Summer Travel Map

Friday, December 28, 2012

December 10-28: Yes, There Is A Santa Claus

December 28. 2012
Cederholm Compound, Peoria, AZ

Yes, it’s the “holiday season”.  We decorated.  We ate (and wined).  We mailed and received packages.  And Geri was a good girl and got a couple of neat gifts.

I finally got around to getting the camera gear out and shooting a few pictures of the Christmas decorations for this year.  It was probably a good idea, since we did a few things differently and would probably not remember next year what goes where!

In addition to the MacBook Air she got early, Geri got a replacement iPad, as her original iPad 2 developed a “bad spot” in the touch screen.  It wasn’t fatal; it just wouldn’t always register a “touch”.  She was able to get around this by turning the screen around, but it was annoying.  And, since somebody (aka, me) didn’t spring for the Apple Care plan when we bought these iPads about 18 months ago, fixing it was going to be $250 (that’s the flat rate for anything at Apple).  So, I got her a new iPad 4, which was going to happen after the New Year anyway since we’ll be updating our phones in January and the newest “i” devices have a different cable connector.  We “needed” to upgrade the iPads to be consistent.  How’s that for twisted logic?

The other thing that we’ve been talking about is upgrading the blender we use for smoothies (and other things, of course) to a Vitamix.  Costco started carrying them, so it was a natural that there would be one of those under the tree as well.

What did George get?  Well, there was a set of brake pads and rotors for the Rover that he’s needed, and I’m happy to say that we can now stop without squeaks or that annoying grinding noise that caused us to turn the radio up louder.  Oh, and there was another iPad 4 under the tree with his name on it; we have to maintain parity on the “His & Hers” things, right?  Oh, and there were a couple of Home Depot Gift Cards that will come in very handy when we get started painting the Master Suite next year.

The pups made out well, too, with a nice blanket boasting a picture of their buddy Tanner and some interesting travel accessories from their friends in Alabama, Jackson & CJ (whose gifts will be personally delivered next spring).

Otherwise, things have been calm and quiet, and even a little chilly.  After having above-normal temperatures through mid-December or so, we’ve had a couple of weeks of below-normal days and even a few raindrops.  We’ll likely end the year with just over four inches of rain!  Now that, too, is below normal (of something near 8”), so people are still saying, “we need the rain”.  I’ll take a little rain as long as the temperatures stay in the upper-60s or better.

And, yes, we’re starting to think through the “spring projects”.  I’ve got a batch of stuff that’ll go on eBay in January, both from the house and the coach (stuff we don’t use any longer).  And, we’ll finally paint the master bedroom and bathroom.  On the coach front, I’ll be replacing the “house batteries”, the ones that power all the inside lights and devices (as opposed to the ones that start the engine).  They’re just about 7 years old and starting to fail, so they’ll get swapped out in January as well.

That should hold us for a while, at least until March, when we’ll take in a Cactus League game or two and get started thinking about a summer “on the road”…

Monday, December 10, 2012

November 1-December 10: Doctors, Dentists and Vets

December 10, 2012
Cederholm Compound, Peoria, AZ

Wow!  It’s been a busy six weeks!  We’ve had all our doctor and dentist visits and everything is OK.  Geri had her 3.5-year MRI of her kidney, and everything is fine; she can go to annual checks at this point.  Her periodontist did find the beginnings of an abscess, but that was addressed quickly with antibiotics.

On the pet front, we had another scare with Maya Lynn.  She developed a small bump on her shoulder. And it looked like another mast cell tumor, so she went in for surgery and had it removed.  Pathology came back negative, so that was good news.  Unfortunately, it looks like the heavy doses of Prednisone that she got prior to surgery may have triggered a diabetic reaction, so we’re now giving her insulin injections twice a day.  She’s tolerating that well, thank goodness.

Other than that, things have begun to quiet down.  We’ve been eating and drinking well, and enjoying the wines in the “wine box” that have been aging nicely while we were away.  I’ve been working to get back into a routine of alternating 3-5 mile walks with 10-12 mile bike rides.

Speaking of bike rides, Geri got her Christmas present early.  She asked Santa for a small trailer that she can pull behind her bike for the pups to ride with her.  After some quick and painless assembly, she was off and touring the neighborhood.  It’s a hoot, and the dogs love it!

We did treat ourselves to a night out early this month.  I’d seen tickets for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra online and snapped up a pair.  Their rocking Christmas shows are quite stimulating!  We haven’t seen them in a few years (and don’t do a lot of concerts), so this was a nice change of pace for us.  Plus, the show was relatively close, at the hockey arena in Glendale about 4 miles from the house.

Geri got an additional early Christmas present this year, courtesy of eBay.  I was able to find a reasonably good deal on a used MacBook Air for her.  Since we’ll be able to upgrade our phones next month, moving her to an all-Apple environment will make things much simpler.  She’s had quite a time keeping her Windows-based Outlook, Android phone and iPad in sync, for example.  Or, not in sync, as the case may be.  Since she’s primarily a mail and browser user, the MacBook Air is perfect for her.

I’ve spent some time on the technology front as well, upgrading my iMac to 16gb of memory and migrating the two Windows-based programs I still use (Quicken for finances and Streets & Trips for travel planning) to run there using a “virtual machine”.  I tried Parallels but ended up getting VMware as the performance is much better.  It looks like our collection of Windows-based laptops will soon head for eBay!

And finally, we leveraged the Christmas spirit generated by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra show to get the holiday decorating done.  We don’t go overboard but do put up a tree and a few decorations inside, plus some lights outside.  This year's activities were a little complicated because last January we decided to toss or donate all the old lights that were getting old and starting to fail.  LED lights are the future, so that’s what we’re aiming for in terms of replacements.  Unfortunately, we didn’t take advantage of last year’s after-Christmas sales for stock up on said LED lights.  So, we’ve made several shopping trips trying to find lights we like.  I’m happy to say that we’re almost done with that process and hope to finish up at this year’s clearance sales; we have enough decorations in place for now.  So, as they say, “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”!