Saturday, April 30, 2011

Still cold and windy

It's cool and windy here but we are very aware that in places like Mississippi hundreds have died in tornadoes.  We feel for those poor people who's lives have been turned upside down by the storms.  Now I need to make a second donation to the Red Cross; first for Japan, now for our own South.

Our house has a small semi-secluded patio off the master bedroom.  It is shielded from the wind and makes a lovely place to sit on days like this.  It is on the south side of the house so you get sun.  It epitomizes the tranquil nature of our lives here.  We have our little container garden, the bbq, a small table and chair set for two.  A few feet away is the bird feeder and bird bath.  If you are quite still the birds eventually get used to you and eat and drink normally.  It's a nice place to sit with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and enjoy the world.

The trappings of life are so changed from the way things were when I was young.  People thought it was normal to make chicken soup from the bones and maybe the back of a chicken.  Now we go to the store and buy broth in cans.  It is good to sit and watch the birds and know that life itself is much the same.  There is a site I like to visit called Everyday Carry;  people send in photos showing what they carry on their person on a daily basis.  It's pretty funny to an old guy like me.  Apparently there are young men who carry $200 pocket knives, $150 flashlights and other expensive toys in their pockets every day.  I carried the same $12 Swiss Army knife for 35 years.  Maybe that's why I was able to retire early.  Don't know; I do think it's weird.

Have a good one!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ok, I admit it... I watched them

Thanks to the miracle of the DVR, my wife and I watched the Royal Wedding.  Skipped large parts, of course, but had to check it out.  All the ladies hats were a hoot; some were so outlandish as to make one wonder if they were glued on.  There were lots of military officers in the crowd of course but you hardly saw the same uniform twice.  Having different uniforms for different regiments at least makes for a colorful spectacle.  I'm thinking they needed about a month's output of Jaguars to get everyone to the church.  The commentators talked a lot about these kids being the new face of the monarchy; isn't that true of every generation?  At any rate, I wish them the best.  Being Royal can't be easy.

We are beset by the wind today; it's too windy to do much of anything outside.  The bird feeder emptied itself onto the ground without help from the birds.  It's so windy I can see the electric poles across the street moving in the wind.  Then tomorrow is forecast to be downright chilly.  April came in like a lion and it's going out the same way.  It's a good excuse for one more round of chili before summer comes. 

My chili has morphed into something that uses self-ground ancho and chili de arbol peppers; chipotle, maybe some beer or even tequila.  I bought the chuck roast today.  I dice it small and brown in small batches prior to adding tomato, peppers and liquids. And, yes, I add beans eventually; sometimes red beans, sometimes black, sometimes both.  If you think that removes it from being called chili, sorry, it's just the way I do it.  I like the texture and the taste that the beans bring to the dish. 

Gotta go.  Have a good one!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cactus Central

We've made a conscious decision to only have things in our yard that don't need watering.  There are plenty of people in the valley trying to make their yard look like Florida; somewhere with about 50 inches of rain a year.  Not us!  It's a desert out there and we know it. 

Last year we bought 4 cacti at the Springs Preserve plant show.  One didn't make it through the winter; guess it was just too cold here.  One, a staghorn, is apparently ok but isn't doing anything.  The other two are happy and that makes us happy!  Here's the prickly pear.

You can see he didn't have a very happy winter either.  Of course our transplanting technique pretty much stinks!  But now that spring has come, we've got a new leaf!  Makes us happy.

This other guy is some relative of the first but he's a bit on the purple side.  The new growth is green though.  We'll have to wait and see if it turns color as it ages or if we've got a bi-color plant.

As you can tell, I am not exactly a gardener.  Maybe that's why we have so much rock in our yard!

Have a good one.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Not posting is fun!

I find I haven't posted since last Saturday.  Bad Don!  But I've been distracted.  I've been worrying about the President's birth certificate and it's just had me all tied up.  Finally the White House has released it so now I guess I can get on with blogging.  Jeez!  What a pile of crap! 

