29 August 2013

Green Acres/Redux: Kitchen Edition

Green Acres/Redux: In the kitchen with Nancie

Don't panic. I'm not actually cooking anything.

It just cracks me up that I voluntarily left a perfectly functioning kitchen to come to Colorado and fix two to three meals a day in this:

Bunny playing Vanna White in the cabin kitchen.
(And let me say, for the record, my kitchen at home could use some updating, too.)

To be perfectly honest, I love this kitchen. I love the hokey cabinets. It has some nicer features than the kitchen at the real house: turntables, knife drawer, narrow cookie sheet cabinet, slide out drawers inside cabinets for the pots and pans. Many things were scrimped on when this house was built but I get the feeling the wife put her foot down when it came to the kitchen. The kitchen works. 


We are on a septic system and we have no disposal. 

This is our disposal:

Carlos is very efficient.
And don't call the FDA.
All dishes get a bleach soak and lots of hot water.

Instead of an ice maker, we have ice trays.  I had to explain to my kids how they work.

At least we have graduated from the metal ice trays of my youth.
Those always stuck to your fingers and then threw the ice everywhere. 

This is my dishwasher:

Those purple gloves have already sprung a leak.
A new pair is on the grocery list.
Much cheaper than a whole new dishwasher.

And the thing that is most time consuming: 
Trash disposal. 
We have to pay to dispose of our trash and we have to drive our trash to the dump.  Now I know we all pay to dispose of our trash but it really hits home when you actually hand over a ten dollar bill along with your two bags of trash rather than pay that utility bill that has trash removal included. 
Here is where the trash goes:
The dump!
The bright spot of going to the dump? Cell service.
Why can the dump get cell service but my cabin can not?

Conveniently located about 10 miles away and conveniently open from 9am to 4pm on Saturdays                                                     ONLY!

In order to keep the amount of trash down we recycle everything.  

Carlos supervising the sorting.

It is a bit like a treasure hunt at the recycling center.  You have to find the correct bin for each item. Plastic in one, cardboard in another, corrugated cardboard in yet another. Brown glass, clear glass, aluminum.  At least the recycling center is open 24/7.  Although I have heard if you go too late at night, you might run into snoopy bears. 

Everything gets sorted by hand. 
Personally. By yours truly.

And truthfully, this is all pretty much the norm here. No dishwashers, no ice makers. If you live in town  maybe your trash is picked up.  But the recycling center is always busy. And it is probably not that unusual in many parts of the United States. But it is certainly unusual for where I come from.  

And here's the thing. This is really good for us. The girls know where to throw their recyclables. While I'm still working with them on the actual washing of dishes, they are good at rinsing. They know not to bring extra trash home. You go through the drive through? Dump that trash in town at the first trash can you see. Don't leave it in the car and don't bring it home. And recycle that plastic cup.
It's good to see how much we throw away. And how much we recycle. It definitely brings home the amount of waste one family can produce.  And if you are hand washing dishes then paper goods sound like a fine idea until you hand over an extra $5.00 that week. 

And the best part? It takes me back to when I was 18 and went to school in Mexico. I rented different apartments with different people and I have such wonderful memories of time spent in those apartments with those -ahem- kitchens.  
I remember the day Cathy and I blew the door completely off the oven when we didn't get the gas pilot lit like we thought we had.
There were ovens with no numbers on the dials. High - maybe 450 degrees- was all the way to the left and 350 degrees was in the middle. We still baked. 
No ice makers. In one apartment there was no freezer at all. Or oven.
There was tons of spaghetti made, not unlike here, for many happy meals.
When we were going through brown outs and had no electricity, we cooked by candle light. Thank goodness for gas stoves.
Scrambled queso con huevos. Kilos of those eggs in plastic bags. Bolsas for our groceries.
And in those kitchens I made some of my best friends.
People who have changed my life.
People who have made my life.

So here's to going back to the basics. 

28 August 2013

More on Life at Green Acres/Redux

Green Acres/Redux: Life in the Slow Lane

Some days I just shake my head and think "What have I gotten myself into?"

Other days I KNOW what I have gotten into...life over my head!

