Sunday, December 19, 2021

Making Progress

November 18 - December 18, 2021
Tombstone, Arizona

 Although we've had the place since October 2019, we still occasionally look at each other and say "We have a house in Tombstone!" It's certainly added another layer to our simple retirement, providing sanctuary for us and family during COVID, and a big dose of drama with the SUV crashing through in September! 

The last month has been mostly waiting for, and watching, the rebuild continue. We're on the home stretch now, likely done by Christmas, but it seems like a long time since we've had a fireplace and carpeting in the living room. We still won't have carpet until January......the grands can spill all they want next week :-)

Seeing the stone going up is a great day!

What we came home to in September.

With a new vent-less fireplace we gain garage space as well.

The same garage corner was the point of impact.

Our Thanksgiving is quiet with just the three of us and lots of football - not great football, but football none the less. Bill barbeques the bird and makes his sausage dressing while Jeff makes mac and cheese, so I just need to fill in with yams, green beans and deviled eggs. We don't do dessert this year as we're all working on losing some weight, but we don't scrimp on what we do have!! As of today Bill has lost 22 pounds so of course I've lost 11 - enough to make you really dislike men :-)

The house smells soooo good!

I was getting bored and anxious for the living room to come together so I paint two of the walls and rehang the drapes so they no longer take up so much wall space. I also paint the hall and Bill adds an updated sconce. The old eggshell color didn't work for me (I've painted the two bedrooms and one of the baths already to add some color), so I choose a soft dove gray for three of the walls, and a darker charcoal for the fireplace wall. 

The space already feels cozier.

Outside the destroyed front fencing is replaced, and we add new gates to the back. For the whole time the fence is down Tessa will not go through that space! She stands at the gate waiting to be let in or out, no matter how many times we show her the opening. Silly dog!

We lost a nice large green bush in this space, but having the fence back in place feels like we're getting back to "pre-crash" living.

The old gates were over a foot off the ground, making the yard less than secure for visiting doggies. There was also a large metal stake in the middle which was a hassle to drive around when accessing the backyard. This is so much better.

I manage to make the drive to Sierra Vista nearly everyday although each day I'm sure I've remembered everything! Jeff's car was damaged by the flying side door in the garage (the body shop explained they don't have a code for that!), and after ten days in the shop we pick it up good as new. Again, both our insurance company and the driver's make sure everything moves quickly and doesn't cost us anything.

We spend a sad day saying good-bye to a dear high school friend and his wife who passed away within four days of each other. We've lost too many in the last couple years, definitely too many to COVID that could have been avoided. It breaks my heart as Mike and Becky leave their youngest son whose brother passed several years ago. 

I love that this was the photo the family chose for the memorial.

Tessa gets an ouchie on her neck which delays her grooming appointment, but a week later she finally gets all spiffy again. A few days after that I get four inches cut off my hair so I'm feeling spiffy as well :-) Even better, I get to the spa in Tucson twice, enjoying a little pampering which is always good for the soul!

Her shorter ears make her look younger than her now 11 years.

Back in California the grands are all doing well. Daughter-in-law Christie is feeling well and excited for our number eight to arrive the end of the month. We miss them all, and can't wait for Ezra and Elliott to arrive in a few days!

Elliott confirms box is always more fun than what's in it.

The youngest for a few more days, Penelope is loving her first Christmas.

Ezra can't believe how much snow they got overnight!

Reese likes her first pig tails :-)

Staying warm indoors - Ezra and Elliott both look like they got busted!

LOL - M&M have different feelings about picture day.

Henry has befriended this orange and takes it along on all his walks - I love this kid!

We've had almost no rain since our return, but we still have lovely clouds most days, making for beautiful sunsets. It's a wonderful time of day to appreciate where we are and all we can see from our little spot on the hill.

The contractors finish the stonework and most of the painting on Friday, meaning I can get the little tree decorated. We decided on a table-top size this year to be more baby-proof - we'll see :-)

So happy with the stone we chose - mantle goes up on Monday.

