Day 2 (of a wasted weekend?)

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Day 2


I’ve figured out why the bowline didn’t work.  Hip hip hooray!  Its hard to explain, but if you lose track of which area is the knot, you pull on the wrong part of the rope.  With the bowline, you have 2 loops and I was ‘knotting’ the wrong loop, pulling on the wrong end.   Whatever…

Ok, back to the class…people are discussing those ‘fail’ videos, the mayday call , the rules and cautions and we’ve all come to realize how valuable this training is.  Someone jokes that they should have taken this class beFORE buying a boat.  2 people admitted they were nervous about the test and got up early to study (that wasn’t me, I slept like a baby, oddly enough).


Just a comparison between a little fishing boat and a tug boat.

More, more, more information is presented and then lunch – chicken BLT, since you asked – and a review of all the material.  THEN THE TEST!!  Ryan says he hasn’t had anyone fail…yet.

Instead of making me feel good about that, I figure I’ll be the first one to fail, right?  I am my own worst enemy.








60 questions, 50 for the class and 10 for the State of California



I GOT 100%!!!!


rock w arrow.jpg

More knots!  We are all carrying our ropes around like kids at camp with their lanyards, picking them up, putting them down, fiddling with knots.  Funny…

Out to the boats.  Today I’m on Darryl’s ski boat.  I’m glad because we are going to do some ‘high-speed’ maneuvers and I want to do that on a single engine boat like our skiboat.  It’s a similar size, too.

Before the exciting stuff, we do touch-and-go’s off the dock.  I’m up first, dang it.  Our instructor is Alan, the guy aiming to get his Captain’s license again.  He has a soothing voice, calm manner.

Total non-sequitur, Alan’s voice reminds me of this actor, Bruce McGill.  Who, side note, has been in a TON of shows and movies over the years, including…


Animal House!


Can you find him?

A boat throttle is usually a stick/lever, push it forward and you go forward, upright is neutral and pull it back is to go in reverse.  Simple, right?  For some reason, my brain has decided that pulling back is forward.  Is that something to do with airplanes?  How you pull back on the wheel to go up?  Since I’ve never piloted a plane in my life, where did I get this weird tic about pulling back to go forward?

Oh, it just occurred to me!  Its from driving a car with a manual transmission. You pull back on the gear shift to go faster, generally speaking.  It must be tied together somehow in my little pea-brain.

Anyway, Alan gives me instructions as I bring the boat up to the dock, touch, then leave…and then twice more.  The first time was slick, the second time a little bumpy, the third time was smooth.  I felt like I was getting the hang of it.  Barely any wind and no current, yay!  The best conditions for a newbie to learn to dock a boat.

There are some areas where the current is fast, and the wind always seems to be blowing.  We talked about how to dock in areas like that.  You have to consider which is more controlling.  The current?  Or the wind?  That determines which way you aim the boat (into current or into wind).

One of the boat’s belongs to the instructor, Ryan.


Similar to this one.  They have water tanks you fill up to sink the tail of the boat to make larger wakes.  They go pretty slow, as a result.

We look over and see Ryan’s boat has nosed up to the levee and instructor Marty is getting off the boat and climbing up the rocks!  He must have to go potty!   They put the most experienced student at the wheel for that maneuver.  Much easier to do in the channel where the current is mostly nil, but still it would have been nerve wracking because those wake boarding boats are jolly expensive!


This is why wake-boarders must wear high-impact life vests.

We aren’t far past them when Mary jauntily rises over the top of the levee and starts to climb down the rocks, slipping his way to the water’s edge.  He clambers aboard.  No accident reports are necessary, yay!  He claims he was checking out the trailers parked in the field on the other side but we all know different, ha!


Its ART, in Belgium

After hanging in the channel, just practicing some small maneuvers, we head out to fast water (where you don’t have to be at no-wake speeds).  Alan takes the helm to see how the boat feels and reacts and does the figure 8 and high speed emergency stop to show us how it’s done.

When its my turn, I’m up on plane quickly, that’s the easy part, then turning sharply to go over our own wake, in a figure 8.  Then straight and when Alan gives the order, make an emergency stop.  Ha, emergency stop in a boat, you say!?!   Well, what if you find you are headed straight for a log in the water with no room to maneuver.  How do you stop?  You drastically reduce speed as you turn sharply port or starboard, then go to idle forward.  You are virtually stopped.  And the waves you have created pass by you or harmlessly wash against the side of the boat, instead of washing over the transom and possibly drenching passengers or, worse, capsizing the boat.


Sort of like the last curving maneuver this boat did.  It effectively stops the boat.

The first time I do the figure 8, I’m way slow. Thinking, ok, ok, ok, walking through the steps in my head, working it through.  I do it but not well.   I tell Alan its not easy with him standing there telling me what to do and my brain trying to think.  He says, kindly, he’ll be quiet.  I say Oh, No!  The problem is my brain wanting to slowly consider his words!  I tell Alan to stay right there, my brain doesn’t know what its doing.


