Sunday, December 28, 2008


Bil Keane, American artist and creator of the comic strip, “Family Circus said: “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s call the present.” Prudent words to live by … if you will.

That said, I should disclose that more often than not—I live in the past; I’m comfortable there and I feel appreciated. In my most reverential thoughts I believe my angel ancestors value my efforts to record their lives in such a way that they will be memorialized by all generations that follow. My efforts along with several others in our family have taken us back in time along a path strewn with obstacles that sometimes seemed impossible to get around, over or beyond but after almost 40 diligent years, we reached back in time about 350 years in some of our lineage. Genealogy is an addictive hobby/avocation (call it what you will) that I may have put aside for multiple reasons over time but the song of seduction ultimately calls me back and like an old friend, my collective ancestors, from all branches of the family tree welcome me with open arms. They always knew I would return and they are in no hurry—they have lots of time. Did you know that genealogy ranks right up there with golf as the nation’s top recreational activity? This notoriety has opened doors previously blocked by bureaucracy for years. The things we have learned, the stories, (written and oral); the photos, (some identified and others that will remain unnamed to infinity) that we have unearthed inside dusty boxes and long forgotten trunks resulted in these individuals coming to life again after years of obscurity. When my time on earth comes to an end I am confident there will be someone to pick up the reins and keep our family’s genealogy research wagon on the road to the past.

To date, that person has not come forward but I am optimistic. In the future, when they make themselves known—the research will be at the ready because this Christmas, I accepted an offer from my generous and loving niece, Julie (also my namesake) to store my primary hardcopies in a safe place until one of two things happen. Either we will settle down, stop traveling full time and I will then have a place to store them myself or my life will end unexpectedly and/or prematurely and in that instance, she will assume responsibility for these records. This has taken a weight off my shoulders because living in an RV (with weight and storage limitations) has put our prized information at risk while being in public storage or riding around the country in the back of our pickup. Before the winter of 2008-09 has passed, my goal is to complete my ongoing project of digitizing all of my information and backing it up on DVDs/CDs as well as on an external hard drive. Even so, for future genealogists, the originals are precious and irreplaceable. I have been taunted and accused of being obsessed by some who do not understand the importance of what I consider my life’s work but fortunately, in most cases, I have only to consider the source in order to ignore the comments. Never fear, my efforts will continue as long as I am capable.

Phil and I are humbled by the good fortune we have had since choosing this amazing lifestyle for our retirement years. Good health and clear minds prevail after more than four years and we look forward to many more on the road as we continue to explore our beautiful and diverse country and visit significant places and family members that will contribute to our family history.

Whatever their personal choices for the future, we wish the same for our loved ones and dear friends in 2009. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Until next time ...
Our precious addition to the family: Sean-Michael born 25 October 2008. Get a look at the smile ...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

COAL OR CANDY? You decide ;-)

At the risk of finding coal in my stocking and damaging my Mrs. Nice Girl image, (ha!) I present the following holiday editorial:

The pressure is on! Four days and counting; are you ready? Are all the presents wrapped, the stockings hung and all the special holiday traditions waiting in the wings for the big day or checked off the list? So many people have rituals and customs that MUST be done or they believe the holiday will not happen in their world. There are thousands of these; some “always” watch old movies every year like “It’s a wonderful life” or “White Christmas.” Others “always” cook certain foods for Christmas Eve or Christmas morning and without that particular food … there will be no holiday! The phrase “we always do it this way” is their mantra each year and unless each entry on the list is accomplished like clockwork, they feel like they haven’t celebrated the holiday correctly. Nothing is allowed to interfere without dire consequences. Families with young children are literally forced to participate by the media, the church as well as family and friends and kids give their parents wish lists a yard long without a thought to the cost. Well, I’m here to tell you folks, speaking from personal experience the holiday season will go off as scheduled … even without going into debt or the carved in stone individual ceremonies.

