Tuesday, February 28, 2012

We're Not Here for a Long Time; We're Here for a Good Time #11

I ran across a plaque with that sentiment while unpacking. It was given to me by a close friend who died of cancer. She had such a great attitude that she changed and enriched me. It sits on my desk, clamped to my basket of pens and pencils (I still find need of those every once in a while), where it stays in my peripheral vision.

That state of mind is important when we have a dust/tumbleweed storm one day and a snowfall the next. Those two days together equal mud by noon on the second day. Snow doesn't seem to last long and the ground soaks it up. Frank came in sputtering that he didn't even step in the mud but had it caked on his shoes. It took me a full-size bath towel to get Rusty's paws de-mudded. Gee - I can't wait until there are 3 dogs running in and out.

Also a good state of mind to keep when the doctor bills from last October that insurance I had didn't cover come rolling in with pay up or else notes on them. There was one good one among them that offered to write it off if I filled out some paperwork. No guarantees but it could happen.

I seem to be walking differently. My jokes about being a prairie chick must have something to do with it. I've always had a little hitch in my saunter, more than likely due to the way I'm shaped. My derriere could give J-Lo's extensive backside a run for her money. I found myself kind of clomping like a farmer instead of swaying like Marilyn as I walked across the yard. Must be gazing out on the orchard and garden or the neighbors horses that does it. Just wait until I get my Ariats! These boots were made for walkin'!

Lance and Christie will be all moved in by the weekend. They've brought one load, two to go. I saw a post by him on Facebook telling some friends to stay tuned for the first barbecue. That sounds like fun. Hope we have grass in the yard by then. No, I won't even think about the mud factor.

I'm here for a good time for as long as I have.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Nothing in the Bank But Love #10

If you read my first post in this moving to the prairie series, you'll remember I said we were retiring with nothing in the bank but love. (well Frank retired - I work hard at writing) Anyway, a bit more on that.

Health care cost is a huge consideration when anyone thinks of quitting their job for a different lifestyle, especially if you aren't old enough to get medicare. I've been told by quite a few people that they would love to retire or do something different but can't afford to because of their health insurance. This is how we are lucky: Frank has VA and I have Indian Health Care. This works much better for Frank than for me. His care is free due to his hearing disability. And it follows him everywhere, sort of like health insurance. There are quite a few VA facilities, but he can also be seen at any medical center, if needed. If we should be traveling and he gets sick, he can see any doctor. All he has to do is notify VA within a certain amount of time, and they will take care of the cost. This is not how it works for Indian Health Care. I don't have insurance or health care coverage. If I get sick and can't get to the Indian facilities in Camp Verde or Phoenix, I'm on my own. It's something I just have to deal with. We can't afford the $465 a month I was paying for major medical. That's the policy I had when I got melanoma last year. I still owe over $5,000 in doctor bills.

How to hide a hole in a door
I now pay attention to peak use hours for electricity. Lance intends on installing solar, but in the meantime I'm a clock watcher for clothes washing, dish washer time and bathing. This is pretty easy. We have to avoid high use of electricity from noon until 7 p.m. Pretty much a piece of cake. Turn off lights when they aren't necessary and have the thermostat on a program.

When I was a teenager, buying used clothing was very cool. Wannabee hippy that I was. I remember a suede jacket I bought for a few bucks that cost my mother a pretty penny to get cleaned. LOL I'm back to used item stores now for monetary reasons. We needed different bed frames for our beds. Okay, personal information here you may not need but hey, I promised in that first post to spill. Frank and I like to spread out when we sleep. He has a full size bed and I have a queen. Our bedroom is big enough to accommodate both but not with the old decorative frames. We needed plain metal frames. I found the most wonderful used furniture store in Chino Valley, Mary's Cozy Home Furnishings. We got two metal frames, a wood-framed mirror and a teak salad bowl for $100. I was thrilled. I'm hooked on used.

