Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 31, 2013 - AZ

Well, here we are, the last day of 2013.  It was a rough one, but I have to also remember the joyful events of the last year - especially, the birth of my twin granddaughters, Camille and Norah.  Although I lost the love of my life, I am thankful for the many loving family members and dear friends that have helped me to carry on and to be able to also have some joy in my life.

May 2014 bring us all happiness and good health.

After many months of grieving, I am ready for an evening with friends at my community's New Years Eve party.  Ron and Becky went with me and we had a really nice time.  I danced a lot and Becky danced a few.  We toasted midnight in New York at 10:00 for the early-to-bed folks, then again at midnight.  I had a lot of fun and it felt good to have a lively evening.

Happy New Years!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

December 23 - 30, 2013 - AZ

Monday, December 23.  Christmas is coming up too quickly and I wish I could just blink and it would be 2014.  Although I am looking forward to Sharon, Becky, Ron, Brooke, and Elizabeth's arrival on Christmas Day.  

I’ve started to pick away at getting the house ready for guests and got the lasagna for Christmas dinner assembled.

Frisco has been digging at his ear and yipped when I touched it yesterday, so we were off to see the vet today.  His left ear is fine, but the right has a bacterial infection.  The treatment is cleaning with a solution, putting in drops, and Benadryl.  Poor guy.  As I was leaving, they were bringing a big Golden Retriever that had been attacked by a Pitbull.  The poor thing couldn't walk, so it was wheeled in on a gurney and it's whole front shoulders and chest were covered in blood and cuts.  I hope the outcome was good.

Tuesday, December 24.  The sadness crept in last night and I couldn't stop crying.  This season is supposed to be filled with joy and happiness, but instead, it is filled with grief and sadness for so many lost family members this year.  I think I will find some time to look through photos of past Christmases and remember those joyful and hectic times.

Thursday, December 26.  Yesterday morning, after a nice Christmas conversation with Pat and Tracey, I got to open gifts with the Bridge family in SF on FaceTime.  Charlotte was all about the presents and it took several conversations to let her know that all of the gifts were not for her - that we not only received gifts but we gave some too.  And that there were gifts for everyone.  It was the next best thing to being there.

My 3 little elves.

Sharon, Becky, Ron, Brooke, and Elizabeth arrived from Wisconsin around 1:00.  After the grand tour of my little box, we shared a nice lasagna dinner together, went for a walk to see the Christmas lights in Brentwood, and we all retired early.

Today, we drove to the Grand Canyon because Sharon had never seen it.  There was snow up there, from Sedona north to the canyon.  The weather was actually pretty nice, mid 50's and sunny and the views were worth the drive - the long, long drive.

Friday, December 27.  Ron surprised his family yesterday morning with a hot air balloon ride and I got to go along.  We left the house at 6 am and headed to Deer Valley where we all piled into a van and headed to state land trust property, where there were about 10 other balloon crews getting ready to take off at sunrise.  Our crew was very efficient and we were the 2nd ballon to lift off.  The flight was as enjoyable as I could ever imagine with beautiful views, a smooth ride and just high enough (about 1700 feet) to give us great views of the surrounding mountains, lakes, the entire valley, and desert.  The ride was about 90 minutes long. I'm so glad that I went along - I thoroughly enjoyed it - one of those bucket list items that got checked off.  Many thanks to Ron for including me.

When we got back home, we packed up Lizzie and dropped her off at Becky's friend, Deena's house where she will stay with her friend for a few days.  We then headed to the Mesa Marketplace Flea Market for some shopping.

I went to the clubhouse tonight to cut up grocery bags for making crocheted sleeping mats for the homeless.  About 10 people showed up and we cut the base and handles off the bags, then cut the bags in strips that will be joined together to make the yarn, then crocheted.  We have been told by the Salvation Army that these mats provide a comfortable cushion, are good insulators against the heat and cold and also are somewhat water proof.

Saturday, December 28.  We all slept in this morning and it sure felt good.  Once we were all showered, had a good breakfast, and were ready for the day, we went to Goldfield Ghost Town and strolled around, watched a cowboy gunfight in the streets, and had a beer and burger on the patio that overlooked the Superstition Mountains.  Gorgeous!  It is truly the Wild West, as folks come there by horseback - there were at least a dozen horses tied to the rail in the parking lot.  A man looking a lot like Sam Elliott was having a beer right next to us.

