Tears in Heaven

I’ve heard it said that when we get to heaven there will be no more tears and no more pain… But I now believe there will be tears in heaven, at least for me there will be.

Today is our daughter, Shantel’s, birthday. She is 24 years old today.

Shantel lost both her eyes to cancer before she was two years old. Because she was so young when she lost her sight, she doesn’t know what Bill and I look like. In fact, when she first lost her sight, I would always say “hi, Shantel, it’s mama” whenever I picked her up from her crib etc. so she would learn to recognize my voice.

As she got older, and I would go to pick her up from daycare, or even a little later when I would go to pick her up from school…, I would always approach her saying “hi Shantel, it’s mama”, and she would always answer “hi mama”.

A couple of weeks ago I had a dream that was so real, and affected me so profoundly, that I couldn’t even tell Bill about it because it just overwhelmed me with emotion. I dreamed I had passed away, and was in heaven, and I became aware that it was Shantel’s time to come to heaven, and I was sent to meet her at the gates of heaven. I stood at the gates of heaven and watched as Shantel approached me. Of course, she could see now because she was made whole and had both her natural eyes again. As she came closer to me I said “hi Shantel”, and she looked into my eyes and said “mama”? I said “yes”, and she said “oh, mama, you’re so beautiful”, and we hugged each other so long, and so hard, and let me tell you there were tears in heaven that day… tears of pure joy!

Happy Birthday, Shantel.

I love you,

Mama

The GRAND Tetons

Oh, my, I know I don’t have the words to give justice to the majestic beauty of the Grand Tetons. It took 29 years for my husband, Bill, and I to get there…, and he told me for 29 years that I would be absolutely amazed when I saw the Grand Tetons and the surround mountain range… He sure was right about that! Everything I’ve seen in Wyoming is stunningly beautiful, but the Grand Tetons just took my breath away when I first laid my eyes on them…

We set out about 7:30 in the morning with a picnic lunch to share at the Grand Tetons. I was excited, and full of anticipation of what I was going to see, and wondered if  I would think it was really as beautiful as Bill told me it would be for all the years we have been together…

Along our way we saw many beautiful and amazing sights. Like this beautiful lake surrounded by more forest trees than I’ve ever seen.

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We stopped and took time to smell and enjoy fields of beautiful wild flowers like these.

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And who wouldn’t stop to capture a picture of this beauty grazing on the side of the road?

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It was a beautiful day, without a cloud in the sky, and Bill and I laughed and talked our way from the east entrance of Yellowstone Park, right through the south entrance of the Park, and on into the Grand Teton National Park area… Then, before I knew it, the Grand Teton mountain range was right in front of me, and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined…

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Until we got even closer and saw the Grand Teton mountain itself…

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A nice lady took this picture of Bill and I  together in front of our 29 year destination place.. This is the spot where we enjoyed our picnic lunch, and just took in all the beautiful scenery around us… Thank-you Bill for showing me why I just had to see the Grand Tetons… I will never forget this experience, and I love that we shared this beautiful experience together… I love you babe… 🙂 🙂

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After lunch we made our way to Jackson Wyoming. Bill told me about Jackson for the same amount of time he told me about the Tetons… But it had been about 40 years since he had been to Jackson, and unlike the Grand Tetons…, Jackson had changed. One of our co-workers told us that the billionaires ran the millionaires out of Jackson, and now instead of it being a quaint rustic western town… it’s all high-end and high-class… As an example…, we went into the little shops and everything was so high-priced we almost couldn’t even afford to look at what they were selling… Bill saw a cowboy hat that was over $600.oo, and it didn’t even say Stetson on it!!!  I was disappointed because I was expecting it to be more of a real rustic western town… But it is a pretty little town with flower lined sidewalks and a ski lift in the background… I didn’t even know cowboys/cowgirls went skiing. How would they get their boots into those ski’s?

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And, they sure like to collect antlers… This is just one of many antler arches we saw… WOW!!!

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I want to say to our daughter, Shantel, as you read this, I just don’t have the words to tell you what the Grand Tetons look like… and of course you can’t see the pictures, but just think about whatever comes to your mind when you think of what beautiful is, and what comes to your mind, and what you feel, when you think of one of your favorite experiences….. and you will have an idea of what seeing the Grand Tetons with Papa was like for me… I love you.

Once again, I want to give a big THANK-YOU to my loving husband, Bill, for making our dream of seeing the Grand Tetons together come true… It was everything you said it would be and so much MORE. I love you!

