Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Living Life and Moving on...

Restful river time at the cabin.
       I'm so glad we have that wonderful memory of seeing my Dad, along with all my siblings, on the way home in April. A few weeks after that he fell and broke his hip, and with one thing following another, his health rapidly declined and he passed peacefully into the arms of his Savior on June 6th. My predominant thoughts following this were thankfulness for so many things. Thankful that he's no longer in pain, that his passing was calm, and that one day I'll see him again. I'm also very thankful that I have family to help process this loss, to share the grief, to celebrate his life and what he taught us, and to let him go and move on.
      The Memorial we had in July was really good; very satisfying and a good closure. All four kids were there, all eleven grand kids, and many great grand kids were there. The service was honoring in a healthy way. He wasn't perfect, but he had a Perfect Savior whom he loved and trusted and is now in His presence. That gives us all hope. We don't have to be perfect to be loved or used by God. Dad taught us many things, some not so good, some great. I choose to focus on the good stuff learned and trust in the Lord to help unlearn the others. Even in the unlearning, there are such good lessons! One of them is learning to grab the wisdom from the experiences and move on.
Holding my new granddaughter Bethany Grace.
     The very next day after he passed, my 5th grandchild arrived, 16 days past her due day, but apparently right on time. Bethany Grace arrived on June 7th, 7 minutes before the 11th hour. So very interesting! What an amazing cycle of life to lose someone of one generation while gaining one of another! Those six days I stayed with them went by way too fast, keeping the older kids busy with cooking, crafting with felt and taking walks.
     I had expected to stay a little longer with them, but I learned my sisters needed to get Dad's room cleared out and I wanted to be there. We were able to stay in the Guest Rooms at Turner Retirement Home for a few days while we worked on that project. These rooms were part of the original building built in the late 1880s. What a charming Bed & Breakfast stay, and a relief to be so close so I could work in spurts. Sorting through the last of his stuff was both meaningful and difficult. But I was thankful for the opportunity as it helped me to process through the loss. There were a few special things I was able to bring back with me. One of which was his baritone ukulele. I plan to take it with me South this winter and learn how to play it. It's a lovely instrument that Dad used when he played with the Oldtime Fiddlers group. Closing this chapter and moving on.
     We had a few more days of visiting relatives, then we headed farther south to the family cabin for the Annual Meeting. The memories of grandparents and parents was very strong there, but it was still restful and refreshing there. I think much of that has to do with the river and the constant, soothing background sound of the water over the rocks. The Club very kindly gave us a Rhododendron in honor of Dad and shared fond memories of his involvement there. It was touching.
      I was very glad to finally return home after sleeping in four different beds over the 10 day period. There's nothing like being away to help you really appreciate being back home! You might wonder why we didn't take the motorhome so we could have our home with us. There are a few reasons, but most of all, it's just simpler and less expensive to leave it parked. The minivan that stays here in the winter, is a great travel vehicle for summers to visit family and the cabin where we can sleep inside.
     All of a sudden, we realized that our departure date is barely 2 months away! So we are switching gears, trying to figure out how to fit everything in that we want and need to do before we leave again mid October. More moving on, although there will be a return.
    Life is full of moving on. So we live each day as it comes, learning to walk more in step with Jesus, getting filled up with His love and giving it out to others. Life is good.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Tuesday Travel: Home Base

Me and my siblings visiting Dad in Salem.
The view from my walk looking back at Michael's place hidden by the trees.
     On our way back to our Home Base in Olympia, we stopped for a few days in Albany, OR to visit family. We were able to gather all of my siblings to visit with Dad who is 92. It has been several years since we were all together, so it was pretty special for Dad to have us all there at the same time. I'm amazed at how my Dad just keeps going! We stayed at my nephew's place in North Albany where he has several acres and it was a very pleasant place to recharge from all the visiting. We made the most of our few days there visiting with as many people as we could fit in. There were so many more people we want to see, but there wasn't time. We plan to return for a more extended visit later in the summer.
My one blooming Iris!
Hellebore plants are happy.
Wild bleeding hearts, Columbine
     We were glad to get back to our lot and settle in after being on the move every week or two for 6 months. We had plenty of cleanup to do from winter storms, branches and leaves to clean up, weeds to kill and the snow damage to assess and repair. After weighing options, we decided to replace our Costco tarp garage with a new one. It didn't do very well with the 17" of snow they got here in February. We are so thankful for our neighbors who came and got the snow off and propped it up until we could get home and fix it. Jerry has added supports to the new one to give it a better chance of survival in the future. Most of these in the park failed under the weight of the snow. Thankfully, the Harbor Freight one that the van was stored in did fine. It had a large tree over it, cedars alongside of it and a wider base which helped quite a bit.
     Coming home to see so many flowers in bloom was fun for me. I loved the amazing flowers we saw this winter, but coming home to familiar ones is always lovely. To see my shy Hellebore blooming profusely, the Hostas beginning to unfurl, and buds on my Peonies made my heart happy. Now my wild Bleeding Hearts and Columbine are in full bloom as are my Irises. Well, one Iris that's in a pot, anyway. The dirt here isn't all the great, so the many Irises I brought with me from the house add greenery, but haven't bloomed. For the most part I do container gardening. Not that I'm that much of a gardener, but I do love having fresh herbs and a few flowers. The herbs I have are Anise Hyssop, Sage, Lemon Balm, Chives, Mint, Stevia, Basil, Oregano, Lavender, and Thyme in varying degrees of success. It very fun to go out and clip some herbs to add to a salad or something I'm cooking. I was also given a space in the Community Garden in a friend's plot, so I now have two cherry tomato plants. We'll see how that goes! My Mom had such a green thumb, and so does my son. I used to feel like it had skipped me, but I've found that I've been able to build on a few successes here and there and I do well enough to suit me.
My little herb garden. 

