Thursday, May 31, 2012

jai from Ojai

We left home at 7:30 this morning and after a long, scenic drive arrived at the Blue Iguana Inn, our home for the weekend, at 2:30.  If you've never driven through the Dos Padres National Forest, it's a real treat.

Dinner in tonight.  Lunch with Em tomorrow.  She's choosing the spot.  Photos, of course.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

a respite from gloom

I got more sad news about my friend Marie ~ her diagnosis is terminal ~ and just had to have an infusion of some kind of joy. To do that I went up to the local "art" theater to see "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." It worked. What a joyous, colorful, fun movie. It has everything; cast to swoon over, wonderful setting, a story that doesn't overwhelm but teaches a few good life lessons. I highly recommend it, especially on the "big" screen. I laughed, I cried, I had a fine afternoon.

Tomorrow morning we drive to Ojai to celebrate g'daughter Emily's graduation from Thacher School. The whole family will be there, including Cait and Mike from Bozeman. I find it amazing that she has whizzed through three years there and is on her way to being a co-ed! Great job, Em. More news from Ojai, including, of course, a trip to Bart's Books.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

touring the lemonade stand

I am almost recovered from my Walla Walla adventure.  I got up at 4:30 AM Saturday morning to catch a flight to Seattle and on to Sact'o.  All I could think about was having a nap!  Alex and I worked steadily for 4 days and accomplished quite a bit.  The bedroom and office hadn't been touched by the time I left; the kitchen took us two solid 10-hour days to get cleaned and set up.  I'm sure she'll move things around as she settles in to the daily use of the space, but at least we got all the boxes unpacked, all the shelves and drawers scrubbed, disinfected and lined.  The layout is sort of awkward ~ the sink is across the room from the stove/fridge ~

 and although there's lots of cupboard and drawer space, they aren't exactly handy.  Plus she brought far more stuff than she really needs.

 Nevertheless, it's all set up and ready for her new life.

We chose a pretty green horticultural / paisley paper for shelf and drawer lining and then set about measuring and cutting pieces to fit.

At the end of the second day we had completed papering all of the cupboards.

Then we unpacked her dishes, silver, glassware, cookware, and found homes for all of it.

Or almost all of it. Everyone has a "junk" drawer, don't they?

On Friday we ate the first lunch in the new house. I don't remember what it was but it was awfully good.  The dining table and chairs are at one end of the kitchen in a light and sunny spot.

Now for a quick tour of the rest of the house. Here's the living room, another sunny spot with three windows, a glass storm door, hardwood floors, plenty of wall space for Alex's collection of art.

There are two bedrooms; she'll use one for an office-cum-guest room. This first bedroom is located in the front of the house.  Another space with blank walls that will be soon plastered with good things to look at.  A tiny closet to hold the overflow from her bedroom.

The "master" bedroom is at the back of the house, looking out on the garden. More art walls, too.  It's not as light-filled but will probably be quieter, although the street is not a busy one. The only noise comes from the various mow-and-blow gardening services. Of course, she won't be there during the week to hear it, fortunately.  Another tiny closet.

And finally, a tiny bathroom with no storage but a good shower head! There's a little linen closet in the hallway ~ "little" is the operative word here ~ for sheets and towels AND everything else one needs in a bathroom. Alex is already thinking of what kind of storage shelf she needs.

Not to be missed is the garage in the back, just large enough for her car and her bike, but not for much else.

We stuffed all the bubble wrap and packing paper into big black trash bags and hurled them down the stairs into the basement for future use, should it be needed. Likewise we broke down the boxes and put them in storage. I think she has more room in the basement than she does upstairs. It's a very cute little place that she will turn into a colorful, comfortable home in due course. I look forward to going back in a few months to check out the transformation.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

almost open for business

Yes, the lemonade stand is almost ready.  But not quite.  We worked all day on getting the kitchen set up but it's a lot more work than one might think.  Despite the previous tenant insisting that she had cleaned for days, all the cabinets had to be thoroughly scrubbed, the old shelf paper removed, thumb tacks levered out, drawers disinfected, etc.  You know what it's like if you've ever moved into a rental!   But 9 hours of work can do wonders. 

