Sunday, November 27, 2005

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

No, we didn't get snow here, but Denny and I dragged the tree out of the garage and into the house as Mom wanted to start going through her collection of antique ornaments to sell some on eBay. I figured if we were going to sort ornaments I might as well put some on the tree. Well, Mom decided to let us kids fight over the ornaments after she's gone so I finished decorating the treen so we could put the boxes away again. It's a slow process as you have to unwrap the ornament, put a hanger on it and then place it on the tree. And of course, the leaded icicles have to go on one at a time--it's a tedious process but the tree looks great when it's finally finished. This year I put on santas, clip on birds, musical instruments, vases, blown glass candle holders,coffee pots--anything but round balls.

The garage has been emptied, the shed is now full and the cardboard boxes have been slit and tied so we can get the car into the garage after garbage pick up. That's a good thing as it's supposed to get cold and snowy later this week.

Tomorrow I'm taking Mom for her chest X-rays and blood work and then we have a break of a week before the next appointment, so I think Denny and I will start working on getting her bedroom ready to paint. We are getting a lot more finished than I thought we would by this time. Now if I could only get Mom to remember to take her pills....

Friday, November 25, 2005

Do you shop on Black Friday?

For the first time in decades I ventured out on Black Friday since I was up at 5 a.m. anyway. I hit two stores and was home by 6:45 and managed to find a few of the items that I went out to buy. Later, the local news showed shoppers at the local malls circling the parking lots for an hour at a time trying to find a parking spot. Now that's insanity.

Mom says our next project is clearing out the second garage so Denny and I can use it for our rental car now that the weather is starting to turn cold and snowy. I think I'd rather park outside than tackle the mess in there, but in for a penny, in for a pound so we're going to start on that tomorrow. Then the Christmas tree goes up and then we start painting her bedroom. And of course there will be a chore list for Denny at his dad's house the next time we go down there. We look at it this way, the more we finish while we're home now, the longer we can travel next summer before coming back home to finish any remaining jobs on our lists.

Today I finished wrapping all the Christmas gifts I've purchased so far and I have to say I've never been this far ahead of schedule for Christmas since we've been on the road. I'm going to have to pace myself here!

If it warms up enough next week I think Mom's healthy enough to try a little geocaching. She'll enjoy it if she can stay warm while she's outside. A SD card reader is on my shopping list so I can post pictures of that experience while we're here since I didn't think to bring the cable for my camera (why is nothing electronic ever compatible?)

Our oldest son says they are having inches and inches of snow in New York. Sigh. I think the whole fam-damily should move west and make it easy on us! If wishes were horses...

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Happy Thanksgiving to all

We were putting the kitchen back in order yesterday (pictures as soon as I buy an external smart card reader) when I realized it was snowing. Small flakes first, then big puffy ones. I didn't get the camera out in time as it was a non-stop busy-busy day and now it's all melted. Local lore states we'll have the same number of snows as the date the first snow falls, so I guess this area is in for a lot of snow this winter. I hope it all comes after we leave-heh!

As for today, we're heading for Denny's sister's house in Cincinnati for a scrumptious holiday feast. So to start my list of things to be thankful for; that Connie is a great cook and hostess, that Mom is better and seems to have more energy, that both our sons and their families are healthy, employed, and content with their lives, that Denny's dad seems to be heading strongly toward his desire to live to 100, and that we have chosen a lifestyle that grants us the freedom and flexibility to handle whatever life throws at us and allows us to stay healthy and happy. And finally, that I married my soulmate who loves my mom and my son as his own.

Safe holiday travels to all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Things are falling in place

Mom had her echo-cardiogram and walking treadmill test today and apparently didn't show any obvious problems. Those results will be available Friday or later. Okay.

