Summer Travel Map

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Christmas in March?

March 28, 2009
Peoria, AZ

This is the time of year that we end up buying all the stuff we've had "on the list" for the last year. Since one of my pensions is paid in annual installments through 2010, it ends up being easier to accumulate the list of "nice to have" and "need to do sometime soon" items and make sure we get everything we need all at once. This is especially important this year, as we don't want to be out in the Alaskan wilderness and have something go bad on us. That's the rationale anyway, and it's my story and I'm sticking to it.

So, we've upgraded our laptops and cell phones, my iPod, and the DVD player for the coach. Interestingly enough, all that cost just about as much as my "old" laptop alone did in mid-2005. Both of our computers were from 2005, as was my phone. The iPod was even older. These will last us until 2012 or beyond, and much of the old stuff won't be completely retired or disposed of. My old laptop will have a new home on the dash of the coach as a navigation aid and engine monitor, and we'll bring the old phones and Geri's PC tucked away in storage "just in case". My old iPod will continue to live on in the Bose dock in the living room.

Of course, upgrading is always a pain. Simply installing all the software is bad enough, then you get to deal with all the updates that have been done online, and then there's the stuff that is too old to run on the new hardware/Vista. And there's the issue of learning to use the new touch-screen phones. We never realized we had such fat fingers!

Anyway, we've pretty much gotten everything we need, although we're still waiting for some things that are coming UPS (plus some weather gear we'll need for our summer trip). Now, all I need to do it get everything installed and copied, and backed up!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Schedule Firming Up

March 27, 2009
Peoria, AZ

Well, the schedule is firming up around Geri's medical procedure. We had our consultation with the radiologist during the week and she's a perfect candidate for the radio-frequency ablation procedure (yeah!), and the doctor had already made a tentative appointment for her even before we met. My kind of guy - thinking ahead! So, she's scheduled for the afternoon of April 1 (no kidding!), and should be home on the 2nd. With one follow-up with the urologist on the 16th, we should be good to go!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Great news!

March 21, 2009
Peoria, AZ

We got great news on Thursday - all of Geri's follow-up tests were fine, so we're now working to get her scheduled with the radiologist to have her little kidney thing "zapped". Technically, it's called "radio-frequency ablation" and it's supposed to be very effective for tumors like hers. At least, the Mayo Clinic thinks so (check here). No, she's not going to the Mayo Clinic for her treatment.

In other news, I've been continuing the process of tidying up the back yard, finishing off the placement of the water feature Geri wanted and burying the conduit for the electrical connection. I got the paint sprayer out and re-painted the inside of the wall around the back yard, which looks pretty good if I do say so myself. This is another validation of one of my favorite sayings: always use the right tool for the job. A couple of years ago, I found a re-manufactured professional-level airless spray system on sale at Home Depot for less than 50% of a new one, and I snapped it up. I'm not an expert with the sprayer by any measure, but neither is this rocket science. I've picked up a few techniques watching other houses in the neighborhood get painted, and I've always been reasonably good at taping (some would say "anal", but they just don't understand taping. I'm preparing myself for the project of painting the whole house at some point (definitely not this year). I've gotten quotes for having the fascia and soffits covered with colored aluminum (those are the places that'll be hardest to paint) but wasn't thrilled with the cost. One of the vendors will sell the parts and even custom bend all the fascia trim for about 50% of the cost, giving me the opportunity to do the installation myself (who wouldn't enjoy a few days playing on ladders with air nailers?), so that might be an option.

My next step is to install new solar shades around the patio. Of course, no project is that straight-forward. Before putting up the hardware, it only makes sense to paint the underlying wood. Before you paint, you sand it. Once you've sanded it to bare wood because it's been in the Arizona sun for 8 years, you prime it before you paint. And, since the side fascia on the patio is angled to match the roof, you'll need to add a 1x12 panel so the sun shade hangs level (repeat prime and paint process here). At least paint dries quickly here, so the preparation was pretty much done between yesterday and today. I'll install the fascia extension and the shades tomorrow, and put on the final touch-up on the paint and be done. Then I can finish putting the back yard into order until I start the next project (an outdoor kitchen island for the gas grill and side burners). Maybe that'll wait until next year...

