Sunday, December 26, 2010

A very nice Christmas Day.

Location, Home, CA

Christmas day started slow as we opened gifts from friends and neighbors here at the house. After a quick breakfast, I loaded the car with presents and food and about 10:30 AM we headed south for niece Chelsea and husband Steve’s house. Traffic was light so we made good time. We put all the gifts under the tree and waited until Steve and Chelsea came back from visiting the twins in the hospital.

A quick brunch and the gift opening began. It takes us hours as we do one at a time taking turns so everyone sees what has been opened. With a wedding in September and twins born in December, it was truly a photo Christmas.

Later, we had a ham dinner which was a community project. Clyda did the scalloped potatoes, Linda brought the Honey Baked ham and Steve made Brussels sprouts and a green bean casserole. Steve also made Pumpkin Elizabeth for dessert.

It had started to rain before dinner so we were in no real hurry to leave. About 8 PM we did leave as the rain had let up some. It did rain all of the way home but turned to sprinkles the closer we got.

It was a great day with family and I can only imagine what Christmas next year with the twins will be like. They should be walking by then as they will be 1 year old.

I checked my rain gauge this morning and we had another 1.2 inches yesterday for a total of 13.3 inches in just over a week. That’s about what we get in a normal year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rain, Rain, Rain!

Location, Home, CA

I think we have enough rain to float the “Ark” now. Since Friday morning we have had 12.15 inches of rain in my backyard gauge. It has rained almost continuously during that time. Today the sun did make a brief appearance but we also had a rain shower during that time so had a nice rainbow.

I finished wrapping my last present today so that is done. Mostly I laid around all day while checking the internet and watching TV as Clyda had a couple of long time high school friends for lunch.

Yesterday I scanned old family photos which came from my mother. I had brought them back from Wisconsin in September. It is a slow process but one I need to get done. It will clear up some of the clutter in my computer room.

I just checked the RV Blogs and everyone was bragging about the great weather in Arizona. However, they did get rain today and expect as much as 1.5 inches which in the desert is a “gully washer” for sure. We encountered some of that kind of weather last year while in Quartzsite.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Help Wanted!

Location, Home, CA
Help wanted!
Carpenter skills required to build an Ark.
Must be able to covert Cubits to feet.

I’m not kidding; we may need one if this rain keeps up. Since early Friday morning we have had over 8 inches of rain in my rain gauge. So far it has been a gentle but continuous rain. The ground is now soaked up enough that water is standing in places like the back yard.

From the weather reports and NOAA weather it will continue into Wednesday with the heaviest rain expected on Tuesday.

With sadness I note the passing of a neighbor and brother Elk. Jim, better known to us as JJ passed away on December 9th. His memorial service was held on Friday at the Elks Club. I and Budd (ex next door neighbor) were asked to speak. It was a brief but meaningful service.

I am still working on my Christmas shopping. The rain has put a damper on that. I hate to go out in it.

The new twins continue to do well in the hospital. Chelsea has come home to rest up and become strong to take care of the newborns when they eventually come home.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A momentous day!

Location, Home, CA

What a momentous day!!

Our niece Chelsea and husband Steve had been expecting twins after the first of the year but the babies decided to come early, as in yesterday afternoon. We had gotten a call that Chelsea was on the way to the hospital but thought it was just a false alarm as many first babies are. No false alarm this time. They were delivered by C-section about 3 PM.

Of course, Clyda couldn’t wait to see Chelsea and the babies so this morning we drove down to Tarzana to the hospital. Chelsea looked great and Steve is a proud but slightly shocked new daddy.

Steve took us to the neo-natal unit where we had to scrub, as in doctor scrub, as you see on TV. Elbows to finger tips with a throw away soap pad imbedded scrubber then wash off with water and dry with paper towels. Steve has to do this each time he enters the unit so his arms are raw already.

Clyda went in first and later I went in with Steve. Stella is breathing on her own even though she is the smallest at 3 lbs 2 oz’s while Braeden is on a ventilator and weighs 3 lbs 10 oz’s. The babies looked really good and healthy but small. Both babies were born breathing on their own and crying so that bodes well for them. They both will need to gain weight before they can be released from the hospital. It may be as much as a month before that happens.

After we left the hospital we stopped for lunch before coming home. The temperature in the San Fernando Valley was 80 degrees when we left the restaurant but dropped to 64 when we arrived in Ventura. It also was foggy coming up the coast. What a change in a few hours. I can hear the fog horn tonight as I write this.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Counting the Days.

Location, Home, CA

The weather has warmed up into the high 60’s during the day. It may get to the low 70’s tomorrow. Even the evenings have not been too bad. Very nice!

I finished the Christmas letter this week and also made a web version to email. I don’t like to send a Microsoft Word document as many people don’t have that software installed on their computers. We send some letters with Christmas cards and some folks just get the email version.

