Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Life Changes

There was a time in my life when I entertained a lot. I enjoyed having lots of people come to my home for dinner or other gatherings. I had friends and family who knew my kitchen well enough to locate the right serving spoon or plate and serving piece. I could host 17 for Thanksgiving dinner without batting an eye. And if the plumbing backed up (as it did often in one house) I wasn’t fazed. I loved cooking, coordinating meals for a number of people. I could prepare a meal and everything was ready to serve at the same time.

I had dishes to serve 20 on good plates, stemware in crystal and glass to feed more than that. And I loved having these things and entertaining large family gatherings, church get-togethers, formal dinners.

Nearly three years ago, when we decided to become full-time RVers, I put all those dishes and stemware in storage. And this week we sold or gave away all of that. Now I have four plastic wine glasses and four good plastic dinner plates. If I want to feed more than that, I use paper plates and disposable glasses. And I like that. I am at the stage of life that I am out of practice preparing large meals, coordinating all the various parts of dinner, cooking large quantities. It is probably a function of both age and our lifestyle today. But this is the life I live today and I am very comfortable in it.

During junior high or high school I memorized the following passage from Shakespeare. I think it is important to move from one stage of life to the next without regrets. We should not try to be who we are not.

William Shakespeare - All the world's a stage (from As You Like It )

All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,

Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.

And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel

And shining morning face, creeping like snail

Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,

Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad

Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,

Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,

Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,

Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,

In fair round belly with good capon lined,

With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws and modern instances;

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts

Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,

His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide

For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,

Turning again toward childish treble, pipes

And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion,

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dealing With Our Estate

This isn't something new for full-time RVers, but we decided a few months ago that we would really pare down what we had in storage in Denver. We have now been on the road full-time for nearly three years and we know for sure we don't need or want most of what we stored. Last year we got rid of most of the furniture. This year, it was the really hard decisions.

During the last decade or so, we have had to deal with the property my mother and John's father owned. That is so difficult for surviving children. We feel we are doing our children a favor by doing this now. But it is a lot of work.

We had three vaults of belongings in storage. Where do we take it to sort through it? Our site at a state park wouldn't work. There wasn't room in our son Eric's garage. An internet search turned up Le Mouton Business Park in north Denver. They had storage units measuring 16 x 30, plenty of room to sort our stuff. We went to check it out. It is located in an industrial area just west of the National Western Stock Show cattle pens and coliseum.

There is plenty of space for the delivery truck to pull up.

And we could get our truck right up the the door of the unit, even though it was inside.

So we rented the space for a month and had our stuff delivered.

What do we think we will want several years from now, when we decide to come off the road full-time? And even more difficult, what do we have that is important enough to keep for the long term--family photos, ancestral mementos, files and paperwork and memories from our own life? Will we even need or want it? Is it important enough to keep or take somewhere for permanent storage? Are we attached enough we just can't give it up?

We have both bought probably thousands of books over the years. How do we get rid of them? This is just one truckload of books we distributed in the last week. I don't know if it was a donation to the local library or a gift to the church where John used to be the rector. Three years ago, we gave away maybe 30 boxes of books.

I forgot to take pictures the first morning. But here is what it looked like by afternoon. By then, we had sorted it and begun making the tough decisions.

There was furniture (we won't keep any of it, but did give a few things to our son and his family), lots of boxed stained glass windows that John made and large framed art, and many, many boxes.

We even brought some boxes back to the trailer to sort through.

Of course, there was a lot of trash.

On Saturday, we drove a few blocks to have lunch at a neighborhood diner. Since we were in an industrial area, we didn't expect many customers, but they were at least half full at noon.

Sunday, Eric and Liz came to pick up some of the things they wanted--like our everyday dishes, the food mixer, a mattress pad and comforter that go with the bedroom set we gave them last year, and some furniture. We had some fun while they were there.

And we had a nice empty corner when they drove off.

This is a pile of stuff that goes to our storage unit at U-Haul. It grew bigger as the day went on.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Time with Family and Friends

The last week or two we have had some great time with family and friends. Saturday we spent the day with Eric and his family. In the morning, we attended Kylie's lacrosse game. This is her first season to play this sport and our first time to watch a game.

As we were leaving Chatfield State Park (where we are parked for two weeks), we saw this hot air balloon launching. For my 60th birthday, John arranged a balloon ride out of Chatfield. It was a lot of fun. Every weekend, unless it is stormy, you see the balloonists here.

We could even see the people in the basket.

The team members that weren't on the field had a good time together on the sidelines. Kylie is facing the camera, sitting right in front of the center of the umbrella.

