Friday, February 28, 2014

Waiting for the Rain

It's been dreadfully muggy all day. The day started out clear with wisps of clouds, then gradually it has gotten cloudier and cloudier. The forecast was predicting that we would have rain by 4 pm, but it is after seven now and it still has not yet come. We have been watching what the forecasters on the California TV stations call a "powerful" storm, the first portion of which has already dumped up to six inches of rain in southern California.

The winds has gradually been coming up and getting gustier. Forry brought the large awning in an hour or so ago as it was flopping pretty good. (Supposedly, the awning has a sensor that is should bring it in automatically if the wind gets too strong, but we've never seen it happen...). Now, the local forecast is talking about thunderstorms during the night, about 1 am or so.

We were tired today after our long day yesterday, so didn't do much. I believed the weather forecast and thought it would be cool this evening and made a pot of beef stew that I served with biscuits. It was still 78 degrees by dinner-time, so it was a bit warm for a hot meal.

The pictures of the storm in California are scary. Because many of the mountains are bare due to last summer's fires, there have been major slides and rivers of mud and water flowing through valley communities. Many people have been evacuated. One man interviewed said he had been evacuated for the fires and now he was having to leave because of water. You can't help but feel bad for them.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cactus League -- It's Started!

Spring-training started across the Valley yesterday for some teams. The Seattle Mariners kicked off the season with their first game today with their park mates, the San Diego Padres. The Padres and Mariners share one of the oldest Spring Training complexes in the Valley in the City of Peoria. The Peoria City Fathers have put an incredible amount of money -- several millions -- into the complex during this past year. They completely tore down and rebuilt the clubhouses and redid the fields.

It was a gorgeous day for a ball game. There were a few clouds, enough to keep the sun from being too hot. There were about 4000 people at the game and they all seemed to be enjoying it.

To make it an even better day, the Mariners won the game 7-1. We watched Rob Cano hit a single in his first at-bat as a Mariner. The first three runs came during the first two innings. As usual, in early Spring games, the regulars went back to the club house after the fourth inning and left the "youngsters" to play the rest of the game. That crew managed to get another four runs and held the Padres to just one.

We very nicely got a golf cart ride back through the parking lot to our car and headed home. We were doing great until we turned onto Shea Boulevard heading towards Highway 87. The seven miles we had to go took us over an hour and a half. We finally got to the scene where it looked like a pickup pulling a trailer collided with another pickup..

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


California TV stations have been running an ad sponsored, I think, by the American Red Cross starring the cutest little African-American girl. She has the cutest, curliest long hair and a grin that doesn't quit. She's talking about what her family needs to be prepared for a disaster. She's so cute, you can't help but listen to the ad -- and think about being prepared.

When I was at the grocery store this afternoon, I picked up a small hand pencil sharpener and a package of a dozen #2 pencils. That would be the last of my preparations for our trip tomorrow to Peoria for the first Mariners game of the Cactus League season. Some of the teams actually played a game today and the Citrus League in Florida has already started.

It was warm today with mostly clear skies. There is a bank of clouds lying low over towards the north that may be part of the rainstorm that is being predicted for this weekend. I understand it has already started raining in parts of southern California.

When we stopped by the office this afternoon to pick up the box of mail forwarded by Daughter MM, both Sandy and Ron, the office staffers, were talking about their preparations for the summer. Evidently, once March is over, the RV Park empties out. It sounds like that's when they do any necessary upgrades and repairs.

Many times I think we spend so much time preparing as we spend actually doing. Hmm, I need to see if I'm prepared to think about that...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bits and Pieces

It was overcast all day today. Not low-hanging clouds, but just a high cover. It feels muggy and sultry and humidity is up to 20%.  As we watch the weather forecast, we can see a couple of large weather systems off of the coast of California. People there are battening down the hatches preparing for rain and flooding. The predictions are that we will get rain on Saturday or Sunday. We shall see.

It is sort of funny that just as the gorgeous weather we've had disappears, the Cactus League ball games start! We have tickets for the first game of the Mariners this Thursday with the Padres. I am really looking forward to seeing the newly remodeled facility in Peoria that they've put so much money into this past winter.

The desert is starting to look more colorful. There is no doubt that Myother Nature loves the color yellow. All of the Brittlebush along the roadsides is beginning to bloom giving us balls of yellow. Here and there, I have spotted the yellow orange of Mallow plants along the road.

Sister Sherry's mastiff, Keiko San, traded first places this week in Albany with a dog flown in from Alabama. (He gets two first-class seats right behind the bulkhead and his handler gets the third seat.) Keiko won Best of Breed two days and the Alabama dog won BOB the other two days.

We actually had two hummingbirds peacefully drinking together at the feeder today. I think one may have been a female! I think what we've had to this point have just been males -- who angrily chase each other away.

Monday, February 24, 2014


I am a reader. I come from a family of readers. I am also a fast reader. I never learned nor was I ever taught how to read fast. I blame (credit) my father for that. He was a speed reader as well. Unlike the speed reading classes I have looked at, I don't scan down the middle of paragraphs nor do I skip words, I read every one.

I can remember learning to read. It was like I cracked the necessary code. My first grade teacher (remember, in those days we did not have kindergarten, let alone pre-school) had been introducing her class to individual words. (Learn by rote memorization, no phonics here!). In the Dick and Jane books we had seen "way" and "all" as we read the stories. I was looking ahead and ran into the word "always" and of course, didn't know it as we hadn't learned it yet. But, while I had my hand raised waiting for the teacher to tell me what it was, it clicked. I knew that word! And away I went. I quickly learned to use context to figure out other new words. It may not have been orthodox, but it worked for me.

