Drag Show Brunch at the Velvet Lounge

And now for something completely different. My aunt has a group of friends who like to get together and have fun. They are between 57 and 85 but age is just a number to these ladies. The last time I was here they got together to star in their own pin-up calendar.  This time they decided to go to the Velvet Lounge for their Saturday Drag Brunch. 

The brunch part was really quite good - eggs, bacon, chicken sausage, fresh fruit, muffins, bagels and lox, fried potatoes, waffles, pancakes, omelets, pastas and something similar to eggs benedict, all served with bottomless Mimosas. Or in my case, served with bottomless Diet Coke.

And the show part was good, too. The host was also one of the entertainers. The rest of these folks might be called female impersonators, but Shannel is a true Drag Queen.
After a little while I quit trying to figure out what they would look like without makeup and just enjoyed the show. The performers did a great job of lip-synching to the music while energetically entertaining the crowd. We all just clapped along, threw dollars at the stage and had a good time.
Of course, part of the entertainment is that these guys look so much more "womanly" than any real woman. This performer, referred to at "The Latino", was as curvy as any of us. We really don't know how they did some of this.

Our Third Thanksgiving Dinner of 2014

After being up all night working at the Central Communit Church's Thanksgiving Dinner, we crawled into bed a little before 5 am. We got 3-4 hours of sleep, made it through the rest of day and met up with the Booth and Burns families at 2 pm for the family dinner. Everyone in this family can cook! The table was loaded with turkey, prime rib, ham, dressing, caesar salad, sweet potato bake, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, veggies, broccoli casserole, sweet potato salad, lettuce salad and yellow squash casserole. Desserts? Banana cake with caramel frosting, pumpkin pie, carrot cake, apple pie, cookies, pumpkin roll. I promised myself I would eat with some restraint but I lied - I put myself in a food coma. Mike's friend Kara knew 3 young Marines who were on leave so she invited them to join us. I think they were surprised (and delighted!) at the size and quality of the spread. This is home cooking at its very best!

Our Second Thanksgiving Dinner of 2014

This is the 27th year that Central Community Church has been serving Thanksgiving dinner to the needy of Riverside. The event has grown to over 3,000 meals, most of which will be delivered to the recipient's home. The body of this church is small but extremely dedicated, and with an army of volunteers they get the job done every year. 

Last night Randy and I joined Teresa, Riley, Mike, Brittany and Kari for the final preparations. With a few other hard-working souls, they prepared a ton of mashed potatoes. Literally - they had around 2,000 pounds of potatoes. Earlier in the day a group of 40-50 people had a potato-peeling party. The peeled and cut taters were put in several tubs of water, then the cooking started. 
They cooked the potatoes outside the kitchen, then brought them in to be mashed by hand. If I win the lottery, I will buy a big commercial mixer for this church. While this was going on we also packed up 3,000 little to-go cups of cranberry sauce and opened a zillion big cans of vegetables. Because they use so much product, they need to save space in the dumpster, so after the veggies were dumped into pots, we had to remove the bottom of each of those cans and stomp them flat. After the potatoes were cooked, mashed and packed in coolers and the kitchen was cleaned, the next step was heating the cooked turkey and gravy. Since there were around 170 cooked turkeys, that was expected to take several hours.  That seemed to be the end of our usefulness so at 4:40 am Randy and I headed for home. 

Getting tired before the holidays

Busy day today! Recently the church received a lot of donations, which is great, but right now they need to free up space for Thanksgiving dinner preparations. I spent yesterday sorting through boxes and bags, then today we got up at 5:20 am (!!!) to set up a yard sale on the church grounds. Randy carried stuff outside, then Aunt Jean and I ran the sale. We sold for several hours, until 11 am when we bundled up the remaining items for a one-way trip to the Salvation Army. The sale was a success; it generated money for the church's Thanksgiving dinner and freed up a lot of space. 

While I was at the sale, Randy was assisting Teresa as she put together her catering job.  She was serving at a wedding today. I don't cook so all I could do was help carry things upstairs to the venue. We did that twice - once for appetizers and then again a couple of hours later for the entrées. By the end of the day we were all worn out. We need a bit of a break before starting the next thing - Thanksgiving dinner for 3,000.

Our First Thanksgiving Dinner of 2014

This evening the Randy served Thanksgiving dinner to 121 people at the Mission Village RV Park. The menu was turkey, dressing, sweet potato bake, green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, giblet gravy, rolls and salad, with pumpkin pie, chocolate cream pie and Aunt Jean's apple pie for dessert. I was so busy serving that I didn't get any pictures. I did, however, get a few leftovers, and that's much more important - it was all great!

Preparing a Thanksgiving Dinner

Randy is creating Thanksgiving Dinner for the Mobil Home Park where Aunt Jean lives. In order to allow holiday time with family, the Park has scheduled their dinner for tomorrow. So for the past few days Randy has been doing his prep work. Today he wrapped up the turkeys, side dishes, cream pies and pumpkin pies. Meanwhile Aunt Jean was working her own alchemy, turning this
into this:
It's going to be a great dinner.

A tight fit

Whenever we are in Riverside, Teresa and Jack offer us a spot on their driveway. It's a long driveway so they can still park a car behind us, and it works out fine. Right now, though, their big 5th Wheel is parked behind us. It's a tight fit but we got both vehicles in. The view out of our front window is really . . . close.

