Sunday, December 30, 2007

9:17 am Sunday, December 30, 2007

We have had some sad news in the past few days that has kept me on pins and needles waiting for the phone to ring. My sister, Dixie on her way to dinner at her daughter, Tammy’s house ended up in the emergency room. It happened this past Thursday evening. The weather was rainy and cold and on the way to the car she slipped and fell. The first call I received told me she had broken her hip and possibly her left arm. She was examined at the hospital, admitted and orthopedic surgery was scheduled for Friday afternoon. By 7 pm that evening Tammy called to say her mother was in recovery and the surgeon reported he had been able to put a pin in the hip bone and although it took longer than expected, all went well. Additional good news was that her arm was not broken … bruised and badly bent but okay.

Dixie of course is worried about work. She and her husband, Paul are not retired. She is a self-employed antique dealer (no paid leave) and he is a self-employed carpenter. Dixie travels around the Pacific Northwest setting up at craft fairs, fairgrounds, armories, exhibition halls, malls and any other place where she can rent space and there are long-standing contractual reservations that need to be honored. She also organizes estate sales and garage sales for clients. This turn of events will create extreme challenges that in today's light seem nearly insurmountable. Hopefully, assistance is only a request away.
This work is labor intensive but has been a fascinating and enjoyable way to earn a living over the past 30 plus years they have been married. Along the way, Dixie and Paul have accumulated an impressive array of beautiful antiques that adorn their large Victorian home which Paul has lovingly and skillfully built for his wife. Of course, it is not finished but I suppose you have heard the story about the shoemaker’s family, or the plumber’s wife?

I called the hospital yesterday and spoke to Dixie. As someone who has abhorred asking for help her entire life, she is embarrassed and upset by her accident (As well as worrying about how she looks for visitors!). Without much success, I did my best to assure her no one cares whether she is perfectly coifed as she lies there in her hospital bed. Overall, she sounded pretty good as she complained that the hospital staff had her sitting up on the side of the bed yesterday morning (she said it was very painful) and also had some less than positive comments about the food that had been offered to her so far. I would say that is a good sign!
I will close this post with a heartfelt wish for all of my family, friends and faithful readers that they enjoy the happiest and healthiest new year ever in 2008.

One of our favorite restaurants in Yuma, "The Happy Greek Chef". The "Greek" part of the name has been added since last year ... obviously announcing the new owner who had a pronounced accent.

Fortunately, he did not change the menu which consists of standard American fare and plenty of it! As you can see, for Christmas Day, there were lines out the door but we had made reservations and were seated within 15 minutes of arrival.

Family portrait ...

L-R: Phil, Joy, Andre' (Nada's new beau) and cousin, Nada happily stuffed with Christmas dinner.

A lone balloonist (Applebee's Restaurant) in the sky over Yuma. It was a bit windy and he was scooting across the sky at a rapid rate.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

9:45 am Sunday, December 23, 2007

My dear friend Gloria phoned last night from WA literally on her way out the door to the annual Christmas party at my sister, Dixie’s house. She called to tell me she wished we were there! That was a feel good moment but like I told her, if I could just wiggle my nose and pop in and then reverse the action at the end of the evening and be back in Yuma—I would be there with bells on! The cold, wet, wintry weather in WA State is too much of a deterrent for me. It is sort of like I miss my youth but no way would I (or could I for that matter) go back through all that trial and error in order to regain my smooth skin and black hair. My hard earned, geriatric wisdom warns me that even if I could—not to go there! This is the fourth of five parties that we have missed since Dixie and husband, Paul began hosting them in their huge Victorian house and we retired. Just one of the things we look back on with a bit of wistfulness . Well, if I am totally honest … Phil probably is not as "wistful" as I am ;-).

My sister is a Christmas Nut. Her big house has over 30 Christmas trees; one or two in every room and in some cases more than that. Every size, shape and material but Dixie insists the big one in the living room must always be the "real," fresh cut and fragrant variety. It is a big house and she and Paul (bah humbugging every inch of the way and trying to appear as if he does not enjoy every minute of it) decorate from top to bottom, inside and out with painstaking detail every year. Their daughter, Tammy and son, Shane caught the “bug” and their homes are decorated over the top each year as well. Talk about sibling rivalry—this one takes the cake. This family has many parties for other holidays throughout the year but you could say Christmas is their favorite … well, duh! To give you a peek, here is a link to Tammy’s My Space where she has a video of her house and the decorations she and husband, Steve have on and around their beautiful new home.

