The Tucson Book Fair is one of the largest in the country with ace authors presenting their ‘tips and techniques’ for our edification. Locally I was delighted to be asked to be a presenting author at our own sell-out Author’s Showcase at which my humorous piece earned roaring applause and much laughter. (Unfortunately there were no publishers in the audience beating down my door to buy exclusive rights to my work. ) However, on the plus side of my publishing efforts was meeting a publisher who is very interested in my book Border Intrigue if I will adapt the rewrite to fit the young adult market. In discussions we both agreed that it would be easier to ‘fluff’ it out more to appeal to the adult market rather than soften it for youngsters. The outcome is that it is now on the back burner as my writing interests have taken a different route.
A wonderful part of the year has been our excellent health! Internally both of us are robust! However, Gerhard’s mobility is showing the effects of well-used parts, so we did order him an electric wheelchair to use for longer-range getting around. He doesn’t need it at all for normal daily activities so we had it delivered to Minnesota. There it has been the ‘cat’s meow’. He hot-rods around the property like Mario Andretti ! Then, when he gets to where he intends to work, he parks the chair, gets out to weed or plant flowers and then has the chair handy to relax in or to drive back to get more tools or water or what-ever else he needs. For me, it has taken the worry out of his well-being when he is out of sight working. Plus, of course, it has given him so much more independence. But with the way he tears across the yard, I’m tempted to post speed limit signs!
We arrived at Just Ridin’ Inn on April third. Immediately we saw how hard the winter had been on the property and animals. We picked up roof shingles from the yard, called our contractor, Jerry, out to patch the naked roof spots and then called our neighbor, Frank to come with his tractor to haul the two dead deer carcasses to the burn pile. The Worner family who had wintered in our mobile home said it was not uncommon to see herds of 50 or more deer clustered in the shelter of the buildings as they ate the straw bales used for perimeter insulation! We weren’t there three days before we had to call the septic service company, Mid-West, to come defrost our septic line. Larry had warned us last year to install an outside clean-out access. Of course that was one of those put-off-to-a-more-convenient-time kind of decisions. We paid through the nose for that procrastination. Needless to say we did install the access this time !
Since the weather was ‘workable’ and the garden had been fully mulched last fall, it was ready for planting right away. By the end week of April I had potatoes, onions, radish, leeks, carrots, cabbage cukes, and celery planted as well as indoor starts of kohlrabi, squash, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and melons going. Big mistake! Once again I should have listened to the natives. Oops. The spring was a gardening disaster. It rained every few days but not necessarily enough days in a row to keep seed beds moist during the critical period of sprouting. When bed surfaces dry out, seed germination dies. I replanted. Those plants that did get started began to disappear ! I would see a good stand of peas for instance and the next day go out to find only half of them ! I replanted the naked spots to have the same thing happen again. I set out started plants and again half would disappear ! I never did find out what critter was wiping out my efforts, but apparently the cats finally solved the problem for me. Unfortunately not before the damage was sufficient to really affect my yield. The spring continued to be cool and wet so the surviving plants didn’t really flourish. Then we entered the ‘bug season’. Since I don’t use any chemicals on my plants it took awhile before I discovered that it was slugs eating my cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower. I started to spray with laundry soap which only works if it can stay on the plants. Each rain washed it off and between rains, the over-head sprinkler did the same. Needless to say my plants looked like they barely survived the shrapnel of an IED bomb! It was all very discouraging.
We also suffered our first (and hopefully) last pocket gopher war. When we arrived I noticed a dirt mound in our yard. I called the cats to look it over. Wish I had a picture of three of them surrounding the pile with concentrated interest. Unfortunately their interest must have waned because the next morning there was a new pile. I poured a pile of poison bait pellets into the hole and covered it up to keep the cats out. Next morning, another pile! I fetched the gas cylinders and lit a couple, put them in the hole and covered up the entry with cardboard and dirt. The gas seeping out of the ground convinced me the gas was traveling down the burrows. Next morning, another mound ! This time I was determined to get the beast so I headed to the farm supply store. I picked up .22 bullets since that was the way I used to eliminate the pests in California. The salesman sold me a wicked looking prong trap and some super-duper-get-any-gopher-that-ever-thought-of-living poison bait. It took some ginger handling to get that trap set and I gently pushed it into the hole. The instructions said to tether it to a stake, but I didn’t think that was necessary. I covered the hole with a bottomless plastic milk jug, piled some dirt around the base with smug satisfaction. But since my back-up plan was my trusty old .22, I drew a gopher on a sheet of paper and tacked it on a tree stump about 50 yards away. I hadn’t handled a gun for decades so I wasn’t sure I still had an “eye”. First shot was a perfect ‘heart’ shot so I didn’t need to waste any more ammo on practice! The next morning I was flabbergasted to see the milk jug was filled with dirt and the trap was nowhere to be found ! I was furious ! So I poured a mound of that super-bait into the new hole and the trap hole, again covered them to keep the cats out and fumed! Low and behold ! The next morning as I looked out I saw another mound of dirt! The yard was starting to look like a battleground! But while I watched a spray of dirt puffed up out of the hole! I grabbed my rifle and sneaked out behind the utility trailer and took aim. Eventually the little varmint poked out. I squeezed the trigger. Click. A dud shell! The gopher disapppeared and I stepped back, cursing under my breath, to eject the next couple of shells and then took aim again to wait. He popped up and I took my shot. Perfect heart shot again! Yahooooo! Got the little B_ _ _ _ _ d ! I pulled the carcass a little out of the hole and called the cats to show them what they were to handle in the future. You would have thought the lazy suckers took credit for the kill the way they pounced on that critter ! But I didn’t have any more gophers for the rest of the year so maybe they did go to work after all.
