Sunday, May 20, 2018

Week 126, 5-20-2018

Thoughts and Quotes: My Stress Relief Method: I always have a list of things I can't seem to get finished. I've started choosing one thing from the list each day and making that a priority. The feeling of relief I get from finishing that one item seems to push everything else out of my mind so that I'm not stressed, knowing that I'll tackle another item on my list the next day. Try it.

Sometimes you're so happy about your accomplishment, you decide to finish another item on your list that same day. Works for me.

The Pepper and Pals Report: Nothing new here. I've been letting Stormy go outside when she wishes. If she can hear me, she comes when I call. If she's out wandering, I just wait and call her again later. I even let Pepper out in the backyard if I'm working out there. He's too fat and clumsy to fit under the fence, so I don't worry that he'll get out. BJ is looking thinner than a week ago. She might have a new family. Now I'm afraid to try the trap because she might be nursing. I hope not. Of her last litter of five, only one (Veronica) made it to adulthood. Just too many predators around here.

If I don't report on the kitties, someone always mentions that they missed hearing about them, so since there's nothing new, I thought I'd share Stormy's story with you. This is the letter she took with her when I took her to the Humane Society.

December 5, 2017


My name is Stormy Weather. I’ve been living with Aunt Patsy. That’s what all the feral kitties call her. She feeds them and tries to trap them to have them neutered or spayed.

One day a gray and yellow mottled kitty came to eat. Aunt Patsy asked the neighbors where she came from. They started calling her The Mystery Cat, and then she became Mysty. She was my mother. One day she showed up with me and my sibling. Aunt Patsy said, “Well, here’s the Weather family, Misty, Stormy, and Sunny.”  She said that my mother looked like fog and mist (and she’d already been calling her Mysty), and I was dark striped and my litter mate yellow striped, so it was natural that we should be Stormy and Sunny.

My mother disappeared first. Then Sunny went missing. I was all alone. Midnight and BJ had been eating at Aunt Patsy’s for a long time, and they were all grown up.  They didn’t want me to eat with them. They hissed at me and chased me away.

Then Aunt Patsy started opening the screen door so I could go in the screened patio to eat. I wasn’t afraid of her and I was hungry. I’d go eat breakfast and then she would open the screen so I could go out. Then I’d come for dinner and she’d let me in.

When the weather turned cold and rainy, she put a pet taxi with some blankets in the screened patio, and I slept there. I liked it a lot. I had my own potty box and food and water and then I could go out and play during the day. When it got hot, I started napping there in the pet taxi. When Aunt Patsy opened the sliding door to the patio, I’d run out of my pet taxi. I didn’t know what she was going to do to me.

Then one day I didn’t show up for breakfast or dinner. I came for breakfast the next day, but only ate one bite and went in the pet taxi and went to bed. Aunt Patsy thought something was wrong, so she zipped me up and took me to Dr. Davis. It turned out that I had a big kitten inside and I was trying to abort it because it had died, but I couldn’t. I’m a tiny girl and I guess it was just too big. Dr. Davis said that I might not survive the surgery, but I did, and now I can’t have babies. That was on June 26, 2017.

Aunt Patsy wouldn’t let me out of the patio for awhile after my surgery, and by then I’d decided that people are pretty nice and not out to hurt me. I started rubbing against her legs and then she rubbed my head and I liked it. The weather was heating up and Aunt Patsy let me come in the house where it was air conditioned. I liked it so much, I decided to move in. Pepper lives with Aunt Patsy and he didn’t like me at first, but then we became friends.

Pepper was badly injured in July of 2016 (we think the silly boy got up in a car engine). He needs special care now and probably can’t be adopted, so Aunt Patsy said he could just live with her as long she can take care of him. She’s going to be 80 years old next March, and she said that I should have a forever home with a new family because she might not be around to take care of me my entire life.