It is a little chilly here, only 44 degrees as I write this and there is a stiff breeze blowing outside … BUT the sun is shining brightly and inside Penny we are warm and snug as a bug in a rug with our catalytic heater glowing away assisted by a strategically placed fan up front and in the rear.

Since we have not taken any new pictures lately, I thought I would share this precious photo.

I cannot give credit to the photographer because I do not remember where it came from. All I know is that it is a wonderful study in the complexity of some instincts we do not question.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

9:42 am Sunday, December 16, 2007

As I look out Penny’s big front window, I can see palm trees swaying in the breeze … wispy white clouds and a baby blue sky. Not exactly your typical winter wonderland scene. After dark, it gets a bit better when all the decorations in the RV Park are turned on and if you are so inclined, it is easier to get in the Christmas spirit. Phil started to close the front drapes last night and I asked him to leave them open for a while longer so I could enjoy the lights all over the club house/office/mail room and swimming pool/spa area. It helps.

We finished our snail mail Christmas cards yesterday and they are in the mail. Writing our “Season’s Greetings” letter is fairly easy since I keep all activities (or lack thereof) on our calendar but it still seems strange writing in the desert sunshine. Back in the ‘old days” I remember watching the snow fall while I sat at my computer and the words would flow easily about our yearly activities. The e-mail recipient list gets longer every year due to more and more family and friends going on line. Thanks guys, that does save a lot of cash for stamps!

To help salve my feelings of melancholy about wintery weather during the holidays (no problem the rest of the year!), I subscribe to a blog written by a lady who lives on a small farm in Wisconsin. She is a true grass roots mid-westerner and she is also a writer. LeAnn sells her books online through her website, at fairs and flea markets in the summer and recently added national booksellers as well. If you sign up for her blog, she will send it out to you about every two weeks. She tells her readers about life on the farm—warts and all—and has many other interesting topics. Her writing transports me back to the land (as most of you know I have an overactive "farmer" gene) and because she is an animal lover, for me at least, (some would say she goes overboard) that is frosting on the cake. I have not bought any of her books but have read many excerpts on line. PG rated and full of homespun humor, her books tell the stories about her life growing up on the farm.

My gift to you today is the link to this interesting ladies blog … enjoy!

One of the three century plants in bloom in front of our Aunt Elaine's winter home.

Phil has swept and cleaned up the plant debri around our Aunt Elaine's cozy winter retreat in Yuma. It is patiently waiting for her to travel south from WA--hopefully in January, 2008.

As you can see, we only have four states left in the lower 48 to travel to/through in our Penny the Pace. No plans to share with you as yet but hopefully, it will not be too long!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

9:06 am Sunday, December 9, 2007

Back in Yuma—full circle in seven and a half months. The weather is cool (only 42 degrees this morning when I crawled out of bed at 6 am) but no rain and not much wind—which is a good thing. Phil drove Penny the Pace with both hands tightly gripping the wheel from Casa Grande to Yuma on Friday because of the steady, often gusty wind out of the south the whole way. We were both very happy to reach our destination.

We did have a couple unplanned stops. A pickup truck came along and motioned upward with his hand and we slowed way down and pulled over. Our small awning that protects the slide out when it is extended had been sucked out and the wind was having its way with it. We slowly drove on down the road to the next exit, pulled off and managed to get level where we intended to extend the slide but hit a glitch with the trim. We brought the slide back in and the awning rolled itself back up perfectly. Okay, we’ll worry about the trim later and we raised the jacks and continued down the road. Ooops! A gust sucked it back out a few more miles down the road and by the time we pulled off it had corrected itself again. That is one strong spring! This time, Phil brought out the big guns and with fiberglass strapping tape, he secured the spring so it couldn’t possibly unwind and we continued our trip without further incident. We have been thinking about replacing that awning so that chore has moved up toward the top of the “to do” list.

We had a great visit in Phoenix with my cousins. Beverly and her sister, Norma who is visiting for the winter from Idaho are my mother’s first cousins. Their parents were brother and sister. Bev’s daughter, Kathy who is a fellow family genealogist came over and joined us for lunch. What fun we had telling family stories and looking at some old photos while the afternoon flew by. We have made plans to spend a week or longer in the Phoenix area in February so we can spend some more time together.

Beverly , our hostess for the day, welcomed us into her beautiful home in Phoenix. What a lovely lady!

You may remember Norma from our visit with her in Buhl, Idaho last year. She is such a fun lady!

L-R: Norma, Joy and Beverly ... a really fun day!

Our pretty Penny the Pace parked on a nearly unused exit and on ramp off I-8 with Phil on the ladder figuring out what must be done to fix the problem with her slide out awning.

