Sunday, December 25, 2022

Another Christmas in the Sun

December 18-25, 2022
Tombstone, Arizona

Amazing that this is the fourth Christmas at our Tombstone house! Looking around I hardly remember what the place looked like when we moved in. Sometimes it's still hard to believe how we just "fell into" the place so easily, and how half of our upgrades came free of charge courtesy of a neighbor's insurance company! 

The closer we got to Christmas the warmer our temps got. While we had those couple days of pretty snow last week, when the big day arrives it's 68 degrees with sunny, blue skies. 

We appreciate how fortunate we are when so many across the country have been buried by brutal winter storms. The Buffalo Bills spent their Christmas Eve in Chicago - stranded when the airports closed. 8 games were played on Saturday in temps below 20 degrees. Friends in the north haven't been under freezing for days. Many missed seeing family due to travel restrictions. Several events are cancelled in Dallas over the weekend. 

Tahoe saw record snow-fall this weekend photo from Google Images

Beautiful and warmer Arizona skies.

We enjoy a full palette of colors.

The only "holiday preparation" is picking up a Honeybaked Ham in Tucson on Tuesday. All the grands have their presents, we've been enjoying our tree and other sparkles for several weeks, it's just three of us for Christmas. The city is (not surprising) busy with schools out, and shoppers making their mad dashes to finish their lists. I've prepaid for the ham and snag a parking spot in front of the store - and there is zero line at the time of my scheduled pickup. Sweet!! Trader Joe's isn't quite as quick, but their crew move us efficiently and with good cheer so it's a pleasant stop as well. And I'm done :-))) 

I'm listening to Fairy Tale by Stephen King on Audible which is so good! It makes these drives through the desert even nicer. Great views and perfect weather don't hurt either. One of the criteria for finding a winter base was having a good size city within an hour with a large airport, quality hospital, and decent services/restaurants/stores. Tucson fits all those needs with the addition of good museums, galleries, festivals and other fun things to do. 

What's funny about this is that my mother retired to Tucson in the 1980s, and when visiting her from California for years, I wasn't a fan. I guess I still wouldn't choose to live there, but having it close to our remote place in Tombstone is a pretty perfect combination!

Jeff finally gets in to see the dentist, and has to get a tooth pulled. Days before Christmas is sucky timing for sure, but he's glad to get it done. With the exception of the ham, I attempt a "softer" food theme for the holiday :-)

In the waiting room - love it!

Christmas Eve we enjoy a gathering with friends at their house down the road. About 25 people for tamales and posole and pie. All delicious with fun conversation and lots of cheering and grumbling for the Dallas game and Steelers game - both wins so Bill and I are happy. Bummed that Franco Harris passed just days before the retiring of his Steelers' #32 jersey at this game - he was one of my heroes in the early days of my fanship. 

Christmas kids

Christmas is a quiet and peaceful day with stockings and gifts - I get a very cool steel tongue drum - and a yummy mid-day dinner. More football and photos and videos from the grands wrap up the day. 

Holiday yummies

Henry amping up the cute.

Penelope and Reese bundled up with Mom and Dad in Washington DC.

M and M enjoying neighborhood lights.

Elliott getting help from Daddy.

Ezra loves his Buzz.

Oliver sporting broccoli and a bruise for his first Christmas.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, that Santa brought you smiles and wonder, and you had that extra piece of pie or glass of wine - or both! 

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Weather We Like It or Not!

 December 12 - 18, 2022
Tombstone, Arizona

This week we've had rain, fog, sunshine, high winds and the big excitement of the week - snow! Having lived in California all my life, I'm one of those people who loves having snow in my yard. Of course it's the melt-in-hours type of snow that makes beautiful scenes and then soaks into the desert floor. Nothing we have to drive in or shovel out of. It makes Christmas feel more like Christmas although neither Bill nor I have ever had snow for the holidays!

Monday afternoon flurries.

Tuesday morning we're greeted with a winter wonderland.

A neighbor stops by to nibble on the snow-laden branches. At one point she has a forehead covered in snow :-)

It's heavy enough to stay most of the day.

We're blessed to be surrounded by several mountain ranges that give us a wonderful variety of views through the seasons. I get out at the end of our snowy day to capture our surrounds. 

Sheepshead area of the Dragoons to the east.

Sky drama over the Burros to the west.

Snow continues over the Whetstones to the northwest.

A natural fisheye view of the Huachuacas to the south.

Cowan Road is a dirt route that runs between Gleeson Road and Davis Road nearby. We've collected a lot of our yardscape rocks from the area, and sometimes just take a couple hours to get out in the desert. Although much of it is open range, the cattle must be rounded up. We also see no wildlife on our drive this week - no deer, no steer! 

Golden hills under mostly sunny skies.

The pens look little-used this season.

Dry branches reach for sky feathers.

Spun gold along the road.

Tessa offers oversight on the gate closing operation.

Bill gets two of his doctor appointments out of the way, and so far we're happy with the providers in our new medical group. We still have to wait for some of the appointments - some into late February. It's new for us, but I understand it's the new-normal for healthcare everywhere. Alas, nothing critical pending, and we should have everything covered before our travels in the spring. 

Speaking of travel, I have our tentative route planned and have two reservations made for late in the season for places I anticipate will fill fast. I can always cancel if things change, but I'm already excited about those stops :-))

Enlarging the RV lot to enable parking at an angle off our narrow alley, replacing our single pane windows, and starting on the landscaping is our project list for this winter. This week we finalized the window job paperwork (installers still have to do final measurements before the install is scheduled), and before Thanksgiving we finished the lot modification. Not sure if the landscaping will get very far (the windows are a bit more expensive than we'd planned, but I'm able to get the two custom frames I want). While I still prefer traveling, I'm loving the home we're making here. It's definitely fun having friends over for dinners, to watch football, to play cribbage.  

