Monday, March 21, 2011

New recipes

I decided to bring my crockpot along on this trip--I thought it would be nice to have a few things cooking all day instead of doing everything at dinner time. On St. Patrick's Day we had the usual corned beef, potatoes and cabbage, and yesterday I tried out a recipe for pork chops. I used pork sirloin, however--occasionally I can get them on sale at Costco, and since it's sirloin, it's much more tender than loin chops. I also tried a new way to eat cucumbers--I had some at an Austrian restaurant (Johannes) in Palm Springs and figured out how to duplicate them. (At least I like them just as much, whether I duplicated them or not!).

Slow Cooker Maple Pork Chops

4 boneless pork chops
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Place chops in bottom of slow cooker; add onion. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over chops. Cook on low 6-7 hours. Serve over rice with pan juices.

Dilled Cucumbers

3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 medium cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced (if you're using an English cucumber, you don't have to peel it)

Whisk cream and sugar until frothy (but not whipped); add vinegar, salt, and dill weed. Stir; add cucumber. Let sit 15-20 minutes before serving.

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lazy Day

We're still in Bishop. Today has been a laundry and TV-watching day. First it was soccer games this morning (Manchester United vs. Bolton and Everton vs. Fulham), then some NCAA men's basketball (UCLA losing to Florida) and NBA (our Clippers beating Cleveland), and right now seeing my Texas Tech Lady Raiders losing to St. John's in the NCAA women's tournament. We'll watch some more college basketball, and tonight we'll tine into another soccer game as Chivas USA plays Kansas City.

I've been sewing a lot, too--I have 3 small quilts quilted and with binding attached, ready to finish binding next week when we go to Lone Pine and have no electricity. Yesterday and today I made 51 little pinwheel blocks from some leftover charm squares, cut them off center, and have sewed 42 of them into a small quilt top. I need to add a border, sandwich it, and quilt it--and then I'll have another one to bind. The other 9 blocks will make their own mini.

Our plans are to leave here on Tuesday and go to Lone Pine for 4 nights. We'll either stay at the Lone Pine Forest Service campground or boondock somewhere in the Alabama Hills. Until then Don's going to do some mo fishing on the Owens River and I'm going to enjoy doing whatever I feel like doing.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A little exploring

Today the cold front moved in, and the clouds hung low over the mountains most of the day. We decided to do a little exploring and headed south to Big Pine Canyon. The road is an easy one, and takes you up into the snow pretty quickly.

Looking east down towards Big Pine and the Owens Valley. You can see some dust kicked up by the wind.

Looking northwest towards the Sierra Crest, much of which is obscured by the clouds.

This point is still 4-5 miles from Glacier Lodge, but we weren't about to go through the cones and into the snow.

Don checks out upper Big Pine Creek.

From here we thought we'd go look at Klondike Lake north of Big Pine, but we're greeted by this very odd entrance gate setup.

On the right is a locked gate that's open to trailers and vehicles with boats from Memorial Day to Labor Day. In the middle is the exit, with spikes to prevent anyone from entering.

On the left is a narrow, S-curved entrance that is designed to prevent anyone towing a trailer from entering. The curves looked even too tight for our truck, so we didn't go through.

From there we drove some of the dirt roads along the Owens back to Bishop, where we stopped at the Mountain Light Gallery. It's full of Galen Rowell's photography, and I like to go there whenever I'm in Bishop. Galen Rowell was a rock and mountain climber, who has climbed some of the most famous climbs in the world--Yosemite, Patagonia, Everest, Whitney--and became just as well-known for his photography.

We stayed there about an hour, and then the river began calling Don again. It was getting cold, but he stayed out there until dinner time. Insewed all afternoon, and when Don came back, we walked across the street to the Petite Pantry. I had the beef birria--marinated beef, shredded and served in soft tacos, and Don had a hot roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes and some of the best beef gravy I've ever tasted.

Now we're enjoying "Criminal Minds," one of our favorite shows.

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Staying in Bishop

After looking at the weather report for the area of Nevada north of here (wind, cold, rain, snow), and seeing that things are going to remain mostly nice in the Bishop area, we decided to stay here. We moved yesterday from the very rustic (but beautiful) Pleasant Valley Campground to the very citified Highlands RV in town. While Don fished, I broke out the sewing machine and had some quilting therapy while watching TV. Then I walked across the street to Le Petite Pantry-a place known for its Mexican food (bet you thought I was going to say French!) and pie. I enjoyed a slice of apple pie and a cup of coffee, and read a little of my Laura Lippman Tess Monaghan series. After Don came back I took my first shower in 4 days--it felt soooo good!

We're going to enjoy hookups and civilization for a week, then we'll head to Lone Pine and rough it for 4-5 days before heading back home.

Here are a few more pics from the Pleasant Valley area.

This is the Pleasant Valley Campground, taken from the top of the hill to the south. Our trailer is the white dot in the center of the photo.

Up above the campground is 3-mile-long Pleasant Valley Reservoir, and above the reservoir is a power plant. This is the Owens River just above the power plant.

The power plant and penstock.

