March Happenings, cooking, gardening, and dehydrating foods, and new things I am doing

My newest venture seemed to have just happened automatically and I guess it’s the new direction my life seems to be taking. In my previous story, January and February Happenings, I wrote about making food for my neighbors that don’t cook, and about all the new things I bought to make it more convenient for me to cook my own foods from scratch. Not only does everything I eat taste better, but it’s more natural and I know exactly what is in my food. There are no hidden chemicals or ingredients or ones not necessary, like preservatives so that the shelf life can be months or years.

I was at Aldi in February and they had food dehydrators on sale and I was wanting one for a while. When I am in Texas visiting my friends they have a garden and fruit trees and I prepare their fruit and vegetables and put them in their dehydrator. I decided to buy this small dehydrator, and as always when I do something, I get carried away. I usually don’t do moderation very well. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing!!! This is not always a good motto. It’s why I have way to many things… such as beads for my jewelry, paints and other craft items, cookware, food items, etc.

I bought lots of different fruits and also some Roma tomatoes and I dried them. It’s been a lot of work, but the rewards are great. I can now eat fruit. Because of my illeostomy I am limited to what I can eat. I can’t eat a lot of fiber. So, if I want to eat fruit I can only have a little, then if I put it in the fridge I sometimes forget about it, or don’t eat it fast enough and it goes bad and I have to throw it away. Now, by drying the fruit I can eat a piece or two or even more of dried fruit. I have to be careful to chew it well and drink lots of water, but it’s still a treat to eat a slice of mango, or a pear, etc.

At the craft show there was a lady across from my booth that was selling jams. She told me that I could sell my dried fruit legally under the Cottage Industry Law which is legal in Florida and other states. I have a lot of different types of fruit already dry that I have done in the past 3 weeks. After looking at the website for Florida Cottage Industry requirements, I asked my friend Deb to help me create labels for my fruit and we did it together yesterday. Deb is so creative and we had fun creating these lovely labels which fit perfectly on the snack size baggies I put my fruit in. It’s amazing how much liquid is in fruit and the amount of weight that is lost by evaporation. The reason I decided to dry my own fruit and some vegetables is when I went to buy some at the stores, the ingredients list the fruit, but also sugar, oil, preservatives, salt, and other things. I just want fruit. My dried fruit is only fruit, nothing else.

So, I decided since I have so much more fruit dried than I can eat, I will sell some if anyone wants to buy it. The flavor of the fruit is so intense because it’s concentrated. My next project will be to try drying vegetables other than tomatoes which I think are considered a fruit. I have dried mushrooms, sweet peppers, and some of my herbs, but I still want to dry other items. Also, as different fruits are in season I will add them to my list of fruits to dry. Right now, other than Roma tomatoes, I have bananas, red pears, mangoes, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, blood oranges, Meyer’s lemons, pineapple, apples, lemons, and I am making some pasta to sell. Fresh pasta, or even my dried pasta tastes so much better than hard store bought pasta.

Sadly, most of the blueberries I dehydrated evidently were not dry enough when I packaged them and they started to smell fermented and got some white mold on them. I dried them for about 4 days and they felt dry to me. I guess there is something different about blueberries than the other fruit I dried. I was sad this happened to the blueberries because they are one of my favorite fruits and one that I use often to bake with. I still have some in the freezer. Also, I spent quite a bit of money on them. I will not throw them away, I will grind them with some water in my Vitamix and use them as compost in my garden like I do with all of the other peels and skins from the fruit.

I try to utilize everything and minimize waste. When I boil potatoes I use the potato water in bread, soups, or stews, etc.  The peels and skins that are flavorable such as pears, apples, mangoes, pineapples, etc. I boil with some sugar and add some fruit slices and cut up whatever fruit I can and boil it again with some lemon juice and more sugar and make a jam. The unusable parts like the skins and seeds I pulverize in my Vitamix and use as compost in the garden. The tops of the pineapples, the mango seeds, and citrus seeds get planted in the garden. So far we have 2 pineapple tops growing and several citrus seeds sprouting. I am working on getting some potatoes, ginger, and more tumeric to sprout so they can be planted. I saw several You Tube videos on growing potatoes and it seems easy enough to grow in small areas which is what I have for a garden. They can also be planted in containers. It will take quite a few months to grow once planted, but I think it will be well worth it. I will write about how it is working in a few months as this experiment progresses.

Since I am cooking more, and freezing portions of food for myself to eat later on, instead of putting the portions of food in freezer bags where it drys out if I don’t eat it quickly, I am using my Food Saver machine to freeze the portions of food. I just stocked up on more Food Saver bags so I don’t run out. It’s nice to take something out of the freezer at the last minute, put it in boiling water, since I don’t have a microwave, and in about 15 or 20 minutes I have hot food that tastes like I just made it. And now I am not throwing away food because it’s freezer burnt. My Food Saver machine is quite a few years old but it still works. I know there are some with newer features but since mine is still working fine I can’t justify purchasing a new one. I would like one that is more compact but for now I am fine with the one I have. For example, last night I didn’t want to cook because I had spent the past few hours baking chocolate chip cookies and chocolate chocolate chip cheesecake cupcakes. So, I went to the freezer and took out a portion of lasagna and put in a pot of boiling water, in about 15 minutes I had a hot dinner that tasted like it was just made and I toasted some of the rye bread I made the other day in my air fryer, and without having to cook, I had a great dinner!!!

Sometimes when I substitute items when baking it comes out okay, and other times… not so much. Yesterday I decided to make one of my favorite treats… chocolate, chocolate chip cheesecake cupcakes. I use the recipe on Handle the Heat website, they also have a recipe using peanut butter but I haven’t tried that one yet. I like to make them in mini muffin pans and freeze them in baggies so I can eat them when my sweet tooth wants chocolate treats. When I make these cupcakes, I fill the cupcake pan about 2/3 or 3/4 full and then spoon a little cheesecake filling in each cup. I don’t fill it half way and top the filling with more batter like the recipe says, and I don’t add more chocolate on top. I put mini chocolate chips in the cheesecake filling and between the chocolate cake and chocolate chips in the filling I don’t need more chocolate or sugar on top.

I have quite a bit of chocolate bark left from another project so I thought instead of using chocolate chips for the chocolate in the cupcake, I would use the chocolate bark. I didn’t give it much thought, I just did it at the spur of the moment. It wasn’t until I went to take the cupcakes out of the mini muffin pan that I realized that I should have either used more nonstick spray in the pans or added a bit of oil to the batter. Usually, my cupcakes come out of the muffin pan easily, this time they didn’t. I started thinking about why they were sticking and I realized that the chocolate chips probably have more oil or something similar than the chocolate bark does because even though the muffins still tasted really good, they were a little bit dryer and more difficult to get out of the pan. I used a plastic knife to go around the inside edge of the muffin cup so that I wouldn’t scratch my muffin pan. If I use chocolate bark again I know to adjust the recipe or grease the pan more.

I have written several times over the past few years about the medical alert bracelet that I wear from a company called ID ON ME. It’s the best medical alert, or ID bracelet or tag, that I have found. It’s not engraved, it has a compartment that holds a piece of strong, non-tear type paper that has room to write lots of information. I put my name, my doctors contact info, my medical condition, medicine, allergies, contact info in case of emergency, my funeral arrangements, etc. on the paper. This way if anything unexpected happens all the important info is handy.

Personal or Medical ID BraceletMedical ID Bracelets

I bought some to give as gifts to friends who have medical conditions and should wear one. In fact, even if I didn’t have a medical condition, I would wear the ID one. I have a habit of walking and not taking any ID with me. Or if I am at the gym or somewhere and something unexpected happened no one would know who I was maybe, or who to contact. This way I have important info on me whenever I am away from home. I am not getting any perks or paid for posting this information, I feel strongly that we need to be prepared for the unexpected. After spending many hours looking for a bracelet that would hold the information I wanted on me, I came upon this site.

For about 10 years I have been wearing these wonderful Kudu Klip hair accessories to keep my hair up and still look beautiful. I saw them at a craft show about 10 years ago and bought two of them. Over the years I have purchased many more and also gifted them to friends who have long hair. The past three years I have been helping Patti in her booth when she is at a nearby craft show. Patti’s husband designed and makes these hair accessories by hand. I absolutely love wearing them and they stay in my hair all day, including through an hour or two of cardio exercise. Another nice thing about Kudu Klips is that a portion of their sales goes to Build On Hope which supports charitable causes such as building and supporting schools and orphanages, anti-poaching, and similar causes in South Africa and other countries. Patti’s husband Tiny is from South Africa. You can read more about Build On here.

Patti was in a neighboring city a few weeks ago and once again I loved helping her in her booth and introducing people to this wonderful hair accessory. It was great to see the smile on a woman’s face when she realized how wonderful this is to wear and how easy it is to use, and it’s also comfortable. We can adjust how tight or loose we want the Kudu Klip to be in our hair. I make it a bit more snug when I am at the gym then when I am at home relaxing or cooking. There are always some new designs, and it seems every year I get a few new ones to add to my collection which is now up to 18 Kudu Klips. I change them to match my clothes, and by not wearing the same one every day they last longer. I also have a nice selection to sell because every now and then someone asks me what is in my hair and how to buy one. It’s nice to have them on hand so that I can help women look nice and keep their hair up in something attractive, rather than a pony tail scrunchie or one of those hard plastic claws.

The Kudu Klip is flush against the back of our head so it’s more comfortable to wear and sit in a chair to watch TV or a movie, or even sitting in the seat in the car. When I am inside my apartment, I don’t realize how many gray hairs I have. However, when I am outside like helping Patti and I look in the mirror to fix my hair, I see how gray my hair is. A few years ago, one of my friends who is a hairdresser told me I should dye my hair. I thanked her and told her that I want it to be natural, no dye, and that I have earned each one of these gray hairs. A week or so ago, I was outside of my apartment and I had just washed my hair and had it down to finish drying. A neighbor saw me and said this is the first time she has seen me with my hair down… and she has lived in the same building as me for a year. I am in four of the photos below, not the ones with red hair. The pictures of the 18 Kudu Klips are the ones I own.

2016-03-21 13.16.17 2016-03-22 09.51.13 kudu klip kudu

Also, any products I mention in this post that I am using, is only my opinion, I did not receive any products from any company, nor was I asked to review anything. I like to cook and those of you reading my posts are mostly my friends and you like to know what I am doing and what I’ve been up to. And you know I would never compromise my integrity and write something that I didn’t fully believe in.

This reminds me that in the past I have written several stories and posts that I have not repeated. One of the important ones is called… Seriously, Really, You would rather be an Ostrich. This is about the importance of having your legal and medical documents finalized so in the event that something unexpected happens your family and/or friends knows your wishes or plans you have made. We never know when something can happen, we hear about it almost daily. After I added the Ostrich post two of my friends told me that they discussed what they and their spouse wanted in the event of something happening. Unfortunately, a couple of years later, for one of them, her spouse died during the night from an asthma attack. Because they had discussed this a while ago she knew his wishes and was able to finalize arrangements like he wanted.

If you read the story you will read about how my mother didn’t want to talk about death or something happening, I guess she thought of it as a jinx. Like when I wrote my will she took it as I am dying, and I said that I want to have my wishes in writing for when the time comes. Anyway, one of her friends died unexpectedly without any plans or funeral arrangements and her family had to scramble in their grief to finalize arrangements and guess what she would have liked. My mother then decided to make arrangements. It came in handy when unexpectedly two years ago after a hospital stay, my mother died and it was easier on my brother, sister, and me that her funeral arrangements were done and we knew what she wanted done as far as other arrangements and a service.

I also posted several stories that you can search for using words like Lois, or Inspirational poems and stories, Dr. Seuss, Foodscapes, The Real Story of The Three Little Pigs. I retired in June 2011 and began my first annual long journey. I got from south Florida to North Washington State. I drove about 12,000 miles on this almost 6 month journey. I had so many amazing experiences and adventures, and I got to explore many National Parks. If you start in June 2011 and then continue to go to the Next Page you can read about this amazing experience. I also have a Travel Map tab for every year showing the primary route I took on the trip for that year. Before Google changed from Picasa to Google Photos I was able to have a link so you could see all of my photo albums which number over 150, however, when they changed to Google Photos, I am no longer able to provide a link to all of my albums, now a link is in each story that has an album. This is not my preference because it’s nice to just look at the albums. I can’t provide a secure link to the albums now due to Google’s change in their album and photo posting.