Later on, my guests all went to see the Christmas lights at Glendale and at the Mormon Temple in Mesa.  I opted to stay at home and enjoy the quiet - and I did just that.

Sunday, December 29.  The Green Bay Packers were playing the Chicago Bears today and Ron and Sharon wanted to see the game and Pat and Roger invited them to Val Vista Village to watch it with them.   Becky and I went to Usery Mountain Regional Park to hike with Deena.  I knew  that we were going on about a 3-hour hike, but I didn't know that it was a 7.5 mile hike - a bit more than I am used to hiking.  I trucked along, we stopped and rested, and I was able to make it the entire distance.  I couldn't quite keep up with Deena's pace (a quite ambitious gal, my age, who is training for the upcoming Phoenix Marathon) so we slowed a bit, took a few breaks, and we made it in 4-hours.  The views were spectacular and the trail was not difficult, just long.  From the north side of the mountain, you could see the fountain at Fountain Hills.

Dena and Becky

Me and Becky

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16 - 22, 2013 - AZ

Monday, December 16.  I'm upset.  I found the back to an earring on the floor in the bathroom this morning and after searching and searching, I was unable to find the earring.  It was a gift from Mike years ago and I don't want to lose another reminder of him.  

I'm happy!  I found the earring on the floor of the bathroom when I got home from running errands this morning.  Yay!

My car cost me $160 this morning when I took it in for an oil change and was told that the transmission fluid looked dark.  He didn't charge me for the oil change but I was surprised at the bill.  And then, when I got back home, I got to thinking that my car is smart - it would probably tell me when to change the transmission fluid.  That proves that I'm not thinking too clearly these days.  And it cost me $$$ that I may not have had to spend.  They also told me that I had a leak in the front struts - this, I believe might be covered on my warranty, so will check it out.

I'm sad.  Sharon called to tell me that Mom is not doing well.  She hadn't opened her eyes all day, her blood sugars were really high, and her apnea causes her to stop breathing at times.  Poor Mom, she is there without any family nearby, as they are getting snow and the roads are treacherous.  The thought of losing another person in the Bridge family is making me feel really sad. 

Wednesday, December 18.  Rest in Peace, dear mother-in-law, Jane Bridge.  She passed away about 6:30 pm, shortly after Tom, Karen, and Becky left her side.  Pat spent time with her on Tuesday and said that she did open her eyes but he didn't feel any acknowledgement from her. 

Here are some of my thoughts on this great lady:

Jane Bridge, known to me as “Mom” since I met her back in 1966 (just 2 years after losing my own mother), when she welcomed me to her family with open arms.  From the beginning, I’ve known her to be a giver.  She dedicated her life to nurturing and caring for others.  Early in her marriage, during a time when she lost several babies of her own, she provided foster care for babies that were up for adoption.  Then she and Dad started their family by adopting Mike and then their family grew when they had 2 more sons and a daughter to love and care for.  When her own children were grown, she became the caretaker for other children, including mine at various times.   
It was nothing to her if there was one or more extra mouths to feed at dinner time.  What a good cook and fine baker she was, always trying out new recipes and making sure there were plenty of everyone's favorites around.  When grandchildren came, the crib and the toybox that were stored in the attic came out.  She was my expert resource on raising children and I tried to live by her loving example.  I have fond memories of sitting on the front porch stoop, chatting with the neighbors, gathering around the kitchen table for meals, sitting around the campfire at the cabin, sharing books and watching soap operas, going for long drives just to watch the scenery

When her family grew up and Dad retired, they enjoyed spending time outdoors, at their cabin, and traveling  in their campers.  A lover of all animals, she took in strays and always had pets to care for and to take comfort from, many of them were rescued from bad situations.  She loved feeding and watching the birds, shooting bottle rockets to scare the crows that were robbing other bird's nests, and marveling at the antics of the squirrels.

I will cherish these memories forever - she will always be "MOM" to me. 

