Thursday, February 23, 2017

Making choices

I recently decided to forego one of the Friday night dinners with the group to see what the mixed doubles billiards was all about.

Somehow I thought it might be more relaxed and fun, but it was all the same people I play with on the league and I found myself feeling stressed and knowing I was holding back my partner, a very good player.

The team has been so good to me and several have invested time in helping me develop my skills, so I was surprised to find myself just wishing it was "over" that night so I could go home.

This brought me to a new revelation about billiards in general.  It causes me stress.  The group is quite serious and there are some excellent players to learn from.  But when I really thought about it, I found I was resenting the time commitment it took away from pickleball and water volleyball.

So I made the decision and called the team caption who was very gracious about my wanting to call it quits.  As she said, it's not for everyone. I can't tell you the sense of relief when I knew it was over and I could have more time to devote to pickleball, my garden and just goofing off in general.

There is a hiking group that meets Thursday mornings and I wanted to try some of their shorter hikes to see what it was like, but I knew I wouldn't be back in time for billiards competitions that day.  Now I can experience some other activities until I create the perfect rhythm.

This is the difficult part of living here...there are so many choices it makes your head spin.

Long Live the Queen

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Gardening Begins

I dutifully filled out the forms for my plans to landscape our Arizona abode and everything was approved, which surprised some people because I had twelve plants on my list.  But, I did a lot of research into what will work the best during the summers when they are on their own and stuck with the smaller, lower growing ones...mostly. I got the first bunch planted, but am still looking for some of the others on my list.

It really changed the looks of the yard already by removing the odd corner piece and relocating the concrete circle to the hibiscus bush where it will help hold the water.  We are allowed two drippers and the one for this bush was buried deep underneath the bush, so I raised it up to make sure it's working and hopefully this will improve its appearance.

I'll use colorful pots with annuals to add more color and some height and I'm sure there will be some additional metal art and a trellis coming my way.  I found a cheap little glass bird bath at Walmart that work for now to create some color as well as water for the birds.

I couldn't resist this cute little mammalaria with the pink flowers and even though it wasn't on my list I snuck it in...shhh, don't tell anyone.

This is the Argentine giant and in the spring apparently gets huge white flowers that bloom in the dark.  Not to worry about the giant part, it stays about three feet tall.

This is a fishhook cactus and I was warned by the man I bought it from that unlike the others that just leave needles in your skin, this will rip the flesh right off your hand.  Charming.  I planted it very carefully and without incident.

This is the guy that had me the most worried with all those nasty looking spikes, but again it went in without any harm to my body.  It's not the most attractive looking plant, but will have some deep claret blooms in the spring.

This one was advised to be planted in the back to allow for growth of its "arms".  It is called a Mexican fence post and apparently is used to create fences.  I'll bet that's very effective.  He looks so tiny and lost right now, but I was told they can grow about a foot during the summer.

He's toward the back and near the bedroom window.

I had to have one of the prickly pear cactus for the shape and form, plus the spring blooms.  I can't wait to see the blooms before we head north.

This is the Blue Elf aloe and the orange tubular flowers attract hummingbirds, so I planted it in front near the bird feeders.  I really like the texture this provides.  I wanted the partridge breast aloe, but he didn't recommend it very highly unless it can be watered.

I almost didn't get the following one because of some things I'd read online about it causing blindness if the sap gets into your eyes.  After talking to the man I get my plants from I wasn't as concerned.  Yes, if the sap gets into your eyes you will lose about 80% of your vision for several hours and it hurts like the dickens.  He's had it happen to him twice now.  So, when pruning and exposing the sap it's good to wear protective eye gear and not to touch your eyes...just use common sense.  I'm so glad he talked to me about this because the Fire Sticks are so pretty and provide a nice deep reddish orange to the garden and the form reminds me of coral.  I put this on the corner of the house as they can get quite large and it will soften the corner of the house.

I'm having a ball digging holes and augmenting the soil with potting soil as was recommended.  It's a far cry from the heavy clay I was used to working with.  Now I need to find those flowering groundcovers I've been looking for and get those pots filled up.

Long Live the Queen

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A few of the birds in my front yard

I don't know what all of these are yet, but I sure enjoy watching them at my feeders.

We have some beautiful hummingbirds down here and unfortunately these are taken through the window and not the best image.

I know a lot of people don't like the mourning doves, but it's always been a favorite sound from my childhood and we have three varieties here to enjoy.

The regular ones

This is a smaller breed

We have many finches and wrens to watch.

I have no idea what this little guy is with all the bright yellow on his belly.

These appear to be house finches.

I think this is a black chinned hummingbird based on the description in my bird book.

Long Live the Queen

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My first pickleball tournament

We have the honor of having Carolyn Bagley living in Carriage Manor, at least when she's not in Alaska or The Villages.  She's an amazing 5.0 player and has graciously been offering lessons once a week and recently put together a little in house tournament so people could experience what this is like.

I teamed up with a man I don't know well, but is a strong player.  A bit more serious than I would have liked, but we did okay and came in third.  Not bad since I had to enter in the younger age division since he was not 65 or older.

We didn't get our photo taken, but here are the first place winners.

And the second place winners.

Left Brain and Sister Mary came down to watch and he commented afterwards about how grueling this was.  It felt like regular play to me except that my division started at noon and ran until 2:30, which is a hot part of the day.  The really grueling day would come the following morning when we play the singles competition.

I've never played singles before and it just sounds interesting and I couldn't wait to experience it.  

You can imagine my surprise when I won the first game against a man I respect very much.  The next game didn't go as well and the third one I took a real spanking.  Darn these younger men!  I did have the comfort of knowing that one of those men who beat me took first place.

I enjoyed the singles game very much and I think I'd like to try it again, but with someone in my own age category!

Long Live the Queen of the Pickleball Court

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Our first overnight visitor

We had our first opportunity to host an overnight guest recently when our friend Larry came to stay for about a week.  He is the easiest house guest ever to have and it's nice to be able to close off the Arizona room and give him privacy and his own bathroom facilities.

As you can see here, Gracie totally approves of Uncle Larry's visiting as she has someone new to adore her.  Even George allowed Larry to pet him towards the end of the visit.

Now that we have so much storage room, we might actually upgrade to a larger air mattress for future visitors.

Life is good in Arizona.

Long Live the Queen

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Remodeling of the Arizona Room

We are loving everything about our new abode, except that the Arizona room is odd shaped and hard to arrange the furniture.  A couple of things needed to change.

When you enter the front door you see a large closet.  

Nice for storage if you need it, but we have so much space already we decided we'd rather have the closet gone and the room expanded into a more rectangular space.

Taking down the closet walls opened up this space by a length of 80" and depth of 29".  It doesn't sound like much but each inch is critical when living in a small space.

Doors gone and remainder of wall ready to go
The dry walling was done by Left Brain with the help of our brother in law Bill and his brother Ken.
It was messy hard work but Left Brain is a very determined man and before I knew it he had attained his goal.  I did my part by vacating the premises to play elsewhere in the park and get out of his way.  Yup, that's the kind of wife I am.

The cabinet I bought for the sitting room will go into the Arizona room to hold the new big TV whenever that comes our way, probably next year.  We're not sure we love it in this newly opened space and Left Brain is going to bravely crawl under the house to move some satellite connections to allow for other options.  It was easier to paint this wall an accent color than try to match the whites, so the left over gray paint from the kitchen was utilized.

I ordered a smaller corner TV stand for the sitting room. It was much darker than I thought it would be, but it does the job.

It's still a work in progress, but we're getting closer all the time to achieving our goals.

Long Live the Queen