Friday, May 31, 2013

Holland's Graduation from High School


May 31, 2013 - High School Graduation Day for Holland Isley Duane, my third granddaughter, in El Dorado Hills, California, about 20 miles from my house.  Yeah!  No big travel day for this celebration!

Holland is kind, loving, giving, spiritual.  She's also very beautiful outside - to match her wonderful interior self.  Last Summer she visited me in Guatemala; what a fantastic time we had and I enjoyed every minute of special time with Holland alone.  It's sometimes difficult to get one on one time with my grandchildren as there are so many of them!  I will always remember the week we had in Antigua.

Here are some photos ....

One of the main reasons I spent so much time in Guatemala was volunteering in several venues involving children.  Holland and I spent a day at Nuestros Ahijados, The God Child Project, in their hospital for malnourished infants and children.  Just like all who meet her, these patients fell madly in love with Holland.  To give you an idea of the severity of the conditions of poverty in this central American country, the little boy in her right arm (red sleeves) is 7-years old!  He's been a patient in the hospital for almost a year at the time of the photo.  The other little guy is four. 

This little girl is almost three years old.  Unfortunately many of these disastrously ill children will have residual developmental issues throughout their lives.  However, they are happy, loved and loving.  Most, if not all, do NOT come from uncaring families.  With extreme poverty comes malnutrition and most of these children are brought to Casa Jackson (hospital) by their own families for help.  They remain as inpatients until they've achieved a certain percentile of the Guatemalan infant / child growth  chart.  Holland is wearing a face mask to protect the kids' compromised immune systems; they are used to the 'masked' visitors and flock to them for play and loving.

Go to my facebook page for more pictures of Holland as she is today on HER day.  I will share more about Guatemala and my experiences there.  For now, 'cause I'm busy preparing Holland's Graduation Dinner, I'll direct those who may be interested to

Here are a couple more photos of Holland in Guatemala:

Holland loved the tuk-tuks and our driver asked if she'd like a picture - he took it!  It's a bumpy ride on the cobblestone streets, but fun and a lot easier than walking long distances

Two little girls at one of the God-Child Project schools fell head over heels in love with Holland - and she with them too.  Through safety, education, healthcare, protection and love these children are the hope for the future.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Netflix Finds.....

I just watched an incredible Netflix documentary, "Somewhere Between."  I had watched a National Geographic documentary, "China's Lost Girls" with Lisa LIng about the gender imbalance problem being caused in China, the most populous country on Earth, due to the "1 Family, 1 Child" rule [directive] that was put into place in 1979 in China.  Because the centuries-old cultural bias for a male child, hundreds of thousands of girl infants and children are abandoned in orphanages or even on the streets.  The gender imbalance at this time is striking; it will become staggering in a few short years.  The average size of a grammar school class in China is 39 students, 28 of whom are male.  What will happen when these young men become ready to take a wife and there aren't enough females to go around?  The  negative possibilities are so frightening.

Both the National Geographic, "China's Lost Girls" and the "Somewhere Between" are very worthwhile and thought-provoking documentaries.

Wisdom from my Granddaughter

I was catching up on all the excitement in my granddaughter, Addison's, life right now.  Her blog is if you'd like to take a look.  Anyway, she's just completed her graduation trip to Madrid, Rome, Paris and London - her photos are incredible.  But earlier this Spring she blogged about saying 'bye-bye' to her lovely little cottage she and three girlfriends rented this past school year.

I picked up some pretty important advice and am repeating it here:

A wall decoration for all to see:

Be Bold
Be thankful
Be quiet
Be original
Be spontaneous
Be punctual
Be a star
Be young
Be loving
Be crazy
Be loud
Be random
Be adorable
Be unique
Be daring
Be obnoxious
Be yourself

Well, I'm not sure about the 'be loud' and 'be obnoxious' but I certainly know I have been both of those at times in my life.  But the other instructions can't hurt any one of us!

Another sign:  Life's Short - Eat Cookies!!!  Gotta' love that!  Cookies may just be my FAVORITE FOOD group!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

Once again, thank you all if you've served in our country's military service - or that of any country in the free world.  I believe we don't give enough thought and caring for those who have, do or will risk their lives so that we can be free - to write blogs, travel freely, enjoy all the benefits of our modern society.  As I travel more and more I'm more and more thankful for what we have been given in the US and Canada. We are blessed.

I've been house and dog-sitting for my son, Jeff, and his family for the last three days - living in my RV right outside and enjoying the quiet serenity of the countryside outside the little town of Cottonwood, CA ... about 25 miles south of Redding.  Jeff, Alice and their twin daughters, Malia and Samantha, traveled to Medford, Oregon for a soccer tournament.  My 13-year old twin granddaughters are very competitive and competent soccer players; their parents sacrifice a lot to make it possible for the girls to play on a traveling team - for most of each year.  And, they're GOOD, if I do say so myself!

The tournament this holiday weekend was not their finest hour; unfortunately they didn't make the finals - an unusual occurrence for them.  The positives still outweigh the negatives for the weekend.  They set up, I believe, 10 tents in a KOA campground - and did a lot of having fun with their soccer-buddies and their families during their stay.

Malia and Samantha, in 7th grade, are the youngest of my 8 grandchildren; they're great girls - and becoming very lovely young ladies.  I fished out a couple of photos taken last Summer when they and their mom, Alice, visited me in Guatemala.  I swear, in the last 8 or 9 months they've matured 5 years.  Oh, but it goes by so quickly .....

 This is Malia - named after me!  Malia is 'Mary' in Hawaiian.  She is kind, helpful, thoughtful, smart, agile, Pogo Champ of the family, swims like a fish and a joy to be around.  Two relatively recent changes for Malia:  She's wearing braces on those beautiful teeth and she loves all things cosmetic.

