Friday, December 30, 2016

December 19 - 31, 2016, AZ

Thursday, December 29.  For the first time in eleven years, I have missed an entire week plus almost another week of writing in this journal.  I'm not even going to try to reconstruct the happenings of the past 2 weeks.  Last week happened to be the week leading up to Christmas and it was pretty social and definitely busy.  I also cleaned 3 houses that week - the money came in handy, as December is a rough month for me financially, just because there is a longer spread between SS checks.

Several of my close friends met at Tom's BBQ for happy hour and dinner on Friday night and had a fun time.  I managed to talk with most of my siblings and my sons to wish them happy holidays.  I'm thankful that I'm not as busy as some people are and yet, I sometimes get to missing the family connection.

Christmas Eve was a rainy, rainy and windy day.  Pat, Roger, and Connie joined me for dinner. Roger bought a prime rib roast and Connie made Shrimp Scampi.  It was a nice evening with great friends.

I learned that my brother-in-law, Hobe is now in hospice care and is not expected to live very long.  He has been on the decline for the last couple of years due to diabetes, a curse that he has had to live with his entire life.  I feel so bad for them.
My friend, Karen, from SC flew in on Christmas Day and we had a nice dinner and conversation catching up on the last year or so since we saw each other.  Her husband, Tom, passed away in October of 2015, so she has purchased a house here in my community and will be relocating some time later this year.  Most of her stay was related to the new house, although we did take a drive out to Tortilla Flat, had pizza at Organ Stop, and happy hour with Pat and Rog at Val Vista Village.  Tuesday was busy with house stuff.  When we did get into the house, she quickly decided that she is happy with her decision to buy, but will definitely do some work on it before she moves in - like painting everything, remodeling the master bathroom, and installing new flooring. She will leave the kitchen as is until she decides exactly what she wants to do with it. I guess I will be the coordinator for some of that work, but she plans another trip out here before I leave in the spring.

Karen, enjoying Organ Stop.

After taking her to the airport this morning, I hooked up the camper and have been getting ready for this week's camping trip with a bunch of friends.  There will be 11 of us and all have campsites pretty close together.  

Saturday, December 31.  We all arrived at McDowell Mountain Regional Park at about the same time on Friday afternoon and it wasn't long before we were sitting in a circle at Chris and Norm's camper.  Since a couple of folks have pizza ovens, frozen pizza was in order for dinner that first night - it was easy and convenient.  Norm got a good campfire going and we sat around until it started to rain at about 8:30 and it has continued to rain off and on throughout the weekend.  I don't believe that I have ever seen 3 continuous days of rain here in Arizona during the 7 years that I have lived here.  And it just happens to come on a weekend of camping.

I made biscuits and gravy for breakfast this morning and we all gathered at Gerry and Jeannie's motor home to eat - we had all eleven of us in there at one time.  It brought back fond memories of entertaining when we had ours.

We have managed to get a few dog walks and a nice hike in between raindrops today.  In spite of the weather and during a dry period this afternoon, we pulled off a delicious lobster tail feast and all managed to dine together.  Some had lobster and steak and we all brought side dishes - au gratin potatoes, broccoli/cauliflower salad, bread, and desserts.  Once the mess was cleaned up,  sat around for a couple of hours before folks started drifting off and calling it a night. The rain started again around 10:30 and continued throughout the night.

Friday, December 16, 2016

December 12-18, 2016, AZ

Thursday, December 15.  The weather this week has been beautiful, mid to upper 70s during the day.  I've been keeping the furnace at 62 during the night and it hasn't even come on, although I have been warming it up a bit in the morning.  Starting tomorrow, the temps will drop down in the 60s during the day.

My Christmas shopping is done.  I have 2 beautiful boxes of oranges ready to go north to my son's but I'm holding off until Saturday to ship them.  They are getting frigid winter weather with heavy snow followed by single digit temps and below zero wind chills.  I was just dreading the long lines at the post office, checked online and learned that I could print the labels right here in the comfort of my home and just drop the packages off when I'm ready.  Yay!

I had a house guest on Wednesday when Pat and Rog dropped Louie off for the day, as they were taking a bus trip to Prescott.  He and Frisco are good buds, so there was no problem there at all.  I spent the day giving my house a good cleaning, much needed.  I think I'm a believer when they say that if your job is to do a certain task, then you don't want to do that task much at home and I think I have been slacking on the house cleaning activities at home.  The wood furniture all got a good treatment with lemon oil and even the window sills got vacuumed off.  It's looking and smelling pretty good around here.

There was a happy hour gathering at Nando's on Monday night, about 14 people got together  to celebrate some recent birthdays and anniversaries.  It was a great time and the margaritas tasted really good, especially since I wasn't the designated driver.

