Saturday, May 8, 2010

It's May!

First new filly of 2010...she's a little shy

Where did February, March and April go?

Posting the quote for the month was more for me than anyone. I am amazed that it is May and my last post was in January. It has been an eventful time, some good events and some not good events but that's the way life goes sometimes.

I went back to see where I left off and had to search my memory banks so that I can finish the story that I started last year. Last year...that's pretty pathetic. One of the frustrations of middle age for me is losing my short term memory. But I probably already told you that.

And now, the rrrrrest of the story.

When we left Scottsdale, early on a sun kissed desert morning, we were in a bit of a hurry to get home. We had been gone for nearly two months and John wanted to get back for a day or two of the Tattersall's fall sale and a Halloween party that we had been invited to at The Castle in Versailles. We took a shorter, off-Interstate route to I-40 that took us through some beautiful cactus covered mountain country. John pushed Mary over hill and dale until we got to I-40 and then we pelted toward Tucumcari, New Mexico to spend the night. When we arrived and got into our spot John opened the door and the steps came out (as they should) but when he closed the door and the steps retracted, they pulled all the way in but the motor kept working as though it didn't get the message that the steps were in as far as they could go. Now we were both doing the big exasperated sighs. And my list of things to write to Guaranty RV about was not only growing, it was taking form with lots of angry words.

The next morning we got up early and hit it again blasting across the panhandle of Texas and into Oklahoma. Each time we stopped the steps repeated their routine only adding another few seconds to the over zealous step motor. John was so worried that the motor would burn out again that he decided to get under Mary in one of those picnic areas in middle of nowhere in Texas. It was hot out and the wind was blowing like a blast furnace. He put on an old tee shirt, got down on the hot blacktop, scooted as far under as he could get (she sits pretty low) and took a look. He didn't see anything. When he got up he had tar all over his Wranglers (which I'm still trying to get out by the way) and his tennies. The tee shirt was toast. So for the rest of the way home we limited our stops as much as possible and locked the steps into the out position at fuel stops. He was going to pull the fuse on the steps but we realized that Guaranty and absconded with the mounting block that we bought in Indiana two months earlier (when the steps quit working) when we were on our way out West. Another thing to add to the list ("...and to add insult to injury you stole our bleeping mounting block!!").

We made it the rest of the way in without burning up the motor but when John took her over to Bluegrass RV the guy got under her and said, "They didn't connect the ground wire." Apparently it was just hanging there.

The letter was very cathartic to write. It included all of the details of the things that they said they fixed that they apparently either didn't fix or did a half assed job of fixing along with the totals of what we spent (tapping that total out on my handy little calculator drained the blood from my brain for a few minutes), copies of the invoices from the other RV repair places, vivid descriptions of the discoveries and experiences connected to their inept work, or lack thereof and a demand that they reimburse us for a percentage of the work that they did. Then I had to call them (after emailing and getting nowhere) to find out where to send the letter. Even a question as simple as "To what address do I send a letter of complaint?" took a day to sort out and I ended up with two different addresses. To their credit (or perhaps to mine) they did reimburse us for the amount that I requested.

Zorro Jones (Halloween 2009)

Sister Karen (carrying son of Zorro)

Over the winter we had a few things done to Mary. We got her CB fixed never has worked...and she developed an oil leak while taking her winter rest so she went to our local diesel repair in Lexington to have a gasket replaced. Before we left for our first trip (which we are taking as I type) John had a local guy wash and hand wax her so she was sparkling when we took her out of her six month storage and hit the road.

We had plans to go to Key West for a week toward the end of February but A.J. Bruwer had a terrible horse accident breaking his leg badly a few weeks before we were to leave. John agreed to work his horses until he got back up and going so we were grounded for the balance of the winter and into the spring months.

Due to selling the Florida house this was the first winter that we spent in Kentucky in several years and it was one of the snowiest winters in recent history (thank you Murphy). We griped and groused our way through it (February is suicide-watch month for me and March is for John) counting the days until the daffodils peeked through the frosty ground. I planted them in our front flowerbed last fall and I was out there examining the ground with a magnifying glass every day until I saw the very tips of green bravely poking out of the bark. Dancing on the sidewalk ensued. I know our neighbors thought I had lost it. I did.

The extent of UK basketball madness at our house

We had to cancel our semi-annual spring trip to Scottsdale as well which added fuel to our winter madness. To make matters worse we were offered tickets to the SEC Tournament in Nashville to watch the Cats play but couldn't find a room or a spot for Mary anywhere in the vicinity. We were totally feeling sorry for ourselves by that time. We spent the winter living from basketball game to basketball game (and thanks to the Johnson's we got to go to two of them). It kept us away from bridges and gave us a reason to see it through. Then I got a call from my sister Linda in Oregon telling me that my Dad was sick and had just been admitted to the hospital.

My Dad (C.B. Fish) and step mother Barbara (in the middle) photographed with some bikers they met on one of their RV adventures (I come by it naturally!)

For nearly a week I got regular reports about his condition all the while we all were thinking and being led to believe by the doctors that he would get better. He didn't. We lost him on March 9th. He was 81. He had a wonderful life, an incredibly sweet and kind man, and when he passed on he was surrounded by all of his children and people who loved him. On March 13th I was getting ready to come home to Kentucky and looking forward to it when John called me and told me that Vic Arcuri (Tim's brother) had passed away. He was just 62. Vic had been sick for some time so we knew it was coming but it was tough none the less. He was a great guy with an open heart and a big warm smile for everyone he met. He had requested that John be a pall bearer so I changed my flight and booked John a flight out to Oregon. A week later, after the funeral we both came home.

