And a long day....

I wanted to help at the auction today. The helpers met at 7:30 this morning... When Randy wants to get up early, he just tells himself "I have to get up at X time" before he goes to sleep, and it always works for him. So I told myself "I have to get up at 6:30 am".  I woke up every hour, on the hour until 3 am, when I skipped an hour and woke up at 5. But I made up for skipping 4 am by waking up every 20 minutes after that. I finally got up at 6:30, with a lesson well learned - SET THE ALARM.

I staggered out to meet the rest of the folks at the Assembly building, where they showed me how to use the Auction computer program. It's actually a pretty good program so no problems there, except when the credit card machine ran out of paper during a transaction. But still, it could have been a lot worse. After the auction started we still had a few people checking in until early afternoon, when some folks started checking out. They gave us their card number and we gave them their bill. After they paid, they went outside to the bullpen (just a big area under a tarp) where tables were set up with sold lots on them. Each card number had a specific spot, but some people bought enough stuff to take up a whole table or two. I switched from the computer to the bullpen to help there as more and more people were ready to leave. There were a few snags - items charged they didn't buy, or items they bought that were not charged. But eventually everyone got their stuff and left. Meanwhile Randy spent the day setting up tables, cooking in the kitchen, and breaking down tables. We are whipped tonight. Randy fixed me a burger and he had leftover pizza, then we walked down to the bonfire to visit with friends. And then the night was over!

Good day

What a sweet day. Here in sunny Vista the breeze was blowing enough to keep things cool. I got up late, took the dogs out, and toasted some homemade bread for breakfast. Then I set up my Ivory jewelry display in the office before wandering over to where they are setting up for another big auction on Saturday. Helped do some data entry, then we joined Ken and Patty for lunch at Ciao, a small Italian restaurant where they serve a very credible buffet. Back at home for a nap; Randy takes 10 minute naps, I sleep for 2 hours.  And while I was sleeping he baked bread again. The last time he made bread he created this wonderful sourdough-rye loaf. 
And later I joined a small group of people at the Assemble building for pizza. Life is good.

Mission San Luis Rey

Just 5 miles away from us is the historic Mission San Luis Rey, one of a series of California costal missions founded by the Franciscans. This one was started in 1798 and the current church was built in 1811, although half the belltower collapsed in 1926 and was reconstructed. The name loosely translates to "Mission of St. Louis the King", for Louis IX, King of France. This, along with its size, gave it the nickname "the King of the Missions". 
Across the well-kept grounds from the mission is a long wall, behind which is the old "lavanderia", where people would do their laundry. Going through the gate and down a zillion steps brought us to a brick patio and trough system. I imagine the patio area was a good place to visit with friends while getting a bit of work done.
A couple of the wider troughs have interesting stone heads as fountains. I think this might have been an Indian idea; I am not sure the  Franciscans would have approved. But then, they may have been familiar enough with gargoyles to accept this. 
Next to the church is a lovely courtyard which is closed to visitors, but viewable from the arched gateway. It houses the oldest Peruvian Pepper tree in California, which was planted here in 1830. Pepper trees get big but not outsized, but it appears that their trunks get thicker and gnarlier with time; by now this trunk is HUGE. 
The long galley walk between the garden and the main church houses the museum. The walkway is ceiled with boards that show lots of chop marks from the hatchets that created them. That's a lot of hard work.
The museum is the only place that charges entrance fee, and I thought it was worth it. The Franciscans lost the mission in 1834 when it was "secularized" by Mexico; the Mexican government kicked out the priests and Indians and used the building for military purposes. But in 1865, less than a month before he died, President Lincoln signed the deed that returned it to the Catholic Church.
The museum contains several day-to-day items (like a bag of chocolate beans!), and some really beautiful vestments. All this was made and embroidered by hand. Again, a lot of work.