Second time is fun!  Fast, figure 8, and a bigger boat was going through so I passed over his much larger wake.  Turns out, if you bring the boat off a bit from plane, you can pass through waves without the shocking crash of the hull against it.  Even though its fun, my body is tense – keeping your balance, trying not to lose grip on the throttle, the wheel.  Years ago we owned a ski boat and the throttle was a foot pedal like on a car.  Don’t you know every time we’d hit a wave, we’d slow down because I couldn’t keep my foot pressed down when I’m bouncing up in my seat!


Still it’s exhilarating.



Once that’s over, we are doing man-overboard exercises.  Throwing an orange life-vest in the water, turning around, going up to it and having someone pull it out.  Getting close enough to do that…sounds boring but its important to know what to do.  When Rick and I sailed, I would go through the process when we went out on the boat because man overboard in the SF Bay is dangerous.  A person can die in about 20 minutes, hypothermia is nothing to joke about.

The day is drawing to a close.  The orange sun is gorgeous in the sky, orange because of all the smoke from the fires.  A beautiful result of a terrible tragedy with people losing their homes and for many, their lives.  It’s a sobering thought.  Here we are just living our normal lives but it’s devastating time in Butte County.

I have the honor of driving the boat into its dock and, again, nervous.  But with Alan right there, giving me a word now and again, I am the QUEEN of docking this boat!  Such a boost.  Flying colors!

I feel like I’ve learned so much, gained experience, made some new friends.  I am looking forward to becoming a better boater.


Thanks to Ryan, Marty and Alan.  Great instructors.  Here is the Boat Safe America website if you are interested in taking any of their classes.  Boat Safe America


Just a random photo that I thought related somehow to this post but I can’t remember why.  How about you submit a caption for this photo?



Wasted Weekend?

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Last weekend I attended a 2 day training class on Safe Boating. I know, you’re thinking to yourself “Holly, you are such a calm and experienced boater, why would you want to waste 2 days in training?”

For one thing, a new law went into effect recently that will phase in the requirement that boat operators have a license. It begins with the youngest age group (unarguably the group that needs it the most) and will gradually include everyone who operates a boat.


This guy was actually cited for pulling a boat via his mobility scooter.

It included a day in class and a day on the water – ½ day of each, each day.

I thought it was a superb idea. Rick is an excellent teacher, but I’m just a Nervous Nellie and could use all the help I can get.

Of course, I was enthusiastic about the class until 2 days beforehand, when I started wondering why I was wasting a weekend indoors, in class – uber-boring – and then scary-time on the water being an doofus in front of the rest of the class. And then, naturally, taking a test and failing by 1 stupid question. Why would I do that to myself!


If I only had a brain…


Please God, I pray, let there be 1 person somewhat stupid-er than me, OK?

We got our materials in the mail and instructions to review some videos, read the manual and answer review questions prior to class. That takes about 3 hours. It was actually a good idea. I noticed that those who had the time to do that were ahead of the game during class.

The day of the class, Saturday morning, 9am. A car pulls up next to me and lo! Its someone I know! Darryl has brought his son-in-law and neighbor with him. We walk into the restaurant (right in Discovery Bay, about 3 minutes away) and find the room and set down our stuff. Other students are coming in all about the same time.

The instructor, Ryan, has just finished a 9 day class in Bodega Bay (or Half Moon Bay?) for a group of Marine Biologists. The co-instructor, Marty, retired from the Coast Guard.


Captain Ryan Boat Safe America

We go around the room and there is:
– a family that just bought a pontoon boat last month
– a man who is getting re-certified as a Captain
– a couple who bought a boat 2 weeks ago
– a woman who knows a LOT about boating
– a younger woman getting her certificate
– my friend, Darryl, his son-in-law and his neighbor
– a young man who just bought his first boat

So we have a few extreme newbies all the way to very experienced people in the class. Aged 11 to about 67.

Ryan introduces himself and explains why he created this class. It’s a gruesome story of him coming upon a boating accident where the victim was scalped, floating face-down and presumed dead. The other boaters around him were trying to call 911 and couldn’t explain where they were to the 911 Operator in Sacramento. What do you mean you’re on water? What Lighthouse? That’s a good argument for having a VHF radio on your boat, whatever type and size boat it is.

Ryan makes the class interesting with lots of personal stories of mishaps and learn-from-my-mistakes. There is a LOT of material, though. Navigation, boat hull shapes, rules of the road (waterway), terminology, laws, waves, current, tides, radio protocol, radio channels and use, clouds, weather, emergency procedures, emergency precautions and equipment, man overboard procedures (excuse me, Person in Water is the politically correct way to say it), docking maneuvers, how to tie various knots, different types of engines and propulsion (prop or jet).



It was totally fascinating. Except for listening to an actual MayDay call. That was a bit upsetting. The purpose for having us listen to it was to demonstrate what information we need to include in a call like that – what is the emergency, boat name, boat colors, size, how many people, location and such. The caller did not expeditiously provide that important info, wasting precious time.