When we sold everything we owned except the absolute necessities and moved into a 34 foot motorhome, one spare room in our big house, the one full of lights and holiday decorations was the first to go. Since then, for four years we have not decorated in anyway—not so much as a piece of tinsel—and guess what? The festivities came and went without our participation. This year, for the first time we have a small fiber optic lighted tree that folds up and fits in a small box and that is welcome and enjoyed. If and when we feel like getting any more of a Christmas “fix” we take a drive around town and look at all the decorated homes and businesses and in our RV Park here in Yuma, most of the snowbirds go all out! It looks like a Xmas decorator has gone mad around here.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a holiday naysayer, just the opposite is true. I would just like to see the American public that celebrates this holiday making an effort to go back to basics; to reduce and minimize rather that go bigger and better than last year. Without conscious effort, this happened to us when we retired. Our modest fixed income dictated the fact that we do not purchase gifts except for the grandchildren and great grandchildren that are not emancipated. It was amazing that the lack of stress was palpable from day one of retirement. Even though I am not a religious person, I still enjoy hearing Christmas carols and I adore seeing a beautifully decorated tree (artificial or real) but knowing I am no longer required to participate except in exactly the ways I choose has lifted a huge weight of responsibility from my shoulders. And, without fanfare, it also seems to have released our immediate family from traditional efforts as they have followed suit in only doing the things they want to do for the holidays. We continue to get a good deal of pleasure from receiving cards and holiday letters sent by our loved ones. Furthermore for four years we have been colorfully amused by all the traditionalists in the world and I thank them for that. However, I will continue my low key notice of the holiday and use my yearly newsletter as acknowledgment of the celebration and call it good.

Words of Wisdom:
"To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Until next time ...

Our Penny the Pace looks mighty desolate and soggy during the wet weather last week!

Actually, she was her usual warm and cozy nest for Phil and I during the stormy weather.

Gray skies and cool temperatures here in Yuma last week. The sun has come back now and it is very welcome!

Phil has pruned and cleaned and swept until our dear Auntie's place looks just the way she liked it.
We think our angel, Aunt Elaine is pleased with the cleanup around her Yuma home that Phil has done for her.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


For someone who is about to tell you that not much is going on around here … I have sure been busy. I haven’t left the house for four days, we have been eating one of our favorite linners, “Roast Stoup” for three days and there is still enough left to freeze for another meal. My mother made what she called “hash” with left over pot roast and vegetables. She always made an extra amount of her delicious gravy for the binder and it was like a Shepherd’s Pie without the mashed potatoes on top. It was very good but when I became an adult, I developed a meal with the roast leftovers that greatly expanded the potential and is no doubt a bit healthier. The roast beef is trimmed of all fat and along with the potato, carrot and onion chunks (and any other veggies you cook with your roast) are chopped into good-size pieces then put into the crock pot.

Then the fun part begins. We add canned or fresh mushrooms, canned corn, cut green beans, green peas and diced tomatoes. If you don’t like canned—use frozen (I suppose you could even use fresh if it was cut into small pieces but I have not done that) then add 2 or 3 cans of beef broth (salted or unsalted) to fill up the pot. Don’t be too quick to add salt or other seasonings because after cooking all day, the flavors will blend and you will discover it doesn’t need much. The vegetables you add are completely up to you, there are dozens of choices on the grocer’s shelves but the point is to make a pot full and let it simmer all day. You want plenty leftover as it just gets better by the day and freezes beautifully. We add a French or sourdough bread of some kind and voila’ we have dinner … dinner … and more dinner! Approximate cost for us is about $2.15 per person per day for five days. How is that for lowering your food cost?

My holiday newsletter is finished, gift shopping is done and we will take the snail mail cards to the post office tomorrow. Then next week, I can get busy with what I call my “real work.” We have carried four large plastic tubs full of genealogy research and pictures along with us in the back of The Lone Ranger that are the last of my five file cabinets full of 40 years of family history work. Once scanned, (and backed up of course) the copies can be destroyed, the originals can be stored for posterity and the pictures can be put on a CD or DVD to share with family as requested. It has been a huge job but I hope it will be a big part of my legacy in the final assessment of my life when I’m gone.

Until next time ...

Words of wisdom: We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress. -- Will Rogers
Winter time view at Christmas up north ...


