Roasted ‘Taters and Lemon with Dill

Ok — these are the easiest thing since sliced bread and they’re better than  that.  Everyone loves roasted potatoes!  But adding a little acid zing to your potatoes without making them soggy can be a challenge.  When I found this recipe all I had to say was:



  • roasted potatoes and lemon with dill2 lbs – new potatoes, halved
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • kosher salt  & black pepper to taste
  • 2 T coarsely chopped fresh dill


  1. Heat oven to 450° F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes and lemon with the oil, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  2. Roast, tossing once, until tender, 25 to 35 minutes. Toss with the dill before serving.

Simple,  Eh?  🙂

Old Diary, RV Living

Americans like to drink bad coffee

Who buys bean coffee?

Eight percent.  A stinking eight percent of Americans buy whole bean coffee!  No wonder we have been having a hard time finding great coffee along the way.America's not to great taste in coffee  I thought sure there were more of us than that.  You may remember that I was carping about that a few weeks ago.  Since then we have (if not solved our dilemma we have at least) minimized our dilemma!  H-E-B comes to the rescue once again.  WE love that store.  Not all of the local stores carry a selection of whole bean coffee but at least one in the area does and we are now shopping there most of the time.

 Segregation — how bad is it anyway?

I don’t want to get into any arguments and we lived most of our life in Milwaukee, a city that gets horrible press because of how segregated it’s supposed to be but where I found myself rubbing elbows with blacks and hispanics and Hmong and Asians all the time and I never quite got what all the commotion was about because we have been in the last three years to places far more segregated than Milwaukee ever was!  But I’m not really talking about racial segregationi.  

A recent article in the Washington Post walked up to me and slapped me upside the head.  In this country we seem obsessed by the issues of racial segregation, racial equal rights, and women’s rights.  But we ignore all sorts of other segregation and it took a “Rag” like the Washington Post to talk about it before something sunk in.  The wealthy are walling themselves off in cities increasingly segregated by class.

Yes — it seems that rich people are segregating themselves by their dollars — tending to live in areas where other people of similar income also live.

Ok — that sounds…

Well… that sounds…

Not all that surprising at all.

I want to quote the article about the hidden ‘surprise’ because that’s the way it’s presented in the article and I’m amazed that this ‘new information’ isn’t and hasn’t been common knowledge:

“By income, the wealthy (households making
more than $200,000 a year) are more segregated
than the poor (families living under the federal
poverty line). By education, people with
college degrees are more segregated than
people with less than a high school diploma.
By occupation, the group that Florida has
coined the “creative class” is more segregated
than the working class.”

When my grandparents moved to the U.S. from Poland they settled in neighborhoods with other Poles.  Duh…. It was the way of the time — for Poles, Czechs, Jews, Irish, Brits, Scandinavians, etc.  It is still the way of the times for the Hmong, the Vietnamese, the Mexicans. Why is it so hard for people to understand that people like to be around people like themselves?  

We have been struggling for generations to get people to un-segregate but on so many levels when people are given the opportunity to choose between living and working with people like themselves that’s exactly what they choose to do. Whether their criteria are ethnicity, or education, creativity, or money,   Heck people of a sports persuasion will live near golf courses, or ball fields — we just like to be with people who are like us.  

I agree 100% that inequality is wrong.  I agree 100% that preferential treatment is wrong, but I mean, C’mon folkies…some parts of human behavior you aren’t going to change no matter how hard you try.

What has all this to do with RV’ing?

I talk about how much Peg and I enjoy being in/around diverse groups.  That is true.  We have to admit, however, that RV’ing is far more a middle-class Anglo thing than we originally would have guessed.  Remember that even though we had gone camping years ago we bought our first RV after not having been camping in …. Oh, Lordy…. probably 20 years or so.

Initially, I was a bit surprised that within campgrounds there was relatively little diversity.  The vast majority of campers / RV’ers were white.  Not all, but the majority.  I have never witnessed racial bigotry IN a campground…. People are cool.  Most campers treat other like they would want to be treated and go on about their business.  But Peg and I are no different from other citizens — we admit to liking to be around people like us and if we come into a campground without a reservation we’ll look for a site next to other campers with a neat site, who aren’t blasting their stereo, and where there aren’t dogs barking.  That’s about all we need to enjoy our stay.  A reasonable amount of quiet and a site that isn’t going to attract critter visitors overnight to scavenge human food.

