Thursday, April 30, 2015

Aunts, Uncle, Century Plant

L to R, Mom, Dad, Mary, Jim, Marcia, Rosie

Today we took mom and dad to the Escalon/Oakdale/Riverbank area to visit with my mom’s sister Mary, her husband Jim, and her sister-in-law Rosie.  Which to me means, Aunt Mary, Uncle Jim and Aunt Rosie.  Jim and Mary live in Escalon, Rosie in Oakdale, and the Perko's Farm Fresh Café us in Riverbank…all about 90 miles from Citrus Heights.  Mom was one of eleven kids, only her older sister Mary, and the youngest brother Paul are still living.  Sister-in-laws Rosie and Vera are still living too…we last visited Aunt Vera in the Kansas City area last year when mom and dad flew there in October and we were in the area at the same time to visit my youngest son.  From my mom’s side alone I had around 60 first cousins, and on my dad’s side I had eight from his older brother who, as a widow with four kids, married my Aunt Florence who had three…and they decided to have one together to make eight.  Yes, I come from a very large family in many ways.

Perko's      Perko's

Perko's is a nice, mainly California Central Valley restaurant chain.  I had been to a Perko’s before, but it has been a long, long time.  Glad to be back, pretty good for a Franchise style restaurant.  I think we need to go back for breakfast sometime…although Marcia and Aunt Rosie decided to have breakfast for lunch today. Smile 

Uncle Jim and Aunt Mary's Almond Orchard      Uncle Jim and Aunt Mary's Almond Orchard

Uncle Jim and Aunt Mary are Almond farmers, pronounced “Amond” by them because when you harvest Almonds, you knock the “L” out of the little things to get them to drop from the tree.  When I was in my “youth” I would visit them in their old Modesto location where they also had Almonds. 

Skruffy     Skruffy

Someone got a haircut yesterday….it sure makes it easier to make those giant jumps (pretty high for a short legged little thing).  Bubba was sweating it out yesterday….but his turn is coming soon.

Bubba    Bubba and Arnie

Bubba sure is Arney’s “Shop Dog”….


…and boy does he pick up “stuff” from the floor of the shop.

Agave Americana     Agave Americana

Ever since we arrived, this large, Asparagus looking thing has been looming over the shed from a next-door neighbor.

Agave Americana
This shot (left) is from over the fence, best shot I can get.  The plant is a Agave Americana, also known as a Centuryplant.  The top will be a flower, and there will be a few shoots near the top that also flower.  The plant does this once, around the 25-30 years in age mark….and then it dies….the whole plant dies, not just the flower.  It's originally native to Mexico, Arizona, and Texas but cultivated worldwide as an ornamental plant.  The ‘flower’ can span up to thirty feet, and I would say that this one is right around 30 feet in height.

With California’s current drought conditions, I expect more and more cactus and other drought resistant plants and foliage will be showing up.  As a kid, with two rivers running through the area, water was cheap and plentiful…so I was use to seeing a lot of green, a lot of flowers, a lot of colors.  I am afraid that in the future, we will be seeing more and more brown unless the heavens open up and the rain comes pouring down.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Dinner with Karen (blogger) and Tony (gamer)

Rolling in a RV – Wheelchair Traveling

One would think that if you finally met someone, have a four hour dinner with them, that you would remember to get pictures of the event.  One would think…but we enjoyed our meeting with Karen and Tony of Rolling in a RV – Wheelchair Traveling so much that taking pictures was the last thing on my mind until we were pulling out of the parking lot.

Karen and Tony's motorhome, Rolling in a RV -- Wheelchair Traveling

Karen and Tony have been full-time RVing since 1993…that’s the year I became the director of the Public Library in Arkansas.  I retired after 23 years of working in the same Public Library System, and that span just about covers how long they have been traveling and living on the road. 

Karen and Tony

This picture is one I grabbed off their website.  What it does not show is that Karen is sitting in a wheelchair.  Back in 1993, while working the Balloon Festival in Albuquerque…her feet got tangled in a line while a balloon was landing, a gust of wind jerked the balloon up and changed her life, and Tony’s, forever.  (She tells it better on her website)  However, this setback did not stop them from doing that which they wanted to do, so they got a wheelchair friendly motorhome and continued their journey.  They are now on their fourth motorhome, third one which has been wheelchair friendly.