The Foodscapes website by artist Carl Warner is absolutely amazing!!! I came across it by accident several years ago. Carl Warner the Artist has other pictures on this page. There are several tabs with different uses of his talents. There were, hopefully still are, stories on his website about how they make the foodscapes. They have to be in a very cold room creating these amazing scenes due to the fact that they are working with real food and it needs to be at various temperatures to stay fresh and be usable. When you get a chance, check out this website, you might be amazed like I was. Look closely at the pictures and see which foods and/or body parts you can identify, or what you weren’t able to identify. I don’t know if it’s still on his website, but a few years ago there was a picture and what looked like the sea was really a lot of fish laid side by side and their skin looked like the dark sea, I think it’s the picture below. Some trees were broccoli, potatoes are rocks, and many other foods were used to create these amazing pictures.

For a few years I did a lot of jigsaw puzzles and I posted pictures of most of them. When I looked for the link for the Foodscape story I saw several of the puzzles in that story and until I saw the pictures of the puzzles I forgot how many puzzles I worked on, and some of my friends came over to work on them with me. Healthwise, it was not my best time. I was not doing very well physically and my pain was pretty intense during this time period. I even was in Hospice for a few months. The puzzles gave me something to focus on and to work on when I couldn’t sleep at night, or my pain was intense. Even though 2013 was one of my most challenging years healthwise, it was one that I got closer to God and did many things I would not have done if my health was good. I even had the opportunity to go up in the Goodyear Blimp twice. You can do a search on my website and see the pictures I took from the blimp.

I also met incredible firefighters and was able to donate money to many rural volunteer fire departments around the country, and I even had the wonderful experience to meet several fire chiefs and their firefighters in Georgia and South Carolina. You can search my website for Georgia Fire Fighters and South Carolina to read these stories. I also met so many wonderful people I would not have met otherwise.

In case you are new to my website, here is a brief summary. In 2010 I had four operations between January and August. I have had cancer four times, colon cancer, colon rectal cancer and also skin cancer. After having these what I hope are my last four operations, my body felt the complications of the surgeries and in June 2011 I decided to take early retirement, get in my camper van and travel around the country rather than working for another two years and then hoping I would be able to travel. I am so glad I didn’t wait two years. Physically, it was tough sitting at a desk all day so I decided to retire and enjoy my life and whatever I was physically able to do. A few days after my last day at work in June 2011 I got in my camper and headed north and then west.

I went to AAA and got a map and had a tentative route and places I wanted to go to. I was flexible and didn’t have reservations anywhere so I could let my gypsy spirit wander wherever it wanted to go. If you read my website beginning in June 2011 and advancing forward you can travel with me on this amazing journey. I also have a few stories and albums that were not on this journey since 2011, but previously like Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Glacier National Park which I had the opportunity to visit in 2005, 2006, and 2009. I am so glad I went to those when I did because I was in good health then and could hike many of the trails, even the difficult ones. If I had waited until I retired in 2011 I couldn’t have done that. My activities were limited due to my physical condition and the intense pain I was in. Some days I was okay and could drive and do short hikes, other days I stayed where I was and sometimes cried because I hurt so bad.

Today, thanks to changes in my eating habits, exercising, and my attitude which I feel plays an important part, I feel better, my pain is lessened, and even though I am not making long trips like I did in previous years I feel better and can enjoy life. Every day I have so much to be grateful for, even the physically challenging days. I can always find things to be grateful for no matter what is happening or how I am feeling. If you search my website for the word Lois you will read about this remarkable woman who had a positive significant impact on my life in 1988 and 1989 until she died. She always asked me what I am grateful for. She had 1/3 of a lung and had oxygen and was confined to her bed for the last 6 years of her life. If she laid really still she could breathe most days fairly easily. She would tell me to stand up, take two steps, and say Thank You God, I can walk, talk, and breathe at the same time. It’s hard to not be grateful when a woman in bed on oxygen tells me that, when I can walk, talk, and breathe on my own without oxygen and confined to bed.

In some of my posts I wrote about my health issues. I didn’t want to make it the main focus of my website, I wanted the travels and what I did to be the main focus. However, after a couple of years of traveling after retirement, one of my close friends who also has cancer and several major health issues told me that I need to include my health issues and challenges in my posts to let other people know that even thought there are serious health issues, that many of us can still lead productive and active lives. Yes, we may have to modify or curtail our travels and activities sometimes, but we can still be active and accomplish things. So, I went back and added some wording at the beginning of my stories in 2011 about my health issues and I do write about it every now and then.

It looks like I won’t be going to Albuquerque this year, it’s the same situation as last year. The new volunteer coordinator told me the only way I could get RV hookups and electricity is if I spend 6 weeks working in the RV area. I don’t want to do that for several reasons. Besides some personality issues with the RV people, I wouldn’t have the flexibility or freedom to crew on a balloon, volunteer at the Balloon Discovery Tent, or other events or parties. I would mostly be stuck in a booth registering RVers. Or if I go to do the things I like such as crewing and volunteering, I would have to dry camp for about 2 weeks. I have done that my first 3 years volunteering at Balloon Fiesta and I don’t want to do that again. It’s too hard on me physically. I would have to run my generator to keep my batteries charged so I could have lights, or heat or air conditioning. There is much more to it, but it’s not something I want to drive almost 6,000 miles round trip to do. I guess I need to just be grateful that I was able to achieve completing many items on my bucket list in 2011, one of which was going to the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival, and I volunteered there for 6 years. Maybe I will be able to volunteer there again, if not, it’s okay. I also volunteered at a few other balloon events and it was also great fun and wonderful experiences.

So, I am considering going to work at Hurricane Creek Farms in Havana, Florida, about 15 miles north of Tallahassee, like I did last year for two and a half months. Lorri and her parents told me I am always welcome to come back there, and I feel good being there and helping them. I have a few stories I wrote last July through September when I was there at the farm.

As usual, this story is longer than I started it out to be. It seems once I start writing my stories they seem to take on a life of their own, time seems to just happen and I have no concept of how long I am typing. I just looked at the clock and it’s about 4 hours after I started writing this story and adding pictures and finalizing the previous story. I had no idea this post would be this long or include what is written. As I type it seems that stories want to be told and they just get written and I am the instrument that the spirits use for their message to be written. I know that sounds strange. If I hadn’t had so many unexplained situations and God stories happen I would question what I wrote about stories wanting to be told. However, through my experiences I know that unexpectedly things happen, or something that I share is needed to be heard by someone, or something someone shares with me is just what I needed to hear. So, as I wrote this post when the story took a side trip and something wanted to be written about or shared I just went with it and let it have it’s say even though it was not anything I planned to write about.

Well, that being said, I need to go put something up to cook for dinner so I will end this post here. I hope you have a great day and enjoy every moment. I once read… Life each day as if it’s your last, one of these days you are going to be right.  Og Mandino wrote: Here is a test to find out if your mission on Earth is accomplished… If you are still alive it isnt.

Posted in 2019 Trip | Leave a comment

January and February 2019 Happenings

I recently realized I haven’t written anything on my website since November. Other than going to the gym five days a week doing the Silver Sneakers classes for about an hour or so each day, I have been baking and cooking and doing errands. I still have days when my pain is intense and my activities are limited, or I veg out on the sofa. I try not to give in to it very often, but some days I have to. I still have my tumor causing complications.

I am still cooking and baking almost everything I eat, including bread and pasta. Not only does the food taste better than processed food, but, I know what I am eating, the quality of the food, and I can pronounce everything in each item.

It does take a bit longer to prepare meals sometimes, however, it’s well worth the effort. I usually cook enough for several meals and often freeze a lot of it in Food Saver bags so it stays fresh and it’s easy to reheat and it doesn’t get freezer burnt. I was putting food in freezer bags and it wasn’t staying very well. I realized I have an older Food Saver machine and decided to start using it again. Not only does it save space in my freezer and keep my food from getting freezer burnt, but I can put it in either boiling water or my sous vide bath to cook or reheat and it tastes much better.

Two of my neighbors don’t cook much so I make extra and give them meals. They enjoy having a home cooked meal and it gives me something to do. Since I am cooking and baking anyway, I just make larger portions. Instead of making the same things all the time I look for new recipes. It’s a fun challenge to find recipes, there are so many websites to look at and I keep finding ones I haven’t seen or heard of before. Some days my search is to find a recipe to use up some food I have handy. Other times I make up recipes using things I have on hand. I am also learning to save cooking liquids to use later on. For example, if I cook potatoes I save the potato water. It’s great to use in bread dough, soups, stews, etc. I also save the liquid from cooking fruit or canned fruit and use it instead of water in recipes. This makes other dishes I make more flavorful.

My 5 quart KitchenAid bowl lift stand mixer is an old Hobart brand KitchenAid from the early 1980s, so is my food grinder attachment. It still works great. A few weeks ago I bought a chuck roast and ground the meat to make hamburgers. It was great. I knew the ground meat was from one piece of meat and I knew how much fat was in it, not very much, just enough to give flavor and hold patty together.

In November, I saw a really good price on a 6 quart KitchenAid bowl lift stand mixer with a few beaters, so I bought it so I can make more than one batch of food items at a time since it’s a larger and more powerful mixer. I am really enjoying using my new mixer, I still use the older one for smaller batches. I want to grind more foods and chicken, meat, cheeses, etc. I also want to make sausages and I found out the sausage attachments now won’t work on my old grinder attachment. So I bought a new KitchenAid metal food grinder kit with sausage stuffing nozzles. I also bought several other attachments so that I could do much more with the KitchenAid mixers. I bought the sheet cutter attachments so that I could cut sheets of fruits and vegetables, the slicer and shredder attachments, and the 5 piece pasta roller and cutter set.

The first time I used the grinder attachment to grind my meat I used the old Hobart grinder since it was before I bought the new grinder attachment which has sausage maker nozzles. The pusher for the food was not something I had anymore, not sure what happened to it. I gave this attachment to my mom and when she passed away two years ago I took it back and the pusher was missing. Anyway, I thought I would use the back of one of my silicone spoons to push the meat into the grinder and I thought I was not putting it down very far to touch the grinder. I guess I misjudged one time that I was pushing the meat because when I took the spoon out to put in more meat, I noticed the end of the spoon was missing. So I stopped the mixer and took the grinder apart and found a half inch piece of my spoon intact. So I reassembled my grinder and put a piece of blue tape on the handle of my spoon so I would not push it into the grinder any more. Thankfully, no part of the spoon was in the meat and I was able to make a delicious meat loaf. I also made another batch of ground meat a while ago and I used a chuck roast and mixed it with boneless country pork ribs. It gave just enough fat to bind the meat together and the flavor was really delicious. I made nachos with some of the meat, and the rest went into meatballs and a meatloaf. I gave my neighbors some and they loved it. There was almost no fat in the pans after the meat was cooked.


Recently at a thrift store, I saw a hand cranked Marcato Atlas 150 pasta maker set for sale. I went home and did some research on hand cranked pasta machines and found out this one is the number one machine so I went back and bought it. I called the company for an instruction manual since there wasn’t one in the box. After talking with Lisa I learned that this machine was made in 1987 and it has stainless steel rollers. I watched some videos online and read several articles and then made some pasta dough in my Kitchenaid and rolled it out on my Marcato. I felt so proud, it came out looking nice and tasting great. Lasagna was high on my list to make… It was wonderful. A few weeks later they had another Marcato Atlas 150 for sale, made in January 1983 so I bought it as a spare and it came in handy when a friend came over and we made gluten free pasta for her. Lisa at Marcato has been really helpful to me and has given me great tips for maintaining and using the machine, and sending me recipes and a crank handle that was missing for the second one I bought. When I started making crackers and crust for my pot pies I use the pasta maker.

