Saturday, December 31, 2011

Time to write

It is time to write! I have neglected my blog for a few months, not for lack of material, but for lack of interest in writing.
Dave and I had another good vacation in Mexico, but it has an unhappy aspect as well. My cousin, Bird (Roberta) has small cell lung cancer, a fact she discovered while we were visiting. We stayed for two weeks, and during that time Bird's health steadily declined. She is now at home, has received chemo and has another dose scheduled. She has told her family that she won't recover, but her doctors think she can have a few more months.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I purchased a Nook Color earlier this year and I really have enjoyed using it. I do not buy many books, but I do borrow a lot of books through the Nebraska Library Commission. Sometimes there is a wait, just as there would be if you borrowed it from your local library. Something I just found about (or paid attention to) is that on Fridays there is always a free book to download.
If you have a wireless connection you can check your email, listen to Pandora, read the latest news--all for free. There are also lots of applications, free and for purchase, including the game Angry Birds. My grandsons like to play that a lot! Recently Austin was using the Nook Color to play Angry Birds and somehow ended up at the applications menu. He clicked on 'browse for more' and ended up buying a couple of games and books! I have since activated the password feature--hopefully he won't figure it out.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Getting Ready

   Eleanor's Neeley relatives are coming Monday for a visit. All told the number stands at 10, so we have been busy with planning for a luncheon. They should all arrive about noon, and we will head for my house for lunch and visiting. I will take the great- nieces and nephews out side or to the basement, so everyone can visit. Eleanor's hearing aids work best with one or two people talking, so a big crowd will only confuse her.
   She had a good visit at Dr. Donovan's office and her next appointment is in January, so the shots have been having the desired effect on her back and hip. Next week will be a busy one as she has visitors on Monday, a perm on Tuesday, and plans to go to the movie matinee of "The Help" on Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fish Camp

Earlier this year Dave bought a camper at Calamus Lodge, a camp ground near Calamus Reservoir. We have been there a few times, he more than me. I call it Fish Camp. Dave thinks we should call it our Lake Home. Last weekend we were in charge of our grandsons, Sam and Austin, since their parents went to Cancun for a long weekend. We took them to Fish Camp/Lake Home for two nights and had a wonderful time. Fishing was not good, but we gave it a try. We will try again another time. We toured Fort Hartsuff and had a great time there. I cannot say enough good things about this State Park. YOU SHOULD GO THERE. We spent time at 3 different beaches at Calamus Reservoir and all three were great. Actually the whole place is a beach since it is a reservoir in the sand hills. Also toured Happy Jack Chalk Mine, which the boys really enjoyed. All in all it was a great weekend.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Doctor will see you now

Several weeks ago Eleanor's leg/hip pain got to the point where she admitted she needed something more than Aleve or Excedrin. Dave scheduled an appointment with Dr. Donovan at the specialty clinic in Seward. He thought he was lucky that he didn't have to go to Lincoln. Eleanor has been there several times for shots, which are not pleasant and have very serious side effects for her. She was lucky enough to get an appointment in Seward, but it was at 8:10 a.m., a difficult time for her. Dave called her at 6:30 a.m. and was over at her apartment by 7:15 to help her get dressed. (Have you ever thought about helping your mother put on her underpants and brassiere?)
They made it to the clinic in time for the appointment and when they made it to the exam room the nurse said "You are here for a shot? Well, I don't know why they scheduled the appointment because Dr. Donovan is out of town and you can't have a shot."
An appointment was made for this week in Lincoln. The pain clinic called yesterday to remind us that Eleanor has an appointment in Lincoln on Thursday. Please be there a few minutes early and bring your insurance cards because we verify them at each visit. They called again today to remind us that Eleanor has an appointment on Thursday. I really really want to call them tomorrow and say, "Eleanor has an appointment with Dr. D on today at 2:00 p.m. Please make sure she will be available to see Eleanor."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Who will replace the monarch?

Dave and I got hooked on a BBC television series, Monarch of the Glen. We have watched 57 episodes, seasons one through six on Netflix, on the "Play Instantly" feature. We love this series! But, we have watched every single one that is available to us. Apparently Netflix has not acquired season 7, the all important end of the series where all the loose ends are tied up! How dare they!
Sure, we could read the TV show home page for a description of each episode, but it is not quite same. So, off to to purchase the DVD of season 7. Will it ever get here? And, what will we watch next?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Washington Week in Review