Monday I headed into town for a yoga class. I allotted a solid 30 minutes to make the 15 mile drive into town.  Normally it is a 20 minute drive. Maybe 25.
And then I ran into this:

Colorado traffic jam

The picture doesn't fully show my frustration. That little white spot in front is an RV driving 30 miles per  hour. Max. In a 50.  With five cars- six including me- stacked up behind it.

The RV pulled over when it could and was replaced by a tractor. Doing 19. Miles. Per. Hour.

 Forty five minutes later I got into town, too late for yoga.  But I was definitely in need of some stress reduction at that point so I took a walk.  

There's a trail through the middle of town that is just lovely. I wish Carlos had been with me.

I passed black cows ...

Stress free cows. 

And these adorable Yak Cows.  I am sure they have some official name beyond Yak Cows, but that is what I am calling them. They were so cute.  

Also looking pretty stress free. 

But even cuter.
Yak Cow babies.  I wanted to swipe one and bring it home.  Then I came to my senses.


I almost stepped on this little guy because I was so busy looking at cows. He was quick, my phone camera is slow but he was about an 18 inch black snake . Not sure what flavor. 

Yikes! Better watch my step.

And here's my view on the way back to the car. Stress gone. Ready for the day.

Pretty view.

Thanks for coming along with me.

Tomorrow I'll go through some of the ways our lives are different from our old lives in Houston. 

26 August 2013

No. 25: See a concert- live music

No. 25: See a concert-Live music performed by real people

I discussed quite a few options here regarding who I should go see live. And then I managed to miss all of those people and ended up in Colorado for the fall so my plans have changed.

Because I am mostly spouse-less here and don't know a lot of people here that are adults I am being brave. And fearless. Or at least refusing to sit in the house all by my lonesome.

In Salida, the closest town, there is a theater and event center called the SteamPlant.  It started out as the light company for the town in 1887.  It no longer supplies the electricity here but does supply the entertainment. Or at least some of it.

The SteamPlant is on the Arkansas River. 
I've never been in it before.

So, while perusing their calendar, this group caught my eye.

A trio of Swedish sisters, The Baskery Sisters, have been compared to the Roches and the Dixie Chicks.  A little bit of "mud-country" and a little bit "punk".  Sounds like my kind of combination.

I have tickets for this week. I'll let you know how they are. And what the SteamPlant is like.
And how I manage going out by my lonesome. Unless I can con those girls into coming, also.

No. 25 is on the calendar....

22 August 2013

Follow Up Friday, Again....

Follow Up Friday, Again....
because yes, I have been lazy. Or busy. Depends on how you look at it.

Another week has flown by here at Green Acres/Redux and I'm just not sure how that happened.

I feel like I have accomplished nothing but in reality that  probably isn't totally true.

I have accomplished nothing on my list.  THAT is definitely true.

I took Carlos on a walk - we are prepping for the Salida K9 Cancer Walk that is coming up in a couple of weeks. (Feel free to donate here.)   He got a new leash so that he could have a little more freedom to explore up here. For some reason Carlos was petrified of this leash. He ran when he saw it- before he had even tried it. Anyway, he solved that problem in one fell swoop.

Here's the new, fancy - and SCARY- leash.

Here is Carlos with a small part of that leash still attached.
Carlos has VERY sharp teeth. 

We are going back to the 6 foot chain link leash like we were using before.

The girls and I went shopping- first in Colorado Springs, then at the outlet mall outside of Denver. Six hours of driving accomplished pretty much nothing. We are no longer in the land of shopping. A full on trip to Denver where we expect to find real stores stocked with lots of fun things is scheduled for Labor Day weekend. 

There was the first day of school.
No one cried.   
I consider it a success based on that sole fact. 

Belle and Bunny on their first day.

Suffice to say the first day was terrifying and enlightening. There were positives and some negatives but we are doing our best not to focus on those.

The highlights: 
There's a salad bar AND a fruit bar at lunch and the food is not only fresh but edible. This was considered an absolutely amazing turn of events.

