As you can see below, the road to Portal over the Chiricahua mountains was a bit rough but my RAV4 had no problems.  In some areas, it was interesting to see large numbers of trees with blackened bark from previous wildfires coming back to life with new growth.

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After I checked in at the Portal Peak Lodge, I went for a walk into ‘town’ – one short street with the library, post office and several houses. The welcoming committee was there having a drink at a very large puddle. These javelinas are part of a larger herd of about 20 individuals that live in the area.

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One of the houses in town is owned by friends of the group and we were invited to visit their yard where they have multiple bird feeders and a large number of feathered visitors.

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Happy Hour was as sumptuose as usual and gave us time to share our experinces of the day.

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After we had our fill of goodies, you may notice that there is not an inch of empty space on the table, we went to dinner, and then on to our search for critters of the night. The drive was not very productive this year.

To be continued . . .

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LEXI 2012 06 16 3 playing hide and seek most recent image at 9lbs 2 oz Lexi today

A little over a year ago, I adopted a scrawny, 7 pound little dog with some matted hair even after the Humane Society had cleaned him up.  I now have a 9 pound 2 ounce, silky haired, mischievous little dog that has given me a lot of joy and a few heart attacks.

I am delighted to show you Lexi’s progress over the last year. 

The top image shows Lexi the day he came home from the Humane Society, a little leery but very self assured.  He came in the door and without any hesitation, marched into the house and inspected every inch, nook and cranny.  However, he spent weeks glued to me, wherever I went, he went, nose no more than 2 inches away from the back of my leg.

Eventually, he started getting some confidence, and would not have to be in the same room with me.  He not only started playing with his toys, but he was initiating play with me.  He now brings me his toys, drops them at my feet, and expects me to throw them to the far end of the house.

That independence also gave me a few heart attacks, proof of which is in the second image.  I called him to go out for a walk, and he had disappeared.  Where could he be, could he have gotten out of the house? 

 After searching and calling for quite a while, I went into my bedroom, and there, between the pillows on the bed I could see a little black nose resting on the bolster.  The image shows him coming out from his hiding place. 

The most notable one was when the car port door did not close properly when I went out,  the wind blew it open, and this black and white blur came running out.  He sat in the cul de sac, looked down the hill, took off chasing something and disappeared into the desert across the street. 

Now, in my neighborhood we have among others, coyotes, rattlesnakes, bobcats, javelinas, a huge feral cat and a report of a mountain lion seen on top of the hill – all of which could make a meal out of him very quickly. 

About 45 minutes later, with the sun going down fast, and after 3 of my neighbors and I had walked and driven up and down the development calling his name, he came out of the desert, then jumped into the car when I opened the door looking very satisfied with himself.  It was one of those occasions when you first kiss them and hug them, and then strangle them!

The third picture shows him a couple of months ago and the last one was taken today.  This is my silky haired, sweet, happy and mischievous little dog after one year of good food, long walks, playtime, and lots of belly scratching who again got a clean bill of health when we went for his annual checkup.  And the tail on the last picture is blurry because it is always in perpetual motion.

Other things have happened over the past year, but those are stories for another time.

What a difference a year makes!


I do not want to say this too loudly, just in case I might jinx myself, but it appears that the plumbers finally finished all their work.  It only took from the beginning of January through the end of March to replace the broken main line running under the bedroom floor, a couple of return trips because the main line had not been properly cleaned of debris further down from the break and the drains were again not draining, and restore the saltillo tile that had to be torn up.

To say that this experience was traumatic would be a big understatement. The original plan was to dig up a 3’ by 3’ hole to reach the area of the main line where the suspected problem was located.  Everything was going along just fine, until I heard the very loud voice of the plumber calling me to come take a look.  They had reached the suspected area and found a large crack in the main line running in both directions beyond the area they had uncovered.

At this point, the restoration people had to be called in because there was a strong possiblity that the damaged pipe extended under the bathroom floor.  If that was the case, the cast iron bathtub would have to be taken out and the bathroom floor dug up.  Luckily, the pipes under the bathtub were in good shape and the bathroom floor remained intact.

The original insurance claim went out the window at this point, and another claim covering the additional work had to be filed.  What originally started as a 3′ by 3′ hole to reach the area where the suspected problem was located evolved into the excavation of a 10′ trench running from one end of the bedroom almost to the other end.   Suffice it to say that it took 2 tons of dirt to fill up the hole.

   

Now, after being told by the restoration crew that they could match the new saltillo to the one that was in place, they said they were unable to make the match and would have to tear up the entire bedroom floor and replace it with a larger tile that would NOT match the rest of the house.  At this point, I called the company that installed the floor when I moved in and they agreed to do the repairs.

