December 2011
Can you say "food"?  That should be how December should be spelled!  With the approaching holidays it seemed that every group we are involved with had a holiday
gathering with food involved.  We did try to continue with our regular schedule of golf and tennis - so that was the "good" part.  The "bad" part was that the weather was
unusually cold, wet, and windy, so there were some outdoor activity cancellations.  The heated mattress pad was put on the bed and the long pants, sweaters, and closed
toed shoes came out of the closets for daily use.  What a bummer in southern Arizona!
Our first feast session was with the Palm Creek Host and Rangers Program.  Mary serves as a substitute Resort Host, greeting arriving RVs as they enter the resort and
getting them started with the registration process.  Occasionally she gets to give prospective residents a tour of the main complex of buildings and introduce them to all
of the park amenities.  The Rangers are the guys who lead you to your site and help get your rig parked properly.  There is quite a gang of people who do this work as
volunteers in shifts from 9 to 5, seven days a week and we enjoyed a nice dinner provided by the park.  

Another feast was appetizers and deserts provided by the members of the duplicate bridge group.  As always the appetizers were fantastic and sufficient to serve as
dinner along with the tasty deserts and a little wine.  Mary and a few other spouses headed home after dinner, but there were about a dozen tables of card players once
they got down to business.  

Mary also works in the Activities office as a volunteer on Saturday mornings.  That group of 25 or so people was treated to a luncheon on the Saturday before Christmas.
On December 20 we headed out on our first auto road-trip in a long time.  We left Palm Creek at 5am and 13 hours later we were ready for dinner with our daughter Ann
and her family in Abilene, Texas.  The car, which had been repaired by a local Ford dealer after our mis-adventure in towing coming here in October, performed
beautifully.  (We plan to take a short RV trip in January to test out the towing situation once again.)  On December 21, our son Reid and Mary's mother arrived in Abilene
as well.  Reid had flown from Charleston, WV to Detroit to meet his grandmother and they flew together through Dallas and on to Abilene.  We had a great Christmas week
together.  It seemed like all we did was fix food and eat, but there were lots of hours of card games and dominoes with the family gathered around the dining table
together as well.  Santa was good to all of us on Christmas day and then we spent a lot of time trying to learn how the new electronics gadgets work.  We even had some
large fluffy snowflakes on Christmas Eve and a few cold, blustery days.  The guys were unhappy that the golf clubs did not come out of the bags.  Reid and Grandma
made the return trip on December 27 and we returned to Arizona on the 28th.  Reid took quite a few photos in Abilene...you can check them out at
https://picasaweb.google.com/marywill45/Christmas2011InAbileneTX
Our return to Palm Creek also brought a return of wonderful weather to the area.  We were quickly back to outdoor activities and enjoying the glorious sunshine.  Let's
hope it lasts!  Our New Year's Eve was a quiet one...the first time in over 40 years that we have not spent it in Ohio with our dear friends Kathy and Dennie Dew.  We
missed being with them and look forward to our next chance to be together.

Our wish for all of you is that the New Year 2012 brings nothing but the best...health, happiness, good times and safe travels.
Our tennis group, at least, had the 'right idea.'  One Sunday afternoon we had a 'fun day.'  Our BBQ lunch was alternated with 30-minute sessions of mixed-doubles tennis.  
We probably didn't work off all the calories, but we certainly had a good time and enjoyed one of the few sunny Sunday afternoons in December.

Our group of wonderful neighbors has been together for a number of years now.  At 4:00 each afternoon, those of us that aren't away or involved in some sort of activity,
gather someplace in the neighborhood for a friendly hour or two of camaraderie.  We bring a chair and a drink if desired and find a place in the sun or shade, depending
on the weather.  Once in a while we are "rained out."  There is no planned agenda or food involved -- we just share our adventures (recent and past), enjoy the
conversation, and occasionally make plans to help each other or share an event.  Over the last several years we have planned a more involved gathering about once a
month.  But, it seems that whenever we would plan a nice potluck dinner it would be cold or rainy and we would huddle under an awning and heaters, wrapped in
blankets to "enjoy" our dinner.  This year, we got smart.  We have reserved a room in the park's activity center for once a month.  That's when we will have our 'planned'
dinner and game night.  Our December dinner, indeed, fell on a night of unseasonable weather and we enjoyed our dinner in the SanTan Room.  We even chipped in for a
complete chicken dinner purchased at a local supermarket.  A good time was had by all.
The Host/Ranger group made quick work of the buffet provided for us by
the park.
The bridge group shared a meal, then played cards...making a full
evening.
A luncheon buffet was enjoyed by the Activities volunteers.
Mary was among a group of invited guests to take a tour of a local ranch home that belongs to the family of a business partner of John Wayne.  The tour made a stop at the
feed lots where thousands and thousands of cattle are readied for market.  We have passed these acres of animals many times over the years - as quickly as we can, if
you get the 'drift'.  John Wayne became a partner with a local rancher, Louis Johnson, and while Wayne did not have a home of his own here, he stayed with the Johnsons
when he was in town.  Mrs. Johnson still lives in the home and showed us Wayne's room, the indoor pool where he swam and the large bar where he entertained
hundreds at the annual cattle auctions held on the property.  Wayne owned many acres here in Pinal County and also in the mountains of central Arizona where they
moved the cattle in the summer for many years.  There were many photos and stories shared with us...an interesting tour!
Unless we had a helicopter it would be impossible to take
a photo of the acres of cattle in John Wayne's old feed lots.
The sprawling ranch house where John Wayne stayed
while in Casa Grande has an indoor pool, two kitchens, a
huge bar, lots of bedrooms and an office.
The dining room chandelier was purchased in England by
John Wayne and given to Mrs. Johnson after Wayne's
death.  It takes her two days to clean it, piece by piece.
There were many photos and
statues of Wayne in the home.
The neighborhood gang enjoyed being indoors for a dinner and
game night.
We helped Dennis celebrate his 65th birthday.
It was Lorne's birthday, too!
The Christmas tree in Abilene, TX
The whole gang - 4 generations.
Coffey and Grandpa fixing overnight French Toast for
Christmas breakfast.
Merrick, Coffey and Close squeezing fresh orange
juice to have for breakfast.
Coffey used the I-pad to read us "T'was the Night
Before Christmas".
We gathered around the tree to open our gifts.
....then around the table to "sync" the new Kindles
with the laptops.
When the "techies" gave up for a while, we brought
Christmas dinner.
return to our "home page"
return to "What we've been doing...."