Sunday, June 30, 2013

California Central Valley - Sunday - a "Black Hole of Calcutta"

Yes, for those of you who aren't familiar with the climate zones of this large, long and varied state of California, we are suffering with a lack of cooling breezes from the Pacific ocean and are sweltering.  Now, we're used to heat, believe me;  Central California is one of the most fertile growing spots in the world.  But, that's because we have irrigation.  Today I'd be willing to bet that the water-carrying canals might be very hot to the touch!

I'm writing this at 10:45AM and it's currently 88 F. (31.1C.) and expected to get up to 110F. (43.33C.) this afternoon.  My new Flair is parked out in front and is already unbearable to be inside of - now that I've learned I can't use the 15AMP electrical hook-up!  I went out at 6:30 to start to move things in like bed linen and bath towels, etc.  At about 7:30 I couldn't take it any more and had to return to the air-conditioned house.  I'm going to try to keep it at about 82 inside, which should seem like Heaven compared to the yard.

I called my son, Jeff, this morning to warn him to be mindful of the heat in Cottonwood (near Redding, CA - one of the real hotspots in our state).  Although he's a 'weather proof' postman in Redding, even he has to put off the Sunday weed-wacking on his property.

During our conversation, he mentioned that he'd seen the photo I posted yesterday of myself in front of my new baby; he hadn't noticed the keys in my hand, so here's a close-up ....

Yup, I'm ready to go!

There's still lots to do before I head out; but it all seems like part of the adventure and therefore FUN.  Yesterday afternoon, when I'd finally retrieved my laptop, I put together a legal Rental Agreement document and pre- and post-rental "Property Checklist" to use with the prospective tenants.

I don't think I'd mentioned that I'd rented a bedroom and bathroom during my trip to Mexico; the couple actually had use of the whole house for the price of one room rental.  Well, they were very remiss in making rent and utility payments and when I got back in town, they disappeared!  I learned my lesson on that one too.  So, now everything will be done in a business-like fashion; I don't want to repeat that debacle to my savings account!

So, today looks like a day to be INDOORS in air-conditioned comfort; maybe I'll rouse myself to do some packing in preparation for 'furnishing' the climate-controlled storage unit I've rented, beginning tomorrow.  For now, I wish all a happy Sunday.  Enjoy.  Stay cool.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Hurrah (also hoorah, hooray, and hurray, and even huzzah) is an exclamation of triumph or happiness!

Saturday afternoon: Finally received the word that my MacBookPro screen is finished and that I could pick it up t the Apple store. For those of you who haven't had the distinct pleasure of shopping at the Apple store, stop in sometime just for the experience! It truly is like Disneyland without rides and food! In other words, it's a highly structured mad-house. Anyway I couldn't wait to get my Mac back so I drove over there - it was 107 degrees F. at noon today; then I drove around the mall parking lot for 15 minutes looking for a parking place. I finally found one almost at the opposite end of the mall from the Apple store; so, of course I bought two tank tops just because I passed Eddie Bauer. I tell you, I need to avoid malls! So, I'm going to attach the photos taken the other day when I picked up my new baby ...

I'm calling this pic:  "Keys in Hand - Ready to Go!"

 Now, here we are in boiling hot Roseville - I plugged the RV in to my house electricity and turned on the air conditioner to cool it off enough to be able to start doing some moving in; but the air conditioner turned itself off; so now I'm trying to figure out 'why' and what to do to get it back on.  Now, where is that fuse box?

In the meanwhile, I also have to formulate a rental agreement for the tenants who'll be moving into my house on the first of August.  I'll write more about them and that arrangement a little later.  Right now, I need a nice tall glass of ice tea!

Photos coming soon

I called the Apple store late yesterday afternoon. Still no laptop but the girl assured me it would be ready this morning. I hope so; life without is terrible. Just what did I do ten years ago? I have an iPad, iPhone and Mac and feel bereft even missing one of them!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Adoption Day!

The delay in blogging is due to the fact that my much-loved MacBook Pro is in the hospital having a new monitor installed. It was necessary because sometime during our Mexican adventure I left a pencil on the keyboard and one of my kitties stepped on the cover and crunch -an ever-elongating crack in the screen.  This is turning out to be a very expensive lesson for me.   The new monitor and installation:  $549!

Be that as it may, I'm going to 'adopt' and pick up my new, to me, RV this afternoon.  I'm very excited and will have lots of photos, etc. very soon.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Fleetwood Mac? No. Cadillac Fleetwood? No. Fleetwood Flair? YES!

Sunday morning June 23rd .....

Yup.  Yesterday I bought a 2001 Fleetwood Flair!

I had seen it on craigslist a few days ago and emailed to find out more about it.  A very nice gentleman returned my call and we had two or three conversations and emails going back and forth.  The background story is that his wife's parents [in-laws] owned it; his father-in-law passed away at the age of 87 a couple of years ago and his mother-in-law considered learning to drive it, but decided against that idea.  Then, he and his wife had hoped her mother would give it to them; but she's decided it would make her feel too sad to see it all the time and she'd rather sell it.  So, John, who has had lots of maintenance work done on it, put the ad on craigslist.

