Friday, January 31, 2014

An Early Trip to Mexico

Aristocrat Travel Trailers

Another Memory from Son Sean's Questions

Back in the early sixties, we bought an Aristocrat trailer for camping. One day, we got a flier in the mail advertising an escorted tour of Aristocrat trailers to Mexico. Being adventurous, Forry and I and our, at that time, two kids signed up to go. The trip would involve a month in Mexico during December. We were not the most popular people with either set of our parents as we -- and the grandchildren -- would not be home for Christmas!

We left home the last week of November and returned the first week in January. We had a International Travelall that we used to pull our Aristocrat. We put an old crib mattress and some quilts in the back and that's where the kids spent most of their time playing. (Definitely pre-car seats and seat belts!) We met up with the group of seventeen trailers in California and crossed the border at Tijuana.

We were escorted throughout the entire trip by the Mexican Green Fleet. Equipped with all kinds of tools and extra gasoline, we had a green jeep in front of and in back of our caravan. We traveled all the way down to the Mexican border with Guatemala, staying at campgrounds all along the way. We had a motorcycle police escort into Mexico City. We were surprised to see guards armed with machine guns in banks and stores (and were advised to quickly hit the floor if anything happened...). We traveled from Mexico City down to Acapulco where we had a chance to go diving in the bay (Forry ate his first ever -- and only -- raw oyster!)

If I remember correctly, there were seventeen trailers on the trip. There were a couple of other families with children, but I think Sean was the youngest. Mexicans used to follow us down the street and would reach out to touch Daughter Mary Mae's long white-blonde hair. The kids were actually great ice breakers and even with the language barrier, we had many interchanges with Mexican families.

It was a wonderful trip, full of new experiences and sights. We met some wonderful people and enjoyed the hospitality of the Aristocrat Corporation. The next summer, another Aristocrat Caravan, touring the Northwest, unexpectedly pulled into the ranch yard with a dozen trailers. They spent the night circled in our dooryard. Such fun to have a surprise visit.

I got a chuckle when I looked up Aristocrat Trailers on the Internet.  It turns out they were manufactured between 1956 and 1974, with the company folding then said to be due to the shortage of gasoline. Now they are considered heirloom trailers and people are restoring any of them that can be found!

Thursday, January 30, 2014


I had a very hard time getting going this morning. I just didn't seem to want to wake up. My usual first cup of coffee just wasn't doing its job! I had absolutely no energy and felt like I should have just gone back to bed and slept for another couple of hours.

By afternoon, I was finally with it. I got three loads of clothes washed and hung outside. But, that's about all I got done. Oh, I did do two more months of the ranch books. I guess my day wasn't a total loss after all...

It got a little bit breezy this afternoon, so I had to go sit outside to read so that I could keep an eye on my clothes. I didn't want them them to blow off the clothes rack after all. The hummingbirds continue to use the feeders. You can hear the whirring of their wings before you see them. They also make a funny high-pitched cry - especially when they fly up into the trees behind Auntie Violet. I think it's the warning they give to try to scare off the other males.

I had never watched The Big Bang Theory until we were at our friends Juni and Tom's in Albuquerque last spring. They had recorded several episodes and I got hooked on it. It's one of the few shows that actually makes me laugh. Something about it just tickles my funny bone. I suppose it wouldn't have been so funny tonight if it weren't for the commercials that James Earl Jones has been doing recently mocking texting... Anyway, it was great!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Just Another Day ....

There's not a lot that sets today apart. It was a semi-busy day. I added a couple more months to the ranch books to the ones I had done in January and February of last year. I did one load of laundry, a load of towels. that Forry hung outside. I played some Words With Friends and read a couple of books.

I pre-ordered a book I've been hearing about for some time, Jacob's Choice, Return to Northkill, Book 1, by Ervin B Stutzman. The book is due out on February 8th. Instead of ordering it as an e-book, I actually ordered it as a print book so that I can donate it to the church library after I have read it. Set in the mid-1700s, the book tells the story an early Amish settlement. I have heard Erv talking about the research he has done for this book and I'm looking forward to reading it.

I didn't feel so bad about talking about the glorious weather we've been having after my friend Kathy posted a picture on Facebook this morning of a blooming tree in the parking area of her brother's apartment in Phoenix. It was a beautiful day with just a few high clouds skittering across the sky. The clouds made for this lovely sunset --

I took this picture looking out towards the west from the doorstep of Auntie Violet. Can't complain much about a day that ends with so much beauty!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I'm Done!

Well, I'm done with our personal stuff anyway (I've still got the ranch stuff to do, but that's for another day.). It felt good to print out a "Tax Related Items - 2013" Report for our accountant. As usual when I reviewed what we had done with our dollars this year, I wondered if we were doing as well as we could. We have always been glad to donate dollars to those who are less fortunate (now, that's a cliche!), but is it enough? We've always figured a 10% tithe is a starting point, a floor, not a ceiling.

I have noticed that the older I get, the more cynical I am. I am not very quick to donate to unknown causes or those who spend huge amounts of donated dollars on salaries or TV campaigns. I tend to look at percentages of donated income that actually goes to the people or causes the agency purports to help. I have a great deal of difficulty looking at financial statements that show six plus figure salaries. I've also noticed that we tend to donate to causes where we know and trust the people involved. I just hope this kind of scrutiny doesn't translate into stinginess...

