Friday, February 27, 2009

Looking At The Sky ~ Sunset in Sonora

Looking at the sky on Friday is hosted by Tish the Crazy Working Mom.
Please visit here to see more beautiful sky photos.

This picture was taken last Friday night from Mr. Moose's balcony in Sonora, CA.
R and I went to celebrate Moosie's 60th birthday with him.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Writing Muse is on Vacation

I have been trying to write but nothing is coming out right.

I will be back as soon as my writing muse gets to thinkin' agin.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

News from around here

The WEATHER report for the next 5 to 7 days says that the Sierra Nevada Mountains can expect to get up to 7 feet of snow over the next week. That means we in Sacramento will probably have a lot of rain. I’m not complaining – although my arthritis is – because our water supplies are screaming for replenishing. Eight counties are under advisories, watches or severe weather warnings. Wind and rain are raging at the moment.
R and I are planning to head for Sonora, Ca in the Sierra foothills on Friday to celebrate Mr. Moose’s 60th birthday. Yesterday Moose awoke to 5 inches of snow on his deck. I will take my camera and get some pictures from his deck (wait til you see the view).

Moving on…
Apparently, our legislators were going to try to come to an agreement on a relief budget for California and the vote is scheduled for late Saturday because…

“SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Although there were no assurances that enough Republicans would vote for it, both houses of the state Legislature were scheduled to vote Saturday on a critical budget package to tackle California's $42 billion shortfall… Both houses were scheduled to meet Saturday morning. However, the Senate announced late Friday it will push back its session and vote at 5 p.m.” BECAUSE… “Tens of thousands of spectators were expected to crowd downtown to watch Lance Armstrong and other pro cyclers compete in the Amgen Tour of California. The race ends with a lap around Capitol Park, and many of the streets around the Capitol were to be closed.”

I won’t say it!! I JUST WON’T SAY IT!!! Yes, I will… they couldn’t do this Friday night?? They knew this event was scheduled – known it for MONTHS. As it was, they spent almost all Saturday night involved in this mess. This is the most unproductive group of people I have read about. Common Sense is DEAD.

It is wonderful that Sacramento hosted part of this cycling event. It brought much needed money into the city’s economy. Thank you Lance Armstrong. The bottom line would have been much less without him.

NOTE: As of this morning (Sunday), the voting is still stalled – ONE VOTE SHY (California still requires a 2/3’s vote to pass legislation). So, today there is no budget fix and I am still going to get an IOU for my state tax refund.

NEXT… Let’s fast forward to October 2009 and Desert Springs, CA and our Cal-Trans Department.

The California Department of Transportation (Cal Trans) is scheduled to host a national convention in October for the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) National Conference. There is a consumer watch-dog group (Howard Jarvis Taxpayers) who says this is “government behaving business as usual in the face of this financial crunch.” And this conference is NOT high priority on the spending scale. There will be 125 Caltrans employees working to make this conference a success. Howard Jarvis Taxpayers said that we Californians, as tax payers, would be spending $255,000 for Cal Trans to host this convention – salaries for six days equals $125,000 and $130,000 spent on lodging, food and airfare. It was also said that several law makers were unaware of what Caltrans is planning for later this year. So there may be repercussions falling back on this spending.

OK… let me give MY take on this. Maybe I am not looking at the whole picture, but I have given you all the information that I have. First, the salaries… from what I understand, the people who will be working as hosts for this convention are Cal Trans employees. Wouldn’t we be paying their salaries anyway… even if they weren’t at the convention?? Second, even though it would cost a bit to ‘house’ the hosts, isn’t this event bringing in much needed income to the state (in the form of room tax, food tax, entertainment tax, gas tax… and on and on with the taxes). I don’t know as I can agree that this watchdog organization has used a logical thought process in this instance. To me, in this case, they are just out to ruffle feathers.


Again, this is my California world, and these are just my opinions...
Thanks for stopping by...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Looking At the Sky ~ Panama Canal

Please visit the terrific Tish (Crazy Working Mom) for more mavelous skies

This Friday we will continue LOOKING AT THE SKY that we saw on our Panama Canal Cruise. This picture was taken by a camera at the Miraflores Locks. It was the first lock that the ship (and all us passengers) went through. It was about 9 a.m. and it was hot and very HUMID!! I was sitting in the pool area on the port side of the ship and Rich was video taping in the bow area on deck 11. We went through the Miraflores Locks then travelled along Gatun Lake to the Gatun Locks.

