Panaderas

Jalapeño cheddar rolls (r) and plain rolls (l).
Jalapeño cheddar rolls (r) and plain rolls (l).

Food is at the foundation of our needs triangle. Water, shelter, are impossible to live without, too. Other stuff like love, kindness, or fulfillment, that’s all up higher. We can survive a lot if we have sustenance. I guess that’s how food wound up in all of my photos this week. Food follows us all the way up to self-actualization. Here’s a version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for your consideration. Image result

Our group of kids are mostly making it to the bottom three. They have some serious belonging and safety issues in their day to day lives. If the only place you belong is the same place that beats you, where does that leave you? I think there’s more convolutions in life than this triangle allows but it’s good for the basic idea. Burt and I are trying to build them up towards esteem but we do a lot of feeding and providing safety, too.

A few weeks a go my friend Donna had the Bridge ladies over to her house to make bread. We all had our own mini-loaf pan and a bag of dough. Everyone was free to add ingredients to her bread to make the bread her own. I went for pure rosemary. I like rosemary bread. Other people used lemon peel or sage or garlic. There were many things to chose from. The bread was a kind of symbol for this needs hierarchy. We all had to have wheat, water, oil, and yeast. We had to have the right amount, too. Too much yeast and your bread will be full of hot air and lack structure. Water not warm enough? Your yeast wont rise and you’ll have a loaf too tough to eat. Donna guided us through the process from beginning to end. There were some corny angel readings that some of us rolled our eyes about but it helped pass the time and got me thinking about who are our real angels.

I posted the bread pictures on Facebook and Mayra saw them and decided she wanted to make bread, too. I sent her the recipe and we made plans to get together and bake. Today Mayra and Priscilla and I made the bread. Each person’s bread was as different as we are but all were perfect. First we changed the recipe to half whole wheat and half white flour. Then we decided to make rolls because they are easier to share and store. We stood at the table and made three batches of dough. To mine I added cheddar cheese and jalapeños. Mayra added parmesan and Priscilla went with nothing. We formed our rolls and loaded the trays. I sprinkled the tops with Trader Joe’s everything but the bagel spice. While the rolls rose we chatted, played with our phones, and sat quietly. The language barrier was a little high today. We could have used an angel card reading.

After the 20 minute rest we backed the rolls for twenty minutes. They came out overstounding. Really. This recipe is so simple and quick and you can do whatever you want. My jalapeño cheese bread was as close to the defunct Sweetgrass Bakery’s bread as anything I have ever tasted. Mayra’s was a lovely parmesan roll and Priscilla’s were perfectly dignified and ready for as much butter as you had on hand. Like a well developed person this dough can handle whatever you have in mind. It’s flexible but well formed. Uncomplicated but interesting. I wish life was this easy.

Here’s the recipe for plain rolls. Use your imagination to make it your own:

TOTAL TIME: 1:20
PREP: 0:20
LEVEL: EASY
YIELD: 2 MINI LOAVES
INGREDIENTS
• Cooking spray, for mini loaf pans
• 3 c. all-purpose flour, divided
• 1/4 c. sugar
• 1 .25-package active dry yeast
• 1 c. warm water
• 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tsp. kosher salt
DIRECTIONS
• Preheat oven to 375º and spray mini loaf pans with cooking spray. In a resealable plastic bag, place 1 cup flour, sugar, and yeast and add warm water.
• Seal bag and squish together with your hands to mix. Let rest 10 minutes at room temperature. (Yeast should activate.) Add 1 cup flour, oil, and salt to the bag, then seal and squish together.
• Add remaining cup of flour and mix until combined. Remove from bag and knead 5 minutes until smooth. Halve dough and place in two loaf pans. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise 30 minutes.
• Brush top of bread with olive oil or melted butter and bake until golden, about 30 minutes.
You can make one loaf instead of mini-loaves or you can hand form rolls. I omit the bag and use a bowl. I use half whole wheat and half white flour.

Rolls
Rolls en el horno.
Our kids eating beans.
Our kids eating beans Burt cooked in our solar cooker.
Here's Ivonne digging out some ant salt for our enjoyment.
Here’s Ivonne digging out some ant salt for our enjoyment. The question was had we eaten insects? Ivonne had some on hand. Ant salt would be good on top of your rolls.
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Welcome 2018

Here's a peek in my art journal.
Here’s a peek in my art journal.

