Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Drops of Sunshine

Tuesday we returned to the Peralta Trailhead and hiked the Dutchman trail toward Coffee Flats with our friends, Ron and Barbara. As the day warmed, we found drops of sunshine on the ground, encouraged by the bright sun in the sky.

These are the first poppies we have seen this season. As the day warmed up, we found more and more small patches of the bright flowers.

John just couldn't resist taking a picture of Barbara and me taking pictures of the poppies.

We had a couple of water crossings on the trail. Nothing deep, however.

After about 2 1/2 miles, we stopped for lunch, then started back to the parking lot.

The hillsides were covered with saguaros. A few had died and were reduced to the bare ribs. They have as much character as the living cacti.

When we returned to the trailhead, a younger woman asked where we had hiked. We pointed out the trail we had been on.

It was a good day.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Where Is That Drip Coming From?

Drip, Drip, Drip. That is what John saw when he flushed the black tank. Where is it coming from? Since we own a Montana 5th wheel, he went to the Montana Owners Club forum, searching for advice. From other posts, it sounded like the back-flow preventer in the black tank flush line was the problem. However, the forum posts were all about RVs with the kitchen next to where that line runs. We didn't have a pantry wall to open up. We picked up the appropriate part from RV Traders, a Montana dealer in Mesa, and also made an appointment for late in March, in case John couldn't fix the problem.

After looking and calculating where the part might be installed, and reading a post that said they found it by removing the faucets in the shower, John found the proper location. That meant taking the TV off its perch.

Next step, cutting a hole in the back wall of the TV cabinet--after moving the sliding door that goes into that wall.

There is the offending valve. We even ran the tank flush water to confirm it was leaking. It was.

He removed the valve (while I continued to hold the TV),

and installed the new part. We again ran water through the line--no leak! Another problem solved.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Gathering with Neighbors

Colorado neighbors, that is. Today was the Colorado Day gathering at our resort. Each state or region of the country, as well as Canada, have parties for the people from that area that are staying here. This is the first year we have stayed after the first of the year, so we have not attended Colorado Day before. There are 1700 spaces in the resort and probably 2500+ people here right now. People come from all the snowy, rainy parts of the continent. Canada day is the largest, since all the provinces go together. Today there were nearly 100 people for the event. And we know that three RVs on our street are from Colorado and they didn't attend. Obviously, many more could have come. Here is everyone, waiting for dinner of pulled pork or chick sandwiches, potatoes, baked beans, coleslaw and cake.

The resort was built 30 years ago and two residents who first came in 1983 told us some of the history of this place. It was good to connect with some of our neighbors.

Earlier in the week, southern Arizona got snow! The following day, I took some pictures of snow on the Superstition Mountains. That was pretty.

John appreciated all the comments and wishes for his birthday. He says he is over the trauma, now, and moving on toward 80.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

70 Years

A post by John:

Today is my birthday. I am now 70 years old. Carol was born 3 months after I was, so she, too, will celebrate her 70th birthday this year. Birthdays and age have never been a concern to either of us until this year. We have talked about...thought about...discussed, laughed and contemplated this event for several months.

The first time I can remember realizing someone was in their 70s was when I was a child. My grandparents lived next door. Just before my grandfather died, he became very ill and needing almost constant care, he took up brief residence in my parents' bedroom. He was so sick that he was transferred onto an ambulance stretcher, placed in my father’s ambulance, and transported to a Denver hospital where he died. He was in his 70s. I know that because I remember my parents telling me his age; and that made a deep impression on me. I thought when someone reached 70 they were so old that they were near death.

My father owned an ambulance business and before I was a teenager I was accompaning my father on the ambulance as an attendant. We transported many elderly people to the hospital from West’s Nursing Home, which was first located in Palmer Lake and later in Castle Rock, Colorado. Many of those patients were in their 70s. They were physically ill, usually emaciated and disoriented, and they almost always smelled like body waste.

In spite of the negative issues associated with 70-year-olds, I tended to like them personally. My grandmother was kind and a fun person to spent time with, her Swedish friends from Denver were a hoot. I enjoyed talking with those people as well as those folks we transported to the hospital and the old members of our church.

I began assisting my father at funerals before I was even in high school. One of my responsibilities was to greet people as they arrived for a funeral, invited them to sign the guest register, and show them to a seat. Most people who attend funerals are elderly and because we lived in a small community, everyone of those elderly people knew me. To a person they were kind and friendly and they genuinely liked conversing with me.

Old people were a constant and positive part of my life. I was taught to respect older people and I did. Spending time in their presence exposed me to their life stories and experiences. I could easily become fascinated with a humerous or interesting story that related to an old person’s life.

