Monday, December 28, 2015

December 28 - 31, 2015, AZ

Tuesday, December 29.  I did my first house cleaning job yesterday and all went well. In fact, it went real well because I picked up 2 additional cleaning jobs and did one of them today.  The lady that had the key to the condo that I was cleaning hired me and she introduced me to a lady across the street who also hired me to clean every 2 weeks.  The first job took 2 hours and today's took 2.5 hours.  Yay! I think this will work out so much better than being a receptionist - and it pays more than double the minimum wage.

Thursday, December 31.  Wow, last day of 2015.  Looking back, it has been a good year for me, and I find myself in a pretty happy state these days.  I have an incredible circle of family and friends.  My sweet grandchildren keep me looking forward to a time when I can be living closer to them and taking part in their lives.   

This summer, we managed to have a reunion with my siblings and their families, gathering at a very nice resort that could accommodate all of us.  We reconnecting with my nephew, Anthony, and got to meet his family.  I sure hope we can do this more frequently and not wait 12 years for another group event with the sole purpose of being together.

Two of my nieces were married in 2015 and I wish for bright futures and long marriages to them.

I traveled 11,000 miles through the US this summer, pulling my little camper behind me, connecting with old friends, family, and places that I hadn't seen in many years.  My sidekick, Frisco, with me all of the way.

The sadness of losing my brother, Ray, hit hard and I think of him and his personal struggles with alcohol abuse and can only hope that others can overcome their dependency.  I also lost my dear friends, Tom Reinhart and Tom MacKenzie and JoAnne Bucko and have tried to stay in touch and provide support to their spouses who are suffering the worst grief possible.

Happy New Year to all of my readers!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

December 21 - 27, 2015, AZ

IIMonday, December 21.  A nice surprise today.  My friend Diane called to say that she and her sister, Barb (a classmate and neighbor from Stoughton) were in the area, so I invited them to come by for a visit.  I quickly called Pat to see if she was available and so she came by too.  Pat and Barb didn't remember each other but I remember walking to school with Barb since we only lived a couple of blocks from each other had some classes together.  We had a nice conversation reminiscing about our childhoods and learning a little about each other's lives today.  Barb (from Myrtle Beach) is visiting her 2 sisters for the holidays.  It was nice to reconnect with an old friend.

Three shorties from Stoughton.

Wednesday, December 23.  Busy, busy, busy preparing for Christmas Eve.  Cleaning, shopping, cooking (more cranberry bread and Tom n Jerry mix), and visiting have filled my days. 

This afternoon, as I was leaving with Connie to go have a drink with Jan and Jim, Loretta shows up at my house - all dressed for Christmas Eve and with gifts and food in hand.  She swore it was the 24th and was thinking that all day. HaHa!  So we all went to wish Jan and Jim and their family a Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 24.  A busy day! I spent a lot of it on the phone, starting with Pat, then Rita (it's her birthday today), then a FaceTime with Ben, Jill, and the kids and nice conversations with 3 of my brothers.

Preparing for the party was slow paced and Patty came over early to help out but I had most of it done.  We took Frisco for a walk - the day was beautiful - sunny, and about 65 degrees.

Folks (15 of them) started arriving around 4:00 and we had lots of yummy foods and drinks, of course.  The Tom and Jerry's were really yummy.  I had searched and searched for a recipe and this one is a keeper - a pain in the butt to mix up, but well worth it.  I also made the Kings Hawaiian Mini ham sandwiches and they were delightful.  I have another tray left over, so I put them in the freezer and will take them along for New Years Eve.

We played a few games; the right, left Christmas story game, Dale was the winner and then the draw a Christmas tree on top of your head game and Kathy K was the winner.  There were many boxes of chocolates for the gift exchange, but I ended up with lottery tickets that had not a single winning number.  It was a wonderful night with friends and the only thing that might have made it better would be family, especially Mike.

When the cleanup was done and I finally sat down and slowed down, I opened my gift from Ben and Jill - a beautiful photo book of their last year. It's amazing how much those kids change in a year's time. I love it and will keep it right in the living room where I can look at it over and over and over again.

Friday, December 25.  Well, that holiday is behind us now.  Yay!  I had an early day of breakfast with Arlene, Marilyn, and Karin, phone calls with family, and baking my Cranberry cake and the hot butter sauce that it is served with.  I headed to Nan and Dale's about 3:00 and celebrated with them, Monica and Loren and her friend, Mel.  We opened gifts, had Tom and Jerry's and then a delicious prime rib dinner.  After dinner, we played a game of Cards Against Humanity, a game that is described as being "as despicable and awkward as you and your friends". A bit raunchy but fun too.

The Christmas holiday was fun, I definitely ate way more sweets than I should have but being around friends made it nice.  Now, let's get past New Years Eve and move on to 2016 and see what kind of adventures that brings.  

Sunday, December 27.  Connie invited me to see the movie, "Joy" with her this afternoon and it was a good story.  A woman, struggling to make it in her life, invents a product that becomes a successful seller on QVC.

The remainder of the day was spent working on a jigsaw puzzle that I started yesterday and watching the Packers lose to the Cardinals (38-8) - Dang.

Friday, December 18, 2015

December 14 - 20, 2015, AZ

Friday, December 18.  Again, it's Friday and I haven't written, so I will just write about the highlights of the week.  

Monday - I received some photos and videos of Charlotte's first ballet recital that had me laughing and crying at the same time.  She did really well in her first session of classes and I totally enjoyed seeing them and am so thankful that we have the technology available to be able to share the experience.

Tuesday - I went by bus with about 50 people from my community to the Monte Vista RV resort to see a Rockabilly Christmas show that was full of energy, great musical performances, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, and a night of fun with friends.

Today marks 2 years since my sweet Mother-in-Law passed away.  I will never forget her and the positive influence she was on me through the years.  A good, generous, old fashioned woman, who became "Mom" to me in all ways.  I love and miss you, dear Mom.

Tonight - TGIF at our clubhouse with old fashioned Goulash made by Lois and complimented with lots of interesting side dishes and desserts.  The best part was the good company of friends and lots of laughter and good conversation.

