Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Many Thanks for Parting Words, Deeds and Gifts!

Overwhelmed . . . that's what we've been from all of the dinner invitations, gifts and kind words on this, the week before our retirement and departure. Gifts were certainly not necessary or expected, but people have just showered us with every kind of kindness!

You may recall my mention of our dear friend, Jerry, from church. He's affectionately knows as "the candy man" because he always has his pockets full of individually wrapped mint Lifesavers, which he passes out, one at a time, with every hug or handshake. He and his wife, Jean, gave us a pretty gift bag last Sunday, and inside was this package. Every time I pop one in my mouth, I'll think of them -- two good friends, sweeter, themselves, than the candy. But Jerry's hugs just can't be packaged, and I'll miss them ever so much.

This morning my office colleagues - all four of them (Betsy, Karl, Deborah and Jessica) - took Dan and I to breakfast at The Range. They also gave me a beautiful card and a thoughtful gift, especially considering my photography interests. It's a little snap-on lens for my iPhone, that converts to either a fisheye lens, a macro lens or a wide-angle lens. How fun is THAT going to be?!!!

And then, at noon today, Dan's colleagues from both AFRL and POD gathered at P.F. Chang's and treated Dan and I to lunch. There were about 24 people there, and we had a great time visiting. I learned that Dan is actually the very first person to have retired from POD! From that party, we took away two nice gifts. One was a gift card (I didn't take a picture) and the other a gorgeous Nambé Copper Canyon bowl.

And I love this one! Our neighbors from Rio Los Pinos Dr (David and Lorraine, and son Nathan) took us to dinner the other evening (I think I mentioned, before, that we might have run out of time, but they squeezed it in), and Lorraine gave me this fun little snow globe, or, more precisely, a Texas Snowman globe. We all got a good laugh out of it.

We will be leaving Albuquerque with wonderful memories of so many good people. Thanks to all of you for making this transitional time in our lives so sweet.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Love One Another, For Love Is of God

Sunday afternoon our church family hosted a farewell reception for us. It was such fun! Tables decorated with colorful bandannas and little vases of wildflowers; a serving table cute enough to make even the state of Texas proud; a beautiful (and delicious) Texas cake decorated by our preacher's wife, Christie; homemade cookies by Carol. All of this was coordinated by our dear friend, Celia. Thank you brothers and sisters of the Northeast church, for the going-away party and for years of encouragement, TLC and love. We'll never forget you.

Here are a few photos, taken by Dennis (that would be Celia's husband).

And then there's this picture . . . flattering, isn't it?! Dan has given it a title: "Take Me To My Grandkids, Pahdner!"

Friday, January 20, 2012

Final Days in Albuquerque

Have you been missing me? I hope so!

Life has been moving at warp speed for us, lately, and my blog has suffered from neglect. Maybe once I get this move out of the way, I’ll have more time to be creative. Maybe.

So what has been keeping me so busy?


For the past 5-1/2 years I’ve worked the same job, and it has typically been a low-stress, not-so-busy position. However, now that I’m about to retire, everyone is giving me last-minute projects, knowing that it’s their final chance to have my help. I’ve been swamped and, most days, working over-time.

We took Tim to dinner one evening earlier this month to celebrate his 36th birthday. It was actually a dual-celebration - for his birthday and for a wonderful job promotion that he just received. Some of Tim's friends - a couple and their two daughters - joined us at the Mongolian Grill on this occasion.

Since Christmas for Mom and Tim was derailed due to hazardous road conditions, we thought it would be nice to have a Christmas-in-January get-together, over the MLK weekend. Tim and I both had that Monday off, but Dan had to work so wasn’t able to go with us. We went down on Saturday and came home on Monday. We had a very nice visit which included opening presents; Sunday morning worship; Sunday lunch with Mom’s lunch-bunch; a trip to Carlsbad’s wonderful little coffee shop (The Yellow Brix) on Sunday afternoon; some game-playing; and non-stop conversation.


This last part of our move was supposed to be easy, but I'm struggling with indecision at every turn. When I try to sort things according to their final fate - to be moved, to be given to friends, to be donated to Goodwill, to throw away - I just seem to be spinning my wheels. Over the past year I've parted with many, many things. Some of them were major items, such as pieces of furniture, small appliances, etc. But now, at this crucial juncture, I find myself standing and staring at such insignificant things as a plastic pancake turner or some worn-out hot pads, and agonizing over whether to take them or leave them. I’m also struggling with timing. For instance, is it too early to pack or get rid of kitchen things? If I pack things up, that means the kitchen is basically CLOSED FOR BUSINESS. The indecision is making me begin to wonder if I've lost my mind!

