Wrapping up Another Year


Happy New Year 2019!

It’s been too long since I’ve written a new blog post, I know. I’ve just lacked inspiration I guess, possibly because we’ve been staying close to “home” (motor home in Mesa, Arizona) so far this season. I’ve been busy with pickleball, and sometimes I join Jim at his ukulele classes and jams, but arthritis in my thumbs is beginning to make long stints of playing too painful. I did get a few stories edited and submitted to some writing contests though, and that felt good.

Here are highlights of how we ended 2018. 

For three days during the first week of December we were involved in the Annual Steve Judy Pickleball Tournament here in the park, not as players, but as volunteers. Since I am the new Pickleball Club Board Vice-President and Webmaster, I was busy mostly taking photos for the website, while Jim took a turn of driving a golf cart to transport visiting players between the courts and parking areas.

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Men in Action
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Ladies’ turn to Shine
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Our MCs Added a Little Fun

Between attending three Christmas Parties and a Birthday Party, we managed to get in a couple of trips to Tempe on the Light Rail, once to wander the many-blocks-long Fall Arts Festival, and another time to watch the Annual Christmas Light Parade.

Interesting Items at Arts & Crafts Festival

Everyone and everything in the parade was lit up, including dogs.

On December 29th we took the Light Rail again, this time all the way to Phoenix for the Fiesta Bowl Parade. It started out as a very cold morning so we dressed in layers and I packed snacks and hot chocolate, but by the time the parade started we were looking into bright sunshine that warmed us up. I wasn’t in a good spot for picture taking though, so have only these few.

The ride home was livened up when there was a bit of a ruckus that brought eight security guards into our car. The culprits were removed.

The weather here has been much colder than usual at this time of year, especially during the night and into the morning, so we’ve spent way too much time indoors with little exercise. New Year’s Eve day I decided to do some inside renovations, and cleaning. We are starting the new year without the dust-collecting valances an mini-blinds on the bedroom windows. By ten that night I was exhausted and neither of us saw the new year in here in Arizona, but we watched the ball drop in Times Square in New York before turning off the television. Yesterday we got in a walk and some pickleball.

This all sounds pretty boring, doesn’t it? I resolve to write and post more often going into 2019 and I hope it will be more interesting. If we aren’t being tourists, I’ll entertain you with more memoirs, or maybe explain the game of pickleball.

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Memoir Monday – The Princess


I was dragging along the aisles of the grocery store, holding Daddy’s hand while my mother consulted her shopping list and piled items from the shelves into the metal shopping cart. As any ten-year-old girl would be, I was bored and anxious to get home to dinner. Then the line of items along a shelf high above the groceries caught my attention. There sat toys! There were big trucks and toy drums, building blocks and dolls. Dolls! That’s when I saw her and my eyes popped! There she stood, taller than all of the others, that princess doll.  Her shoulder-length hair was a dark blond and set in a Paige-boy style. The sparkling “silver” tiara on her head completed the royal look presented by the dark blue satin gown, trimmed with white lace. Her blue eyes shone from her perfect rosy face. All I could do was stop and stare. I knew I had to have her.

But, although Mom and Dad looked toward where I was pointing, they didn’t seem to share my excitement and my pleas to buy her went unheeded. It was just a few weeks before Christmas and Mom’s thoughts were on getting the Christmas baking ingredients and the week’s meal supplies. They may have told me too that they couldn’t afford to buy her then. Or possibly they’d suggested I put her on my list to Santa. I’m sure I dreamed about her that night.

The weeks passed and soon it was Christmas morning.  I wasn’t allowed to go downstairs until the rest of my family was up. Since my three siblings were teenagers who’d rather sleep longer, I had to be content with dumping out the contents of my stocking that hung on my bedroom door knob. When I was finally allowed to creep down the steep stairs to the living room, my eyes lit up in disbelief. There in front of the Christmas tree stood my princess! That was all I needed. I ran to examine her. She was even more beautiful up close than she’d been up on that shelf.  I looked at the little pearl earrings on her earlobes, and the triple strand pearl choker necklace around her neck. Her nicely shaped feet fit perfectly into the silver plastic high-heeled slippers. That was the best Christmas ever!

I didn’t play much with that doll. I was almost getting to an age that I was more interested in playing games and reading books and playing outdoors than playing with dolls.  But I loved to look at her where she sat on my bed. She held that spot as I grew up, married and had daughters of my own. My father-in-law, an antique dealer, once offered me $100 for her, but I turned him down. A number of years later, when her dress had faded to a dull purple and the elastic of her necklace had rotted and broken, like my marriage, and I needed the cash, I made her a new dress and regretfully sold her on eBay for far less.

