Monday, December 29, 2008

12/29/08 This will be the last post for 2008! Sounds rather final, doesn't it?! Currently we are at Park Sierra and are trying to tie up all the loose ends and pack for our 46 day cruise around South America. Tomorrow we will be driving to San Diego to stay with Darran & Marielle overnight, and then they will drive us to the airport early on Wednesday. We will be landing in Orlando at 5:30PM if the travel Goddess is with us. I know what you are thinking: "Why won't they arrive on time if they are flying from San Diego (warm place-no snow) to Orlando (warm place-no snow). Well, our one stop is in Chicago!!!! Sure hope there are no weather-related problems there on Wednesday!
In Florida, besides celebrating New Year's alone in a motel room in Orlando, we will hope to be visiting Milt & Beth Bourassa, a delightful couple we met in Nova Scotia in 1998 and who hosted us at their lovely home at Loon Lake in New Hampshire right after that. They also drove us all over Vermont during Fall colors. Now they have a winter home in Lady Lake, FL and we are planning to drive there to see them.
Our ship leaves on Jan. 4 from Port Canaveral. There will be 12 couples of friends with us on the first 2 weeks of this cruise, and we are hoping we can all interact over dinner at adjacent tables. I have tried to set this up by e-mail but you never know what the cruise line has done until you check in!
Since we are leaving on this long cruise, there is no telling when we will be able to do blog updates. It depends on the internet availability at the ports of call. So please be patient and I will try to make it worth your while when I do an update.
Here are a few pictures from the Christmas Day dinner with our friends at Jojoba SKP park:

Terry Webb, Alice Zyetz, Vicky Webb, Carole & Dick Schneider, Mary & Elaine in front of the Jojoba Hills Christmas Tree

Our friends, Bob & Carol Torns, whom we haven't seen in years!

Two of the chickens that Carole roasted for the feast.

Mary & Elaine with Dudley and Marilyn Varney, former Park Sierra residents who now have a lot at Jojoba SKP Park.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

12/25/08 MERRY CHRISTMAS! In a few minutes we will be heading up to the clubhouse here at Jojoba Hills SKP Park to have Christmas dinner with Dick & Carole Schneider, and 10 other people who have signed up to sit at their table. It is a potluck, but Carole is fixing one of her gourmet delights for the main course - chickens stuffed with couscous, dried fruits & herbs on a bed of both white and sweet potatoes. The rest of us are providing the accoutrements. One of the couples joining us is Carol & Bob Torns, SKPs from New York whom we met years ago at a morel mushroom picking event in Montana. We have kept loosely in touch ever since, and we quite surprised to see them again, camped just a few spaces from us in the boondock area. That is one of the delights of this nomadic lifestyle; reconnecting with old friends in unexpected places.
Elaine and I actually just returned to Jojoba after driving down to San Diego yesterday to spend last night with Elaine's son, Darran & Marielle, his girlfriend, in their new 2 bedroom apartment. Her sister and husband joined us and we were delighted to meet them, as they are friendly and warm, just as Marielle is. They had a beautiful tree set up, with lights, etc. and we all helped cook a delicious turkey dinner, with vegetarian lasagna for Marielle and Megan. As we were cooking, it became obvious that they were in dire need of some pans and storage containers, so we rushed over to Costco to get them a new set of each as a combination Christmas and housewarming gift. That certainly made the meal prep go better, and also we had the needed containers for the leftovers later. We ended the evening watching a DVD of old movies that Darran & Tarra's Dad had given them for Christmas. The movies were from the days when they were between about age 2 and 6 and it brought back so many memories. They were such little cuties! Here are a few pictures from our time together:

Darran & Elaine Preparing The Turkey

Marielle & Darran in their new tiny kitchen.

