Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Having the Deck Stained

 Now that the trees have been trimmed, it is time to stain the deck.  I hired a crew to sand it down, stain it, and put on a sealant that will protect it during the snow.  They started prepping this afternoon.

I am excited to see how it looks, once the work is complete!  I love the brown color that we chose.  It feels good to be getting the home maintenance done  for the cold season.  

I have been sitting by the fire reading library books.  Last night I watched "A River Runs Through It,"  directed by Robert Redford.  What a magnificent film!  It made me want to visit Montana.  The scenery is gorgeous!

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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Had the DVD Player Repaired

 I have been living at the cabin for over a year now, and I finally had the DVD player in the sun room fixed.  I just couldn't get it working.  The man who came over to check it just changed a few cords in the back, and now it's good to go.  I am excited to watch a movie while sitting on the couch tonight.  It's going to be so comfortable!  I had been watching films up in the bedroom until now.  I am going to remove that t.v. and replace it with an antique lamp. 

I am reading one of Peter Walsh's books on decluttering, and it is really inspiring me.  He used to be one of my favorite guests on the  Oprah Winfrey show.  Each day I have been going through the seller's old belongings,  soring, cleaning, and boxing up and donating what I don't need or use.  The cabin feels entirely different now.  It's amazing how much larger a home feels when there is more space.  

The older I get, the less material possessions I want.  I do love comfortable furniture and gorgeous antique lamps.  I'm finding it easier to clean now, as well.  I am happy with my library books, yoga, nature walks, bike rides, and chats on the phone with friends.  

I met with my neighbor at the country club yesterday.  We sat by the lake, enjoyed a glass of wine, and had an amusing conversation.  I brought a real wine glass and some almonds.  It's a peaceful place to social distance and socialize.  There were only four people there.  

How are you doing?

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Saturday, October 17, 2020

Ninety Trees Trimmed

Over the last few days I had ninety trees trimmed on my land.  Phew!  It looks so clean and beautiful now.  It's amazing how alive the property feels with all of that dead wood removed.  I stayed home and kept an eye on the workers.  It was exciting to see the men complete the contract.  They are very dedicated.

One of the pluses from all that trimming is  that I now have lots of firewood to burn this winter.  They stacked it neatly in piles for me.  I have been carrying it up to the cabin and  gazing at the  crackling flames each morning and evening.  I hung my mom's feminine lace curtains in the window next to the brick fireplace.  Flanked by a 1920's hand painted antique lamp, it is a really artistic look.  I just love the old styles.  I've never gotten into the modern decor that is popular now.  

The smaller branches were put into the chipper and spread as mulch.  The supervisor told me that my trees are healthier and greener than  many of the ones that they do, because I water and mulch them regularly.  It means extra time and effort, but is so worth it.  As I water in sections, I keep an eye on my trees and all that is happening.  That's important when you own land. 

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Monday, October 12, 2020

Paying Bills and Doing Chores

Today I cleaned up the front garden.  I pruned the roses, pulled out the dead, brown leaves on the purple irises, removed the dried sunflowers, and cut off the dead wood from the Meyer Lemon tree.  

Those little activities make such a difference in the garden.  I plan to trim off the brittle aloe vera stems and compost it all this afternoon.  I've been needing more browns for my pile, and now is the time!  The leaves are starting to fall, and they make an excellent nutritious mulch for the fruit trees.  

I paid my home insurance, a few utility bills, and carefully checked my most recent brokerage account statement.  I'm very happy how my dividend paying stocks have been performing.  They have been consistent and reliable.  What's happening with you?

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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

A Magical Getaway To Catalina, California

I just returned from a lovely holiday at the Wrigley Mansion.  It sits on the gorgeous island of Catalena, California.  The inn has been renamed Mt. Ada.  The classy historical charm of this comfortable bed and breakfast makes it a memorable treat. 



At 6:00 a.m. I dropped Lula off at the dog camp.  It was still dark outside.  I returned home, loaded up the car, and headed down the 405 freeway towards Long Beach.  Since  the virus hit, the traffic in Los Angeles has  been greatly reduced.  I arrived quickly and easily.  I found a spot in the long term parking lot, wrote down my space number on my ticket, and headed towards the lobby of the Catalena Express.  That's where you check in for the ferry ride.  You need reservations in advance.  They were fully booked.