RV’ing is not primarily about money.  Yeah — you do have to have enough Pounds, Lire, or Sheckels to BUY an RV.  But at the same time that I know RV’ers who’s rig is valued well in excess of 1/4 million dollars, I also know others who’s RV cost only a few  hundred dollars.  In state and federal campgrounds we might find ourselves rubbing shoulders with campers who’s entire investment in camping might be their tent and sleeping bag.

While it may be true that Americans are segregating themselves by a variety of factors, RV’ing is about so much more than living an exclusionary life.  I have been interested, amazed even, at the broad range of interests among RV’ers, including our Winter Texan neighbors here.  Palmdale is a good example of diversity.  We have quilters here.  We have barbecuers here.  We have fishermen here.  We have crafters here — of all sorts. We have musicians here — they jam every Monday.  If you’re good at what you’re interested in everyone wants to know you.  If you’re bad at what you’re interested in it always seems there’s someone willing to show you how.  This is not just true of Palmdale — pretty much every campground we have been in has been the same. If someone has a problem with their RV it’s not long before a committee assembles to see if they can’t help cure the problem.  One thing about RV’ing is that we all go through similar problem — for us, lately, it’s been our Norcold, but we have everyday problems with the same kind of things that exist in houses, and we all learn (somewhat) the hard way — sharing those hard won lessons with others so that (just perhaps) they won’t have to find out the hard way too is a great joy for many of us.

Part of the process of finding a homey feeling RV park for the winter is about finding a place with a level of activity that suits you. I’ve been talking about that this winter, partly because we aren’t big ‘joiners’ and the right level of activity was finding a place where we didn’t need to engage in activity.  There’s also the question of finding the right activities.  And the question of whether you want to be around a lot of people all the time (big parks or small lots) or whether you need your space (small parks or large lots).

I don’t make any attempt do vouch for all RV’ers — we only know a few of them — but most of the RV’ers we have met aren’t particularly trying to hang out only with people as well to do as they are.  Oh, we have met RV’ers who vet the parks they visit for security.  And some who only stay at parks with pools, or where they can play poker, or play pool.  We know a few RV’ers who love to do escorted caravans — traveling in the company of  a herd of other RV’s to a few or a lot of destinations.  We’ve priced them out; those caravans can be a bit spendy — depending on your travel budget.  But we haven’t met any RV’ers who do that a lot! I guess that would be like factoring in a 2 week vacation in the days when you were still employed — Spend a couple/few thousand on a splurge trip — and then go back to living your normal life. We haven’t felt the need to do that because we pretty much live every day the way we want to so we don’t feel the ‘need’ to splurge.  But some folks do.  Bill and Linda here at the park are not even full timers, they come down for about 4 months each year and they just left for a 2 week ‘vacation’ to some little island in Mexico.  Good for them.  I’m happy for them.  But I don’t have any desire to do the same.  Even with the abnormal winter I’m still content to be here and not go anywhere else.

There ARE RV parks where your RV has to meet specific standards — most commonly years since manufacture — 10 years or newer. I have yet to want to go to a place that requires me to own a coach of any specific age.  There have always been more than enough other choices that I was more interested in going to than that.  Besides, I guess I’m maverick enough to object to being ‘qualified’ to live someplace.

I really don’t care what other RV’ers do, or how they set their priorities.  I sometimes think that the RV community is as diverse as any other part of society and perhaps moreso because we all are willing to live outside the boxes society tries to put us in.  But just as there are trends in society there are sure to be trends in RV’ing.  The most obvious is that RV’s are getting bigger. Just like cars, manufacturers have found that people want/like/demand finer finishes and all the latest geegaws.  That’s the reason we bought a used coach rather than a new one;  twice.  That and the fact that I’m still a luddite;  all those gadgets and geegaws, while traveling down the road get shook and vibrated to bits and they are just something else to break, and another reason to see the RV repair man.  I don’t need that.

