Monday, April 27, 2015

Who Knew?

For the last few days we have had retro TV. Remember what it was like in the 1960s to 1980s when you sat and watched TV, then when the ads came on you rushed around doing things in the house, went to the bathroom, then sat back down to watch again? That was before the age of satellite TV where we can pause, rewind, skip forward and record TV shows. No need to watch commercials. We can pause the program when we want to talk to each other or discuss what was just said or answer the phone. We can watch a 3 pm show at 7 pm by recording it.

We have had satellite TV for probably 15 or more years. When we started RVing, we would take the Dish Network receiver that we used with the TV in the basement out of the house and connect it to the RV television, then move it back into the house each time we returned home. In 2009, when we moved out of the house to be full-time in the RV, we cancelled the service in the house. Fast forward to fall 2014, when we bought our winter house here in Arizona. We decided to get a new Dish DVR when we ordered a satellite antenna installed on the roof. That is when we discovered we would be paying double for the two receivers. They wouldn't let us just pause service in the RV for six months. Instead, we had to return the receiver to Dish. Reluctantly, we did.

The second part of this equation is the portable satellite antenna. John had struggled for years with one he had to aim himself. It sat outside the RV somewhere with a clear view of the southern sky. Finally, we bought a Winegard automatic antenna that finds the satellites all on it own. It saved John sometimes a hour each time we set up the RV. But that antenna took up a lot of room in our RV storage area. A year or so ago, Winegard came up with a much smaller antenna, which we bought this winter.

There are always issues when you buy something new, aren't there? We tried to bring the DVR receiver from the house into the RV. It didn't connect to the antenna. After some research, we learned the antenna needed a special receiver, which we bought (rather than lease--that option doesn't seem to exist with the Dish 211z receiver) from Camping World. That was when we experienced retro TV. The 211 is just a receiver, not a DVR. No recording, no stopping, pausing, or rewinding. Yuk.

More research showed we needed an external hard drive to make the receiver into a DVR. Not only that, but apparently USB 2.0 connections are on their way out. Almost every hard drive I found had a USB 3.0, which won't work with our receiver. Not only that, it had to have its own power source. Finally we found one at Fry's Electronics in Tempe. This is what we bought.

After all this work and frustration, there is some good news. For only $7 a month, we get all the same programing in the RV that we have in the house. And it is pay as you go. We activate the receiver when we want to travel, deactivate it when we return to Arizona, and only pay the $7 when it is active. Much better than paying double to keep both receivers active. John had seen the ads for pay as you go Dish TV but didn't think it applied to us. Who knew? It does now.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A House Divided

But don't think it is the inhabitants that are divided. It is that we are living in both of our Arizona homes for the next week or so.

As you can see, our RV is parked next to our house. We plan on leaving Gold Canyon in a week or so and we want to make sure we have everything we need in the RV, so we began to move back in to it today. For six years, almost everything we own was in the RV. Now, we are back to what it was like when we only traveled part of the year. We tried to equip the house with about everything we needed to live there. But there are clothes, computer and iPad and all their accompanying accessories; files and insurance papers; phones and cameras; medicine and toiletries.

We are sure there is more we will need. And, of course, we have to use up or transfer all the food that would spoil or get out of date use by October when we return. When we did this more regularly, we would spend a day or two at a nearby state park, checking to see we hadn't forgotten anything. But we are out of practice. Plus, we don't have the room in the house where we can spend a couple of weeks accumulating what we need. So, by trial and error, we will live in the trailer while trying to remember everything we need. We will make lots of trips in and out of the house, I am sure. Hopefully, we won't find in a month or two there is something we really can't live without and can't buy. We'll see.

Monday, April 20, 2015

April Happenings

The month of April is two-thirds gone. What has been happening here? The first Sunday of the month was Easter. The altar area of Epiphany Episcopal Church in Tempe was beautifully decorated and the worship service was even better. John assisted at one of the services.

This is the month when the snowbirds begin their flight north. Just look at these nearly deserted areas of our resort.

Since so many people are learning, one of our neighbors had an end of the season party.

We had our RV washed an waxed early in the month.

Ever since we moved out of our house in 2009 to live in our RV full time, we have had stuff in storage. We went from five crates of stored items, plus on U-Haul storage unit, to a smaller U-Haul unit after getting rid of most of the stuff. Last spring we drove to Denver and brought the remaining storage items here to Arizona. We pared that down to one 5 ft by 10 ft unit last fall. Now we are going through lots and lots of paper filed in boxes. This is what is looked like in our living room one day this week.

Here is a picture as we loaded the truck in March last year. Notice the 3 black file cabinets. That is where all the paper was located that we are trying to get rid of.

We are pushing hard so we can empty the storage unit and have everything that is left stored here in our winter home. We hope that we will finish that work and the construction on our addition will be far enough along that we can leave here about May 1.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

It's Taking Shape

They have been working almost every week day on our construction project and we now have a really good idea of what it looks like.

The framer crew chief kidded around as I took his picture. Do you suppose he really could hold up the frame?