I hope you’ll consider adopting me because I’m a very neat kitty. I don’t push my food out of the bowl and scratch litter all over the bathroom like Pepper does. When Aunt Patsy tells me to move or get back away from the door, I mind her. And I’m a good girl and use my scratching post.

I like being held and petted but not for long periods of time. My head starts going down off your lap and then I just sort of melt and run off. Sometimes I want to go play, and sometimes I just want to sleep at your feet. I love being rubbed under my chin, but I really don’t like having my tummy touched. Sometimes I sneak in the bedroom and sleep with Aunt Patsy. When she wakes up, she tells me what a good bed buddy I am because I don’t wake her – I just snuggle down and sleep.

Well, that’s about all I can tell you about myself. I hope this will help you make a decision.

                                                            Respectfully, Stormy

P.S. Aunt Patsy took me to the Humane Society so they could find me a new home. I didn’t want to go to a new home. When the lady reached in to take me out of the carrier, I scratched her, and she said she wouldn’t take me. I got to come back with Aunt Patsy, and she said that Pepper could keep me.

P.S.S. I don't get to sneak into bed with Aunt Patsy anymore. I started licking her face in the night and trying to sleep on top of her, and now I get closed out of the bedroom. Pepper and I keep each other company, so I'm okay with it. Sometimes I get to go in first thing in the morning and snuggle a little before breakfast.

Tasting: A new Asian buffet called The Mikado moved into the old Ryan's building on Campbell. Nancy and I tried it Saturday. I've never seen such variety and the waitress said they have even more at dinner time - mainly seafood.

Salad and fruit

Hot items

If raw seafood is your thing, they have sushi.

Or if you prefer raw meat, the roast beef looks like it just had a quick pass through under the broiler.

You can choose your items for stir-fry.

And, of course, desserts.

There were also four different soups, which were in covered kettles, so no photos.

Live fish, just for show, I hope.

And a "jade" fish (which I think was resin).

And a bubble wall which changes colors.

On the plus side, there's a wide selection and the price is surprising - $8.69 for lunch with 10% discount for seniors and $15.99 for dinner with added selections, mostly seafood. There's a senior happy hour on Tuesday from 3:30 to 6:00 when the price is 50% off.

On the downside, the food doesn't get high ratings for taste, but with the wide selection, I'm sure you can find some things you like. 

Tidbits: When I left my subdivision on Saturday, this caravan had stopped right at our entrance.

My guess is that one broke down, so they all stopped.

Thrifting: We wanted to go to the dollar store and there's a thrift shop right next door, so we stopped in. and I found the four glasses for my niece's tea at 50 cents each.

And three of these to add to my collection in the garage at $1 each. They're just the right size for individual tarts, side salads, whatever.

And a smaller-sized pitcher for $2.50.

Candles for $1 total.

And earrings for $1.

And when we got to the dollar store, I found some perfect organizers for $1 each. I bought two and they work so well, I'm going to go back and get enough for all my earrings. They're supposed to be for hardware.

Things that Grow: My peonies looked so pretty, I just had to cut some for the house. My cousin is probably up there frowning down on me, because she thought flowers should be left in the yard. 

Tips: Avocados are not just for guacamole. Try them for breakfast. I did and it worked. Try adding them to your omelet. Thank you again, Darling Children, for the avocados. Made short work of the grapefruit.

Travel: We'll finish the Northern California National Parks Trip this week. I took this trip in 2006, but I suspect that not much has changed.

Monday, October 2 (Shasta Dam and Weaverville)
The Red Lion is a very nice hotel and we had breakfast from the menu in the pleasant open coffee shop.  I had a ham and cheese omelet with an English muffin.

Off at 8:00 to Shasta Dam.  Amazing how the landscape can change within a matter of twenty miles.  Everything is still mountainous, but oaks instead of evergreens and very green and lush looking.

