Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quick Trip

We found out, last week, that we needed to jump in with both feet and purchase a home from our preferred builder, in Temple, or miss out on the opportunity to get one of his homes. We hadn't planned to buy this early, but upon hearing this news we dropped everything and dashed down there, leaving early Saturday morning.

On Monday we took care of business. We managed to sign a contract on a home we liked, and get all of the supporting paperwork submitted. We are supposed to close on the house on September 30. We will be able to do that from Albuquerque, so it won't require another trip down to Texas right away.

Here is a picture of the front of the house. I've always wished for a brick home, and soon I'll be living in one!

My favorite part of the house is the kitchen. As you can see, a refrigerator does not come with the house. I can just imagine doing my first Daring Bakers project there. (By the way, for those who've been wondering, I'm on "sabbatical" from Daring Bakers until we get moved and settled.)

Another feature we're happy with is the back patio. It's all covered and is large enough to enjoy both, cooking and eating, outside.

The house has four bedrooms, one of which will be our office space. We'll have a jetted garden tub :-), and his-and-hers walk-in closets. Here's the corner fireplace, in the living room. Can't you picture our grandkids waking up, on Christmas morning, and seeing stockings full of trinkets hanging there?

Since we accomplished everything on Monday, we decided to drive home on Tuesday (yesterday). We usually take two days to make this trip, but wanted to get home, so decided to try it in a single day. It is, typically, a 12 to 13 hour trip. Dan and I shared the driving, and things were going pretty smoothly until we were 90 minutes from home. All of a sudden, traffic came to a halt on I-40. We sat with our engine and air conditioning running for about five minutes, until it became clear that we were not going to be moving anytime soon. We turned off the engine, covered the front windshield (facing west) with a sun shade and opened windows to allow a little breeze - though it was a hot breeze - to move the air.

After awhile, we got out of the car and started visiting with our "neighbors" in the next lane. We even found a spot, in the shade of a semi, that was a little cooler. We waited two hours before the road was reopened. When we finally drove by the scene of the accident, it was a semi-truck, overturned and burned down to its black, charred skeleton! Although our trip was extended another two hours because of this closure, and although we were totally spent by the time we got home, our day was definitely not as bad as that truck driver's!

Looking forward:

Looking back:

Now it's back to work and back to apartment living, here in Albuquerque.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First Day of School

Wasn’t it just a few months ago that Chris and Kelsey gave me a gift – a Boyd's Bear figurine that reads “When a child is born, so is a Grandma”? That was the way they announced, to us, that our first grandchild was in the oven. Shortly thereafter little Miss Clara arrived, and we couldn’t wait to get down to Texas for our first visit.

No. It wasn’t just a few months ago. It was six years ago when we learned that astoundingly wonderful piece of news, and Clara is now five-and-a-half years old. The school bells are ringing in Spring, Texas, and Clara starts kindergarten today. (Photo swiped from Kelsey's blog.)

I know it’s been a long time ago, but I remember as clearly as if it were yesterday how I felt when my own babies headed off to school for the first time. My emotions were all tangled up – excitement, fear, hope, worry, sadness, happiness, curiosity and pride were all knotted up in my stomach. In some ways it’s easier, as a grandma – in some ways it’s harder – having a child go off to school for the first time.

The world has done a lot of changing since my boys were five years old. There are more scary things out there. There are new ways of teaching and learning. Children have less freedom. Teachers have higher expectations about some things; and lower expectations about others. The next time I get to visit with Clara, I’m sure she’ll be teaching me all sorts of things.

One thing, though, hasn’t changed. We, as parents or grandparents, still have to put our children in God’s hands and trust in his loving care for them. I’m so grateful that Clara and Robert are growing up with two parents who know and believe Him. As Clara steps out into this new adventure, she’ll be wrapped in a blanket of prayers and love and protected by the Good Shepherd.

Clara, I wish I were there to hear your after-school chatter today. I know you'll have lots of stories to share. I know you'll always do your best and make us all proud. I love you!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Seeing Albuquerque in One Day, with Takashi and Yoko

First, here's a picture of one of the gifts Takashi and Yoko brought us. It was a box of absolutely decadent chocolates, from Boston, where they visited Takashi's cousin before coming to see us. Kind of hidden among the other chocolates in the box I discovered this little fellow. Isn't he cute? Too cute to eat!

