Friday, December 31, 2010

I am guilty of......

Not adding to my blog in quite a while. There has been a lot going on, but not stuff that I'm willing to share on my blog. Lets just say that there have in the extended family that make things a bit tense this year. The last Christmas that we had that was this bad was 35 years ago when Helen's Dad passed away on Christmas Eve. That should give you some idea about how our Christmas was.

Another thing that strictly applies to me is that I HATE THE COLD!!! I hide in the house with a couple of sweatshirts on and a woolen cap on my head. I drink hot coffee, tea, cocoa, or soup throughout the day trying to keep my core temperature up. My preferred activity is staying in bed with a number of blankets over me as I pretend to be a hibernating bear. When we get mornings in the teens, it just does me in. When I find that it's warmer in parts of Alaska than it is here, I gnash my teeth. Then I check out RV.NET Forum and find out how well the camping is going in Mexico and I really start to sulk.

The news is full of all the atrocities that are occurring in Mexico in the drug corridors and some of the border cities. That may be true, but many RV'ers are traveling the first thirty miles or so in a caravan and then depart for their area of choice. I understand that tourism is WAY down and those that go are getting the royal treatment. Waterfront sites with all the amenities for $400.00 a month. This is for a site in a prime campground. My electric bill here will approach $400.00 this month due to the exceptional cold. The pictures I saw with people frolicking on the beach make me want to be there.

According to the weather gurus, the coldest part of the winter will be in December. We'll see, but I hope it's true. Helen was working on the plants outside and we saw some freeze damage on plants that have never seen damage before. The odd part of this is that with the coldest winter ion eons, we've had the hottest summer since records have been kept. Still, 2010 is expected to be the third hottest year in history. Hot is OK. We'll be heading north of the border when the hot weather comes. Someplace in Canada has just the right temperature in the summer.

That's all the griping for now.

Wishing all a Healthy, Happy, and Prosperous 2011

Friday, December 17, 2010

Alaska Gold Rush

Tonight Helen noticed a new program on the Discovery Channel. Alaska Gold Rush follows a group from Oregon trying to strike it rich in Alaska. We were amazed to see that it's a golf field that we visited in July of this year. In fact, I mentioned it in my blog of July 20th. The going was rough, even in my little Jeep, and to see these people crossing a bridges that terrified Helen is awesome. The jeep with the two of us would weigh close to 4000 pounds. Helen noticed how a lot of the planks on the bridge were rotten or missing. These guys were hauling a 100,000 pound rig across the bridge. The bridge creaked and groaned, but didn't fail.

Later they towed their travel trailers in and again I'm in awe. There was barely enough room to drive my Jeep. How that drove in all their equipment without severe damage. Their claim runs down to a river and they showed their neighbor on the other side of the river.

This is the neighbor across the river, where we were on July 20th.

Another view of the neighbor's place, no one at home when we were there.

We were told that there were a few people still working the gold fields even today. Most noted is a woman who lives out there year round, coming into "civilization" to sell her gold and buy supplies. We saw one operation that was still operating under the blue glow of a huge tarp. Again, we could see the evidence of recent work, but saw no one. Thinking back on it, I don't know if there was someone back in the woods with a gun, waiting to see if we would molest his claim.

It's just funny to be watching a TV program and discover that we were right there.

The group from Oregon doesn't seem to be too attuned to life in the wilderness. A black bear came into camp and took a box of graham crackers let out by one of the kids. The men are SURE that it's a grizzly and a menace to the group. Shooting a bear is not allowed unless it is truly a menace and these guys have convinced themselves that it is so. I find it funny because at the first sight of a human, the black bear makes a quick exit. Only interested in the crackers, when the crackers were gone, the bear had no reason to stay. When one of the men spoke sternly to the boy who left the crackers outside, his father came to his aid and told the man to leave his son alone. I guess that back in the lower 48, he backed up the boy if a teacher had a complaint.

It will be interesting to watch this program evolve. So far, they don't seem to be too capable of sustaining themselves in this area.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I guess were all experiencing an exceptional cold spell. The weatherman says the severe cold covers much of the nation. Still, we expect a more moderate temperature here in central Florida. It is not so!