The latest I've ever put up a tree - it sure feels more like Christmas now that it's here!

Got my booster Saturday - feel fine except for my very painful arm. Geeez, I swear I was slugged by a linebacker! Bill gets his Monday so we'll be covered "for now". As many have expressed, it does feel like COVID is winning. 

We're happy with the progress, and hopeful all will be complete for Christmas. No matter what, we're going to have a wonderful holiday. 

Hoping that you're enjoying your own wonderfulness, that you are making progress in all you're working on, and that peace and joy surround you and yours.



Monday, November 29, 2021

Fun With Family and Meeting Number Seven!

 November 5-17, 2021
Valencia - Desert Center, California; Litchfield Park, Arizona

Grandchildren photo overload ahead!!

California is a big state, so although we lived there most of our lives there are still many places we haven't seen and routes we haven't traveled. Since retirement we've added a lot, but we can still find new things to see.

Like our drive from the desert to the coast a few days earlier, our return to the mountains north of Los Angeles County includes a new-to-us Highway 95 from Highway 166 to Frazier Park. Unlike the previous drive, this route has zero other vehicles. It's a good thing as the road is very narrow, very winding, and in some places very steep. 

It's a pretty drive, but it gives us a view of the sad reality of the air quality in the Central Valley. So nasty, twice as bad as in the cities to the south.

Glad we didn't spend any time in "that"!
Frazier Park sits at the same elevation as Tombstone, the air here is crisp and clear, the temps nice and cool. 

Again we're at Lake of the Woods Mobile Village. Mostly permanent residents, there are a handful of overnight spaces with 30 amp FHUs that put us within a few miles of Ezra and Elliott and their parents. We're here for four days of getting caught up with our 6 and 1 year old grands. 

Since our last visit they've added a new family member - Rizer is a Doberman mix puppy, and a real sweetheart. I think he looks like Inubus :-)

Brian (my and our oldest) is working from home this Friday so we get to see all of them as soon as Ezra gets home from school. 

Ezra is an active 6 year old - still hard to believe he's grown up so fast!

With Momma Shalise, beautiful Elliott is fighting off the sniffles. 

Saturday is our first granddaughter Reese's second birthday party. Sadly Elliott is still showing signs of a cold so he has to stay home with mom and dad. But Ezra is excited to join us "down the mountain" at My Gym where all his cousins and their friends are having a great time playing on the equipment, singing songs, and enjoying snacks. 

It's also our first chance to meet our number seven grand - Penelope Anne is Reese's one month old sister. She's precious and so, so teeny!

Daddy Travis (Bill's number three, our number five) shares our newest grand with her PopPop.

Ezra taking on the climbing wall.

I have so much fun rolling him around (and out of) the big octagon.

Birthday girl Reese - point those toes girl!

M&M love the swings.

Putting on her birthday hat. I love her drink holder!

Mommy Emily and Daddy Travis with their precious two year-old.
Following all the activity at the gym, the family heads for pizza and more fun. We're at the same place we used to come when Richie (our youngest, now 24) was in flag football during middle school! He was 11 when Bill and I reunited, and now we have a 6 year old grandson and six others - hard to wrap my head around all that!

Cousins comparing their prizes from the arcade.

Bill and Corey (Bill's number two, our number three) getting caught up over cribbage. Matching hands along with the hair and glasses :-)))
Ezra and I play a lot in the backyard, we watch some football and movies, meals are eaten, Elliott entertains us all, time moves too quickly. 

Tessa milking the "I don't want to be down there with that puppy!"


Picking up Ezra from school.

Elliott loves Daddy's hat.

Sadly, our Monday time is cut short when the school calls with news that Ezra's class has once again been exposed to COVID. If we weren't heading to see the new baby and younger grands tomorrow we'd take the risk of carrying the virus, but alas we opt to return to the motorhome a few hours early. Sometimes it feels like we will never be free of this damn thing. The class is quarantined at their homes until they're tested on Friday. 