June began a sad period for us. My cousin, Shirley’s health took a turn for the worse and in May they discovered a fast developing brain tumor that was inoperable. Her children sold the farm to a neighbor which put her oldest son, David out of a home. We extended an invitation to him to live in our mobile home while he commuted to the farm to complete clearing out the shop. It was a heart breaking time for all. Shirley’s tumor caused dementia, she fell and broke her arm and hip which meant she could not sit up for dialysis. The kids had a horrible decision to make: to discontinue dialysis and let their mother go rather than prolonging her agony through surgery, pain and mental deterioration. We felt so helpless in not being able to comfort them through this horrible time. All we could do was assure David he had a home with family who love him. She passed away mid July just after her 72 birthday.
One special date this year was the Heritage Days (4th of July to most people). The ‘cousin’ I met last year, Chris Signalness, did return with his two sisters and his aunt. He is more directly related to David than to me, so that was great to bring more family back into his life. They came to discover more of their roots. For me it was wonderful to meet more relatives and to assimilate them into our family. We featured them and their quest for their roots in the Heritage Day Parade by adding balloons and streamers to our van. David made a big signboard for the top proclaiming Signalness Family Discovers Their Roots. I had invited as many family and friends as I could to come to an open house for them. A number of them did contact me with gratitude that I helped knit back together a scattered branch of the family. One even sent me a book that contained a historical reference to their settling the region. What a joy for me to be a part of this reunion! I think Gerhard is still shell-shocked about the size of this family!
One logistical gymnastic we encountered was sufficient bedding. I had arranged this visit long before we knew about David coming to briefly stay in the mobile home. I had ‘booked’ all three upstairs bedrooms plus our personal bedroom with the two beds to the Signalnesses expecting we would stay in the mobile fully furnished ‘vacation home’. Just a few weeks before the 4th I got a call from a group of people who wanted to book the mobile for the weekend. Ugh! I agreed. After all, we are in the business of lodging. But by the time the big weekend arrived David was staying in the vacation home so we and he would be out of a bed. Well, he solved the problem by bringing the extra beds from his old home, setting up a cozy ‘bedroom’ in our shop for the three of us. When I headed out there that first night after making sure all our guests were comfortable, I entered the make-shift bedroom first stepping on an entry rug, viewing a perfectly made up king size bed and a smaller bed for him, table lamps and even an oscillating fan for my comfort. We ‘camped’ in total comfort! What fun!
After everyone left, David took comfort in his new ‘home’ and decided to accept our offer to make it a long term commitment, at least through the winter. We couldn’t be happier with that decision. He took over all the mowing and trimming and all the things that need fixing or doing on our place. He takes all meals with us and we enjoy him starting our days with his smile and wittiness. We play cards or dominos many evenings before he returns to his home, the mobile. We included most of our big shop in the “David Space”. He immediately rewired the place with florescent lights, switches and outlet plugs aplenty. That shop is more usable than it has ever been! He created a nice workbench space for my height and a gardening section. Attentive to Gerhard’s needs, he put a handrail on the deck steps and reassembled the blocks from the kitchen into the garage into broader half-height steps that Gerhard can use more safely. With him doing the lawn care and Gerhard doing all the weeding and flower planting and care I am left with leisure time. What a joy ! He is our winter care taker as well. But here in Arizona we both miss him starting our days with his smile. We extended an invitation for him to come out for awhile this winter to get out of the snow and cold.
