Thursday, August 30, 2012

To Bee or Bee Gone?

Our trusty motorhome is still making an elegant statement in Stephanie's driveway. It sort of matches the house and gives it a certain je ne sais qua... But it will be moving soon, since our work here is almost over. We have a bit of painting to do and some tidying up... the yard will get probably one last mowing after the one Richard did this morning.

There were wasps here when we came, and my valiant knight went forth and tilted them all away. I am deathly allergic to the varies stings of bees and wasps.-, so I have a valid excuse for not bravely standing by his side in battle.

I don't know bout bees, but wasps love RVs. The oven and furnace vents are an open invitation for them. In fact, we had to have our heater taken apart and rebuilt (thanks Ben) because it was full of wasp nests. We cannot seem to find screened vents to fit out furnace, however. Those we see are always too big.

But back to the bees, Not long ago, a swarm of bees seemed to come out of nowhere and take great interest in one of the boards we had used to cover a window well. The board was clean when we put it there but had some little vent holes in it along one edge.

Within 20 minutes, the bees had all come together down in the window well and began working on the board. That was about two to three weeks ago, then Stephanie got in touch with a bee savvy friend and he and his brave crew came and removed the bees... Amazing to watch this dad and his boys interact with the bees and move them.

I know nothing of bees, but these sites might be helpful if you want to see what wondrous things you can do with them.

When the bees were safely and I presume happily moved to their new home,  Howard and his boys took this awesome video. Notice all the work the bees have done, the great lobed hive they have created... praise YHVH!

Here's the vido of the bees and their incredible hive after they moved to Howard's window well.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hardest blog to write

We're just sooo happy! We're having Mexican food. 
It has been just over a week and so much has gone on that I am thinking it's too much to include in a blog post, so I will just skim through it and let the pictures and captions speak for themselves.

From Monterey, CA came Stephanie, our oldest daughter, soon joined by Tia, her oldest from Las Vegas, so that three generations of oldest daughters were gathered here. We had so much fun. We dined out on Mexican food, we pulled out all the old carpets from the house as well as the bazillion staples that were holding the carpets fast to the floor. Go figure?

Why would you put a mop here?
We also played with the dogs. Tia's Buddha and Odin respect any barrier, even a mop handle placed in a doorway, and will not cross it. They are so well trained. Baby Snooks was too tired to play but laid out in the grass to watch.

Richard had a mysterious infection on one of his fingertips which extended under the nail. Finally, we got him to see a doctor who lanced it, and we were all amazed at the amount of pus in the wound. He's been on antibiotics several days now and it is healing nicely.

We had noticed an increasingly foul odor and assumed we needed to empty our black water tank, the one which stores water from the bathroom sink and toilet. Emptying the tank didn't improve things, but did reveal soaked carpet in the basement (storage area below the living space of the motorhome, similar to where buses put luggage). Things were really wet! And stinky, since there was a sack of dog food and several cardboard boxes. I am sure there was swamp gas in there, too - ugh!

So, the search was on to find the leak, and it didn't take long to discover. Water was dripping from a T-joint in the propane line from up into the living area. I emptied the corner lazy susan area where I keep cleaning supplies, and the whole floor was wet... and looked like it had been wet a long time. What a mess! Oddly, we couldn't tell where the water was coming from, so we disconnected the water to the coach and opened our faucets to release any pressure. Now, we will watch and wait until it dries out for any hints as to source.

Meanwhile, Tia and her boys went home, and we continues to work on the house. We took Stephanie to see The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Shakespearian Festival here and she treated us to dinners at the Pastry Pub as well as the Bard... and Baby Snooks struggled more each day to breath and to even move.

We took our sweet little friend back to the vet although we knew there was nothing more medical science could do. After so much prayer together, we had come to an agreement that Snooksie must not suffer any longer. She had refused all food for two days and now was not even taking water.

I put my face up close to hers as the doctor injected the sedative ever so slowly. She drifted peacefully off to sleep and the struggle was over, but not the pain. I could not have imagined such a big hole in our lives with her gone. Plans and thoughts of almost every aspect of our lives included Baby Snooks for so many, many years...

Will we get another dog? Almost certainly, but we will wait until YHVH puts one in our path. Will another dog replace Snooks? Never!

It was soon time for Stephanie to head back to her military duties. She drove a long way to be here and I believe our loving Lord brought her at just the right time. She and Tia were messengers of His love and tenderness and helped us through a painful experience.

It is time for us to keep busy getting Stephanie's house and our coach chores all done up and making plans for our next move.

We are doing some painting and a few more repairs here at Stephanie's house, with breaks to work on a puzzle and trips to town to do laundry and just "get out."