We were interrupted by the visit from the Charter Communications guy who had come to set up Alex's Wi-Fi system.  Alas, the equipment she had purchased at Best Buy was faulty ~ the wireless software had not been installed ~ so nothing would work.  Best Buy was in no way concerned that it  had sold her a faulty piece of merchandise and if she wanted to drive another 2 hours, RT, she could replace  what she had bought but there was no guarantee that what BB gave her would work and thank you very much.  The lesson learned:  buy local (Walla Walla) and don't do business with a company that is so blasé about its customers' satisfaction.  She has decided she will return everything she bought, purchase something from a local vendor, and try again to get the system hooked up.  Another study in frustration.

We did, however, get lots done today.  I would put up some "before" pix but left the cable in the other house.  I'll do it tomorrow. 

We've had a lovely dinner in our little bungalow and it's now time to go to bed.  Tomorrow is another day.  We thought it would be the "bedroom" and "office" day but I think it will be more of the "kitchen" set up.  We got all the shelf paper either put down or cut for tomorrow's installation.  We also got the drawers and cabinets labeled for what is to be housed:  pantry, pots and pans, silverware, everyday china and glassware, cleaning solvents, etc.  The next chore is to open all the boxes that bear the same labels and get the stuff stowed away.  The bedroom and office will have to wait.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

sugar for the lemonade

Our plan was to head off to Tri Cities early this morning.  But before we went we needed to pick up some things at the new house.  Please refer to the last line of yesterday's post.  And what did go wrong is that we were, once again, locked out of the house.  Before we left yesterday we thoroughly tested the various keys.  Yes, this one works on both of the back door locks.  Let's test again.  Yes, it works fine.  So off we had gone.  But this morning when we returned, we could not get the back door open and, even though we had the front door key, we had cautiously locked the front storm door FROM THE INSIDE.  No dice.  All the windows were now locked, having seen from yesterday's emergency entrance, how easy it had been to get in through an unlocked window.  We were completely locked out.

So we just got back in the car and headed off to do some serious shopping, hoping that the designated "handyman" could get in to the house later in the afternoon.

The drive to Kenniwick is absolutely beauiful.  Gently rolling hills, now green with the early wheat stalks, will turn golden in a few months.  Vineyards and wineries are dotted along the way.  But mostly it's farmland, sheep and goats grazing on lovely farmland.  But soon the shopping malls come into view and we are on our way to buy great looking sugar for the lemonade Alex is determined to make, and to contribute to the resurgence of the US economy.  First stop was Target® for things like a DustBuster®, waste baskets, cleaning materials (including heavy duty rubber gloves and masks to keep mouse whatever out of our lungs).  Next, we went to Lowes for more of the same plus a mop, broom, kitchen trash basket, etc.  And what could go wrong?  Lowe's would not accept a check.  Not the ATM.  A check.  I stepped outside and called the bank fraud group and asked what the heck was going on?  They said that the issue of the debit cart fraud was in no way connected with the check refusal.  More digging turned up a problem between my bank and Lowes.  A tiff?  Who knows.  I finally said to Alex that we need to get out of there, get back to WW, add up the damages and rethink how we're going to complete these chores.

She had called the "handy man" earlier and hoped to meet with him this evening to get into the house and unload all the sugar we bought for the lemonade.  We got home, had a bit of lunch, and around 5 she left and went over to the house to meet Greg and try to get in.  If she is successful, she'll unload all the goodies we bought.  If she's not, I think we just have to put a brick through the back door window and deal with that.

On the schedule for tomorrow is a complete scrub-down of the kitchen with every kind of disinfectant we can find.  The shelf paper we bought will go down.  Then the boxes of china, silver and glassware gets unpacked and put in their places. After that job we'll tackle the second bedroom that is to be used as Alex's office, and the other bedroom that will be her, uh, bedroom.  And that will be about it.  Perhaps a nice out to dinner tomorrow evening at one of WW's good restaurants.  Or perhaps just a nice bowl of soup and an early sleep time.  We'll see how it goes.

I'll take photos of the interior of the house tomorrow so you can see what kind of lemonade she is trying to makie.  I just talkede with her and the handy man was able to get her into the house after all.  She's unloading the goodies we bought today and will be home for dinner soon.  I'm sure she'll have lots to day about meeting him and his take on the condition of the place and what he can do to address her various concerns.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

what more could go wrong?

What indeed! Where do I begin?  Let's start in Bend, OR. , where Mr. C and Alex got stranded on Sunday morning when Alex's car refused to start.  So it's Sunday and, of course, nothing is open, including the Subaru dealership.  They learned about a mechanic known as the Subaru Guru but he, too, was not around.

