Friday, November 30, 2007

Fireproof Brick

A wind claim took us high up in the mountains

Fireproof Brick
Originally uploaded by lfpflug
. We were in an area that sufferd loss from the wild fires in October. Several fireplaces were left standing alone -- monuments of the homes that once wraped themselves around the stacks of bricks and morter. I've posted some pictures here, but you can see more pictures by clicking on a picture or the link under it.

Untouched But Not Unchanged

Untouched But Not Unchanged
Originally uploaded by lfpflug
This house was across the street from one house that burned. The heat from the flames melted the siding on this home even though it was not burned.

Dishes on the Stove

Dishes on the Stove
Originally uploaded by lfpflug
Items that were recognizable in some of the homes included the hot water heater, the stove, and the refigerator. Here you can see a few dishes on top of the stove.

Melted Steel

Melted Steel
Originally uploaded by lfpflug
Notice that the steel beams in this burned building are melted and warped. It looked as if there were some business along the road that were consumed.

Green Valley Lake 11/29/07

Green Valley Lake 11/29/07
Originally uploaded by lfpflug
This car parked out in front of a house that didn't make it through the blaze. The tires, paint, everything but the metal, was burned off of this car. Some trees surrounding were burned, but as you can see, some are still green.

Nothing but a shell

Nothing but a shell
Originally uploaded by lfpflug
Rick had a wind claim on a mountain home in the Green Valley Lake area northeast of San Bernardino. Some homes in the area didn't fair so well. Here to the right is the rubble of one house that was burned to the ground. To the left is a shell of a log home that was gutted. I have posted a few pictutes here ... just a snapshot of our day. You can see more pictures by following the link below one of the photos.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

Well, it's that time of year again. Television specials and commercials, music in the malls, red and green store displays, lighted houses and decorated street lights, and the ongoing controversy over how we should wish each other well. Do you say, "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays?"

I tend to be a bit on the Ba-Humbug side when Christmas rolls around. Especially when it starts rolling around right after Labor Day. I think we make way too big a fuss. The day we celebrate that is supposed to be all about peace on earth brings anything but peace.

Yesterday, Rick and I ventured out to an outlet mall in a nearby town. Traffic entering the mall area was backed up for a mile and a dozen perturbed police officers risked their lives in the middle of intersections waving and swinging their arms like windmills in a hurricane. We drove around and around looking not for an up-close parking place, but ANY parking place. As we zig-zagged back and forth through the parking lot I saw one poor lady, in heels mind you, scaling a very steep sandy embankment as she returned to her car. She carried one small sack. I felt her pain and hoped that the gift she carried was for her mother. Only a mother would appreciate that kind of effort put into purchasing a gift. We finally found a parking spot -- up the same embankment -- which was a couple of blocks away from the mall. We waited patiently with our blinker on for the car occupying the space to back out. Coming from the opposite direction was a lady who had that look on her face that made us think she just might be willing to fight us for the spot. Our truck was bigger than her automobile, so we won.

We walked the long way to the mall. I really had no desire to slide down the embankment on my backside. As we entered the mall area, I could hardly believe my eyes. Thousands of people crowded the stores and spilled over the walkways. There was a "wait" to get into the Coach purse store. We shuffled and bumped along the sidewalk, pushed our way into a couple of stores, then exasperated, hiked back up the hill to the truck. Wow. Tis the season to be jolly! I mumbled fa la la la la all the way home.

Yes, I think we make way too big a fuss over Christmas. I don't recall any scripture that commands us to celebrate the birth of our Lord. On the other hand, the book of Luke records the words of Christ which tell us to remember his broken body and spilled blood. For it was His death and resurrection, His sacrifice that saves us, not His birth alone. So, I struggle with so much emphasis placed on this season we call Christmas. Therefore, the controversy over Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays is a perplexing matter for me.

It saddens me that some power outside my own seems to make every attempt to remove Christ from our culture. I have joined other believers in signing petitions and contacting corporate big wigs in effort to keep the reference of Christ in the December holiday, but I'm not getting on my soap box about it. I guess I see it as a sign of the last days in which we live. I don't care what you call it, Christmas or Santa's Big Day, a label will not change the hearts of men. As long as we focus on buying gifts, being merry, and yes, even the birth of the Christ Child, the sinful wicked hearts of men and women will remain unbroken and unchanged. Only when we see and admit our sinful condition, realize the real cost of true and everlasting peace, then accept the sacrificial love of our Creator and Lord will Christ be welcomed in our culture.

So, is it that big of a deal? I heard a pastor once say during a children's sermon, "Just because someone calls you stupid, does that make you stupid?" Just because we call the day "Christmas," does that make Christ our focus? Or if we call the entire period of time between Thanksgiving and the beginning of the new year "Holidays," does that mean that we do not acknowledge Christ as our savior? Each must examine for himself the condition of his heart and decide how he wants to label the season of gift giving, festive parties, and twinkling lights.