We're at Valencia Travel Village for a week. This tree-full park has been our go-to spot for visiting the kids since we went fulltime. 50 amp FHUs with varying size sites, we're always able to get level, and hook up to satellite. Unfortunately their prices have increased so much we no longer come for the holidays when they go up even more. 

No medical appointments this time, but we get the rig washed and waxed ($$$), and I get a little Christmas shopping started. It's nice to be in a big town where I know where to find everything!

More than usual, the kids are able to get together every day (in some combination), and we are in heaven! It's visits like this that make me question whether we'd be happier living back here, being more a part of their lives. Certainly we'd love seeing them all, watching them grow up in person, but our reality is that in-between the times we'd see them we'd be bored and wishing we were traveling instead. And the cost of living here would certainly mean giving up the motorhome and our adventures. Alas, no plans to change our life style for now.

Corey and Christie join us for dinner at our new favorite Valencia restaurant - Solitas Tacos and Margaritas. Not only does the name describe what we love, but their offerings for both are unique and delicious! And it's a beautiful interior to enjoy good company. Next time we see them they'll be parents - number eight!! I remember to get pics of them later in the week :-)

Borrowed from Google Images

Hanging out with Penelope means assuring Tessa she's still Daddy's girl.

Happy Nawma! Penelope already seems bigger than she did at the birthday party. 

Penelope with Daddy Travis, all tuckered out.

Momma Emily with Moz and Reese.

Henry and Momma Megan (our borrowed daughter) come for a visit at the park.

We spend an afternoon with M&M at their home while Mom and Dad are running errands. Dinner together with Nick (Bill's oldest, our number two) and  Jillian afterwards gives us more time to catch up.

PopPop helping Maximus repair his engine.

Mason sings his way down the slide. We love spending time with these two loving and energetic boys.

Saturday we join Corey and Christie for their "drive-by" baby shower. Fun to see everyone again!

Uncle Corey and Penelope - they live in the same condo complex, just a block away from each other.

Corey and Christie and Baby Gravel - they're waiting to learn the gender at the birth. Expected to be their Christmas gift.

Reese enjoying cake pops.

Bill and Corey

Almost everyone is able come over on Sunday for football and BBQ - it's hot outside so we spend most of it snugged indoors. Good to see Richie (Bill's and our youngest).

This slide is a gauge for how Ezra has grown over the years! 

Ezra keeps a good eye on brother Elliott.

This beautiful boy is always so happy.

Ezra, Shalise, Elliott and Brian

Our last day we visit Henry and parents Chris and Megan. Silly boys!

We're so happy to count Henry as one of our grands! 

Tuesday morning the wind has died down, and it's an easy and familiar drive to Desert Center, California. Friend's Kevin and Bridgette have a perfect spot to park next door. She's feeling under the weather so Bill and Kevin (best friends for fifty years) visit on the patio and I take a nap. 

We're up and out with the sun. Plans for a brunch meet-up means getting moving earlier than usual. Lucky for us driving east, there's cloud cover until the sun has risen enough to not be in my eyes! 

Kristy has found a perfect spot to meet that has a huge vacant lot for us to park just a block from the restaurant. She and Patty graduated a few years before us, but we've all gotten closer in our "later" years. It's wonderful to see them after two years! We have to drag ourselves away after a couple hours, knowing we still have another 3+ hours to get to Tombstone.

Bill, Jodee, Patty, Kristy and Tessa.

My least favorite repeat drive from Phoenix to Tombstone passes relatively quickly this time, and before 4:00 we are pulling into the driveway. Great to see Jeff - and no new vehicles have parked inside our house!

Family and crew health issues kept any work from getting done while we were gone, but we had told our contractor not to worry about it. It'll get done by Christmas.

Which is especially important as Ezra and Elliott are bringing their parents to spend the holiday with us!!

We can't wait :-))