I’m sure there will be a few trends that we like and many that we don’t — that is the way of getting older (it seems).  The world changes around us and we accept some change and avoid a lot more.  But I’m sure there will always be RV’ers who want nothing more than to hit the road, make a few friends, see a new bird, visit a different museum, share a cuppa with a new neighbor, and go on their way.  That’s kind of how I feel.  And knowing that they don’t live next to me forever, and I don’t live next to them forever either I can get into that regardless what they look like, where they worked, how many degrees they may have, etc..  The Washington Post doesn’t have to tell me what’s going on.  I’m sure they are right about what they say; I’m just not sure it means all that much to me and the life I intend living as long as I have a choice.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Old Diary

Hitch Itch? or Simple Fidgets?


about the way I’ve been feeling lately

More overcast, cool weather and I think it got to me today.  I’m not sure if it’s just that we aren’t as active as I’d like to be, or if the overcast skies have done the same thing here that they do to me in WI — give me a case of the blah’s.  Anyway…. I have about as much enthusiasm today as that cat!

I accomplished virtually nothing and to ‘feel better’ we went back to Port Isabel to our (now becoming) favorite resto:  Dirty Al’s at Pelican Point.  Two specials and a piece of New York style cheese cake later I was feeling better.

We are about at the Three Month point.  On our original schedule we would be staying here one more month.  On our possibly revised schedule we’ll be here another three months — so this would be the 1/2 way point.  As is often the case with us — decisions are up in the air and that’s just the way we are.  I can’t say for sure that four months will prove to be some breaking point;  a month of nice weather would make a huge difference. There would be productive things going on and I wouldn’t be looking for short term ways of filling rainy days.

Our DJ -- (Just Kidding)

Our DJ — (Just Kidding)

Out of desperation I gave a few new thoughts to a roadtrip, but the weather isn’t looking good North of here so that may not be a good idea.  Which brings up the topic of an interesting conversation between Peggy and I this morning:  we realized the ONE disadvantage of living here in S. Texas that hadn’t made itself apparent until now.

When we lived in Milwaukee — if we got antsy and wanted to get away for a few days we had three choices — N, S, & W (We could go East too, but Lake Michigan presented an obstacle to auto travel) Here we can go North.  That’s about it.  And to complicate further you have to go further than 150 miles to get off the primary escape route ( US-77 — which is to say beyond Corpus Christi).

I’m not sure if there’s any relationship to how I’m feeling right now, but I did change one of our summer reservations — the original plan included a site that lacked 50 amp power and took us 150 miles out of our way en route to the next campground.  That was partly a mistake on my part, but we had the reservation and it’s been eating at me.  Did I change because I really didn’t want to go to the original location, or was I just fidgeting – who knows? It’s done now and we like the revised stops better.

While we have been playing with our car and feeling sorry for ourselves (not really) I’m not sure but that a couple Winter Texans didn’t head North for the ‘summer’.  You get to know the cars, the  way residents leave their windows,  which residents use car covers while they are here and which don’t.  And a couple park model’s look closed up for the season.  Funny, we can’t even remember who it was that had been living there for the last several months.

Over the next 45 days there will be a significant dwindling of the population.  I’m curious to see how I handle that.  You get accustomed to having people around and when they aren’t…. it’s just different.

We have also been thinking about how many full-time RV’ers have been here.   Not many I’m beginning to realize.  I had not thought about that much since arriving.  We have a handful of year-round mobile home residents in this park, and quite a few Winter RV’ers — some in the remaining mobile homes, some in 5th wheels, and perhaps one or two in Class A coaches.  But there may only be about 1/2 dozen of us who are full time RV’ers,  Not that that means anything at all — it’s just an observation.


So, long story short…. not much happened today.  Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow!


Old Diary

No matter what you want, you’re gonna get LIME!

2015022414344501What is it with South Texas?  No matter what you want, no matter where you go, no matter what you order, no matter how many times you say “LEMON” — you’re still gonna get a lime!

