Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January 27 - 31, 2014 - AZ and CA

Wednesday, January 29.  I had nothing that had to be done on Monday but I managed to stay busy somehow.  Jan invited me for dinner and we had a delicious salad, pasta with spinach and portobella mushrooms in the sauce and lots of good conversation.

I got to thinking that I'm going to have lots of kid conversation once I get back to San Francisco, so I called some friends to invite them to happy hour at my house last night.  We had a nice group of about 15 gathered on the patio and had drinks and lots of yummy appetizers and especially, lots of good conversation.  Parties around here happen early in the evening and are all done by about 7 pm.  I was cleaning up the kitchen at 7:20.  Pat and Roger brought Louie and we got so many compliments on what well behaved dogs we had.  It was fun and I'm going to miss my good friends and will look forward to hanging out with all of them again soon.

Just as I was waking up this morning, I got a text telling me that Randy and Ron's step-father, Art Shackelton passed away during the night.  Now there is a man that I have total respect for - he set the example of just plain being a good man his whole life.  With 7 children of their own, he and his wife, Barb, took in my 2 brothers as foster children and raised them as their own.  They worked weekends and holidays as a family to build a beautiful log home on the Wisconsin River near Mazomanie.  Barb was fascinated with history and they were both involved in the local historical society and her yard was filled with native wildflowers.  She passed away in 1998.  After Art retired from the State Patrol, he spent his retirement years traveling in a motorhome and then traveling by plane to Europe and around the US.  I always loved visiting with both of them and their whole family.  Rest in Peace, dear Art - and thanks for all you have done for my siblings through the years. 

Other than having to leave the house to get a haircut this morning, I spent the day getting ready for my trip - doing laundry, cleaning out the fridge, giving Frisco a bath, and taking him for a nice, long walk.  I'm going to miss him and so appreciate that Pat and Rog are willing to stay here and keep him for the next 6 weeks. 

Thursday, January 30.  My morning has been nonstop, as I didn't even start packing my bag until after I had my coffee.  In spite of that, just the act of setting things out let Frisco know that something was up.  Poor guy.  I feel bad about leaving him and am so thankful that Pat and Rog are willing to keep him for me.  He is in good hands and has his buddy, Louie to hang out with.

Connie took me to the airport and I have a couple of hours to wait for my flight.  I'm getting excited now to see family again and to see how those granddaughters have changed in the last 6 weeks.

All went well and Jill was there to pick me up at the airport.  This is the first time that I have flown Southwest and to San Francisco in a long time as  the last flights have been to Oakland on Allegiant.  

And yes, those babies have changed - they are bigger (but still tiny), are smiley and both quite vocal and don't require the personal touch of being held as much as they did.  They were wearing outfits that I gave them.  Charlotte came right to me when she woke from her nap, a little shy, but happy to see me.   She liked the book that I brought her about butterflies - I know this because we had to read it over and over again.  When bath time came around, she wanted me to "do it all" - and that meant bath, getting pjs on, brushing teeth while watching educational videos, and bedtime stories.  She's such a sweetie!

Lois fixed a nice dinner and we had a glass a of wine and some great catching up after the kids were all down in bed.  My days are going to be filled with activity again and I'm hoping that I don't have too much trouble adjusting to it.

Friday, January 31.  Today was a good example of what a day with the twins will be like.  And it kind of goes like this:
     Ben brings out a baby who is fed and changed, then hops in the shower
     Jill brings out the other baby
     Charlotte wakes up and is ready for breakfast
     Jill nurses the babies and they go down for a nap
     Grandma takes Charlotte to daycare
     Jill gets ready for work
     Babies wake up and are changed and fed, have playtime
     Babies take a nap
     Babies wake up, are changed and fed, have playtime
     Babies start their fussy time - the witching hour is between 4 and 6 when they want to be held - 
          Kind of hard when there is only one person, the swings come in real handy then
     Ben and Charlotte get home
     Ben gets twins ready for bed
     Grandma feeds Charlotte, has a little playtime, then bath, pjs, tooth brushing, story time, bedtime
     Ben and Grandma have dinner 
     Jill gets home
     We all collapse

I will only be with the twins by myself on 2 days of the week.  The rest of the time, either Ben and Jill are home too.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

January 20 - 25, 2014 - AZ

Monday, January 20.  I had my follow up appointment with the cardiologist this morning and he confirmed that the arteries in my heart are clear.  The angiogram that I had recently was to make sure my arteries are not blocked because they don't know of a cause for the damage to my heart from an unknown previous heart attack some time in my past.  It appears now that in spite of the previous damage, my heart is ok (not performing at 100%, but not bad) and I can continue to live my life, not worry about it, and be as active as I choose to be.  Should I have any symptoms such as shortness of breath, exhaustion, or pain, I need to act quickly and not ignore them.  And I don't have to have a follow up for another year.

