Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cactus Flowers and Bees!

Thursday 3/20

Tucson Yoga first thing this morning and then a stop at Food Conspiracy. Puttered around in the afternoon and then over to Nimbus Brewery for dinner. One reason for going there was to pick up a six pack of Monkey Shine beer and they were out!

Friday 3/21

After our morning walk we went into town for the Spring Fourth Avenue Fair. They had great weather all weekend and huge crowds. Pulling into the parking garage we ran into Karen and Gary and shopped with them for a while. We always park in the garage on the NE corner of Fourth and Congress, easy access and only a two block walk to the street fair. We spent a couple of hours browsing the stalls and Nancy picked up a number of things including a new hat.

Stopped at BK Tacos for lunch (we've been in a bit of a rut for eating out this year, found a few favorite places), then back home I gave Reid a hand removing the rails for a fifth wheel hitch from one of our neighbor’s trucks. We had to remove the camper shell, then he crawled around underneath undoing the bolts while I laid in the bed and pulled out the occasional bolt - my kind of work!

Then I checked on our batteries, which seemed to have been failing - although they should have been good, the are AGMs and only three years old. It turned out the connections between the two batteries had loosened over time. I cleaned and tightened all the connections the connections and I think they will be OK. We ran on batteries with exhaust fans running and some lights for several hours and they seemed to stand up fine.

Blackhawks played tonight and won again, things are starting to look up.

Saturday 3/22

Slept a bit late and then took our regular walk in the desert. Nancy did some laundry, I reinstalled the battery covers and closed the battery/spare tire slide.

I received an e-mail from Verizon saying that I was eligible to upgrade to an iPhone 5c for free. Nancy wanted to upgrade her iPhone 4 to a 5 so it could be used in Europe this summer. Her phone is not eligible for an upgrade until late November, but in the past we had found that we could swap my upgrade date with hers.

So we went to the Verizon store on Speedway to get set up. We wanted to do it here as we have had very good service at this particular Verizon store and this time was no exception. However, it turns out on this offer we could not switch between accounts, it is to get non-smart phones out of service. So ... I ended up getting the 5c, along with a Mophie battery pack as part of the bundle. We will be able to use my phone in Europe next summer and Nancy can upgrade in the fall. We also changed to a better data plan shared between both phones (this is my first "smart" phone) for only about $8 more than we were paying before. We dropped our land line last summer as it was not being used for anything other than someone trying to sell something.

Lunch at Beyond Bread (yes, we are in a rut), then we stopped at Trader Joe’s and headed home.

Sunday 2/23

After our morning walk we went with Karen and Gary to Cushing Street Bar & Grille for brunch, they had a 20% off coupon to share. Had a really nice time and a great meal. Gary & I had B. L. T. O. E. - an open face BLT with caramelized onions with two eggs over easy on top and cole slaw! It was delicious. Nancy and Karen had omelets.

After breakfast Nancy & Karen headed out for an afternoon of successful shoe shopping. I spent several hours trying to download rings tones for my iPhone, then discovered instructions for creating ringtones from songs already in iTunes. Now I can create a snippet for a ringtone from ANY song in my iTunes library! Now we both have unique ring tones on our phones.

Blackhawks played tonight and played a really strong game ... except once again they could not score! They outplayed and outshot the Predators and lost 2 zip. This is getting to be a serious slump! They are still the highest scoring team in the league, but not since the first of the year. Getting scary.

Monday 2/23

Our last Monday morning meeting for the year. After the meeting we went with the bike group for the last ride of the year. Went to “The Loop” along the Rialto river. Most of the group went East again as we did last time, but Karen, Gary, Nancy & I went West as far as La Cholla Blvd. It was a nice ride and we got to see some different areas, a little over 8 miles round trip. Then we all went to Sweet Tomato’s on North Stone for lunch. 

Back home Nancy did some Spanish and I did some getting ready for the trip North next week and a couple repairs. The furnace in our bedroom has developed a strange vibrating noise on chilly mornings, so I opened up the panel next to it and hopefully found the problem - a piece of plastic sleeve that protected a sharp edge on a panel had dangled  off and was lying partially on top of the furnace, I think creating the vibration. We will see next chilly morning. I also found a couple of items - including a long missing electric toothbrush case! - that had dropped out of the vanity drawers that are right above the furnace compartment!