And this is Samantha.  She's intelligent, sweet, loves to learn all kinds of things, competitive, fast, has a memory of steel, petite, loving, Rubik's Cube champ of the family.  This girl is going places.  I expect Sam will conquer whatever world she decides to enter.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Achilles Deatheridge

Another Military bit:

This is a poem I was required to memorize in high school American Literature.  Achilles Deatheridge is responding to his commanding officer .......

A Poem by Edgar Lee Masters – An Incident in the Civil War ……
Achilles Deatheridge
“Your name is Achilles Deatheridge?
How old are you, my boy?”
“I’m sixteen past and I went to the war
From Athens, Illinois.”

“Achilles Deatheridge,
You have done a deed of dreadful note.
It comes of his wearing a battered hat,
And a rusty, wrinkled coat.”

“Why didn’t you know how plain he is?
And didn’t you ever hear,
He goes through the lines by day or night,
Like a sooty cannoneer?
“You must have been half dead for sleep,
For the dawn was growing bright.”
“Well, Captain, I had stood right there
Since six o’clock last night.”

“I cocked my gun at the swish of the grass
And how am I at fault?
When a dangerous looking man won’t stop
When a sentry hollers, ‘Halt?’ ”

“I cried out, ‘halt,’ and he only smiled
And waved his hand like that.
Why any Johnnie could wear that coat
And any fellow the hat.”

“I hollered, ‘halt’ again and he stopped
And lighted a fresh cigar.
I never noticed his shoulder badge,
                                                                                       And I never noticed a star.”
“So you arrested him?  Well, Achilles Deatheridge,
When you hear the swish of the grass
If it’s General Grant inspecting the lines
Hereafter let him pass!”

Memorial Sunday



Yes, I am remembering lots of things about my military upbringing this Memorial Sunday.
First of all, THANK YOU to all our military people, present and past - and future too.

My dad (Grandpa Leo) would have been 108 on April 11th this year.  And, although he's been gone a very long time, I remember so many stories he told about his career in the military.  It all started when he lied about his age (not a good idea!) and joined the Navy when he was 16.  When he'd 'served' his time, at age 20, he turned around and enlisted in the Army where he spent over thirty years, retiring as a Colonel.  He was almost 40 when I was born, so he'd already had quite an adventurous life.

I was born smack dab in the middle of WWII and Dad first retired in 1948.  Believe it or not, he reenlisted for the Korean War and finally took full retirement when I was only about 9 years old.  He was still young and, in the civilian world, he worked as Post Master in Campbell, CA; then Director of Parks and Recreation in Santa Clara, CA for several years.

I loved my dad although I also feared him - mostly his voice!  His nickname was "Leo, the Lion Ryan," for his deep booming voice, built in to a fairly small man - 5'8" and probably 145 pounds, sopping wet!
I only remember getting one spanking in my life - and that was for misbehaving during Mass at the age of about 7 - a real no-no in our family.  Dad told me he was going to spank me when we got home from church - I suffered a lot waiting - I remember tears in his eyes after he 'spanked' me with about 4 easy slaps on my behind.  Then he hugged me and said, "Don't misbehave in church again!"  I don't think I ever did.

He talked like the military man he was during all of my childhood.  Instructions and requests were given as an 'order.'  "Patsy, clean your room.  That's an order!"  Each evening before dinner, served promptly at 5:30, I stood behind my chair at the table until my dad was seated; then gave my vocabulary word of the day, spelled it, defined it and used it in a sentence.  Then I was seated for dinner.  Sounds terribly hard on a kid; but I'm thankful to him for his determination in educating his children - in so many ways.

I spent many years thinking he didn't love me enough; but I know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he loved me as much as he actually always told me - "I love you more than all the fish in the sea, stars in the sky, kids in the World, etc."

No matter what our political bent let's remember all the men and women, past, present and future who give their lives for us.  This freedom we live in our lives is at times, unfortunately, due to the struggles and lives of our militaries - all the 'free' World.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wednesday Wiles ...


Spent a good part of the day working on TurboTax - filing my 2012 return.  I'd filed for an extension while I was in Mexico to give myself time to return home, collect documentation for filing  and get started.  I've not used TurboTax previously but it appears to be fairly simple and straight forward.  I'm a little embarrassed to admit that, even though I have an MBA, I've not done my own tax return since about 1965!!!

Along with the tax filing I'm also investigating refinance of my home - simply to lower monthly payments.  I'm in process of using my kids as sounding boards for possible changes in my home living situation.  I'm still letting the disappointing news about my Toyota Dolphin improvement impossibilities rumble around in my head.  I guess I could say I'm in a grand information-gathering mode of operation.  I'm even enjoying the process!!!  During all my career years my free time was so fractured I never felt I could sit on decisions; now I can.

Last evening I did some online research about possible replacements for Daphne Dolphin and even sent a few emails for more info.  Any comments about negatives and positives regarding not-too-big, probably, Class C motorhomes will be appreciated.  I really don't want or need a big rig - I'd say 25 feet in the max I'd be interested in.  Any input re:  Ford vs Chevy engines?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Daphne Dolphin Gets a Physical Exam


I had to drive to Red bluff today for a black and gray water dump; while I was at the Durango (fancy schmancy RV Park) I also bought propane.  I'd planned on leaving early this AM to get the dump over with; but there's a ferocious wind blowing and I'd hoped it would let up.  It didn't - so I left at about 10:30 and drove very slowly on the wind-swept I-5 South to Red Bluff.  Daphne felt like I was in a ski boat - waving from here to there.  I was extra careful; and many other drivers were too.  It will be interesting to watch the news and see the speed of the wind gusts - must be in the 80-100mph range!