    We were able to meet the original owners of our RV this past weekend. Imagine our surprise last year when we discovered that not only were a couple of people in our park related to the original owners, but a few years ago this very Motorhome lived in this park just a couple of streets over! We purchased it from a small family RV dealer in Vancouver, WA who bought it at auction 6 years ago. The names of the owners meant nothing to us at the time; we were still living in our house in Renton and didn't even know that this park existed. Jerry made note of their names as a matter of course when we bought it. (He's very good about documentation.) Last summer he had reason to check back in his records. "Do you think the Malley we know might know the Malley who owned this rig before?" he asks. Sure enough--brothers! At one time, all four brothers lived here. So of course when there was a family birthday party this weekend, several people made sure we got to meet the original owners. It was fun to get a little history about the rig and share how much we enjoy it now. What a small world!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Travel Tuesday: Lake Havasu

Amazing field of wildflowers near where we parked. The smell was lovely and soft, mainly from the purple flowers.
During Spring Break, there were lots of boats lined up along the canal.

Standing in front of the famous London Bridge.
On the bridge, it's a "Thing" to leave your bike lock with your name. 
    Once the Boondocker BOF group heads off in different directions, we then have to decide where to go until it warms up enough to head home. This year I want to get home a bit earlier to be available for the arrival of my daughter's fourth child. So we didn't want to go very far eastward and decided to check out Lake Havasu. I know that lots of RV friends go there to the Winter Blast in February when they test out new fireworks and people in the area can watch them. But I'm not a huge fan of fireworks, so I'll pass. We hadn't been there since we took our kids years ago on an Arizona vacation. We couldn't remember exactly when that was, but they were likely early teens.
     We found a place to boondock on the north end of the lake on Arizona Trust Land and enjoyed exploring the area. It was fun to see that much was the same as it had been nearly two decades ago. I didn't remember driving across the bridge back then, but it was fun to drive over to the island and all around it. We went to the Visitor's Center and brushed up on the history of the bridge, how the town founder had bought it and brought it over from London, built supports under it out of cement, reassembled the bridge, then dug out the canal underneath. Not the usual way with bridges! Our first jaunt to the bridge was on Saturday, the last weekend of Spring Break. There was quite a lot of action, noise and young people about. Clearly Lake Havasu is a favorite place to go for Spring Break! I marveled at the amount of money represented by the many boats we saw; big, fast and loud. We walked from the bridge all the way down the south side of the canal to the park at the end and back.
Kayaking through the canal and under the bridge.
     We decided to go kayaking in the middle of the week when the crowds were less, which turned out to be a great plan. The day we went was quite overcast, but I was thankful since it kept us from getting sunburned. I was prepared with a long sleeve shirt, but was thankful that I didn't need it. We rented kayaks on the island, and paddled around to the canal and under the bridge and back. It's a lovely place to kayak. We could have gone the entire length of the canal before returning, but there were still enough boats with their stinky exhaust to make me turn around and head back out to the lake to enjoy some serenity. The canal is a no wake zone, so the big boats have to go very slow, but they're still loud and stinky! I much prefer the calm, quiet paddling of a kayak. I definitely want to kayak again! That's now on my "TO DO" list when I get back home.
One of the 27 Lighthouses around the lake, each unique.
    Around the lake there are replica lighthouses, each one unique, and we were able to paddle fairly close to two of them. There is one on each side of each opening to the canal, so we were able to see a total of four fairly close up. Quite a fun thing to see since I'm a fan of lighthouses.
    The place where we rented our kayaks was on the beach of a camping resort. I wonder how much it is per night to park an RV right there by the beach? That would be a lovely place to stay (if you can get in!) and it was fun being able to enjoy it from the water side. But the price of where we stayed is hard to beat! For a 14 day permit, we paid $21. 
    Where to go next? We tossed around several ideas, but some expected mail played a deciding role. I figured that Parker was close enough to Lake Havasu to have my mail sent there. However, they won't tell you by phone if there is anything waiting for you or not. So we took a gamble and went on Thursday to Parker, more than an hour's drive away. No mail. But we have friends who were staying nearby, so we visited them and took a tour of the park where they are members that's right on the Colorado River. That eased the disappointment. But left us with a dilemma. This was solved by Jerry's idea to go to Quartzsite for a few nights, try one more time to get my mail, then dump and fill all tanks before heading on to Indio, CA. I was delighted to get my mail and get back to Quarzsite before Jerry was done. Then we were off to Indio. I love it when a plan comes together!

Friday, March 29, 2019

FOODIE FRIDAY: Fun with gelatin!

       In a discussion recently about gelatin and how good it is for you, I mentioned some of the different kinds that I had played with. Of course that brought a request for the recipe. Hmmm. You mean that scribble of notes I jotted down to try remember what I did? Clearly I had to make some recipes to see if I could duplicate what I did before; to see how well my notes captured it. Since I'm a "Little dab of this, and a splash of that" kind of cook, that's always an interesting challenge! So I made some Coffee Gigglers and shared them when we had a Taco Potluck while camping in the Bouse area. They were very well received, and I heard later they were even talked about at the fire that night! After making them again, I feel confident that I it got down. It's now in Official Recipe Form!
The squares on the left are the peanut butter ones, on the right the coffee. Not much difference by looks except the coffee ones are smoother in texture. I'm thinking that the peanut butter ones are just begging for some kind of chocolate layer.

