Sunday, July 25, 2021

Cooking Delicious Food

 Yesterday I made another batch of seasoned chicken wings and small drumsticks.   My mom used to prepare them as appetizers for her fancy dinner parties.  I don't know if women entertain the way she did anymore.  That was a different era.  People would get dressed up, and go to each others houses for drinks and supper.  She would cook the poultry with butter, salt, and white pepper.  It tasted amazing!  The flavor was perfect, and the chicken parts developed a lovely brown color on theirskin.  

I basted this batch in olive oil, and seasoned the meat with garlic salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, chili powder, and white pepper.  I used the spicy olive oil that was left in the pan as a sauce on a few baked potatoes.  Yum!  Absolutely delicious!  It really makes a difference to cook food that you love, and to choose the spices and flavorings that excite you.  It also feels good not to waste.  Normally, I would have poured the chicken drippings into a grease pan, eventually freezing it, and dumping it in the trash.  Using them on the spuds gave them an entirely new and a delightful  flavor.  My family has a long history of heart disease, so I felt better about substituting the olive oil for the butter.  

This morning I made my mother's tuna and noodle casserole recipe.  I wanted to get my cooking done early, so that I didn't heat up the cottage.  We are expecting a heat wave.  I even prepared my dinner salad before noon.  I ate half of it for lunch, with the leftover chicken from last night's dinner.  Cold chicken is one of my favorites.  

Have you been cooking or baking lately?  What's happening in your kitchen?

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Monday, July 19, 2021

More on Anacapa

 After climbing up the steep, steel ladder to the dock, I peeled off my wet bathing suit in the changing room and hung it out to dry.  I walked up the steps that rose straight two stories straight in the air to the hiking trail.  Once up there, all you could see were birds.  The island is a nesting sight for the seagulls.  They are EVERYWHERE!  It's unbelievable.  They had their babies with then, who were juvenile sized, speckled, grey, and downy.  

There are no trees on Anacapa.  I was worried that it would be intensely hot, but the temperature was very pleasant.  I hiked up to a spot with a gorgeous view of the ocean.  You could hear the sea lions bellowing, but it was hard for me to  see them.  One older woman standing near me described them as "looking like rocks, but moving." I spotted the four kayakers, paddling eagerly around the perimeter of the island.  I secretly wished that  I could have gone with them.  

I decided to return to the cove for one more swim.  When I got back, there were a couple of families in the water.  I had recommended taking a dip to one woman who was now there with her kids,  We had talked on the trail, and she told me that they were wearing their suits.  Treading water, she had a huge smile on her face.  Our eyes met and I nodded, happy to see her submerged in the salt water.  

The ocean felt amazing and powerful.  I am convinced that being in lakes and the sea is fantastic for our health, on many levels.  I sat and chatted with a woman who was staying there with her teen age daughter and husband.  They were camping in tents for a few nights.  She told me that they brought their own water with them, and packed some instant meals and lots of snacks.  They have a camper stove.  She explained that has a lot of backpacking experience.  (a foreign and interesting world to me.)  I just go for day hikes with a backpack.  It's totally different.  

I thought about what it would be like to camp there.  She seemed very relaxed and grounded.  Her daughter had long black hair that was practically down to her ankles.  She was leaning to the side, combing it, as I got out of the water for the last time.

On the boat trip back, we saw a whale.  It was a magnificent being.  We all gasped and cheered as it put on a show for us.  Once again, a pod of dolphins swam alongside our boat, and behind us, in the wake.  I sighed with contentment.  It was a rewarding and satisfying  trip.  

Once we arrived in the parking lot, I drove back on the 126 East,  heading home.  It was 7:00 p.m. when I pulled into the driveway, and I felt sleepy from the salt water and air.   I forced myself to fry a turkey burger and made a salad.  After doing the dishes, and washing out my swimsuit, I fell into bed, and slept deeply and soundly.  My  mind remembered the frolicking dolphins and that majestic whale.  Ah...