It's coming together
All the boxes are unpacked. Pictures are on the walls. Nic-nacs are heaped on every available surface. This move is different. We've had to buy a couple of semi-decorative things - needed curtains on the Arcadia door and wood blinds on the living room windows. But as far as shopping for those things that are the right color or size to decorate - not going to happen. Considering we've gone from a 2 1/2 story, 3 bedroom, 3 bath with separate living room and family room to one story, one bedroom, one bath and no family room (remember the rest of the house is Lance and Christie's area), you'd think there would be no problem finding just the right picture for that space. Right? Nah. Not for me. But my new motto is make it work. I'm not acquiring anymore "stuff". What doesn't work is left for Lance and Christie to go through and if they don't want, I'll see if any other family members do.

Love our kitchen
The next task is to get this place painted. All the walls are white and dirty and driving me nuts. But that will happen in due time. I need to write now. My romantic mystery has been stalled. I have a publisher appointment in April - eekkk!!! I intended to have this book done at the end of this month in order to get the editing done before the appointment. Not sure how I'm going to make this happen.

Leave you with a few random thoughts:
Does it seem a bit weird that the animal hospital is next door to the taxidermist in Chino Valley?
We can burn our paper trash out here - this is a new experience and oh so convenient.
The Paulden post office is open 9-noon and 1-4. Closed on Saturdays.
Remember the mirrors around my tub? I look better after I get out than when I get in - red skin vs pasty white.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Size Does Matter! Post #9

Too short, no mail!
And the mail continues to be an issue. I find this pretty amusing. The first day we had our new mailbox up, we received one piece of paper in the box. It was a notice from the mailman. Our box is too short! Frank used an existing post (how nice of someone to leave it behind!) and mounted our box on it. But the mailman says all boxes must be the same height. We now have a post office box - at least for the next six months. Frank will wait for Lance to help him tackle burying a post at the right height.

We're taking all kinds of measures to cut costs. Living on a fixed income is a strange phrase - unless you're a salesman who receives varied amounts of commission or in a field where royalties are part of your income, aren't most people living on a fixed income? We've always been on a budget. For years, I've been able to tell you exactly how much we spent in any given month on food, gas, utilities, clothes, hair, fun and several other categories. The only difference is now we have much less to spend. The other difference is that Frank is taking a more active part.

Frank found the Safeway Store site. Safeway is the big grocery store in Chino Valley. He plans to do some price comparisons to see if it's worth the gas to drive into Prescott Valley to go to Fry's. Fry's is usually touted as the store with lower prices. The Safeway site lists all their specials and has coupons you can print off.

I've been paying attention to gas prices. This never concerned me before. A penny or two from one station to the next - who cared? Now I care. The best price I saw yesterday was $3.43 at the Safeway Store gas station. A few blocks down the road it was $3.68. Plus, both Safeway and Fry's give cents off their gas with each shopping trip.

Another cost issue is health insurance. Frank has the VA. They are wonderful! I dropped my insurance and am now taking advantage of my Native American heritage. This will save us about $500 a month.

I am a member of the Choctaw Nation. I'm actually Choctaw, Chickasaw and Cherokee. But my great grandparents chose Choctaw for registration. Because I am a direct blood descendant of someone on the Final Rolls of Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory (commonly called the Dawes Commission Roll), I am eligible to receive medical care at the Indian Hospital in Phoenix. Between the years of 1898 and 1906, Indians that registered their families secured some benefits for their ancestors. Thank you, Great Grandpa and Grandma!

As I understand it, most doctors at the hospital are working off medical loans or are doing stints for other reasons. My first visit yesterday was with a dermatologist. I have to be seen every three months because of the melanoma I had removed last October in Minnesota. I learned a bit about him as well as how the system works. We had a rousing political discussion in regards to the state of health care and the political climate. There have been many cutbacks with the Indian health care system and there are rumored to be more. He doesn't have his own office, a nurse or a secretary. He typed all my info into the system as we talked. He skirted the normal appointment procedure to ensure I get my visit in three month. I liked him (even if we are not politically aligned). He's in his thirties and I breathed easier when he told me he has another three years at the hospital. My mother has a friend who's only medical care is at the Indian hospital and she has nothing but positive words. Here's hoping my experiences with clinic care will be as good.
On the way to Flagstaff

We celebrated Lance's birthday by taking him and Christie to dinner in Flagstaff. We joked it would probably be the last time at the Outback but it may be more truth than joke. Had a great time as always. Looking forward to their move here next month. Maybe we'll be adapted to our new surroundings just in time to get adapted to sharing the space!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Took Off My Watch and Found...Post #8

Frank's watch broke the day he retired. He considered it a sign and isn't buying a new one. I've never known Frank without a watch - not even taking it off when he slept. I love the attitude but being a writer I have deadlines, I told him. Then I thought about it. If he's not in tune to time, then my preferred schedule of writing, which is anytime, won't conflict with him. This could work. Last night I said I'd cook him his special retirement dinner (stalled because of the move) this weekend. He gave me such a blank look - why wait for a weekend? He had a good point.