The basic gelatin gigglers recipe is simple, and once you know the proportions you can make all kinds of flavors:
2 TBSP gelatin
2-3 cups total liquid (depending on how firm you want them)

   I like to put the gelatin in cold liquid first to keep it from clumping, then add it to the hot and stir for several minutes. You can also use a stick blender to make it smooth, but it will add a foamy top layer. I like that added texture and for the Coffee Gigglers, it's the best way to emulsify the fats.
    I like to play around with different combos of herbal tea, kombucha, flavored stevia and veggies or fruit. With the basic ratios of gelatin to liquid, I can pretty much make anything that sounds good! I've used hibiscus tea for color if I'm doing a fruit flavored one. Tulsi tea is great for a soft, refreshing mouthful. Chamomile tea for a before bed calming bite (great for kids). Peanut butter and bananas is a grandkid favorite. And why not coffee while we're at it?
     Why, you might ask, would I bother to make gelatin in the first place? Glad you asked! Gelatin is made of collagen (same thing, different forms) which is an important protein and it's the glue that holds your body together. It's necessary for skin, hair, nails, a healthy gut, joints, etc. For more great information on this, go here to Amy Myers MD website and read  up on it. I certainly noticed a difference when I ran out and couldn't find any for about a month in my travels. I didn't really want the Knox Gelatin because I'm not sure of the source (although it will do in a pinch), and I prefer it in bulk. I finally found some in Tucson in the Food Conspiracy Co-op in bulk and got a bunch, enough to get me home. Now that I'm eating it again, my nails are getting stronger and so is my hair. I don't really have joint issues, so I don't know by personal experience how that helps. But it's enough for me to know that my nails are better since they are a pretty clear indicator of body health. I usually add it to my morning porridge, but sometimes I just want to play around with it! Plus it's fun to share this healthy snack with others.

The brand of decaf coffee I use, truly decaf. I try to get organic cream. The brand and flavor of stevia used in both recipes. The Lakanto Monkfruit sweetener is something I've just started using. It has Monkfruit and erythritol in it. 
     I took my version of Bullet Proof Coffee and added the cream, extra stevia and gelatin. I can have it any time since it's decaf, and it makes a great, light dessert!  You can make it with whatever flavor combo floats your boat, just be aware that once it gets cold and gels, it will be milder in flavor and less sweet.

Coffee Gelatin Gigglers:
2 TBSP plain gelatin
1 cup cool water
Mix these together and set aside. This keeps the gelatin from clumping.

Mix together:
     1-1/4 c hot coffee to taste, strong enough to get diluted by the cup of water.
     1 TBSP butter (to make dairy free, use coconut butter or double coconut oil)
     1 TBSP coconut oil
     2-4 TBSP cream to taste (can also use coconut cream)
     2-3 droppers Chocolate flavored stevia to taste (a dropperful comes up about 1" approx 20 drops)
     1 tsp monk fruit/erythritol sweetener or honey (to mellow out the stevia)

Blend the coffee, fats, sweeteners and cream together in a blender or with a stick blender until somewhat frothy. Add the gelatin/water mix, blend until thoroughly mixed. Taste it. This mixture should taste a bit sweeter and stronger than you prefer. Pour into 8x8 pan and refrigerate until set. Cut into squares and enjoy! It will separate as it cools to form a top layer. You can also pour this into gelatin molds, individual cups or whatever you prefer.

Peanut Butter Gigglers: (a grandkid favorite, they ask for these!)
        2 TBSP plain gelatin
1 cup cool water
 Mix these together and set aside. This keeps the gelatin from clumping.

     1/4 c peanut butter
     3 droppers Chocolate flavored stevia (a dropperful comes up about 1", approx 20 drops)
     2 TBSP cream
     1 tsp Lakanto Monkfruit sweetener or honey or maple syrup (can use more of this, less of stevia)
     1-1/2 cups very hot water
     6-8 slices frozen banana or to taste

In a deep bowl, mix peanut butter, sweeteners, and cream. Add gelatin mixture and stir well. Add hot water and blend thoroughly. Add frozen bananas and blend. Chill until set up, cut and serve.
TIP: I like to have frozen banana slices on hand in the freezer. I take a real ripe banana, slice it about 1/4" or slightly thicker and take a gallon freezer ziplock bag and place them one layer thick in the freezer until frozen, then they can be used individually.