Well, after our conversations and lots of my questions were answered I asked if I could see it on Friday.  John said, he'd planned on driving it to Rocklin (about five miles from my house!) on Saturday morning to show it in an RV Show and would I like to see it then.  [I'd never heard of this kind of show; but it's a great place to see lots of different kinds of used RVs for sale.  Sometimes the owners are right there or they've left contact info].  We agreed to meet yesterday morning before he paid the fee to be included in the show.

Thank goodness I had an appointment because as I stood watching my soon to be new RV driving into the Sierra College parking lot where the show is set up, several people starting following the Flair to where it parked, with comments like, "Wow, Charlie, look at this one.  It looks fantastic."  As I got to him and his wife, they told folks, "This lady has an appointment.  If she decides against buying it we'll register it for the show."  In other words, "Come back later."

Well, I bought it.  We spent over an hour going over every little detail and I was very satisfied with how honestly he presented all its good points and its foibles too.  John has had the Flair on his plate, so to speak, since December 2012.  He showed me all the paperwork for how it's been maintained before and during his possession; he's put just about $5K into it since December - hoping his M-I-L would agree to let him have it.  NOT!  I've checked pretty thoroughly and feel his asking price is fair.  When we got down to it, I asked if he'd take ___ dollars and he said, "Yes."  It was that easy.
I gave him a deposit, telling him that I'm in process of refinancing my home with cash out.  He said he'd be  happy to allow me the time for that to occur.  So, I don't have the new RV in my possession yet, but God willing and the creek don't rise, she'll be mine!

Why a Fleetwood Flair, you ask.  When I met Renate at Hacienda Contreras in Valle de Juarez, Mexico several months ago, I fell in love with her 1994 (I think) Fleetwood Flair.  She, like me, is a single woman adventurer, who has been just about full-timing it in her RV for several years now.  She travels with her pooch, Rocky, and they are very comfortable in the Flair.

I have looked at so many different RVs of Classes A, B and C.  And, I certainly considered keeping Daphne Dolphin and fixing her up, as I've talked about before.  The two real sticking points for me with my Dolphin have been the not being able to have an attached awning and not being able to tow or carry anything heavier that a bike.  Many of you have sent lots of suggestions and I've really appreciated all input.  I'm relatively new to the blogging life, but I really love getting others' opinions and encouragement along the path of decision-making.

I'll be blogging more as this process continues ......

Friday, June 21, 2013

Got a late start on blogging today

I was all set this morning to get lots of stuff done in the house.  Well, my wonderful friend Judy, needed 'help' in picking out side tables for her new bedroom furniture.  They'd bought a really massive style sleigh bed and all the other pieces of furniture, just to find that they'd have to really juggle pieces and forget about symmetry to get the bed and two night stands on one wall.  So, of course, I was happy to drive out to their ranch in Loomis to get a feel for the room and situation.
Then we went to a local huge furniture store where Judy had purchased the set - and, after walking about 6 miles (it felt like that anyway) throughout the store we found matching end tables that will be perfect in her bedroom.  Mission accomplished.

However, my best-laid plans for today went by the wayside.  Oh, well, tomorrow's another day - right?

And, I'm only mentioning because I don't want to get too antsy about it; but, I'm going to look at a new(er) RV tomorrow morning that's being sold by a private party.  I'm not going to say much now because I may have to retract everything after seeing it; but it does sound good.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed, my good thoughts in place, my resolution to follow my gut, etc, etc.  So, more will be revealed!

Just a short but loud CONGRATULATIONS to my friends, Kevin and Ruth, who just won a trip to Namibia, Africa - they're camp managing this Summer in Saskatchewan - but will be excited and ready to head to Africa in November.  The facebook contest couldn't have been won by better people.  Hooray for them!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Refinancing Research, Revelations, Realities, Reflections

Dear Readers:

As you probably know I've been busy these last four weeks, since my return from my first ever several month RV adventure, working on such diverse activities as:  budget / investment organization and planning, house cleaning and maintenance after two years total of being away, home refinancing to allow for future adventures, studying the benefits / negatives of updating Daphne Dolphin vs buying a newer, more oomph, somewhat larger RV.  Gradually things become clearer and some decisions and changes have been made.

This morning I received two possibilities for refinancing my home.  Even though I've been involved in many home purchases in the course of my marriage, this will be the first time I will have refinanced a home on my own.  In a nutshell, the two possibilities are:

1)  A conventional loan that lowers my interest rate by a full percentage point lowering my monthly payment by about $250 - with no closing costs.
2)  An FHA loan that also lowers my interest rate by a full percentage point but actually increases my monthly payment by about $100 and has fairly substantial closing costs.  However, it also includes a very tidy number of dollars that I could use to buy a newer / nicer RV and still have a goodly amount of money left over for savings.

