Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 In Review

As the year comes to a close, I wanted to take time to stop and remember some of the significant events in my life during this last year.

The Pens' Most Awesome Garage
First off, it has definitely been a year of changes, changes in jobs, changes in family situations, change in general.  This year has also led to the building and deepening of new friendships. It has also been a year of riding, January it was to Vegas with friends for a long weekend of fun, food, friendship and of course, riding.

Vegas was followed by Tombstone in February, where Motor Maids and spouses visited the memories of the old west and saw the characters who play the famous and not so famous heroes of the OK Corral.

Tombstone, AZ February 2011
Lots of laughing and fun was had by all, topped off by an unexpected snow storm. One of the unexpected benefits of the snow storm was an extended weekend and more time with friends.

February wasn't all fun and games, in the end, it was a pretty traumatic month for me.  My daughter and grandson moved to St. George, 8 hours away and I was laid off from a job I really loved in the same week. For the first time I actually yelled at Debbie and I still feel like a heel.  Guess I just had more than I could handle that week.  Like I said, changes and more changes.  The bright side of the lay off was that if gave me an opportunity to spend some quality time with my grandson before his mom and dad came back to get him and spirit him away to Utah.

In March I started working part time for a small niche software company which was really cool.  I learned a lot and got to know some Microsoft MVPs.  Unfortunately, the economy was tough all over and within a few months I was also laid off from this position.  I can't complain, like I said, I learned a whole lot.

In the Spring we had to have our cat, Osama Bin Kitty, put down after he became very ill and was unable to eat.  Several weeks later we brought home two other kitties from Maddy's Place, Sterling and Skeeter who won our hearts.

In June we were off to Grand Rapids, MI for the Motor Maid Conference via the scenic route which included a stop in New Mexico to visit Deb's cousins.  They have a lovely little house that was built by their father.  One of my favorite things about their ranch is the tiered garden made of rock that was also built by their father, I'm guessing in the early 1900's.

Hand Built Stone Garden
We spent a few days in Farmington where we enjoyed the hospitality and enjoyed the stories told by these two spinster sisters.  Their entire lives have revolved around taking care of their father before he passed away and running the family's cattle farm.  These two lovely ladies are some of the sweetest, humblest people I have  had the honor to meet.  Hopefully there will be more opportunities to spend time in their little hideaway.

Leaving New Mexico, we continued our journey to Grand Rapids, MI where we spent several days in a sea of Motor Maids.  Rekindling friendships and making new friends.  There was a bit of drama at the convention but I guess anytime you get a group of people together for any period of time, there is going to be drama of some sort.  Really, I just want to RIDE.

In July I took a few days to run up to St. George to visit my daughter and her family.  It had been nearly 6 months since I had seen the kids and I was really looking forward to seeing them.   I have to say that being away from both sets of parents has been good for both Amanda and Nick.  They are growing into fine young adults and good parents to their son, Ian.  What a joy to see them again.

Sugar Bear
In the Fall we suffered the loss of our much loved shepherd, Sugar Bear.  Deb rescued her as a pup, and turned the unruly, biting puppy into a well behaved watch dog. Earlier in the year she was diagnosed with cancer after developing a couple of rather large lumps on her chest and side.  At 12 years old Sugar had lived a long life, she served a companion for Deb's mom, Agnes when she lived with us.  She herded Ian as a toddler and patiently withstood his "petting" as a baby. She protected our home and won our hearts.  Sugar will be missed for a long time.

Around Labor Day the kids came to Phoenix for the long weekend.  Amanda surprised us with the news that she and Nick had gotten married in August.  Of course we knew they would get married eventually we just expected there would be a family wedding.  They had their reasons for just going to the courthouse and it was, after all, their day.  Regardless, we share their happiness.

Motor Maids in Vegas
Seems like we made a lot of trips to Vegas in 2011, must be the great hospitality of The Pens because we were back in September.  Thanks to the Vegas contingent for organizing a great weekend full of fun, riding and great food.

You just have to love these gals, they are the BEST.  Names omitted to protect the "innocent".  They ride and I don't mean around the block or even around town.  For most of these women 500 miles is a day trip.

Also in September, Debbie drank the black and orange Kool Aid and bought a beautiful 2010 Harley Davidson Street Glide CVO.  Bless her heart, she took a lot of ribbing on that Vegas trip because she bought MY bike.  Thanks Deb, for being so good natured about it.  That bike really looks good on you.

I think Deb's purchase induced a mob mentality among our Phoenix friends because within a few weeks, our friends Scuter, Skip and I also got new bikes.  Since then we've been riding almost every weekend.

Bigger news at the end of the year, my daughter is expecting another child in July 2012.  We're hoping for a girl this time but will be thrill either way.  I think last time she had a boy just so she wouldn't have to use the middle name Louise if she had a girl.

Speaking of my daughter, I am so very proud of her and her husband, Nick.  When they took off to Utah nearly a year ago, I admit, I thought they were making a huge mistake.  Congratulations kids, I have never been happier to have been proved wrong.  This move has been great for them individually and as a growing family.  They have grown like weeds and I am so very proud of you both.

Proud as I am, I don't miss my grandson any less and am sure the new grandchild will  be no different.  Amazing how those rug rats can steal your heart.

As the year draws to a close, I know there are so many things that I have left out but then, I'd be writing for days and anyone reading this would have given up long before I was done.  So as the clock struck midnight, Deb and I welcomed in another year together and I said a silent prayer of thanks for all the good people and things in my life followed by a prayer of hope for the new year and all those who I hold dear.

Happy New Year All!