Monday, January 20, 2020

Borrowing DVDs at the Library

a walk down the mountain, and a turn to the right leads to the local library


I have been borrowing DVDs at the local library, and watching them at night before bed.  It is so entertaining. I love the fact that it costs nothing!  The cabin has a VCR/DVD player in the bedroom, and it's so cozy to climb under the flannel sheets and enjoy a film before falling asleep.  Lula seems to enjoy the experience, too.  She stares avidly at the screen, and  reacts to people's voices and energy.  She doesn't like it when the actors fight or complain.  It's funny how animals read and respond to our energy.  So much of our emotional state shows up in our tone of voice and our choice of words.

Last week I watched Wild, (which was filmed on the Pacific Crest Trail,) Dreamgirls, and Five Flights Up.  I really was thrilled with all three of them.  Our library also rents out movies that are newer, but I am just as happy seeing the ones that are free.  I was never a movie buff, but now  am discovering a new appreciation for the experience of watching a movie.  How about you?  Do you check out films at your local library?

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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Yaktrax For Walking On Icy Surfaces

A couple of days ago I purchased a pair of Yaktrax at our local hardware store, to pull over my kamik winter boots.  They give excellent traction in the ice and snow.  I feel so much safer now that I have them. 

I had been slipping and sliding on my deck, when I was walking outside to get firewood.  It's so easy to hit a patch of ice  and fall.  You really have to be careful, especially as you get older.   

It's always exciting to find something that makes life easier, and helps you to feel safer.  Have any of you ever tried Yaktrax?  A couple of the men that I see on my morning walks with Lula recommended them. 

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Turning Down the Hot Water Heater

I have started turning the gas hot water heater down to low when I am not using it.  It makes a big difference in the monthly bill.  My father used to turn ours down when we were kids, and my mom would yell at him.  It drove her nuts to be doing dishes and to wait for constant lukewarm water.  He was  trying to save money.  She would loudly  insist that he turn it back up to the  normal setting, preferably hot.

I put mine a bit higher when I am taking a bath.  I lower it back immediately, though.  If I am going away, I dial it back several notches.  There's no need to have hot water when you're not there.

I used to rent a guest house from a wealthy woman in Santa Fe, NM.  She had the hot water heaters set on timers.  They clicked on and off at certain times of the day.  We had to take a shower at a specific hour.  She told me that it made a huge difference in what the bills were.  She was very aware of what she spent.  She had sold a home in Malibu, California, doubled her money, and then bought a gorgeous home in Santa Fe. 

She found a buyer, and doubled her money with that one, too.  She purchased another house on a large piece of land, with fifteen acres.   I always remember observing her and thinking,  "Maybe I can do that someday, too."  Now here I am...

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Closing Off Rooms To Save Heat



My mom used to close a few doors off in the den and kitchen in the morning, to keep the heat from wafting through the house.  I have started doing the same thing.  The smaller the space, the less time it takes to heat.

When at the cabin, after rising, I flick on the switch in the tiny bathroom on my way downstairs.  I continue the descent, and  turn on the heat in the kitchen.  From there, I head back up and use the toilet.  By that time, the bathroom has shifted from freezing to toasty warm.  I click the small heater off as I leave.


After adjusting  the switch of the  coffeemaker  in the kitchen, I turn down the thermometer in the sun room.  When I return from taking Lula outside  to go potty, I pour the coffee,  arrange  my tray, and head into the sun room.  I turn  off the heat in the kitchen as I leave.  By this time, it has started to get warm, and I ease onto the comfortable, cushy couch to watch the morning sunrise.   Since I spend a few hours in this room, I can turn the heat down, relax under a blanket, and do my journaling.  It's amazing how fast just one room will heat up in a short time.

These are old gas heaters, and they work remarkably well.  I am so happy that the owner built the cabin in such a way that you can conserve energy, yet still feel comfortable.  I find wearing layers of my hand knits really adds to the coziness level, too.  