BUT, its going on lunch time now and I know that it will be time to get on the water. They wanted people to bring their own boats, if possible. Well, there was no way I was putting Ms Maggie in harm’s way and the ski boat is buttoned up for winter, so I didn’t want to make Rick undo all that work. So, who was letting us borrow their boat? There were about 12 of us…how could we all get time behind the wheel?

During lunch we are going over various knots. They hand out a line of rope for everyone to practice with. Why can’t I get the bowline? I’m doing and redoing it and it’s a mess, pooh. Someone plays a how-to video but I’m still not getting it.


Fun fact: A rope is a ‘rope’ until you bring it onto a boat, then it becomes a ‘line’.

Ryan puts on YouTube to show us some of his website’s videos and we all get distracted by boating ‘fail’ videos. Yikes. Crazy and addictive.  Type in ‘boat fail’ and you’ll fall into a rabbit hole.

Oh, dear, now we’re getting in our cars and driving to the marina – which is about 3 minutes away (I love Discovery Bay). We all go over to the covered docks and it turns out Darryl is loaning us his 2 boats – a Tahoe ski boat of, maybe 24’ and a Regal cruiser of 30’. George is letting people use his pontoon boat, what a super party barge it is, too! A far cry from the grungy pontoon boat we used to have!


Gotta pay attention 

We’re split into groups and I’m assigned the 30’ Regal, with a full canvas around the cockpit.

The docks are next to a basin, a deep area of water where boats can turn around. We practice moving forward, aiming for a spot on land – trying to stay straight at low speeds, going into reverse – how does the boat handle pivoting – turning in as small a space as possible.

Darryl’s boat has twin engines, so there are 2 hand throttles to deal with, no foot pedals. Maneuvering a boat with 2 engines is a real pleasure. Pivoting in place is a snap of the fingers with 1 engine in forward and 1 engine in reverse, so sweet!




A lock raises or lowers a boat to the level of the next body of water



Once we’ve all taken a turn at the wheel, we go out to the main channel – 5mph max, no-wake speeds, to play with buoys.


At the right side of the base of the buoy you can see the the ‘V’ made by the current.

We practice going up the buoy and backing off, going up to the buoy and staying in place. There’s no wind and no current, so its aces doing this with twin engines!

Day 1 is under my belt!  I actually enjoyed myself!

But wait, tomorrow is the test, ugh.

You can count on me to find a way to panic.  😉




A review of Election Night

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(warning, lots of words and not enough pics)

I’m sitting at our Airbnb with my laptop, Rick is watching the Sharks game on his tablet and we have election results news with the sound off on the tv.  It’s a little disconcerting to be hearing the Sharks game and I look up, but its some talking head, not the Sharks announcers.  My little pea brain tries to make sense of that, poor little brain.  There’s no teal on the screen – lots of red, white and blue.

I really should be getting some work done but I’m distracted by the TV…Tell you what, instead, I’ll be Max Headroom and give you a running commentary on what’s onscreen (sans glitches).


One woman is wearing a Kelly green dress with a shiny multi-strand gold necklace, another woman is wearing the brightest red with a thin black belt and the 3rd woman has a dark purple suit.  They’ll pan to a different lady in a another area of the studio and she’s also wearing an audacious red.  The two gentlemen are wearing staid blue suits and red/blue striped ties.



What they sorely need to wear are pizazzy suits like ‘Chunk’ wears on the TV show “Bull”, or that wealthy nerd, Harold Finch wore on “Person of Interest”.  Those election analysts need to step up their fashion game.  The woman in the purple suit gets my vote for ‘best dressed’.  Gorgeous color.



I know, what these shows could use is a fashion director who can put all those heads in colors that work as a whole.  So the lineup of commentators would look complimentary to each other instead of like a primary color graphic from preschool.



I’m pretty entertained (and pretty entertaining, right?!?)  keeping the sound off and criticizing the makeup, hair and clothes.  Looking at the head shots of the politicians getting voted in, and out, there is a preponderance of faces you’d have a hard time describing to a police artist.  Perfectly forgettable.  most of them could have used a makeover, a little swipe of makeup, some spit and polish.

That’s another weird old saying – spit and polish – but this one is easy to explain since most of us have done this at one time or another… to our kids or a smudge on eyeglasses or something.  Spit on a cloth and wipe off the smudge.  Ugh, though, spit.  That’s enough about that.

When a politician’s photo pops up, it looks especially bland compared with the stage makeup the broadcasters wear.

Hey, just saw perfect and understated makeup on someone. She was wearing eye-punching fuchsia, though.  Which clashes with the red and blue banners surrounding her on all sides of the screen.  Her face is all business and the fuchsia is glowing in the dark.


I’m looking at a handsome man running for Governor somewhere giving a speech and I’m afraid to turn the sound on for fear he speaks with a cringy voice and is spouting cr*p.  He looks so earnest and intelligent.  Leaving the sound off protects me from being disillusioned.