Saturday, December 21.  I can't believe that it was 8:30 when I woke up this morning - and I was in bed by 8:00 last night.  Guess I needed a long night's sleep. 

I've spent a lot of time on the phone the last few days with family and friends, calling because they heard about Mom, or just calling to talk and give Christmas wishes.  I am so thankful to have such a warm circle of loving folks around me. 

The family has decided to have a small graveside service for Mom on Jan. 3, and then have an informal family gathering to celebrate her life in June.  I will not be flying back for that but will definitely be there this summer.

I stayed busy all day, but don't ask me what I did.  Oh, Allan and Sharon were in the area, so they stopped by for a light lunch and a very nice visit.  I loaned Sharon some of my antique bottles so she could use them in a still life painting.  I can't wait to see what she creates!

Sunday, December 22.  After getting all of my groceries yesterday, I had what I needed to make the sauce for the Christmas lasagna and I put a pork loin in the crock pot so we could have pulled pork sandwiches later in the week.  I also made some fudge and unbaked caramel cookies.

Pat and Roger joined me for dinner of pork roast, baked potato, and carrots.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

December 14-15, 2013 - AZ

Sunday, December 15.  I slept in yesterday morning until 8:15 - boy, did that feel good.  I also got to FaceTime with the twins for a few minutes and managed to get big smiles from both of them.m It didn't take me long to get back involved in the community and see several of my friends, starting with a stop at the clubhouse yesterday morning to pay  my annual community association dues and also to vote for area representative (the person who is responsible for welcoming newcomers and keeping folks informed).

I'm scrambling to finish up on the gifts to send to WI and CA (no room in my bags when I went there) and I'm working on a hat and mittens for Charlotte (a project that got started out there but was unable to finish).  I will have to post a photo when I get it done.

Today was nice and included some relaxation in my yard and chats with a couple of neighbors.  Right now, there is an apple dessert in the oven and a pot of chili on the stove.  The chili got me thinking of Mike and missing him - one of his all time favorites - I would have scored big time with him.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 9 - 13, 2013 - SF, then back to Mesa

Tuesday, December 10.  As you can see from the heading on this post, I have only a few more days here with the family before heading back home to Mesa.  Charlotte seems to have a good understanding about the switch in grandparents that is occurring in her life these last few months, and she is talking about it every day.  It is amazing how much the twins have changed since I arrived here.  The 2-3 pound weight difference is quite noticeable, their little legs are getting chubby and they have graduated to the next size in clothing and diapers.  They will really look different 6 weeks from now when I get back again.

I took this cute photo last Friday, as CC was dressed in her vintage coat and getting ready to go to daycare.  No, she wouldn't turn around and face the camera.
Here, she is helping to make pancakes.

Thursday, December 12.  My conversation with Charlotte this morning as I leaned over her crib, went like this:  CC: "I'm going to Mikey's house". Me:  "Who's Mikey?"  CC:  "Grandma's friend". Me:  "Grandpa Mike?  He's my best friend."  CC:  "I love him."  Then she kissed me on the forehead.  Wimpy me, had to wipe the tears from my eyes.

Finally, a photo op that worked.

Friday, December 13.  Yes, it is Friday the 13th and it's a good thing that I'm not superstitious because I'm flying back to AZ today.  The lucky penny that I found in my suitcase should bring me good luck.  It is also 10 months since we lost Mike and I miss him just as much as I did back then.  I just keep trying to move ahead each day and feel good that I have been able to keep myself going in a positive way.  My family and friends are so supportive and helpful.

All connections and travel arrangements went well, in fact, my flight took off early and arrived in Mesa 20 minutes early.  I was also impressed with Super Shuttle who called to let me know my pickup time and arrived at exactly that time - and got me to the airport with time to spare.  The guy got a good tip. Pat and Roger picked me up and we went to Simpleton's for fish fry.   Very good, except for the coleslaw.  Frisco was happy and excited to see me.  It feels good to be back home.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December 2 - 8, 2013 - CA

Tuesday, December 3.  The weather was gorgeous on Sunday and after a delicious breakfast, the whole family headed out on a walk with a stop at the local playground.  Charlotte's little legs carried her for 12 blocks with very little assistance from an adult.  As we walked along together, she asked me "where's Grandpa Mike?" And then she said, "I want to see him?"  It just broke my heart - and then it was hard trying to keep my tears hidden from her - not that I am concerned about her seeing me cry, but that it would just bring up another question that would be hard to answer.