Darran, Marielle, Megan (Marielle's sister), and her husband, Ben

Darran, Marielle, Mary & Elaine In Front of the Christmas Tree
Before driving over here from the desert, we took the following picture at Rainbow Acres in Quartzsite. It is a unique decoration but I wouldn't want to be the one who has to take it down!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

12/15/08 Can't believe that 2 weeks have passed since I updated this! And this will be brief because we are leaving soon to go to Algodones, Mexico, across the border from Yuma, for a shopping trip. Yes, we are now camped out in the desert off Sidewinder Rd. with our friends Lee & Susie Blattner. Sweeties that they are, they had a delicious dinner ready for us when we got here on Saturday, and we have been gabbing and playing cards with them ever since. The weather has been cold and overcast but so far, no rain. We always hope for warm weather when we come to AZ in the winter and the last few years, we have NOT been getting it!
Friday night we were able to park in front of our friend, Eileen Cooper's, out in the Foothills and have a great visit with her too. She was one of the friends who came from far away for our wedding and then we felt bad that we hardly had any time to talk to her then. We have caught up on her news now - and met her new Irish setter too.
Before coming to Yuma, we were in Chandler, visiting Al & Donna Ellis at their home there. And our friend, Marilyn Harrison had knee surgery there too, so we were at the hospital with her and Mike that day. Two days later when we called her, she said her leg was swollen and Elaine told her to call her doctor. But she didn't and Saturday she ended up going back into the hospital with a pulmonary embolism. Now she is on blood thinners and will be in there 3-6 days. Too bad we left the area because we should be there with love and support, like she was for us during our wedding.
No pictures on this blog because I have been too lazy to take any lately! If the weather gets better here, I will get the camera out. In the meantime, we are going to use the rest of our time here to start getting ready for our upcoming cruise, and also get off a Christmas letter to friends. We are doing our usual push to get thinner and stay healthy by walking everyday, lifting weights, etc. too. Hope all is going well for all of you, valued Blog Readers!

Monday, December 01, 2008

12/1/08 Welcome to December! We have started the month by staying on the RV lot of RoVing Rods leaders Barb and Ron Bonham. They went to their time share for a week and we are feeding their cat while they are gone. Having the use of their infrastructure isn't such a bad thing either! Our car and RV were absolutely filthy because we had to drive to the Thanksgiving gathering on the Colorado River during a huge rainstorm. Also, the last 3 miles were on dirt (make that mud) roads. So the last 2 days we have been washing them and cleaning up the inside too. That will continue tomorrow in the RV.
The Thanksgiving gathering was fun with about 20 people attending the dinner potluck. The location was at a boondocking area about 100 yards off the Colorado River near Ehrenburg, AZ and close to a small tributary where the guys could launch their boats to do some fishing.

They managed to catch some stripers, catfish, bass, etc. and some of them already had other kinds of fish filleted and frozen, which they contributed for a fish fry which was held on Friday night. This is one of the perks of hanging around with people who like to fish!!!!
Anyway, the Thanksgiving food was 2 smoked turkeys and a ham, prepared by Ron Bonham, along with side dishes prepared by everyone else.

This is the big advantage of attending RV gatherings for holidays - everyone helps in the food preparation so there is a lot less work than when we used to prepare the whole meal for our families and friends.
As usual, there was too much food and we had to have a leftover meal on Friday noon. Elaine and I had to go for a walk afterwards to try to walk off some of the calories. Here is a picture of the area so you can see that although we were parked in the desert, there was still lots of vegetation.

This is one of the advantages of the Arizona desert over California and Nevada deserts, which have much fewer plants and plant types.
Our friends Peggy and Chuck Palumbo, who were the only RoVing Rods members who attended our wedding, were here in their new 5th wheel. We were happy to be able to spend some time with them chatting and drinking port and eating chocolates in their new rig, because we did not have much time with them at the wedding. Here is a picture of them in front of their new Hitchhiker II.

We also enjoyed meeting several new couples who were parked near us, especially Warren and Carolyn Miller. Here they are, sitting with Barb Bonham.

Unfortunately, one of the members, Carol (don't know her last name), started passing blood on Friday and her husband, Denny, took her to the hospital in Parker. In the middle of the night she was air lifted to Las Vegas and was in the ICU until today. They cauterized 2 perforations in her esophagus near her stomach, and she is now on the road to recovery.
We will be here until Saturday, when Barb and Ron will return for the park-wide garage sale. Of course, Elaine will have to peruse all the offerings at this sale, so perhaps we won't be leaving here until Sunday....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

