Category Archives: Adventures Close to Home

Cleaned the Raingutters

Yep, I did. Got out the 16′ extension ladder. Started at one corner of the roof. Got all the leaves and twigs and dirt out of the first section of raingutter. No easy way to do it. Position the ladder, haul my carcass up the ladder, take a look at the raingutter… then climb back down, get the hose with the hydraulic nozzle attached, take that back up there on top of the ladder and blast the dirt out of the gutter, make sure everything drained.

Move the ladder, do it again. And again, and again, and again. WHEW. That’s one side of the house. Then to the other side. And the other side of the garage, which I don’t think had EVER been cleaned.

Tore down the snail vine which had gotten out of control. Have to deal with that, I left it hanging there. Moved the ladder again and again and again and again and again and again, a little bit each time, scrape and scoop out the filth, then apply the hydraulic nozzle and blast it all clean. I was good and tired when I finished.

Crawled inside, took a second bath, this one good and hot, and I actually lay down and rested in the water. After I got out and was at the computer and then tried to get up I realized how sore I am.

Did a good job, though. Got the raingutters cleaned. Easier to do on a sunny day than on a rainy day when one of them is clogged!!!

Good work. Yay, me.


July 15, 1997: Guerrero Negro

Morning in Baja Other VW buses reflected in one of my hubcaps the morning after the highway breakdown.

Camped here the previous night, watched bats fly into the very tall antenna Robert Hoover had on his bus. Tuned Brian’s bus, drank beer, watched out for the blister wasps. Retired to my bus, read QWK packets of e-mail, smashed bugs that got through the screens.

Towing Brian's bus

From here we drove south. Very hot. Very desolate. Eventually it was determined that Robert the Younger would tow Brian’s wayward VW bus using a spare tire as a buffer since we had no tow chain/rope.

Traveling the Transpeninsular Highway in Baja California Norte

Great shot. We’re spread out and communicating via CB radio. Heading towards a junction with a large gas station and maybe a mechanic. And a junkyard. Not a lot of company in July in Baja.

The Abandoned Gas Station
No one home, but those overhead slabs did produce some deep shade. Which you learn to appreciate in a hot environment.

Guerrero Negro

Doing some banking.

Campground in Guerrero Negro

It being July, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. Took a shower. One of the all-time great showers. It felt so good to get cleaned up. Nice little town.

Campground in Guerrero Negro

July 13, 1997: Catavina

We arrived at Catavina, having spent the night of July 12 in Ensenada. Apparently July 12th is a some kind of noisy holiday in Mexico. I was dead tired and fell asleep early. Everyone described all kinds of fireworks and firecrackers being set off. I slept through all of it.

South of Ensenada the Transpeninsular Highway contracts to two lanes and it’s about all there is — a ribbon of asphalt running the length of Baja California. I was excited just to be on vacation, and even more excited to be going somewhere I’d never been before. We rolled through agricultural areas, small towns and desert, finally entering a national park near the northern end of the boulder field — apparently long ago an earthquake had tipped one of three huge lakes, which then drained into the next one and so on, depositing an enormous number of huge boulders. A marvel to behold. We kept our eyes peeled for Boojum trees, which look like they’re straight out of Dr. Suess.

This campground had EXCELLENT food, some of the best I’d ever tasted. We feasted!

Note the foil-bubble-wrap sun protectors on my Campmobile — bungeed to the OUTSIDE of the vehicle. Keep the sun and heat out as much as possible.

Catavina shade

Breakdown along the Transpeninsular Highway
Our party consisted of Robert Hoover and his wife June, driving a 1965 VW Bus; their son Robert, driving a Chevy truck; The Canadian couple whose names escape me at the moment (this is 2012, the trip was in 1997… took me a while to get around to writing it up), driving a 1973 VW Bus, Jack and his teenage half-brother (what was his name?) driving another 1973 VW Bus; and finally myself driving my 1976 VW Campmobile.

Here we seen Brian (that’s the name of the male Canadian and of Jacks’ brother!) and his bus broken down not too far south of where we’d stayed Sunday night, Catavina (lovely place). This is the desert in July and it was hot. We should have had their bus towed back to the US at this point. Brian’s ongoing mechanical troubles was a negative event during our trip. His bus had a dual carb setup, which was never sold in Mexico, so expecting to find parts or service was unlikely. At this juncture, Jack tuned the dual carbs by ear, which was good enough for us to move down the road to a highway construction staging area, flat with gravel. There we waited for the engine to cool down so that we could reset Brian’s valves, see if that helped. When in doubt, begin with a basic tune-up.