Saying good-bye is hard, but doing it over a meal seems to make the best of a difficult thing.
• I’ve occasionally mentioned our friends, David and Lorraine. They were our neighbors until we sold our house. And no one could have asked for better neighbors! We will surely miss them. Right before Christmas we got together with them for dinner. The plan was to go to Olive Garden, but when we learned that there was an hour’s wait to get seated, we walked next door and dined at Red Lobster. We talked about getting together once more, before our departure, but time has gotten away from all of us, and I don’t think that will happen.
• I’ve known Pam since we first moved here, and we’ve become close over the years. “Our place” for lunch has always been Sweet Tomatoes, which is where we met last week to share a meal, share family news, and say good-bye. Surprisingly, I learned that Pam is also moving from Albuquerque, in fact she will be leaving before we do!
• Our friends, Mike and Paula; Gabe and Alicia; and, possibly, Nolan and Shirley are taking us to dinner this evening at El Pinto, one of Albuquerque’s oldest and best Mexican restaurants. We eat Sunday lunch with these folks every week, so it will be a bitter-sweet time, knowing that our shared times together are coming to an end.
• Next Wednesday we will probably eat far too much, since my colleagues are taking me to a retirement breakfast at The Range; Dan has been invited to come, as well. Then, at noon, Dan’s office friends are taking him out for a retirement lunch at P.F. Chang’s, and I’m invited to that! With all that good food, we won’t need to eat anything the day before or the day after!


I’ve been trying to figure out the logistics of the final cleaning of the apartment. If we clean one day, and then spend the night there before leaving the next morning for Texas, we’ll end up having to use the bathrooms again, to get ready, and then have to clean them once again. But, unbelievably, this whole thing has been solved for us. A dear friend from our church family, Wayne, who takes care of the maintenance on our church building and keeps it sparkling clean, told us he wants to give us a going-away gift . . . to do the final cleaning of our apartment after we leave, and then turn in the keys for us. I tried to say “no,” but he would not hear it. What a blessing this is going to be! Thank you Wayne. We love you!

Tim asked me, the other day, "What will you miss after you leave Albuquerque?" I've actually been thinking on that question ever since he posed it. Here are the things that have come to mind:
• Tim
• Our good friends
• The Northeast Church of Christ
• The light . . . The quality of sunlight at this high altitude, and the amazingly vivid blue skies, can't be matched at lower altitudes.
• The hot air balloons . . . Not only during the once-a-year Balloon Fiesta, but for most of the year balloons are dotting Albuquerque's early morning skies. I can't help but smile whenever I see them.
• The mountain . . . the mountain that lies on the eastern edge of Albuquerque is beautiful, especially in the evening, when the setting sun (there's that sunlight, again!) turns it a brilliant red. By the way, that mountain, glowing red at sunset, reminded the early Spanish settlers of a slice of watermelon, which is why the range was named Sandia, Spanish for watermelon. We won't have any mountains to look at in Temple.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Unpacking Kitchen Treasures

On Tuesday after Christmas, Dan and I said our good-byes to the Spring Judds and headed to Temple. We had three full days to spend there, unpacking some of our boxes and putting things away. Since we don't yet have master bedroom or office furniture, we left boxes for those rooms untouched and concentrated on the kitchen. I always find the kitchen to be one of the most challenging rooms to pack and unpack, so thought that getting a head start on it would be good.

We were a good team. Dan hauled boxes into the kitchen, four or five at a time, and after I had unloaded, washed, and put away everything from those boxes, he would take the empties out and bring in another four or five. There were a LOT of boxes! I really didn't expect to finish the kitchen completely, but I did! All of our dishes, china, bowls, baking pans, plastics, glasses, tea towels and small appliances have a home in the cupboards, drawers and pantry! When we make our final move, we'll have a totally functional kitchen from the get-go! That might make it possible for me to participate in the February Daring Bakers' Challenge!

Not everything went as planned, of course - it never does. When I was at the house, back in November, our washer and dryer were delivered. They are front-loaders, made to sit on a pedestal (with drawer). Sadly, one of the pedestals arrived at the store broken, so they delivered the washer and dryer, put the washer on its pedestal, and left the dryer sitting on the floor. They told me, at that time, that they'd have a new one for me in a few days. When our Christmas trip was drawing near, I gave them a call, and they said they'd deliver the new pedestal on the morning of December 30, which was perfect for us. We stayed home that morning, waiting, but no delivery guys showed up. I called and talked to a manager, because there was no one available in Deliveries. She said she'd have to do some research and call me back. About an hour later, she called. "Sorry. I don't know who it was who said we'd have the pedestal to you today, but they obviously didn't do their research. I just checked with our buyer, and he told me that we have to get the pedestal for you from KOREA, and that, if I order it today, it won't be here any earlier than late January." Are you kidding me? With all of the big box stores beginning with the letter "L" in this nation, the closest pedestal for my Samsung dryer is in KOREA?!! She assured me that was the case . . . so we are hoping that we will get the rest of our already-paid-for order about the time we make our final move.

On Friday morning we packed up the car and headed back to Albuquerque, via Lubbock. This time it was really hard to leave. It's beginning to feel like home, and we're ready to settle in for good.

