Paddling My Ass Off

Good day, dear readers.  


Boy, did I have a weekend.  Think of it.  Me in a dragon boat on Morro Bay as it rained, a snow storm having just blown through.  And a surfing contest on the other side of Morro Rock.  Check this out!

Perhaps you ask, “What in the heck;  why was she doing that”?  I have a perfectly good explanation.  I joined a dragon boat team to lend my spirit and support to all women that have battled cancer.  Our daughter-in-law had a double mastectomy with all that entails, and she joined a dragon boat organization up in Vancouver.  Last summer we saw her paddle in a race on the Willamette River that runs hrough the city of Portland, OR.



While long in the tooth, and frightfully weak in my upper body, I threw caution to the wind and did it anyway.  My Uncle Ralph pumped his bike up a tall hill until he was 85, so I figured I could do things I didn’t think I could do.

The paddling club (never refer to it as rowing…they frown on that), had two women fly down from Portland, OR to our little Morro Bay to do a two day clinic.  As a newbie in the group, I was anxiously hesitate, but I signed up.  

Boy was it a work out.  We paddled, and paddled, and paddled some more.  We were videod and then after the filming, we all went back to the Morro Bay Art Gallery and looked at our “strokes ”.  It turned out I was not getting my hips into the action so I had to practice that the rest of the two day paddle clinic.

This is a sprint sport.  Boy, does it get my heart racing.  After the sprints,  we rested in the boat, as sea otters came by to view us!!  So fun to see them up close in the water.  Then, after a break, another sprint.  More instruction.  Then another sprint.  It was fun except for the times when I hit the gunnel of the boat with my thumbs.  It really hurt because it was cold with rain now and then.

The second day, was more of the same.  More instruction.  More sprinting.  I felt about 100 years old when we finally docked on Sunday.  Struggling in and out of the boat is another challenge.  And getting out was harder because of the fatigue factor.  I suggested to no one in particular that the team needed a crane to lift the half dead bodies out of the boat!!

The team is always looking for more members.  If I have failed to scare you off, you might give it a go.  It really is fun, invigorating, and nearly impossible to do right as a newbie.  Improvement is just around the corner.  Practice makes perfect, and with any luck at all, I will develop more muscle through my back, shoulders, and arms.  

My mon nick-named me Tootsie Thomas as a child but she could have called me twiggy.  My arms are twig-like so any improvement in the twigs department will be welcomed by moi.

Incidentally, there were two boats, for a total of 34 people, more or less involved with the clinic.  And don’t judge a book by its cover.  All ages, all shapes, all sizes enjoy the sport.  I’m just another one now!!

Go Tam!!  And to all other people that survived cancer and joined the sport…hats off to all of them.

A Very Fun Morning

Who of us knows how the day is going to go until we swing our legs off the mattress, get out of bed, and run into the day.

Will it be a good day?  What could wrong?  What’s on the calendar?  We just don’t know.  

This a.m., I lay in bed thinking until I get the gumption to get started.  Donning my sweats, I head for the coffee, for that pump of caffeine that will start the engine.  However, this morning that routine of sorts was interrupted because I had a chore to run.  As I am want to do, I left a sweater at a party and I needed to get it back.  Collette, Tom our bicycle friends that live in Portland, fly south in the winter and land in Morro Bay for months at a time.  It was their party that we attended and it was so much fun, I took off my sweater.  Nothing more came off…just my sweater (cardigan if you must know).

With rain looming on the horizon, I drove about 2 blocks  (LA Story, anyone?) to retrieve said sweater.  And when I knocked, I discovered I had intruded on a visit they were having with other bicyclists from Visalia.  We had a grand time trading family stories.  So I left much richer than I arrived.  Collette and her female friend (who shall remain unnamed because 1.  I don’t remember and 2. I didn’t warn her that she might show up in blog) are of Japanese descent.  And their grandmothers were picture brides, I think the term was.  That is women that were sent from Japan to the U.S. to marry a man their family knew.  Sight unseen.  What a great bunch of stories they. Had.  

Never saw that coming.  

Then I promised a friend, Diane, that I would pick up her and take her to physical therapy for her new knee.  Off I went.  When arriving, I parked in the driveway and sent her a text.  She emerged from the garage and it is the first time I have seen her walk, unaided, since her surgery of Oct. 31.  So impressive!!  Anyway, she throws herself into the car and announces she is going to give up.  “What?”, I exclaim.  You can’t do that.”