Clyda has been busy wrapping presents with the goal of getting them all to the post office on Monday. As usual, I haven’t started my shopping yet. I do have some ideas however.

I have been modifying some small LED path lights I picked up at a local hardware. I have added an on/off switch to each light. I found the lights to be handy while camping to light the entry to the RV and to mark objects such as rocks in the campground. The lights usually need to be put in the sunlight each day to charge the battery and then placed each evening. The switch allows them to be stored with out removing the battery.

The switch is really tiny but is visible above the label.

Monday, December 6, 2010

First Christmas Party of the month.

Location, Home, CA

The tree is up and decorated and most all of the other decorations are done. As usual, we have more decorations than room to display them. It is time to “weed out” some of the old stuff I think.

Last night was our first Christmas party of the month and a good time was had by all except I returned with the “white elephant” gift from the gift exchange that I took to the party. It happens almost every year. I guess I should take something nice that I want if I am going to end up with it anyway.

I have been wading through a stack of paper work that has piled up while we were gone for 10 days. Tomorrow I have multiple errands to run which will take me most of the day.

We had rain last evening and there was about .6 inch in the rain gauge this morning. It is still cold but supposed to warm up over the next few days.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Catching up.

Location, Home, CA

I am rusty. It has been so long since I posted that I am out of practice.

We did a long trip over Thanksgiving. We drove to Walnut Creek to spend the holiday with Cindy and Gary. On Wednesday night we drove into Berkeley and attended an evening of Irish music at the Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse. We heard 3 bands which covered traditional Irish music with the last band doing some Cajun and a little Zydeco. Great fiddle playing and a great evening out.

On Friday, the ladies left very early for some “Black Friday” shopping. The guys watched football.

On Sunday afternoon we drove into San Francisco to Clement Street which is in the Richmond district and mostly Asian with a ton of restaurants. We ate at Java Restaurant and had a very good Satay with peanut sauce and shrimp chips.

After driving along the coast we drove to San Francisco Airport and dropped Cindy and Gary off so they could catch a flight to South Africa. They are on Safari. This is Cindy’s dream trip.

On Monday morning we drove to Tehachapi and spent 3 days with Budd and Brenda. It was COLD with snow and ice on the ground. We had several good card games and tried to figure out the TV remote which wouldn’t control the sound amplifier. Never did get it fixed.

Thursday morning we drove home. Temperatures here were a little milder than Tehachapi in fact it was 79 degrees in Fillmore as we came through.

Today it was back to reality. I took the car in for an oil change as the “Change Oil” light kept coming on. It was time.

I also got the Christmas decorations down and the outside lights put up. The tree is up but not decorated. Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fall Trip Highlights.

Location, Home, CA

I knew it would be some time before I posted but this is ridiculous.

I did spend 4 days in Las Vegas in October. The new bridge over the Colorado River below Hoover Dam opened while we were there so we just had to pay it a visit. There is a visitor parking lot and lots of steps which eventually get you up to the bridge level. You can walk along a pedestrian walkway to the Arizona side but no further as it is blocked. Great views of the dam from this walkway.

View of the bridge from the dam.
 My son Tim had not been to Hoover dam so we took the tour. After going through security, buying our tickets ($30), getting a photo taken (didn’t buy it), and watching a movie of the dam being built, we left the secure area and walked along the top of the dam until it was time for our tour.

Once again, we went through security and joined our tour. The tours are well organized and even though I had done this twice before, this tour was different. We saw more internal things in the dam than other times. Such as, the “Stairway to Heaven” which is the thousands of steps you would need to climb if the elevators quit working.

Leaving Las Vegas, we traveled to Tecopa, CA and camped in the BLM area for 5 days. Out of this area we did 4x4 trips, traveled along the Tonopah & Tidewater rail bed, soaked in Tecopa Hot Springs, and had a date shake at China Ranch.

How the modern 4x4'er navigates.
Sunset at Tecopa BLM.

We next moved into Death Valley for 2 weeks of 4x4 trips, pictographs, petroglyphs, old mines, music, and the 61st 49’er Encampment. The 10 days Tim was there went by fast. I took him to lunch at Mesa Grill (Bobby Flay’s restaurant) in Caesar’s Palace before taking him to the airport. What a great Lunch!!!!!

We ended our trip where we began it with an overnight stop at Baker behind the Mad Greek Restaurant.

We watched the International Space Station pass over us before we went to dinner. It was visible for 4 minutes.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Packing for the desert.

Location, Home, CA

I realize I haven’t posted much lately. I have been getting ready for my annual fall desert trip. We have put together several features which I hope will satisfy everyone.

