Borrego Springs, CA

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A no brainer?

Over the last ten years or so, I’ve experienced an increase in the shakiness of my hands… tremors.  I just figured it was a part of growing older.  The shakes are worse under stress.  It’s kind of embarrassing at times.  Driving my big rig is stressful for me, and I’ve even had people ask me if I have Parkinson’s disease when I’ve stopped to gas up the rig or sign in at a campground. 


                       Tonight’s photos are from around Jojoba Hills… this is Pond 1 of six in the park.

The tremors have gotten progressively worse over time, and presently it’s a real challenge to even butter a piece of toast.  It’s really effecting the quality of my life.  At the Christmas Dinner at the park, I had to ask someone to put some gravy on my mashed potatoes.  If I had tried to do it, that gravy would have ended up all over everything and everyone.


                                                                    Croc Creek Mill Pond

About two weeks ago, a couple pulled up to my site in their golf cart and knocked on my door.  They introduced themselves and then invited me to attend a Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) information meeting.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  It seems someone in the park had told them about my tremors, and the wife, Lou, related to me how DBS had helped eliminate her tremors.


I signed up to attend, and then did some investigating on the internet.  That meeting happened this morning.


                The air gun range in the park.  All those yellow things in the distance are what I shoot at.

Dr. Adam Burdick, a neurosurgeon from Scripps Green Hospital, gave the presentation.  He explained the difference between Parkinson’s disease and essential tremors.  Listening to him, I’d say I have essential tremors. 


                                  The flowers are in front of my patio.  This one is my favorite.

The clincher was when he said that folks with essential tremors experience a lessening after an alcoholic drink.  If I have a glass of sherry in the evening, I’ve found I can actually write legibly.  The evening is when I fill out forms or write checks.

IMG_1263Those silver points around the center of the flower are actually the background between the petals.  Kind of neat aren’t they?

So what is Deep Brain Stimulation?  Well, in a nutshell, it’s brain surgery.  A probe is inserted into the deepest reaches of your brain, and is then attached by thin wires to a battery source that is implanted under the skin just below your collar bone.  Kind of like a pace maker. 


The patient is actually awake for much of the surgery so the probe/electrode can be placed in the exact right spot.  You have to be awake to converse with the surgeon during this placement.  Seems kind of spooky to me, but the results are astounding.


Unless you’ve had this problem, it’s hard to imagine the frustration of not being able to do things that seem so natural and easy.  It is progressive and can only get worse.  The surgery doesn’t cure the condition (there is no cure), but alleviates the symptoms.  It takes some time to fine tune the system after the surgery, so that has to be taken into consideration also.  I’ve got some thinking to do…

I’ll leave you tonight with a photo of Emma on vigil.


Can’t have any of those little lizards stalking my oranges, don’t ya know!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, January 22, 2016

Here it is, Friday again

Seems like I’ve become a once or twice a week blogger since I’ve arrived at my winter home base.  It’s been a transition time for me after nine and a half years of volunteering at various wildlife refuges.  It’s not as exciting, but I’ve reached a stage in my life where I’m enjoying not having the commitments to deal with. 

It takes a village to raise a child

            Tonight’s pics are the rest of the ‘closeup’ photos I took to the Photo Bug meeting this morning.

There’s an Annual Meeting of the park members coming up soon, and I’ve made sure to go to all the meetings of the candidates running for the Board of Directors.  It’s pretty calm compared to the upcoming national elections, but there’s definitely one candidate I won’t vote for… a little too swell-headed for my tastes. 

I also went to a Budget and Ballot Issues forum this week.  I needed further clarification on one of the issues before voting.  It concerned what happens to your rig and belongings if, as a member, you die.  The proposal is to allow the heirs 28 days to remove all belongings from the site.  I believe it now stands at seven days, and I just can’t imagine my kids being able to take care of things in that short amount of time should that happen to me.  I will vote yes on that proposal.  Right now, I could add one of them as a member so they would have unlimited time to remove belongings as long as they paid the monthly maintenance fee, but the rule is a second member has to be at least 45 years old.  Guess I’ll have to hang on a few more years before I can do that.  Disappointed smile


                                        Wasn’t really happy with this closeup, but it is what it is.

