Monday, December 25, 2017

December 25 - 31, 2017, AZ

Wednesday, December 27.  Christmas Day on Monday was very nice and relaxing.  The temps got up to the low 70s and it was quite pleasant for our morning walk with Frisco.  Tom went to visit an old friend who he hadn't seen in a long time for a couple of hours.  I designated the time as 'ME' time and lounged in a tub of hot water and soaked away the time.

When Tom got back, we headed to Nan and Dale's house to celebrate and have dinner with them.  Dale's son, Dylan and his fiancé Hayley, Monica and Loren and Loren's Mom, Lindsay and her SO, Ned also joined us.  Before dinner, we played a round of "Cards Against Humanity", a rather raunchy but fun game.


Dinner was yummy - ham, potatoes, maple dill carrots, green bean casserole, Monica's homemade croissants, and Loren's Creme Brûlée.  Delicious!  Afterwards, it was gift opening time - kind of wished I would have left before that started - mostly a family thing.   All in all, it was a good day!

Sunday, December 31.  Well here it is, the last day of 2017 and overall the year has been quite good for me.  A lot of changes occurred but I have adjusted well to the instability - moving to an apartment in Minneapolis, moving out of that apartment again, starting a partnership relationship with Tom and making some decisions about our future together.

The week was pretty low key - I worked on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Tom and I went out for tacos at Sharkeys on Tuesday and we met up with Pat and Roger and Chris and Norm for fish at Simpletons on Friday night.

We checked out an estate sale in Scottsdale on Saturday and when that was kind of a bust, we went to Mesa Marketplace and strolled through the rows and rows of booths stuffed with Chinese knockoffs, kitchen gadgets, shoes, luggage, rugs, and lots of other stuff.  We bought a couple of small things but mostly just browsed.

Tonight was the New Years Eve party at the clubhouse that had a quite small group of folks, the smallest at an event that I've been to for quite a while. Several of my friends didn't come and that might have made a difference, but it was still a really good time.  We toasted the New York New Years at 10:00 and again at midnight for the Arizona New Years.  The group of revelers got smaller as the night went on, but we endured.  Virgil played lots of good dance tunes and we had a really nice time. Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

December 18 - 24, 2017, AZ

Saturday, December 23.  Again, it's been almost a week since I have updated.  It has been a week with a couple of cleaning jobs, one of which I got an extra $50 payment.  Nice folks - then I usually end up doing a few extras for them like computer help and pounding in stakes for an outdoor Christmas display - not really deserving of a big bonus though.

Tom and I got back from our camping trip last Sunday afternoon.  It was cold and wet packing up - 38 degrees when we got up and it rained through the night - I'm not complaining - it is really needed around here.  We got back around 2:30 and got the trailer unpacked and laundry started.

I spent Monday finishing up with getting gifts mailed off to MN and WI.

This year's e-card.

I had cleaning jobs on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a much needed haircut on Wednesday afternoon.  My final HCC meeting as secretary (a 3-year stint) was on Thursday afternoon. I was happy to hear that a replacement was found for those duties, as well as my duties as official shopper, responsible for keeping the clubhouse supplies well stocked (done for the last 6 years).  Tom has been acting as an area representative for the past 2 years and will no longer be doing that job either.  We're retired from Highlands jobs!

Thursday was the day to prepare our Christmas gifts of Apple Butter that were going to our local friends.  The batch turned out excellent!

I got photos and videos of the grandkids performing in their Holiday concerts and was sooooo moved.  Naturally, I have watched them over and over during the past few days.

Last night, Tom and I went out for a very nice Christmas dinner (decided not to exchange gifts) at Rodizio Brazilian Steak House.  We started with the salad bar and were nearly full before we even got any sides.  These entrees were unlimited and the meats are served at your table - servers with swords full of grilled meats (lamb, steak, sausages, glazed, Parmesan crusted and bacon wrapped chicken) that were sliced as ordered.  Also, a server came by with grilled pineapple that was so sweet and yummy.  A very nice dinner!

As we were leaving the restaurant, we saw a strange light in the sky, it looked much like a UFO or a meteor.  What on earth?  I wasn't able to get a photo but found one online.  It was the SpaceX satellite that was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base north of Santa Barbara, CA. The Iridium-4 is the fourth set of 10 satellites in a series of 75 total satellites that SpaceX will launch for its global satelllite program. Phoenix fire department reported, "We were told it was indeed the SpaceX Rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base."  I feel fortunate that I was able to see it.

When we got back home, we dressed in warm layers and headed out for our nightly walk with Frisco.  We wanted to see if we agreed with the Christmas Lights contest winners - we both would have chosen other entries.  We also wanted to see Santa and his Mrs who were roaming around the community between 6 and 8 pm.  It was our HCC president, Dave, and his wife, Debby.  We could hear them a few blocks away, having a jolly old time as they stopped here and there and wished folks a Merry Christmas.  I think they must have gotten an early gift of something with alcohol in it.  They were definitely having a good time.