I find that losing people you love gives you an opportunity to reflect and refocus. Perspective on the quibbles and grumbles of daily life comes in a mega dose. I'll continue to make light of the little irritations of life but in the big picture I'm very much more appreciative of each day of a healthy and happy life and all of the wonderful people (and critters) in it.

On to happier things now.

We took a fun trip out to California in April. We went to Palm Springs and stayed at Villa Royale, a boutique hotel which was Sonja Hennie's house back in the golden age of Hollywood. It was such a delightful spot. We spent two days with Arcuri's at their home in La Quinta which was fun (beautiful home and setting, great friends) and then we headed up to Santa Barbara for a couple of days at The Biltmore. That was almost indescribable. Historical, Spanish, luxurious, elegant, delicious, gracious...I could go on and on. What a treat!

Giant Fig tree at The Biltmore in Santa Barbara (John is standing under it)

Now we are in St. Paul, Minnesota. I'd post a photo but I don't have any yet (there's a reason for that). We left Lexington in Mary last Tuesday and drove up to Rock Island, Illinois for the night. We really didn't want to go through Chicago so we took the route through Iowa to I-35 and on in to St. Paul. On Wednesday we were doing great until we got half way through Iowa. I was comfortable in my seat reading when I felt Mary lurch to the right. I looked over at John and his jaw muscles were bulging. I looked out the window as Mary lurched to the right again. The trees looked like they had rubber trunks, swaying way over to the right and snapping back upright. "Wind," he said and sighed. We spent the next several hours being buffeted around the highway like the mammoth bread box that Mary morphs into in the wind. Just before we crossed over the Iowa, Minnesota border we heard a huge THUMP. We looked at each other. "What was that?" I asked. John didn't answer. It was quiet. Mary kept going. I knew we would figure it out sooner or later.

We've come a long way from our first adventure in Mary when a THUMP would have put us in a panic and on the side of the road!

The Biltmore

They are doing road construction on I-35 in Minnesota and in places had us on a two lane road with truck and trailer rigs ripping by us going the opposite direction. With the wind blowing and the wake from the trucks Mary was nearly unmanageable. John said that if he didn't have to be in the ring judging the next day that he would pull her over for the night. It really was that bad.

We got directions to the fairgrounds from Guy Warner. We arrived in Minneapolis at 5:00 and promptly got trapped in traffic and more road construction. I could see that the pilot was past tired. Finally we pulled into the fairgrounds where Guy met us. When I opened the door he said, "Are you aware that you are missing an air conditioner shroud?" The THUMP. "I knew something was wrong," I said as I got out and strained on my tip toes to see on top of the coach. I informed John and he used the appropriate expletives and then called Monaco. The guy there told him that the air conditioner would need to be covered with some plastic so that it wouldn't leak in case it rained. It has rained every day since then. And that's why I don't have any photos!

I got on the internet and looked up the local Walmart. We put the dogs in the car and took off in search of the Walmart. I stayed in the car while John shopped for plastic. He said he had duct tape (:-) ...gorilla tape actually and we have scissors so he crawled up on Mary and went to work. Unfortunately he didn't have his glasses on when he bought the plastic. He thought he got 7 MIL which would be very heavy plastic. In fact he had bought .7 MIL which is about the thickness of the plastic that they cover your clothes with at the dry cleaners. Exasperated from trying to manage the flimsy plastic on top of Mary in 45 mile an hour wind gusts he came down and said he got some on and asked if I would go and get some heavier plastic Thursday while he was judging. No problem. Then we had a scotch.

The next day I looked on the Internet for a Super Target. I needed to get a few forgotten food items and the plastic so that seemed to be the best place to go. I loaded Breezy and Ransom, set Genius (GPS) and he chattered at me until I found the Target store. I got a basket and went to work with my list. As I was shopping I was catching parts and pieces of conversations between other shoppers and clerks. I stopped at one point and smiled. "Fargo", I thought. There is a distinct lilt in the accent up here that left me feeling like I had traveled to a foreign country. At one point I realized that I just plain couldn't understand most of what was being said and I'm usually the one who is translating accents for everyone else. Like the mid-south the people up here are very friendly and helpful or very intense and serious, not much in between. People must feel somewhat the same way as I did when visiting Kentucky or the Carolina's for the first time!

It's Saturday and I just took John over to do his job for the evening performance. The fairgrounds is quite nice and the dogs have a great place to play if the weather would ease up. We bought Ransom and Breezy a new Frisbee to play with and kept the old one so that they each can have one to play with when we go out. I figured that would solve the problem of Ransom getting the Frisbee and running off with it. Unfortunately they both want the old one. We both threw the new one and they just looked at us like we were daft and then bounced around us trying to get the old one out of my hand. It is warped, permanently dirty and full of tooth holes but that's the one that they want. Dogs are like kids in many ways. Favorite binky, favorite blanket, no matter how worn and beat up they are. So for awhile I guess we will have to take the new one, leave the old one in the coach and let them maul the new one until it has the right scent, shape and texture to be pleasing. And Breezy will have to wait for Ransom to stop running around gloating when he gets the Frisbee.

As many of you know (most of you probably because I think John has told everyone in the Universe) I wrote a book. It is a work of fiction called "Silent Partner". I started it in 2005, finished the original manuscript in 2007, and have edited it to death. I'm on my third laptop since I started it...which may be a testament as to how long it took to finish or may be a statement on how hard I am on computers. Not sure which. What I know is that I could write a book about writing the book! Anyway, it is currently being professionally edited and will be in print and available on sometime in July if all goes well. I'm about to create a new blog for "Silent Partner" where I will detail my experiences with writing, publishing and marketing my project as well as posting excerpts from the book and other information. At this point I am planning on a website for it as well but I'm going to start with the blog being as I'm pretty comfortable with this format.

As soon as I have an address for it I'll post it here. I hope you will check it out! And I'll be back with more adventures on the road!