Thursday, March 27, 2008


MARCH 13 - 23, 2008




I took Ripley out for a bike run to a field two streets away from Indian Skies, where she gleefully chased her soccer ball, bringing it back to me each time so that I could kick it again. Finally she got tired, but never enough to stop wanting to chase the ball. I put it back in the bike basket and we returned to the park. While Ripley rested, I did another load of laundry, including the dog blankets I had used in the car. There actually is one washer set aside for this purpose.

I spent a large part of the day catching up on my emails, and then sat down to design my first necklace with some of the material that I had purchased recently. One of the things that I had bought is a bead board, with grooves so that you can lay out your pattern before you string it. In this way, you can complete your design and change it if you don’t like it.

I also spent some time downloading photographs from my camera.

And so, another day flew by.

FRIDAY, MARCH 14, 2008

I helped out with the Donuts and Coffee morning again, and donated those fishing lures that I had won a few weeks ago to the door prizes.


Today’s class was led by Lorraine, who showed us how to make earrings with Swarovski crystals, at a cost of $12 for the supplies. It turned out to be quite simple to do, and I made two, one with blue-tinged crystals, and the other with turquoise. They are both quite pretty. Anna and her grand daughter Brittany were both in the class as well.

While we were working on our earrings, delicious smells of baking rye bread from the adjacent kitchen came wafting down the hallway. The bread is for tomorrow’s special dinner.

Later on, I visited Lorraine’s site and she helped me to tie the ends of the necklace I had made yesterday. She showed me some of her many supplies, mostly of crystal beads that she makes and sells. The crystals are quite expensive, but she has some beautiful pieces.


I am still encountering some problems in setting up my LLC company here in the United States that was organized through Legalzoom. My company is now incorporated, but there is a problem with one of the IRS forms, and I will have to investigate further to see what I can do as a Canadian to get it set up properly.

The birds were singing loudly again today in another perfect day of 85 degree temperature, although the wind picked up later in the day, and I lowered my awning, just in case.

I had packaged up the gorilla cartoon and asked Hoppy and Georgia if they would mind mailing it on their way to the Mesa Market, a swap meet that is held weekly.

As I sat outside by my RV, a roadrunner quietly walked by – the first I’ve seen in these parts.

Later, I watched Fort Apache, starring John Wayne, Henry Fonda and a young Shirley Temple. I thought this was quite appropriate, as it was filmed at Apacheland, and in the tradition of the period, portrayed the Apaches as bloodthirsty barbarians.

I came across an article in one of the local newspapers that really takes the cake. Minnesota has recently passed a no-smoking ban in restaurants and other nightspots, but left a loophole exempting performers in theatrical productions where characters have to use cigarettes as props. So, some bars are designating all their customers as performers, even going to the extent of printing up playbills and having customers come in costumes. According to one bar owner the customers “are playing themselves before October 1st” as they sit around drinking and smoking!


It really is difficult to remember what day of the week it is here, as each day is a “vacation” day, where everyone just does what they feel like doing.

Today, I took Ripley beside my bike back to the field to play with her soccer ball again. It is a bit cooler today and she was up for a long session of “ball”. I felt sorry for a German shepherd in a small fenced pen nearby, who barked and wagged his tail as he watched Ripley playing. He so desperately wanted to join in, but couldn’t.

On our return, I had a flat tire. Darn!

I spent the majority of the day catching up with my blog, until it was time for supper.


The social committee here planned a corned beef and cabbage dinner to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day a few days early, and there was a huge turn-out for the event, with the majority (including myself) wearing green.

The rec hall was decorated with many shamrocks and “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” signs. I sat beside Lorraine, her husband Dick and her mother Marg, as well as Ruolf and Beth, all of whom are from Illinois, near Chicago. While we waited for dinner to begin, we were entertained with a rendition of Danny Boy by one of the residents, who was accompanied by her husband on harmonica. He then played a medley of Irish songs, to get us all in the mood. Baskets of the homemade rye bread were placed on each table, along with horseradish and relish bowls. Each table also had been decorated in green and white flowers. There was a huge turnout for the dinner, and rightly so, as it was delicious.

In order to be fair, the announcer calls out the table numbers who then go through the buffet line in the kitchen area to get their food. For once, the table at which I was seated was called up first. The lines moved quickly through the double set-up and our plates were piled with corned beef, boiled red potatoes, carrots and cabbage. Dessert was vanilla ice cream and homemade cookies.

