Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The gall of it all

It has been a whirlwind of social lunches with friends mixed in with appointments to see doctors, dentists, auto mechanics and a vet since arriving in Tucson two months ago.

The 'dirt-dauber-prevention-screen' has been installed and the heater is working like a champ.  Good thing, too.  Last night dipped to 31 degrees!  The RV stayed toasty warm all night and no frozen pipes this morning...phew!

The true highlight of the 'social whirl' was the celebration of Belle's 95th birthday this week.  Friends Suzanne and Brittania joined in for the celebration.

And goofiness reigned!  Friends are a great tonic for anything that ails ya.

The above quilt hangs on the wall in my doctor's waiting room and I have been contemplating it a lot of late.  My return to Tucson for the winter was spearheaded by a pressure I have been experiencing in my chest for the last few months.  My supplemental insurance company insists I return to Arizona for anything short of a trip to the emergency room at the hospital. So when the discomfort became too much,  I decided I needed to face the music and return to find out what was causing it.

The tests have all come back showing nothing much--until yesterday when an ultrasound produced a lovely picture of a gallstone!  And I was only 5 days from getting back on the road!

I hate to think I brought this on myself.  Do you suppose all those exemplary dining spots I sampled over the last year were like poison to my gall bladder?  Horrors!  Am I going to have to curtail my scientific search for the 'greatest barbequed pork sandwich'?  Are etoufees and jambalayas on the tabu list?  Do raw oysters produce gallstones as well as pearls?

I am now waiting to hear from the doctor on what might be the next necessary step. In the meantime, I heard about a great little Mexican restaurant where I can get a really good fish taco.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Reasons to love Tucson

When son, Ron, visited Tucson during the holidays he was lamenting the fact that he could not find any of the Sonoran Hot Dog stands.  The colorful stands used to be all over the city but we searched everywhere and were unable to find one.

Well, Ron, they are not all gone.  This one is in the parking lot of Lowe's.  And, the friendly owner dished up an excellent hot dog.  There is something special about the Sonoran Dog--it has a huge fluffy bun and enough condiments to satisfy the hungriest 'gringa'.  Okay, I can hear the groans--but you really oughta try one sometime.

I truly enjoy having visitors and there have been quiet a few since returning to Tucson.  Old friends, George and David, came aboard to see what life was like living in a space the size of a (small) walk-in closet. "Hmm, cosy.  But efficient."  Is the usual comment.

I stepped out of a restaurant the other day and the nicest couple stopped me and motioned toward my rig.  "Do you live in that?"  "How long have you been traveling?" "Is it expensive?" A half hour later and many more questions, they left--on their way to the RV lot to start pricing the market.  They also took my card and said they hope to be on the road themselves--very soon.  Ahh, another convert.  It is very satisfying.

Tucson is a natural for displaying artwork--and it is everywhere.

This is in front of a small strip center...

And it made me smile.

And I love the picturesque houses here.  I guess the kaleidoscope of color is partly because it is so very difficult to grow vibrant hued flowers and lush green lawns. Not a bad substitute, I would say.

And the backdrop to every neighborhood is always breathtaking....

Whether you enjoy it from the ground or in the air.

I recently finished this amazing book and I highly recommend it for anyone who may be interested in the early settlement of the west.  It follows the Comanche tribes, primarily in Texas, and centers around Quanah Parker, the last, great Comanche chief.  Parker was a half-breed whose mother Cynthia Ann Parker was captured as a child and later married one of the chiefs. The old movie, "The Searchers" was based on this incident. 

The reason I mention it here is because it was such an eye-opener for me--the author does not take sides but presents it all--the conflicts, brutality, broken treaties and tragedies.  

The Indian tribes of Tucson and Arizona were not as war-like as the plains Indians but they suffered the same fate. Could there have been any other outcome?  Probably not.  But there is still an Indian culture here in Tucson that is vital and though small,  somewhat in tact.  On the radio last night I listened to a regular broadcast from the Tohono O'odham reservation--broadcast in their language and with their music.  And I felt a window open to the past--for just a moment.

The lovely wall in these photos surrounds a small community garden in the heart of old Tucson....

Two years ago, when our congress-woman, Gabrielle Giffords was shot and fighting for her life in the hospital here, people began bringing flowers and laying them at the scene of the tragedy and at the door of the hospital.  

One of the keepers of this garden, collected those flowers and plants after they died and brought them here to compost.  He saved the bulbs and planted them throughout the garden and used the compost to nourish them.  I want to come here some spring to see what blooms.

And the city has a small park dedicated to the little 9 year old girl, Christina Taylor Green who was shot and killed that day.   I like to go here for a picnic lunch once in a while and I always think of her --how sad that a child, born on 9/11/01, with a willingness to learn, and a drive to make a difference,  had to die so young.  We simply have to do better for Christina and for all those children in Ct. 

And finally, Arizona has the most spectacular sunsets, an explosion of color to finish the day;.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Yuma Territorial Prison and bugs!

So, for three nights in Yuma the outside temperature dipped to just above freezing while the inside-the-van temperature registered exactly one degree warmer.


Sigh Me kept me somewhat warm at night, then she sought out every warm spot during the day.
On Monday morning I found a mechanic who worked on the lines (he said I had lost pressure somehow in the propane gas line) but he got it working.  Then at 2:00 am on Tuesday morning the heater stopped working again.  By this time I am wearing two pairs of sox and multiple layers of shirts. 

I decided to wait until I got back to Tucson to deal with repairs on the heater--if I was going to have to leave the RV in a shop somewhere then Sigh Me and I would have a place to sleep in Tucson.