Got the laptop back with a new CD/RW rom drive and new touch pad. It's working fine but my CD full of digital pictures shows up as blank on it as well as on Mom's computer. For some strange reason CDs created on my Compaq desktop aren't read by my HP laptop or Mom's HP desktop. So no "blast from the past" travel pictures while we're home as I don't want to accidentally wipe out 794 pictures on the disk trying to make it work. I just connected the wireless router so we could be online with our computer using Mom's SBC Yahoo DSLm which went smoothly, thank goodness. So we're in business there.

We have one coat of paint on the kitchen but I think we'll need a second coat to be safe. We installed the mirror Mom wanted over the kitchen sink and it makes the whole room larger, so that's a plus. We managed to chip a corner of it, but turned the mirror so that edge is up in the corner. Cookin' with gas here...

Denny's calling as the computer just dropped all his transactions. Have to go rescue him.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Method to my madness

While putting a coat of Kilz on the walls of the kitchen today I realized I had created the perfect excuse for not fixing a big Thanksgiving dinner; the kitchen has been stripped to the bare walls and all the "stuff" that sits on the counters is piled on the dining room floor now. Cool! Sunday is our "day off" from chores and duties so no painting will get done, although Denny and I will finish the job by mid-week.

Tuesday is Mom's treadmill test and "echo" heart test day. She'll have to be off the blood pressure meds for two days prior, which isn't a hardship since she's having a hard time remembering to take them, even after I remind her. I'm thinking denial here. She's also been ignoring a probable cancerous skin growth that has reoccurred, so I made an appointment with a dermotologist for that too. I think Mom's going to be glad to see us leave this time around as I'm forcing her to take care of herself!

Last night Denny and I met with some of our former co-workers for dinner at a Red Lobster. It was nice catching up with what is going on at the PD and of course there are always old stories that have to be re-told. We discovered as full-time RVers that you rarely talk about what you did in your working life as folks are more concerned with the best sights to see or places to visit or local restaurants to try. And that normally suits us just fine, but it was fun talking over old times.

Ohio State beat Michigan-heehee.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Darn, it gets cold in Ohio

Yesterday by mid-afternoon I was in short sleeves after the sun finally came out. Today the wind chill factor was 19 degrees by the same time. Thank goodness I decided to run home at lunch time so Mom and I could change to heavy winter coats and gloves as I was being the "watcher" in the open garage while the rest of the crew was working inside the house. Hmm, how did that happen? Mom would pop out to smoke but then I'd chase her back into the house. My uncle was assisting outside and I insisted he go inside after I realized he was shaking with the cold. It was just too darn late in the season to be doing an estate sale.

But it's over so now we can move on with fix-ups, visiting friends and family and starting Christmas shopping. And somehow Denny and I have to figure out where we can start walking for exercise as we've been eating fast foods that we normally don't eat so it won't take long before we start to regain the weight we've worked very hard to lose. It's going to be too cold to walk our 2.8 mile outdoor loop as we definitely have developed that warm climate "thin blood" everyone talks about.

Took Mom for her appointment with a cardiologist,where they did an EKG with normal results. We have to arrange chest X-rays and blood work ourselves, then go back to the cardiologist for a stress test. So it will still be a while before we learn what is causing the sudden spike in her blood pressure, but she's doing fine in the meantime. So that's a relief.

CompUSA says we should have our laptop back in a few days, so then I'll have to see if I can temporarily install our wireless router using Mom's DSL modem. This might be fun-not! How sad is it that I haul a wireless router from Phoenix to Dayton so I can get online whenever I want? Actually, I half expected airport security to question it when it passed through x-ray, but they were more concerned about an AC adaptor to my rechargeable battery pack-something about it showing up solid and black and training a new security employee. Whatever.

Enough blathering tonight; "Lost" is about to begin. Warm, happy trails to all.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I couldn't do this every day

Five minutes after the estate sale opened a man walked up to the check out table and told Dottie, Mom's business partner that he'd give her 50 cents for a one-dollar LP album. When Dottie told him we weren't discounting anything since the doors had just opened he threw the album on a chair and walked out. Oh how my hands itched to throttle him! It was not an auspicious beginning for a long day of more of the same.

