Sunday, May 17, 2015

Foggy outside?

The photo that heads this blog was taken by a waiter at a restaurant in the Cannery close to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. (No there was not fog that day.)
Our dinner was very nice and afterwards we went into Ghirardelli's to check out the chocolate.
As much as we enjoyed the afternoon and evening, it seems as though this part of the city doesn't have nearly as many restaurants and shops as it had in the Seventies, when we visited several times to visit my mother while I was in grad school in Los Angeles (USC).

Monday, June 25, 2012

Scottevest is Perfect for a Sailing Trip!

I was so blessed at TBEX12 in Keystone, Colorado, when I became the proud recipient of a red Scottevest. It is the ultimate travel vest with 17 pockets in a lightweight, breathable poly fabric. This company is so awesome they provided these vests for all the attendees at TBEX12. Wow, I am impressed with them and have become a loyal follower.

I will be going on my third week long sailing trip and as I considered what to bring, my vest became my number one item. The living quarters on the 45 foot Hunter sailboat are tight so the less I bring, the better. By wearing my vest, I can breeze through security at the airport by just slipping it off. It also means I don't need to carry a purse and can carry-on my ukulele instead. Additionally, when climbing on and off the sailboat, one must be aware of things carried so they don't slip into the water. Cameras particularly do this. There is a special pocket for the camera and a memory card pocket as well.

Just to give you a better overview of this remarkable travel vest, I'll list some of it's other featured pockets: handwarmer pocket with a water bottle holder and an extendable key holder; lipstick or chap stick pocket; change pocket; eyeglass and chamois pocket with cleaning cloth on elastic cord; two pen pocket; ID pocket for drivers license; Travel Document pocket for passport, etc.; cell phone/MP3 pocket; budbucket pocket x 2 for your earphone buds and a collar connect which holds wires to the Ipod in place; IPad pocket; a secret pocket; a large back pocket. There are also personal area pockets.  The vest is engineered to evenly balance the weight of the things we carry so it's more comfortable than carrying them in a bag. There is also a streamlined look to the vest so items in the pockets do not crate unsightly bulges. How awesome is all this?

When I was handed the vest, I was also given "a tour" of it. I was amazed at the insight put into this marvelous piece of clothing. Their tag line is: Scottevest For the Trip of Your Life.  Vests are not the only clothing they have available. They have pants, shirts, dresses, hoodies, jackets and even men's underware, all with their pockets.  I hope to start a collection of Scottevest clothing for my many travels and good times! I think I'll start a gift registry with Scottevest!

Also published at:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Catch up and Play my Uke!

My life moves so fast and I have so many interests and fun things in my life of exuberant daily celebrations that my blogging has been on hiatus. After spending time at the TBEX12 bloggers conference in Keystone, Colorado, last weekend I have a new resolve to "git er in gear"!  So forgive my dead air of the last few/many months and know I'm back in the saddle again. Actually I'd prefer to be back in the cockpit of the 45 foot sailboat our friends have...but that will be coming along in two weeks. Stay tuned.

Now that I've explained myself, I'll get on with what's on my mind. Tonight I am focused on playing my ukulele. About a year and a half ago my dear friend, Christy, and our husbands, sailed from Marina del Rey to Catalina Island. Christy and I found a store on the island that sold the prettiest ukuleles I had ever seen. With zero, absolute nada musical knowledge or expertise Christy and I decided to become ukulele players. After all, the uke is small,and  it only has four strings. What could be so hard about this? My first ukulele was hot pink with white flowers and I named her "Tahlula". I loved my little ukulele so much that I was determined I would learn to play her. With only a slight hesitation, I took Tahlula to my first Uke Song Circle in my town, Arvada, It was quite a shock in the first place to find there were other ukulele players right here in my own home town but I was delighted at how welcoming they were to a newbie like me. At my very first meeting, the leader looked at my pretty little uke and said I could "borrow" one of his for the evening. Later I found out Tahlula was considered more a toy than a serious musical instrument. However, I was hooked and determined to conquer this musical oddity I had tripped upon.  

In the pictures above you can see I have come down with the dreaded UAS disease.."Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome". My total includes Tahula, another Aloha soprano, a Mitchell Concert and a soprano Kala Travelling Uke.  I have also branched out into the delightful world of all things Uke. I have T-shirts, posters, tuners, music stands and notebooks full of song sheets and plenty of music books full of songs I hope to one day be able to play.