The new layout will make backing in trailers and 5ers so much easier on that left side. Mountain views with 50 amp and water!

Their first Virginia Christmas - Travis, Penelope, Reese and Emily. 

Sunday, December 11, 2022

House Mode in the Desert

 November 18 - December 11, 2022
Tombstone, Arizona

When looking forward time seems to move at a normal, sometimes slower, pace - but looking back time has moved faster than ever! We're in back-at-the-house mode, which always seems much less blog-worthy. As a result I'm also weeks behind on reading what more exciting things our fellow blogging buddies are doing! The more time that goes by the harder it is for me to jump back in. Here's what we've been up to. 

Enjoying dramatic skies every evening.

We return from SoCal a week before our friends arrive for the Thanksgiving holiday, plenty of time to have the motorhome repurposed to guesthouse, and all the groceries bought. 

Jimmy and Maggie are our only "cross-over" friends - went to high school with Jimmy (Maggie has been with us for decades), and they RV several months each year as well. It's great fun having so much in common. They arrive Wednesday from their Kingman, AZ home.

With other high school friends living nearby, and another couple visiting from SoCal, we enjoy several gatherings here and at Donnie and Anna's a mile away. Never imagined when we were preparing to take on the world 50 years ago that we'd be celebrating the holidays in Tombstone when we retired!

Cribbage with a view - Bill, Donnie, Kevin, Turk (Donnie's brother now also living in Tombstone) and Jimmy.

Watching college football at Donnie and Anna's - Jimmy, Donnie, Kevin and Turk (Bill's knee in the left corner). 

Bridgette shuffles for the game "3-13" with Kevin, Donnie, Anna, Jimmy, Maggie and Bill. I'm not a card player so I just listen :-)

Thanksgiving dinner is of course enough for 12, and the five of us enjoy it for three days. Grateful that Bill barbeques the turkey and makes killer sausage dressing, and Jeff makes the deviled eggs, leaving me to fill in with the easy stuff. Maggie's yummy honeybaked ham is the perfect addition!

Also grateful Maggie remembered to get a pic of the spread.

Jeff (damn kids), Bill, Maggie and Jimmy getting ready to dig in!

We enjoy football all day, some pie, and great conversation. A very fun and tasty day. 

Maggie and I take a day trip on Friday to the Amerind Museum where I renew my annual membership, and we enjoy a leisurely visit to the exhibits and gallery. There are more people than I've seen in the past, and I'm happy to see it getting the support it deserves. No photos allowed.  

I forfeit football for another girls' day trip on Sunday to Chiricahua National Monument and the Whitewater Draw. Two of my favorite places in the area, I love sharing them with my dear friend who's never been to either one.

A beautiful blue sky day among the towering rocks.

A good catch and a deep overhang on the right. 

Over the hoodoos, across Sulphur Springs Valley, to the Dragoon Mountains.

Cochise Head - once you see him lying there facing up, you can't not see him!

Miles into Mexico to the south.

Maggie braves the cold wind to learn about Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoons.

After a stop at the visitor center for a few goodies we continue through the gorgeous golden plains to the Whitewater Draw refuge. More water than I've ever seen here means the huge flocks of Sandhill Cranes are almost too far away from the trail to see them. Even at this distance we can hear their unique calls. We're fortunate that about a dozen of the tall gray birds are hanging out near the parking lot for us to enjoy. 

Monday morning Christmas begins! I love decorating the house, and even with no grands here this year I'm excited for the season. After the last three years of having our tree drooping and dry before the big day, I give in and purchase an artificial tree. It's the last one so I leave Lowe's with three big "hunks" of evergreen in the shopping cart - looks like a slaughtered a forest!
It's soooooo easy to put up, the lights all work (both white and color options from the same bulbs), the light flocking and pine cones are lovely, and at 7.5 feet it's the tallest tree I've ever had. With the addition of six more ornaments collected this summer, we have lots of fun travel memories on our tree now.

Tessa is a fan of the tree skirt - every night she drags it out to fluff up and sleep on. Silly dog!

We can hardly remember what the old fireplace looked like - the new one feels like its always been here.

A little holiday spirit in the kitchen.

Ezra's favorite in the neighborhood - I sent him the pic so he knows it's still here making us smile.

With Thursday night football only on Amazon Prime now, we have a new "tradition" of Donnie and Anna coming up for dinner and the game. It's been great fun in addition to Donnie's nearly daily visits for cribbage games :-))

Anna catches dog-petting-duty this week.

Now that we finally have our healthcare coverage we're getting caught up on appointments. We haven't been to a doctor (except for ER visits on the road) since 2019 so there's a few! Our primary care is with a great PA who is also new to the area. I think we're going to be very happy with her. She's also part of a large network in Sierra Vista and Tucson. It's still weird learning how "things are done", with a lot more paperwork and longer waits than we're used to. 

One morning we're surprised with heavy fog along the San Pedro River.

Finally, we've scheduled the installation of dual-pane windows throughout the house that should be done in early March. Getting rid of the rattling paper-thin windows that let in a lot of cold and heat will be a great improvement, and new picture windows in the living and dining rooms will enhance our lovely views. 

Tonight's stunner.

The amazing closing act.

Oliver's first Christmas <love>.