A lot of effort goes into putting on a dinner like this, and that is one of the great things about Indian Skies. People willingly put in time to make these events a success. Steve and Anna are responsible for purchasing the supplies for every one of these events and keeping track of the money - a huge task.

Later that day, The Hired Hands provided music for dancing. It sounded good from my vantage point in the hot tub!

I made my first necklace tonight! It’s has multi-coloured pony beads – simple but I like it, and it’s a start. I watched Mickey Blue Eyes (Hugh Grant/James Caan) while working on the necklace. It was pretty cute, with many cameo appearances by characters from The Sopranos.

My first necklace

SUNDAY, MARCH 16, 2008

Penny kindly gave a lesson in wire wrapping to Lorraine, Karen and myself. This is another method of making a pendant from a gemstone. It’s easy when the stone has a hole drilled in it. Next week, we are going into Casa Grande to learn how to wire wrap a stone that does not have a hole drilled, from a lady who teaches there.

Now that I no longer have a car, I have to rely upon other people to take me places, and that is one thing that is so great about the people here. Hoppy and Georgia took me over to the Wal Mart, where I bought a puncture-proof tube for my bike and groceries. Hoppy will install it for me.

I helped with the ice cream social, which featured cake for March birthdays and anniversaries, plus a demonstration of the ladies who have been learning line dancing. I wish that I had had time to take the lessons, as it would be fun to be able to get up and dance, even without a partner.


I took Ripley for a walk outside the park so that she could run off leash and play with her soccer ball. Just outside the gate is a field that has not yet been developed. I’m not sure if it is part of the park property, but it is a handy area for Ripley’s play.


Later in the afternoon my cousin Jerry and his wife Diane arrived, and we took Ripley with us to visit Casa Grande Ruins Monument at the other end of Coolidge. This was my second visit there, so I was able to give them some details since there were no tours for the rest of the day. Diane, in particular, was quite interested in learning about the lifestyle of the people who used to live there.

Flower at Casa Grande Ruins Monument

We enjoyed a supper of barbecued steak burgers with bacon wrapped around the outside(like a filet mignon), baked potatoes, asparagus, salad, rolls and apple streusel pie and ice cream, with some Mexican beer to go with it. Jerry kept an eye on the barbecue, as I was forced to cook the entire package of twelve pieces of meat; it wouldn’t fit in my freezer, so I will have leftovers to enjoy.

As I am moving on in a few days, this was our last time together, at least for now. With luck, I may catch up with them again when I pass through Winnipeg, if they are not at their cottage. They too are homeless now, and will be staying with their daughter Lisa and granddaughter Micayla. We said our goodbyes, and they made their way back to Mesa.


Somehow my RV has become a disarray of stuff that I have accumulated along the way, so I spent the morning sorting things out and throwing out brochures, etc. that I no longer need, and re-packing.

On my walk with Ripley, I noticed that the plants in the gardens of the residents are beginning to bloom. There are now beautiful yellow and orange daisies and the cactus are blooming in red flowers.

Penny swung by to collect me, Faye and Karen for our wire wrapping lesson in Casa Grande. Nina lives in the Fiesta Grande RV Resort and teaches jewelry making. I found the wire wrapping with a stone that does not have a hole drilled to be very difficult, and probably won’t do much of it in future, but I’m glad that I know how to do it. Nina very graciously charged us only $5 each, including the materials and a chain for the pendant we made.

Of course we couldn’t leave Casa Grande without stopping at a few stores, including a bead store and Michael’s where we all indulged ourselves. Penny took us to a 99 cents store that had a huge array of articles that I discovered I needed.



Around midnight, my fridge began to click on and off, on and off, even when I switched it from electricity to propane. This is my new expensive refrigerator that I had installed in November! In desperation, I packed up all my frozen food, went over and woke up Hoppy and Georgia. Fortunately, the freezer at the site where Georgia’s mother rents was empty, and Hoppy helped me to stack my stuff in there, and gave me his cooler to put my stuff in from the fridge. This is terribly upsetting.

By morning the refrigerator was not operating at all. Hoppy had a look and checked the electrical current going to the refrigerator, but couldn’t determine the cause of the failure. Norris RV is the local repair place in Casa Grande, but they can’t see me before Monday. So, my stay at Indian Skies will be slightly longer than planned. I was going to leave tomorrow.

To make matters worse, I tried starting the RV and the battery is dead! Hoppy put his trickle charger on it.

