Monday, December 29, 2008

2009 Looks Good

The economy may be bad, but 2009 is looking good, as far as we are concerned. We have arranged two volunteer positions, one here in Colorado and one in Montana. We are excited about both of them.

From May 1 through July 15 we will be doing maintenance and operating the camp store at Lathrop State Park in Walsenburg, Colorado. We decided to spend time in Colorado this summer. Since we began spending long periods in our Montana trailer, we have seldom camped in Colorado. We wanted to enjoy our home state. Lathrop is a park we have stayed in often, especially early and late when we are leaving Colorado or returning home. We love it, and in addition it is near the area where my great grandparents homesteaded and we can do some genealogy research when we are off duty.

When we leave Lathrop we will go to Montana. We had posted our resume on the Workamper Awesome Applicants site and Saturday received a call from one of the owners of 7th Ranch RV Camp in Garryowen, asking if we could come work for them. We agreed on a time and responsibilities and will work there from July 20 till about October 15. The RV park is near the Big Horn Battlefield National Park—where Custer made his last stand. Last summer we volunteered in ranch and farm country in eastern Oregon. We enjoyed that location and think we will enjoy exploring southeastern Montana.

In addition to all this good news, we have decided to rent our house and RV fulltime for at least a year or two. Our son will manage the rental, but we have to arrange to box and store everything we want to keep. We have lived in this house for 16 and one-half years and filled every nook and cranny. Sorting, deciding what to give away and what to sell and what to store, is keeping us very busy. We hope to rent the house beginning February 1 and we have to keep on task to be ready, should we find someone to lease it beginning then.

We arrived back at the house November 4 and we are already getting hitch itch. We can't wait to get on the road again and we are excited to be able to do that full-time.

On another note, on Christmas Eve in the afternoon I looked out the back window at our patio and found this hawk sitting on our fence. We live in the middle of a suburban housing development, certainly not in the country. We have seen hawks in the sky and on light posts, but never in our yard. What a treat.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Santa's Helpers

This week we were among Santa's helpers at one of the Salvation Army Christmas food and toy distribution centers in the Denver area. The New Heights Church is a Salvation Army facility not far from our house. We had gone on-line to find some place to volunteer over the Christmas season. We were routed to Volunteer Match and found this opportunity. We signed up to work from 8 am to 1 pm.

After things got organized, I was assigned to work with bags of Christmas gifts. That means I joined about 15-20 other women who gathered in an upper room filled with black trash bags full of gifts. Earlier in the week other volunteers had wrapped gifts collected through giving trees and put them in bags for each family. Some families received on bag, some two. You can see that some of the bags were quite large, and let me tell you, they were sometimes heavy, too. And often very awkward to pick up.

Downstairs, families lined up--20 families were assigned arrival times every 10 minutes. One worker would check with the family to find out their name, locate that name on a list, and radio a worker in the gift area with the family's number. She would call out the number and one of us would go find the bag or bags for that family. When we started, there were bags for 300 families arranged in order in this room.

We walked down three flights of stairs, then stood in line while the proper family showed their ID and signed for their food and gifts. Then we followed the individual or group that had come to pick up the Christmas gifts as they showed us to their cars. Many families were given two food boxes to help them over the holiday week. It was cold in Denver this week and all of us were bundled up for the trips outdoors. When we wished each family "Merry Christmas", we were given heartfelt "thank you"s.

Here is John, carrying only one box of food this time.

Many of the families had children who wanted bikes for Christmas. This is the supply of bikes before we started working.

Western Union allows its employees to spend one working day a year doing some sort of volunteer service. This group of voluteers all came from a local Western Union office.

I always wear a pedometer, making sure I walk at least 10,000 steps (5 miles) almost every day of the week. It helps me keep my weight under control. I walked 13,000 steps this day--most of it up and down stairs. I was glad for the exercise, but even more for the opportunity to help others have a better Christmas. We are so blessed by God in our lives and we want to help spread His blessings to others.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Santa Train

One weekend each December the Colorado Railroad Museum welcomes Mr. and Mrs. Claus and gives children (and their parents and grandparents, of course) rides on a steam train. Sometimes the weather is very cold--we are in Colorado, after all, and it will soon be winter. As we have done for several years, on Saturday we met our son and daughter-in-law and their children at the museum. After we spent some time watching the trains in the garden railroad, we lined up to ride the steam train.

Here I am with our oldest granddaughter, Kylie, and our daughter-in-law, Liz.

After taking our picture, the conductor turned the camera toward John, grandson John and our son, Eric.

Our next stop was the hot dog stand. We ate lunch about 10:30 in the morning. Then we spent some time watching the HO model railroad in the basement of the museum. Kylie always wants to go look at that layout. There are so many details to take in. They have a machine where you can put in a quarter and the train runs for a few minutes. None of could find a quarter in our pockets or purses. But we were delighted to find that one of the members of the railroad club was there, operating the trains. It was so fun to watch them.

After checking out some of the full-size trains at the museum, we joined the line to talk to Santa. Grandson John first said he didn't want to talk to Santa, since he had seen him the night before at a party. But when we reached the caboose where Santa was talking to children, he was eager to tell Santa about the dinosaurs he wanted for Christmas. Kylie also told the Man in Red what she wanted--but I couldn't hear what she said.

We all gathered on the cow catcher of a steam train for a family portrait. No snow in sight, it was a beautiful day to spend time together outside.

John is three and Kylie is nine years old. He is always following her and trying to do the same things she does. He isn't tall enough to make this move, however.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Two Grandchildren Come to Visit

Friday night Kylie and John II came to spend the night with their Nana and Papa. We all had such a great time! While I got dinner on the table, John I and the two children played with the garden train that runs around our Christmas tree.

After dinner John and grandson John read Thomas the Tank books.

Then they started wrestling in the chair. In a few minutes, John II said, “Come on Papa, let’s wrestle on the floor.” The whole point is for one person to pin the other, then the one on the bottom has to say “uncle” to get free. But first I would hear “brother,” “sister,” or “dad” before the loser finally said “uncle.” John II is always saying, “I’m a son of a gun.” The response from John I is, “and I’m the father of the gun.”

While all this noise was going on, Kylie and I went to the basement to my sewing room. Two weeks ago we took Kylie to Joann’s Fabrics to pick out the material for a pair of pajamas. We bought an easy-to-sew pattern, then Kylie selected the fabric—pink with pictures of Tweetie Pie. The plan was for me to teach her how to sew on the sewing machine and she would make a pair of pajama bottoms. Then I agreed to make the top. The sleeves on the top are a contrasting color and she chose blue fabric with pictures of Winnie the Poo. That day we came home and she pinned the pattern on the fabric and cut out the pieces.

Kylie learned so fast how to sew on the machine! I was really impressed. Within about 1½ hours the bottoms were put together, the waist casing sewn and the elastic inserted. She started to sew on the lace that adorns the hem when the machine stopped working. After watching me try to fix it for maybe 10 minutes, she asked if she could go upstairs. I sent her up to join the wrestling while I kept working on the repair.

Saturday morning I finally got the machine working again and before her mother came at 10 am to pick the children, Kylie had finished the PJs and was able to model them for us.

John and I have two sons. So I have not been able, until now, to pass on my love of sewing. I am so glad Kylie wanted to learn how. She was so excited about what she learned this weekend. We will definitely make something else in the future.

The time we have with our children and grandchildren is the most positive part of the time we spend in Colorado. We also get to touch base with friends that we don’t see during the months we spend traveling.

This week we also received a call from our older son, a master sergeant in the Marines. He told us he has put in his paperwork to retire next year. Boy does that make us feel old!
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