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Monday, September 26, 2022

Travel Tuesdays: Embracing Change

It's that time of year!

Changing seasons brings different activities. For us, Fall means preparations to get our summer lot ready to face the wet winter months without us. Chairs are put away, mats rolled up, outdoor kitchen equipment put away or covered. The apple tree pruned and garden plants pulled up and potted herbs nestled in for the cold. Anything that migrated from the RV to the outdoor kitchen gets returned, while items that accumulated inside and won’t travel with us go into the shed. Sorting, preparing, evaluating. 

Getting the pots ready for winter

The winding down of one season and preparation for the next has a mix of melancholy for the ending of summer along with anticipation for the adventure ahead. It takes weeks of doing a little here, strategizing about what we can do now and what must wait until the last few days. Have we seen everyone we wanted to see before we go? Have we prepared with enough supplies for several months? 

Crunch time comes and a flurry of activity ensues to make sure all is ready for the estimated departure date. Can we flex a little if we’re not quite ready? Or is the weather going to dictate a precipitous departure?

Help with pruning the apple tree is much appreciated

For the uninitiated, it would seem that living in an RV means we could pull up the jacks and head out in short order. But, besides the preparations for what we leave behind, any time we get ready to roll it requires things to be stowed for travel, front seats turned around, the table leaf lowered, and the slide pulled in. Once the rig is ready, the tow vehicle must be attached on the back which often means moving the motorhome to a new position. At our very quickest, it takes about 1-1/2 to 2 hours to prepare to roll. When we are traveling for days in a row, we leave the slide in and the truck still attached. Often we wake up earlier than usual, make coffee and pull out, eating breakfast when we're ready for a break hours and many miles later. 

The covered deck shelters several things while we're gone.

If we’ve been parked for awhile we do much of the prep work the night before to make our departure quicker. When we’ve been boon-docking in the desert, the first stop is usually to dump the black and gray tanks and fill up the fresh water tank before we head to our next destination. The gas tank is filled often and we try to top it off before we park anywhere since the generator also runs off the gas tank. About once a month the propane tank needs to be refilled. While we can go the entire summer on one tank when it’s used only for cooking, traveling requires the refrigerator to run on propane. 

Several times a day the solar panel monitor is read to determine how well the sun is recharging the batteries. Is there enough sun to run an appliance for a little bit? On overcast days when the charge can’t get high enough, we run the generator for 30 minutes or so to give a boost so we can make it through the night. RV living is about managing resources: propane, gas, power, water, waste water and food. 

Parking near friends in Nevada near Valley of Fire

It’s also about change. Changing scenery, weather, locations, and states. Meeting people, new friends and old. Every year, whether heading south or returning home, we wonder what changes will occur before we return. 

Change. A part of life we have learned to embrace.  

The Christian Fellowship group in Quartzsite at moonrise and sunset. The picture does not do justice to the warmth of friendship and the fun of gathering in this place every year.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Writer's Corner: Bobby's Big Break

A picture writing prompt combined with a random comment brought this little story to life through my fingers. It never ceases to amaze me what a mere fifteen or twenty minutes in the morning with other creatives can spark in me. Sometimes something profound, a poem or inspirational piece. Sometimes a lively and fun story for kids or adults.

And now, on to the story: Bobby's Big Break

Clinging precariously to the iron fence, Bobby eyed the patch of grass that stretched toward the Bookstore. 

Could he make it before that big Doberman came hurtling around the corner? He sniffed the air. No scent of dog wafted toward him. 
He leaped as far as he could, landing at a dead run, scampered across the grass, and up onto the porch. Barely pausing to catch his breath, he clambered up the ivy near the door to position himself for the next dare-devil maneuver.
Up the walkway skipped a little girl with her Mom in tow. 
“I know you’re eager to see the new book, but slow down a bit! I can hardly keep up with you.”
“C’mon, Mom! I want to make sure they’re not all gone,” said the little girl. Her blonde curls bouncing, she tugged at her Mom’s hand, urging her to go faster.
Bobbie clung to the ivy, ready to pounce the moment they opened the door. Just as they entered, he timed it perfectly before the door swung shut. He jumped, swishing his tail aside quickly before the door caught it and scampered under a table. 
He spun around, peeping out carefully, eyeing the bookstore to make sure nobody had seen him.
Uh, oh! The little had girl caught the movement and turned to look right into his beady little eyes. Busted! 
But then, a grin spread across her face and she winked at him trying to suppress a grin. She turned and tugged her Mom to a nearby table, picking up a book with beautiful illustrations.
“This is it, Mom!” she said, holding the book to her chest with a huge grin. “ 'THE ACORN AND THE OAK’! They have it, we got here in time.” She jumped up and down with glee, her Mom chuckling at her enthusiasm.
“All right, calm down, we’ll get it. But I want to look for a book for myself. Just give me a minute,” said Mom.
When she turned away, the little girl peeked back over at Bobby. He slowly moved closer to the table that held the books, his gaze going between the book she held and the table holding only two more books. 
Tipping her head sideways, she whispered “Do you want one of these books, too?” 
He stopped, stood on his hind legs, and nodded vigorously. With a stifled giggle, she slid her prized book across the floor to him. He hopped quickly forward, grabbed the book, and tugged it under a table.
Reverently he opened the cover and began to read. The little girl watched for a moment, joy lighting her face. Finally, she stood up and reached for another copy of the book.
Where were they? NO! They couldn’t be gone already, could they? Frantically she pushed books around the table, searching. Tears gathered in her eyes as she saw two kids her age clutching copies of the book and standing in line at the checkout. 
She sank to the floor, chin quivering, unable to stop the wet flow down her cheeks. She tried to keep her sobs silent, but someone heard her, anyway. Looking up through a haze of tears she saw Bobby. He pulled the book to her lap and hopped onto her shoulder. 
Sniffing, she offered a watery smile. Then she opened the book and began to read. Together. With her new friend.
                          *     *     *     *     *     *

