Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Holding Pattern in Arizona

Nancy's Mom, Irene Galvin Beck, passed away Monday morning April 24th. Nancy and both of her sisters had been with her all weekend. Nancy will remain in Chicago for a while helping Joan deal with their Mom's apartment and attendant issues. I'm sitting tight in Tucson, getting things cleaned up and packed away in anticipation of hitting the road as soon as Nancy returns.

Wednesday 4/13

Morning walk in the desert, saw two ravens building a nest in the crotch of a tall saguaro right next to one of the trails we take regularly.

Loaded the bikes onto the truck, along with some other items and made a run to Ajo-Kinney Storage. No point in hauling the bikes along with us this summer.

Ran some errands, Nancy doing the driving since the car is rented in her name. We are still seeing ants around the footprint of the house, so we stopped at “Do It Yourself Pest Control” on Ajo Way and picked up some ant bait. Stopped by the lot and spread it around.

Picked Gary up and we went to Coyote Pause for lunch. Karen and her Mom were out shopping.

I did some looking at used smarts available in the Chicago area. Found a possibility at Mercedes St. Charles, but it is white and silver - boring. Then I found a yellow and black one at Mercedes Orland Park where we bought the last one.

Turns out it is a brand new 2013 that has been sitting in the dealer’s inventory for three years! It has 51 miles on it. Apparently not a big market for yellow smarts in Orland Park. That is however perfect for us! In fact, when we bought our first gray market smart in 2006 Nancy had really liked the yellow and black ones but none of them were being brought into the US.

So … we called and made a deal. We will pick it up as soon as we get back to Illinois. It is called a CityFlame Edition and there were only 2,400 built in 2013. Some were black with yellow interior trim, others were yellow with black safety cell like ours.

Blackhawks opened the playoff tonight and got ripped! They played a good game against St. Louis that ended in a scoreless tie. Then the Blues scored a fluke goal on a deflection off a Blackhawk’s defenseman! Very disappointing.

Thursday 4/14

After our morning walk we stopped by to see Gary and he rode over to take a look at the house with us. Ants seem to be gone! Yeah. Nothing happening right now, Paulette says they plan on pouring the foundation on Saturday!

Again ran a few errands, stopped at BK Tacos for lunch. Starting to get things picked up and packed up. We have decided to skip the stop in Show Low and head head straight back to Illinois so Nancy can see her Mom and help Joan with the attending issues.

Friday 4/15

The ravens seem to be settling into the huge nest they have built in the saguaro. Another beautiful morning in the desert, weather has been really nice lately. Warm enough for the AC in the afternoon, but nice at night. For the first time in seven winters here we saw a pair of coyotes out in the desert this AM, trotting by about 100 feet from us. We hear them quite often, but this is the first time we have actually seen any in the desert. We occasionally see them crossing a road, especially in our new foothills neighborhood.

Headed into town to swap cars at mid-day. Joan had found a great deal for Nancy on the car we had this week. Dollar has “City Specials” on their website. If you watch it during the week the prices drop substantially. The one we pick up today will cost us $90 for two weeks! A great deal. Apparently rent-a-car demand drops off here this time of year.

Took 45 minutes standing in line at Dollar to get the new car! One would think they could staff based on known demand at any one time, but noo. 

Stopped at Ajo Cafe for lunch, then a quick stop at Camping World. Back home I talked to Gary and the insurance adjuster was stopping by to see him and he wanted me there as well so we stopped by. Ended up with more questions than answers after the meeting. We’ll get it straightened out.

End of season Bar-B-Que at the RV park this evening and the Blackhawks are playing game two in St. Louis.

Saturday 4/16

Hawks played a good game and won last night in St Louis so they evened the series and took over home ice advantage! Yeah! Some sour grapes in St. Louis over disputed goals, but for once this season the process went in the Hawks favor!

Up early, but no walk, they are supposed to be pouring concrete on our house today. Got over there about 7:30, in time to see the last two trucks (of nine!) loading concrete into the pumper. John Herder (our builder) was there and he explained that they pump it in instead of just pouring from the trucks because it goes in more evenly. When they pour from the trucks the first load begins to dry while they are moving the trucks and that can cause voids or cracks. With the pumper the concrete flows in steadily and they can smooth it as they go. Quite a process, 90 yards of concrete 8-1/4” thick!

Had a long conversation with John as we watched them smoothing the concrete. He spent a lot of time explaining exactly what was going on and why they were doing things like scoring slab marks in the garage (localizes cracks and prevents hairline cracks in the garage surface.)  There are perks to being the folks paying the bills! 

