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26 February 2011

More icicles and snow

I think anyone who reads regularly here must get tired of me marveling at our Southern California weather.  We are 100 miles directly east of Los Angeles, and about 50 miles (as the crow flies) northwest of Palm Springs.  Yet when they are having temperatures of 90F, 100, or more, our temp here can easily be about 70.  The joys of living at almost 7,000 ft above sea level.  :)

Even tho we have winter weather here, it is not at all unusual for us to have snow on the ground and temps in the 40s.  Even when the temps are in the 50s in the valley, there is often still snow on the mountains.  We do get cold at night, with temps in the teens and twenties, and sometimes down to zero.  

But over all, this is a very temperate climate considering we still get snow and cold.  

So, this week is unusual in that the temps have not risen above about 35F.  In the shade and with windchill, it is even more so.  Today so far the high is still under 25 and the windchill has it colder.  This weather this week has grown an incredible crop of icicles.  I know that for most folks who have winter weather they are not that unusual.  They were not unusual where i grew up in Montana, but here in Big Bear where we generally have warmer daytime temperatures, it is a fun change.  

We got 16 inches of snow last night.  The wind has drifted it higher.  I wasn't quite prepared for this.  Earlier in the week the forecast was "possible snow" and i've held on to this idea of a "slight chance" inspite of updates that warned of a heavy winter snow.  

Duane tried to leave this AM about 7.30 for a class at SAR.  That Jeep got stuck.  He is going to get ribbed about this for some time.  He called someone to come pick him up.  

I went out about 10.30 and dug out some of the driveway.  I wish i could have done more.  I really wanted to do more, but i don't have the energy for it.  Even powder snow is heavy, and with 16 inches i was making 3 passes:  1st one took the top 5 inches, second one another 5, third one the last bit.  It wore me out quickly and i didn't get nearly as much done as i wanted.  The snow plow hasn't yet been by on our street, either.  This is definitely snow that justifies a snow blower!

But i did dig out around the wheels of That Jeep and smoothed out the tracks so i thought i would pull it up on what i'd cleared of the driveway.


I have it even more deeply stuck.  However, it has me puzzled.  The tracks/dig out are about flat.  There are no steep bits of incline for it to get hung up on.  I just can't get it to go forward.  I was able to get it to go in reverse until it hit heavy snow.  I thought that would give me some momentum to get it running forward, but i thought wrong.  It simply doesn't want to go forward (yes, i had the parking break OFF!).  

Duane may be upset with me when he gets home.

I wish i had pretty new pictures to show you, but i was too tired once i finished the little work i did.  So here are some old pics.   

If you are at all interested, i wrote (rather extensively) of my grandmother's death and my feelings of it on my blog, I Looked for Love.  

Do you have "winter weather" where you live?  How much longer do you expect it will last?  Are you ready for spring?


21 February 2011


 We've had quite a bit of snow recently.  What i'm amazed at, however, are the icicles that this has produced.  

We live in Southern California.  So, even tho we get a good bit of snow and cold weather, it is not the extreme that is seen in the more northern climes.  Meaning, that often, even when the lows are in the teens, twenties, or even colder, the days are often in the 40s or even the low 50s.  So usually our weather is not cold enough to create icicles.  These remind me of my childhood in Montana.  I had forgotten how spectacular icicles can be.

The past few days have had highs just at freezing (32F) or just above.  With the windchill it has been pretty nippy.  So the melting snow has created incredible icicles.  They are so beautiful.  I don't have pics currently, but if i get some i will post them.  

Lisa asked about olive leaf extract in the comments of my last post.  I chose to use it for this last illness based on this article:  Echinacea No Cure for the Common Cold, Study Finds.  You'll have to scroll down a few comments to find it. (BTW, the study of the title has a lot of holes in it.)

I purchased Olive Leaf Liquid Herbal Extract from my local health food store.  (The link is to the same thing at Vitacost; when i Googled olive leaf, i found lots of different ones already in capsule form.)  I have put it, as well as coltsfoot, oregano spirits, and astragalus in water, but frankly it tastes nasty.  I can get it down for one or two doses, but then start gagging on it.  So, at Duane's request, i also bought a bag of empty gelatin capsules.  I put the dose in that and we take them with water.  