An old-fashioned shake

Friday the old Hamilton Beach blender that Randy ordered was delivered. The device was in pretty good shape but the cord was awful - split in several places and bound with old electrical tape. Fortunately Randy knows how to replace an electric cord.
He replaced the cord, I cleaned the old gunk off it, and it ran like a champ. Then Randy made chocolate shakes, and now I understand the appeal of these things. With the shakes you get today, the best part is the last sip because it's extra creamy. The shakes Randy makes are creamy from the first sip to the last. Awesome!

Sorting through donations

Thursday Randy got up early - 4:30 in the morning - to go fishing with Jack. There are very few things that can get me out of bed at 4:40 and fishing ain't one of them, so I did not go fishing. Instead I slept until about 9 am, had a leisurely breakfast, then drove to the church. Recently an elderly lady died and her family donated most of her stuff to the church. I volunteered to go through the stuff and sort useable from unusable. The church is very involved in community service, including an orphanage in Mexico, so it seemed likely that there would be some useful stuff. And boy, was there! For some reason this elderly lady had boxes and boxes of baby clothes, and bags and bags of children's clothes. A ton of clothes. And a couple boxes of children's toys, a box of children's shoes, a couple boxes of receiving blankets - all of it perfect for the orphanage! In fact, I was running out of places to stack the clothes when I learned that one of the women who run the orphanage had just arrived at church. She was here to talk to Pastor Ken and hoped to take a few items back with her. Oh, I had a "few" items she could take. She had two teenage helpers with her and she was driving a car, not a van, so there was a limit to what she could pack in. But they got a couple of big tubs of clothes and a couple of boxes of toys this time, and will return next week for more. I was tickled to have more room because there was still more stuff to go through. After 5 1/2 hours I had sorted through the contents of most, but not all, of 2 rooms, and there is still one more room to go through! 

November 9 - Price shopping

Sunday we attended early church, then went on a price-comparison trip with Teresa and Aunt Jean. Randy will be preparing the Thanksgiving dinner for the Mission Village Mobil Home Park; Teresa knows every grocery store in the state, so she took us to several so Randy could find the best prices on the best products. We were running around for a few hours, during which time we missed several calls from Jim. His son drove in for the day and Jim wanted to ask the family over for dinner. Fortunately Jim and Marla just planned for the dinner anyway, and kept trying to reach us until they got through. Marla cooked a great dinner, Jim grilled chicken and steak, and after dinner I sat outside, enjoying the perfect California weather.

A slow Tractor ride and Julian

Today we got up at 5:30 am and were on the road by 6:30, so we could be in Ramona by 8:00 and meet up with some guys and their tractors. These guys love tractors so much that they get together to drive their tractors on a scenic mountain road trek.
Randy drove a friend's tractor and I joined Teresa, who was driving a truck ahead of the tractor parade. The one lane road is full of curves, with signs that say to honk when you approach blind curves. It worked; as we eased around one curve we met a car sitting still, waiting to see who honked. They backed up until there was a spot wide enough to pull over a bit so we could pass each other.

The ground is out here is very dry, but some areas are irrigated for crops. We passed several fields of fruit trees, all trimmed off square at top, probably to encourage more fruit growth.
Teresa and I arrived at our destination, a large area with a good view of a nearby dam. The dam was built to create a lake but the current drought, which is in it's fourth year now, has severely dropped the water level.

We set up lunch: steak and cheese soup, BBQ brisket on Hawaiian rolls, potato chips, German chocolate cake, cookies and nut torte. What a great picnic! Just as everything was ready, the guys showed up and lined up their tractors like horses at the coral. 
After a leisurely lunch, the tractors headed back down the road they came in on, while Teresa and I took a different route back. We arrived before they did and had quite a wait; in fact, after awhile we rolled down the windows, laid the car seats back and took a short nap. Eventually the tractors showed up and we learned what caused the delay - the lead tractor had a tire blow out. 
There wasn't much they could do besides limp back to the starting point. One of the guys called ahead and had a truck show up with a spare tire. 

We were only about 20 miles from Julian, so Teresa drove us there. Julian is famous for their apples so in the fall the town is packed with tourists. This weekend the streets were full of cars and beautiful motorcycles, but we finally found a place to park. The town has a lot of cute stores with clothing, candy and trinkets, a couple of horses and this guy, with the worst underbite ever. 

The stores that sold apple pies and apple cider were packed, with lines out the door, so we decided to buy our apple cider on the way out of town - and it was awesome!

Four years ago: Pawn Stars and Animals

A Full Day

Today we finished our second painting job, which was actually an extension of the first job - this time we painted the inside trim and doors of the same house. Then we went to lunch at the Riverside Culinary School. That was a bit disappointing; my panini and fries were good but Randy's fish, cauliflower and potatoes were bland and over-cooked. But everyone has a bad day once in awhile, so we will give it a second try on another day. In the afternoon we went to Ian's last football game of the season. That was excellent because his team won, 31 to 21. And to wrap the day up, we went to the Riverside Children's Theater's production of My Son Pinocchio. 

That's a full day for me; I'm done!

Two years ago: A Trip To OZ
Three years ago: Okeechobee