The plan was to dump and then head for estimates on work needing (and possibly needing) to be done on Daphne.  I've been organizing an Excel list of wants and needs all throughout my RV odyssey - December until now.  When I arrived at Redding I-5 RV, which is actually in Anderson, CA, I carried my MacBook Pro into the parts and service office and informed the service manager, Chris, that he might like to carry a notepad while we reviewed my list of concerns.

As many of my RV friends know, there are two BIG items I need to be really happy traveling with Daphne.  First, I really need an awning; I really swelter in my little tin-can of an RV when it's hot outside.  Even though I stay almost always in RV parks, there certainly seems to be a shortage of shade in most of them.  I've outfitted the side cab and side windows with reflective sun screens; but I'm still confined in a small space and it gets mighty hot.  Secondly, Daphne Dolphin is not built to haul anything, in terms of wheels, to be used when camped in one spot for a time.  I have a Wal-mart special bike I bought right after I entered Mexico in January; it's pretty lame and not very safe to ride on Mexican roads.  I've been dependent on the kindness of fellow campers to get to grocery stores, etc.
So, these were my first two questions I posed to Chris.

Right off the bat, I was disappointed.  Chris explained that it is NOT possible to install any kind of apparatus like a trailer hitch or a Jayco shelf that could be used to carry an electric bike or scooter.  [I own a brand-new-never-been-used Schwinn electric bike.  I had an RV bicycle rack installed on Daphne - and then was told that it could not support the weight of the electric bike; so that nice new Schwinn sits in my garage at home]!

Then he had his 'awning guy' check out  Daphne for an awning.  Well, he said it is NOT possible to install a regular RV awning as there is no support mechanism and if a regular awning were to be installed, it would surely rip out of the side wall of the rig.  It would be possible to install a 'box awning' of only 10 feet in width for a minimum cost of $975 for the awning and who knows how much for labor at $110 / hour!

So, I had Chris give me estimates for basic repairs and needs without including the awning or Jayco rack or trailer hitch and found that the basics would cost about $1K at best.  That's not including a small generator or solar panels (which I'd like to have) or any cosmetic kind of work like new shades, carpeting or vinyl flooring, etc.

I'm feeling pretty bummed - but I also know that "more will be revealed", as they say.  I came back to my son's house and shared that I'd like to be able to use them as sounding boards for my rambling about what and where I go from here.  I have learned that often the best thing for me to do when there are big decisions to be made - is NOTHING.  I need to just let all the problems, possibilities and potential rewards mull around in my head for a while.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Midnight Lace gets a make-over...


My nephew's wife, Claudia, with whom I played yesterday at Whiskeytown Lake, owns a dog grooming business in Redding.  I've occasionally taken Lacy for Claudia to groom when I've been in town.  Boy did she need it this time; she hadn't been clipped or bathed since February in Sayulita - and that grooming, shall I say, left a little to be desired.  For our RV adventure it was fine; fortunately she is blessed with no doggie odor and is totally black so one doesn't 'notice' too much when she's badly in need of a cut and wash.

I've also come to the conclusion that I need to start doing a lot of her grooming myself - as each visit to the 'beauty salon' costs an arm and a leg!  Claudia agreed to 'teach' me how to clip and groom Lacy and today was the day.  This dog is in process of blooming into a fantastic lady; she's been to obedience school and has the tools to be well-behaved and a joy to be around.  Now, we just need to complete 'puppyhood' as she still occasionally gets very excited and rather rambunctious.  My current 'dog-whisperer' behavior tactic is to maintain a very calm demeanor around her, hoping she'll emulate that which she sees!  Okay, so it works sometimes!

Anyway, here're the 'before' and 'after' photos....

 A little difficult to make out how long her coat is - but check her feet - long hair!
Lacy is a registered, well-bred Standard Poodle; however, she is quite delicate looking (that's skinny).  The breeder tells me that her mom didn't start to put on her adult weight (now weighs 39 pounds - still light for a Standard) until she was almost 5 years old.  Lacy was 3 on March 31st and weighs in at a whopping 26 pounds!  Most Standards are in the 50-65 pound range.

As we plan to do a lot more RV adventuring this Summer, I requested that Claudia instruct me in short hair-dos.  Claudia explained and demonstrated how to use the various clippers, scissors, brushes and combs; then I actually did a lot of the clipping myself.  That could be why there are a few divots here and there!  Her hair is very curly, thick and grows rapidly.  I 'm completing my personal inventory of grooming tools and hope to avoid the expense and result insecurities of unknown grooming salons along the adventure route.  

The whole process took almost four hours; I'm relaxing and recovering and Lacy is sacked out.  Also, our Summer heat caught up with us today; it's about 98 degrees outside and not much cooler inside my RV right now.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday Evening


Just came back into my RV after a nice steak dinner that ended a lovely day at Whiskeytown Lake.  As I've mentioned before my son, Jeff, and his family live in Cottonwood, which is about 20 miles south of Redding on I-5.  Whiskeytown Lake is located about 8 miles west of Redding off of CA 299 and is a National Recreation Area.

Many travelers in Mexico this year told me about the US Golden Age Pass and I've been wanting to purchase one but didn't hit any National Parks or Forests, etc. on my return from Mexico.  So, today I purchased my lifetime pass - yippee!  What a great deal - the daily use fee for Whiskeytown is $5.00 and I paid $10 for the lifetime pass.  That's my kind of deal!