We had another great vacation! This time we went to Virginia and Washington DC. The main reason for the trip was to attend the wedding of my cousin (on my Mom's side) Katie Sloper to Matt Johnson. They chose Algonkian Regional Park as the location of their wedding, and it is a lovely place. Many of the guests stayed at cottages in the park. We chose to stay at the Hyatt Place in Sterling, VA. We did not drive or rent a car, so the hotel's van service was greatly appreciated, especially on the day of the wedding when 3 loads of wedding guests were transported to the park for the wedding and then home again late that night after the reception.
Since we were going to be in such a great tourist area we decided to add days to our trip and do some sight seeing. We arrived at Dulles Airport on Thursday, May 5, kind of late in the afternoon, so spent the rest of that day getting settled in our hotel and eating supper at a great restaurant just across the street, The Sweetwater Tavern. Evidently this is a chain--wish there was one in Nebraska! We ended up there on Sunday night as well.
Friday was spent touring the National Air and Space Museum near Dulles. Everything from kites and gliders to the space shuttle Enterprise is displayed there. Mike and Mary picked us up on Friday evening for the rehearsal dinner which was held in nearby Reston at the M & S Grill. Another great place to eat! It was nice getting a chance to connect with my younger cousins, and re-connect with those closer to my age.
Saturday was the main event, the wedding, so we decided to be shoppers instead of tourists, and we stayed pretty close to the hotel. We walked to Dulles Town Center, a good sized shopping mall about a mile from our hotel. Every building we saw in Sterling looked new, and there is a lot of vacant office space.
The wedding was lovely. Pictures are on the right. We enjoyed meeting Mary's good friend Jane and her husband, as well as George, my cousin Thene's husband. We had a great time at the reception--a fabulous meal and a fun time dancing.
Sunday and Monday were our days to tour DC. To get there we took the van from the hotel to the airport where we caught the 5A bus which dropped us at L'Enfant Plaza. We were within walking distance of everything we wanted to see. We spent a lot of time at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum on Sunday and at the National Museum of the American Indian on Monday. We also did a walk through at the US Botanical Garden outdoor area. We only saw 3 museums while we were on our trip, but we spent quite a bit of time at each one. We both enjoy that a lot more than racing through so you can get to another destination.
My cousin Mary and her husband Mike (parents of the bride!) were back to their normal routine on Monday, so we took the metro to the King Street station Alexandria where they met us and gave us a driving tour of Old Town Alexandria and treated us to supper at their favorite Mexican restaurant. While we were waiting at the metro station for them to pick us up we noticed an Embassy Suites right across the street. Embassy Suites is our favorite hotel and we often talk about our plan to live out our declining years at one instead of going to a rest home. It would be cheaper, there is happy hour, they clean your room every day, etc. etc. We also have a plan where we live for a year at Embassy Suites around the country. This looks like a good one to put on our list!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Minnesota Book Awards 2011

Last weekend I spent some time with my cousins on my Dad's side of my family, my 'McLellan' cousins. My cousin, Carol Connolly, was the recipient of the 2011 Kay Sexton award for contributions to Minnesota's book community. She was honored at a gala sponsored by the St. Paul Friends of the Library. It was so much fun to be there! The event started with cocktails in the lobby area of the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the river in downtown St. Paul. Then we moved into the ballroom for dessert and champaign. All 700 of us! It was a sellout event.
Carol knew that she would receive the award and had her remarks ready. She was introduced by Mayor Coleman and gave a lovely and somewhat humorous speech. But not too long of a speech because last year's recipient went on for 45 minutes after a 30 minute introduction, so Carol had been warned to keep her remarks brief. Actually, Mayor Coleman spoke longer than Carol did.
The Minnesota Book Awards honor authors with Minnesota connections and I believe there were nine categories of awards. The books are nominated during the year and voted on and then the award (which this year was a lovely glass sculpture) is presented at the Gala. It played like the Oscars. Big screens around the room featured the book covers as the nominees were announced. Suspense built, and then an envelope was brought to the podium and the winner announced. A three-piece jazz group provided music. It was a BIG DEAL.
The next day, Carol's daughter Katie had a brunch in honor of her mom. Here are some pictures:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Basket Case

March was the month I made baskets. (I know April is half over, but I just got around to taking some pictures.)
I took a basket weaving class at the Hand Weavers Guild in Lincoln and was pretty happy with the results:

Kitty Meow was checking it out just as I snapped the picture.

Last fall I watched a demonstration of basket making at "Threads Across Nebraska" where the nice lady from Vogies Quilts & Treasures was making a basket using strips of fabric and cotton clothesline.

The book she was using was called It's a Wrap and she was just zipping along making a beautiful basket. I stood and watched and talked to her and was hooked. I made one basket right away when I got home, but I gave it away with some Mary Kay products in the basket silent auction at the Seward Memorial Library in November. I kept thinking about all the baskets I wanted to make and all the scraps and strips of fabric that I have, so when I went to Minglewood Lodge that is what I took with me to work on.
Bread Basket

Easter Basket

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chiropractic Care

One thing I never thought I would do was visit a chiropractor. And, now, here I am with 3 appointments last week! Just 2 for the coming week, though.
It started when grandson Sam was having trouble with his back after a fall from a playground slide. Visiting his GP at the medical clinic did nothing to ease the pain or help him stand up straight, so his parents took him to see Dr. Wild. That helped almost immediately. Then they shifted to Dr. Hackbart because they felt he was more thorough and gave them a plan with an end date. After several appointments for Sam, Liz decided to go. About twice a year her back "goes out" and she thought she would have this checked out. She said that when he adjusted her upper back she realized that she had been uncomfortable for so long she had grown used to it and didn't realize what it was like to feel good.
So, when I saw Dr. Hackbart at the Spring Show I took advantage of a coupon and went in for a consultation. I have not had quite the dramatic results that Liz has experienced but I do feel better. I has a relapse this week after watching our 3 grand daughters for a day, but my back is starting to feel better.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Swedish Triology

I am, of course, referring to the 3 books by Steig Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I finished the third one last week. I will admit that when I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo last summer I was not that impressed. The first part of the story did not "grab" me and I found it a bit confusing. Also, this book has a lot of violence towards women and I wondered if I could take any more of that, so I put off reading the 2nd and 3rd books. However, I saw The Girl Who Played with Fire on the "on fire" shelf at Seward Memorial Library last month so I picked it up. The "on fire" shelf is reserved for books that are in constant demand and are therefore only available for 2-week check out, as opposed to the usual 4-week period.
I had a hard time putting down that book! Same with The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, which I finished last week. I had to make myself accomplish one or two things around the house so I could give myself permission to sit for several hours of reading!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Calamus Camper