Well, darn, according to the banner on the screen, he’s conceding the race, bummer.  Based on a projection, right now the votes stand at 50% to 49%.  Seems early to concede, don’t you think?  Well, he’s young, maybe he’ll run next time.

The races seem so close, some of them are only a few thousand votes apart.  When one person receives 51% and another person gets 49% of the vote shouldn’t they run again?  Or win by a greater percentage?  Or stop behaving like they won by a landslide, at the very least.  How about they job share?

job share.jpg

One of the people on the stage is waving a placard and it looks very awkward to hold.  No stick to hang onto.  Aren’t they getting a cramp?  How long can they hold the sign at that angle?   There are a couple kids on the stage and they look entirely bored out of their minds.  As bored as I would be if I was listening to the broadcast and not just watching it.

yawning kid.jpg

Hey, a talking head wearing a bantam yellow necktie with what looks like balloon animal doggies on it.  And onscreen now there’s a lovely dark green suit and plaid tie…that’s a win for fashion!   TWO wins!  No, THREE wins if you count the purple suit from earlier.

The purple tie with meh white diagonal stripes, disappointing effort, get off the stage.

crook 2.jpg

Rick just looked at the TV screen and said ‘what’s with all the fake blondes in Texas?”

If I was a guy broadcaster I would want to wear killer suits.  I’d start off trying to have a new one for every news show, but I wouldn’t be able to keep that going for long, I admit.  Easier to have a different tie – just go to the Men’s Wearhouse and you’ll see I could have a new tie for every day of the year!


Why don’t these guys wear spiffy suits?  Maybe the ones they’ve got on are expensive, I dunno, but they have no spark.

Older women need to remember their eyebrows, they spend so much time on the cheekbones and forget to fill in the eyebrows.  Under the lights the eyebrows practically disappear.





I wish my brows were a teensy bit higher.  More space between the eye and the brow, I also wish I could raise 1 eyebrow.  So much skepticism relayed in 1 raised eyebrow!  And my eyebrows have always been thin towards the ends, so I fill them in a little with a pencil – EYEbrow pencil, silly!


I think 25% of the Rock’s career is based on that eyebrow.

New guy on the screen is trying to have Justin Bieber hair, he’s not pulling it off very well.


The yellow tie – I think it’s a deer wearing a red sweater hugging some other animal wearing a blue sweater!  That’s a cute tie for an evening of red vs blue.  Or maybe the deer is choking the other…?  His jacket is unbuttoned, not very flattering.  More comfortable, points for that, I suppose, since its probably gonna be a long night for him.  His eyebrows need buffing, too.

Red vs blue.PNG

A screaming funny (but profane) show.

Ooh, this older (actually ancient, I think) political winner has a practically PERFECT make-up job, and her eyebrows are fantastic!  AND they moved up AND down, so no botox!   I simply MUST ask her who did her face!

Oops, back to a talking head with a makeup job that is seriously caked on, fake eyelashes, rouge, lip liner).  And, just so no attribute is left behind, a low-cut almost off the shoulder dress plus the requisite tiny gold cross.

Ack!  The Kelly green dress just put on big bright teal blue glasses!  That was a bold fashion move.  Maybe she likes the San Jose Sharks hockey team.  But with the long chunky gold necklace, well, that’s a teensy bit over the top.  I vote for a necklace that could have brought dress and eyeglasses together.  I’m pretty sure I have just the necklace for the job, too.  But no one asked me.

Turns out broadcasters have saved the spiffy suits for later in the evening!  These new guys that just showed up have a superb fashion-sense, these suits quietly outshine the bright reds and bold greens and boring blues.  Literally, they have a sheen to them – they are stylin’.

I love this photo from Franco Masoma’s website, look at those colors!  I’d have suits made by THIS guy any day!



I don’t know how Joan & Melissa Rivers had the strength to keep up their fashion commentary at those award shows. I’m exhausted, its only been a couple hours and I didn’t have to wear fancy shoes or hold a microphone!


Wearing this is an Olympic sport


Btw, if any candidates for future elections are reading this and considering plastic surgery to be more photogenic?  Get dimples, I’ll vote for dimples every time.



Bad guy?  Just get dimples…

This is MyBetterHouse, coming to you practically live on Election Night from a couch in an Airbnb.  Ha 😉

Afterthought!  Let’s have a MST3000-style show on election night!  Remember that for next time, k?  Have your people call my people…


The value of making lists

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I don’t like making lists…they defeat me.  The list is endless, just the idea of making a list makes my tummy hurt.  Except, I CAN add something to a grocery list once in awhile.  Even though I despise going to the market, the list isn’t tied to the store in my brain.


I have a lot to do and instead of doing any of them, I’m trying to write my daily entry in the NaNoWriMo.  To be fair, I DID accomplish some chores today…and a nap…

I went to the grocery yesterday so I don’t have that on my list.  But dammit, it will pop up again next week!  Aargh.