These pictures were taken in my back yard, but it is not typical of the area. Let me explain. There are two kinds of heat pumps. There is the most popular one with a unit inside the house that supplies the hot or cool air, and there is another unit outside that dissipates the heat or cold as required. In the summer, The cool air will be pumped in the house, and you can feel the heat blowing from the unit outside. In the winter, it will be cold air on the outside. This is an air to air system.

A second type of heat pump is the air to water or geothermal heat pump. The big advantage that I have is the efficiency of the unit. In the summer, the hotter it gets, the less efficient the air to air heat pump becomes. You can understand that when you are trying to cool the outside unit with 95 degree air. Similarly, in the winter you are trying to get heat out of 30 degree air. In my heat pumps, we cool and heat with well water, which is 73 degrees year round. Even paying the electric to pump the water, it's still a lot less expensive than the other kind.

A by product that we have is the water that runs through the heat pump, and this we have running a couple of sprayers out in the woods. The sprayers work whenever the heat pumps are operating, which is almost constantly when it's so cold. It's this spray that you see in the trees and bushes behind our home. A few years ago we had an extended cold spell with temperatures as low as 15 degrees. After a few days, there were several TONS of ice hanging from the trees. Icicles 2 feet in diameter at the top were hanging from the trees and I was surprised that no limbs were brought down. I guess it's because the icicles went all the way to the ground without tapering very much. They were actually columns of ice extending from the ground up to the trees.

In talking with the neighbors about the bobcat in the last blog, they mentioned that the beautiful feline was trying to get water from the bird baths. Unfortunately, they were frozen. They said the cat headed toward our property where the water from our aid conditioning/heating system runs every day. I'm not surprised. We see crows by the dozens crowding in for water. Squirrels, rabbits and many other birds are also seen there. One morning I saw a handsome buck drinking and it was a perfect picture, or would have if I had a camera. Since it has been very dry for so long, many animals manage to come around sometime during the day or night. If I had some discipline, I'd sit by the rear window in the early morning with my camera.

Now that I've completed this blog, I realize that, by comparison, we're not to bad off compared to some past years. As I get older it's getting easier to complain. Of course, as I get older I dislike the cold more and more.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This morning's surprise

When I finally got up and checked my email this morning I was surprised to get this picture from the next door neighbor. For the last few nights, our dogs have been barking quite a lot in the woods out back. We had no idea at what they were barking, but they would be at it for 10 or 15 minutes or more. We have deer from time to time, but they quickly jump the fence and it's all over, 30 seconds at best. I know that we have coyotes in the area and suspected that it was some coyote on the other side of the back fence. The picture of the bobcat came as quite a surprise. Marlis and Gunther, our neighbors mentioned that there were a few deer in the back yard before the bobcat appeared. We have found deer tracks within a few feet of our house, but never suspected a bobcat. Here I've cropped the picture, but the beautiful animal was only a few feet outside the pool enclosure.

How I love animal pictures and Helen and I have many. However, there is no substitute for being at the right place at the right time, and prepared.

As for the cold HAS BEEN COLD!!! But, not as cold as predicted. In our location, we often encounter temperatures 4 or 5 degrees below the predicted low and they predicted a low of 18 to 20 for this morning. It got only to 22, so as bad as it was, it could have been worse.

I seem to be plagued be a number of small leaks that I cannot locate. Helen's car still has a coolant leak that I cannot find. My Jeep requires addition to the coolant from time to time although there is no sign of leakage. Last month I had to have the pool pump fixed as the shaft seal leaked. The pump man said that it was caused by the pump running dry. I apparently have an air leak on the suction side of the pump. When the pump shuts off, air leaks into the pipes between the pump and the pool and the water drains out of the pump. I ran a hose to a connection on the pump and turn on the water each time I start the pump to ensure that there is enough water to prime the pump without damaging the seal. Last night I wanted to run the pool pump so I wouldn't have any frozen pipes to fix today. I turned on the water and started the pump. I DID NOT SHUT OFF THE WATER SUPPLY!!! Helen woke me this morning with the news that the pool was about to overflow. I immediately knew the reason and went out to the pool pump in my bare feet to shut off the water and open up the outside discharge. By the time I read the paper the pool level had dropped to the correct level.