We met at Brookfields Restaurant in Roseville, each of us arriving right around 3:35, and by 3:45 we were sitting down amid introductions and general talk.  The waitress got our drinks and then noticed that we had not even touched the menus ... for a good hour.  In fact, at 5 pm we were handed off to another waitress, and when I said that I thought we were ready to order, it still took a few minutes for everyone to know just what the wanted.  It was just one of those moments in life when you meet someone, and the talk and the fellowship just instantly starts ... four hours later we are excusing ourselves not because we wanted to leave, but because our puppies were being doggiesitted by Sandy and Arny and they normally call it a night by 8.  (Thank goodness this was one of their 8:30 nights so we did not lose our spot on the RV pad.)  Smile 

One of Karen's Maps

Karen, the blogger of the two, has a great set of resources on her website, including her  “Interactive Maps!“ which shows interesting places to visit state by state (Museums, National and State Parks, etc.) and "More Maps"  which are a collection of maps that others have made, or she has made, which show places to stay, places to clear your sewer tanks, yearly festivals, etc.).  Although her website is designed to assist the mobility disadvantaged, her maps are good for everyone who is interested in visiting places in the United States and Canada.  Typically her blog postings are short and concise with just a few pictures.  If you have not seen her blog before, you really need to check it out.


Tony and Marcia have two things very in common....he is Italian and she is Greek, and as stories were being told one or the other could be heard something about how some member of their family use to say that too, or were just like that also.  The other thing is that they both like to play computer games in their spare time...while Karen and I like to "blog".  It is never fun to say goodbye…but our goodbyes were “we will see you again”, and perhaps that might be later this year as they are headed, ever so slowly, to Washington to visit their daughter…while our route takes us right through Washington and into Canada. If not then, I am sure it will be another time somewhere along the road.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Great Dove Hunter

Skruffy and Bubba

As mentioned previously, this is our fourth year that we have spent some time in my sister’s backyard….and each year I have talked about the Great Squirrel Hunters who strike out each year.  The first year, I even faked a few people out with a ‘Stuffed Toy Squirrel’ that the Great Squirrel Hunters had caught.  Well, I wish this one was a joke…but it is not.


I spent some time taking pictures of birds and squirrels yesterday.  I don’t think this is the one that was killed…it is bigger than the unfortunate Dove.  About 90 minutes later, while I am resting in the motorhome in my recliner, and I hear some barking going on outside in my ‘daydreams’…..I hear Arny come out through the sliding screen door, and then he says, “OH OH!  We have a dead Dove!”  I shoot through the door…well, shoot is not the appropriate words to describe my careful climb down…just as he covers the garbage can after disposing of the bird.   There are feathers here, there, and over there….

Bubba    Skruffy

So, have you guessed which of these cute little things is now known as the “Great Dove Hunter”?  I gave you a clue….it is the barker…yep, my little Skruffy girl.

BUT WAIT, everyone deserves a trail before being found guilty, aren’t they? 

Fact One:  Over the years, Doves have been swiftly killed and taken by Hawks.  Most of the time there are only feathers left, but they have found dead Doves under the tree too.

Fact Two:  I did think that I caught a fast moving bird earlier that day, but I did not get a look at it.  At the time, I figured it was a Hawk.

Fact Three:  Arny found said dog standing over the dead Dove.

Fact Four:  Arny and I pulled a dove feather from just under her mouth.

Verdict:  Skruffy likes to sit under the front of the motorhome to ‘watch’ things.  “IF” a Dove was hit by a Hawk and they both went to the ground, she would have bounced out from under the RV, around the tree’s trunk and there she would have scared off the Hawk and been left with the Dove.  Not having caught a bird or a squirrel before, she barked, she played with the Dove, even, perhaps, gave it a good bite or two.  This action would have spread the feathers in and around the tree.  And remember, Skruffy is not a quiet dog…she is a loud, barking dog.  I just can’t see her sneaking up on a Dove, or a Squirrel, or a Rat…each of which we have seen her chase, but never before getting close enough to catch.  However, “if” a Dove did not see her under that RV, and wandered too close, and turned its back….perhaps….but I just don’t think she has the patience to wait until it turns its back.

Was this Bird a witness?

So, were there any witnesses?

If there were any witnesses, no one seems to be talking.
Was this Bird a witness?  If so, it isn't talking.
This bird had to see it all, it was right there!

There is no doubt that some had a “birds eye view” of the incident.

There is no doubt that some had a perfect, un-obstructed view of it.
The Squirrel had a perfect view of it all.
These birds are gossiping about it all.

There is definitely a lot of talk about it.  “Hey, did you hear? … Did you see??”

“Seed, yes, I had a seed in my mouth … Oh, you mean did I see anything….nope, not me.”
This bird is just acting stupid.
These birds didn't see anything.

“I had my back to it all..”
“I had my head inside a hole…”

“I flew in and out so fast that all I had time for was a quick drink.”
This bird is just too fast to see anything.
This bird sure has its opinion as to what happened.

“I saw it all…but I’m not talking…all I know, you are not going to catch me getting on the ground until that DOG is gone from this backyard!”

Skruffy says, "Me, you think I did what?"