I realized I really like making pasta and crackers and using the pasta maker. It relaxes me and I like the feeling of handling the dough and transforming it into something I can eat that is delicious and nutritious. It’s quiet and tranquil rolling out and cutting the dough. After making a few batches of crackers I found ways to make it easier, I also read helpful tips in online articles. I bought a few types of wheels to help cut the dough so crackers look nice and uniform. My first attempt at crackers had odd shaped crackers, now they come out round or square. My potato cheese pierogies look professional too, and also taste good.

Now that I have made numerous batches of crackers, I have found a way to make them look like real crackers and also a way to make them in less time. It involves using parchment paper, the pasta roller attachment, and a hand cutting device that scores the dough so that after I bake it in long sheets, the crackers break on the scored lines. Crackers can go from not quite baked to the correct color to burnt within a minute, so I have to watch them closely. In the pictures below I’m sure you can see the progression of my cracker baking. I also made some herb flat bread which came out really great on the first try, I made nachos with it using my fresh ground beef and they were the best nachos!!!!

I saw a good sale on the KitchenAid pasta roller and cutter set and after giving it much thought and doing research, I decided to spend the money and purchase the 5 part attachment set of a roller and four cutters to make pasta using the KitchenAid mixer. I still use my Marcato hand crank pasta maker because it works better for some things like cracker or flatbread dough because I can control the dough and stop quickly if I need to. I can also go in reverse, which I cannot do with the automatic KitchenAid roller. I am finding that it works great having the two KitchenAid mixers when I make pasta. I can attach the roller attachment to one machine, and put the cutter for spaghetti or a different shape on the other machine.

I made carrot pasta dough, spinach pasta dough, and egg pasta dough, and I saw on a website how to make striped pasta dough, and also how to roll fresh herbs into the dough by sandwiching it between two layers of dough and rolling it out. So, of course I tried and accomplished both of these tasks and of course the pasta tasted delicious!!! I decided to start selling some of my pasta so that other people can enjoy fresh pasta. It tastes so much better than the store bought pasta and it cooks faster as well.

The KitchenAid pasta attachments work great, it’s not quiet like the manual machine, however, there are some benefits to using it. And it saves some time. I still use my Marcato too. Using the KitchenAid attachment let’s me have two hands to feed and catch the dough since I don’t have to use one hand to crank the machine. Hand cranking does have some benefits because I can control the speed I feed the dough and can back it up if I need to, or I can stop it if I need to adjust dough. The KitchenAid is higher so the dough hangs down and gives me more space to catch the dough. The Marcato is counter height. I love both machines and use them both often. They serve different purposes and for the crackers and several other things I make the hand crank machine works better than the electric roller since I can stop it immediately if needed.

A few months ago I bought a 5.8 quart Kili air fryer and I love using it. This brand has a large basket which allows me to cook a good size portion of food. It’s also very quiet and I don’t hear it running. I use this almost every day to cook or reheat food. I am experimenting and making up new recipes not only for the air fryer but for regular stove and oven cooking and baking. I have some favorite recipes that I make often. And I keep finding new recipes and ways to use the air fryer. Even though I hesitated buying it for quite a long time, I am so glad that I finally bought one. I found a recipe for avocado fries and they are a delicious treat to eat and very easy to make. I found lots of websites for air fryer recipes including one that has 150 recipes, that’s where I found the avocado fry recipe.

I read some tips on how to use the air fryer and found several that have been very helpful and I found a few of my own. Here are some of the ways I found to make using the air fryer easier: Put a piece of parchment or baking paper between the fryer basket and the drawer the basket fits into and also instead of using a non-stick spray in the basket (this will leave a residue) wipe the basket on both sides of the bottom of the basket and also the inside sides with some oil on a paper towel. This way there will be less chance of food sticking, and having the parchment paper in the bottom will catch the drippings, crumbs, etc. and make it easier to clean the tray. After burning my arm a few times trying to get food out of the air fryer basket, I started using long tongs with silicone ends. Lift the food out of the basket, don’t pour it out of the basket. If you pour it out you will also pour out any crumbs or grease that is in the basket. I use my air fryer often, including using it to reheat foods. I sometimes use a small dish in it to hold my food or I will sometimes put my food on a piece of foil, these tips save me sometimes from washing out the basket.

I have made large trays of lasagna several times during the past few months. Using homemade lasagna pasta and fresh ground meat that I grind, makes the lasagna taste so much better than boxed pasta and store bought ground beef. I even started making my own crackers that taste like Wheat Thins and Ritz crackers, they aren’t salty like store bought crackers. Double batches don’t last long. I share my baked goods with other people to share and the feedback they give me is always favorable. I also made cookies that are similar to the store bought Milano cookies, and they came out really good and looked like the store bought ones, and I filled them with chocolate peppermint filling.

I have made so many batches of wheat thin crackers that I have found short cuts and easy ways to make the crackers and they look like store bought ones and taste better, and they are not salty. The surprise ingredients that I didn’t think would go together are what makes the wheat thin crackers taste like the store bought ones. It’s a combination of a small amount of vanilla extract and paprika powder. I also use smoked paprika which is my new favorite spice to use in many dishes I cook. I made one of my favorite desserts… chocolate, chocolate chip, cheesecake cupcakes. I make them in a mini muffin pan and freeze them so I can snack on them for a while. The recipe is on Handle the Heat. The crescent cookies below are almond paste cookies which I dipped in chocolate after they were baked. These are are also very good.  And I love using my Curtis Stone dura bake baking sheets because like all of his other cookware and bakeware, nothing sticks.

I’m really having fun experimenting with new recipes, and just making up recipes using different ingredients. I received permission to plant some herbs and vegetables in the flower bed where I live, so I planted lots of different herbs and some vegetables like lettuce and celery, and tomatoes. I started seeds for spinach, swiss chard, tomatoes, and dill, and I also planted some more tumeric. I planted some tumeric last summer and harvested a batch in January. I bought a tomato plant that had lots of flowers, however, the plant only grew about 6 or 7 tomatoes which are about 2 inches in diameter. I harvested the tomatoes this past week and they tasted really good. This is the herb and vegetable garden when it was first planted. It has really grown since then and I am using the herbs frequently. The seedlings of the zucchini and swiss chard have grown enough that I planted them in the garden and the San Marzano tomato plants are about ready to be planted too.

On You Tube I saw videos on how to grow citrus trees from seed, and also how to grow potatoes in flower pots or containers so these are going to be my new attempts at growing food. When I lived in Texas I had a house and I planted about 40 different herbs in my garden. So, even though this space is smaller, I am utilizing the space as best as I can and I am enjoying going down to get fresh herbs when I cook and now the zucchini plants have flowers and hopefully will produce squash. I told my neighbors they can use the herbs and eat the lettuce. It’s really cool to see the celery grow, I never grew celery before. Every morning I drink a glass of celery juice which I make in my Vitamix and it’s helped me feel better and have energy. So when my celery grows enough to use it I will do that rather than buying it in the grocery store.

Here are pictures of my garden, these are taken about a month or so after it was planted. The plants inside the store circle are tumeric and the plant with the flowers is zucchini. The zucchini, swiss chard, and tomato plants in the photos below are seeds that I grew that show as dirt in the pots in the above pictures. Several of the herbs like the peppermint, oregano, and thyme are now becoming a great ground cover in the flower bed. And when I water the garden it smells so nice. The rosemary, basil, lemon verbena, lemon grass, and lemon balm all have really nice fragrances.

I saw several articles and TV shows where people were talking about the benefit of drinking celery juice first thing in the morning and not having any other food or liquids for at least 15 minutes afterward. I started this on February 1st and within 3 days I realized I have more energy and feel better. I also started adding some smoothies into my routine. I recently bought a new Vitamix and also the AER container, and the dry grain container so I can make my own flour or chop nuts, etc. I make my own nut butters in the Vitamix and it tastes so much better than store bought and I can control the oil in it. The AER container makes frothy drinks and other things. I made strawberry lemonade which came out really delicious with lots of pulp, and it left the rind whole, it only took the pulp of the fruit into the liquid. I also made orange lemonade with fresh oranges and Meyer’s lemons. Lots of pulp in the juice.

I also added fresh or powdered tumeric into my food, and I found out that adding fresh cracked black pepper to the tumeric enhances the benefits of the tumeric about 2000 percent. It has something in it that allows our bodies to absorb the tumeric more fully. And I also started using Matcha green tea powder, including making butter cookies with it. So, after drinking my celery juice, I wait a while and then eat some homemade yogurt with tumeric, black pepper, Matcha powder, and fruit. I am finding that most of the time in addition to more energy, my pain is decreasing most of the time which is a big blessing for me. I am not saying it’s totally gone, but a lot of days it’s lessened. Here is some tumeric I harvested recently from tubers I planted last summer. I have some more growing now that should be ready to harvest in the fall. Tumeric can be grown in flower pots, that’s how I planted my first batch which is what you see here. I am hoping to get another great harvest from the tumeric plants that are in the stone circle in the pictures further up in this post.

Like I wrote above, I am experimenting with different foods and recipes. Last time I made pasta I took some fresh parsley from my flower bed and sandwiched it between two layers of pasta. I also saw on a website about using different flavored and colored pasta dough to make striped pasta. My neighbor Nikki came over and we made pasta and other things together and she took some pictures of me making the pasta. The pictures are higher up in this story.

I now only do one craft show a year, it’s in mid-February. The lady in the next booth did face painting and I had her paint my face both days. I left it up to her what to paint. I think I look terrible in photos, but I am posting these anyway. I have only had my face painted one other time that I remember. It was quite a few years ago at a pow wow and it was a small feather. She is very talented and I loved seeing the faces of the children she painted. These face painting designs are quite different. Also, one of the ladies at the craft show made lamp shades and she gave me permission to post the photos. She gets her ideas online. A man came by the booth and I loved the saying on his shirt and asked if I could take a picture of it. I am still crocheting baby blankets for the NICU at a local hospital, in the past two years I have donated almost 900 blankets. I started to sell them at this craft show asking people if they wanted to buy one to take, or buy one and write a note donating it in honor or memory of someone and several people did that. I use the money to buy more yarn to make more baby blankets to donate.

I am going to leave this part of my post in this story because it sort of relates to the info above, but I am also creating a March post using this part of my story and add more details, and I will add pictures and links to the March post I am going to be writing. So please go to the March Happenings story to see the pictures and updates to the rest of this post.

My newest venture seemed to have just happened automatically and I guess it’s the new direction my life seems to be taking. I wrote above about making food for my neighbors that don’t cook, and about all the new things I bought to make it more convenient for me to cook my own foods from scratch. Not only does everything I eat taste better, but it’s more natural and I know exactly what is in my food. There are no hidden chemicals or ingredients or ones not necessary, like preservatives so that the shelf life can be months or years. I was at Aldi in February and they had food dehydrators on sale and I was wanting one for a while. When I am in Texas at my friends they have a garden and fruit trees and I prepare their fruit and vegetables and put them in their dehydrator. I decided to buy this small dehydrator, and as always when I do something, I get carried away.

I bought lots of different fruits and also some Roma tomatoes and I dried them. It’s been a lot of work, but the rewards are great. I can now eat fruit. Because of my Illeostomy I am limited to what I can eat. I can’t eat a lot of fiber. So, if I want to eat fruit I can only have a little, then if I put it in the fridge I sometimes forget about it, or don’t eat it fast enough and it goes bad and I have to throw it away. Now, by drying the fruit I can eat a piece or two or even more of dried fruit. I have to be careful to chew it well and drink lots of water, but it’s still a treat to eat a slice of mango, or a pear, etc.

At the craft show there was a lady across from my booth that was selling jams. She told me that I could sell my dried fruit legally under the Cottage Industry Law which is legal in Florida and other states. I have a lot of different types of fruit already dry that I have done in the past 3 weeks. After looking at the website for Florida Cottage Industry requirements, I asked my friend Deb to help me create labels for my fruit and we did it together yesterday. Deb is so creative and we had fun creating these lovely labels which fit perfectly on the snack size baggies I put my fruit in. It’s amazing how much liquid is in fruit and the amount of weight that is lost by evaporation. The reason I decided to dry my own fruit and some vegetables is when I went to buy some at the stores, the ingredients list the fruit, but also sugar, oil, preservatives, salt, and other things. I just want fruit. My dried fruit is only fruit, nothing else.