Tuesday 3/25

Instead of our desert walk we went over to the Desert Museum and did a brisk walk around the desert loop. On the way Nancy spotted a saguaro with a blossom, the first we have ever seen, right along Kinney Rd. We quickly pulled into the Old Tucson parking lot and walked back along the road about 200 feet so we could get a good look and take a picture. The cactus is on the right side of the road on the Northbound side, 400 feet before the entrance to Old Tucson. 

We have seen saguaros with buds on them, but they usually do not bloom until May. This one is right by the road, so it apparently gets extra water from run-off and the buds are on the south facing side of the cactus. Seeing one this early, and for the first time was a real treat.

There were lots of flowers at the Desert Museum as well, here is one on a teddy bear cholla:

and one on a regular cholla:

We also learned a bit about bees. Seems that this area of the Sonoran desert has the largest variety of bees in the world - over 700 species! Bees from the size of hummingbirds to ones as small as mites. We get bees on our hummingbird feeder here occasionally, and they have bee traps around the park, but we don't really see many. According to the docent at the museum a lot of them are solitary bees who nest in wood or in the ground. 

After a short stop at home we headed into town and stopped at Beyond Bread for lunch (yeah, I know). Nancy had a short appointment on the east side and then we came back home. Nancy went to her Spanish study group and I worked on our windmill presentation at the History Center in May.

Blackhawks played tonight and finally looked like themselves and won a good game. Back-to-back games coming up Thursday and Friday in Boston and Ottawa, so we will see. One really bright spot was the debut of Teuvo Teravainen, our 19 year-old prospect from Finland. He looked really good and won seven of seven face-offs!

Wednesday 3/26

Nancy had her last Spanish class this morning. Karen and Gary dropped Margo off for the day and I spent most of the morning working on the History Center presentation. After Nancy returned from her class I went over to the pool hall to get on-line without the WiFi and pay the months bills. Nancy did some laundry - it was quite breezy today and the laundry on our clothes rack dried in about 40 minutes!

I spent most of the afternoon on the windmill presentation and have it pretty well finished, now I just have to check the timing to see if I have enough material.

We are targeting Monday the 31st as our departure date, weather is looking good through New Mexico and over Raton Pass into Denver. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Getting Close to the End of Our Winter Sojourn

Monday 3/10

Regular Monday morning meeting, we were debating about going with the bike group, but they are riding from here to Ryan Field which is all on local roads rather than trails - not our idea of a fun ride so we did not go.

A couple stopped by asking if we could dog sit for them. They came in last night and Andrea in the office told them we were willing. People always expect to pay, but we tell them we do it because we like dogs and to just make a donation to a pet shelter.

They had two cute little dogs, both very sweet. We took them out twice, but they were not big walkers so they were short trips.

Last of the lecture series on the Evolving Brain this evening at the University. We stopped at Beyond Bread and then went over to Centennial Hall. Headed for the Tyndall Ave parking garage we usually use and found one of the streets closed. There has been construction around there all winter. We decided that would make it a real mess getting out after the lecture so we went South to the Main Gate garage. Turns out this garage is closer to the hall AND it was much quicker getting out after the lecture! Able to turn South and get to 6th St which has less traffic than Speedway heading West towards the mountains.

Tuesday 3/11

Nice hike this morning, then a relaxing day. Nancy did some Spanish studying and went to he Spanish study group.

Otherwise, not much to talk about today other than the beautiful weather here and the 4 to 8 inches of snow forecast at home tonight! We have been starting to look at plans for heading North, probably heading to Denver around the first of the month if the weather looks doable. Thinking of targeting arriving home the week before Easter.

Wednesday 3/12

Dog sitting day, we took the two little ones for two walks today and then Margo came over at 2 PM so we could watch her while Karen and Gary went to a show.

Nancy had her Spanish class this AM, I did some cleaning. Had a new book pop up on Distributed Proofreading today about crossbows, been waiting for it to get to the P2 round so I could work on it, so I spent a fair amount of time proofreading today. Interesting books have been few and far between this winter. Most of what I have tried has been doggerel.

Well, if the Blackhawks end up facing Colorado anytime in the playoffs they are dead meat! The Avalanche have their number, won four out of five this season and last night was not as close as the score indicates. As has been the case since the beginning of the year, the Hawks just cannot seem to get the puck in the net with any consistency in spite of great scoring chances. 

Thursday 3/13

Tucson Yoga first thing in the morning and our regular stop at Food Conspiracy. Back home we relaxed, took a short bike ride around the park and next door at Justin’s in the afternoon.

Quick trip to BK Tacos for dinner.

Formula One is back for a new season that promises to be pretty eventful with all new cars, unproven technology and a lot of drivers shuffling between teams. Watch a season preview and the Practice One from Australia.

