Friday, December 28, 2012

Eagle Pilgrimage

Every year, during the week between Christmas and New Years, I make a pilgrimage to watch eagles stop for a winter feeding along northern Idaho.

This year Auntie and I packed the truck with breakfast, cocoa, snacks, eagle book, binoculars and camera and off we go.  It is only about 30 miles from my house so I make this trip every year and have done so for many years.  It was a foggy, snowy day, but the roads were clear making it a wonderful day in my book.

During the month of December the eagles stop along the lake to  partake of the spawning Kokanee salmon.  Wildlife volunteers do a bird count, set up eagle displays and they have sighted over a hundred eagles this year.

Eagles wingspan is up to seven feet wide, so while they are wider than we are tall they only weigh approximately 12 pounds.  Why can't I have hollow bones!!


Along the side of the road where I parked I found this interesting  mountain side complete with moss, growing ferns and icicles.  Click on the picture to see more detail.

I haven't mastered action animal or bird photography. I took many, many pictures of blurry eagles swooping down to catch their prey and tips of wings flying out of the picture. Someday I will master birds in flight and the patience to wait for the treasured shots. In the mean time these two eagles were so helpful and sat perfectly still for me. 

It was a wonderful day!!!

 Sorry folks it's all I got!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Santa has her Ho Ho Ho Back!

Finally, the news I've been waiting for.  The crutches are history.... I'm walking again!  What better Christmas gift could I ask for.  It certainly has been a long eight weeks and my leg is more than a little weak but I'm on the mend and ready to get back to work.  But first a little Christmas fun.

I woke up this morning (December 24) to fluffy white stuff.  I have a hard time getting excited about snow.... except for at Christmas.  It is a beautiful white blanket covering my world.

Starlings waiting for a handout

The pond is lovely blanketed it snow.  The water fall runs all year but during really cold snaps needs a heater to keep it from freezing solid and killing the fish.  So far this year it has been very mild so no extra heat is needed.  Still a lovely place to stop and enjoy.

The presents are wrapped, but there is cooking to do....
Have a Merry, Merry Christmas, I'll be thinking of you! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Where will you be?

Where will YOU be December 22, 2012?

Will you party like there is no tomorrow?

Or laugh at the whole thing?

On the bright side if the world survives.... 

December 21, 2012 is also winter solstice so the days will begin to get longer
and I'll camp again!

So What ever you decide to do..... do it with gusto!!!

I think I'll just take a very, very,  L O N G  nap!

p.s.  I had a fun time will google images..... Can you tell?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fingers Crossed

So my fingers are crossed and I'm waiting for news on the latest xray's.  At the very least I want to park the crutches in the garbage.  It has been eight very long weeks and I'm wanting to get this house - selling show on the road.


 The last couple of weeks I have been cleaning out closets and doing lots of little chores towards getting the house ready to list with a realtor.  I have set a new target date of January 1, 2013 to get it listed..... ready or not.

It is not like I can't continue to do little jobs here and there but I am getting the major projects out of the way.  Hopefully the new furnace will be installed this week. (relax - that's not a job I'll be helping with.)  Tonight I am finishing cleaning and waxing the hardwood floors in one of the bedroom.  Then it's making the beds and getting ready for Christmas House Guests.

My spirits are up, Christmas is just around the corner and I'm embracing my new life with gusto!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Thermal Cooker for Christmas

I admit it I've fallen off the retail consumption train.  For months I haven't purchased anything but food, household products and gasoline.  Then I broke my leg and had oodles of time on my hands and my ole friend Amazon began calling my name.  So I have purchased an early Christmas present for our coming days on the road.

I have been researching thermal cookers for some time and finally decided on the one that I wanted so I purchased it and have been having great fun experimenting with it.  I expect to be boondocking extensively so this cooker will be both a cost saver for fuel and allow safe, unattended cooking while I am communing with nature.


I decided on a Saratoga Jacks Thermal Cooker.  It comes with a heavily insulated base and lid shown to the left and two inner stainless steel pots and a lid that fit in the interior.

 I chose this cooker because it had 2 inner pots to allow for and entree and side dish to be cooked at the same time.  I also wanted a medium capacity since storage of leftovers is an issue.  It also was in the mid price range with good reviews on Amazon.

                                                   This is how they work.

Brown and add ingredients in the largest of the inner pots.
The Pot should be at least 3/4 full.
Bring to a full boil and continue for at least 5 minutes.