This morning, as planned, we took our guests to Krispy Kreme. It was a "sweet" way to start the day.

Then we drove to Old Town. Dan and I relaxed in the plaza while Takashi and Yoko strolled and shopped for souvenirs to take home to family.

By the time we were done with Old Town, it was almost lunch time, so we headed to the Sandia Peak Tram, and rode to the top, where we had lunch at the restaurant there, called "High Finance."

We decided to take a siesta break during the heat of the afternoon, and then, around 5:00, I picked T & Y up at their hotel and deposited them at the Cottonwood Mall. They wanted to take a look around there before dinner. Dan, Tim and I met up with them later for pizza dinner at Dion's.

We ended the evening at our apartment, remembering old times and sharing stories of more recent happenings.

Tomorrow morning I'll be picking them up at the hotel and taking them to the airport. It's been such a short visit, but we made the most of it. We're already talking about "next time."

Look Who's Here!

Takashi and Yoko arrived right on time yesterday afternoon. After taking them to their hotel room, to unload their luggage, we met up with Tim for dinner - Mexican food at Garduño's.

Yoko, we learned, is an elementary school teacher. She is sweet as can be, and seems to be a perfect complement to Takashi's personality.

We ended the evening at our apartment, where we opened gifts (Japanese visitors ALWAYS come bearing gifts!) and caught up on the past few years. The last time we saw Takashi was about ten years ago, when he came to see us in Juneau. Sadly, Chris wasn't able to join us for this reunion, but we placed a call, and the two of them had a nice, lengthy phone conversation.

Today, being their only full day here, we plan to see a few of Albuquerque's sights. We'll be picking them up, at 8:00 a.m., at the hotel. To Dan's delight, Yoko LOVES Krispy Kreme donuts, so we'll be going there to start the day. Old Town is next on the agenda, with a trip up the tram, to the top of Sandia, as a possible afternoon activity.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Please Pray for These Children

Here is a link to an article in the Christian Chronicle about a terrible auto accident that happened in Alaska on Sunday. We know the Bennett family and would ask you all to join us in praying for all of the injured passengers, but especially Erika (age 10) and Brittany (age 16) who both remain in critical condition as of tonight.

Quick Takashi Update

This morning I have an email message from Takashi. Apparently he and Yoko arrived in Albuquerque sometime between midnight and 1:00 a.m., and found a hotel room for the night. They will be leaving early this a.m. for Boston, and coming back through Albuquerque, as originally planned, on Sunday. We won't see them until then.

I replied to his email, giving him my cell phone number. I hope that makes things run more smoothly.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Where In the World Is Takashi?

Takashi and his wife's plans were to arrive in Albuquerque this evening, then go on to visit his cousin, in Boston, tomorrow morning. On their way back from Boston, the plan is to come back through Albuquerque and spend a couple nights here.

Dan and I headed for the airport tonight, in plenty time to be there before their flight would arrive. Tim was waiting for a call from us, to tell him where to meet all of us for dinner. We didn't know how tired Takashi and Yoko would be, so weren't sure whether we'd be going to a nice restaurant for dinner, or just grabbing something quick so they could get to bed.

We saw, on the screen, that their flight had landed, and we watched carefully as everyone came through the gate from the secure area. I was standing ready with my camera to get a picture for my blog. But they never came through the gate. We waited while planeload after planeload of folks came through the gate. No Takashi!

By this time, the airport was nearly EMPTY, and there were no more flights coming from LA.

I stayed by the security gate while Dan went down to the baggage claim area. We figured they'd have to be there if we had somehow missed them. But they weren't at baggage claim, either. Next Dan went to the ticket counter to see if anyone could help us in any way. The ticket agent kindly looked on the manifest, and told us that there was no one with Takashi's last name on board the flight they were supposed to be on.

Takashi and I had not exchanged cell phone numbers. We had only communicated through email. I sent him a couple emails while at the airport, the second one giving him my cell number. I'm hoping that he has a phone that will pick up my emails wherever they are.

We called Tim, told him the disappointing news, and arranged to meet at Applebee's for dinner. By the time we got to Applebee's it was 8:00 - rather late for dinner. But we placed our orders and settled into conversation with Tim. Of course, all of us were wondering where in the world Takashi and Yoko were, and if they were okay. Our best guess was that, coming from Japan, their flight was delayed, and they missed their LA connection. Maybe they are having to spend the night at LAX! If ONLY we had exchanged phone numbers.

