09 July 2015

The Cruise, Part II

The best laid of plans-
Sara Jean LOVES purses.
She has a collection of 'em hanging on the door of the guest bedroom...
Coach. Dooney and Burke. Kathy Van Zieland. Bruce Whatever'isname is.
When you open that door, it's heavy enough to make you look at what is causing the considerable effort to open it.
There's a LOT of money hanging back there.

I don't know which brand the purse she took with her on the cruise had placarded on its innards, but it was a BIG one. So, since I was pulling two fairly large suitcases as we departed our truck to get on the light rail system, I handed my NEW Nikon digital camera to her to put into her purse for safe-keeping. Obviously, we wanted to take LOTS of pics of Eagles, Whales, Bears, and interesting fellow travelers.
Protecting the camera was of utmost importance.
We boarded the train, sighed in relief, and sat back to relax and enjoy the ride to the airport.

About 10 minutes into the trip I noticed the sign:
"The weekend of 20-21 June, repairs will be underway at *********** station. Shuttle buses will be provided for passengers continuing to the airport."
And so it was. At the designated station we had to disembark the train and board the airport shuttle.

"UH-OH" I heard my beloved say.
(Uh-oh nearly ALWAYS costs me money.)
I turned to look at her. She held up her LARGE purse to show the line about two inches from the bottom where the water bottle she had also placed in the purse had leaked and soaked everything aboard...
My camera included.

I LOVE traveling.
It's the getting to and from it that irritates me.
(The trials will continue in Part III.)

03 July 2015

The Cruise, Part I

It was my first cruise, her second. Because of her previous experience we decided not to skimp.
The cost initially took my breath away. Then I looked at the big picture-
Great quarters with an AMAZING view.
Food. Food! FOOD!
Live performances nightly in the Princess Theater.
A chance to see Eagles, Whales, Bears, and Serbians up close. (Our waitress was an attractive Serb.)
Add to that the fact we'd be traveling over 2000 miles by a vehicle as nice as any hotel I've ever stayed in...

The reason for the cost came into clearer, less scary view.
Still, it was a chunkachange.

We were packed. All my stuff was in half a suitcase.

Her stuff occupied the other half of my bag and two more (larger) pieces of luggage. In our years together I've resigned myself to the fact that being beautiful takes work dedication, and artistry. She makes me proud.

The night before departure we carried Lucy to our friend's house where, for just over a week, she will be treated as well, maybe better, than she would be pampered at home.

I slept fitfully.
"Have I dotted all the I's and crossed all the "T's"?"
In order to get on the ship, several links in a chain have to hold strong:
-We have to get to the Light Rail Train on time.
-The Train has to get us to the airport on time.

-Our airplane(s) have to remain airworthy and our flight(s) have to depart and arrive reasonably on time. (We had a connection in Denver).
-The Hotel room I reserved for the night before departure has to be ready for occupation.
-A taxi then has to get us to the ship on time.

That's a LOT of "ifs", isn't it?

But I had scheduled everything with ample time margins, and it all fell into place as planned.
Departure morning dawned clear and warmer than normal, and with a free "La Quinta" breakfast in our bellies we climbed into the ubiquitous Toyota Prius taxi for the 20 minute trip to Seattle's Pier 91.
Here we GO!

22 May 2015


True story:
It's a simple math exercise...
The sum of eight and five is thirteen.
To get that answer, you need to put three into the "units" column, and carry one into the "tens" column.
You need the remedial math to understand my (admittedly lame) story.

I was nine.
The guy that owned the local hardware store was a personal acquaintance. He drove a truck, and his dog ran alongside him, following him everywhere he went.
One day the dog somehow got beneath the wheels of the truck and his right rear leg was crushed so badly the Vet had to amputate it.
In an amazingly short period of time the dog learned to function almost normally without that leg, once again running alongside the hardware store owner's truck.

We named that dog "Thirteen".
It was an expert at "putting down three and carrying one".
And in spite of his name, we actually thought he was pretty lucky.

14 May 2015

Don't Touch That!

Neighbor calls...
"Does your new car have a dipstick to check your automatic transmission fluid?"
"Sure" I answered.
I was wrong.

He had taken his new car in to have its initial checkup performed. Before he left the dealership he read the paperwork to see what work they had done.

