Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The Joy of Finding Family

 August 26, 2020
Tombstone, Arizona

Recent changes to Blogger have changed the font size options leaving me without what I found to be the perfect size that was between this new "too large" and the much smaller "not normal for me" .

My last post looks like it was designed for a large print book and rather silly. Feels like I'm yelling at you! Since we are now often referring to the "new normal" of our lives, I suppose opting for the new Normal for my font is appropriate. 

Hardly on the scale of pandemics, civil rights battles, political corruption, fires, power outages and hurricanes, this latest 2020 blogger-font-size crisis will likely not be life changing for anyone :)

We don't need anything else!

I've once again gotten caught up reading posts from my Blog Roll, catching up on what our friends are up to. What a different world most of us are experiencing. Thankfully no one is sick, everyone is safe. Most are stationary. Many are in sticks and bricks, either permanently or part time. Those in Europe are each having different experiences.

How uplifting to see what others are doing! Funny that we all think we're not doing anything of interest to others, yet I find it's my interest in the individuals themselves that makes reading their posts such a delight. We haven't spent a lot of time with most of these travel friends (some more than others), a couple we've not met, and yet all have been a big part of my life for years. Who knew that distant friends would become the norm for all of us?!

Distant family makes us sad as we're missing those grand babies, but a couple months ago I found some of my family which has made me very happy!

I have a small family - Mom had one brother who had one son. Dad had a sister with no children and a brother with two sons. My 3 cousins and I saw a lot of each other when we were little then we moved to the desert of SoCal and I rarely saw them. My mom's nephew Tracy and I stayed in touch and he helped me move in 2001. After high school I lost touch with the other two, only seeing Steven once in 1998. David had moved to the northwest and even changed his last name to his mother's maiden name.

As an only child myself my sons have no cousins from my family. Neither Tracy nor Steven had children so the only other "next generation" are David's two children. 

Aaaanyway, back in 2017 I looked for my cousins on Facebook (although I knew that Steven and Tracy were very unlikely to have a social media presence). Somehow I found a woman who I thought was David's spouse although she had a different last name. I sent her a message. Nothing.

Fast forward to May 2020 and a response pops up!! Yes, she is David's spouse and now David has his own FB page so we become Friends and poof!! Family :-) 

Steven sits while David and I are held by Grandpa George - 1956

Me, Steven and David with our older grands - I still remember that wallpaper!

Since I was already working on photo albums, I had old family photos at my fingertips. Sharing them with David and his family is such a joy. His parents divorced in the 70's and his dad (my Uncle Johnnie) passed a few years later. My mother was with his when she lost her battle with cancer in the early '80's. Most of the photos I have he's never seen, and of course are a glimpse of that long ago time that he can now share with his wife and family. 

Not long after we reconnected, David received his dad's war diary in the mail from a woman who has had it since she was little girl and somehow found David after all this time. Wow!! Uncle Johnnie never talked about those years with his boys so he's hoping to learn more about who his father was. And I have my dad's photo album from those years - with photos of Johnnie and their friends. Our hope is that some of the photos will show people he references in the diary and we'll both have a more complete history! It's all very exciting.

Handsome Uncle Johnnie

I'm grateful Dad saved so many pics of his brother for his
son to enjoy all these years later.

Even better, they live Washington, in an area we love to visit, so next summer we'll be able to get caught up in person. Steven is in Salt Lake City and I'm hopeful we can add him to the reunion. I know our parents are happy we're finally getting the family back together!

At a time in our lives when we're disconnected from most people it is such a gift to have made this connection. To find how much David and I have in common, to feel that blood tie even from 1600 miles away, to know there is another generation with the opportunity to call each other family. I didn't realize the void was there until it was once again filled. 

The fires in Colorado and New Mexico are sharing their smoke with Southern Arizona making our hot days hazy and unpleasant. Fortunately we don't have the smell or the ash, just the blurred views. Arizona has its own fires but the winds seem to be sending "our" smoke to other places. Our kids are away from the current California devastation so we're grateful they are out of harm's way. My BFF posted a pic of the Sacramento skies they're contending with, just awful!!

Dangerous air quality for everyone in Saramento.

We're seriously considering a two week trip to the Santa Fe area the first week of October to get the wheels rolling on the motorhome and give us a much needed adventure. I'll start looking for reservations this weekend to see if it's feasible, then keep an eye on how the COVID numbers look where we want to be.