When I rent the house I'm told, by my  realtor friend, that I can expect to collect rent that would cover the increased house payment.  Do I want to do that?  I haven't decided whether I want to fix Daphne Dolphin or buy something new.  I do know that I love the RV lifestyle; at least for a reasonable amount of time, I plan to RV in the future.  But, might I also like to adventure without the RV from time to time?  I think so.  If I decide to trade Daphne for a newer (more costly) RV and I went the conventional route, I'd probably have to take money out of my retirement saving investments or make monthly payments to cover the difference between what I get for Daphne and the cost of a new RV.  Would it be better to leave the equity in the bank, with lower monthly house payments and the possibility of having to procure a finance arrangement for a newer RV?

I'd love to get your input.  Happy Wednesday, friends.

PS:  I've decided that I don't want to sell the house even though it may turn out that I never live in it again.  The market is just starting to get a little on track here and I think it behooves me to hold on to it for now.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight

I just saw the third Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy movie, "Before Midnight."  If you haven't seen the first two movies [I'm sure they're available on Netflix or DVD], I'd suggest 'catching up' on the background before heading in to this one.

I loved loved loved "Before Sunrise," which came out in 1995 and takes place primarily in Vienna.  Wow, how time flies!  And then I enjoyed "Before Sunset," which takes place in Paris and was filmed in 2004.  Now this newest addition takes place in Greece 2013.  So they've continued the story of this couple with an installment every nine years and it's really quite interesting to follow the progression / changes in their relationship and lives.

Essentially, they are movies of dialogue and more dialogue.  The screenplays were written, in part, by Ethan and Julie; so they're delivering their own lines.  As I watched this afternoon, it was easy to forget I was watching a film; it really put me in a "Oh yes, I've been there and done that" kind of mood.  I'm still digesting it; I'd be interested in others' comments.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day!

Hope all the fathers out there are / have had a wonderful Father's Day.  I spent a wonderful day with my son-in-law, David, and my daughter's family; well, almost all of the family.  Addison, who you might remember as the Loyola Marymount grad of a month ago is at Arizona State University in a whirlwind course to acquire a teacher's credential - in 5 weeks - usually a 1 year course!  She'll be heading for a two year contract with Teach For America in Colorado Springs as soon as she finishes this grueling summer course - that is if she lives through it! 

Anyway the group today was David, Kari, Quinn (25) and her honey, Landon (25), Holland (who just graduated from high school), Tate, Avery and Spencer (the 13 year old triplets) and me.  We all piled in their car for a great day in San Francisco - where we went to see "Beach Blanket Babylon," the long-running magical fun-filed theater treat in North Beach.  I've seen it several times over the last four decades - the story hasn't changed.  Snow White is searching for her "prince" all over the World - and then finds him back home in San Francisco.  But, although the story remains that which Steve Silver dreamed up in the 60s, the characterizations are timely and politically incorrect.  It's still a riot and it's so San Francisco.

After the show we had Father's Day dinner at Caffe Sport on Green Street in the heart of North Beach - great food and atmosphere - San Francisco Italian, of course, and delicious.  Then we spent some time at the North Beach Festival - a street fair with cordoned off streets and lots of arts, crafts, jewelry, clothes, entertainment and so many great people-watching opportunities.  The weather was San Francisco-style gorgeous .... in the 70s, no fog, no wind - perfection.  Of course we did have to drive back to the Sacramento area - still about 92 at 10PM!

It was a great day and I wish all you Fathers well.....

PS:  Here's a photo of Daphne Dolphin taken in April in Valle de Juarez, Mexico.  I'm going to be taking Daphne in for second opinions on all the things she needs in order to be the perfect home on wheels for me!  I'm heading up to Cottonwood later this week to try to get all her foibles worked out so we can start planning our next adventure .....

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Old and New Photos

Read Desert Diva's blog today - it was actually written by Cali.  So Lacy commented on it and here are a couple of photos of Lacy's family, past and present:

This photo was taken in our living room in the house we rented in Antigua, Guatemala.  It would have been absolutely perfect except shortly after this photo was taken Bella, the little black and white fluff ball was hit by a car and died.  We are still devastated by the loss.

But, life goes on - Eleanor, a steel gray British Shorthair and Lincoln, a shorthair cat cat, joined Lacy and Mom in December 2012, just in time to take off for Mexico in our Toyota Dolphin

 Here's Eleanor in her two favorite places in the RV - on the stove and next to the refrigerator

And here's the photo again of RV travel - kitty style.  The minute the motor revs, both cats climb onto Mom's lap for the whole trip!

In between trips Lincoln gets into things, like yarn, and loves to explore inside and out - and has never been lost - YET!

Mom often keeps a leash on Lincoln so she can encourage him to return inside sometimes when he doesn't 'hear her call.'  When he's inside he also likes to just lounge around

Oh, these are just a few photos of a nice young man in Valle de Juarez.  He's quite popular with the RV ladies!  Actually they just like to look at him and take pictures.  He's 'famous' because every year he plays the role of Jesus of Nazareth during Semana Santa

Here he is on his horse just before the beginning of the Children's Spring Parade.  Oh, yeah, the kids were adorable - too!

