December 27, 2014

R 'n R For Us

There's nothing quite as peaceful and rejuvenating as taking time off!

Time off from our normal routine of work, gym, sleep and do it all over again has been wonderful.  Ron and Alex have been playing video games the past two days while I have been reading my favorite blogs on the laptop and books on Kindle.

Roladin: a family favorite
Of course we still have to eat, so I brought along a few recipes that are family favorites.  I'll leave the copies with Alex.  He prefers not to cook, but eventually he may want to cook them for a special lady...

We have also enjoyed our time by playing board games and card games.  A few months back Jessica and Mike introduced us to an online game called Catan.  The game is a mixture of luck and strategy: always a winning combination.   Alex has the board game, so we spent 2-3 hours playing it Christmas Day. 

Alex (green) is beating us!
Not wanting to totally skip the gym, Ron and I went to the local Planet Fitness yesterday.  We have a membership that allows us to visit other gym locations throughout the country.  When I was here in 2012, I had to drive nearly 40 minutes to get to the gym.  Now there is a newer gym just 12 minutes away.  After our workout we used the HydroBed massage bed.  The name says it all: it's a bed with pulsating water jets which travel the length of the bed massaging your entire body.  It has controls to adjust the water pressure, speed of travel and area of travel.  What a great way to finish up a workout!  We definitely need one or two of these at our home gym...

view out the front door
Today we woke up to whiteness everywhere and more still falling.  Yep, it's SNOWING!!!  It's a rare treat for us.  The forecast dictates that our planned day of departure, Monday, is when the next arctic blast of cold air will start making it's way south.  We should be past the high mountain passes before it gets too far south.  By Wednesday next week, Alex will be looking at a high of 27 degrees.  Good thing he still has another couple weeks of vacation time.      

The time here is flying by and soon we'll be loading up the rental car and driving 1654 miles back to our home.  But for now, we'll enjoy ourselves, drink a few more beers, be lazy, play more games and enjoy the company of our son.

December 24, 2014

Road Trip & Precious Cargo

Rocky and I began our road trip this past Sunday.  Rocky, a nervous traveler, was in his carrier in the front passenger floor area so he could see me.

my precious cargo

Our overall trip, door to door, was 1654 miles!  According to yahoo maps the driving time is near 24 hours.  Even big rig drivers need a break after a certain amount of hours.  I've done this drive once before so I knew where good breaks would be. 

Day 1: Citrus Heights, CA to Needles, CA
Date: Sunday, Dec 21
Drive Time: 8 1/2 hours
Distance: 562 miles

I decided to rent a car for the drive.  Why add 3300 miles to my Camry that already has 171K miles on it?  The rental car is a Toyota Yaris.  Not much room, but it was enough...

Leaving the house at 10am, it was an hour later than I would have liked.  With a full day of driving ahead, every minute counted.  The day was overcast.  I actually didn't see the sun for the entire day.  Going over Tehachapi Pass there was some dense fog for a short time.  When the fog cleared a bit, I saw the huge wind mills.  The area hosts a multitude of wind farms, comprising one of California's largest wind resource areas.  The power generated is exported to other areas of California.  Other well-known wind turbine locations in California include the Altamont Pass Wind Farm, in Central California and the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm, near Palm Springs.

forecast: cloudy with patches of dense fog

We arrived in Needles around 7pm.  The first hotel I stopped at wanted $99 for the night.  I wasn't willing to spend that much so I went to the cheap hotel across the street advertising rooms for $40.  Trust me, spend a few extra dollars!  I had noisy neighbors, a scared cat and a dirty shower...

Day 2: Needles, CA to Albuquerque, NM
Date: Monday, Dec 22
Drive Time: 7 1/4 hours
Distance: 530 miles

On the road by 8:15, I knew I'd have an easier driving day.  The sky was blue with wispy clouds.  Driving along highway 40 through New Mexico, the landscape changed for the better.  The desert is sparse with out croppings of colorful mountain plateaus.

gorgeous view out the side window
I had been talking with Ron on the phone during the day, using blue tooth of course.  I asked him to find a hotel for me in Albuquerque that would be better than my previous night of nearly no sleep.  We arrived at the hotel around 5:30pm.  Rocky was quite nervous so I decided to stay in and eat an earlier purchased snack as my dinner.  After the football game was over I was ready to call it a night.  Boy, did I sleep good.  The alarm rang too early...   