On Shabbat, we took another ride, worshipping our Creator while wandering through the local mountains, poking around the back country.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dad's Ugly Cake

My birthday was Friday, the 17th, and what a great day it was. Although it was a Friday, the day Jews and Messianics prepare for the Saturday Sabbath, I did not clean our house nor make up any food for the Sabbath... even though we had company coming. Instead, I was pampered all day.

First, I spent an hour showing and giving myself a facial, then Richard did my toenails. He does a super job and is so entertaining while he does it.  

In mid-afternoon before the dinner hour, we went out to Bard's Food and Drink Establishment where I enjoyed a baked salmon dinner. The salmon was baked in a parchment wrap with rosemary, herbed butter, orange and lemon slices... Oh so good! In fact, I was so enraptured with the food, I forgot to take a picture of the very nice presentation. Not only was our food luscious, it was reasonably priced and the motif was fun, too. Cedar City is known for its Shakespearian Festival, and Bard's follows through on that theme in their decor and even the outfits of  the wait staff . A real winner.  

Later, Richard sang Happy Birthday to me and we had cake and ice cream... but this was no ordinary cake. Oh, no, this cake was like no other... It was the famous Dad's Ugly Cake! 

It's rich! So rich, frosting would be an insult.

It's decadent, So decadent, it's half eaten before you take a picture.
It's UGLY! So ugly, you close your eyes to eat it.
The recipe? At the bottom of the blog post.

Yesterday was Shabbat, our day to observe the Fourth Commandment, doing no work and letting our hearts and minds focus on our Creator. There are no congregations near here, but some weeks we can watch services online. This was not one of them... Connectivity is just not always there. 

So, once again, we went for a drive. We saw another Safari motorcoach in a small RV park in Kanarraville, UT. That is always exciting to us. Safari owners are an interesting and unique group with passionate attachment to their coaches which are no longer built.

We also got a new view of the Five Fingers we visited the other day. Magnificent!!

We wandered the back roads and visited small towns, New Harmony among them. From New Harmony, we took a forest service access road up over a mountain pass and ended up at a charming and historic old ranch house that used to be a resting place for travelers and later a boarding house for iron miners. Oh, the stories it could tell!

Along the way, we saw cattle but no other wildlife. As always, the scenery was stunning and spoke eloquently of the wonders of our God. His magnificence and glory were reflected in the flowers, bright oranges, yellows, purples and greens... Why wasn't I taking pictures? I need to think of that during all we do so I can share it with you.

There were signs warning us that the roads we were on would become dangerous and impassable in the rain. There were but a few fluffy clouds when we set out, but as we traveled, they clumped together and began to look threatening. Finally, a light rain fell but we were on better roads by then.

We spent the later evening reading God's Word. We're studying 2 Kings right now. Then, at last, our beautiful eldest daughter arrived. She is the owner of the house we are parked at. So good to see her!

And now, at last...             DAD'S UGLY CAKE RECIPE 

In a good sized mixing bowl, blend:
     2 cups sugar
     3 cups flour
     2 tsps. baking soda
     2 tsps. salt
     2 tsps. cinnamon 
Then stir in:
     1-1/3 cups vegetable or olive oil (we like olive oil best) 
     2 eggs
     2 tsps. pure vanilla extract
     4 cups peeled and chopped apples
     1/2 cup raisins (Richard likes raisins, so he grabs a BIG handful and throws them in).

Pour this chunky mix into a 9X13 pan (He uses metal) and bake for an hour to one and a half hours (depending on taste) at 325 degrees. Enjoy and don't be afraid to experiment!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tracking wild horses

Yesterday was supposed to be an "administrative day" in which we would take care of ordering our absentee ballots, getting fulltimer RV insurance, doing various paperwork odds and ends. It was going well for most of the morning, with breaks now and then to snuggle Baby Snooks and try to make friends with a homeless cat.

We have had RV insurance all along, but our carrier, 21st Century does not insure fulltimers, so with our policy about to expire, we researched alternatives. Full time RVers live in their RVs, so need more coverage than folks who live in a stix 'n' brix house and only use their RVs part time. So, we chose to return to Progressive where we had insurance once before (we had left for a reduced rate veterans deal). Progressive has amazing claims service!!

I was happily completing the transaction online, claiming no tickets or accidents in the past 3 years for both of us, when a red flag stopped me, saying I had an at-fault (chargeable) accident and a ticket on 2/11/2011... NOT TRUE! So very, very not true! In fact, I had just had aortic aneurism surgery and was bed-ridden then!

All righty then, I tried to get the details from the Florida DMV... To get is fast, you pay over $20! And then all it gives is the date and violation. I spent most of the afternoon on this before Richard suggested we Pray about it, go exploring and let YHVH begin to work all things together for good. So, we gathered our tourist pamphlets and took off.