Anyway, after a pleasant 40 minute ride I was there - it is really a beautiful part of this beautiful State and Country.  The area is part of the Trinity National Forest, which begins at the northern end of the San Joaquin Valley.  It is included in 'hot country' that I refer to in this blog.  Today it was a lovely 84-88 degrees F, which is about as perfect as perfect can be.  The lake temperature was a little chilly at about 69 degrees, but will warm up considerably in the next few weeks.  There are several self-contained campgrounds and an RV campground with water and electricity, if desired.  We have a kind of family tradition of camping (RVs, tents, trailers, etc. in the group) in various parts of the Trinity Alps every Summer - usually Jeff's family and that of my nephew, Gregg, do the camping bit several times each year between May and November.  Winter is short - there is rarely any snow - maybe a dusting every 2-3 years, but nothing lasting longer than a day or two.  And, it starts getting pretty warm early in the Spring.

Jeff's family bought a new boat (new for them) last year; this was my first outing with them.  Last Summer I was still in Guatemala.  Malia and Samantha, at 13, are really becoming quite proficient tubing and wake-boarding.  Today they took a friend with them and then we met up with the family of one of their school friends; so, I didn't try tubing - but plan to give it a go sometime soon.  When my kids were growing up we had various boats and we water-skiied a lot.  Everybody in the family is a good to excellent swimmer, so water included outings and vacations are plentiful.

Some pix:
 Jeff and kids just getting the boat into the water this morning

 This is the little cove where we put ashore.  My nephew, Gregg, and his wife have a party boat - kind of like a houseboat - lots of space to barbecue, sunbathe, etc. so I spent most of the day on their boat while Jeff spent most of the day working out those girls!

 Different views of the lake and the Trinity Alps in the background

Then, on the drive home, I noticed Mount Lassen.  It's located to the east and has snow all year.  Sometimes, on really hot days, it helps to just look at Mount Lassen and Mount Shasta, both of which are visible from almost anywhere around here.

 Mount Lassen

Also, when I got close to home I decided to take a picture of one group of bee-hives near Jeff's house.  I didn't know what the little 'chimneys' were - I was told there for water as this particular area doesn't have an all year water source nearby

These hives are new.  The beekeeper here has had bees for many many years - but was very badly affected by that mysterious problem of a couple of years ago.  For about two years there were no hives but there back now.  There's just something so wonderful about bee-hives.  I'm fascinated with them.  Gregg (my nephew) and his wife, Claudia, live in the foothills west of Redding in Igo Ono and have about 15 acres.  They shared today that they're going to start bee-hiving on their property.  I look forward to learning more about it.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday evening

5/18/13  8PM

I hadn't mentioned before but one of the important reasons I came up to way Northern California  was to pick up my Toyota Camry that has been parked in Redding at my sister-in-law's house since December.  My daughter-in-law drove me to Redding (about 20 miles) late this afternoon - and there she was (my Camry) just waiting for me to take her home!  She's now parked right next to Lacy and me  in our Dolphin at my son's house.  It's amazing how liberated I feel to have both my RV and my car in the same place.  Now I can cease and desist begging rides and / or driving Daphne Dolphin to the store for a loaf of bread, so to speak.

I did borrow Alice's car this morning to do some errands - I'm needing lots of little bins and things for the reorganization project in the RV.  This afternoon  I also spent some time sunbathing next to Jeff and Alice's lovely pool - I'd just about completely lost the great tan from earlier this year in Mazatlan, Lo de Marcos, Sayulita, etc.  Their place here in Cottonwood really is very peaceful and relaxing.  And, I love having my granddaughters pop in on me from time to time during the day.

Tomorrow we're going on the first boating outing of this year.  We'll meet with other relatives and friends at Whiskeytown Lake, which is only about 40 minutes from here.  I've always loved the lake and years ago, when I was a serious distance swimmer, I used to drive up to Whiskeytown from Red Bluff (when I lived there) a couple of times a week to do some serious workouts for long distance swimming.  The water is usually not too cold, actually very pleasant when the summer heats up.  Our family has always been a water sport loving group - swimming, water skiing, scuba, surfing.  Jeff's boat is less than a year old - it'll be my first time on it.  My nephew, Gregg and his family will join us on their 'patio party boat,' kind of like houseboat.  There should be about 15 or 20 people of all ages - I know it should be lots of fun.

I plan to take lots of pictures - it will temp you to include Whiskeytown Lake into  adventure plans in your future!

Friday sunset entered Saturday morning

Here's the sunset picture from last evening.  I've noticed how much the sky fascinates me these last two years; first in Guatemala where I felt like I was living in the clouds, because at that altitude I was!  Now I've so enjoyed 'keeping track' of quotidian changes in clouds and color ....

Jeff and Alice own 5 acres, most of which is left in its natural wonder.  They have probably hundreds of oak trees, lots of grasses, manzanita bushes - and you can't see another house from their property.  It feels very serene and peaceful. 

My tentative plan for today is to continue to reorganize Daphne; but this morning I'm going to borrow Alice's car to run some errands like purchasing a new glass Mr. Coffee pot as I dropped mine several weeks ago and wasn't able to find a replacement in Mexico.  I'm also on the lookout for  bins and storage containers that'll work well in the RV.  I've found that when I tend to compartmentalize 'stuff' it's easier to keep track of, at least for me.  Also, because Mexico was my first real RV trip, I'm discovering that I have not always used space to its best advantage.

Like everything in life, this is a work in progress .....

Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday evening - Cottonwood

May 17, 2013

First full day in my RV on Jeff's property.  I'm hooked up to water and electricity but will have to drive out in several days to find a dump station.  I spent a lot of time today cleaning and rearranging cupboards and the one closet.  I find it so interesting how often I've 'rearranged' my belongings.  As my RV-living experience grows I find more convenient ways to physically organize and reduce my belongings.