Last week Dave bought an old camper that is sitting on a parking spot at Calamus Lodge. Yesterday Dave loaded up the Jeep, including me and our dog Belle, and off we went so I could see it and we could do a little clean up. Dave keeps telling me the camper "has potential" and I can see his point. He will use it pretty often as a home base for fishing trips. I will go along, but probably not every time.
We are novice RV owners and it took us quite a while to get things working. We could not get electricity to the camper until Dennis, owner of Calamus Lodge, came and discovered the contacts were corroded. After he cleaned that up we had power!
Connecting our plumbing so we could have water took much longer. The camper has been re-plumbed and it was a bit confusing. After a few phone calls to the previous owner we could flush and run water in the kitchen sink. The bathroom sink will have to wait for another day because the faucets are not yet connected. We think we burned out the water heater when we turned on the power before the tank had time to fill, so hot water will have to wait for another day as well.
Yard work was also on the agenda and we picked up leaves, twigs and small branches around the camper and got a good blaze going in the fire pit.
The previous owners left a lot of stuff including dishes, silver ware, pots and pans, beach chairs, bedding and a hot plate to name a few. We threw out some stuff and cleaned up the rest.
Another project was to shorten the window blinds. I got a few of them done, but there will be more to finish on the next trip.
Attached to the camper is a screened porch, about 20 x 12 feet. I think that will be used a lot this summer. The camper is old, but there has been a lot of updating to the interior: new kitchen counters, sink and cupboards, new wainscoting and trip and paint, new blinds, new bathroom fixtures, so it is pretty nice inside.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quilting at Minglewood (click for link to their page)

I spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Minglewood Lodge near Gretna, Nebraska, with 9 other quilters. We worked on lots of different projects and had a great time. The lodge is new, finished last fall. It is a great spot for a get away like we had, and not too expensive. You could have 11 people stay if two people do not mind sleeping together in a double bed. The rest of the beds are all twin size, two or three to a room. I would like to get another group together that could go during the week.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Sherlockian (book review)

Finished The Sherlockian last week. It is written by Graham Moore, and I enjoyed it a lot. I have read a lot of the Sherlock Holmes books which as you know, were written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Sherlockian is about solving the mystery of Doyle's missing diary from October through December 1893. The Baker Street Irregulars were expecting one of their own to reveal the missing diary at their meeting in January 2010. He, of course, turns up dead instead of turning up at the meeting where he was to reveal all. Newest member, Harold White, sets out to solve the murder and to find the missing diary.
Author Moore uses the device of alternating between Harold White in 2010 and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1893 and gives us the explanation of the missing diary. If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan, you may recall that this is the time period when Doyle "killed" Holmes because he was sick to death of writing about him, and sick of the attention Holmes was receiving from his adoring fans. (He later resurrected Holmes.)
Graham explains all in this very readable book.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Time for a book report

I have read several books over the last few weeks but one that I really enjoyed was I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson. The title refers to the song by David Cassidy of Partridge Family and teen idol fame. The story starts out in Wales where 38-year-old Petra is going through her mother's belongings after her funeral. In her mother's closet she finds a letter that is addressed to 13-year-old Petra. She opens it to find that she and her friend Sharon had won a trip to meet David Cassidy-- 25 years ago. Her mother disapproved of Petra's teenage crush on David Cassidy and so she never gave her the letter. Only days before Petra learned of her husband's infidelity; that coupled with her mother's death and the discovery of the lost letter make Petra decide to call the magazine that sponsored the contest.
Another part of the story involves Bill who gets his journalism start by writing for the Essential David Cassidy magazine. He virtually makes up the David Cassidy that all the young teenage girls in the British Isles love. He also answers a lot of the fan mail. He is, naturally, totally embarrassed by this job, because the only people who like David Cassidy are 13-year-old girls. 25 years later Bill manages several magazines and when Petra calls to inquire about her trip to meet David Cassidy, Bill goes against the conventional wisdom that Petra must be a crazy old lady and turns it into a series of magazine articles.
I Think I Love You captures that first love feeling very well. Allison Pearson did interview David Cassidy for a magazine article a few years ago, and she was enthralled with him when she was 13 years old. She spins a great story from this material.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mexican Diary, part 4

3/3 (David) If one was going to spend time down here it would be good to work on Spanish more than the week or two before coming down. Bird has a great workbook that looks like a HS primer. It would be good to look at words and verbs to refresh the little knowledge I have of the language.
Today I am going to see Jim at the fishing store and take the shore reels with me. I want him to do a quick assessment to see if they are worth repairing, or maybe I should purchase a new one to leave at Bird's house. Then they could use it for a quick trip of beach fishing.
(Joanne) We spent yesterday in La Ribera, doing laundry and playing with the puppies. When all the dogs are barking and running around the yard it is a pretty wild scene. The dogs will all bark at anyone who is walking past, and at horses and cows that wander by, and at rabbits and at other dogs and the list goes on. It can be a noisy place.
Dave and I went to the restaurant bar on the beach, LaCosta, and had a drink. It is an outdoor sports bar--big TV and all. Good margarita!

