Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Old and the New

This is what our truck and trailer looked like last year.  Don't they look good together?

This is what our set up looks like today.

We bought a new truck last week!  Isn't it pretty?  We will really look like a silver streak as we drive down the highway.  

We discovered as we looked for a Chevy or GMC truck that they are in really short supply.  Visiting three dealers in the Phoenix area, this truck, painted silver ice, was the only one we found.  Apparently, after all of the lockdowns and isolating and stay-at-home orders because of the Covid 19 pandemic, people have been buying trucks so they can get out of town!  

We have only special-ordered one personal truck in the past.  Like now, we usually want a truck or car right now when we do decide to buy one.  AutoNation Chevrolet in Gilbert had this truck, we liked the color and we bought it.

When we brought it back to our house in Gold Canyon and backed up to the Airstream, we realized the truck sits a lot higher than the red one did, though both are 4-Wheel drive.  This truck is designed for off-road use so apparently, that means higher clearance.  That meant a trip to the Airstream dealer to get a new hitch for the truck.  As you can  see in the photo below, the hitch ball on the truck has to be at least 2 inches lower so we can tow the trailer level, as it is where we have it parked now.

For a few hours yesterday, we actually had another new car.  This was the loaner the dealer gave us while they installed a side step and bed cover on the truck and sprayed a bed liner and moved the toolbox from the old truck in the new silver truck.  The car was OK but it sure wouldn't tow the Airstream!

This is how the truck looks now, with the step installed.  Finally, I can get in the truck without a step stool or someone helping me!

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Good-bye and Good Riddance

Oh, what a year it has been!  I imagine 2020 will go down as an unforgettable, even if we would like to forget much of what happened this year.  That is not to say everything in our personal life was negative.  Much of the year was good, even if it didn't turn out like I had planned.

In March, so many things were cancelled.  We don't participate in very many activities in our resort, which was probably good then.  They were all cancelled.  But we still had to change our plans.  We had reservations along the route from Phoenix to Memphis, TN, where we planned to attend Memphis in May, a national BBQ event.  It was cancelled, so we cancelled our reservations along that route.

Then we learned that we would not be able to attend the graduation ceremonies for our granddaughter Rachal in New Hampshire.  The date of the graduation was changed because of the pandemic but while they were deciding on a new date, we decided traveling half-way across the country without knowing if or when we could attend the ceremony, we decided not to go.  We were able to watch it on Facebook.  Not a good option, but better than not seeing it at all.  

We ended up staying at our winter home in Arizona until mid-May.  We then made a few stops in northern Arizona and New Mexico and on into Colorado.  We had good family time, then returned to our winter home in mid-September.  Probably our shortest travel season in years.

As I look through my travel diary, I find comments like, we're learning not to plan, life is on hold, life is so uncertain, it feels like we are living in a foreign country.  Unfortunately, this hasn't changed much since March.  We tried having groceries delivered, but have ended up grocery shopping with a mask on, visiting stores to obtain hobby supplies, talking to people from 6 feet away, outside only.

We have discovered Zoom and Google Hangouts, two virtual meeting apps that help us keep in touch with family.  It isn't as good as seeing people in person, but we are grateful our two Colorado grandchildren want to see us that way each week.  Oh yes, and their parents, too.  Especially since they spend many hours each week working and attending school online, we are glad they want to see us, too.  It is certainly better than phone contact only. 

Other positive things this year.  After seeing our IRA brokerage accounts showing a loss for year since March, today I checked and we are no longer down for the year.  That may only mean we are back where we started in March, but it is always good to see only green on the chart, not red.

I long for  the day when we won't need to wear masks or talk to people from 6 feet away, and outdoors only.  But I have adjusted to the masks and the limitations.  It is doable, at least for a while longer.  Someday, I will be able to hug a friend or family member when we haven't seen each other for a while.  And we won't have to ask how long they have been in quarantine to make sure we don't contract Covid 19.  

Not only do I say good-bye and good riddance to the year 2020.  I want to live the years we have left in our lives, not just avoid any possible contact with this plague.  Good-bye and good riddance, Covid 19, I hope to be able to say soon

Are we only as old as we think we are?

I started blogging in 2006.  We had been RVing for 16 years and I decided to keep our family informed about where we were and what we were doing through a blog.  I was 63 years old.  But age is just a number isn't it?  Aren't we only as old as week feel we are?