Day 3: Albuquerque, NM to Moore, OK
Date: Tuesday, Dec 23
Drive Time: 7 3/4 hours
Distance: 562 miles

You don't realize the elevation increase while driving through the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico.  Albuquerque sits at an elevation of 5312 feet.  Another realization is that it gets quite cold at the higher altitudes.  Loading the car at 9am, the outside temperature was 30 degrees.  Brrr 

Upon leaving the town, the highway travels through the Sandia Mountains.  The highway was fairly dry but there were snow patches all around.  It was also very windy and the snow was blowing across the freeway as I drove.  This was a first for me.  It was a mostly white knuckle drive for the first half of the day.

I'm not sure if it was in New Mexico or Texas when I stopped at a highway rest area.  The building itself was quite large.  It even had two tornado shelters in it, one on each end of the building.

one of the nicest rest stops I can remember

Rocky and I arrived at Alex's house just past 6:30pm.  My precious cargo was delivered safe and sound.  Rocky is glad to be home where he can rest in front of the fire and play with his favorite toys.

Rocky enjoys the warmth of the fireplace

Date: Wednesday, Dec 24

Ron arrived in Oklahoma via airplane tonight.  We'll spend Christmas and a few days more here with Alex and Rocky before making the drive home together.        

December 19, 2014

Sad, Sad Day

We knew it was inevitable...
We know pets are only here for a short time...
We loved him dearly...
How could he be gone so quickly?

Apollo is gone from this world. but he waits for us in the next.  He waits at the Rainbow Bridge.  He waits with his brothers and sisters that we've had the pleasure of loving the last 30 or so years.  He waits with Bridgette, Bear, Keesha, Thunder, Zeus and Sampson.  To them, it's a short wait...  To us, it's a life time...

Gotta get that itch!

wanna play?

Ron and I at 50 years each! Oct 2013

 at the beach with Alex, Dec 2010

sunset silhouette, Dec 2010

Fort Funston, SF, Aug 2011

running in the river

he loved the water, as long as his feet touch ground...

if you toss it, I will fetch it!

Rest In Peace dear, dear Apollo

December 8, 2014

Rocky's Upcoming Adventure

I like to lay down in somewhat inconspicuous spots

Let me introduce myself.  My name is Rocky.  Rene' and I will be taking a trip together soon and she thought I might like to share my thoughts on this by answering a few questions.

Q: Who owns you?
A: My human, Alex, thinks he owns me.  The opposite is true, of course, as ALL humans are owned by the felines in their home!

Q: Why the name Rocky?
A: The truth is I had a rocky kittenhood.  I was abandoned and dropped off at a shelter.  I put notices on the internet trying to find a great human and Alex saw the ad.  So my name became Rocky. 

Q: Why are you here?
A: Some of your readers may already know that my human is in the Air Force and he's deployed far, far away right now.  Our home is in Oklahoma but I like to visit with my grand-humans from time to time.  It's too bad that Ron is allergic to me :-(  As a result, I am staying with my friend, Domino, and her human, Charles, for now.  Rene' visits me here and brings us toys.
Domino and I like to take naps on Charles' chair

Q: How do you plan do get home to Oklahoma?
A: Alex brought me here in a big, noisy airplane.  I was so uncomfortable under the seat.  Don't get me wrong, I like the smell of Alex's feet, but there were other smells and strange sounds and I was a little bit nervous and scared.  So, Rene' agreed to drive me home :-)
perfect size home for yours truly, and Alex too I suppose...
Q: What do you like to do during your days?
A: When Domino and I first met in 2012, we weren't too sure about each other.  She thought she was the queen of the household.  Ha, I fooled her.  Once I familiarized myself with the lay of the house, it was easy to claim which furniture I was going to be taking over.  She thought she got rid of me that fall, but I've been back since July.  But I digress.  In answer to the question, I enjoy naps, playing with the toys Rene' brings, jumping on the computer stand and getting scratched behind the ears.

Q: When will you and Rene' begin your adventure?
A: I would like to be back home just after Alex arrives.  In order to accomplish this we plan to leave in a couple of weeks.  The only change would be if Alex does not return as soon as he hopes.
peek-a-boo, I see you
 Q: What do you miss most about Oklahoma?
A: I miss my favorite toys.  I have three scratching poles, a tunnel, boxes to hide inside of, crinkled paper tubes, beer bottle tops and so many other toys.  I like to spread them all over the house, but Alex will ruin the set up I have and put them back in the toy box.  I also miss Alex.  He scratches my tummy.  That's one thing I won't let anyone else do.
I really like the tummy scratches!
Q: Did you enjoy your time here in California?
A: Yes, I did.  I think Domino did a great job of keeping me entertained.  She has a fun side to her that I will remember long after the car pulls out of the driveway.  I think I may just come for a third visit one day :-)


December 3, 2014

We Need More Days Like Today!

California has had a very dry year (or two) lately.  We could use more rainy days like today. 