Those clouds eventually became one HUGE BLACK cloud and the heavens opened up as we completed our journey through the Gatun Locks and stopped at Crystobal Pier. And what a storm it was!!! Thunder, lightning and wind. We were told the ship was hit by lightning at least 3 times during the night. Friends of ours in the Royal Suite had a scare when there was an electrical fire the next night - reminents of the lightning strikes they were told.

Plop-Plop, Fizz-Fizz


Just a short update. We made it through our tax preparation with flying colors. With all our medical deductions, we managed to end up in the 0% (that's ZERO %) tax bracket. All the taxes that were taken out of the IRA distributions that we need to use monthly will be 'given' back to us -- eventually.

We are relieved... to say the least.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's IOU Time

So… today we are having our taxes done. Yes, we use a “tax professional” and pay dearly for it. It has been a crazy year financially for us. I am and have been receiving Social Security Disability (not SSI) for 2 years now. Last February (2008) R started receiving SSD also. Then, when he had to retire from his job, we had to request to have his 401K moved into a traditional IRA. There should be no problem with that as we have all the documentation. Because our 2 incomes are now half of what they used to be, we had to start drawing a little money each month out of the IRA. We have taxes taken out of this. Every year I keep a spreadsheet of our tax-deductible expenses. The medical expenses alone for last year should get us a full refund of the money we have already paid in taxes. If that doesn’t do it, then we can add in our prescription co-pays… and interest payments on the mortgage, etc.

I am anxious to see what we have coming for a refund; because, if some of you haven’t heard, our state is in such a financial upheaval we are getting IOU’s instead of state tax refunds. Now doesn’t that just make you want to move to the beautiful state of California? Along with having to pay for OctoMom’s idiocy (oh there are so many more words I could use) adding to our financial woes, California is sure in good shape. According to the news last night our sales tax will be going up 1 cent on every dollar; the gasoline tax will be going up 12 cents; and our vehicle registration fees will be doubling (guess we get rid of 1 car). State employees MUST take off two UNPAID days during the month (the first and third Fridays to be exact).

I wish we could sell and move even if the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence - or state line. Maybe just next door to Nevada. We are getting the house ready… LOL. This week, we have been getting estimates on having our plumbing replaced (I wonder if this is tax deductible). Then I hope to do a little renovation to both bathrooms and finally will spice up the kitchen a bit. JUST IN CASE…

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Manic Monday ~ WEAR

Another challenging adventure for me
from Marvelous Mo over at Manic Monday.
Check out the fun stuff here.

There is a program on TLC (The Learning Channel) called What Not To WEAR. It is a reality show with what they say is a simple premise. (If you have seen the show, it is usually anything BUT simple.) Friends and family members nominate a candidate whom they consider poorly dressed and ask the show to make over the "fashion victim." Fashion Police Stacy London and her partner, Clinton Kelly, ambush the candidate and make her/him an offer -- they are given a $5,000 budget for a new wardrobe, which they must purchase in New York City boutiques over the course of two days, but only on the condition that they allow Stacy & Clinton to critique and, in most cases throw out, their existing wardrobe.

So here are my 3 candidates for the category of What Not To WEAR

I'm sure most men love it,

some women will wish to look like that,

but all in all very tacky.

NO... NO... NO... NO, NO and NO

Fun but... Need I say more?

Once again, thanks for stopping by...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday ~ Guatemala

This picture was taken on the road to the Organic Macadamia Nut Farm near the ancient city of Antigua in Guatemala. It was a port stop on our cruise through the Panama Canal in October 2008. After passing many sugar cane fields, we started the climb into the forests. It had been raining earlier in the day. I just love the way the clouds circle the top of the volcano's crater. You can hardly tell that it is a volcano. There are as many as 30 volcanoes in Guatemala. I believe this one is called Fuego.

I was a bit leary of this port of call on the cruise... you know Guatemala has this reputation for revolution... LOL But this turned out to be one of the best tours we went on. The people who run the Macadamia Farm were originally from the U.S. so there was no language problem. The grounds of the Farm were lush and beautiful. Everything there is done using no electricity - just manpower. They served us a lovely lunch of macadamia nut pancakes, local fruit, and wonderful organic tea. We also saw a facial given using macadamia nut products. Facinating, just facinating.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Welcome Ms. Ramona...