The weather has finally warmed up after having a few nights that got down close to 30 degrees and days that didn't warm up much.  I spent a lot of time inside and am pretty close to being ready for Christmas.  My cards and gifts have all been sent, e-cards went out today, the annual Ursino and Bridge calendars were sent today too.  I also got gift wrapping done today.

Saturday, December 19.  I finally got back in the swing of hiking, with a nice walk through the Gilbert Riparian Park with Pat, Roger, Connie and the dogs this morning.  Yesterday was so nice and warm, I expected the same today but it was cloudy and cool, but very enjoyable.

Baking, baking, baking is how I spent the afternoon.  Earlier in the week, I made a Cranberry Bread to take to TGIF and it disappeared from the plate quickly, so decided I needed to make some mini loaves to give as gifts.  The recipe came from "Fan Fare II, Winning Recipes From Badger Fans" published in 1981.  It certainly is a winner.

I went over to Connie's house after dinner and had a glass of wine, a piece of lemon pie and lots of good conversation.

Sunday, December 20.  What to do today?  I pulled up the movie listings on the iPad and decided that "Brooklyn" sounded good to me.  So Connie and I went to see it this afternoon and it was a very enjoyable romance story about a young Irish immigrant who falls in love with an Italian hunk.  It could have been about my grandparents although grandmother was born in the US to Irish immigrants and my grandfather was the immigrant from Italy.  It also made me think of all of the others who are trying to get away from something in their home country and get a new start here in America.

I think we should let them come, although we must be VERY careful about WHO gets to come (thorough screening and background checks) and there needs to be opportunities for them to make it on their own, without handouts from our government.  They should not have better opportunities than our own struggling population.

This evening, Pat, Connie and I took a drive to see Christmas lights.  There was a listing in the newspaper but the addresses were scattered all over Mesa so we just watched for lights and drove through some neighborhoods that were really lit up.  We even saw a Jeep covered with lights that pulled a wagon full of people singing Christmas Carols.  It seems that the most newfangled decorations are laser lights and moving blow-up characters.  We even saw an inflatable Happy Camper with Santa coming in and out the door.

It was a good day.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

December 7 - 13, 2015, AZ

Friday, December 11.  I'm not sure how this week got by without writing.  I spent a lot of time at home with the exception of a couple of Christmas gift shopping adventures with Arlene.  We had both volunteered to purchase gifts for needy kids on our Angel Tree.  Carters was having a huge sale, so we headed over there on Monday and did our shopping.  When Arlene got home and was telling her daughter what she purchased, Sharla informed her that her child was a baby girl, and she had bought for a little boy.  So we went back to exchange the items the next day.

One day, we worked on putting up Arlene's Christmas lights, so I now have a brightly lit, festive looking house to look at across the street.

Other activities included attending a community club meeting and, since I am now the secretary, I got the minutes typed, approved, and circulated.  The weather has been beautiful this week, so I took advantage and did some yard cleanup, took lots of walks, and rode my bike a few times, and had cocktails and dinner with Jan and Jim and Bruce and Carmen.

Today, I met with Bev (Arlene's cleaning lady) at her rental condo in Fountain of the Hills and I agreed to be her cleaning lady twice a month through the winter. As she was leaving, a neighbor inquired about a cleaning person, so she I may be picking up another of those jobs.  They pay double the minimum wage and will supplement my income a bit and get me out of the house - no boss looking over me and no angry customers (I hope) to yell at me.

We went to Dirtwater Springs in Apache Junction for dinner tonight and it was very enjoyable.  After dinner event went out to the outdoor courtyard to hear live music, but it was smoky and stinky out there, so left after 3 songs.

Sunday, December 13.  Yesterday was Max and Cookie's 10th Anniversary party at the Canadian enclave (Paul & Ulla and Larry and Linda's).  They have converted their back yards that meet into a very large paved patio, complete with fire pit, heaters and tables and chairs.  The party was held outdoors and it was a cold, cloudy 50 degree day with a few drops of rain.  The heaters and fire kept us warm.  We all shared drinks, pizza, and music in the company of good friends.

I think I have spent more time at home this week than I have since my return from summer travels.  I guess it is just a matter of doing it.  I have found plenty of ways to keep myself busy.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

December 1 - 6, 2015, AZ, CA

Tuesday, December 1.   An early walk with the dogs helped us to learn more about Old Town San Diego and the history there, in fact, we had the place all to ourselves, not a soul around there at 7:30 am. The neighborhood is set on a hillside with historic homes and shops, beautiful chapels and churches surrounding a plaza.

I've never seen a Christmas tree decorated with sombreros before.

When we finished our walk, we headed for a drive along the coast through the neighborhoods of La Jolla, stopping along the way to appreciate the views of the coast, surfers, and the famous seals at the Children's Pool Beach.  It felt so good to feel the ocean air again, good for my soul.

We took the dogs back to the hotel figuring that they would need a little break after all the walking we had done and then we headed to the Embarcadero.  We strolled along the walkway and saw the USS Midway, a giant of an aircraft carrier that was active in World War II and the Vietnam War, then retired from service and made into a museum.  I really liked the statue of the sailor and his girlfriend kissing, on his return from duty in World War II.  A handsome sailor in uniform, walking towards us, brought a tear to my eyes, remembering my handsome sailor and love of my life.

We had lunch at Anthony's Fish Grotto, in business since 1946, and had a delicious shrimp dinner and a yummy Bloody Mary with a view of the Bay.  It can't get much better than that.

We had some downtime when we finished sightseeing and lounged around the hotel for a couple of hours before walking back into Old Town for Taco Tuesday and Happy Hour Margaritas.

A full day of exploring and enjoying.

Wednesday, December 2.  We got moving pretty quickly this morning, as we were headed for Yuma and Algodones, Mexico today.  Our motel room wasn't ready when we got there so we headed for Gateway Park for a snack and to give the dogs some walking and exploring time.  We got s real scare when Louie headed down the embankment toward the canal and jumped right in.  Pat scrambled down, slipping along the way, but she managed to grab him by the collar as he scrambled to get his footing along the edge.  That woman has good reflexes and handled the situation like a pro - saving Louie from a potential disaster.  SCARY!

