The Accidental Sermon at St. Laundry

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Sunday, January 6, 2019

I suppose this is a quasi-religious post. It occurred on a Sunday, and these two things being what they are, you may want to cross yourself before reading further.

We have been at this thing for 5 days or so, and due to the cold and rainy weather here in the desert, and our short supply of cold weather clothes, it became evident that I needed to pay a trip to the laundry. This is certainly NOT my favorite activity, nor do I actually know anyone who embraces this drudgery with gusto. This said, I didn’t want to go hang out with the washing machines, here at the RV park in the middle of nowhere, on this particular Sunday morning. But, there are folks in my realm that like to adhere to a set-in-stone schedule, and as Sunday was the official day of laundry in the past, so should it be ad infinitum. These life details landed me doing laundry at 8:20 am on Sunday. My laundry task involves SIX loads of laundry…..bedding, towels, clothes, and ect, which is whatever “etc” might include. As I was shoving things into washing machine #3, I let out a sigh. It was an unfortunate, involuntary response on my part. Doing laundry doesn’t make me happy or bring me the joy that perhaps some folks think it should? I don’t know.   Apparently, this triggered something in the man who was dropping things into the machine across from me. He looked at me and said, “Are you OKAY?” Taken aback, somewhat, I said, “yes.” Not satisfied with my answer, he asked me again…..and again……and again, until he finally said, “Your life matters.”

As this line of interrogation was happening, I had a couple of thoughts. It occurred to me that perhaps I didn’t look as presentable as I should. Perhaps my hair had let me down, yet again? My hair leads a life separate from me, which renders it persona non grata to me, so I dismissed that. Or, maybe I was looking as though I was about to stroke out? Feeling fine, at least health-wise, I discounted an impending stroke. That led me to question the questioner’s mental well being.

I’m not sure exactly WHAT this dude was expecting from me at 8:20am on a Sunday morning with SIX loads of laundry in tow, but this is NOT a time of joy and enlightenment, and as other women came in to do their laundry, the feeling seemed to be the same. One woman came in and remarked, “I hate doing the laundry.” The lady who followed her had a similar comment, and they both were sporting the same scowl. I felt both vindicated, AND annoyed.

It seems that not everyone understands “Laundromat Etiquette.” Although I can’t say that I’m an expert, laundry does seem to be something in which I have great experience. These unspoken rules seem to be fully understood by 100% of the women who darken the laundromat doors, and unfamiliar to about 95% of the men who breezily waltz through them. Their nonchalant attitude makes it appear to be more of a recreational novelty to this portion of the population. Do not misunderstand me. I am not man-shaming. This is not a hypothesis. I’m stating a simple fact of observation that is easily backed up by empirical data.

There are unconditional, non-negotiable, societal rules that apply to using laundry facilities in a public setting. These would be similar to those one would employ when entering a public restroom, but perhaps not quite as strict. Interrogating someone as to the status of her (or his) mental health when there is clearly NOTHING WRONG is a bad idea. Over-arching jocularity and joviality is also on the list of unacceptable behaviors. Just go in, do your business, and leave. It’s not a birthday party.

Amen

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Do The Right Thing

 

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Thursday, January 3, 2019

It is true. California was on fire last summer and fall. Our ride down I-5 took us by acres of burned trees and charred remains. I do believe that fire (i.e. lightening strike) can be a part of the natural ecological scheme of things, BUT…….this hasn’t been one of these situations. The devastation was/still is, epic. Life changing.

Night two on our tour puts us in Corning at the Rolling Hills Casino RV Park. We had been warned that we might not be able to stay there, as it was full with folks displaced from the fire that demolished Paradise, CA. That is only a part of the story. Paradise, California burned to the ground. The entire town. Homes – almost 14,000 of them. Businesses. Everything……gone. The Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians stepped up and offered spaces for people who lost their homes in the fire. They offered them food at the Casino, and space in the Casino Equestrian Center for their animals. FEMA set up travel trailers, and the tribe offered up an entire row of campsites…..12 sites out of the 72 at the park. This might not sound like much, but this is a small RV park, right off I-5, that is full almost every night.