Perhaps I've spent too much time dealing with figures lately. In addition to the bookwork I've been doing, I had a conference call this afternoon with the Audit Committee for the Executive Board of Mennonite Church USA. We were reviewing the official audit of last year's financials. It was an interesting phone call. We had people calling in from Kansas, Texas, Pennsylvania as well as Indiana. Everyone just had to make a comment about how cold it was where they were. I almost felt guilty saying it was 73 degrees here!

It is only the end of January, but I am beginning to notice more plants that budding or starting to bloom around here. And, my new baseball scorebook arrived in the mail today. (I enjoy keeping score at the games -- it helps me to stay focused and I like to be able to look back at previous innings to see what a player had done the last times they were at bat.) The schedule for the Spring Training Cactus League here in Arizona is out. I've been trying to plan our attendance at games so that we manage to get to all of the ballparks in the area. We're planning to follow the Mariners from park to park.

I am definitely starting to think SPRING!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sticking to the Grindstone...

I've been plugging away at getting last year's bookwork done. I've made it through September which means I've only got three months to go. Then the ranch books are waiting their turn...

I almost feel guilty about working with all of the windows and doors open and the fans on when I listen to the news about weather in the rest of the country. I literally shiver when I watch the horrible scenes of blizzards and accidents. I'm just very glad we are not there.

We stayed up late last night watching the Grammy Award show. Forry commented that it was probably good for us to watch something like that every once and a while just so we would know what was what on the music scene. I do know that the only music I really recognized was that which was country. I've enjoyed the shows on TV today talking about last night, especially the discussions about the fashions. Even though we were watching it live, we missed a lot of the details.

I read something in Froggy Donna's blog today that I really like. She said that she and Stu get up in the morning "when they wake up." That is so true. We may be up by eight or we may be up after nine or even close to ten. After years of subjection to tyranny of the alarm clock, it is nice to know that there is no reason for us to get up early. I do enjoy getting up an hour or so before Forry, just to have some quiet time before the TV comes on.

We don't have much planned for the rest of the week. I'm just hoping that I can stick to what I've been doing and get the rest of the bookwork done!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ode to Deacon

I grew up with dogs on the farm and after we were married, Forry and I had a succession of terriers that grew up with our kids. But I've never had a lap dog or one that was really a house pet. Our dogs were farm dogs and mostly they lived outside. They were just part of the farm landscape.

Then we went to Alaska for a National Rural Health Association convention in Anchorage. We made plans to spend a couple of weeks after the convention traveling with our friends, Gail and Danny as well as a third friend who had lived and worked in Alaska as a pediatric physician with the military. Danny was our tour guide planning most of our stops and stays. One of the places we visited was with a man who raced a dog team in the Iditarod. It was late May and the snow was gone, but we visited his facility. His dogs were housed outside, chained to little dog houses, spaced far enough apart so that they could not fight with each other. Gail felt sorry for them and I swear, she managed to pet and hug every one of them. It made us all a bit nervous and even the owner suggested she might want to be a bit more careful approaching strange dogs.

A few nights later, we stayed at some remote cabins. The owner and his wife had a beautiful husky that was chained outside of the office. We were all waiting outside the next morning, eating muffins and waiting for Danny to come back from getting the car gassed. Gail was petting the husky, getting down on her knees to hug him when he panicked and attacked her. She was badly bitten and clawed on the head and neck. We were over 200 miles from the nearest emergency room and were unable to arrange for a helicopter. We had a nightmare ride to the hospital in Fairbanks with my heavily bleeding friend. (Another long story about my nursing experience very quickly coming back to me; Forry's speeding trip over frost-heaved roads; a visiting on-call doctor from Anchorage who did an excellent job repairing Gail's injuries and her refusal to have the dog put down.)

Anyway, as an aftermath of all of this, I realized I had become very frightened of dogs, especially big dogs. When we were out walking or hiking and met up with someone with a dog, I would quickly move without conscious thought to the other side of Forry away from the dog. If I would see a dog, I would cross the street. Not a very good way to live...

Sister Sherry has always had companion dogs. I honestly cannot remember her without one or two or more. When her Anatolian Sheepdog was getting old, she looked for a large quiet dog as an eventual replacement. She ended up with a Mastiff puppy named Deacon.

Deacon was a big dog, even as a puppy. However, he thought he was a lap dog. And he seemed to love everyone -- and he just assumed everyone loved him. When we went to visit Sister Sherry, there was no ignoring him. Unlike Peekaboo, the sheepdog, who didn't pay any attention to me, Deacon wanted to be friends! He also loved water and taking a shower. What do you do when a dog, who already weighed close to a hundred pounds, wants to take a shower with you -- and just comes on in? What do you with a dog, who when he sees you reading on the couch, just climbs up and puts his head in your lap and reads with you? How can you be frightened of big dogs when they act like that?

