Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November 24 - 30, 2014 - AZ

Tuesday, November 25.  Happy Birthday to my daughter-in-law Tracey!  

The last 2 days have been work days so there is not a lot of exciting stuff going on.  I did get a surprise FaceTime call from Charlotte on Sunday but, wouldn't you know there was a customer at the counter and I couldn't hear what she was saying - I did catch something about snow monsters.  So cute!

My internal clock has got me waking up in the 4:30 range and I'm not really fond of that.  I've always loved the morning, but that is way too early.

Last night, when I took Frisco out for his last potty break, I looked up at the sky and the first thing that I saw was a shooting star.  I immediately thought of Mike, somehow little things like that are reminders that his spirit is still out there and a part of my universe.

Thursday, November 27.  Thanksgiving Day.  So this is my first Thanksgiving with no family around and it has been a bit emotional.  I am not alone, though and I'm thankful for that.  It was my choice to live away from family, and it is so expensive to travel around the holidays, so I'm dealing with it - also, it was a lot different when it was Mike and I because we had each other.  I did have Facetime conversations with Pat, Ben, and Bob and Penny this morning and later in the afternoon I got to see the grandkids.  Charlotte told me a story about the camping trip that she and I had and the twins were running around looking cute as could be.  

Connie and I went to spend the afternoon with Chuck and Kathy at Usery Park campground.  What a beautiful setting - many of the campers there had visitors.  Frisco and Bear got along well and we had a wonderful dinner together, a few walks, and a beautiful 80 degree day for it.  I'm really looking forward to camping out there next weekend.

Kathy, Connie, and Chuck
Thanksgiving Sunset

Friday, November 29.  I actually slept in this morning and was having my coffee when Patty texted to see if we were going for a hike.  So I got ready, picked them up and we headed to San Tan Mountain Regional Park.  If you head straight south from my house, you go about 17 miles until you come to the mountain.  We decided to take the San Loop trail that was about 4.5 miles but ended up missing a turn and going out and back, doing about 5.2 miles.  The dogs did well, although Louie was panting pretty hard and both were exhausted when we got to the car.  

We stopped for lunch at Uncle Bear's (a nice dog-friendly spot in Queen Creek) for lunch and had a beer and a burger.

Saturday, Movember 29.  What started out to be a day at home, decorating for the holidays, turned out to be an afternoon of shopping and I came back home empty handed.  A waste of time.  I did get a pot of turkey soup base made, some crocheting done, and I organized my filing system so the day wasn't a complete bust.

I got a video of Ben and his family sledding back in Minnesota.  They sure were bundled up, but I heard lots of laughter and saw Charlotte rolling down the hill while Mom, Dad, and Twins rode the sled.  That made me chuckle.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

November 17 - 23, 2014 - AZ

Thursday, November 20.  The highlight of this week is that I got together with two of my nieces for dinner last night.  Ashley (from Kansas City) was in Scottsdale for training and she and Monica hadn't seen each other for 11 years.  We met at Olive and Ivy and had a great dinner together with lots of good conversation.

I don't have plans for the weekend, but I know that my days will fill up and there will be plenty to do.  I'm still working on hats and mittens for the grandkids and the thought just crossed my mind that I have only about 3 weeks before I will need to get them shipped so they arrive by Christmas.  

Friday, November 21.  My last statement that I don't have weekend plans wasn't right.  My Friday plans were for Connie and I to join the Hooveys, Chris and Norm, Carl (Norm's brother) and two other couples for happy hour at Val Vista Village and that started at 3:00 this afternoon.  We were entertained by a couple from Campbellsport, WI, a husband and wife who provided us with some good country music and some dancing too.    We had lots of fun and that is such a beautiful place. They tore down a building last summer and expanded the patio and dance floor.  Happy hours are pretty popular around here.

Saturday, November 22.  Whew!  Today was a busy day, starting with my morning walk, as usual.  I then picked Pat up and we headed out to some garage sales, but they were sporadic and by 10:00 we had both had enough.  After I dropped her off, I went to the grocery store, since I had a hankering for s pot of chili.

I was making chili when Connie stopped by to see if I was able to go to Chuck and Kathy's at 2:00 to talk about Thanksgiving dinner (I am having family dinner with Monica and her family on 
Wednesday night).  At 4:00 when we left there, I was feeling pretty good from that large glass of wine that Kathy poured me and I went home and enjoyed a bowl of chili before having to get ready to be at the clubhouse by 5:00.

