Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reflections on 2015

New Years Eve is the time to think about the past year and make assessments. For us, 2015 has been a good year. We started out in Mission, Texas and drove to Laredo where we passed our driving tests. We continued up the western border of Texas through Del Rio, Fort Stockton, and El Paso. From there we went to Silver City, NM, lingering in this lovely little town for a week.

We headed over to Casa Grande, AZ and spent a month in a first class resort.  We stayed in Arizona a while longer, visiting Congress and seeing Wickenburg and Prescott, before moving to the Phoenix International Speedway for a workamping gig at the Good Sam Rally. From The Phoenix area we went to Mesa, then Yuma, before heading to Aguanga, California. We spent a few days in Anaheim and saw some of our family at Disneyland. Then it was time to turn the motorhome east.

Bob and I stopped ar Lake Havasu City and Kingman, before seeing the Petrified Forest, the Painted Desert, Winslow, and the Grand Canyon.
We visited Sedona, too, before leaving Arizona for Gallup, New Mexico. Then on to Albuquerque, where we lingered for a week and saw sites from Breaking Bad as well as visiting Petroglyphs National Park and the Gathering of Indian Nations.

Passing through the northern part of Texas we were impressed by Palo Duro Canyon State Park. In Oklahoma we were only one day ahead of some deadly tornadoes that ripped through the area after we left. We moved to Oologah, OK and saw the Will Rogers Museum before moving to the Branson, MO area for two weeks.

We drove right through Illinois, visited the Airstream factory in Ohio, and had a blast at the Great Lakes Fiber Festival in Wooster, OH. It was but a hop, skip, and a jump at that point to zoom through PA and arrive in NJ for a visit with family. We enjoyed a trip to Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and stayed a couple of weeks before picking up grandkids for a camping trip to Cape May Courthouse, NJ.

We headed south, stopping briefly in Virginia along the way to Red Bay, Alabama, where we sat for weeks waiting for repairs to be made on our home. When we finally finished there, we went to Gulf Shores, AL for two weeks, then over to Pensacola, to Tallahassee, and on to Bradenton, FL where we attended The LTRVD Gathering with John and Kathy Huggins.

November saw us on the move again, stopping at a goat farm in Monticello, FL, at a gator ranch in Moss Point, MS, and at a heritage museum in Lafayette, LA. We arrived in Livingston, TX for a week before visiting family in Temple. We headed west through Junction and Fort Stockton, stopped at a winery in Anthony, NM, and broke down outside of Las Cruces, NM. Five long days later we headed to Deming for a night before coming to a stop in Williamsburg.

That was 2015! Have you followed us all year?

Happy New Year to all!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


We have two little dogs at the animal refuge that need a little extra attention. Foxxy and Li'l Roxie are so timid that they can't be touched. They shy away from a leash. I decided to socialize them a bit and see what I could do about fostering their trust in humans. We will never know what happened in their lives before they came to Desert Haven but most assuredly they we're not treated kindly.

On Tuesday I tried separating them from the three other little dogs they share a kennel with, by moving the others out for a few minutes. I was able to get them to come within 30" or so of me. On Wednesday I tried a different strategy. Keeping all the dogs together, I sat in a chair and fed bites of treats. Foxxy and Li'l Roxie saw the others getting yummies and started taking cookies from my hand. Then I lifted up one of the affectionate dogs into my lap for cuddles. Libby loved the attention and I told her what a wonderful dog she is as she leaned into me and groaned with pleasure. After ten minutes I set her down and picked up Holly. She loved the scratching and rubbing, and I saw Foxxy starting to nip at Holly's feet. I could tell that he wanted some love, too. Suddenly he gave a hop and jumped up next to Holly. He acted so proud of himself! Foxxy basked in the cuddling and enjoyed a nice body rub. Holly hopped down and Foxxy got all the attention. Just look at the satisfied expression on his face.

Isn't he handsome? Li'l Roxie inched closer and closer, too, and finally allowed m to scratch her chest and back. She just wiggles with joy when she overcomes her fear and allows me to touch her. These dogs have been here for over a week and it's the first time they have allowed someone to touch them. My hope is that someone will come and be able to get to know these little guys and want to take them home. They are really loving little dogs and deserve their own family.