Over the summer I had signed up for a special deal to celebrate my birthday.  They were offering  50% off the second night of your stay.  I had always wanted to visit Catalena and Avalon, so this was my golden opportunity.  I figured that I could drive there alone, maintain social distance and wear a mask on the ferry, and then sit outside on the terrace for meals.  We were situated above all of the congestion.  They only have six rooms at the hotel, and I met five other guests while I was there.  

The arrangement worked out beautifully.  Driving up to the hotel, my first glimpse of the mansion  took my breath away; it is so impressive!  The large, white electric gate swung open as we pulled through the driveway.  After enjoying a delicious lunch overlooking the water, I drove a high end golf cart, (which they provided,) down the steep, winding, narrow road through town and did some sightseeing.  The little shops and restaurants really still have the feel of old California.  There are no chain stores or fast food joints.  It's an enchanting getaway.  I can't wait to return.

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Saturday, October 3, 2020

Dog Day at the Country Club


 Today was Dog Day at the country club.  Lula and I had a fantastic time.  It was so entertaining to watch all of the different dogs playing and swimming happily together in the lake.  It was really dog heaven.  There were tennis balls everywhere.  Lula was so excited and vocal.  She paddled like her life depended on it.  I was in the water with her until one of the dogs squatted and pooped.  I had made sure that Lula did her business before we got there.  They are draining the lake for the cold season after Dog Day, anyway.  Maybe I'll put a swimming hole in, up at my cabin.  Lula is such a water dog.  She didn't want to stop playing ball, and slept deeply during her long nap, after we arrived home.

While watering my pines and oaks, I chatted with my sweet neighbor about posting "No Trespassing" signs.  I put them at each entrance to my land when the evacuation warning hit.  I discussed some concerns with my insurance agent and he replied that the signs  do help.  The main thing is, you don't want a hazard, like a broken sprinkler on your property.  He said that the best thing you can do to prevent problems with suspicious individuals is to maintain the property.  That makes sense.

My neighbor mentioned  that she had seen some adults and kids walking on my land.  There have been some locals I know that have sneaked on it at times, too, but I caught them.  ( I have photographs.)  It's too bad that some people take advantage, but I'm prepared.  I don't let things slide when it comes to my safety, my home, or my animals.  It's so important to take the steps you need to take in life when your boundaries aren't being respected.  Documentation is everything.  My sweet neighbor is also a hard working woman who owns her own beautiful home.  She lives with her mom, who is one fabulous lady.  We stick together; she's really a great ally.   

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Monday, September 28, 2020

What I Learned From The Evacuation Warning


 Today I decided to write about what it was like to experience an evacuation warning during a severe  fire.  The Bobcat Fire came dangerously close to our lovely village of Wrightwood.  I talked with several of my friends and neighbors there, and listened to their opinions and stories.  Many of them stayed in town, and other families left.  They all had their own personal reasons and logic. 

I drove back and forth a few different times, depending on what I read online about the road, fire, and weather conditions.  I packed up more stuff than I ever have during a fire.  What was important to me was to have my pets, my hand knit items, a few favorite pieces of clothing, and food and water.  It was a relief to rescue all of the sweaters, shawls, socks, gloves, and scarves that I have made over the last several years.  My photos are saved online. 

I thought that I would want to take my dad's car, since it is a newer model, and gets excellent mileage.  I ended up feeling more attached to  my mom's 2002 VW Beetle.  It has so much style!  It also has sentimental value to me.  She kept it so clean and organized.  She had everything in that car you could ever need: two flashlights, a siren, a red leather coin purse with quarters for tolls, a tiny first aid kit, mints, tissues, stain wipes, and a dog carrier.  She was extremely prepared and beautifully organized.  That car makes me smile.

