Thursday, October 21, 2021

Picking Persimmons

 My Hachiya persimmon tree has provided an amazing harvest this year.  For the last few years, I was afraid the tree had died.  During the last several seasons, it didn't produce.  I'm not sure why, since it's a mature tree.   I fed it some compost tea and straw mulch, and what a difference!  The whole tree came back to life.  I have picked at least 150 persimmons so far...it's  a thrill. They are lined up in long rows on the counter, the windowsill, the dryer and the kitchen table.   I love growing fruit; it's so rewarding.

I gave some to my neighbors, and dropped off a bag on the porch of  the woman who runs our co-op in Wrightwood.  She uses them to make persimmon cookies.  I will leave a bag in the mailbox for my mail lady.  She is always so appreciative of homegrown fruit.  I also gave some to the lady that sells produce at our local fruitstand.  Her eyes lit up and she told me that she loves persimmons.  I will take her some more tomorrow.  

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Thursday, October 14, 2021

A New Vinyl Fence

 


Yesterday I had a new white fence put up at the cottage.  The old one was sagging, the paint had chipped, and looking at it completely depressed me.  I think it had been there since the 1940's.  It was so distressed and beyond repair.  I settled on a ranch style vinyl fence.  I had some mesh wire put on the inside to keep Lula in, and deter  any coyotes or other animals. 

 After about  an hour, the two workers accidentally hit a pipe and broke it.  I showed them where the water shut off was, and they turned it off and repaired the pipe.  They had the glue, replacement PVC pipe and tools in their truck.  It happens fairly often, from what they told me.

I don't care for solid vinyl fencing because it looks too plastic to me, but I do like the design that I chose.  I studied other choices around Santa Clarita before deciding.   For some reason with three slats it almost looks like wood.  Vinyl doesn't chip, and it should last a lifetime.  I love that I can hose it off to clean it;  it's so convenient.  They  added a small gate and now Lula  has a dog run in the driveway.  She doesn't understand the set up, and stares at me through the mesh, confused.  She sits sideways, and doesn't even watch the street, she is completely fixated on me.   I thought she would act like a guard dog,  but she just looks wistfully at me, as I rock in my glider. on the porch.  "Can I come in?" her expression says,   I think she thinks she's being punished.  As always, she adapts.  When she used to lean at my side  she would become covered with mulch.  I would have to vacuum each time she came back  inside the house.   That's not my idea of relaxation.  

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Saturday, October 9, 2021

Planning For Your Future As an Elderly Person

 I recently got a phone call from a woman I used to know. She was in a local knitting group that I attended.  She had sent me an email saying that she was leaving California because she could no longer afford it.  She  is having a home built in an over 55 retirement community in North Carolina, where her brother lives.

I remember visiting her house.  She invited me for a delicious homemade meal of chicken salad and fresh bread, and we sat on the couch and knit.  The home seemed very large for one person, and it was in an area where all of the houses were brand new.  I asked her what she meant about the costs, and she told me that her property taxes are now $16,000. a year!  They will continue to rise.  She is 75 years old, and has been there for seven years.

My little cottage is far smaller than those homes, but it suits my needs.  The neighborhood is working class, and we used to be on the outskirts of town.  That has changed.  The area is more developed now, with newer housing.   I love having a spacious  backyard, and the  fruit trees that I planted save me   money on groceries.  I pay $1,600. in property taxes each year.  I have been here since 1998, and plan to make this my retirement home.  (unless  a developer buys us out, and they decide to tear all of these houses down, which I hope they don't!)

She plans to sell her home, invest a chunk of the money, and buy a smaller home outright.  This will give her a large cash cushion as well.  For those of us who have lived in California for decades, it is much less expensive than  the people who bought in the higher end areas.  

She pointed out that the price of gas elsewhere is far cheaper, as well as many other costs.  It was very eye opening to talk to her.  People used to make fun of me because I would take the bus, ride my bike  from the bus stop to the cafe, and just order bread and water,  That's all I could afford at the time.  It has all paid off in the long run, though.  

Where do you see yourself in twenty years?  