And here he is on Palm Sunday in Jesus' triumphant entrance to Jerusalem - just five days before Good Friday

These kitty and puppy photos are especially for Cali.  The Jesus actor photos are for all the ladies!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday fun mentioned earlier...

Went out to lunch with Kari and the triplet girls, Avery and Tate.  We ate at Panera - corn chowder and a half of a roast beef sandwich.  Then the four of us "chick-flick lovers" went to see "Man of Steel!"  Another Superman movie - okay so now I've completed the Summer blockbuster action flick for the year.  It's starring a gorgeous Superman, played by Henry Cavil - wow, he's beautiful!  And, actually a 'star-studded' cast:  Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, etc.  But, it's a movie for the sci-fi fans who love 95% special effects and 5% story.  Enough said.

Friday Fun .... and Work

I haven't been writing much the last week or so.  It's not that nothing's happening, but it's mostly getting the house ready to maybe rent it.  My girlfriend, Judy's, daughter has  recently returned to the Sacramento area from Southern California and Judy says she's very interested in the possibility of renting my little two bedroom house.  That would be a great help for me to be able to head out for a year or so of RV living.

Before I went to Mexico I would have been a little nervous about being without a home for any length of time; but now I really have no misgivings.  I know I'm happy in the RV and without the stress of maintaining the total responsibility for the house, I could be very comfortable heading out for a really extended time.  This trip will probably be practice for the possibility of selling the house and going to full-time RV life.

I still haven't come to any final conclusion about whether to keep or sell Daphne Dolphin.  I have been surfing the web and certainly taking in all comments I've received.  As you may know I took Daphne in for a 'physical exam' - mainly to find out about installing an awning and some kind of rack on the rear for carrying my electric bike (which cannot be supported by my current bike rack) or possibly a scooter or ????  Well, I only visited one RV sales and service place outside of Redding [near Cottonwood where Daphne is resting at my son's house since I can't keep her here at my house].  The service manager there told me I could not install an awning and there's no way to anchor a shelf support on the rear of the rig.

That's when I started surfing the Net for something a little newer, bigger and with awning, towing ability, more storage space, generator, etc.  Now that I've received several  suggestions from readers, I'm thinking maybe I should take Daphne to another RV service place.  The one I went to never mentioned anything about, for instance, mounting something on the front of the vehicle for an electric bike.  And, there've been suggestions about freestanding awning / sun shades, etc.  So, I'm going to head up that way, I think, next week and kind of start over with investigating the possibilities with Daphne.

And, I've been looking at lots of other possibilities - especially Lazy Daze used rigs.  They're not quite as easy to find - I think folks keep them - but I've found a couple that are possibilities if I decide to buy.
Like almost everything in life.  Each decision depends on something else; like:
*If I refinance the house my payments will be lower - so I'd have more for travel
*If I rent the house and refinance that's even better
*If I buy a newer RV I could maybe buy a used car (smaller than my Toyota Camry) that I could tow
*If I keep Daphne can I update lots of things that I'd like to have in her?

........The list goes on......  Comments appreciated!  Have a great weekend every body!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Money, Investing, Saving, Earning, Using.......

For lots of the time while 'babysitting' the last several days, I wasn't actually needed for the moment to moment activities of the triplets and their friends.  I spent some productive time with my computer and Excel, etc. bringing together all my budget components into one document with lots of worksheets.

I had talked with many people, while on the Mexico adventure this Winter, about all the topics listed in the heading of today's title.  Of course, 20 people have 20 different ideas about how, what, why, where, etc. to accomplish "financial happiness," so I'm in process of integrating all the wisdom into a platform of my own!

After having been married for a long long time and not taking very much responsibility for financial futures, I entered the "OMG, I'm on my own!" at 50, instead of 21.   I think some of my laissez faire  about financial matters stems from the fact that I was raised in a family of accountants - mom, dad and brother, so I never took on the role of knowledgeable person.  Then, I was married at 17(!) to a much older man (22) and he managed the money.  When I was divorced at 50 I tried to get a whole lot of saving into a shortened period of time.   Fortunately, I'm fairly pleased with how I did - I do have enough income to live .... I, like lots of people, would just like more!

So, what to do?  I thought a lot about it during my Mexico adventure.  First of all I'll give 'thanks' to my friends, Kevin and Ruth, who, among other things, impressed me about the importance of simply KEEPING TRACK of expenses on a day to day basis.  I have always used that axiom when it's been time to reduce weight .... just keeping track of foods passing my lips seems to turn into weight loss when necessary.  Kevin and Ruth, if you don't know them, have been living a wonderfully full and adventurous life for several years and managing it on a budget that could be considered 'tight.'  I applaud them and their way of life.

Secondly, when I voiced an interest in attempting to try on-my-own investing, it was suggested that I look for stocks that pay dividends; so, I've started researching this idea too, even though I haven't actually done anything - yet.