So, I decided since I have so much more fruit dried than I can eat, I will sell some if anyone wants to buy it. The flavor of the fruit is so intense because it’s concentrated. My next project will be to try drying vegetables other than tomatoes which I think are considered a fruit. Also, as different fruits are in season I will add them to my list of fruits to dry. Right now, other than Roma tomatoes, I have bananas, red pears, mangoes, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, blood oranges, Meyer’s lemons, pineapple, apples, lemons, and I may start making some pasta to sell. Fresh pasta, or even my dried pasta tastes so much better than hard store bought pasta.

Since I am cooking more, and freezing portions of food for myself to eat later on, instead of putting the portions of food in freezer bags where it drys out if I don’t eat it quickly, I am using my Food Saver machine to freeze the portions of food. I just stocked up on more Food Saver bags so I don’t run out. It’s nice to take something out of the freezer at the last minute, put it in boiling water, since I don’t have a microwave, and in about 15 or 20 minutes I have hot food that tastes like I just made it. And now I am not throwing away food because it’s freezer burnt.

I have written several times over the past few years about the medical alert bracelet that I wear from a company called ID ON ME. It’s the best medical alert, or ID bracelet or tag, that I have found. It’s not engraved, it has a compartment that holds a piece of strong, non-tear type paper that has room to write lots of information. I bought some to give as gifts to friends who have medical conditions and should wear one. In fact, even if I didn’t have a medical condition, I would wear the ID one. I have a habit of walking and not taking any ID with me. Or if I am at the gym or somewhere and something unexpected happened no one would know who I was maybe, or who to contact. This way I have important info on me whenever I am away from home. I am not getting any perks or paid for posting this information, I feel strongly that we need to be prepared for the unexpected. After spending many hours looking for a bracelet that would hold the information I wanted on me, I came upon this site.

Also, any products I mention above that I am using, is only my opinion, I did not receive any products from any company, nor was I asked to review anything. I like to cook and those of you reading my posts are mostly my friends and you like to know what I am doing and what I’ve been up to.

It looks like I won’t be going to Albuquerque this year, it’s the same situation as last year. The new volunteer coordinator told me the only way I could get RV hookups and electricity is if I spend 6 weeks working in the RV area. I don’t want to do that for several reasons. Besides some personality issues with the RV people, I wouldn’t have the flexibility or freedom to crew on a balloon, volunteer at the Balloon Discovery Tent, or other events or parties. I would mostly be stuck in a booth registering RVers. Or if I go to do the things I like such as crewing and volunteering, I would have to dry camp for about 2 weeks. I have done that my first 3 years volunteering at Balloon Fiesta and I don’t want to do that again. It’s too hard on me physically. I would have to run my generator to keep my batteries charged so I could have lights, or heat or air conditioning. There is much more to it, but it’s not something I want to drive almost 6,000 miles round trip to do. So, I am considering going to work at Hurricane Creek Farms in Havana, Florida, about 15 miles north of Tallahassee, like I did last year for two and a half months. Lorri and her parents told me I am always welcome to come back there, and I feel good being there and helping them. I have a few stories I wrote last July through September when I was there at the farm.

Well, I guess that’s about it for now. My goal for today was to add to this story which I started several weeks ago, and to download the pictures on my phone to my computer so they can be added to this story so you can see some pictures of the food I have been making. I accomplished some of my goal. Photos are on my computer, so they can be deleted off of my phone, thus freeing up some space on my phone’s memory, and I did add a lot, more than I planned to, in my post.

Posted in 2019 Trip | 1 Comment

November Happenings in my Life

I have been busy, I have also been making time to take it easy when I need to. My health condition continues to create some difficulty in my daily activities but I do my best to not let it stop me from doing what I want most of the time. I still go to the gym five days a week to do cardio and also chair yoga.

I recently found some Matcha green tea powder which seems to increase energy. I even made cookies with it. I have learned not to drink it late in the day if I want to sleep at night.

Today I made time to write stories on my website that have been a long time coming. I finally wrote the stories from September through now so if you have time, scroll down the home page of my website to read what I have been doing for some of my time.

Gina who owns an apartment where I live and I have been working on the flower beds here. They are primarily dirt and one of the men at the gym where I work out gave us lots of Bromeliads that we planted, and we also planted several young palm trees someone gave us.

At the end of October we had our building tented for termites. We had to leave our apartments for a few days for this process which really created work for all of us living here. We had to bag all of our food, including what is in the fridge and freezer, and cabinets. Also, medicine, medical supplies, etc. It was interesting watching the men put the tents on the entire building, and then we watched them remove the tents and roll them up again. It’s not a task I would want to do, especially being on the roof or climbing up ladders with these tarps and clamps.

I decided to buy a new Kitchenaid mixer. The Kitchenaid I have is about 30 years old and a 5 quart mixer. There was a great special that I saw for a 6 quart Kitchenaid, so after a lot of thought and prayer I decided to buy the larger one because it will allow me to make double and/or triple batches of dough for cookies and bread. My older mixer is good for single batches, and because it still works great and probably will for many years I am going to keep it. I bought the new mixer in Majestic Yellow which is a cheery color. Since I got it last week I have made numerous batches of cookies and many loaves of bread. Most of these baked items I have given to friends and neighbors, and I froze some for me to eat or give away later on. I also froze some balls of cookie dough so when I want fresh baked cookies I don’t have to mix batter, I can just put the dough on a cookie sheet and bake them.

The bakeware and cookware I use is by Curtis Stone and I absolutely love it. Nothing sticks to the pans and no oil or spray is needed. Cleaning the pans is easy which makes cooking lots more fun.

I have also been experimenting with new recipes which is fun and so far the results have been good. One of my friends came over for Thanksgiving and we baked biscotti. I usually convert cups to grams because it is more accurate of a measure. I learned this while working at the bakery in Texas. Well, we made a triple batch of chocolate, chocolate chip biscotti and in the process of converting the measures and calculating from a single batch to a triple batch, I seemed to have forgotten to add the cocoa powder. We mixed the dough and it seemed very soft. I thought perhaps it was the butter was mixed too much. So we put the dough in the fridge for an hour or so to firm up.

Since it was a triple batch of dough we measured it in six portions on a scale and as we were doing this I realized the dough was yellow, not chocolate. It was then I realized we didn’t add the cocoa powder which was why the dough was softer than usual. So, we stirred cocoa powder into the dough but not enough evidently. The Biscotti baked flatter than normal. It tastes good but it came out more like a cookie than Biscotti. I bet I don’t forget the cocoa powder again!!! It’s good every now and then to know I am not perfect. Thankfully, the cookies still tasted good and were edible so the ingredients were not wasted. I even made a pound of brown butter to use in my cookies. Brown butter has a wonderful flavor and it’s good in almost any food where butter is used.

Holidays are rapidly approaching and I bake more than normal. I stocked up on baking supplies including chocolate bark and candy canes. A few years ago at a bake sale I bought biscotti that tasted really good. It was dipped in chocolate and had crushed candy cane pieces stuck into the chocolate before it hardened so I want to make some this year.

On the way home from the Farm in September my check fridge light came on. Thankfully, it happened about 90 minutes or so from home. I turned the fridge on again a few days before I left for Native Rhythms and the light came on again. I took my camper to a RV repair place last week and they checked and increased the gas pressure which hopefully will correct the problem.

I made a very large lasagna the other night. I kept a portion and gave the rest to a neighbor who doesn’t cook very much and likes to eat. So, I cook extra for them and they reimburse me for the cost of their portion of the food. Since I am cooking anyway it’s easy for me to make extra and it helps them. I seem to always make lots of whatever I cook or bake so I have been surprising my neighbors with fresh baked goodies. I love seeing their surprised expressions.

Not much else is happening that I know of at the moment. At least now, as of today, my website is up-to-date as far as I know.

Posted in 2018 Trip | 1 Comment

Native Rhythms Festival, Melbourne, Florida

Once again November is the time for Native Rhythms Festival which is an exceptional Native American Flute Festival which is held at Wickham Park in Melbourne, Florida. I decided to attend again this year. It is their 10th anniversary and I think I have been to about 7 of them. Check out their website to read about the extraordinary performers and vendors.

I took numerous photos and posted the photos in an album. The lighting at night makes it difficult for me to get pictures with the actual colors because colored lights are used on the stage.

I’m glad I went because I got to see many of the vendors that are my friends and I get to help in their booths occasionally. I also love to watch the performers, several of whom are people I have heard and known over the years. This year, I did get to meet some new performers and I am so glad I met them. Shelley Morningsong and her husband Fabian Fontenelle were incredible. Shelley has the most pleasing and interesting voice and Fabian performed songs and dances that were centuries old. He had permission from his tribe to perform them. I was fortunate to be able to have some time to visit with them in their booth when they were not performing. Shelley and Fabian are so warm and they love talking with the people who stop by their booth, and I can tell they thoroughly enjoy performing and it’s evident how much they love each other.

Other performers I have seen before have new music they create and they include it in their performances. This year the weather cooperated and it was clear skies and sunny, and occasional cloud cover. Last year it rained really hard all weekend and we were sitting watching the performances using umbrellas. So, it was nice to have pleasant weather this year.

One of the workshops was on the Navajo Codetalkers. It was very interesting to hear the story behind these special Native Americans who helped the United States win the war and they were not allowed to tell anyone about it for about 40 years. Finally, the men involved were recognized, sadly many had died before they received the much earned recognition.

My friend Sandie Buttry creates the most unusual pieces of artwork. I am continually amazed at the items she puts together to create her magical pieces. She gave me permission to take pictures and post them on my website. Also, there was a man who had a booth selling his shirts and he painted his entire van with murals. He gave me permission to take pictures too. He said it took him an entire weekend to paint the van.


Posted in 2018 Trip | Leave a comment

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, October 2018

It’s that time of the year for Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I miss being there this year. I was there every year since 2011 except for 2013. And I know there’s a reason I wasn’t there God has revealed it to me and I’m okay with it but I still miss being there and seeing my friends and the balloons.

Thankfully Balloon Fiesta website has a live video available to watch on their website and I’ve been watching it periodically and taking pictures of the screen. There’s some lot of new special shape balloons and I’ve taken pictures of some of the ones they’ve shown and I’ll post those pictures that I’ve taken using my camera on the computer screen.

It was interesting watching it live on their website. This year, Drones were used during the event which provided some really great photos. In addition, while I was watching the balloon event periodically, I would see someone I know being interviewed, or a balloon pilot I know inflating or flying. So, I took pictures of the screen and texted it to them and they responded and thanked me for the pictures.

Here is an album of the pictures I took of the screen. It seems this year there were several of the sessions that were cancelled due to the high winds and weather conditions. Maybe next year I can be there in person. If not, I am not supposed to be there.

There were lots of new special shaped balloons this year, and several that are from previous years. Considering all of my photos were taken of my tablet screen, I think most of them came out pretty good.

During a portion of a few sessions there were skydivers jumping from planes. I was fascinated by the number of hours and the experience that was needed by each team member to be a part of the team that performs these skydiving exhibitions.

Watching the event online gave me a perspective that I didn’t have watching from the field when I was there. Between the drones (Colibri Cam) taking photos and the camera closeup pictures I was able to see the pilots competition close enough to see them dropping their rings and beanbags on the targets and I took pictures of that as well.  When I am at Fiesta I average taking about 3,000 pictures a year during the ten day event. This year taking photos of the screen and even with the cancelled sessions I took about 500 pictures.

Posted in 2018 Trip | Leave a comment

Relay For Life, Deerfield Beach and Eastern Broward County

I returned home from the farm the middle of September so I could have time to unpack and relax before the Relay for Life event on September 21st. I was asked to be the survivor speaker for the Luminaria ceremony. We had a pretty good turnout for the Relay.

Things always work out the way they are supposed to. I had written in a previous story about the Relay event being moved from April to September, and also about the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque not being able to guarantee a space with electric hookups so I didn’t go to Albuquerque this year for the first time in many years. I knew there was a reason I was not supposed to be there. Besides the fact that my insides have been causing a bit more pain and I would have had some difficulty driving about 5,000 or so miles.