A dusting remains
We got snow last night. I'm so glad we'll get a little here. I'd miss not seeing the flakes fall from the sky now and then. On my way to the post office, I watched it come in over the mountains - low hanging clouds kissed the tops of the peaks leaving them white.
Last night the snow came

Speaking of the post office, I let them know our box was up and took the hold off. We've lived in two countries, six states and twenty-six homes and never had to put up our own mailbox. This was Frank's observation since he's the one that took on the task.

I read something funny yesterday. There is a virus people get when they buy a new home - they go partially blind. This accounts for not seeing all of the spots on the carpet, not realizing the cabinets were only faced with oak and thinking we'd have plenty of cupboard space. Lance and Christie have yet to move in with their stuff and I'm not sure where it will all go. But then Lance and Christie are not collectors of "stuff" so maybe we'll be okay. Lance has the mindset I possessed while pregnant with him and I lost for several years. I'm getting back to that belief. We're still dumping "stuff" as we unpack. And I'm waiting to see what other things I missed during my viral blindness.
The view on the way to Jerome
Frank and Rusty on the patio of a cafe
Bruce on the road overlooking the road below
While Bruce was with us, we decided to take one day and not unpack. He'd been so helpful and so nice to drive out here with Frank, he deserved a break. Plus he figured out how to use a curtain rod that I'd bought the wrong size. We drove up to Jerome. He was rightfully awed. And I'm thrilled it's so close. Didn't realize how close it is. Jerome is an old mining town; an inhabited ghost town built on the side of the mountain. The road up is switchback heaven and kind of scary. Bruce is now determined to come out, with Beth, in a few months with his motorcycle. We'll do a ride and go up the scary side one more time. Frank and I did it a few years ago. Fun but a bit scary.
Ate at the Mile High Grill
Short cut between streets

In the ongoing effort to cut expenses and live on Social Security, we cut our cell minutes. We had to switch to Verizon because they are the only ones with reception out here. Sprint was going to hit me with a $120 contract cancellation fee but after a lengthy "discussion" and a transfer into accounting, they determined if I could fax them a copy of my driver's license to prove I really had moved to an area without coverage, they would wave the penalty. Then after nearly two hours at the Verizon office in Prescott Valley (the office in Chino is too small to handle the switch over), we had cell coverage again. Only I can't figure out how to work the phone yet. So...we're down to 450 minutes between us but we have a land line again with unlimited long distance. Grouping the cell, land line, Internet and satellite TV under Century, we save money and pay less than before. AND I'm really happy to know that our two close couple-friends in MN and my longtime friend in NM all have Verizon so we can talk and talk - that is if I were a phone person, which I'm not but at least if they call me I won't get nervous over using the minutes.

Today I make the trip down to Phoenix to go to the Indian Hospital. I dropped my medical insurance because of the exorbitant cost, but thank goodness I'm American Indian. I'll explain in another post.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Don't Want to Watch Me Take a Bath! Post #7

Rusty was very happy to see Frank
Over a week but I'm connected again. Frank is already complaining about the slowness of our "high speed" connection. I'm just happy it's as fast as it is out here in the boonies. Sorry, Pauldenites, but that's what it feels like. And I'm okay with that - in fact, I'm more than okay with the boonies. I started to say I'm lovin' it but I'm really sick of that McD commercial.

Rusty jumped higher than I did when we saw the U-haul chugging up our dirt road trailing a wagging tail of dust behind it. Bruce, in the little Chevy, followed in its wake making his own dust trail. Both guys looked a bit haggard.

