Thursday, February 12, 2009


February 12, 2009

I am now back at Indian Skies RV Resort here in Coolidge, Arizona. What a contrast to the weather in Ontario! The sun is shining; the temperature is 65ºF. I’ve just taken Ripley for a walk around the park, and stopped to visit with three different couples, all of whom happen to be from Ontario too.

Sad Days
The trip home was very sad, of course. But I was pleased to see that about 100 people came to Jennie’s funeral, and many more to the visitations. Jennie was a very kind and generous person and touched many people, including myself. Her oldest son Chris, read a very touching tribute to Jennie at the funeral, and her daughter Sheri read a letter from a dear friend of Jennie’s who could not attend because she was presiding at someone else’s funeral in the little town of Kearney where Jennie grew up. There wasn’t a dry eye in the chapel. I still have trouble taking in the reality that Jennie is gone. I will miss her dearly.

The six grandchildren had an opportunity to say goodbye, something they might remember as they get older. The youngest, little Dima who is only two years old, and possibly Tyler who is three, may not remember much, but the four older ones will, I’m sure. They all loved visiting Grandma.

My great-nieces Cassandra and Daria
Brad, Carl and Jennie’s middle son, flew over from Japan and had an opportunity to say goodbye to Jennie before she passed away (although she was unconscious); his wife Kazuko and two children Taiyou and Mizuki, flew over for the funeral. I had not seen them since they left three years ago, and so it was with mixed emotions that I greeted them again.

Brad's wife Kazuko, Brad, Gerald husband of my niece Sheri,
Sheri and their son Tyler
My brother Carl is handling his grief; he and Jennie were married for 42 years and it will not be an easy transition for him. Before Jennie became ill, the two of them had planned to visit Brad’s family in Japan. I’m pleased that Carl has decided to go anyway, and he leaves on February 28th for three weeks. Brad will see that he has a good time there.

Carl and I had an opportunity to chat about our futures, and it looks as though he will follow in my path – winters in the south (although he favours Florida) and summers at an RV park in Ontario. If he is fortunate enough to find and make friends as I have here in Arizona, he will enjoy himself.

Because Brad and his family were staying at Carl’s house, I opted to stay in a motel nearby and found an excellent package deal for the airfare and motel. It only cost me $8 U.S. extra for the five nights in the motel over the cost of the airfare. The Comfort Inn in Mississauga was quite comfortable and even had a fridge and microwave in the room, so I didn’t have to put out money for restaurant meals all the time. Of course, I shared meals with my family too.

On Sunday evening, Feb. 10 Chris invited all of us to his house for dinner. His wife Natalya makes wonderful cakes for a living and supplied two for the reception after the funeral, plus she made my favourite dessert – tiramisu – for the Sunday dinner. It was an opportunity for Carl, his three children and six grandchildren and me to sit around and relax after a very stressful couple of days.

Chris's wife Natalya, their son Dimitri, their daughter Daria
and my brother Carl
Back to Arizona
On Monday I was up at 3:00 a.m. in order to be at the airport by 4:00. The first leg of the flight was Toronto to Cincinnati, and then after an hour’s wait I flew on to Phoenix. Stephen collected me at the Phoenix airport and we drove back to Indian Skies, about an hour away. Many of the park residents offered me their condolences and most importantly of all, many people ensured that Ripley was kept occupied in my absence. They took her for walks, played ball with her, allowed her to lie on their couches. Penny and Doug Poyntz allowed her to sleep in their bed with them. I did worry about her while I was gone, and of course she was pleased to see me, but also was quite happy with the people who generously gave their time to her so that she wouldn’t feel abandoned. I had left my sweatshirt with Penny and Doug and I’m told that she did sleep on it. I am blessed to have such good friends.

Since returning I haven’t done too much. I feel tired and listless, but I did go to a potluck dinner in the rec hall last night, and met some more people. There are about 250 people here in the park, with more arriving all the time, so it is impossible to know everyone. I sat beside Noella and Tom, who live on a farm near Exeter, Ontario. On my other side was a couple from Oregon whose names I now forget. The hot tub has also been very soothing.