While I was on my trip volunteering on the farm I found out about a mutual friend who was just diagnosed with cancer. I contacted her and told her I would get in touch with her when I got back in September. So, when I got home, I called and invited her to the Relay and she accepted. Also, I invited another friend of mine to Relay and when she got there we got talking and I found out that she had skin cancer a while ago. I told her that is still having cancer so she signed up as a survivor and walked the survivor lap with me and the other lady I invited.

It was really heart touching to be at the Relay for Life like it always is. However, this year it was extra special for me because I am able to have two new people experience Relay and they were able to see that there are many of us that had or have cancer and still can live full, productive lives. My friend who was recently diagnosed and will be having surgery and probably treatment was able to talk with people who have been through it already and also some going through it currently and it helped her in many ways, not only to know she is not alone, but that others have been through it and are doing well.

The woman who was the survivor speaker during the opening ceremony was amazing. She told her story and also shared that if she had the type of cancer she had three years ago she would have died from that type of cancer. However, due to research and funding for research that the Relays provide, there was a cure for the type of cancer she had.

Once again, JB’s on the Beach provided the survivor dinner and it was delicious and plentiful like always. They served ribs, chicken, and side dishes. We appreciate their continued support.

Finally, after dinner and walking several laps around the track it was dark and it was time for the Luminaria ceremony. I was called to the stage to tell my story as a survivor. I don’t ever plan in advance what I will share, I ask God to let me share what I am supposed to and I speak from my heart. I shared my story and tried to be sure to include hope.

After I spoke and sat down a woman came up to me and asked for my contact info. I didn’t know who she was but I gave it to her anyway. A day or so later she contacted me. It turns out Diane is the editor of a local newspaper and she said she wants to write a story about me as a cancer survivor for the newspaper. So we talked a while to fill in the details she missed or needed for the story. I thought it was only going to be a short article about me and would mostly be about the Relay event. I was really surprised when the newspaper came out a few days later and I saw all she wrote about me.

She gave me a PDF copy of the article and gave me permission to include it on my website. So here it is. Diane also included two photos she took of me during my talk. I don’t remember standing with my hand on my hip. In fact, I don’t really remember most of what I shared but as I left the stage several of my friends and some people I don’t know came over and gave me hugs and said I delivered a powerful message. I am grateful to God for whatever I shared and like other times I talk I don’t tell myself I should have said ??? when I ask God to say what I need to that is the best I can ask for and how my talks come out is how they are supposed to be.

I contacted the newspaper to see if I can get a file to upload here, the one that was sent I am having trouble uploading so I took pictures of the article with my camera. It might be a while before it gets corrected.

Posted in 2018 Trip | Leave a comment

Home Again and more photos from Hurricane Creek Farm

After being away helping at the farm for two months I am back home. Here are some more photos that I took a day or so before I left the farm. The three little piglets have been growing and exploring and now will let us pet them. They have been interacting with the dogs and other animals and also still cuddling up with each other when they sleep. It has been fun watching them grow and get braver. And when they eat they have to all get into the food dish at the same time and climb over each other. Even if there are multiple dishes they want the same one.

I am glad I left when I did, a few weeks later Hurricane Michael went through the Florida Panhandle and through Tallahassee and north where the farm is and they lost electricity for almost three weeks. Thankfully, the only damage was to some trees, no animals or people were injured there.

Posted in 2018 Trip | 1 Comment

Update on my stay at Hurricane Creek Pig Farm

I am still helping Lorri and her parents at the farm. Lots has been happening here. We still go to Tallahassee several times a week to get mash and bread that we feed to all of the animals.  I have been making various meals, desserts, and bread for us all to enjoy. Last night I made pizza from scratch and everyone seemed to enjoy it. A few nights ago I baked 4 batches of cookies, 2 different recipes, two batches of each. We froze most of the cookies so we would not eat them all at once.

Lorri asked me to inform my readers about the types of pigs and dogs here. I didn’t write much about it in my previous story because I wasn’t sure if she wanted me to, but she gave me permission to include it. You can read about the dogs which are Kangals which are bred as livestock guardian dogs and are from Turkey and bred to protect animals. They patrol at night and do their best to keep predators off the property. Many nights I can hear them barking probably to keep hawks, coyotes, etc. away from the animals. I hear coyotes howling in the distance and then the dogs mimic them.

When I first arrived the dogs barked at me and stayed close to me because they didn’t know me. When I went into Lorri’s house I had to talk loudly and let them know it was me and that it was okay for me to be there. Lorri or her dad was with me at first to let the dogs know I was okay to be there. Now, after several weeks there they seldom even get up when I go in the house. If we are outside, sometimes they walk with me from the house to my camper, and other times they ignore me. There are nine dogs, and most of them weigh almost as much as I do. I think Smokey weighs more than me as do the adult pigs. The black dog Tread is a pit bull and very loving and gentle to Lorri, her parents, and now me. He adores Lorri and wants to be near her. When we go into Tallahassee to get the mash or bread he comes with us and he waits patiently, mostly resting and keeping aware of his surroundings while we take the bread out of cases and throw it into the trailer. I wrote about the bread and showed photos in the previous story about the farm.

However, Lorri informed me that it’s only because she told all of the dogs that it’s okay for me to be here and she was with me several times when she told them that I am safe with them. Otherwise, if she doesn’t tell or show them a person is okay the dogs won’t be this way with a person. This breed is known as protectors of the night. In Turkey this breed was developed over centuries to become this protective dog. They are sweet to a baby but they will kill any threat that comes into their territory. In fact one of the dogs is named Nyx which means protector of the night.

I took lots of pictures of the newest babies and added them to the photo album from the previous story. The little ones are so cute to watch. They usually run in a pack, even at a day or two old. They sleep on top of each other too. I guess this makes a larger target and keeps them safer. They don’t always stay by their mama. One of the new mamas was interested in something she smelled along the fence and she used her nose to move logs. I tried to take some pictures with a larger pig, or my glove or something else in the photo so you can see the size of the babies. Several photos I took within a day of the baby pigs being born. I don’t know if the newest photos are towards the end of the album, I hope they are. The yellow glove in the pictures below are my work gloves, and I have a pretty small hand so you can tell the size of this newborn piglet.

Most of the pigs are American Guinea Pigs which were endangered several years ago and are now called critical. There are also Red Waddle pigs and a few cross breed varieties. You can search the Internet to read about these breeds and the Kangal dogs. The American Guinea Pig was almost extinct about 15 years ago. There were only about 12 left in the wallow. With a log of work there are over 7,000 registered now. This breed datess back to the original “yard” pig. They are slow growing with a “gourmet” type quality to their meat. They are small like a pot belly pig, very docile and live in a large family unit. The dads (boars) will even babysit occasionally.

Two weeks ago three baby pigs were born and we couldn’t tell who the mama was, so Lorri and I taught them how to eat formula, I wrote about that in the previous story. Two weeks later and the “little monsters” as we lovingly refer to them are growing rapidly and are developing personalities. After a week in Lorri’s shower and bathroom they were moved outside to a pen on the porch so they could get fresh air and not be such a mess in the Lorri’s bathroom where they were for the first week of their life so they could be watched, fed, and be safe.You can see by the pictures in the paragraph below this one how they have grown in a week. The pictures in the shower are when they are only a day or two old.

They are so much fun to watch, especially when they are eating. We put their food in a metal 9 x 13 inch pan and they put their entire bodies into the pan and climb over each other eating. All three of them can fit into the 9 x 13 inch pan. They get so messy. Every time they see Lorri or me they come over and think they are going to get food. We feed them every three hours, but you would think by seeing them that they are always starving. They are really growing quickly, there are two females and one male. He has two white front feet and seems to be the smallest. Today they were let out of the pen and given free roaming privileges on the property and they had a great time and then came back automatically to their spot on the porch when they were done exploring.

Today when I was with the babies aka “little monsters” one of the huge mama pigs was laying in water in a 5′ round plastic pool on the porch near them that we keep for the dogs and other animals to drink from. I didn’t have my phone or camera with me or I would have taken a photo.

Sadly, in the past several days we lost three baby piglets. One was a few days old and it just disappeared, we think maybe a hawk got it but we don’t really know. Another one got sick or something happened to it because it just died. Than most sadly, there was piglet probably a month old I’m guessing, we don’t really know. It could have been a few weeks old. Another little approximately two or three week old female about 5 or 6 days ago was not doing well, we have no idea what was wrong but it looked thin and lethargic, so Lorri put it in her bathroom and hand fed her and then a few days later I helped feeding her. We gave her formula in a syringe because she couldn’t stand up or eat like the other babies. Yesterday, I gave her a little formula at 10 a.m., then at 2 p.m. she wasn’t doing well but ate a little formula, when I went at 4 p.m. to feed again she was dead. It was very sad. But, that’s life. And the other babies both in pens in the pasture and on the porch are all doing well. As an after note, Lorri read my story and told me that this little pig that died was the baby of the pig that moved the logs along the fence.  I saw this baby right after it was born and here it is couple weeks later and sadly it’s an angel.

When we are out in the penned area feeding the pigs we look for the babies and mamas to make sure all is well. The pigs love their feed time and run towards us for the food. I get to hold the babies every now and then but they don’t really like to be held and we have to be careful some mamas are okay with their babies being away from them and some aren’t. The babies in this story are mostly a day or up to three days old. They are born with their eyes open and able to walk immediately.

It’s amazing to me how fast these piglets can run with their small bodies and short legs. I have a hard time trying to catch them. They do recognize me and know I give them food and they follow me. Yesterday I was sitting in my camper and I felt it moving which should not have happened since a few days ago I put some wide boards under my front tires to get level on a wider surface because the pigs kept digging and trying to get up against and under my camper. So, I got wider boards to be more secure under the tires and I put wood pallets along the sides of the camper. Now, mostly ducks and small pigs get under the camper. However, yesterday, I felt a huge move in the camper and when I went out to see what it was I saw the large bull against the front fender. It seems he and one of the horses took down a large, heavy, long metal gate that is probably 20 feet long and four or five feet high that I can’t move easily by myself. I went to get Lorri’s father Brian and he and I got the bull and horse back in the pen with the other cows and horses and we got the gate secured again. You can see the metal gate in the photos below.

Horse that escaped from his pen walked across the yard and went to the garage area where we keep the bread and he knocked the metal lid off of a 50 gallon drum of bread and was eating from the drum when we found him. To get him back to his penned area I took a loaf of bread and he followed me the entire way back, as did several other animals. I have to be careful around the horses, bulls, and cows because they are really strong and much larger than I am.

About a week ago I noticed that one of the ducks had 14 baby ducklings with her so we got them in a chicken coop so that the pigs and other animals would not hurt or eat them. They are growing and adorable. Out of one hatch the ducklings are a variety of colors and they stay close to their mama.

In my previous story I wrote about one of the mama pigs that took hay several hundred yards from a bale of hay to a spot where she wanted to have her babies. A few days after that when we went to check on her we saw the entire round bale of hay was spread out over a big area. It seems the cows and horses scattered that entire round bale rather than leave it whole. I also went to the pond and watched some of the pigs wallowing in the mud to cool off.

It’s still funny to watch them stampede towards the penned area where they are fed. All the animals, pigs, goats, ducks, geese, and dogs come running from everywhere. The four geese seem to all stay in a group. The ducks now seem to like laying under my camper since I raised it up a bit on wider boards.

Last week we drove about 90 miles into Georgia and brought 6 pigs to be slaughtered into different products. A week later we went and picked up the butchered meat and by products. Everything is used either by being made into sausage, brats, pork chops, and lard. All other parts including the heads, bones, etc. are brought back and given to the dogs and other animals over a period of time. I think there are about 5 or 6 large freezers here that handles all of the frozen meat, etc. We have eaten some sausages, brats, and pork chops and they are really good and of course all natural. We know what they eat since we raise them here.

That’s about it for now.

Posted in 2018 Trip | Leave a comment

New Adventure for me, Volunteering on Hurricane Creek Farm in north Florida, Blue Springs Recreational Area, Marianna, Florida

It seems that it is official that I will not be going to Albuquerque to volunteer at the Balloon Fiesta this year. There is a new lady in charge of the volunteers and the RV area and since she cannot guarantee an electric connection for me, I decided not to go out there. I don’t want to dry camp for 6 weeks. This also means that I most probably will not  be going to Texas either.