It’s funny that all this exposure from a very early age never led me to consider the fact I’d grow old. I’ve always seen myself as young, strong, and capable. When I reached my 50th birthday I had just started a new chapter in my ministry career by accepting a Rector’s postion in a new congregation. Most members of that church were 20 or more years older than I was and they let me know in no uncertain terms that I was their junior.

Being 50 offered me the opportunity to join AARP. That meant lots of senior discounts. How cool, I got senior discounts and felt like I was in my early 40s!

Carol and I began attending Elder Hostel weekends because we were finally “old enough” to particiate. But when we went to the weekend gathering our fellow attendees were all older and, again, they constantly were bringing up the fact they were surprised we were “old enough” to share that experience with them.

By the time I went into simi-retirement I was a very young 55. I was delighted to be moving into retirement, but I was often embarrased to tell people I was simi-retired. I would hear people say: “Your too young to retire!”

When I reached 60 I retired. Carol and I were physically active. We ran 12 to 15 miles a week and weight trained three days a week. We traveled in a 5th wheel RV extensively and volunteered in State and National Parks performing strenous tasks. When we compared ourselves with our peers we were almost always in better physical condition and willing and able to physically do anything we chose.

In our 69th year, Carol and I drove our RV from Arizona to the southern tip of Texas and spent 3 months volunteering at a U S Fish and Wildlife Refuge. Then we drove 11,000 on a wonderful trip to Canada and Alaska. Not something an elderly person would do, would they. At least if they thought of themselves as elderly. We didn’t so we did.

That trip, however, was physically taxing. Through out those months of travel we kept reflecting and commenting on how we were feeling the effects of the adventure. We came away from the experience saying we would probably never expose ourselves to another trip that demands so much of our attention and time and effort.

For perhaps the first time in our lives we have been aware of the effects of our age. Oh, that doesn't mean we smell bad, and we are not emaciated. But for the first time in our lives we have to admit changes are coming. AND, for the first time in my life...I feel my age...and my age is 70.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Great Surprise

Saturday, this convertible pulled up in front of our RV.

Our younger son, Eric, had flown down from Littleton over President's Day Weekend, as a surprise birthday present for his dad. I knew he was coming, but was able to keep the visit a secret. John was truly surprised--and delighted!

Sunday, Eric drove us to church.

We grabbed a sandwich after church, then visited the Desert Botanic Gardens in Phoenix. Eric is a science teacher, so he really enjoyed reading about the desert plants.

I didn't take many pictures of cacti, since we have been there before. But this variety is really interesting.

In addition to the natural vegetation, the gardens have two art exhibits. There are the Four Seasons "Monumental, earthy and exuberant sculptures" by artist Philip Haas. I thought they were neat.

On the other hand, there were 18 steel and fabric sculptures by Carolina Escobar, titled Whispers of a New World, that are described as organic sculptures in vibrant colors and shapes inspired by nature. We thought they looked more like internal organs and we weren't impressed. Here are a few. What do you think?

We used the timer on my camera to take a family photo.

Eric brought three rib-eye steaks from Tony's Market in Littleton, our favorite specialty food store there, for his dad's birthday dinner. They were outstanding! We talked and talked and talked Saturday evening and all day Sunday. What fun.

We were all up at 4 this morning and Eric left at 4:30 to catch a 7 am flight out of Sky Harbor Airport. It was such a great visit and John really felt blessed by Eric's visit.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Friends and Funny Ears

We haven't seen Bob and Marcia, friends from Colorado, for two years because we weren't in Arizona the early months of 2012. So Tuesday we met them at the Red Sage Restaurant in Gold Canyon, then drove to their park model in the Gold Canyon Resort for dessert. The chocolate ice cream with fresh berries was delicious and we sure didn't run out of things to talk about. We also enjoyed seeing their Arizona home and looking around their resort.

Before seeing them for lunch, we walked around our resort and saw people building floats. There was a mardi gras parade later in the morning. It looked like they were going to have a good time.

I don't know how many people recognize what John has in his ears in this photo. If you do, you will really appreciate what it means.

Yesterday, John had an appointment for a hearing test and adjustment of his hearing aids. We were delighted to learn our insurance company approved new ones! He has been wearing hearing aids for close to 20 years and every few years he needs new ones. Though they are expensive, the technology improves all the times, so each new set works better than the earlier set ever did. We are grateful that our insurance company makes a contribution toward the cost every few years. (They don't pay the entire cost, but it is sure worth it to us to pay the rest.)

