December 2016
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With Thanksgiving behind us and more snowbirds arriving in Arizona, our activity schedule picked up a little speed.  Combine that with getting organized for a family visit,
and we managed to have a fairly lengthy "to do" list.  We finally made a decision to purchase laundry equipment and ended our regular trips to the laundry room.  Yea!!!  We
continued trying to clean out closets, drawers and our shed where things had been "dumped" when we emptied the motor home and then added a car load of things passed
on from our daughter.  Tom became a master salesman spreading his wares in the street for the monthly "patio sale" day here in the park.  We didn't make a big financial
gain, but lots of non-needed RV supplies went to new homes and some leftover items went to the Thrift Shop supporting the local animal shelter.  And, we gained a little
space in our storage areas.  We took time one day to make a trip to Phoenix and take a tour of the Cavco factory.  We had been invited to see how our house had been made
and found it very similar to the manufacture of RVs that we had toured often in Indiana.
 The difference seems to be that our new house has less plastic and metal and more
wood and has had the wheels removed for a permanent installation.  Now we know what we might find inside our walls and under our floors.
There wasn't a lot of extra room, but the Lowe's installer got the washer and
dryer into their space, all connected and working!!
Tom had a sunny day to spread all our stuff out
on the curb for prospective customers.
We checked out the inside and outside of new
units under construction at the Cavco factory.
As Christmas got closer, there were a few holiday parties to attend.  Tom's bridge group held their annual potluck dinner.  Tom's partner is "famous" for his liquor infused
whole pineapples and somehow, our fudge has gained a reputation that must be repeated yearly.  Mary's quilting guild members would rather sew than cook, so their party
was catered.  Both were delicious!  To get us all in the holiday spirit there were two evenings of golf car parades....complete with decorations and music.
This was the lineup for the bridge group.
Likewise, there were lots of choices for the quilters.
Drivers, man your carts!
As December progressed it became apparent that our family had done most of their holiday shopping through Amazon.  There were daily drop-offs by UPS, Fed-Ex, On-Trac,
and the Post Office.  The pile in our hallway was growing quite large.  Mary was doing lots of cooking and baking to stock the freezer.  The grocery list was growing longer.  
We put up some holiday decorations and wrapped the presents we had purchased.  We had put out a request on our community bulletin board and were able to acquire a
borrowed crib, stroller and car seat and purchased a portable high chair.  We were ready on December 18 when the 'gang of five' from Texas drove in after a 14 hour drive
from Austin,  and the 'Michigan three' arrived at Sky Harbor.  For 6 days there was little peace and quiet, but oh, what fun!!!  The Austin gang actually stayed in one of the
rental homes a couple blocks from us, while the rest stayed with us.
The kids wanted to do the things we
usually do in the the girls went to
..........where Coffey won the jackpot.
Meanwhile, Tom took the guys to poker
night and he was the night's winner.  A
lucky night!!!
The guys also played a couple rounds of golf.  We took lots of walks and some bike rides around the park.  There were some pool adventures and some games played at
the kitchen table.
Evelyn loves the water and will just jump
from the side of the pool.
You can imagine what happened next
when she reached for the big ball.
It was a family affair at the pool quite often during the holiday visit.
We played lots of cards and "Sequence" with the family.
The calendar said it was only December 21st, but we declared it Christmas Eve and got busy with our family Christmas traditions.  We read the "Night Before Christmas" to
Evelyn and scattered food for the reindeer at our front door (even though , since Evelyn was still on Eastern time, her bedtime was about 5:00 and it was still light outside).  
After a lasagna dinner we got busy squeezing fresh oranges into juice, making overnight French toast for Christmas morning's breakfast and setting out the stockings to be
filled by the secret Santas.  Christmas morning arrived early on the 22nd.
Several hands fulls of reindeer food
were scattered on the front steps.
With no mantel, the stockings found a home
on the kitchen island.
A team effort in the kitchen made for a tasty Christmas
breakfast...eggs, bacon, French toast, coffee cake and juice.
As might be expected, Evelyn enjoyed the boxes.
A bit of chaos ensued as we opened gifts.
Mary had made a 2-sided quilt for Close Ann using 54 of
her collected T-shirts.
Knowing her fondness for it someone
gave Evelyn a roll of toilet paper.  Reid
made her a cape and crown!
What to do on a rainy day?  Splash in the
puddles and leave footprints in the carport.  
(Sadly, they dried up!)
More favorite toys...the remotes
that light up.
For some family adventure we made a trip to the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch in nearby Picacho, AZ.  When you enter the ranch compound you are given a large cup of
animal feed, a couple sticks of bird seed, a cup of nectar, and tokens for the special duck food dispenser.  Then we got up close and personal with the donkeys, several
varieties of goats, parakeets, rabbits, ducks, lorikeets, sting-rays and of course, the ostriches.  We went to the ranch after a heavy morning rain had ended and were the first
and only visitors for a while that day, so the animals were quite eager to see us.  It was great fun!
Those ostriches are greedy!
Big animal-big eggs!  (One ostrich egg
equals about 2 dozen chicken eggs!)
Lorikeets will eat right from your hand.
The sting-rays are graceful swimmers.
Kathleen feeding her favorite...the bunnies.
Close Ann and some of the goats.
OK...Go!    Who got the highest score at the shooting gallery?
As one of our Christmas gifts, the kids arranged for a professional photographer to take some family photos.  Of course, Grandma was hanging over the photographer's
shoulder with her own camera.  The professional shots will come in a couple weeks, but we got some pretty good ones on our own.
Ann, Merrick, Close, Coffey and Matt
Coffey, Close and Merrick
Evelyn with Merrick, Coffey and Close
Reid, Evelyn and Kathleen
The "real" Christmas Eve found our visitors headed out once again.  The Texas gang was on the road quite early, making it back to Austin in time to go to bed and have a
Christmas morning at home.  We took baby Evelyn and her parents to Sky Harbor for their flight back to Michigan - headed to the "other" Grandma and Grandpa's for a little
more Christmas.  We missed them all immediately!!!  Our house became eerily quiet!   Our wonderful holiday celebration was over far too soon.
Kathleen's post on Facebook was "Why do we
have to go, just when I was gettin' in to this?"
Our December 25 was a quiet one topped off with a wonderful turkey dinner with all the trimmings hosted by our friends Tedd and Mary.  Also sharing the dinner were
friends Harry and Marilou who had returned from a couple months at their home in California.  Mary grew up with her English mom sharing British traditions, so our dinner
was complete with "crackers" and mince pie.  One of the best things about Palm Creek is the wonderful diversity of friends we have made!
The last week of December was time for us to re-organize, clean up and try to get back to normal.  We had the ability to take our time
doing those chores and we're looking forward to the New Year ahead.  Here's hoping that 2017 brings only the best of peace, joy and
health to all of our friends and family!
Mary, Harry, Marilou, Tedd and Tom ready to devour a delicious meal!