Saturday, December 27, 2008

You Better Not Pout

Merry Christmas, Everyone! Mine was great. Jack and Gary got here on Monday, the 22nd, and we've had a dandy time. On Monday, we got everyone situated and went out to a feast at New York Pizza for supper.

Tuesday, we were supposed to go hiking, but it poured down rain, so no one hiked. Instead, Gary, Jack, and I went to the International Wildlife Museum. We had a fine time looking at the immense collection of stuffed animals.

Then it got cold. And it rained. And then this morning, Gary flew on back to Michigan, arriving safely this afternoon. It stayed cold all day today, and it is 40 right now here, .. and it's 61 in Bloomington! Sheesh.

I got some neat things for Christmas, including an Edible Arrangement from Annette's whole family, which I got just today! Thanks, Sis! We've been eating very well lately, enjoying all kinds of yummy food gifts: pears, cakes, candies, cookies, various chocolate things, fruitcake (which both Jack and I love!), bacon, ham, and turkey. I've also been enjoying the Aromatherapy Orange and Ginger things that Robert and Molly sent.

Today, after Gary left, we went around and did catchup things -- errands, laundry, and had supper at Chuy's.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pickleball, Presents, and Posting

It's getting to be Christmas season here in the Village, for sure! We can tell that easily by all of the lovely decorations adorning the cactus, the trees in people's windows and on their porches, and just the festive attitudes displayed. Oh, and the presence of UPS and FedEx trucks on our little streets! One of those UPS trucks came yesterday and brought me goodies! I giggled gleefully as I unwrapped the packages. (I had to unwrap them because they needed refrigeration!) :)

The Pickleball court opened with great fanfare this morning, and several of us have had a chance to play it. It's played much like tennis, pingpong, or badminton -- sort of a hybrid of all 3, really. It's very fun! Because of my left-arm tendinitis, which doesn't seem to be getting any better, I played with my right arm. Hey.. may as well hurt it too, right? LOL!

Some people have asked me about posting comments in my blog, so I'll post it here. At the end of each of my postings, is a line that looks like this:

at 7:54pm 0 Comments

That line is very small, and I can't find a way to make it any bigger.

This says, I believe, that the last posting to this blog was at 7:54 pm, and as of that time, there were still NO comments on that entry.

If you click the word "Comments," you will get to a page that has the posting at the top, other people's comments, and then a box where you can add your comment below. Type your comment into the box, tell Blogger how you want to be identified, if at all, type in the Word Verification, and then click the Post Comment button.

My blog still accepts Anonymous comments, because I have it set to do that. So you don't have to give your name, but .. I like it when you do.

Lessee.. what else has been going on? Computer Club had its meeting today, and we talked about Social Networking sites, like MySpace and Facebook and the like.
Yesterday the Entertainers group met and talked about the play. Auditions and practices will begin in January. Of course, Jack has to get here first, because he's going to be the director!

I'm still talking to Jack about 5 times a day, or more. While we've been reluctant to make plans for quite a while, since things change frequently, we ARE looking forward to being together again very soon! He's looking forward to having the divorce finally finalized and hopping into the car and coming out. He's planning to come with Gary in Kathy's car, towing a rented trailer of boxes of stuff for her.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tuesday Hiking

At Far Horizons Tucson Village, Tuesday is hiking day! And yesterday we went on a hike in Saguaro East, about 5 miles, including climbing up the small Pink Hill. I took a few photos, and Herb took one of me!

I cooked dinner for John's last night here and then, this morning, drove him to the airport so he could go to Colorado to be with his wife and family for Christmas. Now I'm left with hoping that Jack will hurry up, get his business taken care of, and get HERE with me, where he belongs.

Christmas is coming here in the Village. Most of the cottages and RV's are decorated in everything from nearly life-sized wooden reindeer to the most beautiful of decorated Christmas trees. My little tree is glowing in my front window now, and, while I won't win any decorating awards, I still rather like the little tree. :) I didn't make reservations for the Christmas dinner, because I don't know if Jack'll be here or if it is just going to be me. I think that, either way, I'll fix a fancy dinner, even if it's just for me. :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Yes... I did use some muscles yesterday -- new ones! LOL My shoulders, my back muscles, my hips, my .. abs! Yes, it's true. I actually still HAVE abdominal muscles! And, Ray, thank you for your compliment. :)

Today it was rainy and chilly. In fact, right now, while it's 57 in Bloomington, Indiana, it's just 47 here!

I started the day putting up a robe hook in my bathroom. Then I worked some more on consolidating and moving things around in my house, trying to make the most of the space. I actually made room on the top shelf of my closet for my luggage! It was a little teetery up there and, lest it fall on my head, I bungeed it up there!

Then, with the rain falling and cool air blowing, I did aerobic dance here in my living room (that counts as "walking") and then proceeded to gome out here with the Sunday paper, my computer, and HGTV till dinner time.

I talked to Jack only 3 times today, and talked to no one else except John, when he dropped by with his newspaper.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Saturday in the Park

Today I went with some of the FHTV Health Nuts group to a fitness thing over in Jesse Owens Park. It was put on by a local personal trainer fellow named Ron, who talked a bit about nutrition, tested our body fat percentage, and then ran us through a circuit of exercises. My body fat measured at 25%, which is in the "acceptable" range for women my age. I did fine on the exercise circuit and we'll see tomorrow what new muscles I ended up using today.