3/4 (David) Yesterday we went to Los Barriles to the recycling center, the pharmacy and to do some banking with Bird. Then on to the spa Buena Vista. I have never been there when it has been crowded. There were a few more vacationers there this time, but all in all I think the spa has been passed by.
I talked with Jim at Flyfishing in La Ribera about the 4 reels Smokey had given me. He suggested I throw 2 away and one spinning reel one trolling reel were usable. Clean them up and put line on them and they should be usable when I go fishing from the beach. He suggested mid-October through November as the best time to fish. August and September are great, but it is so hot that it makes fishing a chore.
I have been thinking about things in the states as our time comes to an end here. I have decided to make an appointment with Dr. Tewes in April to begin the process of knee replacement. If the insurance company says no I will look into a trip to Singapore and drop my insurance. why not live on the edge? Joanne will have to come to her own decision about insurance--pros and cons.

3/5 (David) Still windy. The wind has blown and blown the past 3 days. Huge dust clouds are going through town and across the roads when you drive. The sand of the Baja is on the move. The wind and dust have limited our adventures outdoors, so I have begun a project of cleaning and oiling the two reels that I kept; once I get them put back together. I might have line put on them, or do it myself.
We went to eat last night at La Trinidad. Smokey always comments that their food is great but too expensive. The food was great! Joanne had a fish platter, I had shrimp and Bird had a fillet mignon. The soup and salad bar were wonderful. The dinners were superbo and the strawberry cheesecake was excellent. It was perhaps one of the best dinners I have had. After the lobster on Magdalena Island and all the other food I have enjoyed here on the Baja I am afraid to see what the scale might say.
Some exercise will be in order when we return to Nebraska. For now I resolve to eat less while I am here.

(Joanne) Yesterday we called DeVonna Simpson, a Coldwall Banker realtor, and she took us to look at four properties in the area; 3 in La Ribera and 1 in Cabo Pulmo.
First was Casa Castro, a 3 bedroom home on a large corner lot with very nice landscaping. $290,000 US. A lovely home, but more than we require.
Next we looked at a row of apartments that is close to Bird's house. Four are finished, six more started. They sit on a bare city block. Each is a 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom with a small kitchen and a patio. $280,000 USD. They are new and nicely furnished, but we are not looking for a business. LasBrisas Apartments.
Next we drove to Cabo Pulmo to the National Park to look at Cabo Pulmo Casita #19, a studio casita in the Eco Resort of Cabo Beach Resorts. It is off the grid so uses solar panels and propane for electricity. It would be a good choice if you were into snorkeling and lots of outside beach activities. Short walk to the beach. But, it is very small, basically one large room with a bathroom. $115,000 USD. It is a 25-minutes drive from LaRibera. Six miles of the road is gravel and very bumpy and curvy.
Back to La Ribera to look at a fixer-upper, Casa Ramona. $35,000 USD. Two small bedrooms, 1 bath and the kitchen and living area in a separate building. I need a lot more imagination to figure out how we would fix it up!
If there would have been a property about half the size of Casa Castro and about $200,000 USD I may have been more interested.
Bird has offered to rent her upstairs to us as an apartment and that is the idea that makes the most sense. There are definite drawbacks: Eleven of them are barking right now.

3/6 (Joanne) Yesterday was too windy to do anything outside, unless you were a windsurfer. The sand and dirt were flying and the view toward Los Bariles was almost obscured by the haze of dirt in the air.
In the morning I went with Bird to buy items from the Veggie Man. He pulls up and parks at Cliff and Carol's and a lot gringos show up to buy fresh produce, eggs and tamales. We had fresh tamales for breakfast even though we thought we might never have to eat again after our supper at La Trinidad on Friday night.
The rest of the day we spent puttering around--Bird made some delicious strawberry ice cream for dessert and we had a chef salad for supper.
I am glad I brought a library book, a knitting project and a sewing project along for something to do.

3/7 (David) An eventful afternoon with Harold. We went sight seeing around the area. First we visited a cave in the arroyo at the Los Cuevas bridge. The cave was created by the floods in the arroyo during rainy season. There were nests of bees, bats and a watering hole for cattle, horses and local wildlife. Harold likes to drive around the area looking at local sights.
On to Santiago. We had visited this town on our trip last year to the hot springs. We went to a waterfall which is mostly dried up due to a lack of rain. The Mexican government has declared the sight an ecological treasure and has built guest houses and cooking areas for 8 families. Weekends and holidays are popular, but it was deserted when we visited. Beautiful place. Far off the beaten path.
Back to Santiago for dinner. Harold usually purchases a beer and when it is gone he stops at another store for a trade in. We had an excellent dinner and then visited Harold's casa--a two car garage and a camper. His garage houses a boat and SUV and a living area with table, chairs, cots, refrigerator and freezer. A real man cave! He is having an addition to the garage with a lean to constructed to cover his camper and space for outdoor dining and a cooking area.

3/8 (Joanne) Our last Baja sunrise for a while! Time to go home to Nebraska where the snow is falling again.
I am really glad we had the opportunity to visit Sol d mayo yesterday. It is west (and north?) of Santiago--an alternative tourist destination. There is a "secret" waterfall that we hiked to see. The flow of water was diminished because of low rainfall, but it was beautiful. I think I would like to stay in one of the casitas in the park.
Harold, Bird, Dave and I ate at Paloma, a restaurant in Santiago. We ate there a year ago when we were visiting. Good food. I can't say we have had a bad meal while we have been here.
Harold likes to take off and explore the back roads and arroyos so he knows lots of great stuff to go and check out. We told him several times he needs to start a tour guide service. Manly Dog Tours--look for it when you are in La Ribera!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Mexico Diaries, part 3