2018 is here. 2017 left quietly from the goat pen. Scattered neighbors sent the old year away with firecrackers as is the norm here. Last year I participated in Zöe Dearborn’s Art Journal project and I’m doing it again this year. If you want to join in you can follow along on Facebook. It was a very rewarding and demanding in January of 2017. Well worth the effort. Every day for the month of January Zöe sends a prompt for us to journal about. Today’s assignment is to write about what we loved in 2017. Then to write about what we want to love in 2018. Afterwards we are to circle significant words and draw a picture or several of the significant words. My picture is above. The words are incorporated here with slight revisions for readability. Journal writing is more stream of consciousness than blogging. Hard to believe if you read this regularly but I do try to make it readable. So off we go…

What I loved about 2017…

1. Mimi, Olive, and Elvis all lasted the year. It was not a given. It never is; Mimi is 19; Olive survived a poisoning; Elvis is a a big dog of 12. I am very glad they all are here with me this morning.

2. My dad has found new love.

3. Burt and I were able to travel and do so many different things together.

3.a. See the total solar eclipse in Oregon surrounded by friends and music.

3.b. Visit Spain, art, food, history

3.c. Italy, art, food, history

3.c.1. pantheon

3.c.2. walking Amalfi coast

4. Work in California (Hello Ursulaululates), Oregon, Washington, and Arizona

5. Portal Irish Music Week

6. Saw so many loved ones this year. Our immediately family in Europe and Montana. Scattered dear friends all over the U.S.

7. I loved missing Mexico so much. I missed teh neighborhood children. I constantly looked forward to seeing them again.

8. That we returned to Mexico sooner rather than later.

9. That we went to the Galapagos and saw so much beauty and so many animals.

9.a. marine iguana

9.b. land iguana

9.c. penguins

9.d. fiches, finches, finches

9.e. snake

9.f. fishes and octopus and sea lions

9.g. lava gulls

9.h. lava herons

9.i. I could go on and on

9.j. oh, yeah, blue-footed boobies

10. That Burt and I continue on in a relationship as good as I know. That we struggle to understand and support one another. That we try to bring love and kindness to each other. That we support each other. That we still do the deed.

I am a very lucky woman. I could go on all day about what I loved in 2017. I feel success in building the life I want to have. A life of meaningful work and fun and beauty.

For 2018 I want to be able to love many of the same things but I’d like to add some external things:

1. I want more kindness and generosity of spirit in the world.

2. I want political change in the US. I’m not talking parties. I’m talking love, kindness, support, healthy environment, health care, peace.

3. More travel with Burt (Hello, Galapagos).

4. More music with Burt (First gig announcement soon).

5. More peace for all of us.

6. More work and play with the neighborhood kids.

7. Continued good enough health.

8. I’d love the pets to all see 2018 through but I’m not sure that’s the best for them. We’ll take that month by month.

9. And, of course, health and love to my friends, family, and dear readers.

I recommend this exercise even if you are not in the project. I have a warm glow thinking about the good. It was a very good year for us.

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Keeping Up with It All

The Tommy Hug. They're the best.
The Tommy Hug. They’re the best.

 

It’s nearly the end of the year. That time of annual reckoning. The last year was very exciting and successful on a personal level. We traveled. We made music. We worked enough. We were healthy enough. We are only a little fatter. I’m fitter. I still have not reached menopause. That’s just an assessment. It’s bewildering. All my friends are leaving me in the dirt on this. Just like when I was the last one to start menstruating, I’m going to be the last in my cohort to finish menstruating. Shall we take bets on where I’ll be next year? I can post a graph for you scientific types to help develop the odds.

I digress. As usual. Let me take a moment to thank all you readers. The commenters and the silent lurkers, the constant companions and the random drop-ins. You help me in ways you do not know. Writing for me and you forces a regular internal discussion. An analysis, if you will, of what is happening and why am I writing? These days I write a lot about our neighborhood kids. I like to post on social media about them, too. My goal is to try and inspire myself and you, too, to reach out. I am not a teacher. I can barely speak Spanish. But I have many things those around me don’t have. I have enough food, clothing, and shelter. I have had the privilege of a stellar elementary and university education. I can (sort of) play music. I have seen a lot of art. I have made some (sort of) art. I have had the luxury of art and leisure. I am now able to luxuriate in sharing my art and leisure with these kids.  While a lot of people say Burt and I are very kind and generous to give our time I say we are the lucky ones. Getting ready for the kids makes me think: What do they need? What can I give? How can I best help them? It makes me feel good to be of use. I highly recommend you find your place of usefulness. There’s a lot that can make the world better but we become overwhelmed. I think by me and Burt making the world we want in our neighborhood we can worry less about the entirety of the world’s problems.