  So, to cheer myself up, I decided to visit the Territorial Prison.  Immediately upon stepping out of the RV in the parking lot, I discovered that my key pad that locks the vehicle had stopped working.  Could it freeze too?  So I played around with it for a minute then stepped back into the RV to find my spare.  Hmm.... would it work? So I put down my camera and purse and stepped outside again to try it.  Well, it locked--but it did not unlock the vehicle!  So I would manually use the key.  OOPS!  I only had the gas key!  Somehow the ignition key had become separated from the ring and was in my purse--inside the vehicle! Along with my phone, highway assistance card, money, and acid indigestion pills!  For the first time in almost two years I had locked myself out of the van.  Okay you big baby..stop blubbering!

Inside the prison I found the nice manager who came out and helped me get the vehicle open.  And within a few hours the key pad started working again.  I could blame pixies, or bad luck, or stupidity--but I really think,  it was just too damn cold!

The Territorial Prison is what you would expect it to be....

stark and ugly and barren--except it was called the 'The Country Club' by the townspeople because it had the only library...

The only hospital and doctor...

and the only dentist.

The rooms were about as spacious as my RV. But shared by six prisoners....


And 6000 bed bugs!

And if you were naughty you got to spend a night--or many, many nights,  in this lovely room.

The Dark Cell was carved out of the side of the caliche rock mountain...

 and so solid that no one was ever able to dig their way out of it.

When the prison was closed soon after the turn of the century,  it became a school for Yuma kids for about 5 years. Then, during the depression,  it was used as a 'stop-over' for the homeless who were passing through on their way to California for work in the fields.

Whew!  Now I am really cheered up.

In the last few years it has been the scene of movies.

So, what do you suppose that object is in the photo above?  It is a dirt dauber's nest!

(The definition in Wikipedia:  Any of various wasps that build nests of mud with cellular compartments for eggs and paralyzed prey.  Also called regionally dirt dauber or mud wasp.)

When I returned to Tucson I went, immediately, to the RV repair place where they completely dismantled my heater and gas lines and this is what they found--a dirt dauber's nest plugging my intake vent that feeds oxygen to the heater so it will burn.

 I have a new screen for the intake that will be arriving tomorrow by mail.  And my heater is working just great, though I hardly need it now.  The temperature is well above freezing at night and the days are a balmy 75 degrees.  And my key pad has not failed to work for over a week now.  Life is good again.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Yuma, Az

I woke up one morning last week to frozen pipes! That has been my single greatest fear--that all my tanks and pipes might freeze and burst--a problem serious enough to postpone my trip for a very long time.

The forecast was grim for the next four days--we would experience a deep freeze.  The cheerful TV weatherman was smiling when he predicted that  we were about to have the coldest period on record for Tucson!

It was time for 'Plan B'.  I instantly went on on-line and looked for the closest town to Tucson that was not forecasting a freeze--Yuma, Az, 250 miles due west. The second step--with Bill and Suzie's great help, was to boil lots of water and pour it into the water tank to try to thaw it out before something broke.  Success!

I was on the road to Yuma in less than an hour.

This lower valley is the very heart of lettuce growing country.....

and lots of old territorial history.  BTW, when did Kress go out of business?

The four days in Yuma were sunny with daytime temperatures in the 60's.  That gave me a chance to get out and walk-- 

and I discovered a wealth of local mural art on the buildings....

I particularly liked Barney's art-deco touch.   For a gas station it was much better than a Red Bull ad.

 But then I began to wonder if street art might go too far. (Does that guy have nose hairs?)

The days may have been warm but the nights were still cold as the thermometer dipped into the 30's.  And then disaster hit again!  My heater stopped working!  Of course, it was the weekend and no mechanics were working--anywhere.  I could see it was going to be several days that Sigh Me and I were going to have to cuddle together under the covers.

(To be continued...)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Babysitting Bailey

My friend Suzie loves yellow labs.  When her beloved dog Bailey died several years ago she soon began talking of finding another to take his place.  Well, Bailey II has entered her life and is filling her days with pleasure as well as closing that empty spot in her heart.

When I arrived on the scene the new Bailey was only 4 months old, bursting with energy and only slightly trained---he responded to 'Food!', 'Cookies' and 'Let's go for a walk' and not much else.

  Suzie and her S.O, Bill, wanted to take a few weeks to visit friends and family in Colorado and they asked if I would be willing to 'Lab sit'.

That seemed like an easy enough request--and the very least I could do for the convenience of parking behind their house.  Besides, have you ever seen such an angelic face?

I quickly learned that angelic expression could become the devil incarnate.

Chewing on chairs seemed to be his favorite pass time--that is until he learned how much fun it was to grab one of my shoes and play 'keep-away' throughout the house until I shouted "Cookies!".  I took to wearing my shoes at all times in self-defense.

The final blow came on the day he reached up onto the counter, tipped my purse onto the floor and took off across the house with my prescription sunglasses.  I followed at break-neck speed shouting "Cookies! Food! T-bone Steak!" until I finally discovered I could trade a 'chewy bone' for the glasses.
It was then that Bailey was sentenced to a 'time out' in the back yard while I regained my breath and composure.

Bailey is a very 'social' dog.  He never wants to be more than a few feet from you, and is always wanting to play or cuddle.  When nature calls and he needs to go outside, he is back at the door in a tail's shake, whereupon, I jump up and quickly open the door for him.  Hmm, clearly he is training me and he doesn't even need to offer me 'cookies'.  Smart dog!

My reward for being such a 'good girl' is a walk.

He knows exactly where he wants to go and how fast.

Well, I certainly could use the exercise and....

The scenery is wonderful.

 Have you ever seen such an angelic dog?