Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday Thoughts

Moose cow and calf 
Big Hole National Battlefield, Montana
June 2004

A. Continuing to get rid of stuff:
1. Gave away two 2-drawer file cabinets via Freecycle today - woman came and picked them up this afternoon.
2. Mailed the beer steins and quilt.
3. Threw away a bunch of old papers and magazines - why had I kept that stuff?  (I ask myself that all the time.)

B. I am nothing without my man.  At least, that's what the Air Force told me today. I went to the BX (and had planned to go to the Commissary), but as I was paying, the cashier noticed my ID card had just expired on April 2.  He confiscated it and told me to go to Pass & ID to get another. He insisted I would be able to get the new one without Don since they were using the DEERS system.  So, I went to Pass & ID, where I was turned away since I didn't have my lord and protector with me.  He'll have to take me in tomorrow where they'll acknowledge the supremacy of the sponsor and give me my new "dependent" ID card.  (And I was a Captain in the AF, for goodness sake!)
C. Our District administrators and board members continue to pretend that lies are truth. We have written proof of three different points, yet they needed to humiliate a woman at the board meeting and tell her she was misinformed.  I am (still) appalled that they can say what they say with a straight face. 

D. I'm sad for the 11 almost-retirees - who had the early retirement incentive pulled out from under them yesterday.  One was so upset she was sent home since she couldn't function at work. So far I know of only ONE who will still retire - meaning 10 people are going to work another year or two who'd be much happier if they weren't, and 10 teachers who could have been "saved" through those retirements will stay on the layoff list.  The explanation we got for the rescinding of the incentive is flimsy and based on faulty speculation.

At least we're getting closer to the end of the school year!

Another Day Closer... 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Busy, busy day - getting rid of more "stuff!"

Don looks over the upper Conejos River Valley, Colorado
June, 2006

We sure did get a lot accomplished today. We have:
a. Two boxes to be mailed - beer steins to a colleague from Zweibrucken Air Base and a quilt to my sister in Texas
b. 4 large bags of trash
c. 6 boxes (paper case size) of small items for yard sale
d. 1 large sack of clothes and shoes for yard sale
e. 1 small box of memorabilia and 1 box of Christmas ornaments for our daughter
f. 2 boxes of notebooks and teaching materials to give away (I held on to them just in case I ever went back into the classroom - but now I won't so I don't need them any more).
Don spent several hours in the basement going through fishing stuff and bringing me boxes of things to go through; I just kept sorting and pricing and trying to get rid of as much as possible.  We're beginning to make a dent in the stuff - and when I first started, I didn't know I had that much!  Crazy!
My thoughts go out to the people of Yazoo City, Mississippi and all the surrounding towns affected by yesterday's tornadoes. 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dreamin' of a new trailer

Looking south along the Waterpocket Fold from Boulder Mountain, Utah
June, 2004
Today we spent about an hour at our trailer, hanging some wire baskets for fruits and vegetables to clear up counter space, and putting some plastic drawers in the bathroom closet.  After that we went to Colton and visited McMahon's RV and Mike Thompson RV.  I'd seen a Heartland ElkRidge advertised at McMahon's, but it had already been sold.  

We spent an hour or so with Debra at McMahon's - and she showed us a set of Coachmen Chaparrals and then three Coachmen Brookstones. The Chaparrals are in our price range, and are also light enough to tow with the truck we already have (Dodge Ram 2500).  There's a rear kitchen layout that I like - the 270RKS.  The Brookstones - oh my!  Not only are they way too heavy for us to haul, these are definitely "luxury" fifth wheels.  I can dream, right?!
I told Debra I was interested in previously-owned Heartlands and Tetons, so she'll let us know if any come in. She's expecting some new ElkRidges next month - so we'll go look at those when they come in. We think, however, that we're going to buy something previously owned - no need to get something brand new. Everything hinges on what we get for our house - we need to pay off a credit card and the  rest of the trailer - then we'll see what kind of down payment we can make on a new rig. Maybe we'll find one with a good truck as part of the package - a truck that can tow a heavier trailer. 