Stay Tuned!

Getting Ready For The Next Adventure

It’s been a while since I posted anything on my blog. I needed time to reflect and process the passing of my mother on March 10th. Now that I have taken that time, my thoughts are turning to what lies ahead for the future for Bill and I.

Our time here at San Tan Regional Mountain Park is quickly winding down. Bill and I are the last of the four park hosts to leave. We will work 8 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday this week, and pull out early Sunday morning and make our way to Buffalo Bill State Park in Cody Wyoming. We will stay overnight in four different RV parks along the way.

In preparation for our journey, we needed to make sure everything is in order both inside and outside of our rig… So I cleaned the inside from top to bottom including changing out the bed with fresh sheets and bedding because I for sure don’t want to have to do that while on the road or first thing when we land in our new park location…

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Of course it is a must that we restock the beer supply because we don’t know if there will be a Total Wine or something like it near us in Wyoming.. And Bill does not like coming home after a work shift and finding out there is no beer..I think this will hold him for a while don’t you?

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And if you know me, you know I’m not about to be without my afternoon happy hour… And how can I be a good Park Host if I have nothing to offer guests when they come to visit… So, I made sure to stock up on my favorite traveling wine, Almaden Chardonnay… No corks to pop out from the heat like the bottled yellow-tail did when we were in Utah! That was not fun at all. We had to carry cases of bottled wine from the basement area of our RV into our bedroom while people within the campground watched… Lesson learned, buy boxed wine, and keep it inside the rig instead of under the rig  in the basement area…

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Lucky for me there are two nice storage compartments under the seats of the dining booth.. looks like I’m set for the four months we will be in Wyoming… at least I hope so… 🙂

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Next, Bill has to make sure the outside of the rig is clean, washed and waxed, because we get better fuel mileage when we are driving a clean rig…and who wants to be driving around in a dirty RV?

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We made a  Costco run to stock up on paper towels, paper plates, water and coffee etc. because we found out there is no Costco in Cody Wyoming…

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I spent two days cooking and freezing make-ahead meals so when we stop for the night at the RV parks we can just heat and eat as opposed to cooking from scratch at each stop..Love it!

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Bill and I both love our time in Arizona where we get to see family and friends, but we are beyond excited to move on now and find out what awaits us in Wyoming…

Stay Tuned!

Strange And Beautiful Sightings

I went to visit my mother today. I try to visit her on Tuesday’s now because there is musical entertainment in the activity room on Tuesday’s, and my mother seems to enjoy listening to the music provided mostly from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Her favorite entertainer is Karl Block. He is a very energetic entertainer that comes right down among the residents, holds their hands, and sings right into their eyes. He also provides different musical instruments like tambourines, and different small hand-held things that the residents can shake or rattle along to the beat of the music…

Today’s entertainer was Jim Bing. He plays guitar and tries hard to sing but I don’t think anyone ever told him he sings very much off-key… However, apparently that doesn’t seem to bother the residents, or they are so hard of hearing that they think he is on key… Either way, today was a good day for my mother as she enjoyed the music and even sang along with Jim.

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She even tapped her fingers on the table to the keep the beat of the music…

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All of that was a beautiful sight to see…

The next thing I noticed while sitting with my mother in the activity room, was a resident (little woman in blue shirt next to the wall of tiny windows), who never smiles, or even talks to anyone unless to lash out at them for one thing or another, get up and dance when one of the CNA’s went over and started dancing in front of her… It’s amazing how music transforms some of these residents who are otherwise thought “empty and void of emotions…” They danced through three songs together and that resident not only smiled, she was actually laughing… and that was another beautiful sight to see. 🙂

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On my way home from the care center, I just had to stop and take a picture of this cactus (in the center of the picture) in the desert just before you enter San Tan Mountain Reserve Park. I’ve been looking at this ever since we arrived here last October, but I just never stopped to get a picture of this strange and unusually shaped cactus, until today. I think it looks like a Sea Horse, if you take away the arms…, My husband, Bill/Bro, thinks it looks like a Giraffe. I’m interested in hearing what my readers think this cactus looks like to you..? What ever we think it looks like, or reminds us of… I think we can all agree, it is a strange-looking cactus right?