Deacon was a trusting friendly dog. I sat with him on a blanket in the farmhouse when the vet came, put him under and neutered him. He didn't even hold a grudge, still acted like everyone was his friend. Deacon was a farm dog. I don't know that he ever left the farm. He was my sister's guard dog and befriended a succession of mastiffs that came to stay or to visit. I brought him a Margarita collar from Florida and made him a succession of scarves for him to wear on holidays. No doubt about it, Deacon removed the fear.


One day last year, Deacon jumped off of something and tore the dewclaw on his front foot. Like sometimes happens with big dogs, it never did heal and eventually developed into a malignancy of the bone.

It's taken me a while to write this tribute to Deacon. It's hard to imagine that the passing of a dog I only saw a couple of times a year could have such an impact on me. But I truly feel that I have lost a friend. I will always owe a debt of gratitude to this big dog with an even bigger heart -- and perhaps an even larger debt to my sis who shared him with me.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Art and Jewelry Show in Carefree

We should have gone yesterday, but the weather was so nasty (chilly, overcast and gusty winds), so we decided to wait until today. We went to the Native American Art and Jewelry Show in Carefree's City Square this afternoon. Because it was Saturday, it was very crowded. There was hardly room to walk through the booths. And there was not even a place to stand and watch the dancing, let alone sit down!

For some reason, Forry has taken a fancy to some of the heavy silver and gold bracelets that we've seen. He saw one he liked last week when we were in Cave Creek, but didn't quite take the plunge. Today he found this gorgeous one. It has feathers symbolizing life and longevity; circles of life for balance; and raindrops for abundance.

The creator of the bracelet is Justin Morris, a Navajo craftsman. He is very proud of his work and invited us to come see him at the fair in Fountain Hills in a few weeks so that he can check how it is adjusting to Forry's wrist.

This town square and park is an interesting area with several water features and a variety of plantings. I have to chuckle at the styrofoam cups protecting the tips of the cacti from frost. These are high-class -- they've been painted green to blend....

This huge lizard is a playground slide! I think it's supposed to represent a Gila Monster, but that didn't seem to faze the kids!

We stopped and bought a hot fry bread covered with powdered sugar to share. It was good, but still didn't compare to the ones my friend Tina makes!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Forty Years Ago...

I don't remember dates. Never have. I can tell you what year my kids were born and when our wedding anniversary is, but that's about it. I can sort of figure out sort of when something happened by approximately how old our children were, but that's all.

Then there's our Son Sean. Part of his autism spectrum is an uncanny memory for dates and how old he was when things happened. Today he commented on the phone that it had been forty years since the plane crash on our ranch airstrip when he was in the fourth grade. Then proceeded to ask all kinds of questions about what had happened.

Forry had a series of airplanes during our younger years. He started out with a Cherokee 180; had a workhorse Cherokee Six that we traveled back and forth to Baja with the kids; and later had a twin-engine Aztec.

We had returned from a trip to Mexico with the Aztec (we were going to Colombia with our Claassen friends, but that trip's another story)  and landed back at the FBO (Fixed Base Operator) in Spokane. Forry had been griping to the guys in Spokane that we had bought the plane from that he thought the brakes were not as good as they should be, but they kept telling him it was a much heavier airplane then he was used to...

Forry had not landed the Aztec at the ranch airstrip since he had bought it. The plan was for Joe, the FBO operator and flight instructor, to bring the plane down to the ranch. Then Forry and Joe would make some short field touch-and-goes on the ranch strip, then he would take Joe back to Spokane and then bring the plane back home. Joe hadn't been an FBO operator for long and was in the midst of the biggest airplane sale he'd yet had. His wife said later that he also hadn't been feeling real well that morning.

Forry drove the pickup to the middle of the strip by the trees when we heard Joe fly over while I watched from across the creek by the house. Joe came in a bit hot; realized the plane wasn't braking as quickly as he thought it should; trying steering it up the hillside a bit to slow it; then put power to the engines and attempted to go around. Unfortunately, he didn't have enough runway left and smacked into the ditch at the end of the runway.

Forry came tearing back down the runway in the pickup and I came across the creek at the same time. We tried to open the cockpit door, but it was locked from the inside. We could hear Joe mumbling inside and knew he was alive. Forry managed to get his finger-tips into the crack at the top of the door and literally yanked the door off (you've heard of adrenaline rushes!).  We managed to get his seatbelt unfastened and drug him out of the airplane onto the wing and then onto the ground. As we hit the ground, the aircraft exploded.

Joe broke his arm; he had burns on his legs where his acrylic pants had melted from the burning gas and several wounds on his face where he had smashed into the instrument panel (Aztecs did not have shoulder harnesses, just seat belts). He recovered well and actually gave Forry the flight test for his instrument rating a year or so later.

I credit -- or blame -- that plane crash for my involvement in politics. I made such a stink about the delay in getting an ambulance out to the ranch (we actually hauled Joe into the hospital in Ritzville in the back of the Deputy Sheriff's station wagon) that I ended up running for a hospital district board commissioner's seat at the next election...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I Think It's Thursday...

It continues to amaze me how easily I lose track of days. When you are either going to school, sending children to school, or going to work, you tend to be very aware of what day of the week it is. You looked forward to weekends; to the day you got to go to the library; what day a report was due; what day was payday; what day your vacation started; which nights that nasty doctor was the on-call doctor; what day your flight left; etc. etc.