The Magic of Christmas Morning

Instead of waiting for the children to wake on their own, Chris and Kelsey roused them at 7:00 a.m., so we would have time for the morning festivities before leaving for the 10:30 worship service. When Chris first woke Clara, she didn't want to get up. Then he asked her, "How many more days until Christmas?" There was only a moment of hesitation before she sprung out of bed with her answer . . . "NONE!"

Santa didn't disappoint! Robert got a train table (he's really into trains, planes, trucks and cars!), and Clara got a beautiful baby doll, as well as the yo-yo she asked for. Robert, sporting an awesome bed-head style, was so smitten with his train set that it was hard to get him interested in opening the other presents. Clara looked cute in the adorable cupcake hat that Santa left in her stocking (I think).

Clara seemed pleased with the world globe that we got for her. Since her Daddy has traveled all over the world with his job, we thought she might like being able to see where he's been.

Here's the carnage that was left after the packages were opened.

Kelsey outdid herself in the kitchen this Christmas. For breakfast she made a pan-full of scrumptious Monkey Bread.

And for dinner (no picture . . . sorry) she prepared a bone-in ham along with all the trimmings.

(Gloria R., do you recognize the clothes the children are wearing in the photo below? You should!)

It was a joyful Christmas for all of us in Spring, TX. Sadly, though, things didn't work out so well for Tim and for my Mom. Before we left, we exchanged gifts with Tim, and handed over Mom's presents, since he was planning to take them down and spend Christmas Day with her. But a huge snowstorm hit New Mexico right before Christmas. (It actually chased us out of the state and on into east Texas, where the snow turned to pounding rain.) Mom said there were 11 inches of the white stuff in her yard, and I-40, over which Tim would have had to travel, was closed down for awhile. Tim had to cancel his trip, so both of them spent Christmas without family. Mom didn't even get her presents, which were still in the trunk of Tim's car! As the snow began disappearing in Carlsbad, ice took its place. On Christmas morning Mom took a fall on her sidewalk, which was a sheet of ice! She tells me she's doing okay, but continues to suspect that she may have cracked a rib. Chris did try to make her Christmas morning a little more cheery by connecting through Skype, so that she could watch the children open their gifts.

Oh What Fun!

We spent Friday night at our house in Temple, then drove on in to Spring on Christmas Eve morning. We arrived around noon, to a festively decorated house and children eager for Santa's arrival.

Kelsey and Clara had waited to bake and decorate the sugar cookies until I arrived, so I could be part of the fun. We started to work on them right away. Kelsey used a family recipe for the cookies, and they were delicious. Clara used the rolling pin to roll the cookie dough out, and did an exceptionally good job. I was really proud of her! After the cookies cooled a bit, we all helped decorate them with royal icing and sprinkles.

That evening the children donned their Christmas jammies, and came back downstairs so Grandpa could read The Night Before Christmas.

Right before bed, Clara wrote a note to Santa, which was left beside a plate of cookies and a carrot for his reindeer.

Remembering my own childhood, and how hard it was for me to fall asleep on Christmas Eve, I was surprised at how swiftly both children fell asleep after snuggling into their beds.

'Twas the Week Before Christmas . . .

. . . and all through the house, not a creature was stirring - especially Linda!

I had planned to work Monday (12/19) through Wednesday (12/21), and then travel to Temple, with Dan, on Thursday and Friday; on to Spring on Christmas Eve day. But my plans had to be altered a bit. On Friday, 12/16, I did a mass-mailing project, at work. Even as I was doing it, I knew I shouldn't be. Whenever I do a lot of repetitive motion using my arms, back and shoulders, I end up with muscle spasms beneath my left shoulder. They are very painful, and usually last for a week or so.

Sure enough, over that weekend I ended up in the Urgent Care Clinic, begging for some muscle relaxants or something to stop the pain. The doctor gave me muscle relaxants and high-dose Ibuprofen. I took them Saturday, Sunday and Monday without any relief. I went to work on Monday, as planned, but by the time my 12-noon quitting time came, I knew I had to return to the Urgent Care. This time the doctor took some x-rays. They revealed some bone degeneration in my spine, which was probably causing a pinched nerve. At least I know, now, why this "animal" returns once or twice a year to plague me. I told him that we were supposed to be traveling, by car, for Christmas, and that there was no way I could do it with the level of pain I was experiencing. He gave me some pain pills to add to my others. Almost immediately I started feeling relief. I stayed home from work on Tuesday and Wednesday, using alternating heat and cold and my meds, and by the time we were ready to travel on Thursday I was quite comfortable!

I usually leave our home sparkling clean when we travel, so that we come home to a nice, relaxing, tidy place. But this time I was so consumed with pain relief that I left the apartment looking like a cyclone had passed through. But that was okay, because the important thing was getting to Texas to be with Chris, Kelsey and the children for Santa's big day.