for now.  I have to sort out the clothing issue -- old houses have tiny closets, and the one in my bedroom is really small and inaccessible.  I plan to put shelving into both ends, time, so far.  The closet in this room is large, so I need to divvy up the clothes in some way that makes sense.  Yesterday, it was just 'unpack it', with little mental energy for organization.

I really want to take today 'off', let the body rest.  I think the only way I will do that is if I leave, go somewhere.  There are possibilities -- perhaps to Gadsden to the furniture/antique flea market, perhaps towards Atlanta to Dallas, to an organic nursery.  The weatherguessers are forecasting 67 today, and if yesterday was indicative I'm thinking they may be right.  Warm, sunny, delightful!  I really need and want to take advantage of that.  And maybe another trip to HD.

Happy Sunday, y'all.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Happiness is.....

.....having my desk, my space heater, my comfy chair and warm wool throw all in the same room!  Yes, it's chaotic and funky and filled with the detritus of my recent 'camping out', but that will all disappear.  The mover didn't leave until after 7pm, at which point I simply poured some brandy, got comfy in the chair and watched Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice.  I was pooped.

Everything arrived, and for the most part, all arrived safely and in one piece.  A leg was broken off an antique blanket chest, but it'll glue back on easily.  The back of the white chair was soiled a bit, but the slipcover is washable.  Of course, I haven't unpacked any boxes marked 'fragile', but none of them rattled so all is probably well there.

I had forgotten just how wonderful my mattress is -- I enjoyed the softish, enveloping aspect of the air mattress, but have happily traded.  I had to sleep in a much cooler room, and even with a wool comforter and the down comforter, I admit to feeling some chill.  I don't like to sleep in too warm a room, so I'll just have to learn to regulate the heat better.  This room has the chill off, thank goodness!

The neighborhood kids -- and even their parents -- seemed fascinated by the big truck.  Once, a few of the little kids came over to peek inside the truck and there was a car in there, en route back to Oregon.  They thought that was really cool.  It's not a wealthy neighborhood, to say the least, so I think big moving vans are not commonplace.

I spent yesterday taking care of details around the house.  The dryer stopped heating, so I called a repairman who would have come yesterday afternoon, but I didn't want both him and Mayflower here at the same time, so he'll be here Monday.  I called a locksmith, who came out and rekeyed all four locks to one key, which is a real relief.  Each lock had a different key, and I found it frustrating to try and figure out which was which, so when I went out, I only used the dead bolt lock on the front door.  That's probably enough, but still....

I also cleaned the refrigerator inside, which took some time but was exceedingly worthwhile.  Once all these things were done, I simply sat in my lawn chair in the warm living room, in a patch of sunlight by the window, and read.  There is still much to do in the kitchen, but it will wait.  I need to clean the wood cabinets, but since I want to paint them I want to go to the This Old House website and find their instructions for painting over finished wood cabinets.  He specified something to use for cleaning as part of the prep work, so I might as well use the right thing and save a step.  I just have to find out what it was, because my memory..... well.

On a secondary note -- and thankfully, it is secondary -- I had a clean bill of health from my new doctor yesterday.  My blood test showed that my blood cell counts are almost back to normal. I haven't seen the numbers so I don't know how to compare them, but my blood cells haven't reached 'normal' for years, really.  Whew!  If you've been reading along for awhile, you've probably noticed that I've hinted about this a few times.  I didn't want to write it because it was just too scary and truthfully, I didn't really believe the diagnosis the hematologist in Oregon gave me.  She suggested it was a disorder of the blood and bone marrow similar to leukemia, and just as deadly.  I read up on the symptoms, and just didn't believe her, but made a concerted effort at building up white blood cells in my body until I could get here and be retested.  Apparently, I simply had some kind of virus at the time of the December test, because all is well now.  I'd had the H1N1 shot about a week beforehand, so that's a good possibility for being the culprit. 

I don't think I'll get a lot of unpacking done today, either.  I have a meeting this morning, a HD class this afternoon.  Perhaps in between, but there really is no rush.  I'm usually a dynamo at unpacking - can't wait to get the boxes empty and stuff put away -- but there's a lot of stuff I really don't know where to put because of lack of storage, so I'll just need to take my time.  And I have lots of that!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tales of the House

I think I would love to have known the woman who lived in this house.  At closing, her granddaughter regaled us with stories of a woman who I simply fell in love with.  Clearly, her family also loved her.

