I may chat about my books, what I'm writing or reading, or just general thoughts. You may read posts about my cats or just my crazy life in general. Comments are welcome, if anyone wants to interact with me. Maybe we can share war stories, whether it's writing related or just about life in general.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Could you live without your basic amenities?

How much do we all take certain things in life for granted?  I think the answer to that is most of us.  We expect the lights to come on when we flip a switch or the water to come out of a faucet when we turn it on.  But…what if this changed?

 My water meter
If you suddenly found yourself out of luck with the usual things like water or electricity, would you go into crisis mode and flip out, or simply adjust and deal with the situation until things are resolved? 

Right now, I’m dealing with this condition at my house.  I had to turn my water off on Saturday morning and we’ve been living with no water service in the house since then.  It’s now late Monday afternoon and I’ve yet to see the plumber show up to assess the situation.

 After the towel mop up, I used the wet and dry vac
To make a long story short, I discovered the carpet in the master closet was soaking wet on Saturday morning.  I grabbed towels to start soaking up what I could.  They were wet enough to wring out.  I called my husband who freaks out when things like this happen and he insisted I turn the water off at the street.  What really threw both of us off is there’s no water supply near this closet.  Our first thoughts were a ruptured pipe in the slab. 

 This is my mechanical room.  I didn't think to take a pic of the standing water.
Luckily, my neighbor works for the city and was home, so he came over to help me.  I couldn’t get the valve turned using a wrench.  I might mention it was 110 outside.  Both of us had sweat dripping down our noses and splattering onto the ground.  My neighbor has a handy tool just for this purpose.  He got the valve turned in two seconds.  Then he came in to look at my water heater, which he thinks is the problem.  My mechanical room had water standing in it.  He turned the main valve back on and just cut the water coming into the house until we could call a plumber.  Naturally, it was the weekend.  Of course, things this major always happen on weekends and holidays.

 Then I brought in this super-duper fan from the garage and an extension cord and blew it on the carpet all weekend.
The last time it was a power outage in July a few years ago when it was 114 and the power to the entire city was out for five hours!  Can you imagine that?  But I think this water issue is almost worse.

With this heat, I had to break down and go to a girlfriend’s on Sunday to take a shower.  One can only use so many wet wipes.  the next stop was the dollar store for lots of bottled gallons of water.

Supposedly, hearing my desperation, the plumber is working me in somehow so I can at least get cold water into the house until he can properly fix the problem.  We’ll see if he shows up later today.  I’m not holding my breath.

In times like these, it makes you appreciate running water.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

My Little Babushka

Raven is such a people person and is game for anything.  My girlfriend wants me to fix a swimsuit for her, so she brought everything over.  She tied this fabric around Raven’s head.  He was watching everything we did.  Isn’t he adorable?


Friday, June 26, 2015

Devastating heat

It’s sizzling here in the desert and this is only June.  I hate to think about July and August (our hottest months here).  We’ve had triple digits the last two weeks with no end in sight.  I talked to a girlfriend in CA last night and it was 100 there.  Everything is suffering.

Look at my lawn:

One year we had grubs in it and it got brown like this so we had to put some stuff on it from the nursery to kill the grubs and it perked right up after that.  This year --no grubs -- they say a fungus is affecting many lawns.  So we get another product from the nursery, put that on and then watered it in.  That was at least two weeks ago now.  We’ve given it extra water with this heat too and nothing seems to help.  We wonder if anyone here knows what they’re talking about and this isn’t the first time.  As I’ve said before, an odd bunch of people live in this state.  Now, we’re thinking of pulling the grass out and having rock put in (like most of the rest of the yard).

 Lots of these little guys around
However, if we do that, I have a feeling we’re in for a mess of a different kind from the chipmunks around here.  Look what they’ve done here.

They live in this rock wall and have burrowed all over to make escape routes from the predators.  I guess there’s always an issue with something.  Such is life and somehow we’ll deal with it.

On another note, many animals have ventured by in search of water.  I have to fill all the pans and bowls daily.

 Desert toad
I feel like I’m living in a cave, as I have to keep the blinds drawn to keep some of the heat out, at least until the sun has moved across the sky.  Once the patio has shade, I can open them and get some light in here.  Then the other side of the house is in the dark until sunset, which is about 9:30 here.  I’m not complaining about that though.  I love the long days and would rather have to deal with the heat when I think about that winter cold.

FWIT, today it’s 110 here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Banana Bread anyone?

This recipe came across my inbox a couple of weeks ago and I’ve wanted to try it.  If you have ripe bananas and love chocolate, give this a whirl.  It’s really chocolaty and not sweet at all, but its rich and a dense bread.  If you’re diabetic, you can use a sugar substitute.  Make sure to add extra if you buy unsweetened chocolate instead of the semi-sweet.  This bread is more like cake and would be good with a dollop of whipped cream.