Although they did find the right tile and it does match the rest of the floor, the color of the original grout had been discountinued.  The new grout is much darker and was very obvious, so the new grout had to be stained to come close to what it should have been.  Getting that accomplished was an interesting experience.

In the middle of this upheaval, very dear out-of-town friends came to visit.  It was great to see them and a welcome break from the surrounding chaos. 


 

Wrote an entire post about the snow we had to celebrate both the State of Arizona’s 100th birthday and Valentine’s Day, both on February 14th. 

Unfortunately, WordPress ate my oh so very insightful comments and I am not inspired to write them again. 

So for your enjoyment, without too many words to distract you from the beautiful scenery, here are some images of the Tucson Mountains viewed from the Visitor Center at Saguaro National Park West.

Enjoy!


Sunset at Saguaro National Park West

Another year begins and I still have to figure out where the last one went – and that is a good thing.  It means, to me at least, that I was busy doing things I enjoyed, that I was not too idle, but idle enough at times to enjoy my surroundings, and that I am still interested in learning and open to new experiences. 

It also means that I am physically (mostly, must have a talk with my knees) and mentally able to do them.  I have been lucky to meet and make friends with people from all over the country and the world with an incredible and varied amount of interest and knowledge about things I never knew.  And I am able to share some of my knowledge and experiences with others.

One question that I often heard before retirement was “what are you going to do with all that free time?”  My answer always was, to the beffudlement of some, “would you like to see my list?”.  A few did nod their heads in agreement, they knew exactly what I was talking about, but others could not understand.

Retirement is a hard earned status, you work all your life to get there.  It is not, does not have to be, the end of a productive life.  On the contrary, it is an opportunity to begin catching up with a multitude of things that were never done or tried because of the many obligations one has during ones lifetime.

It is a curious thing.  As time goes by and things on that list are accomplished, the list grows longer instead of shorter.  In reality, I have not gotten around to do many of the things I had originally planned to do.  Instead, I have found a whole lot of other things to do.    New experiences, exposure to new people, all seem to add multiple new things to look forward to for every one item crossed off that list.

As a matter of fact, I have been so busy that I am now on a three week vacation from retirement.  Looking forward to getting back to ‘work’!


Or at least, winter as defined in Southern Arizona, but my down jacket came out from the depths of my closet. 

The weather forecast for last Friday predicted a 60% chance of rain and high winds, so I took my potted plants down from the fence and surrounded them by patio chairs to prevent the javelinas from feasting on them.   The dire predictions had not materialized by bed time – no clouds, no rain, no wind – and I happily went to bed thinking the weatherman had been wrong.

Sometime around 2AM, the wind woke me up.  This house is not very tight, and I could hear the wind whistling as it found its way down the chimney and through a few cracks in the wall. 

Then the rains came.  I was nice and warm in my bed and decided not to get up to check for anything going wrong at that time.  I was also greatly relieved to find out in the morning that nothing of importance had blown away in the storm.

After a few clouds Saturday morning, the day turned out to be glorious!  A perfect Fall day (for Vermont) that had all the local residents shivering in their shoes.  The wind died down and the sun was shining brightly, but the temperatures never went higher than the mid – 60’s.   

I spent the day outdoors at a craft fair in a lovely park, surrounded by trees.  When I left the house early in the morning, I thought that in typical Tucson fashion, it would get hot during the day, so I put on a long sleeve cotton top and took my down jacket ‘just in case’, but drew the line at wearing wool socks.  I must admit that I actually felt cold, even wearing my down jacket, standing in the shade of those trees.  I kept looking for the sunny spots in the park, something unheard of in this part of the world, where everyone is constantly looking for a shady spot. 

I must remember the clothing ‘mantra’ from up north – layers, layers, layers – so you can peel off and add on during the day as needed.

This morning is overcast, really and truly overcast, not just a few clouds in the sky.  WeatherBug says it is 49F degrees outside, 79% humidity, with an expected high between 61F and 66F, and 40% chance of rain for tomorrow. 

Am I in Southern Arizona?


‘snakes’ run from both ends of the house to the blockage (about 80 feet one way), down a side line to take care of the problem in the second bathroom, several phone calls and a house ‘colonoscopy’, the tentative diagnosis is not good. 

It appears, after they ran a camera into the bowels of the plumbing system, that there may be a break in the main line that takes waste water out into the sewer system.  Then they used a beeping sci-fi rifle looking contraption with 2 large balls on the barrel to locate the problem.  Of course, the break has been located buried in the slab under my one-year old saltillo floors, about a foot from my bed.

The solution is to break through the saltillo and the concrete slab to get access to the area and replace the pipe – 3 days of work, not including replacing the floor tiles.  I am now waiting to get an estimate. 

At least the rest of the plumbing in the rest of the house is working normally.