She lived in this house for 46 years and, prior to that, lived in another house nearby for another long stretch.  She was, I believe, 94 when she died last spring.  Married at 14 (common in those days) to the only man her father would allow her to date, Miz Adair was by all accounts 'a pistol'.  Her grandkids and great-grandkids grew up in and around this house, and selling it was tough for the family.

A few years back the family church had a schism -- somebody split with the money for a new church and a bunch of the membership to form a new church.  Those that were left wanted to go ahead with their building project and Miz Adair and one of her friends raised $114,000 by selling Chicken & Dressing and Coconut Cake out of the back door of this house!  Apparently, both were rather legendary.  I'm talking about the food, but I tend to think that Miz Adair, if not her friend, was also a bit legendary around here.  The granddaughter has the recipes for both and has promised to share.  Yum.

She apparently felt that three drops of sewing machine oil could cure many of the world's ills.  An exaggeration, of course, but among the cleaning items and such that the sellers left in the cupboards was a container of sewing machine oil.  Miz Adair used it to move the stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer so she could clean behind them.  Three drops of machine oil right in front of the front 'feet' of the appliances, and they'd glide smoothly.  She used this right up til the end and the family suspects that she was doing this when she fell a few years ago, but she would never cop to it.

I mentioned how well the family had cared for the house over the years, and the granddaughter laughed.  "She made sure we did", she said.  "She'd be on the phone to me anytime something needed attention." And my guess is that Miz Adair wasn't somebody to be ignored.

I wish I could have known her.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday Morning

It's so strange to know that most of you out there reading this are still sleeping soundly as I write these words at what is a really reasonable hour of the day where I am.  My body is finally adjusting to the time change, but I think my brain is having a little more trouble with it.  I've always felt as if I'm communicating in real time here, but now I feel more that I'm just sending words into air and there's nobody out there to read them.  Weird.

The snow is gone, for all practical purposes.  As predicted, it melted off quickly in the warm sun yesterday.  More is predicted for tomorrow, but I don't know how likely it is.  We'll see.

My day yesterday was devoted mostly to cleaning the bathroom, washing all the curtains I've removed from various windows, going to Home Depot (clear at the other end of town!) and trying to figure out what to do with the bathroom in the long and short run. In the meantime, I took the top layer of grime off the floor in there and it looks a lot better.  I'm thinking I need a good scrub brush to use around the edges, before I'll be happy with it.  I also mopped the front bedroom floor with Murphy's Oil Soap, so now at least one room is clean and ready for habitation.  I'm thinking I'll attack this back bedroom today -- woodwork and windows and floors.

I also bought some caulk yesterday in my trip to HD, so once the bath warms up enough I'm going to use that to seal all the leak spaces.  I took the masking tape off yesterday to give it a good chance to dry out.  The caulk can't be used at under 50 degrees.  I wonder if my bathroom ever gets that warm?  Probably, later in the day.  I have ceiling fans in the front rooms going strong, trying to get the warm air moving out of the living room into the rest of the house, and it works, if slowly.

I have signed up for two workshops at HD next Saturday:  one on tiling walls and floors, and the next having to do with small bathroom ideas.  I think that has more to do with small ways to improve bathrooms, rather than things to do with small bathrooms.  Either way, I'm covered.  After going all the way (in my head) yesterday in the room -- new walls, floor, tile, sink and cabinet -- and chafing at the potential cost, I've pretty much decided to only do the tile.  I'm guessing that the plastic surround has simply been put against wallboard, but won't know for sure until I take it down.  I'd like to gut the entire wall, frankly.  It would be nice to get some insulation behind the tile, after all, and I don't know how I'll know about wood damage otherwise.  But, that's in the future.  The near future, perhaps, but the future nonetheless.  I want to be ready to move once I start taking stuff apart -- I want to finish the classes and know what I'm doing, pick out the tile, have it all planned so that I can get it done as quickly as possible, thus not depriving myself of a shower for more days than necessary.

Maybe I'll hit the flea market today.  I opted out yesterday because while they advertise 'rain or shine', I wasn't sure about 'snow and ice' and I didn't want to drive 25 miles for nada.  I also have a bunch of stuff on the front porch that needs to go to Goodwill -- stuff the sellers left, mostly cheap glass florist vases. There's no Goodwill store anywhere around here, but there are places to drop off donations and while I don't know if the items will ever see Goodwill, maybe they'll go to someone who can use them.  At least they'll be off my porch, and that's all I really care.

So -- onward with the day.  Happy Valentine's day to all of you.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Morning After

A little dark outside yet, but this is how my house and car look this Saturday morning!  The entire neighborhood is a winter wonderland, although I would not like to be out on the streets driving.  Can you spell ICE?