  The ocean is so healing.  I plan to spend much more time there in retirement.  (even if it's  just for the day.)

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Was COVID-19 made inside a Chinese lab? | Under Investigation

Saturday, July 17, 2021

A Visit to Anacapa, in the Channel Islands

 Last Tuesday I took the ferry from Ventura Harbor to Anacapa, one of the five Channel Islands.  I have always wanted to visit this part of California, and was excited to have booked a seat on one of Island Packers' daily boats to make the trip.

I left my cottage at 7:30 a.m.  There wasn't any traffic on the 126, it was a gorgeous day.  There were some light sprinkles on the windshield as I drove the forty miles to Ventura Harbor.  I parked in Lot 4, and checked in at the front desk.  All I had to do was give the woman  my confirmation number, which they had emailed to me.  You call in the morning to be sure that the weather is suitable for sailing.  If not, the trips are canceled.  Ours was a go.  

I waited in line for our boat, The Explorer.  Things were very well organized.  There looked to be about one hundred people on board.  I sat outside, and wore my mask.  I was glad that I had packed my handknit wool sweater, hat, and gloves, because it got cold and windy on the way to the island.  To our delight, over a hundred dolphins began swimming alongside us on our journey.  They were also diving up and down through the wake behind us.  We were all enchanted with their beauty, sleekness, and buoyancy.  The rhythm and show they put on was so uplifting.  

Once we had debarked, I watched  four kayakers who had brought their own kayaks.  They had to lower them from the dock with ropes.  I listened to the ranger's speech and  advice, and decided to kayak from Santa Cruz island next time.  They rent out sit on top kayaks, and they offer group tours.  It looks to me like you need two people to lift the kayaks and set them up in the water, which is quite a ways down from the dock.  He told me this group were all experienced with ocean kayaking.  My Oru Beach model is designed for still waters and lakes.  

Instead, I stepped into the simple changing stall, put on my bathing suit, and went for a swim.  I climbed down the steep ladder, into the 60 degree water.  Like the dolphins, I felt a sense of lightness in the salt water.  I was in a cove, and swam into one of the small caves.  The water was calm, and I was the only still there.  Everyone else had gone hiking.  The kayakers were out in the ocean.   It was such a healing experience.  I found it so easy to float.  The water seemed to make my body bounce, just like the dolphins.  

More on this adventure in my next post...the video below captures the beauty of the area.  It's near Santa Barbara, Califoria.  

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Saturday, July 10, 2021

Replacing the 1950's Carpet and Flooring

 I just ordered new carpet for the cabin.  There will be oak hard wood floors downstairs, and  sage green high quality carpet upstairs.  What I currently have is nearly seventy years old, I think.  This was a vacation home that was just used on the weekends.   They spent money on quality, and bought materials that would last.  It's definitely time to update.

I was fortunate to find the gorgeous wood for the floors on close-out.  It would have been extremely expensive, but because of the timing, I got an incredible deal.  I think it will look fabulous with a fire in the fireplace.  The flooring I have now is laminate.  It's those marbled squares that are fake wood.  I think having the real thing will make all the difference.  

When they got older, my parents pulled up the carpeting in their home and replaced it with dark hardwood floors.  It really gave the house a rich, upscale look.   I loved how the brown stain matched their antiques.  

The carpet I currently have is pale yellow, and is very old fashioned.  It might even be that indoor/outdoor carpeting that they used to sell.  It doesn't have any stains or tears, but it's very thin and faded.  I am so excited to see how the new, plush carpet looks.  One man will carpet the upstairs, while the other two install the flooring downstairs.  It's going to be exciting!

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Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Taking Care of the Soil and the Trees

 Yesterday I drove down the 405 to Marina del Rey and went kayaking again.  I have figured out how to time the traffic.  I depart early, and head home before 1:00 p.m.   It is such a joy when I can fly down that 405 freeway.  It was crowded at the beach.  I have never seen so many kids in my life!  They kept arriving in school bus after school bus.   It reminded me of Disneyland.  I wasn't expecting it.  What a fun field trip for them.  