Penny very kindly took me over to the grocery store and to Wal Mart, so that I could get a few things that I didn’t get the other day. She had asked her husband Doug to come have a quick look at my RV before they headed off to the Ikea store in Phoenix. He checked both batteries, and noted that they were both dead. He moved the trickle charger over to the coach battery, and he’ll come back tomorrow and have another look. He feels that the problem with the fridge may be the dead battery.



Many of the residents are packing up and leaving to return to their summer homes, and Wanda and Ron have organized a sunset farewell jam session at their rig, near the back of the park. With the help of Georgia and Hoppy, they set up a tent and tables to hold the huge amount of food that everyone contributed. I made oatmeal raisin cookies, and I have to admit they were pretty good!

Hoppy and Georgia

Ron and five other residents sang songs while we sat in our lawn chairs, enjoying the feast and chatting with our friends, while the sun slowly made another spectacular setting in the west. A good time with good friends.



After having the trickle charger on overnight, I started the RV and noted that the refrigerator was now working! I was very relieved to see that. I had planned to take Philippa over to The Tire Factory for an oil change anyway, so I headed over there (it’s only five minutes down the road from Indian Skies), where Loren good-naturedly agreed not only to do the oil change, but also to check the battery and muffler as well, even without an appointment. He has quite a crew of mechanics, and two large garages to handle all the work that he gets. Ripley and I settled down in the waiting area while he checked things out, and soon came back to report that I needed a new coach battery and a new muffler, and oh yes, a new tire. The inside rear tire had a bulge (it is the only one that hasn’t been replaced yet). He likes to joke, and when I asked him what the price would be, he responded, “oh, in the thousands”.


What I had originally thought would be an hour or two of work turned out to be an all-day job with all the extras. I could have returned to Indian Skies, which was within walking distance, but I had nowhere to go once I got there. Dogs are not allowed in the buildings, so I opted to spend the time alternating between walking Ripley up the side road and sitting in the garage waiting room. The time continued to go by, and soon it was 5:00 p.m. But, what else could I do? During this time, I had an opportunity to observe Loren and Jeremy and how they treated their customers. They were always courteous and helpful, even to those who couldn’t pay right away. They worked out terms for these individuals and never questioned whether they would get paid or not.

When it came time for me to pay, I nervously approached the counter, and was surprised to see that the bill was only $506 for all the work that had been done. I mentioned this to Loren, and he said that he had too often seen women being taken for a ride by mechanics, and had decided that he would treat them as though they were a member of his family. What a nice sentiment! I thanked him for his time and effort, and Ripley and I went on our way, stopping for a propane fill-up (it’s cheaper than the delivery truck within the park).


When I returned to my spot, Hoppy came over to see what had happened to me. He and Georgia were quite concerned when I didn’t return sooner and were relieved to hear that my problems had been solved. They very kindly invited me to join them for a spaghetti dinner, and I was grateful that I didn’t have to prepare my own meal. I felt completely exhausted and crashed soon after I returned to my rig after dinner.


I missed the donuts and coffee hour, opting to sleep in a little longer this morning.


However, I was up in time to take Ripley for her walk before the 10:00 craft class began. Today, we made a ceramic candle holder. I chose to use the traditional Indian design that was used on our model that Penny had made. Again, she spent a lot of her own time during the week preparing the greenware that we used, by drilling holes.

We began by painting a base coat, then stenciling on our chosen design, which we then painted. After spraying, we added decorations of leather and beads on the rim. Wanda and her mother Dayeko, Georgia and Hoppy, Lorraine, Hazel and Faye also took the class, and we all really admired Wanda’s creation. She truly has a talent and her finished product could easily have sold for $50 or more.

My effort

Wanda’s elderly mother unfortunately has contracted shingles, a terribly painful byproduct of chicken pox. Dayeko had open sores on a large part of the buttocks and legs. I felt so sorry for her, but she is a stoic woman who did not complain.

Lorraine is preparing to leave and offered me a pot roast that they were going to throw away. It will be great in my slow cooker.

Now that my bike has been fixed, I donned my helmet and took Ripley for a run to Shope’s, the local grocery store. Of course, dogs are not allowed inside the grocery store, so I tied her next to my bike. As I was cashing out my few purchases, one of the staff members walked by with Ripley. It seems that she had got herself loose and had entered the store, looking for me! Fortunately, they were good-natured about it, so we got out of there quickly, and returned to Indian Skies, stopping to visit with Steve and Anna. Ripley really likes both of them and wiggles her whole rear end in greeting every time she sees them.

There is a full moon tonight, and I enjoyed another great show of twinkling stars as I relaxed in the hot tub later.

