Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Getting Ready for Spring/Summer Travels

Roger here....   Tequila and Bandido are not aware of it yet, but their lives are about to become more interesting (at least from a human perspective).  It is almost March.  In seven weeks we will be leaving our comfortable life at Retama Village and hitting the road.  

Lots to do before then.  Lots to do.  From my perspective as a concrete-sequential guy with an overwhelming desire to organize, the first step is to make lists --- several lists --- bulleted lists, that I can put check marks by as each task is completed.  (Oh, the satisfaction.)

Let's see....

  -  Get the motor home serviced
  -  Finalize the itinerary
  -  Change the oil in the Toyota
  -  Move things from the motor home to the coach
  -  Move things from the coach house to the motor
  -  Change the anode rod in the water heater
  -  Install a battery fill device to make that task
     much easier
  -  Make an appointment to have a dentist check 
      my teeth (in Mexico)
  -  Arrange for my prescriptions to be delivered on
     the road
  -  Take the dogs to the vet for their shots
  -  Purchase a National Park Pass.  (A great deal
      when you reach the age of 62.  That will be
      very soon for me.)
  -  Buy new hiking shoes.  (We plan to do lots of

New hiking shoes.....   Let's look at that last item.  It is a task that has already been completed, and what a pleasant surprise it was.  We went to  Academy Sports and Outdoors, a Texas sporting goods chain similar to Dick's Sporting Goods.  Dianne was the person who really needed new hiking shoes.  Hers were totally worn out.  Even though mine still have a little wear in them, I decided to look around while Dianne shopped.  Shoe shopping for me is almost always an irritation. My feet are so very small that I seldom find anything that fits me in stock.  I certainly don't get to choose.  If they are close to fitting, I buy them.  I may not get another chance for years.  

Imagine my surprise finding a variety of hiking shoes in my size.  I get to choose?  I should have expected this.  I have mentioned before that the local Hispanic people are not usually very tall.  In fact, they are mostly my size.  This evidently transfers to shoe size, as well.  Dianne found her shoes, and I ended up buying a comfortable pair of Merrells.  I then splurged by getting a pair of walking sandals.  (You know... the shoes that have toes and heels, but also lots of holes.)  The sandals are so comfortable that I wear them almost all the time.

Dianne is not a concrete sequential.  She occasionally makes lists, but nothing that compare to mine.  She will, on those occasions when I get on her nerves, suggest that I make some lists.  She knows it will get me out of her hair.  She thinks I don't know what she is doing.  Shhhhhhh, don't tell her that I do.  

Nonetheless, list or no list, she has also been busy getting ready for our departure.  She had a scare a couple of weeks ago, when her recipe software failed.  After two miserable days, she figured out how to retrieve her 2600 lost recipes (some from as far back as the 1970s), and transfer them to a new software program.  It was quite a relief to her, and to me.  (I don't like seeing her when she is miserable.)

Her current project involves reorganizing the recipes and adding new ones.  For the past two weeks, she has been glued to her computer, madly entering all kinds of information regarding the cooking of food.  (She gloats that this is the perfect activity for her while I watch Purdue basketball games.)  She wants to get it all done before we leave.  I find it ironic that during this time, she has not actually prepared any food.  (I know I will get hate mail for that comment :-).  I asked her a few times when she might be finished with this project.  Her last reply was, "probably around 2040."  The further irony here is that by 2040 she will be 90 years old, and those who love her will not let her get close to a hot oven.  All that work for naught!

Another of Dianne's preparatory projects involves scanning the computer for useful travelin' products.  The other day, while reading a friend's blog (Gin and Syl), she discovered a product that when applied to the front of a motor home, makes the cleanup of dead bugs a snap.  Dianne ordered it immediately.  I am hopeful.  We'll see.  (Thanks, Gin and Syl, for posting about it!  Since we removed the Diamond Shield from the front of our motor home last winter, we are trying to be very careful about the paint finish on the front end.  This should really help! -- D.)

In a completely unrelated item, our motion-activated wildlife camera has been busy capturing images of the night-time activity in our back yard.

What do you think these could be?  The first two could be a rapidly moving coyote.  The next several are a puzzle (raccoon, opposum, rat, something else?)  We are pretty sure that the last one is a jack rabbit, and that the two prior to the jack rabbit are of the same bobcat. (You can just make out the bobbed tail on one of the pictures.)


Running Coyote?

Mystery Animal

Mystery Animal Again

Mystery Animal - Still Can't Figure it out!


Another Shot of the Bobcat??!!!

Jumping Jackrabbit

It is fun trying to figure these out.  Let us know if you have opinions.

The pet picture of the day shows Bandido and Tequila (best buds) resting in their favorite spot on the couch.  Tequila just finished licking Bandido's ears :-)  TMI?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Results are In! More Doggie Play Date Fun and a Master Cook Show Down

Hi all, Dianne here.  I downloaded the photos from our very fun doggie play date this morning (including the fun shot above) and checked our e-mail just before going to Blogger.  Lo and behold, Tequila's DNA test results were in, so I'll add that to today's blog!

She looks so much like a cattle dog that that is what we expected her to be (mostly, anyway).  We knew her face wasn't right, and her energy level is WAY below that of most cattle dogs, so we were not too surprised to discover....
She's a basset hound mix!!  The pointy ears come from the mini bull terrier.  Her face looks like a Vizsla/Basset Hound.  I actually don't see any German shepherd in her at all.  It could be that since I don't like German shepherds I'm turning a blind eye to that result, but I really don't see it.  I'd rather skip the mini bull terrier, too, but those ears are hard to ignore!  