My neighbor's yard, also this morning. 

I had (still have?) thoughts of checking out a flea market today, but unless the ice melts completely, that's not going to be on the menu.  Since it's clear and sunny out, perhaps that will happen.  We'll see.

I spent a couple of hours yesterday cleaning the master bedroom -- just the woodwork, windows, fireplace, blinds, not walls or floors.  One window turned out to have a good bit of flaking paint, so I cleaned off the worst of it, so I could actually clean.  Like so much else, this will be a project for summer.  All the windows need work of one kind or another.  Today, or soon, I want to fill nail holes and maybe attack the floor, which has lots of tiny paint spatters.  They flake off easily with a fingernail, but again, there are lots of them so it will be a slow process.  Still, it would be nice to have this finished before the furniture arrives.  I'm also having thoughts of painting the walls, but not sure how far I'll get with that one.  To do it right, I think I need to do a lot more prep work and I don't think I'm into that right now.  And I need to think about colors.

Bathroom, as is when I arrived, minus a few things left by the sellers.  The vanity/sink is awful, not enough storage and this is ALL the storage in the room.  The medicine cabinet is too high, old and rusty, and there is NO electrical outlet in the room other than in the light above the medicine cabinet, which I couldn't possibly reach.  I've already replaced the plastic shower curtain with my cotton one, and tried without success to remove the steel support on the tub.  It really doesn't look much better now.  The room just doesn't work.

Another interesting discovery is that the tub surround in the bathroom allows water to seep behind it. See the vertical seams under the window? They're not tight, and there's also a bit of caulking needed where it meets the tub. I doubt that the woman who lived here used the shower, and it's been almost a year since anyone lived here, so there probably isn't a lot of damage but I need to be sure.  I've sealed the seams with masking tape (don't laugh, it's all I had on hand and so far it's working) so I can use the shower.  But, I think it's becoming obvious that I need to attack the bathroom first, in terms of major work and expenditures.  I'm not thrilled with that, since there are other things that appeal to me more. On the other hand, I really dislike everything about this room and it would be good to remedy that.  I can see the $$ signs growing however, as I think about what I'd like to do with the room.  So -- lots to think about.

Mayflower told me yesterday that the truck carrying my stuff was in Kansas, which is over half way here.  That's good news, because I'd really like to have my comfortable things to sit and sleep on.  They couldn't give me a delivery date, because there are other deliveries involved.  But soon, surely!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bluebirds of Happiness

I finally got a really good look at these guys.  They were hanging around my front yard so I went out the back door and used the zoom on max to get them in my muddy driveway.  They are bluebirds, no doubt!  Silly for such a thing to please me so much, but it does.  I put out a bit of commercial suet mix for them, but haven't seen them near it yet.  Judging from this photo, they may be more interested in water, or perhaps it's bugs in the mud that appeal to them.  Hard to tell.

However, a bluebird house has now become imperative, plus a bird bath and a bird feeder to attract the cardinals.  I finally saw one this morning as I was out walking, but not in my neighborhood.  They're fairly common, so it was only a matter of time.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I'm Here! 2950 Miles Later!!

Actually, I've been here since Monday afternoon, but ATT just got my phone working this morning.  I can't tell you how frustrating it's been, without communication.  Plus, I couldn't leave here yesterday because the repair man was supposed to show up yesterday.

But - none of that matters.  I am here safe and sound and camping out in the house until my furniture arrives, which will hopefully be within a week or so.  I had word that it's loading in Oregon today.  And I love the house!

Don't you love the 'office'?  This is where the desk will be, eventually.  Gotta love those hardwood floors, however.

I can't hook the big computer up to the internet because of the issue that existed before I left.  Until I install whatever it is the thing wants me to install, it won't install anything else and I expect that includes the software for ATT.  So, I'm on the laptop. Thank goodness for the laptop!  I'll deal with Dell on the other one eventually.  At least it still plays DVDs, which the laptop doesn't.  Between the two of them, I should be OK for now.

My self-inflating air mattress in the living room, where the heater is.  The first night was a little dicey, but I kind of got the system going now and last night was quite comfortable.  That's all there is, in terms of furniture.  The kitchen, of course, is self-contained and complete so I can cook and eat.  Not that I've done much cooking, since I only have one iron skillet, a small saucepan and a tea kettle (left by the sellers).  But still.  There's coffee and tea and I am eating.