On Wednesday, Sue and Mo and pipsqueak Mattie came for a visit.  We had an excellent visit, and Emma and Mattie pretty much wore each other out.  I can’t believe I didn’t take any pictures, but I didn’t.  At one point, Sue asked me something along the lines of whether I was content with not volunteering.  Without hesitation, I immediately answered yes.  My response kind of took me by surprise, but it’s true.  I guess I’ll just see what happens in the future.


                 Ha ha!  This pic kind of took the group by surprise.  You know who is the smiling model.

The theme for the next Photo Bugs meeting is ‘humor’.  I don’t know what I’m going to do with that, but for sure I’m thinking I can certainly come up with something for “The End” of my group of photos.


I hope a good many of you enjoy your time at the Blogger Fest tomorrow in Quartzite.  I won’t be making it there this year.  I think I’ll go down to the range and practice shooting for a while.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Interesting turn of events

After the Poker Air Gun Shoot on Thursday, I was more interested than ever in purchasing an air rifle so I could enjoy this sport.  Mike had called to let me know that a Gammo Whisper rifle was on sale at the Big …(something) Store in Temecula.  I thought I knew exactly what store he was talking about and set out Saturday morning for town.  I planned to stop at the Farmer’s Market first, but that turned out to be a bust.

It’s in Old Town Temecula, and there was absolutely no parking within blocks of the market.  Since I can’t walk very far any more, I had to pass.  Perhaps if I got there when they first open, I’d have better luck.

So, I made my way back to the Big Horse Feed Store and Mercantile right on HW 79.  Seemed like a likely place that would sell guns.  It was a very interesting store; full of cowboy boots, saddles, and all manner of things you might need for riding a horse.  However, they didn’t sell guns.  Luckily one of the staff straightened me out and said I should go to the Big Five store across the highway.

This brought to mind one of my pet peeves about shopping in Temecula.  HW 79 is a six lane road with a 55mph posted speed limit.  Of course, I have found that California drivers take that to mean that 55 is the slowest you should drive.  Couple that with the fact that almost all the businesses are so far back off of the highway that you can’t see the store fronts, and it’s no wonder I had never heard of Big Five.

Anyway, after dealing with a very inept young sales person, I was finally able to purchase the Gamo Raptor rifle thanks to help from the store manager.  (Being a bird lady, I thought Raptor was a good omen.)  To answer some questions; a background check or special license is not necessary for purchasing an air rifle.  All you need is money.

When I got home, Mike called to ask if I’d bought a rifle, and I said yes.  He told me to keep it in the box for now, and we would meet today as he had come up with an idea of something I might like better.  Oh great!  The hardest thing for most women about using these rifles is to ‘break’ the barrel so you can insert a pellet.  The rifle Mike and Terry showed me today was not only lighter in weight, but it used a CO2 cartridge that meant you didn’t have to muscle the barrel in half.  I gave it a try, but decided to stick with what I had purchased.

The kick on the Gamo is a lot more than the CO2 gun, but I can shoot a greater distance with the Gamo.  Those far out targets are what I find most fun, so much to the guys’ surprise, I chose the harder to use rifle.  They helped me assemble (meaning they did it) and install the scope.  Then Terry took the time to adjust/tune the scope.  I’ll tell you, without these two fellas to lead me along, I doubt I’d have done this on my own.


Then it was finally time for me to take aim at the target.  I nearly fainted when my first shot was in the red section at 10 meters.  I’m all set to go now, and can practice on the range any time I want to.  I’m thinking I’m going to do better at the next Poker Shoot.


In the mean time, I’ve started working on this week’s challenge for the Photo Bug group.  I don’t have a macro lens, so I’m working on close ups.  This is one of the roses I got at the Poker Shoot.


I got this blood orange from Carol, the hair cut lady.  I’ve never tried a blood orange before, and I told her I felt like I was on the Food Channel.  Winking smile  There must be about a hundred of these tasty beauties on her tree.  They sure are hard to peel, though.