The church itself is charming. It's beautifully decorated with hand-painted designs. The thickness of the old walls shows in the doorways and windows.
They don't call attention to what is original and what's not, but since the Mission fell into disrepair during its Mexican era, some of it is surely not. But near the door is the baptistry with a statue of St. John that dates from the 18th century. It's behind a gate now for protection, but available to view and appreciate.
And the 14 paintings of the Stations of the Cross along the walls are certainly original. The monks took them down when they left in 1834, then brought them back when the mission was returned to the Church. The paintings are very dark now and they hang high on the wall so it's difficult to fully enjoy them. But that's OK, they weren't really intended as mere art.
The church has 3 alters, a center one and one on each side. The central alter is topped by a statue of St. Louis IX, King of France (the original statue is in the museum), and the life-size crucifix below it is from the 18th century. 
The alter on the left is almost as large as the central one except it's just a one-story alter, not a double.  It's central figure is a unique statue of Christ - it's the first one we've seen that is articulated. Although it has moveable joints, the guide said that in the 15 years she's been here, the pose has never been changed. She also explained that it has real hair, which apparently is not uncommon for these statues. There is no record of who made this statue, but it's very good. 
And the guide also pointed out an unusual feature of this church: in the cheerfully decorated rafters there are painted swastikas. 
But the swastika used to be a simple good-luck charm. It wasn't until 1920 that Nazis ruined it. There are occasional talks about changing these but they were well-meant, harmless decorations when they were added, and are now just a part of history.

Outside the church on each side of the door are really old statues of monks. I really like these. I love the Brother Cadfael novels and I picture him looking a lot like this guy.
And to the right of the church is the cemetery. We thought the skull and crossbones over the door was interesting. This turns out to be a common feature for old Franciscan cemeteries, but it may not be original. Disney replaced the whole gate when they filmed here for their TV series "Zorro", so who knows if the original gate had that touch?
The cemetery grounds go on and on, and only the graves around the entrance are old. We found a couple of stones from the late 1800s, but most are more recent. It was nice to see that some of the old graves are tended; they must still have family in the area. 
There are 21 Missions along the California coast - can't wait to see the rest of them!

Four years ago: A night at the fights
A long time ago: 7th Day In Rome!

Sous Vide, and homemade Bacon

Randy has been wading into deep culinary waters lately. Not content with baking wonderful sourdough and rye breads, he has decided to cure bacon. It's a time consuming process but he doesn't mind taking time to create something special. I mind, because it means I have to wait several days after he starts the process, but the wait is always worth it. 

This is fully cured, but of course we cooked it hot and crispy before having it for breakfast. Amazing!

And now he has a new toy: a Sous Vide machine. This does a neat trick - it will hold food at a specific internal temperature for hours. If it's set correctly, the food will never get overdone. Randy used it today for the first time. He started by seasoning the meat and sealing it in an air-tight, leak-proof bag.
Then he put water in the magic machine, set the controls where he wanted them, brought it up to temperature, and put the bag in.
After X amount of time, the food is done! But if you don't want to serve it yet, just leave it in; it will still be perfect whenever you are ready. 

I could live on this bread

This morning it was warm and sunny, like it is every morning in Southern California. So after a quick breakfast of Randy's homemade cinnamon rolls topped with maple frosting, we packed the bikes on the back of the car and drove 2 miles to the start of a bike trail. The bike trail goes about 8.4 miles to the beach in Oceanside. I didn't make it that far today, but this was my first day. I made it to the 3 mile mark, with Randy keeping pace with me. That's hard for him because he can go a lot faster than me. At the 3 mile mark he took off for some speed biking while I rested, then we biked back together. Then Randy went back into the kitchen to bake more sourdough bread.

He had planned to make stuffed peppers for dinner, but I begged for a dinner of this fresh bread. I drove to the store for some shaved ham and Havarti cheese and had wonderful sandwiches for dinner. And for dessert - another one of those delicious cinnamon rolls!


The main business of the Museum is gas and steam engines but they have a lot of social events, too, and like to keep the grounds looking nice. There are several rose bushes about so I have been able to indulge my love of flower gardening by weeding, mulching and watering them. While much of the country is under a foot of snow, we have roses blooming!
California is still in a drought so I have to be sparing with the water but by watering just at the roots, I can still get gorgeous roses. None of these are old-fashioned roses so they don't have that heavy scent I love, but they are still beautiful.

