Sunday, November 1, 2015

Dancing in the Fall, 2015

     Once again, time has flown by.  We're came back to Casa Grande and our lot at RoVer's Roost on Oct. 14th.  The first 10 days were very warm with temps in the high 80's and 90's.  We've also had a few rainstorms.  The Fall storms make for good Spring wildflowers and already the projections are for a good wildflower season. 
     Gary's old pool league is no more, but friends of his formed a new league, playing in Maricopa.  Its a little further drive, but he's enjoying the people and competition, so it's worth it.  Other winter visitors are arriving every day, evening card and pool games are starting up.  Hopefully line dancing will start soon as well. 
     We had a great summer in Show Low.  Gary redid our steps to both doors for our park model.  They look great repainted and reinforced.  Our water heater went out and when we replaced it with the same make and model, it is now 2 inches wider.  Since it was in a cabinet under the kitchen sink with the cupboard doors facing the living room, the doors wouldn't close.  Gary extended the cabinet and was able to put the doors back on.  He did a great job with it. 
     We had an Escapee Happy Hour once a month at our place, for any SKP's in the area.  It was fun getting together and hearing what everyone else was doing.  While several were staying in our park, there were also SKPs from other parks in Show Low. 
     I took several quilt classes in free motion quilting, along with  color and design.  I got very involved sewing "Rows."  These are small panels (about 9in by 36in.), that various quilt shops designed and had available at their shop from the middle of June through the  beginning of September.   I was able to get Rows in Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, and even Maryland on our trip there.  A friend got me 3 rows from South Dakota and my cousin just mailed me one from St. Louis, MO.  There were 2500 quilt shops across the country participating.  I'll have about 14 in my quilt and have about half of them done.  They're fun because they're small and all different.
     My friend Kathy and I went to the Hummingbird Festival at SIPE Wildlife Area, in the end of July.  Its such fun watching them examine, weigh, and band the little jewels.  There were 4-6 of us that played Mah-Jongg once a week through most of the Summer.  Several of us gals got together for lunch out, a few times as well.  We also did some geocaching with Kathy, but the time just seemed to fly by and we didn't get as much done as we wanted.  We will remedy that next year and start earlier in the summer.
     I enjoyed the water aerobics and was in the pool most Mon-Fri from 7-9 in the morning.  I challenged myself to take the hardest class, (taught by GI Jan).  I made it through the whole summer!!!  I ordered my own flippers and enjoyed swimming with those.   We often swam lengths holding on to foam weights.  It was tough, but enjoyable too, and I was definitely stronger at the end of the summer.  I'll miss it this winter and am already looking forward to next year.  I even got Gary to meet me there after lessons a few times.  He enjoyed the pool and hot tub.
     I walked from 3-5 miles on the weekends and when I didn't swim.  Now that we're back at the Roost, I'm walking about 3-4 miles most days and I try to get in a 5-6 miler on the weekends.  I still miss the running, but am so grateful to be able to walk pain free, that its OK.
     We finished our Summer square dance lessons and graduated with our Mainstream Certificate the end of August.  We're looking forward to taking plus lessons next summer.  After we graduated, that did a little initiation where we had to dance a song with one leg in a paper bag, then we danced one song blindfolded, and finally they switched the gals and guys so one square was all guys and the other all gals.  It was hilarious watching each other trying to figure it out.  You can tell  it's a really fun group.  Its nice to walk into the country dances and see a lot of people we know from square dancing. 
     We went to two quilt shows outside of Show Low, a Navajo Taco lunch in Pinedale, and of course, we enjoyed the "Run to the Pines" car show the end of September.  Its a show with over 500 old cars and trucks.  They park them on the driving range of one of the Country Clubs in the pine trees, so its a gorgeous backdrop for the cars. 
     I'd been wanting a carved bear from the Burley Bear in Pinetop.  They chainsaw carve them from Aspen trees with some of the bark still on the lower part.  I finally got one during their end of summer sale.  On my way home, I stopped at another art show and watched a chainsaw demonstration.  They always pass out tickets to those watching and draw for the bear he's carved, at the end of the show.  Well that was my lucky day and I came home with two bears. 
     Friends of mine have been attending a Bible Study Fellowship in Chandler, AZ.  This is a group that has groups  meeting all over the world.  This year they're studying the book of Revelations.  It's very interesting and I'm enjoying it.
     Just before we left Show Low, I got a call from a gal in Weight Watchers that  I had talked to last Spring.  She wanted to know if I was still interested in being a group leader in Casa Grande. Two weeks later we set up an interview and I was offered a position.  So far, I've just gone to one orientation that was done online.  I should hear more this week on a training schedule.  I know I have an orientation day next week in Phoenix, but they have a bus coming up from Tucson and stopping in Casa Grande, that I can ride.  Next blog, I should have more information.  I'm really excited about this opportunity and look forward to the chance to pay it forward. Its such a great program and I know it really works.  I love it, because it's real food and nothing's off limits, if you watch your portion sizes.  The other reason I want to work with Weight Watchers, is to help  me keep my weight off.  Since I'm in both Casa Grande and Show Low during their busiest times, when the meetings are the biggest, I may even be able to work both places. 
     I led an abbreviated Laughter Yoga session last week for about 50 gals at a Breast Cancer Awareness luncheon. It was a chance to meet other survivors in this community.  I'm going to be leading monthly sessions at the Senior Center here again, starting in November. 
     Another significant happening this summer, was when we became official Arizona residents.  We gave up our South Dakota mail service and drivers' licenses and changed everything to Arizona.  Our official address is in Show Low, and we put a 6 month forward to Casa Grande for the winter.  Here are our two addresses:
Summer - Apr-Sep,  1051 N. Central Ave.  Space 272,  Show Low, AZ 85901
Winter  -  Oct-Mar,  3241 S. Montgomery Rd.,  Casa Grande, AZ 885193
While its not necessary to put a space number here in Casa Grande, the mail in Show Low will not be delivered without the space number.  Our phone numbers and email address remain the same. 
     I/m having some difficulty getting pictures into this blog, so will send it out without pictures this time.  I think you can tell it's going to be another fun, busy winter.  Before I know it, I'll be writing that we're heading back to  Show Low in April. 
     In the meantime, if any of you get down our way, please give a call and come visit, or we'll meet you somewhere half way. 