Maybe all of our neighborhood kids will wind up pregnant teens or working terrible jobs or bound by circumstances so soul breaking that they can never feel the satisfaction they give us by allowing us to work with them. I hope not. I know many of us and them carry nearly unbearable sorrow. Abuse, neglect, hunger…hunger for food, knowledge, status, security. These are terrible things for many of us. The photos I share do not show the flinches from a child with clouds in her eyes when I unexpectedly touch her. They do not show the rapacious hunger they have for pens, paper, toys, food. The desperate clutching at material objects to fill a yawning abyss of neglect. Most days I can say no because I know the pen will not fulfill the need. Instead I offer my time. I give a smile. My eyes cloudy, too.

Not all of our kids are like this but quite a few come from very rough circumstances. Some come from loving homes. The difference is obvious. As my friend Will told me once when I was dealing with a difficult client, “Those that need our love most are the ones that behave the worst.” I try to remember this. I also try to remember that love isn’t all sweetness and presents and hugs and kisses. Boundaries, respect, and manners are important, too. As I was saying about preparing for each class, what do they need and what can I do? Big questions.

Below is a photo of a mulberry pie. I picked and stemmed the mulberries this summer in Oregon. The berries were in our freezer annoying Beto. Finally, somebody suggested I pay someone to make a pie for me. This someone (Debra, the owner of Que Rico) also suggested Joanne Whitehead of Todos Santos. Joanne made me a mighty fine and beautiful pie and I do declare, mulberry pie is my favorite pie. I love the chewiness and the flavor. Anybody know where I can get mulberries in 2018?

The next photo is Beto and Vikki. Our friend, Roberto Lopez sold his place down here. He gave us his guitar. He has several at home. We passed the guitar on to Vikki. She’s been wanting to learn. First she has to cut her finger nails. So thanks for sharing, Roberto. Anyone else with a spare guitar? We can get these kids playing if we had enough.

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Class worksheet
IMG_0753
Mmmmmullberry pie by Joanne Whitehead. I have her contact info if you want a pie or quiche.
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Vikki gets her first guitar and first lesson. Check out her nails.
IMG_0769
Snack time.
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Oregon Work

Musicians day before eclipse
Musicians day before eclipse

So we are back at work. Burt’s building a wood shed and I’m managing Portal Irish Music Week. Money is in and staff flights are reserved. We’ll be in OR for a week or so working and then another weekish visiting friends as we travel south to our next job in California. This has been a wandering summer and it was not planned.

Last year we committed to do a large job in this area. Ultimately that large job fell through but by luck and a large internet presence and our glittering personalities and BIG ONE HERE ability to improvise we put together enough jobs to sustain us for another year. Our friend Bruce (a highly trained professional) mentioned the improv. He suggests Life Improvisation should be the subject of a Gypsy Carpenters’ book. I say it already is if you read the blog. But for all of you following along here is a summary of how it works. The first rule of improv is: Yes, and…. That means you always answer with a yes and room to move. We’re pretty positive people around here and we try to ignore fear or at least not let it make our decisions. I wish there was more positivity and less fear for everyone. Really, I do.

I’m comfortable that we have enough. Make the pie bigger as my friend Bruce (a different Bruce) used to say.

Ryan and our  decks in use.
Ryan and our decks in use.
Brice knows how to listen.
Brice knows how to listen.
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Smoke smoke smoke that western US….

These pieces are collected, not painted, by the artist we worked with on the studio.
These pieces are collected, not painted, by the artist we worked with on the studio.

After a smoke filled drive across the Northern Cascades we have arrived in Helena. It’s a jam packed visit with music, doctors, bridge, and fishing. I find myself deeply saddened by the state of the world. The west burns down around us. Fish are in trouble. People can’t find common ground. We are actually thinking nukes. WTF. It is a very sad and difficult time. I’ve been asked by others how I deal and I always advise, do what you love and look for goodness and beauty. It’s hard to do some days especially when my back hurts. It’s a heavy lift.

Following my own advice here are some lovely photos despite the smoke. I caught and released some fishes yesterday on my favorite river. I played some tunes with friends. I really sucked at Bridge. Again.