Chocolate Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf

There's an old saying in baking that the ugliest fruit makes the best desserts, and I completely agree. One man's bruised banana is another man's banana bread. I like to make a loaf of this once a week so I can have a slice with my coffee in the morning or toast a slice for a simple dessert.


·                     1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
·                     2 cups all-purpose flour
·                     3/4 cup sugar
·                     1/4 cup cocoa powder
·                     1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
·                     1 teaspoon kosher salt
·                     4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
·                     2 large eggs
·                     3 very ripe bananas
·                     1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·                     1/2 cup of chopped walnuts (optional)


 Just out of the oven


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
2. In another bowl, cream the butter until lightened, then beat in the chocolate, eggs, bananas and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients just until combined; do not overbeat.
3. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick stuck into the center of the bread comes out almost clean, 50-60 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for at least 15 minutes before unmolding.

 It rose nicely

 Ready to serve

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Celebrate the Summer Solstice

This is the longest day of the year and worthy of celebrating.  It’s “high summer,” as they say, because it’s downhill from here with the days getting shorter by one to five minutes each depending on where you live.  This is hard to notice for about a month.  Right now we’re enjoying daylight at 9:30 in the evening here in the desert and I love it!

It’s time to throw veggies from the garden onto the grill and enjoy them with the rest of your meal.  Veggies that grill well are summer squash, peppers, eggplant, asparagus and onions.  Simply slice them and toss in olive oil with salt and pepper and a little garlic if desired and grill for eight to twelve minutes.  Delicious!

This is my sister Scherri  Happy Birthday, lady!

One of my sisters and I have birthdays a year and a day apart on the Summer Solstice and Father’s Day.  When we celebrated as kids, we always did it together.  As adults, we’ve always lived in different time zones so we started a tradition where we call each other at midnight in the later time zone.  That way it’s a chance for us to celebrate together because it can be both of our birthdays at the same time.  We’ve done this for several decades.

Get together with friends and family, if it’s possible, and take advantage of the long sunny days because before you know it we’ll all be in the grip of winter again.

So everyone, do you have traditions for the longest day of the year?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Official old age slammed me on the head!

In a couple of days, I’ll reach a milestone birthday.  I look at the calendar with wonderment that I would live this long.  When did that happen?  How did all this time go by?  I don’t feel old.

I try to push things out of my mind that I don’t particularly want to think about, but it’s hard to ignore this because I’ve received a trashcan full of Medicare brochures over the last two--three months.  Suddenly everyone has my name and address.  I hate to deal with things like this where I have to make a big decision because if I don’t do it, it will be made for me.  It seems no one is exempt from Medicare.  There is no opting out.

I made an appointment with a counselor at the senior center here to discuss my options and have the whole program explained to me.  He wasn’t selling anything, so I figured I was safe.  It was all about as clear as mud when I left his office an hour later, but I read up on some things (boring) and met with another person to sign up the next day.

The guy at the senior center told me I had to act ASAP because I’d be without insurance for another month if I wasn’t signed up by the fourteenth.  What he didn’t know was that I wasn’t very worried because I haven’t had insurance for thirty years.  What difference would another month make?  I guess if I was always ill this would be a concern, but I only see the doctor once a year.

So folks, I’m going to be official old and inundated with paperwork from now on.  When thinking about all this stuff, I remember the two old guys who used to work for me back in the 1980’s and all their problems with Medicare.  I’ve even seen all the issues with my husband’s claims finally being paid after a lot of time, phone calls and frustration.  Of course, anytime the government is involved in anything, look out.  I’m not looking forward to it one bit.  I wonder how many trees they chop down to accommodate all the paperwork.

At least I’m still healthy and thankful for that.  I intend to go on with an optimistic attitude like usual.  That’s all we can do, right.  Eat healthy, exercise and keep a positive outlook.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Searching for shade

That’s a priority in the summer when you live in the desert.  It can get to 115, although that’s rare, but we do see between 105 and 108 on quite a few days.  I live in a two-story house so it’s a challenge to keep it cool, or doable.  I’m sure by some standards; the house wouldn’t be cool because we keep the thermostat set on 82.

 Sunshade sewed and ready to hang
This year I decided to put shade on the skylights upstairs.  I have three large ones that catch the afternoon sun and that room is roasting in summer.  I think we lose a lot of A/C because of all the heat streaming in.  After checking about town, I decided to make my own because of what everyone wanted to charge to do the job.  After all, I do know how to sew and I’ll only be using them three months of the year.

 This is how it started out
I finally found the best price online at Walmart.  This isn’t something they carry in store so I ordered the roll.  It arrived in two days, which really shocked me because I didn’t pay for expedited shipping.  While in Walmart to pick up the product, I bought the spring tension rods I would use to hold them up in the window well.