I can remember chuckling when I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and heard the heroine say she had started at the end of the "a" row in the library, planning to read every book in order. I tried that too -- and made it several feet before I got tired of some of the more "boring" books I kept running into. I can remember how fortunate I was that my teachers recognized my abilities and got me access to the high school library when I was still in grade school. I have always loved books.

Fortunately, I have daughters who love books and who married guys who love books. And they created children who also love to read. I have chuckled so hard when I have spotted g-children reading under the covers with a flashlight after bedtime lights-out. I can remember doing that too! Christmas and birthdays in our family have always had a present plus at least one book for everyone as gifts.

Even our Son Sean, who is autistic, values books and spends a great deal of his time poring over books on antique silver and furniture as well as architecture. He is well known in the NW history section of the public library and is considered a resource by the antique dealer he works with.

Back in the days before my Kindle and iPad, I used to keep a stack of books by my bed that I was reading. There was usually an autobiography or a biography, something that pertained to health care or administration and something light and fluffy. I might spend a few days reading something in the first two while flitting through two or three of the lightweights every day.

Now, I have a few thousand books at my fingertips on my iPad. I recently went to the Maricopa County Library and got a library card, so now I have their books available in electronic format as well. The mix tends more towards mysteries, science fiction, travel and historical fiction these days, but I still read at least one or two a day (or night). Not having a great deal of storage space in the RV, e-books have been a real blessing.

I did get a hardbound book in the mail today. I deliberately ordered a hardbound copy of Jacob's Choice, Return to Northkill Book 1, by Ervin Stutzman, so that I can donate it to the church library when I am finished with it.

Books are one of the blessings in life that I am most thankful for. Reading is one of the skills that make my life a journey!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

One Last Day at the Arabian Show

Today was the last day of the National Arabian Show at WestWorld in Scottsdale. I had gotten reserved tickets for the bleachers today so that we would have seats for the finals. Seeing how it worked out, what other people had to say, and how sparse the crowds were, we probably should have gotten them for Saturday night instead. There was a nice variety of  finals this afternoon however and we did enjoy watching them. These park horses are half Arabian and usually half Standardbred. I love their action as they stretch out those front legs at the trot.

There was a large group of competitors in the costume class. It's a fun class as the horses are either shown at a walk or a cantor/gallop. Supposedly, they were traditionally at rest -- the walk -- or on the attack -- the gallop.


There are several thousand dollars in these costumes -- to say nothing of the cost of the horse.

This lady's horse is wearing the roses for having won a Western Junior class. This class is for full Arabian horses less than five years of age. They are being ridden with a hackamore (no bit) and reined from either side.

If you like bling, these Western classes are the thing. The fellows are fairly sedate, but the ladies shirts -- and often pants -- are loaded with sequins and braid. I heard one lady say her shirt cost $750!

The "in thing" is to bring your dog to the horse show. There were lots of them there! This Great Dane puppy and its owners entertained passers-by for quite a while this afternoon.

This is one of the beautiful animals in an English Pleasure class. I do not know the difference between this class and the English Country Pleasure class which immediately followed it. There are so many nuances of riding styles at these shows that a country girl like me just does not understand.

We spent a brief amount of time talking with our friends Dennis and Colleen who would be packing up their booth and heading back to their winter home in Tucson yet this evening. We stopped by the folks with the barbed wire booth and picked up the purchase we had ordered when we were here earlier this week. Then we headed home in time to watch PBR bull-riding and eat the leftover spare ribs from last night.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Little Domesticity...

We've been running around a lot lately, so things at home have been a bit neglected. Today we tried to catch up on a bit of them. First on the list was laundry! It's been almost two weeks since I have done any, so it was needed. Fortunately, although we had a light overcast with wispy clouds, the day was warm and everything dried quickly.

The lovely geraniums that we bought at Costco back in October were tilting in their pots. The biodegradable pots were doing exactly that. We brought them back to the canopy where I could use the little table to work. Forry actually had to take his knife to cut the bottoms off. The roots were pretty tightly grown into the pot and were definitely rootbound. He cut the root balls so that they could grow and I repotted the plants into the turquoise pots I had bought at Ace Hardware a couple of days ago. There is fertilizer mixed into the potting mix I bought, so the geraniums should be good for the rest of our stay.

By the time we had finished the re-potting, the rug in the canopy and the area around it was a mess. Forry ended up sweeping the whole thing while I watered the pots. The hummingbirds were NOT happy while all of this was going on! They would come swooping by our heads, chirpping their displeasure while going to the feeder which was a couple of feet away. I guess it is okay to sit quietly in our chairs at the back of the canopy and watch them, but we're not supposed to be up and about and in THEIR space!

I had bought a rack of spare ribs when we were at Safeway the other day. I had seen the Pioneer Woman talking on Facebook about making a marinate using Dr. Pepper. I thought I'd try the same thing only using Pepsi. It was actually pretty good, but if I were to do it again, I'd save back some of the marinade; boil it down to thicken it; then use it to baste the ribs along the way. I'd also add a bit more salt...