Today we are 77, nearly 78 years old.  So, how old to I feel I am?  Every bit of those 77 years!  

About 19 years ago, I suffered a torn meniscus and it hurt, at times pretty bad.  After a period of time, I went to the urgent care nearby and had an Xray.  They sent me to a surgeon.  Until the surgery was scheduled, I wrapped the knee and went about my normal everyday life--as best I could.  That surgery made a real difference.

Eventually, that meniscus surgery no longer took care of the problem.  My knee began to bother me, almost every time I stepped on that foot.  Long story short, in mid-November I had a total knee replacement of my right knee. 

Let me tell you, those years have made a difference.  The surgery has healed well.  I am recovering very well.  But, at 77 healing and total recovery takes time--more than I would like.  Every time we walk, I feel it in my right knee. It hurts.  And the long we walk, the more it hurts.  

I haven't recovered like I did nearly 20 years ago.  I wonder why?  Is it my age, do you think?  I know I do.   It took my 77+ years to get to this point.  And every bone, joint and muscle in my body is also 77 years old.  They are at times as slow acting and as slow recovering as I am.

Age is more than how I feel.  Age is an actual, verifiable fact.  Live with it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Who Knew There Was So Much Needing Repair?

Each fall when we return to Arizona, we schedule check-ups with all our medical providers.  As we get older, there are more and more providers and it takes a while to get them all scheduled.  And this year, there was one more—John felt I should have my hearing checked.

So, when all was said and done, the relatively minor ache in my right knee led to a total knee replacement.  And not long after, the hearing test revealed I really can’t hear very well and hearing aides were ordered.

A one-night stay in the hospital and I came home with a new knee.  I am up to walking over three miles a day.  It is a little sore but getting better each day.

The hearing aides are taking some adjusting to.  I didn’t realize the world was such a noisy place.  Even toilet paper is noisy.  So is walking across the floor or over gravel.  Doors slam easily and LOUD. The clock on the wall might as well be Big Ben in London with all the noise it makes. How many of you have experienced these reactions, too?

John has been wearing hearing aides for nearly 30 years, so he can commiserate and tell me which irritations I will learn to live with or not notice.  But, frankly, walking is easier than hearing correctly.

Getting old has it’s down side, but I can count my blessings.  First off, I live in a time and have the resources to get these issues taken care of.  And nothing is life threatening.  I can’t say as much for some of our neighbors here.  We are really blessed to live in a time and a country where issues like this can be corrected—or at least improved.  And we are also blessed to have the insurance to pay for it. Thank God for Medicare. 

Merry Christmas everyone!  Surely 2020 will end and 2021 will be a better year.  We hope and pray you all stay healthy during this pandemic.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Hobbling Along

Happy Thanksgiving!

 It's been a month since my last blog, I know.  But I have been a little busy.  A week ago I got a new knee!  I have been uncomfortable walking since this summer.  During the month we spent hiking in Utah on our trip back to Arizona from Colorado, I experienced increasing discomfort in my right knee.  Shortly after getting settled in our winter home, I visited my doctor and was sent for an MRI to see what was wrong.  

Several years ago, 2011 I think, I had surgery for a torn meniscus in my right knee.  At that time, John was told I had extensive arthritis in the knee. Over the years I have had shots in the knee to relieve some of the discomfort.  

When I met with my primary care doctor about the September MRI, he said I was bone on bone in that knee and I needed a knee replacement.  Since he had surgery to replace both of his knees over the summer and was doing well, I asked for the name of his surgeon.  

Once I met with the surgeon, there were many steps in the process of being cleared for the operation.  What an ordeal.  Blood tests, exams, an EKG.  It wasn't enough to get the initial referral from my primary care MD, I also needed a formal letter clearing me for the operation.

Finally, everything was in order and I was scheduled for surgery!  At 8 am last Wednesday, I checked into the hospital.  Of course, because of Covid 19 restrictions, John couldn’t come in with me.  He dropped me off at the front door and drove back home. 

We used face time to keep in touch.  A few hours after I was admitted, I was taken into surgery.  About 1 ½ hours later, I was in recovery.  I had PT in the hospital once that day and again twice on Thursday before I was released—about 28 or 29 hours after I got there.  

I can’t say, yet, I feel better than when I got there.  But I am hopeful.  They did a lot of work after making that 6-inch incision in my knee.  My body really didn’t like that and I have a lot of swelling and bruising. I am sore.