We watched both tapings of the Dr. Phil show that we attended. Except for one nanno second flash, we are not included in the audience shots. Boo Hoo ... our one shot for notoriety down the tube ... literally.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Dr. Phil Show alert ...

For those of you who might be interested I've just found out that the two show tapings we attended will be aired today and tomorrow.

In Yuma, Dr. Phil is shown on NBC at 2 pm. Where you live of course it is probably different.

Read below in my Sunday post about where we were sitting during both tapings.

We'll be watching too ;-)


Sunday, December 07, 2008


Not much going on in and around Miss Penny the Pace this past week. I will however hit the highlights for you.

Day after tomorrow, on Tuesday December 9th, one of the Dr. Phil tapings we attended will be shown. It is titled “Fighting Back” so if your are interested, check it out. We will be doing the same to see if the camera found us in the audience. Neither my Phil nor I can remember (they say memory is the first to go) if this was the first show we saw or the second but during the first show we were in the row directly behind Robin McGraw and to the right. During the second show we are in the top row and all the way to the right, the direction Dr. Phil and Robin leave the show so we might be in that shot as they exit stage right. Anywhoooooo we will be watching to see if we get our 2 seconds of fame! And, I will let you know when the next show is on.

One evening last week I walked outside and just happened to look up at the sky. I saw a sliver of the moon and two bright stars (I thought) right together in the sky. Not knowing much about astronomy, I thought to myself “that’s interesting and very beautiful in the navy blue desert sky—I should probably take a picture.” I came back inside and while we watched the news the anchor talked about the Moon, Venus and Jupiter alignment that would not happen again until 2052! Wow! I told Phil, it is right outside and we rushed out with our little inadequate camera and did the best we could to get a picture.

The remainder of the week was fairly mundane and we did the usual stuff—computing, cooking, shopping and cleaning. Phil emptied the back of the truck and stored my plastic tubs outside next to Penny the Pace. They will be safe there and I can bring them in one at a time as I work on this, the last of my genealogy files to be digitized. Phil washed months of road dirt off our pretty little Lone Ranger and the old boy (the truck not Phil ;-) looks pretty good for his age. Phil also spent several hours during the week pruning and clearing out weeds at our Aunt Elaine’s house across the street. As usual, it becomes a bit overgrown during the summer and fall so this is the fourth winter Phil has gone over and worked in her yard. This year it has been very sad because we know our dear Aunt will not be coming down anymore, but he is doing it for her anyway.

Phil drove out to the big Arizona Market Place by the Marine Corp Air Station Yuma to price four new small awnings for Penny. They certainly will not be cheap but he is hoping to install them himself in order to reduce the cost. I will let you know. We went to Cracker Barrel yesterday for dinner with cousin, Nada. After dinner, we came back to Desert Holiday RV Park and Nada stopped by her house and picked up the lovable big, hairy pup she rescued and named “Blessing Way”. “Blessing” was dumped off in her yard when he was just a few weeks old and had been badly abused. With patience and lots of love, he has become a wonderful dog. Phil and I soaked up a major doggy fix! I forgot to take his picture but I'll get one for next week.

The big health care group in California named “Kaiser Permanente” has a new commercial. It shows pictures of several very obvious old ladies and the catchy tune sing-songs over and over again: “When I grow up I want to be an old woman.” I think I will make that my new mantra … since I have happily accepted the fact recently that I am really not grown up yet because there is still so much to learn!

Until next time ...

Phil surprised me with a little fiber optic Xmas tree this year. It is so pretty sitting up in Penny's front window. I just love it but of course, the picture does not do it justice.

The man in the moon hanging out with Venus and Jupiter in the desert sky. The next time this configurations happens is in 2052. Do not think we will be around to see it!

Nice job Phil. Looks good! This is an orange tree but the fruit is not ripe yet. There are also grapefruit and lemon trees.

The last of what were three Century plants in front. Once they bloom, they die.

The first of many dumpsters filled with yard waste at Aunt Elaine's place in Yuma, AZ.

Overgrown palm devouring the mail box.

Overgrown wells needed to be cleaned out around the citrus trees.