I am leaving Monday for Las Vegas with an overnight stop at Baker. A few of us will meet there before we travel on to Las Vegas. We will spend 4 days in Vegas and have a full schedule of things to do and see while there.

Besides our usual things we will visit the new MGM City Center, tour Hoover Dam and see the new bridge over the Colorado River. The bridge doesn’t officially open for traffic for a couple of weeks yet.

We will then spend a week in the desert around Tecopa, CA checking on the remains of the old Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad, explore some 4x4 roads and maybe soak in the hot springs at Tecopa.

From Tecopa we will move to Death Valley for two weeks and partake in the Death Valley 49er celebration. This is an annual celebration commemorating the first pioneers to enter the valley in 1849. This celebration has been held each year since 1949. One of our members has attended every year since then. He was 10 years old and rode a wagon in the grand parade.

I should be gone about a month. The weather next week in Las Vegas is calling for rain showers. Hopefully it won’t be too bad.

Speaking of weather…. Ours has been awful. Clouds and fog which for the most part is a light drizzle which goes on all day. I had planned to wash my truck and wax it today but it just kept drizzling so I watch football instead. :)

We did get our flu shots this morning. Because we belong to an HMO we can’t get a free flu shot as people who are just on Medicare can. We had to make a $20 donation each for ours. Cheap insurance I guess. Mine stung a little and my arm is sore tonight.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Nice weather for a change.

Location, Home, CA

It is warm tonight. It beats the usual fog which shows up at this time of day.

Last Saturday we drove to Newport Beach at the invitation of friends and stayed at their Marriott Timeshare. It is a beautiful coast line. We had a great time. We drove back here on Tuesday evening after the traffic rush had passed. We still had slowdown from the airport to the top of Sepulveda Pass but made it home in 3 ½ hours. I do hate driving in all that traffic but it is the shorted way to go.

Yesterday we drove North with a car load of friends and visited another friend who just had hip surgery 3 weeks ago. She is doing really well. Clyda had made a pot of Greek Chili for lunch, another friend took bread, and another brought dessert. We ate on the patio as it was such a nice day.

Today I worked on the shelves in the wood shed. I used steel studs as the framework. It turned out well so I put all my lumber on the shelves this afternoon. Another thing I can scratch off my to-do list.

I made a new recipe for dinner tonight. It was chicken breast stuffed with stuffing and covered in a mushroom sauce. Very tasty. I am thinking about doing this for my desert trip. Also, made a corn salad with walnuts and feta cheese. It was very good.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Smog check complete.

Location, Home, CA

I meant to write an update to the blog last night but I had already turned the computer off when I remembered it.

The smog check went very well. I showed the mechanic the chart from the state website and he said “looks good to me” and completed the test. There is no real test as for a gasoline engine car. They do check to see if certain factory equipment is still install on the vehicle and the OBD (on board diagnostic) computer has any error codes in it. So, I am good to go again but flatter in the wallet. Even though they do less testing on a diesel truck, they charge more than a gasoline vehicle. Go figure.

This morning I replaced a cloth shield around both the truck batteries. The outside material had come all apart. I am not sure what this shield is for but it has insulation in it so it may be to protect the battery from excessive heat. Craig had some material which is tough and impervious to everything so he sewed up a sleeve into which we inserted insulation. This sleeve was wrapped around the battery and secured with plastic ties. Time will tell if it will with stand the engine heat.

We are off for a few days. More on that later.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Back home.

Location, Home, CA

I am a little behind in blogging it would seem.

We were gone all last week to our nieces wedding in Washington State. We flew up on Tuesday and came home on Monday of this week. The weather even cooperated on the big day although it had rained several times while we were there.

Many of the relatives and friends on the bride’s side of the family helped make decorations and getting the church and reception hall ready.

It was very nice to see everyone including our son Tim who flew in from Texas.

We arrived home on Monday morning to a scorcher. It was 85 degrees when we got off the plane at 10:30 AM. The temperature continued to climb until we set a record of over 100 degrees for the day. We left the house closed up as it was cool inside.

Yesterday and today are still warm but not unbearable. I do stuff outside then go back inside to cool off.

I have spent most of the last two days trying to get answers about getting a smog check on my diesel pickup. The problem is my after market exhaust brake which is not listed on the states approved list. Further digging within the website found a chart which shows that exhaust brakes are exempt as part of the smog check. I will find out tomorrow how true that is when I take it in for the check.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Location, Home, CA

I picked the winter squash from my garden today. Most of the vines had already dried up so I felt it was time. They are some kind of Turban Squash as you can tell by the light colored turban shape on the flower end of the squash.

I had expected them to be green in color which they were when they first formed but soon turned to orange. Looking up winter squash on the internet comes up with many varieties. All very interesting. I will cook one soon.