Next we went over to Mike Thompson RV - and I really didn't like anything there. The Keystone Outback is too "cheap" for me - and I don't mean to offend anyone with an Outback - but it just isn't my style.  We looked at some Montanas, but they are all too large and expensive.

So, I keep on dreaming. I really enjoy the "shopping," and since we've been in our Keystone Sprinter for 2 years now, we're getting a good idea of what we like and don't like. 

Another Day Closer...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thursday thoughts

Sunset over the Pacific
Honolulu, February 2006

I'd rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth.
- Steve McQueen

This morning we woke up to yet another big snowfall.  Now I know that there are people who live up north or in the midwest who think it's no big deal - but this is southern California. We've been in a drought for so long that when we get an El NiƱo year, it's almost too much to take. During the night, we got about 8 inches.  Not a whole lot in the big scheme of things, but definitely a lot for Don to shovel.  Poor guy - just when it about finishes melting, we get more. 
  Sorry this picture is so small - it's from my iphone, uploaded to Facebook, then downloaded to here. If you want to see it in a larger format, it's HERE

 We were going to go camping tonight - had a site reserved at Lake Perris - but since we got this snowfall, and he can't get the truck out (no 4WD and he doesn't want to put chains on), we both decided to just hunker down and stay home. 

So my goal for this weekend is to finish gathering "stuff" for the yard sale - which is next weekend.  I can't believe it's already here!  Hooray!  I have so much at the office, and so much at home - I sure hope we sell most of it - the rest I'll donate to the thrift shop.  At least I'll get a tax write-off for it.
I also have some sewing to do - I haven't touched my machine in about 3 weeks, and I'm committed to a couple of swaps in some internet groups I'm in.  It'll be nice to just sit and not think about work. 

Capistrano teachers went out on strike today.  They are not asking for a raise. They agreed to some pretty huge pay cuts - but the board imposed PERMANENT cuts - 10.1% - in spite of a mediator's recommendation to the contrary.  Everyone knows this bad economy is not going to last forever. Even our district knows that any cuts we take (and we're going to be taking some big ones) are temporary.  We're getting pretty close to a settlement here - thank goodness.  But all across the country public education is taking hits - not just financial.  It's so sad to see all the misstatements and generalizations, along with the anger and fear.  I am proud to be president of a local union.  We do NOT protect bad teachers. We do NOT make too much money - I have a master's degree and years of extra training - and we DO care about kids.  We ARE evaluated based on our students' achievement - but it's a holistic approach, looking at kids, not test scores.  To reduce students to numbers on a standardized test is wrong in so many ways.  It's a damn shame what politicians have done to public education. 

Okay, enough venting for today. 

Another Day Closer...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I decided on a countdown

 At Red Rock Pass (between Henry's Lake, Idaho, and Red Rock National Wildlife Refuge, in Montana
Summer 2007

See the cool widget over on the sidebar?  I decided to count down to my last day of work.  Even though I won't be officially retired, that's when I'm going to make the transition to retirement.

Today we got rid of the spa, and I filled up 3 very large boxes with kitchen things and Christmas decorations.  These will go down to the office to be ferried over to the yard sale.

My son just called from Japan - he'll be coming to California next week for a class at Beale AFB (up near Sacramento) and when that's over, he'll come here for 2 weeks.  It'll be nice to see him!

Until then, we're

Another Day Closer...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Figuring out a countdown

Vega State Park, Colorado
Summer 2008
I saw this on the RV Dreams website today:

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined.  As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler." Henry David Thoreau

And to go with that oh, so, appropriate quote, I'd like to welcome our 10th follower, Heyduke50. He and his wife are counting down the days until they hit the road. As of today, it's 322, according to his blog. That's a few months fewer than we have.  Lucky guy.

I have a new way to get rid of my stuff to add to my ebay, craigslist, freecycle, trash, and so on.  It's called "give it to you daughter."  Theresa came up today for the first time in months to do her laundry and have dinner. Not only did she take home a wall-hanging, 2 framed photos, and a Japanese samurai statuette, she has laid claim to quite a few other things that we're holding on to until next year. I'm going to do the same thing when Kenny comes home on leave in a few weeks: have him pick out what he wants, and mail it to himself or have us mail it when he gets to his next assignment.