Dancing  through the Fall........

Love and hugs,   Katy, Gary, and Bandit


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Square Dancing through the Summer, 2015

     I can't believe we're half way through our time in Show Low.  It's true:  "Life is like a roll of toilet paper.  The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes!"   I don't know how many of you know we used to square dance.  I'm talking about 32+ years ago.  We were in Evanston, WY & Robert & Riki learned too.  We wound up dancing in Fort Bridger & Lyman, & then our group was without a caller.  I've always thought it would be fun to square dance again & this year we had a chance to start mainstream lessons from the beginning.  The lessons are twice a week, run Jun-Aug, and are held in Linden, about 6.5 miles from our home in Show Low.  When we danced before, we were usually in schools with cement floors.  Our club here has its own building with a great wood floor, called the White Mountain Square Dance Club.  It's much easier on the legs.  They also hold community dances there, with country bands.  We've attended several of those in the past.
     Last month they had their Spring Festival and had their "Second Hand Rose" store open.  I was able to find skirts, blouses, and petticoats for $5 apiece.   Interesting that except for one black/white skirt, the rest are all red and/or white.  While we were in Wyoming last month, Riki, Gary, & I dug through their storage shed looking for an old plastic tub with my old square dance clothes.  Found, it contained 3 dresses, 1 blouse, 2 petticoats, & 2 pettie pants, all red and/or white.  Guess red's my color!
     Gary continues to enjoy his pool tournaments.  He's won a couple & had several 2nds.  That's enough to keep him going when he doesn't place that high.  While in Wyoming, he enjoyed playing with his old buddies at the senior center most mornings.
     We left here on June 17, and drove to Orem, UT.  We spent the night there, along with Riki & her husband, Kevin.  The next morning was the  Utah National  Fallen Firefighter Foundation Golf Tournament.  I enjoy helping with the registration, while Gary, Riki, & Kevin played on the Evanston team, along with Rusty.  They did something new this year and recognized a Fallen Firefighter on each hole.  The two other family survivors and I each went out to the hole where our loved one was pictured.  We had a chance to talk to most of the teams as they played that hole and share our firefighter's story.  Hopefully the firefighters enjoyed it as much as we did.  It was great meeting them on a more personal level.  Here's a picture of me with Robert's sign.

There was another hole where the golfers all put on turnout gear for their tee shot. Here's Gary.