I'm wondering what I'm going to screw up today.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

We're going to the dogs

During one of the nicer days Helen and I took the three dogs for a walk on the hiking/riding trail that runs the length of Citrus County. It's a very nice place for taking the dogs, riding a horse or bicycle, or simply walking. The scenery is nice as it winds along several ponds.

Three girls behaving well!

Still behaving well!

Giving Dad a hard time!

Dad!!! We really want to go in the pool!!!!

Sandy had the first heart worm shot this week and because of that, she cannot run with the other two dogs. We have to keep her quiet with no running or other high activity with the other two. It gets difficult because she has a lot of energy and is ready to play at any time. She is often the one who instigates play, getting Jodie and Coco to go along with her. She'll come to me and give me a long woof, then Jodie and Coco will join in and the noise becomes deafening. When we take the dogs outside, Jodie and Coco have the run of the property, but Sandy goes out on the leash. She wants to join the other's, but this is the way it has to be for a while. Next month she gets two more shots on successive days and she will have another month of little activity.

The weather here has been abnormally cold. We expect a low temperature of around 20 tonight. Some plants are indoors and others have been covered for over a week now. The weatherman in Tampa reported last night that there may be wet snow in the counties north of Tampa. That's us! They are still saying that this winter will not be as bad as last year do to El Nino or something. December is SUPPOSED to be the coldest month of the winter. That's great, except it's not even winter yet. It also hurts when they tell us that our morning temperature will be lower than the morning temperature in parts of Alaska. Another year that I regret not putting a fireplace in the house when it was built. I do have a wood fired sauna in the cabana and I have been known to get a fire going there and sitting in the ultra warmth.

Until later.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cold, colder, coldest...

Tonight we will be in the third night of a cold spell. 32 degrees Sunday night, 23 degrees last night and expect even lower temperatures tonight. OK, I've had enough!! I'm ready for spring. According to the weatherman, this is a good sign because the winter forecast was for the coldest weather to occur in December, becoming more moderate through the rest of the winter. He also said that we didn't get the really cold weather until January 6th of last winter. Can we trust them? Even colder weather is expected next week. I was in bed last night when it dawned on me that the very cold weather may harm some systems in our motorhome, so around 1:30 AM, I went out and put the heat on. I set the thermostat to 40 degrees, so I won't be using too much propane.

Helen took Sandy to the vets this morning to continue on her heartworm treatment. We've had her on heartworm preventative and antibiotics leading up to today. Helen dropped her off at 8:30 this morning and she picked up Sandy at 4:00 this afternoon. Other than the small patch that they shaved for the injection, she seems none the worse for wear. The difficult part of this is that for the next two months we have to strongly curtail her activity. No running. No playing with Jodie and Coco. Every trip outside has to be done on the end of a leash. In a month she goes back again for a two day visit, getting one shot the first day and a second shot the next. In addition, she has to be placed in a cage if we decide to go out. I feel bad for here because she is a very lively dog and has become the activity director of the pack. She's the first to want to go out and lets us know with a low, long woof. Then, Jodie and Coco get on the bandwagon and soon the barking will deafen a person. We are fortunate that the problem was caught early, before permanent damage could be done and the vet says chances of success are about 98%.

We will keep you posted.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Three Weeks before Christmas and all through the....

OK, It's been much too long since I've been camping and I'm getting a little daffy. Besides that, temperatures to 27 here in the sunny south don't thrill me. AND, temperature down to 20 are forecast in the next few days. Guess I'll have to add some heat to the motorhome as I do not winterize. Who thought you'd have to winterize here in Florida?

The pool is COLD, 59 degrees, but the dogs (Jodie and Coco) love it all the same. Sandy grabs one tennis ball and keeps it in her mouth the whole time they're out. I have to wash it off afterwards because it is SLIMY. Ugh!!! I go out from time to time to throw the balls and toys in the pool. They want to play in the pool, but they want to play in the pool with ME!! So I toss everything in the pool and that gives me some free time.