Ten of us piled into a van and headed to the Gilbert Observatory that is located by the Riparian Preserve.  Several men from the Astronomy Society showed up, two of them operating the large telescope in the observatory and one outside with his own, very large, telescope.  We started by looking at The Owl, a collection of stars in Cassiopeia in the northern sky.  As it got darker and we went back to it, you could actually see the shape of a stick man, complete with two bright eyes, arms and legs.  We also looked at the planets Uranus and Neptune and two stars that revolve around each other - the space between them looks like a half-inch when looking through the telescope but the actual distance in space is something like 83 billion miles apart.  

The discussion about the distance from us is overwhelming and I can't remember any of the numbers that he gave, but they were in billions of light years.  We looked at starts that exploded back when Christ was born and they are still floating around out there.  He told us of a place just east of here (Picket Post Road, just east of The Boyce Thompson Arboretum) where you can see the Milky Way with the naked eye.  He described the place as a bowl, where the temperature at your head is 20 degrees warmer than at your feet - and people go there to watch the stars because there is no light pollution.  Some of us were very interested in doing that some time.  

I learned a lot on this outing.  It was a full, busy day and I was tired and ready for bed when I got back home.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

November 10 - 16. 2014, AZ

Tuesday, November 11.  After Frisco's walk and about 2.5 miles on my bike, I quickly changed clothes and headed to the clubhouse for the Veterans Day program.  I hesitated to go, since I knew it would be an emotional program and it was, but I'm thankful that I chose to go. To honor Mike's service, I wore his Vietnam Veterans of America pin.  

The program was excellent, with the Young Marines (boys that were about 12 years old) doing the color guard, and then a speaker who had served in the Marines.  The point of his talk was to encourage veterans to talk about their experiences to their family and friends, so they are remembered by future generations.  He also reminded them that, no matter what their job was while serving, they gave their country a blank check for their life and it was a sacrifice even if they did not see combat.  He felt that Veterans Day is to honor the vets that are still living and that Memorial Day is to honor those who have passed on.  

The next part of the program took place on the stage, where a small table was set with a white tablecloth, a place setting for one, a vase with a single red rose, a candle, and an empty chair.  One of the boys told the significance of each item while another pointed them out.  Here is the story to honor POWs and MIAs:
The table is round -- to show our everlasting concern for our missing men.

The tablecloth is white -- symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty.

The single red rose, displayed in a vase, reminds us of the life of the missing, and the[ir] loved ones and friends of these Americans who keep the faith, awaiting answers.

The vase is tied with a red ribbon, symbol of our continued determination to account for our missing.

A slice of lemon on the bread plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land.

A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families who seek answers.

The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.

The glass is inverted -- to symbolize their inability to share this evening's [morning’s/day’s] toast.

The chair is empty -- they are missing.


I wasn't able to see the 2nd part of the program and its too bad.  It was 3 women, dressed in 40s style, that did a USO style show.  They had beautiful voices, as I was able to see them sing the National Anthems of the US and Canada.

Frisco had his annual checkup today and all is well with him, except that the price tag was $170.00.  Dang, the money is just flowing through my account faster than I want it to be.

Friday, November 14.  My work week is over, and today, I need to get everything ready for the patio sale tomorrow.  I sure hope that I get rid of some of these things that I don't need to have cluttering up what little storage space I have.  

Yesterday was kind of rough, starting the first time that I wrote the date down.  Mike has been gone for a year and 9 months and there are still times that I feel it was just yesterday that we were surrounding him at the hospital, hopeful that he might just pull through that terrible episode and that his sick lungs would be able to support his body.  These days, I stare at his picture for long moments, just studying and remembering those beautiful brown eyes and his crooked toothed smile.  He was my life and is now missing in action.

Sunday, November 16.  The garage sale yesterday went well, but I didn't profit a whole lot - ended up with $48 in my pocket.  Nan and Dale brought over a few things to get rid of and they didn't have too much to load back up in the car.  They had some beautiful Amish baskets that they bought in Wisconsin and thought they would be able to peddle here - they had lots of admiring looks and comments but no sales.  It really wasn't worth the time or effort and I don't think I will do it again.  When the gates were locked again, I headed to the donation box at the nearest thrift store.  It was quite the social event, as the neighbors who weren't having sales were shopping.  A fun time.

Connie and I went to the Gilbert Riparian Preserve this morning and had a nice walk.  Lots of people were thinking the same thing we were, so it was pretty busy.

I heard from Pat when I got back home and learned that he and Ben had breakfast together this morning in Madison and that always makes me feel good.  Ben had gone there to watch the Badgers play Nebraska with his friend Mike on Saturday.  When he got back home, he called me on Fadetime and I got to say hello to the kids too.  Here are the latest pictures of them.