I am still really, really tired.  Yesterday was stressful.  I have lots to do now that I have a phone and email so will get to that soon.  It's really, really cold here!  I think it was 25 early this morning, wind chill in the teens.  I even saw a snowflake or two earlier while talking to the ATT man. The house is relatively cozy and seems draft-free for the most part.  I already feel at home here, very comfortable with that, if not physically.

I'll write more later.  There is lots about this house that I want to relay, but.....later.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Bremen, Georgia

Now I KNOW I am truly back in the south.  Pulled pork barbecue (a minimum of 2 days cooking, they say), peach cobbler and sweet iced tea.  Can't get more southern than that!

I'd left Birmingham behind on a homing path to Georgia.  The idea of lunch was on the back of my mind, but I didn't want fast food and I didn't know what I DID want.  Somewhere between Birmingham and Anniston I saw a big sign that said "Best Barbecue in the South, next exit".  Now, that's a pretty bold statement because the south has the best barbecue in the world.  There was nothing to do but give it a try.  It was almost 2pm but the place was still packed, a good sign.  

Oh, my goodness!  Is it the best in the South?  It's been awhile since I've had a local comparison so a little research is in order, but this would certainly be a contender.  It was wonderful.  A couple of hours later, and here I am in the small town of Bremen, where Highway 27 to Cedartown meets I-20.  I opted to stay here because the lodging choices are better, and Cedartown is a mere 25 miles away.  I'll have plenty of time for that 11am appointment.

Alabama may well win the welcome center/rest stop award.  I haven't seen enough of Georgia's to compare, but Alabama was super.  All of them were located on sprawling parcels like the one above, with lots of big pines and picnic tables, a lovely brick structure with 24 hour attendants and sparkling baths inside the building.  Free maps and brochures, really charming southern ladies at the desks.  In all fairness, the Georgia welcome center was just as nice, but I don't know if it's open 24 hours.  None of these had wireless, but who cares!

There are so many other reasons I know I'm in the south -- that wonderful accent, the word "ma'am" appended to every statement.  Southern hospitality is still the rule.  And yes, my own accent is coming right back faster than I can sneeze.  I damn near cried when I hit the Georgia state line, wanted to get out and kiss that red clay dirt.

I'm really tired -- very little sleep last night because I didn't like the motel, didn't feel that my car was safe, didn't like the neighborhood, etc.  Finally slept fitfully for about 4 hours.  NOT enough!  But, 9 hours and 456 miles later I am here, safe and sound.

Tomorrow is the big day.  In theory, BellSouth will have both my phone and DSL active tomorrow and I should be able to report in from my OWN HOME tomorrow night.  But -- we'll see about that!  If there's no post, don't panic.  It'll just be service trouble, and that can be straightened out.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Monroe, Louisiana

I've really enjoyed driving into the sunrise these past few days.  It's always been spectacular.  Today, these wind farms were a nice change from oil fields, although the oil field smell was certainly still pervasive! These blades were moving -- albeit slowly.

I traveled much further than intended today, but things happen!  I'd originally planned for Marshall, TX, just inside the state line.  But, it seemed that Shrevesport was very doable and in Shrevesport it wasn't even 3:30 and I didn't want to while away all those hours in a motel, so on I went.  Total of 572 miles, just under 10 total hours driving time.  Not bad.  And I still feel human.

I had some fun, if you can call it that, in Weatherford, Texas.  I needed an oil change -- well, actually my CAR needed an oil change -- and I knew there'd be a Jiffy Lube somewhere in Dallas/Fort Worth, but didn't really want to try to find on in such a large area.  None of the tiny towns I traveled through seemed large enough to have one, but then I reached Weatherford.  It just felt right, so I pulled off and asked at a convenience store -- and voila!  Nasty traffic in the area, but the place wasn't far, they took me right in and it didn't take long.  Having sat for hours, I paced the waiting room and talked to some very nice locals.  I still say that the people in the heartland of this country are the best.  

They gave me directions to a less traffic-bound return to the Interstate. Very simple, only two turns involved, so off I went.  Made the first turn, but the second one didn't work -- dead end, not the right street.  So -- I tried to follow my nose and ended up in the old part of Weatherford, which has an absolutely incredible old court house.  I wish I'd taken the time to stop and take a photo.  The area was surrounded by really interesting looking antique stores and I really, really wanted to stop but....those places are no fun if you're in a hurry.