Did you make them? Did you try any variations? I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Travel Tuesday: Off Road Adventures

Spectacular views! The road looks good from a distance....
Unusual flowers I've not seen elsewhere
Some parts are better walked.
While we were camped outside of Bouse, AZ, I was invited to go to The Desert Bar with some off-roading enthusiasts. I've heard of the Desert Bar from many people who have gone, knew of its uniqueness and also of the somewhat bumpy road getting up there. So far we hadn't felt compelled to go, although we thought it might be interesting. And then along comes an opportunity I didn't want to pass up. Because I would have felt like a wuss if I had! I decided to go for the Adventure instead of comfort and safety. So off we went, and instead of the rather rough road going in, we took the back way. I'm not sure I would call it a road. Well, maybe: if you have 4-wheel drive and plan to use it--a lot!, if you have enough clearance to get over some big rocks, if you don't mind desert pinstripes (getting up close and personal with thorny bushes), if you don't mind dirt and bumpy rides that bounce your head off the window, then, yes, it's a road! Truly, going with enthusiasts made it fun. Jerry opted out and I almost did. It's enough that it's about an hour plus drive on the main road, but the sound of 3 or more hours taking the back way had me questioning the wisdom of this. I was concerned about sitting so long. I also was wondering if there would be any stops along the way, not only to stretch my legs, but to 'pick flowers' as my Grandmother called it. It was a relief to discover that due to the bouncing, movement side to side and having to keep my balance, I wasn't just sitting there and didn't have a chance to get stiff. Plus we stopped several times to get out, stretch legs, take pictures (while not in constant motion!), oooh and ahhh over the scenery, and, yes, 'pick flowers'.  We were rewarded by spectacular scenery, the comradery that happens when challenges are met, and the fun of arriving at this picturesque oasis in the desert.
     The Desert Bar is only open on the weekends and they do a hopping business in those two days. People come from all over the place to enjoy food, drinks and music at this remote place. It's hard to fathom the kind of vision needed to think up something like this, but it's really something to see. It's been built in stages and they are still building. It runs totally on solar and I got a peek at 2 of the battery banks. The smaller one had 48 linked together. The food there is typical fast food: hamburgers, specialty fries, etc. Since we were eating outside, I felt comfortable eating the lunch I had brought with me while the others supported the local economy. There was a band playing and quite a festive air about the place, and lots of people. 
First view of the Desert Bar. It was packed! Ahead of me are MP, Wendy and Dave.
      From the entrance of the 'back way' it took us about 2-1/2 hours to go the 5 miles to the bar. The scenery was spectacular. Some of the sections of road were pretty tricky, and at the very start was a part they called a 'gatekeeper'. If you could get up that section, you could probably make it the rest of the way, but it was not for the faint of heart! I was the first to hop out and walk up it, but in the end everyone got out and the drivers assessed it to figure out the best way to go up. The careful way they looked it over and planned it built confidence, and I was happy to hop back in once they made it up the hill. I took videos of 3 different vehicles making it up that climb. Since I was at the top, it didn't show very well how steep it actually was. There was only one other section I walked, and I was very quick to hop out when asked if I wanted to walk this part. Yessiree! Plus I could take more pictures, getting better shots from the outside. 
     Several times we pulled over to allow faster off-road vehicles pass us. Since we were in two Jeeps, we weren't trying to win any races. There were quite a few people along the way, some coming towards us, some passing us. Since it's a one-way road, either we or the other party pulled off onto a wide spot to allow passing with lots of hand waving, some sharing of "How's the road up ahead" and "You're almost there! Cold beers await!" After we reached the highest point where there was a memorial, we heard that the next little bit would be tricky, but since we made it this far, we'd do fine. I was reassured, but some sections felt much like whitewater rafting in a Jeep!

Clockwise from the top: The small church from the front, cement floor, stamped tin walls and ceiling.
Nice view while washing your hands.

      One intriguing addition to the Desert Bar is this tiny church. It's about 10 feet square, made all of steel and lined with stamped tin. It's beautiful inside. There's a plaque inside of all those who donated funds to make it. I wonder how many weddings have been done here?
     One of the first things one hears about whenever people talk about the Desert Bar is the Ladies Room. So of course I had to see it for myself. It's quite unique, with a very industrial look and a half wall in front of the sinks. Instead of windows, it's just open to the air with a great view since it's so high up. How many Ladies' rooms warrant pictures?
   All in all, it was a fun day and I'm glad I went. But everyone agreed that they can cross that road off their list. "Been there, done that" It wasn't exactly harrowing, but there were moments when I heard "Definitely getting a lift kit when I get home" muttered more than once. I think next time, I'll just go the more usual route. We left that way and it reminded me of the road in Monument Valley. Not exactly smooth, but much smoother than our first section!
Top: Me and MP, Bottom left: MP and Wendy, Bottom right: Vic, Dave, and Rick in the background.

Someone did a lot of work building this road! Check out the rock wall edge. This section stretched for about 300 feet.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Sanctified Saturdays: Oceans of Love

