I have an Etsy Store!

I have been looking into how to build a website to sell my jewelry, but for now, I think Etsy will be a great venue. I've been working with the beautiful Ivory that I bought when we traveled to Alaska. The outside of Fossil Walrus Ivory makes it look like a chunk of wood.
When I start working on it, the colors and shine start coming out. . . 
and suddenly there is something unique and beautiful.
Wooly Mammoth Ivory doesn't have the range of colors that Walrus Ivory does, but it has a mystic about it. 
My store on Etsy is called Lambertsales (no spaces allowed!), and Etsy provides a link for my blog that connects directly to my Etsy store. Now I need to create more jewelry!

How to avoid looking like a hoarder

The Tailgater is working great! This Sunday there is a marathon of "Game of Thrones", so I've already warned Randy that I will be busy all day Sunday.

I love gardening but it's hard to do on the road. But since we will be here awhile, I decided to set out some pots, and I found some in the back that I could use. But we are on a small site and we already have a couple of chairs, a table and a smoker outside. It really wouldn't take much more to start looking like a disorganized hoarder. I decided the best way to avoid that was to color coordinate everything. Our chairs are already red and gold, so why not spray-paint the pots to match?
And then, just because I do this sort of thing, I painted eyes on some round rocks, like critters looking out of their shells.
It may look like I'm weird, but at least it doesn't look like I'm a hoarder.

Dish on the road

After 5 1/2 years on the road, we finally decided we would like more than antenna TV, especially since it has a tendency to drop during a program. So we are going Dish, in a mobile way. We got a Tailgater and a receiver to pick up satellite channels. The Tailgater sits on the ground with a view of the Southern sky, which shouldn't be a problem most places.
It's great to be outside but when it's cold or wet or dark out, it's nice to have an alternative inside. We'll see how this does.

One year ago: Fat Andy's in North Carolina
Four years ago: Snow underfoot

Farmer's Market and African Scotch Eggs

Today Randy is sitting in on some meetings at the Museum. In between meetings we went out to pick up his suit from the cleaners, and on the way back we found a very good Farmer's Market. It has several rows of vendors selling fruits, vegetables, flowers, organic this-and-that, cheese, hummus, and a lovely display of mushrooms.
There are several food vendors there, also. We decided to try something different at an African vendor - it's a Scotch Egg with the outside coating made from ground Black Eyed Peas. 
I do not recommend this. It had an odd flavor, very little seasoning, and was definitely overcooked. I looked online and there are some great-sounding recipes for African Scotch Eggs, but this isn't one of them. Oh, well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

But dinner made up for that! We joined Jack and Teresa for dinner at Ciao. We've enjoyed their lunch buffet before but this is the first time we've had dinner there. And wow, it was great! My order of Fettuccine ala Montanara was delicious, and Randy's Spaghette alls Carbonara was even better. Life is good!

One year ago: FMCA Rally Fun
Two years ago: A Southern Tea Party

Shooting The Past

Years ago I saw a movie on PBS that I just loved. As is so often with me, time past and I couldn't remember what it was called. Recently, after all sorts of odd searches, I found it. "Shooting The Past" was a BBC TV drama, and someone was kind enough to post it on Youtube here, so it is available to enjoy again. 

It's dry outside

As I walked to the laundry building, I noticed faint lines cutting across my way. A careful look revealed that these were made by ants. Little ones, and their traffic was going in both directions. It's so dry here now that an ant trail makes a track in the dust. I found an anthill on one side but lost the trail on the other side. These little guys working earnestly but I question their judgement - this is a road.

Randy bikes, I drive...

We visited the Mission San Juan Capastrano on Sunday; yesterday had a different agenda. The bike trail that we visited in February was beckoning Randy so he decided to get to it.  He biked from the Museum grounds to the trail-head, then to the coast in Oceanside. It was a little over 12 miles, and when I drove the car to Oceanside to meet him for lunch, he wasn't even winded. We usually eat at the Harbor Fish and Chips when we are here.  The food is good and we can sit outside and watch the harbor.
Of course, we have to ignore the uninvited-but-always present beggars. The seagulls here are joined by some quick little ground squirrels. I want to feed them all!
Originally I was going to collect Randy and drive us back, but he decided to bike back, too. So we didn't want a lunch of fried food. Instead we ate salads at Joe's Crab Shack, walked around admiring yachts we wished we could buy, then headed out, me in the car and him on the bike. Since it was uphill going from sea level to the Museum, it took him a little longer, but he made it!