The other thing that needs doing to Auntie Violet is a thorough cleaning, especially of her woodwork. It needs to be washed down -- mainly in the kitchen and bathroom areas -- then re-oiled with Liquid Gold. It's a bit of work and I've been thinking about it for a while. May have to think about it a while longer.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Another Afternoon at the Arabian Show

We spent the afternoon out near Scottsdale at the National Arabian Horse Show that has been going on this past week. There is an incredible exhibit building that you go through on your way to see the horses. Our friends Dennis and Colleen have their Recycled Spoon booth there. Next to their booth is this incredible booth full of ride able toy horses called Pony Pal Stable. They have horses in several sizes and it is a most popular booth. They allow the kids to ride the horses --

As the rider pushes up and down on the foot pedals, the horse moves forward --

And if you turn the head, it turns as well --

They are guaranteed for riders up to 250 pounds! and come in several sizes!

The bay on the left is being shipped to Moses Lake on Monday. Dennis and Colleen and Forry and I bought it and are donating it to the Mennonite Country Auction (the first Saturday in October).

We mainly went to the show today to shop, but I did watch a couple of the classes. This is the winner of the two-wheeled cart driving class. This class was a delight to watch, especially at the accelerated trot.

This is one of the riders in the "Silver" class. The combined ages of the horse and the rider in this class had to add up to more then 70 years. They may have been oldsters, but they still had it!

The booths had to stay open tonight until seven. Dennis and Colleen closed up their booth and we headed for a nearby Irish Pub called the Skeptical Chymist. Colleen had noticed it on the way from their motel to the horse show, but it turned out to be the "Arizona Home for Seahawks Fans!" and was full of Seahawks memorabilia. The pub food was really good and we managed to finish our dinners before the band, which was setting up right next to our table, started playing!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Two Raves and a Rant!

Our accountant emailed our 2014 Income Taxes to us yesterday. This morning I downloaded the document and signed the Form xxxx that was needed to in order for him to file it electronically. I scanned the signed form and emailed it back. I don't think we have ever gotten it done this early in the year! Must be a new record. It feels good to have both the ranch and our personal stuff done and out of the way for another year.

Had a chance to talk with out Son-in-law Todd this morning. They came home in Oregon from their 25th Anniversary trip to Guatemala to a problem with the sewer connection at their house. Just like our house in Spokane, they had a line clogged with tree roots (We had to have an annual standing appointment with the Roto Rooter guy to clean out our lines.) While Todd was getting his problem taken care of -- a new line -- he was also thinking about putting in an access port for Auntie Violet for when we park at their house. Such a sweetie he is!

 I've been spending some time on the phone with our home Credit Union with my ongoing issues with my debit and credit cards. I made the only purchase I've made all year at Target the week before the store had their credit card hacking problem. To make doubly sure my card wasn't compromised, the Credit Union went ahead and issued me a new one. Fine, I appreciate their caution. Then, like a dummy, I shredded the envelope the new debit card came in -- that also had the new PIN on it! So now I cannot use the card. I called the credit union last week and asked them to send me a new one. Of course, due to security concerns, they will not tell me the PIN over the phone, nor will they email it. I had assumed it would only take a couple of days to receive the new PIN in the mail, but it has been over a week.

Then yesterday afternoon, my credit card was rejected at the grocery store! (It's a good thing I had a different credit card that worked okay.) I got a automated call from the credit union's fraud division this morning to please call them. They had the nerve to tell me that the card was rejected as "the attempted charge was more than two hundred and fifty miles from our home address!" Now think about it. We have been full-time RVers for more than eight years and we have had a "frequent traveler" designation on our accounts for all of that time. During those years we have traveled to all of the lower 48 states without a problem. Now the lady wanted me to give her a list of where we might be traveling when we leave Arizona! She was a little concerned when I told her we might or might not be stopping in California as well as New Mexico, Colorado and Idaho. DARNED HACKERS ANYWAY! EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVEN'T MESSED WITH OUR ACCOUNTS, THEY ARE MAKING MY LIFE NOT FUN!!

We did make a quick trip to the Post Office in Fountain Hills to mail off the chain we found for Sister Sherry's Keiko San yesterday. I don't know if it will work for him or not, but we gave it a try.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Gotta Love That Jello!

As you all know, RVers like to say that their plans are like Jello; hard to pin down and always subject to change! Today was the second day in a row that we started out to do one thing and ended up doing another. We have tickets for bleacher seats for the finals at the Arabian Horse Show in Scottsdale on Sunday, but we wanted to visit the show one more time before that in order to check out the Shopping Expo portion of it.

Our friends Colleen and Dennis, who have their jewelry booth at the show, had told us they had a couple of guest passes that they would give us. We just had to let them know and they'd bring them out to us. Well, I sent Colleen a text message giving her a "heads-up" that we were thinking about coming out today. She sent me a message back saying they had some other friends also coming today with whom they had made dinner plans. We decided that since we had some other stuff to do, it would be easier to go to the show another day this week (it's a ten-day show).

Forry got his early afternoon nap in, then we headed into Phoenix to the closest Bed, Bath and Beyond. The original idea was to get refills for our bathroom foam soap dispenser. (Made by Method, the dispensers are refillable, but it's hard to find the refills!) I also had ulterior motives. We have had the same towels since we started full-time RVing over 8 years ago. Not only are they getting quite thread-bare, but I am very tired of them! I deliberately only bought two towels apiece for each of us so that I wouldn't have to live with the same ones forever.