Phil in his "garage" looking for just the right tool.

Tightening some screws just to be double safe.

Phil double checking for any other potential problems as long as we're stopped. Everything looks fine ...

Monday, December 03, 2007

7:38 pm Monday, December 3, 2007

There are gremlins in my computer. Phil discovered them but how they got in there is unknown.

My last post included four pictures. In the past, clicking on my pictures has allowed you to enlarge them to get a better look but when you click on any of these four, you get a box that asks you if you want to open or save this file? Huh?

If you click on “open” you are bombarded with a file full of odd pictures—none of which have anything to do with Phil and I or our travels. I recognize some of them as other Blogger’s photos but WHY they can be opened through my blog is a big mystery to me.

I have tried to “fix” it but have had no luck. So … I will just apologize and advise you that this phenomenon is not of my doing. I tend to think “Blogger” is suffering some form of cross contamination and hopefully, the gremlins will be gone by my next post.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

8:35 am Saturday December 1, 2007

We have a full day planned tomorrow (Sunday) starting early in the morning so knowing I will not have time before we leave the MH, I am going to publish my weekly post today—a day early. We have been drenched with rain and blown away by wind since yesterday afternoon but this morning, the rain has stopped leaving the wind to blow itself out (hopefully). It seemed so strange yesterday to be in the southwest in 70 degree weather while driving in a deluge complete with flooded streets! When I went to bed last night, it sounded like we were parked under a waterfall. My overactive anxiety kicked in and worrying about the coach roof springing a leak (or ten) kept me from sleeping soundly and after I woke up at 3:30 am, I could not go back to sleep. I gave up and GOT UP at 6 am to write this post. See how important you all are to me … I give up sleep to stay in touch!

A long-time close friend is in the process of writing their autobiography complete with many pages of family pictures. At the request of one of their adult children who had questions that only a parent could answer, they decided to write the story of their life. I cannot tell you how long the writing has been going on but I can say that the first forty years is now finished. My friend has allowed me the privilege of reading these completed chapters and I must say, unequivocally, it is a work of art. The honesty and attention to detail, the language and terminology, the raw emotion including deep sadness and sorrow along with drama and devotion held this readers attention from one page to the next. Because I have been very close to this person for many decades, much of the story is familiar but many formerly unknown events came as a complete surprise to me. I am not surprised by the technical skill but I am impressed by the candidness. My hat is off to you my friend! Bravo!

Here are a few recent photos around Casa Grande …

Full moon over Promenade Mall.

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Here is Phil making an effort to get into the spirit while posing in front of the big tree at Promenade Mall inside the round-about.

Geraniums in December? Yes! And, in holiday colors ... very pretty.

Fantasy Frog Fountain in plaza fronting the new Harkins Theater complex in Casa Grande.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

11:09 am Sunday, November 25, 2007

The sun is shining this Sunday morning and I would not be surprised if we turn on the AC later today but right now, there is a bit of a breeze and it is chilly out there! Still above freezing but not much. Phil has recruited our wonderful catalytic heater back into use in the evenings and bless his heart; he got up an hour before me this morning and lit it so I had wonderful toasty heat when I got up at 6:30 am. It is not all that difficult to light—just awkward—so knowing that, he took care of it for me during his early morning potty call. What a guy!

Our past week has been typically unexciting, not much going on. I have been working at the computer, we have been to the grocery store a couple times and I have been cooking at home rather than eating out except for turkey day and yesterday. We had a wonderful turkey/ham/pork roast dinner with all the trimmings at J.B.’s Restaurant for $8.95 each on Thanksgiving. I couldn’t cook it for that price and they did the dishes! We had calls from two of our kids (Bobbie and Mike) and an e-mail from another one (Violet) wishing us “Happy Thanksgiving” so we really had much to be thankful for.

Yesterday we went to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, The Golden Corral after spending the afternoon at the new Harkin’s movie theater here in Casa Grande mall, called The Promenade. It is similar to the newest mall in Yuma with all the stores having outside entrances and no covered (air conditioned) walk ways. During the winter, that is fine but I can’t imagine many people (especially seniors) using these malls during the summer when the temperatures are triple digit … but then, what do I know?

Phil and I really enjoy watching Denzel Washington but I had reservations about seeing his newest movie, “American Gangster.” However, with all the Oscar talk buzzing around, we decided we had to see it after all. In spite of the typical gangster violence and Denzel playing a “bad guy” it was very good … although a bit long at 157 minutes. And, we were surprised to learn it was based on a true story. Oh yes, Russell Crowe, as usual was very believable in his role and did an excellent job as well. I predict at least one (or possibly both men) will be nominated for awards.