Holy Basil (thank you for the recommendation, Amrita), quercetin and CoQ10 are all good for immune function, too.  And, as always, Manuka honey is my #1 choice for health issues.  Oh, and i use ginger in a number of forms for nausea.

I also use colloidal silver, tho it is a controversial product.  There are a few people who have "turned blue" by using a silver product.  What is rarely reported, however, is that these folks are often using:  1.  a home made product  2. taking huge doses daily and 3. taking these huge doses for months or years.  In other words, folks who have taken silver until they turn blue have used it in a very irresponsible manner.  I consider it quite safe for short-term use.  If you are interested in a further discussion of this, Hawkes' Health has it at this article:  The Silver Hoax.    

I've written on this twice before.  If you are interested, you can click the link at the bottom of this post, "cold/flu remedies."  I wrote of this for the first time 18 months ago.  What i find really strange is that that particular post pulls more spam comments than all my other posts put together.  Apropos of nothing, but i find it interesting.

We had N's kids yesterday.  We took them to church, to breakfast, and to the Discovery Center for a while.  They are really good kids, and we enjoyed it, but i was pretty tired when we got home.

Then i developed a migraine.  This is the third Sunday in a row that i've had a migraine, and they have been progressively worse.  Yesterday's was the worst i've had since i had Splenda poisoning the summer of 2009.  It was bad enough that i just wanted someone to take the top of my head off, or kill me please.  

So i started wondering what it is about Sundays that i keep getting these migraines.  After thinking about it and different theories, i decided that it must be the communion wine.  

It is hard for me to believe that a tablespoon of anything could do this, but i do have extreme sensitivity to sulfites.  An on-line search assures me that sulfites do not cause headaches - it is just the red wine.  The same site tells me that white wine has more sulfites than does red wine and white wine does not cause headaches.  Hah!  It does for me.

The headache was bad enough i considered having Duane take me to ER, but i was pretty sure that if i could wait out the pain, it would go away in 8-12 hours.  Well, when you are in extreme pain, that amount of time is hard to manage.  Especially as i was light and sound-sensitive and extremely nauseous.  I couldn't read.  I could manage the computer for about 5 minutes.     

I was mostly right.  There still is some residual headache today, but it is nothing like yesterday.  I'm able to function today.  

I'm not complaining.  I know that folks with migraines usually have the kind of pain i had yesterday.  I'm thankful i don't have it more often.  The migraines i usually have are much less severe.  I'm also thankful that i was able to discover the cause (i'm 99% sure). 

A lot of these Monday holidays don't mean anything to me (except the banks are closed and there is no mail) because we are home Mondays, anyway.  But our weather is glorious with lots of white snow in the trees and on the ground, blue skies and sunshine.  Enough to enjoy any day.  :)

Have you done anything special for this 3 day weekend?  Does it effect you?  Do you use any natural cures?  What has worked for you?


19 February 2011

Sunny, snowy Saturday

No, we didn't get quite this much snow, but our trees are frosted.  I just cleared about 4 inches of wet snow off half of our 30 foot driveway.  I'll let Duane do the rest this afternoon.  He is off the hill for a SAR meeting and should be back mid-afternoon.  The hardest part of shoveling was the berm (what the snowplow throws up along the side of the road including in front of our driveway).  It was 9-12 inches of heavy, wet, packed snow.  

Here is what Duane did with our sketch.  He has a program that smooths out the bumpy rough edges that i left.  I've not ordered the stamp yet, but i have uploaded it and am ready to do so.  I wanted to order it 3x3 (inches) but i think that is a bit too big for many of my cards.  The next option is 2x2, which seems a little small to me, but those are my choices. 

I know i've not been writing much and i have plenty to say, but i'm pretty exhausted from shoveling, so i'll keep this short.  Duane and i were both sick this week, but strangely, with different things.  He had a cold and a couple of days later i had just a sore throat and a lot of weakness.  I took a lot of olive leaf extract because someone i know swears it cures her colds.  I can't know what would have happened had i not taken it, of course, but the sore throat passed pretty quickly.  

Right now the sky is blue, but the temp is 25F with wind chill.  This is suppose to be the break in the storm with more coming.  Someone told me yesterday that we are suppose to have 7 days of storm.  The weather service doesn't say that, and it is hard for me to imagine that here because storms normally pass quickly and we are left with the beautiful (if chilly) weather like we have today.  Guess we will see.

