Moved!

We’ve moved. I gave up on WordPress because the functionality I need want just isn’t there.

Please visit me at my new home on the web: www.desertdrivelblog.com

I don’t anticipate moving again, but this is a hard URL that will always take you to wherever I am on the web. Thank you!

Long time, no blog

Well, what can I say? Life happens. After a long time of neglecting the blogs I even read, I stumbled across one of my favorite blogs The Glamorous Life Association and was inspired – for the first time in a long time – to write a post myself.

Imagine my shock when I went to my own blog and saw a huge blinking snowman wishing me Christmas hugs. Has it really been that long since I posted? And truthfully, this is not a “real” post, is it? It’s merely an image I submitted in a post weeks before, with a planned date of Christmas for the reading pleasure of all my zillion blog followers.

Truth is, I haven’t felt much like posting on the blog. I haven’t really had a lot of positive things to say, and my urge to write just hasn’t been there – which is quite unusual for me.

Those of you who are close might know some of the things I’ve been through. For the others….

My in-laws were on their way here only a few days before Christmas. Their intent was to move into a house in a retirement community and spend the rest of their days here in sunny and warm Arizona rather than snowy and frigid Western New York. Unfortunately somewhere along the way my father-in-law had a heart attack.

My mother-in-law Suzy (who has Alzheimer’s) continued driving, guided by my FIL’s keen sense of direction, even in his poor state of health. His heart attack was not too apparent actually, and once they got here on the 23rd we knew he was sick, but did not realize how badly.

On Christmas Eve, it became apparent he was in need of professional medical help and Terry brought him to the Emergency room. Despite the best efforts of the medical staff, Ray’s vital organs failed him one by one – first his heart, then his liver, his kidneys, and finally his lungs. On December 28th the family made the difficult decision to remove him from artificial life support. That evening he quietly passed away at hospice with Suzy, his first and fifth sons (Terry and Ted respectively) and myself closely by his side.

The next few weeks were spent in the frozen tundra that was Rochester, NY (remember those horrible storms in the northeast over New Year’s?) dominated by funeral home and memorial service arrangements, learning about the process of cremation, dealing with differing family opinions and personalities, and taking care of logistics like bills, mail, figuring out the financial situation, legal issues, etc., all throughout the mourning process.

Our saving grace was being able to stay at the home of a true angel, Bunny Mannix. No matter how difficult our day was, she made sure that we were always comfortable and cared for, and had somewhere safe and warm to sleep after an exhausting day.

Once all that died down and we were back in Arizona, there was still the issue of what to do with Terry’s mom Suzy. Although she is not yet at the “serious” stage of Alzheimer’s, it was apparent she was not able to care for herself. Lord knows how she got by over the past couple of months in New York. Ted stayed with Sue in the home she and Ray had leased for January and February, while the two of them and Terry searched for assisted living facilities for her. After weeks and weeks, visits to countless places, they finally found a suitable place that would work for her financially and she moved in last week.

And of course while all this is going on, life does not stop. We exchanged presents but never really had a “Christmas”. I had three business trips including two conferences I had to run, my assistant quit, Justin broke his wrist, the dog had two different ailments (one causing me to take him to doggie urgent care) and various degrees of colds have passed through our home. We just kept thinking, when will this all stop?

Fortunately things are better. Now that Terry’s mom is in a safe and truly nice place, it will be easier to tie up the loose ends. But it’s still not easy, and for that I ask for your prayers.

It has been a difficult time for us, but we’ve gotten through it. The support of our friends was immensely helpful and I am personally forever grateful to my sister Danielle who was there for me when I had to be there for everyone else.

I normally don’t like to post on the blog about things that might bring the mood down, but I did think it was important to put the information here for those who might not already know. It was also somewhat therapeutic to write as well.

My prayers to God to give us strength and clarity to get through this situation have been answered and for that I am forever thankful. It’s going to be okay.

Merry Christmas!

Random thoughts and reflections

As we are coming to the end of the year, it seems appropriate to look back at 2009.

Some things have not changed – the kids have very obviously grown a few inches each, but they are the same lovable Eric and Justin. Same personalities, likes and dislikes, and the same challenges. Work continues to present challenges for both myself and Terry, and my travel schedule was pretty hectic at times. We had some good times with good friends, especially over the summer, though not as often as we may have liked. We enjoyed another season of football for Justin. Next year will be his last before playing for high school, which is a whole different world.

Some things have changed quite a bit – we welcomed a new and furry family member, Duke, who has easily settled into our home and our lives. We’ve made a few new friends in the neighborhood as well as through football. One of the biggest changes: Terry’s parents will arrive today or tomorrow, making Arizona their permanent home. Their first move since 1972!