It’s an interesting phenomenon.  No one ever says, ‘we don’t have lemons, we’ll give you a lime instead’ — they just ignore you and give you that lime.  It’s OK — I like limes.  In fact, until our friends Don and Judy mentioned it we hadn’t even noticed this little regional odyssey — but after some testing it seems to hold true.  Order anything you want with your fish, or your drink, or anything in a restaurant and you’re gonna get lime instead of lemon.  Go Figure!

2015022415155702Notice anything missing?  NO CHECK ENGINE light glowing at me.  We made it back to the dealership, the job took three hours (involving removal of the back seat and access to some sensor on the fuel tank (I’m lead to believe)) but the job is done and it’s nice not to have that thing staring me in the face.  🙂 And to get the job done by a company that shoots straight with their customers.

We dipped back down into the 30’s overnight;  I wore my shorts to the dealership (along with a shirt, a vest, and a wool shirt over that) and boy, did I get the crazy looks.  But it was ok, I was comfy and aside from the machismo statement that I came here to be warm I didn’t have anything else to say to those around me. 🙂

It’s hard to believe that we’re finishing up our third month here.  In spite of the weather glitches we’ve had a great time so far.  I’m a little antsy and pondering a short roadtrip but I don’t think that’s a function of being tired of being here, and more a function of feeling cooped up because of the weather.

If we were still in Milwaukee I would have been holed up in the house; here we are out pretty much ever day — even if we haven’t been shooting birds as we thought would be the case.  And I’ve been in the pool more since we’ve been here than (probably) during any recent entire year — so I’m happy about that.  One of the long term regulars even commented that I’m almost as tanned as she is.  I’m not sure if she sees herself as the resident best-tanner or something but I took it as a compliment anyway.

I continue to think about ways to mount our replacement water filter.  Without building anything significant there really isn’t an ideal place down there under the sink.  I need to get more creative; until I have a solution I’m not tearing the old filter out.  But give me time and I’ll come up with something.  In the mean time I’m reading like a madman.

I’ve been thinking about our Silverleaf computer — and I have stalled on that project because I’m trying to decide whether I want to replace the dashboard radio/stereo as part of that project.  I’m going to have the dashboard all opened up anyway.  And our current radio has no external inputs (the kind you need to hook up a iPod or similar device).  The idea has been back in my head ever since buying this coach and I’m trying to decide whether I really want to change out the radio as well as running cabling through that compartment.

I hope our needful running to and fro is over for a while.  We still have more cool weather in the forecast and maybe I’ll get in a few more books before tackling projects (which I’m hoping to tackle in +70º weather).



Minestrone – Rosemary Soup

I love soups — specially during the calendar winter months (no matter how hot or cold). I guess it’s part of my lifelong internal rhythms.  Ever 9 months I need hearty soup!

More importantly I crave recipes that use less meat or no meat. This one’s a simple winner.

A mix between minestrone and a rosemary soup, it’s oh so refreshing. This soup is chock full of vitamin-rich vegetables wrapped in a warm broth that feels just perfect on a crisp fall evening.


  • enhanced-4550-1415045416-151 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 4 cup vegetable broth (use homemade if possible)
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup pasta (not spaghetti or long noodles)
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and washed thoroughly (or about a cup and a half of cooked chickpeas)
  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard, stems and leaves separated and chopped
  • salt
  • pepper
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • parmesan, for garnish (omit to make vegan)


  1. In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Saute for 5 minutes or until the veggies begin to soften. Next, add in the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds. Then add the tomato paste, vegetable broth, diced tomatoes (with the juices from the can), and oregano. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Add in the stems of swiss chard, chickpeas, and pasta. Let cook for another 10 minutes. Finally, add the swiss chard leaves and let cook for 30 seconds or just until the leaves start to wilt. Remove from heat.
  3. Add salt / pepper / red pepper flakes to taste and top with Parmesan.

Yum OH!

Old Diary, RV Living

Let’s play trick-a-switch!

2015022210393001Monday we were back into the cold and rain and overcast weather but as far as I’m concerned it was a pretty good day!