The Acorn & The Oak
The book referred to is a children's book just published by a mother-daughter team who are part of The Writing Room family. Rhonda Accardo, author, and Jessica Waterstradt, illustrator. Gorgeous illustrations frame this story of an old oak tree, giving a gentle lesson in dealing with loss. Although the target audience is four to six year olds, this book is sure to become a family favorite. This timeless story gives hope in a time of grieving and points to the good things we can hold on to when faced with loss of any kind. A message for any age. The illustrations have delightful detail that children will enjoy pouring over, plus additional pages at the end to encourage exploration of the world around them outside.
To get your own copy of "The Acorn & the Oak", click here: 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Travel Tuesdays: Family Fun


Part of the fun for me of heading south again is the stop along the way in Oregon to visit extended family. Parked at my nephew's place, one morning I was greeted with this quiet misty vista. I love these towering oak trees. They aren't indigenous farther north where I live in the summer. This is the area I grew up in and I miss these beautiful trees. Although listening to the acorns drop on the roof of the RV is perhaps not my favorite part!

This time I chose to focus on one branch of the family to keep from spread myself too thin visiting all my nieces and nephews. I love them all, but trying to see everyone in a few shorts day can get crazy and exhausting. Planing a group gathering can be challenging when we don't know how long we'll be there. To all of you that I didn't see this time--I'll catch you next time through.

I managed to get in on a quick trip to Eugene for tea and shopping with my sister Sue and her daughters. When it was discovered that the targeted shop didn't have the right herbs and wasn't open to the public anyway, a plan was hatched to get together a couple of days later and order the herbs online while I was there to make sure of the right ingredients. Some years ago I made up a special blend for Sue of calming herbs that she likes. Her daughter has taken on the task of making sure she has a good supply. This get together turned into a tea party complete with treats, different kinds of teas, and historic family albums making an appearance. 

My grandmother Vera camping in jodhpurs. Brewster Valley. Circa 1920

 We stayed long enough to visit my nephew's church for two Sundays and a Friday night prayer service. We thoroughly enjoyed that. It was so refreshing to be in this group of people who love the Lord and love people so much. Love Jesus, love people. Simple concept, much harder to implement. They are doing this well.

We enjoyed seeing my other niece's property they recently acquired. It will be fun to return and see what they have done to improve things. Big plans. We had a great walk down to the Calapooia river that runs along one edge of their acreage.

The Calapooia River dressed in Fall colors.

We stayed a bit longer than planned because of two big storms that blew through, one right after another. We were thankful to be parked on the other side of the barn from the wind. Although, before leaving, I had to get up on the roof and sweep off the equivalent of a large garbage bag of oak leaves. I was amazed at how many had swirled around into piles up there. Since we no longer have the slide topper, it must be swept before the slide gets pulled in. After days of rain, it was plenty soggy up there and took awhile to remove all the leaves

Friday, September 10, 2021

Foodie Friday: What kind of Fuel?

 I’ve overheard discussions on the finer points of what kind of gas to put in a vehicle to get the best performance and reduce maintenance. Which companies put out the best gas, which ratio of this to that works best. On the other hand I’ve heard of junk yard practices that take cars about to be parted out and empty the gas into a big gas tank. They sell it cheap because who knows what’s really in that gas? It’s dubbed ‘crack gas’ because drug addicts would come and buy the super cheap gas. Then pay the price later in a gummed up machine.

It’s imagery that sticks in my mind as I watch people around me fuel their bodies with ‘crack gas’ in the form of food-like substances designed to addict them. The crunchy, salty ones with the perfect mouth feel and taste—and deadly trans fats. Potato chips, anyone? The sweet flavors bursting to tantalize the tongue with artificial flavors and colors, in a single bite possessing more sugar than the body needs for a month. Candy anyone? Craving more and more, the taste buds are indulged while the process of gumming up the body is well on its way. Crack food. It pretends to fuel our bodies, but it does not.

Our bodies were designed to eat a mix of carbohydrates in the form of vegetables, some fruits and whole grains. Protein in the form of legumes and meat. Fats with olives and avocados and the like. Food that looks like the real thing, like the original plan, combined to bring nourishment. Not the Franken-foods that fills grocery stores promising much and delivery little. Processed foods. Designed for profit, not health.

We hear the warnings, but do we know what that means? Vegetable oils, especially canola, go through multiple processes to become something our bodies struggle to properly digest. Sugar cane refined and stripped of any redeeming vitamins and minerals. Wheat hybridized to be easily harvested, but triggering gut issues rather than nourishing.