When you are retired, especially when you are living in an RV and are usually parked in an RV park where there are not children who attend school; the days all blend together. If it wasn't for Sunday worship services, there would be no demarcation of days whatsoever.

I've been working on my annual task of entering all of our financial data into Quicken and QuickBooks so that it can be sent to our accountant. Ever year I swear I'm going to keep it up on a monthly basis and every year I don't manage to do it. I did do January of 2013 at the end of that month and all it did was mess me up because I didn't remember that I had done it and started re-entering it all. It took me a while to figure out why I had duplicates...

The grounds crew has been busy spraying the gravel areas of the RV park the last few days. We were asked to move everything (chairs, tables, etc) off of the gravel and onto the paved pads so that they could spray the weeds. From the drab brown of the grounds when we first arrived, it's interesting to see how green things have gotten. Some of the weeds are actually tall enough to be starting to bloom. Alas, they will all soon be gone.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Trip to Town

Since we got side-tracked last night with the delightful dinner we had at Sofrita, we ended up going back into town for groceries today. I also needed to go back to Office Max to return the defective ink cartridge I bought last week. I was not looking forward to that! But I had the receipt and the young woman at the front checkout station was very nice about. She told me to go ahead and get another cartridge and then come back.

I decided while I was there I would pick up a multi-color cartridge as well. So I got it and another black one and went back to the check-out. Not only did I get credit for the defective cartridge, but credit for the entire original double pack. Besides which, she apologized for the inconvenience it caused me...! Now, that's good customer service!

From there we went on to Safeway for our groceries. I was looking for pink grapefruit, but couldn't find any. One of their ever-present stockers asked what I was looking for and immediately went to the back and brought out a box. Later I was looking for some Minute Maid Light Lemonade, but the spot on the shelf was empty. When I asked a clerk, he went to the back and looked, but came back and apologized, saying they didn't have any more, but he had checked and Coca Cola would be making a delivery tomorrow morning.

There were a lot of people in the store today. When I got to the check-out, the stands had people lined up two and three deep. I was waiting in line when a young man came and opened up another stand. His hands moved almost faster than I could see -- even the bagger commented she couldn't keep up with him.

Quick, efficient, pleasant helpful staff -- that's all I saw today. A good experience all around.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


One of the lovely gifts we received for Christmas was a pair of gift cards to a Tapas Restaurant in Fountain Hills called Sofrita. I'm not sure how Daughter Mary Mae found this place on the internet, but it's a goodie! We decided we would go there tonight before we went to get groceries.

This is probably the best guacamole we've had in a long time. Lots of chunks of avocados and then topped with toasted pumpkin seeds and served with hot housemade tortilla chips and a side of salsa -- delicious!

This is an interesting place. There are as many seats outside on the patio as there are inside. The menu is mostly "small plates" which is ideal for us. We had the guacamole; bacon wrapped dates; street corn elote with queso blanco; and fried calamari served with sweet coconut lime and mustard aioli. It was just enough to leave plenty of room for us to share a piece of coconut flan.

We were full enough that we decided we would head on home and leave grocery shopping for another day.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King Jr Day

Dr. King was assassinated in 1968. It was a tough decade for our country during which President Kennedy and then Robert Kennedy had been assassinated as well. As Forry and I have talked about it all, it reminds us that this was the era we lived our young adulthood through. Some of it seemed quite remote to us as we watched it all on television. Some of it seemed very close to home. And none of it seems to have happened over fifty years ago!

I had no idea how the rest of the world was perceiving the United States until we were in Costa Rica a couple of years later. We had gone on a Flying Farmer trip through Central America led by Hoyt Walkup. (Hoyt Walkup, a Flying Farmer, was a flight instructor at the University of Oklahoma and had taught many of the pilots in the Air Forces of the Central American countries.) If I remember right, there were seventeen small airplanes including our Piper 180.

The Costa Ricans treated us royally (after they got over their disappointment that Forry, with a German name like Hardt, did not speak German). As we were eating dinner one evening, the conversation turned to a discussion of democracies. The Costa Ricans expressed their concern about how long the democracy in the United States would be able to continue given all the mayhem, murder and bloodshed!

I can remember being totally shocked. How could anyone think about my country like that? It certainly raised my level of consciousness about the rest of the world and the US. That's when I started paying more attention to world affairs...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Keiko San Does a Three Peat

I am so thankful for electronics this weekend! Sister Sherry's three year old mastiff, Keiko San has been participating in the Dog Show at the Portland (Oregon) Expo Center this weekend. Sherry and her friend Kathy have had an incredible weekend. Kathy is a photographer par excellence and has been sharing pictures of the shows on Facebook. Sister Roxy and her husband Rich went down on Saturday to watch the show and have also been sharing pictures.

This is the first day of the show when Keiko took the Best of Breed in a large class of mastiffs.

He proceeded to win Best of Breed on Saturday as well and made the cut in the afternoon with a class of Working Dogs. Keiko got his Championship Points last fall (we got to watch him show in the Tri-Cities) and is now working on his Grand Champion points. This picture is from this morning's show where he again took Best of Breed.