This is a school lunch? Really? 
Belle, as a Senior, can leave campus for lunch and also during her off period. Mid day she has an hour to kill and can go out to the car and sleep, meet a friend at the park, whatever. That is an incredible freedom coming from her Texas school. 
Four day school week. Fridays are off. Enough said.
Belle has opted to try cheer leading. This is something she has NEVER done before. In Texas, girls are groomed from the womb to cheer lead and the only way you get to be a High School Cheer Leader is to have been doing gymnastics or competitive cheering from your toddler years. After one practice Belle is a "flyer" and says it is fun although not a sport. 
The dress code. Or lack of. Belle wore leggings today. (Not allowed at home.) Bunny wore shorts today. (Definitely not allowed at home.)

The (possible) downsides:
It's a small school. 
ALL the kids are new to my girls pretty much.  They all know the "Texans" but the "Texans" don't necessarily know everyone else. 
There might be some truth to the fact that Texas schools are more academically challenging. Although I think it might be more that the Colorado schools teach in a different way. In Texas there is an emphasis on testing and writing and testing. Here the girls were told to think outside the box, to draw examples rather than write them down, and informed of field trips to come that would back up what they were learning in class. Which way is better? That remains to be seen. 

The poor baby Hummer is still in the shop but is being worked on. Over $8000 worth of damage due to one little lightning strike to the antenna. Maybe we will see it again next week.
I did try to register the car in Colorado. I drove an hour to the county seat only to be told they didn't like the way the title was signed over and would not accept the power of attorney that came with it. O! And I need a VIN verification form, whatever that is. But they were VERY nice and the wait was minimal and someone even called me to clarify exactly what was needed. Fortunately I have another month on the temporary tags before I have to panic.

A generalized reenactment of what happened
 to the H3 we had owned for all of ten days.

And... our Green Acres moments.
Usage of the hair dryer along with all of the lights on upstairs resulted in the girls being plunged into darkness.   We may have to implement Lisa Douglas's numerical system in regards to which appliances can be used at one time without blowing fuses.

Being an older cabin, we have older windows. The window screens are bent here and there. Because it is a cabin in Colorado we do not have Air Conditioning. Windows are left open at night upstairs. Lights are on. Bugs come in. Screams are heard. The Raid can needs replacing already.  These are on order:

Bug proofing for beds. 

Another week under my belt. 
No one has been eaten by anything. No one has been electrocuted.
We are all alive. 
Again, a win. 

18 August 2013

Another Oldie, but a Timely One

Another Oldie from My Previous Blog that No One Ever Read:

Still not back to working on my 60x60 list yet.

Too busy getting settled in and getting the girls set for school and just ...breathing. 

But because school starts for them on Tuesday and because they will be the NEW kids and only know a few people and it seems possibly there is already some drama surrounding their arrival, it got me to reflecting on previous first days of school.  I always love getting the recap of the first day. This coming Tuesday's should be really interesting. 

But here is a post from a first day of school long past:  2008 to be exact.
It's from a blog that I had, but never made public.  Another post from that blog is here.

Emancipation Day!

Free at last! Free at last! The first day of school and all the kids are gone. While summer is anxiously awaited it never seems to quite be as carefree as we would hope. Boy had 6 weeks of summer school. Bunny spent 4 weeks in a cast. Belle was lucky and got to go away with a friend for a few weeks. So while I don't have the worries of toddlers-no fretting about car seats or diapers or where to park them for a moment of peace- there is the worry of preteens and teenagers. All that summer freedom brings concerns of where they are and who they are REALLY with. Sex! Drugs! Rock and Roll! By the time the last week of August rolls around, the safety of knowing where they are for 8 straight hours starts to sound pretty good. So this morning I waved goodbye to Boy as he drove himself to school for the first time. Belle came along to take Bunny to school so she could get dropped at her friend's house - no walking into middle school by herself for that girl! The most excited household member might have been Big Dog who LOVES the routine. What excitement! A car ride to the middle school. A walk to the bus. And then - quiet. The house to myself. Ahhhhhhh. Big Dog and I relax.
And that lasted until 3:30pm when in bops Bunny with a manila envelope full of papers to sign,forms to fill out. Belle gets picked up and hands me another sheaf of papers. "These need to be back signed tomorrow." Boy stops by his friend's house before coming home so I am spared his packet of papers. For a while. He promises to give them to me once he has "all" of them but how will he know when that is? O well.
So all survived the first day. Belle has friends in all of her classes. Bunny loves her morning teacher. And Boy apparently had the best day of all as he came home with a huge hickey on his neck-which he admitted he got "at school". New girlfriend apparently. Eek. Life is good but life is crazy.