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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Teladoc: A Safe Way To See the Doctor

 The other day I noticed that my hacking cough had never cleared up, in fact it had gotten worse.  I decided to book an appointment through Teladoc.  You can schedule either a video call or a phone consultation.  That appealed to me because of Covid.  Even though I am fully vaccinated, I still avoid crowds and people.  

I phoned the number that Blue Shield listed, and was informed that the cost would be zero, which was a pleasant surprise.   There was a phone recording announcing that the wait times were longer than normal.  I expected to hear back within a couple of hours.  In just five minutes, the phone rang!  The friendly doctor was on the line.  I was so excited.   "How convenient, and private, and amazing,"  I thought to myself.    There is so much about technology that I love.  I also own a couple of ETF's that have Teladoc listed.  I do think this type of communication is the way of the future. 

I gave the doctor  my symptoms, (which I had written down.)  Since the fires, I have been experiencing a runny nose, an overproduction of mucous and coughing, and was even wheezing earlier in the year.  I explained that the folk remedies weren't working.  I had tried reducing dairy, making ginger tea with honey, drinking homegrown oregano tea, and eating raw onions, which are an expectorant.  

He replied that the air quality from these  fires can really do damage to our airways and lungs.  There are so many particles blowing in the wind.   I told him I feel it in my chest when I sneeze.  I've been sneezing a lot, like my mother used to do.  I found it so annoying when she did that as a kid, and now I sound just like her.  

"Bronchitis," he diagnosed.  That made perfect sense.  He called in a prescription over the phone, and I was able to pick it up at CVS in an hour.  The drug store is a five minute  drive from my home.  I bought some other essentials for my stockpile,  and drove back to the house.

After taking the antibiotic and using the inhaler, the coughing stopped.   I slept soundly.  It was such a relief to take care of the problem and to stop procrastinating.  I normally don't use medicine, but when I do, it seems to work like a miracle for me.  Have you tried Teladoc?

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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Intense Reaction After My Second Moderna Vaccine

 On Thursday, I went to Vons for my second Moderna vaccine.  I felt fine for the rest of the day.  Yesterday, however, was a different story.   I got up early and did my watering.  That alone completely wiped me out; I crawled back into bed, feeling flattened. 

I had to cancel an appointment because I was so weak.  It was like having Covid all over again.  Fortunately, I had made a pot of beef stew the day before;  I knew I might not have the strength to cook.   I had heard that the reaction to the second shot  is worse for many people.  I felt like I had been poisoned.  

I developed a headache, broke out in a sweat, felt sick to my stomach, and was emotionally overwhelmed.  My main concern was not being able to meet my responsibilities.  My car was in the shop, and I needed to pick it up.  I called my neighbor, and she said she would drive me there by 5:00 p.m.  She suggested I tuck myself in and drink lots of fluids.  

At around noon, I felt strong enough to walk the mile to the mechanic.  I texted my neighbor and headed out in the sunshine.  It was a relief to drive the car home and take it easy for the rest of the day.  Today I feel back to normal.  The whole experience was a reminder that health is wealth. 

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Monday, September 20, 2021

What I Learned From Capsizing my Kayak

 After I had collected all of my things, which were floating away from me in several directions in the ocean, I placed everything in the sand.  I was careful not to do it too close to the water.  mindful of the tide.  I tipped my Oru kayak on its edge, and drained the water out of it.  It's twelve feet long, so it was a stretch.   At least there is a space which allowed the water to flow out.  Trying to salvage everything was stressful, and I felt self conscious.   I should have thanked the people in the sailboat, I think they were drifting my way to  check on me.  They probably saw the whole thing.  It happened so fast.  I was probably in shock.  I had packed a couple of rags to wipe the kayak down; they were wet and covered in sand.   I needed something clean and dry, so I used a small towel.  

I was very fortunate that all I lost was my shoe.  That short experience really shook me up.  I felt kind of overwhelmed with the cleanup.  I got it done, though.  I had to vacuum out the car the next day, which is par for the course.  I drove home barefoot.  I had been planning to stop at my mechanic's on the way home, but instead needed to pick up a change of clothing and shoes before going over there.  I didn't want to show up barefoot, or wearing one shoe.

