Thursday, December 31, 2020

Good-bye and Good Riddance

Oh, what a year it has been!  I imagine 2020 will go down as an unforgettable, even if we would like to forget much of what happened this year.  That is not to say everything in our personal life was negative.  Much of the year was good, even if it didn't turn out like I had planned.

In March, so many things were cancelled.  We don't participate in very many activities in our resort, which was probably good then.  They were all cancelled.  But we still had to change our plans.  We had reservations along the route from Phoenix to Memphis, TN, where we planned to attend Memphis in May, a national BBQ event.  It was cancelled, so we cancelled our reservations along that route.

Then we learned that we would not be able to attend the graduation ceremonies for our granddaughter Rachal in New Hampshire.  The date of the graduation was changed because of the pandemic but while they were deciding on a new date, we decided traveling half-way across the country without knowing if or when we could attend the ceremony, we decided not to go.  We were able to watch it on Facebook.  Not a good option, but better than not seeing it at all.  

We ended up staying at our winter home in Arizona until mid-May.  We then made a few stops in northern Arizona and New Mexico and on into Colorado.  We had good family time, then returned to our winter home in mid-September.  Probably our shortest travel season in years.

As I look through my travel diary, I find comments like, we're learning not to plan, life is on hold, life is so uncertain, it feels like we are living in a foreign country.  Unfortunately, this hasn't changed much since March.  We tried having groceries delivered, but have ended up grocery shopping with a mask on, visiting stores to obtain hobby supplies, talking to people from 6 feet away, outside only.

We have discovered Zoom and Google Hangouts, two virtual meeting apps that help us keep in touch with family.  It isn't as good as seeing people in person, but we are grateful our two Colorado grandchildren want to see us that way each week.  Oh yes, and their parents, too.  Especially since they spend many hours each week working and attending school online, we are glad they want to see us, too.  It is certainly better than phone contact only. 

Other positive things this year.  After seeing our IRA brokerage accounts showing a loss for year since March, today I checked and we are no longer down for the year.  That may only mean we are back where we started in March, but it is always good to see only green on the chart, not red.

I long for  the day when we won't need to wear masks or talk to people from 6 feet away, and outdoors only.  But I have adjusted to the masks and the limitations.  It is doable, at least for a while longer.  Someday, I will be able to hug a friend or family member when we haven't seen each other for a while.  And we won't have to ask how long they have been in quarantine to make sure we don't contract Covid 19.  

Not only do I say good-bye and good riddance to the year 2020.  I want to live the years we have left in our lives, not just avoid any possible contact with this plague.  Good-bye and good riddance, Covid 19, I hope to be able to say soon

Are we only as old as we think we are?

I started blogging in 2006.  We had been RVing for 16 years and I decided to keep our family informed about where we were and what we were doing through a blog.  I was 63 years old.  But age is just a number isn't it?  Aren't we only as old as week feel we are?

Today we are 77, nearly 78 years old.  So, how old to I feel I am?  Every bit of those 77 years!  

About 19 years ago, I suffered a torn meniscus and it hurt, at times pretty bad.  After a period of time, I went to the urgent care nearby and had an Xray.  They sent me to a surgeon.  Until the surgery was scheduled, I wrapped the knee and went about my normal everyday life--as best I could.  That surgery made a real difference.

Eventually, that meniscus surgery no longer took care of the problem.  My knee began to bother me, almost every time I stepped on that foot.  Long story short, in mid-November I had a total knee replacement of my right knee. 

Let me tell you, those years have made a difference.  The surgery has healed well.  I am recovering very well.  But, at 77 healing and total recovery takes time--more than I would like.  Every time we walk, I feel it in my right knee. It hurts.  And the long we walk, the more it hurts.  

I haven't recovered like I did nearly 20 years ago.  I wonder why?  Is it my age, do you think?  I know I do.   It took my 77+ years to get to this point.  And every bone, joint and muscle in my body is also 77 years old.  They are at times as slow acting and as slow recovering as I am.

Age is more than how I feel.  Age is an actual, verifiable fact.  Live with it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Who Knew There Was So Much Needing Repair?

Each fall when we return to Arizona, we schedule check-ups with all our medical providers.  As we get older, there are more and more providers and it takes a while to get them all scheduled.  And this year, there was one more—John felt I should have my hearing checked.

So, when all was said and done, the relatively minor ache in my right knee led to a total knee replacement.  And not long after, the hearing test revealed I really can’t hear very well and hearing aides were ordered.

A one-night stay in the hospital and I came home with a new knee.  I am up to walking over three miles a day.  It is a little sore but getting better each day.

The hearing aides are taking some adjusting to.  I didn’t realize the world was such a noisy place.  Even toilet paper is noisy.  So is walking across the floor or over gravel.  Doors slam easily and LOUD. The clock on the wall might as well be Big Ben in London with all the noise it makes. How many of you have experienced these reactions, too?

John has been wearing hearing aides for nearly 30 years, so he can commiserate and tell me which irritations I will learn to live with or not notice.  But, frankly, walking is easier than hearing correctly.