Penny’s Purchases
Penny had gone back to the Tucson Gem Show and bought three kachina dolls for me. These are hand-made and signed and are just wonderful. I have a hoop dancer, a lizard and a badger, all of which symbolize something to the Navajo. They will make great gifts, and I will be donating one to the annual COTERC fundraising dinner next fall.

Last Saturday, Feb. 9 there was a craft sale here at Indian Skies. Penny, Sandra and Linda set up a table on my behalf, and sold some of my necklaces and earrings.

Ontario Flag
When I left to return to Canada, I noticed that there were many state flags flying here in the park but nothing from Canada’s provinces. While I was home, Carl drove me over to the local Member of the Provincial Parliament, who gave me an Ontario flag to bring back. He was very considerate and pleased to provide a flag when I explained to him that it would be flying at an RV park in Arizona where many Ontario residents spent the winter.

However, when I returned here I discovered a whole new set of flags of all the provinces of the people staying here had been erected at the back of the park beside the new gazebo, so the one I obtained was redundant. Doug Poyntz is a great scrounger and he found an IV pole in the junkpile at the back of the park. So, together we fashioned a flagpole and hung the flag in front of my RV. It needs to be a bit higher, so I will go to the local hardware store to get a dowel to add to the height.

I also had scrounged a lovely round clay pot and went over to nearby Earthscape Design where they sell a wonderful variety of cacti and other plants. I bought an ice plant, which now resides in the pot in front of my RV. Many of the seasonal residents here have decorated their little yard with plants and other assorted southwestern artifacts, and I would do the same if I were here for the entire six months.

Another Melancholy Day
February 11 was another memorable day for me. It was three years ago today that I lost my precious meerkat Timon to liver cancer. My female meerkat Timona lived another five months before succumbing to insulinoma on August 1, 2006. All my pets have been wonderful and each has left an indelible mark on me, but the two meerkats were like my children, and I still mourn them.

There is a calico cat down the road in the park who thinks she’s a dog. Her name is Munchkin and she saunters along on a leash as she is taken for walks a few times a day. She’s quite comical to see and her owners (also from Ontario) enjoy the comments that passersby make.

Munchkin on one of her strolls
What Lies Ahead
There is a busy weekend coming up. The nearby Casa Grande Ruins is having a 3-day event featuring native musicians, dancers and artisans, and I’ll be going there at least once, if not more.
Tomorrow morning Penny is teaching yet another craft class to make a spirit doll. I will go to help, but since I made one last year, I won’t be participating in the actual class. Penny has asked me to teach an introductory class on making jewelry, and I’m flattered to be asked, considering that I only began doing this a year ago under her tutelage.

On Saturday evening, St. Valentine’s Day, there will be a Canadian dinner featuring roast beef with all the trimmings, for only $6 each. I was lucky that Penny and Doug had reserved a ticket for me, as it is sold out. Last year it was a wonderful meal and there was entertainment as well. There will be a dance with local musicians later, but I probably won’t go to that, since I don’t have a dancing partner.

February and March are very busy months here in the park, and there are many events coming up in addition to the regular card games, water exercises, craft classes, etc. Besides these, the Arabian Horse Show in Scottsdale is fast approaching, and later in March is the Indian Fair and Market at the Heard Museum. I went to both of these events last year and enjoyed them tremendously, so will definitely add them to the calendar.

This morning, on my walk with Ripley, I stopped to watch bees feeding from the nectar on a flowering bush at the back of the park. There are rabbits that hop about my site in the park. And Yesterday, I photographed a cactus wren perched on my neighbour’s satellite dish.
Cactus Wren
I often go over to visit the burrowing owls in the abandoned subdivision behind the park, and hope to see some chicks on one of these visits. Ripley loves to go there because I can let her off the leash and play ball with her. Later today we went over there and discovered a fifth burrowing owl! It has its burrow amongst some tumbleweed and is completely hidden from the road, but Ripley went in to retrieve her ball and flushed the bird out. It flew off a little way, so I’ll know now to keep Ripley away from that area.

Tonight I’m indulging in perogies and cabbage rolls, courtesy of Penny. She is of Polish descent and made up a huge bunch to share – a typically generous gesture of hers. They were delicious.


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