Mission San Juan Capistrano

Here's the thing about the Mission at San Juan Capastrano - it's just as scenic as it can be. Everywhere I looked, it looked like a movie set of a historic mission. 
This isn't a bad thing, it's a testament to the conservators' determination to keep it looking authentic, even when they had to rebuild something. One part that has not been rebuild is the "Great Stone Church", or what remains of it. These ruins bear a resemblance to the ruins of Rome. So of course I loved them! 
This beauty was build between 1797 and 1806, the only chapel in the region not made from adobe. While all that work was going on, they held services in Sierra's Church, which had been build way back in 1782. The Stone Church was big and beautiful and must have been a wonder to behold but it was not around for very long. In 1812 an earthquake took the bell tower straight down on the congregation, killing over 40 of them. The rest of the church survived the earthquake so they gave a shot at rebuilding it, but that didn't amount to much. The Stone Church had used four cast bells, each one named after a saint. The priests dug out the bells (or presumably had their converts do the digging), built a nice wall next to the church to display them,
and went back to holding services in Serra's Church. When Mexico took over these lands, just as they did at the Mission San Luis Rey, they ousted the priests and their neophytes. And just like the priests at that Mission, these Franciscans stopped on their way out to take the pictures off the walls. Eventually President Lincoln gave this Mission back to the Catholic Church, just as he did with the Mission San Luis Rey. Not much happened here until 1910 when Father John O'Sullivan arrived and got interested in rebuilding. By then only parts of the Great Stone Church that remained were fragments of the walls and the back of the sanctuary. But aren't they gorgeous!
That same year Hollywood got involved, filming "Two Brothers" here, and in 1916 the caretakers started charging a 10 cent admission to help pay for the restoration. There must have been a lot of dimes because it's come a long, long way.

The four mission bells continued to hang outside, even though the two larger ones had cracked in the earthquake. It wasn't until 2000 that they recast those two, so now all 4 bells can ring. The 2 cracked bells hang in a separate display.
The forty-plus victims of the earthquake are buried in a modest cemetery behind the Stone Church, along with at least 1,960 others. All unmarked, and frankly I don't know where they put them all - it's not a very big area. This is more of a mystery than the 10,000 bodies in Savannah's Colonial Park Cemetery. There is a big monument near Father O'Sullivan's grave, but it's a memorial to the builders of the Mission.
Behind the Stone Church is a group of buildings with a central patio (very scenic, of course). Among other things, these include a museum, workshops and soldiers' barracks. We walked through the compound, enjoying one photogenic view after another: the back of the bell wall, 
corridors of arches, 
and doorways topped with what looks to me like stylized sea biscuits.

The walls of all these buildings are very thick, as every door and window shows, which made excellent sense in the hot California weather.
One damaged ceiling shows the original sycamore beams and strips of reeds used in the 1780s construction. Adobe was plastered over this to add insulation. 
And off to one side is a garden, planted with fruits and vegetables similar to what the original inhabitants grew, such as cabbage, tomatoes, lettuce and onions. Right next to the garden are the remains of several outdoor kitchen pits and ovens. Here women cooked 2 meals a day for up to 1,000 people. Not fun!
One of the buildings around the patio is Serra's Church. The folks here are very proud of the fact that this is the only remaining building where Father Serra conducted Mass. And it's supposed to be the oldest building in Califonria in continuous use. Inside it's cool and lovely, with several windows in those thick walls to let in light.
The walls are decorated with 14 stations of the cross. Just like the ones in the Mission San Luis Rey, the Franciscans returned the original paintings when the Mission belonged to them again. The paintings are small and dark, except for station number 10. Number 10 is unusual. It's 12 feet tall. 
Sometime in the 1970s restoration was considered but discarded in in favor of creating another painting to cover it. Go figure. Forty years later someone realized there were two paintings in the frame and removed the top one to reveal this one, well over 200 years old. But the new one must have been pretty good, to go unnoticed so long.