I realized that I should have packed more pet food than I had anticipated.  I had tupperware jugs full of water by the door.  I wasn't sure how much traffic there would be.  I left early, and there really wasn't any.  It's nice to be able to go to a comfortable second location only sixty miles from your residence.  I am so glad that I kept the cottage.  I have been busy cleaning it today.  I fed some of the citrus trees homemade compost, and did a load of laundry.

The first time I fled I forgot my must have documents.  I was so upset with myself.  We were closing on my parents' house and a piece of land that I had purchased.  I brought that paperwork, and accidentally  left my box that contained everything else.  Fortunately, I retrieved it on one of my return trips to the cabin.  It feels good to have all of those records together and organized.  I keep mine in a fire proof box.  

Have you ever had to evacuate?  

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Saturday, September 26, 2020

Daily Discipline During the Pandemic


Today I finished some last minute changes on an article that I'm writing for Peter Glebo and Tommy Tune in New York.  It was quick and easy to add the edits.  I scrutinized their notes on my mini ipad, and carefully typed them in on my desktop.  At this point, it's out of my hands.  I didn't even go back and read the entire article again.  I knew that if I did, I would want to add more shaping and cutting, and they are happy with it the way it is.  I didn't want to disrupt that flow.  I just focused on the list of corrections and additions that they had sent, then read each paragraph that I had rewritten  to check for rhythm and accuracy.  I skipped the stanzas that had already been shaped and formed over many recent hours  and weeks, hit send, and  let it all go.

Glebo and Tune will choose and design the layout,  photos and artwork.  I have a feeling that it is going to be amazing!  I am so excited to see  the finished product.  I told them to work their magic.  One of the thrilling things about theater is that everybody's talent is thrown together in a big pot, and it collect and magnifies into something rich, unexpected  and wonderful. 

I have been holding to the daily discipline of eating well, cooking at home, walking Lula, doing yoga and meditation, and keeping things clean, neat and tidy.  I also stay on a consistent watering schedule with the garden.  The oak trees seem so much happier and stronger now that they are getting irrigated.  I think they were struggling in the heat. 

How is your daily discipline?  

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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Bobcat Fire Is 50% Contained

 Today we learned that the Bobcat Fire is 50% contained.  They are using water from Jackson Lake to fight it.  I raked up several more bags of pine needles this morning.  I took a swim in the lake at the country club, and it was so refreshing!  I didn't expect for them to be open, but they were.  I wish the fire fighters continued success, and am so thankful to them for all of their labor and sweat.  They work so hard!    

Monday, September 21, 2020

Protecting Your Money As a Senior

 Since my dad died, I have noticed that I have to be very careful with people who work as bankers, attorneys, brokers, and in real estate.  It's so important when you are settling an estate that you make careful notes, know how much money you are transferring into your accounts, and that you are aware of what you are doing.

 My mother let my father handle all of the finances.  She liked to spend money, but she knew nothing about their investments, how their stocks were doing, or what their net worth was.  Her VW Beetle  wasn't even in her name.  I once saw a Suze Orman show about how important it is for women to have their own money, a savings account in their name, etc.  but she wasn't interested.  She let my dad handle everything.   

Women like this can be targets for scams, hidden fees, poor investments, and lies.  It's so important to read up on the areas that are new to you.  I study articles on  investing at Yahoo Finance.  My father recommended the website  to me, and it's an excellent resource.  

You can negotiate what you want.  Closing a cash sale on land should be cheaper than one that requires a loan.  You can make an offer that's affordable to you, and not go any further if what they want seems too expensive.  Maybe the seller will pay the closing costs.  It doesn't hurt to ask.

Today one of the managers at my credit union tried to talk me into keeping more money there than I had planned.  I had done extensive research on how much the FDIC insures, and had made plans to put some of the money from a home sale in a separate account at a different bank.  She tried to tell me that it didn't matter, since I had beneficiaries.  She and the woman working there made three attempts to keep my money at their institution.  It was shocking.  "This is not her decision," I told the teller.  I got my cashier's checks, but I had to stand my ground and insist.  They acted like it was theirs.  People in those fields can get very possessive with cash.   

We have to be very careful right now and steer clear of people who take advantage of seniors, women, or others  that they see as unsuspecting.  Forewarned is forearmed.  I see so many older women hire people to invest their money for them.  It can all be lost so quickly.  I manage my own funds, and check them daily.  It's not hard.  How about you?  

