Sunday, November 25, 2018

2 Thanksgivings

Thanksgiving we gathered with friends and neighbors for a potluck turkey and ham dinner.  The food was great and we had a good time.  We are thankful for the people we live near here in the Arizona winters.

As usual, on the day after Thanksgiving I baked a turkey breast and we had another Thanksgiving feast.  Every year we have celebrated either Thanksgiving or Christmas at someone else's home, I have baked a turkey the next day in our home.  We really need those leftover turkey sandwiches, you know.

We have so much to be thankful for this year, and every year.  And giving thanks while eating roasted turkey is the way to do it, if possible.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Woodworking Projects

Our time is Arizona is when we pay the most attention to our crafty or artistic side. We finished the table top epoxy wood project. We both think it looks pretty good.

This week John cleaned up the rough edges of the epoxy.

He also has been working on this sunflower. Intarsia projects like this were one of our first woodworking efforts after retirement. He is enjoying getting back into this style of wood project.

I hope to turn a few wooden bowls in the next couple of months.

Yesterday was the annual fall patio sale in Canyon Vistas/Superstition Views. We have tried to sell things at 3 different patio sales. Finally, this year, success. We made a grand total of $7. At least we had the opportunity to talk to many of our neighbors during the morning.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Thank-you, Veterans

Today, we say "Thank you for your service" to our son Doug, who served 23 years in the US Marine Corps, and to the thousands and thousands who served—since the beginning of the Revolutionary War—to assure that today we can vote for the candidate of our choice and live in freedom in this wonderful country, the United States of America.

Today there is a Veterans Day parade in nearby Apache Junction and yesterday there were parades in the East Valley and Phoenix, and I am sure almost every community in the country held a parade over the weekend. Even if we don't talk about it much, I think many, if not most, Americans are grateful for the freedoms we have and the men and women who gave of their time, and sometimes their very lives, so we could exercise those freedoms and rights.

In cities and towns the parades include horses and floats and marching bands and color guards. In the 55+ active adult resorts we spend our winters in, the parades include a flag and golf carts and old cars. I really wonder what nursing homes have—wheel chairs? Whoever we are and whereever we stop to remember, we march or walk or wheel and give thanks.

These are some views of Friday's Veterans Day Parade in Canyon Vistas and Superstition Views where we spend our winters.

This is a 55 Chevy.  The same color as my first car.  I love this car.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Hiking with Friends

I’m really behind in posting to our blog. Early this month we met our friends Barbara and Ron and their friend Mickey for a hike on the Blevins trail in Usury Mountain Park. It was good to see our friends and good to be out in the beautiful desert. In some places the desert is lush and wonderful and Usury Mountain is one of those places.

I had everyone pose for a photo—Mickey, Barbara, Ron and John.

When we returned to our cars after the hike, we found a local bike shop setting up a course for a bike race the following day. I would much rather hike on the trails than bike on a track. Glad I wasn’t going to be part of that race.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Pressure Cooker Success

One hour 15 minutes from the start of preheating to this food on the table.

Sent from my iPad

Today I used the pressure cook setting on my Instant Pot for the first time and it was a success! The picture shows a pork chop in gravy with a side of mashed cauliflower. Both were delicious. (The cauliflower wasn’t cooked in the Instant Pot.). The chops were the first time I have ever prepared really tender pork chops.

I am pleased with my new pressure cooker. What do I make next time?

Playing With Wood

John and I really enjoy working with wood. He carves, turns pens and is starting an intarsia project. I like turning bowls and am trying to expand the types of turning projects I do.

A year or so ago we saw something made with slices of tree branches and decided to try a project like that ourselves. Here are the slides of mesquite wood we (mostly John) cut.

That was the easy part. The next step is to cover them with epoxy for a shiny table top or wall hanging. I had never worked with epoxy before. The project has turned into more of a learning experiment than a finished decorative item. I put on too thick a coat of the epoxy. First it ran all over the place and we were quickly using newspaper and trash bags to catch the overflow. Then, as it dried, bubbles developed. The white spots in this photo are where I sanded down the bubbles.

Hopefully, we can clean it up enough to put on another thin layer of epoxy or two and improve the appearance.

At the ver least, we have learned a lot that will be useful on the next project.

Monday, October 29, 2018

New Toys/Tools

These are my newest toys—er, tools.  When we became full-time RVers in2009, I gave up my blender and my pressure cooker. There just wasn’t room for them in the trailer.
Since getting a house for our winters in Arizona, I have missed having a blender.  Recently I have seen a lot of cooking shows showing an immersion blender and John urged me to get one.  
I had been reading about the InstaPot  and realized it is a pressure cooker as well as a slow cooker (which I already had). So it was off to Walmart.
I am still learning how to use them. I bought the InstaPot recommended for 2 people. I have only used it for potatoes. I’ll keep experimenting.
The blender worked pretty well to blend a creamy soup and it whips cream as well as mashes potatoes. It may not chop as well as a standard blender but I think it will work for me—might even replace the hand mixer. We’ll see.

Friday, October 19, 2018

What People Don’t Talk About

\Death and dying and funerals are things most people don’t want to talk about. Politics and religion may be sensitive subjects if you want a friendly and peaceful evening. Many people say this subject should be avoided. You don’t have to tell most people to avoid talking about death.

But that wasn’t the case earlier this week when we attended the National Funeral Directors Association meeting in Salt Lake City. John grew up in a funeral home and we owned and operated that funeral home for nearly 9 years. Death and grief and funerals were a central factor in our lives. That continued when John became an Episcopal priest and officiated at funerals and counseled with the grief of survivors. For years we taught classes on death and grief to church groups, high school students and seminarians at Nashotah House while John was there.

Obviously, we don’t find it difficult to talk about death and people came to us at a time they needed to face the subject. We aren’t involved with any of this today in our retirement. But it was good, even inspiring, to be around all the funeral directors and others at the convention. There were nearly 6,000 people there including 300 from over 30 foreign countries. And we were really impressed at how the focus today is on allowing people to personalize the funerals they are called on to arrange or that they pre-plan for themselves.

The morning of the final full day of the convention included a service of remembrance for members of the association that have died in the past year as well as family and friends of the people in attendance. Since the convention was held in Salt Lake City, two small ensembles from the Morman Tabernacle choir provided the music. It was a very meaningful and comforting service, even for those of us who had not dealt with death in the past year.

In addition to the rich experience of seeing how funeral directors are working today, we were thrilled to be present when Chuck Bowman was installed as president of the association. A neighbor to John’s family when they were all growing up, Chuck learned about the job of mortician while working for John’s dad. Later, when we were running the business, he worked for and with us. He then decided to go to mortuary school and since then has served as funeral director for several of our family’s funerals. He was an acolyte in our wedding and one of his daughters served in that way at our son Eric’s wedding. One of his daughters is our god daughter.  We enjoyed spending time with the whole family during the convention.