     After the tournament, we drove up to Evanston, WY, where we stayed at Riki's.  We had a great week there.  I had a chance to get together with my quilting friends and a couple of very special retired nurses, that I used to work with and remain great friends.

We also saw some of Gary's family in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Here's Gary with his two sisters.

     Friday, Riki, Kevin, and I flew to Baltimore, MD, for the 10th Annual Survivor's Conference.  We were met at the airport by the Tobia's, friends and representatives of the NFFF.  They drove us to our hotel, in Annapolis.  We flew in a two days early to see some of the area.  Riki had made reservations for sailing on a wind schooner out on Chesapeake Bay.  While we had enough wind to make it really exciting, we also had clouds and some rain.  Towards the end of our two hour sail, our Captain made a run for the dock as a squall was fast approaching.  We almost made it, as the heavens opened up and it poured.  None of us melted and despite the weather we had a fun experience.

     We also did some shopping and of course enjoyed the food.  Sunday we were able to get into Chick and Ruth's a local eating establishment that gets rave reviews.  I loved their crab cakes, made from lump crab meat and then they had fresh pies.  Rhubarb was on the menus, so of course I had to have a piece.  Yummy!!!
     This year's conference was a chance to reconnect with old friends and make new ones.  We all belong to the greatest organization that no one wants to join.  We started with a get-together Sunday night.  During the next three days there were numerous workshops we had signed up to attend.  I presented laughter yoga again & had another super turnout.  I also helped Riki & Kevin with a Geocaching Workshop.  We hid 3 temporary caches around the hotel & were able to provide some hands on experience.   At the end, we helped a couple people sign up for their accounts.  It's such a fun experience for kids, we knew it would be well received.
    In the evenings, special activities were held.  Monday night was a crab feast at a local restaurant.  I couldn't begin to guess how many crab we went through.  I know I ate about 7 myself.  These were blue crabs and there is a LOT of work for a LITTLE meat, but what you get is really good.  I would guess I had between 3/4 and a cup of crab meat out of  my  crabs.
 Just one of many, many, many platters of Maryland Blue Crabs.
Tools of the trade to get that meat out of the crab.
     On Tuesday we were bused to Camden Yard in Baltimore for a home gave where the Orioles played the Texas Rangers.  Unfortunately the Orioles lost, but there were around 6 home runs between the two teams so it was exciting.   Here I am getting a hug from their mascot.  That's a BIG bird!

     Wednesday evening was the closing of the conference.  We all went on a dinner cruise on Chesapeake Bay.  Dinner was salmon and rare roast beef with multiple sides and desserts.  After dinner Black-eyed Susans (MD state flower), were passed out.  Brian played his beautiful bagpipes while we honored our loved ones and tossed the flowers over the side.  Needless to say there were a lot of tears, but many, many hugs and special bonds made also.  This is always a very moving part of the Conference and is so special, as we have all been through the greatest loss any of us could imagine.  Sharing this together is an incredible experience that is hard to describe.
     Thursday was an optional day with several choices of activities.  Riki and Kevin went with a group to take the Metro into Washington DC.  I chose to go with a group to Baltimore's Inner Harbor and tour the National Aquarium.  It was fantastic.  As a teenager, I was stung several times by jelly fish when board and body surfing in Southern Calif, and have been fascinated by them ever since.  I spent over an hour in just that exhibit.  They are absolutely beautiful, as you can see.

    The only downer on our trip was my catching a head cold the tirst week we were gone.  Gary then caught it and was sick when we returned.  We stayed in Evanston for the fireworks on July 4th and then headed back to Arizona.  Gary was still pretty sick, so I drove most of the way.  Let's hope we don't have to do that again.  Our friend Diane LeB. had kindly kept Bandit for us, while we were gone, so both Bandit and Gary were VERY glad to see each other, and yes, I missed the little guy too.
    Our good friend, Kathy Reardon, from Jojoba Hills also spent the summer at Country Lane,  our Show Low Park.  When she arrived, she surprised us with a quilted wall hanging made by a quilter at Jojoba.  Its beautiful and I'm sure you'd agree very appropriate.
       I love it!  It reminds me so much of Quartzsite with the various RV's, cactus, and hills in the background.  She even got a dog in there. 
       I continue to learn Mah Jongg this summer.  The Chinese is becoming easier, so I tried the American version.  My oh my, was that an experience.  I'm not sure American is in my future, but I'll  continue to try it.  My motto is try something at least three times before I give it up.
      We've decided to become Arizona residents and give up our mail service.  Of course, that meant changing our address on everything.  We'll get Arizona drivers' licenses next month.  Our permanent address is:  1051 N. Central Ave. Space 272, Show Low, AZ 85901.  We'll do a temporary forward for about 6 months, when we go to Casa Grande for the Fall and then cancel it when we return to the Mountain in the Spring.  Phone numbers all remain the same.
       We're back in our routine, with me doing water aerobics at the aquatic center five mornings a week and Gary playing pool tournaments when they come up, and both of us square dancing three times a week.  Another fun summer.   If any of you are in the White Mountains of Arizona, make sure and look us up.  We'd love to see you.
      Square dancing through Summer 2015 in Show Low,
      Katy, Gary, and Bandit   