Kylie played in two games Saturday. During the first game, her position meant she moved the ball up and down the field. In the game we watched, her position was in a line in front of the goal. Every team member wore a protective eye protector that is like a kind to wire cage.

Kylie says the lacrosse ball is really hard rubber. Look at the what the goalie wears.

Now you know everything we know about the game of lacrosse.

Saturday evening we took some steaks to Eric and Liz's house. Would you look at what Eric and John cooked for four adults and three children! For those of you in the Denver area, they came from Tony's Market.

Kylie and her friend, Caitlin, Liz and John are working on the rest of the meal.

Last week friends Dick and Nina were parked near us in Cherry Creek State Park. Nina recently had rotator cuff surgery. It was good to have time for a good visit.

One evening we got together with them for dinner. Doesn't the meal look good? And more reasonable that the steaks we ate Saturday?

Today John and I drove to Cinzetti's Restaurant on the north side of Denver to meet our friend Verlene, who lives in Greeley. We really enjoyed our time together. We only see each other every year or two, so it was a real treat.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Summer of Reunions

Sunday we had another reunion with old friends. When John was ordained in 1987, we moved to Granby, Colorado, where he served two small congregations: Trinity in Kremmling and St. John's in Granby. Al and Betty, the couple that were serving as wardens of St. John's when John was called there, are moving to Idaho to be closer to family. They have been mainstays of the congregation for 25 years and they will be missed. The congregation held a reception for them after worship Sunday.

We left our campsite at 6 am, picked up our son Eric, who knew Al and Betty well, and drove over 11,307 ft. Berthoud Pass to Granby. You couldn't beat the scenery. I took these photos from the back seat of the truck, so the quality isn't great. But look at these mountains!

We saw a hot air balloon as we drove through the Fraser Valley.

And cattle grazing in a field.

John wasn't the only former priest who came to wish Al and Betty well and thank them for all their service to the church. Al and Betty are in the front; the widow of the priest who was there when Al and Betty came to Granby is in the center; and the other three priests and their wives (including us) are shown in the photo.

During the years we lived in Granby, a barbershop singing group, the Grand Chorale, formed. Since them, they have held their practices at St. John's. Al is a member of the group and they sang several songs during the reception.

Here is John with another Betty, the 90-year-old widow of an early priest at St. John's. We have kept in touch with her at Christmas since we moved away and it was good to see her again. She hasn't changed a bit in the 20 years since we left.

Diane was the warden at the time we left St. John's. We hadn't seen her in all those years, so it was good to catch up with each others' lives.

John married Joe and Monica 22 years ago and baptized their daughter a year later. Sunday Monica shared her memories of Al and Betty during the brunch. She also was the main organizer of the event. We enjoyed seeing and talking to all three of them. They are special to us.

We saw and connected with a lot of other old friends. It is amazing to see young people who are in college or already graduated that were young during our years there. We haven't grown older, have we? How could they?

About the time we moved down to the Denver area from Granby, the Department of Wildlife re-introduced moose into northern Colorado. We encountered a moose jam as we started back up Berthoud Pass on our way home. This cow was feeding next to the road. Her baby was further down the hill. I couldn't get any picture of it. But this was sure a thrill.

I guess when we are in our 60s and older, it is the time we look back and realize we don't want to loose the friendships we had in the past. And we have the time to reconnect, even if it is for just an hour or so. This has been our third reunion this summer. Last year we attended the 40th anniversary of the founding of St. Gabriel's, the church John served after leaving Granby. And eight years ago we attended a Boulder Police Department reunion. It is good to remember the past and see old friends, just like it is good to follow new dreams and find new challenges.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A First for Us

Saturday was a first. We have watched our children and now grandchildren swim and play soccer and basketball. Saturday we watched our six-year-old grandson play football. From this viewpoint, the Patriots could be any size or age. The player second from the left is our grandson John.

The coaches rotate the players on and off the field. Here is John sitting on the bench. See the two green dots on the back of his helmet? They indicate that, because of his weight, he is not allowed to carry the ball or tackle a player carrying the ball. This is done to assure that players are fairly well matched by weight on plays during the game.

Looking at this photo, you get some perspective on the little fellows' age and size. This was just their second regular game ever. They play four 15-minute quarters. But the field is just 60 yards long, not 100.

John's position is line backer (I think, I'm not much of a footfall fan). He does know what he is to do in that position--stop the guy on the other team who he faces at the line of scrimmage.

Here is a very short video of these two faithfully doing what the coaches told them to do. They carry out their mission until the whistle blows, indicating that the play is over.

During the half time, the coaches talked to the players, both as a group and individually.

Then it is back to the playing field.

At the end of the game, all the family and friends watching the game form a tunnel and the players run between them, listening to the cheers and praise. Here are John and our granddaughter Kylie getting in place.

