Rose Parade float Check-In

Pandamonium Rendering 4_5_17

I’m Deco Chair for the LaCanada Rose Parade float but I live in Northern California.  Pictures and email explanations are good but there’s nothing like seeing the float in person.

In person, you find out things like:

The pond grew!  Which means I need to increase my iris order.  The waterfalls continue around the side of the float, which means, ummmm . . . we’ve got nothing to cover that with!  Sweet rice!  We’re going to need a lot more sweet rice.

The lily pads also grew but thankfully there’s only two, instead of three.  So, we should be o.k. on our camellia leaves.

The tree got bigger . . . are you sensing a theme here?  Which means . . . more melaleuca bark!

Each material has a conversion factor.  For example, it takes 36 roses to cover one square foot.  It takes 0.3 pounds of crushed sweet rice per square foot.  We place an initial flower order before the float is actually built.  So now, when we see the float in person, is when we find out if things grew or got smaller and therefore, adjust the order.  Of course, we need enough materials to cover everything but the trick is to not have stuff left over!

Then there was the whole issue of the bottom edge of the float.  We thought the “cliff” would come pretty much straight down and then have a 90 degree angle to a flat edge.  Our plan was to stick bamboo, cattails, and other stuff in on the edge to add interest and texture to the cliff.  But . . . the straight “cliff” wasn’t straight!  Which means we have no where to stick our bamboo!

It took a day but things got solved.  More iris, sweet rice and melaleuca bark can be ordered.  We’ll have people re-check square footage.  Construction will keep building.  We’ll re-check again and readjust orders.

One more check on Saturday and then we’ll see it in December!


The Road Frequently Taken

We drive Highway 5 between Northern and Southern California several times a year.  Its straight and there’s not a whole lot to see.  So, after you’ve driven it umpteen times it is, to put it mildly, boring.


However, I am of the opinion that there’s something interesting to be found no matter where you are.  So, on this trip, I was determined to find something interesting along the road we have frequently taken.

First we pondered over a truck with “KSi” and “Rescue” on the back.  A quick Google search told us that the truck was a “confined space rescue” team.  O.k., well!  That’s something I never knew existed!  But, I suppose if you’re building things like underground pipelines or doing some sort of mining a confined space rescue team would be a great thing to have on standby.  And that’s exactly what the folks in the truck do.

A little further down the highway, a crop-duster was working.  Crop-dusting is always fun to watch!  Of course how low they fly is exciting but I also love the tight turns they make at the end of each row.

It apparently is harvest time for cotton and pomegranate.  Often when we drive Highway 5 its tomato and garlic harvesting time so cotton and pomegranates were different and, therefore . . . interesting!  The cotton trucks have some sort of conveyor system in them to load and unload the giant bales of cotton.  I suppose that’s super convenient because giant bales of cotton look really heavy.

There’s always semis to look at.  Its fun to try to guess what are under some of the tarps.  And, I always wonder, if I was starting out in the trucking industry, how exactly would I find stuff to transport?

Spotting out of state license plates is always a good way to pass the time.  On this trip we spotted Hawaii, Texas, and British Columbia.  Texas is pretty common; British Columbia is more common than I would think, but Hawaii is pretty rare!  Love the rainbow license plates!

We’ve seen some beautiful weather driving through Tejon Pass, over the Grapevine.  No interesting weather this time but that’s o.k.

We dropped down into the Los Angeles basin and I felt extremely satisfied to have found some interesting things on the our frequently driven road!  It helped to prove my theory that, if you look hard enough, there’s something interesting to be found no matter where you are!


Game On Update

I can’t believe its been six weeks since I started my first round of Game On!!!  Where did that time go??  Anyway, I thought I should give an update / report.

I’m sorry to say that, in the end, I really feel like it made zero difference.  I suppose the fact that life here was turned sideways by the fires has something to do with that.  Its difficult to focus on healthy eating, exercise, making new habits, letting go of old habits, drinking enough water and sleeping enough when the county is on fire (not literally the entire county but that’s what it felt like some days), people are losing their homes and livelihoods, my Mom is living with us, and I have extra dogs running around – all because of fires.

And then, October 1 rolled around which means I get to eat these:candy corn

I really, really love candy corn.  And its only allowed in our house during the month of October (even if its in stores earlier).  I’m one of those “OHAAT” people . . . “One Holiday At A Time”!!!!!  So, since I only have 31 days of candy corn, I have to get my entire years’ worth in.

And then, all that Halloween candy comes home!!!  candy

Have I mentioned that I really like sugar??  My kids have Halloween candy from last year left over!!!  So they certainly don’t notice if a piece or two or three (or four) are gone each day.

With all of that being said, I’m starting a new round of Game On tomorrow.  I’m certainly not feeling geared up for it, motivated, or anything else.  But I’m going to give it a go nonetheless.  Hopefully, the next five weeks will be calm and smooth and, this time around, I’ll actually make some new healthy habits.  Or at least lose a couple of pounds.  Or at least decrease my candy consumption to one or two pieces a day.  I’m hoping for all of those things.  But I know its going to take more than simple “hope”.

Living on the Periphery

I live on the periphery.  At least, that’s how it feels.

I drive around in my nice car.  I have nice clothes.  I always look “put together”.  My outward demeanor tells you that I can handle anything.  I smile.  I come home to my nice house.  I have nice kids who are straight A students.  I have a nice, yellow lab.  I ride horses.  I travel.  I like to read.  And some days, I think I’m smart.