If the second pot is being used, ensure that it is ready to put both pots into the inner chamber at the same time.

Leave in inner chamber where the heat is retained without further need for electricity or gas for up to eight hours.

 PRESTO - Dinner is Ready!!

There are some basic differences between Thermal Cookers and Crock Pots.
  • After boiling most recipes require no further heat source (ie. electricity or gas)  I have chosen to thicken some dishes and add tender vegetables (such as broccoli above) after opening using further energy as I prefer crunchy vegetables.
  • Very little heat loss occurs... the outside of the cooker is completely cool to the touch
  • You literately cannot smell it cooking as air does not escape during the cooking process.  Since there is little evaporation some adjustment is required in the amount of liquid especially for recipes such as rice. 
I have made Chicken Teriyaki, Beef and Broccoli in oyster sauce, Beef Stew and Chicken Noodle Stew.  next on the menu is Chili and cornbread.   Yogurt can be made in the cooker also although I haven't tried making it yet.

Here is a link to a review of the Saratoga Jack thermal cooker
And the link where I purchased it

It's helping pass the time until my leg is healed and I can get back on track with reading my house for sale.

 I am having fun, fun, fun!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas

Well here I am and here I'll be for Christmas this year.  Sometimes I think making plans is the sure fire way for the universe to practice sending curve balls your way.  But swinging at pure air does little to change the outcome so I'm settling in for a long winters nap.

Since standing on my leg is not in the doctors orders, two legged Christmas activities are limited this year.  There has never been a year without decorations so decorate I did.  It certainly is scaled down but there definitely is some Christmas cheer in the house.

Living room decorated
Since I am decorating in a scaled down version I decided to only use items that I am keeping.  I will be keeping some of these in storage and one bin will come with me on the road.  (At this point I can't face future holidays without some familiar things.  So this year is a practice year with the limited decorations.)  There are two requirements.  It has to fit in one bin and be light weight.

I have always decorated a seven foot tree as a western tree.  It often took 6 hours or more to get it perfect.  Well for sure, that isn't happening this year, so I decided to transition to a smaller tree.

Several years ago, for Christmas I put together Christmas sleighs for my Mother, Auntie, and daughter who had a house at the time.  Each tree/sleigh had a different theme and was chosen by the interests of the individual.  My mother collected Noah's arks so her tree featured Noah's Ark collectables, my daughter Angels, and my Aunties features Teddy Bears.  When my Mom passed away I kept her sleigh and now it is time to make it fit me.

Jolly Western Tree Sleigh

So I added one of my Santa figurines at the bottom and ornaments from my big tree and presto my tree/sleigh has become my own and still holds sweet holiday memories. 

Well, that's it for decorating the house...but the advantage is when Christmas is over the put-away will be just as quick and with a little Christmas luck I will be able to return to getting ready for my new life!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Kitties - Preparing for life on the Road

I have loved cats as long as I can remember.  Don't get me wrong, I like dogs and have even loved a few but I love, truly love cats. 
  •  I love their independent nature maybe because I share this love of independence and we co-exist together wonderfully. 
  •  I love the way they beckon you to share in their world while leading you to believe it was your idea.  
  • I love the single-mindedness they show whether hunting or curling up for a nap in your lap.
Traveling with kitties presents some unique challenges that I have been giving a great deal of consideration.

My cats have approached time in Lolita (my home on wheels) each in their own way. Emmit, my male kitty companion marched right in when I left the door open, like he owned the place and checked every corner, nook and cranny out before curling up for a nap.  Spook on the other hand,  wanted no part of coming into the trailer so I carried her into the trailer and set her down on the couch beside me.  She immediately sprung from window to window, frantically looking for a way to escape, tearing screens on the windows in the process.  Clearly, she will require considerable preparation before travel date.   

I am scouring blogs looking for hints that have made traveling with cats in small spaces a pleasurable and safe journey.  I am also using my time while preparing for life on the road to ready my feline companions for their life of adventure.  Here are some of the things we are doing to prepare.

Cat Harness and leads   Kitties are getting harness ready. On days at home I am placing kitties in a harness with no lead attached as a way for them to get used to having the harness on.  It is hysterical to watch their reaction to their safety harness.  When putting on the harness they protest loudly and then refuse to move, laying flat as a pancake on the floor.  Gradually they forget the indignation, hunger wins out and they resume their activities.    Next day, same result.... 