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Once I was home I noticed yet another strange sight when our cat, Carmen, started running back and forth, back and froth, from one end of our motorhome to the other as fast as she could. When she finally stopped running, and settled down, I went to see what she was doing and found her lying on our bed, belly up and feet in the air… I laughed thinking to myself, I’ve got to get a picture of this strange sight…

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I experienced another strange, and beautiful, event a couple of weeks ago while visiting my mother that struck me so profoundly that I couldn’t write about it until now, when out of the blue she said to me “I want you to know I really do love you, and maybe if I had done things differently with you when you were growing up, maybe you would have known that.” She said “do you believe me now? I have to be honest here and say that one of the things I always heard in our home when I was growing up and an elderly person that might have done something to my parents to upset them said they were sorry… my parents would say “I wonder if they really mean that or if they are just an old person trying to get into heaven now…” Those words ran through my mind when my mother asked me if I believe she loves me, but in that moment, I looked through my tear-filled eyes into hers, and accepted that as real, and told her “I believe it now mom, and in that instant I let go of past hurts…

A few months ago I had a similar experience with my father, even though he has been dead for 10 years this September. I gave my word to never fully write about what happened between my father and I, but let it be enough to say he broke a bond with me, and caused a hurt that changed me, and my family forever. He never said he was sorry, and never asked for forgiveness while he was alive. But he came to me in a dream a few months back, and without words spoken, in that dream… I accepted the apology he never gave me, and gave forgiveness he never asked for from me, and the next morning I woke up to this…

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And ended that day with this

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And that is a beautiful sight to see…and finally, I felt the peace I have been looking for…

Stay Tuned!

 

 

Catching Up

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog post. Not because I have nothing to say, but I just haven’t had the time to sit down and really focus on what I wanted to write about… I know, Bill and I are retired, and for many retired people that means having lots of extra time on their hands. But, that’s not how Bill and I choose to live our retirement years. No, we are making the most of every minute of our retirement, and making sure we are first, and foremost, having FUN!

We love our motorhome, and we love being able to work a few shifts per week in exchange for our space rent, utilities, and propane… Once we’ve covered our work commitment for the day/week, Bill and I love to come home and just relax together. Sometimes we put music on and dance, sometimes we cook together, sometimes we read together.. There are all sorts of “things” we love to do together now that we have the time, and have “found ourselves” again in our new retirement life.

Bill and I don’t feel the need to run all over the place in search of entertainment… Like many other’s have done, we spent the majority of our marriage running from one place to another as we worked in our careers, raised our children, helped our parents, and everyone we could…,

But now, it’s our time. Time for Bill and I to do what we want to do, when we want to do it etc… Believe me, if we let it happen, Shantel, and my mother, would have us running constantly everyday to be with them and/or help them take care of this or that…just like we did before we retired… But we stopped all that when we retired. We let both mom and Shantel know that we can no longer be there to meet their every need… We are going to travel in the summer and they need to know how to get things done without us then, and that can just as well carry over to the winter months when we are here. And guess what?? They managed just fine when we were gone all summer, and they manage just fine now too. So when we do see each other it’s really quality time together. Not time spent out of guilt and or resentment… It’s time we choose to spend together, and we make sure we do see each other at least once a week which is enough for grown adults don’t you think?

During my visit with my mother last week, I am happy to say that she is doing better in that she is not as paranoid but she is still very much living in her own little world… She told me that another resident, who happens to have dementia and is paranoid herself, wouldn’t talk to her and that upset her. My mother kept asking the resident what her name was but the woman wouldn’t answer her so my mother decided the woman didn’t know what her name is and my mother took it upon herself to “teach” the woman her name is Mary. My mother said every time she saw the woman, she would start telling her to say “my name is Mary” over and over and over again… until the woman finally started saying “my name is Mary.” Now the woman says that to everyone…. I asked one of the Aids if the woman’s name is really Mary and she said no, but your mother convinced her that her name is Mary so that is what we all call her now… OMG, I guess it’s all about whatever makes them happy… 🙂

When I talked to Shantel the other day she told me a story about yet another adventure she and her best friend, Jaz, had at the grocery store. Those two girls seem to always have one thing or another go wrong when they are shopping for Shantel’s groceries… Most of the time when they get the groceries back to Shantel’s apartment parking lot and are carrying the bags to her apartment, the bags break and Jaz ends up searching the parking lot for Shantel’s lost groceries that may roll under cars etc… This week they found out that Fry’s has new shopping carts that are designed to help keep people from stealing the carts from the store. Apparently, if you take the shopping cart too far away from the store, the wheels will all lock-up so you can’t move the cart… Well, after Shantel and Jaz finished buying Shantel’s groceries, and were about to leave the store to take the groceries to the car… for some reason as they left the store doors, all four wheels on the cart locked up and the girls had to carry the shopping cart, full of groceries, to the car.. Can you just imagine what a sight that must have been…?I thought I would die laughing when Shantel was telling me that story.. 🙂