If you’re in Helena and want to see us. Do not weep. Next summer we’ll be here working. We’ve got a big job lined up. Perhaps the last big one before retirement. We can play music, fish, and eat good food then.

On the medical side Burt passed his physical with an A plus. I do not have hemochromatosis, yet. I may never develop it. This is good news. I go in for an upper GI test with a barium milkshake tomorrow. It’s probably all just gastritis. Or freaking stress about the state of the world. I’ll let you know what we find out. Tomorrow we depart for Kila and the kids.

Here's Burt mopping the studio.
Here’s Burt mopping the studio.
Jolyn Wells-Moran paintings.
Jolyn Wells-Moran paintings.
Smoke so thick we could only appreciate the up close stuff.
Smoke so thick we could only appreciate the up close stuff.
The Northern Cascades.
The Northern Cascades.
This is an ancient breed of plant.
This is an ancient breed of plant.
I erased Burt's toe.
I erased Burt’s toe.
Claire and Burt
Claire and Burt
Box Elder Bugs. They are odoriferous.
Box Elder Bugs. They are odoriferous.
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The hand of the Man

 

The man and his hand
The man and his hand

I’ll admit it I got a little tipsy last night. It wasn’t on purpose. We went out for a pizza and a movie and the margartita was enormous and strong. I don’t normally enjoy the sensation of intoxication but it felt right in the moment and I’m fine today. A little tired and still sad but okay. Mimi had a seizure this morning on top of it all. She started having seizures about three years ago. They were rare until this month. So rare that we only observed three in three years. But this month we’ve seen three in a bout 5 weeks. There’s no telling how many we are missing when we are away. After a few minutes of convulsions and drooling she regains her composure and appears normal. La-di-dah, I guess I’ll go eat, I feel fine now that’s over. At 18 years of age it’s hard to take these as a crisis. I presume one day she might give it up mid seizure. She’s had a long and pampered life. She has been a bonny road warrior. It would be a fine and dramatic end to the creature I’ve spent more years living with than any other in the world. But also an enormously sad end. Of course I was relieved she came out of it today. It’s not that I’m ready, it’s that she’s so old I’m trying to accept it as imminent.  Yesterday when I was messily bawling she rolled over and over and rubbed on me trying to cheer me up. The dogs ignored me. People that say cats aren’t connected are idiots.

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Write About an Important Object

Mom's wedding ring
Mom’s wedding ring. Inscribed With Love AJZ to PER 8-22-64

I thought about a number of different objects for today’s writing. Mandolin, fiddle, iPhone? But this month I get more comfort spinning this ring on my right ring finer than playing music or surfing the internet. I pull it on and off. I fiddle with it a lot. As a child I always liked the magnitude of this wedding band. It’s grand and stylish. Purely of the age. My brother says there was a different one she wore before this. He’s probably correct. There was definitely one after this. The last one. A Dynasty-era engagement ring/wedding band amalgamation custom made to Mom’s specifications. Her large solitaire set in a sea of smaller stones. Flashy. Even heavier. She was always remodeling stones and pieces she found or inherited to suit her current tastes. Mom did this with houses, too. The ring I wear is the one I associate with her and it fits me style and size wise. She wore it through the seventies. I inherited it last month.

To me this ring symbolizes a long and dynamic relationship, a successful but not easy marriage. It represents the idea that things can change and not lose their relevance. It takes me to a master bedroom where we watched Star Trek and played with mom’s treasures. The room was small, the bed spongy. Mostly we lay on the floor. Mom kept the bed as her space. We all outgrew the gap between the foot of the bed and the dresser where the TV stood. Our feet climbing higher and higher up the drawers as our heads rested on the foot board. Mom had to walk over us to get to the bathroom. I felt safe in that space with the TV on.

The ring also represents the union that created me just 10 months after their marriage. The first accident. My brother Christian, the second accident, came thirteen months later. They thought she couldn’t get pregnant so easily. Both times. The last kid, Matthew, spaced 3 years after the second, was planned.

This ring pleases me.

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday to MEEEEE

Lists from the last 4 months of birding and Spanish class.
Lists from the last 4 months of birding and Spanish class.

It’s my 51st birthday. Wahoo. A prime number is a good number. Well. it’s a combo of two primes, not not actually prime. I almost didn’t arrive. The last several days traveling up the Baja peninsula were uneventful but I almost died and we suffered a trailer breakdown. Life on the road.