I picked Patty up and we headed out shopping in search of a swimsuit for her.  After checking at 5-6 stores, eye still came back home empty handed.

Thursday, January 23.  I had my follow up appointment with the eye doctor today and all is clear on my eye and I don't have to return until my next scheduled appointment.  

I've been spending a lot of time this week working on the mat for the homeless project and I finally finished mine this afternoon, about 2 hours before the volunteers were gathering for the last time.  Four mate have been completed and one person was unable to finish hers, so the rest of us are volunteering our time to get that one done.  Guess who came home with it?   And I forgot to take a photo before I handed it off.  I'll have to see if I can get one.

Finished Project
Mat Detail

Chris and Norm picked me up on Tuesday afternoon and we headed to Val Vista Village to meet Pat and Roger for happy hour.  The entertainment was good and we even got on the dance floor a few times.  It was a good time.

I spent a few hours on Wednesday cleaning all of the little trinkets that are in the printer's drawers that I have in the wall.  It was a walk down memory lane and I really enjoyed it.  I found a small wire sculpture of a man that Pat made, Ben's first tooth that he lost, a miniature Standard Poodle (Belle), a greyhound and dog tags from Lucy, Mike's dog tags and several mementos from the Navy, match books and wooden nickels from several bars, and way too many others to mention.  It was a fun project.

Arlene asked if I wanted to go to dinner with her on Wednesday night, so we went to the East 
Valley Cafe and had their fish special.  She had the fried and I had the grilled and it was really good and the portions were generous.

Saturday, January 24.  Friday was a weird day for me.  First, I slept in until after 7:30 and I didn't get Frisco out for a walk until 10.  I had no gumption all day long.  When I got back from my walk, I lounged in the tub with some soothing Lavendar bubbles and Epsom Salts.  I gave Frisco a good brushing and myself a pedicure but other than that, I didn't accomplish much.

There was a birthday bash for Sue and Ulla at the clubhouse tonight, complete with BBQ ribs and lots of good side dishes and of course, birthday cake.  It was well attended by over 100 people.  After dinner, Jeff Stevens provided entertainment with lots of good music and plenty of stories along with it.  Unfortunately, my funk continued into the evening and I left the party at 8:00.  

This morning, Connie and I headed to downtown Mesa to attend the 14th Annual Historic Home Tour that is sponsored by the museum.  We started at the museum and then walked through the West 2nd Street district where we saw 4 homes and Queen of Peace Catholic Church, the Sirrine House, and Irving School.  Most of the homes were bungalows that were built between 1910 and 1940.  I love that style and am a fan of small homes, so these were right up my alley.

From there, we headed to the Westwood Villas district where we saw several homes that were built in the early 1970s.  The common feature was sunken living rooms.  They were all huge, sprawling ranch-style homes that were at least 3,500 square feet.  Several had basements and belonged to very large families (there are many large Mormon families in Mesa).  One home had 2 washers and 2 dryers in the laundry room.  They ranged from "original" decorating styles to fancy, frilly to modern contemporary.  We had a nice time and stopped at Tia Rosa Taqueria for a bite to eat before heading home.

Sunday, January 26.  What a nice, but busy day.  It started with a conversation with Pat and unfortunately, they are going through another cold arctic blast with temps below zero and to top it off, they have had the flu.  He said he doesn't remember ever being that ill.  Fortunately, he is on the mend, but Tracey probably has a couple of days to go before feeling better.  

I had to go to Home Depot for softener salt and also bought one of those new, lightweight water hoses that will make it much easier to care for my plants on the patio side of the house.  When I got back home, I ran the hose along the foundation on the back side of the house and buried it, so I now have access to the hose from both sides of the house without having to drag it out and reel it back in whenever I water.  Yay!  I'm proud of my accomplishment.

Our community is having a concert tonight, featuring Maggie May, a country singer from Oxford, WI, who also owns and operates Maggie May's Cafe there.  My friends, Don and Sharon (also from Oxford) invited me to a pre-concert meet and greet this afternoon with lots of other Wisconsinites and Maggie - a down-to-earth, happy, and fun-loving gal.  I didn't stick around for long as Sharla was coming by to do my taxes for me.

Chris and Norm met me at the clubhouse and the concert was great, although Maggie has been suffering from allergies and wasn't able to yodel, her performance was great.  She didn't start her entertaining career until 12 years ago when she had to find a new way to earn money.  She's self taught and sings many old time country great songs and some that she has written herself.  It was a very enjoyable evening with great entertainment.  My picture isn't the greatest but I will share it anyway.