So, I asked more directions and ended up returning the same main street that passed by Jiffy Lube and took me through all the traffic.  Funny.  Then, just after I made the left turn onto the freeway onramp, I saw a little sign on the right that said "Chick-Fil-A entrance".  I didn't have to think twice about that one so I beelined into that driveway and hit the drive thru window.  For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, Chick-Fil-A is a southern chain whose specialty is a fried chicken breast served on a steamed hamburger bun with dill pickles.  Nothing more, but it doesn't need anything more.  Tender, delicious -- one of my favorite treats when I lived in Atlanta and the reality was every bit as good as the memory.  Yum.  They also have waffle fries that are superb.  Yum, again.  I paid for it, of course -- my stomach burned for awhile, but oooooohhhh was it worth it!  I felt like I'd died and gone to heaven. Yogurt for dinner again tonight!

I knew Dallas/Ft. Worth would be big, but the last time I drove through it was 1986 and let me tell you, I sure don't remember it being THAT big!  Crazy driving through it.  I tend to hug the left lanes of interstates in metro areas, avoid the mess of local traffic on the right, but here, several regional interstates peeled off to the left so I really had to be alert, or get really lost.  The traffic from here most of the way to Louisiana was thick and heavy.  Not fun.  This area also seems to be where 'southern driving' becomes the norm.  It's a regional thing and trust me, it's not said with any intention toward flattery!  I hated the southern driving style the entire 10 years I lived in Atlanta, and I'm no fonder of it now.  But -- I won't have to spend much time on the highway out where I'll be living.

This motel has TWO of those funny safety/security latches on the door, rather than the usual one.  I kinda have to wonder what that might tell me, but the car is right outside the window and nothing in the passenger compartment.  

Tomorrow, I should arrive in Cedartown easily.  Mr. Google says 478 miles, which is a piece of cake. Until then.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Big Spring, Texas

Texas wins the Rest Stop ribbon, hands down.  The Welcome Center, above, is off the charts.  Aside from the usual restrooms, vending machines and picnic tables, there's a cavernous room staffed with friendly young people and filled with free brochures for anything anybody could ever want to do in Texas, plus a free roadmap.  Rest stops are nice, too, with free wireless internet.  The last three states haven't even had welcome centers, and few rest stops.  It's a nice change.

Another rest stop -- we're definitely in barren desert lands, now!  I was so happy to escape the madness of El Paso and I felt zero nostalgia.  Didn't even see anything familiar, other than signs to Ft. Bliss and Biggs Field.  And the mountains, of course.  I lived here twice as a teenager, while my dad attended missile training at Ft. Bliss.

I was more than a bit surprised to be stopped at a Border Patrol checkpoint somewhere south of El Paso -- don't remember just where.  All traffic had to stop, the question asked is 'are you a citizen of the U.S.?'.  Mind you, this is on a U.S. Interstate highway that has not been through Mexico, although granted the border is only a stone's throw from the Interstate in this area.    No biggie, just surprising.

Also surprising was the speed limit that changed rather arbitrarily from 70mph to 80 mph at some point well past El Paso.  I traveled that speed for awhile, but I could almost see the gas needle move downward so eventually I slowed down to 75, which seemed to work well yesterday. Sure ate up the miles, though!

Stopped for lunch in Pecos -- found yet another Mexical restaurant.  I love Mexican food, and it seems crazy to be in the southwest and not eat it.  This was more Tex-Mex, which makes sense. Mexican style bean burritos.  I'm still stuffed!  It'll be yogurt for dinner.

Midland, just west of Big Springs, was a huge surprise -- had no idea it was so big.  Good-sized city center sitting off to the left with a solid cluster of new high-rise buildings.  Rather looked out of place.  I guess being the hometown of the Bush's brought a bit of wealth to this little town in the middle of the desert. And in the middle of a lot of oil fields.

So, here I be in Big Springs.  Thought about going on to Sweetwater, 88 miles down the road, but I was getting sleepy and felt a bit unsafe out there, and this was the destination for the night, anyway.  I'm at a Super 8 -- the Motel 6 was old and the only room they had that I could park in front of was right on the Interstate.  Plus, the lobby smelled like Clorox.  This place has free wireless, a free hot breakfast, and is nice.  I guess I've gotten spoiled.

10 hours, 447 miles.  Only two more days of driving left!  Hallelujah!!!!!!!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Deming, NM

A pleasant sunrise from Blythe.  Sorry about the big light in the middle of the palm!

Here I am again -- 10 hours, 477 miles later.  I was really, really tired when I left Blythe, but I tried a bit of a different program today and feel much better tonight.  A stress-free day (no 2 hours in LA traffic!) and a very civilized 75mph speed limit helped too, no doubt.  Cruise control all the way.