I went online to Workamper and various volunteer job websites and after several phone calls, I think I found the perfect place for me to volunteer this year. In Havana, Florida, which is about 15 miles north of Tallahassee, Florida, a lady named Lorri has a farm and due to health issues she needs help on her farm which is called Hurricane Creek Farms, it is not the same as the one in North Carolina. This is named for a nearby creek. It seems like the perfect place for me to help out this year.

On my way to north Florida to the farm, I stopped for a few days to visit my friend Cindy in Yulee near Jacksonville. It was nice to see her again and catch up on life.

I arrived safely at the farm. Lots of animals here. It’s a pig farm with more than 100 pigs from cute little babies to full grown adults including a 400 pound male named Porkchop. Here is an album of photos I have taken so far since I have been here.

Update:August 26th, I wrote a new story about my time here, it’s above this one and I added new pictures since I first wrote this story, they are at the end of the album.

The breed of dog here is called a Kangal, it’s a breed from Turkey that is breed for the purpose of being a guardian of livestock animals and protecting animals and also people from predators. Feel free to explore the Internet to read up about this interesting and special breed of dog. The breed of pig is called the American Guinea Pig which was an endangered breed and is now on the critical list. It doesn’t get as large as the pink pigs which are what is breed for meat at the grocery store. There are also Red Waddle breed pigs here and some cross breed pigs. You can search the Internet to read more about these breeds.

We have not done any fence work yet, only had to fix a spot or two where the animals could get out of their fenced area. I am quite impressed with part of a fence where pallets are used as a fence. Very clever how they were attached to create a sturdy fence.

There are 9 very large protective Kangal dogs that guard the property and us, 2 horses, several cows, goats, ducks, geese, and chickens. These dogs are great watchdogs and very large. The pigs that roam free like to lay in the dirt next to my camper. The adults lay against the sides of my camper and the little ones crawl under my camper. Sometimes when I am in the camper I feel it moving which means an adult pig is getting settled into the dirt against my camper van. We put some pallets around the camper so the pigs can’t lay against it. The bottom edges have red dirt along the sides from the pigs wedging up under the van as close as they can get.

I’m parked in the shade under a large live oak tree. I have electric hookup using an extension cord. There is a water connection near where I’m parked. There is a large pond on the property which the animals love, I think especially the pigs. They like to go in and cool off in the early evening after they are fed. The other animals also go there as well. Lorri told me that the pigs don’t have sweat glands so the mud and water keeps their body temperature cool. We have had LOTS of rain, almost every day, so there is lots of mud. There is not any grass here, it’s all pretty much sand and dirt.

I got to hold some baby pigglets from a day old to 6 weeks old. They don’t really like being held and they voice their opinion loudly. Eventually, a few of them quieted down and enjoyed being cuddled and they fell asleep in my arms.The newly born pigs are soft like a puppy and they have floppy ears. They are also the size of a newborn puppy and are born with their eyes open and with teeth. Several of the new babies have white feet like their daddy.

Even though the babies have short legs and are small they can keep up with the larger and older 6 month old piglets and even the adults. They run so fast I can’t catch them. The hair and skin on the older pigs is stiff and not soft at all, even at a couple of months they have bristles. I remember years ago buying boar bristle hair brushes. Now I know why the bristles on the brush were so stiff and hard.

One mama pig had 7 babies recently. I see them running after her frequently, all in a pack usually. One day I saw them sleeping and they were laying on each other in a pyramid, it was so cute. I didn’t have my camera with me so I couldn’t get a photo. Sometimes the mama is laying on her belly and the babies want to eat so they keep nudging her until she rolls over on her side.

Since I have been here several pigs have had litters, one was a new mom and she evidently either didn’t feel well or didn’t know how to take care of her 3 babies, so Lorri brought them into the house and she gave them to me to hold for a while, they were so soft and probably only a few hours old, a day at the most. They were about 4 inches high and about 8 to 10 inches long. Lorri made some milk type formula and she and I took the babies and put formula on our finger and put it in the babies mouth letting them figure out how to suck or lick the formula off of our finger. After numerous attempts and our persistence, they finally learned and then we put formula in bowls and the little ones figured out how to drink the formula. They are now in Lorri’s bathroom and we feed them every 3 hours like a puppy. They make a mess walking through the formula and after they are fed they curl up together and go to sleep.

One of the more experienced moms had babies the other day, we only saw two and don’t know if she had more and something happened to them, or if she only had two. I learned that the moms go into a trance during the birthing process and for a while after. One of the new moms took hay from a bale several hundred yards away and carried it by mouthfuls to a spot where she made her nest to have her babies. I couldn’t believe all the time and effort that must have taken her looking at the distance she had to take hay and how many trips she must have made. The photo in the middle shows the pig, her nest, and in the background the round bale of hay in the distance. The pictures below are two different mamas who had babies a day or two apart. One made her nest on a tarp, the other on a bed of hay, both had two babies one of each litter had white feet.

There are several large round bales of hay in the yard near the house and last night I saw a large mama pig laying down eating hay from the bale and one of her babies that is several months old standing and eating. It’s really something to watch the pigs when it’s feeding time. They come running like a stampede from all over the yard following the tractor with the bread. They also like to stay near the carport where the bread is stored hoping they get some extra during the day, and of course they do. I give them some when I am working on the bread, now they also follow me when I am walking around the property thinking I have more food for them.

At least once a week, sometimes more, we go to Tallahassee to a small beer brewery and get a large tub of mash leftover from the brewing process and it gets fed to the animals. We also go to a bread outlet in Tallahassee about once a week and get a large trailer of outdated bread. The bread is in trays and we have to physically throw each loaf of bread into Lorri’s trailer and we usually fill it. I think it’s about 4 feet wide by 5 feet high by 12 feet long. Then my job is to take the bread out of each bag and put it into five 50 gallon drums every day so it can get fed to the animals. It takes me about 2 hours to fill those containers. It’s not really hard, but it gets really hot and I get soaked, and I try to keep a portable fan blowing on me while I am working which cools the temperature down from 90 degrees. I also try to do it later in the afternoon or earlier in the morning so it’s not the heat of the day, and I am in a covered carport while working on the bread.

It’s really sad to see how much bread is wasted and not used by the expiration dates. I think of all of the people in our country and around the world that could use this bread. However, the bread company says they can’t give it out to people for their food. Some of the bread is getting moldy and I am sure they don’t want to take chances of people getting sick. To discourage the sale or use of this bread, they slash the plastic wrapper which is helpful to me when I am taking the bread out of the bags. If the bags are not cut, I cut them open with a knife. I found out after the first time or two that it works better if I wear my work gloves when doing the bread, and I also wear a headband/bandana to keep my hair and sweat out of my eyes.

Lorri and her parents are very nice to me, I eat meals with them and I brought my own pots and baking pans and I have cooked several meals and numerous desserts. Like me, they all have a sweet tooth!!! And I get to take a shower in the guest bathroom, and I use their washer and dryer for my clothes. This is an improvement for me. When I am in Albuquerque I wash my hair and my body using a hose at the faucet next to my camper and I wash my clothes in a bucket. I could have driven to a laundromat but it wasn’t always convenient. It was easier to wash them by hand every few days. Although, I didn’t get as dirty and sweaty there as I am working on the farm here.

One day recently, we took a day off and drove to Marianna, Florida, about an hour away and went to Blue Springs Recreation Area, where I took lots of pictures. It’s a county park with a spring fed lake that also has a cave and crystal clear cold water. It was a really nice park. I didn’t go in the water, I was told that it is very cold. I sat under a tree and read a book while Lorri and her friend went wading in the lake every now and then to cool off. I was going to go in a bit later in the afternoon, but that didn’t happen due to an unexpected thunderstorm.

Due to the heat, I make sure that I drink plenty of water, and some coconut water, to keep hydrated. I also take naps during the day as I need them. And I make sure to eat during the day including dinner. Most of the time my pain is not too bad, I still have some days that are more challenging than other days, so I take it easy when necessary.


Posted in 2018 Trip | 1 Comment

June 2018 Happenings, Sticky Bun great place to eat, ID on ME Medical Alert Bracelet, New Trip

Not much has been happening the past couple of months. I still make my best effort to go to the gym every day and do cardio exercises and/or yoga and chair yoga. It really makes me feel better to do these exercises and stretches. I find as I am getting older that it is more necessary now than when I was younger to stay fit and active.

I can’t remember when I wrote my last health update so I will give a brief one here. In January I had another CT Scan. It showed my tumor is about the same size which is a good sign that it didn’t grow in the past year. I think it shifts position every now and then because my insides hurt a bit more, my ribs occasionally feel bruised which means organs are shifting and putting pressure on my lungs, liver, or whatever other organs it presses on. The scan also showed that I have degenerative arthritis in my lumbar spine. This had not been identified in any previous scans. I guess this accounts for the extra pain in my lower back. Also, I am having increased pain and numbness in my left leg and three toes on my left foot.

When I am doing yoga or cardio exercises there are some that feel like they strain parts of my body, especially my internal organs, so I modify the exercise or do fewer repetitions than everyone else does. The main thing is that I still try to do them. Some mornings I feel like staying in bed and not moving because I hurt, but like I have written in several posts over the years… I know this tumor, and it’s side effects of putting pressure on my organs, will win and take my life, unless something else happens to do that, but I will do my best to fight it and not let it win easily.

To stay busy besides working out at the gym, I have been crocheting baby blankets and hats for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at a local hospital. So far, I have made and donated about 60 hats and 350 blankets since last April. I bought lots of yarn and have enough still to make another approximately 100 or more blankets. I did so many so fast the past few months that I strained muscles and tendons in my arms, hands, and neck so I have had to take periodic breaks for a week or two then when I feel the pain has gone away I start again. But then, what do I do??? I crochet too many in a short time again and aggravate my tendons and muscles. I don’t do well just sitting and not doing anything. I need to start reading books again. I find when I watch television, which is not all that often, that I like to crochet and stay busy rather than just sitting and not accomplishing anything productive. The nurses at the hospital tell me that the mothers really like and appreciate the blankets they get to take home for their baby. I use different colors that are usually bright and cheerful and I used a multicolored yarn with a solid so the blanket can be used for either a boy or girl.

I am still baking bread from scratch, and baking cookies, making caramel candy, and trying new recipes for meals. I have found many new foods that I like to cook and I make extra and freeze some so I can just thaw something out to eat and I also share some with friends and neighbors.

Using my Curtis Stone cookware and bakeware has made it so much more fun to cook. I have no hesitation to cook anything because nothing sticks to these pans, not even caramel candy or syrup. Even if food burns or bakes on the pan it is very easy to clean with a sponge and water. No cooking spray has to be used for baking cookies on their cookie sheets, it seems that the cookies bake better and have a nicer crunch on the bottom of the cookie since there is no grease or spray between the batter and pan. Since no cooking sprays or oils need to be used on the pans the food tastes better and there is only the flavor of the ingredients used in the recipe. If you want great pans to use go to HSN and check out Curtis Stone products. My cookware is a little over a year old and still looks brand new.

If you are in or near Deerfield Beach, Florida, and want a great place to eat, go to The Sticky Bun in the Cove Shopping Center on Hillsboro Blvd, just west of the Intracoastal Waterway. Mike and Pauline are the owners and they are both amazing cooks and bakers. Mike smokes the meat they use in their meals, and the food you order is made when your order is taken and served immediately when it’s ready. Mike smokes his own bacon, turkey, pulled pork and beef, etc. They make the best Cuban sandwich and Turkey sandwich I have ever eaten, I have them add bacon to their turkey sandwich. It’s a small privately owned business and they are closed on Mondays. I cannot ever finish my sandwich it’s so large and so I get to take half home to enjoy for another meal. I proudly wear a t-shirt a friend bought me for the Sticky Bun and when I wear it either to the gym or around town it always brings comments of people who love eating there too or who have heard about it but not eaten there yet. The Sticky Bun has a great reputation and is busy every time I go there. Their decor is beautiful, and they are dog friendly.