I will close this post with some pictures of more beautiful hiking trails here at San Tan Mountain Reserve Park. Bill and I took a two-hour hike today, something we try to do at least four times a week… so beautiful, peaceful, and just a great way to, as a fellow hiker we met on the trails today put it today “put more years in your life and life in your years…”

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One of the things we learned during our time here at San Tan is when you see a cactus under a tree or growing up within a tree is that the tree is called a “nursery tree” in that it protects the cactus until it is big enough to stand on its own, then the cactus helps support the tree… who knew?

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We also learned that there is an invasive form of Holly that gets into many of our desert trees and takes over the tree and will eventually kill the tree…

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Hard as it can be… what we love about the San Tan Trails is the diversity of the trails… Up hill and down hill… Here is Bill making his way up this steep incline. This is when we love our hiking sticks…

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Just can’t say enough of how thankful Bill and I are to be retired, and living our retirement dream, this lifestyle might not work for everyone… but it couldn’t be more PERFECT for us! 🙂 🙂

Stay Tuned!

 

 

 

Whatever Makes You Happy!

Even if it seems strange to others… If it’s not hurting anyone, and you’re having fun, I say go for it…Because “it’s all good!” Right?

That said, I just couldn’t help getting a closer look, and doing some investigating, into one of the “campers” that visited Quail Creek this week.

It all started when I was sitting at our dining room table in our motorhome on one of my days off and I saw a man driving a Porsche around and around the campground. He appeared to be lost. He drove through the campground three times then drove back up the hill toward the gate booth. Normally I wouldn’t think anything about that because people often drive through the campground to see which campsites are not reserved, then they choose an unreserved spot and set up their tent etc. and then drive back to the gate booth to pay the overnight camping fee and receive the window sticker for their vehicle. But in the five months we have been here at Quail Creek, I have never seen anyone come camping in a Porsche… I don’t mean to judge anyone… but I found that to be just a bit strange…

So then, about a half hour after the man in the Porsche drove off towards the gate booth, he came back again and parked in a campsite that our motorhome overlooks. By this time I was very intrigued, and wanted to see what this man was going to do… I mean, how often do you see someone go camping in a Porsche? He wasn’t pulling a trailer and didn’t have anything on top of the car like a rack to carry a tent… No, in fact, the Porsche was a convertible!

So now I’m really interested in what this man is going to do in his campsite, with his Porsche and no tent… Call me a Nib-nose… like Bill does all the time… but I just couldn’t help myself.. I had to see what this guy was all about. So I hurried and grabbed my binoculars, and camera, and had a great time watching this man set the table in his campsite up with all sorts of interesting figurines… Take a look at what I witnessed and let me know what you think.

He parked his little Porsche and started taking bag after bag of “stuff” out and carried it all over to the table… I thought he was taking groceries out and was going to start cooking… but No…

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Each bag was full of all sorts of figurines, battery operated candles, crosses, etc. that he placed with great care on the table that he had covered with a blue and while table-cloth.

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Well, my curiosity got the better of me so I called down to the gate booth and asked my friend Jackie if she knew anything about the man in the campsite with a Porsche.. Jackie told me that when he paid his fee for the campsite he also asked to buy some firewood. While Jackie was unlocking the firewood cage, the man started telling her some of his life story. He told Jackie that when he was younger he worked in a Bar and a Strip Joint, lived in California and got into some trouble there. Eventually he got his act together, put himself through college and eventually became a District Judge in Florida for 25 years!! He said he travels over seas a lot and has been all over the world. But now he is here in Quail Creek for the Sr. Games that are being held six miles away in St. George Utah. He told Jackie he swims in the Sr. Games and swam 20 miles around Catalina Island.  I asked Jackie if he seemed odd when she was talking to him. She said no, but he was missing his two front teeth…

Wow… what an interesting life to match the interesting and unique figurines he displayed on his campsite table…Figurines I just had to see up close. So the following day, while the man was in St. George at the Sr. Games I walked past his campsite and captured these close-up pictures of some of his figurines. I didn’t go into his campsite, I just stood in front of it and took pictures.