I am comforted by Philippians 2:9-11. "Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and thing on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (ASV) No matter what you call it, Jesus is still Lord, and some day EVERY tongue will confess that fact, like it or not. So in the end... we win! Merry Christmas and happy holidays. May all your days be filled with charity, hope and peace.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Favorite Thanksgiving Food

Okay. It's not like I have a huge group of readers, so my polls are quite pointless except for my own fascination and fun. I found it interesting that all but one of you wonderful people that took time to participate in my poll picked "other" as your favorite Thanksgiving food. I'm guessing that my youngest daughter was the one that picked pumpkin pie as her favorite. So what does that say about us and our traditional holiday meal? Do we all gather around a table to feast on foods that we are not that crazy about? And if so, why do we put so much time, effort, and money into a meal that no one likes? Or did I just list the wrong foods for you to choose from? Maybe I should have included cranberry sauce? I'm dying to know what your favorite traditional food is!

Tradition is a wonderful thing. It is a type of base we can touch as we play life's game of chase. When we don't know where else to run and it is about to catch us, tradition is a place of safety, security, and rest. Tradition my not be our favorite thing, but we find ourselves coming back to it time and time again. Tradition is a good thing to have, even though we often crave other things.

Here's hoping you have and enjoy traditions and favorites this Thanksgiving. May we all remember to be thankful for both!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Something to Laugh About

Rick is working "clean up" now, and from what we can tell, he is one of few if not the only adjuster in this area working for his company taking care of "cleaning up" wind claims. Unlike his original claims which where were all located in the same zip code, these claims are scattered all the way from the San Diego area to the Los Angeles/San Bernadino area. So Saturday we spent most of the day driving through the mountains northeast of San Diego.

We saw a lot of burned area. I was intrigued by the selective nature of the fires -- low growing vegetation gone but trees only scorched, everything gone except for the boulders and they were black, one area left untouched inside a ring of blackened earth and ash. Mostly I was impressed by the obvious work of the firefighters. Though homes were lost to the flames, many homes were unharmed because of the efforts of those brave folks who fought the fires. Hand painted signs hung on fences expressed the gratitude of the residents living in the area. In the midst of this catastrophic event, there is reason to give thanks.

The day was pleasant, the drive was long and filled with hundreds of hairpin curves, and God provided some tickling of my funny bone alone the way. When one insured found out that we have legal residence in Texas but travel about the country living in an RV, he instantly assumed that we were semi-retired and just doing this work for the fun of it. If only he knew... Climbing ladders, walking around on roofs, making phone calls, working through mountains of paperwork, going to meetings, fifteen hour work days, being away from family on holidays -- if that is semi-retirement, may we continue to work! It would be easier. This poor man wanted to know how we "got into" insurance adjusting because he was looking for a way he also could be semi-retired and still make some money. I laughed at his innocent ignorance.

My second belly laugh for the day came when we stopped for fuel. This the Mini __rt where we stopped.
This is what we had to pay for fuel.

I went inside for a "rest stop" while Rick pumped the diesel. I looked around, saw no restroom sign, so I asked the clerk if the place had a restroom. With a look and a tone that said, "Lady, are you blind or just stupid," he replied, "Yes we do. Three of them." Then he pointed out the window.

I don't know why I found this so funny, but there sat three little green huts on the corner. I hoped one would be marked Ladies, one Gentlemen, and the third... maybe Confused? But no such luck. You just had to take your chances if you needed to go bad enough. That's the first time I had seen such "conveniences" at a corner convenient store.

After the stop and a few more miles down the road, we passed a sign that almost made me hysterical. Keep in mind that the hills were covered with sage, yucca, prickly pear, cactus, scrub cedars, and sand. Tons and tons of very dry sand. The sign I found so funny marked a road that apparently led to a naval training area. Now I might be confused, but I thought the Navy was all about anchors away, submarines, and the sea. We both found it funny that the Navy would have a training area in the middle of the desert. If anyone can tell me why this is true, please let me know. We laughed at the absurdity of the thought.

Misconceptions, portable toilets, and highway signs are not usually that funny. I thank the good Lord that he brought laughter to our lives and joy to our hearts.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Boys and Girls, These are Pinecones!

We found these pinecones while in Running Springs. I've never seen anything like them.

Scoping A House

Yesterday we had to look at a claim in Running Springs. (Near Arrowhead Lake.) This house is built on the side of the mountain. Rick was able to walk on to the roof from the back of the house. The front door is at least one TALL story off the ground.

There were some really big rocks and some really cool trees behind the house.

New Address

On the street where we live.

We made the move to Hemet today. We are packed in but I have a concrete patio and I can use my bathroom and there are almost no flies!!!! We've got a heated pool, an exercise room, pool tables, and clean laundry facilities!

