Monday, December 29, 2014

On my own

I'm just kicking it right now, home by myself. We left Melissa in LA, Chuck is back in Dickinson and Aaron and Chelsea are back in Oklahoma. I'm chillin' it here getting back into a rhythm being home after a Christmas week spent in Disneyland. Melissa joined us for the week at a great hotel with a two bedroom two bath suite! No driving and parking at the park because the shuttle stopped right outside. It was a great place to stay.

We started the week seeing the Christmas program at the Great American Playhouse in Oro Valley. It was so fun and we laughed so hard and enjoyed a wonderful night with my niece Heather and mom. It is definitely fun for Aaron and Chelsea and is a must visit in the future.

Disneyland was colorful, bright, happy and packed!! There were a couple of times we were there that the crowds were a bit less and we went on our favorite rides several times. I love Big Thunder Mountain and Chuck is a huge fan of Star Tours. We really did explore the park over the week and it was super fun. We did things that we normally don't get to and Aaron experienced the Tiki Room for the first time.

We had two very special meals. Monday night Chuck and I and our kids went to Blue Bayou restaurant for our 35th anniversary dinner. During the meal we renewed our vows and exchanged some very special keepsakes. It was wonderful, mellow and romantic. We lingered over our meal and made a memory. On Christmas day we had lunch at Carthay Circle restaurant and had another very good meal. It is a very cool place with lots of movie memorabilia. Neither of these places are places we would go for daily meals-too expensive, but they made for fantastic celebrations we all enjoyed. 

I was pretty proud of myself that I only gained three pounds the whole week. I guess we walked enough to balance the amount of food we consumed.

On Friday Melissa took her dad to LAX for his flight back to Dickinson on her way back to the valley and the rest of us headed back to Catalina. On Sunday I took Aaron and Chelsea to Sky Harbor for their flight back to Dallas.

Now I am here. It is okay for me since I do well on my own, but the week with my family was wonderful. Now I have to pay off the credit card!

Happy New Year all!


Saturday, December 20, 2014

A fun party!

Last night we had a great time! We had over twenty here to celebrate the season and say hi to Aaron and Chelsea who are here for a couple of days. It warms my heart to see people who are willing to come over so close to Christmas and hosting these wonderful people is so much fun!

We had family-Kris & Heather and their three kids and a cousin, my Mom and my sister Lisa. The friends in attendance were my BFF Kristen and her family, Chuck's bestie Bob and is wife Kim, Jason and Denia and their daughter, Mom's friend Bob, our next door neighbor Sergio and his son.

The food was good and the sweets even better. Lots of drinks of all kinds and Christmas music played in the background.

We discovered quickly that many of these people were acquainted in difference ways besides knowing us. Conversation never stopped, it was cheery and filled with laughter. I love the way people settle into agreeable groups that move from area to area taking the conversation with them.

Tomorrow we leave for Disneyland to spend our Christmas. It will be so special to have our kids with us. No little kids here.  Monday Chuck and I will renew our vows for our 35th anniversary in Disneyland. I am ready to get the drive out of the way and start the fun.

Merry Christmas to all and be good.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Senior what???

Reality check of self perception.

Took off yesterday afternoon to do some grocery shopping. I pulled into the Fry's parking lot to discover it was packed. What?? As I cruised through, my usual parking spots were filled. I can always get a good spot in this lot, what the heck is the deal? Finally grabbed one when someone pulled out. I got my own bags out of the car (hate plastic bags), snagged a cart from the cart rack outside and headed into the store. One other observation of the parking lot was the very slow moving vehicles and a cajillion people pushing carts.

I know this store well enough I can write my list based on aisles. I can usually cruise through the process pretty easily and fast-unless Chuck is with me.  If he is with me it takes FOREVER.

The place was a zoo, every part of the store and every aisle was packed with people and their carts. I couldn't believe how many times my cart was bumped, pushed and blocked by shoppers.  I started thinking "Did I miss some holiday that required cooking?" Maybe they wanted to stock up so they didn't have to shop Christmas week, probably a good idea.

Since I always shop with a list I can usually get in and right out. Not gonna happen in this case. I got the last of the list items in the dairy section and headed to the checkouts. I came up by the pharmacy and stopped. There had to be a line of at least twelve people.

Light bulb moment! Wednesday is blue hair day!! Nearly all of the people in the store were old. Well that explained the full parking lot and crowded store. As I looked around while in the checkout line I saw people writing checks!?!? Who writes checks anymore?

It was my turn to check out and the cashier was fast and smiling-thank goodness. Just as she was totaling my purchase she asked me a question. "It is senior day, 55+ so would you like me to put in the discount?" 


Wow! She didn't question if I was 55+. She didn't want to see my ID, but if I wanted the discount as a senior. Oh man I must have had the deer in the headlights look on my face for a second and then I said "oh sure, why not."  A discount is a discount, and it got me about $20 off my purchase. I paid, I left and once I was in my car I called Chuck. "It's official Chuck, I am old!" I told him what happened and he howled with laughter. Ok not helping.

That's it, I had been letting my lovely silver/white hair grow out but I'm coloring it, that's settled. I don't want to look too much like my mom yet. I already have her knees and square face, but I can control my hair.

I will go to Fry's again on Wednesday's. I am not a fool and the discount is good. But now I will be prepared. Ego hit without warning is hard on this "old" lady.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

He's back up north

Well, Chuck has left Arizona and is safely back up north. We had a really nice time and had lots of fun going places and hanging out together. After my last blog I left you on Monday. This past week was spent for the most part in Catalina.

We did lots of work around the property and spent time enjoying visits with friends and having fires. He made sure my bike was working again, got the yard cleaned up and the grass mowed so it wouldn't need too much care while he is gone.

He also spent time catching up on all his shows that were recorded on the DVR and watching UA basketball games. Mornings were so nice enjoying coffee and breakfast together and we had hours spent sitting together while we read.

There was one downer that happened this week. I learned that an old friend had died very suddenly and unexpectedly. Donna was one of the kindest and genuinely good person I have ever known and her loss is great. Her memorial service is tomorrow.

As I dropped him off at the airport for his flight back I was glad to know that his next trip home is already set up and will be a nice one. After his two weeks at Dickinson he will be back on December 8th for two weeks in Tucson followed by Christmas week in Disneyland with our kids.

I have a second blog It is different from this one-not as personal and more about my writing. I would welcome anyone to enjoy it.

Happy Thanksgiving all.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Making it memorable

Since Chuck arrived for his two weeks off I have wanted the days to be fun and filled with great things to remember. He arrived late Monday night the 10th so we drove the long way home from Tucson International to Catalina trying to stay awake. Lots of talking and catching up.

Tuesday we were busy. Chuck got a haircut, we went grocery shopping (remember I haven't been cooking), getting the Escape ready to be sold and me getting used to having someone else in my house!

Wednesday was so fun because we drove to Phoenix to meet Nick and Darlene to hand over the title for the Escape. This was the culmination of a God thing that gave us the opportunity to be blessed as well as blessing someone else. They needed another car for her since she has a 3 year old and a newborn. You've gotta have a car with kids. They have been sharing and that was really hard and inconvenient. So there we were with this really good extra car and the match was made.  The smile on Darlene's beautiful face when she drove the car over to put the kids and car seats in it warmed my heart.

Thursday we decided to go up the mountain, and it was spectacular. Mt. Lemmon was not too crowded, very cool and overhead bright blue skies. We stopped at the Palisades ranger station for a quick look around and then up to Summerhaven for a stop at The Living Rainbow gift shop and then next door to The Cookie Cabin. It was so nice not to be in any kind of hurry.  After that we drove up to Ski Valley and road the ski lift up, took a short hike around the top and the road it down. It was the most peaceful and serene moment, snuggled up to Chuck and watching the mountain pass beneath us. Once we were off the lift we went to The Iron Door restaurant for chili. We had the most fun waiter, he was speaking five or six language to serve us. So fun. We drove home relaxed and smiling.