So they languished about, sight seeing and resting up from the long drive the day before.  At 7:30 Monday morning they were on the doorstep of the dealership, hoping for a quick fix to the mysterious problem.

Meanwhile, I got myself to the Sact'o airport for my 9:45 AM flight to Seattle.  I had tried several times to print off my boarding pass but the Alaska server was down.  The lines at the ticket kiosks was about 50 people long, those who had also tried to print off boarding passes without luck.  Finally made it to the front of the line and, naturally, their computers went down after printing only one boarding pass for me.  After a few minutes' wait, the system was back up and I headed for security, always an interesting experience.  I've learned to wear no jewelry, shoes I can slip off and on easily, socks to protect my feet from others' feet, and I take off my insulin pump and put it in my purse.  This time I went through one of those full-body scanners.  No problem.  At the gate after only 1 hr. 15 minute wait.  But no plane.  Twenty minutes later a plane arrived, let off its passengers, and the Seattle-bound group boarded.  But the computer system in Seattle was down so we sat on the tarmac for another 40 minutes before take-off.  I was afraid I'd miss the connection to Walla Walla.  But no, that plane was also 45 minutes late.  I had time to check in with the Bend group and was told that the problem was the car key was so worn it was not making contact in the ignition.  A new key had been made, the mechanic was reinstalling the ignition, and they'd be on their way soon.  It was then 1 o'clock PM.

I arrived in WW at 3 PM after a very bumpy ride during which a humorless, huffy flight attendant snatched from my hands a glass of complementary wine, local to the region, when things got a bit rough.  So much for the warm welcome.   I knew Mr. C and Alex would still be on the road as I landed so I took a cab to the rental I arranged for, The Bennington Bungalow.  When I walked in it reminded me immediately of my grandmother's house in Pasadena; same creaky floors, sash windows, sunny kitchen.  The weary travelers arrived about 7 o'clock, and weary is the operative word indeed.  Six hours of driving through pouring rain almost did them both in.  We had an early supper and went to bed.  Mr. C was up and out early to catch the 7 AM flight to CA, Alex went over to her new house to get the keys from the previous tenants and meet up with the people she had hired to help her unpack the truck, and I went back to bed and slept for another 3 hours.   Sounds like a good division of labor to me.

Alex came back to our little house in the early afternoon, depressed and in tears over the condition of the house she had rented, sight unseen.  It was smaller, shabbier, dirtier, more dismal than she had ever imagined.  I reminded her that she is one of the best  lemonade-from-lemons people I have ever known and that she'll be able to spiff it up in no time.  She dried her tears and we drove over so I could see what she was talking about.  Here it is from the outside.

We pulled up, got out, and for the next 15 minutes tried to unlock the back door with the key she had been given. The key to the front door was . . . well, inside, of course. I finally persuaded her to go to a neighbor to borrow a ladder so she could crawl through a window into the back bedroom. Fortunately such a neighbor just happened to exist and soon the back door was opened and I had my first look. I've seen worse. A LOT worse. It's really quite a cute little place; 2 bedrooms, 1 tiny bath, big kitchen with lots of storage space and a nice sunny spot for her dining table and chairs at one end. The living room is a good size, plenty of room for the furniture she brought. Full basement with laundry ~ although the plug to the dryer doesn't fit the outlet in the wall and must be replaced ~, a funky bathroom, furnace room, a space she refers to as the root cellar, lots of storage room, and an electric organ should she want to have a seance down there. We spent the next several hours moving furniture around, unpacking some things, deciding of what might go well here or there. It does have some serious problems, however. The garage door is broken and cannot be locked. There are light fixtures and switches that don't work. There are several sash windows that cannot be raised as the mechanism is broken, or are painted shut. Window frames are disintegrating from the damp and are mouldy. And it's clear that families of mice have been living in the kitchen cabinets.  Lots of families, in fact.  And, of course, the key issue.  This is the second time she has been thwarted in her progress. 