When the hotel called to say that our room was ready, we dropped the dogs off and headed into Mexico and their endless dental, vision, and pharmacy shops and salesmen toting their leather goods, ceramics, jewelry, hats, and clothing. There was constant heckling to look at the wares and barter for the best price.  The only thing I bought was allergy pills, ibuprofen, and vanilla.  Pat and Rog bought some medications and booze and did some research on dental care.  We had a margarita and a bit to eat before heading back across the border.  I was a little concerned that I might have some trouble coming back into the US with my passport as it expired today, but no problemo.

The hotel offered happy hour with 2 free drinks and also had hot dogs, coleslaw and beans, so we were good for the night.

Thursday, December 3.  We were back home by noon today and it was a chilly 52 degrees in my house when I arrived.  Brrrrr!  A nice 75 degrees outside.  I just got settled back in when Connie called to ask for a ride to where her Grandaughter was having trouble with her car, it wouldn't change gears.  We got there and she called AAA and the guy got it going for her so she could make it to the repair shop and I followed her there.  I let her use my car for the evening, as her daughter is visiting and they had plans.  I hope it is an inexpensive repair for her.

Friday, December 4.  Happy Birthday to my youngest brother, Russ, today.  Unfortunately, he is in reachable because he is homeless in Cedar Rapidw, IA.  I can only hope that he is safe, warm, and maybe made contact with another family member today.  So sorry for his circumstances, so praying that he asks for help some day his willing to make a major lifestyle change.

It was a fun afternoon, happy hour at Val Vista Village brought together a group of friends from up north that live in another nearby park.  The Calico Kid was the entertainer and played a lot of tunes that Pat, Jeannie, and I danced to.  We even got Norm to do a jitterbug with Pat and a buckle polisher with me.  Good time!

Jeannie, Gerrie, Pat, Roger, Mike, Me, Chris, Judy, and Norm

A Rose between Two Thorns?  Good friends, Roger and Gerrie

Sunday, December 6.  Last night was Connie's surprise birthday party at her son Anthony's house.  It was pulled off without a glitch and she had not a clue.  Her daughter, Donna and granddaughter, Michelle, arrived from New York last Wednesday so she thought they were meeting st Snthony's house and then taking her out to dinner.  Her son, Frank and his girlfriend Sally got in from there last night and she was happy and surprised to see them.  Thirteen of her friends from our community also attended.  We all celebrated with salad, bread, lasagna, wine, and of course, birthday cake.  It was lots of fun and she was one happy girl.  We all pitched in and gave her a money tree with $5 bills totalling $75 - it turned out really cute and took several of us an afternoon last week to make it.

The birthday girl with Anthony, Donna, and Frank.

Loretta, Me, Kathy, Connie, and Jan

I slept in this morning, as Frisco had me taking him out several times during the night.  I could hear him pacing the floor and he would sit in the doorway and look at me, so I'd take him out and all he did was sniff and pee.  Finally, at 3:30, there was some action and he managed to get rid of what  as bothering him - I think it was too much of a bully stick that upset his stomach.

I made a crock pot full of Ham and Bean soup and then took some over to Kirk and Al across the street and also gave some to Tom next door, and there is still enough left over for 3-4 meals for myself.

November 30, 2015, AZ

Bright and early this morning, I picked Pat, Roger, and Louie up and we headed out on a roadtrip to San Diego.  We stopped in Gila Bend for some breakfast at the Space Age Cafe and had some sloooow service there - a wait of 45 minutes for eggs - oh well.

Next stop was for a short visit with some old friends of mine and Mike's - we worked with Gail and Elaine at the San Francisco RV Resort back in 2007.  Both couples were there because we had sons in the area - needless to say, we became pretty good friends.  They now live in El Cajon, both are in good health, and we had a nice visit and it seemed like we caught up on our lives in the hour that we had together.  A short but sweet visit.

On to our hotel in downtown San Diego - my niece made the reservation for us and got us a really good rate - there was a glitch though.  We were not made aware that the cost to park our car was going to be $48/night and there was a $100 charge for pets PLUS $25/dog/night - an additional $300 that we were not willing to pay.  Sorry, Ashley!  We cancelled the reservation and headed to the La Quinta (pet friendly) hotel in Old Town - very nice accommodations in a really cool part of town.  All is well.

We had drinks and ordered pizza for delivery for dinner and settled in for a good night's rest.  Just as we were settling in to watch some TV, the power went out and stayed out for almost an hour.  Nobody knew the cause but some guest said that they saw fire trucks down the street.

Gorgeous Bird of Paradise in the courtyard.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

November 23 - 29, 2015, AZ

I'm Sunday, November 29.  I can't believe that a week has gone by without writing on my blog.  It's been a week of mostly hanging  up at home.  Arlene's activity if cleaning out the kitchen cupboards got me inspired and so I spent a couple of mornings doing that and have only the pantry left to do.

I got out the Christmas decorations and got started on that, little by little.  I rode my bike a few times, walked quite a bit with Frisco, had lots of phone conversations with family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday.

I spent Thanksgiving with Nan, Dale, Monica, and friends Mike and his wife Menchu, a very pleasant afternoon with great folks and yummy food, and a FaceTime conversation with the grandkids.

Speaking of Grandkids, I finally finished the collages of their last year.

Charlotte Casey, age 3-4
Norah Lou, age 1-2
Camille Rose, age 1-2

Yesterday, I went with Arlene, Betty, and James to Arlene's sister, Marilyn's house to have dinner with her and Karin and also Sharla and Tom.  It as a full fledged Thanksgiving dinner amidst great company. Dinner was traditional with lemon, pumpkin and a blueberry, goat cheese and basil pie that was topped with toasted almonds.  Mmmmmmmm! Unusual but very tasty, with just a hint of basil.

Arlene, Tom, James, Betty, Me, Marilyn, Sharla.  Karin took the photo.  Good times.

I spent the day finishing up on the decorating for Christmas, got the outdoor lights up and they are set on the timer, so we will see what happens when it gets dark out.