Not much else going on. I continue to work on the fall trip. I think I have a better handle on who will be where and when. At least enough to make the food assignments. We won’t need to cook often but there will be 8 to 10 each time for dinner. Some people may have a problem with that but it also means way less meals we need to cook which I like.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Location, Home, CA

The days just slip by without much thought. The days are shorter and fall is definitely in the air.

We woke up to fog this morning but it cleared off before noon which made a fairly nice day. The temperature dropped as soon as the sun headed toward the horizon.

I have been working on the rain gutters on the wood shed. They are finished and ready for testing. I need to take the hose to the roof so I can see how they work. The rain barrel project is going a little slower. I need to design a catch basin which allows the first dirty water from the roof to run off to a drain before I start to fill the barrels. I have seen several designs on-line but they all look too complicated. Needs more thinking I’m guessing.

I need to start the shelves in the shed next. In the meantime I worked on a few refinements to my book shelves in the trailer. I now have nylon straps which I can tighten to hold the books in place.

Also worked on food assignments for the fall trip. I still don’t have a firm head count but that usually happens each year. Plans change so will wait a few more weeks before I send out the list.

We really are packing a lot into the 4 days we will spend in Las Vegas. It looks like we will now take in a show on one of the nights. There are discount tickets available for the time we will be there so why not take advantage of them.

My truck went in for maintenance on Monday. Had to have the upper and lower ball joints replaced. BIG BUCKS!!! I knew in advance what the cost would be so no surprises there. The mechanics have been telling me for two years that they needed replacing so now it is done. The steering is a little stiff but is getting better the more I drive it.

Also had to replace the truck batteries on Friday. Old ones just quit. Because it is a diesel, both needed replacing at the same time. Another hit to the wallet.

Better days ahead, I hope.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

To Wisconsin and back.

Location, Home, CA

I am back from my trip to Wisconsin. I arrived home about 10:30 PM on Tuesday. I have been playing catch up since then.

The trip went very well including all of my flights. I arrived in Chicago a little early and was in my rental car ready to head North by 6:30 PM. The traffic was minimal on the Northwest toll road to Rockford, IL so I made good time. I stopped once for food and arrived at my sister’s by 11 PM.

On Tuesday we sorted through 5 boxes of photo albums and papers my mother had collected. I brought much of it back with me and sent another box home on Friday. The box arrived today.

The rest of the week was spent visiting my parents in the assisted living facility, visiting relatives, a trip to the cemeteries to clean the headstones (they grow moss on them), and attending an all high school reunion on Saturday. It was great to see old classmates and neighbors some of whom I haven’t seen in 50 years. The last reunion was 3 years ago and another is planned for 2013.

I left my sisters at 6:30 AM on Tuesday for the 4 and ½ hour drive back to Chicago. I had anticipated construction on my route but only had to slow for a single lane section once. It was very windy however. I did run out of clouds south of Madison, WI and except for the wind it was a beautiful day. Traffic was moderate from Madison on but maintained 65 MPH for the most part. I was off the toll way by 11 AM but it took another hour gas the car, turn it in, and shuttle back to the airport.

My flights all left on time and the first leg from Chicago to Las Vegas I was in First Class. I could really learn to travel this way. Great service, and great food and drink. It was first class from Las Vegas to Los Angeles also but the flight was only an hour so there were few real perks.

I arrived home with a raging head ache which I attributed to not drinking enough water and too much air conditioning. It was fine the next morning.

I took few pictures on this trip. I think the fact that we spent so much time looking at all my mother’s pictures put a damper on my taking more. When I get old, who will want them any way? Food for thought.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Moving on.

Location, Home, CA

I have not felt like posting this week. All my energy has been used in getting Craig out of here and on the road to Burning Man. Not that I was actively involved most of the time but his stuff was scattered all over the yard, garage, and back yard for days. He finally crammed the last item in the truck and trailer and left about 4 PM. As usual, he will drive all night. It doesn’t make me happy but the peace and quite are worth it. Too much negative energy when he is here.

I also need to get my act together for my trip to Wisconsin on Monday. I think I have most of it under control. I am trying to get by with as little as possible. However, I decided I needed to take my GPS and my Ipod. No computer on this trip. Clyda is using the Netbook most of the time now anyway.

I will be traveling all day as I leave at 6:30 AM and don’t arrive in Chicago until 5:45 PM after flying all around the country. So much for a FREE ticket! From Chicago I have about a 5 hour drive to Wausau, WI which puts me there about midnight.

I stripped most of the software off my old Dell notebook including McAfee Security System and several other software packages that reside on my other computers. I then installed Microsoft Security Essentials which is free, to do the things that McAfee was doing. Time will tell how this works out.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hot August Nights

Location, Home, CA

I know I am way behind in posting but we had been gone most of the week. We went to Walnut Creek for “Hot August Nights”. No, not the car show by that name in Reno but 4 days at our friends Cindy and Gary’s house along with Don and Bev. Lots of pool time, too much good food and good conversation.

