Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What a Bank

Forty-six years ago we got our first credit card. We have been with the same bank/credit card company ever since. It is now called US Bank. Last spring, a local business had the credit card numbers of its customers--including our card number and Maricopa County, AZ, Sheriff Joe Arpio's card number--stolen. Before we were even aware of the data breech, the US Bank fraud division called to ask if we had used the card in a Texas Walmart. When we said no, we were in Arizona and hadn't used it in Texas, they told us the number had been stolen and used. Therefore, they were sending us a new credit card and cancelling the old one. It was a real hassle for a few days. We pay absolutely every thing with that card. However, after I changed our card number with every business where it is used to pay our monthly bills, everything was fine. We know other people who don't learn their number has been stolen until they discover charges on the account that weren't theirs. We were more than pleased with US Bank's protection of our account and our credit.

Fast forward to last week. We have our checking account with US Bank, as well. Every month, I reconcile our credit card account, then enter the necessary payment into the bank's automatic online bill-pay. The payment was due on Dec. 23. I checked that day and saw it was still scheduled. But when I checked on the 24th, I found the online payment had been processed, but it had not been credited to our credit card account. I immediately instructed the credit card account to take the payment from our checking account. When I looked online on the 26th, the original payment had been credited, but a day late, resulting in a late payment fee and interest on the entire balance. It took two phone calls to explain what happened and get the late fee and interest payment amounts deducted from our balance. Since we always pay the balance in full and never accrue interest, the bank was very cooperative.

Then, over the weekend when I looked at our checking account, I found we had been charged a return item fee for the second attempt I made to have the credit card balance paid. I called the bank again today and they reversed that charge, as well.

Needless to say, we will continue to be US Bank customers for a long time. They are great. And good customer service needs to be publicly recognized.

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Great Place to Be

We don't have snow or ice or subfreezing temperatures here in southern Arizona. It is a great place to be this week after Christmas. I don't mean to gloat--too much--that it is warm and sunny. We don't need snow shovels or ice melter or snow tires. So, today we went hiking with two other couples, Ron and Barbara and Jim and Gayle. We drove to the First Water trailhead in (or near) Lost Dutchman State Park. This part of the desert is beautiful.

There are a lot of neat rock formations.

And lots of saguaros.

John spotted this view. It looks like two figures about to kiss one another.

In one place, we had to cross and small wash. I walked down a short distance to cross where the water was narrow and I didn't have to use too many rocks to get across. The others used a different crossing.

John took a picture of our group as he brought up the rear.

I had everyone stop and look at me for a photo.

We passed quite a few other hikers and some backpackers. We stepped aside to let a group on horseback pass by.

We also encountered this bow hunter. Both deer and mountain lions hunting seasons are open. He reported seeing quite a few deer, but none big enough he wanted to shoot them. (We hadn't seen any wildlife.)

Ron and Barbara have several citrus trees in their yard. She encouraged us to take some home. After Gayle and I took as much as we wanted, Barbara still had this much fruit in her goodie box.

It was a great way to spend this late December day.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Snowbird Christmas

'Tis the day after Christmas, so what did we do to celebrate the holiday? We decorated our tree right after Thanksgiving.

And we walked around Valle del Oro, looking at the lights people put up.

One of our neighbors had a small party for the RVers on our road who have been coming to the same place for several years.

We enjoyed spending time with Larry and Barbara and Vern and Jane

with Pat and Lois and Hollis

and, of course, with Isabel and Joe, who brought us all together.

Christmas Eve, we attended the 6 pm service at Epiphany in Tempe. Before the service began, I took a photo of the chapel.

John was the celebrant at that service. Usually, I don't take pictures during the worship service, but the children of the congregation had portrayed the Gospel reading and lots of people were using the cameras. So I took one a few minutes later of the whole worship party.

This is the nativity set at the front of the church, as well as the manger where baby Jesus slept during the children's play.

Christmas morning, John and I opened our gifts. Here he is with a musical CD sent by our cousins in Sweden.