Soaking in the sound of the pounding surf, and the mesmerizing motion of the waves.
When I was a teen we often went to the ocean. I loved it because standing there on the beach, feeling the wind, listening to the surf pounding and seeing the magnitude of the ocean put my problems in perspective. I loved it when there was a storm because as the storm raged outside, my insides got quieter and more at peace.
I got a glimpse of how BIG God is, just a peek, but enough to bring the troubles in my life to a better perspective. That’s the place I see God most clearly, see His majesty and recognize that any problems I have are so small compared to Him. He is big enough to handle it, to help me. This is my happy place, the place I go in my mind when I really, really need to feel His presence and comfort. In my imagination I sit at His feet, hearing the surf, tucked away from the wind, telling Him what’s on my heart. And He listens and loves.
Last Fall I got to stop at a beach on our way home from the cabin. As I stood with my toes in the sand looking out across the wide Pacific Ocean, I felt the Lord whisper to me ‘Look at the vastness of the ocean. My love for you is bigger! Look at the grains of sand on the beach. My thoughts towards you are more! My thoughts towards you are good.’ Wow. How can I take that all in? How do I wrap my mind around that?
Psalm 139:17 in The Passion Version says, “Every single moment You are thinking of me! How precious and wonderful to consider that You cherish me constantly in Your every thought! O God, Your desires toward me are more than the grains of sand on the very shore! When I awake each morning, You’re still with me.”
Jeremiah 29:11 in the Amplified says, “For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope.”
As tears streamed down my face from the sheer wonder and magnitude of His love for me, I listened to the pounding surf. The Psalm came to mind of deep calling to deep. The deep voice of the ocean called to something deep inside of me, pulling my heart closer to His heart. “Come closer, feel the depth of My love.” Each wave seeming to wash away another pain from the past, smoothing away rough places. Restoring life and hope and joy. So very healing. What a Good, Good Father!
In Psalm 42:7a of the Amplified, “Deep calls to deep at the [thundering] sound of Your waterfalls;”
Lord, I hear You calling me deeper. Deep into the depths of Your vast love for me. Deeper into knowing You. Deeper into what You are calling me to become. Your love is irresistible!
I love getting sand between my toes.....!

NOTE: I also write for my church's blog. After it's published there, I can publish it here. If you'd like to check out other blog posts there, click here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Travel Tuesday: Big City Life

What a sight to fly into Seattle with it covered in snow!
Going to Phoenix to visit friends took some unexpected turns this year. For the last several years we have parked in front of my friend's house for about a week. This year, however, there was a complaint and so we discovered that parking big rigs on city streets is not allowed at all in Phoenix. Who knew? Often we can park for 3 days in different towns, but here, not at all. The very kind officer who showed up to let us know was sorry to bother us, but explained the rules. Since we were leaving the next day, he said he'd put in his report that he had contacted us and that we were leaving the next day. It was kind of him to not insist we move right away.
Did I mention all the shoveling I did?! This was before the additional 4".
After the second (3rd?) snow. A ruler wasn't long enough!     
        Jerry then moved over to a casino in the Peoria area for a week there while I flew back to Washington State to spend some time with my daughter and grandchildren.
      I didn't expect to get snowed in! It was fun, but I was disappointed that I didn't get to see anyone else while I was up there. Snow, more snow, even more snow....! And the run to Costco to prepare for said snow was an unexpected adventure. Who knew that store could hold so many people? Or that those amazing checkers could crank everyone through so fast?! Double lines reaching the back of the store and beyond, yet I was only there about an hour. It turned out to be worth it, since we did indeed get dumped on! We had some fun walks in the snow, making snow angels, playing in the snow and trying to make a snow man with snow that was drier than I ever remember it being. Until the rain started, that is! Then there were wet and cold hands and feet and sopping clothes. Ah, I remember that feeling from childhood of hands that burned and tingled as they warmed up!
  It was beautiful and I was glad to not have to try to go anywhere in all of it. I can't go so far as to say I've missed snow by spending my winters in the Southwest, but I did enjoy it while I was there.
    Since we weren't done in the Phoenix area, Jerry scouted around to find other options for the rest of our time there. He found a wonderful place at Lake Pleasant, right on the water. So we enjoyed our week there even though it rained several of the days. We had friends join us for lunch at the Marina Diner and then returned to our rig to play cards the rest of the afternoon which was fun.
Lake Pleasant Marina, the lake, our view, enjoying sunshine again.
  The next day we went to church with some friends we've known for years from our old church and it was great getting together with them, being blessed by the music, the good teaching and the presence of God we felt there. Then off to lunch at a great Mexican restaurant where I managed to find something I could eat without problems.
  Off we went the next day to Tucson, settling in to an RV Park for a change. It was the closest place to the friends we wanted to visit and for an unbeatable price. Since it was so cold that week, we were quite thankful to have electricity. I felt pretty pampered!
  We enjoyed the visits we had with our friends, eating at their homes, eating out. Getting together with old friends and even some new ones. We are blessed with such great friends!
   Not only was the weather very cold in Tucson (it got down to 24 one night) but we woke up one morning to snow on the truck! That was unexpected. It also rained there so much the dirt roads in the RV Park turned to lakes and mud. We were content to take a day off and rest up on the worst day. It started to dry out by the time we were on our way to our next location.
    I enjoy Tucson, not only to visit friends, but also to stock up on supplies and get to some of their specialty stores like the Food Conspiracy Co-op that sells things that I can't find in a Sprouts store. Meeting up with our new friends there made it even more fun.
  After all that Big City life, we were ready to head off to Yuma Foothills to meet up with the Boondocker group on the Arizona Trust Land, and to celebrate a 50th Wedding Anniversary of friends from our home park. That was a fun gathering and we were able to see many friends from home who winter in Yuma.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Sanctified Saturdays: The Water Makes a Difference

Walking the rocky road, going higher and higher....
As I was on a walk recently....
I was pondering the effect of so much rain here in the Southwest this winter. This normally dry, barren and largely brown region is greener than I've ever seen it! There are other areas of the country that are much more flamboyant with color, but in this region, the contrasts are more noticeable. There are predominantly several shades of brown with clumps of green scattered about, so it's a delight to come upon purple, orange, yellow or white blooms. As I walked along, I saw these flowers growing in the middle of the rocky road. It got me thinking about how a little bit of rain, a little bit of water makes all the difference. Sunshine they get aplenty, but water is the key. Then these little flowers just push their way up between the rocks toward the sunshine to bloom.