I took pictures of the dam from the visitor center, picked up some brochures, walked around outside a little and returned to the bus to work on my journal.  I’ve seen enough damn dam tours – I didn’t need another.  I found out later that the tour guide pointed out Mt. Shasta (which looks just like the one on the Shasta soft drink cans), but it was veiled in fog and scarcely visible. Wonder if they still have Shasta soft drinks in California?

We went back to the Sun Dial Bridge so we could see in the daylight how it works and take pictures.  It’s an amazing structure and in quite pleasant surroundings, with a garden, a restaurant, a gift shop and an aquarium, in addition to the facilities I’d seen the night before. 

We stopped in Weaverville for lunch at a sweet little place called The Garden CafĂ©.  It’s an old small house, with steps up to a deck on the right with umbrella tables; a stairway to a small porch with only one table and surrounded by flower boxes of colorful petunias and a small diningroom inside.  Mickey and I sat on the porch at the only table.  We had a cup of delicious clam chowder and a so-so veggie quiche.  Being outside was nice, but out-of-sight, out-of-mind.  By the time they brought dessert, we were already inside to use the bathroom and be off.  I asked the waitress if she knew of a used bookstore – she did.  We only had to walk a long block.  I picked up two more books on Joey’s list, and Mickey bought four books (some new).  She told me about an author by the name of Jodi Picoult and told me the beginning of the book she was reading on the trip called, “The Pact”.  Now I’m intrigued and will have to read it.  We had a long, long drive to Eureka, through trees and rippling streams and mostly junky little houses.

Eureka is a weird place.  It seems like a two-class town – money or broke.  Humboldt Bay is really big and spreads out all over.  We went over a bridge to a place called “Samoa Cookhouse” on Samoa Island for dinner.  It’s where the lumberjacks ate in the old days, boardinghouse style.  We sat at long oilcloth-covered tables and paper napkins with coffee cans for napkin holders.  We ate boardinghouse style with one extremely organized waiter handling all of us.  We had a green salad with bean salad and croutons to go on top, Swiss steak soup (more soup, less steak), pork roast and gravy, chicken cacciatore, baked potatoes, peas and onions, homemade bread and apple pie.  Everything tasted home cooked except the pie.  I believe they bought frozen pies, sprinkled the tops with cinnamon and sugar and baked them. 

The Samoa Cookhouse has lots of memorabilia pertaining to the lumber industry plus things from bygone restaurants.  I saw a huge kettle for steaming vegetables, which was as big as my washing machine.  There were lots of saw blades, round and crosscut types; also, lots of old business machines.  The best part was the collection of old photos with redwoods as the focus. Sorry I can't show you the photos from dinner because they're full of people (which I never post). I can show this one - my favorite. Yes, that's a log they're sitting on.

We were back at our hotel by 8:15 and the traffic noise was deafening, as we were right on the main street.  A dirty, ragged homeless man was walking around the parking lot trying to sell jewelry.

I’ve called my kids off and on during the trip but always got cut off and no service most places.  Mike called and we had a good connection, so we talked for an hour.  A nice treat.

The noise subsided a little and I went to sleep.  I was up at 2:15 and the traffic was terrible – probably people leaving the bars.  I slept in bits and pieces until 5:00 a.m.

Tuesday, October 3 (Redwood National Park)
I didn’t want cold cereal and yucky coffee (which was served in the lobby and I was to take back to my room on a tray), so I walked over to a restaurant and had wonderful eggs, scrambled with hashbrowns, ham, pepper, mushrooms and fresh tomatoes, along with rye toast and great coffee.  Cost me $10 and worth it.  I could only eat half, but no one to share it with.  It was a lot of food.

I walked around and took pictures of The Humboldt Mansion, now a businessmen’s club, and other “painted ladies”.  One little section is beautifully kept with big houses and a lovely small hotel.  Walk a few blocks and you’re practically on Skid Row.  I saw broken, taped-up windows at a run-down motel, trash on the streets, a beer bottle sticking out from the top of a bush, vacant stores, motels which look like the “by the week” type.