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FEMA trailers at the RV park

They were in a position to give, and that is exactly what the tribe chose to do. In this era of righteous indignation, a group who would be so justified in taking this stance chose not to. They opened their land and their hearts to their neighbors – I’ll just remind you that these “neighbors” are the people whose forefathers (directly or indirectly) rendered this loss of land. Chew on that as you proceed through your day. They did the right thing, at the right time. They were, collectively, the bigger and better person in this story.

And, if you happen to be of the nay-saying position regarding a casino who beckons folks in when everything has been lost, let me remind you that the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians would be a group who knows what loss of homeland is all about. In 1959, the federal government no longer recognized their tribal status, took their native land from them, and sold it. They regained their tribal status in 1994, a mere twenty-five years ago, and were given land. There are, co-existing, the generations of tribal members who suffered this loss of land and recognition first-hand, and a generation born to restore and continue this treasure of culture. Between these two groups, they seem to have figured things out. It is a lesson to all of us.

Peace and compassion to you, on this day.

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Melted ladder at the back of a site.  Presumably, from the fire, brought along as a reminder of the things life deals us.

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Last of the Summer Whining

I’ll begin with yet another disclaimer:  this is truly the last of the out of order posts.  My technology has been giving me some rather unfortunate and upsetting problems.  (here in the desert, in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE)   At least for the present moment, I have the ability to upload photos.  So here we are with a musing from 2018, complete with photos to prove that these things of which I write, actually did happen.  For, as we all know:  “If you don’t photograph it, it didn’t really happen,” which is a quote from my dearest son of sons.  (Rest assured, this is absolutely the “last of the summer whining.”)

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Sunday, November 25, 2018

There have been times in my life when summer was, more or less, a favorite season. I can’t say that is so true anymore. Summer is a time of extreme work here at the farm, in the land of the (hard working) Daisies. Truly, the only time of year that offers more opportunities for hard manual labor would be spring, and since I’m not sure what separates one from the other, I will simply say that March to date has been filled with tasks both big and not as big.

I am fully aware that my blog posts are sporadic, if not actually, non-existent. I’ve been busy. We’ve been busy. Each day blends somewhat seamlessly into the next, forming a continuous task list which we strive to keep up with. There are days when bedtime can’t come soon enough, and days when morning comes way too early. But, as with all things, nothing lasts forever and the outdoor work life, here at the farm, is slowly coming to a close.

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Dad and the blooming Liriodendron (or “Tulip Tree) 

To give a brief recap of the last few endless months and the jobs they embraced, I’ll begin with the crisis du jour. In addition to our usual labors, we had issues with our electrical system. So many issues.

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Trenching…..by hand.

 

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Electrical woes, with the oversight of Dad.

Our electrician of choice happens to be a dear neighbor, who I have not so casually told, on more than one occasion, that we could, just possibly, keep him employed for the rest of his life. We saw him frequently throughout the summer months, including a project that was not a crisis, but a rather generous gift of bringing electricity (and water) into the greenhouse. It really is a treat, and I am grateful for the ease and joy this has brought to all things greenhouse related. I’ll spare you the details of our other power related woes, and just say that from an electrical standpoint, things happen to be stable, at least for the moment.

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More trenching.  More overseeing.

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It was a big job

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Some things just couldn’t take the tremendous workload.

Due to, perhaps, some things that went down the drain after multiple laundry loads of Goodwill wool, we also had plumbing problems. Drains backed up in protest to the copious amount of fiber that attempted to make it through the pipes on its way to the septic tank. After a week of gurgling drains, followed by drains that ran the other way, which resulted in water in places that water is not intended to go, we made the necessary call to our rotor-rooter type person.

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Water.  It came out of the shower and onto the floor.  

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It backed up into the bathtub….in a different bathroom.  And, just a little FYI disclaimer:  that mold around the tub…..it’s coming from behind the silicone seal.  A problem for the future, but we’re not talking about that.

Again, we also have a “plumber-of sorts” that helps us out in these situations.   I wish it was a handy and close-by neighbor, but it’s not. After his hour with a piranha-type drain snake sent down the line to ream things out, and my all day mopping and cleaning, we were back in business. Such is the life with all things that are, in my Dad’s words: “over age.”