On one of our sailing trips, Christy and I found out that a favorite, awesome, ukulele player we had fallen in love with, Aldrine Guerrero, was going to be in California giving a workshop and concert at the same time we were in town. We delayed sailing a day to meet up again with Aldrine. We had met him at the Denver Uke Fest in 2011. 
Christy, Me and Aldrine at Uke Fest 2011 in Denver
While in this great ukulele store, Island Bazaar, in Huntington Beach, California, (below) Christy and I found matching soprano Kala travelling ukuleles. They even have a compass on them so we won't get lost.  
Me and Aldrine at Island Bazaar

Highlights of my uke adventures have been signing up as a VIP attendee at two Ukulele Festivals in Denver. This year I felt like a  groupie waiting to have my travelling ukulele (see story of it above) signed by the world famous Jake Shimabukuro 

See how we lovingly gaze into each other's eyes! Ahhhh

My travelling Kala uke getting signed by Jake Shimabukuro

Christy and her husband, David, are my faithful partners in fun. So far I haven't been able to convince my husband to play the uke. He's happy with his alto saxophone and clarinet.  At the Uke Fest this year, Christy and I were unexpectedly photographed by the Denver Post.  I found this picture on line of us in one of our workshops. You can see how hard we are concentrating. We really want to learn to play our matching Kala tavelling ukes.  

The Denver Ukulele Community. is my home base when I'm waiting for the next annual Uke Fest to roll around.  (You can find me in the red sweater on the changing pictures at the top of the web page.) This group is tons of fun and I can sing and play, as best as I can, until my heart is content at their monthly meetings. They welcome one and all and never lack in being "awesome" as our fearless leader, Doug Brown,   loudly proclaims. 

It's been quite an adventure since buying my first, pretty ukulele, Tahlula. I have come a long ways in learning chords and strums and even a few songs. Practice is mostly what I need and that will come between my blogs and full life of many other things. I'll keep you posted on my progress. 

also published at

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Simple Life

After reading about the Amish and even making my own Amish quilt over the years, I finally got to spend a day in Amish Country. I could have spent a week there without running out of things to see and do but the day I had was great. My new daughter-in-law, Kelly, grew up about an hour from the Amish area in Ohio so she knew all the places I needed to see in a day. I was so excited to be going and made sure we were on the road, ready to arrive when the doors to the shops opened.

To me seeing a horse and buggy was the ultimate Amish viewing. I was not disappointed. They were on all the main highways and my family teased me that I took the same picture of them over and over (from the back) but upon closer look of my pictures, every buggy was different.
Our first stop of the day was at Lehman's in Kidron. I was familiar with the store as I used to receive their catalog when Y2K was on my mind. I wasn't prepared for the huge assortment of products from the past. The store was huge and lacking in nothing. Oil lamps, lava soap, toys, hats, cooking supplies, crocks and dishes, books, wood burning stoves and outdoor supplies filled the shelves. I do believe a person could spend an entire day in Lehman's alone.

Ashery Country Store was our next stop in Fredericksburg
. It offers bulk foods many of which can not be left behind. I brought home dark chocolate covered peanuts, Buckwheat pancake mix, yogurt covered pretzels, Buckeyes, sunflower seeds, and Matt and Kelly picked up beef and turkey jerkey. The huge bags of flour, pie fillings, potato chips, seasonings, jams, jellys and relishes could stock a pantry for a lifetime. Our sales clerks were dressed in their traditional dresses and bonnets which added to the authenticity of shopping in Amish Country.
They now take credit cards.
Rows of goodies.

Heini's Cheese Factory

Heini's Cheese Chalet in Berlin had us looking forward to sampling.The cheese is made in the factory right there on the premises and samples of all the cheeses are available. We used a toothpick to pick out a chunk of cheese from a covered plastic bowl (with signs not to put the toothpick in our mouth!). The cheese was wonderful and if I hadn't been traveling I would have brought home many different kinds. I did pick out 3 cheese spreads (Cajun crab, apple raisin and roasted pepper). Rex picked out a chunk of Swiss cheese. Lines of people moved along the coolers with their toothpicks in hand sampling every offering. Pretzels were used for the cheese spreads. It was so much fun and so very tasty. Once I was full of cheese samples, I went to the other end of the store to the gift shop. It was lovely and I found some personalized notecards.
Rex shows a sample!
After all that cheese you'd think we wouldn't be hungry but we were ready for our next stop, Der Dutchman in Walnut Creek. This Restaurant is famous for its authentic Amish Kitchen Cooking, and it is in the original location serving food traditions for more than 40 years. The waiting line trailed down the porch but the restaurant is so large the line moved quickly. Our meal was served family style and included soup and salad bar, large rolls with available peanut butter and apple butter for spreading, 3 meats, homemade mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, green beans and our choice of pie for dessert. The helpings were huge and between the four of us we still left plenty untouched. What a sad thing that was!
A nap after lunch!
Sampling from salad bar

Waddling back to the car with very full tummies, we stopped to admire the panoramic view of Goose Bottom Valley. Red barns and farms dotted the countryside. What a gorgeous view that a camera doesn't do justice to. .
Neat farms on the hillside.

Back on the road, we returned to Berlin to Tis the Season. This is Ohio's largest year round Christmas shop with three floors of Christmas wonderland. Of course we went to every corner of the large store. It was beautiful.