You assume that I have a lot of friends, go out, and have fun on the weekends.

But you’re not correct.  And you don’t know because you don’t ask me to coffee or invite me out to lunch.  If you and the other girls are going out for a drink, you don’t include me.

Why?  I don’t know and you might not really know either.

I try to participate in conversations.  “Oh, I really like chicken fried steak too!”  And you tell me about the restaurant that has really good chicken fried steak, where you and the other co-worker are going out to lunch today.  But then you turn around to finish discussing what time you’re going out to lunch and don’t invite me.

So I live on the periphery and am left to wonder why.  Left to imagine what I’m doing wrong.  I come home to my nice house, pet my nice dog, and drink my nice cup of coffee.  Alone.  I don’t always mind being alone but I so desperately want to be part of the group, want to be thought of as fun and someone you want to hang out with.

But apparently I’m not.  So I live on the periphery.


Its been quite awhile since I’ve posted.  Yet again, everything I was doing, got interrupted.  In case you didn’t hear, we had a bit of a major fire here in the North Bay area of California.

On Monday, October 9, my Mom called us at 3:00 a.m. to say there was a fire nearby and she thought that maybe she should leave.  Having no clue what was actually going on, Husband and I woke up the kids, decided to take two trucks so my Mom could take whatever she wanted from her house, and headed over.

We turned on the radio as we drove to her house and began to get a first inkling of the disaster which was unfolding.  When we arrived at her house, the magnitude of the fires became clear.


That’s a photo I took from her front porch.  The neighborhood approximately 5 blocks from her house would wind up being leveled.  The explosions we kept hearing were propane tanks exploding.

In the face of that, I took my Mom through her house, room by room, to choose what to take.  She would point to an item and one of our kids would take it and put it in a truck.  Everyone was calm and efficient.

We could hear the fire getting closer so it was time to leave.  After a brief discussion of how best to get out of the neighborhood, we jumped in our cars and joined the line of people streaming out.


It was really smokey!  I have to say though, everyone was polite, patient, helpful and scared.

We did make it out safely.  Our house was never threatened.  My Mom’s house thankfully was unharmed.  We spent the next few days watching the disaster grow.

At this point, things are beginning to return to some sort of normal.  The fires are nearing containment; mandatory evacuation orders have been lifted; roads are re-opening; many schools are back in session.

The statistics from our county are staggering:  1 in 10 people in the county were evacuated at some point in time.  Upwards of 2,800 residences destroyed, as well as businesses, schools, wineries, hotels and a few iconic landmark buildings.  Two of our three hospitals were evacuated (one of those two has reopened.)  I believe the death toll currently stands at 23.

We were one of the lucky ones.  Our direct impact was limited to having my Mom with us for a week and taking in our friends’ two dogs.  My kids were out of school for awhile – my high schooler went back Tuesday; my middle schooler should go back Monday.  My work is still closed.

There are many, many who have suffered devastating impacts.  My heart goes out to all of them.

Stormy – Back to Work

Stormy, my 28 year old Thoroughbred, has been retired for many years, since I was pregnant with my daughter, who is now 12.  He gets turned out with Slewy, my 11 year old Thoroughbred.  Slewy keeps him moving.

But recently, Slewy came up lame.  When the vet started talking about possible tendon tears or maybe a fractured point of hip, we were looking at a long layup.  (Slewy is fine – no tendon injuries or fractured anything but that’s another story.)  Which left me with the dilemma of how to keep Stormy  moving around.

So I decided to lunge him.  I was a bit hesitant because Stormy literally has done zero “work” in like 12 years.  But, I put him in the cross-ties and got out his bridle.  (I always lunge my horses in a bridle; they just seem to pay attention better.)

Stormy looked genuinely excited at the sight of his bridle.  He actually took two steps froward towards it, stuck his nose out and opened his mouth right up.  He was always easy to bridle but I was a little surprised at his eagerness.  We went out to the arena and I asked him to move out on a circle.  It was like I lunged him yesterday!


Doesn’t he look handsome in his bridle?  So now I’ve added him into the rotation of working horses.  I’m lunging him maybe once a week and every time he steps forward and pokes his nose out when he sees his bridle come out of the tack room.

I’m largely letting Stormy dictate what we do.  If he wants to trot or canter a bit more, then I let him.  If he’s done and drops back to the walk, that’s o.k.  Its only been a couple of weeks but I’m already seeing differences.  For example, the first few times, canter was difficult.  And then, yesterday for the first time, he stopped cross-firing at the canter; i.e., he was able to hold the correct lead both in front and behind.

I just laugh with joy to see him step out with his ears pricked happily forward!

Pasadena Rose Parade – An Insider’s View

Any fans of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade out there?  You know, the big parade that takes place every January 1st!


I’m a fan!!  And, I’m the Decorations Chair for one of the parade floats.  What exactly does that mean?  That means that its my job to oversee all aspects of float decoration – choosing materials, ordering all those flowers, overseeing the actual decoration of the float, getting us through float judging, and making sure that we’re done on time for the parade.

Besides all of that, I love the parade itself.  I love everything about the parade!!  I love the bands, the horses, the cars, the parade atmosphere, and that its bright and sunny nearly every single January 1!!

I’ve been decorating floats for 30+ years.  So I thought I should add something about it to my blog.  Please comment, ask questions, etc.  I know you fans are out there!