Seems a toe got infected and the when her doc saw her, he sent her to a podiatrist the same day a few hours later.  Out of that appointment, she lost her nail, she gained prescriptions for two types of antibiotics, hydrogen peroxide, bandages, and assorted instructions that include medicating, bandaging, and applying the toe.  

Which led to the next story where I told her to cheer her up.  It’s a Susie story.

My cousin, Sue, texted me yesterday in a twit about her hubby yelling about a sore finger.  We texted back and forth.  It was decided that men have no idea about pain as they do not have the job of giving birth.  That is painful.  Sore finger?  How painful could it be?  Turns out that he told the Kaiser nurse his pain was a 9, rated from 1, the lowest and 10, the highest.  Sue was aghast and this comment ended up requiring a sit-down.  A conversation.  Pain was discussed.  

The next I heard of this, hubby was at Kaiser.  She had dropped him off there for treatment, the finger was infected.  She was not going to fetch him because she does not drive in the dark anymore.  An old age thing.  Plus it had been snowing and it was COLD.  Their daughter would pick him up.  Whether he got home or not remains to be seen. 

After my visit, I came home and Rayman showed me the inside of his flp-it-off-finger.  Big rash.  He went to the drugstore and picked up some Benadryl.  Now his finger is on the mend.  

Really, people, this is just a hoot.

While I was waiting for Diane, I was looking at my emails, and low and behold, there was an article about the first Japanese man in California and his grapes.  Really.  A true story reported by BBC.  Wondering why it is the BBC.  However, the timing was exquisite.  I forwarded that onto Collette and posted it to FB for the remaining people still on FB.  Now, if I find out that Collette is somehow related to this dude, my mind will be officially blown.

Back at the therapy place, I showed up early to pick up Diane so I took advantage of a person who was leaving the locked office, and scooted in, found a bench and sat down.  To wait.  After a few minutes, I heard Diane say, “Okay, I’m going to call my friend now.”  My reply of course was, “I’m here!”  What a scream.  It was a Fitness Works sweatshirt.  Fitness Works, a gym, sthat hares space with the therapy place.  At this point, I couldn’t resist blurting out, “Well, I am famous for dressing for the occasion.”  Of course, that was not a true statement, but it was a funny retort, I thought.  And what were the chances of wearing this particular sweatshirt?  I have worn the thing about 4 times in four years.  Never even thought about or made the connection.  Just grabbed it because it was red.  And I do love the color red.  

There you have it.  Who knew any of this was going to happen?  A very fun morning, indeed.


She was big.  She was strong.  About 800 pounds?  Not sure about the weight, but she was a big girl…elk.  An elkess!!

Heading South of 101 thru Oregon, there are plenty of places to see elk.  Signed are posted.   Locations are designated.  And for a good reason, as we found out.  

Moi was at the wheel, weather was clear if you ignore the smoke in the air.  We have seen smoke almost the  entire day!  We were entering a small berg, not sure which one.  They dot the coast line.  Some are quite quaint, some look like havens for down-and-outers.  There was a man standing on the other side of the two lane highway and as I started to give him a glance, our elk came out from behind some trees and into our vision.  We looked into her eyes.  She was terrified.  I was terrified.  Swerving to the left and into the lane where the man stoically stood, I started to break and the car finished the job.  Our Honda CRV has brakes with brains.  Somehow, f it senses the need to stop, it stops on a dime.  Between the breaks and my swerve, disaster was avoided.  Yippee.  Last seen, the elk was prancing around unharmed.  She had headed straight across the road, toward the man.  I don’t know if he moved or not.  

Gathering our wits, we sally-forthed!!  Or is it sallyed-forth?  


This is not her. Took this in 2019.