In the mangroves
3/1 (David) The whale watching and fishing surpassed all expectations that I had. Gabriele picked us up and we left in his panga (fishing boat) with a 60 HP Honda motor. We went in search of grey whales and found one who spent 2-3 minutes next to our boat with Bird and Joanne scratching him furiously. He wanted to rub his skin to remove some barnacles, so our panga was convenient for him. What a thrill! Next fishing at the mouth of the Bay. We caught a cozen barracuda and eventually arrived at a small fishing town with a restaurant that cooked our catch. We filleted 2 barracuda and had one cooked in garlic and butter and the other was battered and fried. Both were excellent. Tortillas, bean, cabbage and salsa made an excellent luncheon for the 5 of us. We stayed on the island overnight and had lobster for dinner. Before dinner we went beach combing for a couple hours and found lots of sand dollars and other shells. Gabriele has 2 Honda 4-wheelers and they were great fun to drive. Very comfortable and if I were to buy a 4-wheeler I think Honda would be a good choice. Joanne's birthday? one to remember!

(Joanne) Yes, it is a birthday to remember! We had a great breakfast at our motel and then went a few blocks to Gabriele's home where we parked our vehicles and climbed into the panga. G drove to the launching spot and we were on our way. First spot on the tour was the mangroves where thousands of birds were perched. Then we were off to check out bird island where thousands more birds sat and watched us go by. We saw cranes and egrets close to shore, and pelicans, cormorants, gulls and loons out on the water.
As we got closer to the mouth of the bay we saw whales spouting, and several more tour boats and pangas. We could see whales breaching the water and their tails slapping. G moved the boat a few times to get closer. As we moved through the water, all of us looking ahead, we heard a spouting whale right behind us. G cut the engine and the whale swam up to the side of the boat where we could touch her and she could scratch herself. We put our hands in her mouth, scratched her back and looked into her blow hole. I think awesome is the word I would use to describe the experience. G has a low whistle which we think helped keep her around for so long. She pushed the boat and came up under us and that was pretty exciting as well. The other tour boats came over to check it out, G kissed the whale, and then she was gone. Wow!
Next we put our fishing lines in the water and at the second spot we tried we were successful. All four of us hooked barracuda at the same time, keeping G very busy. We caught about 20 fish before going in. Smokey has a large barracuda on his line and a sea lion tried to take it. Actually the sea lion took off a big bite! The sea lion followed us after that, looking for more lunch.
Gabriele holding the barracuda taken from a sea lion

When we got to Magdalena city we stopped for lunch at Miramar restaurant where 2 of our barracuda were filleted and cooked for us. Very tasty!
The island was our destination for the evening. G went to prepare the beach house for our overnight stay while we finished our late lunch. We walked to the house and were pleasantly surprised. It was just right for our stay. Two ATV quads provided entertainment and transportation to the Pacific side of the island where we picked up shells and sand dollars and walked on the beach. It is a beautiful place. (But I do want to take a big trash bag and pick up litter next time!)
Beach house on Magdalena Island

Slept well after our lobster dinner. We also had ceviche made from our barracuda. Delicious! Sunrise found us on the front porch enjoying our coffee and watching whales and a sea lion. Perfect.
 G came and picked us up for a panga ride back. We saw a "feeding frenzy" on the bay as the pelicans went for sardina!

3/2 (David) Sunrise on Magdalena Bay was picturesque. We drank coffee, listened and watched for whales and watched for the sun. It broke the horizon and was fully visible within a minute. I don't recall the sunrise occurring that quickly in Seward. The whales never disappoint us. We watched them from the porch of G's home on the island. They were always there spouting and swimming the surface.
Smokey left for San Diego when we returned to Constitution as he has doctor's appointments at the VA Hospital. They are planning to put radioactive beads in his prostate to stop the cancer which is a pretty aggressive treatment. My friend Jimmy had the procedure done on his liver cancer but not successfully. Hope and pray that Smokey has better results.
The drive home was long but uneventful. Joanne drove from C. Constitution to La Paz and I drove from La Paz to La Ribera. We were all pretty worn out and after a chef's salad and a couple Modelo Lights we went to bed. Joanne reads before going to sleep. Pillow prop up her head and a small flashlight under her chin--that's the last sight I have before going to sleep.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

More Mexican Diary entries

2/26 (David) We met Harold, the local fishing guru. He loves to fish and enjoys telling stories about his exploits both on the sea and on the land. I think he could give a great tour of lots of interesting places on the Baja. He also knows a lot about the night life on the Baja. Joanne and Bird are working on the Animales y amigos fundraiser for Saturday, so Smokey and I worked on projects at Casa Azul. We ran the wire for his internet hook-up and fixed a screen door for the main room. Today we will pack for our trip to San Carlos where I am sure we will have a great time and hopefully will catch fish and see whales. I am in charge of the evening meal, so I plan to find the Super Pollo truck and purchase chicken dinners. Note: Bird cheats at Mexican Train.
(Joanne) It has been "Arts & Crafts" time for me as I have been working on decorating 2 large donation jars for the animal rescue group. Bird is very active in rescuing dogs, and the group has 2 events this weekend, a garage sale on Saturday morning and a vaccination clinic on Sunday morning. Right after the clinic ends we are heading for San Carlos, a five hour drive.
Today there is a road race involving cars and motorcycles that will be going through town. We may go check it out, but I think we will be able to hear it from the house. I have been able to check email every day. The weather at home sounds awful--ice and snow. Glad we are here!