So there we were. Driving north in our annual migration. We were traveling a little later than usual so the sights were different. Cirius cactus were up right instead of bent over because they’d increased internal pressure with the recent rains. There were leaves on some trees. Near Vizcaino the terotes or elephant trees were fuzzy with white blooms. The poofy white topped trees contrasted delightfully against the red-brown lava rock surface. I was inspired to photograph. Burt was inspired to stop but as so often is he case along MX-1 there were no pullouts. Finally on a long stretch of straightaway Burt simply stopped and put on the flashers. I hopped out and peeked down my side of the 48′ long trailer-truck complex to check for cars. Nothing. I RAN around the front end. The engine was roaring. My flip flops were waggling. I got to Burt’s side and nearly ran right into a red car blazing along at 80 MPH. It was a Wile W. Coyote moment. I wobbled on the center line as Burt issued a primal scream as the nearly-killed-me car blew by. I don’t know what stopped me at the edge of mortality. Was it the thought that I needed to check again? Did I suddenly realize the blind spot of our vehicle was massive? Was it the realization that I couldn’t hear anything over the massive diesel engine? Did I hear something over the engine? Did I hear Burt scream? Impossible to know for sure.

I think I felt Burt’s scream. The look on his face was devastating. He had nearly seen me run to my death. I did what the still alive but don’t know why always do. I laughed. Then I wobbled on my shaky legs and took this lame picture. I returned to the car and felt sick to my stomach for the next few hours. I have no recollection of a conscious thought telling me to stop. It was if an invisible wall just plopped down and I crashed into it. Burt’s wall of love.

So here I am. Birthday in LA. Happy to be alive. We’re going to visit the La Brea tar pits. We are going to replace the broken spring on the trailer. That’s the royal we. I’ll have nothing to do with the repairs. We broke the spring in a remote place in Baja. Mechanics repaired it as best they could with the wrong parts. It got us here. We are parked on friends’ street. These friends, Barry and Laura from Portal came to see us in Baja this winter. Barry is a former car mechanic and a retired rocket launcher. He has a lot of tools and knows how to fix things. How lucky are we? Yesterday Barry and Burt went off and ordered a replacement spring while I napped and Laura cooked. Actually, I called PIMW attendees and chased down money. I just said I was napping. The spring should be ready today. While Laura and I look for a new handbag, Barry and Burt are going to replace the spring. Wish them luck.

Breakdowns are a part of life on the road. They offer the chance to do things you might never have done. I’ll try to avoid another near death experience for a while.

The elephant tree in bloom. I nearly died for this mediocre picture.
The elephant tree in bloom. I nearly died for this mediocre picture.
Me, a little past my prime.
Me, a little past my prime.
Our bodega in Mexico
Our bodega in Mexico
Another self portrait. Not looking as good as  used to look.
Another self portrait. Not looking as good as I used to look.
We hobbled up here on a mashed up version of this broken spring.
We hobbled up here on a mashed up version of this broken spring.
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Pictures?

Trying, again. Whew…that finally uploaded.

Today marks one week since our arrival in El Pescadero. Things are going well. Our tarp blew out on day two. I can’t overstate how important the shade tarp on the trailer is to our general comfort. Shading the trailer on all sides makes it livable and it allows the propane fridge to keep working. We were using a massive but sun-degraded tarp left behind by Robin and Jen. It lacked integrity. The first mild breeze ripped the grommets and brought it down onto the trailer. Instead of shade we had a blanket. So we decided to run to Cabo ASAP to find a replacement. While we were at it, why not buy a bed? Our mattress was 11 years old. The peso is weak. WEAK. Really, really weak. 17.5 pesos to the dollar. It was 11.5 five years ago. In the last five years more luxury goods are also available. I presume it’s a post-crash investments by beach hungry gringos.

So, we decided to look for a bed. A run to Cabo, while much easier than it was a couple of years ago due to improved roads, requires many calls to neighbors to see if they need anything. In ten minutes I had a list of cat food, asiago cheese, and toilet paper added to our mattress and tarps. Three out of four calls yielded results. Our first stop was the bed shop. Mattress dealers the world over are notorious for the obscurity of their pricing. Mexico outdid the US. No mattress in the store had a price. When I asked how much a particular bed was I got a fleet of answers: Mexican Queen? U.S. Queen? Cama Matrimonial? Every number had a better number than the first number. This was the standard response: This bed is 17,000 pesos. Pause. But really it is 13,000 pesos. Pause.