Friday was terrific. I had lunch with some of the women I worked with when I was at Ventana Medical. It was so fun to catch up and hear what everyone was doing, who was coming and going and all the other work talk that you do when you haven't seen people in six months. The food was good and the company was fantastic. That evening Chuck and I enjoyed the company of dear friends Mars and Kristen along with their two children and a young friend. We had a wonderful meal together laughing and talking about all the crazy things that life had thrown our way. We then enjoyed music, beer and wine outside around a roaring warm bonfire. The sky was clear with the stars shimmering brightly and the laughter carried through the cool night air. The kids had fun running in the yard and the adults enjoyed the rekindling of friendships.

Saturday was a sort of catch-up day. Laundry and yard work was the agenda with a stop in the middle for the UA football game. We won. The evening was a mellow one with reading and some movies. Splendid.

Sunday was a great day which started with a stop at Pusch Ridge Christian Church for a lovely worship and a chance to greet many friends. We were smiling brightly when we left. We made a stop at In-N-Out and headed south to the wine country of Sonoita and Elgin. The day was cool and breezy with high clouds. Perfect for a wine tasting tour. We stopped into six wineries and were able to fully stock our wine cabinet. We enjoyed visiting with another group doing the same thing and traveling in the same direction as we were. We would laugh when we ran into each other at every stop. It was a perfect day and we were both very tired and relaxed by the time we got home.

Monday-today-it was a blast from the past for Chuck. We took a road trip on the old Florence/Kelvin Hwy into Chuck's old stomping grounds in and around Kearny. We stopped at the overlook to watch the activity in the Ray open pit mine, and then cruised through Kearny as Chuck pointed out who used to live where and told me stories of life in a small mining town during the heydays of the 60's and 70's. He really loved it and I could tell there was more going on in his mind than what he was sharing with me. That happens to all of us when memories fill our hearts. We drove back through Superior and down through Florence and back to Catalina.

And here we are now.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Big things coming up

Got an interesting phone call this morning from Chuck. He told me that on his way home from work he was driving I-94 and was near Dickinson when his truck hit a stretch of black ice and he spun out and slid off the road.  He was able to get back on the road and get home safely, not truck damage or injuries. It made it clear to us that we need something for the truck tires in this cold weather. He will be home for two weeks tomorrow and we will start looking into options.

Speaking of him being home, he is more than ready to be back to relax and be out of the snow and ice. We have some things planned to do but are really going to just hang out by ourselves and enjoy the time together. I will have to start cooking again. When I am by myself I tend to not really cook very much.  Coffee and breakfast is my main meal. I usually snack throughout the day rather than have a real meal. I am not very hungry.

Chuck is an eater and is always ready for meals! Means more shopping and groceries.

Speaking of cooking-I am not cooking for Thanksgiving Day!

Well except for cherry crumb cake at the request of my nephew Kris. For the first time in many years there will be no big family feast here in Catalina. I am so glad to announce my sister Mary will be hosting at her home in Phoenix. I am so excited for it and relieved not to have to plan, shop and cook. I know that must sound selfish but I was not looking forward to the whole big thing.  The best part is that my daughter Melissa will be there for a couple of days. I am flying her out and we will spend the time enjoying food and the newest grandchild in our family.

I will however have a small Thanksgiving early for Chuck and I. Much smaller bird and fewer sides. It will be special for us and it will give him a celebration memory to take back to Dickinson. This will be the start of the Holiday Season which is going to be very special. I am happy to be part of a family who want to be together and put in the effort to make it happen.

Keep smiling and enjoy the colors, smells, sights and sounds.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Trying to catch up


I realized I hadn't done anything with this blog in a while so it is time to catch up. This week is Chuck's last one of his three week long night shift duty. He has been through a few really cold, windy and some rainy/snowy nights these last two weeks. He has the best clothes for working in this weather so he hasn't been uncomfortable. He's also been eating much more regularly at this new site versus the old one. A lot of times at the old site he wouldn't get the chance to snack or eat until his shift was almost over and it was not good for him.

The move to Dickinson was a good one for my honey.

He was proud to tell me that they had a really great month in October and the higher ups were pleased. In fact his supervisor bought everyone a bunch of FR (flame retardant) cold weather work clothes. Head-to-toe new stuff. I can't imagine how much it cost but the crew appreciate it and feel appreciated too. I am really proud of him, and am ready for his two weeks down here.

Family talk down here has been about Thanksgiving plans.

Chuck will be back in Dickinson by that week so that puts me kind of at the mercy of whomever or whatever. My nephew Kris asked me about my plans and we started talking. He even said something about getting Melissa back here for it and that got me very excited.  Then my sister Mary in Phoenix asked me the same thing and said that her son, future daughter-in-law and their new baby would be there. Mmmm baby skin nibble on. She wanted to have my mom and Bob to come up and I asked Kris what he thought. He was going to get back to me.

And then things started rolling.

Mary's will be a full house with lots of love, food, laughs, football and conversation. I texted Melissa and she loved the idea of seeing Nick, Darlene and baby Alex so now I'm waiting to hear from Kris. It has really perked me up thinking of it all.

I have to admit that when I get a chance I have been watching all of those smarmy, romantic Christmas shows on Hallmark Channel. They are so formula and predictable but it is kind of like reading a series of romantic novels about a family of seriously gorgeous sons and the seriously beautiful soul mates they find. I have to set the alarm on my phone to quit after a set amount of time. They are addictive.

Hmmm, that sounds like a blog for "".


Monday, October 20, 2014

Chuck on night shift

Well Chuck officially started a three week stretch of night shift. What is interesting is that he prefers this shift. He doesn't like to get up at 4am to leave at 5 to get to work at 6. He would rather work at night. He has always been a night owl.

I wake naturally at around 7am.

I used to tell people the perfect shift for me was 10am to 2pm Tuesday through Thursday but making the same money I was working an 8 hour day. I am most efficient from about 9am to around 2pm. After that my brain doesn't want to focus.

After this stretch I will get to see him. He had to put brakes on the truck and is carpooling with his co-worker which is great on gas. It is so weird that up in the oil fields gas is more expensive that here in Tucson.

I had a wonderful night last night at my friend Kristen's house. Had a great meal and lots of catching up. Her kids are getting so big and it was a comfort to spend time with my dear friend.

I enjoy making my own schedule of appointments now that I have more time to myself. I'm not working and I am enjoying the fact that I don't have to do anything. When I worked full time I coveted my time off and didn't want to give it up. It frustrated Chuck because he wanted to go places like hiking or camping and all I could think was I have to clean the house and do laundry. In my mind if we went off the time would go really fast and before I knew it Monday was there.

I know selfish, right?

Now that pressure isn't there and I can relax and go when and where I want. I really like it. I worked pretty much most of my adult life and all I really wanted was to be a housewife. I am enjoying my house and my hobbies. I can take my time with those things with no worry that the hours are flying by.

I'm doing okay.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Birthday what??

Oh Jeez, when did my baby get to be 33!!!! I am 33 so this is not possible. He is four, I am sure of it. In my dreams he is four or maybe six, but 33?? Uh nope.

This will take some processing.

Aaron was that dream baby who was hungry, snuggly and affectionate. He was fun and thoughtful and he still is. When I look at him now, how tall and mature with warm dark eyes and an infectious laugh it makes me so happy. He is still snuggly.

Aaron was his dad's birthday gift in 1981, along with a basketball. There is symmetry to that since one of Aaron's first words was basketball. No kidding.

October birthdays: Chuck is the 13th, Aaron is the 15th, my grandfather Papaw was the 18th and my dad's was the 28th. Aaron also chose this month for his wedding so throw that one in on the 17th and it is colossal.