I've so much to do in the house, but i think i've worn myself out.  I'll try to do some.  :)

What do you have planned for your weekend?  Did you do anything fun for Valentine's Day?


12 February 2011

Weekend post

 It is a beautiful day in Big Bear.  It is 52F out, tho our low was 12.  There is not a cloud in our deep blue sky, tho snow is predicted later this week.  

I need to go out soon and run some errands.  

My grandmother died on Wednesday morning.  I am not grieving, i think.  We were not close.  I had only seen her 4 times since i was 19, and that was largely because of that visit when i was 19.  However, she did an honorable job of raising 8 children during hard circumstances and deprivation.  She was 93 and had lived a very full life.

Duane has had a sketch that he draws.  I think, before he met me, he used to sign birthday cards to friends and family with a funny sketch.  

This is one he did in 2005.  But we kind of got out of the habit of doing it.  I wasn't very good about sending cards for a while.  But it is my intent to keep up with birthday cards this year.  

 So, since i'm doing this more, and he's drawing it more, i thought i might have it made into a rubber stamp.  Occasionally i have to send things out (may have forgotten until the last minute) and don't have time to track him down to do this for me.  I took one of his drawings and traced it for the above image.  He may make some changes to it to make it more authentic and his own, but i think i'd like a rubber stamp.  

That is what i've spent the last hour or so doing. Duane and i don't celebrate things like Valentine's Day really, and of course for us we don't celebrate Mothers'/Fathers' days.  But we do have our own fun rituals like his funny signature image, and we do a number of different things too.

How is your weekend?  Do you feel like spring is on its way? Do you have any rituals that make your life complete?


07 February 2011

Post-Superbowl thoughts

We went to a Superbowl party yesterday at Duane's step-brother's house.  That's 2 hours from here in the desert.  We had fun, tho i had a migraine and had forgotten how noisy a party like that could be.  Light doesn't bother me too much (it is a bit of a problem but not as bad as most folks i know with migraine), but noises seem to be amplified by 100%.  

Duane's step-brother's home is really lovely.  It is about 5 years old, and so the house is new and neat and large.  His wife has done a beautiful job of decorating it.  (Often in a house with lots of decorations, i see "clutter and dusting," but her house doesn't seem to be overcrowded that way.)  I have to say that while i think their house really beautiful and convenient, i'm not envious.  I like where we live.  I like Sugarbear.  Our home may not be as convenient, up-to-date, or pretty and new, but it also doesn't come with the expense that all that has.  Sugarbear was less than half the price they paid for their home, and i'm so thankful not to have their mortgage payment.  If we had that much debt, we would not have much of the freedom we currently have with our jobs and in our lives.

On the drive home i told Duane that i felt we were well-off.  He responded with all the ways that (by US standards) we do NOT fit the label of "well-off."  And i understand his point and agree we are not "affluent."  However, i was thinking of the freedom i've already mentioned, and this sentiment that i recently received, again, in an email.  It has been out there a while now, have you read it?

Global Village
If you could fit the entire population of the world into a village consisting of 100 people, maintaining the proportions of all the people living on Earth, that village would consist of:

57 Asians

21 Europeans
14 Americans (North, Central and South)
8 Africans
There would be: 52 women and 48 men

30 Caucasians and 70 non-Caucasians
30 Christians and 70 non-Christians
89 heterosexuals and 11 homosexuals
6 people would possess 59% of the wealth and they would all come from the USA
80 would live in poverty

70 would be illiterate
50 would suffer from hunger and malnutrition
1 would be dying 1 would be being born
1 would own a computer
1 (yes, only one) would have a university degree
If we looked at the world in this way, the need for acceptance and understanding would be obvious.

But, consider again the following :
If you woke up this morning in good health, you have more luck than one million people, who won’t live through the week. 

If you have never experienced the horror of war, the solitude of prison, the pain of torture, were not close to death from starvation, then you are better off than 500 million people.

If you can go to your place of worship without fear that someone will assault or kill you, then you are luckier than 3 billion (that's right) people.

If you have a full fridge, clothes on your back a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are wealthier than 75% of the world's population.

