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Thursday, January 31, 2013

December 29-January 31: A New Year and Winter Chills

January 31, 2013
Cederholm Compound, Peoria, AZ

Well, it’s another of those “where did the month go” moments for me. I have no idea what happened to January, except to say that it wasn’t spent doing most of the things in my last post!

Picking up where we left off, I suppose the first thing to mention was New Years. As is our custom, we had a quiet evening since our “party ‘til you drop” days are way behind us.

We decided to go back to our old standby, lobster, for our New Years Eve feast, having found Maine lobsters for a reasonable (accounting for the fact that we’re in a desert 2,300 miles from Maine) price. We got three small ones, which I steamed and Geri picked. I got the better end of that deal. We made Lobster Three Ways: Bisque, Tortellini, and Risotto. I even made fresh pasta for the tortellini, which came out quite nicely, if I do say so myself. Geri’s Lobster Bisque won top honors of the night, though. Paired with a nice sparkling wine we picked up in Northern California (Scharffenberger), we had a delectable meal. Oh, and there was that ball dropping in Times Square on TV. Whatever…

It was a good thing we had softer food over the holiday, because my troublesome bridge came loose right before the holiday, and I was off to the Dentist right away once they were back in business. So, I’m in the process of having a two-tooth bridge replaced with a four-tooth bridge. At least I didn’t need to go down the implant path, although that’s the fallback if this doesn’t work. Ugh.

Moving into January, things got a little off the rails a bit with the project plans. I did change out the “house” batteries in the coach, which was a good workout (8 batteries out; 8 batteries in) and all went well. I got a good price at the Sam’s Club in Surprise, which is closer to the coach in storage to here at the “stick house”. I thought about replacing them in two batches of 4 each to spread out the cost, but decided to bite the bullet all at once because we needed the furnace on.

What? Furnace? Yes, we had a cold spell here in the desert. Temperatures went down into the low-20s overnight for several nights in a row. While that’s normal in a lot of places, it causes issues here. Since we don’t bother to winterize the coach, the protocol is to turn the furnace on low, which warms up the interior and plumbing enough to prevent any freezing. Of course, that requires that the batteries be working, so my replacement project took on an added priority.

We also had some concerns around the house due to the cold. Since it’s not routine here, builders take shortcuts that they couldn’t get away with elsewhere. Our water feed simply comes up out of the ground and enters the unheated/non-insulated garage through the wall. Both outside hose connections are designed without a cold-weather drain and separate shut-off valve. So, to avoid risk of freezing, a lot of us wrap those outside pipes with a little insulation during these cold snaps. Of course, not everyone does and we didn’t see anyone with broken pipes, but why take a chance? Being retired, it’s not like we have something more important to do…

Once the cold eased, we had a rain system move in from the Pacific. Yes, Pacific storms do sometimes blow into and across Southern California and hit the desert. And, it’s a big deal here when there’s rain in the forecast. TV news shows start tracking storms about a week in advance, and “live shots” become more common as one approaches. One local station even sent a reporter to San Diego to report that it was raining there! In any event, we had five straight days with some precipitation, which is apparently some kind of 30-year record. Who knew? Only one day was a complete washout, but rain is rain and they measure it here in hundredths of an inch. And once the storm system passed, we had another few chilly days. Yuck.

But the forecast is for brighter days ahead, so we’re putting all this weather stuff behind us…

So, what did get done? Well, I’m happy to say that, for the first time since we’ve been wintering here, I started to feel like a “retiree”. Without the “I’ve got to get this done” things hanging over us, we were able to take each day as it came and not get too hung up on specifics. Yes, some things still have a schedule (like paying bills), but I’ve learned to not feel too badly about not painting and eBaying. Those things will get done.

In the meantime, we upgraded our phones (finally met the “magic date” from Verizon) and spent some time converting apps from Android to Apple. We did some “rainy day projects”, because we actually had rainy days! I’ve been working through all the photo albums and scanning old pictures. Geri’s been busy shredding a lot of old records and receipts that have been piling up. I upgraded our network file server to a new 6TB version so we’ll have plenty of space for a few years.

Unfortunately, we’re ending the month on a bit of a downer. Geri has a sore spot on her leg that defies explanation and treatment, so that was biopsied yesterday. And, her last visit to the periodontist yielded a recommendation for “pocket reduction surgery”, which is apparently a new and improved way of saying “gingivectomy”. She had that done this morning, so it’s soft foods and pain meds for her for the next few days. And, Maya seems to have so reappearance of a tumor she had removed a year ago on her rear flank, so she’s scheduled to see the doggie oncologist next week. With all this plus completion of my bridge, February is shaping up to be a busy month as well!

But, no matter what, we always remember…