I also did laundry and cleaned up the car in preparation for a trip with Pat and Roger tomorrow to San Diego and Yuma for a few days.  It should be a good time.

Monday, November 16, 2015

November 16 - 22, 2015, AZ

Monday, November 16.  For the first time in a week, I had a perfect night of sleep, 8 uninterrupted hours and I felt so good when I woke up.  It's going to be a good day.

Wednesday, November 18.  The last 2 nights have also been good for sleep.  Amazing how good your feel during the day.

Yesterday was full and of good news.  First was that the spot they have been watching on Rita's lung turns out to be a Minimal Non-invasive Carcinoma, slow to change, and too small to be removed.  They will continue to monitor it.  It was such a relief that I burst into tears.

I also learned that I have a new great nephew.  Little Jax Randall was born to my niece, Ali and her husband James and my brother Randy became a Grandpa.  He was 7 pounds, 1 ounce and 19.5" long.  Welcome to the world, you beautiful little boy.


I had dinner with Bruce and Carmen last night, a great evening of conversation, some drinks, and good food.  Bruce and I discussed the role of Secretary for the Highlands Community Club that I have agreed to take on.  I finished the minutes this morning and got them sent out to the board.

I spent the day making a felt Christmas tree for my Granddaughters, something that I spotted on Pinterest.  When I saw it, I remembered using felt boards in elementary school and thought it might be fun for them.  The tree is about 3 feet tall and I made  a bunch of felt ornaments that they can decorate as they choose.  It was a fun project.

Thursday, November 19.  I worked on the felt tree again this morning, adding some star ornaments and an angel, then made a trip to Home Depot and the post office to get things for hanging it and mailing it - want it to arrive by December 1.  Now I'm thinking that it should be stiffened a bit - will have to ponder that one.

Jan, Connie, and I took Vicki to lunch at Sassy's this morning.  She and her husband, Bill, of 40 some years have decided to divorce and she will be moving away.  The news was a shock but is a change that they both agree on and are settling things up and starting fresh.  Sassy's is a nice, cute, girly kind of place, I only saw a few men in there. They moved this summer to a new location closer to me and the place is so cute and the menu is full of healthy and yummy items.  

I worked on pruning Arlene's Texas Ebony trees again this afternoon and got the branches that hang over Kirk's carport.  Apparently, he had asked her to trim them because Al's bedroom is next to the carport and the branches scrape in the metal roof and keep him awake at night.  It was on my list of things to do, so I filled 2 trash cans full of trimmings and now have only a few branches hanging over Arlene's roof that need trimming.

Tonight, Arlene had tickets to see Mary Poppins at the Hale theater in Gilbert (Sharla is still not feeling well and couldn't go), so I accepted her invitation.  We had some dinner at Joe's BBQ, then window shopped, had a drink at a little bar, then headed to the theater.  The production was excellent with some wonderful talent, great costumes, music and dancing.  I kept thinking how Charlotte would like something like that - I will have to find an event for her and I to see this summer.  She might not have the patience quite yet for a show that long, but I know she would like the dancing.

Sunday, November 22.  I don't remember exactly where I was back on this day in 1963, when I learned that President John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.  I know that I was in school and I do remember my Mom's sadness and crying and being glued to the TV.  What a tragedy for his family and for our country.

I went to the Homecoming party and dance on Saturday night and what a wonderful time.  We had pizza and Jeff Stevens provided music and jokes and I spent most of the night on the dance floor. What a great time it was!

Today, I invited some friends over for BBQ ribs slow cooked on the Holland Grill - they turned out to be great and as usual we had lots of good laughs and lively conversation.  Good times!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

November 9 - 15, 2015, AZ

Tuesday, November 10.  A busy day today, yesterday, not so busy other than having Pat, Rog, and Connie for grilled chicken dinner.

I slept in this morning until 7:30 - what is going on, that rarely happens for me.  I was awake for a while during the night with coughing and breathing problems, I'm sure it is allergy and dust related and will see the doctor today to be sure my lungs are ok.

I walked, then Connie and I went to the library to get movies - they have a nice selection, although not the newest and most recent, and we've been going about once a week.  We also picked up free culture passes to see the Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix on Friday - we are taking the light rail with Pat and Roger.

Jan treated me to lunch at Lo-Lo's today and the chicken and waffles was yummy, as usual.

I had an hour to relax at home before heading to the doctor and yes, I'm on a cycle of Prednisone to clear my lungs once again.  I don't think the Arizona air quality is good for me as I seem to have problems every fall and I'm not alone according to the doctor.

I had another short break at home before heading to the clubhouse for the HCC meeting, where I filled in for the secretary who has recently resigned - last minute with no notice.  How rude is that?

Wednesday, November 11.  The Veterans Day program at the clubhouse was very nice today, definitely emotional right from the get go when the Honor Guard placed the flags in their stands - that was Mike's job at the Navy reserve meetings in Madison and I saw him do it at parades through the years.  The performer sang, told a few stories, and was accompanied on the piano to several songs about different parts of America and many patriotic tunes.

Saturday, November 14.  Yesterday was a day of culture for me, Pat, Roger, and Connie.  We met at my house at 9 am and drove to the park and ride lot at Mesa Drive where we got on the Metro light rail to head to downtown Phoenix.  Pat and Roger got us senior tickets for $2.00 for an all day pass on the train and Connie and I picked up free culture passes to the Heard Museum from the library.  

On our arrival, we took the guided tour of the various galleries, then had a bite to eat in the patio and toured more of the galleries.  One of the saddest stories I have ever heard was that of the white people sending the Indian children to white schools, stripping them of every dignity and culture they had grown up with, and molding them into what they considered to be the way to be.  It made me think of Adolf Hitler and his trying to create the perfect race but this happened right here in our country. What a cruel world we live in.  