I did find some really nice towels. I got a brown and light turquoise bath sheet for Forry and a couple of smaller turquoise bath towels for me (one for my hair) and a couple of the striped hand towels as well. Added to my haul, I also bought a little metal basket to put all of my "junk" that I keep by the couch where I sit -- nail file, clippers, pen, notepad, polish, etc.

Next we found an ACE hardware store and bought some flat chain for Sister Sherry. She was looking for something a little bigger than what she had been able to find at the dog shows. Keiko San is such a large dog -- and still growing -- that the regular chain collars look flimsy on him. We bought her four feet of chain, which is more than she needs, but we thought she'd be able to have it cut to the right size. While we were there we bought a couple of cheap plastic pots for my geraniums out front. The biodegradable pots they came in are doing just that and are falling apart. Of course, that meant we had to buy some potting mix for re-potting them as well. We also found a reflective cover for the front windshield. In the rather warm weather we are having, that front seat and the steering wheel get almost too hot to touch!

One last stop at Safeway in Fountain Hills and we were able to head home. By the time we got everything inside and put away, it was past time for supper. I put some artichoke and some mushroom raviolis in a pot of water, heated up some artichoke spaghetti sauce in the microwave and we were good.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

An Aborted Trip

We had planned to go to see the Sheep Bridge on the Verde River today. We packed up with some cans of soda, some energy bars, the binos and the bird books, the camera and the GPS with the updated maps. But, then Forry couldn't find the article he knew he had saved about how to get there. We know that it is many miles of dirt road...

The Arizona Republic runs an article every Sunday with a local car trip spot-lighted. Forry has a collection of these articles stacked over on the other side of his recliner as part of his "nest." He looked through all of them, I looked through all of them and couldn't find it. I looked Sheep Bridge up on the Internet and found all kinds of pictures, but not any directions about how to get there from the Phoenix area.

Finally Forry picked up our copy of Arizona Magazine and there was the article he was looking for! By now it was getting late, but we headed into town on our way to Carefree which would be the take-off point. We decided we had best stop to get gas -- it was a long way to go without a full tank. While he was filling the tank, Forry had second thoughts. It was already past noon. We finally decided that we would go to find Sheep Bridge another day when we would get an earlier start!

We got a call from Daughter Dawn this morning. She and Todd had gotten home at 1:30 AM this morning from their trip to Guatemala celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. Sounds like they had a wonderful trip and the pictures we have seen so far are gorgeous! We glad they are home safely.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Garmin and Me

Our Suzuki came with a GPS unit built-in on the top of the dash. You press the button and the unit pops up and open. It is, of course, our best friend. We started using GPS units a few years ago when we were working with Mennonite Disaster Service in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. We ended up going to Home Depots and Lowes in all the various suburbs of New Orleans. One store would be out of something and would send us to another. We learned to call ahead to see where we could get drywall, door knobs, appliances, etc. Because of all the traveling we had to do, many of the volunteers starting using GPS units.

We have a collection of GPS units. We have a large 4x5 inch unit in Auntie Violet that we use when traveling. We also have the unit we had in the Jeep that we used before we traded it for the Suzuki.We have also given units to each of our daughters' families.

The Garmin unit in the Suzuki has been nagging at us for the past couple of weeks when we turn it on. It seemed to think that it wanted to have its maps upgraded. We have noticed that it is not always accurate especially in areas that have been recently platted or changed. So today Forry brought the unit into the house and I set about upgrading it.

First of all I had to find the appropriate set of cables. I have a bit of a stash of them. Fortunately, a few years ago I started putting them in Ziplock bags and writing the appropriate name on them. I found what I thought was the right bag, but the  small end of the Garmin cord did not fit into the unit. Then tucked behind all the bags, I found the right cord, not in a bag just a cord with a piece of paper and rubber band around it.

Then I had to get on-line to to get the update. And of course, I couldn't come up with the password -- it wasn't on my cheat cards. So I had to go through all the rigamarole involved in getting a new one. I finally got everything set up, paid the charge for the new maps, and started the update. Then I got the notice that it would take 2-3 hours to download!

Definitely was time for a nap. When I got up, it said it still had 57 minutes...

Finally, it was finished! Now when we go to look for the sheep bridge tomorrow, we'll have all new maps!

It was HOT today! There was a few minutes when the thermometer -- which is in the shade -- read 90 degrees. Very, very nice, indeed.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Another Quiet Day

I kept pretty busy today, but I'd be hard-pressed to say just exactly what I was doing all day. It was overcast most of the day, but still got up to 79 degrees. I know I spent a good while sitting outside, reading and watching the hummingbirds. I didn't see the woodpeckers, but knew they had been around by how much the level of the newly refilled sugar water had already gone down this morning.

I made almond poppyseed muffins for breakfast this morning, then made the crab omelets for dinner this evening. Forry grated up some Gruyere cheese and I sauteed some green onions and celery leaves in butter along with the left-over crab. I've discovered that warming those ingredients before adding them to the omelet works so much better. Otherwise the cold ingredients cool down the eggs so much, the omelet doesn't cook right and gets tough.

I spent a bit of time on the computer renewing our membership in the Professional Bull Riders Fan Club. I want to make sure I can use their discount when I get tickets for the PBR show which will be in Phoenix March 8-9th. We have tickets for a baseball game (Mariners vs Giants) for the afternoon of the 8th. It might be a stretch to go to the Saturday night bull rides. We may have to just go on Sunday...