Unfortunately, I can’t find any pictures of her.

No, We Never Get Bored in Mesa, Arizona


We thought we had a good internet solution with our T-Mobile hot spot, and for the first few weeks it was. But we soon ran out of data when we started sharing pictures and looking at videos. It became impossibly slow so I had to give up on trying to post on my blog. Now we are hooked up with Century Link and hoping that it will continue to serve us well.

Contrary to the impression we have given of always having warm sunny weather here, today is rainy and cold. In fact yesterday morning it was colder here than it was back home in Ontario! So it’s a good day to catch up on all the things that have been keeping us busy the last few weeks.

When I was talking to my sister at Christmas time last year, she thought we would have been home already. I told her we wouldn’t be “home” until the middle of April. She said, ”Aren’t you bored?”

I replied, “If you get bored down here, it’s your own fault!” Here are some reasons why:

Besides enjoying good food and music and dancing on the patio with our many friends at Mesa Regal, we’ve enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast with our American friends;

We celebrated the birthday of one of those friends, with an evening at the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas display;

We’ve spent a good part of a day touring area roads on the motorcycle, with other Mesa Regal enthusiasts;

We’ve played pickle ball and bocce ball, and for three days last week cheered on good friends who were in the Pickle Ball Tournament, held right here at Mesa Regal RV Resort.

Jim makes a good shot at Bocce Ball

Jim makes a good shot at Bocce Ball

Patti and Mark Earned a Silver Medal

Patti and Mark Earned a Silver Medal

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We participated in the Tree Lighting Ceremony and caroling on the west-end patio;

We rounded out the last week with a ride on the light rail train to Tempe with two of our neighbours for dinner, followed by a stroll to the Salt River to watch the annual Lighted Boat Parade and Fireworks on Saturday evening,

And a drive to Glendale on Sunday with friends and neighbours to view these marvelous Sand Sculptures that were still being finished off near the end of the three-day competition.

So, no, we are never bored down here. But we might be when we return to our Ontario home!

Our First Christmas in Our Home-away-from home


Our Tree

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been here in Mesa Arizona, at Mesa Regal RV Resort, for two weeks already. As the saying goes, “Time flies when you’re having fun.”  There is so much to see and do here.

One evening we were out on the bike, looking for a coffee shop I think (or perhaps ice cream), when we noticed, not for the first time, three lit up camels in a yard along Main Street.

Three CamelsThis time we decided to investigate. We were awed by what we found! The camels were on the grounds of the Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) Temple, and the camels were only a small incentive to draw people in to see the thousands of other lights, listen to a choir performance, and view the many Christmas Nativities. Several of these were life-size, on the temple grounds; others were miniature nativities from around the world, displayed in a room inside the Visitors Centre. We tried to take pictures with what cameras we happened to have with us – a point-and-shoot and an iPhone, while holding onto our motorcycle helmets. Needless to say, we didn’t get the pictures that we’d hoped for, but here are a few of the best.

Star of Bethlehem

Nativity 1

Miniature Nativities

Nativity 2

Mesa Regal is very much in the Christmas spirit, with street decorating contests, street parties with Santa Clause, a Christmas dinner, and school choirs entertaining.

Lighted Bicycle

Street Lights

We’ve had our picture taken with Santa a few times.

With Santa 1 With Santa 2

Santa 3

On Wednesday we took advantage of a Gift Certificate given to us as a Christmas gift from Jim’s daughter and family. We signed up for a four hour jeep tour with Apache Trail Tours, and had a great time bouncing over rough, twisty trails and holding our breath, while at times looking straight down the side of a cliff, as we were transported from and elevation of 1100 feet to 9000 feet, up the Superstition Mountains. The view of Canyon Lake, and the changing rock formations and vegetation, and the history told to us by our driver/guide made it a very worthwhile adventure.

Canyon Lake

Looking down to Canyon Lake

One of many sharp curves on the edge of the mountain

One of many sharp curves on the edge of the mountain

With our GuideWe hope to go back another day to the old west village from where the tour began to do some more exploring, but by the time the tour was done we had just enough time left to get to the Christmas dinner, for which we’d purchased tickets.

Petersons Mercantile

The Western Village

Despite all of the decorations and parties, we’re still having trouble believing that Christmas is just a few days away. We’ll spend Christmas Eve with some of our new friends at a house party. Christmas Day we hope to connect with our families back home through the internet. We miss them all.