No matter what, the grocery is always on the list…I can’t walk away from it.

My list:

…do I number the items?  That will make it worse, won’t it?  To see the actual number of them to be done?

…maybe a dash, instead?  OK, just a dash…(which turned into a dot when I posted this)

  • Repot the tiny kumquat tree Lowe’s gave to us for $5 cuz it looked so pathetic.

I remember eating kumquats at a friend’s house when I was a kid…but it had a big seed in it and these don’t so, what was it if not a kumquat?

  • (re)start to learn to play the guitar (there is a back-story, but we’ll just leave it right here)
  • Clear off the pool table – I actually worked on this today, but its not cleared yet. It’s a perfect landing point for, um, lots of stuff.
  • Hang pictures, now that we downsized our house we have twice the pictures as before PLUS there were many in storage. So, also decide which to give away.
  • Learn to speak another language – Italian? Spanish?  Which?  Both?
  • Dust
  • Vacuum
  • Clean the bathrooms
  • Change the sheets on our bed. Oh, wait, I did THIS yesterday, too!  Yay for me!
  • Clear off the island – its another perfect landing point for, um, lots of stuff.
  • Fix the waistband on my navy skirt that I’ve had so long the elastic no longer is.
  • Organize the hall closet – have I mentioned that we downsized? I have?  Well, that means DOUBLE the number of sheets, towels, and so forth and so on.
  • Where are the board games going? How did we accumulate 15 decks of cards?
  • Where are all my shoes going? I had a HUGE closet and now, not so much.

OK, I don’t have THIS many.

  • And purses? I’m a bit of a hoarder, is that it?
  • Read a magazine OR admit I will never catch up and toss (some) of them – which is what Rick would rather I did.
  • Do SOMETHING really fanTAStic with the front porch. Too many random plants, random furniture, random plant stands, random = ugh
  • Oh, and while I’m at it, de-web the front porch as part of that porch fantastic-ness
  • Sigh, the middle bedroom, which we call the Bird Room, cuz of all the bird-related things in it. The middle bedroom is packed with what needs sorting, organizing, gifting, storing, surreptitiously put in the kids’ car trunks when they leave at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and suchlike.

Batik of a toucan (plus another one awaiting repair) is in the Bird Room

  • Shorten a couple slips
  • Mending
  • Will I ever make that Christmas wreath out of the hoop and fake (I mean faux) evergreen? There is hope for this item as I DID make a wreath for my mom LAST year!   I have a glue gun and I know how to use it!


  • Catch up on all the TV shows I’ve recorded and not watched – doing this means I need to get on my exercycle and kill 2 birds with 1 stone, which leads me to this next item…
  • Buy wireless sport headphones since mine have died
  • Get moving on Able Grable, a duo my friend, Pam, and I are working on (Pam, I’m calling you out!)
  • Do that colon testing thing for Kaiser (TMI?)
  • Finish organizing at our new office, we’re so CLOSE to being done.
  • Go to the Post Office
  • Pack the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox
  • Learn something about the sound board at church (print out the manual). One of the problems here is that I’m helping with sound pickin’ early on a Sunday morning – meaning my brain is NOT ready for prime time.

Our sound guy, Tom, is so patient with me, bless his heart!

  • De-tangle the spaghetti of necklaces that got that way when we moved
  • Call Nestle Refresh (Arrowhead Water changed their name…to Nestle Refresh, which is a stupid name) and have them come get all the empty water jugs. I think we have 5 of them and they take up a LOT of space.

That’s enough for now, don’t you think?  I have more items but, jeepers, I’m calling it quits 😉


Neenerneenerneener (or NaNoWriMo)

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Its National Novel Writing Month!  Yeah, you don’t care, BUT it exists to prompt writers to focus on, what else?  writing!  I’m not writing a novel but I DO want to blog more often, so, I’m taking part in the NeenerNeenerNeener, er, NaNoWriMo.

Here goes:  This one is called “A box at a time”

You know that a home improvement project is never ever quite complete, right?

There is always something left to be done that requires another trip to the store – maybe you run out of paint just when you get to the little area behind the stove or fridge or above the cabinets.  Or you are inevitably 1 nail short at the toe kick under the cabinets.  Or you run out of time because houseguests arrive tomorrow.

Whatever the reason and its always a valid one, the job is never quite finished.  So with a lick and a promise you turn to another chore.

Where did that phrase come from?  “A lick and a promise”.  Thanks to a googley search I learned that it’s a cursory attempt at cleaning up.  The word ‘lick’ is from an old use of the word in the 1800’s meaning to clean something quickly, like a cat’s lick.  And the ‘promise’ is that you’ll come back later to do a better job of it.


Photo by Eric Han on Unsplash

If you know something more or different about that phrase, let me know.