Our lake water levels are quite low.  Our local Folsom Lake is currently at 29% capacity.  After looking at the CDEC chart I see that some water sources are as low as 4%.  The highest is at 98%.  My aunt and uncle live just outside of Yosemite and their well water comes from Lake McClure which is currently at 7%.  Yikes! 

Although we did get a fair share of the rain today, our house is safe and dry.  Years ago Ron put in drainage in the back yard at key points.  So now the rain water flows through piping along the back walkway to the side yard out to the curb and also under the kennel to the curb on the opposite side of the house.

According to our very crude water gauge (AKA a home depot 5 gallon bucket) we've received a little over 3" of rain since Monday afternoon.  We have the bucket set in an area where the house and tree aren't directly over it.

Hopefully California can recover from the water shortage soon!  For now, I'll take all the rain the clouds can drop...
rainbow from the font porch


November 27, 2014

Be Careful What You Wish For...


Last month I wrote about how I was waiting for fall to arrive.  Well, it's officially here and I have a backyard full of leaves to prove it...

leaves everywhere...

you can't even see the decorative rocks

In the last six weeks the yard has gone from relatively leaf free to covered in leaves.  There are leaves on the patio, leaves on the terrace, leaves in the planter areas, more leaves on the walkway and the side yard too!

There have been a few rainy days recently and the leaves came toppling down from our giant Sawleaf Zelkova tree with the accompanying wind.  We planted the tree when we first moved here.  We had no idea just how big it would get...

my tools for the task
The weather today was perfect for the task of getting the leaves into the green waste can.  Ron and I got started mid-morning.  Ron's primary job is to use the leaf blower and make piles for me to put into the can.  With a rake and shovel I can get the job done quite easily.
Ron makes leaf piles for me to collect

The job has two phases.  The first phase is to make big piles out of the leaves on the patio, terrace and lawn.  The second phase is to make piles with whatever is left on the terrace, in the planter areas and the side yard.    

it's getting there...

After two hours laboring over the leaves we were ready for lunch.

But we weren't done just yet.  All of those leaves had to go somewhere.  One of my jobs is to also 'compact' the leaves in the can.  
compacting the leaves to make room for more
Even as a child, one of my favorite jobs was to climb into the can and squish down the leaves.  After three sessions of squashing the leaves, our green waste can was full to the brim.  We still had more leaves to collect.  Luckily, our neighbor's can was empty.

Now our yard is ready for the upcoming predicted weekend storms.  We also put away the umbrellas and glass table tops.
no more leaves, at least for now...

job security!

However, the tree is still covered with leaves so I know we'll be back out doing this all over again in another 4-5 weeks.  And so goes the cycle...  

November 19, 2014

Not Our Usual Weekend

Ron and I are still working full-time running our plastic business.  Weekends are our time to catch up, relax and enjoy life away from the shop. 

Sometimes, however, I go into the shop on a Saturday to work on the books.  Saturdays are a favorite day to be there because it's quiet.  The phones don't ring often and we rarely get foot traffic.  I tend to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time.

This past Saturday I had planned to go and get caught up on paperwork.  I was just about to leave when Ron notices a huge bump on our dog's front paw.  Apollo is getting old, he's 9 1/2, and his arthritis is getting quite noticeable.  He licks at his wrist and the licking causes small raw patches.

Usually it isn't a big deal.  We try to keep an eye on his licking but apparently he did a number on the area overnight while we slept.

poor guy...

 I immediately called the vet and made an appointment for the same day.  It was a good visit-except for the bill.  Apollo has lost 15 pounds.  He's gone from a high of 147 down to 132.  The staff love Apollo and he loves to get the extra attention.

The course of treatment was to make a small incision to let the blood ooze out, keep the area moistened to prevent it from scabbing up too quickly, warm compresses twice per day, antibiotics and a pain reliever for the arthritis.  We had a follow up appointment scheduled for a few days later on Tuesday.

Apollo caught the clamp

Another benefit of owning our business is that we can take Apollo to work with us.  A favorite game of his is when we place a clamp on his collar and he chases it trying to get it in his mouth.  He's gotten quite good at this game.

Tuesday afternoon came quickly and Ron took him in for his check up.  The technician said everything is looking good and to keep up what we're doing.  He goes back on Saturday for hopefully the last time in this round of visits.  He's a great dog and likely our last one.  We want to keep him as long as we can!

Here's a short video of Apollo playing Chase The Clamp!

He's just a big, happy boy!


November 11, 2014

Happy Veteran's Day!

Veteran's Day used to simply be a day off of school for my kiddos.  We would sometimes close the shop and go do something fun.  Or we'd be lazy and sleep in, relaxing at home for the rest of the day.  There were no veterans in my life or Ron's life.  My in-laws immigrated to the US when they were adults.  My dad never mentioned that he was a vet.  Nope, no one to honor for this small family.
What was I thinking?!