I collected thoughts, ideas, plans, successes, failures from all sorts of people - from all over the World - mostly the US and Canada.  These have been roaming around in my head for a few months now and it's time to get started with organization of information for study, planning and doing support.

During the last several days, I've embarked on an aggressive (for me) computer project.  The goal for this computer project is to be able to access accurate personal financial information any time I want.  So far, my Excel workbook has worksheets called:

  • Monthly Budget - all income and expenses recorded.  I've broken down the month into increments of time so I can coordinate income and assign plans to expenses in a timely fashion.
  • Cumulative Data - re:  income and expenses throughout the year(s) - recorded in monthly increments.
  • MPS Bible - This is the name of a spreadsheet I've kept for years - account numbers, login info, notes re:  communication with companies, banks, subscriptions, etc.  [Just managing login IDs and passwords is an almost full time job]!  Each time I add / alter info on this document I save it to the current date.  From time to time when housekeeping files and folders, I delete old and redundant info.
  • Investment Info - this is what I've been working on mostly the last week.  I'm bringing together all investment info on one spreadsheet - because I have several different investment firm accounts.  My personal financial advisor is with one of these firms.  I'm wondering, if I become really savvy, if it might be better to manage it all myself?
  • Expense Form - an Excel form I print so I can carry a paper copy in my purse to record expenses as they occur so I don't chance forgetting them!
Now, I'm going to spend some quality time learning about investing.  I'm visiting websites (New York Stock Exchange, Wall Street Journal, Charles Schwab, etc.).  I've subscribed to a couple of online financial newsletters.  I intend to read some historically valuable books about money matters ("A Random Walk Down Wall Street," etc).  I AM OPEN TO SUGGESTIONS YOU READERS MAY HAVE FOR ENLIGHTENMENT!

Happy Tuesday everybody!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Home Sweet Home - Roseville and El Dorado Hills

Just arrived home after 5 days of triplet entertainment, movies, sleepovers, food fairs and lots of driving.  It's always fun to spend time with them although I have to admit there's not much time without activities and friends - so how much time do I actually 'spend' with them.

El Dorado Hills, where they live, is an unincorporated "census designated place" [according to wikipedia] in El Dorado County, CA about 22 miles (35km) east of Sacramento on Highway 50.  It is a booming area of about 48,000 people as of 2010.  There are probably at least 15,000 more people now if building is an indication.  There are shopping centers, housing areas, apartments, etc. going up all over the place.  But, it's a very large land area too, about 49,000 square miles of rolling hills that are actually the beginning of the foothills of the great Sierra Nevada mountain range.  It's not new as it's located only 13 miles from where gold was first discovered in California (remember the California Gold Rush?) so there have been residents for ages.  But when the Gold Rush was in full swing it was Sacramento that became the center of activity so EDH is relatively new in ramping up.  Here's a website if you'd like further information.....

My daughter, Kari and her family had lived in the Mid-West for years, when David had a opportunity to work in California; Kari was thrilled to be returning to California but wanted to choose where they'd settle.  She did lots of research and they decided it was to be El Dorado Hills:  good schools, healthy atmosphere for their six children, lots of outdoor activities, access to mountains and cities and beaches.  I'd not really known much about it but fell in love as soon as I visited them.  I was at that time living in the San Francisco Bay Area, working for Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco.  Working for the Kaiser organization makes it possible to apply for jobs anywhere they operate; so I left Marin County and bought a small home in Roseville - about 20 miles from my daughter's house.  I worked for about 5 years and then retired .... and here I am!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Value of a Traveling Education

Sunday morning  June 9th - Fourth day of Crisis Management!  I don't actually do hardly any 'work' in this job.  The triplets are very capable - if only thirteen year olds could drive!  Well, maybe not.   Hmmm.

Remember how we teach toddlers, "Don't touch the stove, it's hot and you'll get burned."  Well, I think it's really important to tell teenagers the same thing about their concerns.  The issue is to "know" what their concerns are.

Kari and David are VERY PRESENT in the lives of their children.  They monitor, from day to day, what's going on with each one of them - it's a huge job.  Even though I'm here with the kids, physically, I'll bet Mom and Dad have had or have made 100 phone calls back and forth with the kids, planning their every move.  Cell phones.  What would they do without them?

As for 'traveling education,'  I met so many people in Guatemala last year who had taken their children out of school, in Canada, the USA and Europe, to travel as a family.  In view of the above comments about my 'babysitting' job, I am so pro travel for families.  There's just no alternative to the positives I see in a traveling education.

One family I met in Guatemala, a Dentist fro Nashville, Tennessee, his office manager wife, and their two kids - a 17 year old boy and a 15 year old girl - were on a one year family adventure.  They had spent about six months traveling - only in Central and South America - and were, at the time I met them, doing 20+ hours a week of volunteer work in Guatemala for six months.   I was so so impressed with all of them.  I met them in the hospital for malnourished infants and children where I did volunteer work.  The day we met I had Holland visiting me and also doing volunteer work.