I did get caught up in Dragon Fever again this year. With help from a couple of other women we canvassed the local businesses and towns for supporters and teams for the big race the second week of August. Caught up in the solicitation for the event I put off contacting my team from last year. Big mistake! Other teams pilfered my team away! So as I approached the big day, I had a boat, but was missing 20 paddlers! I also didn’t have the helpers I expected to handle numerous duties I had volunteered to take on. A couple weeks before race day the area was hit with a tornado that caused significant damage to structures and uprooted many trees.
Many of the race participants are tradesmen that had to work seven day weeks to repair and clean up the
the county. So teams were without paddlers and the festival was without helpers. So I recruited
Gerhard and David to help with parking and traffic control. Neither was happy about it, but both were real sports to do it anyway. At the last minute the wonderful helpers in the team registration booth all but attacked anybody who was not assigned to a team already to paddle the Just Ridin’ Inn boat in the race. So we did have a boat full of paddlers and hopefully a team again next year. I sure won’t make the mistake again of
just assuming my team is ready and willing. We will plan for practice and for the fun of getting together and uniting as a pull-together team.
We did get together with friends a few times as the summer continued, but not nearly as much as previous years or as much as we wanted. We ate, played dominos and enjoyed the folks we have come to know. But next year we intend to expand these get-togethers to others that we were unable to include this year. We really do feel deprived to have not had the opportunity to ‘play’ with other friends. In retrospect I realize that Shirley’s passing took a toll on not just our time, but even more so, our feelings to be celebratory.
|Tanda and Gwen|
Although I was not able to help much with activities and services at our ‘new’ Shalom Community Lutheran Church, (I can’t ‘book’ my time because I may have to be available for guests) I couldn’t be more overjoyed with what this congregation is doing. Our members consist of many young people and younger families with children. Being a congregation based fellowship our tithing goes to mission work decided upon by unanimous agreement of the mission group. Proposals are submitted and discussed by anyone who wishes to participate in this process. A third of the benefits are Global, a third National and a third Local. Because we keep operational expenditures as minimal as possible we are able to contribute to many people and causes. The young people of our congregation are truly examples of a conscientious group of future leaders that I am pleased to know. I am so proud to be a part of an organization that is encouraging these quality people to step into the future and help lead our nation with morals and ethics.
We were set to return to Arizona in late October in order to be here and ready for a visit from Gerhard’s daughter, Martina, in early November. The autumn was so nice I didn’t want to leave. But a hard freeze in early October froze the garden so thoroughly that even David and my efforts couldn’t save the plants. We ended up harvesting everything possible to ripen slowly on the shop work table. I was canning up batches of tomatoes as they ripened and trying to eat up everything that had to be consumed fresh before it was past saving. With David’s help, the outside furniture was rounded up and stored in the stable, all the young trees were wrapped with netting to keep the deer from turning them all into stubby bushes again this winter, the compost pile was turned and covered, and the garden was heavily mulched for the winter. We cleared the shop floor by selling or giving away all unused or unwanted accumulation of ‘stuff’ and organized for storage everything else. That effort left buildings such as our garage, his garage, the other stall and feed/tack room available for inside vehicle storage. David does have a lot of equipment as well as three personal vehicles. He worked on that after we left and reports that all are inside and secure.
Gerhard and Our hay yield with the un-repaired barn
Our four cats made the journey just fine. They are good travelers at this point and don’t even seem to mind their one-room incarceration. We both spend time each day sitting with them and they are getting fat without the exercise of hunting and killing.
Martina’s visit was short but great! We spent an afternoon shopping and we both found items we were looking for. Dad and daughter had quiet, quality time working on their stamp collections as well as discussing events and items of mutual interest.
Gerhard has consented to attending a few musical presentations that weren’t necessarily of his ‘ilk’, but he stoically withstood the ‘boom/boom’ music. Neighbors joined us at the Tribute to Sun Records that featured the songs by Elvis, Johnny Cash, piano of Jerry Lee Lewis performed by Robert Shaw who does a remarkable job of ‘imitating’ those legends. The keyboard came alive under the hands of Mr. Boogie Woogie of Holland.
I have continued to walk five miles a day and have now added a half mile swim while Gerhard power walks the 30 laps. We both are working hard to improve our health and mobility. I have cut back on my portions and consequently lost quite a bit of weight. My goal is to loose another 50 pounds this winter and then 25 more next summer. I would then be back at the weight I was when we got together. Gerhard just finished his annual physical and has a blood panel a 20 year old would envy! Not a single value out of range !
So on that very positive note I will wrap up this annual journal. We wish all of you a warm and joyous Christmas season and for those of you who do not observe this time of year in a Christian way, we wish you Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Bright Solstice or Apathetic Atheism. (Got to remain politically correct, you know.)
Merry Christmas from the Residents of Just Ridin’ Inn
|Gerhard and David|
|Gerhard and Gwen|
|Ruff, Carter and Littlist|