Take a closer look… 🙂

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I wanted so badly to talk to the man myself, but he is gone all day and when he comes in at night, he lights a campfire and sits at the table reading… I checked the reservation book and found out he is leaving tomorrow so I’ve pretty much missed any chance of talking to him…

As I write this blog post, he is in St. George at the Sr. Games, and I can see his campsite table is still set just the way he arranged it the first day he arrived. And for the entire week he has been here, he never put up a tent. I can’t imagine he slept in his little Porsche… the man is at least 6 feet tall, so I have no idea where he is sleeping. Bill said perhaps he has a sleeping bag he gets into under the table… maybe, who knows… and it really doesn’t matter… as long as he is doing whatever makes him happy… Right?

Stay Tuned!

Making Happy!

Eleven days from today Bill and I will be on our way back to Arizona for the winter, October 18th through the end of May. We will stay in the beautiful San Tan Mountain Reserve, and again, we will work 20 hours a week in exchange for our camp space and full electric, water, and sewer hook-ups just like we did here at Quail Creek State Park. What a great way to live. Work/camping in our motorhome in beautiful surroundings, meeting so many new and interesting people every day, as we make our way across the United States and into Canada.

Bill and I just love the fact that we can work two shifts a week then have five days off to do the things we love to do. Things like exploring our new surroundings, hiking, picnics, and for me, cooking, which is one of my all-time favorite passions…

Yes, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to cook… For me cooking is a way to express creativity, especially because, with the exception of the first time I try a new recipe, I almost never follow that recipe exactly as it is written when I make the dish again. No, I almost always find ways to make it my own by adding to the ingredients or substituting one ingredient for another… Many, many, times I create my own recipes just by putting things I love together in fun and unique ways… Sometimes I end up with a big hit that my taste tester, Bill, loves and sometimes I end up with a complete flop that I won’t even let him see…. But most of the time things turn out good because the last thing I want to do is waste food..

All that said, yesterday I spent the afternoon making homemade red chili sauce that I used to make homemade ground beef enchiladas. Bill and I LOVED it!!

I can’t give you the exact recipe because, true to my cooking form, I don’t usually measure ingredients either…, but the red chili sauce was made with the following ingredients:

Canola oil

Flour

Chili Powder

Tomato sauce

Water

Cumin

Garlic Power

Onion Powder

Salt (optional and/or to taste)

Combine oil, flour and chili powder in sauce pan and heat until it turns to a paste-like consistency. Add the remaining ingredients and cook over med-low heat for about 10 minutes or until heated throughout and all ingredients are blended well.

This is what it will look like when you get it right… Why would anyone ever use that canned stuff when they could have this?

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For the enchilada filling I browned 4-5 diced green onions, some finely diced fresh garlic, and one diced poblano pepper. Then I added in one pound of ground beef, some granulated garlic powder, and black pepper.

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When the meat mixture is done it’s time to assemble the enchiladas. I don’t roll mine because I think layering the ingredients is better and it’s my creation, so I make it the way I want it to be… 🙂

I start by spraying a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Then I put a little of the homemade red chili sauce in the bottom of the dish like this…

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Next, I soften corn tortillas, one at a time, in hot oil. The key here is to just soften them and not allow them to cook or get crispy… Put them in the baking dish over the red sauce like this..

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Now you begin layering the meat mixture and some shredded Mexican blend cheese over the softened tortillas much like making lasagna…

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Continue the process with more red sauce, softened tortillas, meat mixture and cheese making sure to end with cheese on the top like this..

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Bake in 350 degree oven until heated throughout and the cheese is bubbly and browned (about 30-40 minutes). It should look like this..

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Let it sit/rest for about 15 minutes before serving so all the ingredients are set. Cut into squares and serve with a dollop of sour cream and some corn…

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According to my taste tester, Bill, I’d say this was a winner.. and one of his favorites!!!

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It made me happy to create this dish, and as you can see, it sure enough made Bill happy too!

As our time here at Quail Creek State Park is coming to an end, and because of the varying work schedules of the girls that work the gate booth as I do, we are already in the process of saying good-bye to some of the beautiful, special people we met and worked with during our stay, and that makes me SAD. I’ve never been good at good-byes…

Bill and I are excited to get back to Arizona… I need to see my daughters, Shantel and Katie, my mom, my brother, Danny, and we really need to see and reconnect with our long time friends in Arizona. I’ve missed them all and can’t wait to get back to Arizona, the place that will always be home to me, and where we will always go to spend our winters… But at the same time, I just can’t help feeling SAD at the thought of leaving the new friends we made here. But we promised to stay in touch, and that, makes me HAPPY! 🙂 🙂

Stay Tuned!

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