Keyless in Denver

Tuesday was a perfect day of air travel. That isn’t something anyone can say very often these days. Our Uber driver in AZ was not only on time, but about 15 minutes early. We made our way to the Phoenix airport with our driver, Christopher, who was very pleasant, and only tried to persuade me to accept Jesus as my personal savior once. Ironically, after he dropped us off, he was going to play poker at one of the casinos.

Our plane was on time. Thanks to Bill’s cane, we were allowed to board early, providing us the opportunity to get seats only a few rows back from the front of the plane. Our flight was an hour and five minutes, wheels up to wheels down, not even time to sip a glass of free Coke Zero. Our Denver Lyft driver was waiting for us when we walked up to the curb. Aside from the fact that he drove as slow as Grandma Moses, he was pleasant enough. He didn’t mention Jesus once. He was too busy slowing down for curves in the toll road.

I’m no longer mad at Southwest. We all make mistakes. Even though they canceled our Christmas Day flight, they made up for it this week. We had made our reservations to fly out on March 29, but decided suddenly we wanted to leave sooner. I got online to Southwest, and with the click of a button, I was able to make new reservations without a single hitch or the need to talk to a single person. That doesn’t happen these days very often.

And then came the only glitch: when we walked in the door, the first thing I noticed was that our car keys were not hanging where they normally hang. After we were settled, we began looking, to no avail. No car keys. That used to not be that big of a problem in the old days when cars — and their fobs — weren’t computers. It’s totally different these days,

Yesterday morning, I called our dealer and asked how I go about replacing a lost key. The answer: Bring the car into the dealership, and then wait until mid-April when the new fobs will get in. Yikes. I called every Honda dealer in Denver and the story was the same. No fobs without special order, I guess from Japan.

People kept asking me, “Don’t you have a spare fob?”

Maybe. But if we do, it’s in the lockbox that is locked and the key is long gone because of our move. But, since desperate times call for desperate measures, Bill the Bandito got his hammer and chisel and broke into the thief-proof lockbox.

Voila! There was a spare key. A spare key that I will now guard with my life.

We’re glad to be back at Wind Crest.

Packin’ It In

We leave this morning to head back to Colorado and our apartment. It’s never easy to pack to go home for the spring, summer, and fall because we purposely bought things to keep here that we also have in Colorado. The problem, of course, is because we are old and forgetful, we can’t always remember what’s here and what’s there. So, in addition to our suitcases, we are shipping two boxes of miscellaneous stuff that we likely already have there.

We have reservations to return to AZ in May for Bill’s dentist appointments. Quite frankly, however, we may just decide that it’s time to move all doctors’ appointments to the Denver area. Flying is not a lot of fun. Now people are trying to open up the exit doors while flying 30,000 feet in the air. Not good.

We will be back and settled by this afternoon, but I likely won’t blog until Thursday. Assuming no one opens the exit door mid-flight.

Eating Bark

Saturday afternoon, around 4 o’clock, our 13-year-old grandson Joseph told his parents that his pants were feeling tight. They were in the car, driving home from a shopping trip in Burlington, Vermont. “Oh, it’s probably just that your waist is too tight,” one of them responded. “You know how you’re growing out of your clothes.”

“Yeah,” he said. “But I’m growing out of my clothes in the legs, not in the waist,” said the boy, who is seemingly growing inches by the week.

They kept him quiet the rest of the day, but that night, it became clear that something was wrong. They made a trip to the emergency room at the little hospital in Montpelier, where they live. This led to that, and as is the way in ERs, the diagnosis was finally in: appendicitis.

As we all know, humans are born with an appendix that has absolutely no use. Well, that isn’t exactly true, as Joseph explained yesterday when we FaceTimed. You need an appendix to digest wood.

“Do you plan on eating any bark?” I asked the boy. He assured me he had no interest in chewing on a piece of bark, now or ever.

Montpelier is a very small town, despite the fact that it is the state capital. So it isn’t surprising that the ER staff was friendly and kind. It is also not surprising that there was not a surgeon right there in the hospital at 2 o’clock in the morning to assess the need for surgery. In fact, following the CT scan, the radiologist read the scan from his/her bedroom, perhaps wearing fur-lined bunny slippers.

It was, indeed, appendicitis. However, they had caught it early. So early, in fact, that there was some talk about treating it conservatively, using antibiotics. Wait and see what the surgeon says, they told the family.

The surgeon arrived at 5 o’clock Sunday morning, and, as surgeons are wont to do, he recommended surgery. Surgeons do surgery, so it was no surprise. However, the surgery was done lapriscopically, requiring only a small incision. He was under general anesthesia, so he didn’t remember much, though he thinks he had dreams while sleeping.

“It was the best sleep I ever had,” he told me. Indeed, that’s what Michael Jackson thought too.

He was home by noon, not much worse for wear.

“I’m a bit achy,” he said.

Lauren, who was with him throughout the ordeal while Heather stayed home with the Little Brother, said she was proud because all of the medical staff commented on his wonderful manners. And his curly hair.

And when he finally stood up, they were all wide-eyed with wonder.

“My, you are really TALL,” was all they could say.