If you currently have money in the bank, in your wallet and a few coins in your purse, you are one of 8 of the privileged few amongst the 100 people in the world. 
There is a little more if you want to check it out here:  Daily Cognition

Of course, these numbers were torn apart by Snopes.  The stats were off.  Slightly different numbers from the different continents.  Male/female would be closer to 50/50.  This overstates illiteracy.  So, i'm not saying that this is 100% faithful to the world (we're not going to drop the population to 100 folks, anyway).  But the sentiment behind these numbers remains the same.

Compared to most of the world, we are well-off.  By US standards Duane and i may fall a bit lower than middle, but i think we are still well-off compared to most here.  The disability that limits me so has not bankrupted us. Yes, we have to be careful.  Yes, if Duane lost his job we'd be hurting.  Yes, it is true we don't have unlimited assets.  But i still think we are blessed.

Have you seen this email/presentation before?  How about you?  Are you blessed?  Content?  Well-off?



02 February 2011

What are your thoughts

On Groundhog Day?  They are saying he didn't see his shadow - spring is near.  Well, maybe on the East Coast, but two of the past three years Big Bear has had killing freezes the last week of May.  Spring won't be here for another 3 months or so.

What do you think of Groundhog Day?   Does it make any sense?  

Groundhog Day doesn't hold much sentimentality for me.  It is the anniversary of my first wedding - long ago ended in divorce.  Do you think i should have seen it coming - that we chose such a weird day for the wedding?

I do have fond memories of my first January/February in Southern California.  The days were definitely golden.  It is days like those that bring vacationers to So Cal, and even motivates some of them (before the high cost of land here) to relocate.  I remember the colors of the blooming trees and plants that year.  The poinsettia was a brilliant red - i'd never in my life seen one outside of a pot before. While January and February are vivid and delightful in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, i'm not sure any of them have quite had the same resplendent color that year had.  But then, i was much, much younger.  My eyes probably don't see the same. 

Today was a good day.  It wasn't an easy day, but it was a good one just the same.  Blessings on you, Dorothy, for teaching me that.  I hope that you can know how i appreciate it, from your new position in Heaven.  :)

 P.S. - thank y'all for tolerating my venting/ranting/raving post previous to this one.  I so appreciate your patience and tolerance.


A new month is ushered in

 Can you believe January is over already?  It went by so quickly.

We've been having an unusually mild winter so far.  We did get snow Sunday night - about 1/4 inch.  It melted off quickly, except in the shadows, on Monday.  Last night was 14F and tonight is predicted to be colder than that.  

I seem to be terribly cranky these days.  I'm home this week.  Was feeling poorly after i got up this AM.  It is better now, but i'm achy.  

I didn't double check Holly's work on Friday.  The fact is in my house, dishes often don't get done for some time.  I spent about 3 hours in the kitchen on Monday doing really detailed clean up.  I re-washed everything that she had washed.  Every bit of it.  As well as some she should have washed but did not.  To be fair, not all of that time was what Holly didn't clean properly.  Some of it was from our dishes from the weekend, or a couple of things the dishwasher didn't get cleaned.  

But i was really unhappy to find that she had put my good iron skillet - wet - upside down on my good cutting board.  It created some kind of seal and kept the interior moist.  The cutting board now has a permanent iron stain, and the inside of the skillet is entirely rusted.  I have wanted to re-surface and re-season this particular skillet, but it was working fine.  I have no choice now, it has to be done before that skillet can be used again.

Duane and i talked about what i would say to her about this.  The fact is, even tho my house does not reflect it, i am a perfectionist.  The house may be cluttered, it may even be dirty, but i am aware of every bit that needs to be done.  When i have the energy to clean, i want it done well.  I expect the same from someone i pay to do the work. 

So i was so very, very tired and not very happy when she came to work yesterday.  And i was really, really unhappy when she left.  

Part of this is my fault.  I didn't plan well, i didn't supervise, and i didn't make absolutely clear what i wanted.  She made Alfredo sauce, and steamed broccoli for us, with (gluten-free) pasta.  I'd already poached the chicken for Duane to blacken to go with his (he likes to do it himself). 

She made it up and presented it as complete - so i had Duane take her home even tho it wasn't even close to 2 hours yet.  She DID make it look lovely - just the right amount on the plates, and a few spinach leaves with some tangerine segments on them.  It looked delightful.  So i was really shocked when Duane got back and we tasted the food.  I came unglued.  Neither of us like pasta al dente.  It does not taste done to us.  In fact, i don't think the pasta was al dente, i think it simply wasn't cooked.  The broccoli wasn't done either.  