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Multi-tasking: drain work, leaf pick-up, and supervising.

On a more uplifting note, life would not be what it is without the support and visits of friends and family. We had a couple of these visits and they certainly gave us all a needed uplift. Guests give us a change of focus and an opportunity to slow down and enjoy another set of faces and conversation around the kitchen table. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

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Thank you, Herbie and Janette!

I grew things, which was supposed to be mostly tomatoes and vegetables but turned out to be mostly flowers.

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These were just some of the statice I grew.

It wasn’t a terrible thing. I would have liked more tomatoes, and peppers that were not as hot as the fires of hell, but that is not what happened. So, I made wreaths with the flowers I dried in the heat of the summer, hanging from the clothesline, in the garage. Many wreaths. There is something quite satisfying about growing it and then crafting with it. Made a thing and never left the farm, or however the song goes.

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Wreaths…lots of them!

Our old raspberry patch has fallen to Verticillium Wilt, a soil borne disease that causes the plants to die. Because of this, we prepared an alternate space to grow our berries.

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Tilling up the new patch.

We’ll plant this new berry patch next year, and the old patch will become my new flower garden. I’m not sure how many dried flowers one needs, but I’m pretty sure that it’s not as many as I presently have. Entering into the Hag shed, where I store this phenomenal stash, can bring on something of an asthmatic episode. They are, to put it mildly: fragrant, and not in a perfumy-can’t get enough of it, sort of way. It’s actually quite choking. I’ve been told there’s a spring wreath making party in my future, and perhaps this will take care of a big portion of my dried collection.

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A small portion of the dried flower collection

I also painted a couple of chairs and recovered the seats. I’ll admit, the fabric was an impulsive purchase. There is nothing in the house that is blue, but I loved it, and so be it. We now have extended seating should we have a tremendous amount of company that wants to sit in moderately comfortable, yet stunning, chairs. I am on the lookout for a few more of these metal folding chairs to round out the set, so if you know of any that are headed towards the garbage, let me know. I believe I have enough material to cover a half-dozen or so, more chairs. Why stop at three when you can have so many more?

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Before.  Nasty.

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After. 

There was also some trapping that happened. Dad trapped gophers who were digging in the field.

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Dad, setting a gopher trap

I trapped yellow jackets. They were particularly aggressive this year.

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Yellow jacket traps.  My bait of choice was either cat food or chicken.

And then there were the Bald-Faced Hornets who made a nest in one of the apple trees. They are mercenaries, and we were not prepared for that kind of misery, so we called in the professionals.

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Beautiful nests, terrible beasts

And again, we shredded, and pressed apples, and even helped the kids move.

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Apple pressing

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A lot of cider.

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Rest break after the apple pressing.

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Shredding compost

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Chopping wood

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The kids big move

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Oscar and Riley, concerned about the big move.

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Another load of stuff ready to head to the new place.

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There are some brief moments of rest.  Stella takes advantage of every one of these.

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I made a little wedding cake (and the fabulous florist decorated it!)

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Son, Justin, celebrated a birthday!

I am not exaggerating when I speak of being “busy.” We don’t seem to recognize “leisure time.” Maybe, it’s because we have not met it yet? I am always happy to see the season of work come to somewhat of a close. For us, this was a year that the rain couldn’t come soon enough. But, the rain took its time arriving, which was and is, another worry for us Daisies.

The long hot summer of drought gave us reason to fret and rethink our future of growing things. This is not our first summer without rain. With our rapidly changing climate, water is becoming something that is constantly on our minds. We are on a well, sucking out of an aquifer along with our 48 other neighbors. With luck, this won’t become a future problem. I do hope there will always be enough for all of us.

On the flip side, a lack of water would mean that our agricultural pursuits would become a thing of the past. With a background in horticulture, this would cause a rather epic level of distress for me; I rely on the farming way of life to keep things at equilibrium. But, as in all things, time will tell and we will have to wait for the next chapter to write itself. Truly, it was Thoreau who said it best:

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” (This pearl of advice is mostly for me, but you are also welcome to embrace it.)

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May peace and decent weather surround you in the coming year.