Monday, January 13, 2014

January 13 - 19, 2014 - AZ

Monday, January 13.  Eleven months have passed since Mike passed and it continues to be hard to believe that he will never return.  Since he passed, whenever I see a heart shaped prickly pear cactus (and it really is quite common), I am reminded of him and his love and loyalty to me through the years.  Today, when Randy and I were on a 7-hour road trip throughout the Tonto National Forest, I spotted them along the roadsides and every time we stopped the car to look around.   He is still with me in everything I do but I really miss his presence.  This cluster had several reminders:

We drove the Apache Trail to Lake Roosevelt, a very scenic drive but about 20 miles was unpaved and quite rough, taking 1.5 hours to drive that stretch.  When we got there, we stopped at the National Monument and hiked about a half mile to the Salado Cliff Dwellings called Eagle Ridge, a group of several rooms in the side of the mountain.  The views of Roosevent Lake were gorgeous.   

When we got back to Mesa, we stopped at Rancho de Tia Rosa for dinner, one of my favorites - and Randy agreed with me.

Tia Rosa

Tuesday, March 14.  Randy took off this morning to have breakfast with Aunt Jean and I got to working on a few projects around the house.  The other day, while at Home Depot, I couldn't resist buying a few Lantana plants, so I got them planted underneath the Palo Verde trees.  Before I could get them in the ground though, I had to soak the ground in order to dig a hole.  I also pruned one of the Cassia bushes.

When Randy got back, we just sat in the yard and enjoyed the warm sunshine.  I attended the HCC (Highlands Community Club) meeting at 5:00 and while I was gone, Randy cooked our chicken on the grill for dinner.  It was yummy!  We had a quiet night watching Ron White's 2012 stand-up comedy show and got a lot of laughs.

Saturday, January 18.  I got Randy to the airport by 6 am on Thursday morning and he made it back home safely.  When I got back home, I did a Walk Away The Pounds workout, took Frisco for a nice walk and went to Costco to stock up on supplies for the clubhouse.  I slso made a pot of Chicken Minestrone soup and delivered some to my friend, Vicki, who just got home from having major surgery.    I sat outside and worked on my crochet project, a sleeping mat for the homeless.  Connie came by and we chatted and had a bowl of soup together.

I woke up yesterday morning with a nasty cold and didn't do much all day.  It's a common thing, I know of lots of folks that have them and am hearing reports on the news of flu epidemics.

This morning, as I was getting my breakfast, I heard a commotion in the street and found that 5 police cars and many cops were surrounding a young man, the youngest son of the couple across the street.  He was handcuffed, searched, and several items put in a bag and he was hauled off with them.  I have no idea what his suspected crime is, but would like to know if I have been at risk here.

Connie and I went to downtown Mesa, just for something to do today.  We found an arts and crafts fair and spent a while at the antique mall.  From there, we went to the rose gardens at Mesa Community College.  There are massive gardens filled with all colors snd sizes of roses, although many were being pruned and prepped for their peak show that is coming up in April.  Regardless, it was worth the visit and I definitely want to return again.

On the way home, we stopped to see Pat and Roger's new motorhome - a 2014 Fleetwood 
Searcher.  It's not much bigger than their old one, but definitely has a lot more room.  They gained a bed on the floor, more closet space, a usable shower, and lots of basement storage.  It is very nice and should be a comfortable home away from home for them.

Sunday, January 19.  Frisco and I headed to Apache Junction this morning to go for a hike with 
Allan and Sharon and their dogs, Elsie and Murray.  We went to Silly Mountain, a hiking area not far from their house.  Just as we were starting our hike, called and we had a short FaceTime conversation.  I got to see Charlotte modeling her new dress and got big smiles from Camille and Norah, and Ben got to see the Silly Mountain hiking trail.  Modern technology sure is something.  There are several trails to choose from, so we picked one and headed up it.  We didn't go all of the way to the top, but stopped at the first saddle to look around and the views of the valley were quite nice.  The trail was pretty rocky and there were lots of folks out there with their families.  It was a nice, short, enjoyable hike.

Back at their house, we sat in the beautiful yard and had a bowl of vegetable beef soup and garlic bread - and talked and talked and talked.  It was a great morning!

Pat and Roger came over for dinner tonight (salad, sweet potato fries, and poor man's lobster).  I had to be at the clubhouse at 6:00 to help on the mats for the homeless project, so they stayed at the house and watched football. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

January 6 - 12, 2014 - AZ

Monday, January 6.  Happy Birthday little brother, Randy!  

My day was busy, but it wasn't really planned that way.  I had to take my car in, once again, to have the low tire checked.  They said they found a pinhole sized hole in the sidewall and it is covered by warranty.  It will be replaced on Friday morning.