A strange thought floated through my head as I was getting ready to leave the beach.  "At least my kayak is still alive," I heard myself think.  "How materialistic," a different side of me chided.  I felt like my intuition had clearly warned me to go home, a couple of times.  I thought I was being lazy.   The adventurous side of me fought my gut, and won.  Next time I will listen to my inner voice.   It made me understand why there are so many accidents with hikers and outdoors people.  Nobody thinks it's going to happen to them.  

Back to being relieved that my kayak wasn't damaged. It is my favorite toy, I must admit.    "At least I am alive," I corrected myself.  I had no idea that my kayak would feel like a paper plane in the ocean when a small wave hit it.  The manufacturer makes it clear that these kayaks are for still waters and lakes, yet I thought that I could handle it.  How foolish.  Paddling around the marina had given me a false sense of security.

Had I not packed my pouch in the dry bag, I could have lost my keys, debit cards, identification, etc.  I need to make more spare keys and keep them in a safe place.  I am also glad that I didn't bring Lula.  She had wanted to go.  I knew it wasn't a good idea.

I did have a life vest on, and I tightened it before boarding.  I stayed calm and remembered what I had seen in the safety video.  They stressed hanging on to your paddle.  Mine hit me in the mouth and I had a slight fat lip, with a little bit of blood.  

I talked with a senior kayaker in the parking lot as I left.  He was very wise and understanding.  He told me that the canoes they rent out capsize in the wind, too.  

More about him in the next post...

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Thursday, September 16, 2021

My Kayak Capsized!

 On my latest kayaking adventure, I visited  a small beach in Ventura, near the harbor.  As I drove in, I spotted a few people loading their kayaks onto their cars.  I decided to park there and explore a new location.  

I had spent the morning bicycling along the beach bike path, watching the surfers, and wading in the water.  The waves were strong, and the undertow current was intense.  I normally go to the beach earlier in the morning, but had decided to wait for the fog to burn off, and the sun to appear.  I had an uneasy feeling about going kayaking, but decided to push through the resistance.  Before leaving, I had loaded up all of the equipment in my car.  I chided myself for not trying something new.

Getting out into the water  was slightly challenging, because the inlet had some small waves near the shore.  I paddled hard through them, and quickly made it to the deeper water, which seemed much calmer.  I was concerned about the wind, though.  I stayed in the view of people on the  beach, just in case.  After a short journey, I decided to head back to shore.  My plan was to ride a small wave in, and jump out of the kayak.

All was going well, but when my kayak hit the sand, the wave knocked it. It flipped the kayak upside down as I was getting out; it was such a shock.  I quickly grabbed the kayak and pulled it onto the sand.  It was filling with water, and getting heavy.  I reached for my paddle, as well, grabbing one in each hand.  The kayak felt weighted down because of the sand and water inside of it.  Luckily, I had inflated my float bags and placed them in the stern and bow of the boat before leaving.  They take up space and keep the kayak afloat.

I ran back into the water and saw  all of my things floating away from me: my dry bag, my white, wide brimmed vintage sun hat, my rubber gardening shoes with the pink tulips on them, I even spotted  my cane!  I snatched up everything as quickly as I could.  Thank goodness for the dry bag.  It was securely fastened, floating, and worked perfectly.  Inside of it was my pouch, which had my keys, my identification, vaccination card, and phone.  Phew!  I was missing one shoe, which I never found.  I felt very guilty about that black piece of rubber floating around in the ocean with the sea lions, whales and dolphins.  

To be continued...

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Thursday, September 9, 2021

Heating Your Cabin With Wood

 


Last week I ordered the new wood burning insert for my fireplace, in brown.  It is being shipped from Colorado, and will arrive this week.  The installation date will depend on the contractor's availability and schedule.  I am so excited!  It's a beautiful looking piece, made in Canada.  Some of the parts are from Ireland.  Both locations get very, very, cold, and the craftsmen there know how to deal with the bitterly chilly weather.  