The fellow showing him in the picture above is the main handler that Sherry works with. He has assistants that work with him. This lady in the pink suit was his handler at today's show. Each day has had a different judge. It's nice to know that they all agree he's an excellent specimen. Rich made and posted a video of this morning's competition, so we all got to watch!

The judges all seem impressed by Keiko's muscle tone. He spends hours at the farm playing soccer with his bowling balls. At about 235 pounds, you really don't want to get in front of him when he's chasing a ball! He's definitely a gentle giant and will lay quietly at Sherry's feet and let anyone pet him.

Between updates from the Dog Show, we were watching football today. It's now official that the Seattle Seahawks will be playing the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. It's nice to end the day watching bull-riding however!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Stagecoach Village

The Native American Art Show and Sale we went to yesterday was held at a shopping plaza called Stagecoach Village. It's part of the Cave Creek complex along with the towns of Carefree and Boulder. One look at this picture will tell you how the town of Boulder got its name --

Stagecoach Village is built to look like a Western town. It has a couple of really neat statues around. This horse is so realistic that when I would catch a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye while I was sitting there, I felt like I needed to move away from those hind feet!

This cowhand was pretty neat too --

We thought about Brother-in-law Ron when we saw this wagon full of firewood. It had not been restored like Ron's, however.

I really like this fun fountain. We "swam" in many of this kind of stock tank when we were kids.

While it was a lovely place to have the outdoor art show with all the canopies and booths set up in the plaza area, it was sad to see how many of the stores in the complex were sitting empty and had "available" signs in their windows. I don't know whether this plaza was one of the victims of the late recession or whether it was just overbuilt in the first place. Without the art show, it must be pretty close to being another ghost town.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Cave Creek Indian Market

There was an article in the Arizona Republic a couple of days ago showcasing an Indian artist from Canada who would be having a booth at the Native American Art Show and Market this weekend. The show was being held at Stagecoach Village in Cave Creek. We hadn't been to any Native American dances or shows yet this year, so thought we'd take advantage. Today was an absolutely gorgeous day for a road trip. Cave Creek is about thirty miles from us, on the northern side of Scottsdale.

This is the artist the newspaper article was about --

She had some beautiful bead work. I found a turquoise necklace she had made with stones from the Nacozor Mine, near the Mexican border. She was teasing Forry that the necklace would look good on him.

This was a nice show, not real big, but in a great location. The booth canopies were set up in the midst of this shopping complex --

There were chairs set up in the central area where you could sit and listen to several Native American musicians. This flutist played what he called "Celtic fusion" music that showed the influence both of his Irish father and his Paiute mother.

This fellow was part of a trio. He started out with this hand drum --

Then danced a buffalo hunting dance --

This man has won the national hoop dancers competition five times --

I bought some freshly made fry bread at one of the booths. After garnishing it with powdered sugar and honey, Forry and I sat and listened to the music and watched the dancers. It was a lovely way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

In Line at 6:15!

Indeed I was up, dressed in multiple layers, and out the door with my coffee, the newspaper and my lawn chair. I walked over to the office and was sitting outside the door by 6:15 this morning. There wasn't anyone there -- except for Ron who was in the office. It was a good ten minutes later before anyone else showed up. By the time the office opened at 8 AM, there were about a dozen of us waiting outside. It was a pretty jovial friendly crowd, all looking to reserve a new site for the 2014/2015 season. Current site holders had up to yesterday afternoon to re-reserve their sites for next year, so there were only three sites available on the river side of the resort that we were interested in, but several more around the outskirts of the park.

Since I was first in line (Forry showed up a few minutes before eight...), we were able to reserve Site 101, which is almost in the middle of the river bank sites, but has a space with a couple of trees between it and the site next to it. We took care of the new paperwork, then sat down at one of the tables and enjoyed coffee and doughnuts (they serve coffee and doughnuts every morning, but we seldom are up that early -- and it's not a very healthy breakfast anyway), while we watched the rest of the line take their picks.

It was a pretty cheerful bunch except for the last lady in line. She was really angry with Sandy, the office staffer. She had showed up about 7:45 and was angry that Sandy hadn't told her that I was going to ask for Site 101, the site she wanted. After all, she had stood in line for fifteen minutes for nothing and Sandy should have come outside and told her that I wanted the site so she hadn't wasted her time! Interesting sense of entitlement.

There was one casualty of the morning. I had taken along my iPad to read after I finished the paper. My hands had gotten so cold even with my gloves on, that when I went to put it back in my bag it slipped out of my hands and landed on the concrete sidewalk. It cracked the upper case, but it still seems to work okay.

It doesn't look real great, but at least it still works!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The WOLF Moon

I got so frustrated this morning, I could have screamed. As I said yesterday, I ran out of ink for my printer and had to go to Office Max in Scottsdale to get a new cartridge. Fortunately, I put the first one I picked up back and picked up a two-pack one instead. I must have spent a good hour trying to figure out why the printer was rejecting the new cartridge. I even took some alcohol on a q-tip and cleaned the contacts. But the darn thing kept saying I was trying to use a NON-HP cartridge and would not go past that screen!

I debated about opening the second cartridge package and trying it, but I hated to have two packages open at the price of the darn things! Finally, out of desperation, I bit the bullet; opened the second package; installed it and everything worked just fine. Now I'm going to have to make another trip to Office Max to return the first cartridge. They are too expensive not to take it back.