After paddling across the channel that leads to the open water, I noticed an animal sputtering by the dock.   At first I was concerned that it was a shark or dolphin.  I watched cautiously, and a sea lion poked its head through the surface of the water and  wriggled up onto the sun bleached wooden platform.  He sprawled out right next to one of the boats, nose in the air, very vocal and energetic.  I was thrilled to see him; I love seals.  They seem so awkward on land.  He or she squirmed  into a more comfortable position, like a mermaid.  Their fins fascinate me.

I have been focusing on caring for the numerous  trees at the cabin and have been religiously amending the soil.  The other day I applied composted manure to the woodland garden.  I will mulch it with straw tomorrow.  The hollyhocks are in bloom, and everyone asks me what they are.  I love the old fashioned flowers.  The dahlias look like they will flower soon.  

I'm finding that if I water the oak trees when it's cool and shady, they emanate a tremendous amount of oxygen.  You can literally feel it on your skin.  It's a relief to inhale such clean, healthy air.  I remember the days when everyone had gardens, healthy trees, and colorful flowers.  Now the focus seems to be on vehicles and possessions.  I love keeping the yard natural and comfortable for the wildlife.  There are so many birds!  I've seen quail, red tailed hawks, woodpeckers, robins, orioles, and a blue heron.  The mulch helps to keep the soil cool and moist.  When I had the trees trimmed last year, the arborist commented on how healthy the soil is.  That's where it all starts, down beneath the ground.  The forest floor is layered with nutrients.  How is your soil?

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Sunday, July 4, 2021

Froze My Credit Today


 Today I did some research online.  After carefully checking my credit report, I froze all three companies: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.  It was easy to do online.  The security questions were excellent.

 I have been hearing stories of seniors having their information stolen.  One of my older dancer friends had money taken from his bank account.  Someone called him on the phone, pretending to be a bank employee helping him, and it was a fraudster.  He was so upset.   By freezing your credit, you don't run the risk of someone being able to use your social security number or  obtaining a credit card in your name. 

Another older woman I know was renting out rooms in her house on AirB&B.  She recently discovered that her trust was missing.  What a nightmare.  It's important to have working relationships with you banker, insurance agent, and brokerage firm.  Everyone should know who you are and recognize your voice.  Unfortunately, there are people out there who will try to take financial advantage of those who are elderly and who they perceive as being easy to  manipulate.

I'm continuing to pull the weeds in the front and side yards.  It seems like a never ending task, but I'm nearly finished.  There is a lot of regular watering to do, but it makes all of the difference in the health of the soil and the trees.   I am going to pull several of the small oak seedlings that have sprouted out of the ground.  There is not space for them to grow into mature trees.  

I had two close friends call me over the weekend.  It was wonderful to have a long talk with each of them and to catch up on our lives.  Lifelong friendships are such a gift.  We can talk about anything and everything.  I love hearing their voices and laughing together.

A few different small children at the lake have asked me if I'm the lifeguard.  At fifty-six, that's quite a compliment.  (Thanks to henna and yoga, I guess.)  It may be because I am wearing a red one piece bathing suit, and sunbathe near the lifeguard station,   Still, it makes me chuckle.  They want to go swimming, and have to wait until the lifeguard is on duty.  

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Friday, July 2, 2021

Had Some Visitors

 


Yesterday my friend Diane and her husband Greg stopped by to see me at the cabin.  They were on their way home from Palm Springs.  I worked with them in "Hello Hollywood, Hello!" in 1984.  It's always so much fun to reconnect with old dancer friends from that show.  

I made a salad, and we enjoyed that with some whole wheat biscuits.  As you can see, we were easily able to socially distance out on the deck.  Later on, Greg and I had some ice cream.  Lula loved being near them.  In the above photo, Diane and I are having a very serious discussion about Covid and how it has affected dance studio owners. 