One of the most heart warming things about both of my children is how close they are to their dad. When they were asked about their hero they both said it was their dad.

How cool is that?

So many children don't even know who dad is, or if they do dad is not remotely like a hero. A child needs to know their father would die for them, that their welfare is utmost and they will be unconditionally loved and honored as gifts from God.

My kids know this.

I knew this.  My dad was the best. I know that no one is perfect and he wasn't perfect but I knew he loved me and my sisters and would have moved heaven and earth to take care of us, keep us safe and make us happy.

I wish this for all the children in the world.


Friday, October 10, 2014

My kids

There are times like today when my thoughts have been about my two amazing children. They are wonderful humans who have carved out their own paths in life and are taking care of themselves. I am proud of them beyond measure and would never change anything about them.

Except their proximity to me.

Melissa is in Southern California and has been since the late 90's. She is independent, self sufficient and knows her own mind. She has been like this since she was small. This is a person who at 7 1/2 months old was walking! As a child she never wanted to be cuddled much or was one to stay still for long. No task was too much of a challenge for her, she pushed herself to accomplish. I admired her and used to tell people she raised herself.

Recently we have spent time together, just she and I, and my admiration just increases. She is smart and wise, caring and determined and a loyal friend to her circle of companions. Many of her former students stay in contact after they move on which shows the profound impact she has on them. Her creativity is boundless.

She is a treasure to her parents.

Aaron was another story. He was a mellow easy going little guy. He liked to snuggle and was always affectionate. He immersed himself in family life. He also had an amazing memory for lines in movies. He could watch a movie a couple of times and would wander around quoting half the lines of the show. He was also like that with song lyrics. I remember hearing him sing a song from the Disney movie Aladdin and I realized how well he sang. His voice was great. I remember my grandmother saying how well he held the tune when he was little. I should have known music was in his heart. I love singing with him but with him in Oklahoma that doesn't happen too often.

My immense loss.

Then came Chelsea. I believe the best thing I can say about her is she loves my son as much as I do. She is the best daughter-in-law that God ever made and she compliments Aaron perfectly. I hoped and prayed for the wife my son would choose. That she would build him up and support him, that she would help him in his faith walk and provide love and acceptance.

My prayers were answered.

I just wish they were closer to me so I could hug them and give them my time, love and attention more easily. Then again maybe that makes our time together more special.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Where is home?

I sit here watching television and thinking about making dinner. I am back in Catalina, in the place we've lived since 1991. It is the same yet there is a difference. The filled bookcases and the cabinet holding a collection of shot glasses (Chuck's) and a precious assortment of vinyl albums. I talk as though I was away for more than a few months yet the transition from Tioga back Catalina is a one step at a time thing. When I left for Tioga I disconnected my mind from Catalina. I separated myself from this place and divided my loyalty to the home I made in Arizona and gave some of it to Tioga.

When I got back my sister came over to get Cooper and to bring him back into her home and heart. He never left her heart but was relocated due to difficult circumstances for her, but now he is where he should be. He and Lisa are best friends who need to be together.  It was heart warming to see them together. Lisa's face was so joyful and I could tell they were stepping right back into their places in each other's lives.

After getting everything we brought back unloaded and put away, I had Chuck take out my "Harvest" decorations. I don't do Halloween, and Harvest themes last from Labor Day through Thanksgiving. It was fun to put everything out, and not too cluttered but with enough to display my theme colors. Each item made me smile as I unwrapped the tissue paper and decided where it was to be placed. It is strange to think fall is here and the high temperature forecast for today is 93. At least after today the 90's should be nearly over.  I really don't do hot very well. I like the feeling of cool air on my skin.

I have started looking for a church to attend. Distance is a real consideration for me and there are a variety of churches within a few miles of my house. The one I had been attending before I went to North Dakota has relocated several miles away, south of Ina road and with so many much closer I have decided to look at those for a place to be.

My sleeping had been terrible since I left Tioga. I have had approximately two good nights of sleep since I returned and am trying to find out what is holding back the therapeutic slumber I need. 

I will continue to find my way back home.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Lots to do

The countdown is on and the packing has started. At least for me it has. Chuck is leaving most of his stuff in the company apartment in Dickinson. There are things I am leaving in the RV, especially duplicates of what I have at the Catalina house and the extreme cold weather items.

We are towing the Escape back and using it as a storage trailer. Most of the boxes and tubs will be put in it and it can hold quite a lot. The Explorer will carry only the items we will need during our journey to Catalina. It is also roomy enough with the seats folded to actually sleep comfortably in the back. Sort of car camping although it will be primarily to save on hotel charges. Also Cooper can hang out in back.

Speaking of Cooper he was groomed Friday and his schnauzer cut has begun.  We kept him pretty much shaved while he's been in Tioga, just no time or a nearby groomer to keep it up. All we did was bathe him. Oro Valley Marketplace Petco has a great grooming service so we will use them as the cut grows out.  He did great at the Minot groomer and they love him. It was wonderful to find them.

I learned that there is a hurricane in Baja which will hit Tucson during our trip down. I hope it is nearly over by the time we reach there. Our property is prone to what is called sheet flooding. It means that due to the clay soil and the flatness of the area water run across the property in sheets. I have seen these be as much as 3-5 inches deep. The one time I remember it being a great thing was when we first moved out and Chuck had seeded the yard with grass seed. About two or three days later a heavy rain happened and the sheet flooding washed the manure from the neighbors horses across our grass seed.

It grew in a matter of days.

I am waiting for Chuck to arrive, and I am ready for a big hug. I hope my insomnia will go away. It has been terribly hard to get only an hour or two of sleep, or wake every hour all night. I have taken to drinking chamomile tea every night and this has helped.

Nature knew what she was doing with that one.

I am the type who remembers my dreams and this is how I know how well I sleep. I thrive on my dreams and the trips I take with them, especially when I dream of my father. I pray for dreams of dad. They are comforting since they usually involve hugging and kissing him, hearing him laugh and explaining things to me.

Oh Sarge.

I sincerely feel dreams are my mind's way of telling me what I am struggling with and the revelation of my stresses. I mull them over throughout the day as they slowly fade from my conscious mind. I have recurring dreams that happen when a certain anxiety is upon me. These are my getting away and going nowhere dreams. However since the location changes of the last several months I haven't had those. 

I guess I am a bit of a wanderer.


Monday, September 8, 2014

FICM and Polar Vortex

I ordered the part for the Truck yesterday. It is the FICM, a type of truck computer and that puppy is not cheap. I was told they would ship it today by next day mail, and that is good since I have to get it and drive it down to Dickinson so Chuck can install it.  Then the old one will be returned for a refund of the core charge.  This is all rather a nuisance but it is necessary.  If we can keep the truck going for a while longer that will be very helpful financially. Of our three vehicles we are only making car payments on one of them. 

Besides the fact that I will have to transport the part to Dickinson once it arrives is that it is expected to arrive while a very cold spell is to be here.  Not exactly a polar vortex type of storm, snow is not expected, but it will be below freezing over night Wednesday and Thursday. I would rather not be driving back with the iffy roads even though the Explorer is a great vehicle with 4wd.

It looks like folks in and around Phoenix should start watching for an ark. My sister living there has posted photos of flooding. The hard desert ground can only handle so much rain at a time and many roads are closed. Tucson has seen flooding like this in the past. 1983 and 1993 both had what were called "100 year" floods.  Both were also related to low pressure weather activity from the Pacific.

Time to do some laundry.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

So far its tough

Last night was not a good one. Insomnia struck with a vengeance and I got up this morning feeling really rough. I know I slept some because I remember two dreams. These were spaced between awake times and I know that it took me at least two hours to finally doze off. The last time I looked at the clock it was 1am and I must have slept for an hour because when I awoke it was 3am, then at least another hour passed before I slept again and woke at 4:30 with a painful shoulder and a headache. Got up to take advil and lay back down. I woke the last time at 6am and laid there waiting for Cooper to shake his collar, a sign that he needs to go outside. At 7:30 I let him out and got back in bed. Then Chuck called with news that the truck is causing trouble.