 Tension rods
The biggest part of the project was measuring and figuring out what I wanted to do before cutting into this big roll of shade cloth.  I have lots left over.  Once I did cut them out and pin the hems, I’m quick on the sewing machine and it only took me about thirty minutes to sew and install each one.

 Before installing sunshades

Naturally, this also cuts down on the light in the room, but I think it’ll be worth it.  This fabric provides 90% shade.

 Close up of installed sunshade
When I walked into that room this morning, I did notice it’s cooler in there, so I’m pleased.  Now I wonder why I didn’t do these ten years ago.  There is no job too big if you really need to do it.

Look at the pictures.  How did I do?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Minding Miss Snuggles

And here she is:


Snuggles is about four-years-old.  She’s friendly and quite playful.  This cat opens drawers and doors, although she hasn’t done that much lately.

When my neighbor is away hiking and camping, I’m the one elected to make sure Snuggles stays out of trouble, has food and water and her litter box scooped.  Plus, she needs a little company too.  There was another neighbor sharing this job with me but she moved about two weeks ago, so it’s just me again.


Snuggles is always glad to see me and wants me to pet her as soon as my feet are in the door.  After about five minutes, I can deposit my neighbor’s mail on the table and then go about my cat duties.  After that, it’s playtime.  She wants me to chase her around the house or play with the laser light. 


I really feel sorry for this little cat (not really so little) because she’s alone so much.  I try to take Raven with me occasionally because he loves to go and loves everybody.  But today, he was napping and didn’t even move when I jingled the keys.  This is unusual for him, but he was up and into my sewing stuff part of the day while I was making sunshades for the skylights in my sewing/craft room.  I guess he missed his nap.


I’ll show you the sunshades in my next post.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

You can’t get much cuter than this

Wildlife babies are finally showing up in our yard.  We haven’t seen as many this summer.  I think that’s due to lots of rain and plenty of seeds in the desert.  I had to post a few cute pics because everybody comes here for a drink of water.  As you can see, there’s always a parent close by to watch over the little ones.

Enjoy!  I think they're so darn cute!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The importance of water in the desert

One of the first things we learned when moving here, almost eleven years ago, is the importance of water to stay hydrated.  Everyone here never leaves the house to go anywhere without a bottle of water.  You never know when you could have a flat tire or some other catastrophe, so it’s best to be smart and prepared.

When temperatures reach the nineties and the triple digits here in the summers, every creature must stay hydrated.  This includes all the critters too and not just people.

I remember going to Palm Springs years ago during the summer.  We were sitting outside under a patio with a mister.  The lunch was wonderful and the mist system sure helped but it was still very hot.  The poor birds gathered on the decorative stucco walls surrounding the place, holding their wings out from their bodies and panting in an effort to stay cool.  I tried to find anything that would hold water so I could set some out for them.  Sadly, there was nothing available.  I felt terrible and never forgot that experience.

Today we keep pans of water all over the yard for the birds and other creatures that venture by.  We have to put rocks in all the pans so the wind doesn’t carry them off into the desert.

Our birdbath gets loaded with birds.  They sit in there shoulder-to-shoulder with others lined up waiting for some space to open up so they can get in there and cool off.  All the species get along well here and usually never squabble, although at times a pigeon bully will come by. 

The desert toads venture out late at night, get into the water pans, swim, and hang out.  They can’t come out in the desert heat, so are strictly night visitors and catch moths and other bugs that are active at that time of day.

There are also many lizards (no, not the green ones) and some snakes that come by for a drink and then slither away back into the desert.

Right now, we’re busy watching the baby quail and baby chipmunks passing through with their parents and siblings all day long.  I always keep a camera close by in hopes of getting a great shot.

It definitely takes stamina and skill to survive here and some species thrive.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The first baby sighting of the year

I’m talking about animal babies here, in this case baby quail.  They are about three weeks late in showing up this year but the weather has been cooler and rainier.  I don’t know if that affects quail life or not.

 Baby quail twins
This morning a recently hatched couple of babies were separated from their siblings and parents.  I’m not sure how this can happen because the quail seem to know how many little ones they have and if anyone is lost.  They will stay around and call out until they find the babies.  Not so today.  The parents were missing.  My husband went out, picked these two up, took them around to the vacant lot, and let them go in the dense underbrush.  They seemed to be looking that way and didn’t now how to get over there.  Of course, I’m worried about them because survival is slim anyway here in the desert.  I hope the parents will find them before dark.

They were very unafraid because they haven’t learned that skill yet.  This is the only pic I got of them but they are so cute and only about an inch high.  I’m sure more pictures will be coming later.