This afternoon I spent a couple of hours watering those trees that you see in the background, and the cherry and apple trees in the side yard that I panted.  The  blackberries  that I put in the ground are starting to ripen, and I'm thrilled!  They grow so well up here.  It's always easier to plant things that are native to the area.


As you can see, I have finally figured out how to download photos to this new laptop.  I don't know what took me so long.  Sometimes I overthink computers and how they work.

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Monday, June 28, 2021

Ventured Out to Ventura Harbor

 Today I packed a lunch and drove out to Ventura Beach with Lula.  I found a parking spot in the residential area near the pier.  I hooked up Lula to the Walkydog, and we rode along the bike path, admiring the waves and the water.

After crossing under pier, I pulled over to a bench and we sat and watched the surfers.  While Lula snacked on a dog biscuit,  I ate my quesadilla that I had prepared at home and packed in tupperware.  I gave Lula some water, took a few gulps myself,  and then we walked down onto the rocks.   Listening to the ocean and feeling the energy of the sea was hypnotic and calming.

After putting the bike on my bike rack and getting Lula settled into the  backseat of the car, I drove South on the 101 and exited at Telegraph.  From there I found Ventura Harbor.  As I was putting together my Oru Kayak, a skeptical man exiting the boat ramp  eyed me.  "Interesting,"  he commented.  He seemed sarcastic and dubious.  Once the kayak was assembled, I went to the parking lot and retrieved Lula.  

The man was still at the boat ramp.  "That's too much weight," he told me, as I was urging Lula to board.  "It holds 275 pounds," I answered.  His energy shifted.  "Did you design it?" he asked me.  "No," I told him.  "I kayak every day, in a lake," I added.  I could tell that he didn't think I was very experienced.

"It's an incredible design," he admitted.  "It cuts across the water really fast," I told him, enthusiastically.  

"I wish there was some way I could help," he offered, as I coaxed Lula in the boat and clumsily got in with her.  "Thanks!" I said, and pushed off the shore with the paddle.  Lula laid down lazily and rested her head on the edge of the top.  People on the other side of the harbor waved and made a fuss over her and how cute she looked.  She really is like a Disney dog.  We had a fabulous paddle together.  

It's so much easier when Lula is laying down in the kayak than when she is sitting.  If she leans to the side, (which she sometimes does,)  it could cause us to topple. "NO!" I told her sharply when she started to peer over at a fish or something distracting.  I praised her effusively each time she flattened her body on the bottom of the boat.  She got the idea.  It helped that she was tired from running alongside my bicycle, earlier.  One of the girls commented about how relaxed she was.  

We will practice again soon.  A yearly pass is $150.00, and I think it will be well worth it for us.  Today it cost $13.00 to park for the day.  How is your summer going?

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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Happy Kids

 


Yesterday I drove down to Marina del Rey to enjoy kayaking through the marina.  I parked the car, paid my $10.00 at the self pay station, and placed the receipt on my dashboard.  I carried my Oru kayak, th paddle, and beach bag out to the water's edge.  It's a short walk, and since my fold up kayak only weighs 24 lbs., it's pretty easy.

A woman and her husband watched me set it up on the sand.  She asked me if I minded her asking some questions.  I was happy to oblige; I love telling people about this kayak.  She explained  that she had purchased an inflatable kayak on Amazon, but that it popped while she was inflating it.  She returned it and bought a plastic kayak from Sam's Club.  She said that it's heavy, and she doesn't like how it cuts through the water.  They weight about 90 lbs.  Her  friend told her that it's worth it to spend more money.  I agreed.  I told her that I just love mine, and especially appreciate how lightweight and portable it is.  I can  throw it in the backseat of my car and it stores well in my cottage.  