There was also an exhibit on the photographs of Frida Kahlo, a collection of thousands, although 250 were on display.  An interesting woman and a very interesting collection.  This excerpt is taken from the museum's website:

An exhibition by Frida Kahlo Museum – Casa Azul/Diego Rivera Museum; Banco de Mexico Fiduciario en el Fideicomiso Museos Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo

The Heard Museum presents a selection of more than 240 images from the 6,500 which are part of the Blue House archive. The photographs, along with Frida Kahlo’s personal items, were locked in a room of the Blue House, the residence where she spent most of her life, and revealed to the public in 2007. The images have served as memories to Frida, as work tools or as a means to exorcise solitude. The exhibition Frida Kahlo—Her Photos, curated by the well-known Mexican photographer and photography historian Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, shows the importance of this medium in Frida’s life.

The photographs – taken by Man Ray, Martin Munk√°csi, Tina Modotti, Edward Weston, Nickolas Muray, Manuel and Lola Alvarez Bravo and others – were cherished by Kahlo when she was immobilized and isolated in her bed.

Frida Kahlo had a very special relationship with photography. Besides her personal background – both her father, Guillermo Kahlo, and her maternal grandfather were professional photographers – she brought different uses to photography: she collected daguerreotypes and visiting cards (carte de visite in French or tarjeta de visita in the original) from the 19th century, she kept photographs upon which she put her personal stamp, cutting things out from them, writing dedications on them and personalizing them as if they were paintings. Some of the images have red lipstick kisses, others are trimmed or folded. Some have personal notations on the reverse.

These images give visitors an intimate view of Kahlo’s life. The exhibition does not intend to depict a chronological biography, but rather to exhibit parts of the personal history of an artist, of a country and of a period. It is a photographic collage made up of images that allow us to discover new facets of a key figure of the 20th century.

For Frida Kahlo—Her Photos 241 photographs have been chosen, organized into six main subjects: The Origins; The Blue House; Politics, Revolutions and Diego; Her Broken Body; Frida’s Loves and Photography. The images throw new light on Frida Kahlo’s work as an artist, a way of understanding her life in historical and cultural context, and a demonstration of her passion for Mexico.

After riding the train to the end if the line and back to the parking lot, we found Roger's tire to be flat and they had to call AAA for assistance.

Tonight's news was all about an ISIS terrorist attack on the people of Paris, over 140 people were killed at various public events, a concert, a soccer game and on the streets.  Sad, Sad, Sad!

This evening, Connie, Arlene, and I went to the Desert Botanicsl Gardens to see Big Nick and the Gila Monsters - a lively blues and jazz concert.  It was a beautiful evening, kind of cool, but there were heaters scattered around to help keep us warm.  The music kept you moving and that helped too.  Thanks to Sharla for giving us her tickets and I hope that she gets to feeling better soon.

Sunday, November 15.  It was a stay at home kind of day, complete with dark skies and off and on rain, followed by a cool down over the next few days.  In fact, night time temps are expected at 39 degrees - brrrrr!

My highlight was a FaceTime conversation with Ben and the grandkids.  They were in the play kitchen and Charlotte served me some vegetables that were healthy and also had some juice in them. I also got an open invitation to come and she will cook for me.  Norah's contribution was tea and I got a cup of water from Camille.  It's so nice to see them playing as if I'm right in the room.  I learned that Charlotte has moved up to the next level in her swim classes and will be doing a lot more swimming on her own.  

I plan to select some chapter books on my next trip to the library, to read to her In the afternoons when Jill needs a break or to get something done without interruption.  I think it will be a great activity for both of us.

It was a lazy day - I read, I bathed, I finished a jigsaw puzzle, I watched the movie, "Frida", the film about the Mexican woman who was featured at the Heard Museum on Friday, I walked the dog, had some phone conversations with family, and truly enjoyed a day at home.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November 2 - 8, 2015, AZ

CTuesday, November 3.  I have something to write about tonight, and strange it is.  The last 2 days, I have noticed Frisco sniffing around the foundation of my house, getting excited like there is a critter there, like he did when he chased chipmunks at Pat's house this summer.  Tail wagging, nose to the ground, and sniffing like crazy.  Then tonight, he's doing the same thing inside and then I hear a cat meowing.  That reminds me that I heard a cat meowing the last 2 nights.  And then, while I'm watching a movie, a knock comes at my door.  I ask who is there and a guy says, "it's Shawn, I live behind you and I think my cat might be under your house."  I went outside and met Shawn, then let him crawl into the crawl space under my house to get his cat, Spade.  Thinking back a couple of days, I had the cover pulled back from the crawl space because I was messing with the cables and apparently, I left an opening big enough for the cat to get in there. Then, when Frisco starting sniffing around there, i thought it might be mice, so I put a mouse trap under there and moved the cover back tight, apparently trapping the cat under there. Luckily, he didn't eat the poison and has been rescued from the dark, dirty, depths under my house.

I finished pricing my things for the patio sale on Saturday and also priced Arlene's items for her.  I'm hoping for a successful sale that will mean that I have fewer items to pack when the time comes.

Wednesday, November 4.  It is a cool but beautiful morning as a front rolls through to the north, large tufts of gray clouds, spotted with bright white where the sun touches the edges, and a blue backdrop spotted here and there.  I heard raindrops a good part of the night and the high for today might not reach 70 degrees.

I did not hear a cat meowing during the night, so that means that the neighbor was successful in getting his cat out from under my house.  I am so relieved that it wasn't some rodents or that the cat  didn't die under there.

I helped Arlene with some yard work today as she wanted a plant moved from a pot to the grounded to dig out a couple of dead rose bushes.  Boy, the ground is rock hard and she had to go get a heavy duty digging tool to break it up.  We both worked on it and were able to get the plant in the ground.

Connie and I went to do the shopping for the groceries that we need for making meat lost for TGIF on 
Friday night.  It looks like we are cooking for about 45 people and I'm a bit nervous as I have never done this before.  I think we will be fine.

We stopped by Sue's house to say goodbye to her, as we had learned earlier that her house had been sold and she would be leaving tomorrow morning.  She is happy to move with her family to KC, but it all happened so fast.  Social services determined last week that she should not be living on her own, they contacted her family in KC who arrived here in Sunday, they sold her house on Monday (probably gave it away with everything in it), and they are leaving tomorrow.  I hope she will be ok.  She has been active in this community for the last 20 years and has done so much to help individuals and the entire community.  We will miss seeing her happy smile, her wobbly little dance moves, and feeling her friendly, open arms in a hug.

