Archive for Arizona

Retirement Life Events

Yesterday, we had the second surgery to correct the cataract in the right eye. This was a bit more complicated than the first surgery (which was a simple lens replacement) in that there were additional measurements and a second laser process involved to fix the astigmatism in the right eye cornea. There was yet another measurement made during the surgery to determine which of four possible lens implants would be selected. I regret to say that the cause of all the additional processes could have been circumvented had I not had LASIK surgery on the right eye 22 years ago.

I went to the day-after follow-up this morning and the results pleased the surgeon (who kept patting himself on the back) as well as they pleased me since he had me reading the fine print on the eye chart even though the dilation in the eye was still set at F 0.6 or so (wide open). The eye will be considered completely healed and functional in a few days although the eye drop regimen will persist for about three weeks. I thank the Lord that all this is behind me and seems to have worked out.

A few weeks ago, I upgraded Damsel’s AR-15 with a forward vertical grip. I watched a video on the ‘Tube where some dude installed a vertical grip on the standard hand guard by using a rail section and a compatible grip. I did the modification to her rifle by following the advice I saw and when it was complete, I was not satisfied. The grip still had some wobble even though it seemed to be securely fastened. It was a workable kluge.

I previously reported on the hand guard upgrade on my rifle with a quad rail and a vertical grip. That worked out very well and I am still happy with it. I was going to apply that same upgrade to Damsel’s rifle but we got distracted a bit since she indicated that she wanted to get pink furniture for her gun. So, we abandoned the quad rail upgrade. Now, the pink furniture seems to be sold out everywhere. I am on waiting lists but nobody can seem to say when they will be back in stock.

Well, I didn’t want to wait to get her gun fixed and get rid of the foregrip wobble, so I ordered a Magpul MOE Hand Guard (which is the same manufacturer of the pink stuff) as an interim solution while waiting for the ultimate pinkness to show up.

Today, the hand guard arrived and I completed the mod to her rifle. The before and after pictures are below. The kluged verical grip on the standard hand guard (left) and the Magpul hand guard and vertical grip (right). Click on either image to enlarge.

Standard Kluge Magpul MOE hand guard and grip

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Eleventh Retirement Anniversary

eleven-red-rocks.pngThe last year seems to have gone by in a whirlwind despite the social and biological plagues of 2020. Since our Retirement Post Last Year, we have been busy with our everyday routines accompanied by some occasional deviations from the norm. We find things to keep us busy, I guess, as most retirees do, and that seems to make the time pass quickly.

Because of the overblown COVID-19 pandemic (or should I say DEM panic?), we have postponed any excursions in the RV to next spring and/or fall. We had planed a couple of trips for 2020, but stuff happened.

IMAGE: Numeral Eleven textured by the red rock gravel around our house where many people would have a lawn. We have to pull weeds once in a while, but no mowing in retirement!

During the past year, on two occasions, we have entertained overnight visitors in our home. The first visit was from a couple that we have known since the early 1960’s. They stayed a couple of nights with us and had a reunion dinner at our place with another couple who, like us, relocated to Arizona from Kalifornistan. The second visitor, also an old friend and former workplace associate, stayed with us a couple of nights in August while on his way from Colorado Springs back home to the Los Angeles area. Those were both nice visits that we enjoyed immensely.

October is going to be an eventful month. I have my second cataract surgery scheduled mid-month with pre- and post-surgery visits with the ophthalmologist plus visit scheduled with the proctologist for an exam and to schedule the next colonoscopy. I also have some more dermatology work to be done sometime in October. I also plan on seeing the orthopedic surgeon next week regarding knees, shoulders and hips. There’s nothing drastically wrong with those (I hope) but I have a recommendation from the family doctor to go to the ortho for x-rays and follow-ups.

So, here we go into our twelfth year of retirement. We’re praying that the widespread insanity diminishes enough for us to get back to normal and maybe hit the road to relieve our wanderlust.

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Arms Collection - Addition and Mods

Two weeks ago, we added a new AR style firearm to our inventory. We now have two of these. Our local arms dealership is going out of business due to poor health of the proprietor and we got the latest AR at a 10 percent discount from their posted price. We also acquired some spare 30 round magazines for 5.56×45 and a couple of other accessories.

Now that the smoke has settled from the acquisitions, we decided to upgrade our stock hand guards to a quad rail system. The units we bought are Leapers UTG PRO AR-15 MTU001 Drop-in Carbine-Length Quad Rail System. Our main motivation for this is to be able to install forward vertical grip handles on the rifles as well as addition of illuminators or other goodies on the rails.

I installed the first Quad Rail on the new rifle this afternoon. It went quite well as I followed the instructions from their You-Tube Video. I then installed the vertical grip on the lower rail of the new unit. Before and after images below. Click on either image to enlarge.

Before After

I tried to install the second Quad Rail on our older AR and had a problem with it. I think it may be due to a slight misalignment of the barrel nut (looks like a gear with teeth). If you watch the video, they mention that an “armorer’s wrench” may be necessary to correct the misalignment. Well, we ain’t got one of those and they are too $$ for a one-time use. I am going to go to the shop where we bought the gun and see if they can fix the problem. I’ll mosey on over to the shop tomorrow and see if they can help.

Meanwhile, the new rifle looks sorta cool with the rails and the vertical grip. We’ll get to the range soon and see how it feels with the grip.

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Night Blooming Argentine Giant Cactus Flowers

Night Blooming Cactus Flowers

Our Argentine Giant (Echinopsis candicans) offered these two beautiful flowers last evening. This is the second blooming on this cactus this year. Since we purchased this cactus in 2011 and planted it in front of the house, it has reliably given us flowers every year. This year, it is also starting to grow “pups,” which are the three buds seen near the base of the cactus in the image at the left above. This variety of cactus spreads out as it ages with several pups, each eventually producing flowers.