Broken Down
During the time we were sitting by the side of the road, I parked my bus in a kind of v-shape next to Jack’s bus and then put a silver deep-shade tarp over the roofs, made a reasonably comfortable spot.

Brian and the ice cream man / mechanic
We did not encounter the “Green Angels” that day. The guy in the green car was selling popsicles. He climbed over Robert Hoover to get at Brian’s engine… he used a spark plug with a car battery to make a weld. His fix worked. You just cannot make stuff like this up.

The Younger Robert scouted a place to camp for the night a few kilometers south.


July 12, 1997: We Depart

We depart for Baja

We met in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Vista. We were hoping for more participants. Waited a while to see if anyone would turn up, then we got on the freeway and headed south. Got to the border, stopped to buy Mexico car insurance, filled up the gas tank and the gas cans I’d bought for the trip, two really nice metal German-made jerry cans.

We crossed the border and headed south. Beautiful drive along the ocean south of Tijuana on the way to Ensenada. Passing by the very nice resorts (like Las Rocas — fantastic place). Drove through Ensenada to a campground south of town right on the ocean.

July 13, 1997: Catavina

Things that are good for you

Sunlight. Get some sun.
Almonds. Nut are good for you, especially almonds.
Turmeric. Needs to be introduced to a lipid to be absorbed (like butter or oil).
Pomegranates. Delicious and good for you.
Olives. Also delicious and good for you.
Water. You know, water. Plain water. Buy a filter. Worth it.
Green leafies.
Citrus. Oranges, limes, tangerines, lemons.
Sweet peppers.
Fish. Salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines.

When I checked my balance online…

I got a surprise. A couple hundred dollars left on hand. Youch. Time to stop spending money.

Making spaghetti sauce to make lasagna with.

Worked on the WordPress movie page some more. Satisfied with it. I love my old science fiction movies.

I don’t have any other backup money. We (I) spent the lump sum of money that the kids received when Diane’s disability benefit for the kids was approved.

No backup. No backup funds. Rather real and raw.

Once the Wells Fargo Visa account is paid off… and the Citibank account I moved some of the Wells Fargo debt to under a balance transfer deal… maybe I can afford health insurance. I big missing piece of everyday life, I gather.

I need to pay off the credit card debt. I don’t enjoy spending $$$ on debt each month.

I need to collect the aluminum cans from the garage and cash those in. Don’t laugh out loud, it’s a revenue stream, however small.

Two bottles of Two-Buck Chuck remaining. Was cutting that out entirely. It crept back in. Something that I seriously enjoy.

That and football. And cooking. And the cats.

No jobs to speak of on Craigslist or Monster again. Which is not a surprise. I have never seen a job market as bad as this one.

I may as well start a small business, something, anything. Try and scratch something up.

Sell the meat grinder I’d bought to make raw cat food. Sell two of the Apple iPod boom boxes. Neither Flynn nor Cassidy seemed impressed with them.

That would be about $1000, helpful to buy Christmas gifts. Buy a Christmas tree. Things like that.

I requested an Epson printer from Amazon as part of the Vine program. A wireless printer. That will be nice. No more unplugging and moving the small Epson printer.

Flynn is 18. So that’s a finish line we’ve crossed. Feel pretty good about that.

Cassidy has another four and three-quarters years to go until she’s 18.

Then what? See where she goes to college. Hopefully with a full scholarship.

Money is rather thin. At least news from Linda sounds as though a five-year lease will be signed on the buildings. Wait to hear about that.

Without that income? I don’t want to think about it. Single parent, no job… no backup. Not a pretty picture. Try not to think about it too much.

I have lawn seed to re-plant the lawn. Have to clean that space up and level it.

I’d like to clean the garage. It’s really cluttered. Moved clutter from inside out to the garage YET AGAIN. Try to avoid moving the clutter from the garage back in the house!

Noon Thursday

A bit cloudy out, which is welcome. It was supposed to be 100 degrees here today. Again. Some rain last week but then it got hot again.

Pried Cassidy out of bed, got her to school, went to the market and bought some groceries. That is the most exciting thing I do these days.