I tell myself several times a day, "Self, this doesn't have to all be completed today."  And, if I change my mind about where and how something should be stored and / or used, so be it.  It's perfectly alright to make changes.  For most of my adult life I've been a victim of the disease called procrastination - mainly out of insecurity about the outcomes.  I'm enjoying this newish attitude I have about how to face life ... I can do something today, and change and do something else tomorrow - IF whatever the action is only makes alterations and maybe even more work in my own life - not the lives of others.

I do honor commitments; if I've accepted an invitation to a friend's house for dinner, I go.   But I'm losing that need to follow through on things JUST BECAUSE.  I may tell a friend that I'm very anxious to see a certain movie and plan to take myself to the movie theater this afternoon; then 20 minutes before the film is scheduled to begin, it's okay to decide that I'd rather stay home today.  Earlier in my life I would have felt the need to follow through with the plan - just because I told somebody about it!  That's crazy.  It's not necessary.

Malia and Samantha, my twin 13-year old granddaughters, are finishing 7th Grade this month.  This evening the went to a school dance.  It was casual dress; however, both girls spent time before the dance with an older girlfriend helping them curl their beautiful long hair so it would look special.  Of course I could be accused of being prejudiced, but they are both strikingly beautiful.  My daughter-in-law, Alice, is Filipina, so I'd described the girls' look as Eurasian.  They're olive complected with smooth beautiful skin, long silky dark hair and very pretty faces.  They are fraternal twins so each has her own particular beauty and personality.  I love those two so much - and Alice too.

August 2012:  L to R:
Mimi, Alice, Samantha and Malia
They came to visit me in Antigua, Guatemala for 10 days
We had such a wonderful time

I took a lovely sunset picture from their front yard this evening but left my camera in their house when I walked out to my RV - so the photo will have to be in tomorrow's blog.

On the Road Again......Can't wait to be on the road again!

May 16, 2013

Yup, after only two days at home I'm so anxious to start planning and preparing for my next adventure that I left this afternoon for the about 2 and a half-hour drive to Cottonwood.  I arrived at #1 son's house this evening - in a rain storm!  That's very unusual for mid-May here in hot, dry country.

 Heading North on I-5 I started to take note of not only the beauty of the clouds, but their color too.  Hmmm!

 I have to say I've become quite an aficionado of cloud types and formations; I find them fascinating.  Notice too that this country is flat but off in the distance North, East and West are ranges of mountains. Although not visible today, the drive in a northerly direction showcases beautiful Mount Shasta for miles and miles.  Also, to the East is Mount Lassen.  Often the temperature at highway level can be upwards of 100 degrees, but one can just take a glance at either Mt. Shasta or Lassen and see snow at any time of the year.
 The cloud formations were so interesting - notice the mountains in the background - this picture is towards the west

After turning off I-5 between Red Bluff and Redding, this is a photo of the road leading to Jeff's home. A little further along this road - Hooker Creek turnoff - there are a large number of bee-hives.  I understand that this particular honey is really delicious - I haven't tried it myself - yet!

Jeff and Alice followed the pack of Sherman immigrants to Tehama and Shasta Counties; they live on 5-acres with their daughters, Malia and Samantha.  Jeff actually left a very lucrative position with the United Postal Service data processing center in San Mateo to relocated here, believing that the culture is healthy for their children and their way of life.  

As one enters Tehama County on I-5 there's a sign (sorry I don't have a photo of it) identifying Tehama as the "Recreation Capital of California."  Jeff and Alice have lakes, rivers (like the Sacramento River that has its headwaters at Lake Shasta), wildlife preserves, fishing ... the list goes on.

I love visiting them and now that I can live in my own little house on wheels, I don't feel like I'm a burden on them.  I plan to work on Daphne Dolphin and spend some fun time with Jeff and his family - and my other relatives who live in this area.  There'll be more about the area and my family in blogs coming up.

Almost forgot to mention that it's only Lacy and me on this trip.  We left the kitties home with friends in the house as they're just now getting used to their new home - that doesn't move to a new yard every few days!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Second Morning at Home

May 16, 2013

I realized this morning when I awakened that each day for the last several months I've roused myself from slumber reminding myself of where I am.  This morning, first I came up with 'home in San Rafael,' then realized I haven't lived in San Rafael for 10 years!  But, I am HOME, in Roseville.  It's currently 59 degrees (15C) and will get up to about 88 this afternoon (31.1C).  This seems almost completely perfect; however, it will continue to get hotter and drier as the days move into June.

Yesterday, although the main intent was to relax, I really 'got a lot done' - laundry (US style with washer and dryer), developed an updated budget for going forward, did some iPhoto updating and a little house-cleaning.

I'm going to hang out with Kari for lunch and gabbing today; this is a real treat for me as she's so busy with her family and business - I really appreciate any / all the time I can spend with her - she's one amazing lady.  This evening or tomorrow morning, I think I'll leave, in Daphne Dolphin once again, for Cottonwood (near Redding, CA - about 170 miles north of Roseville), home of Jeff (number 1 son), Alice and the 13-year old wins, Malia and Samantha.  I plan to hopefully set up a kind of 'base of operations' there.  My car is there and I'll spend lots of time and energy getting Daphne into tip-top shape for whatever the next adventure is.

I love spending time in Cottonwood, although it's much hotter there than it is here, and will plan on leaving Daphne there for rest, recuperation and storage.  It's not possible to keep Daphne here with me in Roseville; I'd have to store her away from home - at $100 / month.  At Jeff's, even though it's a 3-hour drive, I can live in Daphne while I'm there and still have my car for side trips, visits to other relatives, etc.

A little background:

In the late 80s my husband and I visited the weekend ranch of friends, Bobbi and Lou, who live in San Rafael - where we lived at the time - in Cottonwood, California.  John fell head over heels in love with their little ranch and the very next day called a realtor to start showing us properties for a 'ranch' of our own.