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The Daisies

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Seven Year Itch

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Yes, we are on the road. Again. For our SEVENTH YEAR on our one stop tour. I am surprised about this, for many reasons, but mostly that we succeeded in pulling it off. Again. It seems to take a monumental amount of effort to get things rolling, literally, figuratively, emotionally, and more so with each passing year. I end up making myself a daily task sheet of things to do starting mid-December. It’s like my own little program for the show ahead. To sum it up: I packed, Craig packed, Dad packed, and I’ve got a list for my first shopping trip. Not everything succeeds in making the journey from the house to the Hag, to stow away for the months ahead. As they say: “For everything else, there’s VISA.” Hence, the list, and the alleged future shopping trip.

This little yearly change of venue isn’t necessarily something that I look forward to. It might be do to the small space and many bodies and lots of “stuff” crammed into the blessed Hag, or it might be due to the “Ground Hog’s Day” sameness of the trip. There are those among our traveling group that need this scheduling reassurance. We choose to make the necessary accommodations for this particular traveling companion. As for me, I’m more open to the random nature of travel. I specifically mean: different sights, exciting foods, and new places. (to shop) I am slightly buoyed as I have heard there are changes afoot at FOY, the RV park in the middle of nowhere, so I will have to grab my need for change there.

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Stella.  She’s got her bags packed.

Hang on for the ride, because here we go, yet again.  And, Happy New Year.

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The food of traveler’s everywhere.

 

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Thank You, Jesus

Yes, I do realize that this post is 8 months old……..I got busy.  REAL BUSY.  I didn’t get it all pulled together.  This post is about another Daisie adventure, and it involves the usual amount of drama, etc.  And, my dear Mother-In-Law is the focus, and we love her.  So…..bear with me.  We’re on the road, I’ve got more “idle time,” and I’ll get you caught up in a big hurry.  And……I apologize for the lack of photos.  I’ve got some good ones, but I’m having issues uploading.  Like a good “chapter book”  let the photos in your mind take the place of what I wish I could include.

UPDATE…….I managed how to upload the photos!!!!

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May 2018

Let me begin with a short disclaimer: this isn’t a religious based post, but more of an homage to my dearest Mother-In-Law. It seems that she has a friend who proclaims, “Thank you, Jesus” as somewhat of a surprise when things happen to go right instead of the usual backwards way we are accustomed to. And, my Mother-In-Law, Marion, is the important person in this little story as we took a trip to celebrate her 90th Birthday with family.

We left the farm on Thursday, in the Hag, with the addition of dear daughter, Kailin. Due to complications in the doggie care sector, it was decided that having Riley, the dog who sees herself as being in a relationship with my son, come along for the ride would be the easiest for everyone, especially her. She visits us often, and Kailin lives with her, so adding another dog to the mix seemed like an okay plan. Being a senior, herself, she fits in with the rest of the Daisie crowd. Around noon, with six of us in the Hag and daylight burning, we hit the road for the 5-6 hour drive to Anacortes, Washington.

If you have spent much time following our travels, you will recall that things don’t always (or usually) go smoothly. The ride up contained the customary amount of drama and trauma. The dogs did fine, although I do believe that Stella was a little chapped that Riley was allowed to sit on the sofa with Kailin, even though, to date, she has NOT been allowed on the furniture. This is a sore spot for Stella. No one likes to feel slighted or worse yet, that “the other child” is receiving preferential treatment.

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That’s a smug look from Riley the dog, and an unhappy look from Stella, just incase you were unsure.

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Apparently, Riley has some issues with riding in cars.  There was a LOT of foam, but fortunately for us, that’s all that happened.  A car-sick dog is not pleasant.

But alas, this is not what you were waiting to hear about. The real excitement came when we managed to have a little “run-in” with a semi-truck as we were barreling down the commuter lane at 55 mph. The passengers mirror is now a thing of the past. The frame is still attached to the Hag (miraculously) and what is left of the mirrors has been duct taped together. It was a dicey deal and the un-initiated in our group were left somewhat shaken. Our driver, and his inventive combination of words not generally used in polite conversation, didn’t exactly quell this ensuing panic, but we managed, and as this killed conversation for the remainder of the trip, we had some time for quiet contemplation. Sometimes, that’s what you need. It’s a natural consequence.   Lane changes or right hand turns became a task involving the three remaining passengers looking out windows and bending up and down in an attempt to make use of the off-kilter mirror. Again, we live on the rough side of danger. Nothing new here, or perhaps this is the time to add, “Thank you, Jesus.”