He looks a bit peaked, I will admit. But I’m proud of my grandson, and happy that he lives in the 21st century.

Saturday Smile: Home Again, Finnegin

At some point yesterday afternoon, I decided it was time to go back to Colorado. It came to me like God himself speaking out loud. So I changed our reservations from March 29 to March 21. I know it’s the right thing to do, both for me and for Bill. I will miss my AZ family, but I will be able to hug at least some of my grandkids very soon.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Book Whimsy: The Tobacco Wives

The Tobacco Wives, by Adele Myers, is the story of how one industry can impact the lives of an entire city.

It’s 1946, and following the death of her father, young Maddie Sykes and her mother are struggling to make ends meet. One day, Maddie’s mother packs the teen into her car with all of her things and takes her to Bright Leaf, North Carolina, where she leaves her with her Aunt Etta without any warning. Maddie had spent many summers with her aunt, but this time it was different. Her mother was leaving her for good, off to find a husband to take care of her.

Bright Leaf is a tobacco town. Nearly everyone has a connection to cigarettes. They work long shifts at the factory. They support the tobacco people through grocery stores and schools and gas stations. In turn, the tobacco company keeps everyone employed.

Aunt Etta is a magnificent seamstress, and over the years, has taught Maddie her skills. Etta creates the beautiful clothes for the wealthy wives of the tobacco executives. She takes Maddie under her wing, and has her help her sew the gowns and other clothes for the women.

While missing her mother, Maddie becomes friends with the women, and improves on her skills. But she begins noticing that there are a lot of sick people in the town. When her aunt takes ill and is hospitalized, Maddie takes over her business entirely in preparation for the biggest event of the year. She stumbles across a letter that indicates there is a lot the tobacco people aren’t saying. Eventually, Maddie must choose between spilling the beans and risking the lives of the people with whom she has grown close.

The Tobacco Wives is the story of how an industry can practically own a town, especially back in the days before working conditions were improved. Just as important, it tells readers how a young woman finds her voice.

The novel was a debut for the author, and has some typical debutitis. Still, I enjoyed the book.

Here is a link to the book.

Thursday Thoughts

I mentioned Tuesday that this has been a very wet winter and spring, resulting in the Super Bloom. It’s been a weird winter everywhere, with snow falling across the country in a way that I don’t remember ever happening before. That explains the desert rains we have had here. I guess I can’t complain about rain when other places are getting 12 inches of snow and frigid temps. Still, yesterday was a chilly and rainy day, very uncharacteristic for March in AZ. It really didn’t matter much to us, as we had no where to be. The rain will pass, but the temps will remain in the low to mid-70s for a bit. I guess I can’t complain about that. We’ll be heading back to Colorado soon enough. The temps there are comparable to ours here today, but March and April can also offer lots of snow.

Luck of the Irish
I did venture out yesterday in the rain to go to the grocery store. I am cooking my annual St. Patrick’s Day corned beef dinner, and I didn’t want to wait too long until the stores were out of the briskets. There were plenty of corned beef briskets at Fry’s and I bought two — the biggest one I could find and the smallest I could find. Between the two, I should have the perfect amount for my guests. Throw in some carrots, cabbage, and potatoes, and we have a perfect meal.

I heard on the news last night that the French Bulldog has surpassed the labrador retriever as America’s favorite dog. Personally, I have never been a fan of a flat-nosed dog. I understand that the Frenchie has become the fancy dog to own, but I will take a Yorkipoo like my sister’s Winston any day of the week.

Sea of Yellow

For the first time in my 69 years of life, I’m having to deal with our tax return. Up until now, I’ve happily relied on others to handle that nasty little chore. From the time I was 14 and started receiving a paycheck until I got married, my dad handled my taxes. And when I say “handled,” I’m pretty sure that means he handed my W2 over to the accountant who was doing his taxes and paid him to do mine as well. Look up “spoiled” in the dictionary and you’ll see my face.

From the time I got married, someone else handled my tax returns. My first husband, my second husband, you get the picture. There must have been someone who handled things between my husbands, because I don’t remember doing my own taxes and I’m not — nor have I ever been — in prison next to Al Capone.

Bill has always done our taxes. Given that we are not sophisticated investors with billions of earnings, he hasn’t complained. Much. But last year almost did him in, and so with the sale of our house this year, we decided it was time to have a professional do our taxes.

This decision resulted in me having to find all of our important tax-related papers and put them into “the Box” that I created with the help of my accountant’s assistant. The Box is an internet program into which I put all of my important tax documents. Sounds easy, but it has been highly stressful. But I’m easily stressed. You would think that I had been asked to do Elon Musk’s taxes.

Anyhoo, we finally got everything into the GD Box yesterday morning. By that time my blood pressure was discernably high.

“Let’s go for a ride to see the Super Bloom,” I suggested to Bill.

The newscasters had been talking about the Super Bloom the evening before. It’s the time in spring when all of the cactus flowers and mountain blooms start popping up. This year its anticipated the the Super Bloom is going to be a Super DOOPER Bloom because of all the winter rain. I knew seeing the beautiful blossoms would calm my nerves and subsequently lower my blood pressure.