What do you fuel your body with? Real food? Or crack-food? Food that fuels the body, or that which satisfies a craving, an emotional association, or a tradition?

There’s a cost up front for good gas for your car, just as there is for food. The crack-gas might be cheap, but the cost later can be much greater than the initial output for good gas. Good quality food is the same. What priority have you put on the fuel for your body? Do you reach for the crack-food, the cheap stuff? Are you starting to recognize how it feels in your body once you’ve swallowed it? Do you see that it’s gumming up your body and the real cost  is starting to show up in the form of inflammatory diseases?

Every day we have a choice. I’m going for the high-octane, high-performance good stuff. How about you?

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Travel Tuesdays: The Family Cabin

At the right time of year, I can step across from dry rock to dry rock. Other times the rocks are overflowing with water and slippery moss covering the rocks prevents safe passage. From this series of  little water falls comes the lullaby of the river.

Considering we go to the family cabin at least once a year and usually twice, I'm surprised I haven't written about it on my blog, yet! Maybe it's because there's a part of me that wants to keep this treasure to myself. This is what I consider to be my main inheritance from my parents. I got some 'stuff' from them, mementos and more books than I needed, but this is different. This is family history. Experiences. Roots. Tangible.

Looking up at the cabin and deck from the river.

My predominant memory of the cabin from childhood is being so car sick by the time we got there that I could hardly stand on my shaky legs, stumbling out of the car to reorient myself in the grassy field. There are some vague memories of sleeping in the upstairs loft with my sisters and three girl cousins. Now I wonder where my brother slept? He must have felt outnumbered. 

In the background, there is always the sound of the river dancing over the rocks, singing a song with a timbre that changes from season to season with the volume of water. How I loved to play in the water, carefully navigating the rocks, slippery with moss, hunting for crawdads, watching 'skitter bugs' skate across the surface, swimming, splashing and being a kid.

I remember Grandpa sitting in the old Morris chair, thus in my mind dubbed the Grandpa Chair. Several years ago when buying new furniture, the warmth of that memory influenced the choice of recliner. Now that we've sold the house and moved into the RV, one of them is at the cabin, sitting next to the Morris chair. Nearly a century apart in age, but similar in style and purpose.

Blessed by the new and the old. .

My project this year was to made new cushions.

It was very satisfying to have the skills and equipment to make new cushions for the Morris chair making it more comfortable. The sagging, lumpy cushions caused us to avoid it. Armed with sewing machine, fabric and foam, I set to work and finished it my first day there. The rest of our stay, we enjoyed having two comfortable chairs from which to enjoy a movie or two, or reading.

This year, we went in July for ten days, instead of the usual June and September trips. A whole day is taken up traveling the 335 miles in each direction, which gave us eight full days there. We worked on projects, read books, took walks and visited people. So often we only have three to five days, which is barely time to relax and get a small project done. This felt almost decadent and we were pleased with how much we accomplished. No matter how long we are there, it never seems to be enough time. I suppose that's how it is with something one enjoys. 

The June trip is scheduled to coincide with the Annual Shareholders Meeting, the small group of us who own the property the cabins sit on. The last two years we have met via Zoom. We look forward to meeting in person next year. There are six cabins there by the river, most of which have been passed down the families for generations. The Corporation owning the property was incorporated in 1913. Many things have changed since then, but the sense of history and continuity remain, will all of us committed to preserving the heritage we have. Our cabin was built by my Grandfather in 1946, with the others built some before and some after. Pictures of the large canvas tent used prior to the cabin were fun to see. We would call this Glamping, now, but I'm sure Grandma would have had some other description.

With a pleasing mix of vintage, antique and modern, the cabin exudes warmth and welcome.

The kitchen is fun to work in and a nice change from the RV. Surrounded by antiques, vintage appliances and Grandma's old china, I revel in the connectedness I feel with those who have used this kitchen before me. Plus it's fun to see what I can do with what I have available.

Memories of my Grandmother and other family members wrap around me in this vintage kitchen.

The mahogany plywood shipped as crates from the Philippines 70 years ago lines the walls and ceiling. In one panel, my great aunt's touches of paint bring to life a water scene she envisioned in the grain of the wood. Much of the charm of the cabin stems from this wood.

Since inheriting my share of the cabin in 2003, we have spent many of our September anniversaries there. Some years we were involved in projects that took all of our energy and time. Like the year we built a retaining wall under the cabin to hold back the river's high water encroachment. Stretched to the limits of our strength, endurance, and patience. Or the one spent scraping up the old tiles to prepare for the new flooring. We were too focused, and too tired, to drive a half hour into town for a celebratory meal. With an easy meal and a "Happy Anniversary" we dragged ourselves off to be overcome by the sleep of the exhausted.

43rd Anniversary at the cabin last Fall. The smokey haze from wildfires, miles away on either side, turning the greens an odd shade and obscuring the sun. 

September is a great time to be there. Usually the weather is still nice, sometimes even hot. It seldom rains, but the nights start to cool. The large wood stove is rarely needed by us. I soon found out that it can hold the heat all too well and only two chunks are needed to remove the morning chill. Anything more than that lasts for hours, well into the warmth of the day when doors are thrown open and fans turned on. 