But most of this can be cleaned up, scrubbed,  sanitized, etc.  And that's on our program for later in the week.  Tomorrow we are going to drive to an area called Tri Cities ~ Kenniwick, Pasco and Richland ~ where there are large shopping areas and outlets like Target®, CostCo®, Lowes® and other such commercial emporia.  I have told Alex that I am only too happy to front the purchases necessary for setting up a new house, but here's the problem.  Mr. C told me that I had received a call from my credit card company and would I please contact them ASAP.  I did so and learned that the company that services my bank's ATM security system had been hacked and 10 million card holders ~ that's the number he quoted me and, of course, it's not only my bank but all companies who use that security company ~ have been compromised and their cards cancelled.  So here I am, ready to drop big bucks in the area, and I have no way to use a debit card.  That explains why, when we went shopping for dinner at the local Safeway and I tried to use my card, it was refused and I was forced to pay CASH!  I mean, who pays cash these days?  Although I'll have a new card awaiting me on my return on Saturday, that doesn't do me any good right now.

But tomorrow is another day and, as I said, what more could go wrong?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

going going to to Walla Walla

In the morning I'm off to Walla Walla to help Alex move in to her new digs. She and Mr. C left Long Beach on Friday with a moving truck and Alex's car. They made it here on Friday afternoon. Left Saturday morning with Bend, OR as their destination. Made it safely. But this morning, as they got ready to head from Bend to Walla Walla, Alex car, being driven by Mr. C, would not start. No matter what they did, it refused to fire up. So they are now stranded in Bend, awaiting the opening of the Subaru dealership at 7:30 tomorrow morning. I am flying to WW anyway, and will see them when/if they get there. Several alternate plans and we'll see which one works. More from there, I promise.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

in Long Beach

We left Gila Bend at 7 AM this morning, stopped in Yuma for the usual last-chance-for-cheap-gas fill up for the hard-working car, ate our usual high carb breakfast at Denny's, and headed for CA and a safe haven with Alex in Long Beach. The beauty of this drive in the long stretch on I-8, a quiet, well-maintained highway with the blessing of no traffic. 75 MPH speed limit gets you from A to B in the shortest possible time. We made it easily to San Diego after passing through two Border Patrol check points, then headed north on 805 to 405 to Long Beach. We got here about 2 o'clock, unloaded, made a trip to Trader Joe's ~ haven't been in one for 5 months and was pleased to see it looked just as it had when we last were there in December ~ then back home. Alex's house is full of packing boxes as she prepares for her move to Walla Walla. We'll have dinner at an actual sit-down dining table like civilized folk instead of standing around amid suitcases and take-out boxes. It's good to be here. Tomorrow we will help her do more wrapping and packing. We'll head home on Thursday and, God willing, sleep in our own bed Thursday night.

Monday, May 7, 2012

in Gila Bend, AZ, USA

We left San Carlos at 6 AM and arrived here at 4 PM, 10 long hours of 4-lane pavement, Sequaro cactus, and other sundry visual clues that we were in northern Mexico and Arizona. A bit of a hold-up in Hermosillo only because there is extensive road work going on and to get to our usual turn off at the Hotel San Sebastian we had to drive through the construction site but nobody seemed to notice. Once back on serve we drove through another detour (desvacion), got back where we belonged and were once again headed to Nogales. A brief pile-up as we waited to be checked through ~ "Pork? Plants? Fruit? Guns?" ~ and then it was back on the red-white-and blue soil of the USA. We stopped for a bit of lunch at our usual Burger King, then on to the Satellite Lodge at Gila Bend. Driving I-8 toward San Diego is like being on the norther end of Mex 15; straight road, pretty good surface, no traffic, no billboards, wide open spaces. In our room, internet works fine and fast. TV works ~ saw the News Hour for the first time in 5 months. You can drink water from the tap and toss TP down the toilet.

Total cost of coming home: 7769 pesos, not including food, tips to hotel maids, or marketing. This includes gas, tolls, hotels, plus this year's 950 peso Assessment for Social Re-adaptation (paying off a cop, which I have yet to reveal to you). All tolled, I would say almost 10,000 or $780.

Tomorrow it's off to Long Beach to visit Alex for two nights. We'll help her pack up, perhaps go out to lunch, stroll through Trader Joe's to reacquaint ourselves on how much it costs to live in the US. Thursday it's home to the valley and the joys of our other life.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

In San Carlos

Gorgeous sunny day here in San Carlos.  Battery running low.  Short post.  All well.  Will tell more about leaving Topo tomorrow when I can plug in the machine!  To Nogales tomorrow.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

from Topolobampo

A long and utterly uneventful drive until somewhere past Mazatlan when the heavens opened and we had a brief downpour. Otherwise, thankfully, nothing. Arrived at our usual little dumpy hotel, got our usual little dumpy room, and are getting ready for evening cocktails and other refreshments followed by dinner of cold chicken, crudities, and for dessert, the last of some chocolate biscotti we brought down in December. Nothing ever goes to waste when Mr. C is in charge of the kitchen.