A few day trips to places like Korbel Champagne cellars on the Russian River, the Black Diamond Coal mine near Pittsburg, CA, and dinner at the Buckhorn Restaurant and a music show at the Palms Playhouse in Winters, CA. The band at the Palms was Antsy McLain and the Trailer Park Troubadours Antsy writes all the songs and the band comes up with the music. It is a great audience participation show and we thoroughly enjoyed all 3 hours of the music.

We drove to Paso Robles on Friday and spent the night with friends Dick and Connie. Dick and I had items to iron out for our fall trip. Saturday about noon we went to the Olive Festival in the city park. It was well attended. Clyda had been walking without her crutches for a day or so but we decided she would go in a wheel chair for this trip. Way too much walking for her other wise.

She is doing well but puts the nylon boot on when she walks around so she has more support. She did drive the car today so that is progress.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Same old, same old.

Location, Home, CA

Finally, sunshine when we woke up on Monday. It even lasted all day. Yesterday, back to the same oldroutine, overcast and drizzle with some sun later on the day. The temperature remains in the low 60’s for the most part. I hear that farmers in the central valley of California are complaining that it isn’t hot enough for fruit and vegetables to ripen. Weird weather.

Not much has changed here. Clyda is still on crutches but has a doctor’s appointment tomorrow. I doubt if he will give her the ok to abandon the crutches just yet.

I worked some more on the rain gutters today. Actually, I moved the collection barrels into place so I can work on the downspouts. It is a bigger job than I planned on. Aren’t they all?

I was sitting here trying to remember what I have done for the last 2 weeks. I drew sort of a blank for a while. Then I remembered that I had repaired a flat screen monitor that I had gotten from Budd and Brenda’s daughter Julie. A little internet browsing mentioned that a series of capacitors had been faulty and would likely be leaking. After I completely removed the circuit board I found that to be so, two leaking capacitors. I bought new ones at Radio Shack, replaced them and the monitor now works. I hooked it up to my old Dell laptop while I was scanning old slides to make sure it would work after warming up for several hours. Very nice picture and it also has 2 speakers built in.

I am also working on an HP printer from Julie. This one has been more work. I can’t get the driver software to install on my computer. Also, it won’t print so either the cartridges are dry or the ink is dried in the printer. I need to spend more time with it.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Still here, just busy.

Location, Home, CA

No, I haven’t disappeared from the face of the earth. I have been busy as chief cook and bottle washer, laundress, floor scrubber, etc. Clyda is still on crutches and non weight bearing on her foot. The stitches came out this week so that is progress. The doctor liked the x-ray taken last week so just continue as before.

I have been working on some rain gutters for the wood shed. These are custom made out of galvanized steel u-channel normally used in steel building construction.

I plan to use the roof of the shed to collect rain water and direct it into 2 plastic barrels. The rain gutters will direct the water to a collection basin where debris will collect and the first run off will bypass the collection barrels. I found ideas for all this on the internet of course. I will have photos when it is done.

Friday, July 23, 2010

BBQ photos.

Location, Home, CA

I need to complete some unfinished business from the last blog entry. I talked about the modifications I made to the BBQ table but didn’t include the photos. So here are the photos.

Table extension in the folded, closed, position.

Table extended for use.

After using it last night I can say that it is a big improvement over the old table extension which came out to the front and was always in the way. So much so, that I hardly used it at all. After I took these photos I figured out how to store the rod holding the table up in the extended position without removing it from the table. Neat!!!

Clyda is still making progress with her ankle recovery. Yesterday she had an x-ray taken which showed the one remaining screw. The complete interpretation will need to be done by the doctor at her visit next week.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ankle progress.

Location, Home, CA

Clyda had a doctor’s appointment this morning. They removed the soft cast so we got a look at her stitches. She has quit a few on both sides of her ankle. She also has a few arthroscopic holes where the doctor checked her ankle. He said he removed all but one screw and actually grafted a piece of bone from her ankle to the bone which wasn’t healing right. His usual comment is “it looks good” and that’s what he said today.

She is to wear the “black boot” she had for the original surgery. Unfortunately we can not find the “boot” and assume we gave it to Goodwill. A friend of Clyda’s has one so all is not lost. A new boot cost $245 and the insurance won’t pay for it.

I have only been doing small things around the yard this past week. I modified the extension tray on my BBQ so that it makes a larger tray to the side of the BBQ. As it was originally intended, the tray came out to the front and was a pain to work around. Now I have more space to set things on while I BBQ.

Tomorrow I have several errands to run as well as a short grocery trip to do.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Clyda's surgery.