I tried a new -- much easier -- way to care for my Valentine flowers that I read about on Pinterest. Instead of emptying and refilling the vase, it said to just set the water under the cold water faucet in the sink and let the water run, flushing out the old water and filling with new. It seemed to work well. At least the water appears to be clear.

We are still spending a bit of each evening watching the Olympics. For some reason, they don't seem quite so exciting this year. Maybe it's the time delay as we often know the outcome before we see the actual competition...

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Quiet Day at Home

I was up early for another conference call hook-up with the Executive Board meeting going on in Virginia. It was a better connection this time and I was able to hear most of the discussion. It's still very frustrating not being there.

It was warm enough yesterday that Phoenix broke their record for the day. It got warm here fairly early today. By noon, it was already 82 degrees and added a couple more degrees by late afternoon. I soaked the two pots of geraniums we have in front of Auntie Violet. I had been watering them every three days, but now I think it is an every day job for a while. My Valentine flowers aren't enjoying the heat either -- I think they much preferred the refrigerated cooler they had been in at the store.

The Gila woodpeckers were at the feeder early -- they were already at it when I got up. By this evening, and many visits by the hummingbirds, the feeder was empty. I waited until after dark and then washed, cleaned and refilled it. It'll be ready for those early birds tomorrow.

Sister Sherry and I  talked on the telephone for almost an hour. She is looking for a particular kind of chain links to make a collar for Keiko San. Sherry is pretty excited about going to Albany, Oregon next week with her friend Kathy for the big dog show there. Keiko is working on getting his Grand Champion points.

I had bought a couple of Dungeness crabs when we were at Costco earlier this week. I intended to fix them for our Valentine's dinner, but we ended up eating with Dennis and Colleen last night. (Forry is still talking about the attire of the servers -- they were celebrating Lingerie Week. If you are curious, check the Twin Peaks website...) It was so nice outside that I thought we could eat out there. It was very pleasant, but in these desert mountains there is no twilight. The sun sets, and it's DARK. I brought the last of the crab into the house so that I could pick the leftovers to make crab omelets for breakfast.

I checked on the saguaro where I had seen the Roadrunners making their nest, but didn't see any sign of them. I hope they didn't change their minds and decide to build somewhere else.

Friday, February 14, 2014


A lovely start to Valentines Day from the Man in My Life --

This afternoon, we went to the National Arabian Horse Show at West World in Scottsdale. This "spare parts" horse and lion were sculptures at the entrance --


This is our friend Colleen at their booth, The Recycled Spoon, at the show --

A couple of the horses and riders in the Hunter Class for 18 and under --


This is a Western class for youngsters 5-9. They are only asked to walk and jog their horses. You couldn't ask for anyone more serious -- or cute!


We spent the rest of the afternoon in the South Barn watching the stallion classes. In this International competition, the class is brought in and shown and judged one animal at a time by six judges. Each is scored against a standard and their points are posted as each leaves the arena. Forry and I couldn't figure out the way they show the stallions. A whip with a rag on the end is used to get the animal to stretch out its head and neck,

We both thought it looked quite ungainly, but that's the way they showed all of the stallions from the two-year olds on up.

We went back and joined Dennis and Colleen as they closed up their booth for the night, then enjoyed dinner with them at Two Peaks. Although I think Dennis and Forry enjoyed the servers almost more then the meal...!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Bit of Frustration and a Costco Trip

My frustration level got pretty high this afternoon. I've been a bit grumpy about deciding to miss the Mennonite Church USA's Executive Board meeting in Virginia, even though I heard today that they have gotten ten inches of snow! The Board Chair made arrangements for a speaker phone setup so that the five of us who were unable to make it could listen in to some of the board discussion and also give our input.

Unfortunately, there was so much static and excess noise that it was impossible to hear very well. Interestingly enough, the women's voices were actually clearer and easier to hear then those of the men. I was able to hear a portion of the discussion, but just enough to make me even more frustrated. I am trying very hard to remain very mellow about it all...

Later towards evening we made a Costco run. It was late enough for Forry to get his Polish dog, which of course, make him very happy. We also bought a walker with a seat. I am hoping that if Forry is able to use it as a place to rest when we go somewhere, he will be able to tolerate being on his feet longer. We shall see.

It was another absolutely beautiful day today. The breeze always comes for a couple of hours in the afternoon, then it is quiet again. I have to laugh at the woodpeckers. You can always tell when they are at the hummingbird feeder. The first one there calls out in that very sharp note of theirs until the other one of the pair shows up. It's like they are announcing their presence and telling the other it is time to feed.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

An Extra Day

What do you do with a day that you didn't plan on having? At least not at home. I had expected to be on a plane on my way to Dulles Airport in Washington, DC via a stop in Detroit. Due to the weather, and the expected weather, on the East Coast, I cancelled my flight. I am hearing on Facebook that others on the Board are having travel difficulties as well. The storm, ironically named Pax (Peace) looks to be a nasty one. Glad I am not back there.

Well, for one thing, we did sleep in. We had planned to be ready to leave by four am in order to be at the airport by five in the morning. I cannot complain about that at all.

Then, I got ahold of our friends, Dennis and Colleen. They were coming to Scottsdale today to set up their jewelry booth at the National Arabian Horse Show. They will be here for the ten day duration of the show, so we had planned to see them after I returned. But, this way we were able to get together for dinner tonight after they had gotten set up.