Sunday, November 8.  I'm remembering my dear brother-in-law, Dan on his birthday today.  He would be 66 years old today - it's sad that he isn't with us to celebrate.  Miss ya, Dan!

The last few days have been busy.  Friday, preparing and cooking meat loaf with Connie for the TGIF dinner on Friday night for 50 people.  It was well received, we got lots of compliments and it disappeared.

Yesterday was the annual community patio sales and it was another waste of effort.  Why do I keep doing this when every year I say that I won't do it again.  At the end of the day, most of the stuff was donated to Sunshine Acres, a worthwhile cause.  I was worthless the rest of the day, ready for bed at 7:30.

This afternoon, I took the bus with several folks from the park to see the Chandler Symphony Orchestra and the show was very enjoyable.  Pat and Roger invited me for brats tonight and that was a great topper to the weekend.

Rita sent me this photo today, taken in 1962 on Easter Sunday.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

October 25 - 31, 2015, AZ

Saturday, October 31.  I realized that I hadn't written for a while when my sister in law, Sharon, sent me a message asking if I was all right.  That led to a very nice conversation with her that lasted a while this afternoon.  It was nice chatting with her again.

I have stayed busy this week, gathering items for our upcoming garage sale, getting them priced and ready for the big day.  I also spent some time cleaning up and trimming one of Arlene's trees that had become quite overgrown.  Since she has a hard time seeing, I offered to help her out.  While I was working on it, Tom came back from his walk and helped me with some of the taller branches and with the cleanup.  We still have another tree to trim but have to wait for available trash cans since we filled Arlene's and Betty's to the brims.

On Wednesday, Connie, Kathy, and I headed out to the library to get free culture passes to Arcosanti, an arcology project near Cordes Junction, about 70 miles north of Phoenix.  It is the work of Paolo Soleri who died about 2 years ago.  His dream was to create an urban community that was self sufficient and made a small footprint on the earth, thereby reducing pollutants such as roads, cars, etc.and creating a sense of community.  Some of the housing units looked like honeycombs to me.  Our tour guide, Mary Claire, or MC was very knowledgeable and informative, after fifty years of involvement, who wouldn't be.  The project is funded by the sale of sand cast windbells and has been for many years, since 1970 to be exact.  Its a little odd but kind of cool too. 

This morning was busy.  I checked on Jan and Jim's cat (a few days of cat sitting) and then walked to the clubhouse for Saturday morning coffee.  It was enjoyable, I will try to do it more often.  When I got back home, I emptied my shed and scrubbed all of the shelves and floor and then put everything back together again - a project that took me until 1:00 to complete.  All is good, it no longer smells like the latest dust storm just went through there.

The Halloween party at the clubhouse was lots of fun, as the folks in this place know how to have a good time.  I dressed as Rosie the Riveter, got favorable comments but no prize and no photos either.  There were lots of good costumes; Sonny and Cher, school girl, witch, black widow, pirate, a "pizza is messy", a beer keg, and lots of other originals.  

Here'sy grandkids, all dressed up for Halloween.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

October 18 - 24, 2015, AZ

Monday, October 19.  The back yard forest is getting cleaned up, little by little.  I tackled the Palo Verde trees again this morning.  I had one large pile of brush, wrapped in a sheet, ready to load into my car when the community maintenance man, CW, came by in his cart and hauled it to the dump for me.  I probably have 2 more loads to get rid of and then will be done with that project. 

Chris and Norm picked me up this evening and we went to Painted Mountain Golf Club for their 2 for 1 happy hour special.  As we got close, Gary and Jeanie called to say that they had just arrived from Minnesota, were quite hungry, so Norm went back to pick them up and they joined us, as did Norm's brother Carl who also just got back here from the north country.  Good time.

Friday, October 23.  A lot has happened this week, but not a lot to write about.  I finally finished cleaning up the tree trimmings in the back yard, gave the house a good cleaning, started staging for the upcoming garage sales on November 7, had a doctor appointment and met with my financial advisor, taking walks, hanging out with friends - the usual activities of my retirement life.

I saw Norah and Camille on FaceTime and had a nice phone conversation with Charlotte.  I miss the interactions with them on  a regular basis - hearing their voices and watching them play - it's just not the same when I'm away, but it sure is better than nothing to see them now and then.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

October 12 - 18, 2015, AZ

Wednesday, October 14.  It feels good to be getting things cleaned up and set to be lived in for the winter.  I've connected with some friends and have talked with lots of folks while out walking around.  

Yesterday, I took inventory and got the clubhouse supplies restocked.  I can't believe that someone stole napkins of all things.  I don't get it.

I went to see the movie, "The Intern" starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway with .connie, Jim and Jan.  I thought it was quite entertaining and a good story about a 70 year old man who goes back to work as an intern in a large startup corporation.
My big project his week has been cleaning up the yard, spending a couple of hours each morning and working my way from front to back.  This morning, I had a major allergy attack when I trimmed the 2 Texas Sage shrubs that had grown a good 2 feet over the summer.  

I also got my oil changed today but was unable to retrieve the keys that fell in the hole on the console - they would charge at least $50 to retrieve them.

Saturday, October 17.  As you can tell, I'm getting back in the swing of things here in Arizona and I'm not writing nearly as much.  I've been connecting with friends, most of whom were gone for the summer too, so it is fun to hear their stories and to share adventures.  Little by little, I am getting the house and yard cleaned up.

My dear niece, Monica got married in a private ceremony in Sedona on Thursday.  I'm so happy that she found the man of her dreams and I wish them a long and happy life together.

Nan, Loren, Monica, Dale,  and Scooter

I haven't cooked in days.  Friday was the TGIF pot luck at the clubhouse, yesterday was dinner at Jim and Jan's with Chuck and Kathy, Connie, and Kathy K - a fun and enjoyable time.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

October 5 - 11, 2015, MN, IA, NE, CO, NM, AZ

Tuesday, October 6.  I took off yesterday morning after breakfast and after walking Charlotte to school.  I then made a stop at the grocery store before hitting the road.  The trip to the West Des Moines KOA was uneventful and I really like the park - it has become a regular stop off spot when going through Iowa.  I couldn't help thinking so much about my brothers, Ray and Russ and the time I recently spent there with family.  Such a tragic thing.