It used to be that Mom and her friend could make a decent "wage" by handling estate and moving sales for those folks who didn't want to be bothered with the mess and hassle of doing one themselves, but since the advent of eBay many buyers want to get items for 25 to 50 cents so they can put it on eBay and make a ten dollar profit. Which is their right, but since Mom works for a percentage of the sales, every dollar that she takes in is important to recoup the time and energy spent in setting up the sale. And the sales seem to be taking more of a physical toll as evidenced by the newly developed high blood pressure/nose bleed thing going on right now.

I don't know what the answer is, but I hate to see Mom and her friend working for what can turn out to be less than a couple dollars an hour when the total sales for the event is added up. It's frustrating and depressing.

On another note, we have a tornado watch going on with a high probably of it turning into a tornado warning. See, this is what I like about Arizona--very few instances of tornadoes. Or mud slides, hurricanes, forest fires or earthquakes. Great sunsets. Warm temperatures in the fall, winter and spring. Believe me, I'm trying to get Mom to move West, but she's holding out for the ocean. Sigh.

Monday, November 14, 2005

No pix available

It seems I was a bit presumptious about posting pictures from Arizona today as Mom's computer won't read my CD of digital pictures. So I'll have to wait until the laptop comes back from CompUSA to see if it will work on that one. Too many different CD writing software programs competing with each other it seems.

This morning was spent washing widgets. I wanted to get a bit of a start on washing down the kitchen before we painted, which meant washing Mom's miniature primitives collection; tiny apothocary jars, pill boxes, kitchen implements, vases, match holders and pictures and then the larger objects on up to a pottery butter churn. A longish break to accompany Denny to see the chiropractor (who says we'll probably be financing his new houseboat since it has been so long since Denny has had an adjustment), and then it was back to cleaning. Kitchen grease mixed with a heavy smoking habit makes for a grimy job.

Mom's BP is responding to the medication quite well and she ate a huge plate of my beef stroganoff for dinner tonight. At this rate I might get her weight up to 100 pounds if she doesn't stress it off during the estate sale. The downside is I have to struggle against stuffing my face when fixing old family favorite meals while we're home trying to fatten her up. Sigh.

I'll be helping with the estate sale for the next two days, which will be a change of pace before we move into high gear on the clean-up/fix-up. In the meantime, my buddy Judy will be sending me e-mails telling me how warm it is in Parker, AZ and how nice the pool feels. Have I mentioned it's supposed to snow here Wednesday? There goes the tan. Happy, Judy?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Not our normal Sunday

Sunday is normally our day to totally do nothing; we go out to breakfast, read the Sunday paper, watch golf/NASCAR/football all afternoon,make popcorn and then heat leftovers for dinner.

Not so here. Did the breakfast thing, did the newspaper thing, and then the afternoon went astray when Denny decided to try to move one of the electrical outlets in the kitchen. You see, we had a new mirror cut as Mom wants a mirror behind the sink. It seems for years Dad would sneak up on her while she was washing dishes and would scare the poo out of her, so even though Dad has been gone for nine years she wants a mirror over the sink. Which means moving the outlets or pay $180 extra for six cuts/notches in the mirror to allow for the sides of the outlet boxes. We opted to move the outlets. And of course, nothing is easy in a 50 year old house. Twenty trips up and down the basement stairs, drilling, cussing, sawing, cussing, nailing, cussing, spackling, cussing. We did finally make the popcorn, which wasn't very good (I love my mom but she buys generic everything) so I made a batch of Alabama dip and we ate that for dinner instead. Denny then went off to watch football and the race while I made signs for Mom's estate sale and she supervised.

At least the washing of ceilings, walls, appliances and cupboards prior to painting should go more smoothly. But the estate sale will be Tuesday and Wednesday so we really won't get started until after that. I think tomorrow night I'll put a couple of pictures of a site in Arizona online--it's past time to do a little mental traveling.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Darn, I just lost some of my inheritence!