We had a $40 gift card from PF Changs from the last time we had eaten there when they had burned our meal -- and we waited an extra half hour while they redid it. So we figured that would make it a good place to eat. They have a new four-course meal (soup, appetizer, 2 main dishes and dessert) for two which we all ended up ordering. They have the best ever lettuce wraps!

The meal was not only delicious, but the conversation was even better. It is so good to be able to spend time with people from home that have known you for years. Dennis and Colleen are wintering in Tucson and attending shows using that as their base. They have been at some big shows this winter including Las Vegas and the Stock Show in Denver.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Nest Building -- It MUST be Spring!

We took a quick trip into the Safeway store in Fountain Hills this afternoon to pick up some TV dinners for Forry for while I was gone for four days. When we came back to Eagles View RV Park, one of the resident Road Runners ran across the road in front of us.

I had my camera with me, so Forry very quickly kicked me out of the car to get some pictures! Just a few feet further on, I saw a second bird --

I had seen one of the birds yesterday when I was out on my walk and I was sure that it had straw or twigs in its mouth. I followed behind the birds and saw one of them fly up into the fork of a big saguaro cactus.

It's nice to have the telephoto lens. I could stay back far enough not to spook them. The nest they are building is about 12 feet off the ground. While I was watching the second bird just hopped up with its load of straw.

The stickers on the cactus don't seem to bother the Roadrunners, but I'm sure they will deter any predators who decide they might want to raid the nest.

I'll have to be sure and take my daily walks by this saguaro. It will be neat if they end up having babies!

I have been watching the weather channels all day, thinking about what I needed to pack for tomorrow's trip to Harrisonburg, Virginia for the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board meeting. I was supposed to fly into Dulles in Washington DC, going by way of Detroit. Then it is a 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive to Harrisonburg. My return flight on Saturday was through Atlanta.

I no longer own any snow boots and the heaviest shoes I have are cloth sneakers. The weather forecasts for Atlanta were awful with warnings already for ice shut-down roads. It was snowing again on most of the eastern seaboard. I've spent more time then I care to remember trying to sleep in airports after air traffic has been cancelled and/or shut down. Late this afternoon, I chickened out and cancelled my tickets. I'm just too old to deal with that kind of weather hassle anymore!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Another Monday

Today was another absolutely gorgeous day. It continues to be warm and sunny. It stayed so warm late enough last night that I had to open the bedroom window in order to sleep. It's been a while since I've wanted to do that.

I spent three hours today with the large ftp file that was sent for the Executive Board meeting that starts in Virginia on Thursday. It took a while to download the file; then it had to be unzipped; then I could take a look at the 27 separate files that were in the large file. They were all in PDF format and in order for all of them to be uploaded to Dropbox, I had to open each individually and upload them. (I need them to be in Dropbox so that I can have them on my iPad). My iPad doesn't have the ability to unzip files, so I did them on my laptop first.

I guess I could purchase the program for the iPad to unzip the files, but this method works -- it just takes time and patience, both of which I should have plenty of! My iPad is so much lighter than my laptop, so it's what I'll pack and take with me.

Today was laundry day. It went very quickly as it was not only warm outside, but there was a nice breeze. Each load of laundry was dry before I brought the next one out.

We went for a walk/ride today and stopped at the office. I was a bit surprised to find the Valentine package I had ordered for Forry was here. I thought I had specified that it shouldn't be sent until the tenth... I guess I'll just have to stash it in the closet and tell him where to look for it while I'm in Virginia.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Ballparks in the Valley

Yesterday I mentioned the two ballparks (Phoenix Municipal Stadium and Maryvale Baseball Park) that we won't be visiting, but I didn't mention the ones we will be seeing. We'll start off with Peoria Stadium, the home of the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres. This is one of the older parks, but the ads for the games are talking about "the newly remodeled and upgraded" park. We will see.

Next on the list is the Goodyear Ballpark, home to the Cleveland Indians and the Cincinnati Reds. We'll watch a game with the Indians. This park is in Goodyear, Arizona and is a new one to us. Next we'll go to Camelback Ranch Park in Glendale, home to the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers. We'll be there for a game with the Dodgers.

Our fourth game will be at Scottsdale Stadium playing the San Francisco Giants. The Giants are the only team based at this ballpark. The fifth game is at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies share this facility, although during the regular season, the Diamondbacks actually play at the Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

On March 16, we're going to a game at Tempe Diablo Stadium against the Los Angeles Angels. This is another ballpark we have not yet been at. The Angels are the sole team based in Tempe. Our seventh game will be at HoHoKam Park, also known as Cubs Park, in Mesa. The Chicago Cubs call this field their home base.

On the 22nd, we'll be back at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick to play the Colorado Rockies. This is a gorgeous park that we've been at a couple of times. The last game we have tickets for is on the 26th at Surprise Stadium where the Mariners will play the Texas Rangers. The Surprise ballpark is shared by the Rangers with the Kansas City Royals.

Arizona communities have heavily invested in their "home" ballparks. No longer are they just a grassy field where spectators casually sit on the grass to watch the game. The communities are very competitive with each other and these ballparks and the practice fields and facilities around them are first-class.