Helen is in Christmas mode and is decorating the tree. We have ornaments made by our grandchildren in recent years as well as a couple made by our sons so many years ago. In addition, Helen has seen fit to purchase tree ornaments from far away places that we've traveled to. From Labrador to Mexico and from Alaska to Key West, there are ornaments on the tree. I help by moving the heavier pieces of furniture, but mostly I help by keeping out of the way.

Below is my rendition of "Rockin' around the Christmas tree".

I suppose some of you are starting to doubt my sanity. Not a problem, Helen can confirm that I'm as nuts as I appear to be. A few minutes ago I mentioned to Helen that I was going to go to Walmart later this afternoon. She wisely counseled me that it was Sunday and Walmart would be a madhouse. Of course she is right.........again.

With Helen dedicated to Christmas decorating, I'm the chief cook and bottle washer. I will rely on my old fall-back dinner, paskeddy. The sauce is simmering and my taste buds are going into overdrive. I guess it's best not to go food shopping in this condition.

Well, the quadrupeds are getting restless, so its time to hose off the chlorine and dry them off. I have a system where I use my air compressor and an air nozzle to remove most of the water and then use a towel or two to finish the job. The only problem is that they both love the process, so as I'm blowing down the first, the second is trying to get under the air stream, and that's OK. However, as I'm doing the second, the first tries to get under the air and I end up spraying water back on her. So now I have to do one and see it to completion, then put her inside.

That's the end of my Sunday mumblings.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Sunny South

Yeah, it's sunny. It was also 27 degrees this morning in west central Florida. I really hope that this is not going to be a repeat of last year, which was the coldest winter in this area since they started taking data. Last winter I sent in my payment for the FMCA rally in Brooksville in February. That's only 25 miles or so from our house, so it's not a long trip. We never went! The temperature was dropping to 17 degrees several nights and I just couldn't leave my nice warm home to traipse around the rally in the cold. We MAY go this year, but we will be the ones who register when we get there, but only when we know it's not going to be so cold.

I finally updated my profile picture to include Sandy. This could be a major production as it's difficult to get a picture where all the participants look good. In each picture, it seems, someone is blinking, moving, or looking away. We had our friend Rita over to take the picture and I showed her how to take continuous pictures. When she pushed the shutter release button the camera took 10 pictures in about 10 seconds. We were able to get the ONE acceptable picture we wanted.

Rita and Barbara were over to take the picture and also to work on the cameras. They have the same cameras that I do, Canon Rebel T2i DSLR. Connecting to the computer we were able to put their names and other info into the memory of the camera. When you look at a picture and check the properties, in addition to all the information about the picture, you will also find the name of the photographer and a contact phone number. If the camera should be stolen, it can be identified by the information in the memory and possibly returned.

I also showed them how to set the camera for continuous shooting where the camera sound like a machine gun as it takes pictures at almost 4 per second as long as you keep the button down. It's a great feature for taking those pictures like we took, trying to keep the three dogs in position so that everyone looks good and I'm smiling.

Later we went up to the new Olive Garden that opened up a few weeks ago. We all had the soup and salad and the bill for the four of us came to less than $40.00 including the tip. That's a pretty good deal.

Well, it's cold enough that the dogs don't want to spend too much time outside. Sandy is usually back first, but doesn't do anything to get our attention. Coco will sit by the side lite and if we don't see her soon enough, she will scratch. Jodie doesn't scratch. Jodie will make a noise to let us know that she wants to come in. Sometimes it's just a low growl and sometimes it's a bark. The barking depends on how she badly she wants to come in. This morning she barked very loud three times before I could get the door open. She's getting to be a softie as far as the cold is concerned. She's a lot like me.

Stay safe and stay warm!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Body Waxing

Helen has been complaining about the rough hair I have on my chest and after all these years I decided to do something about it. I know something about bikini waxing as I saw a movie called "Bikini Car Wash", but I don't need bikini clad girls to do the job for me. It was really not too bad, a little messy, but not too bad. I did the body parts I could reach myself and Helen helped me with the rest. I have to tell you it was very nice getting my back done.

Helen seems pleased with the result and I like the difference, too. My pants slip on very easily and shirts just glide over my torso as I put them on. This is so good I may do it every week. This time we used paste Simonize, but I may look for something with more carnauba wax. I may even try Turtle Wax cream.