One of the major things I have done is to make sure that I wear my medic alert bracelet so I have information regarding my health condition and contact information in the event that something unexpectedly happens to me. Often when I go walking I don’t carry identification on me. If something were to happen I would be a Jane Doe. I didn’t want an engraved ID bracelet. Besides not liking the way they look, they don’t have much space for information. I kept searching and then last year, I came across an ID bracelet I liked. It comes in several colors, and I can write my information and it’s enclosed in a case on the bracelet. I was able to put my name, what state my drivers license is issued from, my doctors name and phone number, my medicines, allergies, people to contact if something happens to me, and my funeral information. I also added that there is an emergency contact card in my wallet.

Check out to see the selection of identification options ID ON ME offers. They also have ID bracelets, key chain charms, etc. that are not medical alert bracelets, and also various options for children, pets, and other areas of notification that may be of interest to you. This is an important item for people to wear especially if they have health issues. I see people at the gym working out and straining themselves and pushing themselves to extreme limits. I bet none of them has any contact info with them in case something unforeseen happens to them.

One of my elderly friends recently told me that she doesn’t know what happened to her a few weeks ago, she must have unexpectedly passed out and not realized it. She was in a room at her clubhouse and the next thing she knew she woke up in the emergency room. She didn’t have any info on her and she has several medical conditions. I gave her one of these ID on ME bracelets and filled out the form for her with the same types of info on my bracelet form. She didn’t even know the contact info for her funeral arrangements so with her help we found the info and added it to her form.

I like this company and their products. With the ID bracelet they include four pieces of their special non-tear paper so if life situations and health conditions change a new paper can be written and inserted in the bracelet compartment which happens to be water resistant. After my mom died last year I changed the paper insert in my medic bracelet, so I am glad they give extra papers in their package. I also bought several extra bracelets which I give to friends when I find out they have medical conditions and don’t have a medic alert bracelet.  Be a friend and give this as a gift to your family and friends. Even children should wear some identification info on them, as should really everyone. These items can be worn or used and look nice since they come in different colors and styles. They can even be worn on sneaker laces or put on key rings.

I am starting to get ready and am in the process of planning another trip. I am not exactly sure of my departure date or route yet. I may not be going to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta this year. There is a new volunteer coordinator and she is also in charge of the RV areas. I spoke with her and she said there are more people and officials this year than in the past and it looks like no Navigators (which is what us volunteers are called) will have RV spots with electric and water connections. I don’t want to drive about 2,000 miles there and volunteer and camp for the usual six weeks I am there. I need about 125 volunteer hours in order to have electric and water hookups. That is why the past few years I got to Albuquerque in late August. I worked at the office before Fiesta and volunteered during the event and I had more hours than was needed.

My first three years at Fiesta I arrived five days before Fiesta and only volunteered during the event. I dry camped during those three years, then I found out I could volunteer before Fiesta and work enough hours to have electric. I have done the dry camping route enough to know that I don’t want to do it again for any more than a few days at a time unless there is no alternative. Since I cannot be guaranteed hookups this year, I most probably will not go to Fiesta, it would have been my seventh year there. I guess it’s time for me to do something different and take a different route on this trip.

I am seriously considering driving to south Georgia and northwest South Carolina to visit the firefighters that I still stay in touch with and haven’t seen in several years. Going to South Carolina means driving in the mountains which will be a pretty drive. It is a bit harder on my body and my van, but it will be okay. I don’t have any specific time to be anywhere. If I go north, then I will most probably not attend and volunteer at the hot air balloon event in Longview, Texas. I really enjoy that event which is held the end of July but it is not even close to where I will be and it’s too far to go there and come all the way back east to go north. However, plans change. I write them in sand and will see how I feel and what my energy level is close to when I leave. I have not even started packing or putting things together for my trip.

I did buy a new Garmin GPS recently. My other one still works and is only about two years old. This new one has voice commands which should come in handy on trips. I tried saying a few places and some it found and others it wasn’t even close even with multiple attempts at saying the place or city. When I am driving sometimes I want to know where a campground, rest area, or gas station is and it’s dangerous to try and type it in the GPS when I am driving. Usually there is not anywhere to pull over to do a GPS search other than the shoulder of the road which is not a safe place to stop other than an emergency. I am hopeful this newer GPS with the voice command will be beneficial.

My Camping with the Corps of Engineers book is from 2011 and on this past trip I realized that it’s really out of date. The Tom Merrill Recreation Area campground I went to east of Shreveport listed the campground as primitive with spots only 20 feet long. I was really surprised when I got there to find paved spots that could take long RV’s. I was telling one of my friends that I was getting ready for my trip and looking at routes and that I needed to get a couple of new campground books and she said she wanted to buy them for me as an early birthday present. I said I would buy them myself but she insisted. I thanked her but I have to be honest, it is a lot easier for me to be the giver than the receiver. My friend Lois who was an important part of my life when she was alive once asked me what it felt like to do for others and to give to others. I said it feels good. She then told me if I don’t let others do for me or give to me then I am depriving them of that feeling. It really made me think, but it is still difficult for me to be on the receiving side. In case you use the Camping with the Corps of Engineer book, a new one was just published on May 1, 2018. The format of information is a bit different, but the information is now up-to-date.

In December, I finally gave in and bought a new android phone. My other one was five years old and the charging port no longer worked and it was not convenient to continually change the battery out for recharged ones that I had to manually charge. So, I went to Sprint and bought a new android phone. It’s not the fanciest or most expensive one, in fact it’s one of the least costly ones. It still does about all the same things as the expensive ones. Some features on the new phone I really like, others I miss. My older phone had a slide out keyboard which was nice to have, but the technology was so old that applications were not able to be updated or added. This new phone allows me to add applications and I added two games. Sadly, one of the games on my old phone is no longer available so I don’t have it on my new phone or tablet.

Enjoy life, have fun, try new things and experience new places and adventures. Life is short. I read the other day about Bode Miller’s 19 month old daughter drowning in a swimming pool. Her life was cut short, very sad. So enjoy life while you can.  I once read something that said… Live each day as if it’s your last, one of these days you are going to be right. A billboard I once saw said… Dream as if you will live forever, live as if you will die tomorrow.

Life is short and passes quickly. Search my website for a story called… Seriously, you would rather be an Ostrich? Also, you can search for inspirational poems and stories, and the word Lois so you can read some wisdom she shared with me during her lifetime. Also, search for Dr. Seuss Oh The Places You’ll Go and read it out loud in funny voices, it will brighten your day and put your life in perspective, at least it does that for me. I read it often and give the book as gifts to friends. There is lots of wisdom in the words in this book. I have a link in a previous story for this book and also for the Real Story of the Three Little Pigs. Search my website for the links to these books, or you can do your own search.



Posted in 2018 Trip | 1 Comment

Historic Butler House, Deerfield Beach, Florida

Today there was a fundraiser for the Deerfield Beach/Lighthouse Point, Pompano Beach/Hillsboro Beach Relay for Life event which will be held at Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield Beach on Saturday, September 22nd, from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. on September 23rd. The name is being changed to the Northeast Broward Relay. Everyone is welcome to attend. Please come out and support the cancer survivors and caregivers and everyone who works hard to put on this event. There are several positions available if you or anyone you know may be interested. Teams are also needed, so go to and enter your zip code to find a Relay event near you. There are stories on my website for the Deerfield Beach Relay held in previous years when I participated as a committee member, survivor, and team member.

I have been to the Butler House for other fundraisers, however, I always like to go inside the Butler House to look at the antique furniture and the unique items in the gift shop. Also, there is a Banyan tree in the yard that is over 100 years old. It was on the property already when the house was built in 1923. The Butler House is open to the public every Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2:o0 p.m. there is no charge to tour the house. The last Saturday of the month there are various activities like concerts and garage sales. Here are some links for information regarding the Butler House.  Broward County National Register for the Butler House and Deerfield Beach Historical Society Butler House.

Here is a photo album with pictures I took today, which includes pictures of many of the informational signs on the furniture. In April 2016, I was the Butler House for another Relay for Life fundraiser, here is a link to that story and photo album.

A few pictures of the house are shown below, for more pictures please check out the photo album. It’s nice that some things have improved like washing machines. Back in the early 1900’s the washing machines were ringer machines and I remember when I was young seeing my great grandmother feeding her clothes and linens through the ringers to squeeze the water out of the clothes.


Surprise, on rare occasions I can post a story and pictures the same day as I took them and was at an event. It doesn’t happen often because usually I don’t have WiFi access, but today I am able to.

Posted in 2018 Trip | Leave a comment

Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Okeechobee, Florida

I have been back home since the end of November and I haven’t taken any trips, not even locally. So I decided since I haven’t been to see my friend Sue Arnold who runs Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, in Okeechobee, Florida, in about a year, I went there March 23rd through 25th. I drove my camper there so I could stay there for a few days. Thankfully, the weather was nice and it didn’t rain.

It’s always a great adventure to go there and to see not only the animals that I have seen over the many years I have gone there, but also to see what new animals have taken up residency or are being rehabilitated so they can be released. As always, there are several new animals, and sadly several have died some due to age, some to predators that somehow find a way into the cages of some animals.

This visit I got to pet a camel, lemurs, Capuchin monkeys, kangaroos, an albino wallaby, and several other animals. There are also several new types of chickens which always make me smile seeing the various types of feathers they have. Some look like pompoms, others have feathers sticking out in all directions, others have beautiful feathers. One of the days a large crane somehow flew out of the enclosure and several of us had to circle it and herd it into the fenced in area where it belongs. A few male peacocks were trying to impress the female peacocks and kept spreading their feathers and dancing around showing them off. It was pretty interesting to watch.

One of the ringtail lemurs had twin babies a few days before my visit. I was feeding grapes to the animals. When I was feeding the ringtail lemurs I noticed that one of them had two babies clinging to her chest.

A few years ago when I was at Arnold’s one of the ringtail lemurs had a baby that was two days old when I got there and I was there for five days and saw it begin to crawl and explore it’s surroundings.

I have posted a photo album with pictures I took during my three day stay. There are too many pictures to include in this story. Sue and her volunteers work so hard and such long hours every day caring for the numerous animals, feeding them and cleaning their dishes and cages several times a day. There are no restaurants nearby and the drive into town which normally would take about 20 minutes now takes a couple of hours due to construction and only one lane of traffic being open. Thankfully, I know the back road way to get there so I don’t get caught in the traffic. So, I always bring food with me to eat for us and the animals.

When I was about 20 minutes from the wildlife center I was driving past the garbage mound dump station and what did I see in the road… a five foot alligator. This is a back road with not much traffic, so I stopped my vehicle to see what the alligator would do. I wasn’t sure if it would continue crossing the street. I waited and the gator looked around and decided to turn around and go back into the ditch. When I saw it and stopped, it was halfway across the two lane road. I wasn’t able to get a picture, but it really was cool to see an alligator crossing the street.

Upon arriving at the wildlife center and saying hi to Sue and her volunteers and giving them the fruit and food I brought for the animals, I started to walk around the grounds. I saw some new animals which included pigs, sheep, and several new horses. The little pond was empty. It seems it lost power during the hurricane last year and the fish died. Eventually the pond will be filled and restocked. After the chance of a frost is past the butterfly garden will be worked on. This is a beautiful and wonderful area of the grounds that is shaped like a butterflies body and wings and it was created in memory on one of Sue’s daughters who died several years ago from Cancer.

To read about my previous visits to Arnold’s Wildlife do a search on my website and it will show links to my previous stories and photo albums. If you are looking for a great place to make a donation, or leave money in your will, I highly recommend Arnold’s. All of the donations go to taking care of the animals and buying a good quality food for them. Sue says that since she buys human quality food at Publix and a private meat source the animals are healthier and the vet bills are less. She doesn’t feed them Walmart food products any longer, and hasn’t for several years and the animals are healthier.

I continued walking around and I was able to feed fruit to several animals including my favorites the monkeys. They love fruit and will take it out of my hand and let me pet them through the cage and also will usually let me hold their fingers which is a most wonderful feeling. Their fingers are almost like ours, they have finger nails and their hands are so soft. The Lemurs fur feels like a really soft stuffed animal that would be great to cuddle with.

As I was walking past the racoon cage in the morning, I saw one of the raccoons curled up sleeping in a net hung from a branch. I stood there and watched for a while amazed that it was curled up in a tight ball. Gradually the raccoon woke up and got out of the net.