WISHING EVERYONE A MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAYS, AND SAFE TRAVELS.

See you in the New Year.

Spectacularly Fed and Entertained in Branson Missouri


Monday, December 2

We left Sullivan without incident and arrived in Branson at around 1:30, after a brief stop at Springfield to get information about RV Resorts, and shows in Branson. After a quick lunch in the motor home while sitting in the Walmart parking lot, and picking up tickets for a show, we drove through the downtown strip and then to the recommended RV Park. It was closed for the season.  Fortunately, I had located another one in the Good Sam book, our second choice only because it was further out of town. By now it was going on three o’clock and it had been recommended that we arrive at the show by 4:00. We were going to the Dixie Stampede Dinner Theatre. We found the “America’s Best RV Park” high on a hill. It was large and welcoming, but they were too getting ready to close for the season in a couple of weeks. There were only about a dozen other RVs occupying spots. We registered, found our site and then had to head back into town. The bike was too oily to ride, and they gave us no place to leave the trailer, so we had to take the entire rig along and hope we could find parking. We did. It was a very large parking lot. We arrived at 4:00 pm exactly and had time to visit a bit with the horses in the stalls along the walkway to the main entrance. These were the last pictures that we were allowed to take until we exited the building again, two hours later.

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White Horse

As with all tourist entertainment shows these days, we had to pose for the staged photo before we were directed into the Carriage Room at 4:30. What a beautiful room with its dark wooden beams, stairs and balconies. In the centre of the room was a stage, and soon the pre-show entertainment arrived, a young man who told us he was going to juggle. Few were impressed; after all, jugglers seem to be a dime a dozen, right? But when this fellow concluded his act, there were many more fans of juggling than there had been. All of his tricks were very unique, skill testing and sometimes downright dangerous, like his finale – juggling flaming torches while standing on the rung of an inflamed ladder that was perched upon a burning rope! Wow! I wanted so badly to sneak my camera out of my purse for a quick photo.

From the Carriage Room we were directed to the big horseshoe-shaped arena, another impressive place with tiered rows and rows of shiny wooden “tables” extending around the perimeter, and comfortable chairs where we sat shoulder-to-shoulder with the other guests. The waiters all wore elf costumes, in keeping with the Christmas theme of this show. We were warned that our fingers would be our only utensils. A plate, a bowl with a handle, a sealer jar, and paper napkins made up the extent of our place settings.

Soon the show began with the beautiful horses we’d seen outside, now dressed in their finest and ridden by young cowboys and cowgirls in red and green satin shirts and jeans. We watched in awe as they performed some intricate routines, and some of the riders did tricks. We learned from the man sitting next to me that his brother was the Roman-style rider (two horses, one foot on each horse back). During all of this our dinner was being served. Warm cheesy biscuits were placed on our plates, a delicious cream of vegetable soup was ladled into our bowls, and we were offered a choice of iced tea or Pepsi in our sealer jars.

When the horses left and a Toy Shop was lowered from the ceiling, it was difficult to concentrate on eating. A brightly clad toy soldier rode in on a fluorescent lime green and white horse; Raggedy Ann and Andy danced with GI Joe; a fairy princess floated around above them. We thought how much our grandchildren would enjoy all of this.

Once the soup and biscuits were consumed, our plates were filled with small whole roasted chickens, thick slabs of seasoned, roasted potato, corn on the cob and a slice of pork tenderloin.

The Toy Shop disappeared.  We were entertained by a redneck clown, and were divided into teams delegated to cheer for either north or south for various “rodeo” competitions, all done with humour and no harm to any animals. Appropriately, we were on the “north” team, and reigned victorious when all was done.

A beautiful live nativity appeared, complete with a donkey, sheep and even the Three Wise Men riding live camels. Carols were sung and Christmas scripture read, before the Angel Gabriel appeared in the sky.

We cleaned up our greasy fingers with the warm wet towels provided; our plates were removed and replaced with new ones holding warm apple turnovers! I was glad that I’d opted to use the “doggie bag” for the rest of my chicken!

A videotaped Christmas greeting from Dolly Parton, a visit from Santa, and introductions of all the performers brought the production to an end. Outside, the darkness was lit up by the pretty Christmas lights. We made our way back to the campsite, full and happy.

Dixie Stampede Theatre

Dixie Stampede Theatre

Dixie Stampede Theatre