I got home from that program at about noon, had some peanut butter on the delicious cranberry-pecan bread that I'd bought at Beyond Bread, and then proceeded to read newspapers and do email for the rest of the afternoon.

At about 5, John came by with Sam and we talked on my deck for a few minutes, before deciding to go out and grab some grub. Sauce was our destination, and we had a great pizza there.

Then we went to his place, where he has a big screen TV, and we got started watching Get Smart. It was funny (I love Steve Carell), but I wanted to get back to call Jack, so we stopped it early.

Jack's great, having enjoyed photographing Linda's wedding back in chilly Big Rapids. It was, as always, fun to talk to him, and I can't wait till we're laughing together, face-to-face!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More Clearing

Yep! Yet another trip to Goodwill! I also took a small bag of food to the Community Food Bank. So .. where am I coming up with all this stuff to give away? Today's stuff was more clothes -- some jeans that were too tight and always made me feel fat, some pajamas that I got last season, but which always were just a little too warm. I gave away two throws (how many throws does a 400 sq foot house need? LOL) and an extraneous extension cord (that had no ground wire). A few more shirts that I won't wear, because I don't have them anymore. I won't miss them, either.

I managed to get the cabinets up above the bed against the (high) ceiling emptied. Of course.. LOL these are not exactly handy, but I didn't need any of the things in there. I cleaned out the bottom of my closet, too, moving my knitting (the 15-year afghan project that I can't bring myself to finish, and I can't bring myself to give away.. yet) and my origami stuff out of there.

While I was in there, I found my ocarina and my Irish tin whistle! So, of course, I had to take a break and remind myself how to play these. The tin whistle is just like the reed recorder that I used to play when I was a teenager. I wonder if Annette remembers that! LOL!

I got my little Christmas tree put up this morning, strung the lights and the bead garland. I think it looks cute in the window -- a little spartan compared to my neighbors' fabulous displays, but there can be only one "best," and I'll let someone else have that honor.

I have a comment about Comments. For those of you who add comments on my blog, you KNOW how much fun these are to read and to make. I love getting them. It thrills me to know that I'm writing stuff that's interesting enough for you to comment upon, and to know what you like to see and read.

For the rest of you who have yet to comment, I wonder if you've noticed the Comments link at the end of each posting. Click that word "Comments" and you'll get to the comments! You can see what other people have said about this posting, and you can leave your own comment, too.

You don't have to sign your name, but I hope you will. You don't have to have a Google account. But you do have to type in a letter "challenge." This is a test that I've chosen to add, in order to keep computer bots out of my blog. (Bots are programs that automatically send out advertising.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A busy day

Yes, I was busy today! I awoke early, and I'm not sure why. Oh yeah.. LOL it was because Jack called! He's 2 hours ahead of me, so it was 7:30 am there, and why was I not up? He was sending me a photo of their 17" of snow!

So I went back to sleep and got up at 7, showered, and dressed. As I was eating, John came over and sat and watched me eat. Then he decided that it was time for us to get that built-in desk unbuilt-in. Jack and I had discussed the idea of having that gone, so that we could put in a proper dining table and then be able to have OTHER people over for dinners. What a concept!

So John and I unscrewed about a thousand screws and ripped the caulking stuff off the wall -- the stuff that was gluing the desk up there. There was no way that desk was going to go willingly; that's for sure. And, once we got it off of there, it was heavy, so it took two of us and all the muscle that we could muster to get it out the door. Jack and I will have some patch work and painting to do. I'm thinking that we'll paint the dining alcove in a different exciting color, and I don't know what just yet.

We moved the little dining table and chairs that I have into that space and I like it! Jack and I will shop for a more reasonable dining table, for more than 2 people, and also for another couch for the living room. Now my living room seems cavernous!

John asked where I was going to put the boxes of stuff that I'd stashed under the desk. This was a few things that I'd absconded with from Bloomington -- tax papers and .. other things. I said that I'd like to put them into our shed, but... of course I don't have one of those yet. So we went to Home Depot and Lowe's and had a look about at sheds that are portable and wouldn't really count as the one shed that we are allowed to have -- one 10 x 12 shed with a real foundation and floor and stuff.

We were looking at Rubbermaid affairs that are like 7 x 7 square. I think that one of these would be great for Jack's tools and workshop, and then we could use the 10 x 12 one as a sort of hobby space and guest house / casita. In this casita, we could have photography and matting supplies, art supplies, a work table, and a couch that would make into a double bed. We could also store our hiking poles and cycling stuff in that room.

Bikes? Hmm... Not sure about bikes. We may consult Harold about building a bike rack for them. We could pop them into the casita then when we travel, or are gone for the summer. Anyway, these are just my musings for now. Things will become clearer when we see how much stuff Jack has.