My grandparents built it, passed it on the my dad and my aunt, and now it's owned by my oldest cousin and her heir, my sister, my niece and myself. We share in the upkeep and expenses as well as the privilege of being there with the river song lulling us into greater well-being. There is always work to be done, but with such a setting, the effort is well repaid. And break times are unsurpassed. I've already scheduled next year's trips on the family calendar.

Do you have a heritage you treasure? Family memories, stories or items passed down? I'd like to hear about them.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Travel Tuesday: Ocean Shores

The vast expanse of sandy beach, waves a fringe between sand and sky.

Since we needed to move the motorhome anyway, we decided to plan a trip somewhere. Many times we had pulled the motorhome out for some reason, and not thinking beyond that, found ourselves wishing that we could just go somewhere while we were in travel mode.  Instead we just went back to our home park and settled in. Even though our home is mobile, it's a matter of an hour or two of preparation to switch from parked mode to travel mode, especially when we've been parked for a month or more. Things tend to migrate out to the deck, or inside and then I must remember which goes where for traveling. 

We started out with the idea of  two or three days at the coast. A quick getaway that would satisfy the former disappointment of not going anywhere. It rather annoyed me that we have lived less than 2 hours from the beach for four summers and had not made it over there yet!

Finally, off we went to Ocean Shores, parking at the Casino for $10 a night. Since it's only a quarter mile walk to the beach, that's a great deal. It doesn't bother me that it's nothing more than a gravel parking spot, but parking where you can hear the ocean? Smell the salt water? Oh, yeah. Happy Camper time.

After getting settled, I was off to the beach to get some sand between my toes. It was lovely weather, just the right amount of warm with a gentle breeze accompanied by the sound of the surf. Delicious. Walking in sand makes me feet happy--except when it's hot, then, not so much. But the hard wet sand near the surf is cool and inviting. We walked along for awhile, then Jerry went off to run his high intensity interval training (HIIT). I continued to beach comb, then chased the waves letting them catch me. The water wasn't as cold as I expected. Still, I wasn't going in past my knees. Finally I headed for a place to settle into the sand. watch the waves and listen to the ocean song. To me there is no more healing sound than the ocean waves pounding the sand. A God symphony reminding me of His greatness and shrinking my worries.

Right from the first, I knew two days weren't going to be enough time to let the sea-song settle into me sufficiently. In our debate about a third day, we noticed and email from our home park informing us of the road treatment being applied that day. We didn't want to drive on it freshly applied, so we debated some more. Then we read the weather report. With record highs expected (111?!)  it seemed silly to return to Olympia before the weather cooled. A few emails and texts later, we were set to spend a week. Not only would I be missing out on the heat, I'd be able to stay near the beach indulging in my favorite sandy pastimes. I'm pretty sure a Happy Dance was involved here.

We also happened to be there the weekend of the Sand and Sawdust Days where there are amazing sand sculptures and chainsaw artists in various places around Ocean Shores. We enjoyed watching the artists at work with the chainsaws, but we were also glad to duck into the Convention Center with their air conditioning to visit the vendor booths. Yes, even at the beach it got hot, but not as hot as inland.

Sand sculpture near Convention Center. The pop-ups behind are the wood carvers.

Wood carver checking the design.
Three charming bears keeping an eye on everything.

Our picnic lunch was consumed from our truck on the beach in what became a beach parking lot with rows and rows of cars. We were late comers to the activities and found a place one row back from the waves so we could watch them while we ate. We soon found out why cars had moved--the tide was coming in! We watched in fascination as a couple of cars whose occupants were somewhere down the beach were threatened by the waves encroaching. Finally we felt it prudent to move and drove to the back of the parking area to take pictures of a series of sculptures. Jerry had to go back and take pictures of the one little white car with waves lapping at its tires. It got as high as the axles before we left, still wondering when the owners would arrive to discover their dilemma. The heavy duty tow truck we had seen nearby was likely going to get more business rescuing the unwary.

We returned home to discover trees and shrubs whose western facing leaves were burnt, unused to the triple digit temperatures and relentless sun. I was thankful to only loose one plant in the heat wave, with only a few burnt leaves on a couple of plants. My neighbor did a great job of watering all my plants and giving them love while I was away. 

The saying "Timing is everything" was especially true for this jaunt to the coast. What a gift from Father God, showing the depth of His love and care. Sometimes He strengthens us to meet the challenges we face, and sometimes He whisks us away to a place of refreshing and rest. He's a good like that. And I am so thankful.

When I was sitting on the beach allowing the sand to flow through my fingers, I was reminded of the verse in Psalm 139:17-18:

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand

This thought arrested my attention: God, who knows me so well, loves me so much that He's thinking of me all the time. How many grains of sand were in just my hand? Looking up at the expanse of the sand stretching for miles, my mind was overwhelmed. Just one beach. Just one part of the world. Wow. His thoughts towards me are MORE in number than the sand. Jeremiah 29:11 says that His thoughts towards me are good! I love that. That's a LOT of good thoughts coming my way. Unfathomable. Delightful.

When I was younger I was unconsciously waiting for Him to strike me with lightning or something for messing up. Discovering that He's not like that has not only been a great relief, but a joy. His thoughts towards me are good. He loves me. I'm cool with that.