Check out Where In The World Am I? for a map.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Good News

We found a different place to stay. It is in Hemet, CA. Hemet and San Jacinto are very close, kind of like Ying and Yang. It is in a busier part of town (-) but it is right across the street from a DHL drop. (+) The campers are packed in like sardines, (-) but it is farther from any of the dairies so the flies are not as bad (+) and the air does not smell like a feedlot. (+) Unless the duck and goose eggs hatch in the next day or two, we won't be here to see the babies. (-) But this morning the gander and both his lady friends were outside my door honking for something to eat. I fed them the last heel of the bread and they wanted more. As I turned to go back into the camper for some crackers, the gander bit me on the leg. Then later one of them pooped right at the bottom of the steps of the camper. The new campground has no fishy smelling lake and no biting pooping geese. (+++) The new place actually has sewer hook ups (+) -- we don't have sewer here -- and they have 50 amp electricity hook ups. (+) I will be able to run the AC and the microwave at the same time! And we don't have to be seniors to stay there. (+). We hope to make the move later in the week.

Needed A New Do

I really need a hair cut, and some highlights would do wonders for my mood. I know there has got to be a good salon around here somewhere, but I've not seen one. The last time I got my hair done at Wal-Mart I had a less than pleasant experience. It was not as bad as the time I had a toe nail removed, but it was close. So, I guess I'll remain shaggy a while longer. I had to do something for my mood, so I gave my blog a new do instead.

I added some fun stuff and a counter so I can count all three of you that visit me here! I hope you like it. Let me know.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Is It Segregation?

Segregation -- the state or position of somebody or something kept separate from others.

Now let me ask you how you would feel if you were told you could not live in a certain neighborhood because your skin was not white or black or brown. What if you were not allowed to take vacation where you wanted because you were not a male, or not a female?

As a society we group ourselves, do we not? We are constantly choosing sides in politics, religion, moral issues of the day, etc., and this is acceptable. When we want to segregate ourselves it is a good thing. It is acceptable. We are “embracing” or “supporting” a group or an issue or a belief or a way of life. But when we are on the outside looking in, wanting to be where we are not, then segregation takes on a negative connotation. For the people on the inside of the group, life is good. For those excluded, there is an injustice, a wrong to be righted!

So, here we are on the outside, and I think it just is not right! The campground where we are staying is not the worst I have ever seen, but it is not the loveliest either. We have looked around for a better place to stay, and to our dismay we have found some nice places but can’t stay there because we are not 55 years old or older. When Rick was out here a few years ago, there were campgrounds that would not let him stay there because his camper was older than 10 years old. We have come to the conclusion that to live in southern California, you have to be old and rich.

As we have driven around the towns of Hemet and San Jacinto we have seen countless fenced or walled neighborhoods whose entrances are posted with the name of the neighborhood and the words “55 and older.” I guess the folks living inside the walls like it that way. But I just have to wonder why that kind of neighborhood is perfectly acceptable, but a neighborhood boasting “whites only” or “men and boys” would be attacked in a minute by the ACLU and most of mainstream America. This girl never wanted to join the Boy Scouts, but I would like to stay in a nice, clean, quiet, safe campground.

I think it is a little strange to find these types of campgrounds and neighborhoods here in California because I thought the whole idea of “acceptance” and “tolerance” was born here. I’m thankful that as my children were growing up we lived in a place so narrow minded that young families were allowed to live next door to senior citizens. My girls loved lunging through snow drifts in our neighbor’s driveway in order to get their mail for them when they were not able to get out and get it for themselves. And believe it or not, I believe that those 55 and older neighbors enjoyed watching us teach the girls to ride their bikes. I believe our lives are much richer, our minds much wiser, and our memories more pleasant because of the “desegregated” street where we lived.

I am still a little more than a decade away from 55 and I may change my point of view when I get there, but I can’t imagine that I would enjoy living in a neighborhood where I couldn't hear children laugh everyday or where all my friends and neighbors had the same aches and pains and complaints as I. Who would I depart my many years of experiential wisdom to if everyone around me were as old and wise as I? And if I can’t get through a snow drift to get to my mail box, I hope and pray there will be a young person around and willing to lend a helping hand.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

An Accent? Who Me?

Alright now, do y'all think I talk funny? More than one uv these folks out here have commented on my accent. One feller even said he thought my accent wuz "delightful." That's nice. I like to think I'ma delightful conversationalist, but whut I don't git is they never say nuthin' 'bout Rick's accent. Oh well, I'ma Texan and proud uv it. Love me, love my drawl I guess. Too bad I didn't bring my boots with me.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Scenic Route

We had some claims in Beaumont, CA. We took the scenic route over the mountains as we returned to San Jacinto.

We are on our way up the mountain, looking back down onto Beaumont.

As we wound our way up the
mountain we began to see some trees.

At about 5000 feet there were a lot of trees. This is the San Bernardino National Forest. All of the park areas were closed because the fire danger is so high.

Coming down back into the desert valley... there is always a haze in the air, so it is hard to see the mountains in the distance.