Today was another absolutely gorgeous day. The temperature got up to 74 degrees with just an occasional light breeze. We watched the PBR's 15-15 (15 top-ranked bulls again the 15 top-ranked riders) this morning, spent some time outside this afternoon enjoying the sunshine, then watched the regular Professional Bull Riders from Anaheim this evening before we finished up with the Olympics. The day seemed even nicer when we looked at all the pictures of the snowy Northwest on Facebook!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

It's Almost Spring Training Time

The catchers and pitchers have reported and the rest of the teams will be here soon! The first Cactus League game for the Mariners will take place on February 27th. I sat down yesterday with the Cactus League sortable schedule that had all of the games the Mariners will be playing this spring. We had decided that we would try to see one game at each of the various ballparks in the valley. There are ten ballparks. I was able to get tickets to nine games at eight of the ballparks. The only two I was unsuccessful in getting games at were Maryvale Baseball Park because the Mariners don't have a game with the Milwaukee Brewers and at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

We have gotten way too old to sit on the grass or in the bleachers without seat backs, so tickets are getting a bit expensive due to wanting to snag some of the better seats. It took me most of the day to obtain tickets to all the games, one by one. You would think there would be a central ticket office where you could just order tickets for all the games you wanted and just pay one time. But no, you have to go to each ballparks online ticket office, pick out the seats you want, then go through all the rigamarole with a credit card to pay for them. Then you go to the next ballpark and start over again. About half the parks use Ticketmaster, but there's no linkage between them...

Today was about the nicest day we have had for a long time. It got to 72 degrees with beautiful clear blue skies. We opened the new rug we had gotten at Camping World to put under our canopy. I had screwed up when we bought it -- I thought we were getting a 9x12 foot rug, but actually picked up a 6x9 foot one. I'm not sure whether I'll just get another one the same size or whether we'll go ahead and get a bigger one.

I had also bought some bungee cord to repair my lounge chair where the cords had snapped on one side (they get hard and rot in the sun). It was a lot easier to do than I had expected, although the repair kit had shorter cords than were originally on the chair. We just ended up using two of them instead of one long one.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Do You Wanna Fly to Baja?

Forry learned to fly in 1967 and promptly bought a red and white Piper Cherokee 180 from Price Aviation in Spokane. One day the next winter, when we were in Spokane talking with Tom Price, he asked if we wanted to go to the tip of Baja with him. He was going to take the firm's big twin Piper Navajo and a group of planes down for a winter break.

There ended up being seven planes that went to Baja with Tom. Most of them were small single engine planes like our Cherokee, though if I remember right, there was one other twin-engine airplane besides Tom's Navajo. We left from Spokane and stopped for the night in Reno. The next day we crossed the border at Tijuana and went as far as La Paz, where we spent the night on cots in a fishing camp.

LaPaz was literally the end of the road, such as it was. There was no paved road from there to the tip of Baja. Indeed there is a famous off-road race called the Baja 1000, which was mainly Jeep style rigs. The only was you went further south from LaPaz was by private plane (there were no commercial flights and no runways suitable for jet traffic) or by yacht. Sailors who went to the tip of Baja usually returned to the north by first following the currents west to Hawaii, then swinging back northeast to the states. Because of the distance of the journey, you did not see many small boats at the tip. Though we did see a few abandoned catamarans whose owners gave up trying to fight the currents returning north.

We flew on further south and landed at the small airport at Cabo San Lucas where we stayed at the fabulous Palmilla Hotel -- at that time the ONLY hotel at the tip (there were two other small ones a few miles north). We went deep-sea fishing and caught our first marlins -- the meat of which was highly prized by the Baja natives. We went snorkeling, but I don't recall that we did any scuba diving. I do remember the very formal, very elegant, and very slow meals -- an hour plus to eat breakfast and 2-3 hours for dinner! It was our first taste of papaya, which has become a favorite.

The other thing I vividly remember about this trip was being insanely jealous of Tom's Navajo during the long days of flying. There was a bathroom in that airplane! A few months later when we were talking with Tom about the trip, I mentioned our envy. He roared with laughter and said that no one ever used it! Turns out he had a rule that the first person the use the facilities on a trip was the one who had to clean it at the end...!


This afternoon we went into Fountain Hills to send a Priority Mail package of tax stuff off to Cleon. While we were there, we went across the street to the library so that I could get a library card (I wanted to be able to check out e-books for my iPad.). These are a couple of the art works in the courtyard of the City Complex where the library and the post office are located --

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Old Friends = Good Times

This evening was a VERY special time as we met up with Judy and Tim, friends that date back to our pre-Spokane days. (I can remember staying at their house when I first went to work for WSU Spokane, before we bought our house and Forry moved up from the ranch.)

Judy and Tim have bought an Airstream trailer and have been spending their first winter post Tim's (Judy retired a year earlier) retirement from teaching, traveling through the western states. They spent the holiday season in Kansas with Judy's family and then headed to the Southwest via Texas.

We had hoped to spend some time with the two of them exploring some of the sights around Phoenix, but Tim's sister passed away this past week, so they will be leaving their Airstream in Palm Springs and flying back to the Northwest for the services.

But, we had a lovely time with them at dinner this evening. We met them at Rancho del Tia Rosa, one of our favorite gourmet Mexican restaurants and talked dinner and the evening away. We got caught up on the lives of their blended family, Angela, Steve, Leticia and Biz as well as their grandkids and did an equal amount of bragging about ours.

We ended our evening with their promise to come back to Phoenix next winter and spend some extended time. In the meantime, we'll look forward to seeing them when we all get back to Spokane this spring.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

It's Wednesday...