2/27 (David) I am not sure that an ATV is the vehicle for me. I practiced on Bird's 4-wheeler for 20 minutes and then Joanne and I went for a drive around town. I haven't driven an ATV before, but I did have a motorcycle in the 70s. Not sure I could take more than 25-30 minutes on one as it is stressful on my hips and knees. The roads and intersections won't allow much more than 15-20 mph, so a wild ride at 40 - 50 with the wind blowing through your hair was out of the question.
No Super Pollo--the bus never arrived, so probably will order pizza and /or spaghetti from a local place. I would have to find a hobby or project if I were down here longer than a week or two as I feel an urge to accomplish something. Buying an 8-pack of Modelo and having a few beers doesn't qualify as a major project--although quite enjoyable. We will have to plan better for next week since Smokey will be in San Diego. I will have time on my hands to get some adventures planned and completed.

(Joanne) The big garage sale fund raising event was quite successful from the fund raising aspect. It was held at a home that is Se Vende (For Sale) in La Ribera. I heard $500,000 to $600,000 as the asking price. It is a beautiful 2-story, 5 bedroom, 5 bathroom home on 4 lots. Gorgeous patios and gardens. That started a conversation with Bird about buying property here, which ended with an offer by her to rent us their upstairs apartment.

2/28 (David) Happy birthday Joanne! I hope you have a great day whale watching, fishing, and staying on Magdalena Island over night. We had a long drive over mountains and desert to get to our destination. The trip from La Ribera to La Paz was less than 2 hours, but was mostly through mountain passes and up and down the cliffs. From La Paz to Constitution it was a straight shot over high plains down to the Pacific coast. We arrived in San Carlos at about 6:30 p.m. and found our hotel, a small establishment with 5 rooms to rent. The owner offered to cook us dinner and prepare huevos rancheros for breakfast. Our trip to the island will begin at 8 a.m. The town of San Carlos has grown considerably since Smokey and Bird were last here, 7,000. Lots of poverty with people living in 12 x 12 plywood shacks, but it seems each has a satellite dish on it. Our guide for today is Gabriele, and he has 2 boats and will be taking us in his smaller one, a 16 foot panga. He seems quite the businessman. Vanamous compadres!

(Joanne) I will celebrate my 62nd birthday with a boat trip/fishing expedition/whale watching adventure. We drove all afternoon to get to San Carolos where Bird and Smokey have a friend with a boat. We didn't leave until after 1:00 p.m. because Bird helped run an animal vaccination clinic in the morning. Dave got a good dose of Mexican driving, and did a good job. Our hotel is the Villa Isabella. It is very clean and well-maintained. The proprieter is a young woman who is helped by a cook and security guard. We ate a great chicken dinner for our supper. Bird and Smokey's friend Gabriele is a very personable young man. He is Jehovah Witness, very clean cut and polite. He and his wife have a beautiful home in the midst of a lot of poverty. Lots of hurricane damage has been repaired (from 2009) but there is more to fix.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Mexico Diaries

We spent 2 weeks in Mexico, Feb. 22 through March 8. While we were there Dave and I wrote in a journal almost every day. Here are some excerpts:
2/23 (Joanne) Here we are "home" in LaRibera with Bird and Smokey. We had a good trip. At the Houston Airport, "George Bush Intergalactic" as our pilot called it, we got to ride from the gate in terminal C to the gate in terminal E. The driver saw us walking, stopped and asked us where we needed to go. I think we are now officially old people--or at least we look like them. Bird picked us up at the airport, and off we went for our first fish taco of the trip, at a little stand half a mile from the airport. There are several changes at Casa Azul: a "cool pool" and a cistern, graveled patio areas (helps keep sand out of the house), a coffee pot in the guest quarters and new dogs, to name a few. The trees are growing, flowers look beautiful and the tangerines we just picked are tasty!
(David) Sunrise on the Sea of Cortez! What a great sight. I made coffee this a.m. and we are enjoying the view. The weather? Looks to be a great day and we will be going to Los Barriles. Last year we went once for dinner and entertainment by Jeanetti Spagetti, the singer. Bird and Smokey are planning a fishing trip on the Pacific side of the Baja. Also some whale watching is a good possibility. I've seen whales from a distance both times I've been here, but now a chance to get up close--sounds great but a little scary. Hopefully we will get lots of photo ops. It is easy to see why Smokey and Bird love it here. The views are great, and their home is so wonderful. The "guest house" where we stay is an upstairs apartment which I could be happy living in. Not a lot of room, yet it is so comfortable and has such great possibilities.

2/24 (David) Awoke to the sound of dogs defending the casa. Not sure what enemy, foreign or domestic was posing a threat to the casa, but we were well defended. Sight-seeing in Los Barriles was fun and we had an excellent lunch of chili rellenos. Lots fo the resorts up on the East Cape are struggling. The Ranchero Buena Vista has closed since we were here a year ago. It was a beautiful resort and I am saddened by the lose of places like it. The beach, pool, and apartments are not what the typical tourist is looking for today. The local worker earning 80 pesos per day ($7) cannot afford to stay there and American tourists are searching for arcades, waterparks, and high speed internet at their resorts of choice. We visited a veterinarian's office and a bakery on the way back from Los Barriles. Interesting people--Smokey and Bird really know lots of local people. They try to help local businesses and quality of life issues quite a bit. They are good people.
(Joanne) We stayed up late (after 10:00 p.m.!) last night, playing the domino game "Mexican Train." It is a fun, easy game to play; Bird and Smokey taught it to us last year. We will probably play the card game "Golf" a few times while are are here also. We enjoyed our lu nch and sightseeing in Los Barilles yesterday. I bought a silver bracelet and we did a quick look around a real estate office where Bird's friend Pam works. We toy with the idea of spending more time here, but we have a good set-up staying with Bird and Smokey, so we don't need to buy a house! But it is still fun to think about it :) The usual five dogs are here: Amiga, Blanca, Chui, Nubi and Dori. Also present: Maggie and her four puppies. Maggie was spayed yesterday and Bird may have a home lined up for her on another home for one of the puppies, so 3 to go!