The foundation will be what they call “post tension” reinforced. Last week they strung plastic coated cables between the footings in a 3 to 4 foot grid. Looks like the way they used to put in rebar. Once the foundation has cured - about 7 days - they will come back with a machine and tension the cables to 35,000 lbs.! This is done before the slab has any vertical load on it and will prevent cracks later on. Using this process is the only way they can do polished concrete floors, which are becoming more popular. We will have tile throughout and John says they have never had to replace any tiles due to cracking since they went to the “post tension” system. 

Left there about 9 and went into town to the Hotel Tucson for the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society semiannual conference. We only signed up for one of a number of seminars.  “Designing Your Own Succulent Garden” was an excellent presentation, exactly what we were looking for! We learned a lot about what we want to do and how to go about it. I took four pages of notes!

Lunch at Beyond Bread and a stop at Trader Joe’s then back home to listen to A Prairie Home Companion, which is now on at 3 PM here! The we watched the F1 qualifying from last night.

Sunday 4/17

Slept a bit later than normal, then our regular morning walk. No sign of the ravens and it looks like some of the nest blew down in the gusty winds yesterday.

Watched the F1 race, an especially good one with a lot of action. Then the Blackhawks, they played pretty well but not good enough to overcome both the Blues and the referees who apparently listened to the Blues whining from the last game.

Mid-afternoon we drove over to the house and took some measurements of the area we have for landscaping. Want to noodle around with some ideas during the summer. Slab looks good, wood forms removed and surface nicely finished, particularly the garage.

Monday 4/18

Morning walk and then a fairly quiet day, puttering around with small tasks getting ready to hit the road. Nancy has spent hours cleaning our Bar-B-Que grille which I have neglected a bit. 

Tuesday 4/19

After our morning walk I spent the entire morning doing the on-line safety class to expunge the ticket I received after the accident. Nancy did laundry and worked on her Spanish. She has really put a lot of time into this class and her progress is really good. She’ll be speaking Spanish like a native before too long!

Quick run in the afternoon to drop a check off at Herder’s office in Starr Ridge, stop at Tucson Estates Hardware and a run by the house. No activity there, but we did not expect any. Concrete needs to cure for a week before they do the post tension, then electrical wiring and plumbing goes into the slab. Then there is a wait for the building inspector before they start framing. Don’t expect to see much activity before we leave on the first.

Wednesday 4/20

Nice walk in the morning, it is getting hotter here, but the mornings are glorious! In the 50’s with a cloudless sky and low humidity. One of the ravens is now sitting on the new nest.

Ran into town for lunch at Ajo Cafe, good lunch, but disappointingly they were out of chocolate cream pie - again! Stop at grocery store and then back home.

Running the AC pretty regularly in the afternoon now.

We have decided to forgo the stop in Show Low on the way home and just head straight back so Nancy can help Joan with their Mom who is now in rehab. Expect to be at Big Rock Campground in Kane County the 4th or 5th of May. 

As soon as we get to Illinois we will pick up the new smart, then I will be waiting for my Jeep to arrive! Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Thursday 4/21

Blackhawks did not look great tonight, but they found a way to win in double overtime! Not sure if they have turned a corner or if they are just prolonging the pain!

Friday 4/22

Morning walk and then we made a run down to the storage place to drop off a few final items and bring back a bottle of whiskey! I think I mentioned before that I found a great deal on my favorite scotch at Costco a while back, so there are several bottles in the storage locker.

Then we got a call from Joan to say that Mom seems to be going downhill quickly. Made the decision to pack up and leave this Sunday instead of next. So we started heading in that direction. Changed the mail forwarding to start Monday and stopped the newspaper a week early.

Then another call from Joan. Not looking good. So Nancy packed up quickly and caught a flight to Chicago mid-afternoon! Connie is getting in from Denver about the same time tonight.

I said I could load up and head back North, but Nancy does not want me making the trip alone, so I guess I will wait until she returns.

Saturday 4/22

Nancy reported that she and Connie, along with Connie's son Lawrence (who live in Chicago), got there in time to talk with her Mom Friday evening.

Headed into town at mid-morning in the truck. My solar charger is doing a good job keeping the batteries topped up. Made a stop at Bookman’s. Some kind of Steam Punk event going on so it was crowded. Picked up a couple of paperbacks cheaper than I can get them on the Kindle.

Stopped at Beyond Bread for lunch and since I was at the one on Speedway I picked up a small chocolate pie at the Back Dough!

Back home and watched the four hockey games I recorded during the day! Glad the playoff are on while Nancy is gone.

Sunday 4/23

Watched CBS Sunday morning, did some packing. Picked up our outdoor carpet and laid it across the back of the truck so I could hose it off. Stuff dries really quick here!

Three pretty good hockey games today.

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