We had a couple come all the way from Hesperia today to look at our spa - and they're going to buy it! They will arrange to have it picked up either tomorrow or Monday.

I've boxed up a few more things for the yard sale and will take them down to the office Monday to get them out of the house.

I want to put a countdown on my blog, but am in a quandary as to how I should be counting down the days.  You see, my last day of work will be June 9, 2011.  But since I won't be 55 until July 10, I won't be officially "retired" until then.  But we'll be hitting the road right after June 9. So should I count down 'til the last day of work or the day I officially retire?  What do you think?

Until then, we're

Another Day Closer...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Roadworthy Recipe: Ranch Chicken Thighs

A couple notes here about cooking -
1. I put links to all my recipes from my cooking blog, Cookin' With Cyndi, in the sidebar of this blog.  Feel free to check them out - some are healthy, some are not - almost all of them are really, really good. There are a few that I tried, and will not eat again, but taste is an individual thing, so someone else might like them.

2. I am always on the lookout for recipes that would be tasty and easy to fix in my small trailer kitchen. I'm going to start gathering them under one link, and I'll call them Roadworthy Recipes. 

This is a roadworthy recipe:

Ranch Chicken Thighs

4-5 small boneless, skinless chicken breast thighs
1/4 cup bottled Italian dressing
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 375˚. Spray a 12 x 7 (or similar size) baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Put thighs in a bowl; add dressing and toss to coat.  In a large plastic bag, put the remaining ingredients. Place each thigh in the bag, close it, and shake to coat. Place thigh in baking dish. Repeat with remaining thighs.  Bake 40-45 minutes or until juices run clear when cut with a knife.

I sold the grandfather clock today!  Since it had been a gift for Don a long time ago, the money went into the savings account instead of the blue pig. 

Another Day Closer...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

We felt that earthquake from 200 miles away

I was in my bedroom putting some clothes away, and the floor just started rolling.  It lasted for about 10 seconds up here, and it felt like a local 3.0.  I quickly went to the computer, and learned that it had taken place south of Calexico/Mexicali in Baja California.  Initially, the reports were that it was a 6.9, but then Lucy Jones from CalTech in Pasadena stated that it had been upgraded to a 7.2.  [I'm a geology buff - minored in geology in college and love all things related to rocks]  She also stated that it was so strong because it was a long portion of a fault that had ruptured.  In Baja, reports are that the shaking lasted 25-30 seconds.  That's a long time!

I've been told that one of the safest places to live when there's an earthquake is an RV, since it's designed to handle the bumps and rattles of the road. So to all my RV friends out in the desert - I'm glad you're safe!

Another tree cut down

This is our friend and neighbor Gary, 20 feet up in a fir that needed to come down.  At least, Don insisted that it needed to come down.  I'm such a tree-hugger - I never think any trees need to come down.  But during the big snowstorm in January, this tree was leaning up against Tom's house next door from the weight of the snow.  Once all the snow on it melted, it stayed permanently leaning, and Don's afraid it'll collapse.  Someone told him the roots on these firs are pretty shallow, so it is entirely possible that it'll go some day. 

You can see the angle of the lean in this shot.

That's the stump in the sunlight in the middle of the picture; with the branches Gary had pre-cut still lying in the snow. The tree is now cut in fireplace-length logs, and stacked in the corner of the yard to season until next winter.

I had a very busy day - I emptied out the hallway bookcase, and will be meeting a gal at Starbuck's tomorrow morning to give her 3 large bags of cookbooks.  I'd contemplated trying to sell them at the yard sale, but she'd posted on freecycle that she needed cookbooks. She has 4 daughters in college, and they all want to learn how to cook - so these are all going to a good home.

I then emptied out 4 giant tubs in my "craft closet" and have a large box of items labelled and priced for the yard sale. I added more things to the trash, and spent a half hour selecting and labelling clothes in the front closet.  Since I'm only going to work 1 more year, some of the "professional" clothes just won't be needed any more - I don't see myself wearing them again anyway since my tastes have changed.

We have a man coming tomorrow to look at our spa - something we'd not even thought about until today. But I saw on the craigslist "wanteds" that he was looking for a spa - I emailed him, he called, and is coming up tomorrow.  Later on in the day I'll be dropping off some books at the high school library.