We went over to the office late this afternoon to get the list of camp sites that will be available next fall. People had until this noon to reserve the sites they were already in for next year. Sadly, most of the sites on the river side of the resort have been reserved by people who are coming back next year. There are about half a dozen sites that are still open that we like. I guess we'll have to get up early tomorrow to get in line for when the office opens...

This is a shot of tonight's full moon -- the Wolf Moon. The story goes that the Native Americans called the January full moon the Wolf Moon as that's the time of year the wolves were hungry and howling.

The Wolf Moon also appears to be the smallest moon of the year due to its orbit position. I took these two pictures at the same time. It's interesting how dark the sky appears when the camera lens is pointed up towards the sky...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Busy Day

It's sort of strange that there isn't an office supply store in Fountain Hills. Especially on a day when my printer ran out of ink! We had looked for one before when we were looking for a file box and didn't find anything until we got to Scottsdale. We recently got a copy of the Fountain Hills phone book and didn't find any listings there either.

So we ended up making a trip to Office Max in Scottsdale where I picked up a couple more black cartridges. Then while we were there I decided we might as go downtown and stop by Macy's to look for bedding.

Earlier this year I decided I was completely bored with and tired of the plain blue chenille bedspread I had bought for Auntie Violet. Wait, that's not true we bought it for Alvin, our first RV, over eight years ago. It was getting pretty raggedy and faded. I had decided I would buy a new non-down comforter and duvet cover. I've been looking on the internet, but haven't found anything I really liked.

We went down to the Scottsdale Square where we had found an address for Macy's, but when we got there, we found a store that was being gutted down to the rafters. Forry was waiting in the car in the parking garage while I walked a few blocks further to Nordstrom. They were having their annual January bedding sale.

They don't have a very large bedding department up on their third floor, but after I looked at several different duvet covers, none of which spoke to me, I saw this crazy coverlet. It's basically pieced from a number of different prints --

It has enough different patterns -- including a peacock up there on top -- that I think it will be interesting to look at for a long time. It's also washable cotton and polyester.

It's not completely full yet, but the moon was gorgeous as it rose tonight. The sun was just setting as it rose in the eastern sky --

This is such beautiful country!

Monday, January 13, 2014

New Neighbors

We got new neighbors today, actually we've gotten a whole bunch of new neighbors. When we stopped by the office today, Ron said every site was now full or reserved.

These new neighbors actually just moved to a new site. They've been along the fence down from us about six sites. Today they moved across the road just kitty-corner from us. The reason I am intrigued by these people is because of their dogs. It's not unusual for people to travel with dogs, even two dogs. But, it is unusual for those dogs to be mastiffs. Sister Sherry has a pack of mastiffs. I've become quite fond of these gentle giants.

I haven't had a chance to chat with the owners, but now that they are our neighbors, I'm sure I'll have a chance. The fawn dog is about six inches taller than the brindle one.

The owners have this fairly large -- for RVers anyway -- pen that they let the dogs out in. When I think about the amount of space Sister Sherry's dogs have to run in I feel kinda sorry for them!

We took a quick trip into Fountain Hills this afternoon to Safeway for groceries. I had a list, but not a very complete one. It really ticks me off when I get home and realize I didn't pick up some of the things I wanted! I'd blame it on old age, but alas, it's not a new phenomenon...

Sunday, January 12, 2014

And Still More Football

Well, at least now we know which team the Seahawks will be playing next Sunday. Today we watched San Francisco's 49ers beat the Carolina Panthers. Then of course Forry had to watch the second game of the day when the Denver Broncos beat the San Diego Chargers. That certainly took care of most of our day.

Fortunately, the football games were over in time enough for us to watch the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the Professional Bull Riding in Chicago. There are priorities in life, you know.

The big Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction is on in Scottsdale this week, with the auctions taking place next weekend. The show is so big that much of it is shown live on TV. We've had a few RVs pull in the last couple of days with huge trailers that they've then unloaded highly polished cars from. Most of those cars disappeared today - we're assuming they were taken to the show.

Our friends Leslie and Bill are back in Florida this week at Disney World. They both ran in half-marathon and today Bill ran in the Dopey Marathon. If I am remembering right, in all the events this weekend Bill ran over 46 miles. Absolutely incredible!

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Well, there certainly is no debate about what we did today. We did sleep in, so it wasn't too terribly long before the football game was on. I think every resident of Washington state no matter where they were geographically today was rooting for the Seattle Seahawks to beat the New Orleans Saints. Even though there were a few scary moments, the Hawks came through in fine fettle. And this evening we are watching the New England Patriots play the Indianapolis Colts. There are two more games tomorrow, then another set of games next week to find out who will be playing in the Super Bowl.

I walked the perimeter of the RV resort yesterday. It's a little easier walking on the sandy gravel than on the pavement throughout the resort. Besides, I really enjoy looking out at the desert which is just on the other side of the rail fence.

The mesquite trees are still a bit green, but everything else is looking pretty brown.

 The Verde River is all barricaded off from walkers as the banks are supposed to be undercut and dangerous. I could see a bit of it from where the bank has been eroded away.