When I got up this morning, the hummingbird feeder was bone-dry and the birds were NOT happy! I had to chuckle as I took the empty feeder into the RV to clean and refill it. One of the hummingbirds kept swooping through the yard area where we set the feeder and flying around in circles. The woodpeckers were up in a nearby tree squacking their displeasure as well. So funny.

I walked over to the office to get the mail this afternoon while Forry rode the trike. I walked back to the RV along the riverside. It was a bit on the chilly side today and I didn't see a single bird while I walked. I'll be glad when spring arrives along with some of the migratory birds. It will make my walks much more interesting.

Daughter MM had sent a big box of mail, so I met Forry at home and proceeded to sort it. Stuff for the ranch, personal stuff, stuff to shred, stuff to toss. There was a whole lot of tax stuff that I need to put together with the other stuff I've accumulated and get sent off to our accountant.

It's the end of an era. I finally used up the last of the large jar of honey I've been carting around since before we started RVing! I baked some acorn squash halves with butter and the last of the honey in the centers. The honey was some that came from the old bee-man who kept his hives on Sister Sherry's farm. The last bit of honey in the bottom of the jar had gotten quite crystallized, so I would put it in the microwave for a few minutes whenever I wanted to use it. It sure was good stuff!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

More Mexico Trip

Sean's questions about that first trip to Mexico have triggered a lot of old memories. A couple of them center around our Christmas celebrations. The RV Park we were staying at near Guanojuato put on a Christmas dinner for us. The staff went out into the countryside around the park and picked wild poinsettias and laid them down the length of the table. Never having seen any except for the ones grown in greenhouses, it was quite a sight to see these bare branches with flowers on their tips. They roasted some of the scrawniest turkeys I had ever seen -- I think they may have either been wild ones or very near.

The other memorable part of being in Guanojuato was going on Christmas Eve to see the Mummies of Guanajuato! We had NO idea of what we were going to see! We were taken down a circular staircase to an underground chamber where we saw a whole bunch of mummified remains.

 The naturally occurring mummies date from a cholera epidemic in 1833. The bodies were disinterred sometime after 1865 when family members did not pay the tax to maintain the graves... Sometime in the 1950s, the locals began charging a small fee to tourists for viewing the mummies.

Not knowing what we were going to see, we were quite concerned about the impact of such a sight on our children. We held back from going up close and tried to be very nonchalant about what we were seeing. However, Daughter MM has very vivid memories of the mummies; the little Christmas tree we had on the tongue of the Aristocrat trailer; the handkerchiefs we put on our heads so that we could enter the churches and not being able to understand why people were so fascinated by her blonde-white hair.

Oh, what a blessed and wonderful life!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Forry Joins the 21st Century?

Our friends and family have given Forry a bad time for some time now about his reluctance to upgrade his electronic toys. He stuck to his flip phone for years until he could no longer even get replacement batteries for it. He finally broke down and got an iPhone 4s. I think the main thing he does with it is check the weather channels.

A while back, when I was using his old computer to do the ranch books (that's the only one that we have QuickBooks installed on), he started wondering if maybe he could follow the stock market on an iPad like mine. He was thinking he could carry it around and use it without being tethered to the computer.

After some discussion, I ordered him an iPad Air, which arrived today. I set it up for him and while I was at it, I went ahead and enrolled him in Facebook...

He's always asking me what I'm laughing about or coming over to see what I'm looking at. We'll see how he does with it!

They've certainly improved the covers since I got my iPad almost two years ago. I have the one that just covers the front. Now they have one that encases the back as well. Looks pretty good. The iPad Air is about a half inch narrower than my iPad and it seems to be a bit lighter as well.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Seahawks WIN!

We dreamed, we hoped, we made lots of noise! And today that dream came true -- the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl! They are the National Football League 2014 Champions! It was an incredible game with the Denver Broncos not even scoring during the first half. It started off strangely with a safety on the very first play.

It was fun to not only watch the game, but to read the comments on Facebook. But, we have good friends who are solid Bronco fans and that part was not fun.

The cold front that has been in California has moved this way. We haven't gotten any more rain, other then the few drops we had last night, but it has been chilly with a few clouds floating around. I went outside to read for a while before the game (which didn't start here until 4:30), but it was too cold for me. I either had to come inside or put more clothes on -- and that seemed like too much effort so I came on in.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Now I'm Truly Done!

I finished up the ranch books this afternoon and emailed the accountant's copy off to Cleon's office. Now I have to wait for the mail that should have all of the 1090s and W-2s to add to the package I'll send off by snail mail. It always feels good to get that done!

While we were working on the books, I kept hearing a raucous "geet, geet, geet!" outside the window. I looked out to see the female Gila Woodpecker that we've seen several times drinking at the hummingbird feeder that we have perched on the cable box cover. She kept hollering and pretty soon the male joined her. They are a bit jumpy, so I took these pictures through the window. Sorry about the glare...

I had noticed the level of sugar water in the feeder seems to go down quite rapidly. Now, I know why!

This shot shows one of the distinctive features of the Gila Woodpecker -- the bars that go all the way down to the tail feathers --

There was an agitated hummingbird swooping around while the woodpeckers were feeding, but it didn't come in to eat. It sure made its displeasure known about the interlopers.

It was a funny chilly day today. It started out with scattered cumulous clouds that gradually became angry looking very black clouds as they moved through. Just at sunset we got about a dozen drops of rain on the window. Then the clouds all moved on to the south.