I'm sitting here watching a couple of quail walking around across the road.  I'm not sure if it's old man quail looking for a little nookie or if they are just looking for a snack.  It's much more interesting than the two 'newspapers' we received this a.m. 

The local paper is covered in grief because a year ago a local deputy sheriff was killed and they had a memorial for the guy.  It is sad certainly.  He seems to have been a nice guy and he had just returned from a tour in Afghanistan.  But being a cop is hazardous; is that news to anyone? 

The Las Vegas paper is all tied up in cuts being made to school funding.  I'm sorry folks but kids who want to learn will do so if there are 5 kids in their class or 50.  Kids who don't give a damn won't.  They are your kids, YOU make the difference not the teachers not the class size not even the curriculum.  Granted we would all like everything to be wonderful for our kids but if we aren't willing to pay for it, it's gotta change. 

My wife and I were talking about money the other night and we were wondering what our net worth was in 1990.  She was 40 and I was 42 at the time.  Our records are not up to the task of pinpointing our net worth but we can make some guesses.  We were living in Seattle in a house we bought for about $180K - putting 20% down would be $36K equity.  We had the duplex in Florida; equity in that would have been around $15K.  We had two cars; both paid for; an 83 Mazda and an 88 Bronco II.  I've always thought that a company matching 401k was like free money so we would have had at least $50-60K in our 401k accounts.  So I guess our net worth would have been in the $120K range.  Does that sound reasonable?  Doesn't sound like a lot in these days when advisers are saying you need a million to retire but 1990 WAS a long time ago.

1990 was the year I talked my wife into going to Europe.  She had never been so I figured a trip to England would be an easy introduction to another land.  It was a great choice!  Just having to deal with pounds and shillings challenged her.  Not to mention that American English isn't exactly what they speak over there, especially in Scotland and Wales.  We got one of those train tickets that lets you travel on any train to any place you wanted for a week.  We took a train from London up to Edinburgh then came back down through Carlyle into Wales and to Land's End and back to London.  We mostly stayed in hotels near the station; she didn't want to get too far from the train.  She had read the Poldark series of stories and knew a lot more about Cornwall than I did.  It was a great trip.

Please excuse the excursion into the past.  It's much more fun than talking about the deficits, illegal wars, illegal immigrants and all the rest of the wonderful world we have made.  Try to have a good one!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Woke up this morning about 06:00 by the light of our emergency lights.  They only come on when the electricity is off so something was up.  Ok, it's my job to crawl into my clothes and go outside to check the fuse.  So I go out there and there is our neighbor walking out into the middle of the road to see if he is the only one without power.  Hmmm.  I gave him a shout to let him know he's not alone and went inside to call the electric utility.

About an hour later we headed off to the casino for breakfast.  What should we see but an electric utility truck wandering around the neighborhood.  I was tempted to follow them because they went right past our street but figured maybe they know what they are doing.  I'm not too sure but at least when we returned home from breakfast (and me losing my $5 at video poker) the electricity was back.

We are pretty dependent on the power company - heating, cooling, cooking, pumping water - yep, all electric.  Solar and wind power are each possible alternatives but would be really expensive if sized large enough to run a house.  Running the a/c, electric stove and electric water heater would be out of the question.  The pump might be possible simply because it isn't used a lot but it would really pull power as it is 240V.  Our actual alternatives are go out to eat or buy a really big generator.  Having a generator like that would bring a whole new set of problems so it's out to eat we go.

Here's to investing a bit into the electric grid infrastructure.  Have a good one!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quiet - Not Quiet

Today started pretty quietly.  Yesterday we talked about trying to 'boondock' in our trailer.  Boondocking, if you don't know, is parking somewhere that has no electricity or water.  There are a lot of places in national parks and such that have no utilities.  Our trailer has two small 12V batteries to provide electricity for lights and such if you are boondocked.  They won't run a tv or anything but lights & the radio will work fine.  Long and short of it is that we decided to spend the night in the back yard but unhooked from water and power.  It worked quite well; to the point that I couldn't figure out where I was when I woke! 