I took a second big bag to Goodwill today, too. I'm "down" to 14 T-shirts, but that's still one for every day... for 2 weeks! LOL that's too many, I know. I just have a hard time getting rid of.. my IU shirts, my PB & J Life is Good shirt, my shirt, My Lenny & Joe's Fish Tales shirt, etc.. (I did end up keeping all of those. I did give away, however, a brand new, unworn shirt in a color that I never wear from Cabela's.)

And then.... we went to the mall and I got my hair cut! Audi at Regis cut my hair. It's chin-length in front, tapering up to a wedge in back. Tell me what you think!

And here are some photos of our hike from ydy. Yes, Tuesday is still hiking day! We went up into the Rincon Mountains, to the Bridal Wreath Falls. Beautiful hike on a gorgeous day!

And here are some blast-from-the-past photos I took on my way here. These were at the West Memphis Tom Sawyer RV Park, right on the river -- the Tennessee River, I think.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Pitchin' & Tossin'

Today was a little cooler than it has been. I think that the high was about 62, which was, of course, not horrible! LOL! We got a few little sprinkles of rain, and the skies WERE cloudy all day. I did my walk along the Pantano River Park, and it was the first time for me to do that without Maddy, ever, I think. I don't know if I've said it in here, but it's been very, very difficult for me to live without Maddy. I hope that she's happy with D, and that D's happy with her. I just have to think that she's better off now, because I am not. I cry a lot these days.

This was sort of a difficult day for me, parts of it. I was working on clearing out stuff in my files and I found things that Michael had written -- notes about business stuff that he'd called about, things like that. And I found condolence cards that wonderful people (maybe you!) had written to me, sweet notes telling wonderful things about Michael. And I found a big stack of thank you notes that I'd written over a year ago, thanking people for making memorial donations in his name. Sheesh. I wonder if it would be lame to send these out now.

I put a bunch of things into recycling, and I have another 4" stack of papers to go into the shredder. I have to say that it's gotten far easier for me to throw things away, but it's still wrenching. I found some of those smashed penny souvenirs that Michael and I had collected together. Shared memories when the other person is gone...

But on a happier note, I did the Sudokus in the Tucson Sunday paper, and that was fun. I like trying to do them without notes.

And I did manage to get some things put away and better organized. I now have one of the filing cabinets completely empty. I have a couple of cabinets in the living room empty. And I have the stuff that was in there put away (or thrown away) in such a way that nothing is crowded. I don't like having too much stuff crowded into a space. I still have work to do with my clothes. I got a bit "spread out" during last winter here, when I moved out Michael's clothes and took over his side of the closet! :)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Roses but no Raindrops

I've been busy, busy with cleaning up the cottage -- the dust of the summer which had settled on things, both inside and out. Actually, the inside was mostly ok, but I had some dog hair to sweep up. I got out the chairs and table for my front patio, and put out the chairs and table for my entry deck.

Then I set about clearing some space in my closets, cabinets, and drawers, just in case *someone* should be coming to live with me. Hey, I don't know; it could happen! In any event, it was time to clear out stuff that I don't need anymore, things that I replaced when I went shopping with Jack in Traverse City, for example!

I found that I had two kitchen scales and two small Cuisinart food choppers, so I gave away one of each of these. And I gave away an RV thing that we'd gotten for our big RV, but which I do not need for this little one. So now I have some cabinets the way I like them: empty! :)

Yesterday was computer club, and it was somewhat disorganized, as the meetings tend to be early in the season. I'm happy that we have interest in having some programs, though, and we're going to form interest groups, rather as we did when I was program chair. The point is that the only person learning from someone getting up and talking about a topic is the person who's doing the talking! So our groups will get together and research a topic and develop a presentation from the research they've done. We'll all have our computers with us, so we can be following along.

Today I went with John and his dog Sam to Randolph Park. Sam and I did a quick walk about, while John waited. After my walk, I went back, found John, and we all went and did a tour of the Rose Garden, which is lovely right now. The funny thing is that, of all the many times that Michael and I went to that park and walked around the Rose Garden, never were the roses in full bloom, but now they are! I can't imagine that we had not walked there in early December! I know.. where are the photos? Someone didn't think to bring her camera!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Back in The Old Pueblo

I arrived here in Tucson yesterday at about 1:30. The APRS map shows me in front of John's cottage, where I paused while he came out to greet me. My cottage is on the next road south of there, over toward the west, just immediately west of the cottage with the red tile roof. The one in the picture is not mine, though, because my awning doesn't cover my whole site. (I can tell that the satellite image of this park was taken in the summertime, because the park is so empty!)

So I've been a busy beaver, getting things moved from the RV into the cottage, getting the cottage cleaned up, taking care of business matters, and answering all of the "how was your summer?" inquiries. I do love the people here!

One of the business matters that I've been working on today was getting the title to the car that Annette has, so that she can own it. I knew that the title was in my Pima safe deposit box, but I didn't remember where the key was. I thought that I knew where it was, but, the place where I thought it was... did not prove to be correct. I searched and searched. I looked in every drawer and cabinet in the cottage. I looked in every drawer and cabinet in the RV. (One would think that I would know every crevice of this RV, after having spent the past 6 months in it!) But the key remained elusive.