In His love I am secure and even when He must correct me, I know He has my best interests in mind. He does it so lovingly that I am strengthened and made better by it. Trusting His good plans for me, I don't hesitate any more to go to Him for everything and with everything. Peace, hope, wisdom. He has it all.

The beach is where I feel His presence the most. It is the place where I see this constant reminder of His love and how much bigger He is than my problems. In the pounding of the surf I hear deep call to deep; the deep of His love calls to the deepest part of me. This has been my best "YES" ever.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Sanctified Saturday: Getting Out of Sideways

Moonrise at sunset near Bouse, AZ
In the Spring, when the nighttime temperatures warm up past 50 degrees or more for several days, the Sidewinder Rattlesnakes come out of hibernation. I’ve only seen a few since we are not down here for long once it gets hot enough. But to watch them in motion is a marvel. How do they move sideways so rapidly? They make it look easy, scooting along leaving a distinctive pattern behind them. How do they know what direction to go and how do they keep going that way?

It brings to mind those times when I have been moving sideways, not going in a forward direction, but lateral, marking time without a clear direction. Did God look down in his love and say “Oh, child, come this way! Come forward! I have so much more for you than this sideways dance, back and forth in place”? I think he must have, because eventually I felt the tug of more, of destiny, of direction and purpose. I felt his love pull me into a place where I connected with his heavenly GPS to guide me into a course correction. Pulled by that loving, bigger-than-life Heavenly Father into his presence, his better ways and purpose, I move in the direction and course he had planned for me all along.

I leave behind the cloudy self-focus, the time-wasting activities, the negative thinking, the circular questioning and step into the identity he created just for me. Now I joyfully dance along the road, sometimes running, sometimes walking quietly in contemplation, always trying to be in step with him, moving forward with purpose. 

He has called me, I have answered with my life.
Sunset near Bouse, AZ, camping with Boondocker BOF

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Travel Tuesdays: January in Quartzsite, AZ

Sunsets are often spectacular in Quartzsite. I'm told it's because of the dust in the air. Whatever!

Quartzsite, Arizona in January is a phenomenon. I suspect it is unique in the whole world. Where else would you find so many RV enthusiasts in one place? For over 30 years, upwards of a million people have annually flocked to this desert town during the month of January. Sunshine and warmer winter weather play a part, but the space to spread out plays an even larger part. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) owns miles of land around the town. Not just acres, miles. There are two types of areas where RVers can park. Dispersed camping areas are free to stay for 14 days, no services, just a place to park. The Long Term Visitors Areas (LTVA) is $40 for 14 days, or an annual permit for $180 lets you stay for seven months . Provided is garbage dumpsters, water stations, and dump stations. Some places have pit toilets, but many do not. 

Most often we park in the dispersed camping areas, although we did stay in an LTVA once. It’s a favorite way to gather in groups. Such places as “Mile Marker 99” a favorite meeting spot for Geocachers and Ham Radio aficionados. “Scadden Wash”, one of the first areas we stayed, is off the worst road I’ve seen yet. This is a ‘paved’ road where the old pavement is so broken and cracked that a rig like ours can only go about 3 miles an hour to prevent being shaken to pieces. Driving on the wide dirt edge is preferred. Clearly, it’s not on any road crew’s maintenance list. Our favorite place now is Plomosa Road, where 3 miles of camping on either side is occupied with different special interest groups. Some groups are as small as two or three, some as large as 200 or more. The Bureau has rangers who come from time to time and check to see that people have checked in with the Camp Host to register. It’s how they get their numbers and can allot resources. One year the Ranger came to the Boomers BOF group and spoke. He said the head count that year was 850,000 people. It boggles the mind because it doesn’t seem that crowded and it leaves you wondering how that many people can be so easily spread out around this small town of 3,000.

What attracts people other than all the space to gather with each other? This area is famous for its rocks. Everywhere you look there are rocks. This has drawn rock hounds from all over for years. The town has capitalized on that and has an annual rock show, where collectors can find not only local rocks, but ones imported from around the world. There are more rock shops in town than gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants put together! After the rock show, there is the Big Tent Outdoor Recreation and RV show. I hear that back in the day it was really something special. Still, it’s fun to see what all the vendors bring. Outside of the Big Tent, there are hundreds of vendors with all variety of goods scattered about town. This year seemed to have less people shopping, but more than I expected in the surrounding area. I think many people headed out to the desert for a safe and enjoyable place to maintain distance while still being able to socialize.  

We reserve a day to shop, but most of our time is spent with the RV groups that have gathered. We have three Escapee RV Club groups (BOF: Birds of a Feather)  that we belong to that meet off Plomosa Rd: Boondockers BOF, Boomers BOF, and Christian Fellowship BOF. Thankfully they are now all within an easy 1/2 mile walk of the Christian Fellowship group where we start out. 

A camp setup that got my attention! There are some great cooks in this group.

 Besides getting to know the other Christians in the group, we enjoy the daily message given by a retired pastor and the time of worship music prior to that. This year I led the worship for the Monday through Friday times as well as the church services on the Sunday before and after. I was thankful for Nancy on her guitar and Kathy singing along. We made a great team and their input was invaluable for choosing songs and praying together beforehand. We were dubbed “The Desert Trio”. I also shared my music after dinner one evening, and although I hesitate to call it a concert, it was well received and appreciated by the group. First I shared songs I had written, which didn’t take long. When I finished, their expectant faces looked for more, so I went on to play favorite worship music and invited them to join me in praise of our Lord, welcoming his presence. What a blessing to know that I am doing what the Lord is asking of me, even if I feel only minimally qualified! He is so good to take what I have to offer and magnify it for his glory.  