Are you staying warm enough this winter?   I know many of you are in Australia, so we are at opposite times of the year.

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Monday, January 13, 2020

A Snowy Hike and Picnic

I found a trail that was flat and wide
 
This morning I drove to a few different places, searching for a hiking trail that would be safe to hike in the snow.  It can get icy and extremely slippery.  We had two hikers die in December near Mount Whitney.  One was a 53 year old man who was hiking with a group, the other was a 32 year old search and rescue worker, who was looking for him.  On the steep slopes, there are chutes where people go sliding down the mountain.  It's a dangerous situation and can have a tragic ending.   They had to call off the search for the first man. 

Lula and  I enjoyed this trail that was covered with snow.  She galloped along in front of me, thrilled with the challenge that  the snow presented.  The air was fresh and crisp, and it felt energizing to be outside in nature.  I brought my backpack filled with supplies.  We stopped at a cleared off picnic table for lunch.  Lula had a dog biscuit, and I ate a slice of cold pizza.  We drove home in the red Beetle, and I drank my hot coffee that I had stored in the thermos on the kitchen counter.  The seller left it and a vintage Mr. Coffemaker with  the house.  It has a timer, and you can have your coffee brewing before you wake up in the morning.  I love how the smell wafts up the stairs.  The thermos/pitcher  really does an excellent job of keeping beverages hot.  I didn't have to buy anything for that cabin.  It came fully equipped.  I am so thankful. 

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Friday, January 10, 2020

My Impressions of the Winchester Mystery House



Many of you expressed interest in Sarah Winchester's home in San Jose, which I was lucky enough to tour earlier this week.  It has a fascinating history.

I first learned of it from my best friend growing up, Karen.  She had gone there when she was about thirteen.  I used to spend the night at her house and vice versa on the weekends.  She whispered to me about this woman who had built staircases that led to nowhere, held seances, and was obsessed with the number thirteen.  It all sounded very dramatic and spooky. 

My own impression, though, was quite different.  I was impressed with the Queen Anne style of the front of the house.  My mother always loved that era and look.  So do I.  It's so royal and classic.

When I purchased my ticket at the counter of the gift shop,  I suddenly felt an overwhelming presence.  I was practically flattened.  I couldn't even talk.  I waited a moment, and it vanished.  I felt like it was Sarah, and that she wanted me to see the house.  I was trying to decide if I should take the second tour, as well, or just the first.  I elected to wait for the Explore More tour and come back another day.  It is only 38 miles from the home where I grew up, in San Mateo.

Sarah spoke four languages, and played the organ, as well as other instruments

I found the rooms very quaint, petite, and detail oriented.  I could relate to Sarah on many levels.  She seemed grief stricken to me.  I felt such sadness for her, upon learning that she lost her only baby daughter.  Her husband also died very young; he was only 43.  She lived alone for the rest of her life.

She was very spiritual, gifted, and artistic.  The steps throughout the house she designed to be very shallow, to accommodate her crippling arthritis.  I know very well the pain that it causes.  She surrounded herself with beauty, which is what my mother did.  She paid her workers double the going rate, provided lunch and dinner, and gave them a place to live, on the property.  I felt a sense of love and admiration for her.  Her spirit was so strong.  I will never forget the experience of being bowled over by it.  Some people (and spirits) have more energy than others.  Hers, in my opinion, was remarkable and incredibly powerful.

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Beyond the Ghost Stories of the Winchester Mystery House

Thursday, January 9, 2020

A Visit To The Winchester Mystery House

Sarah Winchester's bedroom


I just returned home, after touring the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California.  It was enchanting.  I am exhausted from the long drive, but will write more about it tomorrow.  It is such a special place.

Sarah Winchester's bed

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Monday, January 6, 2020

100 Sales on Etsy



Today I mailed out a soap order that marked my 100th sale on Etsy.  I am very pleased about that; I never anticipated it.  I started my Etsy shop after having my hips replaced.  I had no idea if I would find any customers, and if it would continue.  At least it gave me a focus while I was healing.  I decided to add my hand knits and crocheted items, as well.  It's become a very enjoyable mail order business.  I adore my customers.  