I spent a little more time on my gamp panel, and I really like how it looks. Every time I switch colors the look is totally changed. Thursday we have some time off so I will weave some more.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Crafting in 2015

I like lists. I have many lists on my smart phone, including grocery lists, lists of doctors, movies I want to see, addresses, automatic credit card payments.... and craft projects I want to make and those I've completed. It's been a pretty productive year, craft-wise. This year I completed the following items, plus probably one or two I forgot to write down:

Leno Shawl
Linus Blanket to donate
Eight harness pinwheel Dishtowels for Bernie
Collar and leash set for Auggie
Shopping cart cover for Auggie
Collar for my sister's dog, Lily
Loom knitted hat to donate
Braided bracelets for Quinn and Eve
Blue and yellow woven bag
Crocheted Minion doll for Jillian
Cupcake cradle purse for Jillian
Doll for Jillian's purse
Doll blanket and pillow for Quinn
Blue ribband beaded bracelet
Pick-up band on backstrap loom
Japanese Knot Bag
Ladder braid on marudai
Star Wars Arigurumi--Yoda and Storm Trooper, for Ben
My Little Pony crocheted purse for Eve
Crocheted Pokemon balls for Adam
Round inkle cord for Seidel loom
Knitted heart dishcloth
Knitted paw print dishcloth
Four crocheted eyeball hats (for Quinn, Eve, and for Bernie's twin nieces)
Bronson Check Dish Towels
Knitted Qiviut cowl
Woven scarf for Mark
Woven Sheep Coasters
Double-hole heddle band on Seidel loom
Knitted baby sweater for Stefan and Pam's baby
Matching knitted booties
Crocheted Cabbage Patch Doll-style wig for same baby
Weighted snakes for Jillian and Alex
Captain Underpants cape
Knitted baby sweater for Calvin
Clasped Warp Santa scarf

Wow! I have impressed myself! I also finished everything I started, except for my Weavette project which will be an ongoing thing and the color gamp currently in progress on my Saori Piccolo loom.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Snow and Color Gamp

We had a quiet Christmas. Bob and I worked for two hours on Christmas morning and a few minutes in the afternoon, doing animal care. Then we were off for the next three days. And on Saturday afternoon it started to snow. It snowed pretty steadily for 24 hours, and when it stopped it looked like this:

Less than an inch accumulated, and it was gone by late Sunday, but it was pretty while it lasted.

You may recall that a week ago I started warping my Saori loom.  Two days ago I beamed on, which gave me some tangling troubles that I overcame. This is my first 10/2 cotton warp and it sure tangles easily! But I got the warp tied onto the front beam, at which point I realized I had a couple of threading errors. Gah! How hard should it be to warp a 16" wide warp using only two shafts?

Today I decided to "git 'er done." I told myself I had just a few threads misthreaded, to convince myself it would only take a few minutes. Sometimes I have to lie to myself to keep myself moving on a project. Have you ever done that? Anyway, it took more like two hours, but I figured it all out and started weaving. What a joy to reach that point!

I'm about halfway done already ( the warp is only two and a half yards long) and I am pacing myself.
I love how it's coming out, and I am savoring the weaving part of this project. My first weaving teacher back in the 1980s told us never to put on a warp less than three yards long on a floor loom--it's just not worth it.  But I am using a kit and am not sure I will have enough thread for three yards, so that's that. Sometimes you have to break the rules!

I've never woven a color gamp before so it's fun to watch what happens to colors that cross.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve

Since today was our day off and we work (only a couple of hours) tomorrow, we decided to feast today. I got up early and made some cinnamon buns, our traditional Christmas morning fare. I tried a new recipe from King Arthur Flour. Well, it was new for me, anyway. It came out really good! I cut the amount of ingredients in half and it still made an 8" X 8" pan of rolls.

We ate dinner early, at about 2:00, and had quiche and a bottle of Dolcetto by Sambra Antigua Winery. We picked it up last month when we stayed there through Harvest Hosts. I loved their wines, and I was glad we saved it for our Christmas meal.

Around 4:30 Bob and I went outside and built a fire in the fire pit. We only lasted an hour, enjoying the sunset, for it was a bit windy and quickly became too cold to stay outside. But it was nice while it lasted!
This place is actually a campground, open to outsiders although we haven't had any visitors in the last month until yesterday. A young couple, Matta and Jo from the UK, are staying for two nights, having arrived yesterday. They have rented a class C motorhome (with the bed over the cab) and are on a three week tour of California and New Mexico.  A nice way to vacation, although I'm not sure if want to be driving a motorhome for the first time on the wrong side of the road. That's brave!