Bloom in unexpected places!

In life, we can find ourselves in similar circumstances. Places that seem overwhelming or barren. Rocky places full of rocks of difficulty, with boulders of impossibility. That's where we can invite the Living Water to pour over us. We can receive that Water of the Holy Spirit to nourish and feed us, infusing us with Life. Splashing us with sustaining Hope. We don't have to keep our eyes on the circumstances, on the rocks, on the dust. We can turn our gaze to the Light of God and ask for His rain to pour over us. When we invite Him into our impossible circumstances, we invite the miracle of Life to invade, to give us hope, strength, endurance, and persistence. We invite Him to help us bloom where we are, even in the midst of the circumstances. The flowers didn't move, they just received the water and bloomed right where they were! Bringing life and color to the barren places. The Water makes all the difference. Let Him make all the difference in your circumstances, too.
Happy blooms dressing up the rocky region, giving testimony to the goodness of God and the blessing of rain.
"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, flowing with water clear as crystal, continuously pouring out from the throne of God and of the Lamb. The river was flowing in the middle of the street of the city, and on either side of the river was the Tree of Life, with its twelve kinds of ripe fruit according to each month of the year. The leaves of the Tree of Life are for the healing of the nations." Revelation 22:1,2

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Travel Tuesday: Quarzsite

    Quartzsite is a unique place. Because of all the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land surrounding it, there is lots of space for RVers to meet up. And meet up they do! In droves! Bunches here, circled wagons there. The Escapees RV Club have several smaller groups called BOF (Birds of a Feather), and this year the Boomers moved to Plamosa Rd where several other Escapee groups meet. This made it easier for us to stay put and visit other groups nearby. This year we decided to meet up with the Christian Fellowship BOF for the first time. But we were also within walking distance of the Boondocker BOF as well as the Boomers BOF. Solos BOF were next to us and we had some fun inviting them to a biscuits and gravy breakfast with a raffle and concert following. We also had a fundraising auction where everything was wrapped and there were only obscure clues as to what you were bidding on. There was a lot of hilarity and it was fun to anticipate what the clues might point to.
     We really enjoyed getting to know many in the group, having potlucks and starting the day with Worship and Bible teaching. It was a treat to have Barb Maxey there for the worship and also a concert. Nancy (on guitar) and I on keyboard got to play with her for worship and that was great fun. She's very encouraging, so instead of feeling intimidated, I learned and grew in my abilities to follow and fill in. Love that!
      We then moved over to Boomerville where I taught another class on Foods That Heal. It got scheduled late, so there were only six, but a perfect size to fit inside the rig out of the wind and cold. I might just keep to small classes since it was easier for me than hauling all my stuff outside.
       Next we moved over for a few days with our Boondocker friends and enjoyed catching up with a few friends we hadn't seen for awhile.
Barb Maxey doing her concert.

My quickly seen recycled jeans leg bag for the auction.

Fabulous Quartzsite sunrise!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Travel Tuesday: Desert Life

Note: It's not Tuesday, but I didn't get this posted on Tuesday, so I'm posting it now! I don't know what kind of internet will be available to me next Tuesday when we'll be in Quartzsite in the middle of all the activities. I'm not likely to post very much until it's all over. In the meantime, enjoy my pondering on the desert experience!

Deserts are by definition dry places where it rains seldom. In the winter, we can go for weeks or months with no rain or at the most a few drops here and there. This winter seems to be on the rainier side. I've always like rain, so I enjoy seeing it in the desert.  Things begin to come to life! This coming spring will likely have some beautiful blooms!
Ocotillo in varying stages, from leaves just starting to peek out, to fully out and topped with blooms.
This one is definitely dead!
One of the most fascinating plants in the desert to me is the Ocotillo (oh-koe-tee-oh) which is Spanish for "Little torch". It gets its name from the fiery blossoms. It's not a true cactus, but one of 11 species of the Fourquieria genus, all of which are native to the Southwest deserts. When there is no rain, it looks like a dead stick with holes and thorns reaching for the sky. But give it a little rain and leaves begin to push out through those holes until it looks feathery and green. I've never seen one blossom this early in the year before, but they can go through several cycles per year of being dried up, leafing out and blooming. We could tell that this area definitely got some serious rain prior to our arrival. When going on walks, the ground crunches beneath our feet like breaking through a crust,  making the sound that snowy ground gets when it thaqs and refreezes. It keeps the dust down quite a bit except for the areas where people have been driving. In the wind we've had here, that's been a blessing!
  The wind has been at times pretty fierce, so we have been inside quite a bit. It's not inviting to go for a walk in the high wind, or to sit out even in the sunshine to gather for "Happy Hour" with the wind blowing so much. However,  I've bundled up really well and headed into the wind for walks, anyway.  I don't get many steps inside the rig after all!
    Today we moved from this place off Sidewinder Rd northward to Ehrenberg where the ocotillo are fewer and barrel cactus grow. The view from the plateau is beautiful and it's one of our favorite spots. We won't be here long since we move on in a few days to Quarzsite and all the group meet-ups going on there.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Foodie Friday: Kabocha squash soup

Kabocha squash
For our Christmas Eve Potluck, I decided to try a new recipe. I got this from a Farmer's Market lady (Barbi Anderson) a few weeks ago when she set up her stall outside of Jojoba Hills RV Resort (near Temecula, CA). I bought a kabocha squash (not to be confused with kombucha tea!) from her and she also gave me the recipe for a wonderful soup with this unusual squash. I got some other great stuff from her, too. Like persimmons and guava. I've never seen or eaten them fresh before, so that was a fun adventure. Plus I got some sage honey which I've never had before. It has a distinctive taste that I really like.