2/25 (David) Yesterday Smokey taught me how to make fishing rigs for deep sea fishing. I have never fixed up rigs for ocean fishing, so it was interesting and I produced several. Let's see if they work on our fishing trip.  I went to a fishing tackle store yesterday and met Jim, the owner of the shop. He is in a wheelchair and is a very soft spoken, articulate man. He was very interesting and knowledgeable about his craft. He asked if we would give him a report on fish caught and equipment used when we return from San Carlos. Smokey is going on to San Diego after the fishing trip, so I look forward to going to visit with Jim again.
(Joanne) We had really windy weather here yesterday which postponed our plan of taking the dogs to the beach. Instead we worked on a project for Amigos de Animales, Bird's group that rescues stray dogs and cats. They are holding a garage/bake sale this Saturday. Bird and I took some donations over to Betty, who will price everything. I have not seen stray cats in La Ribera, just lots of stray dogs. Now I know why; they are all living at Betty's casa--13 or so. Bird and I returned Maggie to the vet in Las Cuevas because she pulled out some of her stitches from her neutering surgery. We will have to go get her this morning--good thing too because her puppies miss her. I went with Bird to Happy Hour (Thursday version) and met several of her friends, some of whom I had met on previous trips. Bird mentioned that we will be celebrating our birthdays and that she will be 16 next Leap Year. I believe a "Sweet 16" party is already in the planning stages!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Fallbrook House

Dave and I have been members at the Fallbrook YMCA since last October. We try to go two or three times to the Water Fit class, and have decided that when we get back from our Mexico trip we will be ready to try another class, or go off on our own to the weights, etc. I think I would like to have some sessions with a personal trainer.
Anyway, as we drive into the Fallbrook subdivision I always admire the homes. There is a lot of variety in the designs, and the way the subdivision is planned is also appealing to me. The houses have an alley behind them so the garages are in the back, reminiscent of the neighborhoods of my youth. Many of the homes have front porches as well as decks--I like a front porch.
Several weeks ago as we drove around after our workout we spotted a house with a For Sale sign--there are not very many of those in Fallbrook. One Sunday as we were driving back from Omaha and right by Fallbrook we decided to see if there was an open house still going on. Sure enough, we got in there just in time. As we were walking through the home I knew it was too big for us. Also, it is on a corner lot (more snow removal) and the master bedroom is on the second floor (probably should look for something all on one level!). But, it is a beautiful home. I was surprised to hear Dave making inquiries as to the price, taxes, age of the home, etc. He likes it too.
I can't stop thinking about that house. Impractical. We would have a lot to do before we could sell our house. But still . . .

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Back to the Library

It was time to return books to the library yesterday and there are two I meant to write about from the bunch I had at home. Now they are gone, but I will try (with a lot of help from to write about them.)
The first is The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin. This is a carefully researched book--Rubin takes notes on everything she reads and eventually uses the notes in her books. She was not an unhappy person when she started the project, but definitely thought she could be happier. And, by the end of the year of making and keeping "happiness" resolutions, she is happier. She also has a blog where a lot of this material is available. I became a happier person because I read this book--and you could too!
The next book is The Survivor's Club: The Secrets and Science that could Save Your Life by Ben Sherwood. (Have you noticed that I read a lot of non-fiction?) According to Sherwood, two questions are central to this book. What does it really take to survive a catastrophic event and what kind of survivor are you? Lots of examples and stories of survival--really interesting and fascinating. One of the most interesting questions for me was why more people don't survive? The last section of the book will help you determine if you have what it takes to be a member of this club.
I recommend both of these books!
We are caring for our two grandsons while their parents are on vacation this week. They both picked out books to bring home. Sam is now reading chapter books, and Austin can read the beginning level readers. It is fun for me to see them reading.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Skin Cancer

I have had a scare in this new year. Sometime in December I noticed a strange spot on my right shoulder, right where my shoulder goes from pointing straight out to where it changes into my arm. This spot resembled a pimple, or maybe a boil (but I am not sure what a boil looks like), or some type of infection. I attempted to squeeze it thinking it probably was a pimple and that it would 'pop' and then would heal and not bother me. It would not squeeze--it just hurt when I did that. Next I tried applying hot packs thinking this would 'bring it to a head'. This did not work either. My sister-in-law looked at it when she was here for Christmas and said I should have it looked at, sooner rather than later. Christmas and New Year intervened as well as a few other things to do and then I went to see my doctor on January 14, a Friday afternoon. She looked at it, said "It looks like skin cancer. Come back on Tuesday and we will take it off." That was kind of scary, and I thought her manner was a tad abrupt.
So I went back the next week and she removed the spot, which by this time had grown a bit. It required five stitches to close the wound, and when the deadening stuff wore off, it hurt a lot. Three days later I got the call from her nurse telling me it was squamous cell cancer, probably caused by sun damage. The good news was that it was not melanoma.
The stitched were removed after one week and sterile-strips plastered over the incision so it wouldn't open up again. Today is two weeks since the incision was made and the sterile-strips are gone, but my shoulder still hurts.
While I was having the sutures removed I asked Dr. Froehner to look at my nose which has a red spot on it. She  told me it as pre-cancerous and 'froze' it. I am waiting for the peeling to stop, but I think I will have to go back and have her do it again.
We are going to Mexico in 3 weeks and I think I will wear a hat, long sleeves and sit in the shade. Sigh , , ,