I want to wish you, dear blog reader, a very merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The New Dogs

One of the things that I love about this place is the peacefulness. I took Auggie out this morning before work, and his favorite place to romp is (ironically) the pet cemetery. It is fenced in, so I can let him off-leash without worrying about coyotes, and it is so pretty in the morning.
A lovely statue overlooks the resting place for dogs, cats, and birds.

I baked pumpkin raisin bread yesterday, and this morning I found myself looking for a way to make it more personal. I found my dot stickers that I use on the top of my spices (I keep spices in a drawer and I can see what is in each jar this way.) With a black marker I was able to spell out everyone's names, and I was pleased with how they came out.
Last week we had five new dogs come to us in hopes of us finding them new homes. They are so cute! Here they are.
Li'l Roxie
....and Jack.

All are little dogs, which will hopefully make it easier to find them forever homes. We had fun helping to pick out names for them!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Warping and Baking

On Sunday I measured out a warp for my Piccolo loom, 400 threads of 10/2 cotton, sett at 25 ends per inch. This is actually the closest sett I have used...I tend to avoid close setts because it takes so long to warp. But I think this will be worth it. A Piccolo comes with two shafts with 100 heddles on each. But wait! I also had an extra set of harnesses, called an "inside set" which allows you to be weaving on one project, then remove the shafts and reed and replace it with another. Thus, two people can easily share the same loom. It takes about ten minutes to swap out sets.

So I took all the heddles from one set and added them to the other one. Twice as many heddles! It took most of Sunday and Monday to measure out 400 threads on the warping board, sley the reed, and thread all the heddles.
Still to come is winding the warp onto the back beam, but that will have to wait until my back feels better. Threading heddles is tough on my back, and 400 is a lot of heddles. This cloth will be the first of a set of three panels of a color gamp.

I also did some baking today; eight loaves of pumpkin raisin bread to give to our co-workers and a pan of dinner rolls for tomorrow's potluck Christmas luncheon. 

About a week ago we discovered that Auggie had gotten up onto the cabinet next to my chair, and had eaten part of a loaf of bread he found on the counter. I had left the footrest of my chair up so it was an easy hop for him. The next day I found a ripped open bag of dog cookies I had on the cabinet that SOMEONE had eaten, despite the barriers we had left to keep him off the counter. We wondered which animal did it. I left another cookie on the counter and locked KC in the bedroom while we left for fifteen minutes. The cookie had vanished. So now Auggie is jumping three feet to get up there, whenever we leave. 

After some deep discussions of our options we decided to place our kitchen chairs upside down on the top of the cabinet when we go to work. Problem solved! A decoy cookie was still on the counter when we returned. 

I still put anything edible inside the microwave now, when we leave. Auggie has yet to figure out how to open it. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Saturday in T or C

It has been a quiet week. On Saturday Bob and I went into the town of Truth or Consequences to find a book store. We actually found two of them. The first was called The Black Cat and featured used books and a cafe with good coffee and snacks.
We enjoyed a late breakfast and I found two books that I had to have.
We continued on our way and stopped at Xochi's next to check it out. 
This shop was interesting but I found the organization of books a bit confusing. It was a maze of little rooms and beautiful glass fronted bookcases that held a fascinating collection of books. This is definitely the place to go if your passion is Native American history and culture! 

After we returned home I worked on my Saori Piccolo project. Bob had made me some harness frames out of a piece of cherry wood left over from another project, and I sanded them up and rubbed some paste wax into them. They fit perfectly. 

I think it will make a big difference in the stability of the frames, which won't really change their function but will provide support for traveling. Plus they look very nice. I doubled the number of heddles per harness by moving all the heddles from one set of harnesses to the other. I have a project planned that will need 24 ends per inch so I will need the extra heddles.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

This and That

I have been having fun with my bread machine and have made bread three times this week. I like the timer feature, and enjoy walking in the door after work to find a fresh baked loaf.

Several of our dogs have gone to their forever homes in the past two weeks, so we are down to six dogs, but that will change today when three or four dogs arrive from the Deming shelter. Deming's shelter puts dogs down if not quickly adopted, so we will be saving these dogs from almost certain death. Since Desert Haven keeps animals for as long as it takes for a new owner to appear, we are truly saving lives here.

Auggie is always curious about the smells on our clothes when we return from our chores. He and KC are very content here. But boy, have we been having a cold snap! Temperatures at night have been dipping down into the 20's, with daytime temps struggling to make it to 50. At least there hasn't been much wind. But since there's no hot water at the shelter it has been icy washing dishes! I wear rubber gloves, which helps a little. The animals do not seem to mind the cold, though! I have to break the ice in the water dishes and carry water to them in buckets because of frozen water hoses, but I really don't mind it, either. We get sun every day, and it's so nice not to have gray, cloudy skies in the winter!