Rusty finds unpacking very boring
But not too haggard to get cleaned up and find a bar with the Super Bowl on the TV. We headed toward Chino Valley. The first bar sits all alone with a sign out front that never comes down - "live music tonight" and a smaller sign that says "bikers welcome". We passed it by thinking maybe no game would be on and we'd save it for a stop when we were on the cycle. I'd seen the sign announcing the Super Bowl and drink specials at a bar called The Log Cabin in Chino proper. I'm not much of a football fan but I tagged along thinking it would be good to sit in a bar full of fans, have a beer and check out the locals.

I wish I could post some pictures. I forgot my camera but took some pics on my phone. Trouble is we traded in our Sprint phones for Verizon before I took the pictures off.  I'll try to paint the picture:
Cute bar that has seen its better days. On the mirror behind the bar, a couple of house drink specials were listed - one of which was
"F--- you juice $4.50". 
That should help with the feel of the place! Fifty something bar maid, dressed like a teenager, long black hair and friendly as hell with a voice that reflected too many cigarettes and too much whiskey. A grey-mustached, ball cap wearing guy with thin legs and a round belly who hung on the edge of the bar, behind it so that you might think he owned the place but couldn't tell for sure. A really old, fat, half-lit codger sitting at the bar who used the F word as an adjective in every sentence. A nondescript couple who came in late. A young, skinny guy who sat at the first stool as you walked in the door. A stool away from him, a man in his thirties who either stared in his beer or at the TV screen. Not much of a crowd. So much for mingling with the locals. The waitress brought us popcorn and the drinks were cheap. Retired people like cheap. She also promised chili dogs when the chili was hot. Frank had one, Bruce and I passed. Frank said the only good thing about them - they were free.

Frank hasn't found his 'Cheers' yet. Not sure where the Super Bowl crowd hung out but we didn't find that either.

A Mexican man carrying tamales came in with a big smile on his face and very little English in his vocab. Maybe-an-owner-guy took several bags and told us these were the best tamales anywhere. I bought a bag. They were still hot and steaming. $13 a dozen. We had some of them a day later and oh my! He wasn't kidding.

Lance and crew arrived the next day only a half hour later than expected - the expected arrival time was an hour later than he told us. He brought a big burly guy that made him look small (and he's not) and a wiry little guy that could lift a lot. Frank said it would take four hours to unload and it took two. Good thing because Lance was ill but wouldn't stop. We filled the entire house with boxes, including Lance and Christie's half of the house. Lance's comment - Mom! I thought you said you downsized.

A few parting comments for today:

One week off the Internet equals 93 emails on my personal address and 247 on my business address.
Unpacking a thousand boxes takes twice as long now as it did fifteen years ago.
Will I ever have nails again?
Mirrors should not surround your tub if you're over forty.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Week to Get Internet Service?? Post #6

Frank avoided this
Frank is in Gallup, New Mexico. Sure glad he chose the southern route and not his first choice through Denver. He should roll into Paulden around 1:00 tomorrow - UHaul truck, UHaul trailer and Bruce driving the Chevy. I've packed up the stuff I've had at my sister's and loaded the Explorer. Rusty and I will be up before the sun and hit the road tomorrow morning. The main plan for Frank and Bruce tomorrow is to get in, park the UHaul and find a bar with the Super Bowl game. Of course!

Monday will be the day to unload. Lance and a friend will trek over from Flagstaff and we'll all attack the truck. Yeah, really looking forward to that.

One of the first things I have to do is cancel my Sprint service and get set up with Verizon. Verizon is apparently the only company that gets good service. My Sprint phone does not receive a signal at the house. Since there is no signal, I should be able to cancel without penalty. I'm waiting until I get Verizon to fight that battle.

I'm mainly concerned about getting the Internet hooked up. Century Link told me it takes five to seven days. I have to locate somewhere in Chino Valley to sign on. McD's? I may be out of touch for the most part. Can I handle that??!! So that is the main reason for this blog post. I feel like I need to let someone know I haven't split, only in suspension until I'm reconnected.

Thank goodness I got my galley for The Morning After and was able to proof it and get it sent back before I'm in suspension. I'm excited about this novella from The Wild Rose Press but no release date yet.