My whole perspective on Veteran's Day changed in 2009 when Alex joined the Air Force.  He signed up while in his last year of college.  With his degree he would automatically begin his career as an officer.

tears all around, kisses and hugs too

So on a sad day in September 2009, we said our good byes.  Alex drove himself to our shop before departing on his solo journey to Maxwell AFB in Alabama.  He brought all he would need for the trek across country. 

Now we were officially empty nesters...  But that's a whole other story.

Alex graduated BOT (basic officer training) a few months later in December.  Of course, we HAD to be there!  Alex had a whole support group when he received his first stripes as a 2nd Lieutenant.  His best friend, Brad, flew with us from California.  Ron's folks flew in too.  Jessica even flew in from Maryland to support him.
L-R: Rene', Brad, Jessica, Guenther, Alex, Erika, Ron
saying his oath
Oma and Opa putting his stripes on his shirt

Once Alex had completed his basic officer training it was on to his next assignment and more training.  His job in the Air Force is Air Battle Manager.  He needed additional training.  This required another move.  This time he was going to sunny Florida.  His home base was now Tyndall AFB on the Florida pan handle.  Poor guy had to work at a base located on the beach!

happy graduate

When he graduated ABM training it was once again in the middle of winter.  Again, we flew to be there for this special occasion.  This trip was not as uneventful as we had hoped.  Our lay over was in Atlanta and they were experiencing a rare ice storm.  Our luggage was misplaced.  We missed the formal dinner.  We were a day late but luckily made it to his graduation ceremony.

Alex has been on one deployment already.  He had a very nice first assignment.  He went to the island of Curacao to do surveillance missions.  

He is currently serving his second deployment in the desert, far, far away.  Hopefully he'll be home in time for Christmas this year. 

My view on Veteran's Day certainly has changed since Alex decided to give his life to serve the country we call home.  I will forever be in his debt.  I'm one proud Mom!
My Hero!

October 26, 2014

Halloween Through The Years

My childhood memories:

I can still remember my mom making my sister, Suzie, and I matching Halloween costumes.  She labored for weeks.  First deciding on a pattern.  Then picking fabric, thread and notions. I was maybe 6 or 7.  We were dressed as regal princesses, if my memory serves me well.  That was a very long time ago...  I know she took a photo and I hope she still has it.  It would be great to look at her old photos one day.

It was usually Dad who walked the neighborhood with us.  Mom would stay home and pass candy out to the kids who rang our doorbell.  I remember one time we had already finished our rounds with Dad.  And Mom had run out of candy.  There was a group at the door and she took some of OUR candy and passed it out.  How could she do that?!

Blue Lady
As a teenager, I didn't go out and ring doorbells anymore.  I was the candy passer-outer.  I didn't get invites to parties and I was fine with that.  We were still new in the neighborhood and most of the kids had lived there a long time and had grown up together.  I was the new one in town.

One of my first jobs was at the local drugstore, Longs Drugs.  I worked in the photo department.  Remember when photos were on film and had to be developed?  Our store celebrated the holiday like most other retail establishments: staff could wear a costume if they chose to.  One Halloween I dressed as "Blue Lady".  No, it wasn't the fad at the time.  I was just dressed in everything blue: pants, shirt, hat, hair, jewelry, makeup...

My adulthood memories:


The favorite TV and movie cartoon when Alex was 5 years old was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  He was so excited when Ron and I made him his very own turtle shell.  It took us a good two or three weeks to make it.  The shell was made from plaster of paris and newspaper.  Then it was painted.  We made both a front and a back shell.  I made elbow and knee pads, a mask, a belt and the sash that wrapped around both shells using my sewing machine.  He had so much fun wearing his costume.  Ron took him around the neighborhood while I passed out candy.  Jessica was just 1 1/2, too young for trick or treating.

Fairy Wizard

Jessica was 3 1/2 when she too got to wear a home-made costume.  I saw this idea in one the parenting magazines I subscribed to at the time.  The skirt, cape and hat were cut from a sheet.  The stars were cut from various other fabrics and simply sewn on at the tips.  The end of the hat is a piece of tulle.  This year we went trick or treating with two other families.  I got to walk with them.  Fun times!

What a treat for Ron and I to be able to make a costume for each of our kiddos. 

My most recent memories:

Ron and I are empty nesters but that doesn't mean we don't enjoy children dressing up, ringing our doorbell and giving them a sweet treat to enjoy.  We don't decorate our house, so here are a few photos of the houses in the neighborhood.

What are some of your favorite memories from years past or years recent?  Do you decorate your house?  I hope your Halloween isn't too scary or full of miniature zombies... LOL