As always, we had lots of fun at play date this morning.  Bandido and Tequila burned up lots of energy playing with their friends.  Here are some photos with captions:
Bandido and a new friend playing "Who's got the ball?"

Tequila and Rusty playing Run and Tug, with Callie and Roxie not far behind

The pause that refreshes!
Born to Run!

Can I come over and swim, too?
The dogs were worn out, and it was time to go.  We started for the gate and Tequila displayed one of her "basset hound" tendencies by staging a "lay-in" -- she did not want to go!  She pulls this prank every now and then, knowing that she's much too heavy to pick up and carry.  After a little extra prodding she finally got up and joined our procession to the gate.

Now for the Master Cook showdown....   Back in the early 1990s I started the long process of moving my favorite recipes to the computer.  The only software available at the time was Master Cook.  Over the years, after moving from Windows 95, Windows 98, 2000, XP, and now Windows 7, my older (family favorite) recipes within Master Cook have given me nothing but headaches.  Master Cook stopped working on my computer, so I upgraded to the new 2011 version that would work in Windows 7.   Then, the new Master Cook stopped working altogether, and my complete file of hand-typed-in recipes (over 2,000, some of them saved since the early 1970s) were gone.  For an RV'er, this could have been disastrous, because I sold all my cookbooks to save space in the RV, and no longer have access to the original versions. 

 After two days of sweat and tears, I finally was able to re-upload my backup file into Master Cook just long enough to export them back out in a format that could be switched away from Master Cook.  I did lose all of the most recent recipes that hadn't been backed up.  I did some research and found Living Cookbook software.  It is so superior to Master Cook, and actually has customer support (nonexistent in Master Cook).  My current project is to arrange my entire collection in my new Living Cookbook software.    Its fun to reacquaint with some old favorites, like the vegetable pizza I took to last night's Fat Tuesday celebration at the clubhouse.  The link above would take you to Amazon, if you want to read the reader reviews.  (I always read the reviews on Amazon before buying anything).  Not pushing the software, but I do recommend it.  If you use Master Cook, I would suggest exporting your favorite files out of MC2 format into MX2 or MXP when you back them up; otherwise, if Master Cook goes away you'll no longer have access to them.

Some of these recipes are like old friends!   Anyway, the disaster has been averted and I'm now happily playing around with Living Cookbook, and revisiting some oldies but goodies.  Roger doesn't mind that at all!  Here's a link to the recipe as stored on Evernote. (Added later by reader request). 

The pet photo of the day shows my cattle dog basset-hound-mix lap dog snuggling with me on the recliner while we watch TV at night.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Pet Parade & Wine Tasting

Hi all, Dianne here.  The annual Bentsen Palm Village pet parade was today, and it did not disappoint!  Most of this blog will just be photos taken at the parade, with captions.  Roger and I participated in the pet parade two years ago with our whippets, when we were staying at the rv park.  This year Bentsen Palm Village opened the parade up to Retama dogs as well, and from the looks of the turnout, it seems to have been a huge success!  Don't know the total yet, but last year they raised $2,000 for Cinderella.  Here's a link to our blog entry from two years ago, if you just can't get enough of cute dog photos:

2010 Bentsen Palm Village Pet Parade 
Some of the same dogs were in this year's parade. 

A lot of Bandido and Tequila's dog park buddies participated in the parade, including....

Callie, Jagger, and Roxie
Dharma & Greg

And let's not forget Bandido the pirate:
And Tequila dressed as Bandido's wench:


The volunteers served hot dogs and beer (for a donation).  There were also baked treats for sale for both people and doggies.  

Folks paid a dollar to register each dog, and everyone was encouraged to "stuff" the ballot box with a dollar per vote to determine the parade winner.  All proceeds went to Cinderella Pet Rescue, where we adopted both Bandido and Tequila.

Here are some more clever costumes:

After a few cool, rainy days, the sun came out and it was absolutely beautiful at the time of the parade.  We participants took two loops around the circle, and then they counted the votes.  

Sasha won first prize.  Two years ago, she was in a very cute cheerleader costume, complete with pom poms (see blog link above).  Here's the winning gal this year:

Just a couple more....

Enough of the pet parade.  Since a pet photo of the day would be a bit redundant, we'll show some human photos of the day, with commentary by Roger, of the fun wine and cheese party this evening at Retama.

Roger here... Tonight was the annual Retama wine and cheese get-together.  All the participants brought a bottle of wine to share, as well as some delicious cheese.  Pretty simple concept.  Lots of fun.

Lookie, lookie at all the bottles of wine!   Looks like a few new ones, including an amazing syrah that was made by one of the Retama residents!  We poured a small glass of a Texas claret from the Becker Vineyards and went inside to look at the resident art display.  Unfortunately, we forgot to take pictures of the paintings, quilts, photos, stained glass, intriguing carved walking sticks, agates, wood carving, etc., etc., etc.  Sipping wine, talking with friends, looking at the art work....  too much activity to remember to take pictures.  However, the talent of our friends and neighbors proved to be impressive.  

Back outside....  Plenty of wine left, as well as tables full of cheese, crackers, breads, and fruit.

Dianne brought  wedges of Ilchester cheddar with port wine and a Harlech English cheddar with horseradish and parsley.  Luckily, we were able to bring a small bit of it home.

As the evening progressed, the cool night temperatures seemed to be less of an issue for some reason.  The empty wine bottles made an impressive display.  Lots of glass for the recycling bin!  Doing our part :-)

The people picture of the day (already too many pet pictures) is a shot of the many people responsible for all those empty bottles.