For the potluck in addition to the soup, I made a veggie tray, a green salad with my homemade honey mustard dressing, some sweet potatoes, chicken drumsticks with veggies in the pressure cooker, Avocado Grasshoppers, and some gluten free, grain free brownies with real whipped cream on the side. I wasn't the only one fixing food, but I wanted to have a variety I could eat and share with others. Of course we couldn't eat it all, so I enjoyed leftovers for the next several days. Win!

Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup (From Barbie Anderson)

Makes 4-6 servings
1 medium to large kabocha squash (or butternut)
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
2-4 cups organic chicken or vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk
sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place squash whole on the baking sheet and roast for 35-45 minutes or until you can easily poke it with a fork. Remove and let cool before you slice open, scoop out seeds, and add flesh to your blender.
Optional step: in the meantime, add a bit of olive oil to a medium stockpot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic to sauté (and any other veggies here – like carrots, zucchini, red peppers - if you’d like). Let cook for 5 minutes until translucent.
Add onions, garlic, 1 can of coconut milk, broth, sea salt and pepper to a blender.
Puree until smooth, adding more broth if you prefer a thinner consistency.
Serve warm, with toppings of your choice (whole milk Greek yogurt, rice crackers, avocado, chia or pumpkin seeds, arugula, kale, or pesto).

    I cooked my squash in the Sun Oven, and I didn't look at the recipe again until after I had already cut it open and scooped out the seeds. Oops! It cooked up beautifully anyway. I also cooked a butternut squash at the same time and together they took a little more than 2 hours to cook at the lower temp, but they were nice and moist. I also added carrots, zucchini, celery, and red pepper to the onions and shallots (instead of garlic). Totally worth the extra step! I used my Bamix stick blender in the pan once everything was in it, and it worked great. I think I would peel the zucchini first next time. I could see bits of the peel which isn't as pretty as I would have liked it to be. The flavor was amazing and I love how thick it was. It made great left-overs, too.
     Barbi suggested I wash and soak the seeds overnight and bake them the next day. Baking them in the oven would have been easier than pan frying them, as I had to stand and stir them quite a bit so they wouldn't burn, but it was worth it! Because of a windy day, the Sun Oven was not an option, and I didn't want to turn on the generator in order to bake them, so I had this stirring experience. <<wink, wink!>> It didn't take me long to eat them all, they were so good. I'm definitely going to look for this squash again. It just might be my new favorite! I love discovering new foods I can eat.

Nick and Jerry relaxing after a great meal.  The food talbe is behind Jerry, but I didn't get a good pic of that.

Vera and Delores and I looking pretty Christmasy!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Travel Tuesday: Merry Christmas!

Someone clearly spends too much time on Pinterest!
 Merry Christmas from the desert west of Yuma. This is a favorite place of ours, perhaps because it was the first place on our very first Snowbird trip that we got into the actual desert wilderness and then fell in love with the desert. Off of Ogilby Rd and American Girl Mine Rd, we sit in this spot with wide open spaces ringed with mountains. You can see for miles here! The distances are deceptive; things seem so much closer than they actual are. Lots of room to walk and jog. Lots of sky. And of course the sunsets are spectacular!
     We are with the Boondocker BOF group, but there aren't very many of us here. Only three rigs for the most part, although we had 2 come and go at different times. For our Christmas Potluck (that we had on Christmas Eve because of the forecasted wind for Christmas Day), we had a couple of people drive over and join us. Between us we came up with a tasty meal. As you can see, I had fun with my veggie tray! I also made some gluten free brownies and the Avocado Grasshoppers, along with a delicious squash soup and green salad.

Sunrise, rather than sunset, coming up over the mountains.

Looking in the opposite direction at the same time, this was the moon set.

     Before coming here, we spent a week at Jojoba Hills Resort near Temecula, CA where we caught up on laundry (loads of laundry!), shopping, and visiting with friends. One couple have a wonderful electronic keyboard in their motorhome which I was invited to play whenever I wanted to.Yes! I also got to stock up on some fresh, organic lemons and limes right from the trees that grow in a common area for people to enjoy. Can't get them any fresher than that!
Shields Date Farm Garden with Date Palms.
     We headed back to Indio for a few days and met up with another friend. She and I went to Shields Date Farm. They have a lovely restaurant where we had lunch and a gift shop stocked with several different varieties of dates (Who knew there were so many types?) After lunch we strolled through their beautiful garden along the Stations of Jesus's Life walk which had scenes depicting different events in Jesus's life.
My Christmas rock, 2-1/2 " long!
Even though we had planned to stay a few more days in Indio, we quickly took off for Kofa Ko-op Escapees RV Park in Yuma when we heard that a fellow Boondocker was in the hospital there. Of course we wanted to visit him and make sure he was OK. While we were there, I was able to enjoy a few activities; some social gatherings, Church on Sunday, plenty of walks, and some line dancing. My favorite, though was the Christmas rock painting.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Foodie Friday: Pumpkin Muffins

