Are you superstitious?

Angus our yellow lab and Sherman our black cat (RIP.)

Sherman and Angus lived to ripe old ages of 17 and 15 respectively. I was surprised when my husband’s uncle came over years ago and I discovered he was superstitious about black cats.

Yesterday, I was ready to take my daily trip to the post office with my husband’s client gifts. My plan is to go five days in a row with a dozen packages. Any more than that, my mind gets muddled writing addresses and I make mistakes. Plus, the dirty looks from the patrons behind me, isn’t fun. Once I had a woman cursing at me. My daughter was with me and I was afraid she’d beat up the woman attacking her mom. So, 10 to 12 packages gets me under the radar of the impatient. (Boy, do I miss my daughter’s help with this annual project!)

I counted the packages as I put them in bags to carry. 13. I had 13 packages. That wouldn’t do. Why not? I guess I’m superstitious, too. I notice I avoid the number 13 at all costs. I took one package out and saved it for the next day. Whew! That was close.

Are you superstitious? What about? Do you change what you’re doing because of superstitions?

Sherman helping me with my work. Actually, Sherman wanting attention from me and telling me to stop working.

Thanksgiving birds

Here are some bird photos from my Bird Buddy Gallery. The Bird Buddy is an AI bird feeder that my son was involved with bringing to market.

The first three photos are Gila Woodpeckers.

Gila woodpecker
Gila woodpecker
Gila Woodpecker

The Bird Buddy arrived last week and I’ve been having a blast with it. I am learning about the species of birds who hang out in our backyard. The app on my phone IDs the birds, gives me information about them and has recordings of the their songs and calls.

I decided not to cook this Thanksgiving, but we will go out for a simple meal. We’ve hosted Thanksgiving for most of the past 30 years and I don’t feel like doing the shopping, the prep, the cooking, inviting guests and cleaning up.

So instead of turkey, I’m sharing my Thanksgiving birds in my yard with my fellow bloggers and friends.

Gambel's quail
Mourning dove

Mourning Dove

Albert's Towhee

Albert’s Towhee

Cactus Wren
Eurasian Collared Dove

Happy Thanksgiving! What are your plans for Thanksgiving?

Too much stuff

This is stuff I’m lining up for my husband to pack in the car. Missing in the photo are our two suitcases, mesh swim bags, laptop computers and all my husband’s work monitors and computers.

Just a bit of the stuff we’re taking on vacation. I miss the days when we first got married. We’d throw our sleeping bags in the car and take off.

Now we bring half the kitchen with us. That includes our small Keurig because hubby drinks decaf and I like caf. A pot of coffee doesn’t work for us and we both like just one cup each.

One of the biggest things taking up space is vitamins. We are hefty consumers of anything that promises a return to youth and the end to pain.

I also take fruit, a cooler full of condiments, frozen steak and chicken to cook in the airbnb — and sandwiches for the road. Cheese and crackers and a bottle of wine. I have to take a jug or two of water. We are traveling through the desert.

Then there’s the swim gear, hiking sticks, hiking boots, hats, sunscreen etc.

My husband likes his own pillows. So why not take four?

The computer is packed, so I’m trying to write this on my phone.

When you travel do you pack light or full on Clampetts like us?

What odd foods did you grow up with?

oxtail soup on the stove
My mom cooked oxtail soup. Now it’s one of my specialties. I cooked these two pots of soup for Christmas week when we had our son’s girlfriend’s family stay with us.

My mother had a few recipes that I couldn’t stomach. Mom loved the odd cuts of meat (like organs) and learned how to cook them from her mother and grandmother. I don’t remember many of our neighborhood moms cooking the same things.

I liked her chicken hearts that were dusted in flour and fried. But I passed on gizzards.

Beef tongue was a hard pass.

Mom’s beef heart I could handle. She’d stuff the heart and bake it in the oven. Then she sliced it and I’d have a thin ring of heart around delicious stuffing.

The oxtail soup I shied away from until I hit junior high. Then I discovered oxtails were the most tender delicious meat I’d ever eaten and the broth was rich but so flavorful. Years later, I made oxtail soup for my “at the time boyfriend.” I overheard him telling a friend that he had to marry me because of my oxtail soup.

“How can she make something so amazing out of !!#!??”

I discovered this recipe in one of my great-grandmother’s cookbooks that she published in the early 1900s and sold to Ladies’ church auxiliaries across the country. It’s my dream to bring the little cookbooks back to life. Great-grandmother Nellie’s recipe is not how I cook oxtail soup, but it’s the same general principle.