Friday 3/14

Headed off to the Desert Museum first thing this morning and had a nice walk around. Stopped at hardware store and then Rodriguez Seafood to pick up some fish for dinner.

Back home we watched F1 Practice 2. Early afternoon it suddenly cooled off and clouded over a bit, then it rained! Had a couple of  light showers and then it rained hard for about five minutes. Very unusual! It had been warm in the morning, well into the 70’s, but dropped back into the 60’s in the afternoon and actually felt chilly - we will be freezing when we head for Denver in a couple of weeks!

Saturday 3/15

Nice long hike in the desert this morning, actually just a bit longer than our normal walk. Nancy spent some time studying her Spanish and I putter around a bit. Time to start getting things ready for hitting the road in a couple of weeks. 

Sat down to listen to Prairie Home Companion - which is now on at 3 PM here since we are still on Mountain Standard time - then Karen and Gary stopped by for a visit, with Margo of course - it’s her fourth birthday. One of the nice features of having the Sirius radio is that it can be paused and picked up later, so I paused it and we listened to the show later after they left.

Nancy made fish tacos for dinner using the leftovers from the fish we had grilled last night. Our little Weber Q grille has worked out real well this winter, a big improvement over the little one we have used for about ten years.

Off to bed fairly early as we have to get going early tomorrow. 

Sunday 3/16

Up early as we had to be at the University by 8:30 to sign in for our volunteer assignments at the Tucson Festival of Books. We were assigned to a room together, just the two of us plus our “line wrangler” who took care of controlling the line for people waiting to enter.

We had two sessions and the job was really easy, just get the room ready, check microphones, authors chairs and water. After we got the audience in we were able to sit and enjoy the presentations. The first one was “Chillers and Thrillers” with three authors who wrote “thrillers”, although they did not quite all agree with the definition. A very interesting presentation. We only had about 40 people in the audience.

The half hour break between presentations went quickly and when we opened the door for the next one the room filled up quickly, we had about 140 in a room set up for a 150. This one was a historic non-fiction with three authors who were all former journalists, one a Pulitzer prize winner. Once again a very interesting presentation.

We were finished at 12:30 and then we took a short stroll around the festival - answering questions along the way since we still had out “volunteer” tee-shirts on!

We then headed up to Beyond Bread for lunch, stopped at the hardware store and grocery store on the way home.

Back at the park we made a quick stop over at Karen and Gary’s as they were having a new trailer open house/happy hour/yard sale. We did not stay too long as we were a bit tired and had a lot of TV to catch up on! Yeah, that sounds bad, but first we had the first Formula One race of the season on the DVR from last night; by the time we finished that the Blackhawks game was well underway and we chased that on the DVR; followed by a quick look at the NASCAR race from Bristol - rain delay there, so we skipped that. We have pretty much lost interest in NASCAR in the last two years.

THEN ... we had or regular Sunday morning viewing to catch up on: CBS Sunday Morning an Fareed Zakaria.

So that prety much killed the evening - second half of our Beyond Bread sandwiches for dinner while we were watching the hockey game. Blackhawks looked a lot better tonight, although they still are not getting the breaks their work deserves when it comes to actually scoring goals. At least the won tonight, hopefully regaining their work ethic will result in regaining their scoring touch as the season winds down.

Monday 3/17

Wow, the weather guys on the TV have been talking about the high pollen counts for weeks and I have been just fine (I do take Claritin daily year round), but last evening something that has obviously just started blooming set me to sneezing. Nothing as bad as my hay fever was years ago before effective drugs, but worse than I have been in a long time.

I skipped the meeting this AM, but Nancy went. Then we went off with the bicycle group to a part of the Santa Cruz river trail we had not been on before. Rode about 12 miles and then had lunch with the group at Peter Piper Pizza.

Back home in mid-afternoon and relaxed.

Tuesday 3/18

Morning walk in the desert and then Nancy studied her Spanish while I did some prep work for hitting the road in a couple of weeks. Checked tire pressures on the west side of the trailer while there was shade in the morning, did east side in the afternoon. Then I went and had a propane tank filled.

Headed off to BK Tacos for lunch, then planned on stopping at the bank and grocery store when Nancy suddenly remembered that I had an appointment with Angel for a massage at 1:30 - it was now 1:34! So while she called Angel I head back to the park at a rather high rate of speed. Got back there in about ten minutes.

Later Nancy had her Spanish study group and THEN we went to the bank and the grocery store.

