January 2008
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The start of the new year, 2008, took us back in our memory books......we had left the home of our good friends and New Year's hosts, Kathy and Dennie Dew, in Waterville, Ohio mid-morning on New Year's Day.  The weather and roads were clear...none of that white stuff in sight.  As we drove north into Michigan, snowflakes began to appear.  The further we drove, the more snow we found.  When we arrived at Mary's mother's home in Jackson, the driveway had been plowed for our arrival.  We had a great visit with Mother and Fran and enjoyed a tasty lunch and sharing the details of our holidays.  Mid-afternoon we hit the road once again heading west on I-94 towards Illinois.  The further we drove, the more snow we found.  There were cars in the ditches and medians all over the place, including a police car with all its flashing lights glowing.  When we got to Exit 1 at the Indiana line, the people in McDonalds were talking about the 15 inches of snow they'd been shoveling.  All our bad memories of winters past came to mind!    Surprisingly, once we got to Indiana and headed south around Lake Michigan and into Chicago, the roads were clear again.  We sailed right through the "windy city" and on to our daughter's home in Winnebago....a six hour drive took us closer to nine.

Mary with her mom and step-father in Jackson, MI

We enjoyed a few more days with our granddaughters.  They've become skilled domino and scrabble players!  We also got see the girls "in-action" at their dance and swim lessons.  It's always busy around their house!  Then on Friday, January 4, Ann and the girls drove us to the Rockford airport.  They waited with us till we had to go to our plane, so we toured the exhibits of the airport history and local business interests, trying to take advantage of a few more minutes together.  The Rockford airport, like the one in Mesa at the other end of our flight, were both Air Force airfields earlier in the 20th century.  Our flight from Rockford back to Arizona was smooth and on-time, unlike our adventure getting to Rockford in December.

Coffey (on the right) practiced her "hip-hop" routine.
Close has decided to spend her energy swimming. She's becoming a fish!
Merrick is learning the basics of ballet.
The McCurdy Girls were our send-off committee...
Coffey, Ann, Merrick and Close at the Rockford airport.
Rockford is the home of Fox River Mills, the company that has long been famous for creating the sock monkey using their red heeled socks.

Once back in Arizona we were back to the "old routine."  Our only problem was the temperatures.  We thought we'd left the cold behind in the mid-west.  But, Arizona had become a victim of a cold snap as well. Many nights this month were down near freezing.  Our heat pumps and furnace were working overtime.  Looks like we'll need to get a propane refill this winter - something we don't usually have to do.  We also had several bouts of rain.  Being in a drought area, the rain is welcome.  But, there are no storm sewers in this part of the country, so just a little bit of rain brings flash floods, closed roads, stranded citizens, and rescue operations.  Closer to home, that means "cart path only" on the golf courses...making a round of golf a long and tiring day.  But, we'll survive!

It seems like our neighborhood "happy hours" are part of our "usual routine."  We have such a great group of neighbors - and there are almost always people around at 4:00 in the afternoon.  So, we just go outside and follow the noise and gather to share our stories, adventures and opinions.  In addition, we'll use any excuse to turn the gathering into a party of some sort.  And, we're not shy about bringing out the heaters and wrapping up in blankets in the cool temperatures as the sun goes down.  Tom missed a few gatherings in the middle of January as he traveled to Macon, Georgia to be a part of one of his occasional Head Start Review teams.  He had a long and busy week working with one of the better managed programs...and earned some golf money in the process.  When he returned, Tom and a neighbor used the certificate Tom had won last fall to play golf at the Troon course, Poston Butte, at Sun City Anthem.  They had a great day and enjoyed the beautiful course.  One afternoon (luckily,while Tom was gone, he says) one of our neighbors had arranged for our gang to have lawn bowling lessons.  So, we patiently listened and then did some practicing with the "lawn bowls."  (They aren't "balls" because they are not round!)  It was a fun afternoon and most of us enjoyed the effort.  We need to get organized and do it again.

Other activities this month included the business meeting of the tennis club.  Mary has been appointed secretary to replace another member who was unable to serve.  She has been busy keeping up with meeting notes and excutive board meetings as well as working on the club's on-line "blog."  (www.palmcreektennisclub.blogspot.com)   As a library volunteer, Mary joined the dozen or so other volunteers one evening to put new stickers on all the books and replace them all in order on the shelves.  The volunteers have also been weeding out some of the old books and cleaning up the library.  It's looking pretty spiffy for a library made up entirely of donated books.

We celebrated neighbor Dan Louwen's birthday with a neighborhood gathering.
Along with three varieties of pulled pork we had several salads, some beans and of course, birthday cake.
We gathered on the green for a few lawn bowling tips.
Mary took careful notes at the tennis club meeting.
The Palm Creek Library has something for everyone.

Toward the end of the month we enjoyed some get-togethers with old friends, and through them, some new ones.  Bounder Buddies from our past, Ed and Judy Lichtenberg, were due to arrive for a two month stay at Palm Creek.  We were invited to a surprise welcome party for them by some of their Bounder Buddies, Bob and Gwen Fraser (now our new friends)who are also staying here. We had a fun evening - and some delicious food.  Several days later, it was Ed and Judy's anniversary so we got together once again for a lunch out at MiMi's Restaurant and this time we were joined by more Bounder Buddies, Jeff Rubic and Judy Metzler who stayed here at Palm Creek in November but now are staying at Valle Del Oro in Mesa.  It was another great meal and visit.
We were surprised while waiting for a visit from Tony and Mary Campbell, Michigan Bounder Buddies, when Tony arrived on his bicycle.  The Campbells were staying at the Escapees' RV Park about 14 miles from us and had arranged to stop by and visit us.  Tony decided to take advantage of a nice day and get in some cycling as well as a visit.  Mary arrived in their van a short time later and we enjoyed hearing of their winter in the Detroit area living in the Bounder and of their plans heading to Alaska for the coming summer.

Bob and Gwen Fraser hosted a surprise party to welcome the Lichtenbergs to Arizona.
It was an Arizona gethering of Tri-State Bounders...and we got to share in the visit with our "Bounder Buddies"...Bob, Jeff, Ed, Gwen, Judy and Judy.
Tony and Mary Campbell, our Bounder Buddies from Michigan, stopped by on their way from Detroit to Alaska.

 For some lighter moments, we attended the first production of the Palm Creek Playhouse.  A group of dedicated "thespians" put on a humerous performace of the play "Death by Chocolate."  We could be a little predjudiced, but we felt the star of the show was our neighbor, Connie Shafer, playing the part of Bobbie Sue, the waitress at the coffee shop.  Our neighborhood gang attended "en masse" and enjoyed the show as well as the chocolate truffles and hot chocolate drinks.

We're not sure we'd want to try the signature drink at Precious Perks...it's "Death By Chocolate."

More fun to come in February!   Be sure to check back.