Monday, March 28, 2011


I’ve been thinking about Ian McKee for the last several days… and thinking of his wife, Margaret Wright.  If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might recognize those names – Ian and Margaret are our friends who live in the loft building in Phoenix where we spent our days as our motorhome was renovated in February.

Ian suffered a heart attack on Thursday, March 24, and died the following day.  It was completely unexpected and sudden.  My heart aches for Margaret.

We first met Margaret and Ian on the internet; they were good friends of our friends, Fred and Jo Wishnie.  When we were in Phoenix in December of 2009, we met them in person at a restaurant they recommended, the Blue Adobe Grill (which has since become a favorite).  As happens often in the RV community, we had a great time with them, and stayed in touch.  When we needed a place to stay during our renovations, they suggested the loft and worked with the owner and with us to make that happen. 

Pink Blossoms in March-1During our stay, we dined out a few times with them, enjoyed drinks together on the rooftop, and were lucky guests when Margaret and Ian hosted us for dinner in their beautiful loft overlooking downtown Phoenix.  I remember discussing travel plans for the summer, when they would take off with their 5th wheel to escape the heat of Phoenix.  We had plans, too, and we all enjoyed envisioning those long summer days to come.  As we sat talking, none of us imagined how abruptly those plans would change for Ian and Margaret, and what heartache was on the horizon. 

Now, Ian and Margaret are often in my thoughts – and his unexpected passing is a sharp reminder to savor each moment, to cherish our loved ones, to renew our appreciation and gratitude each day.  Ian clearly enjoyed his time, and we were lucky to share some of it with him.  Rest in peace, Ian.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I’m disappointed to say that the weather has not improved since my post last week!  This wild, wet streak is very unusual for Sacramento.  I think we’ve had two days of non-rain (can’t really say sunshine!) in the past week, with lots of snow in the mountains and even down into the foothills.  There is water everywhere, including huge puddles to be negotiated between our motorhome and our car. 

Storm clouds passing over the RV park Out our window

Odel continues to pursue all the tests that are required pre-surgery: blood tests, urinalysis, ECG, chest x-ray.  We had a few days of drama when he was called back for a follow-up chest x-ray, then for a CT scan of a suspicious shadow on his right lung.  Try as we might, we couldn’t keep our imaginations from running wild in weak moments, so we were thrilled today when he got the call from his doctor’s office: something is there, but it is nothing to worry about and no follow-up is required.  Grinning and giddy was our response.  Having all those tests is just purely nerve-wracking!

We also spent 2 1/2 hours in a pre-joint-surgery class at the hospital.  It was SO helpful!  Taught by a nurse and a physical therapist, we now have a good idea of what to expect – and a fistful of paperwork, checklists, a shopping list and forms to complete.  Surgery is scheduled for April 4.  Can’t happen soon enough for us.

Flooded golf course Bike trail ends here

More good news today: I lost 2.6 pounds last week!  Added to my miniscule loss of 0.4 during my first week, I’m right on track for a reasonable weight loss of plus/minus 1.5 pounds per week.  Let’s hope this is a new trend.

Again, thanks for all the suggestions and good wishes for Odel’s surgery.  We are feeling prepared and confident now, and are filling in our calendar with fun socializing while he can still move around freely.  Plenty to look forward to next week – with more than a couple Weight Watcher challenges, I’m sure.  :)

Friday, March 18, 2011


Blossoms in SacramentoRain, rain, rain.  We have seen SO MUCH rain!  As I write this, the local weather report on the radio is talking about flood advisories for the the Sacramento valley and foothills, and a winter storm warning for the Tahoe area in the Sierra.  Folsom Dam on the American River and Shasta Dam on the Sacramento River are both releasing greater volumes of water to make room for the expected runoff.   The ten day forecast features more of the same. 

One of the reasons we choose to stay at Cal Expo RV Park (click here to read our review) while in Sacramento is the proximity to the 30+ mile bike trail that runs along the American River.  During breaks (or should I say, “during THE break”) in the rain, we’ve enjoyed forays up onto the levee.  Trees are in bloom all along the river and, with the water so high (spreading into places it does not normally go), there is a lot to see on our walks.

Thanks to Weight Watchers, I have been busy while we are stuck inside.  NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, goes into my stomach without being measured (“points” values calculated) and recorded (“tracked”) in my “Ultimate Three Month Tracker”.  Very time-consuming, and it certainly cuts down on impulse snacking!  

To increase the volume of food I get to eat as a Weight Watcher, new recipes (low fat, high fiber) are in order.  No problem - even though we have a small kitchen, I have a large collection of cookbooks.  I enjoy them the way many people enjoy travel guides – a source of pleasure and inspiration that can be enjoyed from the comfort of my lounge chair. 

So, as the rain fell last week, I pulled out a stack of those cookbooks most likely to have weight-loss-friendly recipes, and was thus reminded of one of my pet peeves when it comes to cookbooks: WHERE IS THE NUTRITION INFORMATION??  There oughta’ be a law: no recipes without nutritional information! 

Pink BlossomsYesterday was the day of reckoning, one week since I started the program.  The result?  0.4 pounds lighter.  No, that is not FOUR pounds lighter, it is ZERO POINT FOUR.  Naturally, I wanted something more like TWO pounds (or five)!   Four-tenths of a pound.  Humph!   I know, I know, it’s better than nothing – or gaining!   And Odel?  He is smart enough to keep any weight loss to himself, but I have noticed his jeans drooping.