The last HCC board meeting for 2016 was held on Tuesday and we amended the by-laws and elected a new President and Vice President for next year. It's going to be interesting and I'm hoping for some positive changes around here and maybe even a younger perspective at activities and involvement.  We are responsible for the activities around here and Kathy does a great job at it.  There was good discussion with the exception of some very heated exchanges and even name calling at one point - come on, folks, were adults around here.

I got some new photos of the kids this week.

This is so darned sweet. They are always loving on each other.

After Charlotte's school performance.

Saturday, December 17.  Fish fry last night at Tom's BBQ was excellent and I think it might be the best that I've had here in the valley.  It was good a enough to take home for me to eat rather than giving it to Frisco. Now, that is saying a lot.

Today, Tom (next door neighbor) and I went to visit another neighbor, Kirk, who has been in the hospital for a month now and is facing another 4-5 weeks, followed by a recovery/rehab program either from his home or from another facility.  He was seriously injured as a child and lost the use of his legs.  Due to infection earlier this year, he has had to have several surgeries to remove some of the femur on both legs.  The guy is in exceptional spirits and has more determination to recover and get back to his independent life than anyone I have ever met.  I took him popsicles and some of my potato soup - just got a text saying he really liked the soup.

I finally did some of my baking - several small loaves of Cranberry bread to give as gifts. Feeling relieved to have that out of the way. Gifts and cards have all been mailed - I'm pretty close to being finished with Christmas preparation.

Sunday, December 18.  Connie and I went to see the movie, "Loving", the story of Mildred (black) and Richard (white) Loving, a couple who grew up in a mixed neighborhood in Virginia.  It was nothing for them to fall in love and, naturally, get married when she became pregnant.  Unfortunately, Virginia had a law that didn't recognize their marriage and prohibited them from living together in that state.  The ACLU became involved and, after several years, their case went to the Supreme Court and they won.  

I knew the story after hearing Nancy Griffith's song, The Loving Kind and also read about It when Mildred died back in 2008.  It touched my heart.  Another sad but true story that has you scratching your head and wondering how something like this could ever happen in this country.  You love who you love and it doesn't matter where they come from, what they look like, what sex they are, or anything else - why are we so closed minded and prejudiced?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

December 5 - 11, 2016, AZ

Sunday, December 11.  I guess I'm forgetting to write in my journal lately.  It's been a busy week but not a lot to write about.  

Pat and I had dinner at Waldo's BBQ on Thursday, then went to Castillo Nuevo to meet up with 
Chris and Norm and their friends to plan our New Years campout at McDowell Mountain Regional Park.  We will occupy 6 campsites and tonight we planned our New 
Years Eve dinner of appetizers, Grilled lobster tails, side dishes and dessert and who is bringing what.  We will have pizza the first night and one communal breakfast but all other meals are whatever you want to have.  It's going to be a fun experience, one that I have never done before, so I'm looking forward to it.

Arlene called me on Friday morning to see if I would like her ticket to the Hale 
Theater's production of A Christmas Carol and it took about 2 seconds to say yes.  She has been hit hard with some type of flu bug and couldn't go.  Around 2:00, her daughter, Sharla called to see if I knew anyone who would like her ticket - she was taking Arlene to urgent care and wouldn't be using her ticket.  So, Patty, joined me and we joined up with Marilyn and Karin, James and Betty, and enjoyed a wonderful production of this old classic Christmas tale.

This photo was borrowed for yelp.

Saturday was my community's bake sale, payment of annual dues, and election of area representatives. I had the ballots ready to go and we stuck around until about 11:00 after all votes had been cast.

After that, Connie, Jan, Cookie and I all went to an estate sale and a consignment shop, then stopped for a burrito before heading back home.  I was ready to spend some time at home and to pay some attention to my little dog who has been left home alone quite a bit lately.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

December 1 - 4, 2016, AZ

Sunday, December 4.  It is my brother, Russell's 51st birthday today and I hope he is able to find some comfort and joy in the day.  Unfortunately, he is one of those lost, homeless souls living in Cedar Rapid, IA.  Family members hear from him now and then and are willing to help, but unwilling to give him a home unless he wakes up and attempts to fight to overcome alcoholism on his own - something that none of us can do for him.  The latest that I heard was that he found work and a room to rent.

I went with Pat and Roger to see 2 tiny houses that were set up at Viewpoint Resort yesterday.  There was a long line of people waiting to get inside and it took us an hour to work our way to the front and then 5 minutes for the grand tour.  They are cute as can be, but way overpriced at $73,000 for about 250 square feet of living space and the bed is in the loft - not a good design for seniors.  In fact, many would even have a hard time going up the 3 steps to get in the door.  I think a travel trailer in the $20 range would be a much better option.

Last night, Pat and I went to my niece, Monica's house in Peoria for a Christmas Ornament Exchange, some yummy food and drink, and an evening with many sweet young ladies.  The drive is long, an hour each way but  made it and had a wonderful time.