Anyway, we started on our usual chores and things were going very well.  We rented "The King's Speech" yesterday and didn't get around to viewing it until today.  It was really very good; a fine cast and an interesting piece of history.  About half way through, my wife excused herself and went to the bathroom.  When she came back it was to announce that a part of one tooth had broken off.  She kind of bit down on it and it was still in place but obviously needed professional attention.  We've been to one of the dentists here in town and didn't care much for him or his assistant so returning there was not an option.  We watched the rest of the movie then like good little consumers, we let our fingers do the walking in the Yellow Pages and found another dentist.  The woman said 'come down immediately' so that's pretty much what we did. 

By 15:15 I was being told that the tooth required a crown and they were going to do the procedure right now.  About 25 years ago I my wife had a really bad experience with a dentist.  She hasn't liked dental procedures ever since.  A crown takes a lot of drilling and cutting and I knew she would not be enjoying the rest of the afternoon.  However, by 17:00 we were on the way home.  About $1000 poorer but with a fine new temporary crown and probably a new family dentist.  Apparently the dentist was a very nice lady and her staff were all very professional.  A great result to a lousy occurrence.   We'll go back in a couple weeks to get the permanent crown installed.

Happily we had quiche the other night and half is still in the fridge.  Sounds like a nice soft dinner for someone with a sore mouth.  Hope you had a good one!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring or summer?

We are finally warming up in the valley getting our first 80+ F days (27-30C).  Soon we'll be whining about the heat but right now it feels pretty good.  It feels like it's been a long winter.  Mt. Charleston still has a bit of snow but that will be gone soon.  Before long we'll be looking at nothing but rock

This morning I went out and fought another round in the war against weeds in our yard.  I've used 5 or 6 gallons (25l) of spray already; I don't know if we are done for the year or not.  At some point it will become dry and hot enough that the weeds will just die out.  Or at least I'm hoping so! 

Last fall we planted four cacti in our front yard.  It looks like one was killed by the cold but the other three seem to be growing.  I'll get some pictures one of these days.  During the winter, our wet season, you aren't supposed to water them but in summer they need water every month or so.  We don't want anything that requires irrigation.  In our experience, whenever you look away something goes wrong with a sprinkler system.  The ones we had while living in Florida were a constant maintenance headache whether I was doing the work or having a professional work on them.

This should be a quiet week.  We are both looking forward to having our quiet lives back.  Have a good one!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sunset oddity

There is a piece in our local paper today telling us that the military will be conducting some exercises in our valley the last few days of April and the first of May.  Apparently it's a lot like Afghanistan!  I think it's great; they need someplace to practice and this is both close to the base (Nellis AFB) and lightly populated.  The Air Force guy said they wouldn't do anything crazy but there will be more aircraft in the region than usual. 

There is quite a military presence within say 300 miles (500km) - Nellis AFB, Area 51 and The Nevada Test Site are all just over on the Las Vegas side of the Spring Mountains.  A little farther up the road near Reno is the Hawthorne Army Depot where lots and lots of munitions are stored and Fallon Naval Air Station.  In California there is Edwards AFB, China Lake Naval Weapons Center and Fort Irwin National Training Center. 

I was outside yesterday near sunset and spotted an unusual contrail. 
All the straight contrails seem normal enough; though this is a large number to see at once.  It's the one that curves around that got my attention.  It makes me think that the fun and games we are told will be in 10 days have already started.  Well, anyway, it was a nice sunset!

Have a good one.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Not Daily; not Dead!

Ok, so I fell off the wagon a bit and haven't blogged for a couple days.  So sue me!  We are recovering from the house full of people and haven't been doing much.  My wife managed to catch a cold from someone; we just hope we didn't pass it on.  She has been drinking Theraflu two or three times a day since Saturday.  She's sounding better today though so hopefully she'll get back on her feet soon.

I did get out to go visit Croft for a couple hours.  In person he's much like his blog so I wasn't surprised to like him.  I was surprised about his wife Norma.  He doesn't talk a lot about her in the blog but in life she is bubbly, interesting and talkative; always in movement.  Croft came off as the quiet one which kind of surprised me.  Another couple came along and we had fun hearing about their adventures.  Both couples were asked by the management of Terrible's Lakeside to move their rig part way through their stay.  Neither was particularly complimentary about the management of the park as you might imagine.  I can't say I would be either!