I went over to the Credit Union and asked the pleasant woman how one proceeds, should one become unable to find one's key. She checked. $100 to drill out the lock, and more to replace the key! Yikes! Unacceptable, I thought. So I went back home and thought about the key. I remembered the day that I got the box. I remembered that the key was in an envelope with a snap, just like the one that I'd had for my SD box at the IU Credit Union. But the one for Pima, I recalled, was light blue!

I thought about this light blue, and then I could see the envelope, next to something orange. And I knew immediately exactly where it was. I went out to the RV and got into the cabinet where my orange purse was... and there was the key case, with some Tucson-related cards. Why I'd taken the key in the RV, I'm not sure.

Back to the CU and I got the title which was snuggled safely in my SD box! I signed the back and had that notarized.

So, Annette, I have to get the other key from Al and Donna, and then I'll Priority the package to you! I'd say Monday will be your day.

I got most of my clothes put away, but I still have more culling to do, believe it or not. I thought that I'd culled enough in Bloomington, but ... no. I'd forgotten how many things I had here! I have one huge bag ready to take to Goodwill, and I'll likely have another small bag by the time I'm done. Some of the things going to Goodwill are things that I had gotten at Goodwill in Big Rapids. They served me well, but I won't need them now.

62° here right now. 22° in Bloomington, 18° in Big Rapids. Jack went cross-country skiing today and had a very good time of it. I've never cross-country skied, except on a Nordic Track, which Jack says is actually very much like the real thing. Maybe someday I'll join him on the trail. I'd like to. I just miss him.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Running on Empty

I awoke early today, did a quick wash-up, unhooked, and hit the road, getting gone by 7:15 am. I ate my banana and part of the apple fritter that I'd gotten at the grocery ydy. The banana was great - just a bit green so that the peel came off with some difficulty in spots. I love them like that! The fritter was ... doughy. Ick.

The temperature when I left was 49°, and there were just a few wispy clouds. The temperature warmed rapidly, so that the next time I looked at the temp, it was 71°! It stayed in the 70's for the rest of my drive across central and western Texas.

In fact, I didn't notice much of anything, but the traffic and the beautiful countryside, as the trees gave way to shorter trees and then brushy stuff and tumbleweeds. Do you know what happens when you run into a tumbleweed with your vehicle? Poof! It disintegrates!

Oh, and there were more wind farms! West of Abilene onward toward Sweetwater, and then more down the highway. Their gentle clockwise rotations ... I wondered why they are all white -- why no one has thought to paint them in colors or patterns.

I was listening to Sirius radio -- the Roadhouse station, which is classic country -- lots of somebody-done-somebody-wrong songs. Love it.

I was about 35 miles from Van Horn, Texas, traveling on 20, merging onto 10, out in the middle of literally .. nothing.. when I looked at my fuel gauge. Not only was it sitting on E, but the light was on, telling me that I was on my last gallon or so. I didn't know how long it had been on.

My mileage indicator told me that I'd been 347 miles since my fill-up, though, and that was not far enough! The wind had to have been a factor in my low fuel performance. I went back in my mind, trying to remember when I'd last passed an exit with a diesel station. I touched the Where To on my GPS, and found that there was a fuel station, Chevron, in 8 miles. Cool. I slowed to 55, wanting to conserve what fuel I did have, so that I could make it the 8 miles.

I climbed some minor hills and glided down the other side, and finally made it to the exit. Turning off the highway, I saw that the diesel price was 3.85. Ok... whatever.. I'll pay! But ... no! The pumps were bagged "out of order." The station was closed!

Checking the GPS again, I found a station 13 more miles down the road. But could I make it 13 more miles? I prayed. I called Jack and asked him to pray, since his prayers likely mattered more than mine. I counted down the miles. And I prayed.

I do have Good Sam Emergency Road Service, but I could not imagine sitting out in the middle of nothing waiting for someone to bring me fuel. The thought seemed unacceptable. I prayed to get to the exit. And I prayed that the station there would be open. And I prayed that, if they were open, that they would have diesel.

I've never imagined that God could concern himself with things like whether some lamer who didn't pay attention to her fuel gauge would make it another 13 miles. Surely He was busy taking care of who wins the playoffs or someone passing an exam, right? Anyway, I prayed.

Ten miles... 9 miles. I told myself that I have walked 9 miles. I could walk 9 miles today, but.. I didn't have to. 8 miles.. 7.6 miles... 6.4 miles.. I prayed. I cried.

Three miles. And I could see a red flashing sign in the distance. It was the fuel station. The flashing told me that it was open! 2.5 miles... easy walk. 2 miles. 1.5 miles.. I prayed. I could see that the flashing sign had not only red lights but green ones! Green is the color that they use for diesel prices on these signs! Was it so for this one?

One mile... The sign said exit one mile. And when it was 0.7 of a mile, the GPS told me to exit here. And now I could see that it was diesel that they were advertising! I prayed that I would make it all the way to the station. And I sobbed with relief as I pulled up to the diesel pump. I called Jack to tell him my happy news and to thank him for praying for me, and I got out to pump.