We were off to Redwood National Park.  I didn’t realize there are two state redwood parks which run into the national park.  They’re more or less operated jointly.  We had some short walks into the trees, stops at two different visitor centers (one with a movie) and a picnic lunch by a beach covered with driftwood.

On our return trip, we stopped at a harbor and pier where we saw seals and seagulls and a fisherman’s catch.  The harbor is surrounded by picturesque houses, restaurants and Bed and Breakfasts.  There was a very cold wind blowing, so I didn’t stay out long.

Our next stop was a recreated Indian village.  I passed and read my book instead.  Everyone told me that I didn’t miss anything worthwhile.  Then we stopped at a wetlands with a visitor center.  I’d had enough nature for one trip.  I passed again.  Still didn’t miss anything.  I got the feeling that we were scraping the bottom of the barrel to find ways to pass the time.  We got back to the motel with twenty minutes to freshen up before going to dinner.  

Dinner was at a Chinese buffet, typical and good.  We got fortune cookies with weird fortunes and lucky numbers.  When we got back, I walked over to the gas station to get lotto tickets for myself and Bob the Busdriver.

Thankfully, this is our last night in the Motel from Hell.  Maybe I’ll get some sleep tomorrow night.

Wednesday, October 4 (En route to Mendocino)
I had a cup of tea in my room and walked over to the little drive-through espresso-bakery shop and got a turkey-jack cheese croissant sandwich.  The girl heated it for me so that it was toasty outside and melted inside – really good.

At 8:00 we were on the road, leaving Eureka (thank you very much).  The rain started in the early morning (I heard it about 3:30 a.m.), and it was still with us.

We had a nice drive down to Ferndale and a short stop to walk around the business area.  I’d always heard about Ferndale, but didn’t know why it was popular.  Now I know.  It’s a town caught in time.  The houses are mostly Victorian – well-kept with lots of flowers in the yards.  The business area is old, but well maintained, with quaint shops and restaurants.  I ran over to the post office and sent the accumulated brochures of Northern California to my kids and had time to pick up a cup of very good coffee.

Our next stop was Scotia, a company town for Scotia Lumber.  Most of the lumbering activity has been moved to a new facility and no longer has tours.  The employee housing is being sold to the occupants.  The museum is in the old bank building and centers around the lumber industry with a few relics from the hospital thrown in.  The two began in the 1930’s but all houses still look fresh and are in use.  The businesses are still open, but the hotel is used only for groups and special occasions. 

We had a brief stop at a fish hatchery exhibit and then off to the redwoods once more – this time at Humboldt State Park.  We saw the visitor center and then a short nature walk with a lady ranger.  Some of the rangers were in bright yellow fire gear, walking single file through the woods.  Each was carrying a little shovel, and I had the greatest urge to start singing, “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go”.

The Humboldt redwoods are so majestic and for some reason, there’s not as much underbrush here – just tall stately columns of dark rust and green, with a carpet of lighter rust pine needles covering the floor of the forest.  Because of the light rain, the needles were damp and created a feeling of walking over a nice soft carpet.  The trail was mostly level with a few shallow dips.  My most enjoyable walk on this trip.

Because of the rain, we had our last picnic on the bus.  My sandwich was turkey and Swiss on a roll with Mayo, lettuce and tomato.  Pete slipped me the last bag of chips, left over from our last picnic, because I’d been enjoying them so much.  I could only eat half my sandwich and also saved my banana.

When we left the park, the bus refused to quit kneeling.  After many phone calls and many different maneuvers, Bob got the bus up and going but now it’s no longer a “Catholic bus” because it can’t kneel, and the last step is a killer if you forget about the change.

We drove all afternoon to reach Ft. Bragg.  Part of the time we left Highway 101 and drove on Highway 1 along the ocean.  The gray day made a gray ocean; even the sand looked gray, but still a striking picture with the waves hitting the tall cliffs and the little rock islands sticking their heads above the water.