The Christian Flag flying in the sunset. 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Foodie Friday: PIzza my Pizza

Who doesn't love pizza? Oh, that smell! Something easy to grab and eat, and of course it’s great to be able to order it and have someone else do the cooking. It's been many years since I've eaten 'regular' pizza. I just can’t get past the inferior ingredients that cause my body problems. I've become so used to eating food that makes me feel better rather than worse, that to eat something I know will do harm is unthinkable. No matter how good it smells or looks, I have become adept at looking deeper into what the ingredients are, how those ingredients help, or harm, the body. It’s an important skill to learn. While every body responds differently to foods, certain principles apply to everyone. None of us can eat sugary snacks, foods void of nutritional value, or pesticide laden foods with impunity forever.

 But we usually don’t connect what we eat with how we feel. It makes sense that if you put in inferior fuel, you won’t get the best results. We know this for our cars, but we ignore this for our bodies. Many people will tell me they can eat whatever they want and don’t have any problems. And then go on to complain of allergies, constipation, skin problems, inflammatory diseases not realizing that these are all signs of the very problem they are denying. I know it requires something of a paradigm shift, but the pay-off is well worth the effort.  

 Back to my pizza. Since I no longer eat grains, I've experimented with various alternative pizza crusts. I've found that I really love this combo, giving it a chewy, dense satisfying flavor. We've found that we seldom eat more than half this pizza at a meal, it's that filling! It makes for great leftovers.

Mix together:
1 cup almond flour 
1/2 cup cassava flour (or you can increase the amount of almond flour by this much) 
1/2 cup ground flaxseed 
1/8 cup (2 TBSP) coconut flour 
1/8 cup (2 TBSP) psyllium seed ground
1 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 
In another bowl thoroughly mix: 
1 egg 
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup water 

Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir until evenly distributed. It might be slightly crumbly, but that's fine. With oiled fingers, spread onto a 12" pizza pan. I like to leave a bit of a thicker edge around the outside edge. Bake this for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Remove and add toppings. (If you forget to bake the crust first like I sometimes do, it still works, it's just harder to eat by hand)

1 small can tomato sauce 
pizza seasonings like basil, Italian seasonings, fennel seeds about a tsp of each 
Since I try to keep the weight down in my RV, I used dried tomato powder for my sauce: 
1/3 cup dried tomato powder 
1/2 cup water 

this is what I put on mine, but you can put anything you like on yours
Trader Joe's Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage cut into slices 
Onion slices
sliced tomatoes
topped with mozzarella cheese

Bake this until edges are browned and cheese is melted. 15 to 20 min. Sometimes if my toppings are thick it takes longer, and I cook it just a few minutes more, check it and cook it some more until it looks done. If I forget to cook the crust first, it can take 25 minutes or more for it to get done. 

Let me know if you tried it. What worked well? What didn't work? What did you do differently from me? How well did you like it? 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Sanctified Saturdays: Waves of Peace

Storms make waves. Big waves, crashing, furious, energetic waves. I don't mind watching from the shore, but I sure wouldn't want to be out in a boat, in a storm, battling the waves. The risk of getting swamped and going under would seem pretty high. Still, I've had storms in my life that felt like that; where the waves were powerful, pushing and pulling me up and down and all around, threatening to take me under, to pull me beneath into the unknown depths. Storms where I didn’t know if I could make it. Or if I even wanted to. 

Jesus’ disciples experienced such a storm. Many of them were experienced fishermen, used to the moods of the water and weather, so for them to become terrified means this was no puny squall.   
Mark 4:37 TPT “Suddenly, as they were crossing the lake, a ferocious tempest arose, with violent winds and waves that were crashing into the boat until it was all but swamped. But Jesus was calmly sleeping in the stern, resting on a cushion. So they shook him awake, saying, “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are all about to die!” Fully awake, he rebuked the storm and shouted to the sea, “Hush! Calm down!” All at once the wind stopped howling and the water became perfectly calm. Then he turned to his disciples and said the them, “Why are you so afraid? Haven’t you learned to trust yet?” But they were overwhelmed with fear and awe and said to one another, “Who is this man who has such authority that even the wind and waves obey him?”

Image from Pastor Michael on Digging Daily on Wordpress

He’d had a full day of teaching and was tired, so he took a nap. Then out in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, this ferocious storm threatens to swamp the boat and take them all down under the frothy waves. How could he sleep through all of that? They had to shake him awake. That’s some deep sleeping. In their panic they questioned whether he even cared about them, cared about their lives. Their Friend was asleep when they needed him. But when he spoke to the storm “HUSH, Calm down!” they were blown away by his authority, his calm. What did they expect that he was going to do once he was awake; huddle with them as the boat took on more water, be sympathetic? Maybe they were just irritated that he could be so at peace in the midst of this calamity. He challenged their thinking, challenged their fear, questioned their trust.