11/26/08 Happy Thanksgiving Blog Readers! Tomorrow is the big day and we hope that all of you have a marvelous time with family and/or friends. We have driven our RV down to the Colorado River near Ehrenburg, AZ where we arrived today to spend the holiday with our fishing group, the RoVing Rods. Not being inclined to wait until tomorrow for feasting, Chuck and Peggy Palumbo prepared a nice spaghetti dinner for the 16 people already here, with everyone else contributing salads or dessert. If we had any hopes of starting to drop some of the pounds we gained on our recent cruise, they were dashed by this delicious meal. Usually this group meets at Mittry Lake, near Yuma. But they have relocated here in the hopes of catching more fish, and this move has already paid off for some of the fishermen. We hope this luck continues so that there might be a fish fry in the next few days, as well as the customary turkey dinner tomorrow.
Here are a few more details about our cruise and some pictures, which I promised you last time. The last post on this blog was from Punta Delgada, Azores, which was the second stop on our 12 day trans-Atlantic cruise. The cruise was on a Royal Caribbean ship called the Navigator of the Seas. Here we are in front of it. As you can tell, it is a huge ship: about 3000 passengers and 1200 crew.

The interior of the ship was very pretty (although the art work was kind of cheesy). Here is a picture looking down towards the Promenade deck:

There were also some whimsical characters near the onboard casino. The one is black is Elaine.

One of the best parts of the cruise was having our friends, Dick & Carole Schneider on the ship with us. Here they are with Elaine up on the upper deck.

Punta Delgada is a very nice little town, with old yet attractive buildings and is obviously very well maintained. This time there were a lot of Christmas decorations up in the narrow streets and also lots of colorful flowers:

Besides walking around in the streets and doing some e-mails at the internet, Carole, Elaine and I took a local bus over to the other side of the island and back. It was interesting to see the fields in the interior as well as what the other towns were like where there was not much tourist activity because they are away from the cruise port. Besides meeting 2 Mormon missionaries on the bus, who greatly impressed us with their maturity and dedication, we also met a young man in a small bar when we stopped for a glass of local wine. He gave us a lot of information about the life there, as well as the food and the wine.
Then it was time to enjoy 6 days at sea. There were many activities on the ship, including 2 different ice shows, live entertainment every night after dinner, and game show type events and dancing until the wee hours. Elaine and I did several exercise classes each day and also spent some time using the elliptical machines and weight machines in the gym, as well as walking on the deck a lot to try to burn off some of the thousands of calories we were eating every day!
There were three formal nights for dinner, so we dressed up a bit. Here we are with Dick & Carole, looking much nicer than usual, don't you think?

There were 4 gay guys at the table next to us at dinner, so we exchanged seats with the straight couple who was assigned to their table and we ate with them several nights. They were all very nice and wonderful company, and we were glad to have the chance to spend some time getting to know them better.

Another friend we made on the ship was a guy named Ray Rosborough, who used to work in the SF Sheriff's department with our good friend, Jonna Harlan. What a small world!

Our last port was Nassau. We have been here before several times and think that the town is not very charming, but we walked around a bit anyway, just to get off the ship. Here is a picture of the ships that were already moored here and the town:

We had a very nice group of people at our table for dinner every night, including a delightful older couple from the Czech Republic and a Canadian couple who also have a place in Florida, named Paul and Joan. We had an enjoyable cocktail party in their room while the ship was docked in Nassau, and it was great to hang over their balcony and look at the scenery and passing boats.

Our cruise ended last Saturday, but by the time we flew back from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida it was late so we stayed at a hotel near SFO. Then we took BART back to Fremont to pick up our car from Tarra's. Next we had to drive back to Park Sierra, stopping on the way to have a late lunch in Merced with my granddaughter, Paige. Monday was busy with chores like laundry and appointments at Kaiser in Fresno. So we felt lucky that we were able to get away from Park Sierra by about 10 AM on Tuesday to start the drive south. Tuesday night we stayed at an Indian casino between Redlands and Palm Springs and a massive rain storm hit after we went to bed. There was so much standing water in one of the rest areas we stopped in today that I'm surprised there weren't ducks swimming around! We are hoping for nice weather tomorrow for the Thanksgiving Feast, since RV events always have to be held outside.