At Appebee's, we waited about 40 minutes for our dinner. By then we were really hungry, and wondering what was taking so long, since there was hardly anyone in the restaurant. Finally our server came back to the table and said, "Could you remind me what you were getting?" We all just looked at her quizzically. I asked, "You mean, you haven't turned in our order yet?" to which she responded, "Well, yes, but I've lost the paper with your order on it, and I'm not sure what to pick up from the kitchen."


Pretty soon a manager arrived at our EMPTY table.

He apologized that we hadn't gotten our meal and offered to expedite the preparation, if we'd tell him, again, what we had ordered. We told him it was just too late, and that we would have to leave. He brought us a $35 gift card, which we accepted. We went home, and Dan had a bowl of cereal for dinner, while I ate a PB&J sandwich!

What a strange evening. An empty airport, an empty table, empty stomachs, and an empty feeling as we wonder where in the world Takashi and Yoko are tonight.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Here We Are

This is our home for the next six months. It's somewhere around 950 square feet, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. We use the spare bedroom for our computers and other office equipment/supplies. It's nice and clean, and quite comfortable. It is on the fourth floor, which has elevator accessibility. Being on the top floor puts us up where we get the evening breezes. I've been opening the sliders every night and enjoying that cool air. Beyond the sliders is a nice balcony, with a fairly high stucco wall, making it quite private. It faces west, giving us a nice view of the sunsets.

The apartment complex is called The Landings at Cottonwood, and it's rather large. Our unit is in the same building as the management office - the blue and gold one on the left of this photo. It's also the only building with four floors. The others only have three.

We are living just to the north of Albuquerque's largest mall, but we've been surprised that we don't hear much traffic noise. We will be quite comfy here until the big move to Texas.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Not Complaining. Just Saying . . .

. . . this phase of our move has been a difficult one. But it's done.

The first thing that made it hard was the timeline. Since the buyers were paying cash - no lender involved - they wanted (and we foolishly agreed to) possession the same day we closed. That gave us less than a month to accomplish everything. Our realtor kept reminding us that it wasn't "over" until funds were disbursed, and that real estate deals could fall apart right up to closing. But, since we had to be out of the house the day of closing, we couldn't wait to pack, to sign an apartment lease, to have movers come and take away our goods for storage. I told our realtor that we'd simply be in very deep yogurt if the sale fell apart at the end. Thankfully, it didn't!

The second thing that made it difficult was that we found out, during the inspection, that we had major hail damage on our roof. Despite that tight timeline, we had to get the homeowner's insurance and the roofer to work together in getting estimates done, so we could repair the roof for the buyers. It all worked out, although we had to leave money in escrow for the repairs to happen after the buyers took possession.

The third thing that made it difficult was my bum knee. I was in a lot of pain, especially on the two days that we were actually moving things to our apartment. The apartment is on the 4th floor, which isn't much of an issue, because there is an elevator. But from the parking lot, there is a L-O-N-G sidewalk/breezeway that everything had to be transported down; then the elevator; and then another, equally long hall/breezeway to the apartment. Dan only had one friend helping him move, since the third one we had planned on wasn't able to come at the last minute. Those two, admittedly, did the bulk of the move, but I absolutely did my share, as well, and my knee is still not happy with me.

And the fourth thing that made this a difficult move was what happened on closing day. I backed my sweet little VW into a metal post at the apartment carport area and damaged the rear bumper. I cried for a solid hour over that. I feel sure I wouldn't have taken it so hard under normal circumstances, but this came at the end of the second day of moving. I was exhausted and stressed. I guess I'll just chalk up the repair costs to "moving expenses."

But this afternoon we are in our cozy little apartment. Most of the things are unpacked and put away, and, this evening, we will eat our first meal at home in over a week. We are TIRED of restaurant food, believe it or not. All of this work we've done, six months before we plan to leave NM, will make that big move much easier. Things are definitely looking up. And I'm still very grateful that our house sold as quickly as it did.

I'll try to post a couple pictures of our new, temporary home, tomorrow. It's going to be kind of fun being apartment-dwellers for awhile. It's such a different lifestyle.

Next on our agenda is Takashi and Yoko's visit. Since there is no place for them to sleep here at our little apartment, we will be putting them up at a nearby hotel at night. I hate that we can't provide for them here, but it is what it is. We'll spend every minute together, other than sleeping time.