We were up early and out the door a little after 7 a.m. so we could get to the second closest Honda dealer in the Rio Grande Valley.  I’ve grown tired of seeing that infernal Check Engine light glaring at me.  We arrived at the dealership about 8:15 with no appointment in in little over an hour (compared to 2 1/2 hours at the previous dealership) the tech had the problem diagnosed, the part ordered and the bill will be approximately 1/4 the amount quoted by the other dealership!   Win one for the good guys!


This is the nasty little bugger causing all the problem.


And here is the thin solution. Now that I know it works I’ll put a dab of silicone behind it, so I can remove the tape and I’m done.

Then I dug out the business card for that RV tech we met on Friday.  Even though the fridge has been cooling correctly and that problem seems solved I had forgotten to talk with him about why the “Door Ajar” warning alarm has been sounding.  Rather than come out and charge me the first words out of his mouth were, “Well, I could come out and charge you to fix it but I can also just tell you how to fix the problem yourself.”  And he did.  Win a second one for the good guys!

I swear, we have met more nice business people since being here!  There will always be the bad apple in the bushel, but the good ones here far outweigh the jerks!


Not these contacts

2015022317360602 And what was our problem?  There are two kinds of electrical sensors on the Norcold doors.  First there are a pair of sensors on the Left lower door — there nothing’s wrong with those.

But there’s also two more contacts on the top edge of the Norcold cabinet, just above the two refrigerator doors.   These seem to be the problem we’ve been fighting with.  In Kevin’s terms, the plastic in the molded door panel changes over time and curves in a little.  The result is that the contacts don’t get pushed in quite far enough and set off the door ajar alarm.  Solution?  A think piece of material to depress the switch a little further — like about 1/8 of an inch.

I took a little of that flexible magnet material like you see on refrigerators and use that as a test.  A little packing tape to hold it in place where the switch would get depressed just a little more. And Voila!  Magic.  No more annoying buzzer (in the middle of the night).

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Old Diary

So, do you know how….

…when you live in a place long enough you eventually get past figuring out what it means to your lifestyle to live where you live.  You can stop chasing around trying to  find things and  you get over the novelty of this new place and settle into just living.  We aren’t quite to that point ourselves but I got to thinking about the way that happens.  grandma running errands

If you’re an RV’er who spends a few days, or maybe a couple weeks in a place you might never get to that point;  RV’ing can be like a perpetual vacation if that’s what you want.  A lot depends on whether you’ve ever been to a given place before, or  how much you like doing the things tourists do.

I got to thinking about this process over weekend.  We aren’t quite there yet, but the emotional landscape looks a lot different than it did upon our arrival.  Of course how quickly one gets to feel ‘at home’ in a new environment depends on many factors including how nosey you are.  And I admit to being pretty nosey.  There are a lot of things I ant to know about in a new place — it’s just who I am.

I keep hoping we’ll have a week where we don’t feel compelled to go our checking things out.  Just a week when we will have been here long enough that all we want to do is  eat meals, check out the wildlife refuges, take a few pictures, and spend some time in the pool.

Then again I wonder about whether it’s normally this overcast.  The stats say that San Benito ‘normally’ gets 231 days of sunshine year — a statistic we are woefully running behind at present.  But we can live with what we are getting.

A month or so ago we had checked out a few alternate RV campgrounds — and stopped.  Then a week ago we started all over again — and stopped.  Are we really dissatisfied where we are?  I don’t think so — we just like seeing how other people live.  Peggy used to love looking at houses for sale.  We weren’t looking for a new home — she just loved looking at them.  I think that’s what we are doing here — just looking.  But sometimes one never knows what’s going on in ons’e own sub conscious.   Would we be looking at houses for sale if we were still in Wisconsin?  I doubt if we’d do it during this time of year — but yeah… it’s possible we might.

5258720348_8b54a5dec4_zI admit that I had hoped for better weather to visit the local wildlife refuges.  I have mistakenly described this as an arid climate — but that is not what it is.  “Arid” defines land that receives so little moisture that it is unproductive or parched.  This is an area where a large amount of the US fruit and produce crop originates — it is definitely PRODUCTIVE.  It’s just drier than we are accustomed to — and definitely wetter than we had expected — but then the area is recovering from a several year long drought and few people here are complaining:  just the Winter Texans.