Now we have to spend money.

He knows what is wrong. It is a part that needs to be ordered and programmed by the vendor before it can be replaced. We have a week until we need that vehicle to tow the RV to storage. Once it is running the truck works. But the problem causes a drain on the batteries when it is parked. He has to keep the engine block heater plugged in and a charger on the batteries so it will start. Currently the truck is at his work site because it wouldn't start yesterday morning. He is getting rides. I really hope we can get it repaired so we can eventually get a new one.

All of this while he is working the night shift. It may delay our departure.

Once the RV is stored it can stay there as long as necessary. I told him that it might be a good idea for him to keep the Escape for his use rather than taking it back to Tucson. If the truck is going to keep giving us trouble I don't want him to be stranded in the freezing winter of North Dakota. He has to have a reliable vehicle. It is a bad sign when a vehicle starts to require repairs. It can nickel and dime us to death. If we have an RV we have to have a good, strong truck.

We will keep to the plan and pray that all goes well. Chuck is a pretty resourceful man and I know he understands what is required to make the repairs.

We will see.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

I was protected

Yesterday was a faith builder for me. You see, one of my fears living in an RV is the threat of severe storms here in Tioga. We have had them during these six months of my stay and at first, in the winter my only anxiety was brought on by strong winds which brought with them the snow and ice. 

I have a dreadful, near phobia of wind. Strong wind.

This, I think goes back to my experience in the Philippines where my father was stationed while in the Air Force. We endured the effects of two hurricanes (cyclones in the Pacific) that caused a lot of damage. But I had a heart stopping fear of the wind. The unceasing sound of nonstop roaring and the pounding of the house by this wind and what it carried assailed me. I remember standing in my bedroom trying to stop the deluge of rain from pouring though the windows. The howling and screeching was magnified at the sight of the roof lifting six inches from the wall and slamming down again, and the rain would soak me and my things with each gale.

It was dreadful for a 14 year old girl.

I have since realized that when the wind blows, more than twenty miles per hour I am fearful and feel extremely unsafe. I cannot relax or sleep. I must wait it out because otherwise I am not prepared for the worst.  I know this seems extreme, but this fear is extreme. I would almost call it a handicap. It makes me emotional and in some situations unreasonable.

It is worse when I am alone.

In the spring we had a close call with a storm that skirted us and moved south. It produced a tornado that did great destruction to an RV park near Watford City, ND. Chuck and I watched it's progress as it crossed us, building as it went. I told him at one point it looked very unstable. We were listening to the weather radio and watching weather apps to track it's path.  It was then that I realized how precarious our situation would be should a storm like this one hit us directly. All I could think was how to get the important things to safety. After that storm Chuck and I devised an evacuation plan. His calmness and reason helped me. But by far the greatest help was my faith in God protecting us.

I have relied on that belief and those prayers dozens of times. I cannot say how many times I would see a severe storm aimed right for us and I would call out to God for his protection-even that he would change the storm's direction and severity. I have been stunned to watch this very thing happen. Without explanation a storm would move north or south, or it would lose it's powerful hail and wind strength. My prayers have always included those who might be affected by such events.

But Chuck has been with me, by my side. An earlier blog refers to one occasion that happened when he wasn't here, but my sister Mary spent the better part of an hour on the phone keeping me from panicking during one of these events. As I prayed and spoke to her the storm broke apart and moved completely away, leaving a nice refreshing rain in it's wake.


It was around noon and I had the radio on listening to classical music and writing my blog, when the station gave a warning that our area was to experience a series of severe thunderstorm with the possibility of large hail, heavy rain and damaging wind with the chance of isolated tornados. My thoughts went wild with the idea of this. It was early and I didn't see any sign of a storm so I waited, trying to be busy.  Around two in the afternoon I was startled when the front door slammed shut with a strong wind gust. I checked it to make sure nothing had broken and sat back down at the computer. I looked out the west window across from me and saw that there was a large area of clouds due west. They were fairly dark so I figured they would be on the radar. I finished the blog, which was nearly completed and opened my weather app.

There it was! It was a massive storm covering western North Dakota and eastern Montana. It displayed rotating thunderstorms and in the middle the white tell-tail sign of hail.  This one was not going to miss me! That was when the first prayer went up. Now, I could not stop my storm tracking. The wind was growing, the trailer buffeted in the gusts. Not as bad as some of the winter gusts but the storm was still 30-40 miles away. I decided to distract myself somehow. I opened the weather apps on my phone and opened Netflix on my computer. I have been following this one murder mystery program so I started watching it. I sat there with the window coverings open so I could follow the advancing storm visually and as well as on the apps.  More prayers, rather pleading at this time. "Make it go north, make it drop all that hail in the vast prairie to the west, don't let the winds be more than thirty miles per hour, help me be calm and clear, don't let hit Chuck while he is working outside." On and on it went.  If someone had seen me they would have thought that crazy woman is yelling at herself. It kept building and I could see the horizontal clouds sweeping across the front of the storm.  It was tall and getting darker by the minute.

Chuck sent me a text saying he saw the radar and it looked suspicious. I replied that I was tracking it and could see it.  More prayers. It was still building and to the north the clouds looked dark green. More prayers.

Then I noticed the direction of the rotating area had changed slightly from due east to north east. Could it miss me? Then more wind, but no rain or hail.  It was close, probably ten miles, but the sky overhead was solid dark grey clouds.  More praying.  "If it is coming this way could it just skirt us?" The hail will be in the middle of this mess and that might keep me out of it. By this time I had watched an entire season one and was starting on season two.  The radar said there were more storms behind, though not at big but they were rotating as well. I remembered once hearing a meteorologist (I think it was Jim Cantore) say that many of these storms rotate but they don't always produce tornado's just a lot of downdrafts and microbursts.


Chuck sent another text asking how it was going. I told him it was over me but only the edge of it. He said it was windy and raining there but passing quickly. I told him I was not going to be able to sleep and he said I could stay up with him. He is so good.  At that point heavy rain started to fall.  It was pounding making it hard to hear the program.  I got up. I had to look to see if there was hail. I opened the front door slightly and in the porch light I could see it was just rain, heavy Arizona monsoon storm rain.  This works for me.  It rained for nearly an hour. Cooper and I just sat, listening to the rain and the program. Watching the weather app on the phone. In the thick darkness out side the lightning was ferocious, the thunder very close at times.

Then it stopped. 

I waited a few more minutes and after a couple of small showers of short duration it stopped. I waited again and then I opened the front door-I saw stars and the moon!! It was past me and the other storms behind it had either broke up or veered south. More prayers this time of thankfulness and praise.

Chuck sent a text that they shut down due to lightning but it was past them now and things were up and running.  Thank you God.

I went to sleep.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Two week countdown!

Chuck left for Dickinson to start his next two weeks on and I have my two weeks to get the RV ready for storage and determine what comes to Catalina and what stays in the trailer. Started with cleaning and sorting, there is a lot to do however, it is for the most part, the same thing. Personal items. 

Clothes and shoes, vitamins, tools and media.

I've been scheduling in my mind the logistics for moving from here to Tucson. The mail -  we have a PO box and mail forwarding. Close the box first then stop forwarding, or stop forwarding then close the box. What to keep in the RV while in storage - it will be freezing so I have to make sure any liquids are out of the trailer. Will dish soap freeze?

It was 49 this morning.