Sun Oven sitting in the wagon.
     When some friends came to visit us near Borrego Springs, we got to talking about my Sun Oven. So of course I had to show them how quickly it got up to 300-325. Then I had this hot oven just begging to be filled with something delicious, so I decided pumpkin muffins were in order. By the time I got them mixed up, they didn't get in the oven until 2pm. At this time of year the sun is on its downward slide and it goes behind the hills around 4:30, so it was a bit of a race for them to get done in time. The Sun Oven uses the angle of the sun to shine on the reflectors and collect the solar energy to heat up. When the angle gets too low, it's hard to maintain the temperature, and when the sun goes down it cools off. I did manage to get them baked, although at a lower temp, so it took a bit longer than usual.
     I then shared some around the Happy Hour group which included more discussion about the Sun Oven. And happy sounds of appreciation for how they turned out, plus a bit of surprise for a few people at how good something healthy could taste. Score! Since I use 1/2 of a can of pumpkin to make the muffins, and Jerry was kind enough to go into town to get me more eggs, I made another batch then next day. Getting them in the oven before noon, they only took about 45 min to cook the second day. They were just as tasty and moist as the first batch. They were so well received I thought I'd post the recipe here. I have a link to the original recipe, but of course, since I can't leave any recipe alone, I'm posting what I actually do. 

Linda's Pumpkin Muffins,  original recipe HERE that uses honey instead of stevia

1 stick butter, melted (I put this in my Sun Oven as it's heating up), set aside to cool a bit, add at end.
1/2 can pumpkin, stir to smooth
6 eggs, beat into pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla (I make my own extract) add to above,
4 droppers (half way up the dropper) of English Toffee Stevia, add to above
4 droppers Vanilla Stevia, add to above.
      In a small bowl mix the dry ingredients all together:
1/2 c coconut flour (or 1/4 c almond flour, 1/4 c coconut flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder (original calls for baking soda, but I like the taste of baking powder better)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Combine the dry with the wet, then add in the melted butter. Mix thoroughly. Add nuts if desired (1/2 cup) and spoon into muffin cups. I use silicone muffin cups. Paper will stick when using coconut flour, so I don't recommend them. Bake 400 degrees for 15 - 19 min. Or until top is set and lightly browned. In the Sun Oven, it bakes at 300 - 350 for 45 min to 1-1/2 hrs depending. If you push on the top and they spring back, they're done. With the extra pumpkin, these are fairly moist.

      This is my favorite recipe for gluten-free and grain-free baking. They don't seem to last long, even when I don't have help eating them all! Of course, they disappeared pretty quickly at Happy Hour, so if I want to indulge in more of them, I'll have to bake again the next sunny and low wind day. I put my Sun Oven in a folding wagon which makes it easier to move around. It lifts it up and keeps it pretty stable. At our home base in Olympia, I have to chase the sun around our lot since we are surrounded by so many tall trees, so the wagon is super helpful. I love that I can avoid using the generator or heating up the rig when we are out Boondocking with no hookups.There are lots of things I like to cook in my Sun Oven. Below is pictured a couple of my other favorites. If you notice, the pans are dark. The dark color helps to absorb the heat which is what you want. Highly reflective silver cookware doesn't work as well. Enamelware is great! Plus it feels more like I'm camping when I'm using it. It brings back good memories of camp outs.
Chicken and veggies with herbs, and pumpkin cheesecake. Yum!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Sanctified Saturday: "Exchange"

A place of serenity where I feel the Lord's presence.


I recently had a dream where I saw the word "Exchange" hovering in the background as the ideas of what God exchanges were floating up in front of me one after another. What He
has done for me takes my breath away! What kind of crazy, extravagant love is this?!

Where once:
     I was entrapped by anger----->He filled me with His peace and forgiveness
     I was threatened with destruction----->He established me in His safety and protection
     I was trapped in sin------>He set me free with His forgiveness and His righteousness
     I was a captive----->He gave me freedom
     I believed lies----->He spoke Truth, and taught me to hear His voice
     I compromised----->He filled me with His Holiness and and taught me integrity   
     I felt I was an incompetent failure----->He taught me to walk in victory
     I was dying----->God gave me Life!
     I was in despair----->His hope lifted me up
     I had fear and axiety----->He taught me that I could really trust Him and be at peace
     I was awash in sorrow------->He filled me with Joy
     I was wounded and in pain----->He poured the oil of healing over me
     I had a life of chaos------->He brought order and peace
In my areas of lack----->His abundance overflows
In my sickness------>He restores my health
In times of confusion----->He gave me His clarity and wisdom
In the midst of my weakness------>His strength overflows
From my life's pile of ashes----->He created beauty
Where once I was so broken----->He restored me and made me whole

Whatever my need, He is there with His exchange. There's no limit! I don't have to prioritize the top five needs and settle for living with the rest. Wow. Jesus nailed all of it to the cross, He gave His life, His blood for me, for all of it. "It is finished!" It's a done deal. My part is to believe it and receive it, to walk in it. His resurrection life is alive in me and as I walk with Him He renews me; my mind, my body, my emotions. As I seek Him with all my heart, as I put Him before everything else, He exchanges more and more.  I just ask. "Papa God I'm feeling anxious right now about something, I need Your peace", "Papa God, this situation seems pretty bad, I need Your hope and wisdom." As I seek His presence, as I rest in His company, fears evaporate, hope springs up, strength arises, joy explodes. There is nothing to compare with His presence, with hanging out with Papa God, sitting in His lap, getting loved on by the One Whose love is so perfect, so complete, so indescribable.