Location, Home, CA

Just a short post to say everything is ok. Clyda had her surgery on Monday and is doing very well. She has had much less pain than the last time. Other than removing all the hardware we won’t know exactly what was done until her appointment on Monday. She has an Ace bandage wrap with what we think is a plaster cast under it. I am sure that will come off Monday. We know the Dr made an incision on each side of her ankle so he could look at the bone which possibly wasn’t healing right. Other than that, we wait until the office visit.

So, I am the chief cook and bottle washer for now. Most of my time is spent making sure the phones are charged as she spends much of the day talking on them.

It has been rather warm here the past 3 days which has been nice. I do have more watering to do because of the heat but my squash should really grow.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Shame on me!!

Location, Home, CA

I noticed that it has been almost a week since I last posted. Shame on me!!!

Although I must say that little has happened here this week. I am still working on some projects in the RV. I did manage to find a way to secure the TV within the cabinet for travel. Basically I used a nylon tie down strap with two tie down points and two pieces of dense packing foam where the TV was close to parts of the cabinet. When pulled tight the strap secures the TV against the bookshelf behind it. I want to add some leather pads where the strap goes around the top and bottom of the TV screen so the strap doesn’t rub.

I am also working on a bar to keep the books on the shelf during travel. I am trying to find a way to keep the books in place with some kind of a bookend that squeezes the books if the shelf is only partially full.

I did replace the clearance lens covers on the RV as the original ones were almost white instead of orange as they should be. I found the lens covers in Quartzsite this year but the ones I bought didn’t fit my lights. So back to the shop where I did find complete light assemblies for $2.00 each. When I started to replace the fixtures the other day I for some reason decided to try the new lens on the old fixture. Well, guess what? The new lens fit my old lights. So, instead of several hours work it was a matter of minutes to replace all 6 lenses.

Here is what the before and after lens look like.
Saturday I spent part of the day following the son of a friend around the Golf course while he played in the SCGA amateur tournament nearby. It is a beautiful course but does have its hills. Today I again went back for the final day and walked the course. He was tied for 2nd place until the other fellow birdie number 18 to break the tie. Kevin placed third out of a hundred plus players. He has won this tournament several times in the past.

Tomorrow, Clyda has the hardware in her ankle removed. We don’t know what to expect for recover time but do know we need to be at the surgery center by 6:15 AM tomorrow. More on this later.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Replacing an old TV in the RV.

Location, Home, CA

We did celebrate the 4th yesterday by spending a few hours at the Elks Club. We had the traditional hot dog to celebrate. They had a really nice turn out. Very nice to see.

I mentioned in yesterdays post that I had been working on the replacement of our 27 inch RCA TV in the RV with a new flat screen TV. The new one is 26 inches wide which just fits the opening in the cabinet. However the height is larger than the new TV so something will need to be done with that extra opening.

I removed the old set and took it in for recycling. The cabinet while quite large is not a rectangle as the face of it is turned to the couch across the room.

I decided I needed to have a way to remove the new TV to get to the space behind it and also to tilt the TV forward for better viewing. That meant buying a bracket kit with a swing arm to mount the TV on. 
This arm needs to be attached to something sturdy which meant adding something to the cabinet as the walls and wood of the cabinet is not substantial.

So I came up with this. It is a 4x4 covered with wood grain shelf paper attached to cross pieces (also covered with shelf paper). The cross pieces are screwed at each corner to the existing cabinet and braced along the back wall to the opposite corner so nothing can move. It is quite sturdy.

Wood mount in place.
All wires are tied to the swing arm so they won’t interfere with movement.

To close off the opening above the TV, I decided to add a board painted black to match the TV. The board is attached with Euro cabinet hinges on the back side so it can swing upwards inside the cabinet. The hinges hold it up to allow access to the bookshelf and also to provide ventilation while the TV is on. I didn’t want to trap all the hot air behind the TV so this should work well.

Wood flap closed.
 Wood flap open.
I added a shelf for books at the rear of t he cabinet.
Flap closed and TV in place for viewing .

I do need to figure out a way of holding the TV in place while traveling and think a combination of a strap and foam blocks may do the trip. I don’t want the TV banging around while we are moving.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth of July!!!

Location, Home, CA

I have been remiss in posting to this blog lately. We are still here and doing things. Mostly, I have been working on my RV list of projects. I am well along on installing the flat screen TV in place of the old set. When I complete that little project I will post a detailed account of the progress and the problems involved with that.

I have managed to wash all the vehicles in the last week or so and wax all but the truck. I may tackle that tomorrow. It really needs it.