15 August 2013

Follow Up Friday

Follow Up Friday: Week One in "Green Acres/Redux"

With the first week of life in the mountains of Colorado almost under our belts, I have this nagging feeling that we are settling into a mountain version of the 60s TV show "Green Acres".  There's a bit of "Northern Exposure" and "Twin Peaks" thrown in for good measure, too.  (Although fortunately we haven't had a mysterious murder and hopefully won't.)  We are definitely the fish out of water but we are learning to breathe on land, never-the-less.  (Challenge No. 20, Move!)

The view from the front door.
The two peaks are the Twin Sisters.
(Or, as my neighbor calls them, the "Twisted Sisters".)

There is beauty everywhere and the closeness of nature overwhelms me with its greatness but there is also frustration at every turn. 

The poor little H3 is still at the dealership in Pueblo awaiting diagnostics and an insurance claims adjustor. It has been there for four full days now, shouldn't someone be taking an interest?? (And Note to Self: ALWAYS get the insurance coverage for the car rental. In my flurry of last minute organizing I neglected to add that to the H3 coverage. Guess who is paying out of pocket for a car rental now?)
The power of lightning playing havoc with my budget and patience. 

The girls are registered for school. That was the most amazingly easy part of the whole week. I had received the paperwork over the summer and only had to turn it in and present the girls to the counselor in order to schedule their classes. What a difference from Fort Bend schools which require :
  • birth certificate or its equivalent (for students younger than age 12)
  • most recent report card or grade transcript,
  • immunization records,
  • proof of residence, including a deed, lease or mortgage agreement, a recent utility bill (water, gas, electric),
  • a student's social security card (will be requested) or state assigned ID number, and
  • a government issued photo ID of the student’s parent or guardian, which provides their FBISD address (TX Driver’s License/ID Card)

I think I gave the school my Texas driver's license but otherwise no other form of ID,  no birth certificate was requested, no proof that we live in the school district required. (A good thing considering we DON'T live in the school district- but no one seems to care. Try that in Fort Bend and you will be arrested.)
A lovely new facility- only one year old. 

When I commented on how easy the registration was the counselor replied "Well, we are the public school. It should be easy to get into."  Um, yes, it should. Thank you.

But with school comes school work and we need better internet. Our internet service comes via satellite- there must be a direct line of sight to the tower. Unfortunately over the years our trees have grown and they are interfering. A morning spent with the Internet service guy garnered us new equipment and instructions to buy a new Router and trim the pines. Service is greatly improved with the new equipment but still at only two-thirds power. Again, nature is asserting herself.

And then there's the wildlife.

Carlos has found a favorite spot in the upstairs window where he can watch the comings and goings of the local deer.  This morning he came bounding to my bedside with his best "Come on! Get up! Come see what's out here!" expression. I swear that dog communicates so well, he does not need words. His body language says it all.
Bedded down in the front yard were a doe and a buck. I tried to grab the camera and quietly/quickly snap their pics but Carlos was a bit too rambunctious. Those deer have pretty good hearing.

 The buck - half hidden behind the 
prison-camp flower beds that were here when we bought the place.
Unfortunately, nothing has survived in those beds except 
one sickly rose and a never-blooming peony.
Maybe I can change that.

And that camera needs to become a constant companion. Yesterday we missed the photo of the two wild turkey mamas with teenage and baby poults. 
This morning was a five foot rattlesnake doing his best photovoltaic cell impression by sprawling across the road in the sun, slowly gathering energy to do whatever snakes do.
And this evening I snapped this "Where's the Bunny" pic with my iPhone while Carlos and I walked. I saw him but Carlos never did. Great camouflage. Can you find him?