Typical woman that I am, I love spending money, whether it's my own or that of others. While dropping off Mom's antique regulator clock to be repaired (fell off the wall, long story) we stopped to visit a family friend who also happens to be a used-car salesman. As we were chatting, I noticed a shiny, midnight blue Chrysler Town & Country minivan on the lot and I asked J.D. about it. Well! It was one of those new Stow and Go minivans with the seats that fold down into the floor wells making a flat storage area in the back, which is exactly what Mom was starting to consider as she is no longer physically able to lug the bench seats out of her current minivan when she needs to load her tables for her estate sales. Hmm, car dealer friend who has a minivan that Mom wants; I think this is do-able. Drove home, picked her up, showed her the minivan and bingo, she was signing papers as she loved the van after she took a turn at putting the seats down and back up all by herself.

Afterwards Denny and I told her we weren't coming home anymore as we always cost her money and we haven't even started in on the paintin' and fixin' yet. The poor woman will have to go back to work at this rate! The day is going to come that she'll dread seeing us walk through the door wondering how much it's going to cost her this time, heh.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

You don't know Jack...

Jack still walks the streets.

Jack S. has been on the periphery of my life for 40 years. I first became aware of Jack while I was in junior high. He was a "slow learner" in the "special ed" classes, separated from the rest of us as mainstreaming was still three decades away. Jack walked slowly, talked slowly and learned slowly, but was unfailingly polite and would talk to anyone who would listen to him. And of course, we all ignored him.

Jack lived at the very far end of my neighborhood and would ride his bicycle everywhere as a teenager and later as an adult because due to his mental capacity and physical limitations he would never get a driver's license. He would smile and wave and stop to talk if you made any sort of eye contact, which most of us avoided doing.

As an adult Jack once again made his presence known when I started working at the police department as a dispatcher working the midnight shift. Jack was a bit of an insomniac and had a police radio so he would listen to our calls and he quickly became familiar with the voices of the newly hired dispatchers and would call in the quiet, early hours. It was easy to talk to him then and we would let him go on, talking about trains and engineers and how someday he would get a job working on a train. Jack always had big plans to get a job, you see. Sometimes we would be too busy to talk to Jack so we would transfer him down to the jail to talk to the jailers or tell him to call a different police department (because he called them all equally) or just tell him we couldn't talk. We did that a lot, especially after Jack was hit by a car while riding his bike and was no longer able to ride around for exercise and entertainment; his parents took away his bike as it was becoming too dangerous for him to ride on the streets with more traffic on the roads and so he called people to maintain that contact with the outside world.

After I quit the PD and started traveling upon visits home we would see Jack walking the long street that runs along the side of Mom's house, usually wearing his train engineer's hat and his bib overalls and totally intent on his destination, wherever that might be. Denny and I would smile and say "there's Jack, still walking!" and "Wonder if he still calls the PD?" And we'd go our merry way.

We saw Jack yesterday; still in his engineer's cap eight years later, still walking that long street beside Mom's house, but even slower now. He's gotten smaller and his beard is white. I so often feel like a kid when I return home to visit and we stay at Mom's, but I remembered yesterday that Jack and I were born the same year.

I wish I had been nicer when he used to call.

Mom check

Morning blood pressure after forgetting to take her BP meds; 152/91 pulse 65

Afternoon blood pressure after finally taking meds; 94/57 pulse 57

So the good news is that the medication is effective and there have been no new nose bleeds. A combination of meds and me not allowing her to do anything physical seems to be giving the stressed out capillaries a chance to heal.

Actually, I can tell she's feeling better; she's starting a long honey do list for Denny and I. Sigh.