I am in the process of trying out different harnesses for the kits.   I have added additional straps to other harnesses prevent the harness from tightening around the cats neck for safety. I only use the harness when I am present to supervise and as a safety mechanism for safely transitioning such as going from the door to tent or truck.
The one that I am happiest with to date is,  Come With Me Kitty, Harness and Bungee Leash.  I am not sure this is THE one but eventually we will find the right one.

Now if I can get one of my cats to go for a walk, I will be in heaven!

Scratching fun. 

Cats love to scratch.  My experience has taught me that I need  to provide them a fun place to scratch or they will find their own.

Emmit patiently waiting his turn
 Shown is a  Bergan Turbo Scratcher toy combo.  My cats love to scratch on the middle (it is rolled cardboard and will eventually shred. toy and replacements available on Amazon)  For play, the ball on the outside edge spins around and around.  My personal sanity hint would be to put the toy away at night unless you want to hear the ball spinning all night.  A little catnip and the kitties are busy for hours.

I also have a heavy door mat made of  coco fiber that I have discovered the cats love to scratch on.  It does not disintegrate so is a wonderful scratching place and it provides double duty as a great door mat for feet.

Collapsible Travel Crate   Every cat needs their own collapsible crate - since space is always a consideration each cat will need their own travel space to contain the kitty independent nature on the road.  Travel time in the tow vehicle and trailer door openings need to be planned for, to prevent unsecured escapes.  I am also using their travel crates as a way to expose them to new environments in their familiar cocoon.   A hard bodied crate may be needed to contain a frightened or determined escape artist, at least in the 'training' phase.

Beds and hiding places

On of my kitties loves to sleep in a kitty bed,  another likes to sleep either on me or my bed with me.   Most kitties also like a hidden place to hang out for a nap.   A blanket, collapsible kitty tent, or taking alone a kitty bed satisfies their need for a cozy personal space and contains cat hair too.

A cat house for the road 

ABO Gear Happy Habitat
The ABO Gear Happy Habitat provides more than 30 square feet for your kitties to run around and play in.  It maintains your pets’ natural instincts to be outdoors without compromising their safety. There is a floor in the tent to aid in containing determined felines.  Folds tightly into convenient carry bag for fun on the go and pops up easily for a quick outside break. Measures 74 x 63 x 36 inches and weighs just 2.5 pounds for easy carrying.  For Spook, I am sitting inside the tent, (in the house) and helping her get used to the idea of the tent....  this is ideal for quick stops at a rest stop for some outside time.   A litter box, toys and cat bed can be added to make it home on the go.  Ideally I would like to find a screen room (floor required to prevent escapes)  or tent with a screen room for longer term setups that is more substantial but this should get us started.

Cat boxes  Cat litter boxes are necessary for traveling kitties.  Deciding on the one that fits your needs and lifestyle is an individual choice.  The Omega self-cleaning box is receiving rave reviews and is the one that we will be using on the road.

The Roll’n Clean, Self-Cleaning Litter Box works best with clumping and silica litters. Simply roll the litter box to the right until the top touches the floor then roll it back to the upright position. Inside, a unique patented screen separates the clean litter from the clumped waste – putting all the waste into the scoop. Pull out the scoop and dispose the waste into a plastic bag lined five gallon bucket with a lid to contain odors until disposal.    It’s that easy!
The scoop on how it works!

 I will be cutting a hole in a on the cupboard door lowest to the floor to allow the cat to enter the cat box to do business. This will prevent cat litter from spilling out into the hallway or me accidentally stepping into the cat box.    What is not to love!

Like all aspects of living on the road I expect that my ideas will change with time.  New products or insights from other road travelers will change how the kitties and I cope with the challenges on the road.

I'll keep you posted on how these ideas and products work for us.

I would love to know  other feline road travelers hints and what works for you.  Share this with the cat lovers you know.   Come on and share.  We all want to know what works!

                               Dogs have owners, Cats have staff.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More Precious Memories

This is the last segment of my visit in Connecticut with my daughter, Melissa's  family.

Ninja Chef Scott

One of the best parts of visiting my daughters home is meal time.  It is more than mere food.  The cooking of food is a creation that becomes an event.  One such meal was homemade pizza and calazones.   

Everyone enjoying Pizza
The first few days I was still pretty wobbly  on the crutches and it was pretty difficult to manage the 4 flights of stairs so we didn't go out much.  But as the days went on I got stronger and we went out a bit. 

I wanted to see what the kids were involved in so I went to archery and fencing lessons.

On Guard

Zombie Luv

 Boo Boo (Bjorn found his own entertainment at fencing class.