Bob and I have been working only three days a week and we love our schedule! Rumor has it that we will have some volunteers the week after Christmas, and some extended stay volunteers starting in January. It will be interesting to see how things change when that happens.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Busy Weekend

Sunday was a day for crafting. I had started a sweater after the birth of my new grand-nephew, and this weekend I knitted like crazy and finished it.  It is the same pattern as the one I made for my soon-to-be-born grand-niece, and I thought I had more time because my nephew wasn't due to be born until February.  Surprise!  He arrived 12 weeks early.  It will be a few weeks before he is home and ready to wear this nice sweater, but I feel good having it be finished.    
On Monday Bob and I started discussing adding side bars to my Piccolo harness frames. This will add a little more stability to them.  Saori Looms has come out with a conversion kit to do this, but we thought we would give it a try on our own and see how it comes out. So off we went to the hardware store, where we found insulation for the windows, dowels for warping, and rubber gloves to protect my hands when working. Bob decided he probably had what we needed for the harnesses at home, after all. I'll post pictures when we make the change.

Then we stopped at a nearby thrift store and hit the mother lode. I found a brand new Breadman bread maker for $6. It was just like the one I had given to my kids before we left. It is hard making the space for kneading dough so this will sit in the corner and be there when I need it.  I made a loaf of Buttermilk Bread to test it out and it works perfectly.

Over the weekend we had a video conference with the team for RVillage.  A few months ago we invested a little bit of money into this site and it is very exciting to see the improvements and the plans for the future.  If you are an RVer but are not yet a member, please visit and check it out. It is free to join.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Shattuck Winery

We have had a few quiet days here, with not many newsworthy events. Bob and I visited the local antique store which was full of... well, not much. A lot of dusty and dirty odds and ends in boxes. I will never understand why some shop owners hang an "antiques" sign over junk and expect that customers will swarm in to hand over their money for it. If you own an antique shop, take some free advice from someone who used to sell at flea markets: clean up your stuff, arrange it nicely on shelves, and price it to sell. If sales are not doing well, then lower the price. It may be worth more money in New York but that's a long way from here, and it's really only worth what someone will pay for it.

On Saturday Bob and I ran some errands, then went to Shattuck Winery in Caballo, NM. It was a lovely drive. I never tire of gazing at these mountains.
This area does not exactly scream "wine country" to me, but Shattuck Winery is making a go of it. The owner, Brad, told us that the vineyards are young and were planted 9 years ago. He also laughed about the fact that he became interested in wine making after using a home beer-making kit. He is not the first wine-maker who has told us that! The vineyard looked dormant this time of year, but overlooks Caballo Lake, nestled at the foot of the Caballo mountains.
Caballo means "horse" in Spanish, and the town, lake, and mountains are named after the herds of wild horses that once roamed this area.

Bob and I enjoyed a generous tasting of a variety of Shattuck wines before choosing to buy a bottle of 2013 Zinfandel and one of a Pinot Gris.  It was a pleasant time, conversing and sipping wine.
I hope to get a little knitting done this weekend for my nephew who was born a week ago. We had hoped to also visit the Elephant Butte Paper Luminaria display tonight but it is still quite windy so I doubt there will be any candles staying lit this evening!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

We Solo

Tuesday was our long day of work, from 8:00-4:30. Our day included a pot luck lunch consisting of fettuccini, salad, and strawberry rhubarb pie.  I made some Garlic Bow Knot Rolls as our contribution. After so many years using a KitchenAid mixer (which daughter Kristen now has) I am using the skills I learned nearly forty years ago, making bread by hand again.

When I first attempted bread as a young bride back in the 70's, I struggled with it. My loaves came out so heavy. So when my grandmother came to visit I begged her to show me how. My grandmother made bread every week, her whole life. She spent some time with me one afternoon and passed on her bread-making mojo to me. I have loved baking bread ever since.

But only a couple of times in this tiny kitchen! I needed a space to knead the dough, so Bob added blocks to support the counter pull-out so that I could lean on it to knead. It worked well.

On Wednesday Bob and I did all the morning care without any help. Joe and Tom stopped in to make sure we felt comfortable but we did just fine. I fed the cats, scooped litter boxes, washed dishes, then headed for Birdland to take care of the doves and the peacocks.