As some of you know, R was forced into early retirement after he was diagnosed with Mutiple Myelome (cancer of the blood plasma). And he has been so bored. I thought, and his cancer doctor agreed, that rescuing a dog from the SPCA would be a great diversion (from the TV and computer) for him. R has owned dogs before. Personally, I am a cat person. And eventually, we will also have a cat. But R's diversion is more important at this time.

On Sunday, R adopted Ramona, a 3-year-old Border Collie/Aussie Shepherd mix, from the Sacramento SPCA. She came home with us today because she had to be spayed. We know very little about her history as she came from another shelter and was labelled a "stray".

Here are pictures of her home coming...

#1 son and R picking her up at the clinic.

Pretty lady

Running in her new yard...

Rolling in her new yard...

We are so very lucky. She is a very lovely lady.
So far we haven't even heard her bark.
She is eating and drinking.
She buried her rawhide treat in the back yard.
And when it was time for her to go out,
she brought #1 son his shoes.
They told us she is very smart... YUP, she is.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

More Daffodils *smile*

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars
that shine and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
in such a jocund company:
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
what wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Since I took up residence in Sacramento, I have been happily surprised with January daffodils. By February 1st, I have many of these happy flowers waving in the front garden bed and helping rid the spirit of the doldrums of winter. I know winter isn't over yet because we NEED MORE RAIN!!! But they are a happy reminder that spring is coming.

I hope you enjoy my daffodils too. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Manic Monday ~ On a Bus to St. Cloud

Manic Monday is brought to you by
Marvelous MO
for more information visit here

OH, how I searched for an inspiration for this Manic Monday!! I was not about to do any scientific explanation about those fluffy white puffs that float in the sky. I even found some Native American Lore about clouds. I looked for poetry – I even tried to write a poem. Nothing felt right until I found this. It is an obscure song that Trisha Yearwood put on one of her albums back in 1995.

On a bus to St. Cloud, Minnesota
I thought I saw you there
With the snow falling down around you
Like a silent prayer.
And once on a street in New York City
With the jazz and the sin in the air
And once on a cold L.A. freeway
Going nowhere.

And it's strange, but it's true
I was sure it was you
Just a face in the crowd
On a bus to St. Cloud

In a church in downtown New Orleans
I got down on my knees and prayed
And I wept in the arms of Jesus
For the choice you made.
We were just gettin' to the good part
Just gettin' past the mystery
Oh, and it's just like you, it's just like you
To disagree.

And it's strange but it's true
You just slipped out of view
Like a face in the crowd
On a bus to St. Cloud

And you chase me like a shadow
And you haunt me like a ghost
And I hate you some, and I love you some
But I miss you most...

On a bus to St. Cloud, Minnesota
I thought I saw you there
With the snow falling down around you
Like a silent prayer.

The song was written by Gretchen Peters. The melody is quite haunting. After choosing this song, I continued to search the web to see if I could find out what Gretchen Peters had in her brain when she wrote it. I was very surprised to find what she had intended in her lyrics.

  • Maps are great for evoking images for a songwriter like Gretchen Peters, who wrote this song… "I can just get lost in a map, very easily," says Peters. "It's like a fresh new well, looking at a map." This song came about from a road trip she was planning out West or to the upper Midwest towards the West. "I was thinking about going up that way, and I saw the name St. Cloud, and I just thought, what an evocative name…” Peters envisioned the song as being about a person talking about someone who committed suicide, but in order to allow the listener more freedom for interpretation, she was deliberately vague with the lyrics. She says, "In order to get to the emotional space that you need to be, I don't think that necessarily means that you have to be explicit, or put every detail in. In fact, I think songs are better when they are a little bit more murky, or fuzzy around the edges. Let the listener participate, too, in other words. Let them put their story in.”

My personal interpretation is a bit less morose. Like Peters said in her interview, her lyrics give the listener flexibility to incorporate his/her own story into the lyrics. The picture story that ran through my imagination was that of someone running away from a failed relationship.

I suppose it all depends on how deeply you read into the lyrics. It’s that way with anything in life. What you get out of it, depends on how much effort you put into it.

Amen… and thanks for stopping by.