Many of you have been asking me to post photos of my home and possessions.  I'm sorry, but I don't reveal information about my whereabouts, schedule, or what I have recently purchased.  I have a friend who documented his move from Las Vegas to Canada on Facebook.   He had been very successful in show business, bought a house, and had furnished it with beautiful things.  He carefully  packed up all of his possessions, rented a U-Haul, and headed back home to help his mother.  He woke up at a motel in Utah to find that someone had stolen the entire U-Haul.  They had unhooked it from his SUV, (which he had also shown us, online.)  Nearly everything he owned was gone.  He had to go and buy socks and underwear at Walmart.  

I felt sick when reading his news.  Often people assume it is just friends reading their posts, but police have found that this is one of of the most common way thieves steal.  They follow your Facebook or blog posts.  People upload photos of their homes, their prized new purchases, and their vacation plans.  It makes it very easy for criminals to break into your house when you are out of town.

During times like this, we really have to be aware.  No one wants to be negative, but we do have to be realistic and mature.  Some things are better kept private, in my opinion.  Many of our blogs attract international audiences.  Mine has  readers from countries that I never even knew existed.  Networks can be vast.  It's better not to advertise certain things, in my opinion.  

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Friday, September 3, 2021

Putting Things Away After a Remodel

 


The new  flooring is almost done, and it looks spectacular!  I am so happy that I chose the dark oak wood.  It looks very dramatic and impressive.  I am enjoying sweeping and using my new Swifter mop.  The owner gave me a cleaning kit, which was so sweet of him.  I used to be the queen of vacuuming.  

Yesterday afternoon I cleaned the end tables, the antique lamps, and carefully put everything away...it was like moving.  I replaced all the hand knit blankets and shawls.  I get very anxious and irritable when I have my stuff all over the place.  It felt so much better once everything was cleaned and put in its place.

Today I'll be making a trip to the dump to drop off the old throw rugs.  They look like they are about fifty years old.  The house feels so much better with less stuff.  I am going to donate the televisions and stereo system to the Salvation Army.  The seller left them here when she moved.  I use a lot of her stuff, but some of it I need to release to where it is needed.

The new ligt green carpeting feels incredibly squishy and soft.  I absolutely love it.  The old stuff was from the 1970's.  It's amazing how different a home feels with new carpets and floors.  I am excited to vacuum!  There is more work to be done, but it is very rewarding.   I can't wait to go swimming and kayaking again.  

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Sunday, August 29, 2021

Knowing What You Want in Retirement



 Retirement comes for many of us sooner than we expect.  It is crucial to have a plan for this stage of life.  It takes preparation, self knowledge, discipline, and focus.  For those over fifty, it can be shocking how difficult it is to find a new job if you become unable to work.  We don't realize we have gotten  behind in technology, or that an  injury or surgery might set us back and change our physical abilities.

I think one of the most important pieces to the retirement puzzle is owning your own home.  Having a paid off living space gives you peace of mind.  You don't have to worry about your rent being raised, or being evicted.  Timing is crucial, and finding a place with affordable property taxes makes a huge difference.

Smaller is better, in my opinion.  One of my friends lives in a tiny home.  It is challenging in some ways for her.  She has to climb up into a loft and jimmy her way into the bed at night.  She has back issues and has had her hips replaced.  She told me that she plans to move to another model with a bed on the main floor.  

Hers also only had a bench for seating.  She said it was extremely uncomfortable to sit there at her age.  There is not room for a couch.  She now has a recliner and is much more relaxed when she is lounging, talking on the phone, or reading.  She can pay her bills, though.

I basically rehearsed  my retirement for decades.  I learned to live on less, wrote out a detailed budget, and planted numerous fruit trees, vegetables, and berries.  Since I love my antiques and vintage items, I didn't need to go out and make any major purchases.  What I own is very well made, and will last me the rest of my life.  I have been making final upgrades to my home so that I don't have to worry about things like a new roof when I am a little old lady.

Are you prepared for retirement?  Will you stay in your current location?

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