Here’s a few points that jump out at me. 
1. Storms happen. We will go through difficulties. It’s a given. 
2. Jesus in the boat makes every storm one that we can weather. 
3. Jesus can and does calm the storm when we cry out to him. 
4. He seldom does it as quickly as we’d like. But his timing is perfect.
5. He can sometimes be dramatic even with simple words. Calming a storm at the height of its fury is a bit dramatic. More so than calming it when it’s just a bit windy. He does this. Expect it.

We are not promised clear sailing, perfect weather or easy lives. We are promised Jesus in our boat. We are promised to not have to go it alone. We are promised his strength, comfort, wisdom and perspective. Does this matter? Absolutely. It shifts our view, gets us to see the possibilities, the solutions. When we get our eyes off of the circumstances and onto him we step into his shalom, his peace, and leave fear behind. Leave that confining, paralyzing fear and step into the plans and destiny he has for us. 

My life is relatively calm these days and, having weathered many a storm, I am thankful for the reprieve. Now the storms I mainly feel are on behalf of loved ones. I feel their pain, sorrow, sickness or distress. But I have learned, through my own storms, that when I take all of that and lay it down in his lap and lean into him and rest, he takes all that I give him. I rest knowing his answers will come at the perfect time. It’s a wonderful exchange. I give him all this distress, he gives me his joy in return.

Flooding me with his waves of peace.
Canon Beach, Oregon. Haystack Rock.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Travel Tuesday: Valley of Names

Hill after hill of names. We are parked on the other side of these mountains.

Even though we have boondocked off Ogilby Rd near Yuma for several years, we have never been to the Valley of Names before. I had heard it mentioned a few years ago and it sounded mildly interesting. In these desert places where vegetation is sparse, leaving rock names or pictures is not uncommon. After all, there are rocks aplenty! It's interesting to see what someone took the time and effort to come up with to decorate the desert.

A few old timers in the group decided we needed to all go see this place to pass on the location of one of those 'don't miss' local sights. I had looked it up before on Google Maps and zoomed mostly to figure out how to get there, but you can actually see the names from the satellite view. (32.874635, -114.683814) That, however, in no way prepared me for actually seeing it in person, on the group with my own two eyes! The sheer size of it astounds! And in the words of one of our group "How in the world do you describe a place like this?" Well, I took that as a personal challenge and went to work taking pictures from all kinds of angles. A picture is worth a thousand words and I knew I needed help! These are a select few from my collection. They really don't do it justice, so I must also try to describe it. As we were approaching the area, we could see a small airplane circling over the area, then we saw it land as we passed it. I think it would be a wonderful way to see this!

Our group parked at the top of the picture. The square at the bottom is about 3 ft x 5 ft in scale.


Even though it's just on the other side of the mountain from us, we went the long way to meet up in Winterhaven, CA, with others currently staying in Yuma, AZ. Then we drove north, winding our way past green fields of kale and lettuce, date farms with their huge date palms and irrigation ditches. It was a beautiful drive, but once the pavement ended, it became the familiar arid rock and dirt area, with a dirt road that deteriorated after a few miles into something that made us thankful for our 4-wheel drive truck with a high center. We didn't actually need that 4-wheel drive, but knowing it was available was comforting. 

Our first glimpse of the names made from arranged rocks wasn't that impressive, until we looked up and past them to the rolling hills of names that went on and on and on! Name after name. I tried to guess at how many acres were covered with names! The sheer scale and size of this was astonishing! One name spelled out of rocks is not uncommon out here. But hundreds upon hundreds? I was beginning to wonder if the lead car was going to ever stop so I could get out and wander around looking and taking pictures. Finally, easily a half mile past the first name we stopped. The names kept going. I eagerly hopped out and began trying to capture this surprising place with photos. Many with two names and a plus sign. Some with hearts, others with rectangular outlines. A few rock collections painted blue, some black. Some people had brought in bricks to spell out their names, sure to be visible from a satellite. Some had dates. They ranged in sized from 2ft x 3ft to 5 ft x 12 ft. Having filled our eyes with this wonder, we then went on to see Senator Wash/Imperial Dam (where we have stayed before) and then Mittry Lake (that we hadn't seen before). What a fun day trip.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Sanctified Saturday: Life Stories

I recently joined a Christian Writers group and it has been full of Zoom meetings, daily writing prompts, new friendships and encouragement. So much fun! Hopefully you'll be able to see an improvement in my writing!

Yesterday we did a new thing for the group, complete with technical issues! They worked to get a Zoom meeting live on Facebook so seven writers could share their Life Stories in seven minutes each. It was an amazing experience, and I enjoyed being one of the seven. I had to be ruthless in my editing to keep it within the guidelines, but I came in under the seven minute limit! Since I don't know if the replay will be available to share, I decided to share my story here.


“Live to be 100?! I don’t think so!” I scoffed. “Why would I want to prolong the agony that long?”. I was reading a book on how your emotions and thought life affects your health. In it, was a series of questions to probe your thinking and bring issues to the surface. Having spent too much of my life already dealing with a chronic, undiagnosable and invisible illness, I didn’t look forward to having a long life.

And, yet, the question lingered, poking at me. I chewed on that for awhile. “OK”, I admitted, “I don’t really want to live, I’m just going through the motions.” Since childhood I knew that dying meant going to be with Jesus, so who wouldn’t want that? Paul says in Phil 1:21 “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” I got the ‘die is gain’ part. But that first part? A familiar rallying cry for Christians, but what did it really mean? I had no clue.