That's that. Tomorrow we begin actually living in Paulden. Now the fun begins.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Mailman Won't Venture Up My Street - Post #5

The first Wednesday of every month, Fry's Food Store gives a 10% discount if you're of a certain age. So before heading up to Paulden for the last trip before the final move, I hit Fry's. I thought it would be smart to have some food in the fridge when Frank arrives on Sunday. And 10% is worth the stop. I also loaded the Explorer with all the stuff from my sister's I wouldn't need for the last few days.

Driving through Chino Valley, I got excited to see the longhorn steer in the fields. I quickly drove off the road, grabbed my camera and darted across the road. Debra stayed put in the car. As I crept close to the fence, I yelled at the steers to get them to pose for the camera, while Debra yelled at me "Stop! They might charge." They were still quite a ways out and the fence was between us so I got a good laugh out of her advice. The steers didn't look too concerned with me.

Hello from Paulden, AZ
I then stopped at the Paulden Post Office. The realtor told me I had to stop and introduce myself so we could get our mail. I found out the mailman will not come up my dirt road. We have to put a mailbox on a post at the end of the block with the others. Had to put the mail on hold until we can get that done. I got a kick out of the conversations and traffic in and out as I filled out the paperwork. Everyone knows everyone in this very busy, dinky, little PO. When I handed in the forms, I apologized for not knowing the 4 digit extension on the zip code. The postal worker said that was okay - she didn't either. I'm not sure if she was joking!

I called the trash service and got that set up. The container will be delivered tomorrow. They charge $20 a month and I have to put the can across the street on Wednesday. At least they come down our street - but only on one side. That's one side better than the mailman.

My first bit of decorating - kitchen mat
The carpet looked better since the cleaning and now dry. He didn't get all the spots up but hope the furniture covers most of them. I'm determined to start a savings to get new carpet in two years.

We unloaded the car, vacuumed the carpet and headed for Alfonso's with promises we'd start watching our calories tomorrow.  We feasted on guacamole, chips and tacos before heading back to Sun City. One more note about Alfonso's. You know how when you order guac and chips you usually get a little cup of salty guacamole and it's never enough for all the chips. At Alfonso's you get one of those big Styrofoam containers full of chips, smothered in guac and topped with a heap of cheese. All for $3.50

So that was yesterday. Last night I went to Home Depot to get some blinds. The house has white metal mini blinds throughout. I trashed all the curtain toppers and washed the blinds in the kitchen and bedrooms. I can live with those for now. But the living room and dining room blinds were bent and...well...ugly. I thought wide wood blinds would do until I could "see" some other look. AND I figured the faux wood in oak would be the least expensive way to go. Trouble is they only carry white. You have to order oak color and they cost more to order the phony wood than to buy real oak blinds. Go figure. So I'll have real oak blinds to go with my phony oak entertainment center and cupboards. LOL

Eeeekkk! Getting close to moving - I knew Frank had the truck today and would be  heading out this afternoon. Then he called. Crash went the euphoric mood. He couldn't get everything in the truck. Plan B. He rented a trailer to pull behind the truck which meant leaving the car behind. I didn't ask how much the trailer set us back. He has a one way ticket from a canceled trip to use so he planned to fly back to MN and drive the car out here. But when we started thinking about it, a second trip would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 for two nights on the road. I decided if I had enough mileage to fly out then I'd go and drive the car, following him in the truck. Nope. So then I tried to find a flight there for under $150 leaving tonight or tomorrow. Nope. Plan C. A friend offered to drive the car out and stay until next Thursday when for some reason the one way tickets dropped from $600 to $130. So it's a breakeven plan for us, gets all the stuff here and Frank has company on the trip. Thank you, Bruce!

Oh wait, another call from Frank. He still couldn't fit in all of our stuff. What? Groan. He's leaving behind a tall, black bookcase (my bookcase) and a hutch thing that has shelves and drawers and is lighted with a fold out desk. Double groan. He reminded me I tried to sell it at one time. Yeah, but that was that house and this house has a spot for it. Oh well...it's only stuff - of which we have too much.

Now the trick is to make the trip so that he arrives in Paulden in time to find a bar with the Super Bowl game, a burger and a beer. Fingers crossed!