The bushes may be looking pretty brown, but there is grass growing all over since the rains a couple of weeks ago.

Friday, January 10, 2014

More 25 Year Thoughts

Writing about the girls' 25 years of marriage made me think about ours. For our 25th anniversary Forry made all of the arrangements for us to go to the Virgin Islands -- to Sailing School! We tooled about the American and British Virgin Islands on a 34 foot sail boat. There was another couple and ourselves and our instructor/captain. The water in the BVIs is incredible, turquoise, clear and warm. We did a great deal of swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. Forry went on a dive on a shipwreck that I thought was a little bit deeper than I was comfortable diving. So I went visiting with our captain while the rest of them were gone. We visited various friends of his who worked as crew on some of the larger boats. It was so interesting to hear their stories of what it was like to cook or crew for their wealthy owners and guests -- and to hear how how on the hog they lived when the owners were not there.

Our final exam for the sailing school was a night sail from the island of Virgin Gorda back to the American Virgin Islands. I couldn't believe that our instructor went below and went to bed while we made the three hour trip. I really wonder how much sleep he actually got.

In those days many airlines offered flights with three stops that were cheaper then a round trip. For our extra stop we went to Martinique for a couple of days. Forry still occasionally mentions how much he enjoyed the French influence on the beaches.

Of course, the follow-up to this story is that Forry ended up buying a 21 foot San Juan sailboat that we enjoyed immensely. After it sat in our driveway in Spokane the entire 18 years we lived there, Son-in-law Todd has spent the last couple of years refurbishing it for his family to enjoy.

I took this picture this afternoon when we were out on our walk. The owners of this orange rig have been driving around the area with the top down. It looks like it's a great way to sight-see.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

25 Years!

Free Wedding Clipart .
Twenty-five years ago the Hardt family had quite a year. We had done our part, our daughters were born seven years apart (Son Sean is in between the two girls.) But, they decided to get married within a seven month time span! They actually went to the photographer in Ritzville and had their engagement pictures taken together.

Mary Mae and Scott got married in June at the ranch. MM had not lived at home for a few years at that point, being away at college and grad school and work (she met Scott while she was working on her Masters at EWU.). She wanted to have a get-together party for all of her friends at the ranch. People came with their tents and spent the weekend, swimming and visiting. We had Texas John roast a whole pig and actually served strawberries and angel food cake instead of wedding cake. I made her wedding dress and the bridesmaid and flower girl dresses using lace that had been made by my Grandmother and Great-grandmother.  It was quite a party.

Dawn and Todd got married in January after Todd had finished fall semester at Bethel College where Dawn had graduated the Spring before. They had met on a college Jan-term trip to Mexico. I made Dawn's wedding dress using some beautiful slipper satin that she had bought in Mexico while she was doing a semester abroad with Heifer Project International. Shortly after the wedding, DT and Todd headed for a second reception in Idaho where Todd had grown up and his parents still lived. Forry and I left a few hours after them and got caught in a blizzard caused freeway closure and never did make it to the reception.

So this year both couples are celebrating twenty-five years of marriage. MM and Scott live in Mount Vernon, Washington and have two children, Varick and Claire. Todd and Dawn live in Keizer, Oregon and have three children, Havela, Kyra and Micah. 

We watched their lives over the past quarter century and are very proud of them and the families they have established. I am so pleased that both girls have married men that bring out the best in them. And as a bonus, we really like both sets of their in-laws as well. We are truly blessed.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Just Hangin' Around

It was just one of those days. I took care of some tax stuff and then we walked - well, I walked and Forry rode the trike - over to the office to mail a check. It was another very nice day with a few clouds floating around.

My Gossips have been languishing under Auntie Violet since we got here as the ground is too hard with too many underground lines to pound her stand into the ground. We bought some scrap boards at Home Depot a few weeks ago and glued them together to make a stand. Then they sat. You can't rush into things, you know. Today, Forry got ambitious and charged his drill so that he could make some holes in the boards.

So now, my gossiping crows can check out the neighborhood --

I think I may have to think about some paint...

I spent some time today scrubbing, sterilizing and refilling the hummingbird feeders. The lady we bought the hanging sculpture ones from said not to ever use soap or detergent on the cups as it impregnated the plastic they were made from. Her recommended regimen was to wash them well with just hot water and then occasionally to soak them in bleach water. Then, to rinse them very well with more hot water. So that's what I did.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Cloudy Day and Costco

We had a heavy cloud cover today. We've had cloudy days earlier this week, but they were light clouds that burned off early on. This one stayed all day. It felt like it might rain, but it never got to that point. It did make for a glorious sunset though. This is looking towards the south.

That blob in the middle is actually a flag. You can see the lighted pole against the body of the RV. This is towards the west, behind Auntie Violet and the canopy.

We made a Costco run late this afternoon, late enough for Forry to have a Polish dog for supper. He was feeling deprived because the last few times we've gone, it's been too early in the day. Costco was very busy. I had thought that since it was after the holidays - and there's been time for returns -- that it wouldn't be so full. Guess I was wrong...