"Where's Waldo? The Nature Edition"

We haven't seen the bears this time but the game camera assures me they are out there. 

One of the resident bears. He can visit at night all he wants.

There are signs everywhere that they are around. Broken limbs on the trees, bear scat around the property. This pic was taken last month but I have no doubt Mr. Bear is still close by. I confess it creeps me out a bit that I have to look before opening the front door to go out.

So week one is almost done and we are still alive. 
I consider that a win.

12 August 2013

It was a dark and stormy night....

It was a dark and stormy night.
Isn't that how all the really good tales begin?

Actually it started as a beautiful morning...way too early for my taste...but still a beautiful morning.

Saturday, we left home and headed out for our adventure in the mountains. Bunny with the hubs in my car and me with Belle and Carlos in the little Hummer we bought to keep at the cabin.  Our little caravan drove 900 miles with no incident. 

Then, just a bit past the Colorado border, we stopped for gas and commented on the rain that had blown up. Texas has some great gully washer storms; Colorado has storms that are equally impressive. It looked like we would go through the worst of the rain before we hit the canyon road. Fine with me.

The rain was scattered, not too heavy,  but the lightning, Oh! the lightning. The lightning was impressive and everywhere.

Lots of pretty lightning like this.
I didn't take any pictures. I was way too rattled. 
But someone took this and I can't find the credit. Sorry.

Somewhere on I-25 about 30 minutes south of Pueblo, lightning struck.
The car.
With us in it. And me driving.
The hubs was in front of us and saw the strike in his rear view mirror. He said it appeared as if there was a cage of light around the car. 

The dashboard went blank except for the "check engine" light. We coasted to the highway shoulder. The car was crying as if in pain...eeeee, eeeee, eeeee. Even Onstar was silent. No concerned voice came on to see if we were okay.

But...we were okay, although VERY shaken. A traumatized Carlos would not come out from under my seat where he had lodged himself, a much too big dog in a much too small space. 

And after a few minutes, Onstar lit up and there was the concerned voice. They called me a tow truck and booked me a hotel room and I promise, I could do an Onstar commercial I was so happy. 

The little Hummer? Would not start back up and had that distinct burnt electrical smell when we tried. But no outward physical evidence of a lightning strike. Funny, isn't that?

Sunday morning was gorgeous and clear and after a quick trip to the car rental place, we were on our way again. Less than two hours later, safe and sound at the cabin.

Monday I deal with the car repair shop and the insurance company. (Don't you know State Farm will be happy to hear from me? I don't even have my real insurance card yet, just a temporary one. Haven't even had that car for two weeks.)  And I register the girls for school. 

I knew we would be headed for adventure. I just had no idea it would start so soon. 

And I wish this post was accompanied by lovely little photos  except I forgot to take any. The ones I could find would not load.  Little cabin in the mountains has very temperamental internet service. This may be a problem.

(An interesting side note. This was my third close encounter with lightning and the SECOND time I have been driving a car  struck by lightning. The first time I was sitting at a light marveling at how close the lightning was and WHOOSH! the brightest, whitest light came right down in front of me, shot out to both side mirrors and left me shaken and scared. But nothing happened to the car. Or so I thought. The next day I turned a corner and my tire went flat....both front tires had exit wounds. The lightning has to go somewhere. I have specifically requested that all four tires on the Hums be checked carefully.
Maybe I should go buy a lottery ticket. Third time's the charm, right? ) 

04 August 2013


A question.
You are relocating for  4 to 5 months. What do you pack? 

You can only take what fits into a car. Two people to a car.
You aren't going to a Third World country.
The climate will be different than where you normally live.

Pursuant to No. 20 Lite: Move! Or in this case: Relocate!  we are in the process of gathering our things.

Bunny and Belle have both come to me.
"Should we be packing?"
"What do we pack?"

Good question.  Be realistic. EVERYTHING does not need to go.
I realize this is harder for their age than mine.
I did move to Connecticut when I was 19 or 20 (somewhere in there- the exact year escapes me) and shipped BOXES of clothes that I did not wear once, so I get it.  Those were clothes I thought I had to have with me. But I didn't. I either ended up wearing the same favorites that I always wore or bought more "Connecticut appropriate" clothes.