I was getting ready to go this morning hen I dropped my RV keys into the little hole in the console where the emergency brake is.  I could see it but I couldn't catch it with a bent hanger - afraid that I might pull on something that shouldn't be tugged.  It's a good thing that I have a spare set and I can wait until I get someone who can get to it for me.

I had hoped to see some Sandhill Cranes today, as I chose this route because of the migration route (I guess that is more of a spring event) but I didn't see a one.  I did see a flock of White Pelicans though and that as pretty special.

I'm sitting under a nice pine tree at the Holiday RV Park in North Platte, NE right now.  It was like a long drive today, 8 hours with stops.  Now, I have to figure out the which way to go and how far to go tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 7.  Happy 2nd Birthday to Camille and Norah!  I made the decision to get off the interstate this morning and it was a mistake, in the sense that there was absolutely nothing of interest to see along the way.  Time wise, probably the same.  I headed south on US 385 and there were miles and miles of nothing, interrupted by a crappy little town about every 30 miles.  As I got closer to La Junta, CO, the GPS routed me on state and county roads that zigzagged to my destination.  I had an old red pickup truck with a white hood following me for the last 150 miles - got a little spooked with that, but haven't seen it since.  I thought there would be some elk or other wildlife to see but nothing but cattle, corn, maize, and sunflowers - oh, and a tarantula crossing the road.  I do think Mike was with me today because the Monarch butterflies were fluttering everywhere - unfortunately some are in my grill.  I also felt his presence when I couldn't get a radio station except one AM station that played old country and trucker tunes - he would have loved it.

With the time change (I'm on Mountain time now), I arrived at the KOA around 2:30.

Thursday, October 8.  Today I travelled along some of the original Santa Fe Trail, a major trade route between the US and Mexico.  It made me think about how it must have been back in the 1800s traveling on foot or horseback or by covered wagon - treacherous.  And I was getting tired and restless in my comfy little Toyota pulling my comfy little house behind me.  It was a 7-hour drive and I was so relieved when I got to the KOA in Grants, NM.  At checkin, the friendly gal gave me the "little rig" discount and took $7 off the price.  Frisco got a cookie and so did I.  And to top it off, they had a home-cooked turkey dinner with all of the trimmings plus a few other dinner selections.  I had stopped for a late lunch this afternoon and wasn't too hungry.  I opted for a piece of "fruit of the forest" pie that was excellent - definitely home made and topped with ice cream and delivered to my door.  Yummy!

 This is what I mean by a lot of nothing to see in Colorado.

I have about 5 hours to go tomorrow and I'm looking forward to it - most of it is such a beautiful drive.

Sunday, October 11.  I made it back to my house by 2:00 on Friday afternoon and started the process of unloading.  All is good with my house, although there is a lot of yard cleanup to do.  The back and side yards look like a forest things are overgrown in in need of a good trimming.

I spent the day Saturday cleaning the inside of the trailer and then I was off to the car wash to take care of the exterior - they both had a costing of bugs that took some serious scrubbing effort to clean them off.  I got the trailer tucked back in the storage lot and then learned from Tom that I was in the wrong one, so had to go back this morning and move it over one spot.

Connie had me over for dinner on Saturday night - so good to talk with her again.

I stopped by Nan and Dale's this afternoon to say hello and got to see Monica too.  They are all in preparation for Monica and Loren's wedding this Thursday in Sedona, a small private event.  I will help them celebrate when they have a reception at a later date. 

It feels good to be back here.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

October 1 - 4, 2015, MN

Saturday, October 3.  What a busy week and it has just flown by so quickly.  Ben is SF for his work until tomorrow so my role with the kids has been even greater the last few days.  Also, the twins have both had colds and haven't been feeling up to par - they are much better today.  I took Charlotte to her swim class on Thursday evening and she has improved so much since the last time I went.  Her confidence and skills are much improved. She is also taking ballet and gymnastics now, she seems so grown up at times - until tonight at bedtime when I was asked to sing Hush Little Baby, Rock-a-bye Baby, and Twinkle Twinkle before she nodded off to sleep.

We've been getting ready for the birthday party tomorrow and birthdays are very special around here - that is definitely why I'm still here.  It is 10:20 pm and I am relaxing in bed while Jill is downstairs putting frosting and decorations on 2 lemon blueberry cakes in the shape of butterflies.  I just know that they will be beautiful.

Sunday, October 4.  Happy Birthday, dear brother Bob!  It was a busy day in the Bridge household, my last one here for a while.  I kept an eye on kids while Jill prepared the spaghetti sauce for birthday dinner and then we all headed off to the playground.  Those guys are really getting agile - Charlotte was sliding down the pole and the twins were climbing like crazy.  Good times.

This afternoon I went and had my propane tank filled (no wonder my fridge wouldn't work) and then went to pick Ben up at the airport.  When we got back home, I hooked up and got ready for morning take-off.

The birthday party was lots of fun and I don't think Norah and Camille got it until Jill and Lois came in with the lit birthday cakes and we all sang Happy Birthday.  Their eyes just lit up.  Gifts were all a big hit - trucks, building blocks, outfits, and the stepping stones that I bought.  Dinner was yummy too.  The neighbor, Rosanna and her 4 kids joined us for cake and it really made it feel like a party, then.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September 28 - 30, 2015, MN

Wednesday, September 30.  As usual at Ben's house, there is the hustle and bustle of family life: preschool, playtime, walkabouts, dog walks, meal prep, cleanup, boo boos, and small snippets of R and R. Jill was recently diagnosed with shingles, so she isn't feeling up to par and all 3 little ones had a single red spot on their faces yesterday and the twins both had runny noses.  The question of the morning was - could it be chicken pox (they have all been vaccinated)?  So Jill kept Charlotte home from school just in case.  They are fine and no new spots have appeared so we are keeping our fingers crossed.