Just the thought of planning a route, even with restricted "go-sees", is very exciting :-)))) 

Since I've decided to add additional window coverings in the bedroom the "big reveal" is postponed (for those of you who only opened the post to see a pretty bedroom, I apologize).

I'm confident you are all doing well, and making the best of these "troubling times" - keep posting and commenting so we can all see how much or little you're doing!

What Tessa dreams about these days!

Monday, August 17, 2020

Living in the Now, Surrounded By Desert Beauty

 June 21 - August 12, 2020
Tombstone, Arizona

And just like that, another eight weeks rolled on by. With temps in the 90's and a few triple digit days, most of our time is spent indoors. Some projects completed, lots of reading and television. 

And learning to live in the now. 

For two years I planned our fulltime RV life. Then for five years I planned our upcoming routes and new adventures. This new reality of not only "no plans", but no idea when I can start planning again, is a challenge. It requires me to focus on each day, on being in the moment I'm in right now. I'm most content when I'm successful. Because the days I'm living are pretty darn good :-)

Certainly we're blessed to have this house in this place at this time. Appreciating those blessings every day is not a bad way to spend my time. 

I'm not doing a good job of memorializing it, but I've stopped beating myself up over my lack of blogging. These are slower times, captured more slowly.

So Ezra and his parents spent four months with us. During that time they also purchased a home, and moved back to SoCal the middle of July. Jeff remains with us, will go to school in the Fall, will figure out the future when the world can again do that with any certainty.

PopPop and Ezra make each other laugh all the time.
PopPop and Ezra make each other laugh!

Nothing better than water play on a hot day.

Jeff learning the fun part of RV living - dumping the tanks.

The family of 3.5 at their new home in the mountains.

Brian and Ezra

The Gravel boys and their families are managing remote and in-person jobs with children at home. All continue to be healthy, all are ready for return to normalcy. We stay caught up with videos, photos, phone calls and Skype/Facetime. We miss seeing them, miss knowing we can visit them whenever we want.

Mason and Maximus, soon to be two and four.

Reese, our only grand daughter, nine months in August.

Henry (son of our "borrowed" daughter Megan, and our fifth grand), at seven months.

Monsoon season means surrounding storms each afternoon. A couple even bring rain with the thunder, lightning and wind. Mostly they give us incredible skies and that wonderful petrichor.

A lot of our storms come up from the south.

These bright skies make the whole desert glow orange.

Although we don't get a lot of wet, some afternoons feel like we're underwater!

Thunder storms from the north.

One of my projects is painting our bedroom. It feels good to have it done, and I'm happy with the results. Still waiting for the custom shades to be installed so final "reveal" to come!

I'm always finding these little "notes" throughout the house. Something my dad always did!

Lots of cut-in with multiple doors and trim. Since I don't tape or tarp, I take my time.

I'm happy with the color, really warms up the room.

We still love our desert drives and enjoy the drama of cloudy days. It's so green everywhere we go although the San Pedro River has only a trickle still visible. We get flash flood warnings every week, but have yet to see any moving water in our travels. 

Some cloud bursts move a wall of water across the horizon.

We watch for the alien ship to burst out.

Another project that keeps me busy for several days is moving a large box of photos into albums. What fun to enjoy all those memories from my baby days through both my sons growing to manhood. 

Jodee at two with serious expectations for Santa.

Jeff and Brian on the train from Durango to Silverton, Colorado

Always a good time with these two - ages 11 and 3

Bill stays away from town while Jeff and I make regular trips into Sierra Vista to pick up groceries and occasional meals to-go. Mask wearing is finally required at most businesses although sadly some still refuse to exercise common sense. We haven't found any need to drive to Tucson but are keeping Amazon and UPS busy every week!

Most trips to town include supporting our favorite small business for iced coffees. Love our Joe-to-Go!

August is a big birthday month for the family from Ezra at the beginning to Mason at the end - and Bill, Jeff and Maximus in between! Wish we could all be together but we make the best of it. Everybody still gets older even when we're apart :-)

Ezra sharing his present-opening on his big day.

We're healthy, we're happy, we're safe and sane (as much as ever). I'm thinking that once we're able to travel again I'll continue to live in the now. Every minute is precious, and there are lots of them to enjoy in each day!

Enjoy these beautiful sunsets from our desert sanctuary!!!