On and on the fuel pumped.. 26.47 gallons it took! And this was into a tank that holds 26.4 gallons. The price was 43 cents a gallon LESS than what I'd paid at the last stop, also in TX. I was the only one there. I had a real Twilight Zone feeling about the whole experience, like that the station had been put there just for me, that somehow God arranged for me to have more fuel than the tank would hold... I don't know.

So I drove on in to Van Horn, stopped at Pizza Hut and had a personal pizza. Again, I was the only person dining in the Pizza Hut. And I went over to the neighboring DQ and celebrated the moment with a Blizzard -- Chocolate Extreme, with additional Snickers and Heath. :)

Tonight I'm in Las Cruces, after having driven 497 miles today. I'm at the Hacienda Resort, which is quite a nice spot, with a gorgeous mountain view, and the sunset and 70° were wonderful treats for me as I did my walk around the park.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Longhorns, and Windmills and Buttes... Oh, My!

I awoke this morning in Mt. Pleasant, showered, unhooked, and headed out. Soon I stopped for fuel and stopped again soon after that to adjust my passenger's side mirror. I need to tighten the thing, but I don't have the necessary allen wrench yet. So I have to adjust the mirror every time I stop, or after I have gone over some bumpy roads.

I set the GPS so that I'd go via Denton, TX, which took me north of Dallas. I did wave as I went by, Lynell! Just west of Denton, I saw my first prickly pear cactus since last spring! Soon after that, I started seeing long horns on some of the cattle, and then, near Breckenridge, a roadrunner ran across the road in front of me!
North of Abilene, I went through an enormous wind farm, with probably hundreds of huge windmills. Here is a photo that someone else took of this wind farm. It amused me that there were cattle grazing throughout this wind farm, and they seemed completely unaffected by these huge turbines.

I had a Kashi TLC bar (cherry & chocolate) for breakfast, along with a cranberry juice that I got at the gas station. Lunch... um... cashews. I didn't stop for lunch. I did stop in the afternoon, though, at a little grocery, and picked up a few convenience non-perishable meals that I could enjoy along the rest of my trip.

On the "little road" through Denton, I went through several county seats, passing by some really cute and cool courthouses. Texas has 275 county seats. Now.. wouldn't THAT be a neat photography project? Andrew, one of my favorite readers, reminded me of my Indiana Courthouse photography project. Michael and I did this a few years ago, taking 3 years to travel all over the state of Indiana, photographing every county seat's courthouse, along with some street scenes.

At about 3:30, I arrived at KOA of Abilene. After hooking up, I went for my walk, one of those round-and-rounds in the campground. Then I fixed my dinner, one of my convenience things -- a chicken, pesto, cheese wrap, that I assembled and microwaved right in the box. It was sort of salty, but it was pretty good.

Tonight I'm watching HGTV (yes, on cable!) and catching up with email. Next I'll do the USA Today Sudoku, and then hit the rack. I'm about 12 hours from Tucson, which means that I'll be there on Thursday or Friday. :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Doves on the Wing

This day started out with the weather calm but cloudy in West Memphis. I had a shower, about 5 minutes of which was warm. I unhooked and drove off. I had a fuel stop, a couple of Rest Area stops, and then it was time for lunch. One HOUR is how long it took me to get my food and to get it eaten... at Wendy's in Arkadelphia. At least it was good. I got chili, a Caesar salad, and a root beer. I saved the salad.

Sometime this morning, just before I crossed the White River in Arkansas, I saw an amazing sight -- probably 100,000 white and gray doves both swirling through the air, and noshing on corn in a field. What a wonderful thing to see!

After I left Arkadelphia, the wind picked up, and I fought it all the rest of my drive, making my shoulders sore from the effort. I didn't go much further, stopping at Mt. Pleasant, TX, just a third of the way from the eastern border of TX to Dallas, on I-30. My APRS shows me ... not there yet. Remember, it will show my position only if it "talks to" a station with an internet gateway, and these gateways are usually rarer in the west than in the east.

After I got here, I went for my walk just around the KOA campground. Then I set out to connect the cable TV. Connecting it was not a problem, but getting it to actually work? I couldn't figure it out, even after consulting the owner's manual! Instead, I needed to call my TV expert -- Jack! Setting up the cable in this TV is a 4-step process:
  1. Connect the cable outside.
  2. Put the switches by the radio to Radio and On.
  3. Turn the green light in the cabinet by the TV OFF.
  4. Turn the TV on with the remote. Then click the Menu button and go to TV > Cable.
I know. It seems like a lot to me, too, but tonight, I'm enjoying HGTV while I do email and blog! :)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

What a lot we had to be thankful for this year! Last year had Michelle feeling weak and beaten from her recurrence of cancer, and Becky feeling weak and beaten from her cancer, and me feeling weak and beaten from having just lost Michael. But this year, Michelle was strong, working non-stop on preparations for the feasting. Becky is exuberant, as she has been told that her tumor is gone.

I was feeling a little maudlin about being not only without Michael, but without Jack. And then we were talking on the phone and he said that he wished that he could meet all the family -- people I've talked about often. And we decided that he would come down, and so he did.

Wednesday night, Angie made the best lasagna ever, seriously -- homemade sauce.. just plain yummy.