Getting old has it’s down side, but I can count my blessings.  First off, I live in a time and have the resources to get these issues taken care of.  And nothing is life threatening.  I can’t say as much for some of our neighbors here.  We are really blessed to live in a time and a country where issues like this can be corrected—or at least improved.  And we are also blessed to have the insurance to pay for it. Thank God for Medicare. 

Merry Christmas everyone!  Surely 2020 will end and 2021 will be a better year.  We hope and pray you all stay healthy during this pandemic.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Hobbling Along

Happy Thanksgiving!

 It's been a month since my last blog, I know.  But I have been a little busy.  A week ago I got a new knee!  I have been uncomfortable walking since this summer.  During the month we spent hiking in Utah on our trip back to Arizona from Colorado, I experienced increasing discomfort in my right knee.  Shortly after getting settled in our winter home, I visited my doctor and was sent for an MRI to see what was wrong.  

Several years ago, 2011 I think, I had surgery for a torn meniscus in my right knee.  At that time, John was told I had extensive arthritis in the knee. Over the years I have had shots in the knee to relieve some of the discomfort.  

When I met with my primary care doctor about the September MRI, he said I was bone on bone in that knee and I needed a knee replacement.  Since he had surgery to replace both of his knees over the summer and was doing well, I asked for the name of his surgeon.  

Once I met with the surgeon, there were many steps in the process of being cleared for the operation.  What an ordeal.  Blood tests, exams, an EKG.  It wasn't enough to get the initial referral from my primary care MD, I also needed a formal letter clearing me for the operation.

Finally, everything was in order and I was scheduled for surgery!  At 8 am last Wednesday, I checked into the hospital.  Of course, because of Covid 19 restrictions, John couldn’t come in with me.  He dropped me off at the front door and drove back home. 

We used face time to keep in touch.  A few hours after I was admitted, I was taken into surgery.  About 1 ½ hours later, I was in recovery.  I had PT in the hospital once that day and again twice on Thursday before I was released—about 28 or 29 hours after I got there.  

I can’t say, yet, I feel better than when I got there.  But I am hopeful.  They did a lot of work after making that 6-inch incision in my knee.  My body really didn’t like that and I have a lot of swelling and bruising. I am sore.

Every hour I am awake, I need to do some walking.  I have had PT twice since coming home and will be going twice a week for the next month.  I haven’t needed very much pain medicine. 

Already, I can bend the knee just over 90 degrees.  I can extend it to with 2 or 3 degrees of being completely flat.

From all I read and am told, I will take up to 6 months to be totally healed.  But I see the   sunshine ahead and really, really like my surgeon and my therapist. 

Now it is time to go outside and hobble around for a short walk.


Sunday, October 25, 2020

Family Comes to Visit

Our son Eric, wife Liz and our grandchildren from Colorado, Kylie and John, came to Arizona last weekend. They stayed in Scottsdale in a condo owned by Liz's sister. Friday we joined them for dinner--a bucket of chicken from KFC.

Saturday we met them at the Musical Instrument Museum. A visit there is always an opportunity to learn something new.

The variety of zithers--stringed instruments, aka guitars--is amazing.

I had never heard of thumb pianos before.  Obviously, they aren't unique.

All of these are drums, zithers and rattles from South Africa.

Such a variety of horns and other wind instruments.

Alice Cooper was never an entertainer I listened to.  But he certainly had interesting clothes.

Many instruments were handmade.  Here you can see a banjo and bass violin.

We don't go out to eat often, so we first experienced touchless menus when we went to lunch at Diego Pops, a taco restaurant in Phoenix.  I guess these menus--which we pulled up on our phones--is the way to avoid touching menus others have handled--it's a Covid thing, I guess.  We did have a good time at lunch.

Several years ago, Eric had flown down to visit us and we went to the Botanical Gardens.  He wanted to go there again, so we met them there on Sunday.

In addition to the desert plants, the gardens always have major art displays.  The last time we were there, we saw numerous glass sculptures by Chihuly. This time it was Wild Rising by Cracking Art.  It included numerous meercats and at least one giant snail.

But what we were really interested in were the cactus and other desert plants.

These small cactus plants remind me of green eggs being broken open by the baby bird inside.

This is certainly an unusual tree.

I was reminded of stacked stones when I looked at this cactus.

Eric, Kylie and John enjoyed walking the labyrinth.

We all enjoyed the shade in this ramada.

And there were even more sculptures--including some large birds and unusual stacks of small birds.

Friday, October 09, 2020

Wooden Activity

 One  the activities we enjoy during our winters in Arizona is working with wood in our workshop. When we were staying at Valle del Oro in Mesa, we took the training to use the woodshop.  We each made a picture frame, then moved on to intarsia--making scenes with pieces of wood that are cut, shaped and made into pictures.

After we moved to Superstition Views, we added a workshop to our winter home and I learned to use the lathe, making bowls.  Later, we both took a class in turning pens.  

Since then, John has made lots of pens, I have turned a large number of bowls and we have both made intarsia projects.

This year I found a book on making boxes using the band saw.  This is the first one I completed.


 John has been using the scroll saw to make scenes like I showed in a previous post.  This past couple of weeks, he make this beautiful poinsettia door  topper.