So, i had to dirty 2 more pans (because i take much more broccoli than Duane), and another half an hour plus clean up time, just to try to get it cooked.  It turned out okay, but not as good as it would have had it been done properly.

So, on top of the cost of food - because i paid for that - that meal cost us $30.  We don't usually spend that much money when we do eat out; they provide the food/supplies, and they clean up!  I was livid.  Poor Duane!  He wasn't sure it was safe to be in the kitchen, but i think he was afraid to leave me alone.  

No, i had not talked to her about the clean up job, and what she did Monday was fine.  But i think her expectations and my expectations don't begin to match up.  

Frankly, when she talked about being "paid by the job" on Friday, it put an entirely different twist on things with which i'm not comfortable.  It put things in a rather negative light, and when i shared my discomfort with someone else, she said, "She's gotten greedy.  It made it negative.  You need to say 'no.'"

The reality is, i'm hard to please.  I think the women who have come in don't realize this because i'm not grumpy with them or confrontational.  Yes, my house often is a cluttered mess.  That does NOT mean i don't want it clean.  I can tell you right now that the front door (which is a window) has streaks on it that need to be cleaned.  There is Jazz fur on the carpet downstairs.  I've a bunch of craft stuff hidden behind the couch that needs to be put away.  And i've laundry to wash and more that is done but needs to be folded and put away.  I could go on and on and on and on.  I'm very aware of what needs to be done - i simply do not have the energy to do it.  

This is why i love Kimmy's cleaning.  She does the job i would do myself if i were able.  But i think a few of the ladies come in and see the clutter and think i don't care.  Or they don't know what a clean dish is.  

The food is particularly hard.  Both Duane and i are pretty fussy.  I don't care for or like food much, so when i have it, i'm very fussy, it has to be good.  I'm sad that i'm so particular.  It makes things so much harder.  I don't like that i'm hard to please.  

So, now my quandary is:  I planned to have Holly come for a couple of hours on Saturday to help me prepare some things for a Superbowl party we are going to attend.  I could still have her come, and micro-manage the work she does.  Including inspecting each and every dish.  Part of me was thinking "If i have her come, at least the dishes will get done," but it's useless if i have to rewash all of it.  But i don't want to give up if something has hope.  I'm all about 2nd chances.  But, Holly takes a lot of energy, too.  I'm not sure i have the energy to manage Saturday.

Duane is going to be gone part of that day, but he said he could help me. Not to be negative, i think that would be fun . . . except i know in the past how that "help" has gone.  I'll be in the middle of something, i've given him something to do, he does it and then disappears.  There are a dozen other things to do, but he doesn't ask about anything more.  If he's finished the one thing i mentioned, he's done.  It is not "working together."  And i end up doing all the dishes.    

I know i sound like a cranky bitch.  I am hard to please.  I don't like that i'm this way.  I think part of this frustration is that i just wish i could do it myself, and i know that i haven't the energy to do so.  I find it very hard to pay someone to do a poor job.    I don't like the feeling that i'm constantly complaining.  I prefer to look at the bright side when possible. 

On a positive note, we attended friend David's mama's memorial service on Saturday.  

That sounds funny?  She was almost 92, she'd lived a full life loved and cared for by her family, she was ready to go and had said so.  It was a lovely service.  But the one thing that really caught my attention was in the eulogy.  It was read by David's sister, but i think he wrote this part (or maybe i'm mixed up and he said it).  His mama was really uncomfortable and in a fair amount of pain the last couple of years of her life.  The family did what they could to make her comfortable, including having massage therapists come, and David learned massage as well (and he is very good at it).  David was doing most of her care-giving these past couple of years and he made it possible for her to remain in her own home until the end.  

David said that, even in discomfort and pain, she would say at the end of each day, "Today was a good day." 

I just find that so inspiring.  It touches me at my core.  

I've tried, since that day, to finish my day by saying to Duane, "Today was a good day."  Even after my cranky mood yesterday.  Today, of course, he is away from home, so i emailed that to him.  Every day that we have each other is a good day.  

So, do you have any recommendations for me?  Am i asking too much and do you think i need to change my expectations?  

Did January go by quickly for you?  Did you have a good day?  :)