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Dancing Through the Winter into 2015

     Our Winter season started off with helping to prepare and then participating in the Electric Light Parade in Casa Grande.  This is a really big deal, as they have upwards of 50,000 people attend this parade each year.  Those interested can view it on You Tube.  Because of our lateness in entering, we were float #94 out of 97.  Our theme was “On the Road Again.”  We all wore Willie Nelson style braids and played his song as we walked the two mile route.  Here’s a few pictures of our group.  Businesses along the route are asked to turn their lights off and all streetlights are turned off, making the floats really stand out.   It was a great way to start the season.

     Adding to our enjoyment of the Christmas Holiday, was Riki’s family coming to see us for Christmas.  We rented the spot across from us and parked our Motor home there.  That way they had their own place for our few down times.  One of the sights we all enjoyed was visiting the LDS Temple in Mesa to see their beautiful light display.  This year we allowed more time for family games and most evenings went to the clubhouse for cards and scheduled parties.  It was great having them here to join our park in the Christmas festivities. 

     We left mid-January for the SKP Co-Op in Yuma and enjoyed their pool and hot tub for a week.  We also took a tour of a Date Farm while there.  It is amazing the  number of times that the date palms have to be individually attended to each season, from picking thorns, to placing wire rings to separate the dates. 

     From there we headed to Quartzsite, AZ for a couple weeks of RV Rallies.  You’ve all heard my descriptions of Quartzsite before, so know that this is a sleepy little town of about 3,000 that swells in the winter to accommodate over 1 million RV visitors at different times.  There are large areas of desert where RV’s are allowed to boondock (no hook ups) for 2 weeks to several months.   The first area we went to is lovingly called Boomerville by a group of fun loving, active RVers.   Daily hikes and activities from crafting to movies, to star parties take place.  I even led a Laughter Yoga  group for  the second year.  Its one of the best groups I lead, because of the enthusiastic participation. 
    One of the days we hiked to the top of Q mountain, about a ½ mile hike with an elevation gain of about 700 feet.  Here we are at the top enjoying the view and trying not to get blown off.  The white in the background are some of the thousands of  RVs parked in the desert.

     We also had  a karaoke night and dance in the desert.  Here’s a picture of us dancing to “YMCA.”

     From there, we moved about 5 miles to another desert area for the Geocaching Rally.  This is a subgroup of Escapees that enjoys geocaching and especially teaching it to others.  While there we found about 75 caches.  Here are a couple pictures of a mine tour we all took to the “Parade of Toilets.”  Obviously there is a geocache there.  Also there are several toilets along a hillside with plastic flowers planted in them.  We had been forewarned and came armed with more flowers to add to the colorful display.  There has been a mine on this site for many years and continues to be the site of an active claim today for mining gold and other minerals.

.     After all this frivolity, we headed back to the Roost  in Casa Grande for more fun activities.  February is a very active time of year for our park with the annual meeting and fund raisers taking place.   Last year it was the Olympics and this year it was a Senior Rodeo.  The participants were divided into Ranches.  We were members of the 6 R Ranch (Red, Rip-Roaring, Rambling Rooster Ranch).  Gary participated with his friend Steve in the team roping.   After placing in the second go-round, I won the finals of the Bull-Riding Championship.  In order to win this title, I had to guide a remote controlled bull with a rider (doll) placed on it, over a mat with pipes laying underneath it, creating bucking hills., without the rider falling off.  Believe me, I never thought I would participate in, let alone win the title of Bull-riding Champion.  