Our kitchen is DONe with a capital D but the last e is still small…we’ve a few things to complete that may take more effort than a kitten’s lick.  The floor undulates in one area about a foot wide. We never noticed it when it was vinyl and hardwood, but now, it’s a noticeable roller coaster.  Pooh.  We are too tired to think about that right now…we are kicking that can down the road to be dealt with by our future selves.20181102_122249.jpg

A couple trim pieces need to be replaced.  In the above pic you can see thelittle rectangle trim to be replaced AND see that the window trim hasn’t been sanded or painted yet.  An undercounter light is on the pool table awaiting installation.  And the light ABOVE the pool table isn’t working now!  And, oh, yeah, those soap dispensers that are turning out to be a pain in the butt to install. Rick wanted to hack the idea based on a DIY mag article.  They must have skipped a step because it isn’t working.  Do this, then do that, buy this and stick it there and voila.  Well, no voila.  You’re supposed to have a length of tubing inserted into a big soap bottle (so you don’t have to refill the little bottle so often), but the soap doesn’t siphon up into the dispenser.  Then our time got hijacked and we couldn’t finish the job because…

Why ARE we not finishing the job?  Long story long, we had decided to downsize our office and lease our building to someone else.  And the kitchen remodel was delayed (not our fault) which pushed into the timing for the move.  That meant the kitchen remodel halted while we moved, then the move took much longer than we’d planned (forever) – 4000sf of stuff had to find a home.  Salvation Army, consignment store, given away, thrown away, taken to the dump, put out on the street with a ‘free’ sign on it, packed like a Tetris game into storage (Is this what all those games of Tetris prepared us for?  RL Tetris is NOT as much fun as the game), actually moved to the office, moved to the house.  >whew<



(This is our summer intern, Joanne, who had the best attitude during our move.  She was stuck helping us and dug right in.  I don’t know what we would have done without her)

Then THAT pushed into our Mission Trip to Italy and side trip to London (and now you don’t feel sorry for us at ALL!).


We returned to a big blue whale of boxes under a tarp by the side of the house and boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes in the garage and in the house and in the office.  Depressing, but you just dive in and deal with it ONE box at a time.

That big blue whale is now HALF its original size, thank you VERY much.


Of course, much of that pile is now in our guest room awaiting sorting for and by the kids…shhh, don’t tell them, let it be a surprise!


We have a hard deadline of Thanksgiving when the house will be filled with relatives all giving Thanks that its not at their house this year.

Oh, and Rick’s boat project gets interrupted by all the other projects he’s in the middle of.  Yeah, yeah, what a difficult problem to have.  We don’t want you to feel sorry for us (well, not much) just understand I sometimes don’t know what I’m doing or when.  A day at a time, a box at a time 😉

Road Trip With My Sister!

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I can’t recall a time my sister and I ever went on a road trip together, just the two of us.  When our son, Austin, moved to Visalia last year, we decided to schedule a visit but hadn’t gotten around to it until recently.

He’s not far from Sequoia National Park and we thought we’d do a little day hike there, too.  We try to hike together once a month.  It doesn’t happen, but we try…and when we do hike we hardly ever get lost.  And by ‘hardly ever’ I mean all the time.

Because Rick and I were downsizing our office and also moving out of our upstairs apartment, we also had a 12’ trailer of stuff for him.  Rick has a contractor-type pickup, bare bones (with a nice stereo, natch), so, we took Susan and Daryl’s really super-duper crew cab luxury pickup truck, instead.


Traffic was yucky until we got over Pacheco and then it smoothed out.  I was travelling pretty much at the 55mph required for trailers.  On the way we stop at Sonic’s for their limeade-spritzer-slushy drink…man, does that hit the spot.  That limeade drink is perfect for a hot day.

We arrive at Austin’s around, oh, 8’ish maybe, yeah 5 hours for a 3 hr trip (although its possible we stopped for another limeade somewhere along the way) and pull up in front.  Dinner is a chicken/salsa crockpot dish and smells so good, but first we unload the trailer while we have some daylight left.

Its hot in Visalia, did you know that?  Hot!  Like over 100 during the day.  Fortunately, Austin has ceiling fans in the living room and bedrooms, so its comfortable inside.

The next day we head off to a farmer’s market, then to breakfast.  Back at the house we pack our stuff for the hike.  Austin looks up the directions via the Park’s website.  Marble Falls is a ‘moderate’ hike of 3.7 miles to a waterfall.  Austin’s done this hike with friends before.  The map is loaded on his phone and off we go.

We turn left onto N Fork Drive and are going past rural homes and churches, markets and hotels.  It’s a nice little vacation area, apparently.  We suspected nothing, at this point.

We’re following a couple of other cars.  Road gets rougher and rougher and narrower.  Austin and I check the map, yep, its still the right direction.

The road makes a sharp turn and to the right are a bunch of cows, just chillin’ in the shade.  OK, hi cows.


We keep driving and the potholes are threatening to take out the tires.

The Charger in front of us stops and motions us around.  We drive a little further and there’s a sign that says ‘pavement ends’.  Ummm, what?!?

We naively continue our drive.