Next bit of news was that we stopped in Eureka for early dinner as our night was to be spent in Fortuna, CA and there isn’t much there so we knew a restaurant we had eaten at before.  It was already a long day.  5 :15 p.m. we arrived.  We needed food and wine.  They had both.  The only thing that I had that was good, was the wine.  Ordering a half bucket of clams and some garlic bread, I was sure it would be a fine meal.  It was not.  It was so bad, I wrote a review in Yelp and Trip Advisor.  Just as an example, the garlic bread came out.  It was sourdough with clumps of garlic thrown on top.  There was no color to the bread.  Did they forget to toast it?  No matter, I sent it back.  It came back with a tinge of color.  I choked down one piece as I was famished.  The cook who committed this grave offense, did not have a clue about cooking food.  And I will leave it at that.  Oh, and this was on a Friday during happy hour   You would think the A team was at the grill. 

Unhappy with the meal, we left and drove on to Fortuna to the Redwood Riverwalk Inn.  Smitten by their charm on the computer, I booked it for the wrong day.  So, we double paid and may I say, the hotel matched the meal.  The bed was lumpy and thin, there was a Shell station out in the back, the wall heater so prevalent in many hotel rooms sounded like a DC3 taking off every time the temperature reached 60 degrees.  It also had a holy bible which gave me pause.  There was a chair to sit in that was covered in faux cowhide.  It was, clean.  Clean, uncomfortable, worn, with a disk from a cross section of a tree hanging on the wall in the bathroom.  

 I asked as we were checking in to the cute lobby if there were glasses in the room.  She said, glass?  I said, yes.  She said, “we provide paper cups.  I can sell you some wine glasses.”  That was a tell.  We drank our port out of paper cups.  

And that was that.  

This a.m., I took in the keys to the lobby and spied some water in a pitcher.  Filled up a paper cup and took it out to the car and poured it in to our “thermos”.  And off we went.  I do not recommend the place.  

The drive South from there would have been fab except for the smoke.  It obscured the view of the mountains.  We did go thru the Redwood Avenue of the Giants.  The best part of the trip today.  

We are now in Healdsburg and off to see our friends, Margaret and Bob!!



page1image61893808Breaking News

We did NOT get lost today. A major miracle as most of you know. We are still pinching ourselves at our achievement. A martini may be in order at dinner tonight.

Dinner at Local Ocean

In Newport, Oregon, there is a fab seafood restaurant. And we will dine there tonight. Here are some of their offerings. Crab cakes, fennel slaw, fries and tartar sauce. Or Fishwives Stew with Dungeness cra,, Oregon pink shrimp, wild prawns, scallops, mussels, rock fish saffron and garlic herb tomato broth , and toasted garlic bread. Simple, perhaps, but executed beautifully. We have eaten here many times on our way up and down highway 101.

Oregon’s beaches are beautiful. And I love going south, as you are relegated to the outside lane which means, lots of views. However, rain is forecasted tomorrow. Oh, oh.

It started this week

Our Portland nest needed to be made ready for company.. Our neighbors are welcoming a new daughter to their nest. Her parents… It turns out, lives in Taiwan. The parents are coming for the holidays and to meet and greet the new baby. So, they will sleep at our place. As others are traveling for the holidays as well. So happy we can help them. They are fabulous neighbors. He is a doc at Kaiser, and has cleaned and wrapped my cut finger, brought in the garbage cans, found me phone one time on the banister of our porch ,and saved me from losing it… despite my best effotrs.

We also had to get our golf clubs shipped, along with a big suitcase so we could load the car with everything else we planned to haul.

By this morning, we were pooped. However, the house was clean as a whistle.

With goodbyes, and I love you sentiments shared, we took to the road and headed south.


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Missouri Parte Tres

A giant cross. Bible Belt stuff.

We are flying toward Denver and I’m sitting next to Rayman who is rubbing him thighs with dry napkins to mop up the white wine which he just spilled upon himself while holding his book and sharing a pretzel with me.  Poor dear.  

The flight attendant replenished his wine which he really needed by this point in the trip.  The good news is, it wasn’t red wine.  The bad news was it was the entire glass.   A healthy pour landed in his lap.

Hopefully this is the only mishap of the trip.  Thus far it has been great.  We left a bit earlier than I would have, but Rayman gets nervous so I have learned to accommodate early arrivals so he doesn’t get overwrought.  This is a family trait.  His Mom was always nervous about time too.

On the drive from Branson to Kansas City, about a 4 hour drive, we started getting hungry.  Alert.  Alert.  Seems to be nothing but fast food restaurants along the freeways of Missouri, and that just didn’t cut it for me.  Our first destination was the Truman Presidential Library.  As we closed in on Independence, MO, where the library is located, we exited the freeway and drove the local streets until we spotted a Mexican joint that had a few cars in front.  That is where we ate.  And as usual, we gorged ourselves with chips and didn’t complete our meal.  But we were happy as clamss.