On the coach front, the tile looks good and only needs to be sealed. My repair to the leaking kitchen sink drain appears to have been successful. I only need to replace the cracked muffler and we'll be road-worthy. The muffler has a crack along the seam between the inlet and the body. It came with a lifetime warranty, but that doesn't count when the company goes out of business. I ordered a suitable replacement online last week after trying to chase down the original company for close to 3 months. Since I recently bought a small MIG welder, I might try to repair the old one as a spare. Of course, I'll have to get the right gas and wire for welding stainless steel. Maybe that will wait until next year, too. Good thing I'm not running out of things to do in retirement!

Monday, March 16, 2009

On a more positive note…

March 16, 2009
Peoria, AZ

Given everything going on, I wanted to post a note on some positive aspects of life. A couple of our key “over the winter” projects are completed! It’s always good to put things in the “done column”.

First, we finally have a water feature in the back yard. No, it’s not the “pond-less waterfall” kit that I bought last year. That’s been sold on eBay and replaced with a nice, small, self-contained faux-stone waterfall from Lowe’s. After putting it off for quite a while, Geri finally convinced me that digging a 3’ x 3’ x 3’ hole right next to the block wall separating the back yards wasn’t such a good idea. She’s right, of course. I still had some work to do to hook it up, since there are very few electrical outlets in the yard. I ran a line in conduit along the wall and put in a weatherproof plug, and installed a heavy-duty timer by the sub-panel for the yard, so we’re properly connected. Now, all I need to do is paint the inside of the wall (another winter project list item) and that’ll start tomorrow.

Second, our major coach upgrade for this year is done. We removed all the mirrors on the kitchen backsplash behind the sink and stove, and installed a combination of glass and travertine tile. It took several days and working sessions to get it done, since I haven’t done tile work since the early 1980s and I wanted to take my time. With our new 10” diamond-bladed wet saw getting a good workout, all the cuts were “like butta”. I finished off the grout yesterday, filling in the seams and glass tiles with matching colored silicone. Another one done!

On top of this, I’ve gotten all our 2008 tax work done! It’ll be ready to file on schedule on April 15th…

We’ve put travel planning on hold pending a decision on how Geri’s kidney treatment will be addressed, but we’re hopeful that we’ll be back on track for planning by the end of the month. I’ve still got several coach routine maintenance items to address, but there’s plenty of time for that.

On the food front, we’ve continued to eat and drink well. Geri made a traditional lasagna that was fabulous, and we’ve had “surf & turf” with filets and King Crab legs a couple of times. No matter what, “life is good”…

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More challenges

March 11, 2009
Peoria, AZ

We learned last Friday that Geri has a small growth on her left kidney that needs to be removed. It was caught early, during a routine test for something completely different, and is very small. She went for a couple of follow-up tests today, and we’ll meet with the doctor next week to finalize a treatment plan. We’re optimistic that it can be resolved with a newfangled radio-frequency device (sounds like “microwave on a needle”) that they can thread in and “zap” it in place. If that’s the case, it’ll be very non-invasive and involve a minimal recovery window.

I’ll post an update next week once we have a plan…

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sad News…

March 6, 2009
Peoria, AZ

We received the news late last night that my (George) Mom passed away. While this wasn’t completely unexpected as her health had been failing for some time, it’s always difficult to come face-to-face with losing a loved one. She suffered from Alzheimer’s and had been in a nursing home where she could get the constant care and supervision she needed for some time.

She asked that her ashes be interred in the “Memorial Garden” at the church she attended while she lived in Florida, and we’ll arrange for that when the whole family can attend later in the year. Memorial donations can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association ( or a favorite charity.

This is the information that ran in the local paper where she lived in north central Alabama.

Alice Vary Cederholm
Alice Vary Cederholm, 82, of Albertville, died Thursday, March 5, 2009, at Golden Living Center.

A memorial service will take place at a later date in Port Charlotte, Fla., with Adams Funeral Home directing.

Survivors include her sons, Richard (Annette) Cederholm, of Albertville, and George (Geraldine) Cederholm, of Peoria, Ariz., and five grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband, George Cederholm, and a son, David Cederholm.

The family suggests donations to the Alzheimer’s Association or to a favorite local charity.