After they had the walls built, the roof trusses were delivered and installed, then fiber board put down for the roof.

The roofer was here the last two days, putting down several layers of roofing. The second photo shows you what the finished roof looks like.

At this point, the ducts for the heat and air conditioning are in, the lights and electrical outlets are installed. There will be an inspection by the county, then drywall, insulation and stucco will be completed. We are please with how fast they are working now.

We had impatiently waited for months for this construction to begin. The resort owners insisted construction in this part of Superstition Views not begin until after Easter. There are still four model homes on this street. After seeing how crowded the street is while there are working, we can see why we had to wait.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April Flowers

Up north,"April showers bring May flowers," so the song goes. Here, it isn't showers that bring the flowers. It is the heat, and maybe some irrigation. We haven't been hiking in the desert but our morning walks often take us through the neighboring housing development, Montesa. Here are some of what we see.  You can click on each picture to see the flowers better.

I don't know what these bushes/trees are called, but they produce a beautiful display of color.

These three red-flowering plants are a bottle brush, lantana and prickly pear.

This tree has red flowers and some sort of red apple-like fruit.

This may be considered a weed in this yard. It Colorado, we would call this a wild flowers.

The plants produce all colors at this time of year. Here are one in yellow and another in orange.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Time or Money

We have somewhere upward of 1,000 color slides from our early life, even before we were married. But who has a screen and slide projector to look at them today? We sure don't. I have read that we can get a screen and a projector and show the slides, then take pictures of each image with our digital camera. Recently, we joined Costco and they will copy the slides and give us two copies on CDs of the digital images. That sounded like a good idea.

We picked up the small cardboard boxes to each contain the slides in batches of 50 for them to work with. But, when I figured what it would cost--at 22 cents each, 1000 slides would cost $999.78--we started to second guess that method. John went on and found a machine for $99 that would produce digital images from the slides. $99 versus $999 sounded pretty good. This week,I have begun the process.

Here I am, copying slides. Each row in that box contains 100 slides. I am trying to copy 200 a day. Once I got the process down, it goes fairly quickly. I insert one slide at a time, push save, then insert another. It is fun to see pictures of our childhood and of our children when they were young. We have photos of both sons playing in the lawn sprinkler on a hot day, as well as pictures for lots of camping trips with family and friends. We have slides from a trip to California John took as a young boy with his parents and brother. So far, I have copies about 700 slides. When I finish the box of slides you see in the photo, I will copy 150+ slides my parents took when I was young.

After I finish digitizing these slides, we will be able to copy images to CDs and share them with family members who are pictured in them. I am also digitizing old photos and then forwarding the originals to the people seen in them. I also back up all these digital files, keeping 3 separate copies so they aren't lost. Isn't modern technology wonderful?

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Construction Begins!

We bought our Arizona winter home in October and at that time signed a contract for the concrete rv pad and driveway and for a workshop to be built next to the house. The concrete was poured in January and we have been anxiously waiting for construction to begin on the workshop. Finally, Monday they started work!

First, the framers started bringing out their tools.

Since the lumber hadn't been delivered yet, they borrowed some from a nearby work site.

Finally, the full lumber load arrived.

By the end of the first day, they had all the studs in place, as well as the supporting beams in.

We are so excited to see this project take place. We plan to stay here until most of the work is done. That way we can answer any questions they have, as well as understand how the room is put together. Neither of us knows much about construction, so we are really enjoying seeing the work progress and learning something in the process.

The crew returned today and this is what our workshop and car port look like at the end of the work day.

Good-bye Lunch

When you live your life traveling from place to place, spending the winter here in Arizona then traveling in our home on wheels the rest of the year, we say, "good-bye for now" regularly. Monday, we had lunch with friends Barbara and Ron as they prepare to travel for the summer. We won't be leaving for a month or so.

Barbara suggested we eat at Rubio's Seafood Restaurant. We had never been there before, but it was a very good idea. I had been hearing about fish tacos for years and doubted I would like them. I was sure wrong there. I loved the salsa verde shrimp taco and will definitely plan to go there again. John had a steak taco plate, but even he liked my shrimp taco.

We probably won't see Ron and Barbara until fall, when we all return to Arizona, but it was good to have one last lunch with them before we part ways for the summer. Don't we all look like we enjoyed our lunches?

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Bursting Out All Over

I can't really say we ever really have winter here in the Valley of the Sun, but now spring is bursting out all over. If we were up north, we would see crocus and flowering apple and plum trees. Here, the colors are red, white and yellow.

Well-watered ocotillo have lots of red flowers.

Easter is coming on Sunday and the white Easter lily cactus blooms are spectacular this year. The blooms each only last about 24 hours.

We have never seen so many yellow blossoms on the palo verde trees. Our park and the nearby desert and beautiful.

You really know it is spring when the local water fowl start parading their young around. Did I say water fowl? Yes, though I have no idea where nearby water can be found, except in a pond across busy U S 60 or in the resort next door, where there are golf courses. The nine (I think) baby ducklings were so cute. I spotted them by our tennis court when I headed out for my morning walk.