Chuck took most of his stuff to Dickinson, he has a very full room. He likes clutter. It comforts him in a way I cannot understand. To me space is clean. I don't want a counter full of stuff. Put it in a cabinet or pantry. If there is nothing on the counters it is easy to clean.  Chuck would have every appliance we have on the counters. They would be full and there would be no work surfaces.

If I'm not using it I don't want to look at it.

This is also why I don't want him cooking. I clean as I go so that once I am finished with the process the only item left is dirty dishes and many times I've done those along the way as well.  He will use every bowl, pan and utensil he can and they will be left in the sink, not rinsed, until I get to them. To me this says "Nancy clean this up" and thus my no cooking rule for him when we are together.

This also applies to the dishwasher.

Chuck's philosophy - it is a dishwasher so why wash the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher? He is referring to rinsing them prior to placement. I told him I always rinse the dishes before washing even if I am washing by hand. You would think he would understand that un-rinsed dish debris clogs the drainage tubes but he insists it is dissolves before it drains if the dishwasher is any good.

It is an ongoing debate.

Let's not even go into clothes washing. Just suffice to say he has killed a few washers by loading them so full and making them so heavy they don't agitate.

But he's mine!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Transition RV park culture

You've seen the photos and videos of the beautiful, pastoral mountain vista, with lush emerald grass fields and majestic pines, painting an idyllic setting for the family in the tricked out travel trailer. You watch scenes of the children happily playing on swings and slides and the family smiling and laughing, sitting around a camp fire cooking s'mores, while a large dog slumbers nearby. You know the one I mean.

Well that's not the one I live in.

First off no grass or trees, but weeds aplenty and they grow well. At one time gravel was probably put down in the spaces but it has long since been driven over, shoveled under and piled in corners. The road is dirt, not too bumpy and the spaces are roomy enough, but the trailers are a mixed bag of all different sizes, ages and styles. Almost all of them have skirting for cold weather insulation. This skirting ranges from the nice, custom, heavy duty vinyl that's color coordinated and firmly affixed to the trailer to pieces of plywood, OSB and insulating foam (blue or white) attached with screws and/or expanding spray on foam adhesive.

Nearly everyone has a satellite dish, and some have two with cables running everywhere. Heavy duty extension cords run from electric pedestals, under trailers and through the sides of the RV pop-outs, and used to power who knows what. Some folks have large buckets with tomato's and other vegetables growing. Some have work areas for car repairs and many have mud rooms built over the front door to catch the filthy, muddy boots and work clothes and to keep freezing air from blasting into the trailer.

When an RV pulls out the empty space is swarmed over by various tenants set on recovering left behind items like plywood, insulating foam board, water hoses and structures like mud rooms and sheds. The only item no one takes-generally-are left behind used sewer pipes. The manager hauls these off.

There isn't a sense of community here.

It's as though you really don't want to make friends since this isn't home and you really are transient. Everyone is from somewhere else. Sometimes a couple of people will work together on moving something, vehicle repairs or hauling something off but it really isn't that kind of community.  But, considering the options for RV living in Tioga, this place is as good as any and probably better. They are constantly working on various improvements, but a very short outdoor working season means the priorities are handled first and after that it's putting out fires. This isn't a place you want your children to live in for very long. People with families go back home. If the family comes they don't stay long.

I haven't minded too much. Tioga the town is a welcoming and pleasant place.

Our 5th wheel RV is a nice size (32ft) for extended living with room to spread out, lots of storage and everything works. If it were set up in one of those picture perfect sites it would fit easily, but it is going into winter storage. I must say I am looking forward to being back in Catalina just for the space alone. I will miss Tioga. Chuck will be pretty well set up in his townhouse in Dickinson since after this much time he has figured out what he really needs to be comfortable is a bathroom, refrigerator, washer/dryer, plenty of food and drinks, laptop, TV and movies.



Thursday, August 21, 2014

What's next?

Chuck and  I have spent the last three days planning, laughing and getting jobs done. We have been making lists of things he is taking back to Dickinson when he goes back to work and what we will haul back to Tucson. We need to make the RV as light as possible for the trip to Bismarck. It will be easier on the truck.

Chuck will be taking the small refrigerator we put in the RV since he shares a townhouse with 3 guys their fridge is pretty full. He is taking a 15" flat screen TV so he can watch DVD's. This isn't the big one that came with the RV. He will be taking all his clothes and personal things that he had left here.

After he goes back I will have two weeks to get my stuff together. Since the RV won't be going back to Tucson I won't need my cold weather stuff so it will stay.

I am feeling a bit better about him being by himself since he learned from me how to organize his time for laundry, cooking and stuff while I took care of him. Also the good thing about where he is now is the work load is much easier on him physically and he likes his crew. It seems to be a good balance.

Skype is great. It was such a good thing when I was in Catalina and we have used it since he relocated. We don't feel so distant.

I can't believe how well I am sleeping since he got here.

I have bad insomnia, it's pretty chronic. Since he has been here I haven't had it at all. Of course we stay up much too late but I did that before and it didn't help. I get nervous sometimes at night, especially if I hear people walking around. It is close quarters in an RV park. I asked him to put some sort of security lock on the screen door. Cooper is not a dog to bark if someone is walking around or comes to the door so he is no help as a warning.

I will be ok.

I had a chat with my nephew and he said the Catalina place is a jungle of weeds. Since the first of July they have had seven inches of rain!! Of course I leave and we have the best monsoon in years. Was watching video of flooding north of Phoenix. Looks really bad. We are expecting three days of heavy rain here starting tonight. Highs will be in the low 60's and Sunday the low temps are forecasted in the 40's.

This is my kind of weather.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Plans in place

It looks like I will be leaving Tioga the middle of September to move back to Tucson until spring. Next week Chuck and I will be looking at a RV storage facility in Bismarck. The price looks good, definitely a money saver so, when the RV is moved and winterized Chuck and I will head to Catalina.

Chuck has stuff he wants to take care of, like getting things stored properly and securely and cleaning the back half of the acre and some work on the exterior of the house.  He will be making regular trips down when he has his off two weeks. We have decided not to sell it right now, but to make it as good as possible to keep as a winter home for the foreseeable future.

After Chuck was transferred to the Dickinson area I struggled occasionally with being in Tioga by myself. I am perfectly able to be on my own yet I found my self thinking "I moved out of Catalina to here to be able to take care of him in Tioga and now he is in Dickinson three hours away (much longer in the winter) and I am on my own again."  I might as well save the cost of rent and go home for the winter and work on the house. As it is I see him on his off days. We talk on the phone and Skype-I can do this in Catalina.

The confirmation about this decision happened when I applied for a job as a school secretary at the high school. I prayed that if God wanted me in Tioga getting the job would show me. I got a call two days after my interview to say they offered the position to someone else.

I got that message, thank you God.

When I told Chuck about this and an emotional dream I had about Catalina and my attachment to it our thoughts about future plans took a turn. Montana summers and Catalina winters. The Catalina place needs tidying and organizing and an irrigation system installed. It needs paint, the spa repaired and the front brick edifice of a porch finished. It needs to be ready and require minimal care when we are gone. If I need help when he is not there I have my nephews and my neighbors.

This will be the winter work.

We have been making some inquiries into Montana property in the Billings/Red Lodge areas and until we have the place we want I will live in the RV in the summer in an RV park in either Billings or Bismarck.  Both are on I-94 and from Dickinson it is a short drive to Billings for Chuck and a much better and safer one than driving from Dickinson to Tioga. Once we have our Montana land we will get it ready by setting the RV up to live in while we work on it. Chuck also has a large metal building he will set up as a barn/storage building. It is nice to have some plans.

I am finished with living in Arizona in the summer.


p.s. Yard sales

Thursday, August 14, 2014

What a fun week!

We had a week that was so much fun, educational and interesting. Having Melissa with us was delightful and we visited so many new places and a few old places and I really feel she had a wonderful experience.