I left Blythe a bit before 7am (pacific time) stopped for a big breakfast around 9:30 am (mountain time), about 104 miles down the road.  I ate the WHOLE plate of food, and it was a lot.  Another lesson on fueling the body as I seemed to need it.

A rest stop near Tonopah, about 87 miles into Arizona.  I loved the warning about the local fauna.

I stopped often, it seemed, for purposes that mostly escape me.  I wanted a Dairy Queen soft ice cream.  Actually, I wanted a Blizzard but decided it would be hard to eat with a spoon at 75mph.  I found a Safeway for some milk and bananas and yogurt.  Got some gas -- going through that quickly, but I think I'm probably still getting 34-35 mpg even at such high speeds.  I also just wanted to get out of the car more often, keep the circulation flowing in my legs,, break the monotony.

Not too long before I left Arizona behind the road climbed up and up and up, through huge fields of huge rocks. I think it was called Texas Canyon. This rest stop was great -- I really wanted a photo of the rocks, and while you couldn't get to them (there was a big chain link fence with barbed wire strands on top keeping us out), there was a walkway along the entire length of the fence and I enjoyed walking it.  Great area.  

I'd really have liked to spend more time exploring the eastern-most portion of Arizona off I-10.  So much history here -- Chiricahua County, Apache Pass, Cochise County, and much, much more.  Too bad it's not a pleasure trip with time to kill.

I arrived in Deming around 4:30, asked about a good Mexican restaurant and yes, I ate the whole thing once more!  Almost  -- didn't eat the fried round thing, but loved the beef enchilada, the tamale and the chiles rellenos, rice and beans.  Real stuff -- not Americanized. 

I should have eaten earlier -- to stay with my new program of eating better during the day to keep the energy up.  But, there just wasn't much out there -- desert and fast food, for the most part.  I'll do better tomorrow.  Destination:  Big Spring, Texas!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Blythe, California


9am, a rest stop atop the Grapevine, elevation about 4000'.  About 3 hours of driving in the fog and boom -- sunshine!  To this point, I had a leisurely, cruise-control trip with very little traffic other than the big rigs, who kept to the right lane.  Miles and miles, acres and acres of agriculture -- orchards of one kind or another, mostly.

From here, another 30 miles of travel through the mountains then downhill on the other side to what I think might have been Saugus, Santa Clarita.  I wasn't paying much attention to signs because off to my right was some amazing thing that was clearly an amusement park of some kind -- huge roller coasters and such.  Turned out to be Magic Mountain. 

But, beyond this, I descended from a world of light traffic and cruise control to 5 or 6 lanes of crazed Los Angeles traffic.  Nothing gradual -- once I got to the Magic Mountain area, there it was.  Where did they all come from? They hadn't been at the top of the mountain.  This was at 9:30am -- by 10am I was deep in the heart of Los Angeles in traffic such as I haven't seen in many a long year.  Thankfully, my old instincts came back and I was able to 'go with the flow' in comfort.  More or less! 

By 10:30 the skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles were off to my right and I was merging onto I-10 headed east.  Whew!  I don't have to get off this one until some point in Texas.  Around 11am the traffic eased off to at least some point below terrifying and I could relax.  Sort of.


At noon, I found a rest stop near Beaumont and made myself walk and rest for 30 minutes, eat a little lunch from my cache, before continuing east.  More snowy mountains, with the addition of palm trees!

I remember when there was a good long stretch of desert between where L.A. left off and Palm Springs began, but that just doesn't exist any longer.  It's all one long stretch of 'civilization'.  And the smog to go with it.

Blythe, for those of you unfamiliar with this area, is a hair's breath inside the California state line from Arizona.  Next stop, Phoenix, around 150 miles.  I did 485 miles today, about the same as yesterday, and while I'd probably have gone further if something was available, I didn't feel up to driving to Phoenix.  And there is absolutely no reason to do so. I'm on schedule, no need to rush.  

There wasn't supposed to be a Motel 6 in Blythe, so I'd decided to head for a Days Inn, using a coupon from a travel book.  Not a lot more money -- but free internet, coffee, and other stuff that's a bit of an upgrade.  When I arrived, there IS a Motel 6 but I had an unpleasant internet experience at the Motel 6 last night and really wasn't ready to try again --- didn't even know if this location offered internet.
So -- I arrived here at 2:30 in the afternoon -- way too early to stop, really, and yet....the only other option is Phoenix, and I'm not ready to go there.  So it's the TV and Oprah and the internet for now, maybe a nap and dinner and then.....hopefully lots of sleep tonight.  I want to force myself to leave later than 6am tomorrow, so I don't have such an early day.  But then, it really doesn't matter what time I start and what time the day is over.  I'll do the miles, reach the next stop, whatever time that happens to be.