When I got back home, I got some laundry done and groomed Frisco.  I'm still treating his ears with the cleaning and antibiotic treatment and it seems to be helping.  He also got a good brushing and his nails trimmed.

This afternoon, I had to go see an eye doctor because my left eye has been bothering me - feeling scratchy and irritated for a few weeks now.  I learned that the pterygium (a tissue growth in the white part of the eye) is either growing or inflamed.  I was given some drops and a treatment plan to determine if it is inflamed from an irritation (allergy, dryness, etc.) or if it is growing.  If it is growing, it may need to be surgically removed and I am really hoping that is not the case.  There has been a lot of little things going in recently with my 65 year old body.  Dang!

Pat and Roger joined me for dinner tonight.  It's always good to hang out with them and Frisco and Louie had some good wrestling together.

Thursday, January 9.  
I haven't had much time to write this week.  Back on Monday, I decided that I should have my left eye looked at because it has felt scratchy and irritated for the past few weeks and it does have a Pterygium (a tissue growth on the inside white part).  The treatment is to lubricate with drops every 2 hours and a regimen if medicated drops for several days to determine if the swelling is  caused by irritation from allergies or dryness or if the pterygium is growing.  I am hoping it is the former and the medication clears it up, as the thought of a surgery on my eye is scary.

On Tuesday, I went to Banner Heart hospital to have an angiogram, the last in a series of tests to for my heart (resulting from the low heart rate that was detected during my physical last summer).  The doctor found my arteries to be clear and I will have a follow-up consultation on the 20th.  It sounds as if I have nothing to be concerned with.  After the procedure, I had to lay completely still for 2 hours and then Connie came and picked me up.  I have had no complications from the procedure other than some soreness and bruising.  

Today, after cleaning up the house a bit and doing some grocery shopping, I went to the airport to get Randy, who will be spending a week with me.  His flight was delayed about an hour due to icy conditions in Springfield.  Other than that, all went well and it was great to see him again.  We were invited to Jan and Jim's for a yummy BBQ rib dinner with them, Connie, and Bruce and Carmen.  It was an enjoyable evening with good friends.

Friday, January 10.  One of the tires on my car has been giving me trouble since last summer and a pinhole leak was found in the sidewall, so this morning it was replaced and covered under warranty.  While it was being worked on, Randy and I walked over to my favorite thrift store, Lutheran Thrift and browsed.

We then went to visit Julie's Aunt Jean, who lives not too far from me and is a very interesting person to talk with.  We drank coffee and had pie and a nice visit with her and her daughter Judy.

Tonight, we went to Simpletons for fish fry with Pat and Roger and ate way too much.

It was a good day.

Sunday, January 12.  We prepared for a family gathering this afternoon.  Nan, Dale, Nan's Mom Karen, Monica, and her new boyfriend Loren joined us for a feast of Bratwurst, beer, coleslaw, beans, and chips.  It was great to see them all again and to meet Loren.

Karen, Nan, and Monica

Nan and Dale

Loren and Monica

Me and Randy

Thursday, January 2, 2014

January 1 - 5, 2014 - AZ

Thursday, January 2.  My visitors were up at 4:00 this morning in order to catch their 7:45 flights.  Lucky me, I got to go back to bed.  I certainly didn't envy their return to the extreme cold weather but glad that it was nice for them while they were here.  I so enjoyed their visit and I think I did a pretty good job of keeping up the pace.

I spent the day enjoying my home, putting it all back together, and eating leftovers.  The Christmas lights came down too.  It was a beautiful day and I spent a couple of hours this afternoon sitting in the warm sun and chatting with Arlene, while we worked on our crochet mats - a much harder task than I expected.  The materials are hard to work and it takes a lot of strength to make the stitches.  I think it will be a long, slow process.

Friday, January 3.  Connie called yesterday to see if I wanted to go for a hike and we decided that Boyce Thompson Arboretum would be a good place to go and Pat wanted to go too.  It was a good choice, although there wasn't a lot in bloom, it was still a nice hike with lots to see.  The weather was perfect.  Naturally, I couldn't leave there without a few succulents to add to my collection.

When I got back home, Sharla called to say that she and Arlene had an extra ticket to the Hale Center Theater in Giilbert and they invited me to join them.  We went to Oreganos for dinner and then to see a hilarious comedy called "Cash on Delivery".  It is a  story of how a guy finds a loophole where he got a hefty government check each month and how convoluted things get because he wants to keep them coming but his lies keep getting more and more twisted.  The acting was excellent and we laughed and laughed.  The theater is small, without a bad seat in it and the stage is right in the center.  A great time, thanks to my great neighbor, Arlene and her daughter Sharla.