Since there's a locked gate, fishermen ride their bikes the 3 miles from the power plant to where they can get down to the reservoir by the dam.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Enjoying the Beautiful Sounds

My sister Toi Lynn, who makes a living helping people find peace and fulfillment in their lives, wrote this in her blog last week:
"Dear Silence,
I am so glad we’ve reconnected after all these years. I’ve missed you. I didn’t know until recently how important you are to me. You used to be my best friend when I was a little girl. I remember we’d hang out for hours, lost in reverie as we played wood elves in the trees by our little creek in the forest. Ensconced in a high branch, we’d survey the world below, our own little kingdom where birds and the occasional squirrel would hold court. You’d follow me around as I explored buttercups in the meadow near our home. The flowers reminded me of butterscotch and as we held them up to the sun, the light would filter through the petals and create soft orange circles of color around us. The petals did not taste butterscotch sweet, or anything like butter, but exploring sure was fun. After a drenching rain, you’d walk by my side in companionable…well, Silence…you’d just be you…as I’d float homemade boats of leaves down the miniature river that came to life for just a few hours in the gutter between sidewalk and street. Together we’d watch the crafts filled with various jewels of our imagination float off into the horizon, envisioning all the marvelous places we would go. Ah, the games we would create together with sound… the spontaneous songs we’d write just came so easily when you were around. I loved the trance we’d enter on our swing set, listening to the creak of the chains and sound of the wind in our ears as we’d pump higher and higher until it seemed we’d fly over backwards. With you, I could see more vividly, hear more deeply, taste more thoroughly, experience everything more clearly, and usually fun-loving Creativity would stop by and join us for a delicious afternoon of adventure."

There was a whole lot more, but you get the picture. Read the rest at http://zenlifecoaching.net/2011/03/a-letter-to-silence

I posted this reply:
"I love this. The simple message; the imagery; the storytelling. As my work days, so full of worry, anger, and the worst stress I’ve ever had, wind down to an end, I will challenge myself to at least MEET Silence. Perhaps even in the next few weeks as I go to a few places (in Nevada) where Silence might be, I might catch a glimpse. I just realized that Don knows Silence’s cousin – the gentle rippling of the water in the creeks he’s fished all these years – and that for hours at a time he’s alone with his thoughts. I guess I ought to try some time without the TV, or the radio, or the iPod, and see if that eases the stress in my life. I bet it will."

She knew exactly what I was talking about, as her response to me was this:

"Cyndi, you have met her. She remembers you! The 3 of us were blessed to hang out a few times together backpacking. I am so glad you are nearing the end of the long road you have traveled in your work, as you’ve led, championed and even dragged a few others with you. You have worked so hard and it is a job well done. I am so proud to be your sister. I’m picturing long meandering days camped lakes, crafting to your hearts content while Don fishes with Silence’s cousin, evenings where you watch the sun set as you soak up the peace you have longed for the recent years, and then shared delightful dinners with Don, savoring food and time to the music of crickets and frogs. Ahhhhhhhhhhh….. Can’t wait to hear all about it!"

As I write this, I'm sitting in my camp chair next to the Owens River about 5 miles west of Bishop, California. We're here for several reasons. 1) It's on the way to Pyramid Lake, our destination for the first part of spring break; 2) The Owens is a wild trout fishery, fly-fishing only, and therefore one of Don's favorite rivers; and 3) It's a no-hookup Inyo County campground that costs only $10 a night.

We arrived here at noon, and Don's been out stalking the wild trout for nearly 5 hours. Until about half an hour ago (when a chatty group of fishermen returned to their nearby trucks), I've been enjoying the sounds of the campground: the gently-flowing river, a light breeze, chirping and singing birds, and a frog that's gotten a jump on the nighttime croaking. These sounds are the sounds I cherish-the cousins to Silence-and it will be these sounds that will heal me when I finally, finally get to retirement and the travels that will take me wherever Don and I decide to go.

I was telling Don about Toi Lynn's and my exchange last night, and we talked about how often we have background noise (especially the television) that prevents us from hearing the beautiful sounds. We have no hookups here-and this fact is not a source of disappointment any more. I don't have to get caught up in the sounds of television any more to where I don't hear the beautiful sounds. Sure, I'll still watch TV-but just not as much. I bet that in just a few short days I'll be hearing even more of those beautiful sounds than I'm hearing now.


I'm now writing this 2 days later from the Starbucks in Bishop. Sunday morning we were having coffee, preparing for the drive to Pyramid Lake, and I checked the weather on my iPhone. We learned that 2 separate cold fronts were moving in to the Reno area, and we would be battling high winds, showers, and possibly even some snow. Not for us. We decided to stay here at Pleasant Valley Campground 2 more nights- the price is right ($10)-and then move to Brown's Town Campground for full hookups for 3 nights. The weather is gorgeous and Don's in heaven fishing his favorite river.

We still might go to Fallon next week, but it depends on the weather.

At any rate, my stress level is zero. Sure, I wish I had electricity so I could do some sewing, but that will come. Until then, I'm definitely enjoying the beautiful sounds.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What I paid today for regular

It was $3.95 for regular, $4.05 for the next grade, and $4.15 for premium.  Diesel was $4.56. 

My New Spice "Rack"

It's actually a metal plate that my friend Patrick made for me and my husband mounted into the recess above the refrigerator.  The tins are magnetic - I bought them at Cost Plus World Market for $1.99 each. I used to have just a couple silver ones, and when I went to get more for this set up, they had red, orange and green.  Now all my spices are within handy reach in tins that I can either measure out with a spoon or sprinkle out of the holes in the twistable lid.  I used to have them in their original containers in 3 little shelves that I used to use for my thread - but they kept falling out, and I wanted my thread holders back.

We're heading to Nevada on Saturday - 5 nights at Pyramid Lake northeast of Reno, 5 nights at Fallon Naval Air Station southeast of Reno, and 3 nights on the Owens River just out of Bishop (back in California).   Don will be hunting big browns at Pyramid Lake, anything he can find around Fallon, and browns and rainbows in the Owens.  I plan to sew, hike, read, and not think about work.

I'll be sure to take lots of pictures!
The countdown continues until June 2nd - 50 working days and whatever it says on the sidebar for total days.