Tomorrow I’m off on another little excursion for an idea I have for other close ups.  We’ll see how that turns out.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, January 15, 2016

Another week gone by

Time does seem to get away from me here at Jojoba.  I had my training for volunteering in the library last Saturday, and I’ve spent some time a couple of days this past week taking care of returned books and DVDs.  There’s quite an extensive DVD section, and lots of people take advantage of the very reasonable $.50/DVD rental rate.  All rentals and book borrowings are done on the honor system, so working there is quite easy.

There are two off leash dog parks here, and if you have a dog that uses either or both of them, you are automatically a member of the dog park committee.  On Thursday, about 25 of us dog owners met for a potluck dinner and short meeting.  Plans are in the works for establishing a dog wash station in the park.  Now that’s something I’d like to see happen.  Emma won’t know what hit her once that is built.  Just like most everything else here, it will be funded and built by park members.

One of the challenges for ladies living on the road is trying to get a decent hair cut.  I’ve had my share of scalpings in the last nine years.  It turns out that there is a lady in the park that does cuts right out side her rig, under a cabana, for $8.  I think there’s even a heater out there for chilly days.  Her big old dog, Murray, welcomes you as you arrive in your golf cart.  The first time I went, the cut was a little short.  I went again this week, and the cut was just right.  She now knows my hair and where my cowlicks are.  Winking smile

Since I had such a good time at the Ladies’ Day Air Gun Shoot in November, I decided to return to the airgun field yesterday for the Ladies’ Poker Shoot.  I had no idea what that meant, but I ran into Mike and Terry (two of the biggies in the air gun club) earlier in the week while I was at the dog run with Emma.  I’m so glad I stopped them to talk about my budding interest in this sport.  They both took me under their wings when I showed up for the shoot. 

A Poker Shoot means each contestant has two minutes and five shots to try to hit up to five playing cards that are set up on top of one of those wooden work horses out in the firing range.  You are shooting at the backs of the cards.  What ever cards you hit determines your poker hand.  Then it’s like five card draw, where you can choose to buy up to five more cards (that you have to hit with a bullet) to replace the cards you discard for your final hand.  Is that clear as mud?  Anyway, suffice it to say that I didn’t win, but I sure did have a lot of fun, and the guys really taught me a lot.  I did come home with six long stemmed roses for participating.  You can’t beat that.

Mike even called me tonight to let me know that the gun I was most comfortable with was on sale at a local feed store in Temecula.  Since I’d planned to go into town tomorrow anyway to find the farmer’s market, what do you think the chances are that I’ll be coming home with an air rifle??  Look out Annie Oakley!! Rolling on the floor laughing

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, January 8, 2016

Keeping busy

One of my frequent commenters has asked a couple of times what it is I do to fill my days now that I have a home base, and am not tooling around a National Wildlife Refuge and volunteering.  Well, guess what?  That’s what I’m going to post about tonight.  Thanks for asking, Sherry

I’ll start with today.  At 10:00 I went to my second meeting of the Photo Bugs Club in the park.  Normally, they meet every two weeks to view members photos on an assigned topic, and give constructive criticism.  Today was the first time I brought some photos, and those are the pics I’ll include in tonight’s post.


The topic for this session was winter plants.  I’m hoping to learn more about photography.  I think I generally do OK with  composition, but I don’t have a clue about ISO settings or some of that other stuff.  Might as well take advantage of free learning from others, and believe me many of the other members have great knowledge. 


Last Tuesday I went to a tree and shrub pruning class.  I learned a lot in a rather short time.  We didn’t get any hands-on experience because it was pouring rain outside, but I think I know how to take care of my orange tree now.


(These flowers are blooming on my lot in January!)  On Thursday, I went to the Fitness Center open house to learn how to use all of the equipment.  The beauty of this experience was that it was geared toward people my age that may be afflicted with back, shoulder, knee, etc. problems.  Right up my alley.  I’ve only used the treadmill and recumbant bicycle there, but now I know how to use the other equipment as well, and got to try it out with someone to coach me on its best use for me.