Going back to our sightseeing in Tucson, I will share the ride we took with Les and Gloria through the Saguaro National Park on the east side of town.

On the road for the magnificent saguaro!

Gloria and Les, our surprise Tucson visitors!
Phil and Joy ...

still having fun after three years of fulltiming.

Aha! Here is the beginning of the saguaro forest and we are looking for the big ones ...

And the odd ones ...

Here is a beauty!

The life of the saguaro is a stuggle from the beginning. It begins its life as a shiny black seed no bigger than a pinhead. What it lacks in size it more than makes up for in numbers. One saguaro produces ten of thousands of seeds in a year, and as many as 40 million in a life time

A postcard perfect speciman.

A saguaro's growth is extremely slow. Growth occurs in spurts, with most of it taking place in the summer rainy season each year. By the end of the year, the saguaro seedling may measure only 1/4 inch. After 15 years, the saguaro may be barely a foot tall.

After about 75 years, it may sprout its first branches or "arms." The branches begin as prickly balls, then extend out and upward.

The more branches the more flowers. At about 30 years the Saguaro can begin to flower and produce fruits and seeds.

At about 30 feet tall, this magnificent speciman might be between 100 and 150 years old!

Look at the size of this grasshopper! Or ... is it one of banes of the early LDS farmers ... a LOCUST???

My great grandmother moved west to Oregon from Kansas then Nebraska and South Dakota during the last decade of the 19th century in one of these.

A nicely restored example of the pioneer American's original home on wheels. She was a lot tougher than I am ... for sure!

Quite the ride. Sure would not want to be tailgated by this fellow!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

10:22 am Sunday November 18, 2007

At 6:30 am it was 45 degrees at our site in this Casa Grande desert location. As I looked out my window, I saw men and women wearing shorts but also bundled up in hooded sweatshirts briskly setting out for their daily walks as the sun came up. Since I usually sleep later than this, I rarely get to see my fellow senior citizens as they join in this early morning mass exodus. Much to my doctor’s frustration, I personally think exercise is highly overrated! I know, I know—in spite of my disdain for working out—I am aware of the benefits but I HATE it! Quite possibly, my family will someday stand over me and my body when my joints, organs and muscles have stopped working and say, “We told you so!” That is unless I turn over a new leaf one of these days and I continue to have faith I will see the error of my ways …

Stepping back a few years, we visit a very real part of my early history and a moment in time dubbed the “Cold War” when we continue this travelogue at the Titan Missile Museum south of Tucson.

When the SALT Treaty called for the de-activation in 1982 of 18 Titan missile silos that ring Tucson, volunteers at the Pima Air Museum asked if one could be retained for public tours. After much negotiation, including additional talks with SALT officials, the Green Valley complex of the 390th Strategic Missile Wing was opened to the public.

True then ... true today.

Unfortunately, many choose the definition of "power" that most serves their purpose.

Retirees staff the museum leading the one-hour guided tours and running the gift shop. After a briefing room video explains the missile's history you select a hard hat (if you are 6 ft. tall or taller ... I didn't need one) and we were guided outside to the rocket's den.

F. Y. I.

Here we received a very detailed explanation about how these engines worked.

Very complicated system ... way over my head!

Storage tank ...

And there it is ... sobering.

Empty and harmless now, this 110 foot tall missile weighed 170 tons when fueled and ready to fly. It still looks deadly crouched on its launch pad.

Before deactivation, it was capable of opening fully in just a few seconds. Unbelievable.

One end of the massive sliding door that once protected the missile that once protect us ...

Permanently sealed, half-way open (closed?)today.

As we started down the stairs this sign warned the group to watch out for critters looking for an underground nest.


One of the 6000 lb. blast doors ...

Deep in the ground, the cable-way and low clearance space age walk way to the "War Room."

100 feet below ground we arrive at the Command Center tightly packed with authentic, albeit antiquated equipment. Thankfully, in the 1950s and 1960s, the Soviet Union did not have anything better or more sophisticated.

Security policy strictly enforced.

Faded welcome sign.

Before the days of dependable battery operated time pieces, an eight day, wind-up clock ensured accurate Greenwich Mean Time.

A short afternoon drive took us from the valley floor to the top of one of the many hills around town.
Better known as "A" Mountain for the letter "A" the University of Arizona students have whitewashed every year since 1915. At 2,887 feet it offers the best view of Tucson and the surrounding area.

Birds eye view of downtown Tucson, Arizona.