Friday, November 14, 2008

14 November We are in a public internet in Punta Delgada, in the Azores on the 5th day of our repositioning cruise between Barcelona and Ft. Lauderdale. Happily, we are with Dick and Carole Schneider and have been having a great time. The ship is the Navigator of the Seas and is a much larger ship than the last one, so there have been adjustments to make. There has been only one afternoon and evening of fairly heavy wind which causes us to walk the decks like a drunken sailor. And it was amazing to watch the waves in the swimming pools and all the water sloshing out over the top. Although we have been doing lots of walking, stair climbing, and some workouts in the exercise room, the food has been plentiful and good, and we will no doubt have to shave off some pounds when we get back. Once we leave here we have 6 days at sea, and then we will be in the Bahamas. Our return date is the 22nd in Ft. Lauderdale, and we fly back to SFO the same day. So no pictures until then, and a more complete report at that time too. The weather has been good, sunny and warm, and the entertainment too. So we are happy cruisers and we hope all of you blog readers are doing fine too.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

11/6/08 Hello Blog Readers,
Have been meaning to update this for a while, since we forgot to put a few pictures on that people specifically requested from the wedding. So I will do that, but I’m warning you now, there is going to be some ranting at the end of this posting due to the passing of Prop 8 on Tuesday.
On the day of the wedding, my brother brought a gift from my stepmother, Maxine, who couldn’t attend. We were supposed to open it between the ceremony and the reception, but somehow the box got misplaced and we didn’t find it until the next morning. Had to laugh out loud when we opened it and found 2 baseball caps, so we wore them when we went to brunch at Chukchansi later that morning with 30 family members and friends. Here we are wearing the caps:

Another picture which I forgot to put on was a picture of our rings, requested by LaVerne Markle. So here is that picture:

The day of the wedding we were pleasantly surprised to see several of Elaine’s cousins in attendance, whom she hadn’t seen for many years. Unfortunately, we didn’t think to get a picture of the two of them and their husbands with us. But we did get a picture of them with Elaine and all her sisters, so here is the “cousins” picture.

Cousin Anne,Elaine's sisters Barb, Georgeanne, Mary, Elaine, Penny, Mary Sue, and Cousin Miggie.
One of our friends, who stood up and gave a little vignette during our “roast” at the wedding, Polly Sagasser, is an avid quilter. She made us a Crazy Quilt as a wedding present, and here is a picture of it:

We have been spending the time since the wedding catching up on post-event tasks such as sending thank you cards and e-mails, actually reading the hundreds of cards we received, making final arrangements for our cruise, participating in park events, and having some social times with RV friends who stayed past the 25th. Now we are all packed and ready to head for the Bay Area tomorrow morning. We catch our flight to Barcelona on Saturday morning and won’t arrive there until Sunday afternoon! There are stops in Minnesota and Amsterdam. Dick and Carole Schneider have a small apartment in the Gotic Quarter and have graciously offered to let us stay with them the one night we will be there before catching the ship on Monday. We are looking forward to our time with them, and also some rest time while on the ship. The ship docks in Ft. Lauderdale on Nov. 22.
Now it is time to rant about the outcome of the election on Tuesday, so if you want to stay apolitical, quit reading. Of course, we were very happy about the outcome of the presidential election, since an Obama presidency will no doubt not only help the world perceive our country in a more positive light. But also, the Democrats have always been more supportive of minority rights than the Republicans, especially more so than the Religious Right. Anyway, as the country and the world are being so ecstatic about having an African American President and the implied equal opportunity for everyone in this country, Gay rights were being pummeled in every state where there was a proposition on the ballot. It was a close race but Proposition 8 was passed in California, which bans Gay marriage. This was largely due to the fact that every church was preaching “Yes on Prop 8” from the pulpit. Our marriage is still legal, and should remain so. But now the opportunity for other Gays to marry has been eliminated except in Massachusetts and Connecticut. How is it that everyone can recognize that we shouldn’t restrict the rights of minorities such as African Americans, yet take away a right that the California Supreme Court granted Gays only in June? Why is it that the religions of the world that are supposed to be preaching love are preaching hate and bigotry? Why are heterosexuals so against Gay marriage? Are we somehow invalidating their own marriages if we can have those rituals too? What gives a portion of our population the power to deny basic rights to another portion of the population?
Currently these are the countries which allow same-sex marriage:
Belgium, Canada, Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain
Additionally, these countries allow civil unions and/or registered partnerships:
Andorra, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary,Iceland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland,
United Kingdom, Uruguay
How come some of these very Catholic, or otherwise traditional countries can be so much more “democratic” than the USA, which seems to think we have the right to preach to everyone about Democracy? I for one am sick of it, and hope that the test of Gay rights, which certainly will happen at some time in the future in our courts, will come soon. Because basically marriage is a contract between 2 people, and in our country where there is supposed to be separation of church and state, every citizen should be allowed to make this contract with another person, if they so choose.
And I am tired of people telling me that being Gay is a choice. I don’t know anyone who has chosen this lifestyle. Why would we? There is not one advantage to being Gay, and there are a lot of disadvantages. And one of the biggest disadvantages is being discriminated against by people who think they have the right to determine the values by which everyone will live. Here is a very thought provoking quote:
"Lesbians and Gays are perhaps the only minority not raised by their own people; and whose parents do not share their minority status. Like cuckoos, we spend our formative years tucked away in the homes of people who assume we are like them, who school us in traditions that will ultimately exclude us, and who teach us, quite often, to despise the people we will become.”
So although we had a very happy wedding, largely due to the love and support of our many friends and family, we are saddened by the blow that has just been handed to the Gay community in our country. We hope that soon things will change and we hope that we, and you, can be agents of that change by our openness, fairness, and compassion, as well as our determination to allow every citizen the right to choose how to live without fear of repercussion or rejection.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