Here’s what we saw maybe three miles from our home…..

Consider my blood pressure lowered.

Broken Crown

After nearly 31 years of marriage, I should have known by the sound of his voice. But I had just laid down to take a nap, the quilt snuggled over my head.

“Kris,” I heard him call weakly to me.

I looked up as he stumbled into the bedroom, his hand on his head.

“I fell down outside and hit my head,” he announced. “I’m pretty sure I’m bleeding.”

He was. My nap was over and I became Nurse Kris. Nurse Kris is a very bad nurse. She doesn’t like the sight of blood. She sucks in air through her teeth quite a bit. She’s not a bit like Nurse Cherry Ames in the mystery novels I grew up reading. To be fair, I always liked that Cherry (so-called because of her naturally cherry-red lips) solved mysteries, but I didn’t envy the nursing part. Nurse Kris just kept saying over and over, “You’re bleeding. You’re bleeding.”

As you might imagine, that wasn’t a big help.

Actually, once we got a wet rag on his head and stopped the bleeding, both he and I were pretty sure he wasn’t seriously injured. He could tell I held up three fingers. He could remember that it was Sunday. But since I couldn’t tell how deep the cut was, and we were both concerned about brain bleeds and concussions, we decided a trip to the ER was in order.

I have been to the ER on many occasions, but this was the first time that I was in the ER as the Other Person. Even the one time that an injury required Court to go to the ER, he was with his dad. I will tell you that I’m a pretty good ER patient. Perhaps because I go for bowel obstructions, I am almost immediately given pain killer in my IV. I am, however, not a good Other Person. It takes an abundance of patience, and I have enough patience to wait for a red light to change green, and that’s about it.

A full five hours and one CT scan later, we finally learned that he had no bleeding in the brain. That’s was a relief to me because had the CT scan shown bleeding, he would already be dead because it took that long to get the scan. To be fair, I’m pretty sure medical folks could tell that they only needed to do the scan so that they didn’t get sued or they might have lit a fire under themselves a bit.

During the five hours we spent there, we were neighbors to a man with respiratory issues who was eventually told he tested positive for COVID. You should have seen how quickly the mask came out of my purse. Down the row a bit, there was a man who began vomiting. I admit to having a vomiting phobia, but even Bill had his hands over his ears. I am not exaggerating when I say that the man vomited for 20 to 25 minutes without stopping. Bless his heart. And his gut.

As we continued to wait, and after the vomiting had stopped, we began discussing where we would go to dinner. After all, my grandmother always said, “No matter what, you always need a little something to eat.”

Our results were good, we were finally released, and we had Italian food and a bottle of wine.

Saturday Smile: New York, New York

These little town blues
They’ve all melted away
I’m gonna make a brand new start of it
In old New York

Leonard Bernstein

Our Vermont family is used to small-town living, but every once in a while, they drive to New York City. They recently did so, and sent Bill and me this photo. It made me smile.

And seeing Hamilton, no less.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday Thoughts

Summertime, And the Living is Easy
I think winter is finally over in AZ. Yesterday’s temperature was in the mid-70s, and today’s is supposed to be even higher. By week’s end, it will be 80. Then I can start complaining about how hot it is! Seriously, however, I am very happy to have the typical March weather finally here. Bill and I had our cocktails on our patio yesterday afternoon, and that was fun.

Giggles and Grins
Every morning, and very often throughout the day, there is a quail that hangs out on our back wall. Of course, I have no way of being certain that it is the quail every time. I would bet on it, however. I would also bet on the fact that somewhere in the vicinity, there is a nest where eggs are being kept warm by either the male or female quail at all times. A few years ago, a female quail laid her eggs in my geranium pot. It was fun to watch the parents care for the eggs. I will admit that as I watch the quail every morning, I am certain that as God was creating all of the animals, including birds, he was laughing as he designed the quail. They are the funniest birds, what with their seemingly useless topknots. And the way they run across the road in little packs makes me laugh, as I think God laughed….

Australian Flat White
For about a year now, a locally-owned coffee shop has been attempting to open. It’s called Cup of Joey. Apparently, they have had a presence around the Valley for quite some time in the form of a truck that traveled various farmers’ markets and other places where people drink coffee. This is their first actual store. The owner is from Australia, and stands near the counter and greets everyone as they come in. He asked my name during my first visit, and has remembered it ever since. His accent is so appealing. The other day, I asked him about a flat white. My sister Jen loves them, and I just couldn’t quite understand what they are. Apparently they differ from a latte in that the milk is steamed, but there is no froth. I ordered on the other day, after Steve (the owner) assured me that what they make is a true Australian Flat White. Not like Starbucks’ flat white, which he said aren’t either flat or white. I don’t have a dog in the fight, but I have never really cared for Starbucks coffee. The coffee at Cup of Joey is AMAZING. You gotta love those locally owned places.

Chewing Steak
I am happy to say that yesterday Bill got his crowns put on his back implants — at least most of them. It is so nice for him to actually have teeth again. Lord knows the man never complained, but he got tired of chewing with front teeth and gums. He has one more set of crowns to get put on in May, and he will finally be done. Yay.