We talked to both our sons' families, then we joined with several hundred other residents here for Christmas dinner. Here is our empty table after we put out our dishes.

And the crowd beginning to gather.

And the friends we sat with. Sam and JoAnn

and Vern and Jane

It has been a good Christmas, though we miss seeing our children and grandchildren. Hope you all had a good Christmas, as well.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Santa's Visit

Santa came to our house on Monday. I guess people over the age of 60 are practical folks. We didn't get a toilet like Barbara and Ron or an ipad like Jim and Gayle. We had planned to get a new mattress for Christmas. That is until our neighbor Vern volunteered to build some drawers for our kitchen. If you remember, we moved into this new Mobile Suites in October and discovered there were no drawers in the kitchen. Since Santa's visit, that has been corrected.

We began with this empty space where there would have been a dishwasher if we hadn't eliminated that from our order. At the factory, they had replaced the dishwasher with a slide-out wastebasket. We quickly moved the wastebasket and were left with empty storage space. (There was a cabinet door there.)

A week or so ago, Vern brought these drawers and frame.

And Monday, he arrived to install them.

Here are the drawer slides, waiting for the drawers.

And here are the drawers in place, just waiting for me to fill them.

It didn't take me any time to do just that. Finally, the knives, forks and spoons, as well as other cooking tools and some pans were sitting the drawers, within easy reach when I cook or put away the clean dishes. Yea!

In the next week or so, Vern will return with drawer fronts that match our other cabinets. That will be nice. But we're both happy campers, now. We feel like our new home is finally complete.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Talented Folks

It is amazing what creativity and talent you can find in a group of folks who are "over the hill." Maybe being over the age of 55 and retired provides the time and space for that talent and creativity to come out of hiding. There is a group here at our resort called Artistic Talent club. Today they had their fall show of their creations.

One man makes outdoor decorations with tin cans and spray paint.

The skills of lapidary and jewelry making are in evidence here.

How about paintings on slices of geodes?

These knitted scarves with pockets are made out of such soft yarn.

Talk about creativity, look at these prints.

And there are lots of talented potters.

What are you doing in your retirement? If that time is in the future, what are your plans for expressing your creativity?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Nativity Sets

In addition to the beautiful Christmas lights, the LDS Temple had a wonderful display of nativity sets. Each year, private individuals around the Mesa area loan their nativity scenes for display at this time. They have been collected from all over the world. Especially since I have several small sets myself and our daughter-in-law Liz collects them, we were very interested in the display. There is no way I could show all the photos we took, but here are a few. They vary from the simple and handmade to those made of fine china.

This is just one wall of the room where the display was located.

This is a simple display.

Fine wood carving.

This set is from Kenya.

And one made of fine china.

These figures come from Russia.

And a set from Mexico

I believe these are Precious Moments figures, aren't they?

A set from Nicaragua.

And one from Peru.

We have been spending time in the wood shop, doing intarsia. What is that, you ask? If is a form of mosaic, using wood. Our projects are very simple and I will blog about them later. But just look at this incredible intarsia Nativity.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Beautiful Lights

The lights in the palm trees were the first thing we saw as we approached the Mesa LDS Temple's Christmas lights display. Before we realized we had arrived, John thought some RV park had really gone out of the way in putting lights in the tops of the palm trees. But is wasn't an RV park and the palm trees weren't the only things strung with lights.

It was truly a wonderland.

A reflecting pool doubled the light show.

It also provided a beautiful view of the temple.

In addition to pretty lights, the displays did a good job of telling the real story of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ.
A beautiful star shone above the lowly stable.

Mary and Joseph's trip to Bethlehem and the shepherds who were the first to learn of the Savior's birth were also depicted.

The wisemen and the camels were also shown. Here is one of them.

The full moon peaked out through clouds over the display of lights.

We saw at least two tour buses that had brought visitors to see the lights.

Each evening, a different group provides entertainment for a half hour each evening. We heard the Mountain View High School Chorale perform.

They used lights none of us had ever seen before. We wondered where they found them--Christmaslights.com maybe?

Here are some of the other displays.