Also, there's another man coming to my office tomorrow to get the grandfather clock - I posted it on craigslist and 3 different people have inquired about it.  That'll be some good money to put in the blue pig.  Don brought up a few things from the basement, and we put some in the yard sale boxes and threw out others.  Next weekend:  the 5 boxes of Christmas decorations and lights.

Kenny called Friday night, and I told him that when he comes home on leave next month he was going to have to decide what to do with the trophies, yearbooks, and other items he'd left here.  He can mail some things to himself, and might just have to part with some other things. He said he's fine with that. He's going to be at an AFCOMAC (Air Force Combat Ammunitions Center - and yes, I know the letters don't match) course at Beale AFB beginning in 3 weeks.  ("I'll be building a lot of bombs...")Then he'll come here for a week before he returns to Japan. When we come back from our summer trip in August, he should know his next assignment.  He's volunteered to go to Europe, but says he'll be all right with a stateside base, too.

We're supposed to be getting a small winter storm tonight - just when I get ready to wear short pants and sandals to work again. I'm really tired of winter.  Maybe this will be our last one up here!

Another Day Closer...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Information Gathering

Shiprock, northwestern New Mexico, after a thunderstorm
May, 1979

First, let me acknowledge my new followers!  When I wasn't looking, Kim, Rick & Paulette, and my sister Toi Lynn joined up!  It is so nice to know that the community we're joining continues to grow.

We live in a little town up in a canyon in the San Bernardino Mountains. Every year there are 4 or 5 different groups (Boy Scouts, Search & Rescue, etc.) who have pancake breakfasts.  Since we're such a small town (about 1,000 full-time residents, another 700-800 summer residents), the pancake breakfasts are well-attended. This morning, we went to one held by the Forest Falls Firefighters, who are raising money to repair some equipment that was damaged in the big snowstorm we had.  The Firefighters always have the best breakfast, in my opinion, because in addition to the pancakes, you get sausage, eggs, and the most wonderful potatoes. They cook up 200 pounds of those potatoes and run out every time.

We walked down and got our plates and food, and were able to sit and chat for a while with Tom Mc, who is a retired firefighter, a realtor (he sold us our house) and the unofficial mayor of Forest Falls. We asked him for advice about selling our house, and had a good talk about the timing of selling and my pending retirement. 

It looks like we're going to put the house up for sale this fall - and if it sells early, we'll rent a space at an RV park in Beaumont that takes full-timers, and live in our trailer until we get ready to either hit the road or move up into something larger. (It all depends on what we get for the house.) Tom wishes he had a working crystal ball, but all we can do is just keep hoping the market continues to rebound. 

So, my countdown, though it's unofficial, is now at 1 year and 2 months until I retire.  Wow.  Things are looking up!

Another Day Closer...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Long, Sad Day

The Green River
Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area

Today was the hearing with the administrative law judge for the 73 teachers our District has moved to lay off.  While they do have a right to a hearing, what usually happens is that the judge rules in favor of the District - it's all about whether or not the District has done its paperwork correctly.  Since this is the third year in a row we've gone through this, the District is getting better and better at the "legalease," leaving little to challenge.  As chapter president, all I can do is answer everyone's questions, make sure they're prepared for the hearing, and listen to them vent, cry, worry, or complain. I can't fix it, and that makes me mad. There were 4 pregnant women and two married couples, along with a large number of new homeowners. One young man had just come from the hospital where his newborn is being cared for by neo-natal nurses.

What's next is more negotiations, with the possibility that some of those jobs will be saved through concessions - furlough days, pay cuts, etc.  I will not speculate on that; only time will tell.  And we don't have a lot of time - the final deadline for the layoffs will be the Board meeting on May 11.

This is one reason I was really hoping to retire in June - to not have to go through this again. But all indications are that the California budget is NOT going to get better any time soon, and since public education will continue to take massive hits, we'll be back for another layoff hearing next spring.  

I'm tired of this. I really, really want to leave California. It is nowhere near the "Golden State" it was decades ago. But for now, I'm...

Another Day Closer...