Tomorrow, I’m going to be trained in on volunteering at the park library.  I make great use of that library, and wanted to do my part.  In a Co-Op Park, like Jojoba is, just about all the amenities and activities are run and maintained by member volunteers.


(Can’t wait to taste this juicy morsel.)  On this coming Monday, there’s another air gun day in the morning, and a baked potatoe dinner with all the trimmings, after the weekly members meeting, to support the fitness center.  On Tuesday, the solos in the park are going out for dinner.  I think I’ll give that a try.


In addition to the assigned photo challenge for the meeting, you can also bring two of your favorite photos from the past.  You know I had to bring one with birds in it.  Winking smile  The next assignment is ‘macro’.  I don’t have a macro lens, so I’ll be bringing several close up shots.  Since I’m not on a refuge, the photo bugs give me an incentive to go take some pictures.


This is the second ‘favorite’ photo that I brought, and I’m pleased that everyone enjoyed it… a foggy morning in the long leaf pine forest of Mississippi.

So, I keep pretty busy here at Jojoba, with plenty of time to take care of mundane chores and not have to set the alarm clock.  I’m enjoying it.  As is usual, it’s mostly couples here at the park and I’d like to find a ‘best friend’.  You know, someone you can call up on the spur of the moment to do something.  I’m no big social butterfly, and I know relationships take time.  I’ll just give it some of that time…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Flat Stanley is heading home


Hi Everybody!!  I’m Flat Stanley and I came to Jojoba Hills, California, to visit my Grandma Belt.  Can you see me hanging on to the handle by the door of her rig?  She lives fulltime in her motorhome.  Some people think she is homeless, but she’s not.  Her home just has wheels to take her places across this country.  She is spending this winter in California.

I guess I have to tell you that she’s not my real grandma, but my friend, Not-So-Flat Avery, said she would adopt me as her grandson while I visited.  If you look closely at this picture you can see two other things in it that are important to this story.


The most important one is that I made friends with Emma the Dog!  Can you see how happy she is to have me sitting with her?  She’s funny!  She smiles by sticking her bottom teeth out.


The second important thing is that I got to help Grandma Belt drive her golf cart around.  Did you see it behind the motorhome in the first picture?  Well, when I got behind the steering wheel, Emma the Dog told me that she was a little nervous about me driving.  Ha!  I fooled her.  I didn’t hit anything as we made our way each day…


… to the dog park.  Emma the Dog gets to run around without her leash here, and take care of ‘business’ if you know what I mean.  Smile with tongue out  Poop patrol isn’t much fun, though.


One day we went on a real adventure to find the Sea Serpant Dragon in Borrego Springs.  Oh boy, was it ever big!


That’s me and Not-So-Flat Grandma Belt standing under it’s fire breathing mouth!  I decided to call this dragon Puff.  Grandma knew why as she used to sing Puff the Magic Dragon.


Another day, I had to go to work with Grandma.  Our job was to stop people from driving on a road that was being paved in her park.  Lots of people wanted to drive right through, but we didn’t let them.  Their cars would have gotten stuck in all the new hot tar.  We were the safety patrol.


Taking Emma the Dog to the park every day, being on the safety patrol, and talking to Magic Dragons was a lot of hard work.  So, a couple of times we went to the pool to relax and ‘catch some rays’.  (That’s old time talk for sunbathing.)


One day, I even got to go in the hot tub with the guys.  That sure felt good.  They knew all about Flat Joey and his travels.  I figured out that many grandparents do.

Now it’s time for me to travel back to Dyer, Indiana.  I’m thinking that just maybe I can come back again  when Not-So-Flat Pheobe (Avery’s sister) is in second grade.  In the meantime, Grandma Belt wants me to tell Avery, Phoebe, and their Not-So-Flat Mother that she is very excited about them coming to visit in March.  Say hi to Puff for me, and if you’re really lucky you might get to help drive the golf cart too!


Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

P.S.  Since I don’t have a printer, this is the only way I could think of for getting the story I was supposed to write about Flat Stanley’s visit to Avery’s teacher.  Hopefully Robyn can print it off and give it to her for me.