This kind of haggling makes me crazy. Burt and I finally found a rather firm Simmons Beautyrest we liked. Have you shopped for mattresses recently? They are really thick. In a trailer every inch counts. We pondered the extra height. Would Burt hit his head during certain maneuvers? Could Mimi the cat make the leap with the added altitude? Having no alternative to the super padded slabs we decided we’d just have to take a chance. We settled on a price of $730 US. My mattress from 11 years ago was $1200. I felt like we’d made a good deal.

Humans are notoriously ill prepared to make decisions in the short term and understand the long term ramifications. I like to pretend I am exempt from this general flaw in humanity. I can defer short term enjoyment for long term benefits pretty well. Clearly mattress buying is my Achilles’s tendon. Burt and I told the guy we’d be back in an hour and a half to pick up our new American Queen sized mattress. Adding to our human nature for short term gratification is a thing called decision fatigue. Watch what happens. We left the mattress store and headed to Home Depot.

This excursion took place during a Mexican national holiday. The Home Depot was jammed. Una carambola. People everywhere. We just wanted a tarp. What is the word for tarp? It’s not what my handy phone dictionary gave me. SpanishDict dicked me over and gave me the word for tent. We persevered and found the tarps. We had to buy three tarps to match the size of the previously installed shade. Done. Now to Costco.

Costco was also overrun. We picked up asiago cheese and some groceries and dog food for us. We left to pick up our mattress. As we arrived at the mattress store we realized we failed to buy toilet paper and cat food. At the mattress store the salesperson said. I have your Queen ready but it’s 84″ long. Burt asked me what I though. I (will regret these words for a long time) said,”I guess that’s the standard length. What else could it be?” We paid for the mattress and packed it on top of the truck. We headed to Home Depot (oops, I forgot more rope) and Costco. Tequila was added to the toilet paper and cat food. Isn’t that a shopping cart for the ages? 36 rolls of toilet paper, 40 pounds of cat food, and a supersized bottle of tequila.

We made it home before dark feeling pretty good with our accomplishments. The next morning I went to yoga. Burt repaired the shade system. I walked up the hill from Prissy’s house ready to help Burt wrangle the new mattress into the gNash. I recalled the original mattress went it with much difficulty. Burt was 10 years younger and we had a big young guy helping (John Dendy). It was the proverbial hog wrastle. Burt and I are 10 years smarter if not as strong as we once were. And we have spent many years moving heavy things together. I was optimistic we could do this. I was right. The old mattress slipped out. The smart move was key. We screwed down the pneumatic lid to the under mattress storage area. Without the lid in the way everything was manageable. Barely, but we succeeded.

The old mattress was carried to the rumpus room for our daring, amiable, flexible, guests to use. The new mattress was hauled in. I took the low end and pushed while Burt steered and pulled. Mimi ignored the entire thing from her bedside nook. It all went so easily. And then we realized our great mistake. The altitude of the mattress was going to take some adjustment but the big problem we had just lost 4″ of our 22′ of living space. Gnashing of teeth in the gNash. There’s a mattress as big as a life raft in our tiny home. OMG. The sales guy tried to warn us and we didn’t get the hint. Ack ack ack.

My original motto for happiness on the road was, “you get what you get and you don’t get upset.” Once again we quickly looked on the bright side. Mimi has a shorter jump!!! Olive’s bed is nearly invisible under the massive overhang!!! The shoes are well hidden, too!!! I LIVE in the bed. I have more space!!!

Through massive effort and my carpentry skills I was able to force a deep-pocketed regular queen onto this boat of a bed. I got on Amazon and ordered two new fitted sheets and sent them to friends coming in two weeks. We will adapt. The height thing has proven to be more annoying than the length. Instruments stored besides the bed are very hard to reach. Mimi’s nook requires her to belly crawl for access. Burt’s positional needs require his head to be in the window recess. I took bearings so I know where to be so his head has clearance to do what we both want him to do.

Last night we slept pretty well. The bed is more comfortable. Mimi was oddly restless and she walked all over us all night long. We think she was just getting the lay of the land.

Life on the road continues…all is well.

Our cacti and succulents sis very well.
Our cacti and succulents sis very well.
Water system and hot water heater.
Water system and hot water heater.
Rumpus Room ready for music.
Rumpus Room ready for music.
Rumpus room (now with bed) door from porch.
Rumpus room (now with bed) door from porch.