Since there will be a lot of traffic on the road over the Easter holidays, I have decided to wait until Monday before I head west to California. I was quite surprised to learn that Good Friday is not considered as a holiday in the U.S.A. and that even the banks were open today. And Easter Monday is also not a holiday.


For some reason, I had a bout of insomnia again and didn’t get to sleep until about 4:00 a.m. Perhaps I am feeling a little anxious over my recent mechanical crisis, plus a touch of sadness in saying farewell to my new friends here.

I got the pot roast underway by marinating and braising it first, and then adding it to the slow cooker along with potatoes, carrots, corn and a can of mushroom soup and chicken stock ( I didn’t have any beef stock), to let it simmer away all day. I had hoped to reciprocate with an invitation to Georgia and Hoppy, but they already have an invitation for dinner tonight, so I took the opportunity to invite my other neighbour Sheri to join me. As she works long hours at Safeway, she seemed grateful for the invitation. However, she doesn’t get home until about 8:15 p.m, so it was a late dinner.

In the meantime, I continued sorting out all my stuff, and re-packing everything – a big job, as it turned out.

The World Figure Skating Championships have been happening in Sweden this past week, but I don’t have cable TV to watch, so I checked out what I could online, and found a site that showed the performances of the winners. I was delighted to see that Jeffrey Buttle, a Canadian whom I have long admired, won the gold medal in the men’s division. He is a true overall skater, combining both the difficulty as well as the artistic ability which many of the top men seem to lack. They are only jumping machines, and even though Buttle doesn’t do a quad, he makes up for it with his smooth, effortless skating. He is the first Canadian man to win the gold since Elvis Stojko did back in the early 90’s.

Our Canadian team did very well in the other categories as well. The pairs won bronze and the ice dance couple won a silver medal. Way to go!


Sheri arrived around 8:45, and we sat down to a salad, hot buns and the pot roast, along with a beer. I’m drinking a lot more beer down here than I usually do, but it seems to go down very well in the hot, dry weather.

Sheri is an air force brat, who has moved around a lot in her life, but who lived in Alaska for several years. Her two adult sons still remain there, and she will probably be returning there in the near future, as it looks as though Safeway will be transferring her there, at her request. It was good to get to know her a bit more, and we exchanged email addresses to keep in touch.


I took Ripley for a long bike ride in the early morning while it was still cool. In total, I guess we went about two miles, going around the entire block and into the vacant subdivision where we had previously gone in the car. Ripley enjoyed her usual game of soccer ball, but I kept it relatively short, as we still had to go all the way back home. I was disappointed not to see the burrowing owl. It may still be there and just out hunting, but most owls hunt at night. I’m not sure about this particular species.


Back home we went, and I prepared my contribution for the Easter lunch. I decided to do red beans and rice (easy because it comes in a package) as something different. We each contributed $1.00 to the ham that was cooked by Bob.

The volunteers had decorated the tables with colourful Easter eggs and crosses, and we said a prayer before sitting down. In all, there were three long tables, each of which had its own buffet service of the contributed dishes. There was plenty to go around, and the dessert table was overflowing with goodies. I sat with Bob and Karen from Tillsonburg, Ontario on one side, and Osa and Sandra from North Bay and Callander respectively, on my other side.


Later, I went to the ice cream social, where Klara surprised me by getting up in front of everyone and reading excerpts from my blog, about some of the people whom I’ve met here. Good thing I only said nice things!! Klara suggested that I should write a book, and I have to confess that it has been in my thoughts. A few people came up afterward, and asked me for the blog address, so I guess there will be more people who will be reading about my adventures.

When I took Ripley out for her evening walk, I noticed that all the oleander plants are beginning to bud. It will be a spectacular sight of white flowers when they bloom, and their scent is wonderful. Unfortunately, the plant is quite poisonous too!

I’ve traveled just over 16,000 kms (about 9,600 miles) up to this point, and I’m grateful for all the help that I’ve had along the way, and all the new friends that I have made. I’m sure that there will be several more before I get back to Ontario.

I had one last swim, one last session in the hot tub.

In the meantime, I gave bottles of wine to the three couples who have helped me the most – Georgia and Hoppy, Anna and Steve, Penny and Doug, as a small thank you, and said my farewells. I do hope that we keep in touch. Here are a few shots from Indian Skies.

Blooming cactus

Cactus wren nest

Pool area

1 comment:

Daelyn said...

It is an interesting post!! Love to see your first necklace... I like to wear Swarovski crystal jewelry...