Monday, January 24, 2011


Last fall I decided that I would make quilts for my grandchildren's birthdays, and possibly for children and in-laws. So far I am not too far behind. I made a doggy-themed quilt for Natalie's 2nd birthday in November. Next I made a flannel quilt for my son-in-law for his December birthday. He told me a few times how much he liked the flannel quilt I made for Dave a few years ago, and I have a hard time thinking of a good birthday gift for him, so, when I saw a flannel quilt kit that looked fairly masculine I bought it. Next came Maggie's December birthday and since she likes frogs I found a kit which had frogs prominently featured. These three quilts were well-received, so I was encouraged to keep going with this idea.

Liz had a January birthday and I have a quilt top finished, but have to find backing for it before I can finish it. I did check with her before I started another quilt just in case she wanted something else. I should be able to finish her quilt this week, just a few weeks late. Shelby and Jill have February birthdays and I have a good start on Jill's quilt, but have to shop for Shelby. Jill suggested cats, so that is what I will look for.

Mark lives in Phoenix and I don't think he needs a quilt (didn't ask him though--maybe he does???), so I am not making one for his January birthday. I have a plan for Sam's quilt which won't need to be finished until July, and that just leaves Austin in June.

Whew! What was I thinking?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

No Time on my Hands

Well, actually I have quite a bit of time on my hands, and so I spend a lot of time reading. No Time on my Hands is a book I read in December, a book loaned to me by my daughter-in-law, Jill. The book is by Grace Snyder, as told to Nellie Snyder Yost. I really enjoyed this book about an amazing woman, Grace Snyder. She was born in Missouri, and moved with her family to homestead on the high plains of Nebraska in 1885 when she was a small child. One review I read described the book as "Little House on the Prairie" for grown-ups, and that is probably pretty accurate.

When she was 80 years old Grace Snyder told the story of her life to her daughter, who (thankfully for us!) wrote it all down. It was a fascinating tale of the hard life of those who settled here in Nebraska. The family faced droughts, prairie fires, and hard times, as well as the fun and satisfaction of working together as a family. Grace told Nellie she was blessed by having "no time on my hands." As a seven-year old she had three dreams for her life: that she would marry a cowboy, look down on the clouds, and make the most beautiful quilts in the world. All three dreams came true for Grace.

Grace went on to live another 20 years and the edition I read included an epilogue of her final years. Her quilts have been in shows all over the US. Mollie Newman interviewed Grace in 1982 as part of her preparation to write the musical Quilters.

Another book I read in December was 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. The reason I picked up this book at the library was because of the sub-title: Escape nine to five, live anywhere and join the new rich. It was "live anywhere" phrase that caught my eye. I am not currently employed, nor do I wish to be, so the 4 hour work week doesn't apply to me, but it was really interesting to read about. the author explains how he did this, and actually got more work done. It does involve outsourcing, never attending meetings, and cutting way back on phone calls and unnecessary emails. Tim's philosophy is that you should not work all your life saving for retirement and then do something fun and/or interesting. It is about lifestyle design. Figure out what you want to do during a mini-retirement and then go for it. There are lots of strategies for generating income to finance your mini-retirement, lots of stories from people who have done this and are living this lifestyle. Also, you do not really need to be rich to go live some place exotic for 3 to 6 months, you just have to know how to plan for it and find the bargains. You can live like the rich without being rich.

One reason this is appealing to me right now is because we are in Nebraska in the winter, yet again. I want to be some place where it is warm. Dave and I are also feeling tied down because we feel like it is wrong to leave for any length of time (two weeks is our maximum right now) because his Mom might need us. That makes any kind of trip sound like a great adventure. We started helping my mom in 1998 when she had heart surgery and then a stroke, then added Eleanor in 2004 one month after my mom died. My aunt Marge was here for the last 2 years of her life. It is a lot of taking care of little old ladies, and it is taking its toll.

No time on my Hands and 4 Hour Work Week are almost complete opposites, but I found both very interesting to read. By the way you can read most of the 4 Hour Work Week on the Blog. You will have to get past the 4 Hour Body (his current best seller), but most of it is there--for free.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Bonus Day

Thanks to Allegiant Air Mark had an extra day here in Nebraska. Dave drove him to the airport in Grand Island to catch his 7:55 p.m. flight on January 3, dropped him off  and came home. About 8:40 p.m. Mark phoned and told us that the flight had been canceled! He was very disappointed. They were handing out hotel vouchers, but his flight wouldn't be for another 22 hours so he didn't want to stay. Dave and I hopped in the car and drove back to Grand Island to pick him up, getting there about 10:00 p.m. and back home about 11:30.
The good news is that today he got to spend time with his nieces at the Children's Museum in Lincoln. It was Maggie's last day of Christmas vacation so her Mom was looking for something special to do. Mark and Dave met them this morning and had a great time.
Mark was able to print a boarding pass for today's flight on our printer, and then off we went. We got to Grand Island a little early, so had time to eat an early supper at El Torro, our new favorite restaurant. Well, maybe not the favorite, but a new favorite, and Mark should be home very soon.