      Another part of our Rodeo week was a Chili Cookoff.  We had 16 entries and  I was thrilled to win third place with my White Chili.  People voted on the chilies, not knowing who cooked each one.   When Gary labeled mine, he said, “The Chili’s Mild, but the Cook’s Hot.”  I think it was the label that did it.   I won a really nice folding Camp Chair.

      Also in February, our friend Kathy visited us.  She was here as a judge for the local Gourd Festival.  She drove here from S. Calif and rented a spot, where we had our Motor home parked.  Kathy is a fantastic gourd artist, so it was fun seeing the gourds from her perspective.   She’s also a geocacher and was with us to snap this picture when we found Geocache #3,000! 

     Escapees have an annual convention with seminars, entertainment, and  all sorts of fun events.  For the first time this  year, it was held in Tucson, AZ.  Each of the 11 Co-Ops, and several chapters are invited to have a table “on the row” to publicize it to those coming by.  We were the Row Representatives for our Co-Op in Gillette, WY in 2013 and again this year.  We had a busy time  as there were 1,952 attendees with 851 rigs parked at the Pima Co Fairgrounds.  I was able to participate in the daily line dance sessions and learned a new Irish line dance to bring back to the Roost.  Bandit participated in their pet parade and enjoyed the chance to visit with his friends in the fairgrounds dog park.

     The other major happening in March was reaching my Weight Watchers goal.   Many of you know that after I was placed on blood pressure medication in Spring, 2013, I decided I needed to once again do something about my weight.  I went back to Weight Watchers on May 20, in Show Low.  While there, I was very active in water aerobics five days a week.  I lost 43 pounds by the time we came back to the Roost.  I continued my meetings, stayed on plan, and started walking when we came back here in October.  Since then I’ve lost another 33 ½ pounds for a total of 76 ½ pounds lost in 10 months & 3 days.  Now I’m walking 3-5 miles almost every morning.  I’m sure looking forward to getting back in the water when we get back to Show Low.   Thanks to all my friends and family who encouraged me along the way.   The really tough part, as I know all too well, is maintaining the weight, but I’m hopeful continued meetings and exercise will do it.  I have several Weight Watcher buddies in both places and that helps a lot!!!

     Besides the events I mentioned above, Gary continued to participate in billiard tournaments and league with mixed success.  We also enjoyed dancing a couple times a month and even found a few other couples to join us.   We took a trip to Butterfly Wonderland and really enjoyed all their beauty.  

Our park also had another wild desert golf tournament where surprisingly I tied Gary for the most holes in one.  Different folks designed the various  holes and we all linked up randomly with others to play the course.  It was a great day ended with a campfire, hot dogs, and s’mores.  

We also attended a couple geocaching events and found this fellow guarding one of the caches.  He was spotted in plenty of time, since he was out sunning.  The ones I see never scare me, it’s the ones I don’t see that worry me. 

     Now we’re getting ready to head for Show Low on April 11th.  Please do not send any more mail to Casa Grande.  Our Show Low address is 1051 N. Central Ave.  Space #272,  Show Low, AZ 85901.  We’re looking forward to another great summer there.

     March 9th, was 10 years since the passing of Chris LeDoux, one of our favorite country singers from Wyoming.  Little did we know then, that a month later we would lose Robert.  It’s hard to believe it will be 10 years in April.  His children have grown so much with the older two boys becoming young college men and his daughter a high school Junior.   Robert also became a grandfather last summer.  Here is a picture of his grandson, William.  I know Robert’s busting his heavenly buttons! 

     We will be making a car trip to Utah and Wyoming mid-June.  Plans have come together for us to be able to attend and help with the Utah National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation, (NFFF) Golf Tournament , in Orem, UT.  We’ll head up to Evanston, WY the next day.  Along with Riki and Kevin, I will be flying to Annapolis, MD the end of June for the annual NFFF Survivor’s Conference.  I am again presenting a seminar on Laughter Yoga, we are presenting a joint session on Geocaching, and  Riki and Kevin are also presenting a session on preparing your kids for college.  We’ll be busy, but  looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones while there.

      We think you'll agree that it's been a fun and eventful winter.  If any of  you are in Arizona this summer, give us a call.   For now, we're dancing on down the road to Summer in Show Low, AZ.

       Hugs, Katy, Gary, and Bandit