Many houses along the route have been abandoned and many more should be.  There’s lots of junk and old vehicles surrounding some of the houses and almost all need a paint job.  As we neared Ft. Bragg, things improved and there’s actually a new housing (or condo – couldn’t tell) development going up.

We arrived at our dark, dark brown hotel a little after 5:00 and had to leave for dinner at 5:50.  We were right next to the highway, but I was told the sidewalks get rolled up by 9:00 and everything would be quiet.

Dinner was at Silver’s on the Wharf.  And it was a real working wharf – weather-beaten structures, fishing boats and restaurants.  A little garden sitting area led to the canopied stairway up to Silver’s.  Mickey found us a seat at a corner table.  We could see out two sides right out the mouth of the harbor into the ocean.  Seals were swimming around, joined by seagulls and other waterfowl (grebes?).   The waiter said that the fishermen throw the seals the fish trimmings, so they never leave – they don’t have to work for a living.

The food was very good.  The catch of the day turned out to be rock cod, very mild but kicked up by a tartar sauce, which was filled with chopped dill pickles.  I had rice and steamed vegetables with it and sourdough bread.  Dessert was cheesecake with raspberry sauce, and I got the smallest piece at our table of six – thank you, waiter.

A lady was talking about Pomo Indians in the hotel meeting room when we returned.  I didn’t think she had a casino, so I wasn’t interested.  Besides, I felt chilled.  I went to my room and jumped in bed and watched lousy TV with lousy reception and, miracle of miracles, it was quiet.  I turned out my light at 9:30 and went right to sleep.

Thursday, October 5 (Mendocino)
For breakfast, I ate the other half of my sandwich from lunch the day before.  The hotel was only serving carbohydrates. 

I had time to go for a walk around the area in the ocean air.  The rain fell all night but stopped before dawn and everything looked clean and fresh.  We had a late start – 9:45 – so I didn’t get up until 7:00 and washed my hair and took my time.

Our first stop was Cabrillo Lighthouse.  It’s been modernized so no need for a lighthouse keeper.  It’s in a state park and a few people have been trained to do the maintenance on the light, which looks like a giant old-fashioned Christmas bulb.  The old structures are being restored.  One is partially furnished and on tour.  The big house has already been restored and houses the manager and another restored home is a Bed and Breakfast.  There’s also the ever-present gift shop to give people the opportunity to rid themselves of some of their money.

We continued on to Mendocino, where we had a little time before lunch.  I went to the cute little library (no purchases) and met the nice ladies who were staffing it.  It’s a private facility and costs about $30 annually to join.  There’s no librarian; volunteers run it. 

We met for lunch at the Mendocino Hotel.  It’s very old and very charming in a Victorian sort of way.  We had a cup of clam chowder, half a turkey and Swiss sandwich (I’m going to start gobbling before this trip is over), a bag of chips and a chocolate chip cookie.  Does everyone think that seniors are crazy about cookies?

We had four hours to look around – way too much time.  The place isn’t very big. I went to the visitor center and found a magnetic bookmark.  I was thrilled. I lost mine ages ago and haven’t been able to find another.  I walked and walked, looked and looked, spent some time in a used book store and paid $3 for a one-dip ice cream cone.  As I was leaving the ice cream store, I saw four kids lined up on a bench, licking their cones.  They looked so cute, I asked the parents if I could take a picture.  The mom said, “I was just looking at them and wishing I had my camera”.  I got her e-mail address and promised to send her a copy. I did.

I headed back to the hotel.  I had a picture of the church where “Johnny Belinda” was filmed and a picture of Jessica Fletcher’s house from “Murder, She Wrote”, complete with a bicycle leaning against the tree in the front yard. Who knew that Jessica's Cape Cod is actually Mendocino, California?