I’m glad we decided to skip the trip to Florida, and I’m glad we decided to hang out here another couple months.  Clearly this is not Utopia, there are problems here: (1.) in the area and (2.) in the RV park.  But we’re happy here and maybe a couple extra months may be long enough to get past that familiarization period.  When we are talking with some of the residents who have been coming back for 20 years it’s hard for me to figure out how long it takes before we might  be able to remember that the third weekend of January and February are Market Days on Padre Island and that the first weekend of the month are flea market days in Harlingen, and certain restaurants have $0.50 oysters on Thursdays and others have great wing…. these are all things I wish I could remember…. and don’t.  ARGH.

20130914_180918-1024x576But some things don’t happen quickly.  Some of those I’ll probably never be good at remembering.  Some of their memories are based in factors we don’t care about.  I’m not going to bars and drinking — and the reason they know about Thursday Oyster nights is that they go there to drink and they have an association upon which to hang the memory.  So, even though the proud male part of me is miffed that my memory isn’t as good as once it was, another part of me is quite happy not being able to remember things that others think are important.  I don’t care about flea market days because we aren’t (either of us)  into jewelry or chachkies; our life is simpler and part of making our life simpler was giving up some things we didn’t care about in the first place.

normal12I thought that by now we would be settled into a more ‘normal’ rhythm (like living in Milwaukee) but I was wrong.  I don’t know why I set up an artificial deadline; I just did.  And now I’m saying (to myself) “You dummy…. Why’d you do that?”  And the truth is that I have always needed deadlines.  If I didn’t have deadlines I created them for myself.  It’s still part of that Puritan Work Ethic raising it’s head and dogging my heels.  But — now I can at least see what I’m doing.  And sometimes even when I know I could be doing something I’ll get out a book and read, or I’ll choose to simply sit and BE.  I used to feel guilty when I did that.  Now, I’m happy I’ve made it to this age and have the opportunity to do so.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Los Tortugo’s Seafood Market — if you are in the area you have to try this extremely simple seafood place.  It’s nothing to look at, right next to a Stripes gas station and in front of the local H-E-B store.  There aren’t many seats — maybe 8.  It’s primarily a seafood market and carry out.  But the seafood is divine, and if you ask Peggy, they serve the best fried shrimp she has ever had.  The prices are very reasonable, you pick out your drinks from the refrigerator cases next to the cashier and the seafood case.  Buy your seafood — almost whatever you want — fresh from their own boats.  Have them cook it to eat there or carry it home.  They have wonderful ceviche too!  by the pint or 1/2 pint.  GO!

Old Diary, RV Living

Norcold Update

Norcold 1200LRMEvidently we have to treat our new Norcold in Serendipity differently than we treated the Norcold in Journey.  It’s three days since we seemed to lose cooling in the refrigerator, the dry ice is gone now, and the fridge appears to be working as designed.  We’ll be keeping our eyes on it but we’re hopeful that this was just a learning experience.

We turned the unit OFF.  We did a complete defrost.  And we started it back up.  Both our defrost interval and the amount of frost build up were not as great as the guidelines we used in our 2002 coach, but evidently because this is a 4 door unit and that one was a 2 door unit we have to treat it differently.  Ok — if that’s the case, then that’s the case.

I may yet have the repair guy come out and look at the closed-door switches — the left door seems to signal an ‘open’ alarm from time to time — and maybe we’ll just have him come out and fix that to be done with it.  But that’s not a big deal. 2015022120235803

As you can see there’s a modicum amount of frost on the cooling vanes inside the box.  and you can see more easily here that we lowered the thermocouple to the lowest point of the vanes.  We have started loading up the fridge again and hopefully life will go back to normal.

2015021810274502I wanted to share this photo that I took on the walk over to Nuevo Progreso — I loved the sign on the side of the private car.

We are considering a few day roadtrip to Big Bend National Park.  It’s the one place Bluebonnets are blooming (early as it is) and neither of us has been to the park — if the weather stays cool and rainy as forecast in the next 10 day forecast it might be a good time for a little roadtrip.  I’ll keep you posted on the likelihood of that happening.

Thanks  for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.