Yesterday's weather turned more wintry, that didn't matter much for my grocery shopping outing, but it did make for a chilly walk later on.  Jill and I headed to Cassava, a nice little cafe on Balboa St but they were closed, so then we went up the next block to another cafe and we discovered that neither of us had any money with us, so our plan to have a nice, warm drink got nixed.  We headed up the steep hill on 37th Ave for the library but when we got there, we had no library card.  Busted.

I made a yummy beef stew for dinner tonight - another successful Martha Stewart recipe.

I just couldn't decide on an activity to do with Charlotte this morning (it's another cool and cloudy day) and finally decided on walking to the library.  It turned out to be a good choice, as we got there just in time for the toddler story time and she really enjoyed it.  We picked out a few books and headed back home.  For lunch today, we had our 10th meal from the Thanksgiving dinner.  

Wednesday, December 4.  Today was mellow and uneventful, with CC at daycare and the twins starting to get more on a routine.  Jill was able to get lots of things done and I was able to finish a crochet project that I have been working on - hats for the twins. The photo doesn't show the true color of the yellow - it is a pretty buttercup yellow and they fit Norah and Camille just right.  They are growing so fast that I should probably start working on the next bigger size.

Pat sent me photos of the memorial tribute for Mike on the Trellis Tree at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison that was donated by his friend, Don.  What a special and meaningful gesture. I will look forward to seeing it in person.

Jill had an opportunity to have an evening away from home, so Ben and I were the tag team tonight.  Norah had a long, fussy spell but Ben was able to settle her down after a while, and then Camille started, so it was my turn.  That's how it often goes.  There is nothing like having a beautiful sleeping baby in your arms, though - so that is the reward.

Friday, December 6.  Yesterday, I decided to take Charlotte to the Academy of Sciences again and we had a great time browsing around the aquariums, sat in the snowman shaped igloo and learned about the North Pole, Caribou, and the seasons.  Outside they were making snow and we also got to see some live reindeer.  It was a fun time together.

This morning, Jill and I decided that a walk was in order, so we headed from 35th Avenue to 21st Avenue along Geary Blvd to the post office and to pick up some wrapping paper.  It was a nice day and an enjoyable walk.  

This afternoon, the twins had their 2-month checkup and Get their first set of vaccinations. They are exactly the same height and Camille weighs about 10 ounces more than Norah, they are both over 9 pounds.  Yeah!  Team Bridge is doing a great job!  It was painful for Jill and I when they cried out from the shots.  They have been sleeping ever since we got back home except for one very fussy spell for both of them.  Wouldn't you know that Charlotte would choose that very same time to be uncooperative and throw a tantrum.  All is quiet now and we are not complaining.  It takes a village.

Next week at this time, I will be settling back into my home in Mesa.  It is hard to believe that it is time for the next Gransition, aka the Granny Switcheroo.  I'm going to miss the activity and bring around this family, but I also look forward to having some down time. 

Sunday, December 7.  It is quiet.  Charlotte and the twins are napping, Ben is surfing the internet, Jill is browsing through photos, and I was working on a crochet project when I got to thinking they it would be a good time to write.  After breakfast, we all headed to the playground but the wind was so cold that Jill decided to head back home with the babies.  I stayed at the playground with 
Charlotte and Ben went for a short run.  The playground was a bit sheltered for the wind, so it wasn't too bad, especially when CC has a way of keeping you moving.

Just a Swinging

Yesterday, the family went to a birthday party, so I decided to go shopping - not a great plan, as the traffic was awful, the stores crowded and busy, and it just wasn't much fun.  I think I will save my shopping for Mesa where the parking lots are huge and I can go mid-week when the stores aren't too busy.  The best part of my afternoon was the drive along the Great Highway where I could see the huge waves coming in on the beach and lots of folks flying and riding on kites.