Thanksgiving day was the feast with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberries, green beans, and then desserts. Pies this year were my cherry pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and a bought caramel apple pie.

Friday Jack was still with me, and we went to the Frazier Museum, seeing lots of weapons, armor, guns, spears, and other interesting things. Then we went to KT's and had a delicious dinner, went to Graeter's for ice cream, and returned to the house at about 9. Another great day!

Jack was with me on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Then, this morning, we shared breakfast before he went north and I went south and west. And now we're 850 miles apart.

Tonight I'm in West Memphis, Arkansas. The Where is Janee Now link over there --> shows me in my actual campground, near to the actual space where I'm camped! The APRS is working very well, and I'm getting lots of position reports throughout the day. I wonder if this will continue as I head on westward. Here's a screenshot of the Where is Janee Now in Satellite view. You can see a barge in this picture, and this is like the 2 barges that I saw going by here earlier, when I was doing my walk. Click it to see it full-size!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

With Family for Thanksgiving

What is she saying? I thought that Janee was going to be traveling across the country on Thanksgiving! :)

Well, here's what happened. I awoke on Sunday in Effingham, IL, and got onto I-57 south. Then I got a phone call from Angie and George (Michael's brother). They were both on the phone and they strongly urged me to turn left onto I-64 East, when I got there, which, as they could see by my APRS, was going to be very soon!

So that's what I did, and I'm going to spend Thanksgiving here in Louisville with them and Michael's whole end of the family. I'll be making a cherry pie tomorrow, and helping to greet all of the guests as they begin arriving from around the country today.

I've been staying for the last two nights in their guestroom, but I'll be staying in the RV from now on, because the house is already "booked" with visitors! :)

Weather has been mostly fine. I did my walk in Cherokee Park, and did not get lost, on Sunday. Ydy I went to the St. Matthews Mall with Becky and I did my walk there, because it was raining. Today's supposed to be 50 ° and the sun's shining brightly, so I'll likely walk outdoors again.

The APRS, to which Ray referred in his comment on my last post, and to which I referred at the beginning of this post, is the system that I use to fuel the "Where is Janee Now?" link, over to the right. It stands for Automatic Packet Reporting System, and is an amateur-radio-GPS-based system for showing the world my location.

In short, I have installed in my RV an antenna, which connects to a power booster. This connects to my amateur radio (2 meter), which is attached to a small Garmin GPS unit -- not my new one. This one is decicated to APRS. The position on my GPS is fed into my radio, and the position is reported to the amateur radio community. The magic comes in, when a station acting as an Internet Gateway receives my signal. This signal is then reported to the internet, and you can go to that site in my link and see where I was and what I was doing (sort of -- if I'm driving, you see how fast I'm going) at the time that the signal was reported.

Be sure to click the Satellite View button in the upper left corner of the map! And then zoom in! Right now, I'm shown close to arrival again at George and Angie's house. That's because Becky and I were out doing errands ydy in the RV.

I'm having a great time, and I hope that all of you have a very happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

On the Road Again

This gray was the color of the sky for most of my drive today. That's right: I'm on the road again, heading out to Arizona. It's just me and my little cat Eddie, because Jack has some business to get ironed out before he can travel. I just reached a point where I chose not to deal with the cold, ice, and snow, so I'm on my way to warmer climes!

I'm not there yet. The furnace and my little space heater are working overtime to keep things comfy inside. And to make things worse, because the RV is winterized, I have to use the bathhouse! I'll be going there for my nightly toilette soon, and I'm not looking forward to that! While it's 27 here, though, it's 18 right now in Big Rapids!

Today I left at 10:10, and I traveled 411 miles, before arriving at Effingham, Illinois to Lakewood Camp. I lunched at KFC, just nibbling at some chicken strips and baked beans. And I filled with fuel in the same town, Michigan City, Indiana. It was cold and windy. I stopped a couple of times at rest stops to.. rest... and to check my location and destination with the gps.

This is a pretty campground -- a place where Michael and I had stayed 2x before. It was pitch dark when I arrived here, though it was only 5:10pm local time (CST). The guy who checked me in took me to my site, and helped me to see where to hook up the electricity, which was helpful. Then I went for my walk, doing 25 minutes of round-and-round, in the freezing cold.

Ok... shutting down now and I'm off to the bathhouse!

My last posting about Tracking Snow ... LOL I discovered that I'd mistakenly posted that in the FHTV Computer Club blog! Duhhhh! And no one even mentioned it. How embarrassing. I think I wrote it on the 16th of November.

Tracking Snow

"Tracking Snow" is something that I'd not even heard of just a couple of months ago. But up here in northern Michigan, it's an important thing. In Tucson, AZ, they let school out for the first day of Rodeo. But here, they let school out for the first day of firearm deer hunting season. Camouflage clothing, deer stands, conservation officers, blaze orange hats.. they are everywhere here. Tracking snow, for those who don't know, is a freshly fallen snow layer that enables hunters to follow their shot deer to where it has fallen.

The interesting thing is that most of the people I actually have talked to don't hunt, but perhaps go along to deer camp, in order to do the driving, cooking, take photos, or just to have some beer-induced camaraderie.