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. We attended services at Epiphany Episcopal Church in Tempe and John was the celebrant. It has been nice for both of us that he is able to assist there this year.

Yesterday afternoon, the street behind our RV was blocked off for a party. We don't know the folks there, so we weren't invited. But when a DJ started playing music, we did take a look at what was going on. There were quite a few folks out there.

Then we saw this couple dancing. Were they just married?

No. It was a party for their 50th wedding anniversary.

In case you can't read the sign on this golf cart, it says married in 1963, still married in 2013. Doesn't 50 years of marriage mean they are really old? The scary thing is, they were married only 2 years before us!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Recent Activities

I don't know what happened to our warm Arizona weather, but it is cold outside in Mesa. At noon, the temperature was 44 and right now, my phone says it is 39. Brrrr. Not wanting any outside activity this morning, we packed up all our intarsia wood and went to the woodshop. According to Wikipedia, "Intarsia is a form of wood inlaying that is similar to marquetry." We spread out on one of the work benches.

We intend to take a class in March, but we bought a book with instructions and patterns and are practicing now. We may have to unlearn some bad habits, but we will have developed some skills, as well. Today, we used various sanders to smooth out the parts we cut last week. I also did some work with John's Dremel. It is a really neat tool.

We have many boxes of old photographs in storage in Colorado. We want to select the important ones and copy them to our computer, then get rid of the rest. I brought one box with us in October and have finally gotten around to working with them. At first, I used our scanner. When I scan at 800dpi, it takes 2 minutes per picture. I had read about using my camera to copy old photos in a post by Geeks on Tour. I found the article and started using that method. It is much faster.

Last week, we had beautiful weather, so we decided to finally try out bocce ball.

In past years, I have posted pictures of two figures that one of the residents here put out to depict snowbird life in Arizona. Since we haven't been here in February, we hadn't seen this pose.

Whatever the weather, we seem to find plenty to do.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013


At the age of 6, we begin first grade. At 16, we can get our driver's license. At 21 we "come of age", and it may mean we can legally drink alcoholic beverages. Then comes 30--are we really over the hill? Medicare begins at 65. This year is another milestone for both John and me. This year, we turn 70. Think of it! When we were in our 20s, did we even contemplate the age of 70 or think about what it would mean in our own lives? If anyone was that old, it was our grandparents. Now we have reached it.

We are both physically active and in good health. We look and feel a lot younger than lots of our peers. But 70 is also a reality--both physically and mentally. We will probably still be trying to understand what it means when we turn 71.

We tried to figure out some special thing to do to celebrate our birthdays together. But nothing seemed to really appeal to both of us. So yesterday, we celebrated John's birthday (which comes along in 2 weeks) by buying him a new generation iPad with a keyboard.

This means I get the old iPad, reserving my laptop for tasks like this blog and finances. We may have a small home and a simple lifestyle, but it comes with lots of great electronics.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

We're Not Alone

We are not the only people here in the valley who have had their credit card number stolen and misused. We learned from other blogs that a number of people had similar experiences recently. And Monday on the evening news, we learned that even the sheriff, Joe Arpaio, had his number stolen. The police have found that someone hacked into a local grocery store's computer and stole the numbers.

We are fortunate that our bank contacted us right away. Some people found out only when they tried to use their card and it was declined. How embarrassing! If the bank hadn't caught the problem, I probably would have seen it in a few days, since I check the account online regularly. I'm doing it even more often, now.

I hope they catch the thieves and we don't face this again in the future.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Caution--Seniors Playing

This is our resort's 30th anniversary and today there was a big celebration--a carnival! It was a combination casino trip, amusement park and carnival. To play, each person had to buy $10 for carnival cash. We skipped that purchase and just checked out the activities and the seniors at play.

We watched the Goofy Triathlon: participants ran with a tennis ball between their knees

and carried water to fill a gallon jug

and rode miniature bikes with a tennis ball under their chin.

This is the cash cube, where you paid for the opportunity to catch as much carnival cash as possible as it blew around inside the cube.

The Golf Cart Obstacle Course was fun to watch. The driver was blindfolded and their partner told them when to turn right or left or go straight (or back up when things went wrong).

Sometimes the cones got in the way.

Clara tried pointing with her hand in the director the driver should go. I'm not sure if she gave verbal directions or not, as they went all over the place.

There were classic cars on display.

You could have your picture drawn.

Or pan for gold

Lots of cute decorations.

Even old folks can wear balloon hats.

John gave Bubbles a hug.

And I spent some time with the balloon artist.

We had a fun morning without spending a dime.