Had pizza at home for dinner while watching the Blackhawks lose in overtime. They started out good, but let a sloppy, lucky goal by Philadelphia take the wind out of their sails. They played a pretty sloppy game again and were lucky to come away with a tie.

Wednesday 3/19

Nancy had her Spanish class this morning and I practiced our Brown Bag presentation on the Fabyan Windmill - too short, I need to add more material.

Then we went with Karen and Gary to the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab at the university for a very interesting tour. They make large (8 meter) parabolic mirrors for telescopes and the processes they use were very interesting. One unique aspect is that the "mirrors" do not actually have any reflective characteristics when they leave here! They are actually glass structures with a highly polished surface. Once the mirror structure is installed in the telescope a very thin aluminum coating is applied which creates the actual reflective surface, one which can be periodically renewed.

The four of us stopped at Beyond Bread for a late lunch and then back home.

Blackhawks looked like their old selves tonight, beating St. Louis four to zip! BAd news was they lost Patrick Kane to what looked like a knee injury, early word was at least two weeks - bummer. Hopefully the rest of the team will use his absence as an incentive to pick up their game.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Wow! Two Weeks Without a Post

Right up front I need to say that I have tremendous respect for folks who manage to blog every day! I won't be there anytime soon!

Friday 2/21

Nancy is still feeling punk. We watched the US vs. Canada game, then took a quick run through the Sweden vs. Finland game. With Canada and Sweden in the gold medal game on Sunday we will have three Blackhawks on each team.

I made a quick run into town to pick up some meds and that was about it for the day.

In the evening I ran into Tucson and picked up dinner to go from BK Tacos.

Saturday 2/22

Watched the US lose the bronze medal game in the morning. Highest scoring team in the Olympics and then they get shut out two games in a row! Go figure!

We took care of Margo today as Karen and Gary were going to the rodeo. They are still parked at Lazy Days transferring stuff from their old trailer to the new one and did not want to leave her there all day.

Went in to town to the Fox Theatre to see Paula Poundstone tonight, an excellent show. Great thing is we walked out of the theatre in downtown Tucson at 10 PM and were back home at 10:30. It is always amazing - one minute you are in heavy downtown traffic and as soon as you get west of I-10 headed for Gates Pass there is virtually no traffic.

Sunday 2/23

Watched the Olympic Gold Medal hockey game in the morning. Made a needed run to the grocery store in the afternoon and otherwise took things easy.

Monday 2/24

Nancy is feeling better, but still not up to a morning hike. We skipped the Monday meeting again and puttered around home.

Went to Beyond Bread for lunch, than a stop at Trader Joe’s, JoAnn Fabrics, Nordstrom Rack and Total Wine and More to stock up on scotch and whiskey. That pretty much filled up the afternoon.

Tuesday 2/25

Nancy spent the morning studying her Spanish, I went to the oasis to get on-line without using the WiFi so I could pay bills. Then I applied Dri Wash and Guard to the upper front and upper left side of the trailer since it is an overcast day. Still warm and we are hoping for some rain - maybe by the weekend.

Wednesday 2/26

Nancy had her Spanish class this morning. I took the truck over to the east side of town and topped off the tanks, diesel being cheaper here than anywhere along the way heading back north. I also stopped at had the truck lubricated. Not due for an oil change yet.

Sunday there was a 1955 Willys CJ5 listed in the paper. After thinking about it for a couple of days I called Tuesday evening and made an appointment to look at it this afternoon. We got there a little after four only to find find that he had sold it an hour earlier! Oh well, wasn’t meant to be. Looked like one that would do the trick for us but it just wasn’t to be I guess.

Thursday 2/27

Off to Tucson Yoga in the morning. Had a really good class today. Stopped at Food Conspiracy and then Albertson’s. it was allmost noon by the time we got home.

All the weather folks on TV are excited here as they are forecasting a “major rain event” for Saturday - which means “all valley areas may get some rain, some up to 1/2 inch! Mountain snow above 7,000 feet.” In August they get serious rain, but this time of year even a sprinkle is an event. I think it was Nick Russell who said “1 to 2 inches of rain means the drops are that far apart!”

 Nancy is just about over her cold and I am trying to fight one off. Nancy did a lot of work on income taxes and I did not do much.

Blackhawks back from their Olympic break and pick right up where they left off, outshooting but losing to the Rangers and coming with 15 seconds of being shut out in two consecutive games. They just cannot get the puck in the net lately.