Tomorrow it’s on to San Carlos and our last night in Mexico for this season. Tonight is the big full moon, and the Topo bay is the best place to see it, but it’s not until 9:30 PM and I’ll have been asleep for at least an hour by then. We’d have to get in the car and drive into town for the post-card view. Another biggie tomorrow night. All I’ll have to do is step out on my balcony as the orange moon rises over San Carlos Bay. Much better idea.
I messed the Derby again this year; it's my most favorite sporting event ~ aside from baseball, of course ~ and I hope that we're in someplace with a TV when it's run. But not today.

Congratulations to I'll Have Another, a California 3-yr. old ridden by Mario Gutierrez from Veracruz, Mexico.  Pure California gold.

Friday, May 4, 2012

in Tepic

Five hours to Tepic.  Easy drive.  Gained an hour.  Laden with talismans; how could we fail?  Got up at 5 to finish getting ready.  Almost out the door when Mr. C decided he needed to wash the car.  Are you surprised?  I need a nap.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

24 hours and counting

The great pack-up is almost done.  Our house is stowed, boxed, shrouded and bagged for the next seven months.  The last load of laundry was done yesterday, Mr. C is busy cleaning out the fridge, I've packed away all the linens and "beach only" duds.  I think we're ready.   Today I'll peel and slice the carrots, boil the eggs, get the salami and cheese bagged up, all to sustain us on the trip. We'll get on the road early tomorrow and head for Tepic.  There's a very upscale market close to the hotel where we'll pick up a roast chicken for dinner and for the next part of the drive, to Topolobampo.  With only one restaurant in that pathetic little town, I'd just as soon dine on cold chicken, al fresco by the pool.  Sunday we'll drive to San Carlos, our last glimpse of the beautiful ocean before crossing into AZ at Nogales.  Rumors of trouble along Mex 15, the main N-S route in western Mexico, are swirling around but I'm counting on the force being with us all the way home.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

good news, bad news, really bad news

I hardly know where to start, so I'll do the good news first.  G'daughter Emily had five colleges/universities to choose from for her next scholarly endeavor.  She visited campuses in the Northwest and on the east coast.  And the winner is:  Univeristy of Southern California

She went to the Open House for prospective students and was blown away by the campus, the research opportunities, the chance to row, and the overall "feel" of the place.  She's now part of the Trojan Family and we are delighted that she will be (a) in California, and (b) so close to LAX that she can come up to the valley or down to Mexico without much trouble.  Congratulations Em!

The bad news has to do with this blog.  The host, has completely changed its preparation format, and NOT for the better.  In addition, in order to post a comment on another's blog you have to navigate through an unintelligible word ID puzzle.  The capper came a few days ago when I tried ~ SEVENTEEN TIMES ~ unsuccessfully to type in the correct mystery words so I could post a comment over at No More Commas Period, located on the list to the left.  I finally corralled Mr. C for help.  He couldn't do it, either.  I am ready to dump the whole thing and find a different blog server.  I've been on this site for over 6 years and I hate to leave it but it's just too damned inconvenient.  With all these unannounced changes I get the feeling Blogger, too, is tired of the whole thing and wants to sell kites and beach balls instead.  I'm looking around for somewhere else to park this blog.  If you hear of anyplace, let me know.

Now for the really bad news.  As I write this my best beach pal, Marie, is recovering from surgery to remove a malignant tumor from her brain.  She had not been  100% during her stay this year, having headaches and nausea, dizzy spells, and blurred vision.  So she went to the doc when she returned to Arkansas on April 1.  Tests, exams, etc.  But the surgery is over, she is awake and talking and that's a good sign.  Chemo and radiation will follow after recovery.

My other long-time friend and former colleague at the Big U, Fran, is going through treatment for esophageal cancer in Arizona.  She was, at one time, a heavy smoker but quit many years ago.  She is having radiation and chemo (I think) but no surgery.

This whole thing stinks.  But the older we get ~ and we are getting older ~ the more of this kind of news we are likely to hear.  My best energies and thoughts and prayers are with them both for a return to health and their own individual vivacity and spunk!

The other bad news is that we're leaving in 3 days but that really pales, doesn't it!