One destination which was new to all of us was a foray into Canada. We had reservations in Regina, Saskatchewan.  Crossing the border was easy-we had our passports. It was a drive on good roads and the traffic wasn't bad. Before going to Regina we took a short detour to Moose Jaw. Yep, there is a town in Canada called Moose Jaw.

We stopped at the visitor center, which has a huge moose in front of it. No surprise there and looked around. We didn't have too long to stay so we cruised through downtown and found a place to eat.

Back on the road to Regina, it only took an hour and we were there. The hotel was comfortable and instead of going to the casino right away we went down to the Chinese Buffet in the hotel. Food was not great and it was too expensive. Lesson learned. After that we wandered over to the casino which was a converted train station and it was so cool. Very 30's art deco, lots of marble and lots of slot machines. Chuck was more interested in the steam locomotive outside.

The next morning after checking out we headed to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum and to Melissa's delight there was a T-Rex display.

 Melissa made friends with Scotty. She has an affinity with the poor short-armed t-rex. I certainly relate and tease Chuck that the reason I married him was because he could reach things on the top shelf!
This was taken because Chuck is cute.  Also the elk is in a beautiful setting.

 You can guess where this sign lead us. To MegaMunch the animated T-Rex. He roared and moved and made friends with Melissa.
The museum was very nice and the displays were informative and well done.  I like museums and art galleries-its just me. Outside was Wascana Lake which drew us into a walk around the lake toward the Saskatchewan Legislative Building. Just before we arrived we strolled through about 100 geese just hanging out by the water. Fortunately they were not aggressive since the people there know NOT to feed them.

Before the entrance to the building is an extensive and beautiful formal garden. It was just so colorful and appeared almost sculpted. After the garden and just before we crossed the street to the building we saw a statue of Queen Elizabeth II astride her favorite horse which came from Saskatchewan. It was a great likeness.

The trip back to Tioga was side tracked by Melissa's desire to see Avonlea, Saskatchewan. Since the summer reading for her students included "Anne of Green Gables" she thought it might be interesting. Well it was.  Our visit included the Heritage Museum and unlike other museums you could actually touch and feel the displays. All I kept saying was "I am transported." We were immersed in the life of this tiny village.

These side trips are always the hidden jewels.

The trip home was quick and we spent a day of chilling in Tioga. Sunday afternoon we headed out to Custer, South Dakota to make the circuit of Mt. Rushmore and surrounding sights. The one thing we hadn't planned on was that it was Sturgis Week!

I love motorcycles from my first ride on my dad's bike but after three days of every conceivable type of motorcycle I was sick of seeing them. Most of all because of the blatant disregard for safety. More than half of them had no helmets or leathers and the obvious trips between bars and outdoor beer gardens made me nervous for everyone on the roads.  I know this is a culture of its own but it was infiltrating the roads, highways and neighborhoods of the Rapid City area of South Dakota.

Ranting over, back to gorgeous Mt. Rushmore.

The mountains and forests are beautiful and the carved faces stun the first time they are seen.  We spent quite a bit of time walking the trail, seeing the artist's lodge and just looking in wonder.  On our trip back to Custer we stopped at the Crazy Horse Memorial. It is still under construction but you can get an idea of the immensity of it when completed. It has a wonderful museum and since it get's no federal funding I was more than happy to drop a few dollars there in support.

Now a few words about our wonderful lodgings in Custer. We stayed at "Gold Creek Cabins" in cabin number one and I must say it was fantastic. A true log cabin which lacked nothing but wifi. It is on our return to list. Chuck was up early one morning and walked down to the pond to see if there were fish and he looked into the forest past the pond to see several deer coming down. He saw several young ones as well.  The mornings were covered in coolness and dew. The breeze was comfortable and I would be happy to spend a week or two there exploring.

Our trip back to Tioga included a stop at the famous tourist stop Wall Drug in Wall, SD. Wow is that a cool place. Of course like everywhere else it was probably over full thanks to the bikers but it was a very fun stop. There was also a T-Rex there which made it all the more fun for Melissa.

The rest of the trip home Tuesday was uneventful and then on Wednesday Chuck went back to work in Dickinson and on Thursday Melissa went back to Los Angeles.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

O Canada!

The exploration has begun and the first trip is into Canada with an overnight in Regina, Saskatchewan. We drove straight north out of Tioga and crossed the border without issue. Everyone had their passports.  There were lots of farms and fewer oil wells as we drove on.

The road was good and we aimed the car for Moose Jaw. Yes that is the name. I don't know how you put that into a school cheer and it looked really strange printed on buildings and signs.  It seemed fake to me whenever I saw it. We were ready for lunch so a drive down main street led us to the annoying discovery that all the streets, even side streets had parking meters.

Hello! No Canadian coins on any of us.

Chuck said he wanted to head back to a restaurant he saw called "Original Joe's" and so we found it, pulled in and parked. It was actually fairly warm, low 80's but we dined alfresco. The food was great and not too expensive. 

We decided to go to the Western Development Museum just down Main Street. We parked and walked up to the entrance and just as I was wondering out loud, "I wonder if they charge?" I saw a sign that said $10 a person! What?? Thirty dollars for the three of us to walk through a museum about the development of transportation! The Smithsonian in Washington DC is free!

No thanks.

So back in the car and on to Regina. After a short trip we arrived at our hotel. And here we sit. There is a casino next door so that sounds like a fun night out. Tomorrow we will do a bit of sightseeing in downtown and head back to Tioga. 

Oh and one more thing, cell phones. Costs $$ for roaming, data, etc., so no texting unless necessary. We had to use an old fashioned map to find out way here, but we did it!


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A visitor!

Today Melissa arrives for a week long stay.

It will be the start of a very busy week. Today we take Cooper to the groomer in Minot and once he is finished we will take him to board while Melissa is here. We will be traveling so much that it would be better for him to be in one place for the duration. After we drop him off we will head back to Minot and wait for her plane.

Tomorrow morning we will head to Canada. Our destination is Regina, Saskatchewan to explore and stay over night. Side trips will include Moose Jaw and Estevan. I am looking forward to it.

Back to Tioga for two nights and then to South Dakota to visit the history of that state. Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, Deadwood and so on. 

On our way back we will go by Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota.

It will be busy but fun. I just hope it doesn't go too fast.  More too come with photographs!


Thursday, July 24, 2014

I get by with a little help from my friends

Chuck is working three hours away. I am home alone gleefully watching "Daddy Long Legs" on Netflix and happened to glance at the weather radar on my phone to see a long storm system reaching from South Dakota to Canada bearing down on Tioga. This big guy was showing hail, strong winds and super heavy rains with lightning. It was one long, solid band of nasty weather beast.  This was about 6:30pm. I started talking to God about it, a lot.

I went to get the weather radio to find it was left on and the batteries were dead. But I live with Chuck Vaughn and we always have batteries! I put them in and turned on the radio to hear the guy saying a severe thunderstorm warning was in effect in Williams County. I am in Williams County! As he spoke he was saying something about damaging winds in excess of 60mph and quarter sized hail and for people to take cover.

Ok God.

I live in an RV and have no covered parking for my brand new car.

I looked at the radar again and there were spots where the storm was breaking apart. This could be good if it broke up by the lake and went south of me, that happens. It was now after seven pm and the guy was still talking about taking cover and the hail would do major damage to cars and windows. I sat in a chair near by my big window facing west, the storm was still 40-50 miles away but you could see that is was getting darker. Remember the sun doesn't set until 9:30pm here. However there was, low on the horizon an area that looked a bit lighter. Will it pass me?

Then the guy on the radio says there is a tornado watch for Billings County, North Dakota. I looked at my phone radar and there it was.  A red lined area west of Dickenson were my husband is working! Turn out the lights the party's over. I grabbed the stuff that Chuck and I had planned to take for just such a situation and decided I was not going to sit in the RV and wait for hail to wreck my car and  strong winds blow over my trailer with me and Cooper sitting there.