Firearm season starts here on the 15th of November, and yes, we do have tracking snow. It's pretty on the trees, and the ground, but it's still too warm for the snow to have stuck on the roads here in Big Rapids. They are talking about lake effect snow around the leeward side of the Great Lakes. And up in Traverse City, where we were last Tuesday, they are predicting 4-6" of the stuff.

I don't like to talk about plans in here, but I will say that, when we do leave here, I'll let you know. I don't yet know when that will be.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Traverse City

We went on a small road trip up to Traverse City on Tuesday and Wednesday. We stayed at the Cherry Tree Inn right on the bay, and, while the weather was anything but relaxing, it was great to just get away and be us. Tuesday was my day to drive, so I drove us up there. We went to the mall, did our walk, and prowled around in the stores. Then we drove down to the bay, drove along the main road that goes past all the hotels, and found a lovely one with a bay view, a balcony, lots of TV channels (instead of the ONE channel that we get here at Gary's), and free breakfast!

We then took off for the outlet mall, where we roamed about, collecting a few things. We bought Gary a set of nice non-stick cooking pans, a couple of long-sleeved shirts (which will also be good for Tucson) for me, and a meat pounding hammer for Jack! Then we supped at Red Lobster, sharing a meal of scallops, shrimp, and chicken over wild rice.

Wednesday morning, we dined on the free breakfast, then Jack drove us up to the Grand Traverse Lodge, where we had a look around. It's a more lavish hotel than the one where we stayed, with restaurants and fancy shops on the lower floor. We took the clear glass elevator up to the top, where we enjoyed a quick glance at the bay, before heading off for downtown Traverse City.

I enjoyed the walk along the little main street of this quaint tourist town. Shops of all descriptions lined the way, each trying to lure us in, with attractive window presentations. A few managed to do this, and we bought a few things.

Lunch was at the Green House Cafe, where Jack got a hamburger and I had cherry chicken salad on a croissant. Traverse City, by the way, is the cherry capital of the world, with cherry stuff to be found everywhere!

Just as it began to mist rain, we left downtown, and went to the site of the Traverse City State Hospital, a former mental institution, built back in 1885. What a place! It's not just a building on a hill, but a huge complex of buildings. Many are still standing and are being restored as home for an inn, restaurants, and shops. The grounds are now open to the public to stroll or just drive around.

We stopped at an outfitter and at Best Buy on the way out of town. I'm looking for an upgrade for my Garmin -- one that will offer me multi-destination routing. I'm enchanted by the idea of 3D buildings, too! I didn't buy anything yet, as I'm still in the researching phase. I can buy an RV on impulse, but something like a GPS unit requires weeks of careful study!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Road Trip

Yesterday, while Jack was taking care of personal business, I went with Kay, Chuck, Gary, and Doug to Grand Rapids to have lunch and see a movie! Doug drove. The day was wonderful, with warm air, blue skies, and the last of the autumn leaves quivering on their branches.

The movie wasn't so great, though. We saw Rock 'n Rolla. It was about drugs and violence, but the plot was confusing, with many flash-backs. None of us liked it enough to want to see the sequel, which the end of the movie promised. I was happy to see it end. To make things worse, because we'd eaten a hearty lunch (Chinese buffet), we didn't get popcorn!

On Tuesday, Jack and I went over and raked leaves at the house that will soon be his again. It's amazing how many leaves and pine needles one little yard can hold! And now I am feeling muscles that I didn't even realize that I'd had! The day, again, was beautiful. With temperatures into the 70's, we didn't even consider jackets.

We've been eating well. After church on Harvest Dinner weekend, they sell the leftovers from the meal, and we scored enough stuff to make some fantastic turkey soup as well as lots of trimmings. The dressing was fabulous on Tuesday evening, rolled up into pounded chicken breasts and baked, with mashed potatoes, which he'd fried up. Mmmmm! And this morning, Jack made omelets, bacon, and hash browns. :) I have been cooking some too, but mostly acting as Jack's sous-chef. ;)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

What am I doing here?

The question came up in one of the comments from my last posting, so I'll answer it. Jack and I are friends -- good friends. I am living with Eddie in my little RV which is parked outside of the house where Jack lives. We have it plugged into electricity, so we stay warm. Since it's getting to be winter here, I had the RV winterized -- water drained and RV antifreeze installed into the lines -- so I don't have bathroom facilities in the RV, and I don't cook or eat in there either. My address is a PO box for now.

Jack's been involved in theater for many years, in set construction, mainly, though he did direct the Far Horizons play last winter. I've done plays, singing and acting, since I was a teenager, so it's not much of a stretch that I would become involved in community theater here.

And it's also natural for both of us to be involved in large-scale food operations! Yesterday we did just that, working to prepare and serve the Harvest Dinner for the church. I folded napkins, set tables, filled salt shakers, cut pies, and scooped out green beans. Jack did.. LOL just about everything else. There were probably dozens of people helping altogether, so it was light work, and fun!

Friday, October 31, 2008

A beautiful Autumn day

There is no blue in the font choices for this blog that matches the wonderful blue of this Michigan sky! Today it is 66° here in Big Rapids, and the leaves that are left are gorgeous against the blue.