We did make a trip last Monday to Lompoc to visit Wal-Mart. Clyda needed to purchase some material for a new blanket she wants to start. She actually was very successful in finding what she wanted. I bought a few items but couldn’t find what I actually went for. I am looking for a 12 volt cigarette lighter type jack to install in the RV so I can plug in an inverter. I can find some that are made to be installed in thin wall metal but mine must go through about a half inch of wood. Therefore it must have a set of threads on the body with a nut to tighten it in the hole. I guess I will keep looking but I am running out of places to look locally. Maybe I’ll try the internet.

We finished off our trip with lunch at Sissy’s in downtown Lompoc. It is a small place but has really good fresh food. We both had club sandwiches which were excellent. We finished it off by sharing a piece of cherry cobbler.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Working on the RV.

Location, Home, CA

I am “pooped”. On Monday I replaced the shocks on the RV. Boy, did they need it! One had been hit by something and part of it was caved in. So much so, that it wouldn’t collapse at all. All of them had no “shock” left in them. I ordered replacements on-line and got good Monroe shocks. I think I had them all replaced in an hour.

On Tuesday I scrubbed the roof of the RV with a cleaner. The product said to use a mop and do a small square at a time and don’t let any run down the sides. Well, that didn’t work so I did my usual thing and scrubbed it with a soft bristle nylon brush and then mopped it using two buckets of water. The first to wring out the dirty mop water and the second as rinse water. I made many trips up and down the ladder as the water was always dirty. After that little chore I washed the RV.

On Wednesday I coated the roof with a protectorant. Again, it said to mop it on but I found that applying it with a sponge worked very well. I also started waxing the RV but didn’t get it done as the sun came out before I finished.

This morning I completed the waxing as well as a few other small chores on my list for the RV. There are still items to be done, the biggest of which is lubing the axels. I hate lifting those heavy tires. I also need to replace the oil seals this time.

The walls are now smooth if not shiny from the wax but the decals are really fading from the sun.

It is a shame to do all this work and not have any plans to go anywhere but that is life. After Clyda’s ankle surgery in a few weeks we will have a better idea about future travels.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Major projects for a friend.

Location, Home, CA

On Monday we drove to Tehachapi, CA after stops in Ventura to put flowers on Clyda’s parents grave and have lunch with her brother, Roger.

The plan for the week was to help our friends Budd and Brenda with some yard projects. Fortunately, Budd decided to have professionals do the hardest part. On Tuesday morning at 7:30 AM a truck load of cement arrived and was pumped into forms Budd had ready for a new concrete pad for his RV. Three professional cement finishers, one pump man, and two loads of cement later, it had been pumped into the forms, screeded smooth, troweled to a fine finish, and lightly broomed. Five hours after the first truck arrived, all the workers had left. A really nice job and we just stood around and watched. What a great feeling!

Forms ready for cement.
 Cement truck and pumper.
First cement. 
 About half done and waiting for a second truck load.
All done!
After lunch, Budd and I tackled the next project. Budd had poured a cement footing around some birch trees for a raised brick planter. The bed was kidney shaped which meant almost all bricks had to be cut because of the curvature of the planter. Fortunately we had a tile saw which was just able to cut the bricks.

Cutting bricks.
 Laying first bricks.
On Monday afternoon we completed about 1/4 of the planter.
By 5 PM on Wednesday it was all done. It looks really good!! 

Almost done.
Last brick.
Completed  planter bed.
On Thursday morning we pulled all the forms around the new cement pad and started building a block wall on 3 sides. After a fairly steep learning curve setting the first course of blocks we made great progress in the afternoon.

All these need to be moved and placed.
First course done.
Moving blocks with the trailer and tractor.
Friday morning before breakfast we put all the remaining blocks into place. After beakfast we back filled the wall with dirt. We used the garden tractor with a blade on it to level as much of the dirt as we could. The remainder of the job was done by hand with shovels.

Finished wall.
Our final chore after lunch on Friday was to reload all remaining blocks from a pallet on the ground to one in the truck so we could return them for credit. This meant lifting and stacking 148 blocks, wrapping them with plastic like the original pallets were and adding the remaining bricks and motor to the load. We also had 5 pallets to return for credit.
A big load.
At Budd’s suggestion, we celebrated with a root beer float. Look at the size of those floats!! It’s a good thing that they are two for the price of one.

This morning we drove back home after a stop in Fillmore to visit a friend who also provided lunch for us.

I should have been half dead after working so hard all week but actually, I feel pretty good. A great project completed.

I think I will take the next two days off however.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Not much happening.

Location, Home, CA

I have “burned” all of my airline miles making plans for trips this year. We used lots of them to fly to Florida for the start of our Panama Canal cruise and then I used another bunch for round trip tickets to Seattle for our nieces wedding in September. A couple days ago I used more to make reservations to see my folks in Wisconsin this summer and to attend an “all School” reunion for my hometown high school.