In the front of the church is a beautiful gold-covered alter. Quite amazing.
We needed to beat the traffic on 5 South, so we left by 1:30. But before we left, we took a quick look at the nearby Mission Basilica. It's a a large church, beautifully decorated, but without the ostentatiousness that I usually find in Catholic Basilicas.  A nice touch are the "portraits" of Saints painted on the whitewashed walls. 
 Another unusual feature is that there is no organ loft over the door. But up at the front, the alter is decked out in gold. And one of the characters depicted near the top of it is an Indian woman. I found out later that she is Kateri Tekakwitha, the daughter of a Mohawk chief on the East coast. After her death she was made a saint and even though she never traveled to California, she was added to this retablo as a symbolic gesture of unity with the many Indian converts.
And the swallows who come here yearly? Apparently that hasn't happened the last few years. Too many changes in the area, resulting in other places to nest. I think it would be great if they came back, but this Mission is outstanding on it's own.

Carlsbad Flower Fields - pure beauty

Yesterday, on the hottest day of the year so far, when it hit 90°, Randy drove an antique tractor pulling a wagon full of guests at the Carlsbad Flower Fields. I could have volunteered but I thought it was too hot. Today since it's a couple of degrees cooler, he drove me out there to see the flowers. WOW! This place is gorgeous. It does cost to get into the display area, unless you're a volunteer. Before we took the wagon ride, we walked around one of the main display areas. I kept making plans for when we get a house again because I am definitely going to have a flower garden, even if it has to be a small one. They had some very pretty 4 foot square gardens here, as well as larger arrangements.
The flower fields are mostly made up of Ranuculus. The Franzee family, who have owned this place forever, spent several years breeding better colors. In the 1950s they were able to change the flower from a "single" (with one row of petals, like a daisy) to a "double" (with lots of petals, like a rose). That makes for a much showier flower.
They grow 13 different colors of Ranuculus now, and when you get in the wagon, the tractor drives you out into the fields where the growing flowers make ribbons of color.

And as a bonus, in one area they have created a 300 foot  x 170 foot American flag of petunias. Couldn't get it all in one picture!
Back at the main area are several buildings with displays. One holds Poinsettias. The idea is to show how Poinsettias have changed through the years, due to selective breeding, but I just admired the flowers! The one called "Ice Punch", with it's dark pink and white stripes, was my favorite.
Oh, and they have a Sweet Pea maze, too. The maze rows are open-weave plastic so the Sweet Peas, which are natural climbers, grow right up them. Later in the season the maze wall will be covered with flowers. I just wandered around, admiring the flowers; fortunately Randy was leading, so we got out easily.
Past the maze was a building filled with Cymdibium Orchids. This brown one caught Randy's attention - who knew brown could be to lovely?
But then, everywhere we turned there was something beautiful.


Sous Vide Ribs

Randy is still experimenting with his new Sous Vide machine. Tonight's dinner was spare ribs that he started yesterday. They cooked in the Sous Vide for 16 hours; Randy thought they were a bit over-tender but I thought they were perfect. But we both agreed that they were very juicy. They didn't even need to be browned, they came out just right.

Three years ago: March in Riverside - it's all good
Four years ago: Albuquerque volcanos and petroglyphs

Fighting Laryngospasms

I'm starting to catch up on my sleep a bit. I moved from the couch to the bed, with 3 bed pillows and 2 little couch pillows to prop me up. The cough still shows up at night but I haven't had another "no-breath" attack. I haven't gotten a full night sleep yet but I am doing better. Poor Randy - all these cushions are taking up a lot of bed-space. Add in a cat or dog (and they both sleep in between the pillows), and he's hardly got any room at all. But tonight I will downsize to just 3 pillows and see how that goes.