Our corner overlooking the mountains.

Burt rocking the old gringo look.
Burt rocking the old gringo look.
A few things to play with.
A few things to play with.
This tarp's grommets blew out. We went to Cabo the same day and bought new tarps and beds.
This tarp’s grommets blew out. We went to Cabo the same day and bought new tarps and beds.
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Finally catching my breath

Tongue and groove ceiling at the MIL cottage.
Tongue and groove ceiling at the MIL cottage.

Our every other day afternoon tennis game was rained out today and I finally have a chance to catch up this blog. Portal Irish Music Week 2015 was a success but it wears me out. Responsibility for 50 people’s welfare and good times is a heavy mantle for a natural introvert. I get tired of hearing my name even as I delight in the fact that it’s a successful event. As soon as everyone left town two dear friends from Helena showed up. Rosemary and Ed swung in to see us and Portal before their winter as campground hosts at Death Valley National Park. We paid them a visit last fall and they did us the honor of coming in to see us. RR and Ed credit (or blame) us for their recently adopted wandering lifestyle. RR does not miss her house one bit. A house we made rather lovely revisions to just a few years ago.

So these two dear ones show up just as the rains come in and I have to resume my duties at the Cave Creek Visitor’s Center. They came in and visited both days. One afternoon we did a bug safari. I’ve learned that bugs are the most reliable nature viewing you can do. They are everywhere. One must appreciate what is available. Since I’m tied to the VIC infrastructure I observe the insects that make the VIC grounds their home. Due to a great monsoon season and a diverse flower garden of local species we have a wide variety of pretty bugs to find. The yellow crab spider below is known to use camouflage to hide in the flowers and can grab a honey bee and disable it with a powerful venom in under a second. The male tarantula was walking about looking for a female dance partner. Alas, I saw no action with either spider.

Finally my day off arrived and we took RR and Ed and their humongous labradog, Bowman, for a leisurely hike. Being a Visitor Center volunteer is not a one way flow of information. I have learned a secret of this job: valuable information comes my way, too. So far I have learned about many things, most notably the edible acorns and the location of pictographs in the surrounding area. It is well known the Chiricahuas are full of Native American archeological sites. That is no secret. Finding these sites is another matter. Knowledgeable people are rightfully protective of the areas and rarely share what they know. In situ pictographs, petroglyphs, and Native American relics are frequently stolen or vandalized. I enjoy seeing these sites but I don’t usually seek them out. I’d rather some one say, “Hey, you want to see something?” Then I know the information was given freely. Recently people shared with me the location of a few of these sites. So RR, Ed and Burt and I checked out a spot on our hike. This is a different site than I visited with the clients of PIMW. Pictures below but that’s all you’ll see here. The four of us ate too much and enjoyed some wine and had a grand old time. RR and Ed are now on their way to Death Valley.

On the work front we are very busy. Our clients (Mom’s casita) have sold their home back east and are headed our way in just over two weeks. It would be nice to be out of their hair before they arrive but I don’t think we will be quite done. Meanwhile I have resumed demo work at the next job (Home office and dining room bump out). I had a pool to dismantle. I subcontracted the arduous sawing to Burt. He used a skill saw, a sawzall, and a grinder to break the pool up into pieces I could carry away. Free large item trash day is this Saturday and we want these heavy hunks of fiberglass to leave town. The pool’s fiberglass was thick enough for a boat and it was bolstered by a 4 x 4 timber running the length of two sides. It was partially submerged but so sturdy I think it may have been made to be freestanding.

Today we installed a tongue in groove ceiling in the casita. And now we are up to date.

Pool cut to below grade. A new slab will be poured.
Pool cut to below grade. A new slab will be poured.
Ed is very excited about this beef burrito from the Portal Peak Cafe.
Ed is very excited about this beef burrito from the Portal Peak Cafe.
This pool was removed to make way fr a new home office.
This pool was removed to make way for a new home office.
Rosemary and Ed check out the ancient art.
Rosemary and Ed check out the ancient art.
Beetle on desert broom.
Beetle on desert broom.
Another crab spider.
Another crab spider.
Flea bane and a pretty beetle.
Flea bane and a pretty beetle.
A male tarantula seeking a mate.
A male tarantula seeking a mate.
Orb weaver.
Orb weaver.
A crab spider waits for a meal.
A crab spider waits for a meal.
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