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Saturday, September 19, 2020

They're Fighting The Bobcat Fire From the Air

 


One of our locals just posted some impressive video footage of the Super Scoopers being used over our picturesque little  village of Wrightwood, California.  The sleek, sophisticated jets are from Quebec.  They are filling them up at Lancaster Lake.  It's a relief to see and hear them  approaching this fire from the air.  Yesterday there was too much smoke.  It has grown so rapidly.  I could see it approaching over the last week down below from the Pearblossom Highway.  It was obviously headed toward us.  At least we were fortunate enough to have time to prepare.  With some disasters, you don't see or hear them what's coming. 

My neighbor told me that the last time they were evacuated for a fire, it took her seven and a half hours just to get to Lancaster!  It must have been really exhausting and frightening, especially in all of that traffic, and in this summer heat.  I make sure to travel when it's cool.  The hot weather is so hard on your car.  It also is draining and stressful for your animals, your children, and for you!

There was an article that was in the paper about the fire yesterday.  It was eerie to look at the photos and see how beautiful the trees look.  The sky is orange, like a theatrical backdrop.  It reminded me of the old footage of the San Francisco earthquake, and the fires that followed.  Fire is so dramatic. 

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Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Bobcat Fire, Evacuations and Mountain Lions

The Bobcat Fire has spread at an alarming rate.  I  have been watching it from the Pearblossom Highway on my commute over the past week, and was shocked this morning to see that it looked twice as close to Wrightwood.  Devil's Punchbowl, (which is very close,) has been evacuated.  I hope that the people there get out safely.  I worry that the Wrightwood residents will wait too long and be fumbling in the dark with no electricity.  It's very dark now with the shorter days this time of year.  The mountain roads are only two lanes.

One local posted a videotape of a huge mountain lion in her driveway.  It went after her dog, but she and her husband yelled at it, and were able to protect the canine.   They have children.  It's strange to see the figures of these powerful wild animals on camera, right next to an outside  staircase or deck.   They are also fleeing the fires, and are hungry, thirsty and desperate.  It's like the movie Bambi.  A cub or two was also seen with the mother.  

Another post stated that someone's dog, the size of a German shepherd, was taken by a cougar from the balcony.  People have the illusion that their dogs are safe there.  Mountain lions normally eat deer.  They can easily take down large animals or humans.  I don't think people realize the danger of the situation.

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Saturday, September 12, 2020

Fleeing The Fires in California

As most of you know, there are numerous wildfires raging right now in California.  It is a challenge to decide whether to leave or stay put when the areas near your home are burning.  What we didn't anticipate was how many different fires there would be.  They have multiplied at an alarming rate. 

The reason I bought the cabin up in the mountains was to have a refuge someplace cooler to go in the brutally hot summers.  I wanted a location that wasn't so fire prone.  I had noticed that they were accelerating each year in Canyon Country.  Last year the Tick Fire was just a block from my cottage.  It made me nervous.  What if you couldn't get out in time?  I had images of people perishing in their cars in 2011.  We saw that happen in the tragic Paradise Fire, and now it is occurring once again.  

There is currently a fire about thirty miles from our beautiful village of Wrightwood.  It has been spreading rapidly.  I know how quickly the flames can travel.  It makes me afraid to go to sleep at night.  We only have one gas station in town, and there were ten people lined up to use the four pumps early this afternoon.  I got in needing half a tank when there was only one other man there.  It's important to have cash, too. 

I talk regularly with my friends and neighbors, and keep the car loaded up, ready to go at a moment's notice.  Fortunately, Lula and Snow White, (my chicken,) are experienced travelers.  They both enjoy car rides.  

My personal strategy is to leave early.  I don't wait to be evacuated.  Being caught in pandemonium would make me nervous and worried.  I would rather be safe than sorry.  Nothing would frighten me more than to be stuck in bumper to bumper traffic during a fast moving fire.  It's important to keep your gas tank full, your car in good repair, and to have plenty of clothing, food and water.    

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