The day I arrived, the mama camel Lulu came over to me and let me pet her, her two year old daughter Annie didn’t come close this time, but I got to watch her drink water out of a pipe that was at the height of her head. There is a new three year old kangaroo, some new foxes, and a few other animals. It seems people buy these animals and then either they die, move, or are unable to take care of them so they find a great home with Sue at Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Sometimes state officials find or confiscate animals and bring them to her also. I doubt the person giving up their animal provides funding for it’s care and upkeep, but I would like to hope they do. Every time I am there, Sue gets numerous calls a day saying they found an animal sometimes injured or orphaned, and want to bring it to her. She seldom refuses any animal and when necessary takes it to a vet or has the vet come to her.

I tend to be a bit upset sometimes when I see that people walking around don’t put money in the donation box. Sue charges $10 per adult, and children under 12 are free. All the money donated goes to the care and feeding of the animals and this costs about $1,500 a month just for food. That doesn’t include vet bills, medical treatment, cages, utilities, etc .

There are two new baby otters and Sue said that humans have to get in the water with them and teach them how to swim. Usually the otters mother does that but these are orphans and they have to be taught by surrogate mothers, humans. There are also some baby possums and squirrels that are being hand fed and kept warm on heating pads. Also a loon found it’s way to Florida and it can only move in water or fly. It’s legs are behind them and they don’t walk like regular birds.

While I was there Sue’s nutritionist who lives in Iowa and comes to visit I think monthly to check the animals and their diet to make sure they are getting the proper nutrition was there and they were taking about tainted pet food that killed about 15,000 animals. I hadn’t heard about this and asked them what happened. They told me that many pet food companies used euthanized animals in the pet food, both dry and wet food for dogs and cats. I couldn’t believe pet food companies would do that, but they did. It seems it helps to reduce the cost of the food and it helped to get rid of dead animals. Using euthanized animals in the food is not good. The chemicals that they give the animals to euthanize them, and probably to get them sick ones healthy so they can euthanize them in some cases, is still in the dead animal and it is then in the processed pet food.

This is not only lower cost pet foods, but also in many name brands including many that advertise they sell healthy pet food and also advertise on television. If you are interested in knowing more, do a Internet search for tainted pet food. Don’t only read the first page, read down several pages. You will be amazed. This isn’t only a past problem, it happened this year.

At Arnold’s Wildlife the vegetarian animals get fresh fruit and vegetables, and the meat eaters get chicken and chicken necks, beef, and other fresh or frozen human grade meat products, and some get fresh or frozen fish if that is their natural diet.

If you go, feel free to pack a picnic lunch, or bring snacks because there is not anywhere close or convenient to get a meal.

If you want to visit Arnold’s Wildlife, here are the best directions I found for the shortest distance, at least from south Florida and Broward or Palm Beach County. Take I-95 to the Blue Heron exit which is north of Palm Beach. Go west on Blue Heron and a few miles up is the VA hospital on the right and just after that Blue Heron turns into 710. Make a right on 710 going west/north. Drive about 43 miles, you will go through Indiantown and other than that town it’s all country roads.

About 3 or 4 miles before you will make a right turn on SE 128th, off of 710, you will see Martin Road on the right, I think it’s on the right and you will go over a railroad track across 710. You will also pass the junction of CR 714, go 1 mile and turn right on SE 128. About two miles before CR 714 you will cross over a railroad track, three miles (3 miles) past the railroad track is SE 128th, there is a sign a little before the turn. Make a right on SE 128. Go straight about 8 miles and you will come to a stop sign with a restaurant on the right. That is the intersection with Hwy. 70. Go straight at that intersection, Do Not Turn on Hwy 70.  I think SE 128th becomes a different road at that intersection.

Drive about 12 miles past Hwy 70 and you will pass a landfill, and then a while later you will come to a flashing traffic light which is Hwy 441. Do Not Turn on 441, go straight across it. Drive about 3 miles more down this country road and then turn left on NW 30th Terrace and Arnold’s Wildlife is at the end of that street.

To return back to I-95, leave Sue’s, make a right at the stop sign then go straight. When you get to the blinking light at 441, go straight. Keep straight and drive about 12 miles  and you will come to a stop sign and you will cross over Hwy 70 where the restaurant and gas station is located. Go about 8 miles and the road ends at 710. Make a left and drive about 43 miles. You will see several signs and roads that say I-95. You will go under an overpass or walkway type structure, and will pass the sign for Northlake Blvd. Watch for the VA hospital on your left and turn on 708E which is Blue Heron. Go a few miles and then you will see signs for I-95. Make a right to go south back to Broward or Palm Beach counties.

If you want to, feel free to bring fresh fruit and vegetables, or cans of slice peaches for the animals. Even overripe fruit and vegetables are okay, not spoiled, but overripe is okay. If I make banana bread I save the peels and bring them. If you want a personal tour through the wildlife center that is often available at no extra cost. Tell Sue you are a friend of mine, or read about the wildlife center on my website.

If you have any sturdy children’s toys or plastic furniture please donate it to Arnold’s for the animals. Many of them love toys, especially the monkeys. They like swings, chairs, hand toys, etc. You can see it in many of the pictures I took.

When I watch television, I see many repeats of the ASPCA asking for money. I did an Internet search and found out that they spend 35% of donations on overhead. It says that 38 cents of every dollar goes for expenses. In 2012, the ASPCA spent $52 million dollars on fundraising. Sue Arnold spends 100% of the donations she receives on taking care of the animals in her care.

Posted in 2018 Trip | 1 Comment

Keepers Days, Lighthouse Point, Florida

Keepers Day weekend was held again in Lighthouse Point and one of the Keepers that was recognized is police officer Paul McCormick. Paul is an amazing man and police officer. He has a great smile and laugh and is always concerned about residents, especially those in need. He goes above and beyond to help our residents. I have known Paul for many years and I think very highly of him.

Saturday morning was the parade and also there was an antique car show, and the new soldier and hero memorial shrine was completed and is located in a corner of McDonough Park. There are many pavers around the memorial engraved with the names and branches of service of Lighthouse Point residents both current and those who have passed. Also, there are benches located in the memorial park and each bench has an engraved plaque with a different branch of the military as well as recognizing the LHP police and fire departments.

A Photo album has been posted including pictures I took of the parade, car show, and the hero memorial. This year was the first year of the 5K run held in conjunction with Keepers Day so we weren’t sure about the parking that would be available. One of my friends and I got there early and were able to easily get a parking space and a good shady spot to watch the parade. I love listening to and watching the bagpipe players. Their music really touches my heart.

It was nice to get some fresh air and one again attend this event.

Posted in 2018 Trip | Leave a comment

Back home in Florida

After the Native Rhythms Festival was over, I spent the night in Wickham Park and then Monday morning headed home. I started to unpack my camper van and knew it would take a few days. I made so many trips up and down the steps for two days, and that for a few days after that, I had trouble walking. Going up and down the steps was painful. For a few days, I had to limit my trips up and down the steps to two or three a day, I walked carefully in my apartment because my muscles hurt. I walked a lot of miles on my trip but going up and down stairs must use different muscles.

I took a week to adjust to being home, and then, started back to the gym and taking my yoga and cardio classes again. I am back up to taking between two and three classes a day.

Also, I am back in the groove of baking bread, and food from scratch. I am really enjoying using my new cookware that I bought earlier this year. Nothing sticks to it at all. If you want or need the best cookware ever, check out Curtis Stone cookware and his new bakeware. Lots of recipes are on his website.

I have also made numerous flavors of ice cream. It’s fun experimenting with what flavors to make. It sure tastes better than store bought ice cream and I know what is in it.

That’s about it for now, I feel so blessed that I was able to take another trip. It was about 4 months long, and lots of fun. Also, thankfully, as in previous trips, every year something happens and needs to be fixed. This year the major repair was when my transmission stopped working, with no warning, while I was driving through rural Mississippi the end of July shortly after I left home. I was able to find somewhere to get it repaired fairly easily. I wrote about it in an earlier story.

Definitely the fun and joy and experiences made this trip well worth it. I am so grateful that I once again ventured out on another expedition. Live Life… Don’t put things off. You may not have tomorrow. All each of us has is today. I have written about that numerous times. Also, I have several posts of Inspirational Poems and Stories that have helped me out over the years.

This post catches up the past four months of my trip. I did pretty good keeping it up until the Balloon Fiesta began in early October. I had no WiFi from then until I got home. And after getting home I have been busy. At first it was unpacking and putting things away, then grocery shopping and cooking, and I am still crocheting baby blankets and donating them to a local hospital for their premature babies.

I have too much “stuff” so I am working on downsizing again. Once I use up all of my yarn, I will start reading books again and then that will give me more space. I have already donated two bags of clothes and other items. It’s amazing how things multiply. I was down to not many possessions a few years ago and now after about four years in my apartment I have more “stuff.”

I’ve decided I would like to continue to travel and to include much more volunteer work. That would mean I would be home less time and it doesn’t seem wise for me to continue to keep my apartment and pay rent to be gone most of the time. I don’t really want to get a storage unit because the cost of what I would put in it costs less than the storage fees would be. I have my cookware and some kitchen gadgets I like, and some clothes and Balloon Fiesta jackets I got for volunteering, and my ostomy supplies. I need to find somewhere I can have a room or small apartment somewhere more centrally located so if I want to switch out clothes or get more medical supplies I can do it fairly easily. Or have a place near someone I know so they can mail something to me. Right now, if I need something from home it’s a two or three day trip each way to get here. Florida is a long state. It takes me a long time to drive across Texas, but Florida does too.

Truly blessed is how I feel. Every now and then I look at my website, and I go to my photo albums and look at pictures I have taken from all over the country. I have about 165 photo albums and more posts than that. Not every story has a photo album. I have visited and explored numerous National Parks, gone up in the Goodyear Blimp twice, went to several hot air balloon events and went for a ride four times, fed animals at my friend’s wildlife rehabilitation center, and so much more. How lucky and fortunate am I…??? Very. So much to be grateful for. Yes, I have health issues, and a tumor that wreaks havoc with my body at times, but many people have much worse health issues than I do. An Attitude of Gratitude is mandatory for me.

I still have my 5.9 acres of land in Tennessee that I would like to sell. I created an album of pictures showing the land in the spring and late fall. Here are a few pictures.

Posted in 2017 Trip | Leave a comment

Native Rhythms Festival, Melbourne, Florida

After leaving Falling Waters State Park I traveled east and stopped near Jacksonville to visit my friend Cindy for a few days before heading to the Native Rhythms Flute Festival which was almost halfway between where she lives and where I live. I have been to this event several times over the years and I love being there. I get to hear exceptional music and see my friends that are there as staff, or musicians, or vendors. The sad part was that it rained really hard on Saturday and Sunday. I feel bad for everyone there because the rain caused the crowd to be smaller than if the weather was good. The musicians and vendors came from all over the country for this event. And many of the performers have won awards for their music. Go to Native Rhythms Festival to read more about this event and the performers.

I arrived on Thursday afternoon and found out that they had a camp feed for the vendors and performers. I helped with setting up the food and serving items. There was so much food and the bar-b-que and cookies were wonderful. There was a large variety of food and so much left over that we were able to take a large plate of leftovers.

I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with my friends there who I have not seen since last year when I was at the event. Listening to the performers was a challenge. I had a plastic poncho on, and held an umbrella over me. It was windy and cold and all of us that were brave and toughed out the weather were doing the same thing trying to stay warm and dry which was not easy. We did have some breaks in the rain periodically. Saturday morning started out being sunny, that changed about midday.

Here is the album of my photos from the flute festival. I took lots of pictures, as I always do. There are albums of my previous visits to this event. You can search on my website to see the stories and pictures.

Not only are these extraordinary musicians, but many of them are wonderful storytellers. I always love to see these performers. There are so many wonderful performers, I am only posting a few pictures of a few performers below. I was wondering if Arvel Bird has a new fiddle, but it’s the same one he has had for a few years. This fiddle is painted to reflect his Scottish and Native heritage. I am always mesmerized watching the hoop dancer, it takes such skill to perform a hoop dance. It must take a lot of concentration and time to learn how to do this intricate dance.

Posted in 2017 Trip | Leave a comment