10/29/08 This is going to be a long post because of all the pictures I want to put on here about the wedding. It was a fabulous day, made so special because of all the love and support we received from family and friends who came long distances to attend. Additionally Boomer friends and Park Sierra members worked hard to help us do all the set up and they did everything during the actual event to make things go smoothly.
Because RV friends had been arriving for days in advance in order to help, the social whirl started early. Thank goodness for Mike and Marilyn Harrison, who came early and who helped with everything from wardrobe and our rig decor, to arranging flowers, and helping prepare some of the food.

Laura and Gordon Bornkamp also came early and helped especially with photography.

Viv and Curt Rogers, Park Sierra members and wonderful friends, arranged all the hotel rooms and all the decorations, and got the bar set up.

Jeanne Taylor and Rodger Lyman, our neighbors, bought all the champagne for the toast and handled all the food arrangements at the reception.

Actually, there were so many people who did such special things for us that we can't list them all here!
One of the prep things we did was to put out a collage of pictures of our past 29 years together for people to look at while waiting for the ceremony to begin. Here it is:

Elaine and I met with the minister, Diana Bohn, at 2 PM for a quick rehearsal, and then we got dressed in our garb while everyone gathered in the clubhouse. Here is a picture of us with her and her partner, Grady, who kept introducing himself to everyone as "the minister's wife".

Here is a picture of the "altar" table that Viv and company set up for us:

And here are the books they used when they couldn't find a Bible in the library:

Imagine our surprised as we left the clubhouse to see Rachel, Connie & Jenny, three friends from a cruise we took 3 years ago, who had come here from North Carolina just for our wedding! They are wearing their tuxedo shirts from one of their cruises:

Then Anja & Ole arrived; a young couple we met in Baja 10 years ago who live in LA and who show up periodically in our lives and it is always a surprise. Anja is a professional photographer, and she took lots of pictures which we are anxious to see but don't have yet for this blog. Here is our picture with them after the ceremony:

So we arrived at the clubhouse and were absolutely astounded at the number of guests! We expected about 150, since we had invited everyone at Park Sierra, and we knew we had about 30 family and friends coming. There were somewhere between 180 and 200 people in attendance! Here is a view of part of the hall:

Here is a picture of us as we arrived at the clubhouse:

Our kids and granddaughter were waiting for us and we all lined up to start the ceremony. Here we are as our friend, Jan Vecchio, sings the song "One Hand, One Heart" from West Side Story:

Then the actual ceremony began and Diana did a marvelous job of balancing seriousness with levity. We had written our own vows and she embellished them and added her own considerable charm to the presentation. Laura and Gordon Bornkamp took a video of the ceremony and we didn't realize until we viewed the video later that Elaine was so nervous, she was rocking back and forth a lot of the time!