This highway is a “major” North-South artery in MO. It is Tuesday mid-morning. Look, Mom. No traffic.

The library is wonderful.  What a time Harry had his whole life, and his life in politics was nothing short of amazing.  I had read the book about him and so it was old news, but the re minder was very helpful.  The pictures and presentations were wonderful.  We also got to see some very old cars that Harry used over the years.  Finally, we capped off the tour with a graveside visit;  Harry and Bess Trumans’ final resting place.  The closest I’ll ever come to them.  

In reflecting on the state of our country, I was reminded just how important democracy was to him.  He even was declared the loser of his election to Mr. Dewey on the front page of the NYTimes.  But he won and Dewey graciously accepted the outcome.  Oh, how I moan at the thought of Trump and his BS. 

But I digress.

As most of you realize, it is hard to land a direct flight anywhere nowadays.  And our trip was no different.  Flew Southwest and we changed planes both ways in Denver.  Denver airport is relatively new and I don’t think it is was well planned.  We couldn’t even find an ice cream cone.  How is that a thing?  Restaurants are few and far between.  Very disappointing.  Oh, well.

We are now flying west out of Denver toward Portland and we just hit lots of turbulence over the Rockies.  Good thing I was wearing my mask.  It made hyperventilating much easier to counteract.  Deep breathing ensued and insured that I did not pass out because of fright.  I hate turbulence.  

While we were waiting in Denver for our continuing flight onto PDX, I checked my text messages, and discovered that my old childhood friend, Marie, was in PDX.  So we connected up and decided to meet for breakfast in the morning.  She is leaving tomorrow to drive back to Paso, where she lives.  So we are meeting at a food truck for breakfast.  I figured she would enjoy the experience of that type of dining since I’m pretty sure there aren’t any food trucks in Paso.

It has been a great trip.  Finished editing the book, spent lots of time visiting with Nancy, saw some sights and dipped my toe in the swimming pool.  

And we didn’t get lost.  This may be a first.  Send up a flair!!


Missouri, Part Two

Before delving into Missouri, let me introduce you to the state animal.  It is a mule.  And here is a picture of a mule and President Truman.  See the end of this for more mule business.

Every state has a motto. Missouri’s motto is “The Show Me State”.  And that made me very hopeful that when I visited the MidWest Genealogy Center, in Independence, MO, I would find what I was looking for…my ner-do-well Great Grandfather on my Mom’s side of the family.

Well, the state did not live up to its motto.  

We came and left with no further understand who the man was.  They did have one database that “Nobody else has this information”, the nice lady behind the desk explained. For just $35 for a 6 month subscription, you can access it at home.  If you want to return after 6 months, we can renew it for you”.  Well.  I passed.  

The people were very nice, but the I knew how to search the other databases so off we went to Branson, Missouri.

Branson reminded me of a cheap Disneyland.  There were no gates leading into the Gay Kingdom like Disneyland had when it first opened in the 1950s.  Or was it the 60s?  Branson was just a main drag with all sorts of venues that appeal to families.  A Titanic was cut in half near the middle of the “ship”, and the side of it had a fake iceberg attached to it.  Understand it is quite a good exhibit, but we declined to visit.  Miniature golf courses,  big theaters for singers/dancers/entertainment.  Stuff like that.  A water bumper car which is the only thing that stood a chance with me.  Oh, I guess I would have played miniature golf too.  But, we did not partake.  

Instead, we drove out of town to the a nature preserve, which was quite lovely, although, and I don’t need to sound as snobby as I am, once you have visited, say, Yosemite, or Sequoia, or a Wild Animal park such as Tanzania, it paled in comparison. We had a fun time being at the back of a trolley car attached to a truck, looking at small waterfalls, weirs, ponds, streams, sycamores, dogwoods, and wild elk and bison.

Here are some pictures:


Na.ncy and her stew

Bob and Rayman at the dive bar.

Art and nature.

Art at the restaurant.

Bear .and me with my OMG face

ffGrizzly bear stuffed just like us after our dinner.