There are two colors of peacocks here--traditionally colored blue ones and pure white peacocks.

They are all beautiful birds. I chop up a big bin of vegetables for the birds. Then the peacocks get dry dog food while the doves get bird seed. It is cool to watch them get so excited about their food.

After finishing up with the birds I helped Bob finish up with the dogs, since it was the day for deep cleaning the kennels. We returned at 4:00 to feed again and to return dogs go their beds.

We get tomorrow off this week, plus Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. We plan to do some more sightseeing over the weekend. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Geronimo Springs Museum and Christmas Crafting

We have had two whole days off in a row, Sunday and Monday, and it has been a busy two days. On Sunday Bob and I went to see the Geronimo Springs Museum in Truth or Consequences. I love small town museums, and this one did not disappoint us.
There were lots of rooms full of exhibits. Below we see the teller's window for the First National Bank.
 A beautiful quilt was on display, with tiny stitches.

 This room was full of different types of cowboy hats (who knew there were so many types?) and local cattle brands.
 The skull of a mastodon was found here in T or C. Amazing.
 Clothing, saddles, and handwoven saddle blankets were displayed in another room.
 Arrowheads!! I've never seen so many! This was just one part of the extensive collection. Much of it was displayed in frames like the set above. There were beautiful designs made from the arrowheads.
 I loved the cowboy art on the walls.
 There was an actual historic log cabin that was moved to this site from the Gila Wilderness, and was full of a homesteader's belongings.
The pottery in this museum was impressive. Many pieces were intact. Other bowls had a hole punched into the center, which was done when a person died and the bowl was buried with her. 

Today (Monday) I woke up and decided to get some projects done.  I made a "Captain Underpants" cape for my daughter, Kristen to give to my grandson, Adam.
I also finished weaving a scarf that I started a couple of days ago. It was inspired by the Addi sock-knitting machine Santa scarf that I have been admiring. Since I don't have a sock knitting machine, I decided to weave it instead.  I have details on my project page on Ravelry here.
Besides all the crafting, I have been baking bread, too. We have a potluck tomorrow and I am bringing garlic bow knots. Busy, busy, busy!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Paws and Claws

Friday was a typical day, working in the morning and off in the afternoon. But on Saturday Bob and I worked at Paws and Claws, the thrift shop that supports Desert Haven Animal Rescue.
While Bob was out back loading up stuff and making a run to the recycling center, I was given a quick tour of the shop and then went to the area where items that have been donated are dusted off and ticketed for pricing. It's a dusty job but it was fun working alongside Nancy and Tracy as we pulled treasures out of bins. I'll be going there weekly, I think.

Bob and I found a couple of inexpensive jackets to wear when we are working with the animals, too. These will save our nice clothes.

When we finished our time at Paws and Claws we returned home to see Auggie, then went out to dinner at Maria's Mexican Restaurant in T or C.

We had chicken chimichangas and beef fejitas, and split an apple empanada for dessert. Yum! We don't go out to dinner very often, so this was a real treat.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Elephant Butte

Wednesday found Bob and me deep cleaning the dog area, caring for the 27 or so cats, and feeding the peacocks and doves. So far we find our duties to be what we expected, and we are enjoying working with the staff and volunteers here.

Between the short work shifts we are enjoying the area. My favorite time of the day is sitting in my chair and watching the sun move across the mountains outside our windows. What a great view.
On Thursday we had a free day and decided to visit Elephant Butte State Park, located outside Truth or Consequences, NM. Originally known as Hot Springs, T or C as the town is called here, changed its name in 1950 as a publicity stunt. The popular radio show, "Truth or Consequences" was seeking an American town that would be willing to change its name in exchange for hosting the location of the show's 10th anniversary broadcast, with all the publicity that came with that act. Thus, Hot Springs became Truth or Consequences.

T or C is the largest town around here, outside of Las Cruces which is over an hour away. We had to go through this town in order to get to the tiny burg of Elephant Butte. Someone at some time in the distant past decided that one of the local hills looked like the silhouette of an elephant, hence the name. We were unable to spot the similarities but did enjoy seeing the lovely vistas of this man made reservoir.

 Auggie had a fine time as we rode along the lake, sniffing out the window. Since we rarely allow him to stick his head out the window when we drive, this was a thrill for him. 

The ranger warned us of coyote sightings earlier in the day, of a pack that she came across late in the morning, so we were very careful as we walked around. While coyotes tend to be more active at dawn and at dusk, they can be hunting at any time. This is something we are always thinking about when we walk Auggie.