We decided to track wild horses at the Chloride Canyon herd management area west of Cedar City. In 1971, congress passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act to manage and protect these wonderful animals on public lands. There are 23 wild horse herds in Utah, and 201 herds in ten states. The best viewing areas are somewhat remote and the maps imprecise. More info about this program is on the BLM site.

On the way to seek out the horses, we saw a sign for the Old Irontown Ruins where one of the state's major resources (iron) was mined. At its peak, over 2500 pounds of iron was mined every day. The colony was abandoned in 1876. Today, there is only one intact building, the kiln, but many foundations and a very nice self-guided tour as well as facilities. A relaxing and informative side trip for us.

As we followed a sketchy map to the Chloride Canyon herd management area, we were blessed to encounter a BLM employee who gave us more specific directions... and we needed them. The road became a trail, rocky in places, muddy in others and at times almost nonexistant. There were gates now and then. We opened and closed each one. For miles we saw no sign of horses. We took a side road but had to turn back. We are driving a sissyfied little car with little clearance, after all. 

9 wild horses
Then I spotted some dung, and then more. Soon, it was on the road and fairly fresh! Richard was the first to spot some horses of the herd. Three white dots, moving slowly in the distance. My cheapo camera didn't magnify enough to help. We pressed on slowly, knowing that late in the afternoon as it was, the herd was coming down from the mountain... these were only the first.

Continuing to head north, we were blessed to see a group of nine, closer now, but still a ways off.
Then we saw a lone stallion grazing right beside the road ahead. We stopped and watched, then slowly approached. He let us get quite near before turning to walk, then run away a short distance. Turning to look back at us, he stood stock still. Then off he trotted, tail in the air, running wild and free. It was incredibly beautiful!
Running wild and free
The Bachelors
Thinking we had seen the highlight of our trip, we praised YHVH and picked our way carefully up the road which was getting worse all the time. Finally, we came to a gravel road with a name, Antelope Rd. and drove a few miles before stopping so I could shoot the beauty of mountains in the haze across a vast field of sage brush. When I returned to the car, I thought I saw a horse... no, just a rock. Then Richard said "Isn't that a horse?"

Yes! It was, and another horse was nearby. Two young bachelors on rather poor grazing grounds seemed impervious to us and continued about their business, so we left them to their dinner and headed home. 

Slow Elk
On the way, we drove through open range and were blessed to see some not-so-wild life. My father in law called them "Slow Elk," but you probably know them as cattle. They, too, did not interrupt their meal to bother with us.

Wow, what an afternoon we had yesterday! Makes me want more.  I'll deal with the DMV next week. Today, maybe we'll go see some petrographs.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Beauty of Old Dogs and Canyons

Baby Snooks when she was 5
We are still parked at our oldest daughter's vacant house in Enoch near Cedar City, Utah. We are hoping she can make it over here from her duty station in Monterey, CA, but we don't know when. Either way, we are already mulling over where to winter, and praying about our next move. We have done most of what we came here to do, except taking in more local attractions and doing a major reorganization of our basement. But that's a whole other blog post.

Baby Snooks loves getting groomed, but finding a good groomer on the road is not easy. We visited one who did not even get her clean. I should have known when they said, "You can pick her up in 30 minutes." When we lived in California, we went to a do-it-yourself place and it was grand. In Florida, she loved her regular groomer. This morning we took Baby Snooks to a local doggie bakery and self grooming place. It is in the process of being sold, however.

Baby Snooks at 17, getting better
Only a few days back, Snooks became so ill we thought she was dying. Her chest was full of fluids and her color was grey. She became limp and unresponsive and we were saying our goodbyes. I posted this picture on Facebook with the following note:
Our sweet, 17 year old Baby Snooks is close to death. The Lasix cannot keep up with her congestive heart failure and her lungs are filling with fluid. She is in no apparent pain (an answer to prayer). Thank you dear little friend who has changed our lives forever. We love you so deeply...

So many folks prayed and sent heartfelt notes to us. The outpouring of love was amazing. Snookie made it through the night but showed only a small improvement the next day, yet each day since, she has gotten a little stronger and today, she was strong enough for a bath and even tried to mooch some of Richard's lunch. What a merciful God we serve!

Other excitement includes a trip to the Kolob Canyons (or Fingers) section of Zion Nat'l Park about 20 miles south of Cedar City. Once you enter the park, five miles of red paved road takes you to trails, a picnic area, and views to catch your breath away.

We brought sandwiches and hiked the short trail to the picnic area. There was a sign warning us about mountain lions and telling us if we encountered one we should not run but "try to make yourself look big," and we could also throw rocks at the predator.

The wounds on Richard's arm are not from a big cat, though. He fell in the dark the other night on a refrigerator run between the house to the coach. There are large and tall stepping stones here along with gravel... and the light was off. We're using the frig in the house because ours doesn't run that well when not on shore power, just one of several little issues we need to deal with while sitting around this winter.