I loaded the car, Cooper hopped in and I started to drive.

Nearby is a big truck stop with covered bays so that would be my destination when the hail came-but first I wanted to look at the storm myself. A quick radar glance showed the breaking up at the lake had happened but one large cell looked like it was headed for Tioga. I called my sister Mary while I drove around the town trying to get a vantage point for the storm. There was light on both sides of what looked like a really wide rain band. Mary was on her computer looking up the different radars to see if she could tell what it might be doing. Just her calm voice and information slowed my crazy heartbeat and cleared my scattered mind. She was doing just what I needed and I was getting myself under control. She was being my Chuck, the voice of reason and calm.

We talked non-stop for about twenty minutes. She told me it looked like it was breaking up and clearing some and would probably move just north of Tioga. By this time it was getting really dark, but there was lightning flashing brilliantly and rain starting fall so I told her I was going home and thanked her for her comfort. She had no idea how much I needed her. By the time I got back it was raining really good, no hail was falling, the winds were very light and Cooper and I settled down.

It is past us now, to the north. The air is cool and smells fresh. Thank you God for watching over it all.


Sometimes I feel old

Yesterday morning I decided I was going to ride my bike for the first time since we brought our bikes up here in May. It was proving to be a beautiful morning with fluffy white clouds and a light breeze. Altogether a splendid morning. 

I took my bike out and looked it over. I tested the tires and they seemed to be a little low, so another search and I found the hand pump. It took me a couple of tries to get it secured to the stem and then I started pumping.  The pressure gauge is hard to read, years of being in the sun had clouded it over but it looked like I had enough pressure in the tires. I tried the tires again and they still seemed a little low so I decided to give them a quick test run around the park.

I must add that in looking for the pump I found the bag with my helmet in it. That's all, I found it.

Putting my purse in the basket (an old lady thing-the purse and the basket,) I had brought it outside with me and didn't want to carry it back inside, I started off. Glancing quickly at the tires they seemed to be holding my weight pretty well so I decided to head to the post office since I had a letter to mail.  What the heck, I was cruising in the cool air.

I must insert that the post office is about a mile or mile and a half from my trailer.

As I rode I was thinking of Japan and how I rode my bike everywhere, it was freedom and joy for me. The trip was flying by and as I started across the railroad tracks an SUV passed carrying two cute young men and they waved and smiled at me. I smiled back and felt a little young myself! I came to the road in front of the post office and pulled onto the sidewalk. I stopped at the front door and started to get off the bike when my shoe caught on the cross bar and I fell. I remember thinking "Oh crap I'm falling!" and felt my bum hit and then my head smacked the pavement. All of this felt like a slow motion scene even though it was seconds.

I got up quickly and looked around to see if anyone was nearby and saw me, and I was thankful I was alone on the street. The back of my head was burning and I felt a big lump immediately. I grabbed my purse and went into the post office, dropped off my letter and checked my mail.  I wasn't dizzy, or lightheaded but I felt a sense of anger at myself for not wearing the helmet, embarrassed and just plain old shaken up.

I came out and got on the bike and rode back home just as easily although the bump on my head was aching. I was careful once I was home to have a hand hold when I got off the bike. I applied cold packs to my head and sat and calmed myself, resting as much as I could. I never did have any concussion symptoms which proved the point that I am very hard headed!

This morning as I woke, a thunderstorm was passing with lots of lightning and thunder and heavy rain. I was so happy that God woke me with his special alarm. I felt the bump and it had gone down considerably though still tender, then I stretched and Yikes!!!! I had sore muscles all over my neck, back, bum, knee and wrist. Well another day of taking it a bit easier. My sister, Lisa suggested hot moist towels which work really well and I want to take a walk later. My sore butt will keep me off the bike for a few more days but I will ride again, with a helmet, and not give in to any fears.

This old girl will push through!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Is this what it would be like?

I had a strange and rather distressing time this morning.

I took off to run some errands and do a bit of shopping and while I was driving between stops it occurred to me that this week with Chuck gone until Monday I was experiencing what it would be like if he weren't here.

As I shopped for myself only I realized that my cupboards are more bare and the refrigerator is much less full. I packed him off with the stuff he would need to make his meals and snacks for the lunch box. It cleared out so much that I realized how different it would be with him gone.

As I paid the rent, picked up the mail and went to the store I was not as motivated or excited the way I am when I am doing those things to take care of him and make his work days easier. I came back and Cooper greeted me cheerfully but it only took a few moments to put everything away. I won't need to do laundry for a while which is very different since I do laundry every two or three days with him here. He always has work socks and t-shirts that need washing.

I started to consider what I would have to do if I lost him. It would be a very different life. Thank goodness he is healthy and will be back to Tioga every two weeks for two weeks.

I bought new sheets and towels for Melissa's stay. It will be so wonderful to have her with us and Chuck is excited to show her the new work site and his free housing. Before he left we talked about all of the places to show her and things to see.

It is 2pm and the temperature is 77. Just thought I would share. Adios!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Another transition

Today Chuck starts a transfer to a new site, with the same company. He will be doing essentially the same thing, but the crew and his prospects are in his favor and I pray that he will be blessed with promotion and increase. It was a situation that was hovering in the background for a while and within a week he was contacted and it was scheduled.

He is now enroute to the Fairfield site which is near Dickinson, ND. It is about 2 1/2 to 3 hours driving, but I am not as emotional this time as I was when he departed Tucson.  He IS only that short drive versus an airline flight or 25 hours of driving time.

I will be on my own for two weeks at a time and then he will be here for two weeks. I am comforted that it is essentially a short distance and we can Skype and call as before. One surprising thing that has emerged is that Dickinson is on Mountain time while Tioga is on Central time! The Missouri River marks a time zone boundary west of Bismarck and running along the south side of the river.   He will gain an hour tonight.

Now I will have to remember what time it is in North Dakota along with California, Arizona and Oklahoma although the last is easier since it is the same as me!

July 30th Melissa is coming to see us and I am so excited. Her visit could have been a deal breaker for the transfer if they hadn't agreed to let Chuck be off for her visit. He told his boss that she was coming to see him (this is true) and that he had to be able to spend more than two or three days with her. That they agreed was a hopeful sign that his contributions are valued to them.  Melissa did tell people she was coming to see her dad since it had been Christmas 2012 since they had seen each other.

One year and seven months I expect is too long for a daughter to miss her dad, especially when they are in complete agreement in the way they think and so much alike.

Just got a call from Chuck and he is driving into a tornado watch!!! Ok, worry meter just spiked. Where he is heading there is a severe thunderstorm warning with the tornado watch. Now I will just wait to hear he has arrived safely.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Job hunt and night shift

I've decided I want to get a job up here to help fund our future plans and expedite the process. Even though we are doing okay there are some things that need a few more dollars to put it in motion. I have leads on two jobs, one with the post office in Tioga and one at the same place Chuck works.

I'm thinking that which ever one comes through first (if either) then that is the course I will follow. We have been talking about what our next steps are and if we will hold onto the house in Catalina. There have been lots of back and forth about how things need to be done and what is first, etc. Lots of prayers and talking have been going on. Looking to know what God's will is and to be in it.

Chuck starts his two week nightshift Monday so we have been trying to get him back into being awake at night and sleeping days-man am I so out of whack with my sleeping and eating.

One of the best things about this two weeks is at the end of it Melissa will be visiting us! We have been looking for cool things to show her. Lot's of history around here which might be interesting to a history teacher. In our driving around the north eastern part of the state there is such gorgeous country that is so different from Arizona. Besides how vivid the green hills and valleys are there is water everywhere. Lakes, ponds, huge rivers and meandering creeks. I am so enjoying the explorations.