The goal for tomorrow is Deming, New Mexico, around 510 miles from here.  We'll see what the day brings.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Santa Nella, California

A mere 480 miles and 10.5 hours later, here I am.  I've never heard of Santa Nella, either.  It's about 60 miles south of Stockton, near Los Banos, somewhere down I-5.  I hadn't planned to go this far, but Google Maps was 40 miles off in its estimate of the miles between Brookings and Stockton, and I just wasn't ready to stop in Stockton.  You wouldn't think 60 miles would make that much difference, but by the time I got here, I was really tired.

However, I think it's safe to say that this was the slowest and most tiring day of the trip. From here on out, it's all fast, if boring, Interstate.  Today, Highway 101 wasn't to be rushed.  Following the beaches, redwood forests, mountains and small towns of Northern Califonia, it meanders slowly as it makes its way south.  At Geyserville I cut east through the Alexander Valley to Calistoga, and then into St. Helena for lunch, 7 hours after leaving Brookings.  I'd decided some time earlier that I'd have lunch somewhere in the Napa Valley, since the timing seemed to work.  As I mentally catalogued the possibilities, I remembered the original Taylor's Refresher in St. Helena.

As you can see in the above photo, mustard covers many vineyards and hillsides.  When I first moved to Northern California in the early 60's the hills of Marin, Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino were covered in thick swatches of gold every spring.  So much more development since then -- and so many more vineyards!  It's still beautiful.  The above was Alexander Valley.



Last summer I visited an offshoot of this original location, in Napa.  It was fun to visit the original.  When I lived here, this was your basic soft ice cream stand and one of only 2 fast food establishments north of the city of Napa.  The latter still holds true, but this place has been transformed into a gourmet fast food paradise.  It was packed!

Those sweet potato fries are as good as they look!  I don't know what was in the dipping sauce, but it was a perfect foil for the fries.  A cheeseburger, made of natural, hormone-free beef.  Do you wonder that I'm still stuffed?  In fact, I still have lots of the fries left, just as good cold as they were hot from the fryer.
As I sat eating my lunch, a brand new Bentley convertible rolled in to the parking lot, a studiously casually chic woman of a certain age emerged from the passenger seat and walked directly to the Beer and Wine window.  After a few moments she walked away with a discreet brown paper shopping bag, got back into the Bentley and they continued north, presumably fortified for the rest of their journey.  Funny.

After lunch, I walked across the old stone bridge to Sunshine Foods, in search of some of the wonderful Rancho Gordo beans that I love.  They're produced locally and I knew Sunshine carried them. This is another place that's undergone a fabulous reincarnation since I lived here.  Back then, it was something of a second-rate, small supermarket mostly shunned by the food-oriented residents for its lack of even the most basic exotic or interesting products on the shelves.  Today, it's just the opposite.  The store is wall to wall exotic foods, bursting at the seams with unusual, wonderful and often organic foodstuffs to fit the most demanding shopper.  I found my beans, although the selection wasn't as good as I'd have liked. Still, I saved shipping charges to Georgia.

I opened the trunk to fit the beans in, managed to find a spot for them (brown paper bag) but I don't think much more will fit.


Since I was once more on a real nostalgia trip, I detoured through Yountville, where I lived for a year or two.  This is the famous French Laundry, which has been an institution in this town since I moved there around 1979.  I see that Thomas Keller has seen fit to put a discreet sign in place.  Back when Sally Schmidt owned it, there was no sign, and you couldn't get a reservation without weeks of effort back then, either.

More nostalgia in Yountville.  I used to spend a lot of time at Domaine Chandon -- actually went in search of a good vineyard/mustard photo, but didn't find one. Felt good to see it again anyway.
This little colony of concrete mushrooms on the Chandon grounds was really intriguing.  No clue what the purpose or meaning might be.  May be simply one more of many modern art 'sculptures' scattered around the grounds.

Full telephoto in use here!  This is the home of Robert and Margrit Mondavi, way atop Wappo Hill.  You'd have to know it was's barely noticeable from Highway 29.  I just happened to see, and of course recognize, it.  Notice the architectural similarity to the architecture of the winery?
After Yountville, I didn make any more stops -- just followed Highway 12 over to I-5, on to this wide spot in the road.  And now, tired and ready for rest -- I'll talk to you tomorrow, assuming I end up in a room with wireless.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Change, Change, Change

You know what they say about the best laid plans, don't you?  Sigh.