After our meal, Richard hiked one of the trails and got some good photos. He was gone a little longer than I expected so I began to wonder if the mountain lions were all having their afternoon naps as they should be. I decided to question the next exiting hikers. The first group I approached interrupted me as I asked, "Have you seen a tall man..." They turned and pointed... He was right behind them.

Yes, we lead an blessed and adventuresome life... It's so much more fun than sitting in a rocker on the proverbial front porch of retirement.
The "Five Fingers" of Kolob Canyons

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Catching up with ourselves

Due to a dying battery in our Mobile Hotspot (Mifi) I have not been able to stay online long enough to put out a blog post, so this will whiz through a bunch of stuff and have smaller pictures as I catch up with our latest happenings. Remember, you can click on any picture and bring a larger version up in a slideshow of all the photos in this post. Cool, eh?

We have spent each Shabbat on a spectacular, one day trip to the worship YHVH amid the splendor of His amazing creation. Last Saturday, we visited Bryce Canyon. Words cannot describe...

A sweet couple from England took our picture at one of the many overlooks.

The Sabbath before that, we drove around Zion Nat'l Park and a loop into Arizona. Again, it just takes your breath away!

Five miles north of Kanab, UT, is the headquarters of Best Friends, the nation's largest no-kill animal shelter. The place is vast and amazing. We enjoyed poking around there - so much to see and learn. They even have an RV campground. Inquire at the administrative office, educational center and store.

Weekdays, when we're not doing work around here, we have explored St. George, Utah and Mesquite, Nevada as well as the back roads around Cedar City. The locals are always ready to point us to a new adventure and provide background history on what they term as the Color Country, a very apt name.
Baby Snooks is always ready to go... until very recently. Not long ago, she began to loose interest in travel, food, and life. Her belly grew larger and her body bonier... and she had less bladder control. So, to the vet we went. It was a sad trip but not unexpected news. Our sweet little girl is in congestive heart failure. The symptoms, bloating, etc. can be helped with meds, but her 17 year old heart is almost worn out. So now she is on Lasix (furosemide) which helps cut down fluid retention. She is not in any evident pain and still enjoys love and life and some treats, and we will treasure every moment we are blessed to have with her.

As I said earlier, our hotspot battery was dying. Verizon told us to go to, but we could not find a comparable battery on the site which won't let you search as I needed to (they have you search by lists). Richard suggested going to Las Vegas to look for one (we had tried all the local options) but I thought it silly to drive that far when we have the internet. But wait, there's more...

Our dear granddaughter posted on Facebook that her coon hound had thrown up in his crate - a "huge" throw up! She sent out calls for help, but her husband is serving overseas (Air Force) and her friends were all busy... Soooo, I thought, why not? And we gathered up Snooksie and headed for Vegas, Baby!

On the way, I called all three Batteries Plus stores in Vegas. One said they would order it and have it for me the next day. Bingo! We could have had it sent to Enoch where we are staying, and saved the trip, but in all honesty, the trip was really more about Tia's vomit emergency that getting the battery.

So, we ended up staying the night at Tia's after a fun day of shopping and visiting and eating. Early in the morning, Baby Snooks needed out, so I went out and sat on the patio as she did her business and stretched out on the semi-cool flagstones. A hidden fountain bubbles out and over a small waterfall into a little pond. Very relaxing to watch. Soon, Tia let her two dogs out and they pranced around the yard relishing the dawn of a new day of play.

Soon, Buddha, the Rottweiler, went back in, but Odin stayed out to play. Snooks snoozed on, relishing the hint of a breeze. I went back in to use the bathroom and when I returned, the yard was empty, or so it seamed. After checking both side yards and looking under tree overhangs, I decided Baby Snooks must have gone into Tia's room with Odin. So, I went back in and dozed on the sofa. 

I woke up to a discussion of the missing Snooks. Oh, no, I thought, she is not with Tia! We went out to search, and Richard found her... standing in the pond! She doesn't see well and must have just walked over the edge, perhaps trying to follow me when I went in. The pond is fairly shallow, but she is short and was neck deep in the cool water. Good thing Las Vegas is hot and she was not chilled. I was choked with the thought of what could have happened and so thankful she was all right and even ready for a ride home.

Later in the day, we ran some errands and Tia took us to dessert at Claim Jumpers. We had eaten dinner there the night before and commented, if you want dessert, you need to come just for dessert... so we did!

The big, white thing is actually a giant eclair, stuffed with bavarian cream and topped with hot fudge, then gilded all around with whipped cream... the three of us ate this!

The dark dessert is a single slice of a monstrous and killer chocolate cake... six layers tall, that is over a foot tall! Yeah, we each took a two-layer portion home. We'll be eating cake for a while!