The last three orders this week have been for cameo soaps.  I am busily making some more for my stash.  I whipped up a batch of Coconut Dream soap several days ago.  My neighbor requested it, because it lathers nicely in the hard water.  It has a 20% superfat, and only uses a few ingredients.   

I have been working through my paperwork and clutter.  As I get older, it is more of a challenge to stay organized.  If I'm not careful, I can become careless and messy.  With a small cottage, things look out of control very quickly if they are not put away in their place.  I am also writing daily lists in my datebook.  It helps me to remember what I'm doing and to not get distracted.  

My intuition nudged me yesterday to buy a couple of new things, instead of always focusing on used and older items.  I bought a bright red plaid pair of Ralph Lauren pajamas and a knee length, snug, taupe knit skirt.  It will be perfect to wear over leggings with my snow boots.  That way I won't feel so exposed.   Leggings are a bit tight and clingy to wear when you are 55.  January is a great time to buy clothing.  Things are always on sale after Christmas.

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Saturday, January 4, 2020

Snow and Ice

I have been busy shoveling snow up at the cabin.  I waited to make the mountain drive for about  a week, hoping that  some of it would have melted.  It made a big difference. I wasn't sure if I would be able to pull into my driveway.  I had spoken to a woman on the phone who lives up here, and she told me that they had three feet of snow.

Fortunately, someone had plowed my parking space for me!   I was able to walk down to the door in my snow boots. Lula has been galloping and frolicking around the yard.  She gets ecstatically happy in the clean, fluffy, white snow.  It has been  relaxing to sit by the fire, knit my alpaca blanket, and read  library books.

I met a couple more of my neighbors, and we exchanged mountain lion stories.  They believe there are many of them in this area.  There are less deer, according to the hunters.  I find the whole food chain fascinating.  They had a tan cougar jump in front of them crossing the road in Big Bear, just like I did up here.  They were riding a motorcycle.  It's so exciting to live in the woods.  It also has its risks, though.  They told me about a bear that has been seen on our street.  Never a dull moment.

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Thursday, January 2, 2020

Two Soap Orders Today



This morning I received two soap orders at my Etsy shop.  I was thrilled.  One was for my neighbor, so I hand delivered it to her.  The other I sent to a woman in Oklahoma.  She's a new customer. 

That gave me the impetus to make another batch of  Coconut Dream soap.  Since my dad died, I haven't felt the motivation to make any.  It's a relief to be inspired and excited about selling online again.  Grief has a strange effect.  It can make you sluggish and slow.  I had put my focus on keeping the house clean, staying up on the laundry, and doing yoga each night.  Those are still top priorities.  Riding my bike each morning with Lula is excellent cardio, too.

Last night I contacted a close friend and asked him if he would consider being my trustee.  He agreed.  I am so relieved.  He said that he just had the same conversation with his brother.  It is so important to choose someone who is detail oriented, responsible, good with money, and trustworthy.  This is a huge load off of my mind.  It had been bothering me.  It's so important to plan for the what ifs in life. 

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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

More MGM Costumes Designed by Bill Campbell

Top Hat
 
I found these old photos from my dancing days at the MGM Grand Hotel, in Reno, Nevada.  The costumes really were spectacular.  The wardrobe ladies took impeccable care of them.  What happy times those were.

Dancing in the Dark



This was my first big show.  I was nineteen years old.  It was called "Hello Hollywood, Hello!"  Donn Arden was the director and choreographer.  It was quite a spectacular.  We danced on the largest stage in the world.  Carol Channing was the star.  We had other headliners come into the show.  Suzanne Somers, Charo, and the Mc Guire Sisters all brought their acts.  It was so exciting to work with them.  I was thrilled.

Bill Campbell designed these costumes.  I just love the detail.  I am still friends with the dancers that I met at this theater.  We get together for reunions.  They are part of my show business family.

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