They were an incredible family who had gone through all the pros and cons of deciding to make this adventure - had overcome all the negatives like high school football team member (boy), first year of high school with my friends (girl), etc, etc.  I spent about an hour with the son and daughter asking them questions about how they felt.  They both said there was no comparison to the way they think now with the way they thought before the trip.  They were 'home schooling,' that is, Internet schooling! Mom and Dad had to monitor very little and their progress through their high school requirements were astounding.  Their education accomplishments were far and away above any they could have received in a traditional setting.

I would so love to see my grandkids have the same opportunity - I don't even really think it's important where or what kind of adventure it is - it could be 6 months on a sailboat in the Pacific for Heavens sake - the intellectual, psychological, emotional, developmental possibilities are endless.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Muddling Through House Cleaning / Organization Project

6/5/13  12:30PM

I'm muddling through house cleaning and organizing.  As I've mentioned I remind myself that it doesn't all have to be done immediately.  However, I seem to be giving myself a lot of permission to take breaks!  I read almost half a novel yesterday and didn't get much done in the way of organization or cleaning!  Now I've just returned from my fourth Post Office run in the last two days - trying to collect my mail that's been held - only for a couple of weeks - finally today I have it.  When I got back into the house I spent about 20 minutes simply separating what snail mail I need from the fliers and ads!  What a bunch of trees lost!

Okay, so now I'm taking a little break from the 'house project.'  I have no idea how some ideas get into my head - but I just had to find out if anybody knew .......

What was Albert Einstein's I.Q?

So I went to the trusty Internet....

Here's one interesting answer....

Einstein never took an IQ Test (they are a fairly recent development) so no one knows what his IQ is. But the fact that he was brilliant in some fields doesn't necessarily mean he would 
have had a high IQ. 
There are people, called 'idiot savants,' who are incredibly brilliant in one field, but hopeless at other things. For some reason, mathematics is often the field of special intensity - they can calculate numbers in their heads that you or I would have trouble entering into a computer, and solve them faster than the computer. They can tell you what day of the week any date in history was, or project it forward into the future. But they may not be able to figure out how to get across town on a bus. 
So IQ, no matter how high it is, doesn't always indicate brilliance. And one's personal IQ can and does vary over one's lifetime, so it isn't a set number. It is used as a guide, however. IQs of under 80 are generally deemed to need assisted living conditions, those with IQs over 135 are MENSA level. These are people who sit around and do math problems for fun and find sudoko and crosswords much too easy. 

Some people with high IQs are not especially socially adept, because they can't comprehend how other people (with lower IQs) have such trouble understanding things that come naturally to them. Then there are others with high IQs  who are wonderful, kind and caring people - in spite of their intelligence! 

There aren't really any generalizations you can make about people with high or low IQs.

Triplets on the Loose!

I haven't blogged for a couple of days because I'm 'baby-sitting' for my triplet grandchildren for 6 days!
Shouldn't be too hard should it?  After all, they're 13 years old.  NOT!  The triplets are Spencer(m), Tate(f) and Avery(f).  These are the fourth, fifth and sixth kids for my daughter, Kari.  She's also the mom of the university and high school graduates I've been talking about lately!

Yesterday was the triplets last day of 7th grade so I got up at 6 to get myself ready before waking them at 6:45 and 'coaching' them in the preparation process.  Yikes!  For you parents out there that means, I'm not supposed to have to DO anything for them, just make sure they're ready to be driven at 7:15.  Well, first off, Tate remembered that she had to be a school early because she was a presenter for their 'beginning of the day' program, whatever that is!  So that meant they had 20 minutes from eyelids open to the time they'd be in the car.  So, no chores got completed and believe me when I saw their rooms when I got home from driving them I #!(*%^#*&^5$#@)(***&^%?/}#.  They attend a Charter School that's located about 15 miles from their home in El Dorado Hills - so they need to be driven every day to and from school and activities.

The last day of school was a fun day, followed for the girls, by a trip to Sun Splash for the afternoon and a slumber party.  So I went back to the school at 11:20 to pick only Spencer up.  I brought him home and made lunch - they love Mimi lunches and think they're special - Well I guess they are as normally they'd have hurriedly made-sandwiches, etc.  Spencer had homemade spaghetti and garlic bread and a salad to boot!  Then I was to take him to a near-by Country Club for an all afternoon pool party with two friends who were to meet him there.  My daughter had said they could walk back and forth,  "Mom, you don't have to drive them everywhere."  Well, it was 105 degrees so I drove him and told him I'd be back to pick him up in three hours.