Friday 2/28

Well I’m pretty wiped with the cold now, Nancy is feeling much better. Other than going for a haircut at Pedro’s in Tucson Estates I did not do much. Did get caught up on my New Yorker magazine reading, cranked through two of them this afternoon.

Saturday 3/1

I’m still sick with a cold. Nancy is much better and she went off with Karen and a friend to the monthly sale at H. F. Coors, then they stopped at BK Tacos on the way home.

We planed on watching the Winter Classic game from Chicago - Blackhawks against the Penguins - and just as they got to puck drop our local NBC station went blank!

We did some scrambling trying to get WGN radio via the WiFi, then we were able to get the live feed from Got to watch most of the game that way, in spite of constant delays “buffering”. We also violated the rules here at Desert Trails about hogging bandwidth. At least the Hawks won. The local station never did come back on the air!

Sunday 3/2

Still feeling punk. Watched some Sunday Am TV and Nancy made a run to the store for meds and a stop at the grocery. Otherwise we just rested. Weather report tonight - this was officially the warmest winter on record, with only two mornings that dropped below 32

Monday 3/3

Nancy was up fairly early, but I slept in. Finally starting to feel human today. Nancy took a hike in the desert on her own and then she worked on our income taxes. I took it easy all say as I wanted to be able to got to the lecture at the University this evening.

We went to Beyond Bread for dinner and then to Centennial Hall for another fascinating lecture in the series on the brain. Tonight was a really interesting one about the ancestors in our brains by a professor of neuroscience, who was very impressive in her own right.

Tuesday 3/4

Another quiet day at home. Nancy took a hike this AM while I slept in. She spent most of the day studying her Spanish. I did a run through on our windmill presentation and what I thought would be too long now seems way short. I need to actually rehearse it to get the timing established.

Blackhawks tossed away a game to Colorado tonight, handing them the inside track on home ice advantage during the playoffs. It is already looking like winning the division is not going to happen. 

Wednesday 3/5

Turned out to be a busy day. Nancy had her Spanish class in the morning. I did a little housecleaning and then went over to pool hall and got on line to check CC and checking account activity. Found an anomaly on the debit card we use for cash in the winter. Not much satisfaction when I contacted the bank. I cancelled the card, but they would only send a new one to our home address! Finally determined that there was a Chase Bank location in Tucson that could issue new debit card on the spot. Turns out though that it is waaay over on the far east side of town!

When Nancy finished her class we went to the farmers market in Green Valley, then stopped at the Fry’s in Sarhurita to stock up on groceries - geezer discount on first Wednesdays!

Stopped at BK Tacos for a late lunch then trekked all the way over the bank branch and picked up new debit cards.

Finally back home about 4:30 and just relaxed.

 Thursday 3/6

Regular class at Tucson Yoga this morning and for some reason it was really crowded, 26 people instead of the regular 12 to 15, which pretty much filled up the studio. No idea why so many folks were inspired this morning.

Stopped at Food Conspiracy on the way home. Nancy spent a good part of the afternoon finishing the income tax return, I provided moral support.

Blackhawks play tonight - fingers crossed! And the real team showed up tonight - 5-1 win over Columbus.

Friday 3/7

Finally got out for our morning walk in the desert today, first one I’ve managed since Febraury 17! Not much else to report today other than a trip into town to return library books and pick up some groceries that we forgot on Wednesday.

Mariachi band in the rec hall tonight, but we skipped it as we have already seen them twice this year.

Saturday 3/7

Up early this morning as we have volunteered to work at the Tucson Festival of Books next weekend and needed to go to an orientation and training session this morning at 8:30 AM on the University campus. Interesting season and we learned a bit more about the campus. Book festival seems to be amazingly well organized. We will be room monitors for author presentations next Sunday morning.

After the session it was too early for lunch, so we went east and stopped at Trader Joe’s and Bookman’s to kill some time. Ended up purchasing a couple of books that I really don’t need.

Then lunch at Beyond Bread and back home. Nancy studied some Spanish while I dove into one of my new books.

Sunday 3/9

Out for our morning hike, warm this morning but pretty breezy. Turned out to be fairly windy today, as it was yesterday afternoon.

Relaxing day, Nancy had a message this afternoon. Daylight savings time for everyone else means we are still on Mountain Standard time, which is the same as Pacific Daylight time. That means we are now an hour behind Denver and two hours behind home.

Blackhawks played late this afternoon and won in Buffalo. Tougher game than it should have been, the Hawks are still snake bit as far getting pucks in the net. Great chances but not enought goals.