On a different note, the moving Vietnam Wall has come to the area so I'm hoping we can drive down to see it. What an appropriate time for it to be here. To all veterans online, thank you for serving so my sons would grow up in freedom.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Neat neighbors

Mom's neighbor Jerry didn't realize Denny and I were home as we are driving a rental car, so he came over today and used a blower on all her leaves and got them piled up by the road for pick up by the city (a nice benefit of living in Kettering). So round one of raking goes to Jerry, but we'll do the rest. Mom has lived here for almost fifty years and there are a few of the original neighbors still around but the newer ones have turned out to be great. Neighborhoods will never be what they were when we were kids, but this is still a good one.

Mom's blood pressure was lower today, which is good since she took her first dose of meds. The vaporizer apparently helped also as she didn't have any overnight nose bleeds. So Denny and I felt comfortable leaving to do some more shopping and as I left I told Mom to check the "job" list I had created for items that needed to be fixed, handled or dealt with and told her to add whatever else she would like done. Boy, be careful what you ask for! It seems she's decided she wants a white bath tub. We changed out the toilet and the sink years ago but left the putrid peachy-pink 50s bath tub, telling her to buy a long shower curtains or to consider having a liner installed or having the tub refinished. Well, she wants a new tub. Sigh. Okay, that's next summer's project now. Which also means re-tiling the walls surrounding the tub and she wants it to go all the way up to the ceiling. Double sigh.

Just because I love her, I fixed the standing rib roast I purchased this morning anyway, although if I had known she was going to blind side us with a major project I might have given it a second thought-heh. If she continues to eat the way she ate tonight, she'll be replenishing her blood quite soon!

Tomorrow Mom is going to try to work some at her estate sale (she handles estate and moving sales as a business) to see how it goes. She'll have her business partner with her, so I may be able to start doing some work around the house here while she's away. I think within a day or two I'll manage to get some pictures and information about some of our past travels online here. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Hello from Ohio

Remember a couple of posts ago when I mentioned that one of the nice things about RVing is that one doesn't have to rake leaves? Well, do I have leaves to rake here at Mom's! I guess the good news is that there are enough fall colored leaves left to enjoy and that raking leaves will provide the exercise I'll miss by not having a swimming pool handy for water aerobics. The old "one door opens when the other closes" type of thinking, right?

Took Mom to the doctor today. Mediocre news/bad news. Bad news; the doctor doesn't accept Mom's Anthem Senior Advantage as she was told by the Urgent Care folks when they arranged her appointment. Mom and the doctor agreed that Mom would pay the full cost of the visit if the doctor would do a basic exam and prescribe some high blood pressure meds if that was what was needed. Mom did have another nose bleed episode at 2:30 this morning. Her blood pressure was still extremely elevated, so rather than play a waiting game with Anthem trying to get better coverage, the doctor made an end run by setting up a couple of appointments with specialists for further testing after comfirming with them herself that they did, indeed, accept Anthem Senior patients. Whew. It seems that old age, smoking, winter conditions and some kidney problems can cause sudden high blood pressure but otherwise her heart sounds good. So there's some small relief there. But the bottom line is that as of today, we still don't know what's causing the sudden, copious nose bleeds.

A family friend dropped off a blood pressure cuff tonight and I retook Mom's blood pressure and discovered it had gone down quite a bit. I also bought a vaporizor for her bedroom for additional moisture so we'll see how it all goes. Bending over brings on the spurts and she's weak from the loss of blood, so we'll work on doing all her chores to avoid setting off nose bleeds and trying to get good healthy meals in her belly to build her blood back up.

In terms of the blog, our laptop had to be taken to CompUSA for repairs and won't be done for a week or two, so no pictures here unless I feel ambitious enough to download the required programs onto Mom's computer. That may yet happen. And if the nosebleeds stop before bad weather really sets in here in Ohio we may just drag Mom out to do some geocaching as she's fascinated by the concept. If so, I'll have to get pictures of that to share, won't I?