I logged the frequent flyer miles with trips to Sacramento, Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the Bahamas. Of course our vacation in Hawaii was the best of all. Terry got to travel a bit, with a business trip to Las Vegas and of course Lake Tahoe where he won the Hawaii trip – he can’t wait to go back to Tahoe next year in hopes of getting another prize like that one.

We enjoyed some family visits – Terry’s Aunt Bobbie and Uncle Vern visited us from Ohio and Terry’s brother Tim came with his brood all the way from Switzerland in April. Easter was spent with them as well as Terry’s cousins Russ & Sherri and their family. My brother Damian visited over Thanksgiving and my Mom and stepdad just left last week after a 2-week visit.

2009 presented many challenges, but truly challenges are opportunities. I hope that 2010 holds many good opportunities in store for us as well.

Best wishes to you and yours for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Big Island: Friday, December 11, 2009

After another evening sleeping with the slider doors open to the soft island breezes and sounds of the ocean waves, we awoke and made our way down to the hotel’s lagoon area. We spent all day there and it felt GREAT! We enjoyed a shady cabana, cool tropical drinks and even went out for a little kayak ride. Terry got some snorkel gear and was able to see some really cool and colorful tropical fish. We read, listed to our iPods and just generally lazed around. Seriously, my butt was even sore from just being sat on all day. And I don’t feel guilty, nope not one bit!

We enjoyed a fabulous romantic dinner at the hotel’s restaurant Brown’s Beach House. What a delicious meal and beautiful atmosphere! Once again we left stuffed and turned in for the night. Lazy day, but that’s what vacations are for, right?

Maui to the Big Island: Thursday, December 10, 2009

Our last few hours in Maui were spent on the beach for a quick dip then after checking out we drove to Lahaina Town for one more Maui meal. We ended up at Cheeseburger in Paradise and enjoyed a couple of Kobe Beef Burgers and fries. Terry also had some of the local beer (Longboard from Kona Brewing Company) and I had a fresh pineapple smoothie with rum. When we left we were stuffed!

We made it to the airport with a little time to spare. We finally got to return our god-forsaken rental car. Yay! A short airport transfer from Maui to the Big Island and upon our arrival we picked out a nice red Mustang convertible for the rest of our stay here. On top of my sister’s generous employee discount at Enterprise, the convertible ended up being the same price as a mid-size, so why not?

We hopped in the sporty little coupe (top down of course!) and sped to our hotel, the Fairmont Orchid. On the way, Terry remarked about how the lava rocks along the land looked like big piles of poop. The jagged brown boulders lined the highway for as far as we could see – well, at least up until where we were able to see the volcano mountains in the distance. I pointed out to Terry how people like to take white rocks and arrange them to make messages along the roadside.

It was only about a half hour drive to the hotel, and even though the rental car shuttle driver got the directions wrong, I remembered enough about it to get us there OK. We were greeted with kukui nut leis and shown to our room. I know a few people at the hotel, and they upgraded us to a beautiful suite on the Gold Level. After a quick unpacking, we gobbled up some pupus in the Gold lounge, went down to the pool and had a little dip in the “hidden” Jacuzzi under the stars. The evening ended beautifully with a glass of Pinot Noir on the lanai.

The view from our room at the Fairmont Orchid.

Maui: Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Our last full day on Maui was spent lazily sleeping in, a long walk on Ka’anapali Beach, then laying about by the hotel pool. Terry occasionally dunked himself in the ocean and I read my book. I mixed up a bottle of Tropical Storms which we enjoyed poolside with Maui Onion chips. We had a light lunch of some delicious pork sliders (undoubtedly leftover roast pig from the previous night’s luau at the hotel) and chatted with a man who owns an upscale poker table manufacturing company.

After pretty much just lazing around, we decided to go into Lahaina Town for dinner and chose the Mai Tai Lounge on the concierge’s recommendation. I don’t want to go into details but the experience was not at all worth recommending – the atmosphere wasn’t great, the food was just OK and the prices were outrageous. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. One thing we could definitely thank the concierge for was showing us the free parking area which we didn’t know even existed.

On the way back to the car, we spent some time browsing art galleries and saw some pretty interesting works. One of them was filled with art (both originals and reproductions) from rock legends such as John Lennon, Mick Fleetwood, Ron Wood, Jimi Hendrix, Steven Tyler and many, many more. It was fascinating and reminded us that although these musicians were surely artists, we sometimes forget they often use other outlets for their creativity as well.



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