Home, home on the range. Bison nibbling and bathing.  We were at a nature reserve.


Wow. These longhorns were in the same field as the bison.

Elk shading up.

Weir capitol of Missouri. Dogwood Canyon nature preserve. South of Branson.

Nancy and Bob enjoying their Cadillac margaritas. Muy bueno.

Great pic of Nancy and the bison.

Nancy’s flank steak with fresh tomato vinaigrette..Yummy!!

Geese get dinner.









And dare, I say, it was a nice diversion from editing my book, Tales of the Dresser Ranch, 1847-2007.  Nancy, is a fabulous editor-in-chief.  My book gained another full page after adding all the commas, semi-colons, and quotation marks which I left out!!  

Nancy read the book aloud, and we discussed my various errors with great enthusiasm.  She was so good.  When I go to press, it will be with huge confidence that not an error will appear…unless I goof when inserting all the changes which were made on paper, to the computer software program.  

Other things we did were to sit in their backyard which is unfenced and facing a golf fairway.  On these happy occasions, half the geese in the state, flew in and begged for food.  That is because Bob, Nancy’s significant other, feeds the geese saltine crackers, cornmeal of some sort and I forget what else.  He has the geese eating out of hand.  Quite a sight and interesting to boot.  By the time they fly away, there is goose poop on the patio which Nancy rinses off and this guarantees the most fertilized grass on the course!!  

Last night we drove to Top of the Rock to eat at the Osage Restaurant.  Quite expensive and quite beautiful.  A man by the name of Johnny Morris, who made his fortune selling fish bait owns most of this part of the state and this is one of his properties along with the nature preserve.  His fishing flies morphed into bass boats, and all other kinds of sportsman equipment.  He also owns golf courses which made us wish we had brought our clubs, but then we didn’t have time to golf.  Editing was first priority, followed by mosquito swatting, gossiping, telling lies, and drinking about two cases of wine.  I jest, you understand.  

It has been very hot here and we read this a.m. that it rained in Morro Bay yesterday.  Lordy, how fabulous is that event to the MB citizens.  Here, as I said, it has been hot, hot, hot.  Except in the house, where I wear a cotton sweater.  Nancy loves it cool, so it stays cool.  And other than venturing out in an air conditioned car, the only time out of house was to go to aqua aerobics this a.m.


It was an indoor pool filled with about 12 women.  Of a certain age.  All jumping to the tape in a machine that played a routine, “Jumping jacks, five, four, three, two, one.  Now do the ski move, five, four, three, two, one.  Now jog in place…”. I couldn’t  hear the music or the instruction, and there was no leader outside the water.  There was one women who made it her job to repeat the instructions for the rest of us which was very helpful.  She looked like a drill instructor, and she was very effective.  At one point, I was facing her, and she said, “Look at the wall”.  I obliged but told her that I liked looking at her!  She did not seem amused.  

Then the lawn mower started up and she needed to kick it up a notch with the instructions.  This went on for 1/2 hour.  The entire time was 1 hour, and after 5 minutes I was looking at the clock in desperation.  Again, I am so spoiled, missing my instructors, my music, my foam barbels, my styrofoam noodles.  Again, Missouri did not live up the motto, The Show Me State!!

Off tomorrow to venture back to Portland.  A few impressions.  The people were nice.  Didn’t see too many Trump signs.  Saw lots of gays and Black people in Kansas City,where we landed.  The streets have funny names.  A.  AA, HH etc.  Can’t explain it.  The KC airport is going to be replaced.  It was entering it’s advanced years.  The lady at Avis was very nice and friendly.  Our boutique hotel was owned by two gay guys and it was fabulous.  Plus they knew a restaurant that was still open at 9 p.m. at night.  The food was great, the wine list was in need of help, but the patrons were beyond interesting and quite delightful.

The Ozarks were beautiful.  I have always made fun of the Ozarks, and now I offer my formal apology.  There are  many, many, many churches, crosses, billboards offering Jesus plays.  

Heart of the Bible Belt, I guess.  

Nancy and Bob have a nice life here.  The weather is generally mild, there is a huge lake here, dammed.  The place is very hilly, with not much altitude.  It makes driving fun with the up and downs, and twists and turns.  

Oh, and the sales tax is 10%.  

Mule info:

Hope you found the mule info as interesting as I did!!