We bought 'the ranch' in the outskirts of Red Bluff, a lovely and comfortable house on 37 acres along the banks of the Sacramento River where it is wide, rapid and beautiful.  We 'stocked' it with a couple of horses, lots of dogs and cats, even two cows for a time and enjoyed, first, two-day weekends, then 3-day, then I finally decided to move there.  We kept the house in San Rafael for John to live in during the week and I started working for the small hospital in Red Bluff.

Soon, thereafter, members of our family - John's widowed dad, our nephew and his family, our sister-in-law and her boyfriend, etc. started relocating their families to the area.  It's situated at the very northern end of the great San Joaquin Valley of California.  And it's only minutes in any direction to wonderful lakes, mountains, recreation - Mt. Shasta and Lake Shasta (skiing, hiking, camping, boating, etc.).  It's a recreation wonderland.

Now, all these many years later, I'm a visitor - but I still love it and would contemplate relocating there if I truly decide that I want a base camp from which to foray far and wide in Daphne or another RV.  I intend to have a long conversation with my son, Jeff, about this very subject while I'm there this coming week.

Here are a couple of pictures - not too recent but fun to look at:

This photo was taken before we left on our RV adventure; it's the way the groomer intended Lacy should look.  She hasn't been bathed or clipped now for months and months - she'll visit my niece, who owns a grooming shop in Redding, next week.  I'm planning to learn how to clip her so we're not dependent on unknown groomers!  I took her to one in Sayulita, Mexico; she was almost bald at the end of that afternoon!

This is a photo I took in November 2012 of a neighbor's house - yes, those are wild turkeys - we have a huge 'flock' of wild turkeys that have been living in our neighborhood for over 25 years.  There are about 50 of them and they roost in several trees behind the houses (there's a creek and hiking trail right in the middle of Roseville).  Everybody loves seeing them, almost every day, as they make their way throughout the neighborhood.  Residents respect them and slow down or stop when they cross the streets.  They really have little fear and do let one get pretty close - it's wonderful in the Spring when they saunter throughout the area with their new chicks.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

First morning home - Aaahhh! Mmmmm! Yes!


I thoroughly enjoyed the first night in six months in my own bed - aaahhh!  Once again, I have so little experience of being retired - at home - my brain was in full press ahead when I awoke.  Then I reminded myself, "Self," I said, "Slow down, there's no rush, let the newness and wonder of this experience settle in; the let's get stuff done will happen - or maybe it won't be necessary!"

There are so many ways to BE BUSY - I'm 'busy' today learning how to relax adequately!  Kari called and asked if I'd like to go out for dinner with her and the triplets late this afternoon.  I want to thoroughly enjoy this current gift of being able to see them frequently as I know I'll be out adventuring again soon and won't be seeing them.

For my readers, if you have suggestions for adventures please share them with me.  Maybe I should start planning that trip across the norther nUS and / or across Canada.  I've always wanted to LIVE in the Fall in New England and Eastern Canada - Nova Scotia, maybe even Newfoundland.  Ideas????

I have so much to think about .... Do I want to rent my house?  Sell it?  Where do I want to have a "base?"  Do I need a base?  Or storage only?  What does the house need in terms of fix-up to rent?  To sell?

What does Daphne Dolphin need for future travel, living, comfort?  What's the order of importance?

What personal goals do I have?

1)  Make a new monthly budget
2)  Stick to it
3)  Start actively investing money - take a little out of savings to 'play with' - that means be willing to make mistakes, i.e. lose capital, to learn new skills
4)  Add more fresh fruits and vegetables to my diet
5)  Find forms of exercise -  cardio, strength, flexibility, etc. - that are doable and enjoyable - and don't hurt
6)  Learn to groom Lacy - will save lots of money!
7)  Do my taxes - extension filed - now due July 15th
8)  Monitor health regularly - vitals, weight, energy
9)  Read and study more

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Home Again! and Positive Thinking

May 14, 2013
Highway 99 N Stockton, California

I just drove up to my house about an hour ago after five months.  As I was nearing the turnoff to my home on I-80E my speedometer clinked over to 84,000 miles.  I'll need to check my journal but I think I was somewhere in the neighborhood of 78K when I started this adventure.

It'll take some time to assimilate all that's occurred during this, my first ever RV adventure; but I can say it's been a wonderful introduction to an experience of a lifetime.  I feel very happy and thankful for all the incredible things I've experienced and enjoyed.  I learned a lot about people, especially myself.

Yesterday I arrived at the home of Dee Medd and his wonderful girlfriend [of many years], Mary Jane Weir for what turned out to be a fantastic finale to a fantastic 5 month adventure.  Dee and Mary Jane have been traveling, up to 6 or 7 months a year, all over North and Central America, together since 1996 and Dee for up to 40 years or more now.  They know every nook and cranny of the US, Mexico and Central America.  It was a fitting finale for my personal adventure; we shared stories, experiences, characters, etc. for the afternoon and evening yesterday and the morning today.

Dee and Mary Jane live in Modesto - in the Central Valley of California - the fruit, nut and vegetable basket of the nation.  It is hot country, the sun shines almost every single day of the year, crops grow like crazy and the heat can get oppressive.  But, as they say, it's a great resting and planning atmosphere for the next travel adventure.  They're a few years older than I and definitely role models for how I want to enjoy my life.  They're always interested in trying new things, going new places, taking a few risks to benefit from the experience.  That's how I intend to live too.

Positive Living - One of the lessons I've been learning during my adventure is:  Life is Life.  I cannot change it.  It will happen as it's supposed to happen whether I have a positive or a negative attitude.  I'm learning to develop tools for developing a positive attitude no matter what.  No matter what life throws my way I can choose to accept what comes  -  positively.