I had to return to my house in Roseville - 20 miles from here - to check on the cats, who were just fine; although I think they were missing Lacy and me!  It seems that when nobody is at home, Eleanor ventures outside the bedroom, but never outside the house.  Lincoln is a man of the world, coming and going at will throughout the day and night.  I got to the house and back to pick up Spencer at the right time.  However, he said he'd checked with his mom (in Florida) and she'd told him, "If it's okay with Mimi, you can invite your friends to go to a movie and sleep over."  So, we left the Club with five boys - boy is the conversation interesting between them.  Hmmm!  Well, I thought, I can just stretch out the chicken piccata, baked potato, tomato-cucumbe salad dinner for all the boys.  Oh no, they weren't hungry.  They just snack for dinner.   So my lovely dinner went back in the refrigerator and they pigged out on chips, dip, pizza bites, etc.  Then they wanted to go to a movie, "The Purge."  I checked and found that it was R-rated so I had each boy check with his parents - all could go.  I drove them and picked them up and delivered two boys to their respective homes

Spencer and two of the five boys stayed overnight in Spencer's room; I asked the group to clean it up before leaving today for their next activity - a group ticket to go to a motor cross show.  Thank goodness my granddaughter, Holland and her boyfriend took them.  They're gone and all the boys are going to sleep at another boy's house tonight.  The 'cleanup' accomplished is, in my opinion, a joke - I'll have Spencer do the whole job himself tomorrow!  Okay, enough of the boys.

I picked up the triplet girls this afternoon - and three of their friends who will be here the rest of the day and for overnight too.  They've asked if they can 'camp out' on the backyard trampoline - okay with me!

We've just completed a "Chopped TV Food Challenge," in which I drove them to the supermarket to buy the ingredients for each team (two teams) plus one girl agreed to be the second judge with me.  After each team had their supplies I bought mystery ingredients they had to incorporate into their creations.  The creations were to be a dessert and the mystery ingredients I supplied were:  macadamia nuts, crushed Fritos, avocado, a Pirouette cookie, a carrot and cilantro.

Well, they 'cheated' a little because they couldn't think of how to incorporate things like Fritos and avocado into a dessert so each team made an appetizer and a dessert.  Anna and I agreed on who the winning team was, even though we cautioned them that they really needed to incorporate all the mystery ingredients next time.  We had a lot of fun and enjoyed white turkey chili with lots of condiments for dinner.

Now I'm relaxing with my computer before we tackle the kitchen cleanup - YUCK.  Oh, I forgot to mention, it's currently 109 degrees in El Dorado Hills - and the electricity just went off!  May be an interesting night!

My daughter, Kari, and her husband, David, are in Key West Florida where six members of my daughter's Triathlon club competed in a swim race around the Florida Keys - a 12- mile swim.  All her team members finished the complete swim, but the times were slow due to weather conditions in the entire area.

I need electricity!!!!  It's getting really really really hot in here!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Interested in Geography?!

12 Noon

I started receiving a newsletter about the subject of Geography about two years ago and find it very interesting and informative.  I thought I'd post the link  if any readers may share the same interest.  There's a spot on the home page where one can sign up for the news letter.  Matt Rosenberg is a professional geographer and his email news letter as one email I look forward to each time.  Today's reminded the reader the the National Hurricane season began  this past Saturday.   For my Roseville, California inland 'home base' it's not much of an issue, but given all the climate changes and weather anomalies we're experiencing in general, I've wanted to become more knowledgeable about the subject.

And, reading about geography can become a time-consuming past-time.  I start reading the highlights of his newsletter; then I start hitting reference websites, then I'm off and running - trying to learn everything possible on each subject!

In the last few years I've finally admitted that I have absolutely no sense of direction.  Man-oh-man, if the sun's not shining or it's night time, I have no idea what direction is what.  Thank heavens, in California we have changes in terrain to help guide lost souls like me.  I do know that the Pacific Ocean is to the West - no matter where I am in California!  But inland California has tall mountains on all edges of the great San Joaquin Valley so I have to be careful to not 'assume' that that particular mountain is definitely to the East!!


Just received an update on "my" volcano in Guatemala.   El Fuego has been a continually active volcano.  During my 18-month stay in Antigua I could easily see El Fuego every day from both houses I lived in.  It was a part of my morning ritual to take a look (and lots of photos) of smoke shooting up into the air.  Two times during my stay it actually erupted, sending up flames and spewing lava for several days each time.  Since leaving in November it has continued to be very active - check out this raw video taken a couple of months ago ....

Volcanos, earthquakes, floods, etc. are commonplace in Guatemala - I learned a lot living there - and from Matt Rosenberg too.

Antigua, Guatemala is located at an altitude of about 6000 feet above sea level - so it is possible to look out to the distance through clouds.  This is a quiet El Fuego (the peak at the left behind the cloud).  The photo was taken in the late afternoon - a time of the day when El Fuego was often very quiet.

The photo below was taken early in the morning - and it was very common to see El Fuego letting off smoke and steam

Both photos were taken out my bedroom window.  This was my wake-up view.

If you haven't already visited, Guatemala is a wonderful experience for the adventurer.  Unfortunately it's not the easiest to navigate in an RV as the highways and roads leave lots to be desired in terms of potholes, alternate routes, etc.  It's a very poor country; but the people are gentile, kind and caring.  I loved my time there and can say that I have friends who I'll never forget.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Home Base - Roseville

I'm back home for a while.  OMG!  So much to do!  This little house is only 1250 square feet and looks and feels overwhelming after life in my 20-foot Daphne.  Where to start ....