I have to admit I miss having my things with me. My furniture and dishes, photographs and books, and my nice roomy kitchen. I am not stir crazy but there are times I think about them. My yard and the gardens and trees and the space of the acre I bring up in my mind. I would rather they were here than in Catalina though.

We will see.


Traveling and losing my cat

For the last week Chuck and I have been doing some sightseeing in North Dakota. We've gone as far east as Minot, as far north as Power's Lake, as far west as Fort Union (you actually cross into Montana about a 100 yards and back into ND) and then south to Theodore Roosevelt National Park North. Lots of driving, listening to music and talking as we cruise over the northern plains. It has been very eye opening, there is true beauty here.

The Explorer is a very comfortable ride and we actually were about 30 feet from two huge bison lumbering down the middle of the road holding up traffic! However in that park I dropped my cell phone - the battery went one way, the back went another and the phone landed face down shattering it. Now no contacts, no call logs, and no bison photos!

I received a message a few days ago from my neighbor in Catalina saying that her husband saw that Sasha was dead in the yard. This saddened me so because I had felt guilty about leaving her behind even though our reasons we felt were good.  She was getting older and a little lazier. She had never known anywhere else but our neighborhood in Catalina. She was actually born a block away from our house and came to live with us when she was 8 weeks old. She knew how to protect herself, when to hide and was a great rodent population controller. When we were last there in May she seemed slower and a bit haggard. I took this to think that we should leave her there in my nephews care and not shock her with a relocation. Kris had tried to take her to his house but she found her way back home and didn't want to leave. He made sure she was fed and had water. Poor sweet Sasha. He buried her in the back yard.

Much discussion is going on about our future and plans are in the works but I don't have anything to reveal yet so be patient.  Loving the weather and I don't mind the humidity.

Cooper, well he is still simple Cooper.


Friday, July 11, 2014

The Ghosts of Ford's Theatre

It must have been an evening full of relief and pleasure when President Lincoln and his wife entered Ford's Theater for an night of comedy. When I entered it I felt an overwhelming sense of adventure into another time.

 When you see the pistol that was used to kill him and the suit he was wearing at the time it is brought home that history is preserved in this place.

When we arrived there was already a crowd gathering to enter. It was rather interesting as we came into the foyer people became more hushed and observant, as if even the younger people knew instinctively this was a reverent atmosphere.

Across the street in the small building next to the white Lincoln Museum is the place that Lincoln died. He was carried across the street and placed in the bed that he was to die in. Very strange but the historical imprint on this location was profound.

You can see the line waiting to enter this place.


Yes it is me and John Wilkes Booth. He never flinched when I elbowed him.  He was a famous local actor so when he came into the theatre that night there was no one who would question his actions. He walked right up to the door of the box and was welcomed into the room.

 I have always thought that Abe was the best president our country ever had and to immerse myself in his life and thoughts. We know so much about him and yet he always kept something to himself. Below are some pics from the Theatre.

I could have spent much more time there.

He was shot here

He died here

Then it was time to leave and my the view out the window of the airplane as I left Minneapolis for Minot was this
Washington DC more than fulfilled my expectations and I know that I want to go back.



Saturday, June 21, 2014

I am able to blog again!

After not having internet service for what seems forever we are finally connected. There has been so much going on and I will try to get caught up.

The cold weather has cleared out and it is such a pleasure to enjoy the cool summer temperatures of the northern plains. Everything has turned green and I truly believe this is God's favorite color. The fields are plowed and growing, the trees are fully leafed out and grass and wildflowers are in abundance. The only downside is this has also brought mosquitos. You learn quickly not to walk in the fields without long pants, sock and shoes. Also evenings, which last much longer with daylight savings time, are the times to avoid much outdoor activity.

I was saddened at the loss of a very dear friend. Her passing was magnified by the distance, her being in Tucson, and that it was so unexpected for me. Eileen was such a fun and great companion at work. Chuck and I enjoyed many enjoyable gatherings with Eileen and her husband Robert, good food and better wine. It will be a loss when I next visit Tucson.

Chuck and I have been discussing the future and what the next steps will be for us. There is the chance that I may be able to obtain a position at the same place he works although our schedules would be very different, yet the paycheck will be a bonus.

My nephew Kris has been taking care of our place in Catalina and it is a great comfort to know it is being well cared for. He gives us regular up dates and is very reliable.

I do miss my children-but I hope to have a visit from Melissa in July/August which will be a great pleasure and a chance to show off Tioga. I have explained to people that Tioga is as far from Canada as Tucson is from Mexico. We are adapting.

We did have a close call with a tornado that hit about an hour south of here.

Because of two large lakes, one just south of us in North Dakota and one about two hours east of us in Montana affecting the dynamics of the storms, they tend to go around us. But we have set up between us our tornado strategy for getting what we need quickly and escaping should we have to clear out of this tornado magnet we live in - a trailer! We will get what we would need to establish our identity and survive. Not something I have ever thought about.

We carry on.


DC lessons in photographs

The one thing I learned during our time in Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown and Mount Vernon was that being adept at farming and hunting kept the family going. The people of those times were clever and adaptable at their hard work. The simple elegance of the time was offset by the idea that slavery and indenture were an accepted part of life.

Day four:
Welcome to Williamsburg


We visited the armory, a tin smith and the blacksmith. The tin smith and blacksmith are working and producing authentic items used in Colonial Williamsburg.

We held court in the capital building and were immersed in the sounds, smells and authenticity of the jail and our guide made sure we understood the harshness of all aspects of life in the 18th century.

The kids learned how to play without technology and they dug it!

 I found that green was a very popular room color in colonial times. That works for me!
Jamestown-the first English settlement in America:
This obelisk marks the actual location of the settlement near the river and at the top is an osprey nest. It was a profound thought that people, having no idea what to expect and how they would survive had the tenacity to persist and persevere.

I am grateful to them for their efforts in the beginning of our country. From here the world would know of the USA and democracy.
 We had a very enlightening tour about this fine vessel, which is absolutely sea worthy having just returned from a coastal voyage a few days before. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been to travel for weeks in this or one similar from England to establish a colony in this strange and unknown country.

We also had the chance to see how a musket was loaded and fired. It was so loud I cannot imagine how anyone could hear after engaging in a battle with these weapons. It really served to bring home how very different this time was and how amazingly anyone could have survived.
 Mount Vernon:
I loved this the best. I was so delighted to be where George and Martha Washington lived their lives and to experience the beauty of this magnificent home. Although the examples of the use of slaves was distressing, the fact that Mr. Washington took care of them and provided for many of them when they no longer were able to perform their duties due to age or infirmity was reassuring.
This is the beautiful home of our first president. It is as grand and beautiful as it appears and to view it for myself first hand after seeing many photos was a thrill. George Washington lived here, loved this home and it reflects his design and desires as a country gentleman.

 Melissa and I are pictured at the entrance of Mount Vernon, and were two of many who had a photo of this type taken. What a joy to be there with my daughter and enjoy a brilliant day in the Virginia countryside.

Yes it is Martha Washington greeting visitors and sitting on the veranda which faces the Potomac River. As we sat in the row of chairs lining the rear of the house the view is unparalleled as you can see from the photo below. The lawn slopes down to the river and in the distance is Maryland. It is no wonder that the Washington's loved this locale and desired to be no where else.
 We wandered beside the groves and vineyards as we walked to the tomb of our first president. He and Martha are buried in a beautiful red brick mausoleum that daily has ceremonies of wreath laying. I was honored.

Following this stop we ventured to the Slave burial grounds where there is a stone marker erected in honor of those who died there and are buried on the grounds. It was moving.

We took a boat trip up the Potomac to Alexandria, where we had dinner in a most delightful and remarkably decorated restaurant called King Street Blues. Then back to the hotel.

More to come. Mr. Lincoln is waiting.