1)  Shift my thoughts - it's easy for  me to feel positive when there are no threats.  It's when frustration, sorrow, low self-esteem, anger, etc. come into the picture that I have to develop strategies to shift my thoughts.  I can't change lots of the occurrences but I can encourage myself to think other more positive thoughts .... the sun is shining, I'm healthy, my pets love me, I have choices .....

2)  What's the lesson I'm supposed to learn from the experiences in my life?  Sometimes I make mistakes, don't think of others' feelings, etc.  When something happens that makes me uncomfortable, that 'brink in the stomach' feeling - what's the lesson for me?  If I can figure out what the concern really is, maybe I won't have to continue to make the same mistakes over and over.  Isn't that be a nice positive to add to my life?

3)  I can't be both angry and grateful at the same time.  I need to count my blessings every day.  I have so much to be grateful for.  I think 'anger' is a cover emotion for the more fundamental emotion of 'fear.'
I know it's impossible to love and fear the same thing at the same time.

4)  I have been accused of being tough on my family and friends, subordinates - but who am I toughest on?  Me.  I am reminding myself to consciously put together daily affirmations for myself.  I'm a good person.  I try to understand others' points of view.  I respect differences.  I intend to remind myself of my good qualities often.

5)  I'm keeping an inventory of good memories; times and experiences that make me happy just remembering them.  How I so loved my children, my parents, my husband, my girlhood bedroom, my pets, etc.  Good memories are positive making .... I've 'warned' my family and friends that I'm planning to start writing short biographical and auto-biographical stories.  They may not be as others remember them, but they'll be positive memories for me.  Readers can take what they like and leave the rest!

I am detoxing - I intend to continue to change my approach on life.  When I approach life  positively I know I'm guaranteed a more positive response.  I intend to stay in the mode of ....  "the glass is half full" rather than ..."the glass is half empty."  And, for those times when it becomes difficult to maintain a positive attitude I will pray for the willingness to think positively.

I'm grateful for the adventure I've just finished and I'm excited about what's coming next.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday in Bakersfield - Daphne and Paradigm Shifts

May 12, 2013

I left Dockweiler state Beach RV park yesterday and arrived in a very hot Bakersfield in the afternoon; it was over 100!  And, this part of California doesn't cool very much when the sun goes down so I had the air conditioner on almost all night.

I talked with Kari and Jeff during their families' exciting and fun-filled day at Disneyland; what a great way to spend Mother's Day while in So. CA.  Since I'd decided not to join them and just take a leisurely drive North for about 150 miles, I felt relaxed, if not a little warm!  I had had a few thoughts [concerns] about Daphne Dolphin and how the trip over the infamous Grapevine would go; she did well albeit a little slowly at times when the engine temperature gauge indicated she was struggling a bit.  I just slowed down and she readily cooled back down to a safe operating temperature.   Since I don't have any real deadlines I have to meet,  I don't mind slowing down to preserve her coolness!

All in all, I'm so happy with the performance of Daphne during this long adventure.  Before leaving California she had almost new tires and an oil change.  Early in the trip (Arizona) I had new Monroe shock absorbers installed as I was noticing that the ride was very bumpy - lots of cupboards and drawers spilling contents; the mechanic who installed the new absorbers showed me the completely-worn-out shocks that had been in place since the beginning (20 years!).  I have a very dear friend who is the retired Executive Vice President of Monroe, from whom I'd learned a lot about the company's  quality; so I felt confident they would be worth the price tag.  I do remember being 'shocked' at the price and called Jeff for his input before I gave the go-ahead.  I added one liter of oil about March in Mexico at a Pemex station - nothing else of a repair nature.  Then, in San Antonio I had the Jiffy Lube treatment once again (after 3005 miles).  And, that's it for the whole trip - so far.  She's run like a champ.

On to another train of thought.  I've been thinking a lot recently about 'paradigm shifts' in thought processes.  I'm going to try to put in writing that which is going on in my head.....

So many ideas, thoughts, feelings and actions in my life are simply in place because "that's the way it's always been" seems to be so prevalent.  When I refer to a 'paradigm shift,' I'm thinking that, occasionally, when something [often a very automatic action] gets changed, for whatever reason, I find that the 'new' thought or action is actually an improvement on the old.

The idea of the 'paradigm shift' was first presented to me in an hospital administration conference back in the early 90s.  The facilitator of the conference, a physician-business man, talked about the 'paradigm shift' needed in the arena of healthcare administration to encompass all the medical technology advances, increased and aging  populations and economic considerations in the US - as well as the rest of the World.  It would be incumbent on us (healthcare providers) to initiate the changes by making considerable 'paradigm shifts' in our own personal beliefs and practices.  An example that I can relate to personally as a professional Operating Room nurse ....  In the history of surgery, it had always been accepted that the surgeon was the 'captain of the ship;' all others in the operating suite (anesthesiologist, scrub nurse, circulating nurse, technicians, medical device and equipment reps, etc, etc. and the patient)  were  subservient  to him.  That is not the case in the modern world of healthcare.  Each entity has a specialized function.  Yes, all involved listen to the surgeon with respect for his / her 'captain of the ship' persona.  BUT, THE PATIENT IS THE 'OWNER OF THE SHIP.' What a concept.  How many of us recognized that fact 25 years ago?  It certainly was a paradigm shift in my thinking.  And, that understanding has molded so much of how I perceive the practice of healthcare administration can, should, must be administered!  And, believe me, I've used those words of wisdom in working with patients and families a lot.  Each of us is the OWNER of our own ship!