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Broken mirror…..real broken.

After what seemed like HOURS in bumper-to-bumper traffic, because that is what it actually was, we arrived at our destination, an RV site at the marina in Anacortes. It was beautiful and we had a view of the water. It was an added bonus that we were within walking distance to the party venue.

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Marion’s daughters did a beautiful job of decorating!  The room, with it’s SPECTACULAR view, was perfect.   The banner featured photos of Marion throughout her life. 

My Mother-In-Law loves the color pink. The invitation asked us to wear her favorite color to her “Pretty In Pink” birthday party. Her daughters had decorated the waterfront cabana, where the party was held, with flowers and photos of Marion’s life. We feasted on salmon, Susie’s famous mac and cheese, spinach salad, and lovely pink birthday cake. Dad sang her happy birthday and offered his own take on being of an advanced age. He said that at 90 you don’t have any enemies left as “all those sons-of-bitches have already died.” A man of few words, all of which bear true.

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The birthday girl, my wonderful Mother-In-Law, Marion!  (with granddaughter in the background)

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Dad, enjoying the lunch!

An added bonus to Marion’s birthday, were her great grandchildren: the infant twins, their sibling, and 2 young cousins. I hadn’t met them, as we don’t seem to manage to get together as often as we should or would like to. Those babies were adorable and to the delight of their tired parents, there was an endless supply of baby holders. Kailin and I managed to hold them as often as we could.

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Kailin, and I with Amy, the mother of these two beautiful twin babies!

And then there was Saturday. The plan was to go to the local Saturday Market, which we did, with a slight delay. On this morning, we noticed that dear Riley was doing a fair amount of scratching. Upon further inspection and a little grooming with a flea comb, we came to the conclusion that our traveling companion had fleas. After a terse phone conversation with dear son and hitching a ride to the pet supply store to purchase homeopathic flea shampoo and spray, we came back to the Hag, and gave Riley the dog, a bath. This was not really upsetting to her. She seemed to take it in stride. Aside from having to be picked up and placed in the shower somewhat against her will, she was fine and didn’t seem to mind the resulting smell of cloves and mint. And, the scratching stopped.

The rest of the trip was, quite fortunately, lovely and without catastrophe. We spent time with family, ate, walked, and breathed in the beautiful smell of the ocean air. Truly, Anacortes is one of those paradise areas. Water, seafood, not too big, not too small, and with just enough amenities to make life comfortable. There isn’t much more you could ask for. Thank you, Jesus.

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My sweet Kailin and the babies!

 

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A Little Bit of This and That

Friday, March 16, 2018

I thought I would post a few of this year’s highlights from down in the desert. Sort of a photomontage, if you will.  Life in the middle of nowhere and things that caught our fancy.

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A most fabulous tostada at the Calipatria Donut Shop.  Yes, they have more than wonderful donuts.  The hamburgers are great as are the burritos, etc.

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I picked up a sweet little card table and two chairs at the “Lark Spa Garage Sale.”  (It’s a nearby RV Park)

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A “Darwin Moment” across the street from us.  The grey object above this dude’s head happens to be a small boulder or large rock, however you choose to see it.  He was removing a piece of metal awning that was blowing in the breeze and driving the neighbors crazy all night long.  He managed to remove the errant awning without incident.  The rock unceremoniously, blew off in the next windstorm.  No one was injured.

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Carol’s cactus.  It still stands proud and tall.

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Helen’s cactus, “Bob.”  It survived the long hot summer, after it’s move last March.  It is sprouting two new arms!

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Repair work.  We had issues with the thermostat.  Thank you, Amazon Prime.

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Yet another “Darwin Moment.”  The stabilizer for this trailer is resting on a jack stand.  It doesn’t look all that safe to me.

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The full effect of how this thing is leveled…..both the front and the back stabilizers are resting on jack stands.