First of all, I've really pretty much decided to rent the house for a year or so.  That means there's much to be done to prepare.  I've moved so much in my life; it's a process I shutter to even THINK about it.
Okay, MP, here's where we go into "One foot in front of the other" mode.  Start someplace and move forward.  I'll be making computer, iPhone and paper lists galore; maybe if I'm really smart I'll integrate them into one location.  Hmmm.  I've been making lists in Excel all during my adventuring in reference to things needed / wanted for the RV.  Hey, I think the thing to do is use that Excel workbook for ALL LISTS.  Yeah!  One decision made.  More later......

11:30 Saturday 6/1/13

As of now it looks like I'll have to put off plans for the big RV trip around the Country and Canada for at least a couple of months.  I've got my integrated list started in Excel and I'm putting one foot in front of the other.  Holland's graduation is past; now I can start to concentrate on everything else.  Oh, yes, next week I'll be guardian-ing [I hesitate to say 'babysit' 'cause they're all bigger than me!] the triplets while David and Kari head to Florida for Kari's Tri team's participation in the swim around the Florida Keyes- a 16-mile swim.  I'll be taking over for the triplets last three days of school for this year; then they're on to Eighth Grade in September.

I'll be continuing to plan, work and prepare my house to rent.  But, I absolutely refuse to give myself a lot a time pressure.  I'm retired.  My goal is to ENJOY the process of life - whatever it is at the moment and what comes up on the horizon.

Oh, and I need to wish Quinn happiness in her new house - she's moving from a one-bedroom apartment to a two bedroom place San Jose, CA.

7:00PM  Just went to see "42," the story of Jackie Robinson.  It was great and brought back wonderful memories - my dad was a die-hard Yanks fan.  I started cheering for the Dodgers at about the age of 7 or 8; I'd like to think I was asserting myself - NOT.  It was just fun to watch the World Series every year and 'legally' argue with Dad!  Remember all those Yankies vs Dodgers World Series?

Just a thought - where would we be with 'all white' sports right now?  Hmmm!

Information for RVers .....

Dump Stations:

Just got an email with this website - thought my RV friends might like it if you don't already now about it:

RV Dump Stations 

Dump Station Not a week goes by without a customer asking where the nearest facility is to evacuate the holding tanks on their RV. The need for a dump station is as inevitable for RVers as death and taxes are for everyone.

Though we are able to point people to those facilities near our stores, once out of the area, we haven't been of much help - until now.  Needless to say, there isn't much you can't find on the Internet and this topic is no different.

While traveling throughout the US and Canada, a couple clicks of the mouse can tell you where the nearest dump facility can be located, what hours they are available, what the cost is, and perhaps even any hazards, like low hanging trees, that might affect the access.

This one stop source is simply named It even allows registered users to add comments about existing sites and to add sites that aren't currently listed on the site. It is smartly organized by state and then by Interstate or Highway. To further simplify the process there is a search feature that allows you to enter key words like the name of a town or a facility name.

This site is easy to use and would be a good one to add to your favorites if you bring a laptop or on your tablet or smart phone. Or, simply visit the site with your itinerary in mind and print out a list covering your route. And, be sure to add any places you find to help your fellow RVers in their time of need.

To view the RV Dumpsite Website, click here: Dump Stations

Post Graduation

9AM  June 1, 2013

As far as Mimi (that's me) is concerned, Holland's graduation went off without a hitch.  My sweet Holland Isley Duane is a high school graduate - on her way to an exciting and promising life.

The table decoration for Holland's graduation dinner that was served at 4:30 in the afternoon - because she had to leave for the ceremony at 5:45 and would be going directly to the 'all-night sober graduation party' from the ceremony.  The blue orchid table decoration is in honor of Holland's beautiful blue eyes - she's my only grandchild, out of 8, with blue eyes!
Kari, her mom, and I prepared exactly what Holland had requested for the menu:

Sushi trays - a whole variety of favorites
Chinese Chicken Salad
Strawberry Shortcake

How's that for individual taste?

Mom, Kari, Holland (partially dressed as graduate) and Dad, David
They are one TALL family

From L to R:  'Little Sam' (Holland's uncle), Betsy (grandma), Holland, Mimi and 
'Big' Sam (grandpa) - Grandpa Sam and Grandma Betsy are retired high school teachers.  Uncle Sammy took his dad's job when he retired and now is Basketball Coach Sam at Corona High School in Tempe, Arizona

Holland has been very active in her church and groups associated with it and she's decided to accept entrance into a Bible study abroad group in Germany.  She'll be leaving in September for Germany [I can't remember the name of the city!!!] for a six month course with students from around the globe.  The Bible study concentration will be Old Testament.  But, as with her 2 older sister-predecessors, she must have saved $3000 by Summer's end - so she'll be hostessing at Mimi's, a chain restaurant located close to home.  Lots of hours of work ahead for this young lady.

I just LOVE this lady.
Happy Graduation, "Hubba"