Dinner was also at the hotel.  Seemed a repeat of the night before; rock cod and rice with chopped red bell and pasillo chile peppers in a sauce with a mound of rice, garnished with cilantro.  First we had a green salad with baby figs and for dessert, a little scoop of mango sorbet, one of raspberry sorbet and fresh blackberries and red raspberries.

After dinner, everyone went to another building to hear a jazz guitarist.  I sat in the hotel lobby by the fireplace and worked on my journal and read my book.

When we boarded the bus, there was a full moon overhead.  As we left Mendocino, someone started singing, “Blue Moon”.  We all joined in and then it was “Harvest Moon”, “America, the Beautiful”, “My Country ‘tis of Thee”, “God Bless America”; then “Off We Go into the Wild Blue Yonder”, then the Navy song, then the Marines.  Next we sang “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” for Bob the Busdriver, and on and on, all the way back to Ft. Bragg to our hotel.  Who has more fun than old people?

Bathed and bed by 9:30.  Back to San Francisco tomorrow.  Boo-hoo.

Friday, October 6 (Return to San Francisco)
I had the banana from one of my lunches, so I cut that up in a bowl of Cheerios and had some orange juice and coffee.  I’d forgotten how much I dislike Cheerios.

We were on the road at 8:00, back to Highway 101 on the winding road through the trees and fog.  Everyone was a little quiet.  We had such a good group.  I think we hated to part.  I read some, looked at the scenery, started thinking about where to go next – that is, after the Elderhostel in Arkansas and St. Louis to see the Chihuly Exhibit at the Botanical Gardens.

We had a bathroom break and I ran into the market and picked up some cheese, some tomato soup and an apple.  Then Darlene gave us packages of crackers, so I have dinner. 

Our lunch break was at Mary’s Pizza Shack.  I had a cup of minestrone and a slice of pepperoni pizza.  I wrapped the giant brownie in a paper napkin and took it along.

We got on the freeway, where we saw trucks loaded with grapes headed for the wineries.  The traffic was heavy and the day was drizzly and gloomy, very appropriate for a trip we didn’t want to end.

We dropped the airport people first, then started the hotel drop-offs.  I was checked in by 3:30, sorted my dirty laundry, went through my papers to see what I could discard, repacked my luggage, charged my phone and camera batteries, then made a cup of cinnamon tea to have with my other half of the giant chocolate chip cookie from our lunch the day before.

Mickey finished “The Pact” and gave it to me, and I was almost finished with “Traveller”, so I could start it on the plane.

I had my soup, cheese and crackers and snuggled in for TV and reading.  This was the start of a busy weekend in San Francisco (Fleet Week, air show, etc.), so I expected noise.  I was correct.  I finally called the front desk to quiet the party on the next floor above me and was thankful I’d be in my own bed the next night.

Saturday, October 7 (There’s No Place Like Home)
I took the hotel shuttle to the airport in plenty of time for breakfast.  Oh, wow!  The Mexican place had breakfast burritos.  A big disappointment.  It was bland, even though I packed it with cilantro and more salsa.  Can’t believe I have to go to Nixa, Missouri, to get some decent Mexican food.

My plane was on time and I started “The Pact”.  What a page-turner.  My connection in Denver was on time, also.  I put down my book to open my coke, and the guy next to me started talking and that was the end of my reading.  Luggage came out on time.  I was on a roll.  The shuttle came right away and I was on the road for home by 6:30.  I stopped at KFC and picked up dinner for Effie and myself and ate at her apartment.  I was home in time to do two loads of a laundry before I went to bed. So good to be home. 

Teaching and Learning: I'm taking two online classes right now, and I'm behind in my lessons. I'm also trying to learn how to upload Everyday Afternoon Teas so that it can be purchased as an ebook. I know my blog postings haven't been that exciting lately, but I must finish what I've started, so skimpy posting next week. Sorry.