My dad’s side of the family had some oddball dishes too. Christmas meant Lutefisk and fish head stew. I could not get myself to stop staring at the eyeballs staring up at me from the stew. It definitely killed my appetite.

If you haven’t heard of Lutefisk this is from Wikipedia:

Lutefisk is prepared as a seafood dish of several Nordic countries. It is traditionally part of the Christmas feast; Norwegian julebord and Swedish julbord, as well as the similar Finnish joulupöytä.

 Finnishlipeäkala [ˈlipeæˌkɑlɑ]; literally “lye fish”) is dried whitefish (normally cod, but ling and burbot are also used). It is made from aged stockfish (air-dried whitefish), or dried and salted cod, pickled in lye. It is gelatinous in texture after being rehydrated for days prior to eating.

Besides the recipes I mentioned, my mom also served us canned Chef Boyardee ravioli, Swanson’s TV dinners, Space Food Sticks and Tang.

What are some of the foods you grew up with? Did your family cook anything odd?

Be worthy

US Flag
This is the flag a the entrance to our neighborhood. It was donated by one of the residents.

Memorial Weekend I heard the phrase “Be worthy” repeated several times. It was in response to those who have sacrificed for our freedom. That hit a note with me. Am I worthy?

When my son was in eighth grade, his class traveled to Washington D.C. I was lucky to get one of the chaperone spots. I had never been to D.C. and felt so much emotion visiting the War Memorials and the Arlington Cemetery. If you’ve been there, you’ll understand. If you haven’t been there, you should plan a trip.

I wondered. Am I worthy? I try to be a kind person. I help my neighbors and volunteer in the community. I have for decades. I try to be a parent and wife who is supportive and understanding. I have my shortcomings. But have I done anything worthy of someone sacrificing their life for my freedom?

What do you think the phrase “Be worthy” means? How do you try to be worthy?

The shelves are bare

empty produce shelves at big name grocery store
Empty shelves at the chain grocery store.

The shelves were bare in our pantry and fridge because I packed up a ton of stuff and hauled it to California for Christmas week. I made a trip this morning to the Farmer’s Market and a grocery store only to be disappointed.

At the Farmer’s Market there were only two stands. One for prickly pear jellies and the other for power greens. I wanted my chips and dips plus the veggie guy who also sells homemade tortillas. I’m sure it was because it’s New Year’s Eve, plus it’s supposed to rain.

On to a locally-owned grocery store where they were out of lots of stuff on my list. I backed out without a purchase and drove down the street to a major chain-owned store. I thought to myself, this store is huge and always has everything in stock.

Nope. Not today. I managed to grab the last spinach. Then I found myself not quite in a panic, but feeling this need to buy more than what I had intended. I think this is what is causing the shelves to be bare.

When you see empty shelves, you think you better buy NOW or you’ll be out of some much needed TP. allergy meds, or milk. Also, with inflation raging, I told myself I had better buy now because it will be more expensive next week.

Happy New Year! That’s my tale for New Year’s Eve. Now I’m ready to watch the Rose Bowl.

GO UTES!!!

What are your New Year’s plans? Have you made resolutions? What are they?

Empty grape case at grocery store
Grapes anyone?

VRBO views

stone lion with Christmas decorations
I saw this nicely decorated lion on a morning walk around the corner from the Christmas VRBO.

We’ve left the VRBO and we’re headed home slowly. It took a ton of energy and hard work to pack 12 people and to get the house in shape for the housekeepers. I’m waiting to hear that my son’s car has arrived safely to the Bay Area. They were the last car to leave along with us at noon.

We decided to spend the night with our dear friends who live in the Santa Barbara area and get up at dawn to make the nine-hour trek home. The packing and cleaning left us too tired and too late to make the drive. Plus, I’m hoping for better weather tomorrow. Another storm is currently walloping the coast.

I miss Olive the cat and hope she’s not too angry with me for boarding her. In our new home and her new career as an indoor cat, she’s become very affectionate. I have bonded with this lovable kitty more than ever. The goal is to stop on our way home to pick her up from cat jail before they close.

views of Santa Barbara marina from the Christmas house.
The view from the master bedroom deck in our Christmas VRBO.
View from master bedroom of Santa Barbara VRBO
The master bedroom French doors to the patio with spectacular views.
Santa Barbara sunset.
Sunset

Happy New Year! I’m ready for 2022. How about you? Are you looking forward to saying goodbye to 2021?