Austin checks the map, I check the map, I think we’ve taken a wrong turn!  I could swear the road is a dead end.  I think Google’s directions are telling us to turn around.  Yes, it IS telling us to turn around.   NOW its telling us to turn around?!?

We turn around and head back the way we came, wondering how we could have possibly missed the turn-off.

Narrow road, we come upon another car going in the opposite direction…where are you going, we ask.  They say Marblehead Falls.  We say turn around and follow us, which they do.  Another car going the wrong way, they turn around and follow us.

We are peering at the Google map, watching our little fly pointer-thingy get closer and closer to, wait, the COWS…we were supposed to turn at the COWS!?!


That is NOT a road.  It’s a dry stream bed. You can call it Shepherd’s Saddle Road all you want, but its still a ditch filled with boulders.  You’d need a rock-crawler to drive that road.

NOT possible in a Dodge Dart.  Fine, back to 198 we go.  Unbelievable.  As least we weren’t the only car Google pranked.

FINALLY, finally, we are at Marblehead Falls.  Austin nudges a rock with his car trying to get into a parking ‘space’ and knocks off some small protective cover under the engine.  There’s no oil leaking, so that’s good news, right?

It is HOT.  Did I mention that before?  HOT, like 106 degrees hot!  But, hey, it’s a moderate hike with a waterfall at the end, so refreshing. We’ve done 9 miles on a hot day.  We’ll be fine…so we hit the trail.

Or should I say the trail hit us.  Not much shade.  Sequoia National Park and not a Sequoia in sight. Without my visor and sunglasses, I’d be dying.  Oh, I spoke too soon.  I am dying.  106 degrees.

People are coming in the other direction and saying ‘you’re almost there’.

Moderate hike.  106 degrees.

We’ve gone about 3.2 miles.  Almost there, they say, almost there.  Liars, all.

Our goal

My legs are having no trouble with the hike.  Knees are good.  Heart is a little elevated but I’m not panting.  Yet I have to stop and take a break like every 20 steps.  We sit down when there are shady rocks.  This is so weird.  We drink water, eat grapes.  But we don’t feel better for long before we have to stop again.

Its as if Austin and we are in alternate universes.  He must be hiking a completely different trail than we are, even though he’s right in front of us.  He is like Tigger, he doesn’t even look like he’s sweating in his cargo pants and hiking boots, yet Susan and I have become people we don’t even know, slogging underwater against a current.

We stop for a rest and snack in a little shaded area with a stream that runs through the path.  We stop because the hill in front of us is steep and daunting.

I look at the stream and remember I packed an extra t-shirt in my backpack.  I get it out and put it in the cool water and give it to Susan.  That turned out to be a lifesaver!  We took turns putting the t-shirt around our necks and it really cooled us all down.

I decided to lay out on a rock in the shade with my feet up.  I always carry a pareo and spread it out.  We sent Austin up ahead to scout how ‘not far’ the falls really are.  During the (too long) time it took Austin to get back to us Susan says, I hate to say this but we’ll have to ‘call’ the hike.  It’s not safe for us to continue.  I completely agree.  I love her for admitting that…I wanted to, too, but didn’t want to be the spoilsport (which was dumb of me).

So that’s it, we’re done.  We won’t be able to finish.  We are this close to heat stroke, it’s too hot and we are too tired and what were we thinking?  Now do what anyone would do in our place, we take a nap.


Which was exactly what we needed.  Afterwards was cooler, the sun was on the other side of the hill so there was a lot of shade AND it was mostly downhill!  Ah, yes, this is what a hike should be.

We tell Austin he isn’t allowed to say anything about this hike except ‘I’m impressed my mom and aunt attempted the hike in that heat’.  He is such a trouper, so patient.  He’s been in Visalia for a year and he’s obviously acclimated to the oppressive heat.  Even now, a couple months later, I’m kind of amazed how patient that kid is.  We were completely out of our element in the heat and he never treated us like the idiots we were.

The trip down takes hardly any time at all.  We’re back in the car pulling out of the parking space and there’s a strange dragging sound as we begin driving.  The plastic cover that’s part of the undercarriage has dislodged and torn – maybe when we hit that rock trying to park.  We need something to cut it away.  Perhaps a Park Ranger has large pruning shears?  Maybe a sword?

We are contemplating the problem (no cell service, either) when guy comes over from a campsite.  I’m a former car mechanic, he says, helpfully.  Wow.  He tells us to drive over and park in front of his car. He and Austin jack the car up on one side and break off the snaps of undercarriage cover, jack the car up on the other side and repeat.

Our hero!  His wife tells us that now her hubby will be happy for the rest of the weekend because he got to work on a car!   What a sweetheart for helping us.


The undercarriage cover

Austin pops the broken cover in the trunk and we are FINALLY on our uneventful way home.   3 adventures in one day.

Moral of the story:  Keep your sense of humor, know your limits and believe in the kindness of strangers 😉


It takes forEVER


We are in the home stretch!  You wouldn’t know that by looking, but we are ‘this close’ to being done.