Sunday, December 24.  It was a nice day of several phone conversations, a FaceTime one with Ben's family as they were traveling to Defiance, IA to Great Grandma Quinn's house, some nice walks through the neighborhood, and a fun gathering with friends at Arlene's house this evening.

Since moving in with Tom, I have realized that his oven just isn't right. I burned the pumpkin pie that I made for Thanksgiving.  That led to some experimenting to determine the problem and we were successful in getting a few things to turn out right - pizza, a couple of batches of cookies, and today, a mincemeat pie. Unfortunately, the traditional cranberry cake that I made burned to a crisp on the top and was undone in the middle. Grrrrrr!

Christmas Eve at Arlene's house was lots of fun, as usual.  We played the Right/Left Christmas game and I was able to find a pretty cool Detective Christmas story to read.  The food was yummy - chili and cornbread plus lots of other goodies.  Speaking of goodies, we had a goodie exchange instead of other types of gifts.

When we got back home and I was changing my earrings while standing at the bathroom counter and I dropped one of my diamond earrings down the sink drain.  It was a diamond stud that I have been wearing almost constantly since Mike gave them to me for Christmas about 20 years ago. I could see it in there, kind of resting on the stopper and I was able to grab it with a tweezer but then dropped it again.  I told Tom about it and he took the drain apart and recovered it for me the next morning.  What I guy!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

December 11-17, 2017, AZ

I realized this week that I haven't written anything on this blog since Thanksgiving.  There really hasn't been a lot to write about until this week.  

Back on December 1, Patty and I joined Monica, Nan, Lindsey, and her girlfriends at her annually Christmas ornament exchange of some lively conversation, laughs, and yummy food.  She lives an hour away, so I resisted having more than one glass of Sangria and we left by 10:00.  It was a great time!

Tom and I joined Pat and Roger for a happy hour one afternoon.

The four of us hiked the trail along the Salt River at Blue Point last Friday since the temps had dropped and it was cool enough for a hike. This is one of my favorites, although it is only about a half-mile long.  We still were up for more hiking when we finished, so we went down to the Butcher Jones trailhead and walks along the river some.  A lovely hike it was.

Thursday, December 14. This week, we have reservations at Patagonia Lake State Park for a few days and we met Pat and Roger there on Wednesday afternoon.  This is beautiful country that I have not been to before.  We're told that the place is really hopping during the summer (one of the few lakes in the area), but at this time of the year it's pretty sparse.

We provided breakfast of broccoli quiche and fruit salad this morning and then went hiking on the birding trail along the Sonoita Creek - a very popular birding destination.

Friday, December 15.  Pat and Rog took off this morning and Tom, Frisco, and I headed to the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area after getting a permit at the Visitors Center at the campground.  We started at the Sonoita Creek Trail, connected to the Cottonwood Loop Trail at the trail crossing, and finally the Black Hawk Trail that took us back to the western edge of Patagonia Lake and the spillway that went back to the parking lot.  The first part of the trail was quite narrow and pretty rocky but very doable.  The hillsides were dotted with Mesquite Forest and many grazing cattle.  At one point, there were several standing right on the trail, staring at us.  We had to make some noise to get them to move out of the way - they were quite docile and it seemed like they were quite comfortable sharing their space with us.

When we got to the Cottonwood Trail, we walked along what was formerly a train track for the New Mexico/Arizona Railroad line that once went right through the center of the lake.  Torrential rains during monsoon season destroyed the railhead and it later was dammed to form the lake and the state park.  The trail at this point followed the creek and was shaded by many huge Cottonwood trees.

The trail crossed the creek and we were hiking along the north side - to the south were huge rocky hills that formed a pretty steep canyon.  There was very little water in the creek.  Frisco was starting to get slow and tired during the last half-mile of the hike and I carried him for part of the way.  He has never been carried before, fought it for a little bit but then settled right in and enjoyed the ride.  By then we were back at the spillway that led us back to the parking lot.  Along the spillway were 30 some cattle lying down and enjoying the sunny afternoon.  The hike was a little over 3 miles.  We all took a nap when we got back to the trailer.

It's gotten cold, so we didn't even have a fire this afternoon.  Instead, we stayed in and watched "The Ranch" on Netflix.

Saturday, December 16.  After a walk with Frisco this morning, Tom and I headed to Patagonia for breakfast.  It's a tiny little town and the drive-through took us about 5 minutes to see the whole town.  We went to the Wild Horse Restaurant that is part of the historic Stage Stop Inn and had a very nice breakfast, then browsed through a couple of art galleries/gift shops.

This evening, we took an hour long twilight tour of the lake on a pontoon boat.  Gilbert was our tour guide and he really knew a lot about the area and pointed out some very interesting areas.  We pulled into Long Cove and he pointed out the plants growing on the south shore with the hillside facing north were different than the desert plants that grew in the south-facing hillside on the north shore.  It was very quiet and serene in there.  The most interesting birds that were spotted were Cormorants, Great Blue Herons, and Night Herons.

The tour lasted about an hour and then we docked in time to watch the sunset.  It was well worth the $5.00 admission.  Entertaining, educational, and relaxing.