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The Legion Fish Fry at Bombay Beach

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Cotton candy……The HIGHLIGHT of the Fish Fry!

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The FOY Parade.  A rather creative entry.

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Best.  Milkshakes.  Ever.

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The International Banana Museum

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Jesus at the International Banana Museum

And this folks, is what happened during the 2 months in exile.  (Not much!)

 

 

 

 

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Another Season of “Fun In The Sun” Comes to An End

 

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Friday, March 2, 2018

We let the folks on our street know that we would be leaving (somewhat promptly) at 8:30 Monday morning. By 8:15, to our surprise, our neighbors had gathered around our site to say goodbye. The four of us Daisies bounded out of the Hag for the farewell send off. We hugged our friends and promised to keep in touch through the year and assured them all that we would see them next January. Each year we become more and more attached to our fellow FOYites. My personal opinion is that the isolation of the park makes the clientele quite intentional in choosing to stay where we stay. There is a reason to drive to the middle of nowhere and park for an unspecified amount of time. I would say that in addition to the dust, wind, mineral water, and desert, the folks who choose to come back year after year do so to be together. I know that my life and well being have been uplifted by the people who have swept me under their wings these past two months.

I made new friends this year and became better acquainted with those I met in previous years. I was invited to a ladies night at a friend’s place where we sat around a fire pit, on the edge of the desert at sunset, and attempted to right the world. It was a select group of like-minded women and one of those magic moments that I won’t forget. My sewing friends included me on a trip to go fabric shopping in Palm Springs, and fabric shopping could possibly be one of my favorite activities. I have been comforted and included, and for that I am eternally grateful. For two months I have received much more that was possible for me to give. Thank you for being a friend, to me and to the rest of the Daisies. The fact that Dad, at 93, had people who went out of their way to speak to him EVERY day was truly a gift, to me and to him. Again, thank you. We know who you are. We saw (and are grateful for) the things you did and said.

And with hugs, waves, and perhaps a couple of tears, we set sail into the known world of long lonesome highways. Fortunately, this journey home was “meh.” We did the casino thing, the orange picking thing, the hellish drive thing, and then we landed home. Maybe it wasn’t quite that simple.

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The “scenery.”  Miles of nothingness.

We left on Monday keeping a watchful eye on our Accuweather Apps. The weather from Chico, California north was predicted to go to Hell, and by Hell, I mean that an impending storm was alleged to bring snow to the Siskiyou’s and points both north and south.

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The Siskiyou Summit.  It was just beginning to snow as we crossed it.

Our usual plan is to spend our last night out at Seven Feathers Casino RV Park and have a short 3-hour drive home the next day so that we can unpack in the daylight hours. This omen of snow, potentially lasting FOUR days, and Dad thinking that we could spend our time cooling our heels (emptying our wallets and upsetting our digestive tracks) for time immemorial at the casino, spurred the rest of this Daisie clan into heading home. Immediately, and without stopping for much of anything. We all have our limits. Some of us might have already reached that point.

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Lake Shasta.  No trip up or down I-5 is complete without a photo of the amount of “water in the hole.”  It’s looking okay at this point.

As it was, we landed at the farm around 5:00 on Wednesday night. We were tired. Some of us were cranky. Some of us were happy. One of us was absolutely elated and bolted out the door of the Hag and ran like the wind through the field at top speed. And, no, that wasn’t me. It could have been, but it wasn’t. Stella ran and leaped and gave me a look that said it all. She was done with the desert; done with confinement; done with being on the end of a 6’ leash; and quite ready to run free and make her own decisions.

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Stella, at full speed.

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As Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home.” Unless, of course, you’re arriving home at dinnertime, with a fully loaded RV, after a 425 mile day of driving. Then, it’s not quite as magical as it seems. I have heard that some folks approach the unloading and cleaning up phase of traveling with a relaxed pace. That doesn’t happen with the Daisie clan. The comfort of not being inconvenienced, due to missing your personal effects, is strong here. We accommodate this quirk, and so we proceeded to unpack for the next 5 hours. A long day. A short night. That appears to be how we roll these days. That aside, we are home and my people are reasonably happy. And that, my friends, is a good thing.

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