Its been awhile since I posted anything about the kitchen remodel.  At some point it seems to be the new normal and I stop thinking of the milestones.

So, randomly, here are some things that have happened…


I wanted white rocketship styled lights aiming up (for less than $300/ea, if you don’t mind)

Lights were installed.  I couldn’t find the uplighting I wanted – a modern, rocketship shaped light – so we settled on these sleek black ones.  We might paint them later on, depending on how soon we do, or don’t, get used to seeing them.

I tell our clients to never buy light fixtures from Lowe’s or Home Depot, but of course, we do exactly that.  Basically, 1 in 4 lights are bad, for some reason, and we have to exchange it.


There’s that 1 in 4 light that didn’t work…

But, I couldn’t find the lights I wanted elsewhere – especially for a reasonable price – so, Lowe’s is where we bought these lights.


They were hanging slightly crooked, you can see that in the photo, and Rick was trying to straighten them and busted the shade.  Back to the store for a replacement.  Installation of that went well until we flicked on the switch and…nothing…Rick checked the bulbs, the wiring.  Of course it was the fixture itself.  Fortunately, my handyman had saved the workings of the busted lamp and swapped it out with the bad light fixture.  Happy days!

The lamps are above the island and to avoid any issues with lights not be exACTly the same height – since they are mounted on a vaulted ceiling – they are hung at different heights!  Brilliant, right?  He figured out how to straighten them, even.

We have ceiling can lights over the sink area.  If we need more light, we’ll add it later.  Oh, we are going to add lights under the cabinets, so that will be good task lighting.

On the subject of electrical wiring, we always have something weird going on.  One of the dimmable switches isn’t dimming…one of the switches turns off in the up position and on in the down position, but it looks to be wired properly, oh and another switch only turns off in the middle position.  Just more items for the punch list (which is what they call the list of stuff to be fixed).


There’s a little slider to the right of the switch lever for dimming.

The flooring was installed last week.  Apparently, we were a few feet short on our purchase of eucalyptus 5 years ago…or else the previous installer was a little inefficient with his installation.  In any case, we have a couple areas with shorter-than-normal boards…if you see them, pretend you don’t.   I went online to see if I could find eucalyptus flooring and the only stuff they had was coffee-colored or darker.


Area to be feathered in, old with the new


Post-feathering.  I might not have chosen that dark board to go right there, but at least it shows how perfectly the post matches the floor…

And, then there are the areas that are uneven…but we have that in the rest of the house, too, even though we didn’t feel or see any low/high areas back before we moved in…you can feel them now.   Could it be dry rot?  Maybe, but that’s something for my future self to deal with, ha!


This is George Thompson – he is a Jack-of-all-Trades – did the floor, a bunch of demo and also the new framing.  We’ll be calling him back to help rebuild our deck.

Again, you feel those spots, you ignore them.  Just like you’re going to ignore the drywall patching area that looks terrible.  We took a wall out at that spot.  We’ll put the grandfather clock in front of it, you’ll comment on the antique clock and overlook the bumpy area above it.


Is that not pretty?

The counters were measured for the tops 2 weeks ago.  They were supposed to be installed today.  The company has a more important order from McDonalds so we are being pushed out…aargh…very irritating.  This is the ONLY local company that installs the product I want, which means I’m stuck.

I didn’t take a photo of the guy doing the measuring, which was dumb.  He takes slim, long wood veneer and places it where the edge of the counter tops would be on the cabinets and island, creating a big template that he clamps and glues together.  He took the template and the sinks back to the shop with him where the counters will be manufactured and the sinks mounted to the underside.

Then he returns and installs the counters and grinds the holes for the faucets.

After THAT, we can put the fridge and stove in place, install the dishwasher, garbage disposer and microwave and its exhaust hood and install the backsplash.


Under the sink, awaiting appliance installation

I originally wanted a garbage disposal in both sinks but Rick was having an issue re placement of the switch for it.  There’s not enough room in the backsplash area.  They have new-fangled counter-top button switches for them now but Rick wasn’t overly excited by that.  So I’d have to have 1 switch in the cabinet under the sink and then in the backsplash beside the sink for the other of them.  Then we realized that we have a built-in compost bin next to one of the sinks.  Problem solved.  I don’t think we’ll use the garbage disposal much anyway with the compost bin.


{screams like a little girl} Built in trash, recycling and compost bin!!!

After the counters are installed, the cabinet people return to add trim, cabinet pulls and the post wrap and caps.

And all by the Fourth of July, right?  RIGHT?!?  maybe…maybe not.  I’m not gonna fret, life is too short to be upset by stuff I have NO control over.  And I have control over so very little in the grand scheme of things.

I’m lucky to have a handy husband who wants to have a nice kitchen and who doesn’t know how to sit still!  He actually thinks its fine that I’m sitting and doing this instead of painting something or cooking something or sewing something.  Woot-woot!


After scooting around on the floor pulling old staples out…dusty butt print!


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