I told them to look at this as an opportunity to simplify their lives. To streamline.
They replied that they did not understand. What do you mean? What language are you speaking?

I fear this is what we will look like come Saturday:

Clothes are not my priority. I've gotten to the point where I wear lots of the same thing in different colors. Lots of black, gray, white and denim with scarves or beads for color. I am allotting myself one very large duffle for clothes. The coats and boots and shoes can go in a separate bag.

But then the extras.
The cabin has all the necessities.

But today I am gathering some quilting supplies. There will be another great niece born while we are in Colorado and a quilt will need to be made.  There is already a sewing machine there.

And beading supplies. Salida has a lovely bead store and I am partial to beaded necklaces. Maybe I can get that refresher course on silver soldering. Make a little jewelry.  (No. 27: Refresh the silver soldering lessons)

Some water colors. My drawing pencils. My sketch pad.

Stationery. Favorite pens. The address book.

The good camera and it's fancy extra lens.

The handwritten cookbook with all the favorite recipes.

See?  This isn't that easy.

What would you pack for a four month break in your life?

02 August 2013

Now just wait a minute...

Let's Just Hang on ONE Minute Here....

I will be the first to say that this is a blog geared to the more mature adult. 

And I will be the first to admit that I am a mature adult.  Most of the time.

I mean...No. 29 on my list is "Plan my Funeral".   Not an item usually found on a young person's list. Or really, anyone's list.
But it hit me that if I don't plan it, then people who love me and are responsible for me WILL- and maybe their taste isn't mine and I don't want a tacky funeral or even one that isn't me.  Not to imply that my friends and family have tacky taste- just that what is important to them might not be important to me. 

Besides. I consider a little advance planning a good thing.  I am an organizer at heart.

BUT....I'm not planning on needing No. 29 any time soon.
I don't have one foot in the grave.

Not needing this. Yet 
But a "green" funeral does appeal to me.

AND...  I am on good terms with my dermatologist AND my hair colorist in an attempt to stave off the advances of time.
Not my hair. Yet.

Which made yesterday's turn of events all the more distressing.

I was driving my girls to Best Buy in search of new lap tops. Both of theirs have died and are at the age where repairs would be a waste of time and money.

They were teasing around and then Belle said "You know, we can't help it if we have parents that are basically GRANDPARENTS."
Excuse me??
Okay. I admit. I was an older mother. I believe the technical term is "Advanced Maternal Age".
I had amnios with all three of my children.
With the third child/third amnio, the hubs and I walked into the office for our pre-amnioscentesis counseling and the nurse walked out and yelled "O! It's you guys again!! Y'all didn't need to come in for pre-counseling. You know what's going to happen."
I'm guessing they don't get that many repeat visitors in that office. I mean, we hadn't been there for two years, yet she still remembered us?
I was only forty one.  Forty two by the time Bunny arrived on the scene.

OK. I can believe my waist line exceeded 42 inches.
But not my years...
Goodness, I was enormous!

Anyway, I don't feel old.  And yes, even though the hubs is the oldest child in his family now, we have the youngest children. The youngest grandchild and the oldest great grandchild are 18 months apart. My prince of a husband has siblings with grandchildren.  Lots of them.

Soooo.  Belle hit a nerve.
And I did what any nerve-struck mother would do.
I turned the car around and went home.
They need to learn to be nice.

After I cooled down, I took Bunny back to Best Buy.  Belle wisely decided that yoga class was a better use of her time and she would be happy with just any computer that was brought home.

So we are checking out and the salesperson needed to see my driver's license.
(I actually had written a CHECK! How archaic and old person of me.)
As he handed my license back he chuckled.  "O, I accidentally entered your birth year as 1919."

Better get to work on No. 29.

And this brings me to something else.

The "for your age" statement.

As in "You look great  for your age."  Or as someone posted on Facebook after I put this tale online "I think you look really great for 94."

This is when you need to learn to stop while you are ahead.
"You look great".
No qualifiers or modifiers needed.

Off my soap box.