"Check transmission fluid" and "Check power steering fluid" were not checked on the checklist.
"Why didn't you check those?" he asked.
Their answer surprised him...
"The steering is electric. There is no fluid. There is no way to check the transmission fluid. When the transmission warning light comes on, come back and we'll do the necessary maintenance."

I opened the hood to our new Taurus. Sure enough, the only dipstick I see is to check the engine oil.
The owner's manual reinforces what his dealer told him...
Got a problem with the car?

Take it back to the dealer for service.

How things have changed, huh?

16 March 2015

"Now Hiring"

We've been walking a lot here.
We first noticed it at the "Wendy's" we walked to-
"Help wanted. All positions."

The next day we walked to "Del Taco". On the front door was a sign- "Now Hiring".

A little later we ate at "Golden Corral".
Wait... don't get ahead of me now!
But you're right.

And it's not just the fast food joints.
The Home Depot just down the block is also begging for help.

So guess how we handle the "Homeless. Two kids. Will work for food." folks standing on the corner near the "San Tan Village" mall?
We ignore them. Then we wonder if it would do any good to inform them of the MANY employment opportunities available if they'd just open their eyes.

No. Of course not.
They're too happy getting the equivalent of $61,000 in government benefits while adding to that any money they can mooch while standing on the corner with a sign.

What have we become?

14 March 2015


We've now been in Phoenix three months.
We were concerned we'd hate it. Ya can't really get a sense of a place until you've spent more than a couple weeks there. Three months gives ya a pretty good taste.
The fact that we're already talking about coming back in the Fall says everything you need to know.
Communities like Yuma, Quartzite, and Gila Bend have populations that DOUBLE during Winter months. It's hard to put into words how PERFECT Winter weather is here. Couple that with views of magenta sunsets behind majestic rocks and you can understand why these towns explode in the Winter.
We'll be back.

We've been taking time to exercise. Out the door, South to Ray Street and return, the gps indicates a distance of EXACTLY two miles. The streets are wide and nicely landscaped. We walk this distance twice daily... once in the morning before it's too hot for Lucy, and again during and after sunset, also to avoid superheated pavement while enjoying the above-mentioned pastel colors in the West.
The morning walk takes 40 minutes. (By my calculations that's 3 miles per hour, folks.) The same walk in the evening can take a lot more time because lots of other folks are out walking their furbabies and we always have to stop, scratch under a muzzle, and "ooh and ahh" about the beauty or charm of someone else's critter. (Golden and Labra Doodles are all the rage here like everywhere else, but there ARE a few pure-blooded Standard Poodles in the mix that make me melancholy for my old pal.)

Midway during our walk, about a month ago we started smelling the most intoxicating fragrance. It was so reminiscent of Honeysuckle it made us homesick. We'd look around trying to figure out where the scent was coming from... to no avail.
Two weeks ago I was standing in a line of folks ten deep at "Harbor Freight Tools", chatting. When asked where I was from I made mention of the fact that one of the things that still knocks me out is to be on the bike at a stop and look left or right and see citrus trees full of beautiful, ripe fruit. The guy behind me replied, "Yeah, and right now the Orange Blossoms are REALLY doing their thing."
And there it was. Next time we were reminded of Honeysuckle we looked and sure enough... there was an Orange tree.

A couple pet peeves...
This whole area is governed by HOA's... Homeowners Associations. On our walks we are constantly picking up sandwich wrappers, plastic water bottles, soda cans, broken glass, etc..
We then frequently walk more than half a mile to dispose of stuff others have thrown out their car windows.

HOA's please... more trashcans along the route.

And... there are bike paths EVERYWHERE here!
Nice, smooth, two-foot wide pavement reserved by a white line alongside the roadway. Sometimes it even has the caricature of a bicycle rider painted in the lane to indicate what it's for.
Why is it then that we, as pedestrians, have to move out of the way to avoid being T-boned by bicyclists riding on the sidewalks?

Vote me "King of the World".
I'll straighten this place out!!

13 March 2015

Friday the 13th Patriot Guard Ride

Retired. We no longer set the alarm.
No matter when I get horizontal, I normally wake about 0730...
As I did this morning.

Into our "sitting room" with my cuppa to check my email and not bother Sara Jean, I prided myself on being considerate for about four minutes. She and Lucy were upandat'em too. I may as well have gotten SJ's coffee when I poured mine.

Gathering time for the ride was 0900. Kickstands up time was "TBD"... to be determined.
I knew it was a fairly short ride to the mustering point, but I wanted to refuel prior to be sure I wouldn't embarrass myself. So I was out the door at 0815.