Noah and Elias taking aim
                  While Momma cooked, Nana and Boo Boo played

The Play Dough Chef

Melissa showed me craft project she was working on.  So I had her show me how to do the wool felting.  My idle hands needed something to do.

Here are my first ornaments

Bjorn adopted the neighbors Dora sled and packed it everywhere with him..
The perfect place for a nap

The time for me to return had come.  There never seems enough time to accumulate memories when we live so far away.   They grow so fast and the changes between visits seems unbelievable.   But this blog and pictures stores the memories in a wonderful way.   I feel blessed.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Precious Memories

Warning. Grandchildren Alert!! This post and the next post will be heavily laden with my precious memories of my Connecticut  trip and therefore filled with cute, want to pinch their cheeks photos of my grandkiddos.

I recently returned from a trip to spend time with my daughter and family in Connecticut.     As you know the day after I booked the trip, I broke my leg while stepping down a step on my front porch.  I was cleared for take off by the Doctor just the day prior to my flight, so by departure time I was still struggling with the crutches and not very mobile.  My flight across the country was absolutely perfect.  It seemed the attending staff nearly knocked each other out of the way to be helpful.  I was seated in the front of the airplane so after take off, they got my carry on bag down and I used it to prop up my leg to prevent more swelling.  It couldn't have gone more smoothly.

Snowy view of their house
 I 'm posting in small mode, so click on pics to view larger.

 There house is completely surrounded in trees so there is no shortage of leaves this time of year. 
Halloween was everything Zombie and scary!
It has been a year since I saw them last and grandchildren change so much in a year that it took some getting reacquainted time.  But it was wonderful to see them in there day to day activities and see how each of their personalities have changed and developed.

My daughter and I took a rare moment out together for lunch and visited a Umi Sushi restaurant in West Hartford.  It certainly was a new concept to me.  There is a conveyor belt loaded with little dishes that you pick from and eat as soon as you desire.  You were able to pick it an eat it in a matter of seconds.  How perfect is that.  Only danger here is to your pocket book and waist line as this system delivers instant gratification.

Catch a sushi delight as it comes by your table


Voting in Harwington, Conneticutt at City Hall is a voting event complete with active campaigning and a community bake sale.                           

Election night festivities included a red/white/blue balloon fight

A snowy Noah and Minty
Minty was just a short hair kitten when I saw him last.... who knew he would fill out to be this fluffy beauty

Pedro, a full member of the family, came to the US when Melissa and Scott came home from Bulgaria in 2001.  He was a street rescue who had distemper as a pup leaving one leg very affected .  Aging hasn't been kind to Pedro and so he and I limped around together.

Often when visiting far away family, we fill up the hours seeing all the sights and go, go, going.  My leg made this impossible this trip and I was blessed with a 'week in the life of the Roderick family.'
 Precious Memories indeed!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Thankful Heart

A Friend wrote..... Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.
She is such a wise women.

Please let mine be rolling next year!
Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I Am Brave

I have a new heroine.   Merida from the Movie Brave which came out on DVD today is a new kind of princess. This is the first Pixar cartoon that focuses on a female main character.  She is feisty, and certainly doesn't conform to society nor family expectations.

She does not easily slide into the role her family has diligently prepared her for.   She literally fights for her life and the right to define life on her own terms.

Never again should any princess, little girl or grown woman wait to be kissed awake to the life she was meant to live.

Brave is a bit of a dark movie with strong and sometimes scary images. While Brave is not the greatest cartoon ever made, nor based on a great American Novel, It presents a strong girl, with a message of hope and determination to girls of all ages.  

My New Mantra

 It is never to late to grow up to be a Strong Princess.    

Friday, November 9, 2012

A NorWester in a NorEaster

I was born and raised in the NorthWest.  We do have weather storms in the Northwest.  Often they just come and go without particular attention.   Sometimes lately people have been giving the storms names.   They name types of storms which may tell you how the storm may behave or they name storms to define a particularly memorable or catastrophe storm.   But mostly, I remember when storms were just storms.

This week, while visiting my daughter and family, I experienced my first NorEaster.  From the best of my knowledge (weak at best) it defines how the storms collide producing these winterstorms.  One week later, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy EVERYONE took notice.

View from my window before the storm

View from the deck

Some downed branches

Chicken coop causality

Elias met with a sledding accident

Noah and Bjorn building a snow fort

      But mostly this NorEaster was just

                                             FUN FUN FUN.....