And the players running in.

When John finally removed his helmet at the end of the game, he looked liked it had been a good afternoon in his mind.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Hopefully, This Will Help

Today I had a follow-up visit with the surgeon who operated on my knee. Three weeks ago, I thought I was doing so well. I reported here that I had been able to run a little bit. But those attempts led to swelling and discomfort. I tried again earlier this week and my knee was swollen and sore for more than two days. The doctor thinks it is because of the arthritis in the joint. The surgery didn't address that. So he gave me a cortisone shot. Best case, it will give me several months of comfort and the ability to get back to jogging. I sure hope so.

After that appointment we drove back to Denver and visited the new IKEA store on the south edge of the metro area--very near where our house (which we rent to others) is located. We first visited an IKEA store in Phoenix, but wanted to check this one out, too. It was mobbed. It hasn't been open very long, so I imagine that lots of people are coming for their first visit. But it looked like most of them came to buy! The aisles were crowded, mainly with young families. As we looked at the merchandise, we realized this would be a great place to choose furnishings for a first home.

They have display rooms set up for small homes of 500+, 300+ and 260 square feet. In years to come, if or when we move back into a house that doesn't have wheels, we can really see getting something 500 square feet or smaller. We live in 300+ now. Why would we need anything bigger?

Monday, September 05, 2011

Bears, Bears Everywhere

This part of southern Colorado is overrun with bears, who are finding that humans' trash containers and back yards have more food that the drought-parched hillsides. This morning we heard on the police radio that there was a bear cub trapped in a trash dumpster at the high school in nearby LaVeta. Thankfully, it is a holiday, so school was not in session. We know they got the cub out of the dumpster, though we don't know how. I hope Mama Bear wasn't nearby.

Over the weekend, a mother bear and two cubs were wandering around the LaVeta cemetery. The local marshall determined that they weren't headed on into town. He was afraid that if he tried to get them to move away, they just might head for main street, so he left them alone. There are almost daily bear sightings in the LaVeta area.

Our campsite here in the state park is along a road that goes to the Department of Wildlife's facility. Some days we have seen three or four wildlife trucks going up and down the road with bear traps on the back end. We finally asked if they were releasing trapped bears nearby. No. When the move a trapped bear, they take it to a nearby wildlife area where they tag it, then spray it down with water. That keeps the bear cool as they transport it to another part of the state.

Today we saw a bear in the campground while we were cleaning fire pits. Fortunately, it was in one of those bear traps. We stopped by to take a picture. If you click on the photo, you may be able to see the bear's head behind the bars. It had already been tagged and watered down. In fact, it was sloshing in water inside that trap. But it was pretty calm--looking out through the bars and sticking its nose out another opening, but not growling.

Since the campground was full for the Labor Day weekend, we had an awful lot of ashes and wood to clean out of the fire pits. And a number of campers were gatherers--not hunter gatherers, but gatherers. That means they scoured the open areas in the park for firewood--which is not permitted. When they do that, often it needs splitting to burn properly. But since the gatherers don't come equipped to do that, they attempt to burn 12-foot long branches and stumps that are 12 inches in diameter. Happily, the park's maintenance crew helped John unload those huge pieces.

Tomorrow we will prepare our RV so we can drive to Denver on Wednesday. We will spend three and a half weeks at Cherry Creek and Chatfield state parks while we take care of medical and dental appointments, spend time with Eric, Liz, Kylie and John and with friends, and try to whittle down even more what we have in storage. It will be a busy time.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Final Days

We are in our last week at Lathrop State Park. Throughout the summer, we have used the dump truck while cleaning fire pits and removing Russian Olive trees. On the days I have worked in the Camp Store (aka Snack Shack), I have driven one of the park's pickup trucks. Friday John was cleaning in the camp ground and I was doing some work in the store, so we had both trucks. When I stopped in the Yucca camp loop to see how John was doing, we took this photo of both trucks. We sure have had good transportation to do our work.

On Thursday, we took our first (and last) hike of the summer here. Our last hike was in May at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico. You can read about that outing here. Then, just before Memorial Day, I twisted my knee, resulting in surgery in July. I am finally almost back to normal, so we hiked the Hogback Trail here in the park. It felt so good to be out doing that again.


When we leave, we will miss the beautiful sunrises we have had most days all summer.

Also, peaceful days when Martin Lake offers great reflections of the lakeside vegetation.

We had a short thunderstorm last evening. When the sun finally came out, we were treated to these two rainbows--God's assurance of his love for us.

This has been our third summer to volunteer at Lathrop and our 12th time to camp here. Obviously, it is a favorite destination and we know we will be back.