It was a cold day here - well, relatively speaking, that is.  The wind picked up and the temperature dropped while I was sitting out on the patio knitting this morning. I spent the rest of the day in the house, ended up shutting the windows and changing into long pants and a long sleeved shirt.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

November 3 - 9, 2014, AZ

TWednesday, November 5.  I only had 2 days scheduled to work this week, because some of the newer people need time to get trained, so I agreed to work this Sunday for a few hours.  Today, I actually did training with one of the work campers - and I thought I still needed training.

I picked my bike up this afternoon, after taking in on Tuesday to have the shifter fixed.  I'm sure that I had it repaired last spring because it locked up.  Today, they told me it was the cable and some gears brackets needed adjusting and lubricating.  After dinner, I took it out for a couple of laps around the park and it seems to be working just fine.

I'm not much for TV, but I have been watching a BBC series that I found on Netflix called "The Land Girls".  It takes place in England during World War II and is about the women that go to work on farms because the men are fighting the war.  It keeps my attention and I'm enjoying the story - a bit of drama,  tragedy and romance too.

Friday, November 7.  I got my house cleaned up and worked on and finished the first of the hats that I'm making for the grandkids for Christmas.  The second time around was much better, as I tore out the first one and started over again.  I was ready to get going on the first pair of mittens but found that I don't have the right size needles and that means another trip to the store, which I really didn't feel like doing at the time.

Pat and Roger and I tried a new place for fish fry tonight - the Sunland Village Golf Course and it was very good.  The pieces of cod were huge, the 2-piece dinner filled the plate and was way too much to eat.  If I go back there again, it will be the 1-piece dinner.  We had s nice table on the deck overlooking the golf course, so it was a nice evening.

I just couldn't go to sleep last night, the last time I heard the clock chime, it was midnight.  What's up with that?

Yesterday, Connie and I went for a drive to check out the Fort McDowell Mountain Regional Park campground because I'm getting the itch to go camping and am planning an outing with Chris and Norm the first weekend in December.  The GPS led us astray and we were up in Scottsdale before idealized that just couldn't be right, so we turned around and followed it again and we ended up at a dead end street in Fountain Hills - closer this time, but not quite close enough.  We finally got there and the park is beautiful and the campsites are very nice, well kept and the facilities are clean too.  The views are beautiful with Red Mountain to the south and Four Peaks to the north.

Today, I drove to Usery Mountain Regional Park to check out their campground and it too has beautiful sites, similar amenities and great views.  I think we are going there for the first time out, it is a lot closer.

Saturday, November 8.  I stayed home today and got a lot done around the house, including washing the front windows and screens - they needed it, especially since a bird somehow managed to deposit some droppings that were running down the screen - yuck!  

I also talked to several family members today, as it is my brother-in-law, Dan's birthday and I knew everyone would be thinking of him.  So Sharon and Tom were at the top of my list. I also talked to my sister, Rita, and sister-in-law, Penny.

I went to an 80th birthday party at the clubhouse for Dan this afternoon and there were so many people there, that all couldn't sit at one time.  He and Marion ar pretty active, so they have a lot of friends and many of their own family including 3 baby boys that were all born this last August.  They were so cute!

Before I remembered about the birthday party, I had invited Pat and Rog for dinner - so I grilled up some sausage and peppers and made an apple crumble for dessert.  It was a nice time, always good to hang out with them.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November 1 - 2, 2014, AZ

OSaturday, November 1.   I was so tired today, after a police helicopter, circling overhead, woke me up and I wasn't able to get back to sleep for at least 3 hours.  

Jan and I went to some yard sales this morning and neither of us found much.   Back at home, the temps have dropped and it was a beautiful afternoon.  I was able to take a short nap but mostly I just enjoyed the day.

It took an hour to get ready for our Halloween dance tonight, several of us girls are going as a Band of 
Gypsies.  It was a lot of fun, some great costumes, a good band, and I did a lot of dancing.  We even took 5th prize and $20 gift cards for McDonalds.

Sunday, November 2.  I got to see Ben and Charlotee this morning, although they called from a cafe and couldn't hear me very well.  Still, it was nice to see them.  Later on, Ben called and I got to watch Norah and Camille playing.  Norah took a few steps but Camille was determined to just get on and off her little car.  They are soooooo cute and it really made my day.

I finally got to working on the finishing touches of my bathroom that I remodeled last spring.  The baseboard trim was left to do and I got it done today.  My measuring skills are not the best and cutting angles really had me puzzled, but I finally got it all done.  Now, I'm not totally satisfied with the wall color that I chose, but will live with it the way it is for a while - at least until I make a decision.