While still in the Berlin area we made a stop at Wendell August Forge. I knew about this store because Kelly and Matt had brought us wonderful gifts from this store on another of their visits.
I knew I would love this store, and I did. It had so many hand-hammered metal gifts to call out to me. I found a pewter tray with quilt patterns that called my name. But for $75 I left it there. I did buy an Amish Christmas tree ornament so that is a trip keepsake for my day with the Amish. There were necklaces, bracelets, cups, bowls, coasters and trays made from hand-hammered aluminum, bronze, copper and pewter. Beautiful craftmanship was in everything. As we left the store, the wooden porch had the cutest rock planters along the edge. They were available to buy but fitting one in my suitcase would not have been practical, as much as I loved them.
Wendell August Forge

Rock flower planters

This is a display showing the
steps to making a Wendall-August

Stores were starting to close so we had to call it a day. On our way back we did drive by Cat's Meow Village. I was sad to see it had already closed as I have known about those little wooden houses for years. I think I even still have a few. It was such a full day though and we were all tired so it was just as well that we could slow it down for the day.
There are still many places we didn't visit but I'm delighted with all we got to see in a day. Kelly definitely knew the premier places to show us and after all these years, I am so happy I got to see the Amish people in their hometowns.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

City Girl Goes Country

Today I joyfully jumped out of bed at 4:00 a.m. to catch an early morning flight to Cleveland, Ohio. Now some of you might get up around this dark time of the morning but I don't! It's against my nature to be up before the sun. When it comes to travel or a good time, I can sometimes re-wire my senses and go for the gusto of the unusual. This is what motivated me today! I have a fun and exciting 4 days planned around the Cleveland area. Actually Medina, Ohio, is the center point of my travels this week. I only fly in and out of Cleveland. I am here with my husband for a wedding reception honoring our son and new daughter in law who were married 4 weeks ago. Kelly is from here but was married in Colorado. This reception if for her family and friends who were unable to travel to the wedding.

This is the first time my husband and I have visited Kelly's homeland. As a true blue city girl I had been anxious to see her family's Alpaca and Tree Farm that Kelly has told us so much about.

Sign in the Kall yard

Alpacas in the yard

Christmas Tree Farm

Arriving at Kelly's family home, we were greeted by her two dogs, Pit Stop and Nascar. Once they realized I was family, they were happy.
Here is my son, Matt, playing with Pit Stop and Nascar.

I was then shown the way to the barn area to meet the newest cria (baby alpaca) born yesterday.

Tony Kall (Kelly's youngest brother) brought the cria over for me to admire up close.

Along the way I delighted in the many chickens that roamed freely across the yard. They were camera shy though as they would run from me into their coop. They must have known a city girl when they saw one. I wonder if my shoulder strap purse gave me away?
I had to outsmart this one to get a picture. She was running fast past me!

The 16 adult alpacas were most welcoming. They looked at me and I looked at them! The
boys were separated from the girls so I wandered to different
fenced areas to meet them. I didn't reach out to pat them though as I didn't know if they'd spit at me or not. This city girl wasn't brave enough to risk it. I was walking in a foreign land here.

These are some of the males,
considered stud quality.

If I got it right, this is White Starr who is the day old cria's
Mama. Behind her are some of the other females.

The day old cria was a sweet, darling, fluffy little alpaca.
I did reach out and rub her and marveled at how soft she was.
I was pretty proud of myself for pretending to be a little bit
country at this point. Names for the alpacas are somewhat random. This one may be named F150, after the Ford truck.

Suddenly there was quick movements in the corner of the fenced area. Another little newborn cria had been found in the
corner of the barn. She was breathing but not doing well. Kelly, her Dad and brothers gave immediate care to the struggling cria. Her mother, Molly, stayed close by while the cria was rubbed and warmed.

Kelly Pilger flashes a smile
as she tends to the cria and
Mama Molly stays close.

In the warmth of the sun, the 3 steers, Fred, George and Bruce, were led out of their barn for a quick turn around the yard. They didn't linger long in the sun and soon headed back into the barn.

Matt Pilger, Tony Kall and Andy Kall pat sweet Fred.

To complete my afternoon I climbed aboard the Ford tractor for a photo shoot. I liked it there and could see myself patrolling the acreage on such lovely days as today.
Such fun on a tractor!

Dinner was a fabulous meal of garden grown corn on the cob, potatoes and carrots and the luscious roast beef from one of their own farm raised cows. I know it's a lot of hard work to nurture animals and a garden but the fruits of the labor are delicious and can't be compared to anything else.

I loved being outdoors among the animals, tractor and garden today. I think my own ranch-raised Dad would have been proud of his city girl.
A beautiful butterfly in the alpaca yard.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Little Good News

"The Guttmacher Institute is reporting that in the first six months of 2011 states have enacted a record number of pro-life laws."