Shortly after that, I was jolted with fear. How was it even possible to bleed from lady parts I no longer had? In a panic, I cried out to God, pleading in desperation for answers. Into my mind popped the reference “Ezekiel 16”. I’d heard a message before about this beautiful reference to God’s tender care for Israel. I got out my Bible and started to read. Then I got to verse 6 “... I said to you in your blood, “Live!” Yes, I said to you in your blood, “Live!”. I sobbed with relief. He had heard me! He knows my situation! And he is speaking to me! LIVE! Twice!

OK. Got it. Kind of. Well, not really. What does that actually mean, to ‘live’?

Clearly just going through the motions like I’d been doing wasn’t going to cut it. I had to dig deeper. The first step was to realize that if God My Healer just told me to live, then I wasn’t going to die from this weird bleeding. So, I sent fear packing and the bleeding stopped and never returned. Well, off to a good start!

Then a year or so later came the diagnosis of cancer. That lump near my knee turned out to be a sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. But I had this mandate to live! It was firmly lodged in my head. So, I determined that I would live every moment to the full. I never once thought I would die from it. (Suffer maybe, but not die.) How could I? I was too busy learning to live! Embracing LIFE!

Cancer is wonderfully focusing. All the extraneous things we tend to add to our lives fall away and life becomes about the essentials. I was well on my way to understanding what living is really all about.

A pivotal time came when I felt this tug to step across the line, to be ‘all in’, holding nothing back from the Lord. Up to this point, I had let fear and doubt keep me from being totally sold out to Jesus; playing it safe, not getting too crazy. But finally, his love was so compelling I just didn’t want to hold out any more. “OK! I’m all in, Lord. I’m all yours no matter what. No more trying to play it safe. It’s your way or not at all.”

Wow! Why in the world had I been holding back? THIS is what it really means to LIVE! Jesus at the center, really and truly at the center. Now I understand all the superlatives people use. Now I know what it is to struggle to put into words the sheer wonder of walking closely with him, hearing him speak to me in all the myriad ways that he does. Seeing things through his perspective. Now scripture comes alive like never before. No longer just words on a page, but Life and Truth! How I love to read it. How I love to spend time talking with him. The more I become like Jesus, the more I become my best self, the one God designed me to be, with purpose and joy and wonder.

Thank you Lord! Thank you for this mandate to LIVE, thank you for the Life you have brought to me. For the healing you have done. You have said that when we seek you, we will find you. What a find!

LIVE! There is such a wealth of meaning in this word and I have spent the last decade mining its depths. What treasure I have found! What Life I’ve found.

Yes, LIVE!

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Travel Tuesday: Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire State Park had never been on our radar. Only because of staying nearby were we even made aware of it. We are so thankful that we got to see it!. It is the most breathtaking landscape with all kinds of colors of rock and soil right next to each other, sometimes in layers, sometimes in folds, sometimes jutting out. Every turn of the road brought more amazing sights and I was very busy with my camera trying to capture it all.

Below is the best of what I took. We did two hikes which was enough for me, but there are more for next time. The $10 entrance fee per vehicle was easily worth it. 

Driving into the Valley of Fire State Park. Even the drive in is fascinating.
So. Much. Color. Every turn and twist of the road brought more breathtaking scenes!
The Seven Sisters is a series of tall outcropping with nice picnic areas nearby.

It's not hard to see why the destination of this walk is called Fire Wave! What amazing colors and shapes! The walk began on the other side of the large red rock outcropping at the top right. The next few pictures are in the same area, just looking in different directions. The variations of color, texture, shape and height are amazing!

On the left, the red and white striped rock, the next to it a greenish and brown color, and behind that a deep burgundy color! The arid climate makes all of this so dramatic since there is sparse vegetation.

Returning along the Firewave trail, just past the large red outcropping looking into the next valley. 

To the right, this is what is left of a movie set built in the 60s. There is a plaque explaining that this area has been used for many movies over the years. The fantastical shapes and colors makes for great backdrops, especially for filming movies like Star Trek Generations. 
Layer upon layer of different colored rocks. I can't help but wonder what the composition is to create all of these varied colors. Coming from a place where the vast majority of rocks are just grey, I'm always fascinated by the colors of rocks in the Southwest and especially here. 

This slot canyon may not be as large or as deep a red as the famous Antelope Canyon near Page, AZ, but it's still beautiful, picture-worthy and fun to walk through. I love the contrast of grey gravel on the floor to the pink walls. The picture just above is near the entrance to the slot canyon just before it got narrow. There were so many holes and caves dotting the walls. And a very sturdy bush stubbornly growing in the barrenness. What a great reminder that life continues, that life can grow in unexpected places and survive when it doesn't seem possible.

This Valley of Fire is a place that warrants repeat visits. It's hard to take it all in in only a day. They have a campground there which is in a beautiful setting, and staying there would be a great place from which to go on the many hikes. It's first come, first served so you have to be early and quick to grab a spot. We drove all through the park, but only did two hikes: Fire Wave and White Dome. That was enough for me for one day. I'd like to return some time and do the other hikes. It's a place that begs to be explored, photographed and enjoyed.