Parked nearby is the old car that was being driven around on Sunday. I think this is my new favorite. The engine is stripped down to just the bare minimum and what is there, is dented and rusty, but by golly, it runs!
And who needs a steering wheel, or floorboards, or even a seat?

2 years ago: Krewe Parades in New Orleans
6 years ago: Fun in Mexico

Sourdough Bread

Now that we are at Vista it is just a short drive down to San Diego to visit Randy's brother Butch. We were able to cruise down there today, visit for 3 hours, and come back before rush hour traffic. Which was a good thing because it gave Randy time to make another loaf of sourdough bread. Man, he is getting good at this! 

A good day off - 2/8/15

Today we took a day off from volunteering at the Museum and drove over to Carlsbad. It's just a few miles south of here and among other things, they have a lovely beach. The Pacific ocean is full of cold water but a beach is always a welcome sight.
For lunch we went to the nearby Tip Top Meats and European Delicatessen. We went there for dinner a couple of nights ago. They serve huge portions and the food was pretty good, but the best part was the sauerkraut so this time we decided to stick to their German dishes. The portions were so big that today we ordered just one dish to share: the Oktoberfest Platter with Bratwurst, Knackwurst and Smoked Polish, served with German potato salad, red cabbage, sauerkraut and a dinner roll. It was solid, authentic German fare, and we will definitely be coming back.
Back at the Museum I discovered some of the guys are working on one of the older cars. It's impossible to say how old it is because it's actually cobbled together from several cars. But they have it running just fine.
And for dinner Randy made a loaf of Sourdough bread. We added the leftovers from the Tip Top and had a great meal. This was awesome! 

The Insane 5K Inflatable Run

Today the Museum was the site for the "Insane 5K Inflatable Run". I'd never heard of this before but the name is pretty accurate. It's a 5 K run, it uses inflatables, and it's insane. Although the goal is to finish the 5 K, it seems to be more about having fun than racing. In fact, many running teams came in costumes.
I don't think anyone kept track of official run-times; if the runner cared about that, it was their own responsibility. The official started big groups of runners every half hour, to avoid bunching up on the track. The starting point is a huge inflatable, where the runners scramble up the puffy stairs...
and slide down the other side!
Then they ran along a marked-out course around the Museum grounds. Along the way were several other inflatables, just to keep the course interesting and fun!
Randy spent the day working in the small kitchen, where they served breakfast burritos and lunch burgers and hot dogs. I worked on the grounds, digging out around the rose bushes. This is all volunteer stuff, we aren't even scheduled to work until Tuesday!

Settling in at the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum

We are settling in here at the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum. Wifi is working great but TV reception is spotty - it drops out during the last 10 minutes of any given show. They have a washer and dryer for us to use in one of the buildings. The people are friendly and there is something scheduled at the Museum every weekend. It's great to be able to walk the dogs (and me!) around the grounds - we need the exercise  In the morning, however, there is a lot of dew on the grass. It doesn't make any difference on Julienne's short fur, but every morning this is what Shorty looks like:
Dang! That doesn't come off with baby wipes - he gets a foot-bath every morning.

What to look for in a man...

Got to love someone who understands it when the cat doesn't feel like moving.


Friday after the auction I discovered our wifi was down, so it's been a long couple of days for me. For some reason our jacks wouldn't fully extend when we parked on Friday, giving the RV a strong tilt to the left. Since Randy worked in the kitchen all day Saturday during the auction, we just dealt with the tilt until Sunday when we were able to level the coach. Then we headed west towards the beach. Along the way we found a big swap-meet in an old drive-in theater lot. The big screens are still there; they just drive the trucks up to them and unload. 
There was lots of stuff for sale, none of which we needed. 90% of the people there were Hispanic, which influenced the snacks. When they sell chips and salty snacks, there are always bottles of hot sauces to sprinkle on. We didn't try those but we did get some Mexican Coke.
Then we drove on to Oceanside, where we walked along the beach. Randy found some sand dollars for me before we headed to the pier. Halfway along the pier this pelican was posing. Apparently he's here a lot because he has his own sign. 
The view from the pier was lovely. We watched surfers try to catch waves below us and admired their hardiness; that water is cold!