When it was over, we spontaneously did the victory pose:

After that, our friend, Alice Zyetz came up on stage and sang us a song:

Then it was time to PARTY!! Besides all the wine, beer and soft drinks we provided, there was lots of good food brought by Park Sierra people:

And we had ordered 4 cakes from Costco, with our own messages on them:

After I read a poem to everyone, telling about our life, then Elaine's son, Darran, gave a toast to us with everyone having champagne or sparkling cider.

After that, we opened up the mike to anyone who wanted to roast us and to our surprise, the first one up there was Dino, my ex-son-in-law, and the father of Paige, my oldest and very charming granddaughter:

Then Paige got up and told about some of her times camping with us. Just imagine, she told everyone that we sometimes bicker!!

She was followed by Tom Eldridge, one of the best teachers at Cupertino High where I was a Science teacher and coach for years. Tom has known me, and my twin, Marsha, since we were all on the Santa Clara Swim Club together at age 11! He and his wife Kimbra came from Colorado for this wedding!

Then we listened to Art Wilson, who used to have a lot here at Park Sierra, and who came from Arizona with his wife, Sammie. He told about first meeting us years ago and told funny stories about crabbing with us in Oregon too.

Grace Rankin, another former Park Sierra lot holder, who came from Fremont to attend, told about going on a trans-Atlantic cruise with us and how we reacted when they arranged a special celebration for us on our 26th "anniversary".

Then Elaine's daughter Tarra gave the crowd quite a few laughs when she described being a little girl and deciding how she would explain to people that she had two Moms.

Thomas, Mary's son, and the oldest at age 9 when we first got together, described how he helped with the yard work on our rentals and thus was a large contributor to our ability to retire early.

Jan Vecchio gave a little talk about being Elaine's accountant and friend from the time when Tarra was just a baby, and then she sang some more:

Elaine and I had made some CD's of music special to us so we danced to a few:

There were lots of people who came long distances to be with us on our special day. We took pictures with them and here are a few:

Betty Prange, who came early in her RV and helped and also took some of these pictures.

My twin, Marsha, my brother John, and my brother Jerry with his wife, Diann. Marsha flew out from Denver, John drove from San Jose, and Jerry and Diann are from Lake Wildwood.

Here are the Lane's with Lois Cissell and Shirley Willes Seward, friends of ours since elementary school. Lois came from Roseville and Shirley from Henderson, NV in order to attend this wedding.

Four of Elaine's five sisters flew out for this. From the left they are Barbara Traughber, from Wisconsin, Georgeanne Daly from Illinois, Penny McCarthy from Arizona, and Mary Sue Cannell from Illinois.

Our friends Ron & Carol Leonard, from Citrus Heights drove down to be here. We are lucky enough to stay on their property when we need to be in that area.

Our friends Bruce and Maria Roberts, who were with us on the Panama Canal RV trip in 2004 came to stay a few days early and we shared Maria's birthday with her too.

Tarra and Darran, Elaine's kids, and a huge part of my life for 29 years, were instrumental in suggesting we have this ceremony and supporting us in this endeavor.
Then the boys signed our marriage license:

Diana signed our marriage license:

And we were legal!!!
The next day, we had a very nice champagne brunch at Chukchansi Casino with mostly family and a few friends.

We took the opportunity to have a few more pictures taken since we rarely have such a gathering of family and friends. Here is a picture of our kids and their spouses/partners with us:

Paige is sitting next to me, Tarra and her husband Alonzo are next to Elaine. Darran and his partner Marielle, Thomas and his partner Robert are in the back row.
Of course, until all the RV friends have left, we are having social gatherings such as this one, held at our rig on Monday because Mike and Marilyn and Gordon and Laura were leaving the next day.

Now that things have settled down, people are asking us if we feel any different. We are still on a high from all the excitement and the love and support of so many friends and family. One of the best things to happen as a result of us having this event in such a public way is that at least 4 park members have come to talk to us about their own Gay children and their hopes and fears for them. Other park members have told us that we have been instrumental in changing their minds about the negative stereotype they had of Gay people. If we have caused just one person to change their vote in this election to a NO vote on proposition 8, it will all be worth it. We have a video of the entire ceremony and as soon as I figure out a way to put it on the web so you can access it, I will post the link.