Thanks to all of you who left comments last week about your experiences with WW, about your favorite substitutes for full-fat mayo, and with suggestions of recipe sites on the internet.  So far, my favorite has been one suggested by my friend Glenda: Gina’s Skinny Recipes at  This is not an official Weight Watchers site, but includes both old Point values and Points Plus values (if you are on WW, you don’t need this translated) on scores of mouthwatering recipes.

Thanks, too, for your well-wishes and encouragement for Odel’s knee surgery.  He has been busy scheduling all the tests that are required pre-surgery: blood work, x-rays, EEG.  We’re registered for the pre-knee-surgery class, and he has a list of medical equipment to track down – including my favorite, a reacher-grabber so he can reach more things without getting up.  We’ll enjoy that for a long time to come.  :)  If all goes as planned, surgery will be 4/4, and he may be able to get by with a partial replacement, rather than a full. 


Friday, March 11, 2011


The slab at Cal ExpoIt’s official: unless he has a change of heart, Odel is having knee surgery in a few weeks.  He has been planning this since December, when his chronic knee pain worsened for a week, cramping his hiking style while we were in Desert Hot Springs. 

With that in mind, we returned to Sacramento earlier than usual (we normally spend a month here in spring) to get the process started; the various appointments required to prepare for the surgery are our priority now.  With luck, he will get away with a partial knee replacement, and we will be able to resume our travels by mid-May.

Since we aren’t traveling, I won’t be blogging as often as I do when we have new sights to see – instead, I’ll be reading everyone else’s travel blogs (and my big stack of books).  Our friends Al and Kelly (The Bayfield Bunch) are in Lone Pine, California, right now – which happens to be a favorite spot of ours, along a favorite route, Highway 395 on the east side of the Sierra.  They’ve hit perfect weather, and I’m getting great enjoyment reading Al’s daily descriptions of their experiences in the area.

Ready for WWBesides ogling photos and travel commentary on other blogs, I have a project to keep me occupied.  Ten years ago, at this same time, I lost 17 pounds following Weight Watchers.  Now, a decade later, I have found them all again - or, they found me, probably in Louisiana.  Yesterday I rejoined the program, coming home from my initial meeting with cookbooks, pamphlets, points trackers, and a points calculator (yes, my wallet lost some weight).  I’ve always loved number-crunching; the points-based Weight Watcher program is made for people like me!

This is how my little workspace looked this morning as I jumped into the new Points Plus program.   WW materials are scattered everywhere (by the way, that large file box is my somewhat oversized recipe file), and I’ve marked up just about everything in the kitchen with Weight Watcher point values.  My cookbooks bristle with sticky notes marking recipes to try. 

This afternoon, we headed to the grocery store to get stuff we usually don't stock:  non-stick cooking spray, fat free mayo* (???), lite cheese, bubbly water.   Plenty of fish in the freezer, the fruit bowl is overflowing, and the crisper bins in the refrigerator are bulging.  Odel doesn’t join me in the ritual of counting points, but he likes to benefit from the healthier menus – and will no doubt lose more weight, and faster, than I will!  Wish us luck… well, no, not luck really… how about “Wish us long-lasting motivation”?

* how can “fat free mayo” even be called mayo?  Mayonnaise is just a combination of fats emulsified!

Friday, March 4, 2011


Do you ever listen to The Splendid Table, hosted by Lynne Rossetto Kasper, on NPR?  I usually catch it on Saturday or Sunday evening, often cooking our own dinner while I listen to Lynne interview guests about food, cooking and eating - the slow food movement, how to reject a bottle of bad wine in a restaurant, how truffles are grown, how to roast coffee beans at home, favorite regional foods.  I often learn something new, as I did a few months ago when Lynne and her guest, Harold McGee, a food scientist, discussed cooking dry pasta as you would risotto, rather than in a pot of boiling water (here is a link to that show).

Odel makes a dynamite pasta sauce and, since we often have some in the freezer, it seems like a natural for boondocking – but boiling pasta seems like such a waste of scarce water!  Since pasta cooked in the style of risotto (that is, cooked in only as much liquid as can be absorbed) seemed to be boondocking friendly, I filed the idea away, intrigued.

Recently the same unusual cooking method popped up again, this time on a blog I was introduced to by Margaret Wright while we were in Tucson: Shadowcook.  The most recent post is titled “Pasta with Duck Sausage and Carrots, Risotto-Style”, and I immediately paid attention.  Her recipe was inspired by an older recipe in Saveur magazine that also used the risotto cooking method. 

I like to make risotto – often a good way to use up bits of leftover meat or fish, or to turn a few vegetables and some cheese into a creamy comfort food, much more luxurious than its individual parts.  The idea of using dry pasta in place of rice interested me, so I printed both of the recipes.

A couple of nights ago, I adapted ideas from both recipes to come up with one suited to what I had on hand (and our taste).  We both loved it, so I turned my jotted notes into something more formal and tucked it into my recipe box.  If you would like to give it a try, here is the link: Risotto-Style Pasta with Italian Sausage.

With spring on the way, I think I may experiment with a risotto-style pasta primavera before long, maybe some asparagus, peas, diced carrots, with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of lemon zest just before dishing up…

I must be ready for lunch!  We’re traveling north on Hwy 99 towards Sacramento; time to find a rest stop and have a bite to eat.