The school no longer exists as it was merged with a larger school. In fact the building itself is gone. That probably was a good thing as it stood next to the community hall which housed a beer bar in the basement. The school and bar were only about 25 feet apart. That distance is way closer than the minimum required by state law I would guess.

It’s funny; we hadn’t traveled by air very much the last several years and now we are burning all those miles all in one year. They will build back up again but it just takes time.

Not much else was going on here this past week, so, no blog since last Monday. I did attend two funerals this week, one for a neighbor and another for a fellow worker. Both died of cancer.

I picked the last of the berries today. Oh, there will be a few more ripen but we will be gone for a few days helping our friend Budd with some cement and brick work so what few berries are left can fall to the ground. I am taking my Aleve along for those aches and pains which are sure to happen by the end of each day after hard labor.

I doubt that I will post while we are gone.

Monday, June 7, 2010

LED light project.

Location, Home, CA

The one thing an RV’er never has enough of is battery power. Especially if he is dry camping or “boondocking”, ie, camping without being connected to a hard power source such as a campground 110 volt line. A major power “hog” are all the 12 volt lights which draw directly from the battery.

A year ago I bought 2 LED light bulbs for our bedside reading lights in the RV from a vender at the Quartzsite, AZ winter swap meet. These lights have proven to be reliable and have a low currant drain.

This past winter I purchased several LED bulbs while at Quartzsite to replace some of the heaviest current draining bulbs in the RV. We have two overhead fixtures, each with 3 bulbs, and those bulbs draw 1 amp each when all are turned on for a total of 6 amps. When we first purchased the RV, I had replaced the on switch with a three position switch so only one, two, or all three bulbs would be lite. This helped the battery drain as we usually only used one or two bulbs at a time.

The LED replacement bulbs were actually a disk with lots of LED’s on it which I used in place of one of the bulbs. This works very well so next winter I may replace the remaining bulbs.

The placement of the two light fixtures is not optimum for use as reading lights so this year I purchased 2 brass swivel light fixtures with LED bulbs to mount over the couch as reading lights. Temporarily hooking power to one of these lights showed that it was adequate for reading. The problem was how to get 12 volt power to the lights.

The closest source was the original ceiling lights. Removing the fixture which is in the living room slide out showed that the slide out ceiling is hollow but has spacers running fore and aft which keep the inner and outer walls of the ceiling separated. It also blocks any attempt to get a wire through to the cabinet behind the light fixture under which the lights are mounted.

Neighbor Paul suggested a wooden piece with a slot for wires in it be attached to the ceiling between the light and the cabinet and painted white to match the ceiling. I remembered that a plastic molding made for wires existed somewhere and a trip to the local hardware store was just the ticket. I bought a 5 foot piece of Wiremold which is a plastic tube with a groove on one side which snaps together and has a sticky backing to attach it to the ceiling. This worked perfectly!
Light fixture with cutout for Wiremold.
Close up of cutout.

I drilled a hole in the cabinet, installed the Wiremold, and pushed the wires through. Inside of the cabinet I used 4 inch pieces of Wiremold to keep the wires in place.

I drilled a hole in the bottom of the cabinet for each light, the cabinet floor was also hollow, so it was easy to get the wires out to the lights.
Reading lights installed with Wiremold going to the cabinet on upper right.
The finished project looks like it came originally from the factory.

My next project is replacing the old original 27 inch TV with a new 26 inch flat screen TV. I want to make the space behind the TV available for storage. This one has me baffled but I am working on some ideas. More on this later.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Short post.

Location, Home, CA

I spent part of this past Memorial weekend on the golf course…..Not playing… but following the son of a friend while he played in a tournament. On Saturday afternoon I walked along with other people for the first 10 holes and then on Monday I walked all 18 holes. My friend’s son didn’t win but came in third. I have done this before when he played but usually only the last nine holes. I thought I would be sore the next day but it wasn’t a problem.

We have several plants flowering right now. I really like this "Lions Mane". We have two in front of the house but they don’t do as well as this one in a back flower bed.. The dirt is not good in front.
This cactus blooms a lot but only for a day.

Short post today.

Friday, May 28, 2010

It's berry season!

Location, Home, CA

For the past week I have been picking boysenberries every other day. The last two times I picked 6 baskets each day. I thought I would show the process used to pick, clean, and store the berries.
I have 2 rows of berries each 16 feet long. There really aren’t that many plants, however each plant has several vines which are strung on wires as they grow.

A view of the berry rows.
Close up of berries. The vines are heaviest with berries right now as picking has just begun.
Today’s picking.
The berries are washed and left to drain in a colander.
After draining, they are placed on trays for freezing.
After freezing they are placed in dated zip-lock bags for storage in the freezer.

Berries are thawed and made into jelly or cobblers as we need them. We still have a few berries in the freezer from last year.