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.