I paddled around, admiring all of the beautiful boats, and studying their names.  They seem to be from all over: Corona, Catalina, Santa Monica, Newport Beach, San Diego, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, and more.  I could look at them all day.  They are all so unique and artistic.  The photo above in Long Beach.

I chatted with a man in a green inflatable kayak.  "Aren't you afraid it will pop?" I questioned.  I realized after saying it that it was probably kind of rude. "No," he replied.  He feels it will last a few years, and that then the salt will weaken the material.  He told me that he lives in a one bedroom apartment, and loves how compact his is for storage and driving to the beach.  

I met another lady in a tandem kayak with her grandson.  They were from Beverly Hills.  She was relaxed and smiling, enjoying the sunshine, views, and family time.  We talked about how pleasant it would be to live there, on a houseboat. 

As I headed back to shore, a sweet little boy eagerly called out to me from the kayak he was sharing with his mother.  "I thought I wasn't going to like it," he admitted.  "But, he continued, "I saw a DOG, and it was eating a FISH!  I love it!"  He was so enthusiastic and friendly.  I laughed and encouraged him.

After laying on the warm sand  in the sun for a while, and  munching on an orange and a piece of cherry pie, I packed things up, reluctantly.  It was so relaxing there, but I knew I needed to get back on the 405 and beat the traffic home.  

After cleaning and folding up the kayak, I passed the mother and daughter from the family with the little boy.  "Wow!" she exclaimed, when she saw my folded up version of the boat. She sounded like she was from Norway.   "That is incredible!" her daughter cried out, in amazement.  I agreed with her, smiled, waved, and got back in my car to drive home.  The traffic was thick and heavy at the 5 North, but worth it.  I felt a deep sense of contentment and relaxation from the kind people and relaxing time on the water.

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Thursday, June 17, 2021

My First Podcast

 


One of the dancers from "Hello Hollywood, Hello!" asked me to do an interview for her podcast, "Bluebells Forever," last month.  It was released today.  It's called, "Never Stop Learning."  You can listen to it it on Apple podcasts, or google Bluebells Forever podcast with Stephenie Lawton to find it.  It should be under June 17th 2021.  https://linkpodcasts.apple.com/.../bluebells.../id1513513525...

We live in an amazing time with technology that is available.   The interview was given on Zoom.  I initially resisted downloading the software, but have thoroughly enjoyed every meeting that I've attended.  It is so fun to see my old friends' faces and to hear their voices and laughter.  We are all older, but somehow still the same, on a soul level.

How are you doing in this heat?  It was 110 degrees in Canyon Country.  Wow!  Palm Springs hit 118 degrees, and I heard on the radio that it was 125 degrees in Death Valley.  (hence the name.)  I have the bathtub filled with cold water, and have been taking a dip in the lake or the tub throughout the day.  I hope you are staying cool and comfortable.  Be careful of heat exhaustion; it can creep up on you.   I just watered the trees in my forest, and they are giving off lots of fresh oxygen.  

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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Making Fitness Part of Your Lifestyle



Today, after swimming, I stopped and chatted with a woman who had just worked out at the gym.  She was tall, with long grey hair, and  excellent posture.  You could tell that she worked out regularly.  "I'm 83," she told me.  I was so impressed!  She uses the weight machines every day.  I am meeting more and more seniors who are strong, fit, and disciplined.  They all make exercise a habit, and  seem happy, at ease, and self assured.

"I was watching you swimming; that's good exercise.  Is the water cold?" she asked.  "Yes, but I like it," I answered, enthusiastically.  I find hydrotherapy invigorating.  After doing my laps,  it feels wonderful to relax in the sun, enjoy a few snacks, and then slather on some sunscreen."  I like to absorb some vitamin D for the first half hour or so.    

I hopped on my bicycle and pedaled  back home.  Several neighbors waved to me from their cars as we  headed up the hill and around the bend.  Living in a walkable town is a great opportunity to leave the auto at home when running errands or taking  short trips.  It also helps the businesses, who may need the extra parking spaces for customers.  

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