I got a call from the movers this morning asking if they could inventory and load most of my stuff this afternoon then get the rest in the morning.  It seemed silly to have them come back just to get the mattress and my desk, so I told them to just load it all AFTER being assured they'd be finished by 4pm.  I planned to drive a couple of hours south to Eureka after that.

Well -- 4pm came and went and there was much left to do.  I finally decided to just stay in a motel here in Brookings tonight, get an early start tomorrow morning.  I had a lot of extra work to do to get ready by 2pm rather than tomorrow morning, so I'm a bit pooped.  I finally got away around 6pm, am comfortably esconced in my favorite motel, the Wild Rivers Inn.  I have TV, wireless, a nice bed, coffee for morning, and a leftover beer.  I think I'll be just fine!

Tomorrow, I'll get to drive through Napa after all and see how far I get for the day, comfortably.  Afterwards, I'll follow the schedule but will have an easier day from NorCal to Palm Springs.

The car is packed to the brim, but everything is in it.  Since it's Brookings and crime is low, I left some things in the passenger compartment overnight but most nights I'll be bringing it all in, for safety.

OK, amigos.  Signing off for tonight.  Maybe some photos of Napa tomorrow!


Finally.  D-Day is tomorrow, but today is for finalizing packing, cleaning, laundry, and running a few errands such as getting some $$ from the ATM.  Seems like it's been a really, really long wait for this day and I'm glad it's here.

Not that I'm all that anxious to leave Brookings or Oregon, just that I'm happy to not be in limbo any longer.  I can get out of waiting mode, take some action and hit the road toward whatever awaits in Georgia.  AccuWeather has been forecasting snow and/or ice for Sunday the 7th, the day I actually plan to arrive in the state.  The NOAA site, however, merely says mostly sunny with a high of 48.  I like that one much better.

I have to admit that I've had my moments of wondering "what the hell am I doing?" and realizing the finality of this moment.  Oh, I suppose I could change my mind, suffer a few consequences and stay where I am (well, stay on the west coast somewhere -- I definitely have to move out of this apartment!).  But other than the odd moment, I don't have any serious, or even half-serious, ideas of doing that.  I really do feel that some good things await me in Georgia, and am SO looking forward to having a home of my own where nobody can tell me what time I can do my laundry, or arbitrarily raise my rent, or limit how many nights in any given year the same guest can stay in my apartment. And I won't feel as if I'm an inmate in an institution with Nurse Cratchit overseeing the nuthouse. That's kind of what living here is like.

And a garden!  That's going to take a lot of energy and a bit of $$ to get started, but I can start small, work my way up.  I've missed this so much.  The last garden I had was at my house in Atlanta, 14 years ago.  That's a long dry spell although I've been blessed to live in the Willamette Valley for many of those years and thus have access to a broad array of fresh fruits and veggies at local farmer's markets.  Couldn't afford most of them, but they were there and I did what I could.

Picked up a couple more boxes yesterday -- I initially thought I had more than I'd need, but by now you'd think I'd know that you never have too many boxes when it comes to moving. I realized yesterday that I'd forgotten about a really big glass canister that holds my coffee beans and that none of the remaining boxes had space for it. I'm all set now, and have one more in reserve.

I'll be unplugging this computer late this afternoon, but you can expect an update tomorrow night from Santa Rosa, California.  I tried to find a good way to make a drive through the Napa Valley en route, but in the interest of speed, it just doesn't seem to make sense if I'm going to stick with Motel 6.  From this one, I'd have to backtrack north to Healdsburg to cut over and take the route I want.  And who knows, maybe I'll do it anyway.  It's only about 15 miles, and looking at the map, it looks like fewer miles to go this way even with the detour than to take the freeway south to Novato and cut over. Slower, but really, is 30 minutes going to make a difference at the end of the day? Both take me to the same place, Fairfield.  I really feel a need to say goodbye to Napa even though I was just there in August. It shouldn't be a big deal. We'll see.

I had a good omen late yesterday.  I am hooked on an on-line Maj-jongg game and despite myself I compete with myself for higher and higher scores.  Yesterday I hit 45,009 -- which is right up in the record 'high score' area for the game.  Or, it was when I first started playing.  Last I looked the high scores were up to around 50,000.  Still, until now my highest score had been 43,025 or thereabouts, so this was a BIG leap.  I hated to close the computer down and erase it!

Stay tuned --- talk at you tomorrow night!