I had a fine and fun birthday. Jack and I traveled south to Annette and Steve's. We left on my birthday and returned on his, just 3 days later! High points were many, but included fantastic food (chicken, chicken/noodles, and pot roast -- YUM!), a trip to DQ, shopping with Jack at Circle Center and Keystone at the Crossing, getting a tour of Dow/Agro and having lunch with Annette during her workday.

At Keystone at the Crossing, I found some neat clothes at Coldwater Creek, and dropped a bit of money there. It was time. I needed a shopping spree -- and new clothes, too. You may recall that I had given away nearly all my wintery things before I left Bloomington, thinking that I'd be wintering from now on in Tucson!

Other things: On the 24th, we went to see the plays the high school kids put on at Morley Stanwood High School. They had done Midsummer Night's Dream and Shut and Bar the Door. While MSND was well done, we both laughed our heads off at Shut and Bar the Door. These plays were ones for which Jack and I had helped with set construction, and we had our names in the program!

We have been helping with set construction for the Stage M production of A Male Animal. While Jack was helping the guys with nail-pounding, I painted flats. Aside from the room we were working in being freezing cold, it was fun working with the folks.

Then ydy, Jack and I were both up on ladders installing siding on the new Stage M building. I've discovered that, while I rather like the siding installation process, I am not enthusiastic about ladder-climbing!

Today I'm home while Jack's off moving the sets for the play. My tummy hurts and I didn't feel like putting my back in harm's way, either, so I'll let him do that.
And tonight's Halloween! Being way out here in the countryside, we will not likely get many trick-or-treaters, but.. we may, too, and we're ready!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Watercolor Painting and other stuff

Last Thursday and Friday, Jack and I took a 4-hour watercolor painting class! The focus was on just learning to draw and then to paint with watercolor... and specifically how to paint botanical subjects. What fun it was! We learned to draw shading of leaf veins, and how to shade more darkly or lightly. And then we learned to paint -- something that I'd not done since elementary school. Here's my watercolor-painted pepper:

Then on Saturday, we went to a Homecoming Parade Party at Doug and Pat's, and that was really fun.

Luanne and Dan asked if we wanted to go to the game, and.. sure! Off we went! I looked spiffy in my Ferris State sweatshirt and the new "Imagine More" Ferris State button that I'd collected at the parade, and the spirit was in the air. Winning wasn't in the air for Ferris, though Wayne State played an admirable game.

After a speedy walk back to our van (at Doug and Pat's) we came back, took Chuck out, and headed off for a Chinese buffet supper with Luanne and Dan. What a fun day, and a great evening!

Sunday we went to church, then breakfasted (just us) at Bennigan's. While their breakfast was officially over, they fixed us our own breakfast, and it was great! People still smoke in restaurants here, which is annoying and needs to be fixed, but I'm hopeful that happens soon. In the meantime, we just ask to be seated as far as possible from the smoke, and that usually is ok.

Then we went to Meijer to get supplies for my Apple Crumble. I made it for our contribution to a benefit dinner that night at the church. Not only was it fun, but we raised a bunch of money!

Walking has been good, with mostly days in the 50's. I most enjoy walking along the river, where I shot those photos from my last posting.

Today the sky is crisp and blue, and the van is at Chrysler, getting its power steering fixed, so Jack and I are taking care of business concerns at home today.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

More Autumn Photos

Jack and I have been staying busy with many different pursuits, including photography! Here are some that I shot during our walk along the North End Trail, just north of Big Rapids:

We've really been enjoying taking photos together, as well as all of the other pursuits of our lives here. While it's looking like we will be here till mid-December, at least we're having fun!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Autumn Colors

Autumn came quickly here in northern Michigan, and I'm beginning to see why it is that so many Big Rapids people love to winter in Tucson! Actually, the weather here has been lovely for the past 3 days, with highs approaching 80, sunny skies, and leaves of yellow, orange, and blazing red against a clear blue sky. If winter didn't follow so closely upon autumn's heels, this would surely be my favorite season of the year!

Jack and I worked hard last Wednesday and Thursday, preparing for Friday and Saturday's Garage Sale. We had to dig stuff out of bags and boxes, things that Jack had been collecting in Chuck and Kay's pole barn, since a year ago, I think. We also went over to his used-to-be home to get a few things .

While it was work, it was fun, and we enjoyed talking to Chuck and Kay and the people who came to our little sale. We took in a bit of money, but, if we had been paid for our time, it would have been a negative take. When noontime on Saturday came around, we loaded up the rest of the things and took them to Goodwill and WISE, a thrift shop which supports a local women's shelter. The leftover books will go to the library's annual sale, or to the Association of University Women.

Here are some photos of the front of Gary's house. This is where Jack and I are staying. Here, Gary is getting set to pour the concrete for his driveway.

Can you find the 4-leaf clover? :)

At 4pm on Saturday, we left for a drive. We went up to Caberfae, which is a ski resort near Cadillac, when it's time for such things. For now, though, it gave us a challenging walk up the ski runs, and some fabulous views of autumn in northern Michigan.

Here's one of me. I'm not really this fat. ;)

And.. the long-awaited close-ups of Jack!