This work has been fun, it has kept us busy, and it gives us something to do in the air conditioned shop when the temperature hits 100+.  I think we will continue with more projects, even when it cools down.

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Not a wasted morning, after all

 Since mid-August my right knee has been hurting--not bad enough to go to urgent care somewhere, but enough that when we got settled here in Arizona, I  made an appointment with our doctor to see what is wrong.  With orders for an MRI, this morning we drove to the Banner Gilbert Imaging facility.  Guess what?  I forgot to bring the doctor's orders and since it is Saturday, they weren't able to get it directly from that office.  I have rescheduled for Monday.

We decided to try and make the best of the situation so we went walking at the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, a place we have been many times.

The preserve was packed with families with children and others but we still saw a lot of birds.  With no wind, I was able to capture some amazing reflections.  

The biggest surprise was seeing this roseate spoonbill.  Since it likes to feed in salt marshes, Arizona is not it's normal habitat.  We weren't sure how it got here.  A couple of women birdwatchers said it must have gotten lost.  It belongs in Florida or along the Texas Gulf Coast.

We saw many black-necked stilts.  They look like they are wearing a tuxedo, don't they.  

There are three stilts in this photo--or is it 6?

We also saw Canada geese and some egrets.

Could you ask for a more perfect reflection photo?

We enjoyed our morning walk, that is for sure.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Keeping Busy in the Heat

We arrived back to our winter home in Arizona a week ago Sunday. It is good to be back. On the other hand...we usually check the weather and don't come back here until the triple-digit heat ends. But we had done everything in Utah we were interested in. We spent a few days in the campground at the Wahweap Marina on Lake Powell, the a few days in Williams, Arizona. Outdoor activities are the only things available in this Covid-19 world and we didn't find much to do in either place.

We took some pictures of the Grand Canyon train in Williams.

We saw this neat old Chevy.
And this gas pump museum.
Williams in along Route 66. This t-shirt shows the highway route from Chicago to Los Angeles.
The young children in our RV park enjoyed riding on this barrel train in the early evenings.

Then we drove south to our winter home. Since we arrived, it has hit over 100 degrees every afternoon and should continue that way for another week!  Oh well.

This is one of the relief carvings John did over the summer.  He was  able to put on a finish in our shop. 

John has asol kept busy in the shop, working on the scroll saw.  He did this depiction of Texas.  He has also done Arizona, Colorado and Montana.  These are the states we have spent the most time in since retirement.

He wasn't the only one working in the shop.  I have cut out these trees on the saw.  I plan to paint them green and use them in front of our home at Christmas.

Here is another one of John's scroll saw projects.

Every year when we return to Arizona, John has to trim our mesquite tree so it won't scratch the Airstream when he parks it in our driveway.  It isn't fun work after driving to get here.  This week we contacted the local landscaping company that works in the park and they gave it a really good haircut.  Next year, we will call them before we get here and have them trim it before we get back.  They also trimmed our pygmy palms and replaced a dead cactus.  We are grateful for their work.  Neither of us enjoys yard work.



Monday, September 07, 2020

Bryce Canyon Hiking, Scenery and Visitors

After our week near Capitol Reef National Park, we continued south and west to Bryce Canyon National Park. This is probably our favorite national park and we became very familiar with it in 2005 when we volunteered here for three months. That was 15 years ago and we are still enamored. The scenery is spectacular. 

 We have done three major hikes and walked the rim during our stay. First, we hiked Navajo Loop to Queen's Garden and came up Wall Street. Bryce is not really a canyon, it is an amphitheater. You can look at it from the rim and it is beautiful. But hike down to the bottom--700 to 800 feet--and the experience is very different. Just remember, if you hike down 700 or 800 feet, you have to hike up the same amount. We have gotten lots of exercise!

This is a view looking up from the bottom. 
The bottom of Navajo Loop and the hike up Wall Street is like a moderately wide slot canyon. The light is filtered and everything has a red cast.
There were quite a few people enjoying the same experience we were.
These are views from the Rim down into the amphitheater. The rock formations and fascinating and the rock colors range from red to to pink to white.
After our walk along the rim, our niece, Tina, and her husband Vance came to visit. They have been traveling around beautiful Utah this month, as well. We had a really good visit. 
Bryce Point is the highest place along the rim of the Bryce Amphitheater. Saturday we rode the park shuttle from the Visitor Center to Bryce Point, then hiked down into the bottom and hiked back on the Peek-a-boo Trail to the Navajo Loop and hiked up to the rim on the Two Bridges Trail. We logged 13,438 steps that day. We were really exhausted.

Here you can "peek" from one area of the canyon to another.
Some people choose to see Bryce from the back of a horse. We were glad we met the horses at a wide spot in the trail.
At the end of a long summer, the trails in Bryce are very dusty. Just look at my legs at the end of our hike.
There were lots of people along the rim when we hiked out of the canyon. Unfortunately, I didn't pay attention to the fact our week here extended over the Labor Day Weekend. Whatever was I thinking? Bryce is very popular. There are lots of tents in Ruby's Inn Campground, where we are staying. There were also lots of trailers until this morning. Now it is almost empty. I guess summer is over.