Monday, January 6, 2014

Blog 2 Print

One of the things I have done every year since I started blogging five years ago was go to Blog 2 Print and have a bound copy of that year's blogs made. I would usually wait until March when they would have a 15% off sale. This year, they started the year off with their sale. The offer expired today, so I have been trying for the last week to get the job done.

I was getting very frustrated as I kept getting kicked off the web-site. It would either not load the book for me to proof it or when it would and I would change something (like having ten pages listing the title of every blog...), it would give me an error message or a "page unavailable" message. Of course, customer service was not open over the weekend for help. Then today, everytime I called I was told by a mechanical voice that "all customer assist persons were presently busy with other customers." Then hold music would come on for precisely two and one-half minutes and then disconnect. After the fifth time that happened, I remembered something I had read and quickly hit the Operator button. Sure enough, I got a real person!

Turns out the problem was with Windows Explorer. I should have guessed that it was a browser issue myself as I write and post the blog on Firefox since Windows Explorer doesn't work with it half the time. What a difference a browser can make! I ended up having to divide this year's book into two volumes as it was too many pages for one. I guess I must be getting long winded or something!

I spent the biggest share of my day fiddling around trying to get the book taken care of. I really am the only one who looks at it once it's printed. My thought is that someday one of my great or even great-great grands will find the books, my diaries as it were, a rich resource of what life was like in the 2000s for ancestors who were crazy enough to live and travel in a motor home.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

That Cold Snap...

Every time we turn on the news the last couple of days, or I read weather comments on Facebook, it strikes me again how fortunate we are to be in Arizona these days. This Arctic Blast that is hitting the rest of the United States so far has spared us.

The pictures of snow piled high and of blizzard style winds whipping across highways make me shiver just looking at them. Though at one time we had and enjoyed snowmobiles, I have no desire at this point in time to brave the cold. I whine about having to put on long pants or a jacket!

One year, many years ago, we went with Son Sean and a group of Flying Farmer friends to Yellowstone Park in mid-winter with our snowmobiles. We stayed at Harrison Hot Springs where we watched the snow flakes falling as we soaked in the hot water. We watched Old Faithful erupt in clouds of steam in a snow-covered field. We shared the park roads with shaggy bison with their heavy winter coats. I got pulled out of "tree wells" by friendly Canadians who later showed me how to drink their Rye Whiskey. It was a memorable trip.

We also had a group of friends who spent time with us at the camp the Mennonite Churches of Washington own near Leavenworth, Washington. That was when we began winterizing the cabins so the camp could be enjoyed in the winter-time. Camp Camrec would have a whole line-up of snowmobiles outside the lodge. Alas, those days seem to be gone. Nowadays, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing seem to be the activities of choice.

Forry's memories of cold winters have much to do with heavy insulated coveralls and going out to feed the herd of cattle that we had. Those Hereford cows would hear the pick-up coming with its load of hay and come running. I can recall him coming back into the house with a red face and chilled fingers in spite of his gloves and heavy clothes.

I think, that without a doubt, I prefer warm weather!

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Today I sat down at the computer and paid all of our bills including our usual donations. I guess I have considered myself somewhat technologically savvy since I use the computer and the Credit Union's Billpay to do it all. Then I was talking to our youngest daughter on the phone tonight and sort of felt like a relic as she said theirs were all on auto-pay, so she didn't even have to do that much...

Thinking about it, I think it's a control issue on my part. I'm just enough of a skeptic to worry about whether or not there will be sufficient dollars in the bank to cover the payments. Now, I know that checks get deposited very nicely every month from both Social Security and  my retirement account, but I guess I just don't quite trust it will happen. I need to physically see that there is money on that bank statement so that I can pay the bills.

It's a strange feeling to come to a new awareness about one's self. You'd think when you get to be as old as I am, you'd know yourself pretty well. I think it just goes to show that the Good Lord's not finished with me yet...

I am looking forward to TV this evening for the first time in a while. The Professional Bull Riders are having their first competition of the 2014 season at Madison Square Garden this weekend after having finished their winter hiatus. It's been frightfully cold in New York. I do hope those bulls are keeping warm!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Watching Birds

Anyone who knows Forry and me, knows that we spend an inordinate amount of time either looking for, or watching, birds. It has been quite nice since we set up the canopy. We can sit outside in the shade and watch the antics of the hummingbirds who have found our two feeders. There are now three of them -- we think all of them males -- who stop by for nourishment.

They alternate between the big glass feeder with its faded plastic flowers and the new hanging sculpture one we bought earlier this fall at the Fountain Hills Fair.

This Gila Woodpecker is the other patron at our feeders, though we haven't seen it at the feeder as much lately --

This picture is blurry, but it's the only time I have caught two of the hummingbirds at the feeder at the same time. Usually, one will be eating and the others will come scolding and dive bombing to chase him away.

When we walked over to get the mail and take our daily constitutional, I spotted this Greater Roadrunner. (Notice how green everything is since it rained...)

It wasn't very happy I had spotted it, and took off with its topknot folded tight to its head...

It hopped into the bushes and pretended I hadn't seen it!

It was an absolutely beautiful day today. It was in the mid-eighties with lots of sunshine. I think it was the warmest day we've had for a while and I heard lots of air conditioners running in rigs as we walked by.