Every hour I am awake, I need to do some walking.  I have had PT twice since coming home and will be going twice a week for the next month.  I haven’t needed very much pain medicine. 

Already, I can bend the knee just over 90 degrees.  I can extend it to with 2 or 3 degrees of being completely flat.

From all I read and am told, I will take up to 6 months to be totally healed.  But I see the   sunshine ahead and really, really like my surgeon and my therapist. 

Now it is time to go outside and hobble around for a short walk.


Sunday, October 25, 2020

Family Comes to Visit

Our son Eric, wife Liz and our grandchildren from Colorado, Kylie and John, came to Arizona last weekend. They stayed in Scottsdale in a condo owned by Liz's sister. Friday we joined them for dinner--a bucket of chicken from KFC.

Saturday we met them at the Musical Instrument Museum. A visit there is always an opportunity to learn something new.

The variety of zithers--stringed instruments, aka guitars--is amazing.

I had never heard of thumb pianos before.  Obviously, they aren't unique.

All of these are drums, zithers and rattles from South Africa.

Such a variety of horns and other wind instruments.

Alice Cooper was never an entertainer I listened to.  But he certainly had interesting clothes.

Many instruments were handmade.  Here you can see a banjo and bass violin.

We don't go out to eat often, so we first experienced touchless menus when we went to lunch at Diego Pops, a taco restaurant in Phoenix.  I guess these menus--which we pulled up on our phones--is the way to avoid touching menus others have handled--it's a Covid thing, I guess.  We did have a good time at lunch.

Several years ago, Eric had flown down to visit us and we went to the Botanical Gardens.  He wanted to go there again, so we met them there on Sunday.

In addition to the desert plants, the gardens always have major art displays.  The last time we were there, we saw numerous glass sculptures by Chihuly. This time it was Wild Rising by Cracking Art.  It included numerous meercats and at least one giant snail.

But what we were really interested in were the cactus and other desert plants.

These small cactus plants remind me of green eggs being broken open by the baby bird inside.

This is certainly an unusual tree.

I was reminded of stacked stones when I looked at this cactus.

Eric, Kylie and John enjoyed walking the labyrinth.

We all enjoyed the shade in this ramada.

And there were even more sculptures--including some large birds and unusual stacks of small birds.

Friday, October 09, 2020

Wooden Activity

 One  the activities we enjoy during our winters in Arizona is working with wood in our workshop. When we were staying at Valle del Oro in Mesa, we took the training to use the woodshop.  We each made a picture frame, then moved on to intarsia--making scenes with pieces of wood that are cut, shaped and made into pictures.

After we moved to Superstition Views, we added a workshop to our winter home and I learned to use the lathe, making bowls.  Later, we both took a class in turning pens.  

Since then, John has made lots of pens, I have turned a large number of bowls and we have both made intarsia projects.

This year I found a book on making boxes using the band saw.  This is the first one I completed.


 John has been using the scroll saw to make scenes like I showed in a previous post.  This past couple of weeks, he make this beautiful poinsettia door  topper.

This work has been fun, it has kept us busy, and it gives us something to do in the air conditioned shop when the temperature hits 100+.  I think we will continue with more projects, even when it cools down.

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Not a wasted morning, after all

 Since mid-August my right knee has been hurting--not bad enough to go to urgent care somewhere, but enough that when we got settled here in Arizona, I  made an appointment with our doctor to see what is wrong.  With orders for an MRI, this morning we drove to the Banner Gilbert Imaging facility.  Guess what?  I forgot to bring the doctor's orders and since it is Saturday, they weren't able to get it directly from that office.  I have rescheduled for Monday.

We decided to try and make the best of the situation so we went walking at the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, a place we have been many times.

The preserve was packed with families with children and others but we still saw a lot of birds.  With no wind, I was able to capture some amazing reflections.  

The biggest surprise was seeing this roseate spoonbill.  Since it likes to feed in salt marshes, Arizona is not it's normal habitat.  We weren't sure how it got here.  A couple of women birdwatchers said it must have gotten lost.  It belongs in Florida or along the Texas Gulf Coast.

We saw many black-necked stilts.  They look like they are wearing a tuxedo, don't they.  

There are three stilts in this photo--or is it 6?

We also saw Canada geese and some egrets.

Could you ask for a more perfect reflection photo?

We enjoyed our morning walk, that is for sure.