The weather has turned - it was 42 degrees this morning.  Brrrrrr!  Daily temps are in the mid-60s this week.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

September 21 - 27, WI, IA, MN

The Monday, September 21.  Pat was off work today and it is the last full day that we could hang out before I leave on Friday.  After a quick errand to Madison, we settled in and did things around the house.  He harvested the last of the green peppers and we mixed up a batch of stuffed peppers for dinner.  They turned out to be yummy, although the recipe called for more meat than most and it was kind of like a meat loaf surrounded by pepper and topped with tomato sauce.  For dessert, we had the pear crisp that I made yesterday and that is decadently sweet but sooooooo delicious.

I took Frisco to the vet this morning and they can't find anything definitive.  They took X-ray's and learned that his heart is slightly enlarged but nothing serious.  After a closer look, his spine has evidence of bridging spondylosis which is common as dogs age - the bone along the spine expands or grows Spurs that can break off and cause pain.  It is in his chest area and also the lumbar region.  She also ran a test for Lyme disease which can cause muscle aches and low energy but that came back negative.  I am waiting for blood test results and will start him on an anti-inflammatory for a couple of weeks.  All that and I am $300 poorer, but he's my little buddy and he is worth every penny.

We watched the second episode of Narcos, a Netflix series about Pablo Escavar and the Columbian drug traffickers - it's pretty graphic and violent - amazing the amount of $$$$ those guys pulled in.

Wednesday, September 23.  I have walked 4 miles the last 2 mornings, yesterday around Stoughton with Dawn and this morning at Token Creek County Park with Jim.  The trail was wet with dew this morning and our shoes were soaked within the first 20 steps.  The damage was done so we just stayed on the trails anyway.  When we got back, we visited with Pete for a while before I had to get back to Stoughton.  I quickly changed my clothes, put some makeup on and headed to Culvers to meet with Judy and Jerri - classmates from SHS.  We had a nice visit.

My walking partner, Dawn, on the bridge over the Yahara River.

I love this old boat house that is framed by the river and the beautiful Weeping Willow Trees.

Yesterday, I ran some errands in Madison and then met Jim, Jim and June in Monona.  The 2 Jims and Mike were childhood friends and all joined the Navy together back in 1964.  To me, it is important to keep in touch with those guys and we had a nice chat.

JD, Me, and Jim

After I went to bed last night, my phone rang and it was Rene, so I picked it up.  She had just learned that Ray's killer was arrested and charged with 2 murders - he was released for lack of evidence on the 10th and killed a 41 year old woman the next day.  What a f€*#ing sleaze-bag.  I really don't want to learn the details.  Poor Ray didn't deserve to die that way.

Friday, September 25.  I finally heard from my brother Russ this afternoon - he is also in pretty dire straits in Cedar Rapids, basically in survival mode.  He is safe, does have a place to stay (doesn't hang out on the streets of downtown CR like Ray did) and has access to a phone now and then.  I made arrangements to meet him this afternoon but we will see.  After his call, Pat and I headed straight to St. Vinnies to get him some clothes and then Pat bought a bunch a of toilet articles for him.

We all went out to the local Mexican restaurant for dinner last night, hung out until bedtime and then said our goodbyes.  I was awake at 5 am this morning so I got in another hug from both Pat and Tracey.  I never did get back to sleep, so I took my shower and left Stoughton by 7:30 with a stop in McFarland to empty my tanks.   It was an easy drive to Cedar Rapids, with lots of stops along the way.  It is evident that fall is approaching quickly but there isn't a lot of color on the hillsides yet.  Perhaps in a week when I start the trek back to Arizona.

Saturday, September 26.  I've been dreading this day, but also am ready to be past it.  Julie, Rene, and I got together this morning and put photos of Ray's life on a board for the funeral home.  While we were doing that, Randy checked Russ into a room at a nearby hotel so he could have a night of comfort by himself.  I then had to run back to Amana where the trailer is parked, so I could get ready and let Frisco out again.

We all met at Cedar Memorial Chapel to remember Ray and say our final goodbyes.  The room was full of family and friends and a few people got up to share their memories and stories.  The takeaway from each one was his smile and how he loved to make others smile; either by doing something nice for them or by doing something silly.  After the service, we congregated in that same room and talked with the many people there - his birth siblings, his foster sister, Joanie, his ex-wife Lisa and their 2 children Anthony and Lindsay and their families, his girlfriend, Rose,  of 25 years and her family, and many friends from his work years and some from the streets.  The stories were all the same - a loyal friend who loved to see people smile.

Ray's life started hurdling when he could not be longer control his drinking.  His relationship fell apart, he couldn't hold a job, and then, two years ago, he ended up on the streets.  Joanie helped him get into treatment programs a couple of times and he cleaned up for short periods but the curse took over again.  Lately, he had been living on the streets of downtown Cedar Rapids and we talked to people from stores that he frequented (for beer or a bite of food), from street friends, from shelter workers, and from food pantries.  He was a well liked guy.  We were invited to a shop that he frequented where a local artist drew a picture of him and folks that knew him wrote their sentiments on the borders.

He was a well liked guy and it is so, so sad that he drifted down that hole of alcoholism and ended up in the hands of a stinking murderer.  Rest in Peace, little brother.  Your spirit is with those who have passed before you - Mom, Dad, Rocco, Tony and Virgene, Kristi.

Sunday, September 27.  After a nice breakfast with Bob and Penny at the Ronneburg House in Amana, I headed north to Minneapolis.  
The drive was only about 4.5 hours but it seemed much longer than that and I saw miles and miles of cornfields along the way.  There still isn't a lot of color in the trees but a few reds and yellows were spotted.

I was welcomed back to Bens by the two little ones watching and jumping in the window.  Camille ran and gave me a big hug but Norah was a little reserved at first.  Charlotte was all smiles when she came back downstairs, saying that she could hear my voice.

We stood out in the alley with the neighbor's watching for the blood moon during the eclipse.  Pretty fascinating stuff - never did see the bright red that some did.

I'm not sure if this link will work - it could be copied and pasted.  It is about my brother, Ray.