In the meantime, here's where we are now Safe travels to those on the road.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Friday, November 04, 2005

Going home

A few days ago my mom e-mailed that she had such a severe nosebleed that her friend insisted she go to Urgent Care. The doctor there cauterized her nose three times (apparently a very unpleasant experience. Since then she's awakened in the early hours with more spontaneous nose bleeds so she took herself back to Urgent Care where the nurse gasped at her blood pressure (which has been very low all her adult life) and made her an appointment with a local family physican since Mom hasn't been to a doctor in a few years. All of which leads me to suspect something more is going on in her life, physically, mentally or emotionally, so we're moving the rig to a campground in Phoenix and taking a flight home this weekend to stay with her for a couple of months. I'll try to fatten her up and do most of the work around the house and see if she improves any. She's a relatively youthful 73 and has been healthy all her life so this coming on overnight is worrisome. And now I've upset her more by telling her I'm coming home but she'll just have to deal with it-heh. You know how moms are; she's worried about the additional expense. Matter of fact she cried the entire phone call, saying she wasn't dying. Yep Mom, I know that, but I'm coming home anyway.

So the blog entries will be erratic. Maybe I'll bring my picture disks with me and do some "blasts from the past" blog entries of places we've visited. Not so much to entertain you, but to warm myself with pleasant memories while we're in the cold Ohio fall/winter temperatures. Jeans, sweat shirts, winter coats. Yuck. Double yuck.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

RVing, for us

Last week we were parked on a site that backed up to the Colorado River in an area near tribal land so the far side of the river was undeveloped. That allowed us to watch the river otter fishing for his meals, grackles bathing en masse on the sand bar in the late afternoon, blue herons stalking their meal in the mornings and the peaceful passing of canoists. This week we're backed up to the same river just 50 miles to the north where the banks are full of homes and campgrounds and businesses and the river itself runs wider and deeper making it a recreational area heavily used by folks with power boats and Sea Doos. These differences are part of the reason we travel, as well as:

1. Meeting new people, whether it's our neighbors or the store clerk we talk to several times in the course of our stay. If you sit outside in your lounge chair or start working on the outside of your rig you're pretty assured that someone will stop by to chat.
2. Educating ourselves, which comes in the form of learning the history of an area, discovering the differences in topography of various parts of the country, seeing the natural wonders along with those mad-made, exploring local museums, following that back road to who knows where, the chance to learn new activities such as pickleball, line dancing, beading and other crafts and much more at many of the campgrounds during the slower winter months.
3. Being able to "control" our climate. We move north during the summer and south during the winter, trying to avoid temperature extremes and to stay out of snow.
4. The lack of responsibilities of home ownership; no mowing the lawn, maintaining the garden, shoveling the driveway (that's a biggie for Denny), painting and related upkeep, etc.
5. The expectation of going to a new area, traveling new roads and seeing new sights. We've destroyed a lot of our pre-conceived notions about several states and have discovered beauty in all of them. There is so much more out there yet to see.

Now, what do I, personally, miss about home?
1. Family, friends and neighbors-the biggie.
2. Libraries. When you travel, most local libraries won't issue you a library card, even a temporary one. Guess they figure we're gypsies, therefore unreliable.
3. Convenient shopping. Back home, we had tons of competing grocery stores which made for great low prices as well as every imaginable store we could want within a fifteen minute drive.
4. Our fireplace on a cold winter night, our deck for the milder weather.
5. Decorating the house and the tree for Christmas. Now I have a two foot tree for my table as storage space constraints means little decorating. However, last year my mom turned her tree decorating over to me once we flew home and I assume she'll do so this year, so that helps create the Christmas feeling again.

A strange list, isn't it? Other than family, neither one of us really misses "home" or having a home. And considering I never moved farther than 10 miles from the place I was born for the first 46 years of my life, that's kind of surprising. But life on the road continues to enthrall us and so we'll follow those red lines on the map for a while longer with the understanding that family may call us home at any given point, but the road not taken will call us back.
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