So, for my personal, practical life ..... I've been eating a container of yogurt, almost daily, for the last many years.  I particularly enjoy one brand's flavors and availability so I always have a supply on hand.   I've never liked to drink milk; I look for other sources of dietary calcium and find yogurt an appealing choice for it's taste, simplicity and calcium content.  Well, everyday I opened the foil pull-off lid on the container while holding the tab and opening it facing me; and, every time I did that there'd be a little squirt of yogurt that would burst out as the pressure inside the container was released.  I found it irritating that every single day I had to wash a spot of yogurt off my hand or clothing; so irritating that I'd considered writing to the company requesting that they solve this problem.  A couple of days ago, who knows why, I took the yogurt out of the refrigerator and opened it in the opposite direction.  Not only did the yogurt not spurt out on me but it didn't even spurt; it seems that the change in my action negated the necessity of the pressure release to the extent that there was no spurt!  Why hadn't I thought of that before?  I know why.  It's because I had automatically assumed (for all those years) that it had to be a manufacturer's problem - not mine.  So, with this revelation I've personally had two paradigm shifts:  one was to just try doing something a different way to see what the result would be; and two was not to assume that any problem must be the other person's fault!!!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Loyola Marymount University Class of 2013

May 11, 2013  9:30 AM  


Commencement Speaker:  Doris Kerns Goodwin

Doris Kearns Goodwin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American biographer, historian, and an oft-seen political commentator. 

Author:  Team of Rivals:  The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln from which Tony Kushner wrote 
the screenplay that  Steven Spielberg used for the filming of "LINCOLN."

A beautifully mild and sunny day in Southern California - a great day to honor ....

Addison Mae Duane

Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology 

from The Bellermine College of Liberal Arts

 Taken from the drive leading up to the beautiful campus.  See the tower of Sacred Heart Student Chapel and the row of beautiful palm trees

 Lovely fountain at the back entrance to the campus

 About 4,000 Under graduates, Masters and Doctoral candidates - Probably 25,000 spectators 

 This is as close as I got to Doris Kerns Goodwin - her commencement address spoke of history and how these young men and women will shape the history of tomorrow

Addison and her four cottage mates hosted a post graduation party for their families and friends at their off-campus home.  It was a Mexican themed party catered by a gourmet taco catering company.  The tacos were excellent and very authentic too

 Addison's GrandDad John Sherman (my ex-husband and still friend) and his lovely wife, Gail.  John is recuperating from the devastation of a rare genetic condition that had had his doctors baffled for months and months.  He has recently regained some of the about 40 pounds he lost before they were able to diagnose and correctly treat the disorder.  We're all happy he's feeling so much better

 Proud Mom Kari getting a couple of moments of relaxation - organization of this family for trips like this one are very labor intensive for Kari and David

 And, here is the proud Dad, David.  He's a spectacular Dad and knows his parenting will be repaid many times over by Addison in her life endeavors

 Addison and GrandDad remembering so many good things about her childhood and young adulthood

 David's only brother, Sammy Duane from Tempe, Arizona - he's a very well-known high school basketball coach at Coronado High School.  He took over the position after his Dad, Sam Duane, retired from the same job.  It runs in the family

 Here is addison with two of her four sisters, Tate and Avery, and her cousins, Malia and Samantha.  check the difference in heights between Avery (on the far right) and her cousin, Sam (in the black strapless dress).  All four of Addison's girls are 13!

 And a shot with Mimi (the French diminutive for 'grandmother).  Addison and I both speak Spanish and seem to be the family members having most 'wanderlust.'  Addison leaves tomorrow for Europe:  Spain, Italy, France and England.  When she returns she will be at Arizona State University for an accelerated Teaching Credential program.  Then she's off to become a public school teacher for Teach For America in Denver, Colorado - a two year commitment
 Addison with her wonderful friend, Toni Richardson.  Toni and Addison were roommates in their first two years at LMU.  Toni will graduate next year and attends LMU on a full-ride scholarship - a very accomplished young lady

Addison and her four housemates addressing the party of families and friends

Friday, May 10, 2013

Addison's Family Dinner, LMU Mass and Reception / Party

Friday evening, May 10, 2013 


Duane and Sherman Families

 Twins and triplets haven't seen each other for a while - so they communicate by cell phone!
On the right is David's brother, Little Sam Duane

 Malia Sherman (one of Jeff's twins) and Tate Duane (Addison's sister and one of the triplets)
The triplets and twins are all 13!

 Triplet Spencer Duane with Twin Samantha Sherman

 Samantha with triplet Avery

 David's parents, Betsy and Sam Duane - happy grandparents too

 My oldest son, Jeff and his wife, Alice - parents of the twins,
Malia and Samantha

 The graduate, Addison and her mom, Kari

 Soon to be a high school graduate, Holland - She graduates on the 31st of May and will be going to school next year in Germany
In the background:  John's wife Gail (Gigi)

 Graduation Mass was celebrated in the Loyola Marymount Gym

 LMU President David W. Burcham

 Altar and Catholic Church - LMU style - music was incredible 
and incredibly modern

 Dressing of the altar to celebrate the 
Liturgy and Eucharist 

 Addison, Sam and Kari headed straight for the dessert table at the reception / party

 Magnificent lighting throughout the campus

 Sacred Heart Student Chapel

 Big Sam dancing with Betsy's purse - Spencer watching

Incredible edifice and landscape campus architecture

No photos of addison's Mimi or Granddad - maybe tomorrow!
Also, Quinn Duane, Kari and David's oldest daughter didn't get photographed - tomorrow for sure!
Also, no David!!!!  Yikes!

Here's a picture of David, Kari and Addison when all graduates and their parents were asked to stand and be recognized ...
Congratulations to Addison - and Mom and Dad!