“You think I did WHAT?   Who, ME????   See how short these legs are, they can’t catch anything!  Every time I run my belly tickles from the grass hitting it!!   And what’s this about a feather near my mouth????  Heck, I was just sniffing the grass and there it was, some dumb ole bird….Hey, I’m not the only dog in this backyard!”

Bubba just doesn't think it could have happened.

“She said she left me a ‘fresh one’ around here somewhere…..Oh that Skruffy, I just don’t know when to trust what she says.”

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

They're BACK….

Skruffy and Bubba

For the fourth consecutive year we have “camped” in Arnie and Sandy’s backyard for a month or more.  And every morning there is a ritual…Arnie and Sandy open up their drapes, when we see that (or in most cases, when we get up out of bed), we let he dogs out.  

Skruffy and Bubba being greated by Arnie

They QUICKLY do their business (well, Skruffy is busy, every morning Bubba acts like he has not released his bladder for a good day or more), they go to the door and jump and bark until someone opens up and lets them in.

Skruffy and Bubba getting morning treat from Arnie

A few seconds after entering the house, they come back outside, typically with Arnie, and get their morning treat.

Skruffy and Bubba getting morning treat from Arnie

And during all of this Arnie is saying, “Good morning, good morning, good morning!” (Along with our words of greeting, of happiness, of love….)

Skruffy wanting morning treat from dad

Then Bubba goes inside the house, and Skruffy comes back into the motorhome.  Today, she jumped right up on my recliner, got between my legs, and just stares at me.  Now, what do you think she wants?   She wants her morning treat from dad!  What a double dipper!!!
Note: see the heating pad on my left leg?  That is now my morning ritual to keep the leg limber.  I thought I would be real sore after yesterday’s move into the backyard and stuff, but it was only slightly sore, so things are getting better, that’s for sure.

Motorhome in backyard

In past years Arnie had an old Suburban and an old frame sitting between the motorhome and the shed.  Earlier this year he sold them…decided he would never get around to restoring it.  Sis has a big smile on her face….

Skruffy the great Squirrel Hunter

Of course, if we are at Sandy and Arnie’s house, that means that the great squirrel hunter is back. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Happy Reunion

Got up at 5:15 this morning, and we were on the road by 6:30 am.  The first half of the trip was very uneventful….got through Bakersfield, got gas just north of there, got through Fresno and all the little and not-so-little towns between and after there.  By the time we hit Merced, the traffic was just coming out a bit.  Then we went through Atwater and I thought we might have blown a few tires the road was so very, very bad.  Then some guy and his family, probably headed to church, pulled on the freeway in a nice foreign luxury car and instead of stepping on it, he just slowly matched my speed and tried coming right onto the freeway….so I slow, he slows.  Well, we gave him a good “wave” and sent him off to church in front of us.  (Now Nancy Kissack, I know you live in this area, if you are reading this, I hope it wasn’t anyone you knew…but it was a friendly wave…all fingers, not just one.)  From there the traffic just got heavier and heavier all the way to Loomis, where we decided on night at a RV park was in order before we pull into my sister’s backyard tomorrow for a month.

Sister Sandy with Bubba and Skruffy

My sister Sandy was first to see us. and I let go of the dogs leashes and they bolted up to see here. 

Arnie with Bubba

Arnie was barbequing and Sandy called him out front and Bubba had his reunion right there in the “Shop Dog’s Garage”.  Arnie is down to only two old vehicles to work on now…never saw his garage so empty…nor his backyard.

My parents, Arnie's mom and son

Purpose of the BBQ was for that young lady in the white sitting down with one of Arnie’s sons standing next to her.  She is in her early 90’s, and just got back from Utah where she was with Arnie’s brother for nearly a year.  Today’s BBQ was for all the grandchildren and great-grandchildren living in the area to come by.  That’s my mom and dad to the right.

Arnie's granddauhter, my sister Patti, Sister Sandy and Arnie

They had a house full of people, which is why we decided to wait a day to pull the motorhome into the backyard.  My sister Patti was also there, and it was just so nice to see family, and to see Arnie’s children and grandchildren see their grandmother and great-grandmother.  


Skruffy just couldn’t understand why we didn’t have the motorhome out back!  But she was so happy to see EVERYONE.


And Bubba…well, he liked seeing everyone too…checking out everything, but most of all, seeing his Uncle Arnie and Aunt Sandy. He is looking forward to his special nightly treat he gets while we are here.  (Skruffy misses out because she would rather be in the motorhome with mom and dad while Bubba likes to spend his early night with Sandy and Arnie until it is bedtime.)

This is the third time we have stayed in the Loomis RV Park, we do it for the convenience of its location, although it is not a bad park, and soon to be a Good Sam's park.  You can search our blog for past postings about it.