Remembered that today was a likely day for the Amazon Vine newsletter. Sure enough, it was today. Requested an Epson printer. Rather excited about that. A wireless printer. So no more unplugging and plugging in the existing Epson printer. And $0 is a better price than $149.

I’m happy that it’s overcast. I feel better. With some cloud cover. Go figure.

Football game on tonight. That’s a good thing. That’s about as happy as I get: I don’t care if I fall asleep watching an NFL game on the couch. I’m caught up enough to sit and watch the game, I have some food, I’m comfortable… all I need is a Mr. B grade cat to sit on the couch with me. I have Trixie and Gray. Neither one is much for sitting on the couch with me. Somewhat disappointing. I’d like to get a third cat on the chance it will sit on the couch with me.

Mr. B. used to not only sit on the couch with me, he’d sleep on my stomach with his nose tucked underneath my chin. Best cat ever. Best friend I ever had.

Figure out a bit more about WordPress. Convo-fucking-luted. I think I’d be better off cobbling together my own HTML site.


Tuesday Afternoon (not a Moody Blues reference)

More laundry. More dishes. Baked a cake. Butter was a bit warm but it seems to be ok. Butter is supposed to be about 65F. An interesting factoid. And a useful one. I remember baking a cake on a warm day and it failed. I was baffled. Warm butter = culprit.

I’ve had a couple of bottles of wine on hand for a few days, now. Ended up with a headache on Friday, didn’t drink any wine Saturday, Sunday… then Monday? Three days? Straight? Didn’t seem appealing.

Cassidy is home with some friends. They sound happy. I’d bought a watermelon this morning and I used the little disher tool to make melon balls (about 75 of them) for Cassidy and her friends to eat.

Cake looks a bit off. Still cake, however. I was thinking about making some chocolate mousse (surprisingly easy, it turns out) and using that to frost/ice the cake.

Tuesday. Feels like a Monday.

microscopic view of microchip deposition with artificial color
Enjoyed a learning experience losing a WordPress post. It just wandered out to pasture. Leaving no trace.

Ah well.

Cassidy had yesterday off, so today feels like a Monday. Got her up and clean and fed and deposited at school. Went to Sprouts for protein powder, Ralph’s for raisin bread, regular bread (had a coupon) and cream cheese. Went to Trader Joe’s for milk, eggs, an orange bell pepper and some cat food.

bottle of soapThen I went to the OTHER Sprouts for some Dr. Bronner’s soap. Cassidy had mentioned that the little bathroom was out of soap.

Back home. Put everything away. Got some ice water.

Melons outside of Trader Joe’s. Amazing colors and patterns.

Why has Flynn not wanted to return to the DMV and attempt to pass his learner’s permit test? I couldn’t wait to learn how to drive. Could. Not. Wait.

Tuesday market expedition

Leased a 2012 Toyota Corolla last Monday. Here are the trips I’ve taken in it so far:

  1. Drove it home from the dealership
  2. Took Cassidy to buy school supplies and pick up some Chinese food
  3. Took Cassidy to school, then a trip to Trader Joe’s for wine, milk and eggs
  4. Went to Sprouts for a couple of lemons and some muffins for Cassidy
  5. Took Cassidy to CVS for a composition book, then to school
  6. Went to Albertson’s

At Albertson’s I bought turkey and cheese for sandwiches, bread, a watermelon, some cilantro, an onion, some potatoes to try making fries again, some ground beef to make cheeseburgers, some cat food since I’m out of canned cat food… big tortillas, small tortillas…

Then I got two Breakfast Jack sandwiches each for Flynn and myself. Yum. Cloudy and muggy out, another hot day ahead.

No football tonight. Games are televised Wednesday and Thursday, then nothing until next Wednesday, the 5th, when the NFL season begins. That’s also the night Cassidy’s school has its open house. Not too thrilled about that.

So. Got out of the house. Went to the market.

Had made Cassidy breakfast this morning which she promptly barfed into the sink. Lovely. Made her a BLT this morning. Cassidy is always hard to wake up. She stays up too late and is a slug in the mornings.

A geometry set ought to be delivered for Cassidy today. A compass, protractor, et cetera.

Waiting for two DVDs I’d ordered to arrive. Japanese, but no monsters or aliens in these movies.

That is about all. Time to put the groceries away. One of my favorite things.

Made a tomato-cucumber-onion salad last night. Delicious. The tomatoes are finally ripe. Not huge, but they look good and no insect damage.