Croft did turn me on to another blog (like I need another one to read); based in Mexico it is written by an ex-copy editor and reflects his retired life in a relatively small Mexican city.  Felipe Zapata is his pen name and Zapata Tales is the blog.  It is beautifully written and I'm really enjoying it.  He managed to turn his hammock into a character in the blog.  Very nice.

Now that I've had my vacation, it's time to get to work cleaning up after a week's worth of visitors.  Gotta go work.  Have a good one!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Not a Daily; not yet!

I'm sure not doing daily blog these days but I must say they are busy days.  In-laws and son and his girlfriend are our guests now; they are pretty easy to deal with but having six people in the house rather than two does up the stress level.  We are eating out more than usual because it's easy and it gets us all out of the house.  The animals are pretty weird-ed out too.  Of course, they have no idea why they have all this extra excitement but they are putting up with it pretty well. 

The young people like gambling so they have something to do while we older folk sit around watching the Master's Golf Tournament.  They have been here two days and have as many 'points' from gambling as my wife and I have accumulated in the two years we've been here!  Normally we wouldn't watch the golf but it's something we can all do and the in-laws really enjoy it.  I understand they aren't bad golfers for folks around eighty years of age.  Augusta is such a beautiful course too.   

Tomorrow we take the in-laws to Vegas and put them on the plane for home.  Then we will be down to just the kids who are staying until Saturday.  This hosting thing is getting easier and easier.  Started at eight visitors, then six, then two; pretty soon we'll be back to our quiet home in the desert.  Yep, I'm looking forward to it even though I do love all these people.

Today we are getting one of our wind storms.  From reading blogs I get the idea it's covering almost the entire Southwest.  It makes me want to check out the weatherstripping on the windows and doors before summer really hits.  I can feel a breeze when I'm near the window and it is definitely noisy.  There is quite a bit of dust in the air as well; we are all complaining of a dry feeling in the throat. 

I've left this post late so need to quit.  Time to run off and feed our faces.  Here's hoping I haven't gained too much weight this week!  Have a good one.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Just Doing It

I read a post a few days ago urging people to 'just do it'.  Now I've come across another person who writes:  "Amazing what you can accomplish once you stop making rich, fat, white guys even richer by buying junk."  Greg has traveled all over and just wants to keep on going.  You get the idea he's going to successful in his quest. 

We are just running around feeding people then cleaning up after the meals then start all over again.  Makes me certain I never want to have a guest house!  But then again I knew that already.  LOL  Tonight we are taking the easy way out and taking the whole group to our favorite (and only) Italian restaurant.  It's to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of my wife's aunt and uncle.  Then they are leaving tomorrow; just before our son & his girlfriend show up.  Life in the family lane.

Gotta go.  Have a good one. 

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Visitors - part 1

I'd forgotten that my  in-laws are crazy for watching golf on tv.  Happily there is an LPGA tourney going on now.  It takes a lot of time to watch golf and makes it easier to spend hours and hours together.  Tonight more family will show up.  We are just watching golf and waiting. 

I did take a photo of the cat.  It's nice and warm and the cat loves rolling around on his back in the sun.  Have a good one!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Busy busy

I'm probably going to be bad about blogging for the next week or so.  We managed to get the kid moved into her new house yesterday without any major catastrophes.  Today we are doing the final prep for a visit from much of my wife's family.  Parents, aunt & uncle, kids, friends - all are descending upon us.  It will be a busy time in the old town for the next week. 

Google gave me a pop-up this morning with information about making the blog accessible to various readers.  I'll look into it after all the visitors leave.

For some people having visitors is a way of life.  For us, not so much!  We lived in the Netherlands for two years and had a total of three nights of visitors.  We'd average a week or so a year for the eight years we lived in Florida.  So anyway, when we are expecting visitors, there's a lot of unusual prep to be done.  I think I'll go mop the tile.

Have a good one!