About Argentine Giant from Wikipedia:

Echinopsis candicans has a shrubby growth habit, with individual stems up to 60 cm (24 in) tall. The plant as a whole can be as much as 3 m (10 ft) across. The stems are light green, with a diameter of up to 14 cm (5.5 in) and have 9–11 low ribs. The large white areoles are spaced at 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) and produce brownish yellow spines, the central spines being up to 10 cm (3.9 in) long, the radial spines only up to 4 cm (1.6 in).

The fragrant white flowers open at night. They are large, up to 19 cm (7.5 in) across and 18–23 cm (7.1–9.1 in) long.

Summer is not over by a long shot and there are more desert flowers to come. Stay tuned.

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Tropical Weather Activity

Tropical Storm CristinaAs we enter mid-July, the tropics are busily producing waves of disturbances and low pressure systems both in the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. Pictured is Tropical Storm Cristina in the Eastern Pacific currently moving westward and away from Mexico. We also have Tropical Storm Fay which is currently dumping moisture on the Northeastern US and Canada.

Image: T.S. Cristina (courtesy NOAA and GOES West). Click on the image to enlarge.

While Fay is drenching areas of New Jersey, Delaware, New York and beyond, Cristina poses no weather threat to land areas although it could still develop into hurricane force and dangerous to shipping in the 15° to 25° N latitudes in the Eastern Pacific. The storm is drifting westward at a rate of about fifteen knots.

The only effect Cristina is having on us here in the middle of Arizona is a few high clouds. We have summertime temperatures here for sure with forecast highs in the 110-117° F. range for the weekend. We almost wish the storm would make a hard right turn and bring us some monsoon weather, but I guess monsoons will be coming sooner or later without the help of T.S. Cristina.

In other news, we have been doing genealogy research here and have been discovering some interesting things about our ancestors. We now know that we had several ancestors who were in the military for the Revolutionary War, The War of 1812 and the Civil War (on both sides of it). We already knew about our grandparents and parents involvement in WW1 and WW2.

We also submitted a DNA sample and found out our roots from a general ethnic standpoint. The results dispelled a family rumor that we had Native American ancestors, which proved not to be the case. We have DNA in common with English, Irish, Scottish, German, Dutch and Swedish ancestors with a possibility of some other European lineage thrown in the mix.

The DNA result also proved that I’m related to other family members who also submitted samples: a nephew (my brother’s son) and a granddaughter (my daughter’s daughter). The DNA also shows we’re linked to other users of the service, most of whom we don’t know nor care much about (fourth to eighth cousins twice removed?). Some of those are sort of interesting in understanding the family tree, but we don’t especially want to dig any far distant relatives out of the woodwork at this point.

We are still sorting out facts and hints in the family tree (from a pedigree point of view) and are halfway through our third great grandparents level (of which there are 32 potential ancestors). I will post something further on this if I discover an ancestor built the Brooklyn Bridge or something of similar magnitude.

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Happy 4th of July!

Town Flags

Happy Independence Day from the little flag-waving town of Wickenburg, AZ!

Our local American Legion Post religiously plants flags all over town on every holiday as seen in the background image above. That image was taken (credit Damsel) along the main part of Wickenburg Way (a.k.a. US 60) in the old historical part of town. I added the greeting with a graphics utility I use from time to time.

To celebrate the holiday, Damsel prepared Star Spangled Chili for dinner yesterday. The dish included a medium-hot chili base with lean ground beef, sliced Hebrew National kosher franks and chopped beef tenderloin chunks garnished with avocado, sour cream and an olive. It was pretty awesome.

The beef tenderloin chunks were leftover meat from a whole tenderloin I butchered myself. Once you separate the “chain” and the “wing” from the main tenderloin, I set those aside to be chopped into the aforementioned chunks.

I cut the rest of the main tenderloin into steaks, a couple of small roasts (Chateaubriand) and tenderloin medallions or small steaks. There is a bit of fat and silver skin that goes to waste, but most of the meat gets used in some form or another. Considering that butcher shop tenderloin steaks (Filet Mignon) are upwards of $20 per pound, butchering our own saves us a considerable amount of cash.

There are a couple of pretty good videos on You Tube (here and here) that guide you through the process of butchering a whole beef tenderloin.

In the meantime, despite all the COVID-19 and BLM/ANTIFA chaos, we’re having a nice holiday weekend here in our little piece of the good old USA and hope that everyone else will be able to enjoy it like we are doing. Happy Birthday America - may she keep on going strong!

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Red Bird of Paradise

Red Bird of Paradise Flower

Today, the first few of the colorful Red Bird of Paradise flowers opened in our courtyard this morning. These flowers (a.k.a. Pride of Barbados) will be opening until fall. We have three of the Red Bird shrubs in the courtyard, so there should be plenty of color throughout the summer.

More about these shrubs from Texas Superstar:

Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) is an evergreen shrub or small tree in frost free climates. The plant is usually tall, growing large even after freezing to the ground the previous winter. The leaves are fern like. Pride–of–Barbados has incredibly showy blossoms of orange and red. The individual flowers are bowl shaped, 2–3 inches across, with five crinkled, unequal red and orange petals, and ten prominent bright red stamens. The striking orange red flowers are an attention grabber!

The flowers get a lot of visits from butterflies, bees, sphinx moths and hummingbirds. We have seen these and more browsing the flowers throughout the summer. The sphinx moths mentioned above usually show up around dusk since they are mostly nocturnal.

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