The Civil War comes to Vista

We have a group of Civil War Reenacters in camp at the Museum this weekend. They filled the grounds around our old engines with army tents, properly stretched tight to repel water and wind.
The opposing factions - North and South - were usually not side-by-side, but they weren't too bothered about being near each other, either. Everyone was here to have a good time and it probably helps to be near others, in case you have to borrow a little something. 
Generally speaking, the Northern campgrounds seemed to be a bit more organized and better equipped. That was surely done on purpose, to create a more authentic tableau. Folks walked around to visit their neighbors and friends before going out to "kill" each other.
In one area the Northern troops were drilling their newest recruits. . . 
While in another section the South was doing the same. Although the Northern boys had fancier uniforms, the Southern guys were just as focused on learning the proper maneuvers. Good thing - they would do a lot more marching before the battle was over.
I discovered that when you put today's young man in an authentic period uniform, he looks exactly like the old daguerreotypes. The women wear gorgeous period dresses but unless they incorporate the hair trends of the time, the look doesn't translate as well. But the young men don't seem to mind!
When outside, a bonnet or hood does double duty of sun protection and hair constraint, but that is not enough; to pull off the right look, the hair must be controlled. The most common historical method was to wear it in long, smooth curls but since modern hairstyles don't lend themselves to banana curls, most women wore their hair in a knitted snood. And there is a lot of body language to wearing period dresses correctly. For example, elbows should be tucked in. 
And unless you are holding a pretty parasol to protect your flawless complexion from the sun (in which case you'd better have a pretty bonnet to do the same job), your hands should be folded modestly in front. 
Unless, of course, you are with a man, in which case you always take his arm (while holding your parasol with your other hand and keeping your elbows tucked in). All this is just for standing still. I have no idea how they can actually walk so gracefully...
As the time for the first battle drew near, we spectators gathered near the big field that would serve as the battleground. And I was reminded of the the First Battle of Bull Run (aka Manassas), when the good folks of Washington DC came out in their carriages to watch what they assumed would be the start and end of the fighting. Like them, we were a relaxed, chatty little group, but with much better reason - we knew everyone would be going home safely!
The Vista Civil War battle begins with the Calvary on both sides making sortie dashes into enemy territory, while their troops arrive and take position on opposite sides of the field.
At the start, the South has a lot more soldiers on the field, and they start the rumble. These guys marched the long way around and then crossed the whole field to take their position, so when they arrived they were hot and ready to get something started. 
The outnumbered Yankees take position and start firing back.
The Rebels get more aggressive, marching forward and taking position closer to the center of the field. They intersperse their gunshots with loud Rebel yells and insults; the Northern soldiers just march and fire. 
About this time the rest of the union troops arrive. Now they have the numbers advantage. 
The Union army includes a small Irish division, who wear green uniforms and carry a green flag with a gold harp on it. I learned that at the battle of Bull Run, while the Union army was being whipped, the Irish regiment held its ground. Eventually they had to retreat but they did so in an orderly fashion, instead of a mad dash like the rest of the troops. Throughout the rest of the war the Irish were often in the center of the Union line, carrying their flag with them.

The soldiers stay in groups, controlled by the shouted orders of their leaders and firing their rifles on command. But there is something dramatic about an outstretched arm wielding a pistol, and both sides make use of this. The Calvary on both sides continue to make dashes up near the enemy lines. These horses handled the heat, noise and smoke wonderfully. Both armies have 3 or 4 cannon going off, but even that didn't faze the horses.
As both armies march towards each other, the scrimmage lines get really close. When they fire directly into enemy lines just a few yard away, you expect to see someone fall down and play dead. But nobody dies until the battle is about half over. The prospect of lying motionless in the sun may have something to do with that. I think they start "dying" when they get too hot to march or when they run out of bullets. But gradually the number of casualties grows. 
Occasionally North and South Officers alike stopped to tend to a fallen soldier, regardless of the color of their uniform. I hope it was like this for real.
In one battle, the little Union flag bearer got shot. All the spectators gasped as he held the flag up until another guy could grab it, to keep it from hitting the ground. We all grieved for that brave little soldier!
They take turns on who wins the battle: the morning belongs to the North, and the South gets revenge in the afternoon. As the end draws near, more bodies litter the field, and the soldiers have to march over them as they advance and/or retreat.
Sometimes a man gets shot right in front of his buddy, who stops to mourn this tragic turn of events.
Medics sometimes come onto the field behind their army but there isn't much they can do. I guess once you're shot by a reenacter, you stay shot. Some fallen soldiers try to drag themselves to the safety of their retreating troops, but usually they just get shot again. Or, in the case of one unfortunate, get bludgeoned as the enemy marches past.
It could not have been comfortable lying in the blazing sun. They did their best to emulate the fallen soldiers in Matthew Brady's photos, but it was a rare soldier who died face up here. 
Most preferred to die face down or with their hat conveniently covering their face. Of course, sometimes it took a few death-throes to get that hat into place.

Eventually one side gets all the way across the field and captures their opponents' cannon, which signals the end of the battle. The victor's bugler plays Taps and everyone left alive on both sides stands motionless at attention and salutes, to honor the fallen. After the last solemn note of Taps fades, the bugler plays a lively tune, which is the signal for the dead and wounded to help each other up and head for the shade. Wouldn't it be great if this was how real wars ended? 
But of course it didn't really end like that. So President Lincoln comes out and talks to the spectators about the human cost of war, and how hard it is to tell a family that their loved one isn't coming back. Then he gives the Gettysburg Address.