What a day!
Absolutely clear blue sky... the temp was about 65 degrees.
I decided to locate the gathering point, then get fuel. An added bonus!
I found fuel for 12 cents per gallon cheaper than I could have bought it near home and saved 48 cents!

Tank full, I still made it to our starting point by 0845.

Mine was the seventh signature on the sign-in sheet. That meant this would be a fairly well attended ride... several others would show up before our departure.

Ride Captain Bob blew his whistle and briefed us all on the mission.
We'd be escorting a Viet Nam Vet just a few years my senior.

We always start our ride by playing and singing along with Lee Greenwood's "God Bless The USA".
This morning, about 20 members of the Veteran's family came over, joined hands with our members, and sang along with us.
Touching? You bet.
As always, we then had a prayer for troops still at risk, their families, for a safe ride, and thanks for our MANY blessings.

We departed about 1000 hours. Our route started out on arterial streets, then joined limited-access highway, then back on arterials, then back to limited access, until we exited on the street leading to the National Cemetery here.

The mountains seem almost touchable from the cemetery...
It is a LOVELY, quiet, sacred place.

There were 21 flag-bearers in our flag line at the cemetery. By this time if there had been a thermometer to read, it probably would have indicated 85 degrees or so. That's not all that bad. But we were in full sun with our flags, standing at a modified position of attention. The preacher honoring this Vet and his family liked the sound of his own voice a LOT.
He spoke for 45 minutes.
Then the eldest son got up to eulogize his Dad and the first thing out of his mouth?
"We thank the Patriot Guard for this WONDERFUL showing of support!"

Did I say anything about the heat?

11 March 2015

Svengoolie II

On the 16th of January I wrote a post bemoaning the fact that here in Phoenix I could no longer watch my campy, stupid horror show, hosted by Chicago's "Soupy Sales" imitator "Svengoolie".
None of you came to my aid.
What's up with you guys?

A few weeks ago Sara Jean was complaining she had no TV in the kitchen to watch as she was preparing the feast for yours truly. As is the norm for us men, the first order of business for us is to keep the woman happy during the time she is preparing the feast we have worked so hard to procure and intend to savor.
Therefore, I purchased an antenna called the "Terk" HD antenna, so my beloved could stay entertained while she prepared the sumptuous feast for her provider.
Amazingly, here in Phoenix this antenna sucks in about 50 channels for her to view. Some of them are broadcast in languages we don't understand, but that's irrelevant...
Even the ones broadcast in Spanish focus on pretty girls with pretty curves.
You can leave the sound off. With these curves... I'm a fan.

But here's the question at hand for now-
Growing up in Indianapolis, Indiana, I remember three channels:
Channel 4 was an independent channel.
Channel 6 was NBC.
Channel 8 was CBS.

Later on, we added channel 13, an ABC affiliate. Then to make things complicated, channels 6 and 13 swapped positions on the dial and confused everyone.
Now? They DO.

Saturday night I was pokin' around the dial with our new "Terk". Guess what I found that you guys didn't help me with?!!!!
Channel "7.2" is "MeTV".
Guess who I found?!!
My Svengoolie was hosting an "Invisible Man" movie.
I'm now excited.

Guess where my fat derriere will be next Saturday night?

But... Channel 7.2?
What the heck is that?
I'm sure a 5-yr old understands it.
This 68-year old is still trying to sort it out!

19 February 2015

Hillary Vs. Jeb in '16?

Is this the best we can do?
It's no wonder we're all angry with one another.

If, in 2016, I have a choice between Hillary and Jeb, I'm voting for Hillary. Seriously!
(Given the choice between being beheaded and being shot while attempting escape, I'll choose the latter.)
What a mess.

I really hope Elizabeth Warren jumps into the fray, and chooses Ward Churchill as her running mate.
The idea of having another team of liars in the White House REALLY excites me.
(Vomits forcefully across the room.)

15 February 2015

While You're Alive, Why Not LIVE ! ?

I am frequently saddened by how many people have "given up".
The world has gone crazy and they feel overwhelmed.
You can cajole, argue, shout...
If they've given up, for the most part, it's a waste of time.

Then I see a video like this and realize there ARE folks out there with SPIRIT.
Folks who won't quit; WON'T give up no matter what.
And my cup is refilled.

Life is good, isn't it?